Jan 14, 2010

Assignment of Determinism & Freewill

            There are two types of things in the Universe, which are living while the others are non-living. The non-living things are at rest or in their motion until they are disturbed by others body, these non-living things do not alter their own way of motion only if they are in motion. Hence, until some external forces or entities don't disturb the normal cycle of the non-living things till that moment the cycle of non-living things aren't getting diverted from their path. But when these non-living things have random motion then they don't come to stable path until external forces act on them. Hence, we can say that non-livings do not have their will to change their own cycle. Hence, these things aren't related to the concept of "FREEWILL", but these things can be determined.


            The past & present observations can help to make hypothesis & then by scientific method we make these hypothesis turn into law. These laws are capable of telling the probability of the non-living thing's existence & their future position or path. On the basis of these laws we can predetermine the world around us with firm basis, but the most important entities in these predetermine world will be non-living things.


            Animals & especially humans are the living organisms who can use their brain for thinking. The can decide upon things to be done by them in their near future, only if those things satisfy their materialistic or spiritualistic things. In case of humans, things they do depend mostly either on their thinking or on their emotions. One cannot say that things done by humans are determined because humans decide mostly when they face those kind of conditions. Until then they jus make assumptions about their own behavior. Normatively it is thought that people do not have their freewill because the have to undertake those activities that are forced by their society. But when it is thought rationally it can be concluded that this is a false image that has got fixed in everyone's perspective. People have their freewill as they are allowed to decide upon the things that are necessary for them. The society norms are for namesake as they don't directly affect the freewill of the individual person. In difficult & extreme situations people don't at all think about the norms of the society because in such conditions they are the real ones who face the conditions. Hence, the thinking & actions of the humans are not predetermined, but the same people have their freewill.


            The fact remains that world is made of both the things – he living as well as non-living tings. The qualities of both are included when we think about the world. But thinking comes into practice from the perspectives of humans. So the humans make their hypothesis & prove them to be right, rational & logical on he basis of their observations. This does not mean that they have observed all the phenomenon that have taken place. Some of the laws are just made by saying, "This would happen because of the rule of uniformitarianism". But this rule assumes that things happened in the past will again repeat them in present & in future. This rule may apply only when disturbances don't occur. People have their freewill so they can opt their own views and may change others thinking.
            Hence, science cannot always be deterministic in every case. Freewill of the people plays an important role in modifying science, as a result science cannot remain absolute I its way. It is always based on observations & experiments o some flaws in it may change the whole results. Things remain to be deterministic only when they won't be affected any external things & even people can't guess about the disturbances that may occur. People's freewill comes into practice when such disturbance changes the basic laws of science.
            At last I would conclude that things are deterministic only till they aren't affected by unknown things & freewill of people plays important role when these things are affected by external forces &  new concept or idea is needed to explain that phenomenon.
Prathamesh Kubal

Jan 12, 2010

Is determinism against free will?

Hi all,
(New assignment at the bottom)

