A while back, I had a long chat with my niece, trying to explain what I believe is the inevitability of events and the consequent contradiction of the concept of free will.  She puttered off and posted on her page/site/whatever, what was probably a two hour conversation condensed into a short explanation.  I post that here to give the benefit of brevity to anyone who is interested.

"

I believe in fate… and so should you

Things could not be any way other than the way they are.

You made the decisions you did because you used all the rationale and information available to you at the time, so not only were they the right decisions, they were the only ones you ever could have made. 

You are a product of the nature and nurture you received as you developed. On a molecular level, chain reactions shaped your biology. On a psychological level, you were influenced by pre-existing family dynamics in your own household and those of your peers. These presets had a single, if complex, possible outcome.

Whatever happened in the past, it happened, and so here you are. Just like you are. It’s not your fault, it just turned out this way because of what went on millions and billions of years ago, setting off infinite generations of chain reactions.

If things are the way they are right now, then things in the future are going to be a certain way too - we just can’t see it. And that’s fate. :)

Thanks, Sophia

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Comment by Rocky john on November 17, 2013 at 1:05am

The problem Unseen is causality and the preservation of information does not equal hard determinism. So please stop trying to conflate it with hard determinism. Just look at quantum mechanics. (and yes you might not see a difference between hard determinism and determinism but the difference is recognized by most philosophers.) You cannot just keep on saying that this equals hard determinism when we have such a glaring example of it not equaling hard determinism.

"It seems you've let yourself start to think we are private-messaging each other. This isn't a private conversation. It's in a topic which is all about free will. Others may be reading it and wondering what this all has to do with free will."

Can you not understand why it would be annoying when you keep on replying directly to my comments  as if i am representing something i am not?

Comment by Rocky john on November 17, 2013 at 1:32am

I have a thought experiment for you . Firstly we will presume hard determinism is basically correct(over quantum uncertainty). Then lets say we built some machine that could tell the future by computing the deterministic outcome of all current states. This is  theoretically possible even if it is  impossible in reality. Now if this machine said that tomorrow i would have bacon for breakfast, would i then be able to change what i had for breakfast tomorrow? Or would i be stuck eating bacon?

Comment by Unseen on November 17, 2013 at 9:19am

The problem Unseen is causality and the preservation of information does not equal hard determinism. So please stop trying to conflate it with hard determinism. Just look at quantum mechanics. (and yes you might not see a difference between hard determinism and determinism but the difference is recognized by most philosophers.) You cannot just keep on saying that this equals hard determinism when we have such a glaring example of it not equaling hard determinism.

Part of the structure of our universe is that below the atomic level and above the atomic level two different physics are at play. Some kind of laws must be in effect at the subatomic level, though we may never know them. But it doesn't matter, if there is some leakage on the subatomic scale that causes an event on the superatomic scale, it becomes a cause and the superatomic laws of Newton and Einstein still apply, Everything in our superatomic world happens because something else happened before, including neurological states.

Whether you like it or not, I think the things you are writing have implications for a discussion of determinism and free will.

As for your next post (about bacon), you'd be eating bacon. You wouldn't be "stuck eating bacon,"though, because you would have chosen it; as the result of the neurological state of your brain.

Unless you have soul, of course.

Comment by Pope Beanie on November 17, 2013 at 12:29pm

Now if this machine said that tomorrow i would have bacon for breakfast, would i then be able to change what i had for breakfast tomorrow?

Ooo, I like that example! So today, eat all the bacon, or give it away. Maybe tomorrow morning you can open up a wormhole, or something?

Comment by Rocky john on November 17, 2013 at 2:15pm

"As for your next post (about bacon), you'd be eating bacon. You wouldn't be "stuck eating bacon,"though, because you would have chosen it; as the result of the neurological state of your brain."

Unseen-I am talking about if the machine lets me know what i am fated to have for breakfast  before i even choose.  What happens if i decide that whatever the computer tells me i am meant to have for breakfast i will choose something different? If the machine tells me that  i am destined  to eat the bacon i currently have in the freezer , would i  somehow be unable  to take  it out the  fridge tonight and throw it in the river?

I will reply to the rest of your message when i get home to a computer. Replying on a cell is not much fun.

