• Bartricks
    344
    We're not physical things, because if we're physical things then what you say is correct - we would not have free will. But we manifestly do have free will, therefore we are not physical things.
  • Bartricks
    344
    What you're doing is assuming that we're physical things. But that's just a dogma of the modern age.
    It is a self-evident truth of reason - one you yourself appeal to - that free will is incompatible with our decisions having been antecedently determined.
    But it is even more powerfully self-evident that we have free will.
    Consider: in the lengthy debate over free will the majority of those who have thought long and hard about the issue still conclude that we do, in fact, have free will. They either conclude that compatibilism is true, or they conclude that incompatbilism is true but that the indeterminism is says is necessary for free will actually obtains (libertarianism). Only a minority (albeit quite a significant minority) conclude that we lack free will. So evidently most of those who think long and hard about this issue recognise that it is powerfully self-evident to reason that we possess free will.
    So this premise:

    1. We have free will

    is exceptionally powerfully supported by our rational intuitions.

    Less powerfully supported, by powerfully supported nevertheless, is this premise:

    2. Free will is incompatible with everything we do being antecedently determined (that is, if we have free will, then not everything we do is antecedently determined)

    The conclusion that follows from these two premises is this:

    3. Therefore, not everything we do is antecedently determined.

    But as you point out, this premise is also true:

    4. If we are physical things, then everything we do is antecedently determined

    And what follows from 4 and 5 is this:

    5. Therefore we are not physical things.
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    Therefore we are not physical things.Bartricks

    Shush… they're listening. Too late; here come the white coats; we're all mental!
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    Address the argument.Bartricks

    Hello argument!

    Less powerfully supported, by powerfully supported nevertheless, is this premise:Bartricks

    Now, really, who's going to notice a slight tape-like delay to consciousness?

    But we can be informed by brain-consciousness correlation experiments and neurology…
  • Bartricks
    344
    There's no delay to consciousness and I doubt you've read the Libet article.
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    There's no delay to consciousness and I doubt you've read the Libet article.Bartricks

    So, the speed of light is infinite and any processing time is infinitely fast? OK. Time to go mental.
  • Bartricks
    344
    No. But we - the conscious things - are not physical things. Try refuting the argument before deciding its conclusion is wrong.
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    But we - the conscious things - are not physical things.Bartricks

    I, as the conscious thing, am my own cause, or causeless?
  • Bartricks
    344
    Definitely causeless, but it may be that something that lacks a cause can, in some sense, also be said to be its own cause.
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    Definitely causeless, but it may be that something that lacks a cause can, in some sense, also be said to be its own cause.Bartricks

    Either way, where/when does it get its information?
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    What you're doing is assuming that we're physical things. But that's just a dogma of the modern age.
    It is a self-evident truth of reason - one you yourself appeal to - that free will is incompatible with our decisions having been antecedently determined.
    But it is even more powerfully self-evident that we have free will.
    Consider: in the lengthy debate over free will the majority of those who have thought long and hard about the issue still conclude that we do, in fact, have free will. They either conclude that compatibilism is true, or they conclude that incompatbilism is true but that the indeterminism is says is necessary for free will actually obtains (libertarianism). Only a minority (albeit quite a significant minority) conclude that we lack free will. So evidently most of those who think long and hard about this issue recognise that it is powerfully self-evident to reason that we possess free will.
    So this premise:

    1. We have free will

    is exceptionally powerfully supported by our rational intuitions.

    Less powerfully supported, by powerfully supported nevertheless, is this premise:

    2. Free will is incompatible with everything we do being antecedently determined (that is, if we have free will, then not everything we do is antecedently determined)

    The conclusion that follows from these two premises is this:

    3. Therefore, not everything we do is antecedently determined.

    But as you point out, this premise is also true:

    4. If we are physical things, then everything we do is antecedently determined

    And what follows from 4 and 5 is this:

    5. Therefore we are not physical things.
    Bartricks

    Apart from you begging the question by stating as a premise the very thing I want to prove/disprove, I find your post very interesting. The problem with the lacunae in our body of knowledge that is evident in discussions on topics like free will is that we tend to speculate. This isn't a bad thing but we tend not to make progress and instead offer each other our own conceptions of the issue. Thanks for your views. There's a lot of work that needs to be done.
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    as far as the test goes scientifically it actually depends on the observer of the results as to where the particle is just to add more confusion it is if it remembers witch observer determining the outcome if we are talking the split particle test using photons units of light particlesmostlywrong

    :ok:
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    So one comment is that "I'm not a scientist" should be emphasized there.

