Is free will possible in a deterministic universe?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Sarkus, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    It all boils down to the same question, as previously asked several times but to no avail: how how was what you posted about the theories of time relevant to the issue.
    However, you finally have gotten round to trying to express what you see as the relevance.
    So well done you.
    And it only took [far too long] for you to do that.
    But we’ll done.
    Which theory says that the initial conditions are now, rather than some time previous?
    None of them do.
    They only concern themselves with what can be regarded as existing, i.e. whether only the “now” exists, or whether the past and present exist, or whether all of time already exists.
    You’re going to have to go some to convert any of those ideas into being one of the initial conditions being now.
    Presenting, for example, has no issue with things having existed in the past, and those things determining the now, and the now determining the future.
    It is only a question of what can be said to exist, and specifically whether the future, present, past exist can be said to exist.

    So I ask again, as it is quite clear you have no real idea of what you raised: what is the relevance to the matter of the importance of the initial conditions to the question of free will?
    Alas, this all stems from your misunderstanding of what you have raised.
    None of the theories have anything to say about determinism or its lack thereof, or how the past did not exist nor how the future will not exist, only about what can said to exist at this moment.
    Being set in stone is not the same as saying that they actually exist at this moment, only that when the future does exist it will transpire having been fully determined by any moment in the past, as and when that past moment existed etc.
    I am simply trying to stay on topic.
    While you have now, finally, managed to explain why you at least think the theory of time is relevant to the issue, you have actually merely highlighted that you don’t really understand what it is you have raised.
    Hence your misunderstanding, and insistence, as to its relevance.

    To make it simple for you: whether I think the past currently can be said to exist or not, there is little dispute that it did exist.
    Similarly, whether the future currently can be said to exist, there is little dispute that it will come to pass.
    Determinism straddles all these theories, whatever one’s theory of time.
    Determinism doesn’t rely on the past currently existing, or the future.
    It relies solely on the relationship between one moment and another, whether those moments now exist or not, whether one or both is in a yet-to-exist future or a no-longer-existing past or existent notions of both/either.
    One’s take on the theory of time is simply an irrelevancy to the matter.
    So, far from not being able to follow your reasoning, it seems it is you who are not able to follow what it is you raise sufficiently to be able to remain relevant.
    But I’ll wait for you to catch up.
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  3. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    So I only have to repeat the same post two or three times for you to finally absorb it. Got it.

    Already explicitly answered in the posts that you either ignore or went completely over your head.
    But hint, the answer was one and a half of them.

    It's still flying way over your head.

    I can only conclude that you're chronically unable to handle these, otherwise you could simply pick your preferred one. If you're so sure none have consequences for determinism, that should be easy, right? I won't be holding my breath.
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  5. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    You can repeat your post as often as you like, but it will remain irrelevant to the discussion.
    I have tried to explain why it is irrelevant, yet you continue with your misconception as to its relevancy.
    I can only conclude that you’re chronically unable to comprehend as much, otherwise you would have recognised your mistake, and we could move on to something that actually is relevant.
    But here we remain.
    Well, you have at best given your incorrect reasoning, but if you sufficiently understood what you raised you would recognise that the theories are a matter of ontology, i.e. what can be said to exist at this precise moment, not to issues of a deterministic system, and thus not actually relevant.
    But that seems to remain above your comprehension.
    None of the theories dispute that cause leads to effect.
    In presentism only the present state exists, but that state is changing according to the causes.
    And as soon as one moment has gone it no longer exists.
    And the future does not exist.
    But in a deterministic universe that future is as bound to occur whether one follows eternalism or the notion of a growing block.
    It just isn’t real at the moment, and nor is the past, as that ceases to be real as soon as it is not the present.

    The growing block is the theory that what has been at one time the present remains real from then on, but the future, no matter how precisely or theoretically predictable it may be, does not exist.

    Eternalism is the theory that past, present, and future all are as real as each other.

    Now, again, where in any of that, in any of what you have posted, does it alter what determination means, does it change the way cause leads to effect, or does it mean that a deterministic system is not one that is theoretically perfectly predictable.
    Yes, whether one considers the past or future to be real or not is a philosophical question that the various theories try to address, but with regards free will in a deterministic system they are, each of them, irrelevant.
    It makes no different which theory one adheres to, if any, or none.
    But you seem to incapable of understanding this.
    Given your miscomprehension of what the theories are actually about, I might think that, too.
    I don’t adhere to any of those theories.
    There is also no reason to pick one, as explained.
    They remain irrelevant to the issue at hand, which you would recognise if you weren’t so entrenched in your misconception of them.
    And the deeper you dig, the harder it becomes for you to extricate yourself.

    But hey, here’s an idea: why not explain how you think a deterministic system operates differently under the various theories you have offered?
    If you can’t, then on what grounds do you claim the various theories are relevant to the issue?
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
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  7. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    You keep saying that, without any real justification...other than your own incredulity.

