Author Topic: Determinism, not free will  (Read 4735 times)

Offline josephpalazzo (OP)

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2013, 06:47:42 PM »
Quote from: "Shol'va"
But, what about situations where I wake up in the morning and I spontaneously decide to do something.
It depends on what I mean by "spontaneous". To me that means with no forethought or consideration.
How does determinism play into that Can anyone state with a very high degree of certainty (just so I don't use the term "absolute certainty") that, if we were to replay that day, my neurons would fire the same way and create the same sensation of want to do X instead of Y?

Most of the factors that made you respond in the way you did when you woke up were unknown to you.  There are thousands and thousands of chemical reactions going on just in your body that might be significant factors in making do what you did this morning. And there are thousands and thousands of external factors going on that can influence you to decide one way or another. So to you, it looked like you were free to do that particular spontaneous deed when you woke up this morning, but were you?

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2013, 07:09:35 PM »
Quote from: "Shol'va"
I think this is largely a situation dependent on each person's perspective and understanding of what free will and determinism really mean. I think to some, determinism resonates as "I'm trapped, with no way out!" and free will meaning "I have the freedom to do whatever the hell I decide when I reach a fork in the road". The way I understand it is basically every decision we make is processed and made based on certain criteria and there's no escaping from that fact. Even if one says "I am going to decide all things today on pure chance, the roll of a dice", is still determinism :)
That's probably the big reason why people can't grapple with the concept of determinism. "What do you mean other things pre-determine my decisions". I personally get that and am OK with that.
But, what about situations where I wake up in the morning and I spontaneously decide to do something.
It depends on what I mean by "spontaneous". To me that means with no forethought or consideration.
How does determinism play into that Can anyone state with a very high degree of certainty (just so I don't use the term "absolute certainty") that, if we were to replay that day, my neurons would fire the same way and create the same sensation of want to do X instead of Y?
There is randomness mixed with determinism. So if you replay the day your neurons won't necessarily play out the same way but it's same thing as rolling the dice. If you let dice decide what you will do is this free will? No.

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2013, 07:20:38 PM »
Quote from: "vsenetak"
There is randomness mixed with determinism. So if you replay the day your neurons won't necessarily play out the same way but it's same thing as rolling the dice. If you let dice decide what you will do is this free will? No.

If you roll the dice the same way, you will get the same result. Variance in the roll of the dice is what causes the variance in the result of the roll.

I am not sure about neurons though. If you could replay a moment of the past, would you get different results each time? Does it work like a dice that is rolled in exactly the same way (i.e. no variance in results), or does it actually generate truly random variation that is independent of the circumstances? I guess the only true randomness could come from quantum effects, but it would require a good deal of thinking to deduce that. I have only a basic understanding of physics and I am not suited for that. Any volunteers? :D

Offline PJS

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2013, 07:40:07 PM »
If we are ultimately complex physical systems subject to physical laws, there isn't much room for freedom. People worry about issues of crime and responsibility (among other associated anxieties)but that has practical responses related to deterrence and protection of others. Neurons operating by chemical-electrical principles lead to actions; brain activity precedes awareness. If our behavior is random swerving as some describe the subatomic world, that seems even worse than the "gear in the big machine".

On the upside, a deterministic view can help us feel part of a larger whole and lighten up on our judgments of others. But this seems rare. Inevitably we deliberate and act as though we are free and conclusions reached on this old question at least overtly seem to have little impact. In theory determinism; in practice mostly free will.
The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs.
-John Dewey

Offline Hakurei Reimu

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2013, 07:47:11 PM »
Quote from: "vsenetak"
Well as Sam Harris explained free will can't exist because it's either deterministic or random or a mix of both.
So if it's neither deterministic nor random nor a mix of the two, then what could it be? Once you've excluded "can be exactly predicted," "cannot be predicted at all" and the spectrum between, what's left? It seems like "free" here is defined out of existence and thus Harris's statement is meaningless.

