Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Tue Jun 20 08:34:08 MDT 1995

For once Paul and I agree, and Howie should know better. Determinism,
which is certainly as true as relativity theory and classical mechanics,
wholly deterministic theories, and false (in physics) only on the quantum
level, is compatible with agency, if we understand agency to require that
my actioins are caused bny my intentions. Determinism isn't the same thing
as predictbility-in-principle unless you regard causation as givong you
predictability, which isn't obvious. But even if our actions are
predictable-in-principle, they may still be ours, and actions in the
relevant sense. Howie also dusts off Popper's bad old argument that
science requires discovery and since discovery means finding out something
new, it excludes predictability-in-principle. That fails for the reason
cited above (causation doesn't mean predictability), but also because I
don';t see why science requires discovery in that sense--God, who knows
everything if she exists, has all the scientific knowledge there could be.
Science as a body of knowledge is quite distinct from the process of

--Justin Schwartz

On Tue, 20 Jun 1995, Paul_Cockshott wrote:

> Howie wrote:
> The only way to obviate the distinction, whether by new discoveries or new
> interpretations of old discoveries, between first and second order phenomena
> is to embrace a form of determinism. This is how I understand the
> implications of Rahul's string theory example. The problem here is that
> obviating such a distinction abolishes the possibility of agency. And
> without agency I cannot see how we could have science. And without science,
> well... In other words, I don't think that it is logically consistent to
> defend science and to be a determinist. Science depends on some notion of
> discovery, which would seem to possess an irreducibly contingent component.
> To the extent that there is this contingency there is not determinism.
> Paul
> ----
> I do not see that there is any inherent contradiction
> between an idea of determinism and of science.
> In a deterministic view, the state of the world
> is such that at certain points in time the corpus
> of scientific knowledge contains some given amount
> of data. This prescribes the experiments and
> investigations possible in the next time period.
> The underlying reality determines the results of
> the experiments, and together this deterines the
> state of knowledge in the next time period.
> But a thing that is interesting about modern physics is
> that qustions about the nature and degree of
> determinism start to become experimental rather
> than philosophical.
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