• MetaphysicsNow
    315
    The PSR has never driven human discovery. It can't do that.
    Well perhaps I chose an inappropriate metaphor - but the idea that everything is explicable is a motivation for pursuing explanations, and science is - amongst many other things - the pursuit of explanations.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Which pseudo-random number generator do you propose to use? How will you map the output of the number generator to the buttons?
    Why are you asking me for specifics like that - I'm not proposing that they should be used at all. All I'm saying is that the very notion of a pseudo-random number generator is that there is a causal determination of the numbers that they churn out.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Not really - there are probabilistic conceptions of causality that are perfectly compatible with QM.MetaphysicsNow

    Really?

    The proof given in the FWT for uncaused events, has absolutely nothing to do with virtual particles.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Really?
    Yes: take a look here for instance probabilistic causation
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    The FWT does not prove that there are uncaused events, it proves only that if there are uncaused events (the free will choices of experimenters) then there are other uncaused events.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Yes: take a look here for instanceMetaphysicsNow

    Your claim that probabilistic causality is compatible with quantum mechanics, how?
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Well, don't get me wrong, I'm not a proponent of probabilistic causation, but the basic idea would seem to be that the challenge QM poses for the traditional account of causation is that the traditional account entails a certain conception of determinsim which can be captured in the following idea: all the events leading up to the state of a system at time t allow for only one possible next state of that system. QM, well some interpretations of QM anyway, entail that all the events leading up to the state of a system at time t allow for many different possible next states of that system, each state being more or less likely, but no state being impossible. So, if that is right, QM undermines that specific notion of determinism. Probabilistic conceptions of causality attempt to keep some aspects of causality, but drop that specific conception of determinism, allowing that future states of systems have a probabilistic distribution, but are nevertheless in some significant sense caused by the existing state of the system, thus rendering causation compatible with (some interpretations of) QM.
    That seems to be the gist of it, as I say, I am not a proponent so cannot really provide you any more details - there are plenty of references in the link I provided if you are interested. A probabilistic account of causation may be right, it may be wrong, it may in the end not even make sense, and may not in the end be compatible with all interpretations of QM. One thing is for certain, though, the FWT is irrelevant to deciding on those issues, just as it is irrelevant to the status of the PSR.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Probabilistic conceptions of causality attempt to keep some aspects of causality, but drop that specific conception of determinism, allowing that future states of systems have a probabilistic distribution, but are nevertheless in some significant sense caused by the existing state of the system, thus rendering causation compatible with (some interpretations of) QM.MetaphysicsNow

    This is refuted by FWT, and therefore by quantum mechanics, which is a theory that adheres to the axioms of FWT. Probabilistic causality is ruled out, as are hidden variables.

    Even if you insist that your decision of pseudo-random number generator, and its output, and your mapping, is determined by the big-bang, probabilistic causality is refuted.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    There appears to be some fundamental difference of understanding about what the FWT is, so in an effort to get at precisely what that difference of understanding might be, let me be clear on what my understanding of the FWT is and how that understanding entails its total irrelevance for PSR. After this, I think I'm going to have to move on to something else as, for one thing, its becoming a little boring saying the same thing over and over again in different ways.

    The FWT is a conditional theorem to the effect thatif there are uncaused events of one specific kind, then there are other uncaused events. In the original paper the uncaused events of the antecedent are initially taken to be free will choices of experimenters about what measurements to take, and the uncaused events of the consequent are the outcomes of the measurements.

    That is my understanding of the content of the FWT as expounded by the authors of the original paper, if you disagree with that understanding, please be precise as to what it is about my interpretation of the FWT you object to, and propose an alternative. Note that I am not addressing the authors' method of proving that the FWT is true - given the axioms they work with, and the rules of inference they rely on, their reasoning seems faultless to me. You tell me that they are mathematicians by training, so I'd expect nothing less in any case. What follows from this point on is based on my understanding of the content of the FWT being the correct understanding.

