2,657 thoughts on “Elon Musk Thinks Evolution is Bullshit.

  1. Neil Rickert: In ordinary life, “identical” means about the same as “indistinguishable”

    In this discussion, I have been taking “identical” to mean atom for atom the same as, including quantum states.

    I don’t see much point to the discussion. If we have quantum same as, there can be no difference in behavior, other that that induced by differences in the ongoing environment.

    If they are superficially similar, but have different histories, they are not the same at all, for the purposes of this discussion. Identical twins reared in different cultures would likely have different languages and different religious views.

  2. keiths:
    KN,

    The circularity is quite vicious:

    1. Assume that the senses are veridical.
    2. Develop a body of scientific conclusions based on that assumption.
    3. Use those conclusions to demonstrate that the senses are veridical.

    The circularity arises here because you are insisting (rather dogmatically, I might add) on treating justification here as having the structure of a deductively valid argument. Only when put into that form is the argument circular. That’s like creationists who insist that evolutionary theory is circular because it assumes what it sets out to prove.

    The mistake in both cases is neglecting the difference between the structure of justification in purely formal domains, where deductive validity is the appropriate kind of structure, and the structure of justification in non-formal domains — such as science, politics, art, law, and so forth. (I think that this conflation of formal and non-formal domains is the best way of thinking about what goes wrong with Descartes’s ‘quest for certainty.’)

    The non-deductivist alternative is to recognize that — to take one example of non-formal justification — scientists formulate some constitutive rule or principle on which a model is then based, and then devise ways of testing that model against reality through constructing highly constrained experiments. This generates a process that is rational by virtue of being self-correcting, not by virtue of being deduced from principles.

    Likewise, philosophers can both appeal to our naive judgments of introspection, memory, and perception in order to develop a theory about those judgments which explains why they are reliable, to the extent that they are, and also why they are not reliable, to the extent that they are. This is no more circular than scientific reasoning generally, though both will look circular if one insists on deductive validity as the sole model of justification.

    Foundationalists would obviously disagree with you, but in any case the rejection of foundationalism does not entail an embrace of the claim that the senses are veridical.

    True, but the rejection of foundationalism clears the way for accepting a version of epistemological holism according to which rationality lies in the self-corrections across the network of inferentially linked commitments and entitlements. On that epistemological methodology, there’s nothing viciously circular about using our naive judgments of perception, memory, and introspection in order to construct a theory about those judgments that explains why those judgments are reliable, to the extent that they are, and also why they are not reliable, to the extent that they are.

    And why resort to a circular argument against Cartesian skepticism when a non-circular argument for it is available? Whence the skeptophobia?

    There is no non-circular argument against Cartesian skepticism. Hume was the first philosopher to realize this, and he’s completely right. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you here.

    No, because the asterisk doesn’t amount to a “mythical foundation”. It’s exactly the opposite: an explicit acknowledgement that the knowledge claim in question depends on some assumptions that aren’t known to be true.To attach the implicit asterisk is simply to be honest with ourselves.

    I meant that the non-asterisked use of “knowledge” was the one purported to rest on a mythical foundation, and that the use of an asterisk signals that there is no foundation. That’s why I wrote:

    knowledge and knowledge with an asterisk seems roughly analogous to a distinction I would urge between knowledge with a mythical foundation attached to it and genuine knowledge without the attempt at “grounding” it in anything else.

    I thought the construction of the sentence would make it perfectly clear that — pairing your terms with mine — I was trying to say that

    “knowledge” = “knowledge with a mythical foundation attached to it”
    “knowledge with an asterisk” = “genuine knowledge without the attempt at “grounding” it in anything else”

  3. petrushka:

    Patrick’s map traversal metaphor at the level of quantum phenomena, amplified by complexity.

    As long as we recover the entire quantum state and stay with the entire quantum state (and not just subsystems which might decohere), then the evolution of that quantum state is deterministic.

    I did say “in principle” when I brought this up, so concerns like unpredictability due to inexact information on the initial state do not apply.

  4. walto:
    BruceS,

    I think you have to be a little careful there, Bruce. As i’ve mentioned before, there are various ways to define both physical properties and ‘supervenience’ on micro-particles. On some of them supervenience isn’t plausible. Second, as both you and keiths note, you require as a premise that time-backwards movement is deterministic.