We discussed the problem of induction in the scientific method and the conclusion seems to be as follows:
1. Most of the key hypothesis made in science are based on inductive thinking, which can be simply put as our ability to find patterns in different incidences of certain phenomena. We cannot always go to the cause of each phenomenon at the beginning. However, this alone cannot lead to scientific truth, but only notions, hypothesis or beliefs, which need to be either verified by experiments (usually this is the case) or reinforced by reason for them to be accepted as fact.
2. Ockham's razor is a means of differentiating between hypothesis, when they are not entirely deductive (and therefore are inconclusive) and thus allows us to select from between half-baked theories and a little more "baked" theories. Thus it is only helpful and not assuring.
3. Scientists are supposed to and so most, do follow the scientific method, wherein we understand that induction is a part of creating the hypothesis. However, due to personal limitations or prevailing peer-bias, they may be misled (usually while creating the hypothesis) and thus may unintentionally break away from the method. Only on rare occassions do scientiists intentionally comitt fraud by manipulating the evidence or ignoring some of it. And yet, science does not fail, since the inbuilt mechanism of peer review (i.e. scientists checking each others work before it is accepted by the rest of the community) ensures that frauds & mistakes come to light and scientific truth prevails.
So let us move further in our random walk through the philosophy of science, to take a look at another debate - Determinism Vs Free-Will.
Determinism simply put is the position that everything in the universe can be determined through certain computational steps once and if we know how to describe each phenomenon in the universe. In loose variants we could restrict this calculation to our immediate surroundings and to certain phenomena.
Free Will is about our abiliyt to choose what we want.
Q. If things are all pre-determined, then how can free will exist? If free will exists then the universe is unpredictable and un-calculable, then whats the point of doing science - an endeavour to explain the universe?
Use the following links to prepare your response -
http://www.galilean-library.org/manuscript.php?postid=43791 (a pedagogical view)
http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/swartz/freewill1.htm (a parochial view)
http://blogs.salon.com/0001561/stories/2002/11/17/freeWillVsDeterminism.html (the theological view)
http://www.trinity.edu/cbrown/intro/free_will.html (a synopsis)

(I am exaggerating things a little bit but this is the extreme and mostly resolved part of the debate. the actual ongoing debate is rather subtle and somewhet difficult to comprehend at first sight)

Jan 9, 2010

About Scientific Method

Sir, i forgot to mention my name for it. - Prathamesh Kubal

About Scientific Method


1.     Role of inductive reasoning in creating an hypothesis


            Firstly, Inductive thinking is a way of reasoning out things by taking major assumptions as true & then by applying the same rule to the things related to the basic assumptions. Hence, the major part of inductive thinking lies in assuming basic things to be perfectly to be true. Secondly, inductive thinking is used most of the times in proving the statements which are already concluded. It's as if A = B, & B = C then, A = C.

            As, discussed earlier (position of the observer is considered to be constant) A = Sun rises at a point P with respect to an observer, B = the observer sees that the sun rises everyday at point P. C = When observations taken by the observer are always the same or precise then the observation done is considered to be true. Hence, the conclusion made by the observer is "Sun always rises from the point P & will remain rising from the same point." Here, the condition B is wrong basically as it is just related to the observer & is not a universal law. In this example, conditions given were taken for granted but not questioned, due to which the rational & logical reasoning part fails. The term reasoning here means 'integration of relative statistical observations without considering the exact cause of it'. Here, play of words are used as well as different statements are combined which may differ from the initial base are combined to form a reasoning for the conclusion to be true.

            As in mathematics, we consider a variable as if it follows the given condition & then we prove the conclusion to be right, we use the inductive process mainly for proving things to be right. Main aspect of this kind of reasoning is assuming basic conditions to be right instead of finding out the cause of the basic conditions (if basic conditions are already proved then they are taken as granted), as a result we find a rule for conditions instead of finding the cause of it. But mathematics is originally built on the base of assumptions; hence inductive reasoning through mathematics is nothing but just mere assumptions. Things are related with each other only to prove them right.


            We normatively consider hypothesis as drawing conclusions just by mere observations. As a result in these hypotheses, reasoning part lessens & again assumption is given prime importance. For e.g.: - I know that gold is used in making jewelry. Gold is chrome yellow in color & has luster as it is a metal. Hence, if I say those minerals which are chrome yellow in color & have a bright luster then, such mineral is gold & is used in jewelry. This is the hypothesis which is laid just by observation & no reasoning part, even if reasoning is said to be involved then comparison of two things which are physically same, hence this hypothesis is right. This is what meant by a hypothesis at a normative level.

            But, when we think with respect of scientific then, Hypothesis means "Conclusions made for explaining concepts after understanding the given conditions & reasoning out the observations by scientific concepts." Hence, when a hypothesis is made, all the conditions are observed & reasoned to draw out a conclusion which may state the result of the change that takes place during the process. Hence, the above hypothesis of saying those minerals as gold with similar physical properties is wrong. If we consider the above hypothesis to be right then there is fault as chalcopyrite, a copper mineral will also be considered as Gold. Hence, when a hypothesis is to be made the rational & logical reasoning part is a must.

