Is free will possible in a deterministic universe?

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

  1. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    Maybe you posted such links in your responses to other posters, but I don’t necessarily give those posts the same attention as those addressed to myself. I don’t see any such links in your responses to me, so if you’ve made them elsewhere please provide the links.
    So now that you’ve reaffirmed that our definitional assumptions of determinism are in agreement, how do you explain any element of freedom where definitionally it cannot exist?
    That definition that we both presumably agree on, through logical extention leads to the the understanding that freedom of anything is incompatible with that definition.
    We endorsed the logical implications of the agreed upon definition of determinism because we’re trying to remain logically consistent in the interpretation of that definition. If we were tasked with assuming indeterminism, there’d be a reasonable expectation to consistently align with that definition.
    It doesn’t matter what example of human choice you care to present, because as implied by the agreed upon definition of determinism, the action that you define as choice, or decision made by the human entity, was actually decided by the predetermined nature of the entire system. So in our defined deterministic system, there is never actual decisions to be operationally made, because the system has already made them in advance.
    Your posted inconsistencies say otherwise.
    As is your take up until the point where you assume that the driver has actual options.
    If every aspect of your traffic light scenario is essentially predetermined(scripted) by the universe, then all of the action, including the changing traffic light, the perception of it by the driver, every aspect of their neurological processing, the resultant human manipulation of the car, and the car’s interaction with the road, are all fully determined actions that had no freedom to do otherwise in that determined system. In that whole description of the event, there were no options to choose from, there was only singular action to be followed.
    The problem with your interpretation is that you have isolated the action of choice from the predetermined causal chain that defines it. There is an appearance of choice to humans prior to an event because they have incomplete knowledge of that complete causal chain. The mechanisms that determines the action defined as choice are not determined by a set of immediate conditions, but by that of the complete action and determined nature of the universal whole. Every instant of human action in a determined system was predetermined from the outset, as was the action of the environments that they exist in.
    Look at the the narrow focus of your example. You say note the drivers capabilities without having sufficient knowledge of those capabilities in regards to how they can actually be expressed in relation to the actual determined elemental parameters of the event. We always only observe what has been determined to be observable, just as we always act in a manner that has been determined to be actionable. We don’t get to choose any of it in a determined system.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
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  3. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I am not sure if that is a convincing argument. The same can be said of a "smart" car. The car's capabilities is that they can stop, or go, and choose which based on the color of the light or proximity of an obstacle, all without a driver.
    Does that give the car the freedom of choice? Or any freedom at all?
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  5. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Why do you believe that the "quality" of freedom requires "material" indeterminism?
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  7. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Evolution by natural selection is an illusion if one accepts the abstracted universe being promoted here.
    In other words you can not believe in Darwinism and this abstracted determinism simultaneously with out severe contradiction.

    "Is Darwinism possible in a deterministic universe?"
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Is mutation a deterministic event?
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    You find them. I've run enough errands for people who don't bother to read my posts in the first place.
    It's not an argument. It's an illustrative example that one can argue from - it prevents certain obscurities.
    What "interpretation" are you talking about? The example is quite simple - few "interpretations" are available.
    What defines the choice is the causal past - and nothing in that example isolates the choice from its past.
    The humans or machines observing the driver's capabilities, verifying their existence, and verifying by observation the driver's ability to choose between them, are not limited in their knowledge. You can go ahead and assume that they are omniscient if you want to - changes nothing about the driver.
    There were of course options to choose from - that's how the driver's singular action are determined by the universe, remember?
    Why can't you guys deal with that example as posted?
    Why are you posting irrelevancies about the future of the driver and the car? I can't believe you are consciously invoking backwards causality - claiming that the future color of the light determines the driver's choices and capabilities now, say - but there seems to be no other interpretation of this appeal to that future.
    The system includes the driver, and the part of the system that makes the decision to stop or go (choosing from two capabilities) is the driver. The "system" making the choice is the same as the driver making the choice. The driver is the means by which the system makes the choice involved - we observe this.
    I am trying to phrase this point in some way that registers in the naive materialist's awareness - the attempt to invoke the "system" or the "universe" as making the decision instead of the driver is common to them all.
    The driver's capabilities are observed at a given time, and are describable (in theory) at that time. We know what they are by observation and description - in more or less the same way we know the driver's shoe size. Their future expression does not affect their present reality, which was determined by the past, any more than the fate of the driver's left foot affects its shoe size now. They do not change according to any "determined parameters of the event", whatever that even means - what "event" are you talking about?

