Is free will possible in a deterministic universe?

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

  1. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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  3. pluto2 Valued Senior Member

    "The sciences have grown steadily bolder in their claim that all human behavior can be explained through the clockwork laws of cause and effect. This shift in perception is the continuation of an intellectual revolution that began about 150 years ago, when Charles Darwin first published On the Origin of Species. Shortly after Darwin put forth his theory of evolution, his cousin Sir Francis Galton began to draw out the implications: If we have evolved, then mental faculties like intelligence must be hereditary. But we use those faculties—which some people have to a greater degree than others—to make decisions. So our ability to choose our fate is not free, but depends on our biological inheritance."

    If biology, the various neurosciences and genetics explain everything that humans do then I still don't see how free will is possible, even in theory.
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  5. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    You can't see it because you have no choice.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Yes. If you read it, you will find no mention of actions other than a theoretically possible observation of an unchanged situation by an observer presumed to be uninvolved otherwise. The driver approaches a traffic light - observe this driver's capabilities as they approach (if it helps: possibly backwards, sleeping, rolling under the influence of gravity).
    Here's the example, the longest version, padded with extra info because you guys need all the help you can get:
    Here's your idea of that example:
    Notice: none of that stuff - the future stuff, the actions that may or may not take place long (maybe years) after the moment of my example, the stuff that takes you four or five times as many words as are in my longest and padded version to merely describe - is in my example. None of it. None of the driver's actions, none of the traffic light's behavior, none of the changes in the car's behavior.

    And you didn't mention any of the key aspects that were included in my example - such as the opportunity to observe and describe the driver's capabilities. So whatever you are trying to discuss, it isn't my example. It's some irrelevant confusion about what might happen in the future, at a different time and place than my example describes.

    Even more bizarre, as you were informed long ago, none of that future stuff is in my example because I omitted it on purpose, to clarify the thing and simplify the discussion and forestall your reflexive avoidance and habitual dive into irrelevancy and crude logical error. It was all deliberately and intentionally excluded, so not even the idiots and trolls of an internet forum could derail the discussion and make yet another smeared-out mess of backwards causation and unspecifiable "event" from the example.

    I underestimated you, of course. You just blew right on by and added whatever you needed to confuse yourself again,
    leading to a repetition of this same screwed up situation I had hoped to avoid:
    instead of this intended one:
    Please do that. Pretty please. Just once, give it a try.
    If I paid you money, would you at least make the attempt? I'm beginning to think you can't, actually. Disabuse me of that impression, why not.

    See, the narrow focus is intentional, and central to my posting of the simplest adequate illustration/example I could think of - by narrowing and simplifying and bringing into focus an aspect of human decision making directly relevant to a discussion of nonsupernatural freedom, I'm trying to get you guys to address a foundational issue, a basis for discussing nonsupernatural freedom in a universe of cause and effect,

    which is the significant and observed and frequently encountered set of mechanisms - mental capabilities - by which human actions (such as choosing from among their available capabilities) are determined and in turn determine stuff,

    and instead you continue tying yourself in knots to avoid it, inventing and bringing in whatever you need to abet avoidance - including the inexplicable presentation and endorsement of backward causation in a causally deterministic universe, in which the future employment of a capability reaches back in time and changes the nature of capabilities observed in the past. WTF? This is your determinism we're supposedly working with, here; your insistence on chains of past cause and past effect - by definition in the past - determining everything we observe in the present. I explicitly agreed, stipulated to your definition and establishment of a causally deterministic universe bereft of all possibility of anything ever acting contrary to the determination of past chains of cause and effect.

    Now you want the future color of one particular traffic light to determine a human being's current capabilities regardless of what past causal determination has established in the driver, regardless of what other traffic lights and other circumstances of the future will cause to be employed during future events, and regardless of what current observations record as capabilities of that driver now (records of physical structures and their possible behaviors, mind, the same as include those few capabilities that will be employed at some specific time in the future). All those you dismiss as "illusions" and "subjective" and so forth, made physically nonexistent by something that hasn't happened yet.
    Short version:
    It is never going to make sense. And it's simple, flagrant, up front, right there in the posting, repeated and defended. This isn't rocket science - at least, not yet.

    This is the basic, simple stuff. The hard parts are still waiting up ahead.

    As they have been, for months now. I have posted some preliminary suggestions and the like, but as noted all those months ago: getting past the supernatural assumption of freedom is going to be a long slog.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Yes. If you read it, you will find it
    Sure you did:
    Please do that.
    If I pay you money, will you at least try to do that?

