• PoeticUniverse
    740
    See: http://arxiv.org/abs/1509.08981

    From Gustavo E. Romero:

    I shall offer a view of the topic in which a kind of substantivalism, relationism, and eternalism can coexist on the basis of emergentism, the doctrine that qualitative systemic properties arise from more basic ontological levels devoid of such properties. The mechanisms that enforce emergence are composition and interaction. I hold that there is a level for each of the three ontological positions to be considered as a good option for a description of the way the world is.

    –  Spacetime substantivalism: Spacetime is an entity endowed with physical properties. This position is clearly expressed by Einstein (1920). The exact nature of this entity is open to discussion. I shall defend an event substantivalism.

    –  Spacetime relationism: Spacetime is not an entity that can exist independently of physical objects. Spacetime, instead, is a system of relations among different ontological items. The nature of these items is also open to discussion. I shall propose that there is a level where a form a relationism provides an adequate framework for current physics and that this is not in contraction with event substantivalism when the latter is applied to a different ontological level.

    –  Eternalism (also known as Block Universe – BU –): Present, past, and future moments (and hence events) exist. They form a 4-dimensional ‘block’ of spacetime. Events are ordered by relations of earlier than, later than, or simultaneous with, one another. The relations among events are unchanging. Actually, they cannot change since time is one of the dimensions of the block. I have defended this position in Romero (2012 and 2013a). The reader is referred to these papers as well as to Peterson and Silberstein (2011) and references therein for further arguments.

    –  Presentism: Only those events that take place in the present are real. This definition requires explanations of the terms ‘present’ and ‘real’. Crisp (2003, 2007) offers elucidations. See also the mentioned paper by Craig (2008), and Mozersky (2011). Presentism has been subject to devastating criticisms since the early attacks by Smart (1964), Putnam (1967), and Stein (1968). See Saunders (2002), Petkov (2006), Wu ̈thrich (2010), Peter- son and Silberstein (2011), Romero (2012, 2015) for up-dated objections. 


    Some further objections against presentism:

    Most of the arguments against presentism are based on the Special Theory of Relativity; see the references cited in the previous section and the discus- sions in Craig and Smith (2008).

    Metaphysical arguments can be found, for instance, in Oaklander (2004) and Mellor (1998). Recently, several arguments based on General Relativity have been displayed against presentism. Romero and P ́erez (2014) have shown that the standard version of this doctrine is incompatible with the existence of black holes. In Romero (2015) I enumerate a number of additional objections based on General Relativity and modern cosmology. Wuthrich (2010) discusses the problems and inconsistence of presentism when faced with Quantum Gravity. Here, I offer a new argument based on the existence of gravitational waves.

    The argument goes like this:


    P1. There are gravitational waves.

    P2. Gravitational waves have non-zero Weyl curvature.

    P3. Non-zero Weyl curvature is only possible in 4 or more dimensions.
    P4. Presentism is incompatible with a 4 dimensional world.

    Then, presentism is false.
  • Mww
    1k


    Is this going to relate in the “Arguments For Free Will” category?
  • Mww
    1k


    I wouldn’t think so, but you never know.....maybe he’s got something cooking on the front burner here.

    On the other hand, choice certainly does require the future, for choice can never be either antecedent nor simultaneous to its object.
  • Mww
    1k


    Yeah, I have the 1905 “On The Electrodynamics......” paper, which I prefer for showing the refutation of Newtonian absolute time. Nevertheless, I don’t see the connection to an argument disproving “free will”.

    Dunno....you can use cement in a cake recipe, but ain’t nobody gonna get a bite out of it.
  • Bartricks
    1.1k
    Why can't you leave the restrictions of a physicist's mindset? Physics doesn't investigate free will at all, so what's to leave? Again, physicists are simply not studying free will at all.

    To figure out what free will involves you have to use your reason. Your physics background will neither help nor restrict you - it is simply irrelevant.
  • Bartricks
    1.1k
    No, this is simply false: go into a physics department and ask the physicists in it what the difference is between a compatibilist and an incompatibilist about free will and see if they know.
    The nature of free will is not something investigated by physics. if you've studied physics - and you say your background is in it - at which point in your studies did you study free will? Which module in a physics course studies it?
    It isn't something physics studies.
  • Bartricks
    1.1k
    that same applies to other philosophical questions - they're not questions physicists address.
    I think, perhaps, a lot of people with scientific backgrounds assume that they're the ones who are really studying reality and, as such, philosophy is just science without any empirical rigour. And thus if only scientists turn their attention to philosophical questions they'll be able to sort it all out.
  • fresco
    549
    Hmm...
    The dichotomy suggested above between 'science' and 'philosophy' appears to be contradicted by developments in neuroscience, in which 'neurophilosophy' attempts to apply scientific findings to philosophical issues. Patricia Churchland, for example, using the principal of 'eliminative materialism', analysed issues of what we call 'free will' in terms of the neurological mechanisms involved in 'desire constraint'. Thus 'culpability' in the court room sense, becomes a function of the balance of neurological and hormonal processes and genetic dispositions. This approach makes no claim on the societal functionality of the concept of 'culpability', but does tend to indicate the liklihood of 'success' of sentencing responses.
  • Possibility
    618
    ↪Pathogen that same applies to other philosophical questions - they're not questions physicists address.Bartricks