    Here's the example: A driver approaches a traffic light. The driver will stop the car if the light is red, keep going if it is green.
  10. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member


    Note the highlighted PERCEIVED

    You can have a billion perceived options from which only one will bare fruit because of the dominoes which have toppled in the past

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  11. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member


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  12. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    The driver will stop the car if the light is red

    Unless the brakes fail. Oops didn't know about leaking brake fluid cylinder

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  13. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    And the other guy is drunk and runs the red light, crashing into the sober driver who is obeying the traffic light.
  14. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    How could you possibly know that, considering you don't believe in free will? You're making a positive claim (free will entailing mind over matter) about something you don't think exists. That's as ridiculous as someone claiming a pink unicorn's favorite food is French toast. It's also a straw man to erect mind over matter as an easily assailable target that no one has argued.

    Since free will is usually couched as either being contrary to or limited by determinism, assuming determinism as a premise is assuming the conclusion that determinism is dominant. That any sort of free will must either not exist or accommodate determinism in a way that makes it not genuine free will at all. IOW, the premise precludes any genuinely alternative conclusion, which is literally begging the question. Redefining free will, as a pretense to allowing a alternative conclusion, is really just explaining it away.

    Well, there's no accounting for ignorance about the basics of the Copenhagen Interpretation or conflating theory completeness with a complete understanding of reality in general.

    In the lack of further knowledge, only empiricism is justified. No one knows whether QM addresses the underlying reality or not, so we can only accept what empirical evidence tells us. Anything more is pure assumption. Accepting empirical evidence is parsimony, where making added assumptions is not. What you "favor" is not an argument.

    It is not known to be philosophically deterministic, as no one can predict human choices based on initial conditions, nor trace a human choice to said conditions. It is causally deterministic, in that causality is demonstrable, but causality does not entail predeterminism. As such, free will is not an exception to causal determinism, but philosophical determinism is still begging the question.
  15. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    It's your problem that you've felt the need to beat that dead horse for how many posts now. I'm over it, and you should try to be as well.

    Has nothing to do with illusion. My analogy to quantum superposition versus classical determinism just flew right over your head. To wit:

    If one presumes that superimposed states are actually only one of said states then that is an unjustified assumption.

    Exactly. It's a conclusion, not a premise. Hence begging the question.

    Neither have I, and how you got that from what you quoted is a mystery. I was never talking about appearance. You just latched onto the word "appears" as if it meant illusion, where it actually only separated the empirical evidence from any possible, underlying but unknown reality. Again, reference to QM was completely lost on you.

    LOL! That's priceless! Nice of you to finally catch up, instead of running away with your own straw man. I've only mentioned appearance in respect to empirical evidence versus any possible, underlying but unknown reality. Go reread my posts, with your newfound clarity, for yourself.
    A premise of determinism is begging the question. That's the same as asking if determinism is possible in free will universe. Yawn.

    Begging the question. Boring.

    BTW, where was this stipulated? Is this just a naive take on the thread's title? Why would a classical domain deterministic universe require determinism in all domains, or the preclusion of free will stemming from any other domain?
    Again, that's just a boring as asking if determinism is possible in free will universe. It assumes the conclusion that one dominates.

    I'm not an incompatibilist, nor a compatibilist. Free will actually requires deterministic causality for choices to be meaningful. Otherwise, the sense of choice is just illusory and not free at all. I don't think compatibilists redefining free will is valid, any more than a compatibilist would think redefining determinism would be valid. But that seems to be a more nuanced discussion than your simple begging the question can manage.

