Is free will possible in a deterministic universe?

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

  1. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Hey now. ha I see what you did there.

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    Unpredictability is different than random, though. (in this context) Can we somewhat agree on that?
     
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  3. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    No not trying to bait you...
    By asking the questions I am attempting to highlight the need to acknowledge how claiming a specific causality in an infinite ocean of micro/macro causality is arbitrary.
    In your room right now there is an infinite number of casual chains, that can only be claimed as chains by arbitrarily and subjectively determining it as such.
    Therefore it is effectively impossible to attribute one cause to one effect because all causes are infinitely complex and so to are effects.
    absolutely!!
     
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  5. TabbyStar Registered Member

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    Well thank you for your patience with me and your systematic approach. I really do wish to learn and move forward with sound principles. I am far from being able to defend anything. That makes me vulnerable to learning the wrong information (while using the internet as sources). I wish I had the formal academia background for science

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  7. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Welcome to the forums, TabbyStar - I find your humility here, refreshing.

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

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    Advice: Treat all information as potentially erroneous. Always work it out for yourself. (You probably already do this anyhow)

    Google : "Call to authority" and have a read.

    You have landed in a topic thread that is highly controversial because it proposes a fully integrated solution to the 2500 year old dilemma philosophers have battled with, with out any real success. ( aka the reality of freewill)
    Co-determinism is not mainstream ( yet ) and even if it becomes mainstream, it only adds another branch to an already significant number of philosophical theories.

    Best of luck on your pursuit of understanding....
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
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  9. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

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    given that all matter is being influenced by gravity in this universe I can not see true random-ness as being possible.
     
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  10. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    How about random fluctuations, though? Can the universe be deterministic despite (minor) random fluctuations?
     
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  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    All physical events - not just radioactive decay - are patterns built on substrates governed by quantum electrodynamics. That is random - "really".

    Randomness follows the laws of probability - and there are no more solidly deterministic outcomes than those following the laws of probability. That's how determinism works in material, probability is the mechanism of cause and effect, in the real world. If you wish to determine, for sure, as reliably as you can determine anything on this planet, that an event will happen, set it up to happen as the mean of repeated opportunity outcomes regressing to the mean of a Gaussian or Poisson distribution - as a random summary outcome from the many times repeated sampling of an appropriate probability distribution of events.

    Besides: we have assumed throughout this and all related threads, for the sake of the argument and in an attempt (failed) to reduce the volume of irrelevancies, that our universe is deterministic - we did not specify how or why, except to note that it has something to do with cause and effect. This doesn't matter to the nonsupernatural arguments, and it is overwhelmingly important to the naive materialists - so it was done, for convenience and in an attempt (failed) to maintain focus.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
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  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    No. Predictability of individual events would be impossible, but all outcomes would be determined in a deterministic universe, there would still be only the one path upon the event happening - more clearly: would have been determined, would have followed only the one sequence of events, as is the better wording of all the arguments in this thread (time and sequence do not vanish when omitted or misrepresented in the language).
     
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  13. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks, this was really helpful!
     
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  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Correct. Anything that is random is so because of a causeless event triggering one outcome rather than an another. This is contrary to the definition of determinism, in which all events are caused. The specific outcome of a truly random event is not caused, thus indeterministic.
     
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Predictability is to do with available knowledge, so a deterministic system can be unpredictable if you don’t have sufficient information. However a random event is inherently unpredictable because knowledge of the specific outcome is unknowable.
    And you are right, regardless of what others have said to the contrary: a truly random event would show determinism to be false. A random event, or one where the outcome is governed by probability, is an indeterministic event, where the specific outcome is in effect uncaused.
    But predictability is a slightly different matter.
    While the probability function of the event is caused (leading some to use the term “probabilistic determinism”) the actual specific outcome from within the probability function is in effect uncaused. And this is contrary to determinism.
     
