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Thread: Possibility (two perspectives)

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fast View Post
    That four is actually what it landed on doesn’t alter the possibility of what it could have landed on.
    ...
    It was a possibility and it no longer is.

    It is still true today that it was a possibility yesterday. The truth hasn't changed.

    How are you going to prove there was really a possibility of landing a 6 yesterday when you know it was a 4 the die showed. It's done. Alea jacta est. You can consider current possibilities because you are ignorant of the future.

    You may even talk of what happened in the past in terms of possibilities when you actually ignore what happened.

    Thus, it's possible the murderer stalked its victim for weeks before committing the crime. It is still a possibility today that the murderer stalked its victim for weeks simply because you happen to still ignore today that it was not the case. Epistemological possibility. There's nothing else to it which is not metaphysical.

    What is the use of a metaphysical possibility?
    EB
    It could be used to say something like: "It's possible you could have made a different choice.", since the possibility still exists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fast View Post
    That four is actually what it landed on doesn’t alter the possibility of what it could have landed on.
    ...
    It was a possibility and it no longer is.

    It is still true today that it was a possibility yesterday. The truth hasn't changed.

    How are you going to prove there was really a possibility of landing a 6 yesterday when you know it was a 4 the die showed. It's done. Alea jacta est. You can consider current possibilities because you are ignorant of the future.

    You may even talk of what happened in the past in terms of possibilities when you actually ignore what happened.

    Thus, it's possible the murderer stalked its victim for weeks before committing the crime. It is still a possibility today that the murderer stalked its victim for weeks simply because you happen to still ignore today that it was not the case. Epistemological possibility. There's nothing else to it which is not metaphysical.

    What is the use of a metaphysical possibility?
    EB
    It could be used to say something like: "It's possible you could have made a different choice.", since the possibility still exists.
    Yes, but that too can be subtley twisted. How is it possible I could have made a different choice when the evidence is before us that I did not. It’s like there’s always a different interpretation hanging in the balance.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fast View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    ...
    It could be used to say something like: "It's possible you could have made a different choice.", since the possibility still exists.
    Yes, but that too can be subtley twisted. How is it possible I could have made a different choice when the evidence is before us that I did not. It’s like there’s always a different interpretation hanging in the balance.
    I don't see that as the issue. The issue is that the possibility of making that choice (or the result from that roll of the dice) gets to ignore everything that caused that particular result in that particular instance. It's the presumption that even if everything was the same the result of the roll (or the choice) could have been different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    What is the use of a metaphysical possibility?
    EB
    It could be used to say something like: "It's possible you could have made a different choice.", since the possibility still exists.
    Exactly the same as: "You could have made a different choice".

    However, now it's clear with the past tense of "could have made" that the possibility no longer exists for that particular choice. It existed as long as the choice was still in the future because you couldn't know at the time what choice you would make eventually.

    We don't think in terms of the possibilities of changing the past, because we know what the past is (or believe we know).

    Your sentence "It's possible you could have made a different choice" is just sloppy English and effectively self-contradictory.

    You could say "It's possible he made a different choice" if you mean that what we assume as to the choice he made may be false. And this would be in the present: there is now the possibility that, unbeknownst to us, he made a different choice from what we believe that he did.

    Your sentence is self-contradictory because it means both that you know and don't know what choice was made.
    EB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fast View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    ...
    It could be used to say something like: "It's possible you could have made a different choice.", since the possibility still exists.
    Yes, but that too can be subtley twisted. How is it possible I could have made a different choice when the evidence is before us that I did not. It’s like there’s always a different interpretation hanging in the balance.
    I don't see that as the issue. The issue is that the possibility of making that choice (or the result from that roll of the dice) gets to ignore everything that caused that particular result in that particular instance. It's the presumption that even if everything was the same the result of the roll (or the choice) could have been different.
    Could have been... There was a possibility of a different outcome. That possibility no longer exists.
    EB

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    Rolling a four isn’t the only possibility.
    I can say that even after a roll has been made.

    I’m trying to be careful not to fall into past tense usage after what actually occured is known.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Boole yah Bayes

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post

    OK, I give you the last 20 outcomes:

    3, 4, 5, 3, 2, 3, 1, 5, 4, 1, 1, 1, 5, 2, 3, 1, 4, 4, 5, 4.




    EB
    I couldn't find that sequence in my Chemical Rubber Publishing Company Book of mathematics and statistics tables. I call modding for fun and real estate.

    It's late and I'm tired by not sleepy.

  9. Top | #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by fast View Post
    Rolling a four isn’t the only possibility.
    I can say that even after a roll has been made.

    I’m trying to be careful not to fall into past tense usage after what actually occured is known.
    I've already replied to that.

    If the die is loaded, what you think is a possibility won't be an actual one, and after 10 or one thousand throws you will realise it by yourself and you will stop thinking it's a possibility, or indeed that there were any such possibility from the start.

    Each time you throw a (fair) die, you will consider the possibilities anew. What are the actual possibilities will be rolled out in front of you as you keep throwing the die: 3, 5, 2, 2, 1, 1, 5, 3, 2, 4, 1, 4... No 6's? Maybe no 6's. It's possible. And it is it actually the case that no 6 will ever come out because the die is loaded, then having a 6 never was a possibility.

    This is how things work because we actually can't know what would be the actual "potential results" of casting a die before casting it. Only the fact that you throw the die and look at the results will tell you what are the actual possibilities. Talk of possibilities is a measure of how ignorant we are. God is possible. You a Chinese spy to me is possible. Trump a genius is possible. It's just that he makes sure he looks like an idiot.

    Anyway, I guess you want to believe in metaphysical things like possibilities and knowledge of the real world outside your mind. There's nothing I can do to convince you against your will. Yours is an ideological position. Letting go of metaphysical possibilities would necessitate that you reconsider the entirety of your ideology and you probably don't feel like doing that. But, I can guaranty you that you won't find any actual possibilities outside what is actually the case. In this case, your own mind.
    EB

  10. Top | #30
    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post

    I don't see that as the issue. The issue is that the possibility of making that choice (or the result from that roll of the dice) gets to ignore everything that caused that particular result in that particular instance. It's the presumption that even if everything was the same the result of the roll (or the choice) could have been different.
    Could have been... There was a possibility of a different outcome. That possibility no longer exists.
    EB
    I would agree with you. I was just making the point that in order for the possibility (as our friend fast would have it) to remain after the event occurs you would need to re-define the word, or else find another word as he suggested might be the case in OP. He seems to want something that idealizes the concept of a possibility so that even if in any particular case our imperfect assessment of it is off, an absolutely true value for the possibility exists as a sort of Platonic ideal. Now I'm putting words in his mouth. But it seems to me that's what it would require. A possibility needs to be re-defined very narrowly to the point that it obviates all the extraneous variables that might effect the actual outcome. In other words it must reject determinism. And as a matter of course in a deterministic world there would be no such thing as possibility. Everything is inevitable. That's why the word will always be an expression of our uncertainty. And it's a perfectly good and useful way of doing that. We shouldn't look for opportunities to corrupt that meaning.

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