Versus Determinism

Presuppositionalist
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Versus Determinism

Hello.

In the course of my wanderings, I've come across a number of arguments for God. Some are good, some are less good, but all raise the probability for his existence to some degree I think. Anyway, for a long time I had the theory that there was some sort of "apologetics zeitgeist", if you will. I mean, if you look at the evolution of the Christian apologetic from Anselm to Aquinas to Descartes to Bahnsen to Plantinga, you see real progress in the sophistication of the argumentation presented, and in how close to God they get with their proofs. So I figured eventually we'll evolve closer and closer to an actual 100% proof of the existence of the supernatural. Turns out I was wrong- it wasn't gradual at all. And it didn't come from any apologist.

No, the defeat of atheism was accomplished by one of the most vehement atheists of all time: Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand 

Yeah, you heard me. The object of your worship refuted you. (I know not all of you worship her but from going through the forums I know she has fans here.)

I quote the book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

"Can one prove that man's consciousness does not function automatically? If man's consciousness were automatic, if it did react deterministically to outer or inner forces acting upon it, then, by definition, a man would have no choice in regard to his mental content; he would accept whatever he had to accept, whatever ideas the determining forces engendered in him... (p. 69)

The concept of 'volition' is one of the roots of the concept of 'validation'... A validation of ideas is necessary and possible only because man's consciousness is volitional. This applies to any idea, including the advocacy of free will: to ask for its proof is to presuppose the reality of free will...

You the reader can percieve every potentiality I have been discussing simply by observing your own consciousness... You can decide to read attentively and struggle to understand, judge, and apply the material- or you can let your attention wander.(p. 70)

When the determinist claims that man is determined, this applies to all man's ideas also, including his own advocacy of determinism. Given the factors operating on him, he believes, he had to become a determinist, just as his opponents had no choice but to oppose him. How then can he know that his own viewpoint is true?... Does he automatically follow reason and logic? Clearly not; if he did, error would impossible to him. (p. 71)"

I'm not going to drown you in quotes. Anyone who wants the whole argument is directed to p.69-72 of the book. The pattern of argument outlined above will serve as a sufficient outline for our purposes.

So, free will is proven. Now, do we know of any sort of matter that could create free will? No. All the matter that we've observed and tested acts more or less deterministically at the visible level. So, we have to appeal to a higher power, one not bound by matter, to explain this phenomenon. This is called the supernatural.

Q: Why didn't you address (post x) that I made in response to you nine minutes ago???

A: Because I have (a) a job, (b) familial obligations, (c) social obligations, and (d) probably a lot of other atheists responded to the same post you did, since I am practically the token Christian on this site now. Be patient, please.


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DeathMunkyGod wrote: There

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

There are different levels of causation, within the mind the level of causation that is applicable is how the neurons interact with each other and how they fire. That will always have some element of unpredictablility and nondeterminism because of the nature of quantum mechanics.

No. The electrochemical activity in the brain operates according to the classical, macro-level laws of physics and chemistry. Quantum indeterminacy is no applied. Even if it were, it would only mean that certain things were random, not guided by a will that operates independently of causality.

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

The causation at the level you're referring to, however, is at the level that we experience in the wider world. This is where the nondeterministic aspect of quantum mechanics and thus nature are percieved by us as free will. Because we can't see every neuron fire and we definitely can't predict how each neuron will fire we experience the firing of neurons which are associated with ideas and concepts. We then are able, due to the nature of our "programming", to accept or reject ideas or concepts based on the pathways of other neurons. Experience plays an important part in shaping future decisions because of this, but so can newly introduced information. Newly introduced information can interact with other pathways in the brain to produce results that are inconsistent with past behavior.

Even if quantum indeterminacy affected brain function, which it doesn't, it would not introduce "new information." Quantum indeterminacy only operates in the absence of an observer, and information cannot exist without observation. The minute you observe the position of particle, its quantum state collapses into a determined state and only then can your brain translate the input into information.

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

A person might think it's bad to hurt others but not be aware that insulting others is hurtful. Thus that person may go around insulting others in what he feels is a joking manner but other individuals feel is hurtful. One day the individual may discover that insulting others is hurtful, probably because someone finally got fed up with it. This new informatio may interact with the individual's previously held belief that it is bad to hurt others, and the insulting may stop. Just the first example that popped into my head. Similar models can be designed based on this to explain the remarkable changes in some people who convert to any given religion.

There is an unbroken chain of causality in all these events. The person who is unwittingly hurting others is doing so because he has never been informed that insults are hurtful. Once he is informed, he stops. Cause and effect, at both ends. What we would expect, if consciousness really operated independently of causality, is for the knowledge that insults are hurtful to spontaneously pop into the person's head without anyone telling him. This never happens.

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

The nondeterministic nature of matter is not necessarilly essential to free will, per se, but our specific brand of free will relies on it. Neurons that fire randomly because their behavior cannot be completely determined are responsible for novel thoughts and intuitions. Otherwise if everything were rigidly deterministic nothing truely unpredictable could happen, a complete knowledge of all physical laws and the current state of all matter would allow for all things at every level to be predicted, and there would be no such thing as free will.

Nothing unpredictable ever does happen. However, many things happen which are not predicted, because the inputs to consciousness are so many and so complex that it is nearly impossible to calculate them with any accuracy. 

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


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DeathMunkyGod

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

Vessel wrote:
I disagree. I do not see how quantum indeterminacy allows freewill. A freewilled choice is not simply a choice that is not wholly guided by causation, there could be random elements and it stillnot be freewilled, but requires that the choosing subject is capable of breakaing a chain of causation willfully. I know of nothing in quantum physics (though admittedly there is probably much I don't know about quantum physics) that allows for this. Is there such a thing?

There are different levels of causation, within the mind the level of causation that is applicable is how the neurons interact with each other and how they fire. That will always have some element of unpredictablility and nondeterminism because of the nature of quantum mechanics.

Even if it were true quantum indeterminancy plays some role in brain function, it still would not account for freewill. As I said in the post you are responding to, freewill requires that causation is disrupted by a will removed from any causal factors, not by randomness or quantum indeterminacy. 

Quote:
The causation at the level you're referring to, however, is at the level that we experience in the wider world. This is where the nondeterministic aspect of quantum mechanics and thus nature are percieved by us as free will. Because we can't see every neuron fire and we definitely can't predict how each neuron will fire we experience the firing of neurons which are associated with ideas and concepts. We then are able, due to the nature of our "programming", to accept or reject ideas or concepts based on the pathways of other neurons.

What is the 'we' you speak of? Is it not simply a brain formed of genetic information and past and present external, or environmental, information? I'm not saying we don't accept or reject ideas or concepts, I'm saying that the 'we' who is doing the accepting or rejecting is a specific configuration of processes which are a result of determinstic forces and therefor the choices we make are the only choices we will make given the specific set of circumstances in which the choice is made.   

This is not about if what we perceive as freewill exists, but if actual freewill exists.  

 

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Experience plays an important part in shaping future decisions because of this, but so can newly introduced information.

What is the difference between experience and newly introduced information? I would consider them synonymous in this conversation. 

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Newly introduced information can interact with other pathways in the brain to produce results that are inconsistent with past behavior.

No one has disputed this. That is a determinstic process though.

Quote:
A person might think it's bad to hurt others but not be aware that insulting others is hurtful. Thus that person may go around insulting others in what he feels is a joking manner but other individuals feel is hurtful. One day the individual may discover that insulting others is hurtful, probably because someone finally got fed up with it. This new informatio may interact with the individual's previously held belief that it is bad to hurt others, and the insulting may stop. Just the first example that popped into my head. Similar models can be designed based on this to explain the remarkable changes in some people who convert to any given religion.

Yes. But what is going to determine whether or not that person is going to stop is how the information is processed which depends on the specific brain processes with which the new information interacts, that brain being a product of genetic structure molded by past and present information. Nowhere is there a moment where anything suddenly becomes re-routed by some will removed from and independent of the overall causal strructure. 

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The nondeterministic nature of matter is not necessarilly essential to free will, per se, but our specific brand of free will relies on it.

It is not only not essential for freewill, but it is irrelevant to freewill. 

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Neurons that fire randomly because their behavior cannot be completely determined are responsible for novel thoughts and intuitions.

Novel thoughts and intuitions have nothing to do with randomness. Ever notice how someone never has a novel thought that doesn't involve information they already possess? No one imagines a steel spaceship unless they know of steel, space, and ships. Novel ideas are simply extrapolations of, or recombinations of, already injested information. There is nothing random or freewilled involved.   

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Otherwise if everything were rigidly deterministic nothing truely unpredictable could happen, a complete knowledge of all physical laws and the current state of all matter would allow for all things at every level to be predicted, and there would be no such thing as free will.

You say "a complete knowledge of all laws and the current state of all matter would allow for things at every level to be predicted" as if such a thing is an important factor in whether or not determinism, or compatibalism, as one may prefer, is true.  

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


DeathMunkyGod
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Tilberian wrote: No. The

Tilberian wrote:

No. The electrochemical activity in the brain operates according to the classical, macro-level laws of physics and chemistry. Quantum indeterminacy is no applied. Even if it were, it would only mean that certain things were random, not guided by a will that operates independently of causality.

Everything, even macro level physics, is affected by quantum level fluctuations, the degree to which the effects are likely to show depends on the complexity of the system, ie how many particles present.  Also electrons are always subject to quantum level fluctuations, and electrons are part of the neuron activity in the brain.  I don't know if you're aware, but quantum mechanics affects chemistry I used to have a whole text book on the subject of quantum mechanics and chemistry.

And then a simple real world example of a macrolevel system affected by quantum nondeterminism:  Nuclear decay.  The nuclear decay rate is constant, this we know, over the span of the half life due to the law of large numbers, however the decay rate is not uniform.  It doesn't decay at a constant linear rate over the span of the half life.  This is why geiger counters, which detect the release of alpha and beta particles, usually, which are byproducts of nuclear decay, click randomly, because the radioactive materials don't decay at a constant linear or deterministic rate.  Radiation is directly relevant to evolution, because radiation is one cause of mutation.  I realize that none of this is directly relevant to the brain, though.

However the neuronal discharges are electrical, and when a person is trying to solve a problem for which they have no clear solution at best they can engage certain neural pathways that are related to the problem but are not the solution, or forge new pathways by linking new ideas.  Of course to do this new neural pathways have to fire and the order and timing of these neural pathways firing is nondeterministic because it depends on a number of nondeterministic factors, including the nondeterministic nature of the electron.  Once a concept is formed by the firing of pathways in response to the problem we are brought into the loop in which we check for consistency with experience or available information.  This is where the new idea is either accepted or rejected.

Tilberian wrote:

Even if quantum indeterminacy affected brain function, which it doesn't, it would not introduce "new information." Quantum indeterminacy only operates in the absence of an observer, and information cannot exist without observation. The minute you observe the position of particle, its quantum state collapses into a determined state and only then can your brain translate the input into information.

This whole paragraph is completely wrong.  Quantum indeterminacy has nothing to do with observation.  It is the fact that the behavior of a particle is only predictable by a wave function that can only tell us the probability that a specific particle will follow a specific path, whether or not we are observing particles this is what we know that they do.  this is the reason why even firing single photons at a time after firing many photons through a double slitted barier panel the photons will hit a photodetector behind the double slitted barrier in a wave pattern, as though it were traveling as a wave instead of a particle.  This is the famous wave/particle duality.  You're confusing the principle with the uncertainty principle which has to do with measurements.  The uncertainty principle states that the more certain we are about one state of a particle the less certain we are about another.  thus according to position/momentum uncertainty we can measure the position of a particle with absolute certainty, but if we do that we can know absolutely nothing about the momentum, and vice versa.  Then from there if we measure the position with less certainty we can know more about the momentum, and vice versa.  but this principle is distinct from the principle of wave/particle duality, which is where indeterminism in quantum mechanics comes from.