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  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    And QM is inherently indeterministic when viewed within just our universe.
    Nonsense. Determinism doesn’t look at just the probability function of an event but the actual outcome of the event. A truly random event is uncaused. If a probabilistic event has a 50:50 chance to be A or B then while the overall probability function is caused, the actual specific outcome between those two is uncaused. The event is indeterministic. One can show this simply by having two identical causes X, with one leading to effect A and one to effect B. In a deterministic universe X will always lead to just a single possible outcome, not two or more.
    A deterministic event is not just where the overall probability function is determined but where the specific result is determined by previous causes. And if the same causes can lead to either A or B then the causes are not determining the outcome, and the event is indeterministic.
    Because the real world is NOT deterministic. It seems to be probabilistic, which is inherently INdeterministic.
    Sure, and you end up with what has been labelled by some as probabilistic determinism, I.e. the overall probability function is determined, but the actual outcome is not. But that is not what it means for the universe to be deterministic. Probabilistic determinism is inherently indeterministic, which is probably why the label of probabilistic determinism is not widely used, as it confuses and can be seen as a misnomer.
    Determinism is pretty well understood, and a probabilistic universe that you are describing is indeterministic, and thus does not qualify under the banner.

    A deterministic universe is one where each cause leads to one and only one possible effect. No probability. No randomness. Cause X always leads to effect A. Not possibly to A or possibly to B. But to A and only A.
    To be truly random (e.g. within a probability function) is to have an uncaused element that drives the specific outcome. Hence indeterministic.
     
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  17. Q-reeus Valued Senior Member

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    Wrong. For two reasons.
    Beta radioactive decay, the most common observed, is governed primarily by the weak interaction which is outside of QED. In general radioactive decay of all types may involve variously the strong, EM (QED), and weak interactions. Try reading up e.g.:
    https://www.texasgateway.org/resource/222-nuclear-forces-and-radioactivity
    Also, the 'substrate' according to standard model are a suite of quantum fields governed by QFT, not just EM field of QED which is but a subset of the former. Gravity may or may not eventually be subsumed in a still more fundamental QG 'substrate'.
    Oxymoronic.
    More oxymoronic confusion. Need I explain?
    That pseudo intellectual string of words evidently impresses some here.
    Ditto.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Truly random events - quantum level events - are substrate of the physical universe.
    Unpredictability is theoretically inherent in all physical systems influenced by sufficiently high exponent nonlinear feedback loops - chaos, Heisenberg, group theory (as applied to exact solutions of high order equations), and quantum theory all forbid exact predictability, and limit our predictions to approximations.
    So perfect information does not change anything ( and is theoretically impossible in its own right - not just practically our of reach, but theoretically impossible. Mathematically impossible. No can do. )
    Nonsense. Cause is identifiable and determined via analysis of past events very frequently - which is fortunate, since all real world physical events emerge as outcomes from within probability distributions. We wouldn't be able to identify any causes at all, if the involvement of a probability function prevented such analysis.
    Coin flips are not causeless. Neither are fractal growth patterns, earthquakes, weather patterns and events, meteorite impact locations, or lightning strikes.
     
  19. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    That may be the case in our physical universe, but our universe is not, on its own, deterministic. It is likely probabilistic.
    Not in a deterministic universe. Only in a universe where there is indeterminism (e.g. probabilistic) or where one is talking about incomplete knowledge that is otherwise theoretically available. If you start referring to issues of QM, for instance, you are talking about an indeterministic universe.
    In an indeterministic universe, yes, but not in a deterministic one. If you can, however, provide any evidence for this being mathematically impossible in a deterministic universe (not a probabilistic one, or any other form if indeterministic universe) then feel free to stump it up.
    We can identify the probability function, yes, as stated, but we can not identify the cause that gives rise to the specific output that is observed.
    It may be that there are “hidden variables” that we just aren’t aware of, but that would then be our personal limitation and not a theoretical one. But if the actual output is truly random within the probability function then there is no cause for that specific output as opposed to any other output within the probability function, and you end up with an event, an outcome, having no cause. Yes, we can trace the cause to a probability function, but not to the specific output. And that makes it indeterministic.
    So what? Who said they are truly random? They may appear random if we are unaware of the specific cause, or if we look past a causal layer to just the probability function, but a truly random event is one in which there is no cause to the output being what it is rather than another possible output within the probability function. Your examples, in a truly deterministic universe, might only appear random due to lack of knowledge of the starting conditions and the governing laws etc.
    But in a truly deterministic universe, given a cause there is only one possible outcome. One. Not a set of outcomes governed by a probability function. Just one. “Probabilistic determinism” simply considers the set as being the output, and can thus view the system as being deterministic within this caveat, but it is understood to not be actually deterministic but indeterministic as a result.
    Any cause has a single output. That is what it means for something to be completely determined by previous causes. If the same cause can lead to two possible effects then the output is not completely determined by the cause, but by some unknown factor that is realising the specific output from among the set of possible outputs.
     
