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In reply to the discussion: Atheist Q&A [View all]


(2 posts)
16. massimo's post
Sun Feb 12, 2012, 01:41 PM
Feb 2012

Rosenberg replies to Massimo on the same thread here (in case you missed it).


You certain cite all the important recent thinkers about determinism. Most of what you cite from what they say is reliable about the current state of play in the philosophy of science. I am on board with all of it.

There is nothing in "The Atheist's Guide to Reality" that contradicts any of that. In fact, the only matter regarding determinism I take sides on in that book is this brace of claims: First, our universe is indeterministic in its fundamental laws of working (unless we can make empirical sense of superpositions). Second, once you get to macromolecules and anything else of relevance to human affairs, nature is asymptotically deterministic (expect for some mutations).

I think you are reacting to, and objecting to, the book's assumption (and it is indeed an assumption I dont argue much for) that physics is causally complete and causally closed so that it fixes all the facts. That is the assumption I need, not determinism, to get the answers I claim science provides to all the "persistent" questions of philosophy about reality, purpose, meaning, thought, human values and our future as a species.

There is certainly enough in those chapters of "The Atheist's Guide to Reality" to disagree with without dragging in determinism.


Massimo in turn replies:

Alex R.,

thanks for your comments. Indeed, a full discussion of your book needs to be postponed. Still, it seems to me you need both causal completeness and determinism, if you want to avoid, say, two-step models of free will and the like. You also need to argue that the laws of nature are actually laws (instead of statistical generalization), as well as that there are no truly emergent properties in the universe (though I guess the latter would fall under the issue of causal completeness, which you admit you do not argue for), etc. Looking forward to having all those discussions.

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