    I am not sure why you mention supervenience. I was trying to make the point that causal history at the lowest level of physics is still there for those who were uncomfortable with history in their physicalism.

    If you mean it that it would not be possible to recover that history when you express it at a higher level which supervenes on the physics, I suspect you right.

    AFAIK you do have to use quantum information to support time reversibility and information preservation. I did say “in principle”.

  5. petrushka:

    Indeterminacy implies that we have no way of predicting events at the quantum level, and having backed a chain of events, we have no way of knowing if it will play the same way forward.

    I addressed that yesterday:

    Quantum indeterminacy only comes into play when a wavefunction collapses. The universe’s wavefunction never collapses, so indeterminacy isn’t an issue.

  6. petrushka: In this discussion, I have been taking “identical” to mean atom for atom the same as,

    There’s a classic little paper by Max Black (“Black Max” as he was known at Cornell) refuting the identity of indiscernibles, by discussing a universe that has nothing in it but two “identical” spheres. Every (qualitative) property* one has, the other has too. But….there are still TWO spheres.

    *”Qualitative” is added here to rule out “individual essences” or what the medievals called “haecceities.” That is, if one contains X atoms of Y type arranged in such and such a fashion, so does the other one. No distinguishing characteristics, but two spheres nonetheless.

    ETA: all the relational properties of each sphere are the same too–again, assuming we don’t try to sneak proper names or individual essences into the designations of such properties. E.g., say one of the sphere’s is exactly one mile away from a perfect sphere, 1/2 mile in diameter, of pure titanium. So is the other one.

  7. BruceS: I am not sure why you mention supervenience

    I mentioned supervenience because you responded to Patrick’s example about a person being conveyed to a the same location by two different routes, by referring to the characteristics of particles upon which I presume you take this person to supervene.

  8. keiths:

    I don’t think that follows. There can still be multiple paths to the same end state in a deterministic system.

    Not if the laws are time-reversible.

    If there are two paths to the same end state, it means that the paths join somewhere.If you run time backwards, they fork at that same point, which means the time-reversed system isn’t deterministic.

    Consider a game of pool or, since we’re all intellectuals here, chess. In the endgame the positions of the last few balls or pieces can be the same for many different preceding games. There is not one unique path to those states.

  9. walto: Every (qualitative) property* one has, the other has too. But….there are still TWO spheres.

    Sounds about like the Barry Arrington’s position in the last thread before i was banned.

    I received a telephone call one day at the graduate college at Princeton from Professor Wheeler, in which he said, “Feynman, I know why all electrons have the same charge and the same mass” “Why?” “Because, they are all the same electron!”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-electron_universe

    Why do you suppose two great physicists thought this quip is amusing? Because it is true, or because it is interesting?

  10. Patrick:

    Consider a game of pool or, since we’re all intellectuals here, chess. In the endgame the positions of the last few balls or pieces can be the same for many different preceding games. There is not one unique path to those states.

    Yes, because the rules of chess aren’t deterministic or time-reversible.

  11. petrushka, to Neil:

    In this discussion, I have been taking “identical” to mean atom for atom the same as, including quantum states.

    I don’t see much point to the discussion. If we have quantum same as, there can be no difference in behavior, other that that induced by differences in the ongoing environment.

    That’s the point of my Anaximander Rodriguez scenario. Bruce wants differences in the meaning of the name ‘Anaximander Rodriguez’ to supervene on differences in the brain states and physical environs of the linguistic community on Earth versus Twin Earth. There are no such differences, so Bruce’s theory of meaning fails.

    He points out that the relevant differences in causal history are implicitly preserved in the present state of the entire universe. That’s true, but it doesn’t rescue his theory because the differences are preserved in the wrong parts of the universe.

  12. walto: I mentioned supervenience because you responded to Patrick’s example about a person being conveyed to a the same location by two different routes, by referring to the characteristics of particles upon which I presume you take this person to supervene.

    OK, I see. I do agree there is no reversibility for such macrostates.

    I only included that that quote to point out that those weren’t the type of situations where my points applied when I said to “consider the time reversibility of physics” in reply to a post which said a given end state could arise from different previous states. I should say I have not read any of the intervening comments.

