Archive for January 24th, 2011

January 24, 2011

Purpose (4) – chaos

by Neil Rickert

In earlier posts in this series, I have pointed out places where there is apparently chaotic behavior.  In this post I shall further comment on chaos.

I’ll start by indicating why I have been mentioning it.  Many people seem to take the view that we could manage with only using mechanistic explanations, and that the vocabulary of intentions is unnecessary, though perhaps convenient.  For example, that appears to be the view of that Dennett is suggesting in his The Intentional Stance.  I mentioned examples of chaotic behavior because they are cases where mechanistic explanation breaks down, and thus fails to be adequate.  Thus they show that mechanistic explanation is not adequate, and that there are cases where we need teleological explanations.

Now it may be that the world is still entirely mechanistic, and that mechanistic explanation fails for chaotic behavior because as finite beings we are limited in the amount of information we can have, and we cannot have enough for a full mechanistic explanation.  Or it could be that the world is not entirely mechanistic, and a mechanical explanation could not be completed even in principle.  You, the reader, will have to decide which of those positions you want to take.  I will present my current tentative view at the end of this post.

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