    Why are you proposing that quantum mechanics is deterministic, exactly?
    Terrapin Station

    Yes, I'm not a scientist but the Wikipedia article clearly states that particles follow Newtonian physics. I'll quote wikipedia article on Newton's laws of motion below:

    In quantum mechanics, concepts such as force, momentum, and position are defined by linear operators that operate on the quantum state; at speeds that are much lower than the speed of light, Newton's laws are just as exact for these operators as they are for classical objects. At speeds comparable to the speed of light, the second law holds in the original form F = dp/dt, where F and p are four-vectors. — Wikipedia
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    Not so. It applies at all levels.petrichor

    Do you know that without quantum indeterminacy, the sun wouldn't shine?petrichor

    Can you show me why? Thanks
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    The physical is something that only exists in our heads. How then can we be physical if we contain the physical?Echarmion

    Yes, consciousness is difficult to explain but within existing knowledge paradigms there is no need to assume anything else.
  • petrichor
    180
    Can you show me why? ThanksTheMadFool

    Sure!

    link

    link
  • Andrew M
    707
    I'm not a scientist but Newtonian physics applies at the quantum level. If I'm correct that means particles, their position and velocity, are deterministic in behavior.TheMadFool

    Classical physics and quantum physics are incompatible descriptions of the world. Though classical physics provides a good approximation in many macroscopic scenarios.

    While a quantum state evolves deterministically (as a superposition of states), measurement is non-deterministic (returning a single definite state per the probabilities given by the Born rule). Explaining the latter given the former is known as the measurement problem.

    Knowledge of initial states of particles can be used to predict their properties at some other time in the future.

    We're physical, our brains are physical i.e. we're all made up of particles. That implies our brains are deterministic machines if you'll allow me to use that word.

    If that's the case then freewill shouldn't exist. It's existence would violate the laws of nature and it would be a true miracle. This can't be.
    TheMadFool

    I think of it this way. Suppose Alice prefers tea to coffee. If Bob models her preferences accurately, then he will make successful predictions about what she chooses to drink. Yet his model is simply descriptive. The model does not determine what she will drink - Alice does.

    Similarly scientists can construct equations that describe the behavior of particles and, in principle, any natural system, including human beings. Yet those equations, even if deterministic, are descriptive not prescriptive.

    As long as human choice is considered to operate within the context of natural causality, then there is no miracle or unresolvable conflict. Human beings can make choices based on their preferences AND be described mathematically. If there is a conflict, then it is the math that needs to change to reflect the observed behavior - the math is not prescriptive.
  • Sunnyside
    33
    While a quantum state evolves deterministically (as a superposition of states), measurement is non-deterministic (returning a single definite state per the probabilities given by the Born rule)Andrew M
    You're saying measurement is non-deterministic, I take that to mean random, so maybe I'm asking the wrong question. Tell me if I've got this right: Everything up to a measurement is deterministic, then before a measurement the path splits and there are multiple versions of the same particle, then a measurement happens totally randomly and one of those particles becomes "real". Is that about right?
  • Sunnyside
    33
    A "simple" argument against free will.
  • Andrew M
    707
    You're saying measurement is non-deterministic, I take that to mean random, so maybe I'm asking the wrong question. Tell me if I've got this right: Everything up to a measurement is deterministic, then before a measurement the path splits and there are multiple versions of the same particle, then a measurement happens totally randomly and one of those particles becomes "real". Is that about right?Sunnyside

    Not quite - whether there are multiple versions and what is considered real is an interpretive issue. What is universally agreed on is more like this:

    If you send a photon through a beam splitter, the quantum state evolution (according to the Schrodinger equation) is:

    (1) Photon enters beam splitter
    (2) Photon transmitted + Photon reflected

    That's deterministic, with state (2) represented as a superposition of two simpler states. When the photon is measured at a detector, you observe just one of those simpler states, e.g.,

    (3) Photon reflected

    The Schrodinger equation doesn't give (3). Instead the Born rule predicts (3) with 50% probability. The measurement problem is concerned with what (2) means and what measurement involves such that (3) is observed.
  • petrichor
    180


    As for large objects, they mostly effectively behave like classical physics would predict because the De Broglie wavelength is very small, but effectively is important here.

