[lit-ideas] Re: Logical Corpuscularism
- From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 13 Sep 2015 09:53:36 +0000 (UTC)
If it's not random, p = 1. >
Before considering anything else further, we should perhaps get clear why this
claim by JLS is wrong, and reveals a fundamental error.
Where 'p' stands for probability, when we say 'p = 1' we mean the highest
probability possible (using a scale of '0' to 1' to rank all probabilities) -
so if we are talking about the 'probability' of an outcome and the probability
is '1', we mean the so-called 'probability' of that outcome is so high that the
outcome is _inevitable_. (Likewise an outcome with 'p = 0' is an outcome that
cannot happen, and an outcome with 'p = 0.5' is a probability with a 50/50
chance of occurring).
To describe something which is inevitable as merely 'probable' would be unusual
or a mistake or confusing in ordinary life (e.g. it is not merely 'probable'
that each of us shall die), and we must therefore be clear that when we speak
of 'p = 1' we are not referring to what we normally refer to in terms of
probabilities but to what we might normally refer to in terms of 'certainties'.
Both 'p = 1' and 'p = 0' do not refer to normal "probabilities" but to
certainties at the extremes that mark the scale of probabilities - with an
outcome of 'p = 1' being an outcome certain to occur and an outcome of 'p = 0'
being an outcome that is certain not to occur.
This understanding of 'p = 1' and 'p = 0' is (I understand) quite basic to any
proper understanding of probability.
Now we turn to JLS' claim >If it's not random, p = 1. >
JLS' claim amounts to saying that all outcomes, other than random ones, are
certain ones. In other words, the only alternative to a certain outcome is a
This claim is not defended by JLS by any significant argument and it is wrong:
there are many probabilities less than '1' and greater than '0' that are (or
may be) "non-random". The true position is that some probabilities between '1'
and '0' may arise in a way such that outcomes are "random", but many others
arise such that outcomes are not "random" even though they are not certain.
We may even argue that truly random events are a small, perhaps tiny, subset of
the set of events that have probability between '1' and '0'. In general terms,
we may argue the universe is highly probabilistic in character (where
'probabilistic' here denotes only probabilities between '1' and '0') but very
little of its character is "random". Everything we know about cosmology, from
the 'Big Bang' and its aftermath to the course of natural history on earth,
fits the picture of a highly probabilistic universe but not a very "random"
But divisions on how much or little probability derives from "randomness" may
be left aside; all sensible minds may unite in saying that, however much or
little it is, it is false to say >If it's not random, p = 1. >*
DThe best Donal on this list, probably*And this claim is false unless the
proposition "all non-random events have probability 'p = 1'" itself has a
probability of 'p = 1'. Which it doesn't.
On Thursday, 10 September 2015, 18:34, "dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx"
Schroedinger's cats were made of corpuscules.
So how does Popper reconcile corpuscularism at the quantum level with free
Let's consider the quotes from Doyle's site.
"First of all, I do of course agree that quantum-theoretical INdeterminacy
in a sense can NOT help, because this leads MERELY to probabilistic laws,
and we do not wish to say that such things as free decisions are just
Oddly, that above is one of the instances where 'way' seems to do better
than 'sense'. I was arguing that if p =1 we can still may wish to say that
such a thing as a free decision is a probabilistic affair. Or perhaps
Popper is having trouble with 'law', because, as such, there are no
psychological laws (Only legal laws, as Hart would say).
Popper continues: "The trouble with quantum-mechanical INdeterminacy is
twofold. First, it is probabilistic"
-- as opposed to what? Popper seems to be implicating that there is
indeterminism which is not probabilistic.
"and this doesn't help us much"
-- a little?
"with the free-will problem, which is NOT JUST a chance affair."
But does include as per logical necessity, a chance affair, when we say
that something stands no chance there's little will (free or other) can do
Popper: "Second, it only gives us INdeterminism, not openness to World 2."
Chomsky used 'openness', but this must be a different way of using
openness. It's openness to w2.
Popper: "However, in a roundabout way I do think that one may make use of
quantum-theoretical INdeterminacy without committing oneself to the thesis
that free-will decisions are probabilistic affairs."
How? Here is Popper's way out:
"The selection of a kind of behaviour out of a randomly offered repertoire
may be an act of choice, even an act of free will. I am an indeterminist;
and in discussing INdeterminism I have often regretfully pointed out that
quantum INdeterminacy does not seem to help us [...]." "For the
amplification of something like, say, radio-active disintegration processes
not lead to human action or even animal action, but only to random
This seems to relate to G. E. M. Anscombe on brute facts, or a behaviour
"under a description". Grice hitting the cricket ball may be seen as a
movement (involving chance, in that Grice could never HAVE known if each
cricket game he was going to engage in would have him as a winner or a loser
Popper: "I have changed my mind on this issue (See p. 540 of J. C. Eccles
and K. R. Popper, The Self and Its Brain (Berlin, Heidelberg, London, New
York: Springer-Verlag, 1977).
It's in the final Popper's quote by Doyle that we get the keyword:
Popper: "A choice process may be a selection process, and the selection
may be from some repertoire of random events, without being random in its
If it's not random, p = 1.
"A choice process", such as Grice's choice to attend a cricket match
rather than an important lecture by an important philosopher, "may be a
process" (for Grice must deliberate: "what will be good for me in the end?
To attend a boring lecture by a boring professor or enjoy myself at
"[A]nd the selection may be from some repertoire of random events" --
'attend a cricket match, attend a philosophy lecture, stay home, ...' "without
being random in its turn".
It may still be deemed random as long as the colloquial phrase, Grice
"could have done otherwise", APPLIES. For only ex-post-facto, does Grice
attended a cricket match rather than a philosophy lecture attend some
degree of necessity.
If Aristotle seems to have had a problem with the future naval battle,
Popper seems to be wanting to find a way out for the alleged problem of the
past naval battle?
Popper concludes: "This seems to me to offer a promising solution to one
of our most vexing problems, and one by downward causation."
So, Popper is not offering the solution, but telling the reader that this
may LEAD to a solution -- a solution, he adds, without providing the
specific steps of analysis -- that relies on the concept of 'downward
-- by which, in this context, Popper seems to mean that items in w2 (e.g.
Grice's freewill decision to attend a cricket match rather than a boring
university lecture) CAUSE (non-deterministically) Grice's 'action' (and not
'movement') of heading for Lords rather than Merton?
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