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Cause's Confusion

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  • #91
    A summary of Hume's doctrine can be found on p. 667 of A History of Western Philosophy:

    This doctrine has 2 parts: (1) When we say "A causes B," all that we have a right to say is that, in past experience, A and B have frequently appeared together or in rapid succession, and no instance has been observed of A not followed or accompanied by B. (2) However many instances we may have observed of the confjunction of A and B, that fives no reason for expecting them to be conjoined on a future occasion, though it is a cause of this expectation, i.e., it has been frequently observed to be conjoined with such an expectation. These 2 parts of the doctrine may be stated as follows: (1) in causation there is no indefinable relation except conjunction or succession; (2) induction by simple enumeration is not a valid form of argument.
    The best summary of the effects of Hume's conclusions that I could find was on P 672:

    We cannot help believing, but no belief can be grounded in reason. Nor can one line of action be more rational than another, since all alike are based upon irrational convictions.
    And a quote from Hume on the same page:

    If we believe, that fire warms, or water refreshes, tis only because it costs us too much pains to think otherwise.
    On p. 673:

    Geman philosophers, from Kant to Hegel, had not assimilated Hume's arguments. I say this deliberately, in spite of the belief which many phiolsophers share with Kant, that his Critique of Pure Reason answere Hume. In fact, these philosophers -at least Kant and Hegel- represent a pre-Humian type of rationalism, and can be refuted by Humian argumetns. The philosophers who cannot be refuted in this way are those who do not pretend to be rational, such as Rousseau, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. the growth of unreason throughout the nineteenth centry and what has passed of the twentieth is a natrual sequel to Hume's destruction of empiricism.
    An assessment from Russull on p. 669:

    So far as the physical sciences are concerned, Hume is wholly in the right: such propositions as "A causes B" are never to be accepted, and our inclination to accept them is to be explained by the laws of habit ansd association. These laws themselves, in their accurat form, will be elaborate statments as to nervous tissue - primarily its physiology, then its chemistry, and ultimately its physics.
    and on p. 674:

    Hume's scepticism rests entirely upon his refection of the principle of induction. The principle of induction as applied to causation, says that, if A has been found very often accompanied or followed by B, and no instance is known of A not being accompanied or follwed by B, then it is probable that on the next occasion on which A is observed it will be accompanied or followed by B. If the principle is to be adequate, a sufficient number of instances must make the probability not far short of certainty. If this principle, or any other from which it can be deduced, is true, then the causal inferences which Hume rejects are valid, not indeed as giving certainty, but as giving a sufficient probability for practical puposes.
    Cory Blickenstaff, PT, OCS

    Pain Science and Sensibility Podcast
    Leaps and Bounds Blog
    My youtube channel

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    • #92
      I'm posting this due to its readability and general relevance.

      Historical science, experimental science, and the scientific method (<--link to pdf) by Carol E. Cleland.
      "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

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      • #93
        Here is a paper on Popper's development of his falsificationism.

        Popper was a staunch critic of historicism, but I believe this mostly revolved around the idea that historicism could predict the future as espoused by Karl Marx.

        However, one of Popper's students, Lakatos, felt that Kuhn's criticisms were valid. He therefore attempted to reconcile Popper's theory with Kuhn's.

        Another of his students, Feyerabend, agrees that most scientist actions are consistent with induction.
        Cory Blickenstaff, PT, OCS

        Pain Science and Sensibility Podcast
        Leaps and Bounds Blog
        My youtube channel

        Comment


        • #94
          More on Popper and Kuhn with some historical context including Hume.
          Cory Blickenstaff, PT, OCS

          Pain Science and Sensibility Podcast
          Leaps and Bounds Blog
          My youtube channel

          Comment


          • #95
            Philsophy Bites had a(nother) good segment this week--Helen Beebee on Laws of Nature
            "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

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            • #96
              Originally posted by Barrett Dorko View Post
              This thread is about something at which I fail regularly. Maybe that will change as we investigate the subject, but at the moment I have my doubts.

