Determinism vs. Chance

bennyboy
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Determinism vs. Chance

First of all, I'm new here.  Hello all, and please be gentle!

It seems to me that chance as an explanation for our universe is purely speculative: there is no reason to believe that things could be other than they are.  It also seems that there are only 2 possibilites:

1)  There is real randomness in the universe (for example in QM probabilities), so the universe could have turned out other than it has.

2)  Randomness is apparent but not actual, and probability is really a measure of our ignorance of the mechanisms of the universe, so the universe could not have turned out other than it has.

It seems to me that the BoP has to be on randomness: we know the universe can turn out as it has, so we must provide evidence that it could be otherwise.  Since we can't control for time, this is impossible.  Therefore, the default position should be that the universe (including our brains/minds) is deterministic.

Do you guys agree?

RatDog
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Hello welcome.  I hope you

Hello welcome.  I hope you enjoy the form.

My take on it is this.

Both the statements the universe has real randomness, and the universe doesn't have real randomness are positive statements about reality.   Positives statements about reality require evidence.  Therefore without evidence about the true state of randomness in the universe we don't know anything about it, and all we can have is empty speculation.

Ktulu
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bennyboy wrote:It seems to

bennyboy wrote:

It seems to me that chance as an explanation for our universe is purely speculative: there is no reason to believe that things could be other than they are.  It also seems that there are only 2 possibilites:

1)  There is real randomness in the universe (for example in QM probabilities), so the universe could have turned out other than it has.

2)  Randomness is apparent but not actual, and probability is really a measure of our ignorance of the mechanisms of the universe, so the universe could not have turned out other than it has.

Welcome OP

The uncertainty principle isn't derived from our apparent ignorance.

wiki wrote:

This is not a statement about researchers' ability to measure one quantity while determining the other quantity. Rather, it is a statement about the laws of physics. That is, a system cannot be defined to simultaneously measure one value while determining the future value of these pairs of quantities. The principle states that a minimum exists for the product of the uncertainties in these properties that is equal to or greater than one half of ħ the reduced Planck constant (ħ = h/2&pi.

So, uncertainty is a property woven into the fabric of the universe.

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc

harleysportster
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Welcome aboard

Welcome aboard.

By any chance, have you heard of Daniel Dennett's book, Freedom Evolves ?

Thus far, that has been one of the best books that I have read in regards to compatibilism /incompatibilism, determinism/indeterminism and the idea of whether free will can actually exist or not.

A bit of a difficult read for an uneducated one like me (had to re-read several paragraphs more than once before I could move on) but it does provide a wellspring of information.

I highly reccomend it to anyone that is interested in determinism/indeterminism.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno

bennyboy
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First Responses

RatDog wrote:

Hello welcome. I hope you enjoy the form.

My take on it is this.

Both the statements the universe has real randomness, and the universe doesn't have real randomness are positive statements about reality. Positives statements about reality require evidence. Therefore without evidence about the true state of randomness in the universe we don't know anything about it, and all we can have is empty speculation.

Would you extend this as well to definitions of mind and the reality/illusory nature of free will?

Ktulu wrote:

Welcome OP

The uncertainty principle isn't derived from our apparent ignorance.

wiki wrote:

This is not a statement about researchers' ability to measure one quantity while determining the other quantity. Rather, it is a statement about the laws of physics. That is, a system cannot be defined to simultaneously measure one value while determining the future value of these pairs of quantities. The principle states that a minimum exists for the product of the uncertainties in these properties that is equal to or greater than one half of ħ the reduced Planck constant (ħ = h/2&pi.

So, uncertainty is a property woven into the fabric of the universe.

Ah, yes, but that's because you can't control for time. If you could, you could disinguish between true randomness, ignorance of the mechanism behind apparent randomness, and practical imprecisions in measuring complex states.

harleysportster wrote:

Welcome aboard.

