• Ludwig V
    1k
    Are we anything other than extraordinarily complex wind up toys?Patterner
    I hope you are not winding me up with that question. I certainly am extraordinarily complex, but I am also certainly not a toy. Partly, its a question of attitude. We have a physical existence, so, in a way, the answer has to be yes. In fact regarding the body as a complex mechanism is very useful. (Medicine, for example.) More to the point, when that mechanism fails, we die. Yet that mechanism allows us to laugh and sing and fall in love, as well as destroying the planet and each other. Reconciling those two facts is, for me, the only game in town, or out of it. Notice that I have not answered your question which has presuppositions that require definition or at least explanation.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    As I pointed out before, you are speaking from a position of ignorance. You simply don't know what LD knows. As I said, LD has a "Law of Everything". You do not, yet here you are arguing what would be impossible for LD.
    — Harry Hindu
    And as I pointed, Laplace never talked about and LD or a "Law of Everything" that we don't know, but assumed if some extremely well informed entity could make the extapolation from the present (or past), into the future. Laplace wasn't speaking of any divine power. As I said, what he was talking about is simple "Newtonian" physics extrapolation. That should be clear.

    However coming back to your idea of LD having the "Law of Everything":

    Let's first discuss this as this is one crucial factor here and should be discussed. Actually you aren't the first to make this argument.

    Your argument (and please, do correct me if I'm wrong) is basically the "Black box" argument with LD: we don't know what logic, information and laws which LD is using (that we don't know, which is the Law of Everything. LoE) and hence for LD solving the problem is easy, even if it's not for us.

    Ok,

    The first question is then: If LD solves this problem using LoE, is then LoE equivalent to our logic that we use? Well, when one situation is that the correct forecast is a forecast that the LD doesn't give, obviously it isn't so, or then we really have understood very wrong basic logic.
    ssu

    Let's go back over what Laplace said:
    We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past could be present before its eyes. — Laplace

    The first sentence defines determinism.

    The second sentence describes an intellect as having a Law of Everything. The Law of Everything is the law that defines all the forces that set nature in motion and all the positions of all items of which nature is composed...

    The second part of the second sentence describes the intellect as being vast enough to submit these data to analysis, or logic.

    In this sense, the LoE and logic are different things. Think of the difference between intelligence and wisdom. The former entails what you know. The latter entails how you use what you know. LD has both to such a degree that surpasses our capacity by factors reaching to infinity. LD has both all knowledge and access to all logical systems to the point where all of it's conclusions are valid. There could be more than one solution to a problem that ends up accomplishing the same result. Sure we can get to Pluto using our existing means of propulsion, but LD knows of other, more efficient ways of doing things.

    I was really hoping you'd answer the question I posed earlier:
    My question is, why did the NASA scientists not need to account for the solution to get to Pluto in the solution to get to Pluto and New Horizons still arrive at Pluto? Sure, it seems that if they tried to include the solution in the solution the New Horizons project would never moved past the planning stage, but it did by not accounting for it and the solution was a success. As I said before, some information is irrelevant to the forecast being made. NASA scientists also did not account for the speed at which the weeds in my yard grow to get to Pluto either.Harry Hindu

    I've never denied that determinism does not allow for free will. LD has no free will because it knows everything about everything in the present and can then extrapolate what it will do based on this understanding.
    — Harry Hindu
    Well, now you went ahead of me. Assuming that LD has no free will because it knows everything about everything and can extrapolate the future from the past with (LoE) is definately not something the Laplace had in mind. The point that LD would have no free will is quite a statement.

    In fact, this is my point: One can say it that our free will limits this kind of simple extrapolation. Yet is this the correct way to state that theorem? Would it be perhaps better to say that simply there are limitations to what we can compute (or give a direct proof or), because we have free will?
    ssu
    It seems to logically follow that determinism and free will in the sense that most people think of it as being a decision that was not determined, are incompatible.

    But decisions are made based on some reason and it is our reasons that determine a decision, or else we would say that we made an unreasonable decision.

