Essentially if all things have a cause (quantum counts) then everything we do and/or are is hypothetically possible to trace back to either the Big Bang or a consequence thereof. This means that we are not people making decitions but physical reactions in a biological framework.

What are the implications of this if true?
Is it true?
How would it be falsifiable?
What are the contrasts to the deterministic view?

Tags: determinism, fate, philosophy

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Determinism doesn't imply that we can't make decisions. It implies that the decisions we make are decisions we had to make given all the antecedent conditions. The murderer had to commit the murder and the judge had to condemn him to death. Both caught in chains of cause and effect. To believe otherwise is either to believe that behavior is random or that there is something that miraculously can cause exceptions to cause and effect. But...wouldn't that have to operate according to some cascade or chain of whatever, and wouldn't that effectively be just more cause and effect?

 

Free will is an illusion.

 

"I think therefore I am"

I think based upon my experiences & learning.

My experiences are based in observation.

Learning is based in interpretation of observation.

Determinism can influence observation, but it doesn't directly influence interpretation.

To ponder, is to break Determinism. A wandering curious mind is all you need.

(in my opinion)

Let's wander away from opinion toward facts.

Whatever happens in anyone's brain is subject to the laws that control everything else. What happens in the consciousness, happens subconsciously first, well beyond your control. If what happens in your brain is not subject to your control, your only freedom is to do what those physical processes tell you to think and do.

To think a wandering mind salvages free will is as untenable as thinking random subatomic events salvages free will.

Are you mistaking physical processes that occur within the brain with actual thought? Whilst a machine can recognise & capture the activity, it doesn't tell you the detail of the thought. 

Determinism has created the physical process - but why interpret that to be the content of the thought?

Sticking to currently recognised facts alone surely limits progress towards new facts Measurement of data is useless - without first having an opinion on what is worth recording & measuring. Doesn't opinion precede recognised facts and help with the recognition of new facts?

Are you asking if I'm equating brain process with thought? I wouldn't say equating. No. Mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain. The brain is a chemical machine whose effect on a person is in part his consciousness. I say "in part" because it also has another effect: the subconscious. We are discovering that the subconscious is where our decisions are actually made. It's where our conjectures and opinions come from as well. And since it's a part of the mind we can't access, we are essentially controlled by a mental black box.

I don't "interpret (the physical process) to be the content of the thought." Processes result in thoughts. Thoughts actually consist of their content. However I don't understand what you mean by the process (some interactions of neurons in the brain) BEING the content of the thought. I don't think I said anything particularly congruent with that anywhere.

I'm not going to give up the truth (determinism) because of any limitations the truth places on me, because I can't get past them anyway,. I have opinions, but I have the opinions I have to have because of who I am and my history and the neural wiring of my brain.

I have been pondering this one, what you are saying about the subconscious supposedly producing our thoughts before we register them. It seems to me that if this is accurate, the subconscious is still a part of you and I. It seems somewhat like the inner workings of that part of consciousness we actually experience directly but I don't think it is another being or another thing so that our thoughts, even if they form in that part of the mind, are still our thoughts.

They are our thoughts, of course. But they are formed in the subconscious beyond our control and then are presented to our consciousness a short while after they were formed. But it actually wouldn't matter if there were no subconscious. There's still no exception to determinism anywhere in what you are saying. Or did we get sidetracked onto another topic?

So which part of a well formed sentence comes from the subconscious?

Sticking to currently recognised facts alone surely limits progress towards new facts

Yes, each of us has to sometimes conjecture about reality before we can observe the most relevant evidence and then assimilate a deeper understanding of it. Such conjecture is often mistaken, so it's a constantly refined relearning of what we thought we knew.

As for how that might pertain here, learning and relearning are only possible as a result of brain plasticity. We can't measure thoughts in full, yet, but we can definitely measure generalized changes in brain circuitry and chemistry that coincide with learning. (So in that sense, experience, whether conscious or not, affects us both consciously and unconsciously, including respective conscious/unconscious neuronal effects.)

@Nelson: "...if the determinism were not true then there'd be no way we could hold each other responsible for our decisions and actions.."

How much 'responsibility' do we have? Is it absolute? Or some how conditional? I expect that there are random variation, and direct causation components. Perterbations as a common occurance.

If there were no determinism, reality as we know it, might not exist, with random fluxuations crushing any attempt at knowledge.

Under absolute determinism, would there be enough freedom inside the system for anything looking like a 'choice'. Does a mechanical conception of 'mind' allow anything such as us to exist?

My two bits worth...    

Interesting. My feeling is that we have free will at least within certain parameters. I may decide to leave the ground in flight at some point today but that doesn't mean it will happen.

I think we can mistakenly perceive our reality as lacking free will because of our linear mechanistic bias in western society. If the brain is to be viewed as a machine it is a chaotic one, a blending of simple cause and effect with random complexity. As a result of this we always have options, even as in the broader physical universe there are any number of possible variables within certain vast parameters for the same reason.

Well, the problem with your explanation is that it can't rescue free will because free will is just a juxtaposition of two words which, put together, don't yield a coherent idea. That is the actual problem with the free will debate. WTF does "free will" mean? Does it mean freedom from causality. Terms like "random complexity" probably don't provide much comfort to most people. "Oh, I have free will because of random complexity" is almost the paradigm of a "Huh?" sentence. There is no free will. We are not the exception to the rule as to how everything else happens.

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