May 27th, 2013
I did have a few questions in regards to the nature of scientific explanation and furthering (or ‘advancing’, if you prefer) scientific knowledge. Hume had recognized that the problem of induction can not be justified by an inductive rule (that would be circular) or a deductive rule (or else the principle wouldn’t be inductive – we cannot deduce the truth of induction from the axioms of logic). This of course being Hume’s fork.
However, does Karl Popper’s interpretation of scientific methods being deductive (or falsifiable) solve this problem more so than science on the inductive interpretation? In short, Im just curious if we are reasonable in rejecting Hume’s skepticism, but sound in still adhering to science hinging off of induction.
I did a lot of work on this question in my MA thesis. My full answer is a bit long but I hope it’s easy to follow. For the Reader’s Digest version, I’d say that I’m not a fan of deductive arguments and I prefer inductive arguments. (Actually, I love abductive arguments much more but that’s another issue!) I’m very sympathetic to Popper’s criterion of falsifiability but it’s not a necessary condition for science–it’s just preferable. I’ll try to contextualize and elaborate on some of the hidden talking points in your question so some of the readers can follow along.
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April 6th, 2013
The fine-tuning argument argues that when physics and the laws of nature are expressed mathematically their values are ever so balanced in a way that permits the existence of life. I’m merely arguing that the universe is finely tuned for the essential building blocks and environments that life requires.
- Given the fine-tuning evidence, a life permitting universe (LPU) is very, very unlikely under the non-existence of a fine-tuner (~FT): that is, P(LPU|~FT & k) ≪ 1.
- Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is not unlikely under FT (Fine-Tuner): that is, ~P(LPU|FT & k) ≪ 1.
- Therefore, LPU strongly supports FT over ~FT.
Defense of 1: Given the fine-tuning evidence, a life-permitting universe is very, very unlikely under the non-existence of a fine-tuner.
So what are some of the evidences for fine-tuning?
- Roger Penrose calculates that the odds of the special low entropy condition having come about by chance in the absence of any constraining principles is at least as small as about one in 1010^123.
- Strong Nuclear Force (Strong nuclear force coupling constant, gs = 15)
- +, No hydrogen, an essential element of life
- -, Only hydrogen
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April 5th, 2013
The following argument is an abductive Thomistic cosmological argument from contingency, which I presented at my recent Ratio Christi debate.
- There are contingent constituents to the universe.
- Given the contingent constituents of the universe, the existence of the universe (U) is very, very unlikely under the hypothesis that these constituents are themselves uncaused or self-caused (~Cu): that is, P(U|~Cu & k) ≪ 1.
- Given the contingent constituents of the universe, the existence of the universe is not unlikely under the hypothesis of a first uncaused cause (Cu): that is, ~P(U|Cu & k) ≪ 1.
- Therefore, U strongly supports Cu over ~Cu.
The constituents of the universe include galaxies, planets, stars, cars, humans, leptons, bosons, and other particles. For the constituents of the universe to be uncaused that would mean it is metaphysically necessary. For something to be metaphysically necessary that means that it could not have failed to exist—it exists in every possible world.
For something to be self-caused it must be simultaneously antecedent to itself to produce itself as its own effect. But this contradictory. This would be akin to the ultimate bootstrapping trick.
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February 15th, 2013
So, I gave a pop quiz to my class today because I asked them if they had any questions about any of the material we’ve been recently going over (logic) and no one had any questions. Because of their confidence I gave them a quiz, which resulted in very interesting answers. One of the questions was to describe some possible world. Simple enough, right? If they knew what a possible world was they could write something simple down like “there are pink elephants” or “my shirt is red instead of blue.” However, I got this very interesting one that made me think. Think about it and let me know how you would respond to this scenario. It assumes a lot about knowledge, minds, God, etc.
In a possible world there is no predictability. Nothing that happens once happens again a second time. There is no way to know what is going to happen but there is also no such thing as knowing because there is nobody to know anything since a being would require repeated processes to function and remain functioning.
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February 8th, 2013
The cumulative case uses the prime principle of confirmation: Whenever we are considering two competing hypotheses, an observation counts as evidence in favor of the hypothesis under which the observation has the highest probability. This principle is sound under all interpretations of probability. Each argument must be taken on its own grounds and one cannot arrive at “God” at the end of each argument. The conjunction of arguments is what is needed to make a cumulative case for the existence of God.
The Likelihood Principle of Confirmation theory states as follows. Let h1 and h2 be two be competing hypothesis (in this case the existence of X and ~X, with X being a first cause, fine-tuner, etc.). According to the Likelihood Principle, an observation e counts as evidence in favor of hypothesis h1 over h2 if the observation is more probable under h1 than h2. Thus, e counts in favor of h1 over h2 if P(e|h1) > P(e|h2), where P(e|h1) and P(e|h2) depict a conditional probability of e on h1 and h2, respectively. The degree to which the evidence counts in favor of one hypothesis over another is proportional to the degree to which e is more probable under h1 than h2: particularly, it is proportional to P(e|h1)/P(e|h2) . The Likelihood Principle seems to be sound under all interpretations of probability. This form is concerned with epistemic probability.
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