[lit-ideas] Re: Logical Corpuscularism

  • From: Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2015 13:51:25 -0500

There are those who think that life
Has nothing left to chance
With a host of holy horrors
To direct our aimless dance

A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
"The stars aren't aligned,
Or the gods are malign"
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will

There are those who think that
They've been dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them,
They weren't born in Lotus-Land

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You can't pray for a place
In heaven's unearthly estate

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
That's far too fleet
Songwriters: CHOI, WHEE SUNG / KIM, YANG WOO / LEE, JUN KYOUNG / JUNG, SEOK
WON N

Freewill lyrics © Peermusic Publishing


Thanks to Rush.



On Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 11:42 AM, Redacted sender Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx for
DMARC <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Billiard balls are like corpuscules, and so there is no probability = 1
that in a game of billiards THIS rather than HIS COMPETING player will will
the game. When in comes to other contexts ("Shall we play a game of
billiards?" "Why? We should know who will will already") the issue of
'freedom'
remains problematic to anti-corpuscularians like Popper.

Sometimes I am writing and I read myself having written "sense" -- and then
I think ("but Grice said, 'do not multiply senses beyond necessity'") so,
on second thoughts, I think that what I mean when I feel like writing (or
saying) 'sense' is "way". It works in most cases.

This one, from the prose by McEvoy may be one of them. For McEvoy wrote in
a message dated 9/9/2015 5:33:42 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time:

i. Popper makes clear human freedom depends on a "probabilistic" set-up as
opposed to a deterministic one (where outcomes have a probability of 1) -
but
he argues that it cannot be merely "probabilistic" in a quantum mechanical
sense.

If we replace the 'but' by an 'and' and focus on the second conjunct, we
get:

ii. Popper argues that human freedom cannot be merely probabilistic in a
quantum-mechanical sense.

versus my preferred:

iii. Popper argues that human freedom cannot be merely probabilistic in a
quantum-mechanical way.

----

(The whole context of McEvoy's piece is: "[Popper] makes clear human
freedom depends on a "probabilistic" set-up as opposed to a deterministic
one
(where outcomes have a probability of 1) - but he argues that it cannot be
merely "probabilistic" in a quantum mechanical sense. In other words, we
cannot adequately defend human freedom and rational decision-making
merely by
appealing to quantum mechanical "probabilistic" effects."

---

So, is the sense-way distinction merely terminological?

How many senses are there?

From the passages by Popper I quoted in my previous note he indeed uses
'quantum-mechanical theory' and I would not be surprised if Popper uses
'quantum-mechanical sense". But let us elaborate on the "way"
interpretation.

McEvoy:

"[Popper] makes clear human freedom depends on a "probabilistic" set-up as
opposed to a deterministic one (where outcomes have a probability of 1)"

and where the '1' relates to Hart/Hampshire. For Hart and Popper want
decisions to be determinate, in that especially Hart wants one to KNOW
that he
will remain married to a Russian spy, say. Therefore, if 'know' is factive,
Hart WILL remain married to a Russian spy. His decision is based on
knowledge, not belief (which can be wrong or, better false).

In general most philosophers working in the 'philosophy of action' so
called do agree that an agent may will what he wants (that the moon be
made of
cheese, or that he will fly to the moon) BUT if he wants to intend to fly
to
the moon, or if he DECIDES to fly to the moon, a rational agent needs to
think that p > 0.5 (Peacocke's essay in the book tribute to Davidson to
which Grice contributed with an essay on akrasia, ed. by M. Hintikka and
B.
Vermazen).

McEvoy continues:

"but [Popper] argues that it cannot be merely "probabilistic" in a
quantum-mechanical sense."

Or way?

If not, we are thinking that 'probable' has different senses. Usually,
English speakers distinguish, and rightly so, between:

iv.. It will probably rain tomorrow
v. It will possibly rain tomorrow.

And it is agreed that (i) IMPLICATES p>0.5 -- while (ii) merely implicates
p>0.

If we are sticking with 'sense', we are saying that 'probability' acquires
a SENSE in a theory which is 'quantum-theory' or standard quantum theory.
But that it has other senses in other contexts. (Toulmin deals with this
in
his classic of Ordinary Language Philosophy, in the essay on Probability
in
the Flew collection of essays in conceptual analysis).

In case one wonders about whether one likes 'way' or 'sense', McEvoy goes
on to paraphrase:

"In other words, we cannot adequately defend human freedom and rational
decision-making merely by appealing to quantum mechanical "probabilistic"
effects."

-- where perhaps the scare quotes are supposed to scare (they don't scare
me), so I'll rephrase the utterance without them:

v. We cannot defend human freedom and rational decision-making by appealing
to quantum-mechanical probabilistic effects.

It seems Popper is finding himself, metaphorically, in the horns of a
dilemma -- which should interest Doyle*!

Cheers,

Speranza

*From

http://www.eoht.info/page/Robert+Doyle (slightly adapted)

Robert O. Doyle is a physicist and philosopher. Doyle completed his BS in
physics at Brown and PhD in astrophysics, thesis on continuous spectrum of
the hydrogen quasi-molecule, at Harvard University. In his essay "Free
Will:
the Scandal in Philosophy," Doyle takes aim at the view that, in modern
times, some academic philosophers are convincing many ... that [persons]
are
deterministic biological machines with a "compatibilist free will", by
arguing, using their cache of philosophers as launching point, that
humans have
a sort of in-determinant emergent biological free will, or something along
these lines.

REFERENCES

Doyle, Robert O. "Free Will: it’s a normal biological property, not a
gift or a mystery. Nature, 459.
Doyle, Robert O. "Jamesian Free Will: The Two-Stage Model of William
James
”, William James Studies.
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