• tom
    1.5k
    This mode of discussion, smacks of the new religion of the materialist. One feels as though one is at an inquisition of sorts, questioning the almighty God of modern materialism. The 'which future' rejoinder leads one to a reductio absurdum and cannot be escaped, just as the almightly absurdity of God was medieval ne plus ultra of the dark ages.Marcus de Brun

    But you're happy with a stationary space-time block, because it does not "smack of the new religion of the materialist"?

    The statonary space-time block does not make you "feel as though one is at an inquisition of sorts", or that you are "questioning the almighty god of materialism"?

    If the stationary space-time block is not religious, or inquisitory, or materialist, then why are a collection of space-time blocks those things?
  • Marcus de Brun
    450


    Please expand upon what you mean by 'The stationary space-time block'

    This is your phrase (not mine), and you have suggested I am happy with it?

    Please allow me the courtesy of a definition, prior to the assumption of my contentment with it's philosophical content.

    M
  • tom
    1.5k
    Please expand upon what you mean by 'The stationary space-time block'Marcus de Brun

    I don't need to "expand", you expressed it well enough.

    One does not need QM to prove the absence of free will. Special relatively already achieves this without equivocation. Temporal shifts at high velocity travel have proven special relatively correct. The future already exists and as such free will is precluded.Marcus de Brun

    This is your phrase (not mine), and you have suggested I am happy with it?Marcus de Brun

    It's standard nomenclature for what special relativity (your choice) and its generalisation to include gravity, mandates. I take no credit for it.

    Please allow me the courtesy of a definition, prior to the assumption of my contentment with it's philosophical content.Marcus de Brun

    Right.
  • Marcus de Brun
    450

    Tom

    You have declined to define what you mean by "The stationary space-time block" and yet you are telling me that I am referencing this idea when I write.


    "One does not need QM to prove the absence of free will. Special relatively already achieves this without equivocation. Temporal shifts at high velocity travel have proven special relatively correct. The future already exists and as such free will is precluded."
    — Marcus de Brun

    In this quote I make no reference to this "stationary space time block" of yours. Special relativity is concerned with a relative fluidity of space-time as consequenced by relative motion between observers?

    You further state

    "It's standard nomenclature for what special relativity (your choice) and its generalization to include gravity, mandates. I take no credit for it."

    Special relativity mandates relative temporal dilation or contraction this appears to be the inverse of what you are suggesting.

    You call it standard nomenclature and yet I don't find the phrase anywhere in respect of Special Relativity, which in essence would be very unlikely to have a place for stationary time blocks in the context of temporal dilation and contraction relative to motion.

    Why the reluctance to define 'your' terms? It certainly does not appear as standard nomenclature, and comes up a blank when put to the brutality of a google search.

    Perhaps you are busy? Please define what you mean, rather than conceal it behind this convenient notion of "standard nomenclature"?

    M
    tom
  • Marcus de Brun
    450
    Tom

    I await your reply?

    M
  • Marcus de Brun
    450

    That is interesting all good philosophers are banned at some point!

    Any idea why?
  • EnPassant
    78
    "[One must] reject the common sop that somehow the indeterminism of quantum physics helps us out here. First, there is no evidence that the neurons of the brain are subject to indeterminancy in the way, say, firing of elections is (and in fact there is much evidence against it); even if that were the case, however ... the indeterminancy of some outcomes in the brain would not help with establishing personal causal origination of actions. For randomness in fact would make us more rather than less subject to unexpected turns of fact. ...StreetlightX

    It seems that if one can perform one non deterministic act in the world that would settle the issue. Here is how it could be done IF quantum events, in this case radioactive decay, are really random:-

    Set up a Geiger counter alongside some radioactive material.
    Count the hits on the counter.
    Stop the experiment after a set period of time.
    If the number of hits is odd have a coffee at home.
    If the number of hits is even have a coffee at your local restaurant.
    Your decision has been determined randomly and is therefore a non deterministic decision.


    The determinism/non determinism of the world seems to be closely linked to whether we can create a truly random number.
  • andrewk
    1.7k
    I would post this elsewhere where talk about physics is mentioned; but, other forums aren't as philosophical as this one or allow talk about philosophy.Posty McPostface
    I suspect you are thinking of physicsforums. Topic like this are shut down there as soon as they come up because it is speculation, not physics.