By any chance, have you heard of Daniel Dennett's book, Freedom Evolves ?

Thus far, that has been one of the best books that I have read in regards to compatibilism /incompatibilism, determinism/indeterminism and the idea of whether free will can actually exist or not.

A bit of a difficult read for an uneducated one like me (had to re-read several paragraphs more than once before I could move on) but it does provide a wellspring of information.

I highly reccomend it to anyone that is interested in determinism/indeterminism.

I've read most of that book, but I have to say I'm not convinced.  To me, he's mixing modes too much: subjective concepts about mind and experience, and objective materialism.  So far, I'm unconvinced that the two can be reconciled without regressing to a circular or ambiguous argument.  But I think I WILL take your advice and read it again-- as you say, the book certainly gives a lot to think about.

Ktulu
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bennyboy wrote:Ktulu

bennyboy wrote:

Ktulu wrote:

Welcome OP

The uncertainty principle isn't derived from our apparent ignorance.

wiki wrote:

This is not a statement about researchers' ability to measure one quantity while determining the other quantity. Rather, it is a statement about the laws of physics. That is, a system cannot be defined to simultaneously measure one value while determining the future value of these pairs of quantities. The principle states that a minimum exists for the product of the uncertainties in these properties that is equal to or greater than one half of ħ the reduced Planck constant (ħ = h/2&pi.

So, uncertainty is a property woven into the fabric of the universe.

Ah, yes, but that's because you can't control for time. If you could, you could disinguish between true randomness, ignorance of the mechanism behind apparent randomness, and practical imprecisions in measuring complex states.

Hmmm, Well there is the chaos theory, along the same lines.  I'm not sure what you mean to control for time.  Time is necessary in order to determine the predictability or lack of, between state A and state B.  The momentum and position can be measured to an arbitrary degree of accuracy.  You would control for time by measuring position/velocity/time A and then position/velocity/time B and calculate intermediary state A1,A2,A3... Ax, where each state corresponds to a time unit.  Maybe we should define randomness or mechanism behind randomness (or apparent) before we go any further.

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc

cj
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bennyboy wrote:RatDog

bennyboy wrote:

RatDog wrote:

Hello welcome. I hope you enjoy the form.

My take on it is this.

Both the statements the universe has real randomness, and the universe doesn't have real randomness are positive statements about reality. Positives statements about reality require evidence. Therefore without evidence about the true state of randomness in the universe we don't know anything about it, and all we can have is empty speculation.

Would you extend this as well to definitions of mind and the reality/illusory nature of free will?

Welcome.

If by this you are heading for the free will argument, for me, it doesn't matter.

I like having the "illusion of free will".  I may not have "true" free will and I don't care.  I review what I know, what I can find out, and I attempt to make rational choices.  And like every other human on the planet, I sometimes don't make rational choices and sometimes the choices are not particularly "free."

I think of it more as brownian motion.  Humans could be the individual particles randomly drunken walking around while the rest of the universe is the chunk of rock that we are all bouncing around in which does not move on its own but responds to outside forces.

Don't get hung up on what those outside forces of the universe may be, as I know it is not a perfect analogy.  More like internal forces of the universe that are affecting all of the rocks.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.

bennyboy
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Ktulu wrote:bennyboy

Ktulu wrote:

bennyboy wrote:

Ktulu wrote:

Welcome OP

The uncertainty principle isn't derived from our apparent ignorance.

wiki wrote:

This is not a statement about researchers' ability to measure one quantity while determining the other quantity. Rather, it is a statement about the laws of physics. That is, a system cannot be defined to simultaneously measure one value while determining the future value of these pairs of quantities. The principle states that a minimum exists for the product of the uncertainties in these properties that is equal to or greater than one half of ħ the reduced Planck constant (ħ = h/2&pi.

So, uncertainty is a property woven into the fabric of the universe.

Ah, yes, but that's because you can't control for time. If you could, you could disinguish between true randomness, ignorance of the mechanism behind apparent randomness, and practical imprecisions in measuring complex states.

