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Thread: Contingent truths?

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torin View Post
    Probability is an epistemological concept - it pertains to our knowledge of things, not the things themselves. Once you have tossed a coin, there is a probability of 1 in reality that it will land (say) heads, but from our perspective the probability is 0.5 since we are ignorant of all of the forces operating on the coin and can only use the evidence of past tosses to form a conclusion.
    Even in a fully determined universe, probability is more than epistemological. For instance, it's objectively the case that in a fair deck of cards, it's more probable that a randomly drawn card will be a face card than the Ace of Spades. That's analytically and mathematically an incontrovertible fact, even though "randomly drawn" can be characterized as a case of epistemological ignorance. Whether or not we have all the knowledge about the relevant aspects of what's happening, it will never change the fact that there are more face cards than there are Aces of Spades in a fair deck.

  2. Top | #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torin View Post
    I agree that an entity without free will will always act the same way in exactly the same environment. I don't know what "without context and environment" means, though. Even the vacuum of space is an environment.
    I meant without a context/environment that is changing around the entity. It's isn't that it "always acts the same way" in a static environment. It's that it does not act at all, but rather remains eternally in whatever state it started in. To act is to change in what one was doing before, and that change requires the introduction of some new force upon the entity.
    If the context and environment does not change, then the entity will never "act" . IOW, all action is caused by the context external to the acting entity, not just the inherent properties of the entity itself.

    Once this is acknowledged, then it follows that the inherent nature of an entity is separate from it's current and past contexts that led to act as it does. Thus, that context could have been otherwise without the nature of the entity being different. Thus, it's actions could have been otherwise, making those actions contingent on context outside of the essential nature of the entity.
    Its actions could have been otherwise if the environment was different,
    Which means that its actions are contingent upon what the environment was at that point and time, which is the real definition of contingent truth.

    but that's perfectly compatible with my explanation of the law of causality.
    No, your definition places all causality within the properties inherent to the object. Only by this untenable assumption are the truths about the current state of an object non-contingent and "neccessary", as you response to the OP claimed. If the action or current state are contingent upon a context, then the truth about that action/state is contingent. Contingent means contingent upon a particular chain of causality. That context in turn could be different, if the even larger context or preceding events had been different, ad infinitum. All that matters is that the events can be conceived of as having occurred differently without changing the definition of the subject and predicate in the assertion. IF so, then it's a contingent truth. If making it untrue requires changing the definition of the subject or predicate (e.g., "Cats are mammals"), then and only then is it a neccessary truth.



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    Quote Originally Posted by PyramidHead View Post
    So, to you, there is no improbability involved in your winning the lottery, since it could not have happened other than exactly the way it did? It would seem to also imply that, in fact, there is no such thing as probability. If so, how does your model account for the wide success of predictive algorithms and techniques explicitly based on probability, like those used by professional blackjack players?
    Probability is an epistemological concept - it pertains to our knowledge of things, not the things themselves. Once you have tossed a coin, there is a probability of 1 in reality that it will land (say) heads, but from our perspective the probability is 0.5 since we are ignorant of all of the forces operating on the coin and can only use the evidence of past tosses to form a conclusion.

    Note what I emphasized. All those forces operation on the coin are what caused it to be heads. Thus, it being heads is contingent upon all those forces that are distinct from the inherent properties of the coin in itself. That makes "The coin landed heads" a contingent truth.

  3. Top | #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fast View Post
    Free will is a non compulsory choice.
    So it's a choice not contingent on compulsion?
    EB
    Free will has to do with two things, and one of those things is wants. If you want to do something and choose to do that something, then you have freely chosen to do as you please; moreover, if you don’t want to do something and choose to not do that something, then you have freely chosen to refrain from doing as you don’t please.

    Free will also has to do with the absence of compulsion. That is a restraint (from) or constraint (to) act contrary to how you would otherwise want to act; furthermore, compulsion is like pressure that can sometimes be overcome—and sometimes not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Here are a few possible truths:

    (s0) You've just found a lost wallet with 10 dollars in it.

    (s1) Joe has two legs.

    (s2) Humans have a brain.

    (s3) Trump was elected president.

    (s4) e = mc2.

    (s5) God doesn't exist.

    (s6) Atoms with ten protons exist.
    Assuming these are indeed truths, which ones do you see as contingent?

    Thanks for your answers.
    EB
    s0 - Isn't a truth

    s1, s5 - May or may not be true, determining the nature of truth is premature when we don't know if it is indeed true.

    s2, s4, s6 are necessary truths

    s3 - There is your contingent truth.

  5. Top | #25
    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fast View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fast View Post
    Free will is a non compulsory choice.
    So it's a choice not contingent on compulsion?
    EB
    Free will has to do with two things, and one of those things is wants. If you want to do something and choose to do that something, then you have freely chosen to do as you please; moreover, if you don’t want to do something and choose to not do that something, then you have freely chosen to refrain from doing as you don’t please.

    Free will also has to do with the absence of compulsion. That is a restraint (from) or constraint (to) act contrary to how you would otherwise want to act; furthermore, compulsion is like pressure that can sometimes be overcome—and sometimes not.
    Yes, I broadly agree. Yet, once you want to do something, you will try to do it. Whether you do it will depend on all sorts of things. Maybe external constraints will prevent you from acting, but maybe you will not act because you also happen to want something else and more urgently or more badly. I may want to go to bed but if I also want to watch the Moon in the sky, I may choose to stay up to watch the Moon.

    compulsion
    1.
    a. The act of compelling.
    b. The state of being compelled.
    2. An irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation: "He felt an animal compulsion to flee the hotel and the city" (Paul Theroux).
    So, choosing to do and wanting are different things. And, clearly, want is a compulsion on what you do. Your choice is constrained not only by external compulsions but also by our own compulsions, including what you want.

    And then, we don't choose what we want.
    EB

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