            We say that stars twinkle & planets do not twinkle, as a result the hypothesis made is that those objects which twinkle are not planets. Here, everyone fails to realize that planets do not twinkle when they are not at the horizon. When these planets are at the horizon they too twinkle due to the thick blanket of atmosphere. Hence, when the reason of twinkling is considered then only the conclusion made will be a hypothesis else it will just be a observational conclusion in terms of science.

            Thus, inductive reasoning does not play a role in creating a hypothesis. (Here, scientific perspective is given important hence the above statement)


2.     Is Ockham's razor justified, i.e. can it be used with certainty

            Ockham's principle states that "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity". This means that when a law is to be made, its base should be simple & stable enough to support it. Terms or concepts unnecessary in the phenomenon should be eliminated; only the parameters should be given prime importance.

            Yes, Ockham's razor is justified as it goes in accordance with the "Law of Conservation of Energy". This is because, the total energy of the universe always remains constant is conserve at every particular stage. In any phenomenon the parameters are the only one's who play an important role in the formation of the product. Inversely, it can be said that for the product to remain the same & constant without any disturbance in it, then the reactants should be constant, i.e. only the parameters should be present. Excess use of some things can lead to deformation of the expected product.

            In chemistry, while preparing a acidic solution, if we add basic salt in it then if results into a new compound instead of forming the original compound. Hence, entities should not increase so as to stabilize the product to be formed. In physics, we write the units of displacement then it is written just "s", but when entities are increase it is written as (Power x Time) per unit Force. Hence, using 3 entities instead of 1 term may lead to confusion & calculation mistakes in practical calculations.

            If the total number of entities in any particular phenomenon do not go beyond necessity then it becomes easier to understand even the most complex phenomenon with least entities which are the parameters of the phenomenon. This razor helps the scientists to remain stable on their path instead of getting defocused. Hence, use of extra entities is not beneficial & may even lead to disasters. Limited entities make thinking easier as compared to complex entities as limited ones are easier to handle. Ockham's razor's practicality can be seen as; most of the scientists are busy in integrating all the equations to form a parent equation through which all other related equations can be derived.


3.     Is the scientific method rigidly followed? Should it be?

            Scientific method are tools for inventing new concepts, learning & understanding concepts & also for modifying older concepts as new ones come. In this, thinking done is rationally & logically right, due to which reasoning is given to each & every concept. By scientific method individuals can learn the concepts & understand them easily.

            In practical life those individual who do not belong to the scientific community even do not follow the scientific models. Scientific community mainly uses this tool for modifying the present concepts as well as for discovering newer concepts which may or may not be related to the present concepts. It is also used for calculating accurate values of most of the constants. The scientific community itself practices these methods which mainly include the ways like:

·        Proper  observations

·        Logically Reasoning out all the observations

·        Reasoning if not related with past concepts, then introduction of newer ones

·        Simplifying the complex things so as to make them easy to understand

·        Modifying the past concepts whenever necessary

This is what followed only by the scientific community in a proper way of understanding & handling things.

            But, this is not the case among the individuals who do not belong to the scientific community. Individuals use this tool only for their calculation purpose & not for understanding them. Today's individual know all the equations & they are able to calculate their problem's solution in fraction of time, but when the theory part is asked their faces become blank. This is because the individuals are more interested in finding solutions by provided things; they are not interested in learning or understanding things. As, a result these individuals face problems in their further life, as their basic knowledge of understanding things is too weak. Nowadays more importance is given to memory power of individuals instead of their thinking power. As a result their calculating power is boosted but they lack the quality of thinking & reasoning out things. Hence, individuals other than scientific community do not practice the scientific method rigidly.

