Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Dialogue on Laws of physics: beyond the prescriptive/descriptive Dichotomy





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Discusiom heldonthis blog on MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 2017

The topic was that covered in he previous essay, are laws of physics descriptive or repressive? this is thecomment section



Eric Sotnak said...
"First of all no one thinks physical laws are on a par with laws passed by congress."

Wanna bet?

http://www.icr.org/article/laws-nature-natures-lawgiver/
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
Eric's Link
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
As I said No one thinks that*


*"No One," colloquialism meanking "no one who deserves our refutation,"
im-skeptical said...
I think the point is that those who do see the "laws of nature" as being prescriptive are religious. Your article starts out with the statement: "Science no longer defines physical law in the sense of an active set rules that tell nature what to do." The truth is that it was always religious belief that held such a view, and science has weaned us from that. And the thrust of your article seems to be (if I understand it correctly) that the descriptive view held by modern science if flawed. So you are decrying the fact that science has no use for God to explain reality.
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
I quoted Hawking's institute saying they are prescriptive. they are not religious,Hawking himself says this in Grand Design.
im-skeptical said...
I quoted Hawking's institute saying they are prescriptive. they are not religious,Hawking himself says this in Grand Design

Yes, I know. I think if you asked Hawking, he would agree that the laws of nature are descriptive. You cherry-picked one unfortunate case of a poorly worded statement that is not consistent with the scientific belief. How much searching did it take to find that?
Eric Sotnak said...
Nancy Cartwright has argued that laws of nature only make sense on the hypothesis that there is a God. What is interesting about this is that she doesn't seem to be a theist, but rather thinks that we can do all we need to in science without the notion of laws of nature at all.

http://www.isnature.org/Files/Cartwright_No_God_No_Laws_draft.pdf

For my part, I think "laws of nature" works along the same lines as "laws of geometry".
Mike Gerow said...
Joe might get something out of this blog discussion of Hawking's book, if he hasn't seen it before.....

http://www.beamsandstruts.com/articles/item/135-stephen-hawking-and-the-design-of-a-flawed-argument
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...


Mike's Hawking Link
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
thanks for the link Mike, Yes I've read large portions of his book Grand Design, He puts grvity in Gods place makes no attempt to say where gravity comes from.
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
m-skeptical said...
Me: "I quoted Hawking's institute saying they are prescriptive. they are not religious,Hawking himself says this in Grand Design"

Yes, I know. I think if you asked Hawking, he would agree that the laws of nature are descriptive. You cherry-picked one unfortunate case of a poorly worded statement that is not consistent with the scientific belief. How much searching did it take to find that?

I not only quoted his book I also quoted his institute someone else writing that a staff writer for his institute, when are you going to read the articles?

Look how Skep argues. he says quote one scientist who thinks the law are prescriptive so I do I quote two he says I'm cherry picking, so why did say quote one when you really mean quote several?

I have a quote by Whitehead from his atheist years when he says no scientist would deny prescriptive laws of physics, that quote was a long time ago (20) but you said they never thought that.

the real point I'm making is that they use double standards and are inconsistent about weahter they are prescriptive ofr descriptive.
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
Eric Sotnak said...
Nancy Cartwright has argued that laws of nature only make sense on the hypothesis that there is a God. What is interesting about this is that she doesn't seem to be a theist, but rather thinks that we can do all we need to in science without the notion of laws of nature at all.

http://www.isnature.org/Files/Cartwright_No_God_No_Laws_draft.pdf

For my part, I think "laws of nature" works along the same lines as "laws of geometry".

es in my forth coming part 2 or 3 there is a group of feminist thinkers trying to find alternatives to :law" as a concept for physics. But so far they keep running into the probloem of sacraficing the regularity,
im-skeptical said...
I not only quoted his book I also quoted his institute someone else writing that a staff writer for his institute, when are you going to read the articles?
- Please show me the quote where Hawking says the laws of nature are prescriptive. Oh, that's right. You can't because he doesn't say that. In case you weren't aware, I have the book. And where is this quote from Whitehead that you claim to have?

the real point I'm making is that they use double standards and are inconsistent about weahter they are prescriptive or descriptive.
- No. The real point is that you fail to understand anything that contains a hint of nuance. Religionists thing that God decrees the laws of nature, and that nature must obey. Therefore, those laws are prescriptive. Atheists sometimes speak of laws that "govern" nature, but not in the sense that they are issued by some authority. They simply describe how things behave, and we observe that there are no exceptions. Our language is full of artifacts and traditions from religious thinking that dominated the past. What you are doing is trying to find cases where language like that is used, and implying some hidden theistic beliefs, or a double standard. That is dishonest.
im-skeptical said...
Nancy Cartwright has argued that laws of nature only make sense on the hypothesis that there is a God. What is interesting about this is that she doesn't seem to be a theist, but rather thinks that we can do all we need to in science without the notion of laws of nature at all.