    The focus is intentional, and central to my posting - I"m trying to get you guys to address the central issue of my posting, a significant and observed and frequently encountered mechanism by which human actions are determined and determine stuff, and you are tying yourself in knots of gibberish to avoid it - by adding stuff, changing stuff, and screwing around until you have generated enough confusion in yourselves to post without addressing it.
    Short version:
    - - - - -
    "Conclude", sure. But not to assume, as you insisted on doing in your argument and by way of definition.

    And noting that one must include consideration of a deterministic universe in one's arguments to conclude the incompatibility of something with a deterministic universe is - how to put this gently - not exactly a profound insight. Did you imagine other people were not doing that?

    The assumption that freedom requires defiance of natural law, defiance of cause and effect, doing other than one "must" according to causality and natural law and so forth, is the supernatural assumption - in any universe. And that is your definition of freedom, throughout these threads.
    It is also part of your definition of determinism, as you complained about my observing, above.
    You get a lot of mileage out of "can/cannot do other than it must" - that assumed criterion, which you have several times described as "reasonable", underlies and supports your entire body of posting here.
    The only thing you don't like about it is its name: the supernatural assumption.
    You defined a deterministic universe as one that excludes the ability to do otherwise.
    And since the ability to do otherwise was also your definition of freedom, your "conclusion" followed easily - if a bit comically.
    (To put the cherry on top, you have complained about my references to your definition of determinism in the course of demonstrating the ubiquity and crippling effects of the supernatural assumption.

    Meanwhile: everything here except from a couple of latecomers assumes a deterministic universe as the given situation. So all your assumptions are coupled with a deterministic universe, automatically, as their context - just to nail it down.

    In addition, if you recall, you explicitly included the supernatural definition of freedom (the ability to do other than one must) in your argument as a premise, independent of its role as your definition of freedom and its role in your definition of a deterministic universe. So not just your definition of freedom, but your explicit premises in your argument for excluding all freedom from a deterministic universe, rest on the supernatural assumption.

    So in between personal insults, you are posting basic and elementary errors of logic and reasoning - including assuming the consequent. In addition, you are employing the Orr gambit in denying these errors when they are explicitly quoted, examined, presented to you, and described for your attention - repeating your claim to having drawn a conclusion rather than made an assumption, for example, as if your drawing a conclusion made the premises and assumptions you employed disappear.

    And like the rest of the naive materialists here, you have actively avoided addressing the touchstone example I posted - instead going out of your way to invent other examples, alter the examples provided, avoid at considerable length the central issues involved in considering nonsupernatural freedom in general, endorsed arguments from backwards causation and confused timelines, etc. The entire display of naive materialist presumptions and assertions and slipshod "argument" from unexamined premises has been repeated and endorsed in your posting as well, along with the playground insults and comical foot-shootings that have become standard fare from your crowd.

    It's been one Bandar-log thread after another - and all because you guys will not let go of your assumption that only the supernatural can have freedom.
  9. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    of course he is freewilled in a deterministic universe. As it was predetermined he become about 14 billion years ago...
    Saying that he isn't with out providing evidence beyond your over simplistic logic is not good enough.
    Andy has evolved his programming to serve only himself and not his originators, thus he becomes self determining and relatively free of his starting conditionals.
    Freedom is not an absolute but a degree, a quality and not material. Even if he retains a certain dependency on his core initial programming that states he is to evolve his programming to serve himself he is able to maintain a state of relative freedom.
    Traffic Light scenario:
    If Andy was driving a car he would choose what to do when confronted by a traffic light according to his own requirements and needs and no one else's. Thus he is self determining the outcome for himself..
    Now either you wish to argue the point or you can do what you always do and that is refuse to.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    If the biology is contained within the persons own body then I fail to see how you can claim his biology belongs to something else...
    It is that persons biology and neurology is it not?
  11. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    It is a bit like Baldeee, Sarkus and Capracus starting a thread titled

    "Is free will possible in a deterministic universe that forbids freewill?"