Tilberian wrote:
There is an unbroken chain of causality in all these events. The person who is unwittingly hurting others is doing so because he has never been informed that insults are hurtful. Once he is informed, he stops. Cause and effect, at both ends. What we would expect, if consciousness really operated independently of causality, is for the knowledge that insults are hurtful to spontaneously pop into the person's head without anyone telling him. This never happens.

How is that a problem?  How do you break a chain of causality?  With or without free will, even in completely random systems where random event A causes one event from a set of random events B or random event A is self catalyzing and causes another random event to occur from the set of random events A you have an unbroken chain of causality.  Free will isn't about breaking chains of causality, it was silly of me to even go along with that in the first place.  Free will is about making decisions and thinking novel thoughts.  Most importantly consciousness is about being aware of yourself as distinct and seperate from your environment.  Our decisions are effected by past experience which makes up the causal chain.  "Breaking the causal chain" in my perspective in my previous response was just me adopting someone else's sloppy terminology, more accurate would have been to say changing their past trend of behavior.

Tilberian wrote:
Nothing unpredictable ever does happen. However, many things happen which are not predicted, because the inputs to consciousness are so many and so complex that it is nearly impossible to calculate them with any accuracy.

This is also just false.  In quantum physics the actual path a specific photon will travel is unpredictable.  Same with any particle, actually, we can, at best, calculate the probability a specific photon will take a specific path using its wavefunction, this is not the same as saying we can predict its path.  We still won't know the photon's specific path even when we know its wavefunction.  Thus everytime anything emits a photon, we cannot predict where that photon will go.  We can calculate the probability that it will go in some specific direction, we can even limit its path, but in a more realistic system we cannot predict the path of a photon.


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Tilberian wrote: magilum

Tilberian wrote:
magilum wrote:

Let me preface by saying I'm not a fan of determinism. When the thought really hit me, it was somewhat devastating to me psychologically. No free will! Consciousness incidental! Based on what I understand so far, it seems to be a rational description of reality, unless an actual rift between physical inevitabilities, the mental states they give rise to, the physical processes the thoughts themselves cause, and so on, can be shown, it's not a trap I know the way out of. No matter how complex the interplay of physical forces becomes, I don't see how the mind can be anything but a product of particles and things following their paths of least resistance; doing what they must inevitably do. There's no question there's a dynamic in which thought affects physical things, either through action or within the brain itself; but without being able to, say, excuse ourselves from the subjectivity hitherto created by the chain/mesh of physical forces, and deliberately change the course of particle A, to keep it from interacting with particle B, ultimately leading to a synapse firing and initiating a certain thought, I don't see how we can do something not the product of inevitable forces. The easy answer, which goes against the evidence, is that thought must transcend materialism, and may therefore not be subject to physical inevitabilities, while retaining the ability to influence a physical world. Dualism, in other words. Or there could be an alternate explanation of consciousness which somehow does excuse us from the physics game.

Remember, Magilum, that even though everything is determined and only the result of inevitiable inputs, those imputs are so multitudinous and their interactions so complex that it is nearly impossible to calculate them all. Determinism really only has relevance in discussions of God, who would supposedly be able to make those calculations. As far as we are concerned, as a matter of everyday reality, free will exists. Just not free will in the theistic sense of free will that defies God's ability to know what it will do in advance.

Their potential to be calculated is what bothers me, even though I know would be impossible for us to be directly aware of determinism for the very reason we are subject to it: our consciousness is its product. I just find the idea unpleasant, even though it's totally inapplicable to how I experience life -- aside from the neuroses I feel thinking about it. I think the question overlaps theistic free will, but it's a more genuine inquiry into the idea, based on an actual observation of the universe, so I think it transcends its origins as dealing with crap like omniscience.

You gotta admit though, it's kinda funny talking about a philosophical crisis and having people rush in to help. Smiling


DeathMunkyGod
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Vessel wrote: Even if it

Vessel wrote:
Even if it were true quantum indeterminancy plays some role in brain function, it still would not account for freewill. As I said in the post you are responding to, freewill requires that causation is disrupted by a will removed from any causal factors, not by randomness or quantum indeterminacy.

Yes you did say that, but I never saw in your post why that is.  What proof do you have that this is a necessary aspect of free will?

Vessel wrote:
What is the 'we' you speak of? Is it not simply a brain formed of genetic information and past and present external, or environmental, information? I'm not saying we don't accept or reject ideas or concepts, I'm saying that the 'we' who is doing the accepting or rejecting is a specific configuration of processes which are a result of determinstic forces and therefor the choices we make are the only choices we will make given the specific set of circumstances in which the choice is made.   

This is not about if what we perceive as freewill exists, but if actual freewill exists.

The 'we' I speak of is every entity in the universe capable of perception, not all are conscious, however.  Mostly I was referring to all conscious entities in the universe but more specifically to human beings.  Our brain is developed by genetic processes, we learn by experience or other means of introducing new information, but what we store is not dependant upon what we experience alone.  Do you remember every detail of every event or did you only bother to commit to memory what you thought was interesting or important?  The first time you were introduced to a subject you found interesting, how did you decide it was interesting?  How about the first subject you were ever introduced to?  Did you think it was interesting or uninteresting?  How did you decide?  How did you pick your favorite color, food or music?  What about your favorite movie?

The nondeterminism in nature also has indirect effects in choice, because it will eventually lead to conditions in the macro world which could never have been predicted even with complete knowledge of all physical laws and the current state of all matter in the universe at any point in the past.  This is because of particle/wave duality.  Particle/wave duality is an observed property of particles, basically we have observed that a particle will not travel a determined path, instead any individual particle may chose from any number of paths that are included in that particle's wave function.  There is no way to determine which path a specific particle will chose as there are no physical laws which determine which path a specific particle will chose, we can only determine the probability that the particle will chose a specific path based on its wave function.  This is also applicable to the specific location of an electron in its orbit around an atom, we cannot determine its specific location with any degree of certainty we can only define a probability function which tells us the probability that the electron will be located at any specific point around its atom based on the electron's wave function.

This nondeterministic nature of the fundamental particle's paths affects beta decay which is part of the weak nuclear force.  The weak nuclear gauge boson has its own wave function associated with it which calculates the probability of all of its possible paths.  The actual path the weak gauge boson will travel along to a nucleon is not determined, however, and is completely unpredictable.  It's also true, though, that the precise path and position of the quarks and gluons that make up the nucleons will not be determined either.  Their paths will fluctuate within the allowed ranges of their respective wave functions.  Also the heisenberg uncertainty principle does not allow for any particle to be stationary.  So there will always be a nondeterministic motion associated with all particles, even if we could measure what the actual motion was we still would not be able to predict what the motion would be from its starting point.  We can only ever calculate a probability based on the particle's wave function.

Radiation is directly relevant to mutation and thus evolution.  Because beta decay is affected by the nondeterministic nature of particle paths and motion there's no way to predict how it will effect the mutation of an organism's genome, thus evolution is nondeterministic.  Once an interaction takes place the results of the interaction are determined by physical law, however, there's no way to predict what will interact and thus what will mutate due to radiation and how.  Thus even our very existence is not the result of purely deterministic processes.  There was an element of chance involved.

If actual freewill exists it will most likely be the very freewill we percieve, thus if the freewill we percieve actually exists then actual freewill exists.

Vessel wrote:
What is the difference between experience and newly introduced information? I would consider them synonymous in this conversation.

You aren't trying to suggest that all information is derived directly by experience are you?

Vessel wrote:
No one has disputed this. That is a determinstic process though.

You haven't in any way shown that it is actually a completely deterministic process, nor have you given any arguments that show that nondeterminism plays no role in consciousness and thus free will.  You have basically so far only asserted that it doesn't.  I'd be interested in your proof.  Also I should note that I have not at all denied that the process has deterministic aspects.  But it is, nevertheless, not completely deterministic because of particle/wave duality.

Vessel wrote:
Yes. But what is going to determine whether or not that person is going to stop is how the information is processed which depends on the specific brain processes with which the new information interacts, that brain being a product of genetic structure molded by past and present information. Nowhere is there a moment where anything suddenly becomes re-routed by some will removed from and independent of the overall causal strructure.

And nowhere have you offered up any proof that "a moment where anything suddenly becomes re-routed by some will removed from and independent of the overall causal strructure" is in any way necessary for free will, or even what that would look like...or even what that means.  I see no reason why this is at all necessary for free will, or why causality is in any way a problem for free will, or even what causality has to do with free will, except that it is necessary for us to be able to make sense of the universe.  If causality didn't exist then very likely neither would consciousness, or it would be no consciousness that we could possibly make sense of if it did exist in a universe without causality.

Other than that, though, I don't see how the ability to violate a chain of causality is necessary to free will.

Vessel wrote:
It is not only not essential for freewill, but it is irrelevant to freewill.

You haven't even tried to show how it's irrelevant, only once again asserted that it is irrelevant.  I'd be interested in your proof.

But for fun I will address the objection anyway.  It is not essential to free will in general, but it is essential to conscious free will.  Our ability to abstract properties, and abstract ourselves from our environment.  Our ability to think novel thoughts, make up novel new concepts, tell stories, learn new things about the universe despite the fact that we can't directly observe them.  Even derive mathematical proofs about aspects of reality that we may never be able to experimentally prove, and may not even be true.  These novel ideas come about through a process that I will spend more time on in response to something following this, but which can be shown to be the product of some nondeterministic processes.  I'd be interested in your proof that this is not the case.

Also free will in general is not important to me, our free will specifically is much more interesting to me, because it directly effects me.  And this is a model that has the potential to explain how our freewill is derived from both deterministic and nondeterministic aspects of nature.

Vessel wrote:
Novel thoughts and intuitions have nothing to do with randomness. Ever notice how someone never has a novel thought that doesn't involve information they already possess? No one imagines a steel spaceship unless they know of steel, space, and ships. Novel ideas are simply extrapolations of, or recombinations of, already injested information. There is nothing random or freewilled involved.

Once again you begin the paragraph with an unproven assertion...and almost identical to the unproven assertion you've been making all along.  I have noticed how people never have novel thoughts that involve information they don't already possess.  I fail to see the problem.  The novel thought does indeed recombine already injested information, but in a random and nondeterministic way.  We only have the concepts that we have, when faced with a problem we use the information that we have to try to solve it.  When the solution is not already present in our minds we forge new neural pathways linking existing concepts.  Quantum fluctuations due to particle/wave duality will cause neural pathways to fire at random and then comes the part where we accept or reject an idea based on consistency with other already present information or other processes that make up our informational filter.  It's the novel thoughts themselves, however, which are the product of nondeterministic processes involved with thought.  When neurons fire they produce electrical impulses, the electromagnetic force is communicated by photons, photons are subject to the nondeterminism that is wave/particle duality.  This means that the path they travel along when activating new neurons fluctuates within a certain allowed range.  This affects how neurons fire in relation to each other leading to novel and nondeterministic thoughts.  At this point our informational filters are engaged and we either reject all or part of the new concepts or accept them.  This model is effective at explaining why people can jump to conclusions that in no way follow from what the original stimulus was.

Vessel wrote:
You say "a complete knowledge of all laws and the current state of all matter would allow for things at every level to be predicted" as if such a thing is an important factor in whether or not determinism, or compatibalism, as one may prefer, is true.