    If a supervenience physicalists are worried about supervenience on past states, then perhaps they would be happier to accept that the supervenience can remain on current states, as long as one allows that that base state for the supervenience can expand at the speed of light, to account for any stray photons that interacted with the subsystem of interest.

  13. keiths:

    Consider a game of pool or, since we’re all intellectuals here, chess. In the endgame the positions of the last few balls or pieces can be the same for many different preceding games. There is not one unique path to those states.

    Yes, because the rules of chess aren’t deterministic or time-reversible.

    Those games are played in a universe that, if I understand you correctly, you are claiming is deterministic and time-reversible. They are an existence proof that those characteristics do not result in a single path to any particular state such as the end of a chess game.

    If you can’t determine the history of a chess game from the state where only a few pieces are left on the board, why would you expect to be able to determine the history of more complex states?

  14. Patrick: If you can’t determine the history of a chess game from the state where only a few pieces are left on the board, why would you expect to be able to determine the history of more complex states?

    Checkmate! 🙂

  15. Kantian Naturalist: The non-deductivist alternative is to recognize that — to take one example of non-formal justification — scientists formulate some constitutive rule or principle on which a model is then based, and then devise ways of testing that model against reality through constructing highly constrained experiments. This generates a process that is rational by virtue of being self-correcting, not by virtue of being deduced from principles.

    I made one significant mistake here that I’d better correct before someone gets there first: scientists respond to a problem, where the problem is sometimes a deficiency in an model already in use, by revising a model even to the point of devising new constitutive principles. I didn’t want to convey that I thought scientists invented models ab initio.

  16. petrushka: Sounds about like the Barry Arrington’s position in the last thread before i was banned.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-electron_universe

    Why do you suppose two great physicists thought this quip is amusing? Because it is true, or because it is interesting?

    Not sure what you’re saying there. If I understand that quip, their simply agreeing with Black that piling on qualititative similarities doesn’t produce numerical identities. It simply can’t.

    The reason for making that point is that remarks like these can be misleading:

    petrushka: In this discussion, I have been taking “identical” to mean atom for atom the same as, including quantum states.

    “Atom for atom the same” is ambiguous.

    I don’t see much point to the discussion. If we have quantum same as, there can be no difference in behavior, other that that induced by differences in the ongoing environment

    I think you don’t see the point because you haven’t quite gotten what is being discussed. The externalist (someone who makes the causal history essential) doesn’t suggest there will be differences in BEHAVIOR. They will completely agree with you that there can’t be.

  17. Patrick,

    Those games are played in a universe that, if I understand you correctly, you are claiming is deterministic and time-reversible.

    Yes, but there’s a huge difference between the following two claims:

    1. The entire history of a chess game is implicit in the positions of the remaining pieces during the endgame.

    2. The entire history of the universe is implicit in its current state.

    #1 is obviously false, but #2 is actually true according to current theory.

    If you can’t determine the history of a chess game from the state where only a few pieces are left on the board, why would you expect to be able to determine the history of more complex states?

    Complexity isn’t an issue, because this isn’t a question of human ability. No one (including Bruce) is suggesting that humans can do anything remotely like this. Bruce’s point was that if you consider the state of the entire universe, then causal histories are implicitly preserved, so there actually is something physical upon which differences in meaning can potentially supervene, given his history-based definition of meaning.

    The problem for Bruce is that the potentially “supervenable” state isn’t where he wants it to be. See this comment for an explanation.

  18. Bruce,

    If a supervenience physicalists are worried about supervenience on past states, then perhaps they would be happier to accept that the supervenience can remain on current states, as long as one allows that that base state for the supervenience can expand at the speed of light, to account for any stray photons that interacted with the subsystem of interest.

    The problem is far more serious than a few “stray photons”. Take the earliest relevant event in the causal history and visualize its light cone. The “base state” encompasses the entirety of the light cone up to the present. Anything within that section of the light cone potentially matters, not just a few stray photons.

  19. keiths: 1. The entire history of a chess game is implicit in the positions of the remaining pieces during the endgame.

    2. The entire history of the universe is implicit in its current state.

    #1 is obviously false, but #2 is actually true according to current theory.