    To me, freedom entails options. The more options you have when making a decision, the more freedom you have, but this does not mean that you could have actually chosen another option because your actual decision was made based on certain reasons and you filtered those other options based on certain reasons to eventually arrive at the last option standing. You would have always made the same decision given the same options and the same circumstances. As I have said before, you only know that you made a mistake or could have made a different decision when you have more information (more options), but that is after the fact of your decision. Sure, if you had the other options you could have made a different decision, but at the moment of decision you didn't which is why you will always make the same decision given the same set of circumstances which includes the options you have at that moment.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    your actual decision was made based on certain reasons and you filtered those other options based on certain reasons to eventually arrive at the last option standing.Harry Hindu
    Here's what I don't get about determinism. That process may determine my decision. But how does it force me to do anything? What sense does it make that I might be forced to do the right or rational thing, when the right or rational thing is what I want to do?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    Here's what I don't get about determinism. That process may determine my decision. But how does it force me to do anything? What sense does it make that I might be forced to do the right or rational thing, when the right or rational thing is what I want to do?Ludwig V

    Why do you want to do the rational or right thing? Don't you have reasons?
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    Why do you want to do the rational or right thing? Don't you have reasons?Harry Hindu
    Yes, of course. That's why, when I do something for those reasons, there is no compulsion, no restriction of freedom - except in the sense of opportunities voluntarily foregone.
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    Why do you want to do the rational or right thing? Don't you have reasons?
    — Harry Hindu
    Yes, of course. That's why, when I do something for those reasons, there is no compulsion, no restriction of freedom - except in the sense of opportunities voluntarily foregone
    Ludwig V

    Are you familiar with the work of nerobiologist Robert Sapolsky? He presents a kind of extreme version of determinism. For him, our reasons are conditioned so tightly by past experience and biological shapings ( hormonal, genetic, physiological) that there is barely any room for to r addition of novelty. I agree with his claim that seeing ourselves determined in this reductive way by our past leads to more ethical, compassionate behavior toward those who commit acts of violence and other anti-social behaviors than religiously based notions of feee will, which tend to embrace harsh, retributive forms of justice. My problem with Sapolski’s determinism is that it isn’t deterministic enough.

    The power of a determinism is in the power of science to predict and explain events that would otherwise be experienced as ordered, chaotic and arbitrary. Sapolski’s determination substitutes the arbitrariness of reductive mechanism for the even more arbitrary notion of divine will, which makes its way into traditional ideas of individual free will. But he relies on models of simple causation, and as a result human metering is treated like a machine with parts that have pre-assigned functions. What is lacking is the concept of reciprocal, relational determinism, which puts the organism in dynamic touch with its environment on the basis of its moment to moment functioning. In this way of thinking, our present actions are still the result of a determined history, but they don’t simply regurgitate pre-assigned properties.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    Yes, of course. That's why, when I do something for those reasons, there is no compulsion, no restriction of freedom - except in the sense of opportunities voluntarily foregone.Ludwig V
    I don't know. Does a decision that was determined based on prior circumstances necessarily have to feel like it was forced? It seems to me that if it was already determined based on existing circumstances that it would feel natural to reach the decision you made, and not feel forced.

    What would a decision that was forced feel like compared to one that was freely chosen?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    I agree with his claim that seeing ourselves determined in this reductive way by our past leads to more ethical, compassionate behavior toward those who commit acts of violence and other anti-social behaviors than religiously based notions of feee will, which tend to embrace harsh, retributive forms of justice.Joshs
    I still believe that we should hold people responsible for their actions. Holding others responsible has an effect on theirs, and others, future behaviors, which is more of the point of punishment, not necessarily to take revenge on past behaviors but provide reasons to behave differently in the future.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    I agree with his claim that seeing ourselves determined in this reductive way by our past leads to more ethical, compassionate behavior toward those who commit acts of violence and other anti-social behaviors than religiously based notions of free will, which tend to embrace harsh, retributive forms of justice.Joshs
    You may or may not be right about those empirical claims. I wouldn't know. But do they constitute an argument for believing that determinism is true?

    What is lacking is the concept of reciprocal, relational determinism, which puts the organism in dynamic touch with its environment on the basis of its moment to moment functioning. In this way of thinking, our present actions are still the result of a determined history, but they don’t simply regurgitate pre-assigned properties.Joshs
    That's certainly an advance on traditional forms of determinism.

    I still believe that we should hold people responsible for their actions. Holding others responsible has an effect on theirs, and others, future behaviors, which is more of the point of punishment, not necessarily to take revenge on past behaviors but provide reasons to behave differently in the future.Harry Hindu
    If determinism is true, people's behaviour is not governed by reasons, but by causes. Similarly, holding people responsible is never possible if determinism is true.
    BTW, the empirical evidence is that what deters people from committing crimes is not the severity of the punishment, but the likelihood of getting caught.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    What would a decision that was forced feel like compared to one that was freely chosen?Harry Hindu
    Have you never done something that you didn't want to do - sometimes something you had decided not to do?
    You may have felt that you did it without deciding to do it.

    it would feel natural to reach the decision you madeHarry Hindu
    If it felt like that, it was probably based on reason, as opposed to some causal chain.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    If determinism is true, people's behaviour is not governed by reasons, but by causes.Ludwig V
    Reasons are a type of cause.