    So this thread has zero to do with the real world? So you can argue your conclusion by artificially excising any alternative.
    Cute. I guess some people think that's fun or worthwhile.

    Free will cannot exist without causality. If the consequences of a choice cannot be sufficiently predicted then the choice is just as arbitrary (not meaningful) as the consequence.
    You seem to be presuming that determinism must have no exceptions in order to exist at all. I agree that our universe is largely deterministic. I just don't agree that we need to take the boring step of presuming it wholly deterministic to support a foregone conclusion.

    Why? Are determinism and indeterminism actually incompatible? Even if determinism relies, as it seems, on a more fundamental indeterminism?
    The better test is the one that doesn't presume the conclusion.

    No, compatibilism does not presume that only determinism exists, to the exclusion of other domains or indeterminism.
    Genuine free will can ONLY exist/be expressed in a causal universe. Choices without sufficiently predictable consequences are effectively random and meaningless, which is not free will. But where/how something is expressed is not how it comes to be.
    Notice the difference?

    Do you even read what you write? So if everyone agreed with you "that freewill can’t exist in a deterministic universe", only then would you be happy to discuss "whether free will does exist"?
    I couldn't ask for a better example of begging the question.

    Free will can ONLY exist in a sufficiently deterministic universe. Otherwise, choices are as arbitrary as their consequences and no more meaningful than random choice (what Libet mistook for free will). So no, I don't presume that free will is not possible in a deterministic universe. And that answers the question of whether free will is possible without precluding determinism. You're begging the question by precluding anything but determinism.

    If you don't like what I post where, report me for posting off topic, if you really think that will fly. Otherwise, quit playing schoolmarm.
  16. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Lol... love this...
    "Is determinism possible in a freewill universe?"

    Obviously the answer is

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  17. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    Ummmm QM? QM? Would I be correct in assuming QM is part of reality? Further if the answer is, YES QM is a integral part of reality, would I be correct in assuming that QM would be subject to physics and the laws of?

    So what (by which) mechanism, does QM dodge reality and inserts free will?

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  18. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Well, for those who assume the answer to "is free will possible in a deterministic universe" must be "no", it would only be consistent for them to also answer "no" to this as well. Which only proves it is begging the question. If swapping the premise changes the conclusion, the premise assumes the conclusion.

    But yes, I think the answer to both (you know, the single question that simply doesn't beg the question) is yes.

    I've been assured by Baldeee that that is a wholly invalid question in this thread, unless and until everyone can fully agree that free will is not possible in a deterministic universe:
    So I guess I'll let you two sort it out between yourselves.
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    What are you on about? I said; "Yes it would if we had free will. We don't, therefore matter rules over mind." (Last I heard this was the mainstream viewpoint, for now).
    Are you proposing that the concept of free will does not involve the ability to make uncaused conscious choices, such as humans claim to have and do?

    I claim there is no uncaused result. Any state or action is always the result of a prior causality, even if that causality is a mathematical function.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
  20. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    That's you making a positive claim about something you don't think exists. Ergo, the diet of pink unicorns. Right over your head, huh?
    You claiming the straw man, that free will entails full control of our perceptions, which no one has argued, somehow makes some point, requires that you think you're making a positive claim about free will. If you don't understand that, no amount of simple English is likely to help. Oh well.

    No, that would be another straw man.
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    They are observed, and demonstrated, and (btw) necessary for the existence of different responses to different criteria. Not assumed.
    Or to bring it to bear: which of the two "options", stop vs go, are you claiming does not exist?
    And what exactly happened to it, since the last time it was employed?
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I'm not.
    That would be supernatural ability, in a deterministic universe (or situation within even a nondetermined universe, if that were to come up - in some other thread, one hopes. The basics are proving muddled enough).
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    So, are you saying that Free Will is, or is not independent on a prior causal state? That is the question, no?

    If it is, then FW is a deterministic function. If it is not, then it is supernatural, no?

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