    Just because physicists don’t address it, I don’t think that means we can’t use what we understand about physics (and how physicists approach the boundaries of their understanding) to address questions such as the nature of free will, particularly in relation to determinism (which seems to be ensconced safely in the realm of physics).

    In fact, the way physicists approach the questions of energy, potentiality and quantum superposition, for instance, laps at the question of free will. All they really have here are formulas pertaining to a value in relation to variable events in time (and shared subjective experiences) as ‘evidence’ that these concepts exist. For most physicists, that’s enough - but if they ever wondered about the nature of potential energy, for instance, instead of resorting to SUAC, perhaps they’d realise that energy’s potential exists free of the constraints of spacetime, just like the will. It is only in actuality (as an event in time) that energy is constrained.

    That may seem like a moot point to most physicists, but their own participation in using these formulae to predict, plan for and manipulate the causal conditions of an event (ie. how their will operates outside of spacetime to initiate a cause) is overlooked because they endeavour to exclude themselves (as a subjective, interacting observer) from the equation. QM shows that some formulae become ineffective past a certain point without this variable, suggesting that we may have to rethink the way we currently map reality in order to obtain a more accurate understanding of our interaction with the universe moving forward.

    The dialogue between physics and philosophy is important here - we need to acknowledge alternative (ie. purely subjective) values or significance experienced by different observers in relation to the same event in order to more accurately map this additional aspect to reality, which has already enabled us to interact with the universe beyond the constraints of spacetime for thousands of years. Understanding how an observer is aware of and interacts with potential energy to initiate events, for instance, takes us into the realm of a will that is potentially free.

    The way I see it, there is no border between physics and metaphysics - it’s just a misunderstanding. And I don’t think using reason without any reference to physics is going to help you to understand what free will really involves.
  • fresco
    549

    Yes, the epistemological issue is one of priority. i.e Does 'philosophy' guide what we mean by 'scientific method' , or is 'scientific method' a function of 'brain mechanisms' which eliminative materialists might argue boils down to .physics and chemistry'.Dualists tend to reinforce the dichotomy, whereas pragmatists tend to ignore it.
  • Mww
    1k
    Science is predicated on the scientific method, the major premise of which is predicated on observation.

    Observation of the human brain is by attachment of machines, from which displays represent brain functionality directly proportional to experimental expectation.

    A human does not think in terms of brain states, but a machine absolutely has no alternative but to represent human thought in terms of brain states. It follows that the human inventing a machine to objectify human thought uses a methodology that cannot be replicated in the machine he is inventing. The very best the machine can do is show one-on-one correspondence between human thought and its relational brain state, but can never have the identity of the thought it is representing. A brain state can identify a thought but can never have the identity of a thought.

    Philosophy does not have that limitation, for the methodology of philosophy is exactly the same as the methodology for thought itself, in which thought and philosophy are identical. Which is not to say philosophy doesn’t have its own limitation, insofar as philosophy is not equipped for examination of the brain’s physical brain states from which it arises.

    It remains as fact, as far as humans are concerned, that no machines are ever invented, nor is any science ever done, that does not first pass before the tribunal of human reason. From this, it is clear that human thought, and everything that arises from it, is the prime directive, and science is at the mercy of it, belongs to it, and for all intents and purposes, has nothing to say about it, but only objectifies its mechanisms.

    The nullification of this particular dualism is a pipe-dream for wishful thinkers, without the foresight to understand that if or when future science shows the fundamental natural laws of their thought, they have in effect taken the first steps in the sacrifice of their humanity, in all its wonder and fallibility.

    But I’ll be long gone by then, so.......ehhhhh......sucks to be you when that time comes.
  • S
    11.8k
    Fantastic opening post.
  • Echarmion
    879
    If a mental state results from a previous mental state, going all the way back to the first brain state, like when a baby is looking into a mirror for example and begins the first stages of "thought," is there a primary state which is not the result of prior mental states? if so where does the information come from for that primary state?rlclauer

    Well the mind runs on some substrate. When the mind forms, it will inherit some information, along with it's basic functions, from the reality it is formed in. We can assume, for the sake of the argument, that it's properly represented by genetics forming the biological brain.
  • PoeticUniverse
    740


    Relations among basic events, or ‘ontological atoms’, can be the basis from which substantival spacetime emerges, in a similar way to how things emerge from spacetime events.

