Free Will Video

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Free Will Video

Unread postby Azmodan Kijur » Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:34 am

Interesting idea for a video, Blue. Free will is a pet hobby of mine, as it tends to fall into several logical and philosophical areas that I regularly read about. Given my interest and that this is a video series, I thought I would start this topic and give a little discussion on the matter of free will.

First, there is the matter of the definition of "free will" that people use when they are discussing the idea. Those that believe in free will are, in general, those that subscribe to the idea that they are masters of their domain and their destiny. They believe that they are the sole directors of their actions, that this direction is always at their disposal, and is free of external factors that might redirect or influence it. This can come in various strengths, of course. But the core idea is the notion that they are free agents able to act as they please. Those that do not believe in free will offer up the idea of determinism, which argues that no one has free will to do anything. Everything we are and everything we can do is set in stone - one cannot change the path that they are on no matter how hard they try. Like free will, determinism has various strengths and types, but the core remains basically the same.

It is interesting to note at this juncture that it would seem that many religions will only assume the point of free will and ignore any form of deterministic outlook, regardless of whether or not parts of their own philosophy necessitate such restriction. For example, Christian religions often assume the notion of free will, that god created you free and that you are free to act as you please. Yet, within their philosophy, we find a God that "knows everything" or is at "the beginning and the end". If such a thing were to be the case, then the creature described would appear to violate the very notion of free will, given that it knows all things and is sitting at the end of the cycle. If that is the case, it has seen your birth, life, and death already and knows how you will act. But to know that, your path would need to be determined in some manner. If one chooses something that is supposed to be "different", the entity that they describe must have already seen that change, given it has seen everything from the start to the end already. This is a logical contradiction - a fallacy - that tends to eliminate at least the idea of free will OR an omniscient entity.

So the question is, which of these are closer to the truth? We know that both sides have a number of versions of their central theme and as this is a matter of philosophy (and therefore opinion), to say one is absolutely correct and one is not would be fallacious. So then, which one? Well, honestly, neither is correct. As certain as it is that we do not have "choice" as those that support free will would have it, so too are we lacking the certain destiny that determinism would have us wallow under. This is going to take a little explanation.

As Blue states in the video, rarely is any of our decisions free of outside influence. We all have things that weight in on our decision process and things that restrict what decisions might be made in a given circumstance. Your taste in music is often influenced by your parents and your friends. To "choose" a new album to listen to often entails having these opinions and those of reviews and the staff in the store color what you will decide upon. In this manner, free will is a phantom. However, in much the same way, the decision at that moment and many others are (in the end) yours to make. You can decide to leave the store or balk at what people are telling you or to go with advice or so forth. These are all before you and open to you to choose equally. No one is forcing you to choose one way or another in that case. So in that manner, determinism looks foolish.

The answer is, of course, that it all depends on how you look at it. Both sides have a point and both are also wrong. We are deterministic in many ways, but we may also exercise the ability to choose between options. Those options might be deterministic or the result of someone else exercising their own free will in response to a determinism or another act of choice and so on and so on. The answer can be viewed harshly and pessimistically, resulting in an endless string of "Yeah, but that was determined". Or it can be viewed as uplifting and positive, resulting in a stream of "Yeah, but someone decided that". To me, the answer is simply in the middle.

One word of caution, Blue. Some of the more fundamentalist on Youtube might quote you from context in that video. The jest near the center of the video is that one cannot act without factors causing that action. That can be construed as an argument for a creator, given that this is very similar to the fallacy of the first mover. "Each action must have a cause" - this statement can be construed as support for a prime mover argument. I know that is not what you meant, but these people are without scruples or honor. They will use anything you say against you if they can. I suggest careful wording in that regard. :)
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Re: Free Will Video

Unread postby TheBlueFalconX » Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:25 pm

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Re: Free Will Video

Unread postby dr210077 » Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:46 pm

As Azmodan has already said, caution is advised. I would also say that, the whole "determinist" argument is put into perspective by quantum physics.
"If we go back to the beginnings of things, we shall always find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that imagination, rapture and deception embellished them; that weakness worships them; that custom spares them; and that tyranny favours them in order to profit from the blindness of men."

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Re: Free Will Video

Unread postby TheBlueFalconX » Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:55 pm

dr210077 wrote: I would also say that, the whole "determinist" argument is put into perspective by quantum physics.



How so?
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Re: Free Will Video

Unread postby dr210077 » Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:29 pm

TheBlueFalconX wrote:
dr210077 wrote: I would also say that, the whole "determinist" argument is put into perspective by quantum physics.



