Author Topic: Determinism Vs. Freewill  (Read 14435 times)

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Offline 7 who ate 9

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Determinism Vs. Freewill
« on: April 24, 2008, 05:12:57 pm »
The title pretty much speaks for its self, and I don't really know how to start a discussion.

Do you believe that you have control over your choices? Or do you believe that your choices are caused because of the world around you? What about Quantum Mechanics?

I'll post my thoughts once more people post in this thread.


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Offline Krakow Sam

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2008, 05:16:49 pm »
Well, the universe is either deterministic or probabilistic, and since I don't believe in the supernatural that basically leaves me with the conclusion that free will is an illusion. But its a much better illusion than that stupid vase.  ;)
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Offline Ultramarine

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2008, 05:31:51 pm »
I believe in free will.
Things that we do aren't predetermined so anything could happen with a decision.
There are different forms of it but in general most higher mammals use free will in many undetermined ways making them unique and unpredictable. Certain things we have less f no control at all within our own minds though (form of a black out or hallucinations).


Like KS said either deterministic or probabilistic, I say probabilistic.
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Offline Krakow Sam

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2008, 05:34:56 pm »
Thats not what probabilistic means.

Probabilistic means everything is basically decided by a 'roll of the dice', and that for a given quantum level event theres a finite number of different outcomes which have a different probability of occurring.

So even if the universe is probabilistic we still wouldn't have free will. You don't have any control over a six-sided die after you've thrown it, and there certainly no way you can roll a 7 ;)
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Offline 7 who ate 9

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2008, 05:45:46 pm »
The thing is, if you through a dice, isn't where it is going to land predetermined? If you through a dice, the speed of which you throw it, air density, mass, weight, and all of the other billions of variables determine where it is going to land. I don't seam to understand the theory of freewill, or of randomness. How can something just happen, for no reason at all? Even The M theory (the new version of Quantum Mechanics) says that things aren't random, the movement of the membranes in the 11 dimensions determines how the strings are going to vibrate. So, even if things seam random to us, if we were to look at all the 11 dimensions it wouldn't be as random.
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Offline Krakow Sam

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2008, 05:50:10 pm »
Well, either way it means we have no free will, so you might as well just enjoy the ride.
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Offline Andrew Ryan

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2008, 05:59:03 pm »
Well, either way it means we have no free will, so you might as well just enjoy the ride.

Not so fast Krakow... I'm going to fight that ride to the bitter end. I demand my free will or else!  >:(
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Offline Ultramarine

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2008, 06:05:13 pm »
Thats not what probabilistic means.

Probabilistic means everything is basically decided by a 'roll of the dice', and that for a given quantum level event theres a finite number of different outcomes which have a different probability of occurring.

So even if the universe is probabilistic we still wouldn't have free will. You don't have any control over a six-sided die after you've thrown it, and there certainly no way you can roll a 7 ;)

Oh wait I got the concept in reverse.
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Offline Neoadept

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2008, 06:22:13 pm »
Determinism all the way.  Some people think that's a depressing outlook, but I think of it like a good book.  The ending is determined even before you pick it up, but it's still a hell of a ride.  My analogy kind of falls through after you start thinking of the writer, unless it's probabilistic in which case infinite monkeys works quite well.

Oh, and M (string) theory doesn't hold enough water to sustain a goldfish.
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Offline Kcronos

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2008, 06:27:57 pm »
How it works is that there are infinite possible futures, all of which are possible, and all of which exist.

Your "free will" is determined by the neural net you call your soul or conciousness, or whatever, and it makes decisions based on past experiences.  The universes within which you make a choice that most fits with your current personality and past experiences are more numerous, but the other universes wherein you did not make that choice exist as well.

Therefore, free will is based on chance, and determinalism is impossible.  If a supernatural being influenced infinite universes, then another infinite would exist where he did not.
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Offline Neoadept

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2008, 06:55:36 pm »
Isn't that just determinism, since all possible universes already exist and cannot be changed?  The whole "choose your universe" thing doesn't work since, for those other universes to exist, you would have to "choose" them as well.
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Offline 762

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2008, 07:03:03 pm »
I say deterministic. All of the events that will ever happen in this universe have already been determined billions of years ago. My small decision to drink a glass of orange juice this morning was determined by my mood, which was determined by events in the past, the outcomes and processes of which were determined by events before them. That's my basic philosophy of free will. I can choose what I want, but what I will choose has already been decided.

I take determinism over a God deciding all that crap any day. At least this way it's unpredictable (since we can never have, and know how to use, ALL the data.)

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Offline Serdun

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2008, 07:37:59 pm »
Does it really matter? As long as it seems like we control our own destiny, why not act as if we do?

e: spelling
« Last Edit: April 24, 2008, 07:44:01 pm by Serdun »
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Offline Kcronos

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2008, 07:42:26 pm »
Isn't that just determinism, since all possible universes already exist and cannot be changed?  The whole "choose your universe" thing doesn't work since, for those other universes to exist, you would have to "choose" them as well.

The key phrase there is all possible universes.  If there are infinite paths, there are infinite choices.  And you get to make all of them at once.

Infinite.  INFINITE!
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Offline Brandonazz

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2008, 07:43:20 pm »
That's why we have the illusion of free will. It makes us all so happy-go-lucky.

I'm quite sure that we don't have free will as most people perceive it.

Under the same exact conditions at the same moment in any number of universes, I will make the same decision.

Quantum physics could change minutiae is my brain chemistry that might result in a different, minor decision much later, but that's irrelevant.

Offline Kcronos

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2008, 07:46:35 pm »
The point I'm trying to make is that although everything is based on statistics and probability, the thing we percieve as our mind is also based on exactly that, and thus we do have free will.  Just not in the vague warm and fuzzy sense of the word.

Free Will isn't Maths.  Maths is Free Will...
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Offline Neoadept

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2008, 07:55:35 pm »
The key phrase there is all possible universes.  If there are infinite paths, there are infinite choices.  And you get to make all of them at once.

Infinite.  INFINITE!

But if you make them all at once, how is there a choice?  It's like picking the color on the first cars, "you can have any color you want as long as it's brown."

The point I'm trying to make is that although everything is based on statistics and probability, the thing we percieve as our mind is also based on exactly that, and thus we do have free will.  Just not in the vague warm and fuzzy sense of the word.

Free Will isn't Maths.  Maths is Free Will...

That's what I'm not getting about your idea, how is something random anything like free will?  It's not exactly determinism, but there's still no actual choice involved.
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Offline Daxx

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2008, 02:01:52 am »
It's difficult to argue against a deterministic universe, but I'm happy to believe that illusory free will is no worse than the real thing.