    Lots of projection there.

    Again, you keep saying that, but have yet to make any refuting argument. You just repeat the bare assertion that it's irrelevant, like a mantra. Who are you trying to convince, eh?
    You have repeatedly claimed in this thread that:
    That can ONLY occur if every point in time is equally real. If the future is not real, how is it "set in stone"? And if it's "set in stone", how is the future not real? Ontological questions are not just meaningless or rhetorical philosophy. Any ontology is open to rational/evidentiary justification. For example, I've already cited for you an explanation for which ontology of time is supported by physics. No doubt, that went over your head too.
    Straw man. No one made such a sweeping claim.

    How do you suppose the initial conditions cause the present through an unreal past? I just quoted you as saying all moments are "set in stone" from the moment of "the initial starting conditions". How is one moment any less real than another if all are equally "set in stone" from the first moment?
    Your supposed deterministic universe has to justify at least one theory of time. You just presuming it, regardless of the theory of time, is again begging the question (presuming the conclusion).

    Why would the future not be real if "set in stone" from the first moment? You have to justify that, otherwise you're just waving your arms to distract from begging the question.

    Claiming something is so, by definition alone with no justification, is literally begging the question.
    If you want to apply the rules of a deterministic system to an entire universe, the burden is yours to justify how that squares with a theory of time. Like I've said, the theory of time only changes the relationship to the initial conditions, it does not change the basic rules of determinism. Under each, there are still causes that determine effects, but since time is the mediator of that relationship, the theory of time is crucial to justifying any claim about a deterministic universe.

    Catch up already.

    You keep repeating that, as a bare assertion.

    So you've repeatedly claimed.
  8. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    On the contrary.
    I have explained why it lacks relevance, in that it simply does not address the importance of the initial conditions to the question of free will within a deterministic universe.
    You have typed much but said nothing to support it’s relevance.
    The onus is on you to explain why it is relevant, not for me to explain why it is not.
    No more than from you when you said as much of me.
    And I am not the one trying to equate an unwillingness to address what I see as relevant with an incomprehension of it.
    That is your fallacy, for your reasons.
    The onus is on you to explain why what you raise is relevant.
    You haven’t done that sufficiently.
    And where you have I have explained your misunderstanding.
    Being “set in stone” does not mean that it is real, only that it will come to pass.
    If the past does not exist, if only the present exists, then in a deterministic universe the present is still entirely determined from previous “presents”.
    The future is still entirely determined from the present, even though the present may be all that is “real”.
    “Real” does not equate to being set in stone.
    Set in stone only means that it couldn’t have been anything else, as and when it does exist, whether it already exists or not.
    Your mistake is in equating the two.
    You have implied as much.
    You say even in this latest post that for something to be “set in stone” that can only be the case if every point in time is equally real.
    This is your mistake, as being set in stone only means that when it becomes real it will be a certain way, that way fully determined from a prior moment that did exist but, perhaps, exists no more.
    Your argument implies that the real-ness of time impacts upon the very possibility of determinism.
    And not only that but on the possibility of cause leading to (i.e. passage of time from / to) effect.
    Because if, as per the deterministic system, the effect is set in stone by the cause, which it is, by definition, then you are saying that only a theory of time that supports the cause and effect both being real can be considered.
    Well, we have assumed from the outset, from the very question of this thread, that the universe in question is deterministic.
    Thus we must assume that any theory of time, whether you misunderstand them or not, either supports the deterministic nature of the universe in question, or is irrelevant.
    Of those two possibilities, if they are irrelevant then they are, clearly, irrelevant, and if they support the deterministic nature of the universe then they remain irrelevant, as they do not alter the deterministic nature of the universe by which the answer to the question asked can be given.
    Conclusion: the theory of time is irrelevant to the discussion.
    Got it yet?
    The “unreal past” was very much real when it was the present, but it is no longer real.
    It no longer exists.
    At least under that particular theory.
    That it happened, and that it was real for that instant it was the present, is sufficient.
    ”Set in stone” simply refers to the inability of the current (or a future) moment to be anything other than previous moments allow.
    It does not speak to whether that past moment now exists, nor whether the future moment yet exists.
    Being real, having existence, is not the same as being predictable, or predetermined.