Quote from: "Shol'va"
I'm still on the fence regarding determinism. It has very valid and compelling points.
But ... how is spontaneity accounted for? Sam Harris then has a point, and I can be on board with that. It's not all determinism or free will, it likely falls somewhere in between.
That kind of thinking is a faulty intuition pump. The trap that incompatibism wants to draw you into is that the choice is "determinism" or "free will" but not both. Daniel Dennet presented a lecture that makes the convincing argument that any sort of free will that makes sense only does so in the context of a deterministic or near-deterministic world. Real
Quote from: "josephpalazzo"
Quote from: "Hakurei Reimu"
I reject number 4, on the basis that "to have no explanatory cause" is not what is really meant by the "free" in free will.

I could be wrong but I think what is meant here in the idea underlying cause-effect, there is no choice.
Again, that's the faulty intuition pump. Being able to make a choice has nothing to do with cause and effect. In fact, by making a choice in a deterministic universe, you are effecting that cause and effect relationship.

Suppose you knew that the universe was deterministic, and that you knew everything about the universe with enough accuracy to predict what will happen in the future, except for this little bit of the universe that's happening inside this black box. Does that mean you'll be able to predict what the black box will do? Of course not! It would depend on what's happening in that black box. It also means that you lose precision of what you can predict in the far future because the actions of the black box cannot be taken into account. If the universe is chaotic (and it is), then it gets very much worse the further down the line you go for predicting the future.

It doesn't matter if we knew the universe was deterministic or not: the future cannot be predicted unless the black box is taken into account. Yet determinism asserts that the future is set by the present, a present we are part of and embedded in. The predictability of a deterministic universe we are part of cannot be realized without taking ourselves into account. To make a choice is to weigh the options available for us and to select from them the action that seems to best realize our motives. The fact that both the weighing and selection, and the origin of our motives have themselves a deterministic mechanism does not negate the fact that the process has happened.

Quote from: "josephpalazzo"
while "free" implies that there would be several options in regard to the effect after the cause has taken place.
The "free" in "free will," as regarded by compatabilists like myself, means that the agent is not coerced or restrained. It does not mean that the agent is not internally constrained by interior factors. A choice made because the agent is compelled to it by reason and desire is just the damned point of free will.

In practice, that the agent is not coerced or restrained in their choice is exactly what we mean by free will. Why should this change when we're analyzing it philosophically, unless you want free will to be magic?
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Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2013, 08:11:02 PM »
Quote from: "josephpalazzo"
Quote from: "Shol'va"
But, what about situations where I wake up in the morning and I spontaneously decide to do something.
It depends on what I mean by "spontaneous". To me that means with no forethought or consideration.
How does determinism play into that Can anyone state with a very high degree of certainty (just so I don't use the term "absolute certainty") that, if we were to replay that day, my neurons would fire the same way and create the same sensation of want to do X instead of Y?

Most of the factors that made you respond in the way you did when you woke up were unknown to you.  There are thousands and thousands of chemical reactions going on just in your body that might be significant factors in making do what you did this morning. And there are thousands and thousands of external factors going on that can influence you to decide one way or another. So to you, it looked like you were free to do that particular spontaneous deed when you woke up this morning, but were you?
Can't see anything I disagree on. So, with what you just wrote, I think in my mind it also depends on "how far back" or rather "how much into the nitty gritty" you are willing to consider going when asking the question regarding determinism vs free will. Are we talking at the neuron level firing off, chemical reactions going off, or conscious thought, deliberate consideration of all options, etc etc.
I feel that if we are going all the way to the most basic structure, it devalues the discussion since I think we can all agree at that point, determinism is no longer a question.

Quote from: "Hakurei Reimu"
That kind of thinking is a faulty intuition pump. The trap that incompatibism wants to draw you into is that the choice is "determinism" or "free will" but not both.
I think that's where I was going with my statement, albeit poorly worded. I wasn't picturing a line where one end excludes the other; more of a mix of the two.
I like your position on the "free" in "free will". It makes sense.

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2013, 08:36:18 PM »
Quote from: "Biodome"
Quote from: "vsenetak"
There is randomness mixed with determinism. So if you replay the day your neurons won't necessarily play out the same way but it's same thing as rolling the dice. If you let dice decide what you will do is this free will? No.