Hmmm, Well there is the chaos theory, along the same lines.  I'm not sure what you mean to control for time.  Time is necessary in order to determine the predictability or lack of, between state A and state B.  The momentum and position can be measured to an arbitrary degree of accuracy.  You would control for time by measuring position/velocity/time A and then position/velocity/time B and calculate intermediary state A1,A2,A3... Ax, where each state corresponds to a time unit.  Maybe we should define randomness or mechanism behind randomness (or apparent) before we go any further.

I'm saying that to prove randomness, in the sense of establishing a non-deterministic universe, we'd have to be able to demonstrate that for a given space/time coordinate, more than two outcomes are possible. In other words, we'd have to replay say a particular quantum event at time = x more than once. Clearly, this is impossible: there's no way of knowing if the apparent randomness in the universe is causal, in the sense that the universe could really have been other than it is.

bennyboy
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cj wrote:bennyboy

cj wrote:

bennyboy wrote:

RatDog wrote:

Hello welcome. I hope you enjoy the form.

My take on it is this.

Both the statements the universe has real randomness, and the universe doesn't have real randomness are positive statements about reality. Positives statements about reality require evidence. Therefore without evidence about the true state of randomness in the universe we don't know anything about it, and all we can have is empty speculation.

Would you extend this as well to definitions of mind and the reality/illusory nature of free will?

Welcome.

If by this you are heading for the free will argument, for me, it doesn't matter.

I like having the "illusion of free will".  I may not have "true" free will and I don't care.  I review what I know, what I can find out, and I attempt to make rational choices.  And like every other human on the planet, I sometimes don't make rational choices and sometimes the choices are not particularly "free."

I think of it more as brownian motion.  Humans could be the individual particles randomly drunken walking around while the rest of the universe is the chunk of rock that we are all bouncing around in which does not move on its own but responds to outside forces.

Don't get hung up on what those outside forces of the universe may be, as I know it is not a perfect analogy.  More like internal forces of the universe that are affecting all of the rocks.

One of the solutions to the apparent dualities between mind/matter, determinism/free-will, etc. is to refuse to resolve them.  We don't have to prove that mind is material, that free-will is a product of quantum fluctuations, or whatever.  I personally like this stance.

Can I say, then, that you are not a convinced materialist?

BobSpence
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Free will, in the strict

Free will, in the strict sense , is an empty concept. It implies we make a choice based on absolutely no input.

We make choices based on all the momentary balance of our preferences, urges, recent and past experience, emotional state, current sensory perceptions, current beliefs, etc, etc. All of which are in turn the result of earlier experience, and so on.

So forget 'free will'. It is simply not required to explain our experience.

'True' randomness may or may not exist, but strictly 'deterministic' systems can display behavior that approximates such behaviour to any arbitrary degree, ie, so one could not distinguish between them except by all but infinitely precise measurement. There are two ways this can occur.

1. An arbitrarily large number of similar interacting particles, such as the molecules in our atmosphere. Each time one molecule bounces off another, the new direction and magnitude of their velocity is very sensitive to the exact geometry of the collision. After only a relatively few such such collisions, calculation of their exact trajectory would require incredibly precise observation and measurement, even ignoring quantum effects.

It has been proposed that some such 'sea' of more elementary particles pervading the universe is the foundation of the randomness we find displayed by quantum systems.

2. Non-linear feed-back, AKA chaos theory. Where the outcome of some ongoing process becomes part of the input to the process. Under certain conditions, the output can be infinitely sensitive to the exact state of the input variables.

So even without quantum theory, the distinction between a 'truly' random processes and complex deterministic systems is academic.

Throw in Quantum Theory, which implies that no variable in the Universe can be determined with infinite precision, which would require that there be an infinite amount of information within a finite volume, so infinite precision is impossible in principle. The uncertainty in QM can be seen as one manifestation or implication of this.