              The subject is causation; specifically its relation to complaints of pain. I find that most therapists have an attitude toward it that I feel needs changing. In fact, I feel we must change that attitude or we’ll continue to struggle with the patients that need us the most.

              As I said, I haven’t managed to convince many that they need to change, so let’s try this.

              As when I teach, I’ll begin with the definition of cause: “A thing that exists in such a way that some specific thing happens as a result.” I say, “Almost without exception therapists interviewing a patient in pain begin to try and figure out how this patient came to be the way that they are. They work to create a story that explains this, and then search for evidence. This is called looking for cause, and I think it’s a tremendous waste of time. It’s a great black hole, and I suggest you stop doing this as soon as you possibly can.”

              Thus, my failure begins. Soon I’ll go on from here.

              One more thing. One of my primary references for this thread will be a specific chapter from Steven Pinker’s newest book The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature which I’d highly recommend. In any case, when I refer to Pinker’s book in future posts this is what I’m talking about.
              Hear Steven Pinker talk about thoughtshere. It's free (for a limited time) and you have to register (for free). It's not available in the iTunes store but you can download the episodes to your iTunes library. I've found it's worth it.

              (hat tip: Massimo Pigliucci)
              "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

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              • #97
                Jon,

                Once again.

                I'm working to find the right thing to download. Does the episode with Pinker have a specific title?

                Two nights ago I picked up Buckeye to help her through some heavy snow, took one step and fell over. I'm sure anyone watching would have found this hilarious.

                Later in the evening my right lower leg (for lack of a better description) "siezed up." I treated it using what I've learned to do and can explain but then ignored ideomotion's complete assistance until I began feeling a similar sensation elsewhere yesterday evening.

                Well, we all fall, but how we take it and the nature of our recovery varies.

                I'll be fine, I guess, and I know what to do. Where I differ because of threads like this is in my concern about what exactly happened and how it might have been prevented.

                Clearly it was Buckeye's fault.
                Barrett L. Dorko

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                • #98
                  Damn dog.

                  iamplify's website could use some sprucing up to make it easier for people to download their offerings. It took me a few of clicks to find this page. Then click "get free download". This will take you to a page where you have to register, after which, you can click on the option to download it to iTunes. And then it will download the free episode.

                  My understanding is that the episode is available for free for 1 week, after which it costs $1.29. Act now.
                  "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

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                  • #99
                    There's some interesting qualitative research on sciatica in the current issue of Spine.

                    Patients' Own Account of Sciatica.

                    From the abstract:

                    People needed to make sense of sciatica through identifying a cause and having it clinically diagnosed.

                    Future management of sciatica needs to include listening to patients' stories, offering a credible physical assessment, explanation, and diagnosis of the condition. Explaining the limits to treatment is seen as positively contributing to the partnership between patients and clinicians.
                    "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

                    Comment


                    • Here's Ned Hall and L.A. Paul discussing causation on Philosophy TV.
                      "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Barrett Dorko View Post
                        Jon,

                        Once again.

                        I'm working to find the right thing to download. Does the episode with Pinker have a specific title?

                        Two nights ago I picked up Buckeye to help her through some heavy snow, took one step and fell over. I'm sure anyone watching would have found this hilarious.

                        Later in the evening my right lower leg (for lack of a better description) "siezed up." I treated it using what I've learned to do and can explain but then ignored ideomotion's complete assistance until I began feeling a similar sensation elsewhere yesterday evening.

                        Well, we all fall, but how we take it and the nature of our recovery varies.

                        I'll be fine, I guess, and I know what to do. Where I differ because of threads like this is in my concern about what exactly happened and how it might have been prevented.

                        Clearly it was Buckeye's fault.
                        I agree, I think.