Offline 7 who ate 9

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2008, 07:33:48 am »
Its weird, I agree with every thing you guys are saying but the thing I am doubting is the fact that you guys are all strangers on the internet. Me and my friends (actually, just me) are debating about freewill, and most of them have ever even heard of quantum physics or determinism. I trust you guys more then a couple of 13 year olds, because you are the majority and more educated. But there, in the real world, I feel like I am the only atheist who has ever even thought about this stuff. How do you convince people like that? Or rather, not convince, but just explain your ideas in a way they'll understand? To them I'm the dumb one that every one teams up on...
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Offline blitzonator

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2008, 08:34:32 am »
By bothering to post, I have created a new timeline, by reading, you have created another. We could have done differently but now we are facing the result of our actions. It WILL happen and YOU can't stop the new dimension from forming. I go for determinism on a dimensional scale and free will on a timeline.

Offline Daxx

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2008, 08:40:48 am »
Arguments on free will usually rely on some sort of soul, because the brain is nothing much more than a very complicated computer bound by the physical (deterministic) laws of the universe. Most of its properties (including self-awareness) are nothing more than emergent phenomena which have arisen from the extremely complicated way the brain is put together.

If the brain is governed by deterministic laws, then it must itself be deterministic; i.e. it receives some input, processes that through an extremely complex system based on present state and determined reactions, and gives an output. There is no room for choice - that is, if you take the brain apart you can't find any particular thing that is making a choice.

That's the fundamental argument for suggesting that we are devoid of truly free will. Unless someone brings up the concept of a immaterial soul, which is an entirely different argument, then there's little wiggle room for suggesting that our choices are anything but deterministic outcomes of the universe just doing its thing - of course you'd be surprised how many people misunderstand the concept of determinism, or who simply aren't able to comprehend that they are basically just a complicated machine.

EDIT: Do keep thinking about this, 7. I find it interesting as well.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2008, 08:44:17 am by Daxx »

Offline SmileyMan

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2008, 10:08:14 am »
I believe in some sort of determinism as a result of my belief in the M-theory. There's an infinite amount of Universes, and every single one has its own timeline; infinite amount of timelines. There's no free will because everything in our timeline has already been determined. I might look at a sign as I walk down the street, while in another Universe I'll instead look down on my shoes. There's no place for free will in such a world.

Offline Werechicken

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2008, 02:27:33 pm »
As I always consider it:

Even if the destinations determined the route you take, and what you do on the way there, is up to you.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2008, 04:12:12 pm »
Im not so sure, the points in Determinism are very strong but Im curious. Whats to stop me from being in a GREAT mood and then suddenly I get the thought, "I wonder what would happen if I attacked this man walking down the street". Obviously im in a great mood and normal people dont do that but thats where I think freewill comes into play. Anything can happen at anytime.
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Offline 7 who ate 9

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2008, 09:36:30 pm »
The thing is, things like that don't happen. You aren't in a good mood and then just decide to kill someone.
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Offline B.A.S.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #25 on: April 25, 2008, 10:09:19 pm »
I think you would be surprised. Yes there are people like that out there...
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Offline 7 who ate 9

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #26 on: April 25, 2008, 10:13:20 pm »
People like that have mental problems of some kind, which is still a reason. You can't chose to be insane.
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Offline Krakow Sam

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2008, 03:20:18 am »
Im not so sure, the points in Determinism are very strong but Im curious. Whats to stop me from being in a GREAT mood and then suddenly I get the thought, "I wonder what would happen if I attacked this man walking down the street". Obviously im in a great mood and normal people dont do that but thats where I think freewill comes into play. Anything can happen at anytime.

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Offline Daxx

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2008, 03:37:21 am »
Im not so sure, the points in Determinism are very strong but Im curious. Whats to stop me from being in a GREAT mood and then suddenly I get the thought, "I wonder what would happen if I attacked this man walking down the street". Obviously im in a great mood and normal people dont do that but thats where I think freewill comes into play. Anything can happen at anytime.

The logic in this falls down because you're assuming that since you could do something out of the ordinary, and you don't, that this is because of free will.

The reason you thought about it in the first place was determined by the chemical and physical makeup of your brain at the time. The reason you decided not to was determined by the chemical and physical makeup of your brain at the time. At no time is "normality" factored in anywhere. It's just a giant rube goldberg machine going through the paces.

Offline Yokto

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2008, 09:06:37 am »
It does not matter if one have free will or not.
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Offline B.A.S.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #30 on: April 26, 2008, 11:43:38 am »
Im not so sure, the points in Determinism are very strong but Im curious. Whats to stop me from being in a GREAT mood and then suddenly I get the thought, "I wonder what would happen if I attacked this man walking down the street". Obviously im in a great mood and normal people dont do that but thats where I think freewill comes into play. Anything can happen at anytime.

The logic in this falls down because you're assuming that since you could do something out of the ordinary, and you don't, that this is because of free will.

The reason you thought about it in the first place was determined by the chemical and physical makeup of your brain at the time. The reason you decided not to was determined by the chemical and physical makeup of your brain at the time. At no time is "normality" factored in anywhere. It's just a giant rube goldberg machine going through the paces.

Yeh that does make alot of sense. I guess im just not really a beliver in Destiny, although I can see how everything is predetermined in a way through non spiritual ways. ;)
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Offline Axelgear

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #31 on: April 29, 2008, 06:39:20 am »
I've always used Free Will vs. Determinism as an argument for the existence of the soul, in some form or another. If we are simply biological computers, then our actions are determined from the moment the Big Bang occurred. We know that there is no such thing as random chance, just mathematical odds that all become 1:1 when you know all the factors, which we don't typically, so inevitably the formation of cells, the movement of chemicals, all these things have been predetermined by anyone who can see and understand all the factors. Ergo, we may have the illusion of free will, but do not have free will itself.

If we have free will, however, and are more than biological computers, the two must be intrinsically linked.

I state soul as a lack of a better word, for the record. The "ghost", the Deus Ex Machina, the intrinsic being within us all is what I refer to. Not necessarily something that survives death, that's a personal belief, but merely something beyond it.

I personally believe in Free will, but I do not make an assumption. After all, if I am wrong it makes little difference. The end result would be the same as I would have the illusion of Free Will but no actual will to speak of.
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Offline 7 who ate 9

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2008, 09:13:40 am »
Im not so sure, the points in Determinism are very strong but Im curious. Whats to stop me from being in a GREAT mood and then suddenly I get the thought, "I wonder what would happen if I attacked this man walking down the street". Obviously im in a great mood and normal people dont do that but thats where I think freewill comes into play. Anything can happen at anytime.