    What do you take the the status of 2 to be? If it’s supposed to be a necessary truth, it seems like it will be inconsistent with swampy hypotheses. If it’s not, I’m not sure what its philosophical significance is thought to be (if anything).

  20. walto,

    What do you take the the status of 2 to be? If it’s supposed to be a necessary truth, it seems like it will be inconsistent with swampy hypotheses.

    I don’t think #2 is a necessary truth, because other possible worlds presumably admit of physical laws that are not deterministic, not time-reversible, or both.

    If it’s not, I’m not sure what its philosophical significance is thought to be (if anything).

    The philosophical significance of #2 (in the context of the current discussion) is that it offers something physical for history-based meaning to supervene upon. From my comment to Patrick above:

    Bruce’s point was that if you consider the state of the entire universe, then causal histories are implicitly preserved, so there actually is something physical upon which differences in meaning can potentially supervene, given his history-based definition of meaning.

    The problem for Bruce is that the potentially “supervenable” state isn’t where he wants it to be. See this comment for an explanation.

  21. keiths:

    Yes, but there’s a huge difference between the following two claims:

    1. The entire history of a chess game is implicit in the positions of the remaining pieces during the endgame.

    2. The entire history of the universe is implicit in its current state.

    #1 is obviously false, but #2 is actually true according to current theory.
    . . . .

    Do you have a cite for that? I may not have been paying sufficient attention to the earlier part of this thread.

    If a chess game is part of the universe and its history is not implicit in its current state, how can the history of the universe be implicit in its current state (which includes the chess game)?

  22. keiths:
    Bruce,

    The problem is far more serious than a few “stray photons”.Take the earliest relevant event in the causal history and visualize its light cone. The “base state”encompasses the entirety of the light cone up to the present.Anything within that section of the light cone potentially matters, not just a few stray photons.

    Yes, I understand. That stray photon stuff was humor. I also had the additional line that “one might have some trouble keeping pace with it”. But I guess it would not have helped.

    I did say “in principle”. There is a fact of the matter about causal history at the lowest level of physics, even we cannot know it.

    It’s only different in scale from the fact of matter about Ceasar’s sneeze even if we cannot know it. That was the topic of the exchange with Neil.

  23. keiths:
    walto, to Patrick:

    Physicalism doesn’t preclude the ability to track things, walto. If someone watches the forgery being created and then tracks it carefully and continuously, he or she will always know which is the forgery and which is the original.

    Tracking isn’t essential, either. If we’re talking about the Mona Lisa versus a perfect forgery, for example, then the fact that security is so tight at the Louvre would be something that we would take into account. If we see one Mona Lisa outside the Louvre and another Mona Lisa inside the Louvre, it’s a safe bet that the one outside is a forgery.In other words, we take advantage of the physical state of the world, which includes the state of security at the Louvre, to decide which of the two identical paintings is a forgery.

    Luckily, the laws of physics don’t “care” about such ostensibly physical properties. They only care about the current physical state of Swampman plus any interactions currently taking place between him and his environment.

    There’s so much talking past each other here. From my perspective the only interesting cases involve qualitatively identical entities where meanings are nevertheless thought to diverge by externalists. So much of the epistemological stuff here about whether one might be able to find out which item is authentic doesn’t much matter. If the stories involve eventually discernible differences, we either rule them out in favor of Star Trek type hypotheses, or we postulate that the items can’t be distinguished, or just ask the questions about reference prior to anybody discerning anything.

    What the externalist claims is that referents of terms can be in a sense finer-grained than any physical specification that does not somehow include the histories of the speakers and the referents. Now, if one insists (with Leibniz?) and, I think Bruce in his ETA 1 above, that complete histories are necessarily embedded in current micro-structures, I’m not sure what’s left of swampman-killing externalism.

  24. BruceS: There is a fact of the matter about causal history at the lowest level of physics, even we cannot know it.

    If so, then I think you should be cleaving to a more limited version of externalism than you have been pushing. keiths has been making that argument, I believe.

    OTOH, you could, I think, stand with Patrick on the time-reversibility issue. But I don’t see how opposing both keiths on meaning and patrick on reversibility can work.