- Cartwright's stance (as far as I can tell) is that the word "law" implies a prescriptive order, and it also implies a law-giver. Therefore, the atheist shouldn't be using that word at all. That's fine, but the reality is that we DO use that word. It just has a different meaning. But it points out what is at the heard of the discussion. It's really a semantic issue - not some "double standard".
Ryan M said...
I don't think an inconsistency charge is a good one. It's no better than saying atheists are inconsistent since some atheists are moral realists while some atheists are moral anti-realists. The fact that some atheists call the laws of nature descriptive, and some atheists call the laws of nature prescriptive, does not imply one and the same atheists are making contradictory assertions. In addition, what exactly people mean by "prescriptive" is not always the same. It could be normative, but it might not be as well.

As to where gravity came from, I don't understand why many theists insist that scientists must explain why anything natural exists. Why must gravity have a cause? What would it even mean for gravity to have a cause?
David Brightly said...
Hello Joe,
I think you have shown that historically different scientists have held different views on this question. I'm less sure that you have shown that contemporary scientists are closet prescriptivists. Can you meet Chalmers' last paragraph challenge? Yet I don't think you have brought out quite what you see the problem as. You say, The question is, why is there an unswerving faithful regularity? I'm not sure that prescriptivism is any kind of answer at all because it seems to me to be limited to relations between persons. I do what my doctor prescribes because I trust his knowledge and appreciate the possible bad consequences of rejecting his advice. One way we might begin to answer your question is to say that regularity at a certain level of unity is explained by describing the behaviour of its parts. The regularity of human heredity, say, is explained primarily by the biochemistry of DNA. The WHY of one level is explained by a HOW at a lower level. We always reach a foundation of course where description reigns and where we can still ask why this equation and not another, but a huge amount of explanatory work has now been done. Physicists are saying that if the tiniest parts of the world behave in a certain way, then everything else follows. Weinberg and others would want to go further until things are so simple that they appear to have the kind of necessity that's attributed to God, but it looks as if to get there we need to go beyond falsifiability as a criterion of science. So it seems that if your epistemic hunger lasts the course you can still ask an unanswerable WHY question.
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
Hi David, you said

You say, The question is, why is there an unswerving faithful regularity? I'm not sure that prescriptivism is any kind of answer at all because it seems to me to be limited to relations between persons.

first I have to save something for next time,part 2. Secondly, I didn't sayI support prescriptive, the title says we are going beyond the dichotomy

The regularity of human heredity, say, is explained primarily by the biochemistry of DNA. The WHY of one level is explained by a HOW at a lower level. We always reach a foundation of course where description reigns and where we can still ask why this equation and not another, but a huge amount of explanatory work has now been done.

that's really hinting at top down causation,but I tend to think im terms of cosmology. everything is traced back to gravity but Hawking can't go firther back so he appeals to an impersonal god called "phyics",

Weinberg and others would want to go further until things are so simple that they appear to have the kind of necessity that's attributed to God, but it looks as if to get there we need to go beyond falsifiability as a criterion of science. So it seems that if your epistemic hunger lasts the course you can still ask an unanswerable WHY question.

interesting point
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
I don't think an inconsistency charge is a good one. It's no better than saying atheists are inconsistent since some atheists are moral realists while some atheists are moral anti-realists. The fact that some atheists call the laws of nature descriptive, and some atheists call the laws of nature prescriptive, does not imply one and the same atheists are making contradictory assertions. In addition, what exactly people mean by "prescriptive" is not always the same. It could be normative, but it might not be as well.

