Author Topic: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature  (Read 6318 times)

Relativist

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #315 on: September 12, 2017, 11:29:47 AM »
Going back to the OP, what reason does Armstrong's physicalist framework provide to expect uniformity on Naturalism? Armstrong's definition assumes uniformity, or necessitation and universality, but it doesn't give reasons to expect uniformity.
There is no a priori reason for there being laws of nature - as I said, Armstrong considers them contingent because we can conceive of worlds in which these particular laws are not instantiated.  It's just like with God: There's no explanation for there being a God, or for the type of God that might happen to exist.   We can conceive of worlds in which God exists, worlds in which no God exists, and worlds in which different sorts of a God exists (e.g. evil God, indifferent God, hermit God). 
Also, you said that metaphysical naturalists can coherently assume a natural foundation. I'd like to know what that foundation is. The foundation has to be the first cause, because if it isn't the first cause, then it is not a foundation.
I agree that the foundation has to be the first cause.
Evolutionary explanations fail to explain the uniformity of morality.
I'm not sure what you mean by "uniformity of morality," other than the fact that humans have moral beliefs, some of which are shared with most other humans (is that the uniformity you're referring to?) and we try to make rational moral decisions (perhaps that's what you mean, since there's some logic to the process). Naturalism can account for moral beliefs.

wonderer

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #316 on: September 12, 2017, 06:56:58 PM »
Evolutionary explanations fail to explain the uniformity of morality.

There is no such thing as the uniformity of morality.  After all, some people are psychopaths but most aren't.

And yes there is an evolutionary explanation for such moral diversity.
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Trinity

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #317 on: September 12, 2017, 07:07:09 PM »
Bruce,

I'm not saying there are no good evolutionary explanations of these things. My point is that those evolutionary explanations are not expected on Naturalism, because there is no reason to expect uniformity on Naturalism.

Relativist,

Naturalism cannot account for beliefs, moral or otherwise. What instantiates laws of nature?

Wonderer,

See my comment to Bruce. There may or may not be an evolutionary explanation for those things, that isn't relevant to questions such as whether Naturalism is true and whether Naturalism gives us reason to expect those things.
 
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 07:09:01 PM by Trinity »
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bruce culver

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #318 on: September 12, 2017, 10:41:04 PM »
Bruce,

I'm not saying there are no good evolutionary explanations of these things. My point is that those evolutionary explanations are not expected on Naturalism, because there is no reason to expect uniformity on Naturalism.

Relativist,

Naturalism cannot account for beliefs, moral or otherwise. What instantiates laws of nature?

Wonderer,

See my comment to Bruce. There may or may not be an evolutionary explanation for those things, that isn't relevant to questions such as whether Naturalism is true and whether Naturalism gives us reason to expect those things.

Sure naturalism having explanations for some things doesn't prove naturalism is true. Nobody here is making that claim.

What I don't get is that you can't acknowledge that it is irrelevant as to whether we should expect uniformity of the laws of nature on naturalism. All that is relevant is that we have no reason to expect that there would not be uniformity.

You seem to be making a similar error to the one Harvey was making in my thread on skeptical premises.

You are conflating having no reason to expect something with having reason to expect the opposite, which is erroneous.

We may have no reason to expect uniformity, but it does not follow that we then have reason to expect the opposite.
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Mammal

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #319 on: September 13, 2017, 04:27:30 AM »
As a matter of interest, where does this perception of not expecting uniformity in nature (or on Naturalism) come from? It seems entirely misinformed.

I have quickly browsed through the thread and this seems to be a question/objection that was raised from the outset, but was never adequately explained as far as I can see..?
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Relativist

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #320 on: September 13, 2017, 12:31:30 PM »

Relativist,

Naturalism cannot account for beliefs, moral or otherwise.
Beliefs are easily accounted for in a materialist theory of mind. A belief is a disposition: a mental state apt for bringing about some sort of behaviorBehavior includes both physical and mental behavior.  A moral belief makes one apt to engage in behavior that is beneficial to one or more people. 
What instantiates laws of nature?
Remember that a law of nature is a relation that exists between States of Affairs Types (see Post #310):

Consider Proton1 (a specific proton) and Electron1 (a specific electron)
Proton 1 instantiates the state of affairs type "Proton".  Electron1 instantiates the state of affairs type "Electron."

It is a law of nature that the SOATs proton and electron attract.   i.e. "Attract" is a relation between SOAT "Proton" and SOAT "Electron". 

This "attract" relation is instantiated in a state of affairs consisting of Proton1 and Electron1 in close proximity.