We can run experiments to see how if we get different outcomes from the same setup, to any desired degree of (finite) precision, either in sequence or in parallel, so time is not an issue.

Just the thoroughly confirmed unpredictability and 'perfect' statistical constant probability that an unstable atom will decay in any fixed time period, as the basis of radiometric dating techniques is further proof that something approximating 'true' randomness to a high degree does exist.

So reality runs on both chance and determinism, inextricably combined.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

harleysportster
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BobSpence1 wrote:Free will,

BobSpence1 wrote:

Free will, in the strict sense , is an empty concept. It implies we make a choice based on absolutely no input.

We make choices based on all the momentary balance of our preferences, urges, recent and past experience, emotional state, current sensory perceptions, current beliefs, etc, etc. All of which are in turn the result of earlier experience, and so on.

So forget 'free will'. It is simply not required to explain our experience.

'True' randomness may or may not exist, but strictly 'deterministic' systems can display behavior that approximates such behaviour to any arbitrary degree, ie, so one could not distinguish between them except by all but infinitely precise measurement. There are two ways this can occur.

1. An arbitrarily large number of similar interacting particles, such as the molecules in our atmosphere. Each time one molecule bounces off another, the new direction and magnitude of their velocity is very sensitive to the exact geometry of the collision. After only a relatively few such such collisions, calculation of their exact trajectory would require incredibly precise observation and measurement, even ignoring quantum effects.

It has been proposed that some such 'sea' of more elementary particles pervading the universe is the foundation of the randomness we find displayed by quantum systems.

2. Non-linear feed-back, AKA chaos theory. Where the outcome of some ongoing process becomes part of the input to the process. Under certain conditions, the output can be infinitely sensitive to the exact state of the input variables.

So even without quantum theory, the distinction between a 'truly' random processes and complex deterministic systems is academic.

Throw in Quantum Theory, which implies that no variable in the Universe can be determined with infinite precision, which would require that there be an infinite amount of information within a finite volume, so infinite precision is impossible in principle. The uncertainty in QM can be seen as one manifestation or implication of this.

We can run experiments to see how if we get different outcomes from the same setup, to any desired degree of (finite) precision, either in sequence or in parallel, so time is not an issue.

Just the thoroughly confirmed unpredictability and 'perfect' statistical constant probability that an unstable atom will decay in any fixed time period, as the basis of radiometric dating techniques is further proof that something approximating 'true' randomness to a high degree does exist.

So reality runs on both chance and determinism, inextricably combined.

The wisdom of Bob Spence comes through once again.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno

Thunderios
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I'm going to try and see if

I'm going to try and see if I can get some sort of a conversation out of this, Bob

BobSpence1 wrote:

Free will, in the strict sense , is an empty concept. It implies we make a choice based on absolutely no input.

I would (and have) go as far as to say it's even a contradiction! Free implies that it is independent of absolutely everything, random. Will implies that you want something. If you flip a coin (and for the sake of argument the outcome is random) and say that you 'choose' depending on the outcome, you don't really choose (except for choosing to trust the coin), it's not your will.

BobSpence1 wrote:

We make choices based on all the momentary balance of our preferences, urges, recent and past experience, emotional state, current sensory perceptions, current beliefs, etc, etc. All of which are in turn the result of earlier experience, and so on.

I prefer saying the "structure of our brain" in stead of the enumeration. It makes me seem more objective

I kind of knew the rest (a bit), but you put it so nicely that I can't comment on it.

Ontopic, I think the two options are too narrow to be a dichotomy, but I agree to the rest of it. My brother once proposed that maybe there were an infinite amount of different universes that all behaved randomly, and that we only experienced because the molecules in our universe, by chance alone, were placed in a way that we could have a consciousness to experience. If the molecules hadn't done that, we wouldn't have been here to ask this question in the first place. (now that I look back on it, it's actually rather similar to the response on the fine tuning argument, except a bit more extreme).

cj
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bennyboy wrote:One of the

bennyboy wrote:

One of the solutions to the apparent dualities between mind/matter, determinism/free-will, etc. is to refuse to resolve them.  We don't have to prove that mind is material, that free-will is a product of quantum fluctuations, or whatever.  I personally like this stance.