True but two problems (1) I see atheists like HRG on CARM (also cums on SOP sometimes) and skep saying no scientist ever says they are prescriptive,and Carroll saying one thing at one time then implying another when needed,wait for part two or 3 it;s coming,

As to where gravity came from, I don't understand why many theists insist that scientists must explain why anything natural exists. Why must gravity have a cause? What would it even mean for gravity to have a cause?

think of the consequences episodically and metaphysically if you remove causation as a necessary condition to explaining nature,all of science was founded on the premise of cause and effect, it was based upon that idea that LaPlace said I have no need of that hypothesis(God),
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...


Cartwright's stance (as far as I can tell) is that the word "law" implies a prescriptive order, and it also implies a law-giver. Therefore, the atheist shouldn't be using that word at all. That's fine, but the reality is that we DO use that word. It just has a different meaning. But it points out what is at the heard of the discussion. It's really a semantic issue - not some "double standard".

I agree the semantics are part of the problem but not the entire problem.For one thing they can't find a solicitation that is satisfying. Also what they are trying to do is resolve a contradiction. They have to embrace the unalterable nature of nature without saying it's prescribed in any way, that's a contradiction really,
im-skeptical said...
what they are trying to do is resolve a contradiction. They have to embrace the unalterable nature of nature without saying it's prescribed in any way, that's a contradiction really

- I don't see any contradiction. Evidently, you think that without God laying down the rules, all would be chaos. But there's no logical reason to suppose that. The naturalist view is that this is simply the way things are. And that's not so different from your own view that God's nature is what it is - God himself does not choose it.
7th Stooge said...
This has probably been touched on already, but it seems that 'interested personality decreeing laws and brute facts don;t exhaust the possibilities? What if there's some implicit teleology in the universe so that the 'laws' wouldn't be mere descriptions even if the potential for teleology isn't explainable by anything else?
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
- I don't see any contradiction. Evidently, you think that without God laying down the rules, all would be chaos. But there's no logical reason to suppose that. The naturalist view is that this is simply the way things are. And that's not so different from your own view that God's nature is what it is - God himself does not choose it.

if there is no contradiction between merely describing behavior and actually making the behavior happen then why object to calling it prescriptive?
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
7th Stooge said...
This has probably been touched on already, but it seems that 'interested personality decreeing laws and brute facts don;t exhaust the possibilities? What if there's some implicit teleology in the universe so that the 'laws' wouldn't be mere descriptions even if the potential for teleology isn't explainable by anything else?


Hey 7 that's a good point, Does teleological have to mean a conscious decision?
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
they fear the thin end of the wedge on God concepts,
im-skeptical said...
why object to calling it prescriptive
- People who believe in a law-giver call it prescriptive. Hawking doesn't believe any such thing. You are all hung up on an artifact of ancient thinking that continues to lurk in our language. The word "law" itself is such an artifact. That is Cartwright's point.


Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
People who believe in a law-giver call it prescriptive. Hawking doesn't believe any such thing.

obviously wrong since Hawking uses that term and I don't


You are all hung up on an artifact of ancient thinking that continues to lurk in our language. The word "law" itself is such an artifact. That is Cartwright's point.


You clearly know nothing about modern theology, you are just running on stereotypes, no way Whitehead or Hartshorne's process theology fits that description.
Or Tillich's being itself,

Obviously you didn't read the essay the first thing I say is I don't make a law giver argument,
im-skeptical said...
obviously wrong since Hawking uses that term and I don't
- You said you quoted from his book. But I don't think he said that. Show me where he says that.

Obviously you didn't read the essay the first thing I say is I don't make a law giver argument
- Your reading comprehension stinks. I didn't say you make that argument. What you DO say is that there is contradiction in atheists using this terminology. I'm telling you that there is no contradiction, and I explained why.
Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...
Skep
- You said you quoted from his book. But I don't think he said that. Show me where he says that.


Me in original artocle: "But then the Stephen Hawking Center for Theoretical Cosmology puts it point blank: “The physical laws that govern the Universe prescribe how an initial state evolves with time.”(my emphasis)"[5]

[5] CTC, “Origins of the Universe: Quantum Origins,” The Stephan Hawking Center for Theoretical Cosmology, University of Cambridge, online resource, URL: http://www.ctc.cam.ac.uk/outreach/origins/quantum_cosmology_one.php accessed 10/5/15.

not in this paper but still true:

“The realization that time behaves like space presents a new alternative. It removes the age-old objection to the universe having a beginning, but also means that the beginning of the universe was governed by the laws of science and doesn't need to be set in motion by some god."i

[note he described prescriptive laws]
Grande Design 135

p34 they say law are prescriptive i have several commentator and revisers noting that,
im-skeptical said...
No, Joe. He does not say "prescriptive" laws. You did not quote any such thing.