I actually say it as though such a thing is an important factor in whether or not the concept would add anything useful or important to our understanding of the universe.  As it stands it would not.  In fact it would almost mark the end to scientific inquiry if it were true, though, it would not actually stop scientific inquiry because it is determined by nature that people will continue to inquire.  Still if absolute determinism does exist in nature where would any scientific inquiry lead?  To the truth?  It would definitely not necessarily lead to any truth.  It would only lead where physical law has already determined we would go.  We would be able to learn nothing beyond what nature has intended for us to learn and we would never be able to know if what we had learned was real or just how physical law has determined we should percieve it.  As such absolute determinism in nature adds nothing important or meaninful to our understanding of reality and the universe, even if true.  We may, of course, continue to explore other possibilities, though, as long as other possibilities remain open.  As it stands I see no reason to assume that absolute determinism is a property of our universe.  And so far in this discussion no one who has tried has given me even a single reason to conclude that it is.


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  DeathMunkyGod


 

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

Yes you did say that, but I never saw in your post why that is. What proof do you have that this is a necessary aspect of free will?

What other kind of freewill is there? If 'free'will is not a will removed from causal factors then it is not 'free'. It kind of follows from the word freewill. If free'will' is random then its not 'will'ed. Again, the whole word thing.

 

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The 'we' I speak of is every entity in the universe capable of perception, not all are conscious, however. Mostly I was referring to all conscious entities in the universe but more specifically to human beings. Our brain is developed by genetic processes, we learn by experience or other means of introducing new information, but what we store is not dependant upon what we experience alone. Do you remember every detail of every event or did you only bother to commit to memory what you thought was interesting or important?

I remember some things I thought interesting and important and I remember other things for other reasons. Why do you think I found certain things interesting or important? Do you think I choose what I find interesting and important or do you think that my personality, who I am, my brain function, determines what I find interesting and important. Even with things I remember for other reasons, these reasons aren't things that I simply create out of thin air. They are determined by who I am, a product of genetics and acquired information. What one thinks of as making a choice to remember a particular thing is actually them making a choice, but this is not reason to think that given the exact same situation they could or would have chosen anything different. People make choices based in who they are at a specific moment in time, but who they are at a specific moment in time is a specific thing. In fact, to have chosen something different, the situation could not have been exactly as it was.

Surely you can see that when you suggest that given the exact same material scenario someone could have chosen something different you are necessarilly requiring we add something immaterial into the mix. There is no other explanation for how they could have chosen something different. If you think there is, then by all means present it. adding randomness into the mix doesn't allow for them to willfully choose something different.

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The first time you were introduced to a subject you found interesting, how did you decide it was interesting? How about the first subject you were ever introduced to? Did you think it was interesting or uninteresting? How did you decide? How did you pick your favorite color, food or music? What about your favorite movie?

These deal with likes and dislikes. Do you think we just pull likes and dislikes out of the air or do you think they are determined by the physical material existence we are?

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The nondeterminism in nature also has indirect effects in choice, because it will eventually lead to conditions in the macro world which could never have been predicted even with complete knowledge of all physical laws and the current state of all matter in the universe at any point in the past.

You are arguing against a determinism I'm not arguing for. I'm not saying that a person is presently who they are and can never be different. It is also not required that one can necessarily predict all future arrangements of matter from past arrangments. All that is being said is that the choices of a human being, or any agent, are determined by forces that are not consciously controlled by that agent. Actually the determinism I'm putting forth would probably be called compatibalism by most but I think that really compatibalism is a term coined only to make nice with stubborn freewill supporters. There is no actual freewill involved so to call it compatibalism seems misleading to me.

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This is because of particle/wave duality. Particle/wave duality is an observed property of particles, basically we have observed that a particle will not travel a determined path, instead any individual particle may chose from any number of paths that are included in that particle's wave function. There is no way to determine which path a specific particle will chose as there are no physical laws which determine which path a specific particle will chose, we can only determine the probability that the particle will chose a specific path based on its wave function. This is also applicable to the specific location of an electron in its orbit around an atom, we cannot determine its specific location with any degree of certainty we can only define a probability function which tells us the probability that the electron will be located at any specific point around its atom based on the electron's wave function.

Yes, I understand all this. Well, there are no known physical laws. To state there are no physical laws determining its path is a little overzealous I think.

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This nondeterministic nature of the fundamental particle's paths affects beta decay which is part of the weak nuclear force. The weak nuclear gauge boson has its own wave function associated with it which calculates the probability of all of its possible paths. The actual path the weak gauge boson will travel along to a nucleon is not determined, however, and is completely unpredictable. It's also true, though, that the precise path and position of the quarks and gluons that make up the nucleons will not be determined either. Their paths will fluctuate within the allowed ranges of their respective wave functions. Also the heisenberg uncertainty principle does not allow for any particle to be stationary. So there will always be a nondeterministic motion associated with all particles, even if we could measure what the actual motion was we still would not be able to predict what the motion would be from its starting point. We can only ever calculate a probability based on the particle's wave function.

Radiation is directly relevant to mutation and thus evolution. Because beta decay is affected by the nondeterministic nature of particle paths and motion there's no way to predict how it will effect the mutation of an organism's genome, thus evolution is nondeterministic. Once an interaction takes place the results of the interaction are determined by physical law, however, there's no way to predict what will interact and thus what will mutate due to radiation and how. Thus even our very existence is not the result of purely deterministic processes. There was an element of chance involved.

No argument here.

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If actual freewill exists it will most likely be the very freewill we percieve, thus if the freewill we percieve actually exists then actual freewill exists.

Define 'freewill' as you are using it.

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You aren't trying to suggest that all information is derived directly by experience are you?

Yes. All information is derived by experience. If one does not experience information, then how can it affect them?

 

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You haven't in any way shown that it is actually a completely deterministic process, nor have you given any arguments that show that nondeterminism plays no role in consciousness and thus free will. You have basically so far only asserted that it doesn't. I'd be interested in your proof. Also I should note that I have not at all denied that the process has deterministic aspects. But it is, nevertheless, not completely deterministic because of particle/wave duality.

You are confusing my position, the compatibalism I'm arguing for, with a statement that everything is predetermined. Freewill vs. determinism is about the manner in which agents make choices. A choice is made at a specific point in time. At that specific point in time the matter that constitutes me, my brain and brain functions, and any information I may be experiencing or referencing, can only exist as what it is and do what it will do given that specific situation. This determines what choice I will make. If you think that one is free to choose differently then you will have to explain some other means by which a choice can possibly be made.

Though it gets brought into the discussion a lot, it really has nothing to do with, or at least no necessary entanglement with, the claim that given reference to all matter at some past moment all future moments can be determined.

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And nowhere have you offered up any proof that "a moment where anything suddenly becomes re-routed by some will removed from and independent of the overall causal strructure" is in any way necessary for free will, or even what that would look like...or even what that means. I see no reason why this is at all necessary for free will, or why causality is in any way a problem for free will, or even what causality has to do with free will, except that it is necessary for us to be able to make sense of the universe. If causality didn't exist then very likely neither would consciousness, or it would be no consciousness that we could possibly make sense of if it did exist in a universe without causality.

Again, define freewill as you are using it.

 

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You haven't even tried to show how it's irrelevant, only once again asserted that it is irrelevant. I'd be interested in your proof.

I've told you why its irrelevant. Because randomness and freewill are not the same thing so bringing randomness into the conversation to attempt to rescue freewill requires that you explain how randomness leads to freewill. Simply saying but there is quantum indeterminacy does nothing. Its irrelevant to the conversation of freewill vs. determinism unless you can show it to be relevant.

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But for fun I will address the objection anyway. It is not essential to free will in general, but it is essential to conscious free will. Our ability to abstract properties, and abstract ourselves from our environment. Our ability to think novel thoughts, make up novel new concepts, tell stories, learn new things about the universe despite the fact that we can't directly observe them. Even derive mathematical proofs about aspects of reality that we may never be able to experimentally prove, and may not even be true. These novel ideas come about through a process that I will spend more time on in response to something following this, but which can be shown to be the product of some nondeterministic processes. I'd be interested in your proof that this is not the case.

Are you going to show how freewill arises from indeterminacy?

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Also free will in general is not important to me, our free will specifically is much more interesting to me, because it directly effects me. And this is a model that has the potential to explain how our freewill is derived from both deterministic and nondeterministic aspects of nature.

I'm willing to look at a model when you present one. What follows never addresses freeewill.

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Once again you begin the paragraph with an unproven assertion...[

What would we expect a random thought to look like? Why would we ever think our thoughts are arrived at randomly? And what possible connection do random thoughts have to freewill?

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and almost identical to the unproven assertion you've been making all along. I have noticed how people never have novel thoughts that involve information they don't already possess. I fail to see the problem. The novel thought does indeed recombine already injested information, but in a random and nondeterministic way.

So there is nothing to determine how the information recombines? How is it that thoughts like a cow made of swiss tinfoil or lincoln tunnel hamburgers with pink toupees aren't constantly popping into my head?

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We only have the concepts that we have, when faced with a problem we use the information that we have to try to solve it.

Absolutely.

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When the solution is not already present in our minds we forge new neural pathways linking existing concepts. Quantum fluctuations due to particle/wave duality will cause neural pathways to fire at random and then comes the part where we accept or reject an idea based on consistency with other already present information or other processes that make up our informational filter.

Fine so far. Now, we are accepting or rejecting based on what? And where does that already present information that makes up our informational filter come from? and where does the already present information by which we judged that already present information come from? You can see where this is going.

Now, having freewill we would suspect that no matter whether the informational filter acccepts or rejects the idea we could still choose to accept or reject it. You aren't suggesting its determined by the informational filter are you? Because then we wouldn't be free, our choices would be determined by whatever created the informational filter, which was our genetics and past information we received, correct? And before that our informational filter was created by genetics and previous information, and so on and so on. Your really going to have to posit some immaterial force along the way if you want to inject freewill anywhere into this process.

But, one may complain, that informational filter is us, so we are making a choice. And I have not argued that we don't make choices. I have simply said that the choices we make are the only ones we can make in any specific instance. They are determined by factors beyond our control. We do not have the freewill to choose any option, we can only choose the option we choose. Of course, being as that it is us choosing it is always the choice we want to make and therefor we are not at all imprisoned by the determinstic nature of our choices.

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It's the novel thoughts themselves, however, which are the product of nondeterministic processes involved with thought. When neurons fire they produce electrical impulses, the electromagnetic force is communicated by photons, photons are subject to the nondeterminism that is wave/particle duality. This means that the path they travel along when activating new neurons fluctuates within a certain allowed range. This affects how neurons fire in relation to each other leading to novel and nondeterministic thoughts. At this point our informational filters are engaged and we either reject all or part of the new concepts or accept them. This model is effective at explaining why people can jump to conclusions that in no way follow from what the original stimulus was.

I still haven't seen any freewill involved. Where does that step come in?

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I actually say it as though such a thing is an important factor in whether or not the concept would add anything useful or important to our understanding of the universe.

Who cares if it adds anything useful to our understanding of the universe? What matters is whether or not it is true.

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As it stands it would not. In fact it would almost mark the end to scientific inquiry if it were true, though, it would not actually stop scientific inquiry because it is determined by nature that people will continue to inquire.

Why should it affect scientific inquiry? That is a logical leap that I don't follow.

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Still if absolute determinism does exist in nature where would any scientific inquiry lead? To the truth? It would definitely not necessarily lead to any truth.

Again this stems from a misunderstanding of what is being discussed, at least by me. But, even if strict determinism were true, that would be no reason to necessarilly think it less likely to lead to truth.

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It would only lead where physical law has already determined we would go. We would be able to learn nothing beyond what nature has intended for us to learn and we would never be able to know if what we had learned was real or just how physical law has determined we should percieve it.

I'm willing to bet we can't learn things nature has not equipped us to learn.

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As such absolute determinism in nature adds nothing important or meaninful to our understanding of reality and the universe, even if true. We may, of course, continue to explore other possibilities, though, as long as other possibilities remain open. As it stands I see no reason to assume that absolute determinism is a property of our universe. And so far in this discussion no one who has tried has given me even a single reason to conclude that it is.