    Similarly, holding people responsible is never possible if determinism is true.
    BTW, the empirical evidence is that what deters people from committing crimes is not the severity of the punishment, but the likelihood of getting caught.
    Ludwig V
    Yes. I should rephrase. The likelihood of getting caught is a reason to not commit a crime.

    The likelihood of getting caught implies the punishment.

    Risking getting caught is an option, but is it worth it? This is something that has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. For each person, in different parts of their lives, and under different circumstances it will be different. For some, it is a simple solution as they would never consider committing a crime, but it may depend on the circumstances, of which there are many that we can choose from in the many philosophical discussions on ethics.

    Not every moment is the same. It seems to me that both determinism can be true and it also be true that each moment is unique. Even though each moment is unique each moment has similarities to past moments. We can make predictions of the future thanks to these similarities but they fail when the novelty of the situation isn't taken into account. Some predictions don't need to take into account the novelties because they are irrelevant to the prediction.

    Have you never done something that you didn't want to do - sometimes something you had decided not to do?
    You may have felt that you did it without deciding to do it.

    it would feel natural to reach the decision you made
    — Harry Hindu
    If it felt like that, it was probably based on reason, as opposed to some causal chain.
    Ludwig V
    Reasoning is a causal process. It takes time to reason. Your reasons determine your decision. I don't see a distinction between "physical" and "non-physical" causation so the act of reasoning is just a type of causal chain.

    In what way did you make a decision you didn't want to? I think you're talking about making a decision you didn't like, or wouldn't fulfill some imaginary future where everything works out to perfection. You may not always make the decision you want, but you always make the decision you need to. It seems to me that what you are actually saying is that when your options are limited you feel less free - the more options the more freedom. This is what I mentioned before. The options available at any given moment are determined depending on the situation and your current knowledge.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    Your reasons determine your decision. I don't see a distinction between "physical" and "non-physical" causation so the act of reasoning is just a type of causal chain.Harry Hindu
    Yes. But the difference is that a reasoning chain justifies its conclusion, whereas a normal, non-reasoning chain does not.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    What do you mean by "justifies its conclusion"? Causes "justify" their effects. It just seems like a misuse of language here. I would say that causes determine their effects and vice versa. With reasons and conclusions being a type of cause and effect, reasons determine their conclusions and vice versa.
  • ssu
    8.2k
    The first sentence defines determinism.

    The second sentence describes an intellect as having a Law of Everything. The Law of Everything is the law that defines all the forces that set nature in motion and all the positions of all items of which nature is composed...

    The second part of the second sentence describes the intellect as being vast enough to submit these data to analysis, or logic.

    In this sense, the LoE and logic are different things.
    Harry Hindu
    This is pretty damning for Laplace, actually.

    It seems to logically follow that determinism and free will in the sense that most people think of it as being a decision that was not determined, are incompatible.Harry Hindu
    Exactly.

    They don't refute each other! You can have (and have) both determinism and free will. People find this strange because the unintentionally believe Laplace's idea (that a LD with LoE knows everything from the future). If you believe Laplace's idea, then you have a problem.

    But decisions are made based on some reason and it is our reasons that determine a decision, or else we would say that we made an unreasonable decision.

    To me, freedom entails options.
    Harry Hindu
    That's a good way to put it. Let me continue from this: How would you model this procedure? How do we get that "option" that entails "freedom"? How could you logically or mathematically model free will?

    Here's an attempt. (I hope you follow and if you get lost or notice a mistake, please mention it.)

    We do use algorithms, step-by-step procedures for solving a problem or an issue at hand, and then with the knowledge of the past of how our algorithms have worked, we can judge if the algorithm is optimal or if we have to alter it. For example, one algorithm could be how to stay dray when being outside when it rains. Let's say it's the "When in rain" algorithm (WIR).

    Let's assume that the WIR algorithm that we have used to keep us dry and has given us the solution of carrying an umbrella.

    woman-using-umbrella_60352-2938.jpg?w=740

    But then we stumble into a situation that we have to do some work and use both hands in the rain on a boat at sea where the rain and splashes of water can come sideways. Even if we attach the umbrella to our body somehow to free our hands, the situation with the wind and being on a boat makes the umbrella solution not optimal (likely it would be a nuisance). We can instantly notice that our old algorithm doesn't give us the best answer, hence we start occasionally using a raincoat when at sea. Just an attachment to make a "hands free" umbrella won't do as being at sea on a boat is different from the past. The algorithm itself has to be changed.

    mg20126881.700-1_300.jpg?width=900

    Here's the radical thing we have just done.

