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

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

  1. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    You cannot have all the data you need unfortunately to predict a chaotic system. EVEN assuming that for a point in time you have all of the data down to the the location of every quark and the energy level in every spot in space you would still not have enough data to predict the future of a chaotic system such as the weather. You would also need to know when the butterfly was going to fart in the future and if that particular butterfly in that particular location is going to be a trigger a for larger weather affect.

    Since you cannot know that you cannot predict the future state of a chaotic system. The butterfly fart comment is somewhat tongue in cheek - the point is very minor changes in a chaotic system can combine to create large changes in the system. In a system that is inherently in equilibrium small changes will be damped out and the system will tend to the equilibrium state, not so for a chaotic system.

    You should read up on chaos theory. It makes perfect sense. It may not 'square' with want you want to believe - but I have found it is best to believe what the facts show you and not to try and find facts for what you believe.
     
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  3. Maxila Registered Senior Member

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    Fantastic comment, I couldn’t agree more. I have to ask; would you agree that is difficult in practice because of our overwhelming capacity to rationalize being honest and factual on an issue we have a sided interest in? In my observations it is extremely rare to see an exception, and it is equally prevalent in people of different educations, social status, and financial status (often intelligent people make it less obvious in their arguments).

    I took a moment to look at your profile and noted this, “I am amazed at man's ability for kindness and cruelty”. In regards to cruelty, disregarding genuinely mentally ill, I believe it is that capacity for self-righteous rationalization, often being the basis justifying such cruelty. Most commonly it manifests more subtlety, which can often be seen in discussions on a forum like this. The ironic thing is we rarely, if ever see this behavior in ourselves yet we are adept at seeing it in adversaries, myself included.

    Maxila
     
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  5. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Quantum indeterminacy bars the possibility that having "all the data" could lead to the possibility for prefect prediction.

     
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  7. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Do you ever hit your hand with a hammer from free will? The point is that somehow we do hit our hand with a hammer in spite of our knowledge that it will hurt. Seems to me this proves that free will is applicable only in cases where choosing makes no difference to the eventual deterministic result.
     
  8. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Nonsense. That example requires more than free will, such as attention and coordination. Obviously the choice is not to injure yourself, but physical coordination (which is a learned skill) must be up to the task. Poor coordination does not necessarily guarantee injury though.
     
  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    You are not allowed to introduce "if/then" influences into the equation. The question remains if we could have acted differently given the exact same circumstance (the causality). The answer clearly is that we could not because we did not, regardless of the skill or attention to safety.

    I do believe in Compatibilist FW, where the actor is the causal Origin, such as the carpenter designing a new piece of furniture. But that would not have prevented him from hitting his hand with the hammer during the construction phase.
     
  10. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Choice and ability to act on choice are two completely different considerations. Inability to act on choice does not negate choice. Nor do the laws of physics necessitate one and only one result of past influences.
     
  11. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Yes it does. Inability to act negates the act of choosing.
     
  12. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Nice bare assertion. Inability to act on a choice does not necessarily mean no choice was made. And it is incoherent to equate choice with action if you assert all action is determinate. You are simply begging the question by assuming, a priori, that free will does not exist.
     
  13. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    I did not claim FW does not exist.

    From wiki,

    My only claim is that given the same conditions, the results would not be different than what they were.
     
  14. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    I am agnostic on the issue of free will, with a slight bias in favor of it.

    The universe is not deterministic. An argument against free will based on determinism is invalid. Quantum level processes are probabilistic. The Uncertainty Principle also negates determinism, which was a 19th century view of the universe.

    To refute the above point of view, it is necessary to explain how random data can be produced by deterministic processes. It is also necessary to refute the Uncertainty Principle.

    BTW: The brain scan experiments are interesting, but do not seem to prove that our choices are automatic & not due to conscious choices.

    A human being functions efficiently by relying on past experience to make current decisions. For many decisions, a timely response would be delayed by making the choice using conscious thought processes. I would expect many decisions to be made at a sub conscious level, which is what the brain scan indicates.

    When I drive along an oft-traveled route, I run on “autopilot.” A brain scan would indicate just that. If something unusual occurs, conscious thought takes over. For unusual situations previously encountered, there might be a subconscious level response ready to make decsions. If I had no prior experience with a situation, I would expect to use conscious thought to decide what to do.

    For me, the best (though not conclusive) argument in favor of free will is the following.

    There are those who make good decisions most of the time & have a successful life. They work at decent jobs or are entrepreneurs; They have worthwhile friends & typically a good relationship with a life partner; They enjoy their life, having various hobbies or interests.

