Defining the concepts 'cause', 'belief' and 'truth'
I am trying to form a basic understanding of what concepts like 'cause', 'belief', and 'truth' mean and would appreciate input. I am uneducated in philosophy (and a non-native speaker of English) so please be patient.
The premise of this analysis is that the cerebral cortex (and possibly other parts of the brain) contains machinery for predicting future events on the basis of sensory input.
Let me start by trying to define 'a cause'. The event C in recognized as a cause of the event E iff
1) C precedes E in time, and
2) observing C is correlated with observing E, and
3) there is no known event D which
- precedes both C and E, and
- is correlated with with both C and E, and
- is correlated more strongly with E than C is.
The condition 3) rules out as causes events which are actually effects of the real cause; e.g. medication as the cause of death of cancer patients.
Next, let us move on to beliefs. A 'belief', it seems to me, is a property of one's predictive software. To believe that smoking causes lung cancer is to associate a higher probability with the event 'a given smoker develops lung cancer' than with the event 'a given non-smoker develops lung cancer', ceteris paribus.
What about 'truth', then? It appears to me that when we say 'B is untrue', we mean, 'a predictive system yields more accurate predictions without the belief B than with it'. 'True' can then be interpreted as 'not untrue'.
Any comments so far? Am I on the right track?