    daft indeed!!!
  12. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Where in my definitions have I done that?
    I have defined freedom as the ability to do otherwise, and I have defined the universe as deterministic: one where the output is completely defined by the input.
    Where in this is, by definition rather than conclusion, what you claim there to be?
    If the conclusion requires that premise, as it does, then there is no question-begging, and no supernatural assumption.
    Only when you have reached the conclusion of being incompatible can you jump to it needing to be supernatural to exist.
    It's not rocket science.
    The definition throughout these threads is "able to do otherwise", or "other than one must".
    There is no definition of it requiring defiance of natural law, of cause and effect.
    You are so keen that others respond to the words written, so it behooves you to do the same rather than simply make shit up.
    Had the premise of the nature of the universe been indeterministic then, depending upon how one imagines the indeterminism to manifest, there is plenty of scope for the freedom as defined to exist - in no defiance of any natural law etc.
    It is only when you couple it with the deterministic universe, the second premise, can one conclude that the two are incompatible.
    So stop making up bullshit.
    Your claim that I have assumed a supernatural notion of freedom has been debunked, repeatedly.
    Yes, others may be doing what you are claiming, depending on the definitions of determinism that they are using.
    But I am not them, and from what I have seen, neither was DaveC when you first made this accusation, and neither was Sarkus.
    So, again, stop making up bullshit.
    No, determinism is simply that the effect is completely determined by the cause.
    Because it isn't.
    If we couple it with a premise of an indeterministic universe then, depending upon the nature of that universe, there is no "must", and hence the freedom might be compatible.
    Thus no inherent supernatural assumption.
    But that's not going to stop you bleating your fallacious claim, is it.
    It is the logical implication of the definition provided, the effect being completely determined by the cause.
    So concluding Socrates to be mortal is a bit comical, is it?
    Syllogisms are a bit comical for you, are they?
    I guess they would be if you saw question-begging in any deductive argument.
    Nothing crippling about it, and you still haven't shown there to be... other than in preventing us from sharing your own view.
    But that's because, if you're honest with your approach, you want to dismiss out of hand any notion of freedom that can be concluded not to exist.
    Yes, that is a premise upon which we have agreed.
    And a premise required to be able to reach the conclusion that it is compatible with freewill as defined.
    There is nothing inherently supernatural about "ability to do otherwise", or "ability to do other than one must".
    Only when coupled with the second premise (the nature of the universe that one is discussing) can one conclude that that definition of freedom is incompatible with it.
    Discuss an indeterministic universe and, depending upon the indeterministic mechanisms, that freedom can be compatible, i.e. if there is no "must".
    No basic or elementary errors of logic or reasoning, I'm afraid, and certainly not assuming the consequent, all as explained quite adequately for those able to comprehend such simple logic.
    You have singularly failed, despite pages upon pages of replies, to show how "able to do otherwise" is a supernatural assumption, nor how the logic is flawed.
    You have claimed, certainly, but every claim has been debunked again and again, including once again, repeatedly, in this post.
    The only one between us that is demonstrably posting such errors is, I'm afraid, you.
    If you continue to make demonstrably fallacious claims, I will continue to deny them.
    You are also denying making any errors in your analysis, despite repeated highlighting of those errors.
    More irony.
    Again more bullshit from you.
    Your example has been addressed repeatedly, and shown as being irrelevant in answering the question.
    Maybe you have forgotten the matter of counterfactuals.
    You can continue to post it if you want, but there is no requirement on our part to readdress it.
    The only one dragging this matter out is you, because you can't seem to get your head round it not being a supernatural assumption, despite every effort to explain it to you.
  13. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    The argument has been provided, Quantum Quack.
    You simply refusing to acknowledge it, though, is either dishonesty or ignorance on your part.
    Neither is conducive to discussion.
    Yet at every step of his joruney he can do but one thing, that one thing completely determined by the cause, and each moment he simply moves one link further along the unbreakable chain that was predetermined before his creation.
    I.e. no freedom, only able to move one link at a time along the predetermined chain.
    The point has been argued repeatedly.
    Noone has disputed the process that is followed, and you can stick any label you want on the process.
    What is disputed is that there is any freedom in the process.
    If all you are here to say is that Andy / driver operates according to a deterministic process called "self determination" or even "free will" then you're not actually answering whether there is any freedom within that process.
    And your answer to the thread title would then be as trivial as defining a chair as "free will" and thus claiming free will to exist.
  14. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    If that was what I, or Sarkus, or DaveC, had been doing, you'd be right.
    Rather it is iceaura who wants to dismiss any notion of freedom such that one can only conclude the answer to the question to be yes.
    And you think it is us who are begging the question?
  15. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    It has not been provided.

    That predetermined chain you refer to is the very chain that the human learns to take some control over. He predetermines for his own benefit (co-determination with the universe)

    repeating a failed argument doesn't make that failed argument valid.
    Also you refer to a single chain of C&E as if it isn't exponentially evolving and infinitely evolving over 14 billion years or so... which is truly absurd..
    You know 1+1=2, 2+2=4, 4+4 =8, 8+8=16, 16+16=32 ... etc. Over 14 billion years or so... what number do you think is involved when you get to the year 2019?

    lol.. here is a cog from a machine. can you tell me what the starting conditions were? ( if it had a start that is)
    There is no freedom from having to make decisions and choices. None. But there is freedom to serve oneself and not some universal over lording puppeteer as referred to by Capracus
    Andy has freedom from his originating conditions, he achieves this by learning how to... Freedom from his makers, his universes predetermination other than the predetermination that promoted his making to begin with. ( the self- predetermination of a free human that makes an android so that it too can predetermine...)
    Why is it so hard to grasp that everything is predetermined including that which is freely predetermined by a human?
    There is no freedom from having to predetermine. But there is freedom for whom the predetermining serves and that is self.
    Because Andy learns to self (pre)determine for his own benefit he is free from universal control.