    Not only have we changed the WIR algorithm, but we have changed it quite radically and dismissed the idea of an umbrella to something else to WIR(sea). Using the WIR solution in the boat would be (or was) a bad choice, hence had to alter the algorithm itself. The prior WIR algorithm didn't at all mention using a raincoat (or pants). The solution doesn't have anything to do with an umbrella. This is something that computers have a huge problem with, because they follow algorithms. If a the engineer writing the algorithm (the computer program) for the computer doesn't take into account the totally different situation, the computer cannot adapt. But for us the easy thing "Do something else" is pretty hard for a computer: it needs to know just how does it change it's algorithm. "Do something else" isn't a computer algorithm.

    So where's the Free will?

    Hypothesis: Free will can modelled by having the ability to change the algorithm we use by negative self reference to the prior algorithm we have used. The basically the diagonalization part of the algorithm.

    Why would this be free will?

    Because the diagonalization part cannot be part of the original algorithm. Computers cannot follow the order "do something else". They have to have the order "how to do something else". Doing the diagonalization is for them impossible because of the negative self reference. They cannot follow an algorithm that states "don't follow this algorithm". All the results of Gödel, Tarski and especially Turing show this.

    Why is this so important? Because when

    And this comes back LD using LoE, where we agree that LoE isn't logical (or otherwise LD has this problem). Because our algorithm (when in Rain) WIR, which gave the solution of using an umbrella, is actually changed once we have the problems working on a boat in rain. The algorithm is now (WIR)sea and it didn't have the previously the solution. In other words, WIR(sea) is self-refential to WIR and has changed it, hence there's the negative self reference.

    OK, so what's Laplace's misunderstanding?

    We have talked about this already, but here's one way to put it: Simply that non-algorithmic mathematics exists and plays a crucial part in our lives. Laplace makes the mistake he assumes as premiss that everything can be handled by algorithmic mathematics. This is the basic idea behind LD using LoE and knowing then everything.

    And also the link to the undecidability results is obvious, when we look at the definition of non-algorithmic mathematics:

    Non-algorithmic math, also known as non-computable math, is a branch of mathematics that deals with problems that cannot be solved by an algorithm or computer program. These problems involve complex and unstructured data that cannot be easily broken down into a set of rules or steps.

    Obviously something that a Turing Machine has difficulties with. Now non-computable math sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn't, yet that's the whole problem here. Mathematicians don't want to give much if any importance to such a field of mathematics like non-computable mathematics.

    Of course interpretations of what Gödel's theorem actually shows vary.I read an article long time ago about how Gödel's theorem proves God's existence!(wtf?!!!?).People still debate for less complex things than that.So I guess this isn't a surprise.dimosthenis9
    For example in the case that I mentioned Raatikainen mentions in the philosophical implications of the incompleteness results the debate about if "Gödel’s theorems demonstrate that the powers of the human mind outrun any mechanism or formal system" etc.

    There's not much if any talk of the above. Of course the above reply to @Harry Hindu comes actually close to Roger Penrose's and J.R. Lucas argument of the human mind not being a computer.

    In 1961, J.R. Lucas published “Minds, Machines and Gödel,” in which he formulated a controversial anti-mechanism argument. The argument claims that Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem shows that the human mind is not a Turing machine, that is, a computer.

    But note the catch, we are also limited by "the veto" as you stated, that for example I cannot write an answer that I never will write. But clearly the issue is here that the definition of a computer as a Turing Machine might be a limiting factor.
  • Fire Ologist
    349
    The only world where freedom is possible (but not always actual) is in the mind. Aside from the mind, everything is determined. And the mind itself can be determined. And the mind’s structure is conditioned, and its behaviors determined. But the mind can ignore all, ignoring time, space, matter, and motion, and just sit itself still, free, thinking of the impossible, constructing what cannot be constructed by hands. And this mind can give its free consent to rejoin with time, space and matter, moving as it is moved once again with it, in it, determined once again by it.

    It’s kind of stoic, but with an existentialist awareness.

    Freedom and determinism are both there. We don’t prove it exists by causing some effect and placing our free selves between these two. We are the cause when we are the freedom. We are its existence by claiming something as a cause in the first place, or consenting to something as my effect, something I claim responsibility for.