    Further, as explained above, if you think a theory of time does not allow for a system to be determined then it is irrelevant to the discussion, as we are discussing a deterministic universe.
    Your choice: continue down the red herring of the theory of time which if it excludes the possibility of determinism is irrelevant, and if not the notion it is also irrelevant (for reasons given), or you can start trying to actually be relevant.
    It is in the thread title.
    Nothing has to be justified.
    Nothing is begging the question.
    If the question asks “is free will possible in a deterministic universe?”, as it does, then of what relevance is it to raise the issue of possible theories of time, some of which may preclude the possibility of determinism?
    And you honestly think you’re still being relevant?
    No question begging, just staying relevant.
    You, on the other hand... not so relevant.
    I am claiming the premise of the deterministic universe is so because that is the nature of the universe we are discussing.
    I am not claiming that it is so other than to conclude something relevant about a deterministic universe we must indeed be talking about a deterministic universe.
    To question-beg would be to only reach a conclusion that hard been presumed.
    That is not the case here.
    No more, at least, than question-begging when concluding Socrates is mortal.
    No, I don’t.
    The onus is on you to show why the theory of time impacts upon the possible conclusion that can be reached when considering a deterministic universe.
    If you come up with a theory of time that does not allow a deterministic universe then great, but you can exclude it from this discussion as it is irrelevant.
    Or are you not able to grasp that?
    We are talking about a deterministic universe in this thread.
    See the thread title?
    And you accuse me of arm-waving!
    I continue to look forward to you actually trying to justify the relevance of the issue, as you’re still failing to do so.
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I left this thread for quite a while because it seemed to me that you and Sarkus were just paddling in useless circles. I thought that just for giggles I'd read the most recent few pages of the thread to see if you'd made any progress. What do I find? I discover that you're still stuck exactly where you were 1000 posts ago.

    iceaura has been doing a marvelously patient job of repeatedly directing your attention to your errors. In response, all you have managed is some outraged bluster and denial, as far as I can tell.

    Possibly against my better judgment, I thought I might post, not to add anything new (because you haven't progressed beyond where you were stuck last time I looked), but merely to put essentially the same observations to you that iceaura has been going on about. My hope is that a different voice might help to shake you out of the rut you currently find yourself stuck in. One piece of advice: it might be more useful if you drop the angry outrage out of your responses and take time to actually consider what iceaura has been putting to you, in light of your own arguments, which he has extensively referred to. It's just possible that the problem is at your end and not at his. Rightly, you ought to at least consider that possibility, and try to be as objective as you can about it.

    A little above this post, iceaura referred to post #319 in which your argument was summarised - not for the first time in the thread, but it will do. It looked like this:

    P1: deterministic interactions are not free.
    P2: a system built from deterministic interactions is not free.
    P3: the will is such a system.
    C: the will is not free.

    The problem with your entire argument, throughout the thread, lies right there in premise P1. Can you see that? Here's the problem: your premise P1 has the effect of defining the word "free" to mean "non-deterministic". That happens right at the start, before anybody mentions the universe or the will or any of it.

    Now, recall that the thread question is "Is free will possible in a deterministic universe?" You will notice that the question includes the words "free" and "deterministic universe". A deterministic universe, as we have all agreed from the start, allows only deterministic interactions. And you have told us that your P1 is that you assume (from the start) that deterministic interactions are not free.

    The rest of your logic follows automatically, and nobody here has disputed it. To put your reasoning into my own words, it goes like this:

    Deterministic interactions are not free, by definition.
    A deterministic universe only allows deterministic interactions.
    Therefore, nothing in a deterministic universe is free.​

    The matter of free will then is nothing more than a trivial victim of this argument. You dispense with it as follows:

    The will involves interactions in a deterministic universe (by agreement in this thread).
    Nothing in a deterministic universe is free.
    Therefore the will is not free.​

    This is the entirety of your logical argument against free will (in a deterministic universe), if I understand it correctly. As it stands, it's not particularly interesting. There's nothing to disagree about in terms of its logical validity. The only issue that iceaura and I have ever had with it involves a dispute over the soundness of the premises, premise P1 in particular.

    Early on in the thread, we considered what kinds of things could conceivably be free, in light of your definition of freedom. Your definition of freedom is a negative one. It tells us directly that certain things definitely are not free, but it doesn't say anything about what things are or could be free. But we can look at what the definition does not encompass for some guidance.

    Deterministic interactions are not free, but you leave open the possibility that non-deterministic actions might be free. In light of that, what can be said of a universe in which free will might or might not exist? Clearly, any universe in which free will exists (free anything, when it comes down to it) must have some kind of non-deterministic interactions. Conceivably, these non-deterministic interactions might be natural features of the universe or supernatural features.

    We then come back to the question of the thread, which is about free will in a deterministic universe. A deterministic universe only allows deterministic interactions. I would assume that we're talking about a natural universe here - one governed by natural laws and the like, at least for the most part. This would appear to entirely rule out the possibility of natural non-deterministic interactions. If we were to relax our definition of "deterministic universe" far enough to admit the possibility of natural non-deterministic interactions taking place in that universe, it would make a nonsense of the whole idea of deterministic universe. We could hardly call it a deterministic universe if the natural laws of the universe were to permit non-determinism. On the other hand, the supernatural is "allowed" to break the "rules" of nature. That's what the word "supernatural" means - the power to override natural law. It follows that supernatural powers might permit things (such as the will) to be free even in a "naturally deterministic" universe.