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  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    It is not. It's causal nature and its effects are completely determined by the laws of probability in combination with whatever lies behind the mathematical equations that describe QM. It acts in alignment with those equations - deterministic equations, specifying the nature of the expected outcomes - the effects of that causation via probability distribution - rigidly and exactly.
    So make whatever alterations in vocabulary you find necessary while skipping the argument and actual post - which referred to QED as a substrate underlying all of emergent physical reality, which it is, and ignored the modern Standard Theory - which identically comprises probability distributions governing law-abiding and determined (in distribution, in effect, in adherence to mathematical theory) random events.
    Now it's "truly" random - rather than theoretically random, determined by a probability distribution, caused by a real world factor (physical alignment with mathematically described and therefore determined probability distributions) that produces probability distributions of effects, etc. None of that is "truly" random, no matter what the equations feature in correctly determining (mathematically, arithmetically) the outcomes. To be "truly" random, rather than merely theoretically and empirically random, something else is required - hmmm - - - where have we seen this before - - - - it has to be "causeless" - - - - not bound by physical law or factor, then, but emergent from nothing and nowhere - - independent of and contrary to any chain of cause and effect - - - Got it!

    A brand new role for the supernatural assumption! I did not foresee that - you are truly creative.

    Meanwhile: No events lack causes (in the folk science sense used throughout this thread and forum) in the real world, or in the universe as explicitly assumed here by you, me, and pretty much everyone else.
    If that were true nothing would be determined in the real world - everything emerges from the universal substrate of quantum theory and quantum level interactions.

    Fortunately for the existence of the deterministic universe we have assumed, quantum theory is inherently deterministic. Its outcomes emerge from fixed and determined probability distributions of physical events, and obey the appropriate equations rigidly - more exactly and predictably than the outcomes of chaos theory, for example, which describes the deterministic nature of weather events among other real world phenomena.
    Causes come before effects. Events are determined, and determinism itself established, by causation (folk science, as assumed here), not effect. Outcomes are effects - they only become causes later, when they cause something. Events are not determined (caused) by their outcomes, unless you intend to abandon cause and effect in your determinism altogether, or possibly declare time and sequence to be illusions (in line with your responses when confronted with observed multiple capabilities, in which you kept classifying future events as "input" to current circumstances and observations.)
     
  21. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I’m sure you’ll enlighten us as to how you get from the assumption to the conclusion here? How does gravity affect an individual radioactive atom such that it determines its decay, for example?
     
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  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    That "understanding" is your error. A Gaussian probability distribution of physical events is an effect, an outcome, of event alignment with physical law and mathematical analysis.

    The entire physical universe is built on emergent alignment of events with those laws and that analysis of that substrate. All of it. Are you sure you want to classify rigorous mathematical description employable in the most precise calculations ever made of physical phenomena, and thoroughly tested physical law leading to startlingly new and unanticipated invention and instrumentation, as "indeterminate"?

    Meanwhile, lest we lose track: I at least, and I hope others, stipulated to the assumption of a deterministic universe in the first place - explicitly - to agree with your assertions and your posted claims in a matter of no relevance to my arguments and posting; to focus the argument, and prevent these irrelevancies from confusing the matter at hand. Specifically, your confusions when dealing with probability and quantum theory were explicitly anticipated, mentioned as something to be avoided, and in that failure just as big a muddle as feared - you are encouraged to abandon the entire line at any time, if you can manage to do so without posting derived muddle in the middle of the more relevant discussion.

