What did Wittgenstein mean by saying that

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This topic contains 74 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Reg the Fronkey Farmer 8 months ago.

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    psychological justification

    I agree Davis. I wrote the post over lunch at work and I blame thinking about Wittgenstein and his meaning of words for not allowing me to think of a better term 🙂

    Feedback…the breakfast of champions (and of course Johnnie Walker Black).



    Science tends to revere repeatable results and is used to determine “that which is the case.” But if you stop to think about it, it’s a kind of rule of thumb in a sense. What the actual “fact” is, is beyond our grasp.

    But it beats superstition by a long shot!

    (Just poking at ya… I admit, half of this discussion is “over my head”.)



    @ Reg

    Or maybe ABduction.


    @ Unseen – Yes, abduction might move us towards a better explanation.

    After seeing the bowling ball hit the floor it would be an abductive inference to claim that the hand letting go of the ball was the “causality” of it falling. It is a straightforward explanation and would appear logical.  That is (kinda) what I meant by a “psychological justification” above. It makes sense to us.  But it is not a factually correct description of the “cause”. The ball falls only because of the effects of gravity.

    Therefore, as you said, some causal statements aren’t facts.


    Simon Paynton

    The ball falls only because of the effects of gravity.

    The ball falls also because somehow it has got to a height (someone must have put it there), because it is released, and because someone has made a bowling ball.  There are probably other causes we can identify.



    Simon, the but for ( for instance, but for a Denovisan taking a shine to a homo sapien 122,ooo years ago this occurrence would not be) causation is endless. On the other hand it is gravity alone that accounts for the ball”””””””’s falls. Kind of reminds me of legal analysis of causation. In this instance gravity is akin to proximate cause. The endless sequence of events that led to the fall of the ball are necessary but not sufficient.


    Simon Paynton

    causation is endless

    That’s very true, causation is endless.  Gravity too is necessary but not sufficient.  There is no single cause for anything.


    @simon: The ball falls also because somehow it has got to a height.

    What if the ball was in a zero-gravity environment? It is not turtles all the way down. But you are making a good case to start an argument about Determinism.  Your honor my client is innocent because someone gave him the gun. He could not have put it in his own if that other person was not present. He too is innocent because he would not have had the gun if the gun factory did not manufacture it and they in turn are licensed by the government and fully supported and endorsed by their Christian senators. So, we should blame them and not my client. He had no freewill.

    Gravity too is necessary but not sufficient….

    Gravity is why the ball fell. If it was not manufactured it would not have fallen. If it was not put there it would not have fallen. If a hand release it in a zero-gravity environment, it would not have fallen. The only reason it “fell” (towards the center of the Earth) was because of gravity. It is a sufficient description of the “cause”.

    What is gravity? What happens if you boogie in zero-gravity? It’s a massive question.


    Simon Paynton

    It is a sufficient description of the “cause”.

    It’s sufficient once the other necessary causes are in place.


    It’s sufficient once the other necessary causes are in place.

    Then there is no such thing as Free Will. We are not responsible for our actions if everything is predetermined.


    Simon Paynton

    But free will can be a cause of things: a deciding factor.



    I have slowly changed camps. Just because there is a chain of physical events that leads to every event, that does not mean it was the only chain that could lead to that event. Nor does that mean that an event might not have happened based on some probability assignment. Some events are highly probable but not certain, such as the bowling ball hitting the floor. There are an infinite number of happenings that could cause the ball to not hit the floor, They are all unlikely. This implies that environment matters and works on probabilities. I think you can choose not to smoke. If you do elect to smoke you shift the probability curve towards you getting cancer. It is still not a forgone conclusion, however you could find a long chain of events leading to your cancer,,, giving the impression that it was deterministic.



    You don’t need to rely on a series of improbable events to avoid making any absolutist argument. The laws of physics can have an aberration, pause, change, go out the window. If we are a simulation a glitch can happen or the programmer can tweak whatever it wants. Some insane 4 dimensional intervention can happen. Or some inexplicable phenomena. You just need to differentiate between “being extremely logical to act AS THOUGH these rules are absolute…because the likelihood of those rules continuing are almost 100%” vs “being absolutely sure A will cause B because…pff…as if anything else could ever happen”. It’s a kind of middle ground between absolutism and some spooky world view while, in fact you aren’t at all in the middle but just microns to the left of absolutism. You’re at the 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% mark which I think is the most logical place to be.


    But free will can be a cause of things: a deciding factor.

    Yes, once you admit that the “choice” you are making is based upon previous events.  Your options are already predetermined. From here it is down to probability.

    By events I mean the possible outcomes of taking certain actions (a probability can be assigned to it).



    Simon Paynton

    My options may be predetermined, but I have a number of them, that I can choose from.

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