    To summarise the "supernatural argument": we are all assuming in this thread a universe that is naturally deterministic - governed by natural laws of physics, cause and effect etc. Natural free will is ruled out by your argument as soon as you make the assumption of premise P1, as I have set out above. The only potential escape clause to this is if you are willing to soften your definition of "free" far enough to encompass supernatural non-determinism.

    In the last thousand posts of this thread, you have repeatedly insisted that you are not willing to allow supernatural freedom into your deterministic universe. So where does that leave you? You have ruled out any possibility of natural freedom (of anything, the will being the most immediate item of interest) in your deterministic universe by assumption. We have all agreed to rule out the possibility of natural non-determinism for the purposes of this discussion. So the only possible sense in which the word "free" could make any kind of sense in the deterministic universe is if it refers to things that are non-deterministically, supernaturally free.

    To summarise: your assumed definition of the word "free" and related terms like "freedom" allows at the most the possibility of supernatural non-determinism. Your argument that there is no free will in a deterministic universe, such as it is, boils down to your dual assumptions that (a) nothing can be naturally free, and (b) only the supernatural could ever possibly allow anything to be free. The effect of eliminating the supernatural option (b), as you say you do, is to render the word "free" meaningless in the universe we are discussing, because it leaves us only with assumption (a) (there is no freedom).

    All your objections to iceaura's descriptions of freedom rely on you basically turning a deaf ear to any suggested definition of "free" or "freedom" that would involve natural deterministic interactions in a natural deterministic universe. Your repeated and irritated-sounding response to all such suggestions is that any such "freedom" is "illusory" or "not genuine".

    There is no confusion as to why you insist on that line. Of course things like the "degrees of freedom" that iceaura has explained to you don't count as "freedom" as far as you're concerned, because as soon as you see the word "free" or "freedom" in a sentence, your brain automatically serves up "Deterministic interactions are not free. Period." At that point, you figure you're done and there's nothing else to talk about.

    For the discussion of free will to ever progress beyond this sticking point, you will have to be able to move beyond ruling out any possibility of (natural) freedom by initial assumption. Given that we're now 1000 posts into this thread, I can't say I hold out high hopes that you'll even acknowledge that you're making a bad assumption. Still, I thought it was worth a try to walk you through where you're going wrong one more time.
  10. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    If the universe was completely deterministic I suppose there would not be free will. However, since it appears the universe is not completely deterministic it just a unrealistic philosophical exercise. Chaos and quantum theory have pretty much killed the deterministic universe concept.
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Again, I'm not adding anything new here, but I'd like to reflect on what I wrote above with reference to some of your own recent words.

    In what kind of universe could something conceivably do other than it must?

    I would imagine that it might be possible in a non-deterministic universe, but this thread isn't concerned with that. So, let's be sure that we're not ruling out any possibility of freedom by assumption from the start, bearing in mind that we're dealing with a deterministic universe.

    Could something conceivably do other than it must through some natural facility in a deterministic universe? I can't see how it could. The impossibility of it is built right into the definition of "deterministic", I'd say. So that only leaves the possibility that something could do other than it must through some supernatural facility, such as was able to break the "natural" rules of determinism in that universe.

    In other words, your definition of freedom as "the ability to do other than one must" (which you admit is an assumption you are making) is equivalent to defining "freedom" as a supernatural facility to break the laws of nature in a deterministic universe.

    If we were considering naturally non-deterministic universes instead, then your definition of "freedom" might well allow a natural facility, but we're explicitly not considering that here.

    To summarise: your starting point in this current discussion is that the only kind of freedom worth having is supernatural freedom. That has been your consistent stance throughout this thread. You have been unwilling to even consider alternative definitions. This is why you are stuck, even after 1000 posts. It boils down to closed minded, rigid, unreasonable stubbornness.

    That would be a non-deterministic universe, would it not? Unless you get around the "must" supernaturally, that is.

    I'll be interested to hear your explanation of where the flight of fancy lies in my careful explanations above. You've been practicing this line on iceaura for 1000 posts now and you're not sounding any more convincing than you did at the start.

    Please tell me what possible freedom could be found in a deterministic universe, if not supernatural freedom. Be sure to stick to your own definitions when you answer.

    I want to understand how you think you have done more than simply assume the answer you want from the start.

    What does determinism mean, if not that one thing must follow from another? What possibility is there for freedom in such a universe, given your definition? Explain to me how you're not ruling out all possibility by your initial choice of definition.

    The math is easy, given your assumption about freedom.