    Speculate about it as much as you like. Many do, and enjoy it tremendously. But please bear in mind that what you're doing is considering different possible interpretations of physics. There is no question whatsoever of QM 'definitively affirming' your conjecture.
  • Wallows
    6.3k
    There is no question whatsoever of QM 'definitively affirming' your conjecture.andrewk

    I do not understand, for I am simple and humble.
  • andrewk
    1.7k
    All the better - then you have the perfect mindframe to willingly accept the glorious uncertainty of the universe, and not chase after such meaningless trinkets as 'definitive affirmation'.
  • khaled
    368
    If all of your future actions being determined by the toss of a die (not deterministic but completely random) counts as free will then yes. I doubt that's how most people define it though
  • LeBerg
    5
    If QM refers to Quantum mechanics, isnt it rather confirming random will, instead of free will.

    Anyway I'm not certain wether QM takes into account the mediation of their founding principles: the relativity regarding the observer and measurement.
  • Dfpolis
    558
    Quantum mechanics has nothing do with free will. A random choice is not a freely chosen one. The fundamental error is that the Principle of Sufficient Reason does not preclude free will. Reasons can be adduce for every option worth considering, or the option would not be worth considering. It is not the motivations for the options that determine the choice, but the agent deciding.

    So, to save the PSR all we need to do is say that the agent is the sufficient cause of his or her choice. One can deny this, but not on the ground of the PSR. One simply has to decide if agents can determine their own choices or not. If they can, they are sufficient to the task of making the choice. If they cannot, there is no free will. Either way, the PSR is unviolated.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.5k
    So, to save the PSR all we need to do is say that the agent is the sufficient cause of his or her choice. One can deny this, but not on the ground of the PSR. One simply has to decide if agents can determine their own choices or not. If they can, they are sufficient to the task of making the choice. If they cannot, there is no free will. Either way, the PSR is unviolated.Dfpolis

    I rather agree with that, since I endorse a variety of agent-causation (and rational causation) myself. Many libertarian philosophers, and some compatibilist philosophers, endorse some sort of agent-causal view of the source and explanation of free human actions. The main challenge that is being presented to the compatibilist versions is the problem of dealing with causal overdetermination, or so called arguments from causal exclusion.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.5k


    Does QM, definitively affirm the concept of a 'free will'?

    No.

    But university PhD physicist specialists in QM have said that QM lays to rest the notion of an objectively-existent physical world.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Dfpolis
    558
    As I see no reason to give Kim his principle of causal closure, and many reasons to reject it, I am not bothered by the paradoxes that trouble physicalists.
  • Dfpolis
    558
    But university PhD physicist specialists in QM have said that QM lays to rest the notion of an objectively-existent physical world.Michael Ossipoff
    Too bad they haven't studied philosophy or the would know that the problem was laid to rest by Aristotle in Metaphysics Delta.
  • Wallows
    6.3k
    So, to save the PSR all we need to do is say that the agent is the sufficient cause of his or her choice. One can deny this, but not on the ground of the PSR. One simply has to decide if agents can determine their own choices or not. If they can, they are sufficient to the task of making the choice. If they cannot, there is no free will. Either way, the PSR is unviolated.Dfpolis

    So, just to backtrack on an old topic, I think the issue here is the determination by reason of a causal event. In another topic, I talked about whether QM affirms or denies the concept of causality. I even posted that topic over at PhysicsForums and there was much discussion about it, with no clear answer. I believe science and some experiments have confirmed that causality can be negated by QM.

    If nature cannot be comprehended or even more logically, simulated in a complex enough computer, then it must be the case that the PoSR has failed us somewhere. Hence, if we talk about people having a free will, then it's fruitless to assert the PoSR due to the fact that some mental activity could not be determined.

    That's all I gather from this topic. Others might differ; but, I don't see on what grounds you can differ.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.5k
    As I see no reason to give Kim his principle of causal closure, and many reasons to reject it, I am not bothered by the paradoxes that trouble physicalists.Dfpolis

    It is fine not to be bothered by problems that exercise proponents of dubious -isms (such as physicalism). I am not overly bothered by them either. But it's even better to provide a rationale as to why one is entitled not to be bothered by their specific objections to our non-physicalist views.

