• MetaphysicsNow
    151
    OK, well I guess the authors meant something like "the choice is not the outcome of a function..." so it seems reasonable to think that the PSR does rule out free will in that sense. So, the next question for @tom would be: why would it follow that science is not possible if every choice an experimenter makes must be the outcome of a function of some or all of the information accessible to him or her?
  • tom
    1.3k
    Just say that humans having free will falsifies the principle.Michael

    And claiming that humans cannot choose what button to press also falsifies the principle.
  • Michael
    6.3k
    And claiming that humans cannot choose what button to press also falsifies the principle.tom

    Again, this has nothing to do with my issue with you, which is that there's no point in bringing up the free will theorem. This just seems like a weird excuse to plug a favourite theory of yours.
  • tom
    1.3k
    OK, well I guess the authors meant something like "the choice is not the outcome of a function..." so it seems reasonable to think that the PSR does rule out free will in that sense. So, the next question for tom would be: why would it follow that science is not possible if every choice an experimenter makes must be the outcome of a function of some or all of the information accessible to him or her?MetaphysicsNow

    If choice is not possible, then there can be no sense in which there is information on which a choice can be made.

    As I mentioned earlier, because of quantum mechanics, if we can't make choices, Reality must be super-determined i.e. it is an acausal conspiracy.
  • tom
    1.3k
    Again, this has nothing to do with my issue with you, which is that there's no point in bringing up the free will theorem. This just seems like a weird excuse to plug a favourite theory of yours.Michael

    It's not a theory, the clue is in the title.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    151
    If choice is not possible, then there can be no sense in which there is information on which a choice can be made.
    Nobody is saying that choice is not possible. What the PSR entails is that there is no such thing as freedom of will in the sense used by the authors of your pet theorem. Denying freedom of will in that sense is simply to insist that all choices that do exist are the outcomes of functions of information accessible to the choosers. That's all. Nothing you have said so far provides an argument that science becomes impossible if free will in that sense is denied.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    151
    Yes, shame on you @Michael for providing Tom with a perfect opportunity to avoid responding to the challenge :wink:
  • Michael
    6.3k
    ignoratio elenchi?
  • TheMadFool
    2.2k
    This is proved false by quantum mechanics.tom

    Can you tell me how? Thanks.

    I thought we had given up trying to prove theories true since at least the advent of the scientific method. Instead, we try to find problems with theories and find solutions.tom

    Ok.

    We have a deep theory of reality that says PSR is false.tom

    Can you help me with understanding that? Thanks
  • MetaphysicsNow
    151
    Taking the opportunity to respond on tom's behalf, I think the usual argument concerning QM and PSR is along the following lines:
    1) If PSR is true, then only a very strict understanding of determinism is true.
    2) If QM is true, then a very strict understanding of determinism is false.
    3) QM is true.
    Therefore a very strict understanding of determinism is false.
    Therefore the PSR is false.

    All 3 premises are open to debate, of course, but that seems to be the gist of the QMers v the PSRers debate.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    151
    Regarding premise 2), the idea is that under a very strict understanding of determinism, if the state of a system at time t is fully determined, then there is only one possible state for the system to evolve into. QM seems to imply that even if the state of a system at time t is fully determined, there is more than one possible state into which it may evolve.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    151
    Regarding premise 1), I'm not sure what the argument there is. It seems to me that PSR is compatible with more relaxed forms of determinism, but I'd be interested in real arguments to the contrary (and specifically not arguments of the form "the Free Will Theorem proves it").
  • MetaphysicsNow
    151
    Regarding premise 3) - one thing to bear in mind when discussing QM and truth is that you have, on the one hand, the formalism of QM which provides extremely successful means of predicting experimental outcomes (and subsequently all kinds of useful devices have been constructed) and then you have interpretations of that formalism, of which there are quite a few.
  • TheMadFool
    2.2k
    Thanks for the information.

    I don't know a lot of physics but let me point out a relevant difference.

    QM applies to the atomic realm. We, however, live at a different scale of time and space. This world, the one we can see, touch, hear and taste, is governed by deterministic laws of physics and chemistry.

    So, while I agree that QM defies the PSR we must remind ourselves that we live at a different spatio-temporal scale than atoms. In fact the PSR seems to be abstracted at this level and not the atomic universe.

    Extending the thought a little bit it could be that the universe itself, which is definitely at a vastly different scale than our lives, could be violating the PSR. I'm thinking of God here.
  • Sam26
    721
    An interesting short paper worth reading that has some bearing on this in terms of causes vs reasons is the following: https://is.muni.cz/repo/989715/On_the_Idea_of_Analysis_in_the_Late_Wittgenstein.pdf -- read the second section Cause and Reason.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    151
    Thanks - but it appears to be just a link to a page of this thread - could you relink?
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    Do his distinction between reason and cause mean the PSR is not an empirical principal?
  • Sam26
    721
    Do his distinction between reason and cause mean the PSR is not an empirical principal?Cavacava

    Good question, and to be honest, I'm not sure. My opinion is that there is something wrong with this principle.

    From the SEP:
    "A simple formulation of the principle is as follows:

    (1) For every fact F, there must be a sufficient reason why F is the case.

    The term “fact” in the above formulation is not intended to express any commitment to an ontology of facts. Still, if one wishes to avoid such connotations, the principle can be formulated more schematically:

    (2) For every x, there is a y such that y is the sufficient reason for x

    (formally: ∀x∃yRyx [where “Rxy” denotes the binary relation of providing a sufficient reason])."

    I have a problem with (1), how does it follow that "For every fact F, there must be some reason why F is the case." Some facts have no reasons, they obtain as a result of causes. Why can't there simply be mechanistic causes for many facts? Even factual propositions needn't have reasons to support them, some do some don't. Moreover, again, why can't there be facts that have no cause or reason?
  • MetaphysicsNow
    151
    Perhaps formulating the principle in the terms "Everything that happens has an explanation" would bypass the problematic distinction between reasons and causes? Then one could explain something either by giving a reason (in Wittgenstein's sense) or by citing its cause (in Wittgenstein's sense) as appropriate (and perhaps in some cases by doing both). Interesting that Wittgenstein might have held a statistical conception of causality, rather than a strongly deterministic one.
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