Is free will possible in a deterministic universe?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Sarkus, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    This article just popped up in my news feed.
    "This momentous discovery was the beginning of a lot of trouble in neuroscience. Twenty years later, the American physiologist Benjamin Libet used the Bereitschaftspotential to make the case not only that the brain shows signs of a decision before a person acts, but that, incredibly, the brain’s wheels start turning before the person even consciously intends to do something. Suddenly, people’s choices—even a basic finger tap—appeared to be determined by something outside of their own perceived volition."
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
    TheFrogger likes this.
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    No, I didn't. All of that is your language, which I tried to go along with because one must start somewhere.
    "Script" is proving to be a terminally misleading analogy, and I'm giving up on it.
    Restart: There is no script.
    Nope. All of its constituents belong to the "self" part of the universe, by definition of "constituent".
    Not "universal" - particular. So?
    1) Theoretically, one cannot predict such "trajectories" beyond certain limits. For example, fifth degree equations - often necessary - cannot in general be solved exactly. Also significant: in a situation so populated with nonlinear feedback loops and combinatorial interactions chaos theory proves that quantum effects will be amplified to observable, macroscopic effects within seconds or minutes - not even billiard balls in the simplest of circumstances can be assigned "invariant trajectories", regardless of the completeness of information possessed at any given moment.
    2) When applied to living entities, what related reasoning produces is quite different from the "trajectories" of Newtonian reductive oversimplification. It has feedback loops at two or even three higher logical levels. It reacts to modeled futures - events that have not and may never have happened - for example. No billiard ball or anything analogous can do that.
    3) "Invariant" has yet to be explained.What is that word doing there?
    4) "Billiard balls", meanwhile, are abstracted arrangements of quarks, which are not material entities and have entirely different properties - they do not "collide", for example. Why did you choose to apply your reasoning to that higher or more encompassing level of organization and abstraction?
    That does not follow from the research. The perception of the volition lags the event of volition as well - that does not render the volition fictional or irrelevant. The research has discovered something about one's perception of other mental events - not the events themselves.
    The mechanisms and substrates of the human will occupy a volume of a thousand cubic centimeters or so, and weigh between two and three pounds. That is considerably larger than most pinheads.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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  5. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    Of course there’s a script, it consists of each momentary state of the universe dictating the next.
    Do the constituents of the self belong to the self? Or does the self belong to its constituents? The human body is composed mostly of water, does that mean that water is the majority stakeholder of the self? From this perspective human behavior is mostly dictated by the will of water.
    Everything that makes up a living thing existed elsewhere in the universe beforehand. Atoms that were formed in stars billions of years ago don’t change their nature when they become incorporated in a living entity. The inherent behavior and interactions of those primal elements in living organisms is what essentially determines the organisms behavior.
    The billiard example was intended as a simple example of a theoretically completely controlled state leading to a completely predictable and repeatable result. That humans aren’t in reality able to accomplish such tasks doesn’t negate the theoretical possibility. A universal variation of such an example is that with complete knowledge of a given universal state, all past and future states would be knowable, this is the defining property of a deterministic universe.
    Regardless of the behavioral state that is postulated, the fact remains that every momentary state leads to a definitive momentary result, and complete knowledge of the former leads to complete knowledge of latter.
    Originally I used the term invariant to demonstrate the common perception that nonliving entities lack the ability deviate from their determined paths, like a planet’s path being determined by a particular set of celestial properties. Unfortunately there’s another common perception that a double standard exists when it comes to living entities in that they are somehow exempt from the their own set of determined properties that also impose a lack of deviation
    You might want to review you understanding of quarks, in that they are postulated to be the most basic particles of matter.

    Like I mentioned earlier, I used the billiard example because it was a simple relatable means to make a point, and the same basic premise that was illustrated is applicable to any behavioral state you want to examine, regardless of the perceived complexity.
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  7. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    No one is disputing that...
    Self determination is utterly dependent on that fact...
    False analogy.
    The billiard ball can not determine it's own vector where as a self determined human can...
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Just like an electron, a constituent part of a person, can not determine its own vector?
  9. river

    A proton is constituent part of a person as well .

    Just saying . Without the proton there is no molecule of life ; in the first place .
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

  11. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Please explain....
    A toe nail can't either, nor a hair folicle
  12. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    Your notion of self determination implies that it is not governed by subsequent universal action, but rather by some set of independent elements of the self, this is not consistent with the premise of a universally determined reality.
    Oh really, describe just how the chemistry and physics involved in human neurology is any more free to act than that of a set of interacting billiard balls on a table?
  13. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    it is called learned behavior. Behavior that we are not born with, behavior that has to be learned by the learner.
    Walking, crawling, running, talking, typing, driving, swimming, mathematics... etc etc etc...
    Now your turn,
    describe how, according to you, the universe is limited in it's capacity to evolve self determining actors?

    How important is learning to you?
    What is learning for?

    Most importantly,
    Why do you keep ignoring the importance of learning, in regards to this issue?
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  14. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

  15. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    All you’ve done is to label the various neurologically controlled human behaviors, the question was to describe how the chemistry and physics involved in human neurology is any more free to act than that of a set of interacting billiard balls on a table? In each case, whether sets of sequentially firing neurons, or sets of sequentially colliding billiard balls, the same chemical and physical laws are in play to determine the outcomes of those respective events. So tell me, where is the freedom in either of the described examples?
    Because in a deterministic system, the system as a whole determines all outcomes, the behavior of individual elements are all determined by the collective behavior of the greater whole. The self amounts to a description of an isolated determined segment of that greater whole. It’s analogous to a description of a single domino falling in an infinite line of sequentially falling dominos.
    I’ve been determined to practice and appreciate the process.
    Acquiring data to determine future behavior.
    I’m not necessarily ignoring anything in regards to the issue, I just don't see the point of listing all of the known expressions of a deterministic process to make an argument for it, and learning is just one of countless such expressions.
  16. pluto2 Registered Senior Member

    The only people who could presumably have free will are the very wealthy among us and even that is debatable.

    But most poor people don't even have the free will to even decide what to eat for lunch or where to sleep during the night.

    We don't even have the free will to travel to distant planets and live there safely and happily so are you seriously telling me that humans have free will if we can't even reach other planets?

    I think the world would be a much better place if there was such a thing as free will. We could even become immortal and live forever if there was free will.

    Therefore I believe the crazy fact stands: There is no such thing as free will. There never was and there never will be.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019 at 1:42 PM
  17. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    You have a really weird definition of free will. I can't fly by flapping my arms, so I don't have free will? LOL

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  18. pluto2 Registered Senior Member

    That's true. I think that our free will is limited by the laws of nature (like what is allowed by physics and chemistry for instance) and by the laws and norms of the society that we live in.

    Courts, prisons, police, the criminal justice system and this whole social/political engineering system greatly reduce whatever free will we have left by nature.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019 at 6:53 PM
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Data? lol
    you can do better than that Cap...
  20. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    a reduction in freedom is not "No freedom"...
  21. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    I wasn't discussing freedom, I was discussing self determination. A human can self determine it 's own vector and remain a cog in the machine where as a billiard ball can not self determine it's own vector.
    The notion of freedom is only a quality.
    Human says, "White ball wants me to go over there and I am not going to do that. I am going to use the energy given by the white ball and go over somewhere else instead..."

    Once you realise the distinction between self determination and freedom it will all make sense...
  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    IMO, "you cannot have freedom except within boundaries" and "boundaries define the amount of freedom"....

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  23. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Absolute freedom is absolute chaos ( disorder- insanity ) so yes, any functional freedom must be restrained to afford rational outcomes.

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