            Yes, scientific method should be followed rigidly so that each individual would be able to reason out things that go around him in his surroundings. This tool may boost innovative thinking among individuals & lead them to good future. Just knowing things is not enough; one must be able to reason out them. When the individuals be able to reason out things, new ideas will emerge at a faster rate leading in new discoveries through period of time.

More on Induction

I found an interesting handout outlining the problem of induction and the possible solutions. It is inconclusive as is the problem, but it will help you think about the assignment on the scientific method & induction. I have put it up temporarily at this location.
Now about the replies to the assignment. Saarang, Ockham's razor is not opposite to inductive reasoning, and it only says that given a choice between possible explainations, choose the one with least inductive thinking OR in other words the one with minimum assumptions.
Shivang, I agree with (1), but about Ockham and GR & QM ... We cant see the future and so we have to limit ourselves to making the bext of what we have today. A theory when made has to deal with every known aspect of the phenomenon. That's the criterion. If there are some variants of the phenomena that we have not yet encountered or any parameters that we haven't considered which do not affect the observed phenomena, then that cannot question the veracity of the theory. GR and QM were never designed to work for the microscopic and the fast, respectively. But then there is Relativistic QM which ensures that the rules of the Relativity are applied to QM objects. We haven't yet corrcetly integrated QM with gravity, but that would be another theory altogether, based on diffirent assumptions and evolving its own different principles.
Anyways keep the answers coming guys...the problem is still out there...

philo assignment

    i wass not able to post this comment on the blog,it was giving some ERROR 404. so i'm sending this email containing the comment to your blog.
                                                                                       ketan chaskar
                                                                                       XI A .

Jan 4, 2010

About the Scientific Method

As a part of preparations for the IPO, we must learn to dabble with the prominent (albeit somewhat simple) issues from different areas of philosophy; the objective being to hone your skills in following & presenting philosophical arguments. Most of January we will spend on issues in the Philosophy of Science.
We already saw things about the scientific method and Kuhn's observations on the paradigms in science. Some may argue that the scientific method is not so well defined or that inductive thinking is not as well constrained as reasoning & logic, but works quite well. On this note comment on the following:

  1. Role of inductive reasoning in creating an hypothesis

  2. Is Ockham's razor justified, i.e. can it be used with certainty

  3. Is the scientific method rigidly followed? Should it be?

You may find Wikipedia very helpful along with maybe this link - http://www.sciencebuddies.org/

About the Indian Philosophy Olympiad aka the Abhinav Philosopher

Hi all,
The Abhinav Philosopher competition was held for the third consecutive year in the month of December, by the team of teachers from Abhinav Vidyalay & Jr. College. Details of the competition and its results are available online. The results are published for the 40 odd students who had attempted the essay, which carried significant weightage. We had called upon about 300 schools mostly near Mumbai & Pune and some well known schools from the rest of the state. There were about 104 entries mostly from around Dombivli, some from Mumbai (Lilavatibai Poddar, St. John Cathedral, ...) and a surprising entry from Haryana (shows the power of the net)
Most were students from std 10th to 12th, however some of the std 9th students also did quite well. Many essays and subjective answers were quite thoughtful which shows that the students were capable of thinking hard about issues completely outside their curriculum. Thats why the stage was called as 'Open-Your-Mind'. the jury had a harrowing time trying to reach an agreement about the winner and the excellence awards for this competition. I can safely say that in the end, justice was served.
The chosen ones - Chitra Adkar & Prathamesh Kubal will now proceed for training, initially through this blog and whenever possible, through lectures and discussions. Around mid-March, they will begin a rigorous training involving reading through a lot of material and writing quite a few essays. This training will reach its peak after mid-April when we train about 10-12 hours a day with intense brainstorming about various issues. The dates of the IPO 2010 are yet to be announced, but it should be somewhere in mid-May.

All other students, regardless of their score, are welcome to be a part of this training, in whatever way possible. For details they can contact me at 9819024442 or director@abhinav.ac.in. I expect those who couldn't make it into the team this year and will not be joining university next year to join these sessions and improve their skills.