Trinity

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #321 on: September 13, 2017, 11:29:47 PM »
Bruce,

Evolutionary explanations assume uniformity. If there is no uniformity, there are no evolutionary mechanisms. Explaining uniformity by indirectly assuming uniformity would be circular.

I don't think I'm conflating those two. So far it has been argued that there is no reason to expect or not expect uniformity on Naturalism. This would seem to contradict Armstrongs view of 'laws of nature', in which there is an element of necessitation involved. So it seems to me that both cannot be right.

Mammal,

I think the question from the OP is based the observation of there being uniformity in nature. The 'expect' part follows naturally from that. So we observe the sun rising today and we expect it to rise tomorrow. Naturalism doesn't give us reason to expect that or anything else for that matter.  Interesting thing that Isaac Newton said (paraphrasing) is that his laws of motion do not explain what gravity is, rather they explain how gravity influences bodies in motion. This is an important distinction, because often people think that science explains the 'being' of things while this is not true.

Questions on 'being' are metaphysical, and the question 'what reason is there to expect uniformity' is a question on being. There doesn't have to be uniformity of laws of nature, at least not as they currently are. Yet, the laws of nature remain as they are. This 'remain as they are' in the past becomes an expectation for the future. We see the sun rising yesterday and today, so we expect the same thing to occur tomorrow. This expectation of the laws of nature remaining uniform across time and space (the sun doesn't suddenly dance in the sky, though there may be some expections) is not justified on Naturalism.

Relativist,

A naturalist/materialist theory of mind assumes uniformity, it doesn't explain uniformity.

If I understand Armstrong's definition correctly, the relation instantiated is causal. What I don't understand is why he uses the term 'diadic' instead. Also, this diadic relation being instantiated is on his view a 'necessitation'. This necessitation, however, is assumed to be uniform, so it would seem that his account may be circular with regard to explaining uniformity.
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bruce culver

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #322 on: September 14, 2017, 12:16:13 AM »
Bruce,

Evolutionary explanations assume uniformity. If there is no uniformity, there are no evolutionary mechanisms. Explaining uniformity by indirectly assuming uniformity would be circular.

It's not an assumption it's an observation. The only assumption here is that we should expect anything one way or the other regarding uniformity. Just having no reason expect uniformity is not a reason to expect the absence of uniformity, but only the latter would make the observation of uniformity any kind of problem that needs to be explained. This is elementary.

Quote
I don't think I'm conflating those two. So far it has been argued that there is no reason to expect or not expect uniformity on Naturalism. This would seem to contradict Armstrongs view of 'laws of nature', in which there is an element of necessitation involved. So it seems to me that both cannot be right.

I know nothing about Armstrong's views. I presume they are also based on observation though, and not on any sort of a priori expectation. I agree that observation of uniformity does not help in any way to establish an a priori expectation of uniformity. However, as I've explained that is irrelevant because it would only be an a priori expectation of non uniformity that would require an explanation upon the obeservation of unifomity, but no one has established that it makes sense to think that naturalism entails an a priori expectation of non uniformity.

Again, not having an a prioriexpectation of uniformity is not the same as having an a priori expectation of non uniformity, and only the latter would be a problem upon the observation of uniformity. There's simply no problem for naturalism in the observation of uniformity.

Are you still not getting this?

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Mammal

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #323 on: September 14, 2017, 01:18:38 AM »
There doesn't have to be uniformity of laws of nature, at least not as they currently are. Yet, the laws of nature remain as they are. This 'remain as they are' in the past becomes an expectation for the future. We see the sun rising yesterday and today, so we expect the same thing to occur tomorrow. This expectation of the laws of nature remaining uniform across time and space (the sun doesn't suddenly dance in the sky, though there may be some expections) is not justified on Naturalism.
According to Wikipedia: In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world." Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.

Uhmm...care to reconsider? I am not sure why the heck you or anybody else would think that naturalists would not expect the laws of nature remaining uniform across time and space.
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Relativist

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #324 on: September 14, 2017, 02:01:26 AM »
Relativist,

A naturalist/materialist theory of mind assumes uniformity, it doesn't explain uniformity.
As I've said several times, Armstrong treats the laws of nature as contingent.

Quote
If I understand Armstrong's definition correctly, the relation instantiated is causal. What I don't understand is why he uses the term 'diadic' instead. Also, this diadic relation being instantiated is on his view a 'necessitation'. This necessitation, however, is assumed to be uniform, so it would seem that his account may be circular with regard to explaining uniformity.
Diadic just means it's a relation between two states of affairs types. A triadic relation would be a relation involving 3 states of affairs types.

