[FRIAM] Downward Hicausation

Eric Charles eric.phillip.charles at gmail.com
Tue Nov 21 20:42:42 EST 2017

What great timing! One of the best philosophy comics on the web right now
is "Existential Comics." This very week they took a swipe at "causation."
Here is an adventure of Sherlock Hume:

I suspect that the best I can do to contribute beyond that is to try fall
back on my role of scolding Nick.

Nick *should *be asserting that "causation" is a metaphor. The billiard
ball are the understood scenario. Billiard balls sitting on a still table,
unmolested don't move. But if you knock one ball into another ball, the
other ball move so. When I say something like "The approaching lion *caused
*the gazelle to move", I am invoking the metaphor that the lion-gazelle
relationship is like that of the billiard balls. Had the lion not been
doing what it was doing, the gazelle would not have moved away. It isn't
simply a "counterfactual." It is an assertion (an *abduction*) regarding
broad patterns of gazelle behavior that can be readily observed under many
other situations.** Some of those, I have presumably already seen. Those
constitute the "basic implication" of the metaphor. Others I have not
observed, and those constitute potential investigatory events - not
ethereal thought experiments. As in true of any metaphor, there are also
aspects of the billiard-ball scenario I do not intend to map perfectly onto
the lion-gazelle scenario (e.g., the lion and gazelle are not spheres).

So that is where Hume and those like him go wrong. They want to beat the
billiard balls scenario itself to death. But that's not how metaphors work.
There is something understood about the billiard balls, and it is
that-understood-thing that is being generalized to another scenario. Any
attempt to explain the billiard balls will involve evoking *different
which would entail different assertions (abductions). There is no
foundation (Peirce tells us, amongst others), Descartes was on a fool's
errand: In the land of inference, it is turtles all the way down.

** The breadth of the patterns being referenced is, I believe, where
Frank's point about probability slips in. One could certainly simplify the
complexity of the assertion by making lumping similar scenarios together
and speaking about the probability of a certain gazelle behavior within the
cluster of similar situations.

Eric P. Charles, Ph.D.
Supervisory Survey Statistician
U.S. Marine Corps
<echarles at american.edu>

On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 5:08 PM, gⅼеɳ ☣ <gepropella at gmail.com> wrote:

> Also Known As: Beware equating experience with existence.
> On 11/21/2017 02:00 PM, Frank Wimberly wrote:
> > Beware the tendency to think that if you can't immediately measure
> something then it doesn't exist.
> --
> ☣ gⅼеɳ
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