Can I say, then, that you are not a convinced materialist?

I am a pragmatic realist.  What works, works.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.

bennyboy
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BobSpence1 wrote: We can run

BobSpence1 wrote:

We can run experiments to see how if we get different outcomes from the same setup, to any desired degree of (finite) precision, either in sequence or in parallel, so time is not an issue.

Just the thoroughly confirmed unpredictability and 'perfect' statistical constant probability that an unstable atom will decay in any fixed time period, as the basis of radiometric dating techniques is further proof that something approximating 'true' randomness to a high degree does exist.

First, the poster before me was right: a good post by you. +1 if there is such a thing.

That being said, we can never re-run the exact same quantum event or measurement at the same time. The types of randomness you are talking about are all statistical ones: measures of our "best guesses" against multiple observable results. I agree that for practical purposes, a system that is complex beyond measurement must be treated by us as random when it comes to predictive models. But the idea that this pragmatic acceptance of randomness should generalize to the idea that the universe could have been other than it is seems idealistic to me.

I think there's a non-zero chance that you will disagree with that, though.

BobSpence1 wrote:
So reality runs on both chance and determinism, inextricably combined.

I like this.

BobSpence
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The unpredictability of a a

The unpredictability of a a trajectory governed by a sequence of events that are extremely sensitive to the exact conditions at each event, such as that of individual colliding molecules of a gas, is the closest to being 'statistical'. In the absence of Quantum effects, this may run the same course if set to the same initial conditions.

Even if such a process would run the same course from the same initial conditions, that is not particularly useful if there is no practical way to calculate its future course any more quickly or as accurately than by letting it run, it is practically indistinguishable from a 'truly' random process.

Then there is quantum scale randomness, which may or may not be due to some underlying statistically random process analogous to colliding gas molecules. This is currently seen as the most purely and intrinsically random process. Even if it is due to something akin to gas molecule collisions, then due to the tiny scale of quantum phenomena, the number of 'particles' involved would be truly vast, if not infinite, so it would really blur the line between statistical and 'pure' randomness.

Chaotic processes are different, and can, in principle, be distinguished mathematically from the above, but are still not predictable, at least within certain ranges of state variables. What I understand, from my background in feedback theory, is that for certain values of 'positive' feedback of output back to input, the 'gain' of the system, ie, the ratio of output to input magnitude really can become infinite, as when an amplifier or public address system goes into oscillation, generating howling or squealling noises or tones without any input. When that behaviour is combined with non-linearity, and multiple forms of feedback, it can lead to truly chaotic behaviour. The point is that under such conditions, it would require infinite precision of specification or measurement of the 'initial state' to re-run the process from the same point.

In a finite universe, current theories strongly suggest that there are only a finite number of possible states, so given sufficient finite time, all possible states could occur, but will not necessariy occur, because there are constraints on what states can follow immediately from any given state, so the probability of certain states occurring may be vanishingly small.

EDIT: For a universe to be more interesting than an infinite cloud of colliding particles, there must be 'laws', which make some forms of interaction much more possible or probable than others, so a universe in which all sequences of states are equally likely has a vanishingly low probability of giving rise to anything as interesting as stars, planets, or life, since the number of almost totally disordered states is vastly greater than those which give rise to even the limited order we observe in our universe.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

bennyboy
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I will agree that as far as

I will agree that as far as living life goes, randomness is such a strong pragmatic reality that it might as well be taken at face value.  However, whether this means the universe was created by chance, or had any real variability in the way it unfolded, is not knowable.