The logic in this falls down because you're assuming that since you could do something out of the ordinary, and you don't, that this is because of free will.

The reason you thought about it in the first place was determined by the chemical and physical makeup of your brain at the time. The reason you decided not to was determined by the chemical and physical makeup of your brain at the time. At no time is "normality" factored in anywhere. It's just a giant rube goldberg machine going through the paces.

Yeh that does make alot of sense. I guess im just not really a beliver in Destiny, although I can see how everything is predetermined in a way through non spiritual ways. ;)

Exactly. When I think of destiny I think of fairies and magic and "fates" where some hero is destined to do something. I don't believe in this, but that isn't what destiny is, just what fairy tales make it sound like.

Also, to those of you that say it doesn't matter, the story of how this argument got brought up between me and my friends might be a little bit interesting. We were arguing about gay people, and a lot of my friends seem to dis-like them. The argument was whether or not gay people chose to be gay. Crap, i need to go. Edit this post later.

EDIT:

Any way, i was saying if gays could chose to be gay, you could have more of an excuse for being against gay (i am not against gays). But if they can't, you should just try to help them because it is not their fault. It is the same with every thing, just place gay with "murder" or a type of mental disorder.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 09:12:22 pm by 7 who ate 9 »
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Offline Axelgear

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2008, 09:15:58 am »
What does whether they choose to be gay or not have to do with liking them or not? People with Downs Syndrome don't choose to have it, it doesn't make their behaviour any less annoying.
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Offline Uroboros

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #34 on: April 29, 2008, 09:36:56 am »
The simple test about whether you can choose to be sexually attracted to the same gender, and not the opposite one, is to have them try it for themselves. Simple test. Just try to 'choose' to be genuinely sexually attracted to only the same gender for 24 hours then 'choose' to go back to only being attracted to the opposite sex. :P

Offline Gorman Conall

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #35 on: April 29, 2008, 11:27:03 am »
I'm not arguing anything however here is something to think about.

If you were born gay then the ones who would know this without a doubt would be the gays correct?.

If the gays know without a doubt that they were born gay and you can't choose ether way then why the hell do they insist on trying to convert every single straight person they think is attractive gay when they should no that theres no choice involved?.

And if you say that gay people do not do that then i suggest you go and meet some.

I believe in freewill and i believe the problem lies when people stop treating us like living breathing  people and only start paying attention to numbers and act as though we are computers. Not just with this issue but with many. All they ever see is ones and zeros.

Just my opinion nothing more.




Offline /lurk

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #36 on: April 29, 2008, 11:32:08 am »
GC, do you really get that many gay people hitting on you? I think you might be getting paranoid.
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Offline Krakow Sam

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #37 on: April 29, 2008, 11:33:54 am »
If the gays know without a doubt that they were born gay and you can't choose ether way then why the hell do they insist on trying to convert every single straight person they think is attractive gay when they should no that theres no choice involved?.

And if you say that gay people do not do that then i suggest you go and meet some.
None of the gays I know act like that.

Perhaps you shouldn't form an opinion based on the behavior of a handful of people you've encountered.

Anyway, this has precisely nothing to do with the topic of determinism or free will so I suggest we drop the subject or move it to another thread.

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Offline Axelgear

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #38 on: April 29, 2008, 03:47:25 pm »
Well, in a way it does. Are our preferences, our desires, based on biological forces or do we choose them?
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Offline Doctor Z

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #39 on: April 29, 2008, 06:04:09 pm »
You know, it's REALLY hard to concentrate on what you're saying when you see that... THING in your avatar staring you in the face, Chi.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #40 on: April 29, 2008, 06:19:02 pm »
Wow this thread turned out different than I thought.
Where have I been for 2 days?
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Offline Daxx

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #41 on: April 29, 2008, 06:37:35 pm »
Is anyone sure that even in a mechanistic universe, the grand unified theory of everything wouldn't allow emergent properties that are not in and of themselves ruled by the grand unified theory of everything?  ;D

Reasonably. Emergent properties may be interesting, and perhaps even unexpected or surprising when viewed from a macroscopic narrative perspective, but they themselves are still governed by the underlying rules of the system. A good example is Conway's Game of Life. The system is Turing complete, and produces very surprising behaviour, but is ultimately still governed by those very simple initial rules.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #42 on: April 29, 2008, 06:40:39 pm »
Free Will is the ability to determine one's own decisions without having them preselected by factors that will yield to an inevitable result. That is, the influences do not make the decisions for you.
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Offline Ultramarine

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #43 on: April 29, 2008, 06:43:14 pm »
That's what I've always thought it was (than again I only remember that from the Sims ::))
Seemed right at the time.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #44 on: April 29, 2008, 06:46:09 pm »
None of the gays I know act like that.
You actually know more than one gay person?  I thought they were a gigantically tiny minority.  I haven't met any, ane neither has anyone I know.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #45 on: April 29, 2008, 07:02:14 pm »
Doing a quick Google, it seems the statistic varies between 2% and 10%, based on what you mean by "gay," and the source of information.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #46 on: April 29, 2008, 08:06:24 pm »
I belive in freewill. My philosiphy is that people are ultimatly responsible for what they do. Naturaly there are things that can stop someone from using freewill, but in a vacume I think humans have freewill. I could discuss why religiously I think there must be free will, but I'd rather not open up that can of worms.
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Offline Doctor Z

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #47 on: April 29, 2008, 08:20:02 pm »
I'm rather sure it's 10%.

Offline Full_Metal

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #48 on: April 29, 2008, 11:13:00 pm »
Oh boy, 10 people who don't think we have free will. *cracks nuckles*

(Please bear with the large post, I don't get in this forum too often, so I'll make up for that with a longer argument that will (I hope) stand up to a longer beating.) ;)

I disagree on two points:

1. (The right fist) The prevaling argument here seems to be that because the universe is a huge blanket of determinism, everything in it, including a human mind HAS to be deterministic because everything else, including the matter that makes it up is... but quantum mechanics flies in the face of that. On the sub-atomic scale, random fluctuations are king. Everything is chaotic, random, and disorderly, and anything is possible... what seems to be deterministic is the macro-scale, which is governed by objects that are collections of trillions of particles, and so behave, for the most part, like the average of the states of all the particles that make them up.