If you roll the dice the same way, you will get the same result. Variance in the roll of the dice is what causes the variance in the result of the roll.

I am not sure about neurons though. If you could replay a moment of the past, would you get different results each time? Does it work like a dice that is rolled in exactly the same way (i.e. no variance in results), or does it actually generate truly random variation that is independent of the circumstances? I guess the only true randomness could come from quantum effects, but it would require a good deal of thinking to deduce that. I have only a basic understanding of physics and I am not suited for that. Any volunteers? :D
I think in physics it is proven that either movement of electrons and some other particles are random or they are not random but we can never predict where they go. So either the world is 100% determenistic but we will never be able to predict the future with full precision.
OR the world is not 100% determenistic and the dice can in fact be rolled differently in same circumstances. But both cases do not give us free will. Either our actions are predetermined completely. Or they are predetermined and partially random.

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2013, 08:37:53 PM »
[youtube:3t0wge1o][/youtube:3t0wge1o]

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2013, 09:24:42 PM »
Why is there a word "FREEWILL?" It comes from religion which is nonsense to begin with. All that is needed is willpower, where does freedom come into the picture? We either make choices based on unconscious decisions, or conscious ones that require thought before action which are both determined by our genetic makeup and life experiences, as well as intelligence. Everyone thinks the determinism means A therefore B, when in fact it is probably a billion events that happen before B and A. I can will my arm to move up because it is free to do so, but the act itself is still determined by millions of things unconscious to us. You are free to make a choice, but it is still determined by many things and your willpower what choice you make, not freewill. Solitary
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Offline aitm

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2013, 09:42:12 PM »
I will always view the argument in what I consider to be the classical query as to whether a god(s) knowing the future would ultimately mean pre-determinism as a must and free will as a bust. The new age what with the knowledge of chemical interactions, and now atomical.......yada yada, kinda takes away the fun from the original. The religious are not even aware of the new arguments and are sure not going to grant "anything" power over god abilities.

With that point, I suggest that free-will is a quasi-illusion and always has been. It is free to the point of your ability to make a choice based only on your decision, but pre-determined to the point that the thousands of scenarios outside of your knowledge that directly effect your life and thusly your actions, cannot at any time be considered as they cannot be comprehended.

Surely I have the choice to pull the trigger to shoot the sum-bitch that is charging down the street screaming obscenities as he fires away randomly into houses, but I can never be aware of the multitudes of actions the precipitated the mans actions or mine in the first place that as a historian one would be able to look back and see and follow and say, "WOW, how crazy is that and what is the likelihood that they would meet thirty years later"?

Now perhaps many of you have said the exact same thing using words with more syllables. For that I apologize for your time.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2013, 10:35:24 PM »
Yada Yada?  :lol:  Reminds me of a Seinfeld skit, or was that Delores and her clitoris?  :shock:  :lol:  Solitary
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Offline josephpalazzo (OP)

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2013, 02:05:13 PM »
Quote from: "Hakurei Reimu"

Quote from: "josephpalazzo"
Quote from: "Hakurei Reimu"
I reject number 4, on the basis that "to have no explanatory cause" is not what is really meant by the "free" in free will.

I could be wrong but I think what is meant here in the idea underlying cause-effect, there is no choice.
Again, that's the faulty intuition pump. Being able to make a choice has nothing to do with cause and effect. In fact, by making a choice in a deterministic universe, you are effecting that cause and effect relationship.

Suppose you knew that the universe was deterministic, and that you knew everything about the universe with enough accuracy to predict what will happen in the future, except for this little bit of the universe that's happening inside this black box. Does that mean you'll be able to predict what the black box will do? Of course not! It would depend on what's happening in that black box. It also means that you lose precision of what you can predict in the far future because the actions of the black box cannot be taken into account. If the universe is chaotic (and it is), then it gets very much worse the further down the line you go for predicting the future.

