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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
John Herschel
Werner Heisenberg
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
The Ten Dogmas of Determinism
Philosophy today has become hopelessly dogmatic.
  • It is as dogmatic as the Renaissance and Enlightenment found the Scholastics and their reliance on established Truths.
  • It is as dogmatic as Kant found his predecessors Leibniz and Wolff with their complete confidence in the explanatory power of Reason.
  • It is as dogmatic as Quine found empirical language philosophy with its use of analytic and synthetic distinctions.
These were all reactions by modern thinkers against the orthodoxy of tradition.
Information philosophers too must waken philosophy from its "dogmatic slumbers." This will require both a modern rethinking of what we can know and a frank post-modern recognition of the tentative and relative foundations of that knowledge.
As with Kant, our method is critical. We must put limits on these dogmas to make room for freedom and creativity, God and values, and knowledge of the external world.
Limits will make room for the only kinds of constructed knowledge that is possible to man - by nature, by convention, and by abstraction.
  • Natural knowledge arises from theories that correspond to the world as tested in experiments by a community of skeptical inquirers.
  • Conventional knowledge is that agreed upon by a community of interpreters.
  • Abstract knowledge is the set of axiomatic ideas (universals) that form the core tools of critical logical thinking grounded in information theory.
The ten dogmas of determinism are:
  • Analysis - from Pythagoras, Plato, Euclid, Archimedes, and Galileo comes the powerful train of thought that everything can be explained by analytical mathematical functions. Newton's mathematical laws of motion for celestial bodies was the crowning achievement for analysis. For William Blake, breaking things into their component parts to analyze their workings was "murder to dissect."

  • Being - from Parmenides and Plato to Heidegger and Sartre, all Becoming and Time has been seen as a corrupt this-worldly illusion, preventing us from seeing the Great Chain of Being. All events are extratemporal and simultaneous in the eyes of God. Aquinas' totem simul.

  • Causality - Aristotle and the great Scholastic thinkers imagined a causal chain from the First Cause to the present moment. Although David Hume said we could not prove causality from mere appearances of Regularity, he nevertheless believed deeply in Necessity.

  • Certainty - Descartes' quest for an undeniable fact on which he could erect the Truth of Philosophy and the Christian Religion.

  • Physical - The first great determinism was that of the earliest physicists and philosophers Leucippus and Democritus. For them there was nothing but atoms moving through a void. Later the Stoic physicists based physical determinism on the Laws of Nature or the Laws of God, since they identified Nature with God.

  • Logic - Logical determinism is the simple idea that events in the future must be as true or false today as they will be after they happen. Aristotle doubted this in his famous discussion of the Sea Battle. 1

  • Mechanism - If classical mechanics could explain the motions of the heavens as the result of natural laws, the same laws might explain human beings, including the individual mind and society. Enlightenment philosophers wrote of "Man as Machine." Planetary motions and mental processes were compared to mechanical clockworks.

  • Necessity - Necessity is often opposed to chance. In a necessary world there is no chance. Everything that happens is necessitated. Nothing is contingent. From Leucippus to the Stoics, Leibniz, and Spinoza

  • Reason - The idea that the universe must be rational - because its designer was rational, because thought would not be possible without reason, because natural laws must be rational, etc. - convinced many thinkers that reason allows only one future, and only one possible choice for the rational will.

  • Truth - The idea that one man, one religion, or one state possesses the One Truth has been one of the most destructive ideas in the history of thought.
These dogmas are closely interrelated and frequently conflated. Some philosophical dictionaries and encyclopedias define them in terms of one another or sometimes equate them. We will see that some philosophers make these dogmas so fundamental that they ignorantly declare that science, knowledge, and even thought itself would not be possible without one or more of them being "true."
Determinism is not true. The world is indeterministic. There is only an adequate physical determinism in the world. The physical world we see is made up mostly from atoms in continuous motion. While less constrained than atoms in a gas, those in a liquid and solid are still moving with thermal motions, and they are still subject to the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics.

Certainty is an ancient concept that grew out of logic. It is often equated with Truth. Today it is a key concept in probability theory. Certainty describes outcomes with probability equal to one.
Three very important certainties are logical certainty, mathematical certainty, and physical certainty. We shall see that all three have been called into question, and for different reasons.
There are many more determinisms, but they perhaps do not deserve the stigma of being called dogmas. They are hypotheses for which there is modest to significant experimental evidence. Consider behavioral (nature), biological (nurture), language, psychological, religious, and social (economic) determinisms. And this is not to discuss chemical dependencies and mind-altering drugs which clearly put significant limits on human freedom. These might best be regarded as external causes, a kind of virtual bondage of the will.
What do all these determinisms have in common? They deny any randomness in the operation of the world. They deny chance. They turn their eyes away from the underlying chaos in the universe.
In so doing they fail to see the magnificent greatness of ergodic creative processes that can build adequately determined information structures despite, and essentially on top of, that ever-present chaos. Ergodic processes control, contain, constrain, and co-opt entropic chaos, using it to their own teleonomic ends of biological creativity, and, in the case of animal intelligence, human freedom.
It therefore quite ironic, and a fitting capstone to all the failed dogmas of determinism, that today we have a chaos and complexity theory which is entirely deterministic! Chaos theory studies the fascinating patterns that emerge from calculations when non-linear effects become important, like the turbulent flow in hydrodynamics.
When chaos theory models are run in a computer program, the results are as random as pseudo-random number generators. That is, the randomness has all the characteristics of true random phenomena, the same deviations from the mean value, etc. But when you start the program from the very same point, it produces the very same pseudo-random sequence.
This seems to be the view that many philosophers have of the world. Underneath it all, God, or one of their determinisms, could rewind the world and have it play out in the very same random chaotic way. Some more scientifically minded philosophers think it could even play backwards, if time were reversed.
As William James said succinctly, they have "antipathy to chance."
For Teachers
For Scholars
1. Aristotle, in his De Interpretatione IX, raised the question of whether the logical truth of a statement about the future might entail the necessity of the future event:
"What is, necessarily is, when it is; and what is not, necessarily is not, when it is not. But not everything that is, necessarily is; and not everything that is not, necessarily is not.

For to say that everything that is, is of necessity, when it is, is not the same as saying unconditionally that it is of necessity. Similarly with what is not. And the same account holds for contradictories: everything necessarily is or is not, and will be or will not be; but one cannot divide and say that one or the other is necessary.

I mean, for example: it is necessary for there to be or not to be a sea-battle tomorrow; but it is not necessary for a sea-battle to take place tomorrow, nor for one not to take place—though it is necessary for one to take place or not to take place.

So, since statements are true according to how the actual things are, it is clear that wherever these are such as to allow of contraries as chance has it, the same necessarily holds for the contradictories also.

This happens with things that are not always so or are not always not so. With these it is necessary for one or the other of the contradictories to be true or false — not, however, this one or that one, but as chance has it; or for one to be true rather than the other, yet not already true or false.

Clearly, then, it is not necessary that of every affirmation and opposite negation one should be true and the other false. For what holds for things that are does not hold for things that are not but may possibly be or not be; with these it is as we have said."


Chapter 6.2 - Determinisms Chapter 6.4 - Dualisms
Part Five - Problems Part Seven - Afterword
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