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

Views: 531

Replies to This Discussion

Hey Unseen is your real name Sam Harris?

Is the Quantum world deterministic?

Doesn't your world rest on the foundation of the Quantum?

How can it therefore be deterministic?

Why would you think my name is Sam Harris?

Who knows if the quantum world is deterministic. I'm guessing it is, but that we'll never (at least in any near term) know how it works, so we deal with it statistically. And if it's deterministic, it will not be using Newton's of Einstein's mechanics.

I'm not sure the word "foundation" applies. It doesn't matter. Once an event in the quantum world has an impact on the gross world we live in, it may have an impact. It may randomize the determinism but determinism is determinism is determinism. The random change in no way salvages free will.

If this is a discussion of free will, you need to accept that, unless there is a spirit world including invisible, intangible, ineffable souls that make things happen through little miracles suspending determinism, then there is nothing vaguely resembling free will.

Free will is just a self-delusion like (and about as real as) deja vu.

Unseen,

The Sam Harris name association has to do with his book "Free Will" in which he takes the deterministic viewpoint, sorry for the obscure reference.

As I sit here and ponder this conflict between Determinism and Freewillism (new word for the sake of argument) I see the strident position of both as 'cart before horse' myopic thinking. Neither is a fully developed theory testable and falsifiable by peer review leaving us with a clear consensus of opinion (ie. a scientific certainty (do we need to discuss why a scientific certainty isn't 100 percent certain?))

The Determinist must set aside the problems of probability the Quantum presents and the complexity of the brain/mind connection and the resulting consequence of a self aware consciousness, to feel confident in his approach.

The Freewillist (another new word) must make similar concessions.

Neither position makes sound enough arguments to convince me either position has enough understanding to be sided with.

The Determinist has himself wedged firmly between the atom and the biological brain, while the Freewillist considers the subatomic and the super complexity of the human mind while discounting the Determinist's position.

For myself I stay above the fray and try to comprehend the larger picture, where I think most likely the answer is to be found.

As I sit here and ponder this conflict between Determinism and Freewillism (new word for the sake of argument) I see the strident position of both as 'cart before horse' myopic thinking. Neither is a fully developed theory testable and falsifiable by peer review leaving us with a clear consensus of opinion.

Well, actually, determinism isn't a theory at all. It's a necessary presupposition. Why? Because the theory that random/miraculous events happen at all, means you can toss natural law out the window. I'm reminded of when Stephen Hawking theorized that matter going into a black hole could be lost forever. This idea, which seems rather inocuous to the average person, actually threw physics and cosmology into turmoil, because if that was true, then there could be no such thing as the natural laws of physics. How can you predict anything when you have to factor in that natural physical law could just go out the window at any moment?

The Determinist must set aside the problems of probability the Quantum presents and the complexity of the brain/mind connection and the resulting consequence of a self aware consciousness, to feel confident in his approach.

The problems the quantum level poses are not problems for determinism. The borderline between quantum theory and the gross world encompassing molecules and larger entities like planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe itself seems to be absolutely discrete. As strange as it may seem, even extreme events on the quantum level raise no conundrums on the Newtonian/Einsteinian level. Take a nuclear explosion, for example. That's a very extreme event on the quantum level, but it raises no problematic questions in the world of everyday life forcing us to question the deterministic nature of physical law.

Likewise, there is no "problem" when it comes to self-awareness. That is simply one of the things our brain does, and the brain is basically an organic electrochemical machine.

I have asked a simple question several times in the course of discussing determinism. I'm not sure if I've asked it of you, so either you're reading this question the first time or you've avoided answering it because the answer doesn't aid your point of view much.

The question is this: WHAT IS FREE WILL ANYWAY? Do you have a definition of it that doesn't imply either a spiritual plane of existence where spirits or souls have a way of making things happen in the physical world? If there is such a world, it must be subject to its own laws just like the physical world is. What are those laws? Or does your definition imply that miraculous events occur all the time in which the laws of physics are set aside. If so, then these miracles must occur constantly, because no one I know who believes in free will thinks it's the exception, they think it's the rule at almost all times.

Can a machine ever dream that it is 'free'?

Does this thought generate the needed exception to determinism?

Hmm. Like poetic license.

  I think I am free,

  and so I must be.

You are free to adhere to your perceptions and beliefs. Or perhaps you have no freedom to do anything else? One book that I highly recommend is Chaos by James Gleick. In the workings of nature there are things to understand such as extreme sensitivity to initial conditions, and nonlinear order that I think seriously compromise any notion of a cut and dried pre-programmed universe. It applies to how things progress and form, from snowflakes to organisms in and out of the womb and, I believe, to processes of consciousness. I think that the closest you can ever come is to make good guesses at the general thrust of certain things because it is not all mapped out in one precise chain of events. There are always possibilities and variations. Good luck to you all. lol.

Just thought this article was relevant to the discussion and might be interesting to some of you.

Nice article, Becca.

Alright. I have no free will. I came back. =D I found this very interesting and it is something I was starting to think about in this heated debate, that there is a combination of the deterministic and the random in nature. http://edgarlowen.info/freewill.shtml

What is your fascination with randomness? If your behavior is random, it is no more under your control than if it is determined.

That is a very lengthy article and, sorry, it's far too long to discuss here in TA. In fact, I could develop a curriculum for a graduate level course discussing that article, but a cursory look tells me there is much there that wouldn't stand up to severe scrutiny.

Nice! lol. I read it in a few minutes. It punches some holes in your belief that all decisions are made in the subconscious for one thing. He is saying that more basic reflexes stem exclusively from there. He also points out as I have mentioned, that the subconscious is still a part of a given consciousness. The thing about randomness is that it precludes a single possible progression in a linear universe, which shows that if, as I believe, there are laws and deterministic elements in nature, they are not exclusive, and therefore we live in a universe that is somewhat but not entirely deterministic. This randomness gives us autonomy and individuality. If we lived in a purely deterministic universe that could somehow actually evolve, which I do not think it could as evolution requires unpredictable variation to find its way, there is a case to be made that all snowflakes, fingerprints and perhaps even people would be identical. Even identical twins are not truly identical because of things like extreme sensitivity to initial conditions and all the fluctuations in there individual development, despite having essentially the same genetic make up. The same applies to clones. I double dog dare you to read Chaos by James Gleick. Far longer than the 5 to 10 minute article above. What I am seeing here is the kind of brain washing that occurs in relation to reductionism, which has its place certainly but is taken too far. You are like fundamentalist Christians who reject the evidence for evolution for the simple fact that it destroys their faith in Genesis. Your linear clockwork universe is a fantasy that gives you security, but such a universe, if it could exist at all, would be a sorry trade off for the reality you cannot accept.

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