But, however remote, there is always that miniscule probability that something truly "bizairre" yet possible by quantum mechanics can happen. (The popular example among physicists being all the air molecules in a room randomly jostling into a corner and leaving people gasping for air.) However much we would like the universe to be tidy and orderly and everything to follow from one cause-and-effect to another like some enormous Rube Goldberg machine, that order is an illusion that is just waiting to fall apart into the chaos of quantum physics at any moment.

...

2. (The left hook) I believe in free will because I believe in Darwinian evolution. If we had no choice in anything, then what IS all that gray matter for? If everything was determined from the get-go of the Big Bang, if everything that happens was destined to happen, then there wouldn't be any point in thinking any decision through longer than 0.2 seconds. And then there would be no evolutionary advantage for any animal to have a brain larger than a grasshopper's. Thinking of the brain-as-computer, there HAS to be some benefit to the decisions we make, or else such an elaborate decision-making system as the human brain would never have arisen.

We evolved large and insanely complex neural structures to make better decisions for what our bodies should be doing, which led to better odds of survival, and thus even more complex brains. Yes, there are "hardwired" reflexes, emotions and instinctive desires to influence and guide the decision-making process, but they are not the bulk of what happens in a human mind. (Well, MOST humans' minds, I hope.) :P

We have the ability to make decisions which matter to our own survival and prosperity, both as individuals and as a species... sounds an awful lot like "free will", doesn't it? ;)

Offline Daxx

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #49 on: April 30, 2008, 01:59:25 am »
Oh boy, 10 people who don't think we have free will. *cracks nuckles*

(Please bear with the large post, I don't get in this forum too often, so I'll make up for that with a longer argument that will (I hope) stand up to a longer beating.) ;)

I disagree on two points:

1. (The right fist) The prevaling argument here seems to be that because the universe is a huge blanket of determinism, everything in it, including a human mind HAS to be deterministic because everything else, including the matter that makes it up is... but quantum mechanics flies in the face of that. On the sub-atomic scale, random fluctuations are king. Everything is chaotic, random, and disorderly, and anything is possible... what seems to be deterministic is the macro-scale, which is governed by objects that are collections of trillions of particles, and so behave, for the most part, like the average of the states of all the particles that make them up.

But, however remote, there is always that miniscule probability that something truly "bizairre" yet possible by quantum mechanics can happen. (The popular example among physicists being all the air molecules in a room randomly jostling into a corner and leaving people gasping for air.) However much we would like the universe to be tidy and orderly and everything to follow from one cause-and-effect to another like some enormous Rube Goldberg machine, that order is an illusion that is just waiting to fall apart into the chaos of quantum physics at any moment.

...

2. (The left hook) I believe in free will because I believe in Darwinian evolution. If we had no choice in anything, then what IS all that gray matter for? If everything was determined from the get-go of the Big Bang, if everything that happens was destined to happen, then there wouldn't be any point in thinking any decision through longer than 0.2 seconds. And then there would be no evolutionary advantage for any animal to have a brain larger than a grasshopper's. Thinking of the brain-as-computer, there HAS to be some benefit to the decisions we make, or else such an elaborate decision-making system as the human brain would never have arisen.

We evolved large and insanely complex neural structures to make better decisions for what our bodies should be doing, which led to better odds of survival, and thus even more complex brains. Yes, there are "hardwired" reflexes, emotions and instinctive desires to influence and guide the decision-making process, but they are not the bulk of what happens in a human mind. (Well, MOST humans' minds, I hope.) :P

We have the ability to make decisions which matter to our own survival and prosperity, both as individuals and as a species... sounds an awful lot like "free will", doesn't it? ;)

Oh wow, that's a lot of misconception you have there. Let me just straighten this out for you.

Yes, quantum physics operates on a random, or probabilistic basis. This does not mean that the random chances scattered here and there give anything that we could remotely consider free will. Here's an example which will demonstrate why this is wrong.
You have a computer, and the program it is running uses a random number generator (we consider for the moment that it is possible to create a truly random number generator). It takes that random number, does some calculations with it, and then spits out a number. Now, you couldn't possibly contend that because the number changes each time it runs the program has "free will"; it's simply a machine using a random number generator. Its outcome is strictly deterministic in a probabilistic sense, in that there is a defined probability that the number will be X. Nowhere in this scenario is there any room for choice, or free will; the computer is just running with the random number it was given.

And why do we have brains, you ask? This demonstrates a fundamental misconception about determinism. Just because things are deterministic doesn't mean that we don't have to think about them. After all, a computer's decisions are deterministic just like the brain (which is just a complicated computer) and you wouldn't say a complex calculation could be done any quicker just because the calculating is done along a determined route, would you? "Making decisions", as you put it, is just the outcome of the calculations the computer inside our heads is running based on its own internal chemistry and the inputs it receives, all in purely physical and chemical terms.

I hope that's cleared things up for you.

Offline Daxx

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #50 on: April 30, 2008, 09:49:03 am »
***snip***

That "Reasonably" is based on what one might call Euclidean reasoning... which is great but... there is a but.  Certain goblins of modern physics like wave particle duality and Schrödinger's cat hint that axiomatic constructionism might not provide a substantive link between the behaviour of the parts to the whole or between the whole and the initial conditions or rules.

I'd like you to provide me an example, if you can. I may not be a physicist by trade but I have a reasonable understanding of the "mechanics" behind quantum mechanics and I don't see why duality should cause problems in the emergent properties of the system which would suddenly violate their deterministic nature.

This is true... but the analogy's relevance to all possible scenarios is unproven and unprovable.  The universe is stranger than we can imagine, and even if it is completely mechanistic, the rules might be such that they are neither deterministic or probabilistic in all the permutations of their application.

Again, an example would be nice.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #51 on: April 30, 2008, 10:26:28 am »
See, that's just possibly sort of not saying anyting at all, maybe. Seriously, I can't tell what you're getting at, or what possible relation this has to quantum mechanics, the notion of free will or, in general, anything.


