Determinism and free will .

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Emil, Sep 23, 2010.


Choose one.

  1. Metaphysical Libertarianism (free will, and no Determinism).

    11 vote(s)
  2. Hard Determinism (Determinism, and no free will).

    11 vote(s)
  3. Hard Indeterminism (No Determinism, and no free will either).

    2 vote(s)
  4. I can not choose between these.

    14 vote(s)
  1. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    well the act of creativity, improvisation immediately disqualifies this definition as you may have 5 focussed inputs creating one original output through an act of creativity. Thus same inputs does not = same output therefore not determined. And freewill is an act of deliberate creativity IMO.
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  3. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    The rejection and then choice are themselves driven by influences. It is, seemingly, impossible to make an uncaused and non-random act such as "choice" or "reject".
    An influence is something that has a bearing on a process.
    A "force" has a specific meaning in physics. I would prefer to avoid it. Further, "force" implies strict determinism whereas I do not hold to such.

    No, I don't think you can... as your "choice" (to force yourself etc) is itself the culmination of influences. It is only the "I" that perceives it as a choice... seeing possible outcomes and believing it "chooses" from the options (or chooses not to choose, as you seem to think is possible).
    We can not reject an influence. Try to reject an air-molecule hitting you, or a photon from reflecting at a certain angle off a hair? Can you?
    Yes, our conscious self appears to think about things, mulling over projections of future outcomes etc and reaches a "decision" - but this takes all influences into account and can do nothing but take them into account - but the consciousness can't grasp all these influences and thus creates the illusion that you are choosing... with this illusion of "choice" bridging the gap in the conscious between the knowledge of the influences it can grasp, and the eventual outcome.

    All you are arguing for is the way that the people view the illusion - not whether it is illusory or not.

    For Pete's sake, I am not saying that X leads to X, I am saying that if you have a certain set of starting conditions then end up with X that in a deterministic universe if you start with exactly those starting conditions you will ALWAYS end up with X.

    This is (strict) determinism.

    To put it another way - determinism suggests that if you rewind the clock to a prior moment then exactly the same will unfold. i.e. if you input the same conditions as the first time then you will get the same outputs as the first time.
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  5. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    The funny thing in all this is that in the main we actually agree! Surprising enough...we appear to be having trouble working out how to express that agreement.
    Of course Strict Determinism by the definition you are using is impossible when creativity is involved and we humans are creative or more specifically "procreative". We can put A with B and create a cloud.

    eg. ever tried to sculpt the same sculpture in clay twice?

    Reversing the process will grant the same result in other words the result will always be a variation and not identical.
    Considering the distinction between a possible perfect human machine [A.I. Android] and a "natural" human being and we end up with the conundrum as to which one has the greater freedom of will [not freewill per see], the Android or the human.

    Theoretically if the Android was near perfectly constructed in the image of a human
    then they would both have the same degree of freedom of will. [ not freewill IMO] and the notion of determinism stands as valid.

    So the discussion will inevitably fall on the question of what makes us a living being and what the difference is between that which is essentially dead and that which is essentially living.

    Can an Android know it has freedom of will or that it is "alive" or does it simply follow programming that says it does and is?

    Can an Android Know or experience Oblivion, Nothingness or Unconsciousness or dare I mention Death?

    Possibly, if the will centerer of the Android regresses infinitely into paradox it may be considered to exhibit "freewill" IMO but it is in the "construction" of infinite regression that only the universe as a whole can create and certainly not something a human could ever create [ in a machine ] and can only procreate by having human children.

    If Humans have this infinite regression into paradox as part of every choice we may or may not make and IMO is essential in discussing "What makes life, alive" we can therefore state we can be infinitely/eternally "undecided" if we choose to be, thus the notion of Freewill comes to the fore.

    As we are able to break the influence or causal chain and do nothing, die or become irrational we can not categorically claim that we are able to be determined other than by self. If we are only self determined then we have power of self determination and because we can contra even this [defy self or in religious terms God*] we have freewill as a result.

    Another key point:

    Determinism of any sort requies rationality, logical progression, etc and we humans are very capable of generating chaos which defeats any notion of determinism.

    So to summaries the main point:

    It is the ability we have to be undecided and deliberately so if we choose to be that grants us the freedom to choose [freewill and not just freedom of will] and we can be undecided our entire life if that is what we choose to be or we can force a decision when appropriate. This allows us to break any chain of causality or influence which leads to a "Null" deterministic result.