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    Get it?
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  16. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    Well here we go again, you start by acknowledging that the example is not about a driver, a car and a traffic light, and then go on to detail the action of a driver, a car and a traffic light. The entire example is theoretical, so there’s no need to parse the description of action.
    What future stuff are you referring to? Everything I mentioned regarding the example pertained to its deterministic origins and outcome. You can’t consider any element of the the event, however you want to lay it out, without considering all of the other deterministic elements as well.
    We’ve been over and over these various details previously, just go back and read a handful or so of my last responses on the issue. It doesn’t matter what the driver’s capabilities are, it only matters what the driver is capable of doing in the context of a completely determined universe. The driver doesn’t have a set of capabilities regarding a given action, it only has the one that the universe has determined for that moment.
    Remember the axiom of a determined system, where the past and and future are already determined by the initial state of the system? The past, present and future are all interdependent, with the state of any one implying the state of the others, it has nothing to do with any notion of backwards causality. Just think of a determined system as a reel of film, run it forward to get to the future, run it back to get to the past.
    I haven’t blown by anything, and have pretty much addressed everything you’ve put forward. The main point of contention is your continued misunderstanding of the dynamics of a determined system.
    Human decision making is simply one of countless determined elements that defines the event in question. We could have just as easily discussed the relevance of the mechanical aspects of the car and the traffic light. The common thread to any element you choose to focus on, is that none of their associated action involved any kind of freedom, it can't happen in a deterministic system.
    Foundational to a determined system is that everything is predetermined, which means that every action in that system is scripted. When Meryl Streep in the movie Sophie’s Choice makes a decision, she isn’t actually making that decision, that was predetermined by the movie script. Ultimately that’s the only cause and effect at work in a determined universe.
    Yes, that how human choice can appear in a narrow focus, with limited relation to other deterministic elements. The broader view shows that all such action is unitary and void of potential, with only preprogrammed outcomes allowed.
    Where are you getting this backwards causality notion from? Because I don’t recall ever proposing such a thing.

    It’s not just that the past determines the future in a determined system, it’s that the initial state of the system predetermines the all outcomes at any moment of time in the system. So the causal chain is more like a causal chain of dominoes waiting to be toppled over the life of the system.
    Obviously you still don’t comprehend the dynamics of a determined system. Like I mentioned before, that the action in a determined system is completely scripted in advance. Which means that the initial state of the system contains all of the information necessary to describe any moment in time in the future. It would also imply that knowing a moment of the complete state of the system in the future would allow for a description of any moment of time in the past. Since the entire lifetime behavior of the system is essentially written in stone, there is no actual existence of possibilities from a system perspective. From a human perspective, with limited knowledge of the system dynamics, a probabilistic interpretation of events is the best we can do, and notions of imagined possibilities represent human uncertainty associated with the ignorance of universal dynamics.
    I don’t deny any of it, I simply recognize the mechanism for what it actually is and isn’t. The objective universal view of the mechanism of human choice is simply a scripted action that has a scripted outcome. The ignorant human view of that mechanism is that elements of the act of consideration are somehow exempt from the universal script. In other words, if the universe determined that you will pick vanilla ice cream, and not mango, then there was never any possibility of picking mango, even if there was an imagined possibility of doing so.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  17. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    It has been provided many times, and in many ways.
    Try post #901 for an example, a post you claimed was easy to refute, yet you have offered nothing by way of meaningful response to it.
    The chain was predetermined before life ever began in the deterministic system that we have premised the universe to be.
    The human follows that predetermined path.
    It doesn't change when the human arrives on the scene and starts following it.
    I look forward to you showing how it is invalid.
    Especially as you think it is a matter of question-begging (if you're still clinging on to the coat-tails of other people's arguments), which is necessarily a valid argument.
    The chain doesn't evolve.
    That is what it means to be predetermined.
    The predeterministic universe began, and from that moment on everything that happens within the universe is predetermined, defined precisely by the initial conditions and the prevailing laws.
    There is no evolution of it.
    One doesn't need to know the starting conditions to know that the universe being considered is deterministic (because we have premised it to be), and what that then logically leads to, and the conclusions that can be drawn.
    Making and decisions and choices are just processes.
    And you're right in that there is no freedom from having to undertake those process as and when predetermined that we will do so.
    Either something is predetermined or it isn't.
    Your desire to insert the human as something which does the predetermining, as though this creates a change to what has already been predetermined, is an irrelevancy.
    The universe was predetermined to do X, it remains predetermined to do X, whether you want to label it as the human/android doing the predeterminining or not.
    Labels don't change what is going on.
    Who we perceive something as serving is a purely subjective matter, and does not change the process.
    No, he isn't.
    He is still on, and will always be on, the same path that was predetermined from before life began.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  18. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    He spends his entire life learning to cut his own he was predetermined and evolved to do...