    In the Baldeee universe, "freedom" is synonymous with "no musts allowed!" Ergo, determinism precludes freedom, by definition. The supernatural violation of determinism is the only possible "out", or else the word "freedom" becomes meaningless in the universe under discussion.

    The problem is that your definition of freedom isn't a random one. It's one that you made up knowing in advance that you were going to be discussing a deterministic universe.

    You set up a predetermined conclusion right at the start. It sounds like you expect us to act surprised when you reach the conclusion you planned all along. Are you patting yourself on the back for a job well done? You haven't even started scraping the surface of what freedom might be, yet. Instead, you've wasted 1000 posts arguing points that were conceded right from the start by your opponents, by knocking down straw man versions of the arguments put to you, and by reducing subtle and nuanced considerations of what freedom might actually mean to annoyances that you think you can railroad over with your definition that from the start never had the possibility of encompassing anything real.

    In passing, I note that this kind of posting makes you sound like a cry baby. I understand that after 1000 posts of this nonsense you're heavily invested, but surely you can post without all the schoolyard ad hominem bullshit?
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Of course you have. You've defined the freedom of the thermostat and the orbiting Tesla to be precisely zero, because both of them exist in a deterministic universe and no deterministic process is free, by your definition. The application of human decision making is vastly more complicated and nuanced than the operation of a thermostat, but that's irrelevant for you because freedom can only mean supernatural non-determinism according to your definition. Mere human decision making, no matter how complex, will never be supernaturally non-deterministic, so it was never a candidate for your careful consideration as a possible repository of freedom.

    By fiat assumption, right from the very definition of "freedom".

    You were shown, early in the thread. No doubt iceaura has had a few more tries at bringing you around since then. It all flies past you because you're stuck on the assumption that determinism=no freedom.

    A "trivial notion of freedom" would, I assume, be one that actually had some possibility of existing in the kind of universe we're discussing. Is that correct? The only possible freedom in a deterministic universe, for you, is one that breaks the rules, and the only way to do that would be supernaturally. In other words, "non-trivial" freedom, in this context, means supernatural freedom, while "trivial freedom" means all suggestions regarding reasonable definitions of freedom that bear some resemblance to the lived experience of human beings.

    You defined it as "the ability to do other than it must". If you're now ruling out the possibility of doing other than it must by natural laws of cause and effect, that only leaves the supernatural option.

    In other words, you're merely confirming - for the umpteenth time - what we observed about your position from your very first posts to this thread.

    That would be a non-deterministic universe, would it not? Why do you keep coming back to that? It's an irrelevant distraction from the topic of the thread.

    Using your definition, the only conceivable kind of free will (at the beginning of considering the question of free will in a deterministic universe) is supernatural free will. You're right, it's not very complicated. So how many more posts do you think it will take you to realise your error?

    Yes. According to your definitions, "genuine alternatives" necessarily mean non-deterministic alternatives, the only possible candidates in the deterministic universe being supernatural non-deterministic alternatives.

    Yes there is, given your definition of freedom. It couldn't be any clearer. Try responding to my previous post point by point.

    Do you seriously expect your readers to believe that you think human decision making is equivalent in terms of its complexity to something like a thermostat switching on? I take it you won't go to the extent of telling direct lies about that.

    If human choice-making is, in fact, more complex than a thermostat's switching, then don't you think that - just maybe - you might need to drill down into it just a little to see if there could possibly be some kind of freedom there, rather than trying to define yourself out of the possibility by making an unsupported assumption before you start looking? I'd say that our own feeling of having free will is at least suggestive that there might be something interesting to find in examining how the process of making choices actually works. If the notion of free will was really so trivial as to be disposable with an unsupported assumption of the kind you make (by using a silly definition), then it hardly seems likely that the matter would have remained a topic of active philosophical debate for thousands of years.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
  13. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    For efficiency I’ve removed all the criticisms you’ve raised in the past, and that have been responded to and dealt with in the past.
    I therefore suggest you search through the thread, or previous threads, for my responses, which remain as valid now as they did back then.

    The irony is also not lost on me that you say this thread, or my progress, has been going round in circles, and yet you peddle exactly what you did the last time you made an appearance, clearly making no progress of your own, clearly sending the thread in circles.

    You see, it is not me who is stuck, JamesR, but rather those that clearly wish to move on with their question-begging definitions, and look at “freedom”, the nature of which is found in orbiting Teslas, who are stuck.
    They, like you, have had every, and I do mean every, opportunity to progress the thread toward what they wish to discuss about such matters.
    But they, like you, seem clearly unable.
    And yet you say it is me who is stuck!
    The irony simply drips off it, so sodden with it it is.

    No, I am not going to respond to your lengthy posts because, to be honest, it is pointless to do so given your once-a-year involvement and since you seem to have nothing new to say on the matter.
    Hey ho.
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Sure. Whatever you say.

