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Thanks, that is helpful.

My claim was that, if we simply represent the gears example by representing the underlying (classical) physics of the system via Pearl's functional causal models, there's nothing cyclic about the system. Thus, Pearl's causal theory doesn't need to resort to the messy expensive stuff for such systems. It only needs to get messy in systems which are a) cyclic, and b) implausible to model via their physics-- for example, negative and positive feedback loops (smoking causes cancer causes despair causes smoking).

Oy, I'm not following you either; apologies. You said:

The common criticism of Pearl is that this assumption fails if one assumes quantum mechanics is true.

...implying that people generally criticize his theory for "breaking" at quantum mechanics. That is, to find a system outside his "subset of causal systems" critics have to reach all the way to quantum mechanics. He could respond "well, QM causes a lot of trouble for a lot of theories." Not bullet-proof, but still. However, you started (your very first comment) by saying that his theory "breaks" even in the gears example. So why have critics tried criticizing his theory for breaking in complex quantum mechanics, when all along there were much more simple and common causal situations they could have used to criticize the theory for breaking under?

More generally, I just can't agree with your interpretation of Pearl that he was only trying to describe a subset of causal systems, if such a subset excludes such commonplace examples as the gears example. I think he was trying to describe a theory of how causation and counterfactuals can be formalized and mathemetized to describe most of nature. Perhaps this theory doesn't apply to nature when described on the quantum mechanical level, but I find it extremely implausible that it doesn't apply to the vast majority of nature. It was designed to. Can you really watch this video and deny he thinks that his theory applies to classical physics, such as the gears example? Or do you think he'd be stupid enough to not think of the gears example? I'm baffled by your position.

If his theory breaks in situations as mundane and simple as the gears example above, then why have common criticisms employed the vagaries of quantum mechanics in attempting to criticize the Markov assumption? They might as well have just used simple examples involving gears.

The theory is supposed to describe ANY causal system-- otherwise it would be a crappy theory of how (normatively) people ought to reason causally, and how (descriptively) people do reason causally.

That philosophy itself can't be supported by empirical evidence; it rests on something else.

Right, and I'm asking you what you think that "something else" is.

I'd also re-assert my challenge to you: if philosophy's arguments don't rest on some evidence of some kind, what distinguishes it from nonsense/fiction?

Unless you think the "Heideggerian critique of AI" is a good example. In which case I can engage that.

I think you are making a category error. If something makes claims about phenomena that can be proved/disproved with evidence in the world, it's science, not philosophy.

Hmm.. I suspect the phrasing "evidence/phenomena in the world" might give my assertion an overly mechanistic sound to it. I don't mean verifiable/disprovable physical/atomistic facts must be cited-- that would be begging the question. I just mean any meaningful argument must make reference to evidence that can be pointed to in support of/ in criticism of the given argument. Note that "evidence" doesn't exclude "mental phenomena." If we don't ask that philosophy cite evidence, what distinguishes it from meaningless nonsense, or fiction?

I'm trying to write a more thorough response to your statement, but I'm finding it really difficult without the use of an example. Can you cite some claim of Heidegger's or Hegel's that you would assert is meaningful, but does not spring out of an argument based on empirical evidence? Maybe then I can respond more cogently.

Continental philosophy, on the other hand, if you can manage to make sense of it, actually >can provide new perspectives on the world, and in that sense is worthwhile. Don't assume >that just because you can't understand it, it doesn't have anything to say.

It's not that people coming from the outside don't understand the language. I'm not just frustrated the Hegel uses esoteric terms and writes poorly. (Much the same could be said of Kant, and I love Kant.) It's that, when I ask "hey, okay, if the language is just tough, but there is content to what Hegel/Heidegger/etc is saying, then why don't you give a single example of some hypothetical piece of evidence in the world that would affirm/disprove the putative claim?" In other words, my accusation isn't that continental philosophy is hard, it's that it makes no claims about the objective hetero-phenomenological world.

Typically, I say this to a Hegelian (or whoever), and they respond that they're not trying to talk about the objective world, perhaps because the objective world is a bankrupt concept. That's fine, I guess-- but are you really willing to go there? Or would you claim that continental philosophy can make meaningful claims about actual phenomena, which can actually be sorted through?

I guess I'm wholeheartedly agreeing with the author's statement:

You will occasionally stumble upon an argument, but it falls prey to magical categories >and language confusions and non-natural hypotheses.

That's fantastic. What school was this?

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