The Causal Principle

The Pixie

Well-known member
I'd suggest that the entity acting, or the property of the entity that gives rise to the subsequent event, or the circumstance(s) under which the entity with that property has to act as it does, or the prior event, or the law of nature under which the entity acts, could all be thought of as causes of the event in different senses.

But I think that the most fundamental of these senses has to be the entity (or entities) acting. Entities are all that exist - properties are really just aspects of entities that we isolate mentally for study, and laws are generalizations we form about how entities act.

I'm sure that something along these lines is true, but my exact formulation may be off. I'd appreciate input.
So what is your view of radioactive decay.

Radioactive decay is a stochastic (i.e. random) process at the level of single atoms. According to quantum theory, it is impossible to predict when a particular atom will decay, regardless of how long the atom has existed.

There is no event that triggers it, no entity acting on it. To me this is uncaused, though it is following the laws of nature.
 

Torin

Well-known member
So what is your view of radioactive decay.

Radioactive decay is a stochastic (i.e. random) process at the level of single atoms. According to quantum theory, it is impossible to predict when a particular atom will decay, regardless of how long the atom has existed.

There is no event that triggers it, no entity acting on it. To me this is uncaused, though it is following the laws of nature.
You're not going to like this, but I think the scientists are wrong. I am of the view that philosophy is prior to science, so a scientist who says that his experiment proves that there are real contradictions or absolutely uncaused events is wrong on philosophical grounds.

I hesitated to post this, because it could turn the thread more debatey than I would like. I am not going to argue about the issue here.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
You're not going to like this, but I think the scientists are wrong. I am of the view that philosophy is prior to science, so a scientist who says that his experiment proves that there are real contradictions or absolutely uncaused events is wrong on philosophical grounds.

I hesitated to post this, because it could turn the thread more debatey than I would like. I am not going to argue about the issue here.
I am not sure why you do not want to debate it; you are, of course, feel free to ignore this.

As far as I know, this is well supported. Radioactive decay very closely follows what is predicted if it is random. Experiment has show it is barely affected by temperature or pressure. The whole idea of a half-life is a consequence of it being random, and is very well established

Philosophy is all well and good, but we can only justify saying it is correct once it is supported by experiment - at which point it becomes science. A philosophy may hold that pixies are causing the decay, but until you can provide some evidence - such as, if pixies do it, then we would expect it to go faster when we leave milk out for them, and to then do the experiment and show that is the case - you might as well be talking about a fantasy world, rather than reality.
 

Nouveau

Well-known member
You're not going to like this, but I think the scientists are wrong. I am of the view that philosophy is prior to science, so a scientist who says that his experiment proves that there are real contradictions or absolutely uncaused events is wrong on philosophical grounds.

I hesitated to post this, because it could turn the thread more debatey than I would like. I am not going to argue about the issue here.
What is the philosophical argument then for uncaused events being impossible?
 

Torin

Well-known member
@Nouveau, I'm not interested in debating in this thread.

If you'd like to lay out your reasons for rejecting the causal principle (in thorough detail) that would be of interest to me. You've done so briefly in a previous exchange with me, though.
 
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