Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
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17-12-2013, 05:30 PM
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(17-12-2013 11:17 AM)IndianAtheist Wrote:  
(17-12-2013 10:50 AM)black_squirrel Wrote:  I am not convinced that our universe is completely determined by cause and effect.
But even if it is, I think the notion of free will only will lead to a contradiction
when we would be able to completely predict human behavior.
As much as we can observe in the universe everything has a cause and everything in the planet we live on DEFINITELY has a cause.
Cause and effect is often compared to a line of dominos. If you push
one of them, all of them will fall down. But.... actually this is not
true in practice. Whenever a domino falls down, it makes the next one fall down
with a high probability, say 0.999999. Now if you have 1 million dominos
there is a reasonable probability that the last one won't fall if the first one is pushed.
If you have 1 billion dominos, than it is very likely that the last domino WON'T fall.

If one asks, what caused hurricane Katrina to hit new Orleans,
then one might point to areas of high or low pressure a couple of days before. So you could say that that is the cause. But we cannot answer the question, what caused hurricane Katrina a year before it took place.

One can build a small (2 qubit) quantum computer, whose output cannot be
predicted. Then I make a devise that kills a cat if the output is 1,
and does not kill the cat if the output is 0.
I run the computer, the output is 1, and the cat is killed.
The question is: what caused the cat to die? Immediately, of course,
it was the device that caused its death. But beyond that, before we ran
the computer, we cannot point to a precise cause of the cat's death.
There is nothing in particular that we can point to that caused the
output to be 1. In other words, science does not know the (complete)
cause of the death of the cat.

So these are examples, where we have not observed the complete cause
of an event.
Quote:So i cannot account for everything else in the universe but as far as human scientists have discovered i think its safe to say that everything we know has a cause.
Quote:All my decisions, that can not be explained by external causes, are mine,
are my free will
AH.. good lord! i'm getting a migraine here... you,chippy and countless other people i talked with have their own "definition" of free will whatever that means good for you guys.. .

And would you call blood cancer "Free will" too considering it is not an external cause?

its like we're all playing silly word games now.Frusty

My definition is more or less the commonly used definition. From Wikipedia

Free will is the ability of agents to make choices unconstrained by certain factors.

Free will is my ability to make choice, insofar these choices are not constrained
by other factors (such as mental disease, force, genetics, etc.)
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17-12-2013, 07:52 PM (This post was last modified: 17-12-2013 08:23 PM by Chippy.)
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(17-12-2013 09:18 AM)IndianAtheist Wrote:  "a puppet is free as long as he loves his strings"

And if a puppet could pull its own strings how would it decide what to do in a manner that is free of antecedent influences? This idea of "pulling your own strings", of contra-causal free-will is incoherent. That we lack a logically incoherent capacity does not represent a loss.

Quote:Free of what ?

External coercion or internal compulsion.

Quote:then why do psychologists always ask about your past to examine your present condition ? shouldn't the past be "Irrelevant" ?

Your past isn't an ultimate cause. The ultimate cause is the Big Bang. So on your account of causality and responsibility a psychologist should ask you about the Big Bang.

Quote:Motivated by what ? that's right motivated by your past memories, your body condition and your surrounding environment.

Yes and that in no way diminishes any meaningful conception of freedom.

Quote:You're not providing me of a case where you are exempt from the domino effect or when you can oversee your subconscious thought process.

You don't want to be exempt from the "domino effect"--that would be contra-causal free-will and besides being an incoherent idea it would not help you. It is thanks to determinism that we can learn, organise, plan, predict, anticipate etc.

Oversseing "your subconscious thought process" is a logically incoherent idea, it leds to an infinite regress and were it possible it would not enhance freedom.

Quote:Again you don't make rules.. i'm sorry you don't there's a reason for everything and you have to deal with that reason pretending like that causal factor doesn't exist or is irrelevant doesn't make it any less important.

All rational behaviour has reasons. Rational behaviour enhances freedom it doesn't reduce it. If I could not be hungry or thirsty I would soon die.

Quote:Well that's your problem because you're the one who's claiming that free-will somehow exists not me.