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Offline /lurk

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #52 on: April 30, 2008, 01:02:41 pm »
Are you proposing that we shouldn't try to solve a problem just because we don't know what the solution might be?
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Offline Yokto

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #53 on: April 30, 2008, 09:01:54 pm »
On the topic of randomness. A random number is just a number we can not predict. At least not with 100% accuracy (we may have some idea about the probability however.)  That is why taking atmospheric reading work fairly well to create randomness. Or even just using a d6 die (We know that it will generate a number between 1-6 but not which number.) However there is nothing that says that we can not start to predict the pattern in these random generators. Today is to hard to make those predicts about the atmospheric but one day it may not seem random at all. Quantum physic is most likely the same thing. We are just it the first phase in understanding it. There is a chance that in the future even this can be predicted with 100% accuracy. (However i think that no system is closed so there will be always a new factor that will course randomness. There will always be something new to find beyond the horizon. But this is more of a belief then anything else i guess.) 
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Offline 7 who ate 9

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #54 on: April 30, 2008, 09:19:21 pm »
On the topic of randomness. A random number is just a number we can not predict. At least not with 100% accuracy (we may have some idea about the probability however.)  That is why taking atmospheric reading work fairly well to create randomness. Or even just using a d6 die (We know that it will generate a number between 1-6 but not which number.) However there is nothing that says that we can not start to predict the pattern in these random generators. Today is to hard to make those predicts about the atmospheric but one day it may not seem random at all. Quantum physic is most likely the same thing. We are just it the first phase in understanding it. There is a chance that in the future even this can be predicted with 100% accuracy. (However i think that no system is closed so there will be always a new factor that will course randomness. There will always be something new to find beyond the horizon. But this is more of a belief then anything else i guess.) 

Exactly. Random can't happen. Even if things seem to be random in our 3/4 dimensional world. maybe they make perfect sense in the other worlds. Even if we have multiple time lines that doesn't mean those multiple times lines don't exist. You can say the universe is strange and mysterious all you want, but just because we don't understand something doesn't mean that it doesn't make sense.
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Offline Yokto

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #55 on: May 01, 2008, 11:11:46 am »
Well i think Quantum mechanics is just the first stage. It helps a lot to know the odds when your doing stuff after all. Even if you do not know the specific outcome.
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Offline Daxx

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #56 on: May 01, 2008, 11:20:39 am »
See, that was what I was cautioning against.  Randomness is already allows for and even necessary in Quantum Mechanics.  An uncollapsed wave function exists simultaneously in multiple states... creating indeterminism.

Again, you're not saying exactly why this violates determinism, or allows for "free will".

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #57 on: May 01, 2008, 12:43:20 pm »
The question of Free Will is intrinsically linked to Consciousness. If we are actually conscious and not just the mimicked version of such that is an emergence from the biological equivalent of risk assessment software, a computer, and memory storage, well, that would mean Free Will exists, as consciousness requires Free Will. If we are not, then the conclusion is obvious.
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Offline Daxx

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #58 on: May 01, 2008, 02:36:51 pm »
in a deterministic universe, that superposition of states doesn't exist, because determinism would pre-collapse the quantum states.

Aha, we've finally pinned it down.

Why is it necessary for the states to collapse simply because the system is deterministic? I would counter that it's perfectly possible within a deterministic universe for there to exist such superpositioned states. Merely because the universe is deterministic does not mean that the universe is pre-determined. There's a very fine distinction in terminology here.

Offline /lurk

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #59 on: May 01, 2008, 02:50:45 pm »
the biological equivalent of risk assessment software, a computer, and memory storage

Congratulations. I've never seen a concept like consciousness described so simply. When someone comes to me and asks "What is consciousness?" I can basically just point to your post and say "that."

Unless you're actually proposing that a man's mind has no connection to his body, in which case you've been dead for three and a half centuries, Descartes.



I'd weigh in on this quantum mechanical discussion too, but I don't think anyone here has a firm enough grasp on the subject. Least of all myself - the more I learn, the less I know.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #60 on: May 01, 2008, 05:08:26 pm »
Congratulations. I've never seen a concept like consciousness described so simply. When someone comes to me and asks "What is consciousness?" I can basically just point to your post and say "that."

Unless you're actually proposing that a man's mind has no connection to his body, in which case you've been dead for three and a half centuries, Descartes.

Well, thank you, I think. Fact is, if our mind is an emergent system, it is the sum of our experiences run through these things. Our personality is an effective guise for these things; a response system that actively runs off these background programs. That is, if we are just these things.

If our mind is just these things, though, we are an illusion, so to speak. If our personalities are just illusions, these things do not explain consciousness, which proves just how feeble our grasp on brain functions is. It also makes me want to ask "Do chemicals feel?" quite badly...
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #61 on: May 01, 2008, 09:19:49 pm »
Emergence means more than the sum of its parts but it doesn't mean that it is separated from them. We are a far more smooth version of it, but we would still be these things. Still, we are missing a lot of knowledge here...

Personally I believe in Free Will. If I'm wrong, I can't change it, it's set, as anyone who can understand all factors at any given time, that I believe that and it cannot be changed. When the factors are right for that to change, it shall.

That's the thing I love about Determinism: It makes for the most adorably ridiculous arguments.
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Offline Full_Metal

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #62 on: May 01, 2008, 11:42:30 pm »
Oh wow, that's a lot of misconception you have there. Let me just straighten this out for you.

Yes, quantum physics operates on a random, or probabilistic basis. This does not mean that the random chances scattered here and there give anything that we could remotely consider free will. Here's an example which will demonstrate why this is wrong.
You have a computer, and the program it is running uses a random number generator (we consider for the moment that it is possible to create a truly random number generator). It takes that random number, does some calculations with it, and then spits out a number. Now, you couldn't possibly contend that because the number changes each time it runs the program has "free will"; it's simply a machine using a random number generator. Its outcome is strictly deterministic in a probabilistic sense, in that there is a defined probability that the number will be X. Nowhere in this scenario is there any room for choice, or free will; the computer is just running with the random number it was given.

I'm not sure how you got the idea I think randomness leads to free will... that would be silly. :P My first argument was about determinism, the second about free will... my apologies if I phrased things misleadingly.

What I have to wonder is how, with all the randomness inherent in quantum mechanics, you can still believe the universe is completely deterministic? Now I don't quite agree with MasterChiToes's idea a few posts back that determinism would automatically cause a superposition of states to collapse... merely that when superpositioned states finally do collapse, the outcome is random.

And why do we have brains, you ask? This demonstrates a fundamental misconception about determinism. Just because things are deterministic doesn't mean that we don't have to think about them. After all, a computer's decisions are deterministic just like the brain (which is just a complicated computer) and you wouldn't say a complex calculation could be done any quicker just because the calculating is done along a determined route, would you? "Making decisions", as you put it, is just the outcome of the calculations the computer inside our heads is running based on its own internal chemistry and the inputs it receives, all in purely physical and chemical terms.

I hope that's cleared things up for you.

I never denied the brain runs on physical terms: electrical activity and chemistry. I even believe that many of our actions are influenced by instincts and emotions, mere neurochemestry, if you will. However, knowing how something works does not suddenly make it any less capable. The brain is an excellent example of an emergent system, the action of neurons and synapses gives rise to a consciousness whose decision making process is still beyond the ability of neuroscience to fully understand and predict.