    A single subatomic particle has a fair amount of uncertainty associated with its position and momentum. Put it in a box, look to see where it is, and more than likely, it'll still be in the box. But there is still a significant chance you'll find it outside, which is quite counterintuitive. But take a basketball, and matters are different, but not because it is fundamentally different. If you put a basketball in a box, you'll never come back to find it outside. This is not because there is nothing random here, but rather because it is composed of so many particles. To find all of them, at the same time, suddenly one foot to the left would be astronomically unlikely. If you roll one six-sided die there is a 1 in 6 chance you'll roll a 6. But roll a trillion dice. What are the odds you'll roll sixes on all of them at the same time?

    But this isn't the end of the story. There are many ways in which the large uncertainties associated with single small particles can be amplified in such a way that they have large effects on macroscopic objects. You could, for example, measure the spin of a particle and use the result to determine the state of a switch on a train track, such that if the particle is spin up, the train goes to Chicago, and if spin down, it goes to New York. This makes a very large event random.

    In fact, when we do measurements and make the results visible to ourselves, we are doing just this. We are amplifying quantum effects.

    It isn't inconceivable that such amplifications could happen in such things as biological systems. After all, we have signaling mechanisms operating at very small scales, where in some cases, quantum uncertainties could be large enough to have effects on the behavior of the system. Such sufficienty small mechanisms have not yet been shown to be important in large scale brain behavior, but this isn't completely off the table just yet.

    All that said, it is hard to see how randomness is compatible with what we think of as free will. If it is random, it isn't willed. If it is determined, it isn't free. Regardless, I think it is premature for us to rule out free will, as consciousness, time, matter, causality, and so on, are still very mysterious, very poorly understood. Personally, my intuition that I act freely and willfully is so strong that I distrust the ways in which these matters have been presented and understood in human history thus far.
  • Sunnyside
    33
    You seem like you know what you're talking about. I'm going to do some reading and get back to you if that's alright.
  • Bartricks
    344
    Ah, I don't think it is question begging. Your argument, I think, is this:

    1. If everything we do is antecedently causally determined, then we lack free will.
    2. If we are physical things then everything we do is antecedently causally determined
    3. Therefore, if we are physical things then we lack free will
    4. We are physical things
    5. Therefore, we lack free will

    What I am doing is arguing that the above argument is weaker than this one:

    1. If everything we do is antecedently causally determined, then we lack free will
    2. If we are physical things, then everything we do is antecedently causally determined
    3. Therefore, if we are physical things then we lack free will
    4. We have free will.
    5. Theefore we are not physical things.

    My argument's premises are all well supported by reason and its conclusion contradicts no truth of reason. But your argument has one premise that is no supported by reason - your premise 4 is just an assumption, not a self-evident truth of reason. And your conclusion contradicts self-evident truths of reason.
  • petrichor
    180


    Speaking of amplification of quantum effects, quantum cosmology is an interesting area to look into!
  • Andrew M
    707
    I'm going to do some reading and get back to you if that's alright.Sunnyside

    Sure. You may find this comparison of the various interpretations useful, of which de Broglie-Bohm theory and Many Worlds are the main deterministic interpretations.
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    4. We have free will.Bartricks

    Prove it!
  • Coben
    770
    But you can have qm level effects moving large organisms. But you don't have to worry about this. qm either consider random or statistical - I'd lean towards the latter - doesn't off free will, since if it is, for example, random, well, that ain't you choosing.
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    Sorry Coben. Can't understand you.
  • Coben
    770
    Earlier in this thread you defended against the idea that qm effects might interfere with pure determinism by quoting wikipedia that at speeds much slower than the speed of light, hey, things follow the classic laws anyway. But you don't even need to go there. Random does not lead to free will. If I make random choices, I am not active freely. That was one point. The other is the qm type effects actually can shift the way, for example, a bird moves. But that's not really necessary for this argument.
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