And we already went through this. The word "prescriptive" was an unfortunate accident that should not have been used on that site. It does not reflect what any non-theistic scientist believes, but it is an ARTIFACT of ANCIENT THINKING that remains in our language. The unfortunate part of it is that DISHONEST THEISTS will distort the intended meaning, trying to make is seem as if there is some kind of double standard, when in fact there isn't.
Mike Gerow said...
If the whole problem could be waved away in a few words--like " in fact, it isn't"-- then describing the scope of natural regularity in non prescriptive terms that can't be taken in any sense at all to imply a lawgiver should be very easy, but non theistic scientists and philosophers of science seem to struggle with it anyway, which is Joe's whole point and the challenge he's making.....
im-skeptical said...
but non theistic scientists and philosophers of science seem to struggle with it anyway

- No, it's not a struggle. If you don't believe there's a law-giver, then nobody is prescribing the laws of nature. The only struggle I see here is theists desperately trying to make naturalism sound incoherent. If you have to do it by resorting to semantic games, trying to distort the meaning of what naturalists believe, then you're not succeeding.
Mike Gerow said...
It's not such an easy problem as that. A lot of the best atheist thinkers like Nietchze could see how deeply those "artifacts of ancient thinking" were entrenched in thought and language. Can they ever really be removed? Well, maybe some centuries after "God" is finally and utterly dead and buried, according to FN, so you can check that out, if you want....

& here's Jacques Lacan's spin on basically the same issue:

"The Copernican revolution is not really a revolution. If the center of a sphere is supposed to constitute the master point in a discourse that works only by analogy, the fact of changing the master point, to make the earth occupy it, or the sun, has nothing ing in it which would subvert that which the signifier center conserves of itself"
Mike Gerow said...
Joe, how much do you think the current scientific interest (amidst some circles) in chaos and the unpredictability of nature (or its only-limited or theoretical predictability) would impact concepts like "prescribed" or "lawgiver" .... if it's ever more widely accepted?

Is it a challenge to an unspoken, underlying assumption of a "lawgiver" if natural systems (like the weather) are only THEORECTICALLY and not fully demonstrably deterministic and predictable?

Hmmmmm...
im-skeptical said...
A lot of the best atheist thinkers like Nietchze could see how deeply those "artifacts of ancient thinking" were entrenched in thought and language.

- Yes, I can see that, too (and I don't know how many people consider Nietzsche one if the best atheist thinkers). But nevertheless, it is a problem of the language we use that tends to obscure real issue, and the way we think of it. This is a problem that Wittgenstein addressed.


nothing ing in it which would subvert that which the signifier center conserves of itself

- Depending on what you think the "signifier center" is, this statement is quite in agreement with what I'm saying. The reality of nature simply is what it is, regardless of our conception of it.
Mike Gerow said...
Sure, I tend to agree... Quote from the link I posted above outlines the issue pretty good.....

This point is an important one since human beings existed first and created laws to govern their social, political, and economic lives (via free will and consciousness) and only later did those laws become the metaphoric basis for interpreting the workings of nature by incorporating the legal lifeworld into scientific discourse.

In that sense—philosophically and mentally not physically—human politics preceded gravity.
7th Stooge said...
Hey 7 that's a good point, Does teleological have to mean a conscious decision?



That's the big question. "Purpose" generally implies a "purposer,"...but maybe "purpose" is already a loaded term. If the universe has an inherent tendency toward ordered complexity, it wouldn't necessarily imply an agent.

4 comments:

Jesse said...

You are a really good debater. I especially liked your point about Hawking's book Grand Design not having explained the origin of gravity. I had shared a review of that book by a scientist in this article:

https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-grand-design-is-god-unnecessary.html

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

thanks man

Jesse said...

I am confused about something. I thought that you had banned "I'm Skeptical" from commenting on your material. Am I misguided by any chance? Also, have you banned "The Pix" from commenting? Are you sure that the two profiles are the same person?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Skeptic is banned. I am fairly sure he is Pixie because he started saying i know noting about Derrida that; was skeptics line, He never said that before. He didn't deny it. i haven't formally banned pix if he wants to claim,hes not.