Also, the brain-as-computer analogy can be carried too far: a computer is a set of either-or transistors that store information in binary terms, and by design, function on mathematical logic. A brain is a set of neurons that store information by connecting to one another to form associations, and thus function on analog interconnections. While computers do mathematical computations thousands of times faster than the human brain, the human brain can make associations and recognize and react to objects and situations thousands of times faster than a computer: just look at how difficult it is to design a robot to do tasks that are trivial for a human being, such as finding a path across natural terrain, or recognizing shapes and letters that are partially obscured.

Simply put, the brain does not operate by the same processes and rules as a computer, so the existence of free will cannot necessarily be disproven by the same methods one might use to prove a computer has no free will.

Offline Daxx

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #63 on: May 02, 2008, 03:08:43 am »
in a deterministic universe, that superposition of states doesn't exist, because determinism would pre-collapse the quantum states.

Aha, we've finally pinned it down.

Why is it necessary for the states to collapse simply because the system is deterministic? I would counter that it's perfectly possible within a deterministic universe for there to exist such superpositioned states. Merely because the universe is deterministic does not mean that the universe is pre-determined. There's a very fine distinction in terminology here.

Maybe we are using different definitions:

de·ter·min·ism (dĭ-tûr'mə-nĭz'əm)
n.   The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs.

This seems to imply pre-determined... since everything is the inevitable consequence of everything that came before all the way back to the BB... and leaving no room for being the result of random or arbitrary whatsit.

Heh, this is frustrating.

How is it that something which is the consequence of antecedent states of affairs is necessarily predetermined such that it would lead to superpositioned states? That is, what necessarily causes these states to collapse? You're neatly skipping this again and again.

There's no reason to suggest that simply because things are random or arbitrary that they are not still deterministic. Time in this universe flows forwards, not backwards. In fact, we know this because of the second law of thermodynamics - why then does the knowledge that future events will be predicated by current events mean that those future events are absolutely set in stone?

(I feel I should clarify that last statement by noting that there is still no room for free will since the only deviation comes through quantum randomness, which is to the best of our knowledge arbitrary)

Well, thank you, I think. Fact is, if our mind is an emergent system, it is the sum of our experiences run through these things. Our personality is an effective guise for these things; a response system that actively runs off these background programs. That is, if we are just these things.

If our mind is just these things, though, we are an illusion, so to speak. If our personalities are just illusions, these things do not explain consciousness, which proves just how feeble our grasp on brain functions is. It also makes me want to ask "Do chemicals feel?" quite badly...

So whence your argument for free will? You've just said exactly what we're arguing. Free will is an illusion, simply generated as an emergent property of our brain functions. It doesn't actually exist.

What I have to wonder is how, with all the randomness inherent in quantum mechanics, you can still believe the universe is completely deterministic? Now I don't quite agree with MasterChiToes's idea a few posts back that determinism would automatically cause a superposition of states to collapse... merely that when superpositioned states finally do collapse, the outcome is random.

I still don't think you understand what determinism means, even though I think I demonstrated quite succinctly. Simply because something is based on a random system does not mean it is not deterministic, does not mean that there is any room for free will. If you disagree, please demonstrate how this could be so. I can't be bothered to repeat myself, so I'll just point you back at my earlier example, which still holds.

I never denied the brain runs on physical terms: electrical activity and chemistry. I even believe that many of our actions are influenced by instincts and emotions, mere neurochemestry, if you will. However, knowing how something works does not suddenly make it any less capable. The brain is an excellent example of an emergent system, the action of neurons and synapses gives rise to a consciousness whose decision making process is still beyond the ability of neuroscience to fully understand and predict.

But we nevertheless do know that it's based and governed solely in the physical world, which is itself governed by the physics of the world. You wouldn't claim that it could violate the laws of thermodynamics just because it was complicated enough, would you?

Also, the brain-as-computer analogy can be carried too far: a computer is a set of either-or transistors that store information in binary terms, and by design, function on mathematical logic. A brain is a set of neurons that store information by connecting to one another to form associations, and thus function on analog interconnections. While computers do mathematical computations thousands of times faster than the human brain, the human brain can make associations and recognize and react to objects and situations thousands of times faster than a computer: just look at how difficult it is to design a robot to do tasks that are trivial for a human being, such as finding a path across natural terrain, or recognizing shapes and letters that are partially obscured.

Simply put, the brain does not operate by the same processes and rules as a computer, so the existence of free will cannot necessarily be disproven by the same methods one might use to prove a computer has no free will.

Actually, you obviously know nothing of computer science. It's possible to build a computer which operates using analogue connections which mimic the brain's function extremely accurately (we need to scale up, but this is just a question of more computing power). There's no demonstrable difference in function or relevant qualities between a piece of flesh that can carry out computations and a piece of silicon.

Let's explain this more slowly so you understand.

After all, a computer's decisions are deterministic just like the brain (which is just a complicated computer)
This notes the fact that the brain relies on a deterministic chemical process to process calculations.
and you wouldn't say a complex calculation could be done any quicker just because the calculating is done along a determined route, would you?
This is where your original fundamental misconception arose, because you didn't understand that I'm talking about determinism, not pre-determined pathways being designed. This isn't an evolutionary process, but a physical one.
"Making decisions", as you put it, is just the outcome of the calculations the computer inside our heads is running based on its own internal chemistry and the inputs it receives, all in purely physical and chemical terms.
This is what neuroscience does know about the brain. There's no evidence to dispute this, unless you'd like to find some.

Offline Axelgear

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #64 on: May 02, 2008, 06:44:20 am »
So whence your argument for free will? You've just said exactly what we're arguing. Free will is an illusion, simply generated as an emergent property of our brain functions. It doesn't actually exist.

I said it, I can argue for it, I can provide evidence to suggest it. I don't believe it, though. I will argue from Descartes' position, if I must.

The problem is that this question will never have an answer. If Determinism is correct, we will arrive at the answer when it is set that we will, if we will. I will type these letters because they are the logical result of everything leading up to this point. I might be convinced that I am wrong later, but only if it is predetermined that it will be so. I cannot be faulted for having a flawed argument because it is predetermined that I will have it. A fun part of that argument is that, if we accept that, while our actions may have consequences, we are not responsible for them and that they are merely the result of preset chemical interactions. Any argument against that is an argument for free will.