I agree that an infinite universe with a finite number of possible states will not necessarily see them all.  It's possible that it will not see more than one, if you take time as a dimension.  I guess the question really could be reworded thus: is time a dimension, with us moving through it, or is there a kind of "metatime," another dimension in which time itself is changing and bending like space does?

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Welcome to our corner of

Welcome to our corner of the internet bennyboy.

The first question that I have for you is why you would put the burden of proof on randomness and not on determinism? Both states would be specific assertions on the nature of reality. Whatever is going on, either of them would have to be proved on it's own. That and if you did manage to disprove one, then the other becomes the default, at least until some other explanation comes to the fore which is different from either.

That much being said, I don't really track what you mean by either term. Just for grins, allow me to work on a system which, while apparently complicated, is much smaller than the universe. Perhaps you will see where I am going.

Let's consider a chess board. Obviously, there are a finite number of states that it can be in. Each piece has specific rules for how it may move and those constrain the total number of states. So it really is not more than a bit time consuming to calculate the total number of states that the board may be in. Further, how the board gets to any one specific state could vary but again, the constraints of the rules mean that there are a finite number of ways to make that happen.

Here is the rub: what if you had more chess boards than the total of all mathematical possibilities for the boards to be in? Well, there would have to be at least some identical boards. Do you follow me so far?

Even if we call the possible move in chess random, they are still bound by a set of interactions which would be deterministic. I could fully follow the rules apart from using some random number generator (which for the purpose of this exercise we will call really random) to determine which moves I make and still find myself in a deterministic state.

Then too, given the scenario of more chess boards than the possible total number needed to cover all possibilities, duplicates must obtain.

Do you follow me so far? I hope so.

Now let's move on to the “real universe” in whatever sense that may mean. Even if QM does provide for randomness, there also appear to be rules which are deterministic in nature.

As it happens, we really don't have final answers to some of the big questions on the nature of the universe. In fact, most of the people who are doing the big time cosmology work pretty much accept Godel's incompleteness theorem as delivering the verdict that we will never have the last answers on the nature of the universe.

However, we can at least take a crack at this. If the Hubble volume that we know is only a segment of infinite space, then it also follows that there are an infinite number of identical Hubble volumes “out there”. So both randomness and determinism could be true at the same time.

NoMoreCrazyPeople wrote:
Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

=

EXC
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bennyboy wrote: It seems to

bennyboy wrote:

It seems to me that chance as an explanation for our universe is purely speculative: there is no reason to believe that things could be other than they are. It also seems that there are only 2 possibilites:

1) There is real randomness in the universe (for example in QM probabilities), so the universe could have turned out other than it has.

2) Randomness is apparent but not actual, and probability is really a measure of our ignorance of the mechanisms of the universe, so the universe could not have turned out other than it has.

It seems to me that the BoP has to be on randomness: we know the universe can turn out as it has, so we must provide evidence that it could be otherwise. Since we can't control for time, this is impossible. Therefore, the default position should be that the universe (including our brains/minds) is deterministic.

Do you guys agree?

I think what QM and thermodynamics would say is that complex systems are only partially deterministic. The probabilities are deterministic. If you flipped a coin a million times, you can only determine the probabilty of a potential outcome. QM makes the whole universe into deterministic probabilities but there is never a 0 or 100% probability of anything.

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen

bennyboy
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Quote:The first question

Quote:
The first question that I have for you is why you would put the burden of proof on randomness and not on determinism?

Because if there is no absolute causal relationship between past states of the universe and the present one, then there is no singular universe at all.  There are a bunch of different universes, related very strongly on a macro, or conceptual, level, but related much less strongly on a more fundamental QM or even sub-QM (if we can imagine such a thing) level.