    Freedom is in the thought of freedom, born in the thinking.
  • Thales
    18
    In reading this discussion, I am struck with the idea that the reason determinism is so compelling is also why it’s so unpersuasive. What is this reason? Determinism explains everything.

    It explains why determinists write articles and books defending determinism, as well as why others believe in free will. It explains why one chooses to vacation in Majorca rather than Melbourne, and why individual members of a jazz quartet head off into their own improvisational frontiers during a musical performance. In short, nothing is left unexplained to a determinist because determinism explains it all. Relativist says it well:

    The point is simply this: at the point we make a decision, there is a set of determining factors: beliefs, genetic dispositions, environmentally introduced dispositions, one's desires and aversions, the presence or absence of empathy, jealousy, anger, passion, love, and hatred.Relativist

    So there is no convincing, no reasoning, no weighing different alternatives, no initiating action – it’s all billiard ball cause-and-effect.

    It’s funny because some may mistakenly argue that a determinist’s writings are so persuasive that those who hitherto believed in free will – upon learning the strength of these deterministic arguments – will consider all the evidence and, in the end, choose to believe that determinism makes the most sense. But they would be wrong.

    Determinists are not, in fact, trying to convince others of their position when they argue for the merits of determinism. Determinists are compelled to believe what they do because of their own antecedent causes (i.e., physical, chemical, biological, genetic, environmental and social conditions) – just like everyone else. Their arguments are the result of a chain of causes that go back to their births and social environments.

    Determinism, likewise, dictates the beliefs of those who favor free will. Advocates of free will consider a determinist’s arguments and, as a result of their own genetic makeups and social environments, are compelled (determined) to disagree with these arguments.

    And so it is with everything else. Determinists would presumably argue that there are no differences between migratory patterns of birds and vacation plans of retirees. Despite the amount of time retirees may spend evaluating their financial situations, weather forecasts, sightseeing interests, etc., their decisions to vacation in one locale rather than another are more akin a bird’s photoperiodic response than reasoning or choosing.

    Similarly, what jazz musicians do is more akin to blindly following the dictates of sheet music than inventing new melodies. Why? Because everything is determined.

    So here I am at the end of my little diatribe. Was I really determined to write all this? Are the responses I receive (if any) really the result of a similar chain of inevitability? Are there no reasons for supporting what we consider, or argue about, or believe in, or offer evidence for – just a series of cause-and-effects? Is determinism really the ultimate explanation for everything? How can it be so right if it feels so wrong? (Apologies to David Houston and Barbara Mandrell.)
  • Patterner
    665

    I recently posted the following to @Relativist when we were talking about Peter Tse's The Neural Basis of Free Will: Criterial Causation.
    ---------------------
    There are an uncountable number of air molecules in my living room. They are all flying about in various directions, at various speeds. We have nothing resembling the slightest hint of hope of tracking them all. But we can measure the temperature of the room. As Anil Seth writes in Being You : A New Science of Consciousness:
    Importantly, thermodynamics did more than merely establish that mean kinetic energy correlated with temperature—it proposed that this is what temperature actually is. — Seth

    We, likewise, have no hope of tracking the activity of every neuron and synapse in someone's brain. As with the air molecules, the numbers, alone, make it impossible. But it's even more complicated, because, due to the nature of neurons, as Tse says, "The criteria for what makes a neuron fire can change." If we have no hope of mapping out the motion of the molecules of air in the room, then "no hope" is a pitifully inadequate way of expressing our ability to map out neutral activity. Nevertheless, if I'm understanding this, Tse is saying that, to paraphrase Seth, neural activity doesn't merely correlate with thought— this is what thought actually is. Although we can measure the macro property of temperature in a room, but cannot map out the motion of the air molecules, we know that the temperature is nothing more than the motion of the molecules. And, although we can comprehend thoughts, but cannot map out the neural activity of the brain, we know that the thoughts are nothing more than the neural activity.
    ---------------
    I asked Relativist if that's what he thought Tse was trying to say. It seems some people here are saying the same.
  • Relativist
    2.2k

    Relativist: "The point is simply this: at the point we make a decision, there is a set of determining factors: beliefs, genetic dispositions, environmentally introduced dispositions, one's desires and aversions, the presence or absence of empathy, jealousy, anger, passion, love, and hatred. These factors are processed by the computer that is our mind to make a choice."
    So there is no convincing, no reasoning, no weighing different alternatives, no initiating action – it’s all billiard ball cause-and-effect.
    Thales

    That's not what I'm saying. You omitted the part in bold when you quoted me. We indeed reason, weighing alternatives; we can convince and be convinced. That we do these things seems obvious. Determinism is consistent with it- that's what I was arguing.
  • Thales
    18
    That's not what I'm saying.Relativist

    My sincere apologies, Relativist. I was actually using your list of “determining factors” for making a decision as a general description of how determinism explains decision-making. I thought this list was well written. Please know that I was not critiquing your take on determinism, and I am sorry to have confused things. I should have just stuck with some version of my own description, which I mentioned later in my post:

    “…antecedent causes (i.e., physical, chemical, biological, genetic, environmental and social conditions)….”