    I must say, I was hoping for better from you. In light of your lack of basic manners and your stone wall response here, I'll certainly think twice before giving you any of my attention or time in future.

    It seems I only need to pop into your threads once a year to demolish your arguments anyway, so no great loss, I guess. I might pop in next year to this thread, if I have nothing better to do. You'll probably still be hard at it plugging the same tired line.
  15. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Ha ha... "Demolish".
    Sure, JamesR, you keep thinking that if it makes you feel better.
    Seriously, nothing you have offered is new to the discussion.
    Apologies if you think I am somehow obligated to rehash everything once again for your benefit.
    I'll leave you to your growing pool of irony.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The more carefully it's read, the less it means.
    That's one of the ways in which they are different, sure - as you have been shown.

    More specifically, more concretely, less abstractly, one can observe (and I did) that the differences in complexity include the presence in human decision making of several additional logical levels of internal processing,

    aspects of which were also described for you to easily observe - in a vain attempt to find something you will pay attention to - as the obvious fact that substrates do not determine patterns via cause/effect.

    That excludes the common "bottom up" interpretation of cause/effect determinism - an exclusion also illustrated by examples, btw, such as the accepted causative nature (in hierarchical order) of atomic interactions, macroscopic entities with properties such as "mass" and "pressure" and "temperature", and such less well-understood entities as human perceptions or dreams, for you to consider whenever you find yourself capable of acknowledging them in the first place.

    That's three arguments from observation of decreasing mental difficulty (involving general complexity, logical levels, substrate/pattern distinction), or three separate and individually treatable approaches to viewpoints on a single argument, each one illustrated via (among other attempts) the relatively simple and easily comprehended (I thought, at the time) example of a driver approaching a traffic light.

    Each of them establishes a solid base for describing and considering its natural degrees of freedom. The influence of dreams on willed behaviors, for example, has natural degrees of freedom inherent in each mutually interacting link along the causative chain of "causes" and "effects" involved. Human knowledge is as yet limited and defective in that area, of course, but we do know a few things of interest (about addiction, PTSD, sleep deprivation, habituation, etc).

    You have never once, in this or any related thread, considered that example, recognized the observed physical existence of its central features, or acknowledged the natures of the complexities it illustrates. Neither has any other naive materialist in these threads generally. All of you, whenever you mentioned the example at all, first rewrote it with fundamental changes (making a fundamentally different example of it).

    Why is that, do you suppose?
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
  17. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    I'd like to see you demonstrate your objectivity by you offering and arguing a case against your current position...
    any ideas?
    "The burden and responsibility of your compulsion to self determination forces you to consider that you have no choice but to be free." ~ anon
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    More nervous laughter. You're starting to remind me of Magical Realist. The same kind of of one-track fixation, the demonstrated inability to think outside the box you've created for yourself, the dishonesty in failing to respond to - or often even to acknowledge - matters that you find difficult to deal with.

    What did I write in the third paragraph of post #1126, and in the first paragraph of #1128? You didn't pay attention, did you?

    You've been happy enough to keep endlessly rehashing your initial argument, for over 1000 posts now, in response to iceaura. Clearly you believe you have all the answers when he posts, but you're unable to answer my objections. It's strange, because in most of their essentials, our arguments against your position are the same.

    But please, by all means continue to pretend that somewhere in the past 1000 posts you've fully addressed the matters I raised in post #1126 and the following. Maybe in a year or so, I'll pop in again to see how whether you are getting on.
  19. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    It would seem if the Universe was 100% deterministic the obvious answer would be NO

    It appears we do have free will however such appearance may be illusionary

    Can we determine if our free will is not a illusion? I would contend NO

    Do we live in a deterministic Universe? I contend we have no way to test if the answer is YES or NO

    Is there a way free will could be available?

    Keeping the process as simple as possible consider the simplest example of Cause/Effect

    From Big Bang to current moment a row of dominoes has toppled on the one ahead (future)

    If this system operated with 100% efficiency there is your Deterministic Universe

    Can toppling dominoes operate in less than 100%?

    Enter Quantum Uncertainty

    A toppling domino falls against the future domino but THE FUTURE DOMINO does not have any domino ahead so the Cause/Effect of that action line dies out

    While this process could be our method of having free will, (our explanation - we manipulate quantum uncertainty when changing our mind), it still defies examination


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  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Michael 345:

    This thread is already long enough without introducing the irrelevancy of non-deterministic universes into the current discussion. It's fine if you want to start a new thread to discuss non-deterministic universes or the question of whether our universe is deterministic or non-deterministic, but such discussion is merely a distraction in the current thread. Read the topic title.

    Obvious answers can be wrong. Read the thread if you're interested in why your "obvious" answer is wrong here. The first few pages of the thread should contain enough information to make this clear for you.