    Incidentally, some quite smart non-physicalists (or anti-Humeans) about causation, such as Ruth Groff, counter Kim's causal exclusion argument by rejecting the principle of the physical closure of the physical. That seems to me to be a blunder. This principle is fine, although limited in scope. (Michel Bitbol argued that it is consistent with strong emergence, and the existence of systems that exhibit downward-causation). The faulty premise in Kim's argument, on my view, rather is the principle of the nomological character of causation (also famously endorsed by Donald Davidson).
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.5k


    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Dfpolis
    558
    I think the issue here is the determination by reason of a causal event. In another topic, I talked about whether QM affirms or denies the concept of causality.Posty McPostface

    Standard quantum mechanics says that while observations may be random, systems that are unobserved develop in an entirely deterministic way. Physics, as physics, has nothing to say about any intentional act, including free will. So, what I am about to argue is constrained by the self-imposed limits of physics.

    Consider two nested systems S1, which comprises a quantum system, S0, to be observed and everything required to observe it, O1, and S2 which includes S1 and a potential observer, O2. Over time, O1 makes its observation of S0. At the same time O2 makes no observation of S1. So, relying on standard quantum theory, O2 knows that S1 has behaved in a completely deterministic fashion. That means that the observation by O1, however unpredictable it may be, is deterministic. Thus, for quantum theory to be consistent, not only unobserved systems, but observations, must be fully deterministic.

    Now, why does physics have nothing to say about intentional acts? Because of the Fundamental Abstraction of natural science, which I have explained earlier on this form. Every act of knowledge involves both a knowing subject and a known object. At the beginning of natural science, a decision is made to focus on the physical objects observed to the exclusion of the intentional operations of the knowing subjects. Having made this choice, natural science is bereft of data and concepts on subjects' intentional operations. So it lacks the information required to connect its findings on the physical world to subjective, intentional acts. That is why physicalism is an instance of Whitehead's fallacy of misplaced concreteness (confusing abstractions with reality).

    If nature cannot be comprehended or even more logically, simulated in a complex enough computer, then it must be the case that the PoSR has failed us somewhere.Posty McPostface

    The PSR is not a claim that nature behaves algorithmically. If is only a claim that every operation is preformed by an agent able to perform it.

    Hence, if we talk about people having a free will, then it's fruitless to assert the PoSR due to the fact that some mental activity could not be determined.Posty McPostface

    Not at all. Determinism vs. free will means that the act of the agent is fully immanent in the state of the cosmos before the agent acts. The PSR here only requires that the agent be adequate to the task of making a free choice. These are entirely different claims.
  • Dfpolis
    558
    It is fine not to be bothered by problems that exercise proponents of dubious -isms (such as physicalism). I am not overly bothered by them either. But it's even better to provide a rationale as to why one is entitled not to be bothered by their specific objections to our non-physicalist views.Pierre-Normand

    Of course. As I said, I have many reasons to reject Jaegwon Kim's Principle of Causal Closure, which states that "all physical states have pure physical causes." Kim argues that "If you pick any physical event and trace out its causal ancestry or posterity, that will never take you outside the physical domain. That is, no causal chain will ever cross the boundary between the physical and the nonphysical." (Mind in a Physical World, p. 40)

    The first and simplest reason is that we are able to discuss our intentional acts. If these acts were not involved in a causal chain leading to physical acts of speech and writing, we would be unable to discuss them. One could claim that intentional acts are physical, but doing so not only begs the question, it equivocates on the meaning of "physical" which refers to what is objective, rather than what is subjective. (See my several discussions of the Fundamental Abstraction on this forum, including the precis in my last post in this thread.) Further, if the causes within Kim's enclosure include any being we can discuss, the principle makes no meaningful claim, for it excludes nothing.

    Second, with regard to the supporting argument, if we confine our attention to the temporal sequences of physical events ("trac[ing out its causal ancestry or posterity"), of course all we are going to find are physical events. This is neither surprising, nor a reason to support the principle. What it ignores is concurrent causality.

    As noted long ago by Aristotle, and canonized in the physical principle of locality, an effect here and now requires the operation of a cause here and now -- not elsewhere or at another time. This kind of causality is not the time sequence by rule discussed by Hume and Kant (accidental causality), which has become the sole focus of modern philosophers. Accidental causality connects two disjoint events and so, as Hume pointed out, has no intrinsic necessity (the separation allows an outside agent to insert itself between the events and disrupt the dynamics).

    On the other hand, concurrent or essential causality involves only a single event and has an intrinsic necessity. Aristotle's paradigm case is the builder building the house. The builder building (cause) is inseparable from the house being built (effect). In fact, the builder building the house is identically the house being built by the builder. The necessity of essential causality rests on this identity.