    It won't fit. There is very little relevant connection across the logical levels between quantum level phenomena and the macroscopic degrees of freedom in human decisionmaking still knocking on the window for attention here. The nature of cause and effect itself has changed by the time the logical level of human decision has emerged and become physically established - observable at human scale. We talk about hammer impacts "causing" nails to be driven into wood, the driven nail to be an "effect" or "outcome" of the hammer blow as "input" - none of that makes sense at the quantum level, in which the causes are things like probability distributions and abstractions of entropy and the "spins" of things that have no defined shape capable of engaging in such behavior.

    It looks like avoidance, but that seems unlikely on other grounds. I think it's just an effect of a crippling assumption the naive materialists cannot let go of.
     
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Determinism is where the output is completely determined by the causes, and as such those causes could not determine any other outcome. If they could, such as in a probability function, then those conditions are not completely determining the outcome. As stated, they can get you so far but not all the way to completely determining the outcome,
    You are still talking of our actual universe, which is NOT deterministic (at least not when viewed locally as opposed to considering it as one part of a multiverse etc). Continuing to talk of our universe being deterministic is simply wrong. A deterministic universe, to put it another way, is one in which for each event there exist causes that could lead to no other outcome. A probabilistic universe is not deterministic. Here’s a simple guide: if the same causes can only ever lead to the same outcome then it is deterministic, otherwise it is indeterministic.
    Probabilistic universe gets you to the same set of outcomes that are governed by a probability function, but they don’t get you to the same output. Thus not deterministic.

    I’m sorry you don’t understand what it means for a universe to be deterministic, I really am, especially as you have claimed to be assuming a deterministic universe throughout the various threads. But now it is quite clear that you don’t understand, and are taking a probabilistic universe to be deterministic.
    Again, if you’re not using terms correctly, and start assuming that an indeterministic universe is deterministic, it’s little wonder you get so lost.
    Then you will drop the probabilistic aspect to your assumed universe? If no event lacks causes then any apparent probabilistic nature of outcomes is purely due to our lack of knowledge of the causes. If we knew the causes completely then, in a deterministic universe, we would know the exact outcome. No probability involved.
    So either drop the probabilistic nonsense you’re pushing, or admit you’re not really talking about a deterministic universe. Your choice. But don’t hold me responsible for your lack of understanding.
    Nothing actually is determined (as in deterministic) in the real world. At best we get very close approximations to it, sufficiently close in fact to be pretty much indistinguishable at the macro level.
    Rubbish. If we assume the universe is deterministic then we can not even consider QM as that is inherently indeterministic.
    Its outcomes are probabilistic and thus indeterministic. Again, put in another way to try to aid your understanding: if you are given a cause and can not determine the specific outcome then you are not talking about determinism. If you can determine a probability function of outcomes then you are in the realm of indeterminism.
    Correct, and if the specific effect can not be completely determined by those causes, but instead at best you can arrive at a probability function governing possible effects, then you are not talking about determinism.
    Agreed. Gross analogy, but: toss of a coin = cause. Effect = ?
    At best one can say it is 50/50 heads or tails. Thus the effect is not completely determined by the cause. The system is not deterministic. If the coin was biased so that it would always land on heads then we can say that the cause = toss of the coin, and the effect is Heads, and because the effect is completely determined by the cause it can be said to be a deterministic system.
    Lovely straw man.
    But as you say, outcomes are effects. A probability function is not the output. The actual output from within that probability function is the output. And only if that output is completely determined (I.e. can not be anything else) by the causes is the system deterministic.
    At the moment you are simply asserting an indeterministic system to be deterministic. We have assumed a deterministic universe, not a probabilistic one, and not any other form of indeterministic one. A deterministic one. Cause always equals the same effect, as that is what it means for the effect to be completely determined by the cause.
     

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