    * re: the case of original sin in the Garden of Eden.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010
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  7. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Now Sarkus forgive me from pre-empting your complaint:
    You will probably say that this is erroneous because even the desire to be irrational is determined thus freewill is invalid and only illusionary.

    My response is that when dealing with a "closed system" that is premised on duality the ability to attain freewill is only available with in this entire closed system by infinitely reducing this duality [ yes, no and maybe] to a point of zero.
    The only escape from a closed system is the acquisition of zero thus "suicide" is always a last resort when confronted with oppression of freewill. [ thus mankinds consistant history of struggle/war with each other] therefore we are quite capable of determining ourselves into freewill if we ultimately decide to.

    The paradox involved here IMO is that if death is the only way to achieve proof of freewill then that proof is useless as you are dead and can not give testimony.
    So freewill can never be proved and is unprovable in any way other than by logical rational assessment and as we know truth [Which according to philosophy is unavailable] can not be proven by use of logic but only lead to belief with it's inherent doubts.
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    QQ, I can hardly complain about any particular comment given that I remain struggling with the language you use... such as "freedom of will"... which, to me, still skirts around the issue. You still seem to be describing the way the illusion works or its impact without actually providing evidence / argument for it NOT being an illusion.

    It's like I'm saying it is an illusion... and you're saying "whether it is illusion or not, this is how it impacts us and how it operates".

    But in doing so you seem to demonstrate confusion either in understanding or at the least in communication.

    For example:
    This seems to suggest that Strict Determinism is impossible because creativity exists... yet "creativity" can happily exist in a realm governed by strict determinism. If a human can put A with B to get a cloud, then if you rewind the clock in a strictly determined universe then the person would still put A with B to get a cloud.
    In this case "creativity" is just the name for another strictly determined process, and would likewise be an illusion similar to freewill... i.e. it is a pattern of activity that gives the appearance of creativity etc

    In this example you clearly confuse strict determinism with chaos theory.
    We can't sculpt the same thing twice due to DIFFERENT starting conditions / inputs and, due to sensitivity to starting conditions, the output is more different than you would think.
    This has nothing to do with strict determinism.
    In a strict deterministic universe, the only way you could end up with exactly the same starting conditions would be to rewind time. Otherwise you will still be subject to chaos theory / sensitivity to starting conditions.

    However strict determinism doesn't hold due, it seems, to quantum indeterminacy. I.e. for given starting conditions the output is not singular but governed by a probability function that appears to be random. I.e. the same starting conditions can lead to a DIFFERENT outcome - which is contrary to strict determinism.

    But in neither of these is there room for free-will, other (and I have stated my view many times previously in this thread) in my view as a pattern of activity that gives the appearance of self-determination.

    I would like to continue this, QQ, but I am genuinely unsure as to whether you and I share the same understanding of the key aspects.
  9. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Do you understand my point about infinite regression to zero?
    Do you understand my point about how achieving zero provides an opt out from a closed system?
    I am not seeking agreement as such however understanding may lead to such.
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    It's like being trapped inside a sealed bottle full of deterministic "influences" and the only escape from the bottle is to become zero. [ unconsciousness, death, coma, trance, etc]
    The buddhist ideology is about just this. By becoming zero one acquires freedom from the cycle of suffering and pleasure [ duality] Thus obtaining control over the deterministic universe [bottle- Sansara].
    By removing compulsion [ attachment ] they master the infleunces that commonly drive us. [ or at least attempt to do so as so far none have succeeded]
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I follow it - but I don't agree with it.
    You argument uses contradictory terminology.
    Either a system is closed or it is not. If it is closed then there can, by definition, be no escape.

    Death, unconsciousness etc is not an escape. It is merely a ceasing of a pattern of activity within "the bottle", with the act of cessation no more "free" than any other act that is carried out.

    None of this, however, provides argument for or against the notion of freewill.
    Any act of trying to obtain "freedom" is itself governed by the very things it is trying to gain "freedom" from... and the belief that one is free is likewise governed by the same things.
  12. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    fair enough....explaining the nature of "Something vs. Nothing" as a closed system is always difficult and torturous and to be honest I am not well enough to want to try.
    Suffice to say that if a hypothetical "God" decided to commit suicide there would be no universe [something] to have freedom within as that God is that something.[universe]
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  13. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    QQ, I have to agree with Sarkus here. You're conflating the very issue at hand:

    There are two (competing) systems described in your sentence there, not one.
    One can be closed, or open.
    The conjunction of both under a single predicate is an absurdity.
  14. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    an opinion expressed that maybe another time and thread may deal with eh?
    Of course IMO you cannot have something with out nothing as the term something relies on the non-existence of nothing to gain meaning.

