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Indeterministic Causality Undermines the PSR

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  • Indeterministic Causality Undermines the PSR

    Let us suppose we have some quantum state. Assuming we know the intial conditions of this state, we can deduce that it will produce a particle 1,2,3, or 4. In addition, each particle has an equal probability of arising from this state (1/4). What this essentially means is, (let us say particle 3 happened to come into existence) that it is a brute fact why particle 3 came into existence rather than the other possibilities.

    The first way we can deal with this fact is to either reject the PSR, or reformulate it.

    The second way we can deal with this is by saying that the regularity of nature is just a description of how God continually sustains nature, and the supposed existence of particles arising indeterministically is contingent on or perspective, and in reality, God chose to have particle 3 come into existence rather than the others, which would essentially leave us with some sort of modal collapse.

    I am not really commited to any position on the PSR's relation to indeterminacy and it really has just been a thought I've had, but I would like to hear your reponses.

  • #2
    1) Have you read Pruss?

    2) HAVE YOU READ PRUSS?

    3) We could just accept indeterministic explanations. That could mean reformulating the PSR, if your view of PSR is that contingent facts must be explained by causes that necessitates them.

    4) I fail to see how there would be modal collapse in case God freely and arbitrarily wills 3 instead of the others. If there were a modal collapse in that case, then there really wouldn't even be other options available, in any case.

    Comment


    • #3
      Atno

      3) we could accept them, but it seems to me we would also be accepting the existence of brute contingency.

      4) If God contingently wills some world, there is either an explanation of this fact or there isn't. If there is, then the explanan either entails this fact or it doesn't. If the explanan entails this fact and is necessary, we have a modal collapse. If this explanan doesn't entail this fact (if it is either contingent or necessary), then the explanadum is a brute fact (given the argument above). We can just keep running the same argument until we are left with a modal collapse, an infinite regression of explanations, or accept some brute contingency.

      I know Pruss was open to the idea that the contingent choices of a necessary being could be a brute fact, but I see no reason to let this particular situation be an acception to the PSR, rather than any other instance of the existence of brute contingency.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post
        Atno

        3) we could accept them, but it seems to me we would also be accepting the existence of brute contingency.

        4) If God contingently wills some world, there is either an explanation of this fact or there isn't. If there is, then the explanan either entails this fact or it doesn't. If the explanan entails this fact and is necessary, we have a modal collapse. If this explanan doesn't entail this fact (if it is either contingent or necessary), then the explanadum is a brute fact (given the argument above). We can just keep running the same argument until we are left with a modal collapse, an infinite regression of explanations, or accept some brute contingency.

        I know Pruss was open to the idea that the contingent choices of a necessary being could be a brute fact, but I see no reason to let this particular situation be an acception to the PSR, rather than any other instance of the existence of brute contingency.
        3) I guess I (and Pruss) just don't share your view or intuition. To me, PSR is about the need for something to make a contingent fact true; something that makes it real instead of non-real. It doesn't matter if that something makes the contingent fact true in a deterministic way, or a way that would entail the fact. All that matters, as I see it in both intuition and experience and everyday life, is that we can ultimately ground the existence or truth of a contingent thing in something else. Or, to put it in an Aristotelian or Thomistic fashion, that there be an actualizer for the actualized potency (true contingent fact). No need for any entailment there. Sufficient to explain or cause does not mean sufficient to entail.

        But as Pruss says, if you don't recognize this as a principle of sufficient reason, just give it a different name, like "principle of good enough explanation". Then you can reject the "PSR" which would require entailment.

        4) Sure, but this presuposes the explanans must entail the explanandum (which I don't accept) or that there cannot be self-explanatory free acts.

        And Pruss is not open to the idea that contingent choices could be brute facts. His suggestion is that maybe free acts can be *self-explanatory*, not brute.

        Comment


        • #5
          Atno

          ​​​​​​​3) Then what makes the contingent fact that particle three came into existence rather than the others, true?

          I am not really worried about what you call the explanatory principle. I see any true explanatory principle as necessitating the explanation of all true contingent facts. Although, what I propose at the bottom could be something I am willing to accept over the PSR as generally formulated.

          4) I fail to see how one can avoid a modal collapse if one formulates the PSR as "all true contingent facts have an explanaotion". Perhaps if you accept that free acts can be self-explanatory, but why accept that they can be rather than other contingent facts?

          My bad. I remembered incorrectly.

          Here is another thought: If we changed the PSR to "all existing contingent concrete objects have an explanation of their existence", would that escape the dilemma I proposed? At least, if you accept my reasoning. After all, that particle three came into existence rather than the others is not a contingent concrete object.

          Comment


          • #6
            CLT believes indeterministic causes need a reason for why they produce a specific effect as opposed others. Atno believes this would undermine what it means to be indeterministic, and we should rather just include indeterministic causes within the fold of PSR. CLT argues that there would then be no reason for why an indeterministic cause produces the effect it does--we would then have a violation of PSR. Atno argues that as long as the cause is sufficient to explain the actuality of the effect (principle of causality) then there is no violation.

            Hopefully I've summarized this okay.

            My opinion is this. Whether or not a strict deterministic relation between cause and effect can be established, PSR isn't violated if the cause is actually sufficient to explain the effect. As to why an indeterministic cause produces a particular effect over others, the question itself may not even be a legitimate one. It may be akin to asking why a circle is not also a square. An indeterministic cause does not have a specific reason for its specific effect because its effect isn't strictly determined. That doesn't mean it's a brute fact that this effect is actualized rather than any other, it just means that this effect was actualized and what it explains it is an indeterminate cause.