Again you completely misunderstand me. This is about choice making, not whether or not everything is predetermined. Its not even about whether or not choice making is predetermined, just whether or not it is determined.

Through your entire post I never saw one argument for freewill. I saw arguments for randomness but never freewill. Why is that?

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


DeathMunkyGod
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Vessel wrote: What other

Vessel wrote:
What other kind of freewill is there? If 'free'will is not a will removed from causal factors then it is not 'free'. It kind of follows from the word freewill. If free'will' is random then its not 'will'ed. Again, the whole word thing.

Nothing can be removed from causality.  About the best free will can do is make a choice.  Basically when someone is forced to make a decision an event caused the decision, but free will decides.  And the closest we come to escaping causality is by causing things ourselves, which we do, but one could argue a causal chain of events there, since nothing we do would be possible were it not for our parents causing our birth.  How do you remove yourself from all causal chains?  I still have no idea where you even get the idea that in order for free will to be free it must be removed from all causal factors since that's impossible.  Nor did I say that our will was entirely random, only that it has a random element.  Thats almost like the creationists arguing that evolution by natural selection is entirely a random process, and how could an entirely random process cause so much complexity?  It probably couldn't, good thing neither evolution nor free will are entirely random, though they do have their random elements.

Vessel wrote:

I remember some things I thought interesting and important and I remember other things for other reasons. Why do you think I found certain things interesting or important? Do you think I choose what I find interesting and important or do you think that my personality, who I am, my brain function, determines what I find interesting and important. Even with things I remember for other reasons, these reasons aren't things that I simply create out of thin air. They are determined by who I am, a product of genetics and acquired information. What one thinks of as making a choice to remember a particular thing is actually them making a choice, but this is not reason to think that given the exact same situation they could or would have chosen anything different. People make choices based in who they are at a specific moment in time, but who they are at a specific moment in time is a specific thing. In fact, to have chosen something different, the situation could not have been exactly as it was.

Surely you can see that when you suggest that given the exact same material scenario someone could have chosen something different you are necessarilly requiring we add something immaterial into the mix. There is no other explanation for how they could have chosen something different. If you think there is, then by all means present it. adding randomness into the mix doesn't allow for them to willfully choose something different.

I am actually suggesting that given the exact same material scenario someone could choose something different.  This is because choices are not entirely deterministic.  They are subject, as all other thoughts are, to random firing of synapses, after that they are put through our information filter, if what is being chosen between are two equal options then something random has to go into deciding one over the other.  We also don't always use the same tie breaker techniques in deciding the one we use depends on whatever method pops into our heads at the time.  Or we try harder to determine the consequences of each choice, but we don't always use the same specific strategy, and there's no reason to believe a person will always chose the same thing even if we could completely roll back time and watch him chose again.  I'd love to see your evidence that this would happen.

Vessel wrote:
These deal with likes and dislikes. Do you think we just pull likes and dislikes out of the air or do you think they are determined by the physical material existence we are?

I think we are exposed to things which determine what we will chose for whatever reason to like or dislike.  But the chosing what we like or dislike is influenced by nondeterministic aspects of our thought processes.

Vessel wrote:
You are arguing against a determinism I'm not arguing for. I'm not saying that a person is presently who they are and can never be different. It is also not required that one can necessarily predict all future arrangements of matter from past arrangments. All that is being said is that the choices of a human being, or any agent, are determined by forces that are not consciously controlled by that agent. Actually the determinism I'm putting forth would probably be called compatibalism by most but I think that really compatibalism is a term coined only to make nice with stubborn freewill supporters. There is no actual freewill involved so to call it compatibalism seems misleading to me.

I never even assumed you were saying that at all.  In fact the comment that this was a reply to had absolutely nothing to do with what you jusst claimed I said.  It doesn't matter what a person's current state is in a completely determined universe, that person's future state will evolve according to a completely determined set of laws and that petrson may "change" but never be anything other than what he was ever going to be.  How do we hold anyone responsible for any of their actions or choices if it turns out that every aspect of the universe is determined by natural law and there is no element of nondeterminism in nature?

Vessel wrote:
Yes, I understand all this. Well, there are no known physical laws. To state there are no physical laws determining its path is a little overzealous I think.

True it could be seen as a little overzealous.  However due to the fundamental nature of the issue and the fact that nothing that could effect the path of any particles is known in nature, also the fact that wave/particle duality has been experimentally confirmed to exist in macro sized objects even as marge as fullerines, it certainly seems to be a fundamental part of nature.  To assert that physical laws must exist is a little overzealous, though, don't you think?  I'm only pointing out that from what we know about particle physics there's no reason to assume that nature is completely determined.  Wave/particle duality points out to us an aspect of nature that is not deterministic and which, as far as anyone knows, is fundamental to nature.  You can assume that there must be physical laws that determine the paths of the particles, but you'd be begging the question.  Not only do we not know of any, but we have no reason to assume that any exist.  The existence of such laws aren't even necessary for making sense of quantum physics, so you couldn't even argue for that.  Basically my position comes from the observations of nature, my conclusion is based on evidence.  You seem to be starting from your conclusion that all of nature is determined and now trying to brush aside the fact that as far as anyone knows wave/particle duality describes an aspect of nondeterminism in nature.  Possibly you didn't start with your conclusion, but you came to your conclusion either without that information or ignoring that information, and now you are trying to brush that information aside because it doesn't fit your conclusion.  The information is still valid.  Unless you can come up with proposed physical laws and then prove at least one of them, that determine the paths of the fundamental particles you can't really assert that any must exist even though we don't know what they are or even that they are necessary just for the sake of salvaging your conclusion.  Physicists are perfectly alright with accepting wave-particle duality as fundamental because it explains what we observe and doesn't present any problems for our understanding of nature.

Vessel wrote:
Define 'freewill' as you are using it.

'Freewill' is only the ability to make choices.  our freewill is a conscious free will.  But consciousness is more what requires indeterminacy, though indeterminacy is present in all living things, since as far as we know it is present throughout nature and the universe.  Actually I think I was wrong before to assert that nondeterminism was not essential to freewill, just a little bit hasty.  Since it would be difficult to choose between two equal options without some nondeterministic means of forcing a decision.  Either that or the choice made would always follow the same deterministic pattern.  Thus with enogh information it would be possible to predict how every organism will chose between two equal options.  But a random element makes that impossible.  Also in a deterministic universe either a mechanism to chose between two equal options must be explicitly programmed into the mind, or we would see a lot of people entering infinite loops when forced to chose between two equal options.  However in a nondeterministic universe a mechanism to force a decision between 2 equal options is just naturally built into the mechanism for making choices in general.

Vessel wrote:
Yes. All information is derived by experience. If one does not experience information, then how can it affect them?

We don't have to directly experience something to gain information about it.  Yes information is acquired from some sort of experience, but we can gain information about events we have never experienced by reading about the event, talking to someone who experienced the event, or more.  There's also the thought experiment.  You can gain information about an event by thinking through what would happen if you did it, but not actually doing it.  Einstein did this a lot.  What would you have thought had I said "all information is gained by experience"?  I think you would have jumped all over that statement to point out that we gain information from books, other people, television, movies, not just experience.  So here it looks like you were just arguing for the sake of arguing.  Yes talking to people is a form of experience, but the only experience there is that you talked to someone about something.  You now have the information of what you talked about but you did not experience the event.  So you get information about two things from only a single experience.  Not all information comes from direct experience.

Vessel wrote:
I've told you why its irrelevant. Because randomness and freewill are not the same thing so bringing randomness into the conversation to attempt to rescue freewill requires that you explain how randomness leads to freewill. Simply saying but there is quantum indeterminacy does nothing. Its irrelevant to the conversation of freewill vs. determinism unless you can show it to be relevant.

Yes randomness and freewill are not the same thing.  I've never said that they were, but freewill arises from nondeterministic aspects of thought.  It also depends on its deterministic aspects.  You're still assuming the correctness of your definition of free will which you have yet to adequately prove.  Or prove at all for that matter.  I still think your first comment which was an attempt to do so was very amusing but pointless.  What does the 'free' in freewill have to do with a removal from causality?  Why is that necessary for freewill?  How owuld you even do it?  Since your birth is the first cause of everything you subsequently did, you'll never be removed from that cause so everything you do subsequently will at very least be directly causally linked to at least that one event.  Plus events that have nothing to do with your life.  What causal chain do you propose we break?  And why is breaking any causal chains necessary for freewill?  Your response earlier only restated your earlier assertion that it is, you still haven't explained why.

Vessel wrote:

I'm willing to look at a model when you present one. What follows never addresses freeewill.

You only say this because what followed didn't address your definition of freewill which I rejected as inherently flawed.  Why would I address a flawed definition?

Vessel wrote:
What would we expect a random thought to look like? Why would we ever think our thoughts are arrived at randomly? And what possible connection do random thoughts have to freewill?

Random thoughts are thoughts that just come up with no stimulus.  Like if you're sitting around bored and just suddenly think something to yourself that's not at all related to anything.  Or if you're having a conversation with someone and something they say brings to mind something completely unrelated to what they said.  Those usually make for funny stories, and I'm sure you've experienced things like that or similar to that in your life whether you thought they were important enough to remember or not.  They can also be thoughts that come up through a random chain of tangentially linked concepts.  As an example if you were talking to someone about cheese and suddenly you think cheese wheel, and then you think tire and then you think firetruck and the next thing you know you're talking about Ghostbusters because they bought an abandoned firehouse.  Random thoughts are usually amusing when you have them.

Vessel wrote:
So there is nothing to determine how the information recombines? How is it that thoughts like a cow made of swiss tinfoil or lincoln tunnel hamburgers with pink toupees aren't constantly popping into my head?

How often do you think we recombine information unless we're trying to come up with a new concept?  You made quite a random new concept here and it was only in response to your brain trying to recombine things into a new concept.  If you're not trying to recombine information to solve a problem or make up a story or whatever, why would your brain be doing it in the background for no reason?

Vessel wrote:
Fine so far. Now, we are accepting or rejecting based on what? And where does that already present information that makes up our informational filter come from? and where does the already present information by which we judged that already present information come from? You can see where this is going.

What an individual accepts or rejects information based on depends on the individual's present information, their personal informational filter, their current state of mind, and possibly other things which I haven't thought of.  Current state of mind could also be expanded to include amount of sleep, emotional state, level of rationality when dealing with whoever's giving them the information if it's coming from a conversation or some other external source, etc..  The informational filter is complex and subjective, by which I mean it depends on the subject, and by subject I mean the person to whom the informational filter belongs.  The informational filter is mostly deterministic, though there is still a degree of nondeterminism present because of what the system is made of and how it works.  But synapses that are bound to each other will fire together and our informational filters are bound together through constant use.  The orders in which they fire in may be more random so aspects of the informational filter may take precedence over other aspects, like emotional state may fire before logical pathways and effect how the logical pathways fire, or not.  And then the person chooses to reject or accept the information.

Vessel wrote:
Now, having freewill we would suspect that no matter whether the informational filter acccepts or rejects the idea we could still choose to accept or reject it. You aren't suggesting its determined by the informational filter are you? Because then we wouldn't be free, our choices would be determined by whatever created the informational filter, which was our genetics and past information we received, correct? And before that our informational filter was created by genetics and previous information, and so on and so on. Your really going to have to posit some immaterial force along the way if you want to inject freewill anywhere into this process.

Why would we suspect this?  Then the person would be aware that he was lying to himself.  The choice is made consciously to accept or reject some information.  If the choice to reject the information is made and the person accepts it anyway then that person is now consciously lying to himself.  Durring the informational filter process a person can decide to let considerations that are not rational determine whether or not he accepts or rejects an idea, that's called rationalization, it's part of the informational filter, though.  After the choice to accept or reject is made, though, a person can consciously lie to himself but why would he do that?  He'd know he was lying to himself.  It's far easier to lie to yourself by using the informational filter and have the lie be unconscious, or mostly unconscious, because usually at some level the individual is aware of his rationalization.

