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Causality aka causation -- terminal event-sequences in the linear-ectomorphic semimodel[1].

The CTMU describes causality in a decision-theoretic context, and explores the paradox of reverse causality and free-will in his paper, The Resolution of Newcomb's Paradox.

Langan makes a distinction between three types of determinacy:

1) Indeterminacy

2) (External) Determinacy

3a) Self-Determinacy

  • 3b) Intrinsic Self-Determinacy


"Given an object, event, set or process, it is usually assumed to have come about in one or both of just two ways: (1) its existence owes to something prior and external to it; (2) it is uncaused and sprang forth spontaneously and pointlessly in a something-from-nothing, rabbit-out-of-the-hat sort of way, as if by magic. A similar assumption is made with regard to its behavior: either it is controlled by laws that are invariant with respect to it and therefore existentially external to it (even though they control it through its intrinsic structure and properties), or it is behaving in an utterly aleatory and uncontrolled fashion. This has given rise to a dichotomy: determinacy versus randomness, or a total absence of causation versus causation by laws that are ultimately independent of the determined entity."

"Events are either causally connected or they are not, and if they are not, then the future would seem to be utterly independent of the past. Either we use causality to connect the dots and draw a coherent picture of time, or we settle for a random scattering of independent dots without spatial or temporal pattern and thus without meaning."

"Self-determinacy is like a circuitous boundary separating the poles of the above dichotomy…a reflexive and therefore closed boundary, the formation of which involves neither preexisting laws nor external structure. Thus, it is the type of causal attribution suitable for a perfectly self-contained system."

"Where a system determines its own composition, properties and evolution independently of external laws or structures, it can determine its own meaning, and ensure by its self-configuration that its inhabitants are crucially implicated therein."

"If determinacy corresponds to an arrow of causation pointing to an event from a surrounding medium, then indeterminacy corresponds to no arrow at all (acausality), and self-determinacy to a looping arrow or complex of arrows involving some kind of feedback. But cybernetic feedback, which involves information passed among controllers and regulated entities through a conductive or transmissive medium, is meaningless where such entities do not already exist, and where no sensory or actuative protocol has yet been provided. With respect to the origin of any self-determinative, perfectly self-contained system, the feedback is ontological in nature and therefore more than cybernetic. Accordingly, ontological feedback bears description as “precybernetic” or “metacybernetic”."

"Ordinary feedback, describing the evolution of mechanical (and with somewhat less success, biological) systems, is cyclical or recursive. The system and its components repeatedly call on internal structures, routines and actuation mechanisms in order to acquire input, generate corresponding internal information, internally communicate and process this information, and evolve to appropriate states in light of input and programming. However, where the object is to describe the evolution of a system from a state in which there is no information or programming (information-processing syntax) at all, a new kind of feedback is required: telic feedback."[1]

Contrasted with Probability & Statistics

"Let us enlarge on the distinction between statistics and causality. Causality is just the most concise exact description of a set of statistical correlations, and can be regarded as the out put of an algorithm on statistical input. This algorithm, "logical induction", includes Occam's Razor and its metasyntax. What enters as "probabilistic dependency" emerges as "logical dependency"; the many-valued logic of the former, wherein probabilities are defined as truthvalues, has become two-valued by the formation of distinguishing predicates (or conversion of truthvalues to quantifiers). So logical dependency, or causality, is the inductive transform of probabilistic dependency. This transformation, being largely based on past data, can be rendered inconsistent by new data."[2]

Relevance to Teleologic Evolution

"Teleologic Evolution (TE) is a process of alternating replication and selection through which the universe "creates itself" along with the life it contains. This process, called telic recursion, is neither random nor deterministic in the usual senses, but self-directed. Telic recursion occurs on global and local levels respectively associated with the evolution of nature and the evolution of life; the evolution of life thus mirrors that of the universe in which it occurs. TE improves on traditional approaches to teleology by extending the concept of nature in a way eliminating any need for "supernatural" intervention, and improves on neo-Darwinism by addressing the full extent of nature and its causal dynamics.

In the past, teleology and evolution were considered mutually exclusory. This was at least partially because they seem to rely on different models of causality. As usually understood, teleology appears to require a looping kind of causality whereby ends are immanent everywhere in nature, even at the origin (hence the causal loop). Evolution, on the other hand, seems to require a combination of ordinary determinacy and indeterminacy in which the laws of nature deterministically guide natural selection, while indeterminacy describes the "random" or "chance" dimension of biological mutation.

In contrast, the phrase teleologic evolution expresses an equivalence between teleology and evolution based on extended, refined concepts of nature and causality. This equivalence is expressed in terms of a self-contained logic-based model of reality identifying theory, universe and theory-universe correspondence, and depicting reality as a self-configuring system requiring no external creator. Instead, reality and its self-creative principle are identified through a contraction of the mapping which formerly connected the source and output of the teleology function. In effect, the creative principle itself becomes the ultimate form of reality.

