Do we have free will? (originally posted on Science & Society)

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Nobeliefs, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Pachomius Registered Senior Member


    The title of your thread is "Do we have free will?"

    Forgive me, but may I just ask you for what you understand by the term free will?

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  3. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Okay, happy to presume such.
    The atom is a pattern of its underlying constituents... quarks etc, even down to the level of vibrating strings etc. At some level there is no pattern, there is merely the object itself, and any "pattern" is merely an interpretation of that object, and the interpretation is through interaction. But throughout I would argue that it remains material... not material itself but material in the physicalist sense... I.e. of or pertaining to matter.
    As for the birds in flight, I'm not sure what predictability has to do with anything? But are you claiming that the patterns they exhibit are not material in nature? (I.e. of or pertaining to matter)?
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  5. elte Valued Senior Member

    I'm reluctant to post anything else in these freewill threads because of not desiring to appear to legitimize the ad hominems in them.

    However, I think I should clarify my viewpoint by mentioning that
    freewill in human people is like temperature absolute zero. We can say it exists, but it has never been reached.
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  7. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    And what kind of evidence would you accept for the immaterial? Anecdotal,...self-reported? Obviously we cannot expect empirical evidence for the immaterial, unless we resort to exhausting the possibilities ad infinitum, which precludes ever reaching an acceptance. So you must define the sort of evidence you would find sufficient for the immaterial to remove the specter of intellectual dishonesty. Or just admit that you cannot make claims of what you would do under circumstances beyond your experience.

    No, it is not the same, as repeated firings of a single synapse may be probabilistic while the coordinated firings within a neural network are not. This is a composition fallacy.

    Self-organization is a process where some form of global order or coordination arises out of the local interactions between the components of an initially disordered system. This process is spontaneous: it is not directed or controlled by any agent or subsystem inside or outside of the system; however, the laws followed by the process and its initial conditions may have been chosen or caused by an agent. -

    The emergent is unlike its components insofar as these are incommensurable, and it cannot be reduced to their sum or their difference.
    Rules, or laws, have no causal efficacy; they do not in fact “generate” anything. They serve merely to describe regularities and consistent relationships in nature. These patterns may be very illuminating and important, but the underlying causal agencies must be separately specified (though often they are not). But that aside, the game of chess illustrates precisely why any laws or rules of emergence and evolution are insufficient. Even in a chess game, you cannot use the rules to predict “history” — i.e., the course of any given game. Indeed, you cannot even reliably predict the next move in a chess game. Why? Because the “system” involves more than the rules of the game. It also includes the players and their unfolding, moment-by-moment decisions among a very large number of available options at each choice point.
    The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe. The constructionist hypothesis breaks down when confronted with the twin difficulties of scale and complexity. At each level of complexity entirely new properties appear. Psychology is not applied biology, nor is biology applied chemistry. We can now see that the whole becomes not merely more, but very different from the sum of its parts.

    Wow, you just described inconsistency in general to avoid detailing the specific inconsistency you claim in this case or addressing how you distinguish the supposed illusion of consciousness and free will from reality.

    Again, a composition fallacy which completely ignores emergent phenomena, which is greater than the sum of parts/influences.

    In QM, choice effects outcome. So are you saying the laws of physics conspire to appear to confirm free will? Why? I assume you think the illusion of free will serves some purpose for consciousness, but what purpose does consciousness serve if only illusory? Seems to raise more questions than it answers.

    And you seem to hedge about things like determinism and objective reality that would be your only solid recourse. I am starting to thing that you are just being intentionally vexing.