    My goal in posting was to express my own thoughts about the determinism-free will debate in general, and not to drill down into the details of your and the other interlocuters’ views. I just wanted to express my overall reaction to determinism. Obviously, I could have done it better.
  • Thales
    18
    There are an uncountable number of air molecules in my living room. They are all flying about in various directions, at various speeds. We have nothing resembling the slightest hint of hope of tracking them all. But we can measure the temperature of the room.Patterner

    Thank you for bringing this idea to my attention, Patterner. I really like how a seemingly hopeless situation like uncountable air molecules can – by their motion – actually bear fruit by giving us definitive information… namely temperature. And expanding this idea to “firing neurons” and “thought” is interesting.

    For some reason, this brings to my mind the principle of “Operationalism,” which gained some popularity among certain logical positivists in the 1920s-30s. It goes something like this: Scientific concepts that lack direct, empirical evidence can be “saved” by linking them to experimental procedures. “Gravitation,” for example, can not be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched, but it can nevertheless be determined “operationally” by observing phenomena such as planetary orbits.

    I’m doing this from memory, so I probably botched this explanation! And I’m not saying what you wrote is Operationalism – it just happened to pop in my mind when I read your words. :cool:
  • Patterner
    665
    Thank you for bringing this idea to my attention, Patterner. I really like how a seemingly hopeless situation like uncountable air molecules can – by their motion – actually bear fruit by giving us definitive information… namely temperature. And expanding this idea to “firing neurons” and “thought” is interesting.Thales
    I guess the idea is common enough. In How to Create a Mind, Ray Kurzweil writes:
    Although chemistry is theoretically based on physics and could be derived entirely from physics, this would be unwieldy and infeasible in practice, so chemistry has established its own rules and models. Similarly, we should be able to deduce the laws of thermodynamics from physics, but once we have a sufficient number of particles to call them a gas rather than simply a bunch of particles, solving equations for the physics of each particle interaction becomes hopeless, whereas the laws of thermodynamics work quite well. Biology likewise has its own rules and models. A single pancreatic islet cell is enormously complicated, especially if we model it at the level of molecules; modeling what a pancreas actually does in terms of regulating levels of insulin and digestive enzymes is considerably less complex. — Kurzweil
    Of course, there is much debate over whether or not consciousness is explained by this physical system.



    For some reason, this brings to my mind the principle of “Operationalism,” which gained some popularity among certain logical positivists in the 1920s-30s. It goes something like this: Scientific concepts that lack direct, empirical evidence can be “saved” by linking them to experimental procedures. “Gravitation,” for example, can not be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched, but it can nevertheless be determined “operationally” by observing phenomena such as planetary orbits.Thales
    We can take that a step further. Knowing what we know about gravity, we cannot fully explain the motion of stars and galaxies. it has been determined that there must be something that we cannot detect in any way, but which has a gravitational effect. It is called dark matter, and the amount of it that exists has been calculated.
  • ssu
    8.2k
    So there is no convincing, no reasoning, no weighing different alternatives, no initiating action – it’s all billiard ball cause-and-effect.Thales
    Turn it around: can you then point to the event that didn't have any reason or cause to happen?

    Yet this determinism (of everything being billiard ball cause-and-effect) still doesn't answer a multitude of questions. What's the insight if you cannot know for example the future even if there is one way things go? It's like saying that "There are specific dates when it rains and when the sun shines in the city of New York for the next 10 000 years." That doesn't help now an outdoors event planner that is looking arranging something for summer 2026.

    Determinism doesn't say much. It also doesn't limit our choices.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    That doesn't help now an outdoors event planner that is looking arranging something for summer 2026.ssu
    The problem is that people don't distinguish between different ideas about determinism. Saying "there are certain days next year when it will rain" and saying "It isn't possible to identify which days will have rain for next year" are very different claims. Both are true. Both can be described as determined or not determined. Though actually, in a case like that, we would retreat to probabilities.