    Change of space-time would require an extra dimension not included in space-time. This, in turn, would imply that space-time is a thing with an emergent relational property that should be measured by the extra dimension or ‘meta-time’. There is no physical reason to introduce such an ontology. And if someone is willing to pay the price to do it, an infinite regress follows immediately, since the 5D ‘super space-time’ might change requiring more extra dimensions ontological inflation would turn the price unaffordable.

    The representation of spacetime appears, therefore, as the large number limit of an ontology of basic timeless and spaceless events that can be identified only at a more basic ontological level.

    Composition leads to a hierarchy of events, with basic events on the lower level and increasing complexity towards higher levels. Reality seems to be organized into levels, each one differentiated by qualitative, emerging properties. Higher levels have processes and things with some properties belonging to lower levels in addition to specific ones.

    At some point of this hierarchy of events, things can be introduced as classes abstracted from large number of events (see Romero 2013a for formal definitions). A thing-based ontology allows a simplification in the description of the higher levels of organisation of what is, essentially, an event ontology. Spacetime is then an emerging thing from the collection of all events.

    Event substantialism regarding spacetime does not preclude relationism at a more basic level. Relations among basic events, or ‘ontological atoms’, can be the basis from which substantival spacetime emerges, in a similar way to how things emerge from spacetime events.

    If we want to represent events at very small scale, the assumption of compactness must be abandoned. The reason is that any accumulation point implies an infinite energy density, since events have finite (but not arbitrarily small) energy, and energy is an additive property. In other words, spacetime must be discrete at the smallest scale.

    Since the quantum of action is given by the Planck constant, it is a reasonable hypothesis to assume that the atomic events occur at the Planck scale. If there are atomic events, their association would give rise to composed events (i.e. processes), and then to the continuum spacetime, which would be a large-scale emergent entity, absent at the more basic ontological level. This is similar to, for instance, considering the mind as a collection of complex processes of the brain, emerging from arrays of ‘mindless’ neurons.
  • removedmembershiprc
    113
    Since there is a mental state which relies on genetics, or some non-mental state, and this mental state is the first mental state, doesn't it follow that all subsequent mental states are in some way set on a trajectory by the "prime mover of mental states" (I am not talking about god), and thus, the configuration of the progenitor of mental states is really constraining the make-up of the mental states which follow from it? In my opinion, this would be an infringement on the freedom of a future mental state.
  • Echarmion
    879
    Since there is a mental state which relies on genetics, or some non-mental state, and this mental state is the first mental state, doesn't it follow that all subsequent mental states are in some way set on a trajectory by the "prime mover of mental states" (I am not talking about god), and thus, the configuration of the progenitor of mental states is really constraining the make-up of the mental states which follow from it? In my opinion, this would be an infringement on the freedom of a future mental state.rlclauer

    Mental states may well be "constrained" in some way, after all human thoughts tend to follow similar patterns. But what's important to note here is that mental states aren't necessarily deterministic. That means previous mental states, and sensory input, inform subsequent states, but do not determine them.
  • removedmembershiprc
    113
    Okay, so how does the mental trajectory which you admitted is constrained change course? Does one part of the mind act upon another? Isn't this just the homunculus argument? And if one part of the mind acts on another to changes the trajectory, wouldn't the "acting" part also be constrained by these pro generative conditions? It sounds like you are just quibbling with the word determined because of the implications it has for your position, but the space that you have to put this "willing mechanism" seems to be non-existent in my view.
  • Echarmion
    879
    Okay, so how does the mental trajectory which you admitted is constrained change course? Does one part of the mind act upon another? Isn't this just the homunculus argument?rlclauer

    It changes course by making decisions. You seem to be asking me to explain how decisions "work" in some other terms, that is to reduce them so some other process. But I am saying that decision making is not reducible to some other process. It is what it seems to you in your head.

    And if one part of the mind acts on another to changes the trajectory, wouldn't the "acting" part also be constrained by these pro generative conditions?rlclauer

    We could think of the different parts that make up the "decision" combining in several possible ways, only one of which is chosen.

    It sounds like you are just quibbling with the word determined because of the implications it has for your position, but the space that you have to put this "willing mechanism" seems to be non-existent in my view.rlclauer

    That's because it's not a mechanism in the usual sense of the word. It wouldn't be some sort of algorithm that calculates an outcome. Willing is simply the way the mind operates when making decisions. LIke how physical laws tell you how physical processes operate, without these laws having some "space" where they "are"
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