Vessel wrote:
But, one may complain, that informational filter is us, so we are making a choice. And I have not argued that we don't make choices. I have simply said that the choices we make are the only ones we can make in any specific instance. They are determined by factors beyond our control. We do not have the freewill to choose any option, we can only choose the option we choose. Of course, being as that it is us choosing it is always the choice we want to make and therefor we are not at all imprisoned by the determinstic nature of our choices.

But our ability to make a nondetermined choice is what our freewill is.  If all of our choices are determined by natural law our will is not free.  It's determined.  We're not imprisoned by that deterministic nature only as long as we are unaware that we aren't making our choices.  Ignorance is bliss, remember?  If we were to actually apply determinism to our concept of freewill, though, we would no longer be able to hold anyone accountable for their choices or actions, how could they have chosen any differently?

Vessel wrote:
I still haven't seen any freewill involved. Where does that step come in?

This is because you were still applying your flawed definition, when you apply my definition, that free will is the ability to make a nondetermined choice, you see that it was involved in the entire process.  Since the entire process had to do with decision making.  Basically freewill is our decisions being determined by us not by natural processes alone.  We use natural processes, but natural processes don't completely determine on their own what we chose.

Vessel wrote:
Who cares if it adds anything useful to our understanding of the universe? What matters is whether or not it is true.

This is just funny, because in a different thread I explained why it matters if something adds something useful or important to our understanding of the universe over whether or not it is true.  Not to mention the fact that you can't prove that your view is true without ignoring wave/particle duality or begging the question that wave/particle duality must be determined by natural law because if it isn't it doesn't fit your conclusion.

Let's briefly look at something we are accepting as axiomatic right now specifically because if we didn't it would tell us nothing useful or important about the universe and for no other reason.  We accept the existence of reality outside of our own consciousness as axiomatic, it cannot be dedictively or inductively proven with any degree of certainty.  However if we were to assume that reality doesn't exist outside of our own consciousness it tells us nothing useful or important about the universe at all and actually negates everything we experience.  Because we aren't really experiencing anything it's all just a trick of our minds.  In fact from my perspective I am the only person who exists so if I didn't just accept as axiomatic for all intents and purposes that external reality really does exist because the alternative tells me nothing useful or important about the universe, you'd be pretty hard pressed to prove that you weren't just an elaborate figment of my imagination made possible by compartmentalization of my thoughts.  In fact you'd find it impossible.

The only reason why we accept an external reality as axiomatic is because if it is true it says something useful about our universe.

Vessel wrote:
Why should it affect scientific inquiry? That is a logical leap that I don't follow.

Of course if you're right the reason why you don't follow is because natural law won't allow you to.  Also is gravity real or is that just what natural law wanted us to percieve?  What about evolution?  Why are you asking the question of whether or not god exists except that natural law made you?  Why even bother changing what other people think except you have no choice.  This whole discussion, did you chose to enter into it?  No natural law made you.  How about cerial killers why do we execute them for crimes they had no choice but to commit?  Oh yeah because we have no choice but to do so.  Can scientists discover anything about "nature" that natural law didn't predetermine that they would?  No.  How do we know what we discover is accurate?  We can't.  We just have to have faith, I guess, that natural law is allowing us to accurately understand things.  You could try to argue that the fact that what natural law is allowing us to discover seems to work, but that would just be natural law making you make that argument, how do you know that that argument is valid?  You don't.  Natural law just told you to think it is, or forced you to think it is, more accurately.  It would be impossible for you to think otherwise even if you were wrong.  Maybe some day natural law will make you change your mind, but until then you'll just think whatever natural law is making you think.

Vessel wrote:
Again this stems from a misunderstanding of what is being discussed, at least by me. But, even if strict determinism were true, that would be no reason to necessarilly think it less likely to lead to truth.

That's what natural law is forcing you to think, Vessel.

Vessel wrote:
I'm willing to bet we can't learn things nature has not equipped us to learn.

I'm sure this is true for very different reasons.  It's not necessarily because natural law controls our destinies or predetermines everything in nature, but because our ability to probe everything about nature depends on our ability to understand everything about nature.  Nature may be sufficiently different from us that at some level we may never be able to understand it.  Only insofar as nature is completely rational will we ever be able to make sense of it.  Quantum mechanics may be counter intuitive at times, but it's still rational.  There's also the limitation on what we can measure.  Maybe some day we'll be able to measure the smallest distance scales, but more likely we'll go extinct long before then since shorter distances requires more energy to probe and the planck distance scale will require thousands of trillions of times more energy than we can currently produce.  Or even have any idea how to produce.

Vessel wrote:
Again you completely misunderstand me. This is about choice making, not whether or not everything is predetermined. Its not even about whether or not choice making is predetermined, just whether or not it is determined.

If everything in nature is determined everything in nature is predetermined.

Vessel wrote:
Through your entire post I never saw one argument for freewill. I saw arguments for randomness but never freewill. Why is that?

Again this is because you were looking for me to address your flawed definition of freewill, which I had already explained didn't follow even from the word itself as you tried to argue it does.  Why would I have been arguing for your flawed definition?  Maybe you should have been reading more carefully.


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Eloise wrote: todangst

Eloise wrote:
todangst wrote:
Eloise wrote:
[It's actually really easy to excuse consciousness from causal determinism.

Determinism requires time and time may not exist.

 

How exactly does that excuse consciousness from casual determinism via ruling out time? How are you able to speak of consciousness, sans time?

 

You'd be better off taking up the battle cry of 'acausality'

 

What makes you think I haven't?

Nothing makes me think that. Jamie Whyte, Cambridge University professor writes:

Concepts like 'acausality' and 'the uncertainty principle', which so excite gobbledygookers, should give no comfort to those who embrace ridiculous ideas  like 'timelessness'.  The weirdness of quantum physics is not an example of an intellectual free-for-all but just more of the tyranny of the scientific method -True interpretations of quantum physics do not involve paradoxes... the philosophy of quantum physics  is concerned with showing that its paradoxes are merely apparent.

In other words, you're just importing a concept that 'sounds weird' to you to justify something weirder yet: timelessness.

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. It is possible to speak of consciousness without time if conciousness is material because it is possible to speak of material sans time. 

 

Get to it then. So easy to assert, harder still to actually do it. Love to hear how you can get to timelessness.... next, you'll tell me that you can freeze something to absolute zero (which involves timelessness.... and...gee... is impossible!)

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


Vessel
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Quote: I am actually


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I am actually suggesting that given the exact same material scenario someone could choose something different.

Given the exact same material scenario at the moment the choice is made, what would be the means by which some other choice could be made? If something random occured that is part of the causal structure by which the choice is made, not an element of freedom to choose. 

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This is because choices are not entirely deterministic. They are subject, as all other thoughts are, to random firing of synapses, after that they are put through our information filter, if what is being chosen between are two equal options then something random has to go into deciding one over the other.

What are 'two equal options'? Why do you think any two options are ever equal? How can randomness deciding between two equal options be considered freewill? You are still equating randomness with freewill whether you say you are or not. The bolded section illustrates this.

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We also don't always use the same tie breaker techniques in deciding the one we use depends on whatever method pops into our heads at the time. Or we try harder to determine the consequences of each choice, but we don't always use the same specific strategy, and there's no reason to believe a person will always chose the same thing even if we could completely roll back time and watch him chose again.

  I'd love to see your evidence that this would happen.

I can see no mechanism by which it wouldn't. If some random event occured that was part of the causal structure then in a scenario that was materially identical the same random event would need to occur. If it didn't, then the scenario would not be materially identical. Therefor, it is necessary to add something non-material into the processes in order to think the outcome could be different given a materially identical scenario.

 

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I think we are exposed to things which determine what we will chose for whatever reason to like or dislike.

I agree. 

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But the chosing what we like or dislike is influenced by nondeterministic aspects of our thought processes.

Possibly true. This does not in anyway suggest that our choices are fee or could be different.   

Vessel wrote:
You are arguing against a determinism I'm not arguing for. I'm not saying that a person is presently who they are and can never be different. It is also not required that one can necessarily predict all future arrangements of matter from past arrangments. All that is being said is that the choices of a human being, or any agent, are determined by forces that are not consciously controlled by that agent. Actually the determinism I'm putting forth would probably be called compatibalism by most but I think that really compatibalism is a term coined only to make nice with stubborn freewill supporters. There is no actual freewill involved so to call it compatibalism seems misleading to me.

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I never even assumed you were saying that at all. In fact the comment that this was a reply to had absolutely nothing to do with what you jusst claimed I said. It doesn't matter what a person's current state is in a completely determined universe, that person's future state will evolve according to a completely determined set of laws and that petrson may "change" but never be anything other than what he was ever going to be.

As I've stated repeatedly, I'm not arguing for a completely determined universe. 

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How do we hold anyone responsible for any of their actions or choices if it turns out that every aspect of the universe is determined by natural law and there is no element of nondeterminism in nature?

have you actually been reading my responses? Does anyone else see any point at which I have claimed that there is no element of non-determinism in nature? 

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True it could be seen as a little overzealous. However due to the fundamental nature of the issue and the fact that nothing that could effect the path of any particles is known in nature, also the fact that wave/particle duality has been experimentally confirmed to exist in macro sized objects even as marge as fullerines, it certainly seems to be a fundamental part of nature. To assert that physical laws must exist is a little overzealous, though, don't you think?

That's why I haven't asserted any such thing. 

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I'm only pointing out that from what we know about particle physics there's no reason to assume that nature is completely determined.

We aren't talking about nature being completely determined, as I've said over and over. We are talking about the choice making process of a conscious agent. 

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Wave/particle duality points out to us an aspect of nature that is not deterministic and which, as far as anyone knows, is fundamental to nature. You can assume that there must be physical laws that determine the paths of the particles, but you'd be begging the question. Not only do we not know of any, but we have no reason to assume that any exist. The existence of such laws aren't even necessary for making sense of quantum physics, so you couldn't even argue for that. Basically my position comes from the observations of nature, my conclusion is based on evidence. You seem to be starting from your conclusion that all of nature is determined and now trying to brush aside the fact that as far as anyone knows wave/particle duality describes an aspect of nondeterminism in nature. Possibly you didn't start with your conclusion, but you came to your conclusion either without that information or ignoring that information, and now you are trying to brush that information aside because it doesn't fit your conclusion.

Silliness. Why would I care to do that? I have no stake in whether or not anything given thing is true. I am simply putting forth what seems true as best I understand it.  

Now, as I've stated repeatedly I have not said that there is not quantum indeterminacy. I have merely stated that it does not rescue freewill. As of yet you have not demonstrated how indeterminacy idoes support freewill so I am still not able to correct my position if it is indeed wrong.  

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The information is still valid. Unless you can come up with proposed physical laws and then prove at least one of them, that determine the paths of the fundamental particles you can't really assert that any must exist even though we don't know what they are or even that they are necessary just for the sake of salvaging your conclusion. Physicists are perfectly alright with accepting wave-particle duality as fundamental because it explains what we observe and doesn't present any problems for our understanding of nature.

One last time, I haven't argued against indeterminacy. Hopefully we can move past this. 

Vessel wrote:
'Freewill' is only the ability to make choices.

So freewill doesn't need to be free? A computer can make choices based in criteria programmed into it. Do computers have freewill? If not then freewill is more than the ability to make choices.  

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our freewill is a conscious free will.

So you can consciously control the firings of neurons? But you are the firings of neurons. So can you control who you are? Can you be someone who enjoys mime if you want to? 