    Determinism doesn't say much.ssu
    That's true. But I think that's because everyone is treating it as an empirical hypothesis, forgetting that not all propositions are empirical hypotheses. Effectively, determinism defines what a complete and final explanation of an event (past, present or future) would be. It's a "regulative ideal", to steal a phrase.
  • Patterner
    665
    Determinism doesn't say much. It also doesn't limit our choices.ssu
    It seems to me that the idea of choices in a deterministic reality is a sham. Sure, it is possible for a human to choose cake over ice cream. But when one of us is actually presented with the two options, if we pick one up because the billion bouncing billiard balls landed that way, and we could not have picked up the other because the balls landed in the only way they could, then how is such a "choice" is of no greater value or interest than is the final arrangement of the rocks and dirt when an avalanche settles?
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    how is such a "choice" is of no any greater value or interest than is the final arrangement of the rocks and dirt when an avalanche settles?Patterner
    You are missing a trick here. Sure, the final arrangement rocks and dirt is not of any interest. But the outcome of the causal sequence of events in a calculating machine is of interest, because it instantiates a calculation, because we arranged it that way. Again, there is a causal sequence from the keys you press to my reading what you write, and that is extremely interesting. In their various ways all causal sequences are of some interest, but some are more interesting than others. The causal sequences in my brain are much more like those in a computer than they are like the final outcomes of an avalanche.
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    To conclude, I have proven I can change the future indirectly by interrupting the flow of the present. I also assert that at junctions we can change the future directly. This is my argument that life is both determined and has free will, but neither purely.Barkon
    Your Fork-in-the-Road argument may illustrate the notion of Free Will choices. But as a philosophical proof, it may or may not be convincing to determinists. Nevertheless, I agree that world Causation is both Deterministic and Indeterminate (undecided, uncertain). Which leaves gaps (junctions?) in the chain of causation for the exercise of personal willpower to choose (decide) the next step. Yet the unconstrained choice itself is not random (chaotic)*1, but determined by future-aimed intention.

    Materialist arguments against FreeWill tend to be based on Physics, not Metaphysics. So, here's a physical analogy of that BothAnd process, both universally deterministic, and locally indeterminate. It can be found in Chaos Theory, sometimes labeled "deterministic chaos"*2. In the 1960s, meteorologist Ed Lorenz did experiments in weather simulations, and summarized his findings in the Lorenz Equations. The math, when graphed, looked a bit like a butterfly*5 {image below}, and eventually inspired the meme of a "Butterfly Effect" : a butterfly in Brazil could indirectly cause a tornado in Texas --- depending on initial conditions, and statistical absences (missing data points).

    The Lorenz equations are completely deterministic, but inherently unpredictable. From preset Initial Conditions, the dynamic process will evolve over time into a graph that cycles around so-called "Attractors", as-if bound by gravity. But there's no mass at the center, only empty statistical space (potential). In Incomplete Nature, Terrence Deacon used that physical principle of a self-organizing dynamic system as an illustration of "downward causation"*3. However, "An attractor does not "attract" in the sense of a field of force; rather it is the expression of an asymmetric statistical tendency"*4.

    The statistical nature of Nature was found to be fundamental in Quantum Physics. So perhaps, that mathematical structure has gaps like the Cosmic Voids*6 {image below} in the distribution of spatial matter. Anyway. it's a neat metaphor for the gaps in Determinism that leave empty space (junctions ; decision points) to be filled by human Choices. :nerd:



    *1. Does freedom mean chaos?
    Freedom is an adjective describing a state of being. It means one can act without limit or restraint in some form or manner. Example being freedom of speech, one is allowed to speak his opinions without feeling limited from federal law. Chaos is describing the landscape in which the being is making those decisions.
    https://www.quora.com/Does-freedom-lead-to-chaos

    *2. Deterministic Chaos :
    This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos. The theory was summarized by Edward Lorenz as: Chaos: When the present determines the future but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory
    Note --- I assume that, by "approximate", Lorenz meant local causes and effects. That's why the eventual Butterfly Effect (Texas Tornado) is typically far from the initial state (Brazil Butterfly). In other words, the effect is indirect. Likewise, my mental choice to start or stop my 3500lb material car, is indirect --- mediated by machinery.

    *3. MInd has Causal Efficacy :
    "In the end, mind has causal efficacy because it is itself a hole, an attractor, and by disturbing the metaphorical shape of its own attractor"
    https://ruminations.blog/2017/06/27/review-deacon-incomplete-nature/
    Note --- Deacon called that "hole" at the focal point of a chaotic attractor an example of "causal absence". Hence, the choosing Mind is a Determining Factor of subsequent events.