The problem is that concepts have no material existence; it's possible therefore that a chance-enabled universe is immaterial under any meaningful definition of the word.

bennyboy
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Maybe, but indeterminism is

Quote:
I think what QM and thermodynamics would say is that complex systems are only partially deterministic. The probabilities are deterministic. If you flipped a coin a million times, you can only determine the probabilty of a potential outcome. QM makes the whole universe into deterministic probabilities but there is never a 0 or 100% probability of anything.

Maybe, but indeterminism is not necessarily randomness.  Non-1.0 probability from a predictive or statistical perspective does not necessarily mean that the universe could be other than it is.  On the other hand, we can prove quite readily that the universe CAN be as it is.  Therefore, +1 to the idea that the universe could not be other than it is.

RatDog
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bennyboy wrote:RatDog

bennyboy wrote:

RatDog wrote:

Hello welcome. I hope you enjoy the form.

My take on it is this.

Both the statements the universe has real randomness, and the universe doesn't have real randomness are positive statements about reality. Positives statements about reality require evidence. Therefore without evidence about the true state of randomness in the universe we don't know anything about it, and all we can have is empty speculation.

Would you extend this as well to definitions of mind and the reality/illusory nature of free will?

Both the claim that something exists, and the claim that something that has already been proven to exist has a certain property are positive statements.  I firmly believe that the belief that a positive statements is factual needs to be backed evidence.  Human beings have been proven to exists therefore any statement about their properties need to be backed by evidence.  This includes claims about weather or not free will is real or illusionary.

Ktulu
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bennyboy wrote:Because if

bennyboy wrote:

Because if there is no absolute causal relationship between past states of the universe and the present one, then there is no singular universe at all.  There are a bunch of different universes, related very strongly on a macro, or conceptual, level, but related much less strongly on a more fundamental QM or even sub-QM (if we can imagine such a thing) level.

That's a non sequitur.  If there is no absolute causal relationship, which it looks as though there is not or we may never know, it doesn't necessitate that there are a multitude of actual universes.  It just necessitates that there are a multitude of possible universes.  To build on AIG's example, a game of chess could have a multitude of states that culminate in the same final state, but that in itself doesn't mean that all those prior possible states have actualized, it just means that any one of those prior states could have actualized and the observable end result would have been the same.

Just because something could have been, doesn't mean something was, to put it more simply

bennyboy wrote:

The problem is that concepts have no material existence; it's possible therefore that a chance-enabled universe is immaterial under any meaningful definition of the word.

How do you mean concepts have no material existence?  We're getting into Matt Slick territory here I don't want to go on a rant unless you're trying to draw a line in the sand between rationalism and empiricism as ultimate sources of determining reality.  If that's what you're trying to imply I have more to add, if not I won't bother.  My take on the 'materialism' of concepts is that if you can conceive of it, it has a material imprint of electrons on your brains neuron network fundamentally.  So 'concepts' such as numbers or whatever you want to use as a platonic example have no meaning or 'existence' outside of a material construct... I said I wasn't going to rant, I can't even trust myself

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc

bennyboy
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Ktulu wrote:If there is no

Ktulu wrote:

If there is no absolute causal relationship, which it looks as though there is not or we may never know, it doesn't necessitate that there are a multitude of actual universes.  It just necessitates that there are a multitude of possible universes.  To build on AIG's example, a game of chess could have a multitude of states that culminate in the same final state, but that in itself doesn't mean that all those prior possible states have actualized, it just means that any one of those prior states could have actualized and the observable end result would have been the same.

Just because something could have been, doesn't mean something was, to put it more simply

Well, how do we establish unity?  We look for continuity.  A line, if it suddenly breaks at point x, y and resumes at point x, y+z, isn't a line.  Let's say you are given two "snapshots" of universes, which may or may not be said to be the same one.  How are you to determine if they are the same, or if they are different?  I propose that it is continuity, along time, that allows us to say that the universe at time, t, and at time, t-1, is the same.  If you look at true randomness a la bosons or whatever, then that continuity is in a sense not there in the world of the very small, though it remains in the world of billiard balls and hammers falling on one's toe.  To me, this indicates that there are two separate realities: a series of discontinuous universes at the level of the small, and a single, deterministic universe at the scale of normal experience.  This larger-scale universe I'd say is conceptual, in the same way that the surface of a body of water, while being dependent on a collection of atoms, only has a conceptual reality since no continuous surface actually exists.