                        My understanding is that the only way it (fall/recovery) might have been prevented is for you to, well, not be you. If every experience in your life - which includes a complex mixture of genetics, sociology and geography - was somehow altered to change your current subjective experience and reaction to what occurred.

                        The only "objective causes" would be beyond the human ability to interpret and create subjective meaning and output. At which point an observer might witness the event and have a completely different take on the cause. It's a tricky topic.
                        Last edited by regnalt deux; 29-12-2011, 11:23 PM.
                        “Don’t believe everything you think.”

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                        • HI Barrett,
                          Can you spell out a definition of "origin" of pain, specifically its distinction from cause? Assume I'm real dumb/ignorant.
                          Thanks!
                          "If I exhaled arguments only to hold my breath I would die..." - Vast Aire

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                          • I assume you can read the first few posts in this thread.
                            Barrett L. Dorko

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                            • The problem isn't the assumption of causation but rather the assumption of linear causation. Robert Rosen figured this out, as I mention below.

                              Organisms are dominated by circular causations. Most processes entail self-perpetuating cycles. (If those cycles also include templated replication, then those cycles can evolve.)

                              I wrote this on a question thread at ResearchGate:
                              Say we're talking about gravitation; the movement of tides is an effect of the Moon orbiting the Earth. Say the movement of the tides sustains a biological niche (tide pools) and therefore the evolution of particular adaptations (strong anchoring points.)

                              When a biologist picks up a tide pool critter and exclaims "look how this structure facilitates adherence to a substrate" and later a structural biologist describes the molecular interactions that mediate this particular adaptation "look how these sidechains make strong ionic bonds to silicates" (I'm making that up) then I think (and I think you'd agree) that gravitation will not meaningfully direct the train of thought.

                              Although there is a causal chain that connects the Moon's orbit to the evolution of sticky tide pool critters, it doesn't seem to be informative -- indeed, substitute any other source of turbulence, and the same adaptive pressures would result, and similar adaptations would evolve.

                              This does appear to suggest a solution; the context to consider is shearing hydrodynamic forces at particular length scales, not the lunar orbit. A well-defined context is helping us to meaningfully interpret the evolutionary history! So the evolved sticky-structures have effects that are significant in terms of shear forces. But if that seems clear then what are the causes of these effects? Causality seemed simple and appropriate when describing the lunar orbit giving rise to tides...what am I missing here when describing this adaptation of sticky tide pool critters?

                              UPDATE:
                              A friend mentioned the work of Robert Rosen and the role of circular causation in living systems. Here's a summary (haven't read the source material so I don't know how accurate this is): https://lpei2.wordpress.com/the-waters-of-life/2-causation-complexity-and-life/. From that article:

                              "Rosen’s most often-quoted insight is that “a material system is an organism if, and only if, it is closed to efficient causation.” What the organism is open to from the outside world is material cause: its necessary physical environment, nutrients that it needs to stay alive. But it is closed to efficient causation in that its fundamental aliveness is not being caused from without. The organism causes itself to continue to exist; this is the whole point of the self-replicating repair system. No outside agency is required to intervene in order to keep the organism in being; and when a certain threshold of aging, disease, or injury is crossed, no outside agency can keep life going.

                              This is how an organism is fundamentally different from a machine."
                              I've subsequently read much more Rosen (especially through his student, A.H. Louie) and I can confirm that the above quotes from the wordpress blog are faithful to his position.

                              So I think Pinker's work is borderline irrationalism/obscurantism. We shouldn't throw out causation, we should refine what we mean by it.

                              Whenever a person argues for a linear causation in biology, correctness hinges on whether the linear causation is a subsequence of a dominant circular causal chain. If A->B->C->A then there are conditions where A->B is correct. But if there are also competing processes D->B->E->D and F->B->G->F then A->B is an oversimplification -- there are scenarios where D->B and F->B are both relevant.
                              Ryan MB Hoffman, PhD
                              Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner

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