    The relevance of this distinction here is that Kim's tracing out of temporal lines of causation completely ignores it. One might respond that Kim's principle applies to only to time-sequenced or accidental causality, but that is to ignore the fact that accidental causality is the integral effect of essential causality. To see this consider the temporal evolution of a physical state. From the perspective of accidental causality, the initial state is the cause of the final state. Physics looks deeper. What it sees is that at each space-time point the laws of nature act (concurrently) to modify the state -- and the integral effect of these concurrent modifications connects the initial state to the final state. Thus, Humean-Kantian accidental causality is the integral effect of Aristotle's concurrent or essential causality.

    So, if intentionality acts concurrently, if willing progress toward our goal is identically progress toward our goal being willed, then the concurrent act of willing will modify the connection between the events Kim is examining and his argument fails.

    The faulty premise in Kim's argument, on my view, rather is the principle of the nomological character of causation (also famously endorsed by Donald Davidson).Pierre-Normand

    I think my analysis above addresses the nomological character of (accidental) causation, but not fully. I have previously argued on this forum that the laws of nature are intentional in character -- (1) being alone with human committed intentions in the genus of logical propagators and (2) meeting Brentano's "aboutness" criterion. Thus, the laws of nature and human committed intentions share a common theater of operation -- as confirmed experimentally by a staggering amount of data showing that human intentions modify "random" physical processes.
  • Dfpolis
    558
    You are welcome.

    Let me expand. Metaphysics Delta is Aristotle's philosophical lexicon. In it he discusses the meaning of quantity as an attribute of reality. He notes that there are no actual numbers in reality (no variables with actual values). Rather "quantity" in reality refers to countability and measurability, with actual numbers deriving only from counting and measuring operations. Thus, the objective side of quantitative physical observations lies not in an actual number to be discovered but in the determinate measurability of the natural world. So, the fact that no determinate value exists in physical reality independent of any measuring operation has been known for more than 2500 years. Further, it is not a threat to objectivity.

    Certainly the dependence of measured values on the details of the measuring process became more explicit with the advent first of Special Relativity and then of quantum theory. Still the underlying principle was pointed out long ago by Aristotle -- who incidentally, was the founder of mathematical physics.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.5k
    Thus, the objective side of quantitative physical observations lies not in an actual number to be discovered but in the determinate measurability of the natural world.Dfpolis

    The physical world is more "natural" than...what? Human-constructed architecture and pavement?

    I'm not saying that the physical world isn't natural. But the non-physical describable metaphysical basis of the "physical" world isn't less natural. Likewise, I'm not quite sure why Atheists and Materialists believe that God (when they speculatively refer to God) would be less "natural" than the physical world.

    You mentioned the objective side, but it's there only by inference from our subjective experience.

    As you mentioned, there have been philosophers who were saying that before there was QM, but now, with QM, there are physicists who are taking physicalism down by saying that the notion of an objective physical world has gone the way of phlogiston.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.5k
    As I said, I have many reasons to reject Jaegwon Kim's Principle of Causal Closure, which states that "all physical states have pure physical causes." Kim argues that "If you pick any physical event and trace out its causal ancestry or posterity, that will never take you outside the physical domain. That is, no causal chain will ever cross the boundary between the physical and the nonphysical." (Mind in a Physical World, p. 40)Dfpolis

    Of course that statement quoted from Kim is true. It's true, and it doesn't contradict Subjective Idealism or Theism.

    In fact, I take it a bit farther, and point say it about metaphysics as well as physical events and causes. Substiture "describable metaphysics" for "physical states", "physical events" and "physical causes".

    Just as physical events and things have physical explanation in terms of other physical things and events and the laws of physics, so metaphysics, too, is self-explanatory, explainable within itself.

    I suggest that metaphysics has that same closure that the Kim describes for the physical world..

    ...and that, too, doesn't conflict with or contradict Subjective Idealism or Theism.

    So then, what's the metaphysical world's relation to or influence from larger Reality? I don't claim to have a complete explanation. There's Theism that doesn't claim to explain such things. As I've said, there's very little that can be said about such things.

    (...but to answer a comment that an Atheist recently made, no one's saying that unknowability is the whole entire bases of a Theism. A few things are said by all Theisms.)