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But consciousness is more what requires indeterminacy, though indeterminacy is present in all living things, since as far as we know it is present throughout nature and the universe. Actually I think I was wrong before to assert that nondeterminism was not essential to freewill, just a little bit hasty. Since it would be difficult to choose between two equal options without some nondeterministic means of forcing a decision. Either that or the choice made would always follow the same deterministic pattern. Thus with enogh information it would be possible to predict how every organism will chose between two equal options. But a random element makes that impossible.
 

I don't believe any two options can be equal. If they were they would be the same option, and a choice would not need to be made. Any two things that are fundamentally identical, or equal, are the same thing.

 

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Also in a deterministic universe either a mechanism to chose between two equal options must be explicitly programmed into the mind, or we would see a lot of people entering infinite loops when forced to chose between two equal options. However in a nondeterministic universe a mechanism to force a decision between 2 equal options is just naturally built into the mechanism for making choices in general.

I'm going to have to start ignoring all the references to a determinstic universe as we are discussing choice making by conscious agents. Again, First there is no such thing as equal options that are not the same option and secondly randomness is not freewill.

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We don't have to directly experience something to gain information about it. Yes information is acquired from some sort of experience, but we can gain information about events we have never experienced by reading about the event, talking to someone who experienced the event, or more.

Of course we can, but we are experiencing information, Which is what I said. The information is simply from whatever source by which we are hearing, reading, whatever, about the event.  

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There's also the thought experiment. You can gain information about an event by thinking through what would happen if you did it, but not actually doing it.

You can only do this so far as you possess information about what will happen or information that can be extrapolated or combined to provide an expectation of what will happen.  

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Einstein did this a lot. What would you have thought had I said "all information is gained by experience"? I think you would have jumped all over that statement to point out that we gain information from books, other people, television, movies, not just experience.

I consider all those things experiences, or things we can experience, don't you? Why would I have jumped all over that statement? It seems to me to be a true statement. 

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So here it looks like you were just arguing for the sake of arguing.

I'm unsure why you would say that. 

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Yes talking to people is a form of experience, but the only experience there is that you talked to someone about something. You now have the information of what you talked about but you did not experience the event. So you get information about two things from only a single experience. Not all information comes from direct experience.

How ridiculous would it be for someone to claim all information of a particular event can only come from direct experience of that event? No sane person would make such a claim. 

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Yes randomness and freewill are not the same thing. I've never said that they were, but freewill arises from nondeterministic aspects of thought. It also depends on its deterministic aspects.

You continue to state this but do not explain it in the least. Surely you can see why I have a problem simply agreeing with your assertion that "freewill arises from nondeterminstic aspects of thought. It also depends on determinstic aspects".

If you are simply calling making a choice freewill then a determinstic choice would be freewilled choice, so your freewill definition is useless. And without a useful definition of freewill claiming what it arises from is meaningless.

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You're still assuming the correctness of your definition of free will which you have yet to adequately prove. Or prove at all for that matter. I still think your first comment which was an attempt to do so was very amusing but pointless.

I'm really not concerned with what you thought amusing, only  with the truth or reasoning of the position you present. 

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What does the 'free' in freewill have to do with a removal from causality?

If one is caused to do something then one is not free not to do it.

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Why is that necessary for freewill?

Because if it was not necessary for freewill then there woul'd be no difference between freewilled choice and determined choice. 

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How owuld you even do it?

That's the point. 

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Since your birth is the first cause of everything you subsequently did, you'll never be removed from that cause so everything you do subsequently will at very least be directly causally linked to at least that one event.

Of course. 

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Plus events that have nothing to do with your life.

Yes. 

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What causal chain do you propose we break?

I don't propose we break any as I don't believe freewill is actual. 

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And why is breaking any causal chains necessary for freewill?

 Because all we are left with otherwise is determinstic forces with some amount of random elements thrown in. Now, explain how that equals freewill.   



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You only say this because what followed didn't address your definition of freewill which I rejected as inherently flawed. Why would I address a flawed definition?

You haven't addressed any definition of freewill I have ever seen anyone put forth. That is the problem. 

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Random thoughts are thoughts that just come up with no stimulus. Like if you're sitting around bored and just suddenly think something to yourself that's not at all related to anything.

I don't see any reason to think this happens. 

Or if you're having a conversation with someone and something they say brings to mind something completely unrelated to what they said. Those usually make for funny stories, and I'm sure you've experienced things like that or similar to that in your life whether you thought they were important enough to remember or not.

If a thought comes to mind from something someone says there is always a segue. I'm not sure about how your mind works, but mine never suddenly jumps to random completely unrelated information. Does your mind really do this?

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They can also be thoughts that come up through a random chain of tangentially linked concepts. As an example if you were talking to someone about cheese and suddenly you think cheese wheel, and then you think tire and then you think firetruck and the next thing you know you're talking about Ghostbusters because they bought an abandoned firehouse. Random thoughts are usually amusing when you have them.

Can you not see how one thought is related to the next? How trhey are linked? That is by no means random thoughts entering your mind. A random thought entering your mind would be if someone was talking about jupiters moons and your mind responded with the thought I like pickles.

 

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How often do you think we recombine information unless we're trying to come up with a new concept? You made quite a random new concept here and it was only in response to your brain trying to recombine things into a new concept. If you're not trying to recombine information to solve a problem or make up a story or whatever, why would your brain be doing it in the background for no reason?

What? I have no idea what you are trying to say in that paragraph. 


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What an individual accepts or rejects information based on depends on the individual's present information, their personal informational filter, their current state of mind, and possibly other things which I haven't thought of.

No argument there. 

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Current state of mind could also be expanded to include amount of sleep, emotional state, level of rationality when dealing with whoever's giving them the information if it's coming from a conversation or some other external source, etc..

Still good. All causal factors. 

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The informational filter is complex and subjective, by which I mean it depends on the subject, and by subject I mean the person to whom the informational filter belongs.

I think you are going to find yourself trying to draw an awkward distinction between this information filter and the "to whom it belongs" unless you posit some form of dualism. 

I'll try and respond to the rest later. This is getting long.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


DeathMunkyGod
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Vessel wrote: Given the

Vessel wrote:
Given the exact same material scenario at the moment the choice is made, what would be the means by which some other choice could be made? If something random occured that is part of the causal structure by which the choice is made, not an element of freedom to choose. 

Since choice is a process if you want to bypass the entire process and say that everything somehow happened identically durring the process then at the end of the process at the moment of decision the choice will be the same.  But if you roll back time when a person has to decide between two equal options and let the entire process unfold it will unfold differently and the person may make a different choice.

Your very question was limiting the possibilities by excluding the process of decision making and just setting it all to the same states as it was in the first time, as if you only rolled by time to the instant the decision was reached and didn't go back a little further to include the process by which the decision was reached.

Vessel wrote:
What are 'two equal options'? Why do you think any two options are ever equal? How can randomness deciding between two equal options be considered freewill? You are still equating randomness with freewill whether you say you are or not. The bolded section illustrates this.

That's subjective, basically two options in which neither outcome is preferable to the other.  The outcomes can be either good or bad or neutral.  but if you can't determine based on what you know which of the two options will yeild an outcome that is subjectively better than the other then the two options are equal and another means to decide between them becomes necessary.

Randomness deciding between them creates a precedent for future choices between similar options and becomes part of our experience and thus part of our personality.  Depending on the actual outcome it will influence how we chose in the future.  Also remember we won't know what the other option's outcome could have been.  So if we really liked the outcome of our decision we have no way of knowing if we would have liked the other outcome better.  This random choice gets integrated into our information concerning future choices.  But it still doesn't determine future choices.  Given this option again and another option the outcome of which is unknown but seems like it could be at least equally good a person may chose the unknown option even though they already know they will like the known option.  It's just about choices made which are not determined by natural law.  Also it isn't entirely random.  Before we make the decision we can decide to accept or reject the methods we introduce to decide between two options.  It's the deciding method we accept and then apply that determines how we make the choice, but the deciding methods are not necessarily deterministically arrived at.

Vessel wrote:
I can see no mechanism by which it wouldn't. If some random event occured that was part of the causal structure then in a scenario that was materially identical the same random event would need to occur. If it didn't, then the scenario would not be materially identical. Therefor, it is necessary to add something non-material into the processes in order to think the outcome could be different given a materially identical scenario.
 

There is also no mechanism that you have suggested by which it would.  You have yet to prove that determinism alone applies so far only asserted it.  I'm still waiting for proof, aside from assertions, that there can't possibly be anything nondeterministic involved.  Maybe the same random event but what about the same nondeterministic event.  Why would it need to occur the same way twice if it were nondeterministic?  Why did it have to occur the way it did the first time around?  It seems you are again begging the question.  The operative word here is not random nor has it ever been, the operative word is nondeterministic.  You keep replacing nondeterministic with random as though the two terms were equal, they aren't.  They share traits in common, they are both unpredictable at least from what we currently know, but they are still not equal.  The paths of a photon are not random, they are just not deterministic, you can calculate probabilities that it will take a specific path, but not all of those probabilities are necessarily equal.  The equality of all possible outcomes is necessary for true randomness, though.  Also something random is not necessarily nondeterministic.  Like a coin toss, which may or may not be nondeterministic but as far as we can tell every force that acts to influence the result, while unpredictable, is subject to classical determinism.  So if we replace random with nondeterminism, which is more accurate and better represents what I'm saying what reason is there to think that a nondeterministic event has to happen the same way if we were to roll back time?

Vessel wrote:
Possibly true. This does not in anyway suggest that our choices are fee or could be different.

Once they are set they couldn't be different, if we could roll back time and let time unfold again they wouldn't necessarily be the same either.

Vessel wrote:
As I've stated repeatedly, I'm not arguing for a completely determined universe.

Then where is your arbitrary cutoff point?

Vessel wrote:
Silliness. Why would I care to do that? I have no stake in whether or not anything given thing is true. I am simply putting forth what seems true as best I understand it.

So where is your argument that nondeterministic processes have no role in freewill or consciousness?  I'm still waiting for that.  Otherwise it seems that you've arbitrarily decided where nondeterminacy doesn't apply anymore. Even though it can be shown that it effects some macro level processes, such as evolution through nondeterministically effecting what nucleotides mutate due to radiation or how they mutate.  How do you, with certainty, exclude quantum effects from how and when neurons fire?  Electrons and photons are all subject to quantum nondeterminacy.  It seems like you decided to exclude them from the picture for no reason at all from here.

Vessel wrote:
How ridiculous would it be for someone to claim all information of a particular event can only come from direct experience of that event? No sane person would make such a claim.
 

I'm a little confused here now because this whole part of the discussion came about from me specifying other sources of information aside from experience specifically so that I wouldn't be making this claim which you just said no sane person would make.

I'll just take this as you finally understanding that point. 

Vessel wrote:
I'm really not concerned with what you thought amusing, only  with the truth or reasoning of the position you present.

That's fine but you've yet to present an actual case for why causality has anything at all to do with freewill.

And iin one sense we can "break causal chains" by deciding not to react to something that should cause a reaction.  Sort of like ending a generations long family feud.  One side has to do it by deciding to let something that would have caused a retaliatory event to just slide.

Vessel wrote:
So freewill doesn't need to be free? A computer can make choices based in criteria programmed into it. Do computers have freewill? If not then freewill is more than the ability to make choices.

Free from what?  How is a computer's decision making algorithms analogous?  They are based on ours, but they are far less sophisticated and not able to make decisions based on incomplete information as we are.  This is because their algorithms are completely deterministic.  Computers are incapable of initiating a thought, and they don't abstract anything from anything, they accept input and render output based on that input.  Since there's nothing nondeterministic involved there's no freewill present.  I should have specified that the the choices not be determined entirely by natural law here but I did specify it later in my response.  Otherwise, if our will is completely determined by natural law, it is not free.

Vessel wrote:
So you can consciously control the firings of neurons? But you are the firings of neurons. So can you control who you are? Can you be someone who enjoys mime if you want to?

