[OPE-L:6249] Re: RE: Realism regularities and prediction

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Tue Dec 18 2001 - 18:59:13 EST

I think we had this discussion before. Then I pointed to Marx's New York
tribune article in which after preferring the free will thoery of
punishment to the utilitarian one, he comes down on the side of fatalism;
only a change of society can get rid of the constant supply of criminals.
Chris A
>In a message some weeks ago [#6239] Paul C wrote:
>"... relating to Lawson's argument that the reality of free human
>choice implies that we can expect to see few if any regularities in the
>social realm.
>"It strikes me that were this objection to be true, then it would not apply
>to the social realm alone. At a microscopic level, quantum indeterminacy
>implies that particles can chose which path to follow in an
>fashion.  This would apparently rule out the detection of regularities in
>the physical realm. Of course this turns out not to be the case: although
>individual events are unpredictable, the mean rate of such events can
>exhibit remarkable regularities."
>and then quoted Quetelet:
>		One of the facts which appears to have excited the greatest
>                             alarm, out of all pointed to in my work, is
>naturally that relating
>                             to the constancy with which crime is committed.
>>From the
>                             examination of numbers, I believed myself
>justified in inferring,
>                             as a natural consequence, that, in given
>circumstances, and
>                             under the influence of the same causes, we may
>reckon upon
>                             witnessing the repetition of the same effects,
>the reproduction
>                             of the same crimes, and the same convictions.
>Quetelet may not be the most reliable support for the standpoint that Paul
>advocates (rightly so, I think).
> On other occasions he went further than his assertion here that given
>social conditions produce given statistical regularities, and appeared to
>suggest that statistical regularities undermined the notion of free will:
>		It is society that prepares the crime; the guilty person is
>only the
>		instrument who executes it. The victim on the scaffold is in
>		certain way the expiatory victim of society. His crime is
>the fruit
>		of the circumstance in which he finds himself.
>There was a major 19th debate over this kind of so-called statistical
>fatalism. The interesting fact about it, if one believes Hacking's account
>in his "The Taming of Chance", is that belief in statistical fatalism had a
>well-nigh 100 per cent correlation with Manchester-style liberalism (hence
>was most popular in England and France). The defenders of free will had
>their headquarters in the offices of the Prussian statistical service.
>His acid test is the career of Adolf Wagner, who started out as a liberal
>and fatalist; when he converted to the professorial sort of socialism he
>also recanted his fatalism (Hacking, page 130).

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