Comment by Strega on November 17, 2013 at 3:02pm

Perhaps you would be pre-destined to read the computer prediction and thus decide not to eat bacon, which was the inevitable outcome of the entire episode.

Comment by Rocky john on November 17, 2013 at 3:24pm

"Perhaps you would be pre-destined to read the computer prediction and thus decide not to eat bacon, which was the inevitable outcome of the entire episode."

If that was the inevitable outcome then the machine would have told me i would be eating something besides bacon , in which case i could choose to eat something completely  different again.Whatever the computer calculates as the inevitable outcome , i would be able to use that information to make a different choice.

Comment by Unseen on November 17, 2013 at 3:52pm

Unseen-I am talking about if the machine lets me know what i am fated to have for breakfast before i even choose. What happens if i decide that whatever the computer tells me i am meant to have for breakfast i will choose something different? If the machine tells me that i am destined to eat the bacon i currently have in the freezer , would some law of physics somehow prevent me from taking it out my fridge tonight and throwing it in the river?

If by "fated" you mean to imply a system of PREdeterminism whereby the present state maps out the entire future, I can't hold that view. The current state determines the very next temporally contiguous state, but it doesn't determine the state of the universe forever.

There are two wrenches in the works as far as predeterminism goes. First, as already mentioned, changes coming unpredictably from the subatomic level may possibly have effects on the superatomic level. I can't name any actual instances (can you?) but I think a physicist would tell us they can and probably do happen.

The second and more serious wrench in the works is that we learned from Einstein that all time is local. If you hop in a spaceship and take a trip to Mars and back, while you travel you will age slower relative to your friends and family on Earth to a degree determined by the speed of your travel. This lack of everything being in sync makes prediction from one local temporal standpoint impossible. Everything that moves is moving in its own time zone. The universe doesn't run on the same clock or on a clock that ticks at the same rate everywhere. This is why universal causality doesn't imply universal predictability, and this is why predeterminism is wrong.

None of this changes that up here on the superatomic level, anything that happens in any local temporal time zone still happens due to some state of affairs that came before and seems to happen with great predictability when we know the antecedent conditions in sufficient detail and accuracy.

As for your machine, I will talk about a machine that, unlike your machine actually is possible in principle. A machine that can take a limited set of facts and determine what comes absolutely next is in principle possible if all of the relevant facts are taken into account absolutely just before that instant. A machine that can take a present state of affairs and predict a noncontiguous state of affairs some time in the future wouldn't be possible for the aforementioned reasons.

Such a machine would be increasingly accurate in its predictions as breakfast time approached.

I realize this is different than my prior answer, but I have obviously thought about it a bit more.

Comment by Rocky john on November 17, 2013 at 5:15pm

I am perfectly happy to go with your machine. Though in all honesty such a machine will be no more accurate at predicting what i am going to eat a year before hand compared to  2 seconds before . As long as i have enough time to process and react to the computers prediction then its prediction will never be accurate. This is because the computer will only ever be able to predict the future based upon the past. So even if determinism is 100% accurate due to  quantum mechanical effects being  completely deterministic (and we just have not figured this out yet) it would be impossible to predict my future based solely upon past states, as long as i have access to said prediction with enough time to process it. It would be precisely because the future is predictable that i would be able to  change the future. In such a case it would not only be the past determining  the present, but the future effecting the present also. Which  would ultimately change the original past  determined  future. Thereby producing indeterminism  based solely upon a completely deterministic  system.

So even if everything was 100% deterministic and we are clever enough to figure out all the rules exactly, it would still be impossible to predict my future choices based upon  determinism  unless the prediction was made at the instant my choice was made( or shortly enough before hand had that i cant process the information). In which case it would not be predicting the future so much as reporting on the present faster than a human is able to.

Comment by Rocky john on November 17, 2013 at 5:37pm

"First, as already mentioned, changes coming unpredictably from the subatomic level may possibly have effects on the superatomic level. I can't name any actual instances (can you?) but I think a physicist would tell us they can and probably do happen."

I wonder if the quantum physicist is not the perfect example of this happening. I am sure any experiment he has done on quantum indeterminacy has effected he's brain to one degree or another. Though i suspect i may be cheating with this example.

Even barring that the big bang is another possible example.

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