    It is a false dilemma that there is any sudden demarcation between the two. Emergent properties can be causative over the influences which spawned them. Neither uncaused nor random.
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I would accept any evidence that rationally concludes that the non-material is necessary, whether the evidence is empirical, anecdotal, subjective, logic etc.
    And there is no spectre of intellectual dishonesty - just spurious accusations by you.
    No, it's not a composition fallacy as you seem to misunderstand the way neural networks work, and you read into words such as "emergent" some form of non-probabilistic result. That is your misconception.
    And this shows that they are non-probabilistic... how, exactly?
    So now you're arguing for emergent properties? Yet seem to consider them somehow non-material in nature?
    No, I have described an example of an inconsistency in an illusion (the film) which holds whether the universe is illusory or not. And as such it is a valid analogy for identifying inconsistencies within illusions (e.g. The inconsistency between the perception of the magician performing actual magic and the knowledge that actual magic does not exist) whether or not our consciousness is illusory.
    No, it doesn't ignore them at all. I am an advocate of emergent phenomena yet I see them as nothing but material in nature, arising from the complexity of the underlying material interactions, and still obeying the fundamental rules. That they also exhibit properties not seen at the lower levels is not valid logic to conclude them either non-material nor ultimately unexplainable.
    No, in QM the nature of the interaction can effect outcome, but there is no choice. To argue that choice effects outcome is to a priori assume a chooser.
    I don't see a conspiracy, which implies intent. Is there some evolutionary benefit to free will? I think so, but I think it is part and parcel of consciousness... I.e. I think they arose together, and are merely facets of the same process.
    Yes, Philosophical matters such as the nature of free will are always black and white, right?
    Yes, and the emergent property is a result of the complexity of the underlying interactions, all of which I see as being material in nature, and thus I consider emergent properties as also being material in nature. I do not see emergent properties as non-material, but merely properties that we can not (yet) explain through our current understanding of those underlying events, or may never be able to explain.
  9. OnlyMe Valued Senior Member

    So basically, anything that supports your beliefs? By including anecdotal and subjective sources, in the above, you pretty much set aside any dependence on rationality.

    The subjective experience of persons with different belief systems will often result in different conclusions, and how rational the conclusion is depends largely on the belief system one begins with. If I begin with a belief system that says the world is flat and sits on the back of an elephant, it does not automatically follow, as a rational assumption, that the earth spins on its axis while the stars stay relatively fixed.

    And as for anecdotal, it would include things like drinking a glass of water upside down, will cure a case of the hiccups.., every time... Or breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck.

    All you really said above is that you will accept anything that supports your belief or position. For your belief or position to be based on any kind of logical system there must always be the possibility that you will accept contradictory proof or evidence. That does not here appear to be the case.

    And again, this discussion seems more suited to some other area of the boards.., philosophy or possibly psychology. Just mentioning QM or some some aspect of QM, does not raise the discussion to the level of science, and I am pretty sure there is no math that will decide the issue one way or the other. This is really a debate centered on one's philosophical model of mind.., spirit and/or soul...
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Please re-read, especially where I say "I would accept any evidence that rationally concludes that the non-material is necessary".
    Most anecdotal evidence is rationally only conclusive that the person's interpretation of events is as told. But it exists as evidence even if one needs to be careful of appreciating what it is evidence of.
    Most subjective evidence is similarly prone to misinterpretation, so rationally I would tend to limit that evidence to conclusions arond the individual's interpretation of that experience.
    So no, I don't set aside issues of rationality.
    Then you have wholly misunderstood my position: if an item of evidence supports two theories, for example, then there is no way that it rationally supports one over the other. If an item of evidence can be interpreted in multiple ways then it can not rationally support one theory over another etc. Maybe you misunderstood (or I didn't make clear) what I would consider to be rational or not.

    And yes, there is always the possibility that I will accept condradictory evidence - I see that as part and parcel of being rational.
    Sure - I'm not fussed where it resides.
  11. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    Magic words. If the incantation of certain words produced consistent, measurable results, (other than the physical effect of sound) that would be evidence for the non-material being a significant force in the universe.
  12. OnlyMe Valued Senior Member

    Sarkus, my earlier post was a comment only on the fully quoted sentence below. Yes if you retract the qualifying statement, whether the evidence is empirical, anecdotal, subjective, logic etc., tacked on the end of your initial statement, the whole of your intent could be interpreted differently.

  13. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    No, consistent correlation does little to prove causation, and the immaterial is, by definition, beyond our available means to demonstrate any direct causation.
  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Yes, re-reading it, it doesn't do my position/view justice, so consider it retracted. Thanks for pointing out, and apologies for any confusion.
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Only for those who dismiss personal experience as irrelevant.

    In most religious/spiritual traditions, it can be said that the highest priority is a particular change of consciousness, ideally resulting in what is usually called "peace of mind."

    A particular person's "peace of mind" is not something that can be reliably measured by other people.
    Yet, typically, "peace of mind" is something that people generally seek and highly value.