    For example all mathematics rely and is totally dependant on the non-value of zero as all numbers are relative to zero.
    The question that I am interested in is :
    is zero exclusively relative to the numbers or can it stand alone as pure nothingness?
    or is non value exclusively relative to value or can it stand alone as pure non-value?
    Therefore in this example,
    Numbers may be relative to zero but zero may not be relative to numbers [ reciprication is void] as zero is immutable and always absolute in the context used

    My guess at this stage is yes nothingness can exist with out any relativity but alas there would be no means to gain meaning. [ which of course is what non-relative nothingness is - meaningless]
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  15. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    See, it's not an opinion however; it's simple logic.

    The Law of Excluded Middle applies: any system cannot both be open and closed. It's that simple.

    As to whether or not the system in question is either of these is indeed the topic at hand, but what's relevant here is that one cannot (as you've implied) maintain the assertion of a system that is both open and closed.

    As for the mathematics metaphor: it doesn't hold. Mathematics is an artifice. The system in question here (it must be reasonably assumed..) is not.

    Now, you could circumvent this disjunctive problem by using some non-standard definitions..........
  16. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    The question then is :
    Is the use of zero [nothingness] available in a closed system?
    If not why does the use of zero render the system open?

    Also is it worth considering that this debate about freewill can never be solved when the rules disallow a solution.

    Paradox is quite acceptable to science [re: wave particle duality as an example] yet as you say paradox is unacceptable to philosophy.

    IMO Freewill is in essence a logical paradox and if philosophy cannot accommodate a paradox then freewill and many other difficult areas of discussion such as ex-nhilio creation etc will never be able to be debated adequately.

    Maybe we should bring old Zeno of Elea into the fray? What say you?
  17. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Theres an old zenism floating around that helps deal with this:
    "How can an empty cup be full of nothing?"
    "How can an empty cup be empty?"
    I consider my own existence a paradox and am reasonably happy about it so I don't see what the problem is...
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    True, but the comment is irrelevant since the rules we are using DO allow a solution.
    It might not be the solution you want, however. But to call the rules into question at such a time smacks of a weak position.

    Paradox is entirely unacceptable to science.
    It is the initial interpretation as a paradox that leads to further investigation that leads to reinterpretation as not a paradox.

    How is freewill a logical paradox? You seem to be claiming it is merely as a last resort with no detail other than your confidence (or lack thereof in your own position).
    You mean as an example of what first appears to be a paradox but only appears to be so due to a lack of understanding of the detail that, once understood, can be clearly and logically demonstrated to not be a paradox? You mean that Zeno?
    Sure - bring it to the table if that is your desire. :shrug:
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    I can bring Zeno in by simply asking these two questions:
    And how Zenos paradox's can only be accommodated by using the infinitesimal [ the birth of calculus] and not zero which is why the discovery of incommensurable magnitudes was so important.
    Demonstrated in the Lorentz Transform held so highly by science and simply by Zeno's paradox "Archille and the Tortoise" amongst various others such as cline bottles etc etc....
    "infinite regression to zero" is dissallowed by material science - science of substance [ as infinitesimal is the smallest material science will allow yet evidence of nothing is all around us all the time.]
    And of course if infinitesimal is the smallest available unit then zero is proved by deductive reasoning. [ nothing can be smaller than an infinitesimal - self evident deductive reasoning]
    The distance between Archilles and the tortoise can never be guessed
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2010
  20. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    IMO because the Sciences [including philosophy] can not accommodate the notion of Zero properly even though they use it all the time.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2010
  21. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Zero does not mean "nothingness" in the mathematical system. It's simply another placeholder; a useful representation of the null set, which is required for continuity. No problem.

    I agree with what you say here, but I don't think it's a fair characterization of the 'rules'. The 'rules' allow us to comprehend possibilities; simply because something is thereby disallowed, it doesn't mean it's some sort of 'missed opportunity'. It just means that it's not an option.

    That's a legitimate conclusion if you (choose to) see it as a paradox.....

    egads, that old semanticist???

    You couldn't have picked a sillier Pre-Socratic?

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  22. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    hee hee!

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  23. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Last thoughts for now,
    Well then, if zero is unable to be included [ meaning suicide, death, unconsciousness etc] then Sarkus's case could be seen as valid.
    However given that these NULL outcomes are common through out mankinds existence, I would be concerned about the validity of the rules more than the reality of those null outcomes.

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