  25. Patrick,

    Do you have a cite for that? I may not have been paying sufficient attention to the earlier part of this thread.

    Here’s one. From the Wikipedia article on the black hole information paradox:

    The black hole information paradox is a puzzle resulting from the combination of quantum mechanics and general relativity. Calculations suggest that physical information could permanently disappear in a black hole, allowing many physical states to devolve into the same state. This is controversial because it violates a commonly assumed tenet of science—that in principle complete information about a physical system at one point in time should determine its state at any other time. A fundamental postulate of quantum mechanics is that complete information about a system is encoded in its wave function up to when the wave function collapses. The evolution of the wave function is determined by a unitary operator, and unitarity implies that information is conserved in the quantum sense.

    Patrick:

    If a chess game is part of the universe and its history is not implicit in its current state, how can the history of the universe be implicit in its current state (which includes the chess game)?

    It’s because the universe is self-contained, but the chess game isn’t.

    The chess game (as a physical system — see the cautionary note below) is influenced by physical “inputs” from its environment, and that’s where the variability in its behavior comes from. It’s next state is a function of the current state and the current inputs. For a given current state, different inputs may cause different next states. If there were no inputs, then the next state would be a function only of the current state, and thus any given state could have only one possible successor. The history would thus be implicit in the current state.

    The universe doesn’t receive inputs from its environment because there is no environment from which to receive them, and so its next state is a function of the current state and only the current state. The history is therefore implicit in the current state.

    Also, just as a caution, there are two ways to think about the chess game. One is as a physical system consisting of board and chess pieces and players; the other is as a logical system.

    When you consider the chess game as a physical system, the “rules” are just the laws of physics, and one of the explanations for how the pieces got into a certain configuration on the board is that your three-year-old, who knows nothing about chess, was playing with the board and pieces this afternoon and left them that way.

    When considered as a logical system, it is the rules of chess, not the laws of physics, that govern the state transitions. In that case we’re worried about logical states, not physical states, and what matters is whether the rules of chess — not the laws of physics — are deterministic and time-reversible. (They’re neither, and so considered as a logical system, the history of a chess game is not implicit in its current state.)

  26. The circularity arises here because you are insisting (rather dogmatically, I might add) on treating justification here as having the structure of a deductively valid argument. Only when put into that form is the argument circular.

    You’ve already conceded that your reasoning is circular!

    That’s like creationists who insist that evolutionary theory is circular because it assumes what it sets out to prove.

    No, because evolutionary theory doesn’t assume what it sets out to prove, but your argument does.

    keiths:

    And why resort to a circular argument against Cartesian skepticism when a non-circular argument for it is available? Whence the skeptophobia?

    KN:

    There is no non-circular argument against Cartesian skepticism.

    Exactly. Hence my question:

    And why resort to a circular argument against Cartesian skepticism when a non-circular argument for it is available?

    Please answer this time.

  27. keiths: It’s because the universe is self-contained…

    Is it? How do you know? What’s outside thé light cone?

  28. Alan,

    So you don’t know.

    I told you — I know it by definition.

    This isn’t hard, Alan:

    u·ni·verse
    ˈyo͞onəˌvərs/
    noun
    all existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos.

  29. keiths:
    Alan,

    I told you — I know it by definition.

    This isn’t hard, Alan:

    But you claimed the universe is self-contained and you know it is so. Yet we are constrained by the finite speed of light never to know what is outside the past light cone of the Earth. Where’s your lack of certainty when it matters?

  30. Christ, Alan.

    Things that are true by definition don’t require empirical confirmation.

    Now run along and check whether all bachelors are unmarried.

  31. keiths:
    Christ, Alan.

    Things that are true by definition don’t require empirical confirmation.

    Now run along and check whether all bachelors are unmarried

    It’s all universes are self-contained now? How do you know about anything beyond the past light cone of the Earth? Or do you mean to talk about the observable universe?

  32. So sad. We’ll never know if all bachelors are unmarried, because there might be a contingent of married bachelors just outside our light cone.

    I’m going to bed, Alan. Good luck wrestling with this.

  33. I am actually not seeing what is obviously obvious to Keiths. So just recapping,

    keiths: The universe doesn’t receive inputs from its environment because there is no environment from which to receive them…

    I’d just like to clarify where observation of reality ends and where untestable hypothesis begins. I’m suggesting it is the past light cone of the Earth.