It doesn't matter if we knew the universe was deterministic or not: the future cannot be predicted unless the black box is taken into account. Yet determinism asserts that the future is set by the present, a present we are part of and embedded in. The predictability of a deterministic universe we are part of cannot be realized without taking ourselves into account. To make a choice is to weigh the options available for us and to select from them the action that seems to best realize our motives. The fact that both the weighing and selection, and the origin of our motives have themselves a deterministic mechanism does not negate the fact that the process has happened.

For me, the black box represents knowledge that is not available. In no way I would  see that as making the universe undetermined, unless the black box = magic/God. The same thing with the universe being chaotic. (Chaos theory is based on non-linear equations, for which we don't have the math tools to solve them exactly.)

Quote
Quote from: "josephpalazzo"
while "free" implies that there would be several options in regard to the effect after the cause has taken place.
The "free" in "free will," as regarded by compatabilists like myself, means that the agent is not coerced or restrained. It does not mean that the agent is not internally constrained by interior factors. A choice made because the agent is compelled to it by reason and desire is just the damned point of free will.

In practice, that the agent is not coerced or restrained in their choice is exactly what we mean by free will. Why should this change when we're analyzing it philosophically, unless you want free will to be magic?

The compatibilist position is obtained by moving the goalposts: the uncoerced/unrestrained choice is the effect of several causes, many of them unconscious.

Offline leo

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2013, 02:30:04 PM »
Quote from: "Solitary"
Why is there a word "FREEWILL?" It comes from religion which is nonsense to begin with. All that is needed is willpower, where does freedom come into the picture? We either make choices based on unconscious decisions, or conscious ones that require thought before action which are both determined by our genetic makeup and life experiences, as well as intelligence. Everyone thinks the determinism means A therefore B, when in fact it is probably a billion events that happen before B and A. I can will my arm to move up because it is free to do so, but the act itself is still determined by millions of things unconscious to us. You are free to make a choice, but it is still determined by many things and your willpower what choice you make, not freewill. Solitary
I love the way you explain free will is bullshit. By the way ,this thread rocks.
Religion is Bullshit  . The winner of the last person to post wins thread .

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2013, 02:55:23 PM »
Quote from: "vsenetak"
I think in physics it is proven that either movement of electrons and some other particles are random or they are not random but we can never predict where they go. So either the world is 100% determenistic but we will never be able to predict the future with full precision.
OR the world is not 100% determenistic and the dice can in fact be rolled differently in same circumstances. But both cases do not give us free will. Either our actions are predetermined completely. Or they are predetermined and partially random.

Yes, electron movement is random. However, their random movement in the subatomic world does not correlate with the movement in the macroscopic world (i.e. our thoughts and actions). Saying that "Electron movement is random, therefore, everything is random" is a non sequitur.

The world is deterministic in nature - you are right. We cannot predict what will happen, since there are too many variables. However, that is compatible with free will if it is defined as a lack of external constraints to act on one's own motivation. We cannot choose between different options, since our choice is pre-determined. However, we can make that choice, which makes us free.

Free will as it is defined in the compatibilist view exists and does not interfere with determinism.

Offline Hakurei Reimu

Re: Determinism, not free will
« Reply #29 on: December 11, 2013, 03:04:11 PM »
Quote from: "josephpalazzo"
For me, the black box represents knowledge that is not available. In no way I would  see that as making the universe undetermined, unless the black box = magic/God. The same thing with the universe being chaotic. (Chaos theory is based on non-linear equations, for which we don't have the math tools to solve them exactly.)
Quote from: "josephpalazzo"
The compatibilist position is obtained by moving the goalposts: the uncoerced/unrestrained choice is the effect of several causes, many of them unconscious.
The compatabilist position is that the entire debate amounts to nothing more than a semantics game, and as such the goalposts should be moved for the debate to be about anything interesting. Your unconsciousness is still you. The history that shapes your unconscious is what makes you you, so that doesn't change the fact that you are still making the decision. If you do harm to the society because of some internal fault or upbringing, it is still you that is the element that society has to deal with. Whether or not we have "free will" in any sense the free will arguments want to argue over does not change the practical situations we have to deal with.
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