Ktulu wrote:

How do you mean concepts have no material existence?  We're getting into Matt Slick territory here I don't want to go on a rant unless you're trying to draw a line in the sand between rationalism and empiricism as ultimate sources of determining reality.  If that's what you're trying to imply I have more to add, if not I won't bother.  My take on the 'materialism' of concepts is that if you can conceive of it, it has a material imprint of electrons on your brains neuron network fundamentally.  So 'concepts' such as numbers or whatever you want to use as a platonic example have no meaning or 'existence' outside of a material construct... I said I wasn't going to rant, I can't even trust myself

I don't want to get into that here; but I think you've rightly inferred that I'm the type who might.  I hope we can agree that our concept of things differs from their material reality.  There may be a concept embedded in the chemistry of the brain, but in all cases, the thing as we conceive it exists only in the brain.  Although, even with that I may be saying to much: care to call "derail?"

bennyboy
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RatDog wrote: Human beings

RatDog wrote:

Human beings have been proven to exists therefore any statement about their properties need to be backed by evidence.  This includes claims about weather or not free will is real or illusionary.

I'm not so sure that even that statement is true.  Is a definition allowed also to be a proof?

Ktulu
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bennyboy wrote:Well, how do

bennyboy wrote:

Well, how do we establish unity?  We look for continuity.  A line, if it suddenly breaks at point x, y and resumes at point x, y+z, isn't a line.  Let's say you are given two "snapshots" of universes, which may or may not be said to be the same one.  How are you to determine if they are the same, or if they are different?  I propose that it is continuity, along time, that allows us to say that the universe at time, t, and at time, t-1, is the same.  If you look at true randomness a la bosons or whatever, then that continuity is in a sense not there in the world of the very small, though it remains in the world of billiard balls and hammers falling on one's toe.  To me, this indicates that there are two separate realities: a series of discontinuous universes at the level of the small, and a single, deterministic universe at the scale of normal experience.  This larger-scale universe I'd say is conceptual, in the same way that the surface of a body of water, while being dependent on a collection of atoms, only has a conceptual reality since no continuous surface actually exists.

We've had a few threads on this very subject, namely that something gets lost in translation when attempting to describe quantum phenomena with everyday, macro-universe derived narrative.  I like to use the 'bowling ball to describe particle spin' example, it just doesn't work.  I'm a layman, hence most of the mathematics go over my head, however I believe I have a good grasp of the concepts.  I believe the problem is that we're using the wrong language when discussing QM events, we need mathematics in order for it to make sense.  This is why we have so much of this pseudo-scientific/spiritual crap, there is so much there to draw on and extrapolate if you ignore(or are ignorant of) mathematics.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we have all the answers, I'm just saying that if anyone claims they have a pet god theory based on QM they're full of shit.  And I'm not implying you do BTW, just trying underline what you have just said.

Richard Feynman wrote:

If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics.

bennyboy wrote:

I don't want to get into that here; but I think you've rightly inferred that I'm the type who might.  I hope we can agree that our concept of things differs from their material reality.  There may be a concept embedded in the chemistry of the brain, but in all cases, the thing as we conceive it exists only in the brain.  Although, even with that I may be saying to much: care to call "derail?"

I agree, but let's touch on it at a later time, it's something I've been thinking a lot about lately

Edit: Fixed quote overlap

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc

Zaq
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This question is moot.

This question is moot.  Events that are pre-determined but fundamentally unpredictable are indistinguishable from events that are fundamentally random.  Since they're indistinguishable, don't worry about distinguishing between them.

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.