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.5k
    The first and simplest reason is that we are able to discuss our intentional acts. If these acts were not involved in a causal chain leading to physical acts of speech and writing, we would be unable to discuss them. One could claim that intentional acts are physical, but doing so not only begs the question, it equivocates on the meaning of "physical" which refers to what is objective, rather than what is subjective.Dfpolis

    That's a non-problem invented by Materialists.

    We're physical. We're physical animals in a physical world. In other words, our hypothetical life-experience-story is the story of the experience of a physical animal in a physical world.

    So yes, we're physical, and, as physical animals, we're complementary with our physical surroundings in our hypothetical life-experience-story. Of course we, the protagonist of that story are central and primary to it, and are the reason why it's an experience-story.

    An animal, such as us, is a biologically-originated purposefully-responsive device.

    ...just as we were taught in our pre-secondary school science-courses.

    Michael Ossipoff
  • Dfpolis
    558
    The physical world is more "natural" than...what? Human-constructed architecture and pavement?Michael Ossipoff

    The natural world excludes spiritual reality, which, while real, is not measurable.

    I also object to naturalists' use of "supernatural" as a term of derision. God is, as Aristotle saw, the logical completion of our investigation of nature.

    You mentioned the objective side, but it's there only by inference from our subjective experience.Michael Ossipoff

    I disagree. We experience the objects of the lived world. We do not infer them. Locke was wrong is saying we only know our own ideas. Rather ideas are acts by which we may know objects. (My idea <apple> is just me thinking of apples.) When I an aware of an apple, I do not first know I have the concept <apple>, and then infer that there is an apple causing that idea. Rather I know the physical apple and then, in a second movement of thought, infer that my means of knowing the apple is the idea <apple>.

    This is typical of the confusion between formal and instrument signs that permeates modern philosophy. Ideas are formal signs -- their only reality, the only thing they do, is signify. Text, smoke and road signs are instrumental signs. They have a primary reality of their own (ink on paper, particulate suspensions, paint on metal) and secondarily signify. We do not need to recognize that <apple> is an idea for it to signify, but we must first recognize relevant properties of instrumental signs before they can signify. If I cannot make out the letters, if I confuse smoke with dust or a cloud, or if I fail to discern the figure on the road sign, they will fail to signify.

    there are physicists who are taking physicalism down by saying that the notion of an objective physical world has gone the way of phlogiston.Michael Ossipoff

    And, as I have pointed out, they are confusing objective measurability with having a determinate value. These were never the same, and to lack a determinate value is not to lack objectivity.

    Of course that statement quoted from Kim is true. It's true, and it doesn't contradict Subjective Idealism or Theism.Michael Ossipoff

    No, it is false. I did not say that previously, but it is false. If I ask why the end caught the pass and follow the sequence of events back in time, I come to the quarterback's decision to throw the pass to that end rather than another receiver. That decision is an intentional, not a physical act.

    Subjective Idealism and Theism are logical distinct positions. I am a philosophical theist. I am no sort of idealist.

    In fact, I take it a bit farther, and point say it about metaphysics as well as physical events and causes. Substiture "describable metaphysics" for "physical states", "physical events" and "physical causes".Michael Ossipoff

    I'm unsure what you are saying here. To me, metaphysics is the science of being as being, and so deals with all reality. Obviously, any causal relations are contained within reality.

    We're physical. We're physical animals in a physical world. In other words, our hypothetical life-experience-story is the story of the experience of a physical animal in a physical world.Michael Ossipoff

    I agree that we are natural beings, but I think it is important to distinguish physical and intentional operations (aka "spiritual" operations). As Brentano pointed out, intentional operations have an intrinsic "aboutness" that is not required to specify physical operations (even though physical operations are ordered to ends).
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.5k
    The first and simplest reason is that we are able to discuss our intentional acts. If these acts were not involved in a causal chain leading to physical acts of speech and writing, we would be unable to discuss them. One could claim that intentional acts are physical, but doing so not only begs the question, it equivocates on the meaning of "physical" which refers to what is objective, rather than what is subjective. (See my several discussions of the Fundamental Abstraction on this forum, including the precis in my last post in this thread.) Further, if the causes within Kim's enclosure include any being we can discuss, the principle makes no meaningful claim, for it excludes nothing.Dfpolis

    This (and the rest of your post) is a very good response. I'll comment more fully shortly, within a day or two, hopefully.
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