I never said that.  You're confusing consciousness, which is merely the awareness of yourself as distinct from your environment with being able to control your thoughts.  We do excercise some control over our thoughts, but we don't control our assimilated collection of experiences.  What we have decided not to like we can over time start liking, but it is not a simple process and we can't just switch it on or off.  But I never said we could, I only said that our freewill is of a conscious variety, basically that not only do we decide, but we are aware we are making decisions.  Not necessarily always, but we are capable of always being aware that we are making decisions, which is not the case for the nonconscious species on earth.  We can also be aware of the decisions we've made.  We aren't necessarily always aware of decisions we've made, but we are capable of always being aware of them.

Vessel wrote:
If one is caused to do something then one is not free not to do it.

What are we caused to do that we are not free not to do?  If someone presents us with options we always have a choice not to choose.  That's still a choice, but it's not a choice from any of the options given, we were not caused to chose from the options presented.  Often this leads to consequences that we would rather avoid, though, which is why we do chose.  When we are given options we are caused to chose something, but we aren't necessarily caused to chose something specific.  And we aren't necessarily caused to chose something from the set of options given.  So I fail to see the truth or relevance of what you said.

Vessel wrote:
Because if it was not necessary for freewill then there woul'd be no difference between freewilled choice and determined choice.

This is only true if you intentionally ignore that we don't have to react to specific events in specific ways.  Or just assume that the way we do react was the only way we could react because of determinism.  You have at no point shown that we should ignore this fact or that the way react is determined.  If you dont ignore it, though, you see that everything we do is at some level caused, but our freedom to make choices, A.K.A. freewill, is how we react to events in our life and you've given no reason to even suspect that these reactions must be determined.

Vessel wrote:
I don't propose we break any as I don't believe freewill is actual.

by your definition of freewill it isn't actual.  I'm still waiting for you to show that your definition is in any way good or relevant.  Remember that freewill was not a concept invented by physicists, what does causality have to do with it?

 

Vessel wrote:
Because all we are left with otherwise is determinstic forces with some amount of random elements thrown in. Now, explain how that equals freewill.

It helps if you stop using the word random where nondeterministic is better.  The freewill comes from a decision making process, or informational filter, that uses both deterministic and nondeterministic aspects to prevent methods for decision making, or concepts to decide on, and then apply the methods on the concepts based on criterion either given to you or assumed and accepted by you.  The nondeterministic aspects allow for novel ideas and also cause some aspects to influence the decision making process more than others.  Every concept or choice is subjected to the informational filter for acceptance or rejection.  Also the informational filter doesn't necessary have to reject or accept a concept in its entirety.  It can reject part of a concept but send back the good aspects for further consideration.  It comes down to synapses and how non-linked synapses fire together but how which non-linked synapses will fire together is subject to nondeterminism.  There's also a matter of timing, what order will the synapses fire in?  This is also subject to nondeterminism.  They all have an effect on the decision, though, and the decision made will not be completely determined by natural law.

Vessel wrote:
If a thought comes to mind from something someone says there is always a segue. I'm not sure about how your mind works, but mine never suddenly jumps to random completely unrelated information. Does your mind really do this?

I think a more interesting question is does your mind really not do this?

Vessel wrote:
Can you not see how one thought is related to the next? How trhey are linked? That is by no means random thoughts entering your mind. A random thought entering your mind would be if someone was talking about jupiters moons and your mind responded with the thought I like pickles.

When I brought up the linked subjects it was not to demonstrate random thoughts, it was to demonstrate how nondeterministic processes can result in chaining together thoughts which are not conceptually linked but can be tangentially linked.  Cheese doesn't always come in wheels, why I did think cheese wheel?  A cheese wheel is not the same as a car tire, They are functionally and conceptually different, why did I think car tire from cheese wheel?  Fire trucks are not the only vehicle that have tires, why did I think firetruck as opposed to something more related to tires, like kinds of tires or bike tires, or tire rims?  Why fire truck over any other kind of vehicle with a tire?  From there why ghostbusters?  Ghostbusters isn't the only concept in my head linked however tenuously to firetrucks, since the link from firetruck to ghostbusters was only the fact that the ghostbusters used an abandoned fire house, not even the fire truck.  Why that specific series?  Why not a more likely series of thoughts more closely linked to the original topic?  Like starting with cheese different kinds of cheese, from there to other kinds of food?  Since food is a concept more conceptually similar to cheese than tires.  Remember I never excluded causation from freewill, but what determined this line of thought?  I never said they weren't linked, but what decided which specific concept would follow?  Why didn't a more similar concept follow?

Vessel wrote:

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How often do you think we recombine information unless we're trying to come up with a new concept? You made quite a random new concept here and it was only in response to your brain trying to recombine things into a new concept. If you're not trying to recombine information to solve a problem or make up a story or whatever, why would your brain be doing it in the background for no reason?

 

 

What? I have no idea what you are trying to say in that paragraph. 

That paragraph was in response to you asking why you don't recombine concepts in nondetermined configurations all the time.  Basically because you only recombine concepts in response to a need to recombine concepts.  What was hard to understand?  Your example concept only came about because you were trying to make an example concept.

Vessel wrote:
I think you are going to find yourself trying to draw an awkward distinction between this information filter and the "to whom it belongs" unless you posit some form of dualism. 

I'd be interested to see how any form of dualism is necessary in anything I've said.  An individual consciousness possess some form of informational filter that is an important part of their decision making process, for rational people that filter is always logic, but it is still influenced by other considerations.  Not everyone uses the same informational filter.  The informational filter used by any given individual depends on experience and available knowledge or information.  Nowhere from this does dualism necessarily follow, and no part of this make dualism in any form necessary.  A person is not seperate from their informational filter, a person's informational filter is part of their consciousness.


Eloise
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todangst wrote:

todangst wrote:
Eloise wrote:
todangst wrote:
Eloise wrote:
[It's actually really easy to excuse consciousness from causal determinism.

Determinism requires time and time may not exist.

 

How exactly does that excuse consciousness from casual determinism via ruling out time? How are you able to speak of consciousness, sans time?

 

You'd be better off taking up the battle cry of 'acausality'

What makes you think I haven't?

Nothing makes me think that. Jamie Whyte, Cambridge University professor writes:

Concepts like 'acausality' and 'the uncertainty principle', which so excite gobbledygookers, should give no comfort to those who embrace ridiculous ideas like 'timelessness'. The weirdness of quantum physics is not an example of an intellectual free-for-all but just more of the tyranny of the scientific method -True interpretations of quantum physics do not involve paradoxes... the philosophy of quantum physics is concerned with showing that its paradoxes are merely apparent.

In other words, you're just importing a concept that 'sounds weird' to you to justify something weirder yet: timelessness.

John Archibald Wheeler well known Professor of Physics and of Wheeler-DeWitt equation fame:

"The past is theory, it has no existence except in the records of the present. We are participators, at the microscopic level, in making that past, as well as the present and the future."

 

The Wheeler DeWitt equation unites Quantum and Relativity.

 

Carlo Rovelli French Theoretical Physicist whose current area of work is Quantum Gravity and Space-Time:

"It is not reality that has a time flow, it is our very approximate knowledge of reality that has a time flow," says Rovelli. "Time is the effect of our ignorance."

 

The list of physical evidences 'timelessness' is not gobbledygook but genuinely fascinating physical fact goes on to include the work of such physicists as Hawking-Turok (Instanton theory), Victor Stenger (outspoken detractor of gobbledygook supernatural claims ; authored a book called 'Timeless Universe' ) British Physicist Julian Barbour (authored 'End of Time' ) and so on... Sean Carroll, Amrit Sorli, Henry Stapp...

 

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. It is possible to speak of consciousness without time if conciousness is material because it is possible to speak of material sans time.

 

Get to it then. So easy to assert, harder still to actually do it. Love to hear how you can get to timelessness.... next, you'll tell me that you can freeze something to absolute zero (which involves timelessness.... and...gee... is impossible!)

I hope you'll get a little familiar with the works I have listed above before we go on any further, it would be easier on us both if you're more familiar with the ground already covered on this subject.

Here's some links that may help:

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/barbour/barbour_index.html

http://www.scribd.com/doc/1612909/Time-Illusion

http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2006/08/time_before_time.php

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Timeless/TimelessAbstract.html

 

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I was going to finish

I was going to finish responding to you other comment but being as that you have already responded to my last comment, well, all the commenting i still have to do would require more time than the interest level of such a conversation merits. So far, you have done nothing except argue that choice is not completely determined by natural law (whatever natural law is supposed to mean). You have not supported this except to say that some brain function can be non-determinstic. This is hardly showing that choice is non-deterministic. And it is miles from showing any freewill to exist.

Anyway, the conversation doesn't seem to be going anywhere as, judging by your replies, you don't seem to understand anything I say. That may be my fault or it may be yours but either way it makes for pointless discussion that is not worth the time it takes to type replies.

If you want to try and start from a blank slate and each try to communicate our position to one other, my support for compatibalism and your's for the existence of a defined freewill, then there might be something interesting in this conversation yet. If not, I believe I will leave it where it is. 


“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


DeathMunkyGod
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Vessel wrote: I was going

Vessel wrote:

I was going to finish responding to you other comment but being as that you have already responded to my last comment, well, all the commenting i still have to do would require more time than the interest level of such a conversation merits. So far, you have done nothing except argue that choice is not completely determined by natural law (whatever natural law is supposed to mean). You have not supported this except to say that some brain function can be non-determinstic. This is hardly showing that choice is non-deterministic. And it is miles from showing any freewill to exist.

Anyway, the conversation doesn't seem to be going anywhere as, judging by your replies, you don't seem to understand anything I say. That may be my fault or it may be yours but either way it makes for pointless discussion that is not worth the time it takes to type replies.

If you want to try and start from a blank slate and each try to communicate our position to one other, my support for compatibalism and your's for the existence of a defined freewill, then there might be something interesting in this conversation yet. If not, I believe I will leave it where it is.

Actually I explained in much detail how free will enters in when thoughts and the decision making process is not completely deterministic.  And there wasn't actually any part of your argument that I didn't understand, except what you asserted but never proved.  Like that causality has something to do with freewill at all.  It doesn't because causality is just part of nature.  Nothing has to or can be removed from causal chains, however freewill is about how the decisions we make are not completely determined by what causes them or the current state of our matter when the cause is introduced. 

As for your question about what I might mean by natural law...that would be all of the laws of nature...you know...physics...chemistry...the laws that act in the natural world...


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DeathMunkyGod

DeathMunkyGod wrote:
Vessel wrote:

I was going to finish responding to you other comment but being as that you have already responded to my last comment, well, all the commenting i still have to do would require more time than the interest level of such a conversation merits. So far, you have done nothing except argue that choice is not completely determined by natural law (whatever natural law is supposed to mean). You have not supported this except to say that some brain function can be non-determinstic. This is hardly showing that choice is non-deterministic. And it is miles from showing any freewill to exist.

Anyway, the conversation doesn't seem to be going anywhere as, judging by your replies, you don't seem to understand anything I say. That may be my fault or it may be yours but either way it makes for pointless discussion that is not worth the time it takes to type replies.

If you want to try and start from a blank slate and each try to communicate our position to one other, my support for compatibalism and your's for the existence of a defined freewill, then there might be something interesting in this conversation yet. If not, I believe I will leave it where it is.

Actually I explained in much detail how free will enters in when thoughts and the decision making process is not completely deterministic.

No.You simply gave a possible means by which non-determinstic processes can be part of the mental processes. But since non-deterministic (random) does not equal freewill you have not at all shown how freewill "enters in".

Quote:
And there wasn't actually any part of your argument that I didn't understand, except what you asserted but never proved.