    There are those who make bad decisions most of the time & suffer consequences. They might overuse drugs or alcohol; They choose bad life partners & friends; They do not get a good education; They make bad choices of career or louse up a potentially good career; They generally do not enjoy life.

    I do not consider the difference between the above two types to be due to deterministic fate. I view it as due to the good or bad decisions made by the individual.​

    Note that the consequences of decisions above are highly consistent with the choices made by an individual. Free will seems to be a better explanation for the above than an explanation based either on determinism or some probabilistic explanation.
     
  15. Nobeliefs Registered Member

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    Hey Syne, it seems to me that you are almost convinced that free will is real. If that's true, why? could you explain your arguments please?... by the way, I'm not convinced that FW is not real
     
  16. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Quantum indeterminacy to the contrary. Some conditions necessarily have more than one possible result.
     
  17. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Simple. In science we do not doubt the self-evident without significant evidence to the contrary. Denial of genuine free will (universally self-evident to humans) is thus equivalent to the claim that the sun does not exist, necessitating equally extraordinary evidence. It is much like how other counter-intuitive things have been demonstrated in science, but we are not justified in assuming things counter-intuitive just because some things are. That would be a hasty generalization.


    For example, we do not assume that the ground rushes up to meet falling objects without significant evidence countering the self-evident observation that it is the objects that fall.
     
  18. Nobeliefs Registered Member

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    That's not a good argument, that could be explained by differences in the environment... nonesense, a good argument would be that quantum stuff is involved in brain function, but I don't know if that's true...
     
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Even if that is true, how do we know that,
    a) FW has an influence on quantum function at all?
    b) More than one possible result is still deterministic as the result is fixed at the moment of measurement. As far as I know the "uncertainty effect" forbids us from determining either speed and/or location, making it impossible for intentionally fixing a position from FW.

    I do agree that FW may be used to influence "future probabilities", by creating an artificial environment for specific purposes. However we always seem to run into the problem of motive to take any action from desire. Motive emerges from our response to existing conditions, thus has a causal origin.
     
  20. Nobeliefs Registered Member

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    Well, we know the sun is out there because we see it and feel the energy, but more important we can MESURE!... We cant mesure free will, the fact that every human has the sensation of control doesn't mean anything, that's not a valid evidence if you use the scientific method. You're comparision is nonesense... Free will like the existence of the sun, that's absurd..
    The sensation of control could be explained by evolution, maybe that's better for the "survival" and evolution of our genes or something...

    Which of these rhomboids is darker in color? Top or bottom? Are you sure?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    Cover the area between the two gray areas with your finger....Both are the same, it's an illusion... The Brain decieves us all the time..
     
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Isn't that an astounding example?
    A clear example of fooling the mirror function in our brains. We see different colors from other data than the cube itself. Our fuzzy logic fools us until we take away the background colors.
    Just amazing!!!
     
  22. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Chaotic systems are extremely sensitive to initial conditions. Id est: An almost infinitesimal difference in initial conditions can have a large effect on the final result of certain calculations.

    It is not quite valid to claim that they are unpredictable.

    For actual processes, the Uncertainty Principle combined with Chaotic equations can result in unpredicability.

    The results of pure mathematical computations can be chaotic, but have definite results which can be calculated.

    BTW: Free will seems to be incompatible with the deterministic universe of the 19th century. The modern point of view denies a deterministic universe, which is compatible with the notion of free will. Modern physics seems to require the notion of free will as as an open issue.
     
  23. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    a) Quantum indeterminacy allows for free will, which then can exercise a top-down causation upon choice of quantum measurement.
    b) A result being fixed upon measurement says nothing about the choice of measurement, which is what determines which complimentary property we get a more definite value for.

    Who says free will is acausal? Having motives does not necessitate only one response to a given set of influences.

    Well aside from your spelling, it is a false dilemma to assume we can know nothing about the existence of something prior to a measurement of its properties. Why would we attempt to measure something we have no clue exists? Observation is the first step of the scientific method, and it is not parsimonious to assume those observations in error without considerable supporting evidence. Seems you have replaced skepticism with idealism, where you have accepted a fact about some things and made a hasty generalization that it applies to all things without any further corroboration.

    Deterministic fables about the purpose of observed free will are always idealistic arm-waving. Where is the substantial evidence that this may be the case?

    And there is indirect evidence for free will, as the belief in free will has a measurable impact on moral choices.
     

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