Re: [asa] Contingency and Quantum Indeterminacy

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Wed Mar 19 2008 - 11:58:45 EDT

Thanks! I think my last question may have been unclear though. So, we know
things are contingent rather than deterministic. But, does that mean (a)
all things "just happen"; and (b) anything can happen? Can we still say (a)
things are "caused"; and (b) not just anything, but only a probabilistic
range of things, can happen given our universe (I guess another way to say
this is, is anything in our universe probability 0)?

On Wed, Mar 19, 2008 at 11:45 AM, <> wrote:

> I can answer the last question. They are completely open as far as we
> know from physics unless you choose to believe in a multi-verse model. The
> violation of Bell's inequality shows that there is nothing localized
> in spacetime around a particle that contains sufficient information to
> determine what it will do. So if there is anything that determines what the
> particle will do (thus taking away the contingency) then it must be a
> non-local effect and no such non-local thing has been identified in physics
> so far. Everett's Multi-Worlds interpretation does remove contingency by
> saying that all possibilities necessarily occur. Things only seem
> contingent because you are just one of many copies of yourself and you (as
> one copy of yourself) cannot choose which of the many parts of the
> multiverse you will exist within. But if you don't accept the multi-worlds
> interpretation then there is nothing known to physics to remove the
> contingency.
> Phil
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Opderbeck <>
> To: ASA <>
> Sent: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 11:23 am
> Subject: [asa] Contingency and Quantum Indeterminacy
> In the ASA statement of faith, we use the term "contingent order."
> Contingency is important in Torrance's thought as well as Polanyi's.
> Contingency is also part of Aquinas' teleological argument. Does the notion
> of contingency as we use it require a creation ex nihlo, a big bang? How
> does contingency relate to quantum indeterminacy, since states are only
> represented by probability distributions? Are quantum probability
> distributions completely open, or are they bounded by more basic physical
> laws?
> --
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
> (ASA Member)
> ------------------------------
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David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Wed Mar 19 11:59:41 2008

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