No it's your problem because you are appealing to it as if is something we could have,

Quote:My liver doesn't store my memories or process all the information from stimuli,my eyes or ears.. that is done only and only done by my brain.

That is besides the point.

Quote:and the "Background processes" is just an ANALOGY for your sub-conscious btw.
LOL you should go and argue with neurologists you will change the science as we know it! because all those neurologists believe in consciousness and sub-consciousness.

No that is not scientific view of the brain and its operations and the dualism you are appealing to ("consciousness and sub-consciousness") is a large part of your problem.

Like all othe organs the brain undergoes processes and experiences state changes and you are entirely unaware of these. You have no idea what is happening in your brain at the neuronal or even regional level. Your consciousness, your subjective experience, is created by your brain, it doesn't come for free, it doesn't happen automatically. The activity of your brain that you are unaware of is brain activity--it is not part of "sub-consciousness". The idea of "sub-consciousness" and the "subconscious mind" is pop-psychology. The construction "subconscious mind" is actually an oxymoron. Mind--by definition--is the subjectivity that your brain creates. Your subjectivity is what you aware of.

Quote:Brain does not function like other organs brain is essentially what you are as a person.

Yes but it does not function like a computer and it does not contain a homunculus viewing your "conscious mind".

Quote:When did i exactly say it did ? if you suspend your steering wheel in your car is a "Quasi-person" driving your car just because you are not in control of your car ?

Your dualism ("consciousness and sub-consciousness") implies that there is a quasi-person in your brain watching your "consciousness" like a person watching a TV show.

Quote:For the last time man stop strawmanning my arguments...-Dodgy

I'm not "strawmanning" your arguments. Your arguments are flawed.

Quit it with the stupid pictures. Are you a 12-year-old? If you keep posting stupid pictures you will be added to my ignore list and this discussion ends.

Quote:I love how you twisted everything i said.. firstly sub-conscious exists and you're not aware of that and you cannot claim to have control over something that you are not aware about.

No, brain activity exists and you are unaware of all of it. There is no "sub-conscious", there is just brain activity. Your subjectivity, your conscious experience is not your awareness of your brains activity it is a construction as a result of your brains activity. For the 20th time: there is no Cartesian Theatre and there is no homunculus.

There is no such thing as the "sub-conscious"!

Quote:1) It is not a "Part" of anything it is state of your mind

Your subjective experience, your consciousness is a creation of your brain it is not a privileged view of the activity of your brain.

Quote:2) It is state of your mind when you're not 'Conscious" or "In control" of yourself

You are not conscious when you are asleep, in a coma or under general anaesthesia. And you are in control of yourself unless you are severely mentally ill, intoxicated, brain damaged or being coerced.

Quote:Brain stores data in the form of "Memories" just like how computer stories data in form of binary input

The way the brain stores memories is entirely unlike how a computer primary and secondary storage works.

Quote:Brain processes the sensory data and provides a sufficient output just like how computer processes the data you input manually.

The brain does not work like a CPU. The brain does not have Von Neumann architcture.
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17-12-2013, 09:09 PM
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(17-12-2013 12:21 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I find these two comments of yours particularly interesting because to me they highlight the impossibility of choices.
My brain is matter and energy, which are (theoretically) predictable given a known state and the known forces acting on them. As you have correctly pointed out, the physical matter and energy have no goal or intentionality. They simply do as they must, no more than a rock falls because gravity dictates that it must.

Now, if I am my brain, then I am constrained entirely to the natural forces acting on my matter, my energy (my brain, me). Doesn't this mean that I do as I must, that there are no choices I can possibly make? I cannot choose the path of an electron within my brain, no more that I can choice to avoid the pull of gravity acting on me.

Our brains are incredibly complex machinery, thus us humans cannot yet predict our every move. This does not open it up to the possibility of free will. Complexity does not equate to a new emergent property of being able to avoid the causality governing material existence. The illusion is so damn convincing, but it is still an illusion.

As I read it your position rests on four errors:
--an implicit appeal to contra-causal free-will as if it is something an agent could possibly have
--conflation of fatalism and determinism
--an equivocation regarding I, i.e. you are and aren't your brain
--greedy reductionism

Although (inanimate) matter doesn't have intentionality humans clearly do. That their intentionality is driven by their evolved drives does not diminish this. Not only do humans have intentionality they are sentient and responsive, which (inanimate) matter isn't. A human can move out of the way of an incoming car; a watermelon cannot. Hazard avoidance is an option that is unavailable to the watermelon.