It is a necessitation because it is fundamentally a relation between states of affairs types. Given that X is a proton, and Y is an electron, it is necessarily the case that X and Y will attract. If X and Y do not attract then they don't comprise a proton-electron pair.

There is uniformity because there are laws of nature (i.e. there are relations between pairs of states of affairs types). This is fundamental to the ontology. There's nothing circular about it. It doesn't attempt to explain why there are protons or electrons, or why they have the properties they have - as I said, this is deemed contingent. Contrast this with a Theistic metaphysics that assumes that a God exists, directly or indirectly.  Every metaphysics ever produced contains assumptions. All one can do is see if they are coherent and if they can account for everything that truly needs to be accounted for. 

Trinity

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #325 on: September 14, 2017, 03:37:23 AM »
Bruce,

We cannot observe uniformity in the future. Rather, we assume, or expect, there to be uniformity in the future. When the future comes and there is still uniformity, then we assumed or expected correctly and that assumption or expectation needs to be 'reasoned' or justified. Someone saying 'well, uniformity just is, deal with it' may be true in the sense that we do observe uniformity, but it is intellectually unsatisfying to leave the explanation at that, to put it that way. Naturalism does not provide us with reasons to assume or expect uniformity in the past and the present, let alone in the future.

If the laws of nature are contingent in the sense that they could have been different than the way they are now, then a reference to observation does not answer the OP's question. The question is based on observation, obviously. We observe uniformity and from that observation we assume or predict there will be uniformity in the future. One could argue this is an a priori assumption, because we cannot observe the future to know that this will be the case.

Mammal,

I'm not arguing that Naturalism does not apply or does not make use of what is called laws of nature. Clearly, naturalists can observe uniformity and they can assume or expect, based on this observation, that there will be uniformity in the future, as there has been in the past and the present. However, this assumption or expectation, if based only on observation, is basically wishful thinking if not justified.

Relativist,

What I understand from Armstrong's view on 'laws of nature' is that his definition contains within it the criteria of necessitation. This is one reason why I think his view is circular, at least with regard to uniformity. What we we would want to see is an explanation for uniformity on Naturalism. It seems to me that Armstrong takes uniformity for granted when he defined 'laws of nature' in terms of necessitation. It begs the question, because we want to know the reason for that necessitation, especially if the laws of nature are contingent and could have been different.
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Mammal

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #326 on: September 14, 2017, 04:43:51 AM »
I'm not arguing that Naturalism does not apply or does not make use of what is called laws of nature. Clearly, naturalists can observe uniformity and they can assume or expect, based on this observation, that there will be uniformity in the future, as there has been in the past and the present. However, this assumption or expectation, if based only on observation, is basically wishful thinking if not justified.
I really don't follow your logic.
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Trinity

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #327 on: September 14, 2017, 04:54:25 AM »
There was uniformity in the past and there is uniformity in the present and there will be uniformity in the future.

This continuity of uniformity across time and space is unaccounted for on Naturalism if the explanation for it is only observational. Observational explanations for uniformity are circular, because they assume that which needs to be explained, in this case uniformity. In order to avoid this circularity, one has to explain uniformity not in physical terms, but in metaphysical terms.
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Mammal

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #328 on: September 14, 2017, 05:12:28 AM »
Why is continuity of uniformity across time and space unaccounted for on naturalism? Why do you assume naturalism rely solely on observation? Einstein and those who preceded him did not observe spacetime (in fact we still don't, only its effects).

Are you implying that, given the fact that scientists have detected uniformity and formulated the laws of physics based on that, naturalism cannot explain why there is such uniformity? Because that is also not true. Naturalism would expect natural mechanisms to apply universally as that would be the most effective manner. Why would nature re-invent alternative mechanisms/applications around every corner? And our insight into quantum physics is proving exactly that...that it is expected for repeated patterns to occur, to be uniform, even deterministic on the most fundamental level of our reality.

This is all just one big red herring if you ask me.
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Trinity

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Re: The Uniformity of the Laws of Nature
« Reply #329 on: September 14, 2017, 05:36:50 AM »
Mammal,

It is unaccounted for, because on Naturalism there is nothing beyond nature. All there is is nature and within nature we observe repeated patterns. The sun rising, water boiling at 100C, etc. The uniformity of those repeated patterns as observed by us has an explanation, otherwise our observation would be irrational. One must ask what explains the uniformity of those repeated patterns in nature? Whether the laws of nature are necessary or contingent, defining them as uniform would be circular if the purpose is to explain their uniformity.
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