    I assume you agree that we really do make willed choices. Is it that you believe those choices are "illusionary"? Again, these matters have been covered at some length earlier in the thread.


    That would seem to negate most of science.

    That goes to the question of whether our universe is deterministic. A topic for a different thread.
  21. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    No, I assure you it was quite genuine laughter.
    There is nothing you have posted that I find difficult to deal with, as evidenced by the past God knows how many pages dealing with exactly the matters you have posted.
    I am simply not going to start going through them again just to put you back in your place.
    I did.
    And we agree that you have offered nothing new.
    So why the issue when I am not drawn into going round in the circles you think this thread, and me in particular, are going?
    You honestly think that you rehashing the same tired and fallacious thinking is going to now persuade me?
    You think that me explaining the flaw in your thinking is going to now persuade you?
    When I get bored, yes.
    But he's been sporadically on ignore, and currently is.
    I am learning some self-control in this regard, and I have him to thank at least for that.
    And at least he offers more than a once-a-year plunge into the pool.
    You, though?
    No - you simply do a drive-by, miss, and will be gone before the return shots are made.
    So I won't bother, and will leave you to go your merry way.
    As said, I'm learning some self-control in this regard, and am putting what I have learnt into action.
    It's not that difficult to understand: you have offered nothing new - by your own admission just rehashing what iceaura has been rehashing for too long.
    I have him on ignore because he is only offering the same rehash.
    So why would I now start responding to you on exactly the same issues?
    No need to pretend, JamesR.
    They have been addressed.
    If you want to pretend you have bothered to read the thread, and all the threads that preceded it, that's your own dishonesty you'll have to contend with.
    I won't be drawn into your game.

    So I guess I might see you here in a year, then, and in the meantime I'll wait excitedly for all the new points you're going to raise.

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    But yet again the irony of your tactics and attitude is not lost on me, complaining that the thread is going in circles.
    You come in, deliberately look to push the roundabout back up to speed, with no intention to engage, only to disappear again.
    If you are really that concerned about the progress of this thread toward other matters, try actually progressing toward them.
    But you haven't, and in that you are showing the same inability that iceaura has shown over the past 1,000+ posts
    And like him, you are looking to lay the blame for the thread not progressing toward those matters at my door.

    "Lord, we must march onwards to our destination."
    "No, we must stand still and blame this one person for us not moving forward!"
    "But this person isn't heading in the same direction!"
    "So it IS his fault that we're not going to where I want to go!"
    "He's not stopping us marching there, sire."
    "But we must get him to march with us, to go where we want to go! And we will not move until he agrees!"
    "Sire, he's happy where he is, and will not move with us. So we should perhaps just move on without him?"
    "No! We must stop until he stops delaying us!"

    Spot the irony yet?

    Ta ta.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Who do you think you're fooling, exactly?

    As noted, you consistently ignore important matters. Your definition of freedom is, it seems, deliberately constructed so that your argument against free will is trivial and you avoid every really engaging with the subject of the thread. You also have a whole bunch of big blind spots. Your attention has been repeatedly and carefully directed to problems raised in your own posts, and to examples that utterly defeat your stance, but you're blind to it all. Actually in denial of what is put right in front of you.

    What I offered you was a reset - an opportunity to look at where you were going wrong through a fresh set of eyes. You're so hopelessly mired in your error and your repetitive ritual of denial that you saw no value in it.

    Actually, I was most upset by the rudeness you showed me. I should have expected it, though, given your constant snarkiness towards iceaura, the personal barbs you're constantly throwing out, and the general irrationality with which you have conducted yourself throughout the thread. You have some growing up to do, I think. You need to learn some social skills. How to talk to people, that kind of thing. Common courtesies.

    No. All indications are that you'll still be arguing the same thing years from now, if anybody is willing to keep indulging you for that long.

    You have said clearly that you're not going to explain any supposed flaw in my thinking.

    There is no flaw, as far as I am aware. Your claim that a flaw exists is therefore, at present, an empty assertion you are making, and very likely to remain so.

    When you have no adequate response and it all gets to be too hard, you resort to "Ignore". I understand. Better that than admit you were wrong. Ego self-preservation? Tick!

    Hardly. I engaged with both you and Sarkus early in the thread, until it became clear that you had nothing new to add. I quit when the two of you kept repeating yourselves and doing the whole blind spot act.

    We'll see. Actions speak louder than words.

    I've bothered to read the thread. Not every post, but certainly enough of yours to be fully aware of were you stand on the matters under discussion, and your excuses for that.

    Also, thanks for reminding me. It's not just 1100 posts on this, is it? There was at least one other thread that had a lot of extra posts on the same topic. I believe I split this one off that one, originally.