I personally think, though, that our ability to make choices implies free will, though it is underlain with chemical influences. If our choices are illusions, then all of this is. I do not exist, I am merely an illusion. I am not a conscious entity, merely the result of chemical interactions that mimics one; a computer running a simulation. Even if I believe otherwise, it is only an illusion. The curious part is, though, that if I AM conscious, as I am, though I can provide no evidence towards such, it indicates that I am more than anything else.

In short; I think, therefore, I am.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #65 on: May 02, 2008, 06:55:29 am »
Responsibility for actions is an interesting question. I would argue that we as entities are nevertheless responsible in an absolute sense for our actions even if things are predetermined; of course there is no blame to be apportioned which is what you're fundamentally driving at by bringing this up. Nevertheless the next step that this argument takes (it's pretty old, in philosophical terms) is not necessarily valid - that we cannot jail or punish people for their actions. The act of jailing someone not only carries the regular benefits of protecting society, but the punishment still takes effect. That is, the act of punishing people can influence them so as not to perform the same action again, and therefore this could be considered an action with net benefits to society.

As for Descartes, the argument that you feel only confirms the existence of something that feels and does not in actuality confirm that that feeling thing has a soul or free will. If you disagree, please explain how this is necessarily so.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #66 on: May 02, 2008, 07:05:40 am »
Oh, no, I never said that we can't punish people. I said our actions had consequences (If you kill someone, you will be taken to jail, naturally) earlier. However, blame is another story. We can't BLAME criminals for their actions. We can still punish them for it.

As for the Descartes argument, I will go into further detail on that later, but the general sum of it for you to think over for the moment is, if we are biological computers, we would not be conscious. We could mimic it, certainly, but our responses would be nothing but adaptive programming working around the basic original rules.

Edit: Further detail now available. I should point out that my view is a mix of both. I believe that we make our own choices. There are influences, to be sure, but the eternal choice lies with us. My point is naturally inadequate, there is not enough evidence on the exploration of the brain to determine it, though, which is why I find the debate fruitless and merely have fun pointing out the enjoyable absurdities (Though not falsehoods) in Determinism.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2008, 07:26:13 am by Axelgear »
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #67 on: May 02, 2008, 08:24:05 am »
As for the Descartes argument, I will go into further detail on that later, but the general sum of it for you to think over for the moment is, if we are biological computers, we would not be conscious. We could mimic it, certainly, but our responses would be nothing but adaptive programming working around the basic original rules.

Why wouldn't we be "conscious"? You were talking about emergent properties earlier - prevailing scientific wisdom is that our consciousness is a product of our neurobiology. You might think that you're conscious, but how can you prove that this isn't just because it's an emergent property of the way the squishy thing inside your skull is wired? As I said before (and I do so hate to repeat myself), the argument that you feel only confirms the existence of something that feels and does not in actuality confirm that that feeling thing has a soul or free will.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #68 on: May 02, 2008, 08:54:07 am »
The fact that I can feel anything would indicate that I am more than just a set of responses, though.
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Offline SmileyMan

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #69 on: May 02, 2008, 08:58:27 am »
The fact that I can feel anything would indicate that I am more than just a set of responses, though.

Your feelings are just responses.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #70 on: May 02, 2008, 09:02:48 am »
Then what part of me is actually consciousness? My feelings are responses, my choices are responses, all put through the same thing. There is nothing emergent there. Our consciousness would just be a visage played over these background processes but we would not actually think or feel or do anything any differently than a computer does. Sure, we mimic it, but do we feel it in that situation? Do we even exist in that situation?
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Offline Yokto

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #71 on: May 02, 2008, 01:16:13 pm »
See, that was what I was cautioning against.  Randomness is already allows for and even necessary in Quantum Mechanics.  An uncollapsed wave function exists simultaneously in multiple states... creating indeterminism.

Again, you're not saying exactly why this violates determinism, or allows for "free will".

Because it is random.  Randomness doesn't imply anything about "free will".  I was replying to the supposition that all randomness is ultimately an illusion... which is just so much science fiction.

Quantum Mechanics doesn't say you don't know a specific outcome, as much as there isn't a specific outcome to know (until it is measured).  Schrödinger's cat exists in a superposition of states until the box is opened... and in a deterministic universe, that superposition of states doesn't exist, because determinism would pre-collapse the quantum states.
The behavior of the cat obeys the state of a superposition of states, not as simply an unknown state... the "probabilities" of a superposition and an unknown are not the same.

I know that but the idea is that one could find a way to measure something with 100% accuracy. Something we can not do today due to Heisenberg uncertainty principle. So it all end up with probability anyway. Also there is a question about measuring it and such. You can not measure something without effecting it. And depends on how you view the system and such... Damn this is turning ugly... >_>

I should just stop now before i make it even more confusing.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #72 on: May 03, 2008, 10:07:06 am »
Then what part of me is actually consciousness? My feelings are responses, my choices are responses, all put through the same thing. There is nothing emergent there. Our consciousness would just be a visage played over these background processes but we would not actually think or feel or do anything any differently than a computer does. Sure, we mimic it, but do we feel it in that situation? Do we even exist in that situation?

It is kind of hard to wap your head around and I can't put it into words, but pretty much that consciousness is there but it is still under control by determinism.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #73 on: May 03, 2008, 10:46:35 am »
The fact that I can feel anything would indicate that I am more than just a set of responses, though.

Your feelings are just responses.

In fact, all you are is a series of responses.

You random ball of fleshy cells.

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #74 on: May 03, 2008, 12:43:40 pm »
It is kind of hard to wap your head around and I can't put it into words, but pretty much that consciousness is there but it is still under control by determinism.

But if the consciousness is an emergent result of something determined by Determinism, it would not exist, merely be a mimicked version of it.

If I am a series of responses, I have no consciousness.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #75 on: May 03, 2008, 12:55:01 pm »
Man, you sure have one crazy definition of 'consciousness'.

If consciousness isn't an emergent property of the brain, where do you propose it comes from? Unicorn power? Leprechauns? God?
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #76 on: May 03, 2008, 02:09:00 pm »
I don't propose where it came from. Just that it "is". Like the Universe itself, I can't explain where it came from and understand further study is needed. I do not propose that I have the answer, merely that the current understanding of our consciousnesses is inadequate to explain it.

I define consciousness as our actual existence of self. I have no other way to describe it.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #77 on: May 03, 2008, 06:11:32 pm »
Maybe the brain is an emergent property of consciousness. ;)

Minds building bodies... interesting. >_>
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #78 on: May 04, 2008, 11:28:14 am »
It would be interesting if we were all part of a collective unconsciousness, wouldn't it?
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #79 on: May 04, 2008, 01:33:05 pm »

Let's explain this more slowly so you understand.