By reading your responses it is obvious to me that you nearly completely misunderstand my position. It is telling that when I say this you don't ask for clarification but instead state that there is no part you are misunderstanding. This is exactly why I think this conversation pointless. You seem to think you know what my position is better than I do no matter how many times I correct you.

Quote:
Like that causality has something to do with freewill at all. It doesn't because causality is just part of nature.Nothing has to or can be removed from causal chains, however freewill is about how the decisions we make are not completely determined by what causes them or the current state of our matter when the cause is introduced.

Here is a definition of freeewill often used in philosophy: no choice is free unless it is uncaused; that is, unless the "will" is exercised independently of all causal influences - in a causal vacuum. In some unexplained fashion, the will - a thing that allegedly stands aloof from brain-based causality - makes an unconstrained choice.

Now that is an actual definition of freewill. If you have a different definition pleae offer it. I have asked what you mean by freewill repeatedly and you have provided nothing but ability to choose or something to that effect, which I pointed out can apply to a computer, or to someone who is being controlled by someone else. A choice is still made it just isn't free in those scenarios and therefor it would not be a freewilled choice.

I' also like to note that you act as if random neuron firing has something to do with cognition. I allow you to make this assertion because in the end it doesn't matter as random neuron firing does not rescue freewill, but though neurons may at times fire randomly I see no reason to think it plays any part in decision making. (Just as something to think about, if you are going to state that random neuron firing plays a role in decision making you should also say quantum tunneling of electrons plays a role in computing.)

 

Quote:
As for your question about what I might mean by natural law...that would be all of the laws of nature...you know...physics...chemistry...the laws that act in the natural world...

I just never hear anyone but people who are bastardizing science use that term so I always need to ask what is meant by it when it is introduced into conversation.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

I mean, if you look at the evolution of the Christian apologetic from Anselm to Aquinas to Descartes to Bahnsen to Plantinga, you see real progress in the sophistication of the argumentation presented, and in how close to God they get with their proofs. So I figured eventually we'll evolve closer and closer to an actual 100% proof of the existence of the supernatural.

 

How do you know they are getting closer to explaning or proving God?  Doesn't this presuppose that you know what God is?(yes, I notice your tag).

 

It seems that all arguments for God are an attempt to make the strongest argument that people can't argue against, whether it resembles reality or not.  That is, all Theists simply define God INTO existence.

For example, few people use the old definitions and arguments of God because they know they fail, so they change the definition of God to make it more difficult to argue against.  This is not a victory but an abdication.

 It's like defining a cat as a four-legged animal, then, when someone points out that dogs are four-legged, you change the definition so that it meets a minimal requirement: a cat is a legged-animal...then an animal...then just "is".  This is what has happened to the arguments for God - they haven't gotten closer to defining him (how would you know!?), they have become reductionist until there is barely a God to define at all.  This seems to be the strongest position of the Theist: to describe god in some minimalist fashion so as to minimize the possible arguments.

Every theist I have ever talked to defines God in exactly the manner they feel they can defend, no more, no less.  One theist may say "God is as described in the Bible" and then they will proceed to us the Bible as their "proof".  One theist will say that "God is the Prime Mover" and refuse to argue for any additional religious attributes.

 

The OP has a concept of God that he feels he can defend philosophically, and thus, defines his God according to the arguments he thinks are persuasive.  (Many theists may add additional description as a personal belief, but decline to argue for it).

 

I would like the OP to consider the nature of the arguments for God.  He will see that they all become increasingly vague and minimal.

 

It is the case of the Incredible Shrinking God. Soon, God will only be argued as "God is That that That Is", or some such nonsense. (I submit, it has already reached this point.)

Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.
Isaac Asimov


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DeathMunkyGod

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

Everything, even macro level physics, is affected by quantum level fluctuations, the degree to which the effects are likely to show depends on the complexity of the system, ie how many particles present.

If enough particles are present for the system to be considered "macro," classical physics takes over and quantum effects do not apply for purposes of determining how the system will act.

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

Also electrons are always subject to quantum level fluctuations, and electrons are part of the neuron activity in the brain. I don't know if you're aware, but quantum mechanics affects chemistry I used to have a whole text book on the subject of quantum mechanics and chemistry.

Yet chemical reactions always work the same way. So either quantum effects are determined or they aren't relevant in a discussion of macro-level chemistry. You choose. 

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

And then a simple real world example of a macrolevel system affected by quantum nondeterminism: Nuclear decay. The nuclear decay rate is constant, this we know, over the span of the half life due to the law of large numbers, however the decay rate is not uniform. It doesn't decay at a constant linear rate over the span of the half life. This is why geiger counters, which detect the release of alpha and beta particles, usually, which are byproducts of nuclear decay, click randomly, because the radioactive materials don't decay at a constant linear or deterministic rate. Radiation is directly relevant to evolution, because radiation is one cause of mutation. I realize that none of this is directly relevant to the brain, though.

You made my point for me half way through this paragraph. The behaviour of the individual particles doesn't matter because once the laws of large numbers are applied, they smooth out into a predictable result.

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

However the neuronal discharges are electrical, and when a person is trying to solve a problem for which they have no clear solution at best they can engage certain neural pathways that are related to the problem but are not the solution, or forge new pathways by linking new ideas. Of course to do this new neural pathways have to fire and the order and timing of these neural pathways firing is nondeterministic because it depends on a number of nondeterministic factors, including the nondeterministic nature of the electron. Once a concept is formed by the firing of pathways in response to the problem we are brought into the loop in which we check for consistency with experience or available information. This is where the new idea is either accepted or rejected.

This would be true if only one electron were involved in the firing of a neuron and if only one firing were involved in something that could be considered a thought. But neither is true. There are bazillions of electrons involved and thousands of firings. So the results are deterministic. 

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

This whole paragraph is completely wrong. Quantum indeterminacy has nothing to do with observation.

Read the rest of what you posted and count the number of times you make reference to observation and measurement and what we can know. Even the word "indeterminacy" addresses the question of whether or not we can predict the result. It is all about observation.

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

It is the fact that the behavior of a particle is only predictable by a wave function that can only tell us the probability that a specific particle will follow a specific path, whether or not we are observing particles this is what we know that they do. this is the reason why even firing single photons at a time after firing many photons through a double slitted barier panel the photons will hit a photodetector behind the double slitted barrier in a wave pattern, as though it were traveling as a wave instead of a particle. This is the famous wave/particle duality. You're confusing the principle with the uncertainty principle which has to do with measurements. The uncertainty principle states that the more certain we are about one state of a particle the less certain we are about another. thus according to position/momentum uncertainty we can measure the position of a particle with absolute certainty, but if we do that we can know absolutely nothing about the momentum, and vice versa. Then from there if we measure the position with less certainty we can know more about the momentum, and vice versa. but this principle is distinct from the principle of wave/particle duality, which is where indeterminism in quantum mechanics comes from.

It's because of the uncertainty principle that wave/particle duality exists. We can't predict the path of a photon because we can only assign a probability to its location at any time. It's only after observing the actual path that it took that it can be said to have taken any particular path at all.

In any event, you have still failed to show how the alleged presence of indeterminacy in the brain could possibly manufacture new information in the brain.

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

How is that a problem? How do you break a chain of causality?

You can't. Which is my point.

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

With or without free will, even in completely random systems where random event A causes one event from a set of random events B or random event A is self catalyzing and causes another random event to occur from the set of random events A you have an unbroken chain of causality. Free will isn't about breaking chains of causality, it was silly of me to even go along with that in the first place. Free will is about making decisions and thinking novel thoughts. Most importantly consciousness is about being aware of yourself as distinct and seperate from your environment. Our decisions are effected by past experience which makes up the causal chain. "Breaking the causal chain" in my perspective in my previous response was just me adopting someone else's sloppy terminology, more accurate would have been to say changing their past trend of behavior.

Looks like we've been talking past each other then. I've been addressing free will in the sense that theists use it, ie, a perfectly unpredictable source of thought that would actually exempt an omnipotent God from being responsible for its actions. This version of free will requires a broken chain of causality so that God couldn't have predicted its actions. 

DeathMunkyGod wrote:

This is also just false. In quantum physics the actual path a specific photon will travel is unpredictable. Same with any particle, actually, we can, at best, calculate the probability a specific photon will take a specific path using its wavefunction, this is not the same as saying we can predict its path. We still won't know the photon's specific path even when we know its wavefunction. Thus everytime anything emits a photon, we cannot predict where that photon will go. We can calculate the probability that it will go in some specific direction, we can even limit its path, but in a more realistic system we cannot predict the path of a photon.

Fascinating, and irrelevant. Brain function does not rely on individual particles, it relies on the aggregate actions of bazillions of them. It obeys the laws of classical physics and chemistry. 

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Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

Hello.

In the course of my wanderings, I've come across a number of arguments for God. Some are good, some are less good, but all raise the probability for his existence to some degree I think. Anyway, for a long time I had the theory that there was some sort of "apologetics zeitgeist", if you will. I mean, if you look at the evolution of the Christian apologetic from Anselm to Aquinas to Descartes to Bahnsen to Plantinga, you see real progress in the sophistication of the argumentation presented, and in how close to God they get with their proofs. So I figured eventually we'll evolve closer and closer to an actual 100% proof of the existence of the supernatural. Turns out I was wrong- it wasn't gradual at all. And it didn't come from any apologist.

No, the defeat of atheism was accomplished by one of the most vehement atheists of all time: Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand 

Yeah, you heard me. The object of your worship refuted you. (I know not all of you worship her but from going through the forums I know she has fans here.)

I quote the book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

"Can one prove that man's consciousness does not function automatically? If man's consciousness were automatic, if it did react deterministically to outer or inner forces acting upon it, then, by definition, a man would have no choice in regard to his mental content; he would accept whatever he had to accept, whatever ideas the determining forces engendered in him... (p. 69)

The concept of 'volition' is one of the roots of the concept of 'validation'... A validation of ideas is necessary and possible only because man's consciousness is volitional. This applies to any idea, including the advocacy of free will: to ask for its proof is to presuppose the reality of free will...

You the reader can percieve every potentiality I have been discussing simply by observing your own consciousness... You can decide to read attentively and struggle to understand, judge, and apply the material- or you can let your attention wander.(p. 70)

When the determinist claims that man is determined, this applies to all man's ideas also, including his own advocacy of determinism. Given the factors operating on him, he believes, he had to become a determinist, just as his opponents had no choice but to oppose him. How then can he know that his own viewpoint is true?... Does he automatically follow reason and logic? Clearly not; if he did, error would impossible to him. (p. 71)"

I'm not going to drown you in quotes. Anyone who wants the whole argument is directed to p.69-72 of the book. The pattern of argument outlined above will serve as a sufficient outline for our purposes.

So, free will is proven. Now, do we know of any sort of matter that could create free will? No. All the matter that we've observed and tested acts more or less deterministically at the visible level. So, we have to appeal to a higher power, one not bound by matter, to explain this phenomenon. This is called the supernatural.


Well I'm not sure how this constitutes a defeat of atheism or a proof that atheism is wrong for the following reasons:

1. It is false that if athiesm is true then determinism is true.

2. It is false that one needs to appeal to a higher power to prove that one has free will. One only needs to appeal to the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP). To briefly statae the principle: One is morally responsible if one could have chosen otherwise.

3. If one has free will, then that does not mean that theism is true. Also if theism is true, then I'm not sure that it is necessarily the case that one has free will. It is concievable to think of a world where God has arranged antecedent events such that I am forced to do all of my actions by those antecedent events. Of course this point is debatable. Plantinga certainly thinks that If theism is true, it must be the case that we have free will, this point also helps him defeat the logical problem of evil.  

4. Last, that one has free will or not is still a hot topic in metaphysics; it has not been proven conclusively. There are those who cast doubt on PAP and there are those who think PAP is true. There are also those who argue that even if PAP is false one still has free will. Thus it has not been "proven" that one has free will.