    I don't share your fixation on this topic. That much should be clear to you. I find the topic of free will moderately interesting, Mostly I have engaged in discussing issues that other people have raised regarding free will, rather than attempting to drive the discussions in any general sense.

    Certainly this current thread, as it stands, does not require the introduction of any new points by me. Your argument has failed on the basis of the points that iceaura and I have already made.

    All these posts, and you have barely scraped the surface of what could be discussed regarding free will. It seems you are more comfortable remaining stuck, circling around and around an unviable argument while all around you there are tantalising glimpses of unexplored ideas concerning free will.

    You could have dispensed with your argument if you had only read through the wikipedia page on free will. Then you could have spent your time far more productively. Instead, here you are, stuck in a trap of your own making.

    Hardly. The time between your latest post to the thread and the time I re-entered the thread with my first post of the current sequence was 6.5 hours. Accounting for the difference in the time zones where we both live, it looks to me like you are constantly pushing the roundabout. You don't need me to do that for you. You've been pushing it around for the past year without me. If you want to get off, don't blame me. Apply that newly-learned self-discipline you mentioned.

    I'm not that concerned about that. I was trying to help you to break through your blockage.

    I think a new thread would be appropriate if you ever manage to extricate yourself from this mess you've gotten yourself into. The topic is crying out for a fresh start, after this.
  23. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    ??? If you don't believe me, that's your concern, not mine.
    Nope, just irrelevant ones.
    Not deliberately at all.
    It is the same essence as has pretty much been used from the get go of this debate.
    And I'm not just talking about on this website.
    Just look at the first line of wiki on "freewill": "Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded"
    There is no "different possible" because everything in a deterministic universe is governed by a "must".
    No, I spot the irrelevancies when they arise, and counter the criticisms when made - I just can no longer be bothered to repeat myself ad nauseam.
    "Utterly defeat".
    There you go again with your laughable view of the debate.
    The so-called "problems" have been dealt with... repeatedly... and are simply raised ad nauseam as if repetition wins the day.
    A "reset" when you're just rehashing the same tired criticisms that have been dealt with again and again and again?
    Why on earth would you think that we be of any benefit other than to restart the circle of this debate?
    Do you need a hug?
    Get over yourself already!
    "General irrationality"?
    You do keep cracking me up with your ridiculous assertions.
    If people keep criticising the position I hold, am I not at liberty to defend it for as long as I wish?
    And conversely, if people can only offer the same criticism time and time again, am I not allowed to simply ignore them?
    Am I obligated to respond to them?
    No, I have said that I have explained it in the many posts that I have already made on exactly the same matter.
    If you can't be bothered to read the answers already given, I can't be bothered to reply to you.
    Then remain ignorant of what has already been written.
    I don't honestly care.
    If you are not interested, that is on you.
    If you are interested you will read the responses from when they were previously raised.
    You can chalk it up to whatever you want.
    My responses to the criticisms were given the first, second, third, fourth, fifth... hundredth-plus time they were raised.
    At some point it is simply easier to ignore those unwilling and/or unable to move on, rather than repeatedly knock back the same things.
    Maybe you have more patience than I do.
    Personally I consider my own little assistance in helping this thread move to where those people wish it to go...
    But no sooner do I put them on ignore, to help stop me not respond to their incessant repetition, than they go silent and don't push the thread toward where they wish it to go.
    Ironic, isn't it.
    No blindspot, and all criticisms were responded to at the time.
    There is nothing new to add because the position reached is pretty conclusive.
    When you reach your destination on a matter - what else is there to add?
    In this case it would be inaction, surely?
    My position is fairly clear.
    I do not hide it, and never have.
    I have defended it, and will do, against criticism, but no longer (if I can help it) on the same matters that have already been dealt with ad nauseam.
    Your effort to "reset" matters is thus simply to be ignored, as it offers, by your own admission, nothing new.
    So knowing that - why bother pushing the matter?
    Three threads, I believe, at least.
    I don't drive it!
    The question of this thread is clear - and I have merely offered argument in support of my answer.
    Everything else, as far has been criticism of that position and argument, and my dealing with it.
    Nor am I fixated on this topic.
    I have an interest, and find the position I have reached intellectually to be intriguing, such that it suggests we are governed by illusion of freedom rather than the genuine article... in a deterministic universe, at least.
    Within this website, yes, it probably draws much of my time here, but you are somewhat blinkering yourself to judge people by the sample of online forums, and just one of them.
    The argument has not failed at all, but you and iceaura seem too wedded to the idea of its failure that you can not see past your own desire in such matters.
    Every criticism has been dealt with.
    You don't think so.
    I'm clearly not going to change your mind, and you're not going to change mind by raising the same tired criticisms: the thread(s) is full of to-ing and fro-ing of exactly that, and now I'm being criticised on a personal level for not engaging further with you on the matter when all you raise is the same.


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