    If there is no such thing as free will in the sense of it entailing the existence of uncaused human actions, then the antecedent of the FWT (framed in terms of free will) is false. Of course, the FWT itself remains true in such conditions, but trivially true by the classical laws of logical implication (which are the laws of inference being used by the authors to prove the FWT). Specifically, if the antecedent of a conditional is false, the conditional itself is true, but we cannot infer anything at all concerning the truth or falsity of its consequent. Now, the PSR - under many interpretations at least - entails precisely that there is no such thing as free will in the sense of allowing for uncaused human actions. So, under those interpretations of PSR, the antecedent of the FWT conditional is false. So, even if the PSR is true, FWT remains nevertheless true. If the PSR is false and there are uncaused human actions, FWT is also true, and we have the bonus of being able to use modus ponens to conclude that its consequent is true as well. Therefore, even if FWT is true, PSR could be either true or false. This is as much to say that the truth of the FWT is irrelevant to the truth or falsity of PSR.
  • tom
    1.5k
    The FWT is a conditional theorem to the effect thatif there are uncaused events of one specific kind, then there are other uncaused events.MetaphysicsNow

    Choices are not uncaused. All that is required is that choices exist and that in this particular case, choosing which button to press is possible.

    As I have already pointed out, the choice could be relegated to a computer program, or any number of computer programs in series.

    Another way of expressing the ability to choose, would be something like the assertion, "Science is possible." For surely, if an experimenter is not free to choose which experiments to perform, then science is impossible.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Read the paper - the authors are quite clear that the FWT states precisely and only that the measurement outcomes are free in the sense that the measurement choices are free. They even talk about measurement outcomes inheriting freedom from the freedom of choice. If that sense of freedom allows that choices can be caused, then the measurement outcomes are free in the sense that they can be caused also, and once again we are back to FWT being irrelevant to the PSR.
  • Michael
    7k
    The Principle of Sufficient Reason has been falsified by the Free Will and Strong Free Will Theorems of Kochen and Conway.tom

    This is misleading. It's not that the free will theorem falsifies the principle of sufficient reason, but that one of its premises denies the principle of sufficient reason.

    Taken from The Strong Free Will Theorem:

    ... if the experimenter can freely choose the directions in which to orient his apparatus in a certain measurement, then the particle’s response (to be pedantic—the universe’s response near the particle) is not determined by the entire previous history of the universe.

    Notice the antecedent. The rest of the argument is irrelevant (on this issue) as the principle of sufficient reason has already been rejected from the start.

    So I don't know why you brought up the theorem at all (you do seem to have a strong love for it in general; you're always bringing it up). You can just say that free will falsifies the principle.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    :up: Thank you for summing up concisely exactly what I've been trying to express in my admittedly rather long winded fashion. Let's hope that tom now drops this whole FWT refutes PSR gambit and picks up on the more interesting elements of some of his posts.
  • Michael
    7k
    The FWT would still hold if the choice was made by a pseudo-random number generator.tom

    A true random number generator, yes, but not a pseudo-random number generator. Pseudo-random number generators are deterministic.

    But if the principle of sufficient reason is true then true random number generators are impossible, so again this seems to beg the question.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Notice the antecedent. The rest of the argument is irrelevant (on this issue) as the principle of sufficient reason has already been rejected from the start.Michael

    As I mentioned earlier, I find it strange that people are willing to abandon science to protect a treasured principle.

    I also mentioned earlier, that if it is not possible to choose which button to press, then the type of determinism that exists must be acausal.

    I also mentioned that the PSR does not seem to survive either way.
  • Michael
    7k
    As I mentioned earlier, I find it strange that people are willing to abandon science to protect a treasured principle.

    I also mentioned earlier, that if it is not possible to choose which button to press, then the type of determinism that exists must be acausal.

    I also mentioned that the PSR does not seem to survive either way.
    tom

    This doesn't address my issue with your claim, which is that it is misleading to say that the free will theorem falsifies the principle of sufficient reason.

    Just say that humans having free will falsifies the principle.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Just say that humans having free will falsifies the principle.
    But please don't just leave it at that. It would take a very specific understanding of what free will amounts to for its existence to refute the PSR. Once that specific conception is explicitly stated, the issue then is what happens if we deny that free will in that sense exists?
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Tom seems to believe that denying the existence of free will in this sense entails that science is not possible. I'd like to see the argument for that, since - after all - science is possible, and so the possibility of science would prove the existence of free will (in that sense). But as indicated, there's some argumentative work to do to reach that point.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2k
    <SophistiCat already asked my question>
  • Michael
    7k
    But please don't just leave it at that. It would take a very specific understanding of what free will amounts to for its existence to refute the PSR. Once that specific conception is explicitly stated, the issue then is what happens if we deny that free will in that sense exists?MetaphysicsNow

    If he's going by the free will theorem then "the choice ... is not a function of the information accessible to the experimenters".
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