How so?

Cause and effect breaks down on the quantum level.
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Re: Free Will Video

Unread postby TheBlueFalconX » Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:40 am

dr210077 wrote:
TheBlueFalconX wrote:
dr210077 wrote: I would also say that, the whole "determinist" argument is put into perspective by quantum physics.



How so?

Cause and effect breaks down on the quantum level.



Uhm... not exactly. Causes produce effects on the quantum level. We just don't have the mathematics which describe it all. Yet.

We don't perfectly understand the quantum world yet. Can't exactly make claims like that.
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Re: Free Will Video

Unread postby Intercourseman72 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:09 pm

well, the fact that we cannot pinpoint what causes things to occur at the quantum level means that there is indeed randomness at the quantum level. That doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't some other cause to it we simply can't describe nor explain through mathematics, but it does mean determinism does not hold up scientifically. It is not substantiated strongly enough.

This of course is not an indicator of free will either. Just because we can't determine what causes sub-atomic particles to do all the things they do, that doesn't mean we can't determine what causes humans to act in certain ways.
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Re: Free Will Video

Unread postby TheBlueFalconX » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:11 am

Intercourseman72 wrote:well, the fact that we cannot pinpoint what causes things to occur at the quantum level means that there is indeed randomness at the quantum level. That doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't some other cause to it we simply can't describe nor explain through mathematics, but it does mean determinism does not hold up scientifically. It is not substantiated strongly enough.

This of course is not an indicator of free will either. Just because we can't determine what causes sub-atomic particles to do all the things they do, that doesn't mean we can't determine what causes humans to act in certain ways.



Simply because WE cannot predict it, or yet know how to, doesn't mean it can't be done. Quantum mechanics is limited via the uncertainty principle, but that doesn't mean the physics behind it is actually uncertain... just our capability of perceiving it in some way.
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Re: Free Will Video

Unread postby Intercourseman72 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 4:16 am

this is a hella late response, but is no less important.

Faclon, you added nothing to what I already mentioned. I explicitly mentioned that quantum physics does not necessarily lack the capacity of explaining the movement and placement of sub-atomic particles. However, this is not scientifically sufficient to validate determinism at the sub-atomic level.

Saying that we can't yet prove that sub-atomic actions can be predicted, yet still, that does not invalidate determinism at the quantum level is analogous to saying that we can't know there is or isn't a God beyond our current perception of reality or physics or whatever. It makes the claim of determinism unfalsifiable. It makes it so that you can always move the goal post back further and further.

This is not what science is. To scientifically posit a theory or hypothesis, it most include ample evidence that confirms it. As of now, there is no such evidence. To claim that sub-atomic or quantum determinism is confirmed or validated is no different from saying that intelligent design is confirmed or validated. Both claims are just as scientific (although, creationism is essentially disproved outright as much as it possibly can be whereas quantum determinism has not been as of yet, but very well maybe falsified as well as creationism has been).

So as of now, quantum determinism can be either falsified, confirmed, or falsified but responsively defended to the point of unfalsification, which is how you have defended it so far.

Apply scientific principles to quantum determinism as well as you would to anything and say that it hasn't been confirmed and, therefore, is not a valid theory as of now. That doesn't mean it has no chance of emerging as a valid theory, but just that it is not confirmed as of now and has no relevance in physics as of now as a current theory.

You can continually attempt to create experiments and come up with mathematics to confirm quantum determinism into the future, but don't claim that it's a valid theory as of today. God or "A God" may actually exist somewhere and undectable given our current methods or tools of cosmic detection, but that does still not mean there is no god out there. Same goes with this unknown formula, law, theory, etc of quantum determinism. There may very well be a quantifiable explanation for quantum determinism, and it is, in my opinion, much more likely than the proof of a celestial being. However, that does not make quantum determinism more scientific in the slightest and it still requires the same amount of evidence, reasoned logic, and proof as any other theory. Mere speculation that we cannot detect the patterns quantum particles is not at all sufficient to confirm this notion at all.
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Re: Free Will Video

Unread postby dr210077 » Thu Aug 12, 2010 8:00 pm

So far as I understand it, determinism of the Laplacian flavour, has been disproved by modern physics. The replacement seems to be probabilistic determinism. Even this softened form of determinism is under fire from the likes of Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, who have a wager with John Preskill about what happens to information after it enters a black hole.
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