    Many people report that chanting particular words brings them (a measure of) peace of mind.
  16. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    If you have any choices, which everyone has, then you have free will. Without any choice then you wouldn't have free will for you have nothing to choose for yourself but only others telling you what you want, where to go, what to eat, where to work and on and on.
  17. Pixiemark Registered Member

    But are we truly in control of those 'choices'? Or is our consciousness merely a passenger to - or even just a result of - an underlying process, giving us the illusion that we are in control? It troubles me to think that I'm not truly the master of my own destiny, but I can't deny that what I know about causation has led me to the conclusion that free will is just a trick of the human mind. Maybe a delusion suffered by other intelligent species too. Could this have developed due to some Darwinian advantage? As with religion, I believe yes, probably.

    Until we have 'proper' evidence that suggests to the contrary, in my opinion, this is the only logical conclusion.

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  18. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Emergent properties cannot be inferred from their components, not even probabilistically. That is your bullshit.

    Again, the "non-material" is only your straw man in this thread.

    Yet you have still failed to distinguish real from illusion in any way. As such you have yet to establish an inconsistency relative to anything but your analogy.

    Emergent properties require new rules to describe the phenomena, so no, they do not "still obeying the fundamental rules". And it is apparently you favorite straw man that I have said anything about being "non-material nor ultimately unexplainable".

    The nature of the specific interaction in a given measurement is chosen by the experimenter.

    I never implied intent, but your black and white thinking cannot help but leap to such a conclusion. What benefit? Or is that just an evasion of my actual question?

    If you are going to argue a point, perhaps you should actually decide on all the relevant facts first. So far you are simply being contrary rather than presenting a coherent argument. Or just save your vague philosophical musings for a more appropriate forum.

    Again, ad nauseam, it is only you who has erected this straw man about "non-material".

    The claim that free will either does not exist or is mere illusion bears the burden of proof. Even if you believe free will to be illusory, you still perceive yourself to possess & exercise it. It is universally self-evident for humans. As such, the claim that free will/consciousness is anything other than they appear is an extraordinary one requiring extraordinary evidence. This is as extraordinary as claiming the sun to be illusory.

    In science, we do not assume things other than they appear without evidence that they actually are. Where is your evidence?
  19. Mathers2013 Banned Banned

    Chaotic systems are not just difficult to predict, they CANNOT be predicted: the idea of chaos. Many Mathematicians do not believe in chaos simply because they believe that EVERY system has an equation.
  20. Nobeliefs Registered Member

    In order to predict a chaotic system you need to identify all the variables and every piece involved. That's the problem, if we want to predict the weather we must know the position, velocity etc, of every single molecule of water, N2, O2 .... Theoretically, if you have ALL the data and a supercomputer with enough power you can predict a chaotic system...
  21. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    No you cannot. If you know the position of everything and you have an infinitely powerful computer you still cannot predict the weather exactly because the system is CHAOTIC! That means small pertibations in the process may or may not cascade into large affects - it is not predictable. You cannot predict which pertibatuon (think butterfly farts) will cascade into a large scale event.
  22. Nobeliefs Registered Member

    Dear Origin, when I say "if you have all the data" I mean ALL DATA!! That includes butterflies, birds, fireflies, humans... There's no need to mention everything..

    By the way, if you have an infinitely powerful computer maybe you can create another universe, with more chaos if you like, So you think that chaotic systems violate causality? None sense...
    [video=youtube;dmX1W5umC1c] [/video]
  23. wellwisher Banned Banned

    If you look at osmosis, the randomness of increasing system entropy generates a directed force opposite gravity; osmotic pressure=entropic force/area. This is an example of order from chaos but it requires a container.

    Life makes use of osmosis and the entropic force and can create order from chaos. Humans can look at the chaos of nature and then engineer this into a source of work. If I explode gasoline, energy goes down, while entropy goes up as the heat increases the degrees of molecular freedom. This seems so random, oh know! All we need is a container and we can generated a directed force; order from random.

    The brain can set up neural data containers, so when internal molecular entropy increases, since entropy has to increase, the container can generate a directional entropic force; new idea. It may look magic or random but it follows basic principles.

    The reason this works in life is due to water and the liquid state. Liquids can separate macro and micro affects, so each can work independently. A glass of water open to the air can have atmospheric pressure pushing down and surface tension pulling the water molecules into tension as the same time. The entropic force use micro-entropy to generate macro-order.

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