    …and so its next state is a function of the current state and only the current state.

    And I’m curious as to whether this is a claim about reality. Are you claiming that the (observable) universe is deterministic?

    The history is therefore implicit in the current state.

    Apparently you are.

  34. keiths: Here’s one. From the Wikipedia article on the black hole information paradox:

    The black hole information paradox is a puzzle resulting from the combination of quantum mechanics and general relativity. Calculations suggest that physical information could permanently disappear in a black hole, allowing many physical states to devolve into the same state. This is controversial because it violates a commonly assumed tenet of science—that in principle complete information about a physical system at one point in time should determine its state at any other time. A fundamental postulate of quantum mechanics is that complete information about a system is encoded in its wave function up to when the wave function collapses. The evolution of the wave function is determined by a unitary operator, and unitarity implies that information is conserved in the quantum sense.

    Thanks for this citation. Do you have anything else suggesting this is a “commonly assumed tenet”? I ask because the same article suggests the claim is controversial when it says this:

    According to Roger Penrose, loss of unitarity in quantum systems is not a problem: quantum measurements are by themselves already non-unitary. Penrose claims that quantum systems will in fact no longer evolve unitarily as soon as gravitation comes into play, precisely as in black holes.

    Also, I note that for the claim that unitarity is a commonly assumed tenet, the article provides nothing but one citation to a show on the Discovery Channel regarding the Hawking Paradox and one citation to an article in the NY Times called “A Black Hole Mystery Wrapped in a Firewall Paradox”. (That article could use more cites generally, IMHO.)

    It seems to me that, although it could be false, there’s an awful lot of evidence for determinism (leaving out quantum irregularities). But I’m wondering what there is for this unitarity thesis besides some speculations of Hawking’s. Do you know? If so, can you summarize the evidence for backwards determinism? Or, if it’s basically in all the textbooks, maybe some other source (I might be able to understand) would be helpful. Thanks again.

  35. walto:
    It seems to me that, although it could be false, there’s an awful lot of evidence for determinism (leaving out quantum irregularities).But I’m wondering what there is for this unitarity thesis besides some speculations of Hawking’s.Do you know?If so, can you summarize the evidence for backwards determinism? Or, if it’s basically in all the textbooks, maybe some other source (I might be able to understand) would be helpful.Thanks again.

    Determinism is a quantum context is different from determinism in a classical context.

    In a classical context, if we know the state of a system, such as all the positions and momentums of its elements, then we can know the outcome of any measurement.

    But in a quantum context, all we know is the quantum state, and it only gives us the probability of various outcomes of a given type of measurement. It is only that quantum state that is deterministic.

    In quantum mechanics, the quantum state at time is given by Q(t) = U(t)Q(0). The operator U(t) that takes state at time 0 to state time t must be unitary (a mathematical property) in the quantum formalism, and that constraint entails the determinism of quantum state. Of course, the justification of that limitation in the formalism is the fact that the theory is so successful.

    The SEP sections on the Info lost Paradox and on QM dynamics may help.

  36. Alan Fox:

    And I’m curious as to whether this is a claim about reality. Are you claiming that the (observable) universe is deterministic?

    As in my reply to Walto, quantum determinism is not the same as classical determinism

  37. BruceS: As in my reply to Walto,quantum determinism is not the same as classical determinism

    Is it supposed to ENTAIL classical determinism (in both directions)? And, if not, is it actually responsive to patrick’s claim about one-way (classical) determinism?

  38. keiths,

    At this point, your steadfast refusal to answer questions I put you, your attempts to use the dictionary as if that settled all questions of conceptual analysis, and pugilistic style all indicate to me that I am no longer capable of treating you as if you are arguing in good faith. Hence I shall withdrawn from this exchange before I say something in violation of the site rules.

    I will note a certain irony in that keiths’s epistemology consists largely in responding to Agrippa’s Trilemma exactly as FMM and KairosFocus do — all justification relies on “foundations” that are themselves unjustified. (Whether this is skepticism or dogmatism is a nice question.)