            Comment


            • #7
              RomanJoe
              My worry was that if we accept a PSR pretaining to facts, then we have a brute fact with respect to "why some cause produced this effect rather than some other", assuming that it is indeterministic. I would then see any way out of the brute fact, under this formulation of the PSR, as resulting in a modal collapse.

              "[the] PSR isn't violated if the cause is actually sufficient to explain the effect." Then I wouldn't see this falling under the PSR as formulated as "for every true contingent fact, there is an explanaotion of that fact". It would seem to be more of what I suggested under me previous comment, which was essentially "for evey actually existing concrete object, there is an explanation of that objects existence" which I have no problem with. If we reject the PSR pretaining to facts and accept the formulation pertaining to concrete objects, I see that as a reasonable way out of a modal collapse.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hopefully this helps:

                "But from a Scholastic point of view it is a
                mistake to suppose in the first place that causality entails determinism, though this may seem to follow from Leibnizian rationalist versions of PSR. As W. Norris Clarke points out (2001, p. 181), PSR in its rationalist version seems to regard an effect as something that can be
                deduced from its cause. It looks forward from causes to their effects. The Thomist, however, looks backward from effects to causes. On a Thomistic construal of PSR, for a cause to be sufficient to explain its effect it is not necessary that it cause it. It need only make the effect
                intelligible. (Cf. Smart and Haldane 2003, pp. 125-26) And that condition is satisfied on a non-deterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics"​​ (Feser, SM 135).

                Comment


                • #9
                  3) What makes it true is the indeterministic cause that actualized the potential existence of particle 3. Again we just need a ground for contingent facts or things, something to which we can trace back their existence or the fact that they obtain. This does not require determinism. At this point, you are just begging the questio by insisting that there must be a deterministic cause or explanation, which is fine if you really have that intuition, but I don't, and neither does Pruss or Feser, for example. As I said before, sufficient to explain does not mean sufficient to entail. What I find self-evident about PSR is the need for an explanation that can make true (whether deterministically or not, doesn't matter) the obtaining of a fact that could've failed to be real. This principle would also account for our experience.

                  Since you have the intuition that PSR must be deterministic and that you can't hold another explanatory principle which is non-deterministic, your options are:
                  A) reject PSR and all related principles that require an actual explanation for contingent facts; B) accept Modal Collapse;
                  C) revise your intuitions, reflect, and reject a deterministic interpretation of PSR and accept either that explanations can be non-entailing, or that some contingent facts can be self-explanatory (like free actions).

                  I would suggest you to go with option C. Read more about PSR (especially Pruss's work on the Van Inwagen objection, seriously, that is precisely what you're talking about), think about it, revise your view. To me PSR really is about the need for something to make it the case that X (X = contingent), this "making" need not be deterministic. I am really not bothered by issues of modal collapse.
                  Option C would also accomodate other arguments for PSR, such as the inductive generalization from observed explanations, etc.

                  If you go with A, though, you could still accept some modal principles which are sufficient for cosmological arguments.

                  4) You can avoid it in at least two ways. The first, which is my own position, would be the rejection of the idea that an explanans must entail its explanandum. That's what I talked about in 3. If the explanans need not entail the explanandum, we can have genuine indeterministic explanations and avoid any modal collapse. The other way would be to accept that there can be contingent self-explanatory facts, such as free acts. This is not arbitrary; Pruss explains why free acts could perhaps be good candidates for self-explained facts while other contingent facts aren't; certainly free choices would be very different from, say, facts about existence of things.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Atno
                    It isn't that I start at the PSR and then from that understanding, have the intuition it must be deterministic. Rather, I am starting with the fact of indeterministic causation, and coming to the conclusion that it violates the PSR, and therefore a PSR with respect to facts must be deterministic. This isn't really an important point though, I just feel like you may be misunderstanding me when you speak of "intuition".

                    3) "What makes it true is the indeterministic cause that actualized the potential existence of particle 3" To me this just sounds like a PSR with respect to concrete objects. My only contention is that a PSR with respect to facts (I'll just call this PSRF) will logically lead to modal collapse, not a PSR with respect to objects (I'll call this PSRO). Under the PSRO, we can ask the question why particle 3 exists, and once we find that which brought it into existence, the PSRO is satisfied. There need not necessarily be an explanation of why particle 3 was brought into existence rather than the other objects which had an equal probability of existing because that is only a fact, not an object, and therefore need not necessarily be explained. Under the PSRF, that fact needs to be explained (particle 3 was brought into existence rather than the other objects which had an equal probability of existing); however, that fact cannot have an explanation, because each particle has an equal probability of existing. If you could give some sufficient reason as to why particle 3 than the others, then the probabilities really wouldn't be equal, and therefore wouldn't really be indeterminism. The only way we can satisfy this dilemma is by saying that the cause really wasn't indeterministic and modal collapse is the reality. The answer to why particle 3 exists would be because particle 3 necessarily had to exist at this point in time.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It is the issue. And I was talking about a PSR that applies to facts, not just objects. I just don't think indeterministic causes would violate PSR. I think we can give some contrastive explanations which nevertheless are non-deterministic. Again, there is no problem if ylu accept either that there can e genuine explanations of facts that do not entail the explananda, or if you accept the possibility of somself-explanatory contingent facts (as in the case of free will). I favor the first option.

                      Also, read this: http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2...-and-than.html

                      And overal read Pruss's work on this stuff. yOu can find hisarticle about leibnizian cosmological aruments online if you google it, and he deals with this kind of objection there.

                      Comment

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