...


I understood you the first time. Just because I disagree with your position doesn't mean I don't understand it. ;)

I still don't think you understand what determinism means, even though I think I demonstrated quite succinctly. Simply because something is based on a random system does not mean it is not deterministic, does not mean that there is any room for free will. If you disagree, please demonstrate how this could be so. I can't be bothered to repeat myself, so I'll just point you back at my earlier example, which still holds.

It seems like your description of determinism at the quantum level is a set of random processes are set so that one can trigger the outcome of another, which triggers another, so that the same outcome would result from same initial conditions every time. This isn't random, it's pseudo-random, an illusion of randomness where everything follows a set pattern.

In terms of quantum mechanics, this would be as if "observing" (nudging) a superposition of quantum states so it entered an outcome, could cause a particle to "observe" the next particle, which "observed" the next one... all interacting so that the universe has been a sort of chain reaction all this time.

But if this model of the universe were true, it wouldn't uphold the principles of quantum physics. If the collapse of each superpositioned state were not completely random (within its set of possible outcomes) Hiesenberg Uncerainty would be violated.

I never denied the brain runs on physical terms: electrical activity and chemistry. I even believe that many of our actions are influenced by instincts and emotions, mere neurochemestry, if you will. However, knowing how something works does not suddenly make it any less capable. The brain is an excellent example of an emergent system, the action of neurons and synapses gives rise to a consciousness whose decision making process is still beyond the ability of neuroscience to fully understand and predict.

But we nevertheless do know that it's based and governed solely in the physical world, which is itself governed by the physics of the world. You wouldn't claim that it could violate the laws of thermodynamics just because it was complicated enough, would you?

Point taken.

Actually, you obviously know nothing of computer science. It's possible to build a computer which operates using analogue connections which mimic the brain's function extremely accurately (we need to scale up, but this is just a question of more computing power). There's no demonstrable difference in function or relevant qualities between a piece of flesh that can carry out computations and a piece of silicon.

Oh, yes there is quite a lot of demonstrable difference. Devellopments in robotics (which are a good demonstration of what computers are and aren't capable of) have been struggling to get the controlling computers to do tasks that are trivial for a human being. One case in point: spatial navigation. Many robotics projects and challenges have thus far been unable to produce a robot that can drive over unfamiliar terrain, where a human driver would easily make it through. (Which is ironic because our brains were designed to move walking legs, not turn steering wheels, and yet a machine designed specifically for that task simply can't handle it.)

I think the fact a computer is an orderly binary structure, and a brain is a web of analog connections, has a lot to do with it.

As for a computer made soley from a "neural network" of analog connections, as far as I know, nobody's actually done that. There have been simulations of simple brain-like structures running inside a conventional computer, CPU, hard-disk and all, but that's a binary approximation of an analog process, and so can never exactly replicate it.

(If you've heard of a truely analog simulation of a brain somewhere, by all means, point me to an article on it... I'd love to read it!) :)

Because it is random.  Randomness doesn't imply anything about "free will".  I was replying to the supposition that all randomness is ultimately an illusion... which is just so much science fiction.

Quantum Mechanics doesn't say you don't know a specific outcome, as much as there isn't a specific outcome to know (until it is measured). 
Schrödinger's cat exists in a superposition of states until the box is opened... and in a deterministic universe, that superposition of states doesn't exist, because determinism would pre-collapse the quantum states.
The behavior of the cat obeys the state of a superposition of states, not as simply an unknown state... the "probabilities" of a superposition and an unknown are not the same.

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Offline Neoadept

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #80 on: May 04, 2008, 03:08:52 pm »
Computers use binary because we know binary and at this point it's easier to just simulate analog than pioneer and miniaturize a hardware equivalent.  Likewise, we do not currently have the processing power in one place to simulate the neurons in a rat's brain.  But we will in a year or so.  And within a decade of that we'll have a model of the human brain running, and it will run according to the laws of physics.  And it will work just as well as the real thing.  And don't go and say that the fact that we don't have it yet makes silicon inferior, considering that nature took billions of years to get this brain size I'd say we're making rather speedy progress.
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Offline Axelgear

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #81 on: May 04, 2008, 03:14:43 pm »
I should add that we can already simulate the processes of a half of a mouse's brain... If at a far slower rate.
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Offline Doctor Z

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #82 on: May 04, 2008, 03:30:35 pm »
I should add that we can already simulate the processes of a half of a mouse's brain... If at a far slower rate.

That's nothing, we can simulate all of Paris Hilton's brain.  ;D
Wouldn't that mean we simulate LESS then half a mouse?

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #83 on: May 04, 2008, 03:33:03 pm »
I should add that we can already simulate the processes of a half of a mouse's brain... If at a far slower rate.

That's nothing, we can simulate all of Paris Hilton's brain.  ;D
Wouldn't that mean we simulate LESS then half a mouse?

About a quarter no less ;D.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #84 on: May 04, 2008, 03:36:13 pm »
It was funny the first time... ::) :P

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #85 on: May 04, 2008, 03:38:13 pm »
Sorry, I didn't mean to kill the joke :-[ :P.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #86 on: May 04, 2008, 03:42:33 pm »
It's alright dude. I just couldn't bare to see it continue... ;)

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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #87 on: May 04, 2008, 06:03:44 pm »
If we can create a link that interprets and connects to biological systems, could we increase a person's thought capacity by creating a direct link to their brain and the computer?
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #88 on: May 04, 2008, 06:07:29 pm »
Sure... why not?

I'm pretty sure you could also increase someone's brain capacity by giving them an extra-capacity skull and then slopping in extra grey matter. (I oversimplified the process there a little) The brain is pretty adaptable.
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #89 on: May 04, 2008, 07:41:55 pm »
Say hello to Cyberpunk  8)
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Re: Determinism Vs. Freewill
« Reply #90 on: May 07, 2008, 08:27:53 pm »
I don't propose where it came from. Just that it "is". Like the Universe itself, I can't explain where it came from and understand further study is needed. I do not propose that I have the answer, merely that the current understanding of our consciousnesses is inadequate to explain it.

I define consciousness as our actual existence of self. I have no other way to describe it.

I would describe it as our eyes are our windows into the world, and our consciousness is what is on the other side of the window. That isn't a great way to describe it, but the only way I could come up with. The thing is, despite how amazing our consciousness is, it still needs to have some rules. Even if we lived in a universe with magic, there would still need to be some type of system.
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