  39. walto: Is it supposed to ENTAIL classical determinism (in both directions)? And, if not, is it actually responsive to patrick’s claim about one-way (classical) determinism?

    No, I don’t think QM determinism entails classical determinism. The converse might be true (since probabilities would all be one for some quantum measurement), but since the classical conceptions of reality are wrong, I am not sure if that matters.

    Classical determinism says once I know the classical state I know the outcome of all measurements, and so if the current state determines future classical state, I’d know the future state of all measurements.

    But QM denies that we can know the future outcome of all measurements; it only says we can know their probabilities given the current quantum state. So it cannot entail classical determinism, I think.

    I don’t know what Patrick has said; I’m only looking at this thread when you post, to be honest.

    It is fair to say that my earlier post of macro states etc only applied to classical determinism.

    And of course all of this ignores issues with “quantum collapse” on the assumption that such a thing is not part of the quantum formalism but is only one possible interpretation. Further, AFAIK, it is not an interpretation that is popular among the philosophers or physicists who are interested in such matters.

    There is also the issue that the quantum state is a mathematical entity; whether there is anything “real” about it is a definitely a controversial issue.

    I just wanted to put those issues on the table in case no one else has. They definitely affect this thread somehow, but the details of how they do so are beyond my pay grade.

  40. BruceS: As in my reply to Walto, quantum determinism is not the same as classical determinism.

    OK. And classical determinism posits that if we know the precise locations and trajectories of all particles in the universe at one moment, we can also know the past and future of the universe if we have sufficient computing power. Nobody holds this view today, though, do they?

  41. Kantian Naturalist: At this point, your steadfast refusal to answer questions I put you, your attempts to use the dictionary as if that settled all questions of conceptual analysis, and pugilistic style all indicate to me that I am no longer capable of treating you as if you are arguing in good faith. Hence I shall withdrawn from this exchange before I say something in violation of the site rules.

    There is the “ignore” option, though it doesn’t help when people quote who you happen to be ignoring, when you see the list of quoted comments, or if you haven’t logged in, or if you look at comments via the dashboard. Other than that though…

  42. Alan Fox: OK. And classical determinism posits that if we know the precise locations and trajectories of all particles in the universe at one moment, we can also know the past and future of the universe if we have sufficient computing power. Nobody holds this view today, though, do they?

    Because there are no classical states as we now understand quantum reality at the lowest level.

    But can get close enough to knowing it and its future for practical purposes (ie limited system with well-understood interfaces to world external to system, limited time, predicting macro states at some level)? Different question.

  43. walto:
    BruceS,

    Thanks. I’m going to (try to) read that Belot et al. paper.

    Good luck with that. I had a quick look but it is beyond me.

    I did read Susskind’s book on the topic a long time ago. I remember the human interest parts better than the math and science! He also has lots of lectures on YT but I am not interested in sitting through them. You can find his Scientific American paper as cited in SEP on sci-hub.cc

  44. Alan Fox: K. And classical determinism posits that if we know the precise locations and trajectories of all particles in the universe at one moment, we can also know the past and future of the universe if we have sufficient computing power.

    I think classical determinism only requires the forward moving results. It doesn’t have to be “unitary” AFAIK.

  45. keiths:
    Here’s one. From the Wikipedia article on the black hole information paradox:

    . . .
    This is controversial because it violates a commonly assumed tenet of science—that in principle complete information about a physical system at one point in time should determine its state at any other time
    . . .

    In a deterministic universe the state at one point in time determines all future states. There is no reason, though, to think that a state at a given point in time has only one possible history. Your cite does not support that conclusion.

    If a chess game is part of the universe and its history is not implicit in its current state, how can the history of the universe be implicit in its current state (which includes the chess game)?

    It’s because the universe is self-contained, but the chess game isn’t.

    That doesn’t matter. The chess game is part of the universe. At some point in time the state of the universe includes a chess board with a half-dozen pieces remaining in an unfinished game. Someone steps into the room to find both players have suffered fatal aneurisms simultaneously. There were no other observers of the game. There is no way to tell from the current state of the universe how the pieces came to be in their current configuration.

    Am I mistaken or are you trying to make the case that any current state of the universe has a unique history that can in principle be reconstructed from that state? If so, you haven’t supported that position yet.

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