    *4. https://herdingcats.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/01/we-need-better-analogies.html

    *5. divergence3final.png

    *6. Cosmic-Web-1024x768.jpg
  • ssu
    8.2k
    It seems to me that the idea of choices in a deterministic reality is a sham. Sure, it is possible for a human to choose cake over ice cream. But when one of us is actually presented with the two options, if we pick one up because the billion bouncing billiard balls landed that way, and we could not have picked up the other because the balls landed in the only way they could, then how is such a "choice" is of no greater value or interest than is the final arrangement of the rocks and dirt when an avalanche settles?Patterner
    What is the sham here is thinking that determinism limits your actions or you don't have the ability to choose... because it's somehow preordained, because there is the deterministic future.

    Think about it this way: if we define that the future is what really happens, then there's that one defined reality. Now how does it limit your choices? Well, you make the choices you make, yet you cannot make the choices you don't make. That is actually what determinism requires. But is that a limitation on your choices? No!

    As I've earlier (perhaps on other threads), you cannot give here a comment that you don't give. Yes, these kinds of comments exist and someone else can give them, but that doesn't limit what you can write here. It isn't a limitation on what kind of comments you can make.
  • Patterner
    665
    What is the sham here is thinking that determinism limits your actions or you don't have the ability to choose... because it's somehow preordained, because there is the deterministic future.ssu
    If I knock a glass off of a table, I do not think it is preordained that it will then fall to the floor and break into pieces. But it will fall to the floor and break into pieces. And, given all the factors, it can only break in one specific way, with x pieces of various sizes and shapes. What I mean is, exactly how it falls determines what part of it hits the floor first, at what angle, at what speed, etc. If it falls without spinning and lands on its base, it will break in one way. (I support it might not break at all in the scenario.) If it spins at a rapid rate, it might land not quite horizontal, with its rim hitting first, and shatter spectacularly. No matter how it hits, even though we don't have the ability to calculate everything the instant before it hits the floor and know how it will break, once it hits, there is only one possible outcome.

    Exactly how it hits is the result of exactly how it was knocked off the table. Again, not preordained. It's just physics. Did I throw a pillow across the room and hit it? That pillow was going at exactly this speed, and was spinning in exactly such and such a manner, and, when the impact came, the glass could only moved on one exact way.

    We have nothing close to the ability to see the pillow flying, and calculate exactly how it will hit the glass, exactly how the glass will fly and land, and exactly how the glass will break. But, in principle, it's all calculable. It's just physics.

    There's nothing preordained in any of that. There's also no "choosing."

    The question is this: Did I let go of the pillow in exactly the way I did because all the constituents of my brain - whether we examine them as particles and physics, or molecules and chemistry, or structures and biology, or whatever - acted in the only ways each of them could, all purely physical interactions driven by the physical laws?

    Did I throw the pillow because all the constituents of my brain acted in the only ways each of them could, all purely physical interactions driven by the physical laws?

    If the answer is Yes, then we are not choosing things any more than the glass is choosing to break exactly as it does, or the debris is choosing to come to rest exactly as it does after an avalanche. We merely have awareness of things that the glass and mountain lack.
  • Patterner
    665

    Sorry. Not ignoring you. I would answer you as I just did ssu. Ssu's was last, so I just quoted that post.
  • Thales
    18
    Turn it around: can you then point to the event that didn't have any reason or cause to happen?ssu

    Back when I was young and innocent, I read an article by Richard Taylor, a Brown University philosophy professor. Taylor’s view was that some phenomena have “causes” and can be described accordingly, whereas others – namely, “actions” performed by “agents” – are different. “Agents initiate action,” he argued, while causes and effects are links in a long chain which, in principle, can be traced back in time indefinitely.

    Consider this description:
    Someone’s legs move when there is activation of their muscle spindles, which initiates a series of neural responses that stimulates motor neurons which, in turn, cause muscle tissue to move their legs.

    According to Taylor, this description works well to capture how a human organism moves, but it doesn’t explain how a human acts. Specifically, such a purely physiological analysis of someone (an agent) walking to the grocery store (an action) would be inadequate to describe what happens. Why?

    Because there is no antecedent chain of cause-and-effects that is relevant to explaining why such a person takes that walk. Instead, he or she had reasons to go shopping, made the decision and walked to the store.

    Which reminds me. I’m getting hungry and I need to run to the store myself and grab some grub! :cool:
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