The self-configuration of reality involves an intrinsic mode of causality, self-determinacy, which is logically distinct from conventional concepts of determinacy and indeterminacy but can appear as either from a localized vantage. Determinacy and indeterminacy can thus be viewed as "limiting cases" associated with at least two distinct levels of systemic self-determinacy, global-distributed and local-nondistributed. The former level appears deterministic while the latter, which accommodates creative input from multiple quasi-independent sources, dynamically adjusts to changing conditions and thus appears to have an element of "randomness".

According to this expanded view of causality, the Darwinian processes of replication and natural selection occur on at least two mutually-facilitative levels associated with the evolution of the universe as a whole and the evolution of organic life. In addition, human technological and sociopolitical modes of evolution may be distinguished, and human intellectual evolution may be seen to occur on collective and individual levels. Because the TE model provides logical grounds on which the universe may be seen to possess a generalized form of intelligence, all levels of evolution are to this extent intelligently directed, catalyzed and integrated."[3]

"The CTMU has a meta-Darwinian message: the universe evolves by hological self-replication and self-selection. Furthermore, because the universe is natural, its self-selection amounts to a cosmic form of natural selection. But by the nature of this selection process, it also bears description as intelligent self-design (the universe is “intelligent” because this is precisely what it must be in order to solve the problem of self-selection, the master-problem in terms of which all lesser problems are necessarily formulated). This is unsurprising, for intelligence itself is a natural phenomenon that could never have emerged in humans and animals were it not already a latent property of the medium of emergence. An object does not displace its medium, but embodies it and thus serves as an expression of its underlying syntactic properties. What is far more surprising, and far more disappointing, is the ideological conflict to which this has led. It seems that one group likes the term “intelligent” but is indifferent or hostile to the term “natural”, while the other likes “natural” but abhors “intelligent”. In some strange way, the whole controversy seems to hinge on terminology. Of course, it can be credibly argued that the argument actually goes far deeper than semantics… that there are substantive differences between the two positions. For example, some proponents of the radical Darwinian version of natural selection insist on randomness rather than design as an explanation for how new mutations are generated prior to the restrictive action of natural selection itself. But this is untenable, for in any traditional scientific context, “randomness” is synonymous with “indeterminacy” or “acausality”, and when all is said and done, acausality means just what it always has: magic. That is, something which exists without external or intrinsic cause has been selected for and brought into existence by nothing at all of a causal nature, and is thus the sort of something-from-nothing proposition favored, usually through voluntary suspension of disbelief, by frequenters of magic shows. Inexplicably, some of those taking this position nevertheless accuse of magical thinking anyone proposing to introduce an element of teleological volition to fill the causal gap. Such parties might object that by “randomness”, they mean not acausality but merely causal ignorance. However, if by taking this position they mean to belatedly invoke causality, then they are initiating a causal regress. Such a regress can take one of three forms: it can be infinite and open, it can terminate at a Prime Mover which itself has no causal explanation, or it can form some sort of closed cycle doubling as Prime Mover and that which is moved. But a Prime Mover has seemingly been ruled out by assumption, and an infinite open regress can be ruled out because its lack of a stable recursive syntax would make it impossible to form stable informational boundaries in terms of which to perceive and conceive of reality."[4]

"You mention Bill Dembski’s 3-way distinction between determinacy, nondeterminacy (chance) and design. In the CTMU, this distinction comes down to the 3-way distinction between determinacy, nondeterminacy and self-determinacy, the last being associated with telic recursion and the others being secondarily defined with respect to it. Telic recursion is just another term for "metacausation"; instead of simply outputting the next state of a system, it outputs higher-order relationships between state and law (or state and syntax).

Regarding the distinction between origins and evolution, not too many people are clear on it. This distinction is based on the standard view of causality, in which there seems to be a clean distinction between the origin and application of causal principles, specifically first-order Markovian laws of nature. In the CTMU, origins distribute over causes in a new kind of structure called a conspansive manifold, and are therefore not cleanly distinguishable from causality. Both are products of a higher-order process, telic recursion. To put it in simpler terms, evolution consists of events which originate in causes which originate in (teleological) metacauses. So in the CTMU, to talk about evolution is to talk about metacausal origins by ontogenic transitivity."[5]

Causal Decision Theory

"Causal decision theory adopts principles of rational choice that attend to an act's consequences. It maintains that an account of rational choice must use causality to identify the considerations that make a choice rational.

Given a set of options constituting a decision problem, decision theory recommends an option that maximizes utility, that is, an option whose utility equals or exceeds the utility of every other option. It evaluates an option's utility by calculating the option's expected utility. It uses probabilities and utilities of an option's possible outcomes to define an option's expected utility. The probabilities depend on the option. Causal decision theory takes the dependence to be causal rather than merely evidential."