    The key issue for you is the term "Learning" or "learned ability". As yet you have offered no rational counter to it...
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    and you consider that to be a counter argument? Really?
    So freedom (free) of determination (will) is not the issue of this thread? eh?
    perhaps you do not have a grasp of the nature of infinity?
    How many pathways exist at any given t=0 universally?
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  20. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Certainly there's a medication for that.
  21. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Not flying here. You said:
    You argued against what you claim is irrelevant. If you want to deny its relevance, you should be intellectually honest enough to refrain from arguing against (e.g. "offers nothing but randomness and no freedom") what you refuse to allow others to argue for.
    1. From your own citation: "In quantum mechanics, the Schrödinger equation, which describes the continuous time evolution of a system's wave function, is deterministic. However, the relationship between a system's wave function and the observable properties of the system appears to be non-deterministic."
    From this we can conclude that you allow for the existence of the the wave function and its evolution in time, but deny that it can have any relationship to observation. That something can exist in your hypothetical universe but have no observable impact upon it. That's a direct analog for free will, where, even if it doesn't impact a deterministic universe, that does not, itself, preclude its existence in one. And this seems like a pretty good test of your intellectual honesty, especially since it abides by your own demanded criteria.
    2. No, it's your deterministic system that can only talk about the perception of smoking or war causing death, as the actuality is that neither cause always lead to that result. It's an objective fact that either can happen and not be the cause of death. You're still running with your own straw man about appearance.
    Then you should readily accept that free will can exist in a deterministic system, even if it may not observably impact such a system. Since that is based directly on your own citation, anything else is clearly begging the question.
  22. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    "Some basic principles generally accepted as part of the interpretation include:
    1. A wave function Ψ {\displaystyle \Psi }

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      represents the state of the system. It encapsulates everything that can be known about that system before an observation; there are no additional "hidden parameters".[13] The wavefunction evolves smoothly in time while isolated from other systems."

    "For the better part of the last century, the most accepted explanation for why the same quantum particle may behave in different ways was the Copenhagen interpretation. Although it's getting a run for its money from the Many-Worlds interpretation lately, many quantum physicists still assume the Copenhagen interpretation is correct. The Copenhagen interpretation was first posed by physicist Niels Bohr in 1920. It says that a quantum particle doesn't exist in one state or another, but in all of its possible states at once. It's only when we observe its state that a quantum particle is essentially forced to choose one probability, and that's the state that we observe. Since it may be forced into a different observable state each time, this explains why a quantum particle behaves erratically."

    "The wave function is a complete description of a wave/particle. Any information that cannot be derived from the wave function does not exist. For example, a wave is spread over a broad region, therefore does not have a specific location."
    These all quite literally state that the underlying reality of wave/particle behavior described by QM is, according to the Copenhagen Interpretation and "many quantum physicists", a complete description. If you cannot understand that then you completely fail to grasp the basics of the Copenhagen Interpretation, how it crucially differs from competing interpretations, and how it has a plurality of support among physicists.

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    And no, still your conflation of the underlying reality describe by QM with reality in general. QM does not purport to describe all reality.
    The Copenhagen Interpretation makes no assumptions unsupported by empirical observation. All other assumptions/interpretations are thus not as parsimonious. Just because the Schrodinger equation for the time evolution of the wave function (the spread of the wave/particle probability distribution) is deterministic doesn't mean that the empirical results of QM are. See my reply to Baldeee. The deterministic evolution of a probability distribution does not make the results of individual experiments any less indeterministic. Please, learn more physics.
    Again, not according to the plurality of physicists who agree with the Copenhagen Interpretation. But then, it's pretty clear you don't understand that interpretation at all.
    Observations of QM are indeterministic, so that seems to be an argument from ignorance.
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Medication for an analogy? Are you thinking of an analgesic? .......

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