"Doing as you must" as you put it implies inevitability. Determinism doesn't imply inevitability. Some things happen because you cause them to happen, you are a participant in many chains of causes and effects. Most of those chains of causes and effects are driven by your wants. Had you not wanted X then you would have behaved differently and the outcome would have been different. This is where you equivocate with respect to I. You create an I that is something other than your brain to say "there are no choices I can possibly make". There are other choices you can make and those are contingent on you having different wants. Again here you equivocate and implicitly introduce a homunculus. You are in effect saying "but I didn't choose my wants" as if there were something other than your brain that is watching your brain. You are your brain and your brain has wants which could have been otherwise had your circumstances, history, genes etc. been different.

We don't want to "avoid the causality governing material existence". Our survival depends on the lawful regularities of the physical and natural world. The key point is that we are participants in the "causality governing material existence", i.e. human behaviour occurs as causes and effects in chains of causality. We are not just passive observers of causality. You are trying to make us passive observers by making your I not your brain but some fictional part of it.
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18-12-2013, 12:14 AM
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  As I read it your position rests on four errors:
--an implicit appeal to contra-causal free-will as if it is something an agent could possibly have
--conflation of fatalism and determinism
--an equivocation regarding I, i.e. you are and aren't your brain
--greedy reductionism
I think it would suit our dialogue much better if we avoid (for now at least) any attempts at placing our respective thoughts into various philosophical boxes.
Maybe after our positions are well understood then an attempt at boxing them up could prove fruitful?
But for now my position is as follows:
I am a collection of atoms and energy bound entirely to the forces governing nature.
The forces governing nature are autonomous, without purpose, without plan or goal.
My body is controlled by my nervous system, the large part of which is my brain.
A brain is a collection of atoms and energy bound entirely to the forces governing nature.
In so far as human understanding, the forces of nature are well documented in science books. Gravity, electromagnetic forces, strong and weak nuclear forces. Each of which can be accurately modeled by formula and used to predict events and consequences of those events with an extremely high degree of accuracy. e.g. given a known state of matter and energy we can predict what will happen next.
There has never been any objective scientific observation that complexity (such as that found within the brain) overcomes the predictability of matter/energy, events and consequences.
Electrons within my brain react predictably to the forces acting on them. These electrons do not have multiple possible futures, there is no mechanism of choice which allows an electron to move in one direction rather than another.
My conscious thoughts are an abstract interpretation of the state and events of my physical brain.
Given the above, at no point do I see where choices are possible. My conscious thoughts might consider that there are choices, but my conscious thoughts aren't physically real, they are merely an abstract interpretation. At the physical layer, atoms, electrons, energy, all does as it must due to the forces acting on them.

Chippy, are you able to explain where "choice" exists in this picture?
Am I able to choose the path of an electron?

(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  Although (inanimate) matter doesn't have intentionality humans clearly do.
I don't see much difference between inanimate objects and animate objects.
I am defined as animate, but I am made up of inanimate objects (e.g. atoms). I don't see that there is a spark of life which magically transforms me into animate.
Just as a cliff tumbles over time into a landslide due to its moving parts e.g. water movement, erosion, gravity etc, so does my body move due to a complex network of atoms, electrons and energy shifting around. It gives the appearance of a spark of life, something much more than the sum of the parts. But I am only sum of my parts. Electrons move because they must and this movement drives my body. My body and brain are biomechanical machines.
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  That their intentionality is driven by their evolved drives does not diminish this. Not only do humans have intentionality they are sentient and responsive, which (inanimate) matter isn't. A human can move out of the way of an incoming car; a watermelon cannot. Hazard avoidance is an option that is unavailable to the watermelon.
Sentience, responsiveness, intentionality are all just consequences of atoms forming replicating structures, where those that are successful replicate and those that are not don't replicate. But this doesn't overcome the problem that ultimately we are atoms and energy bound by the forces of nature, doing as we must.
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  "Doing as you must" as you put it implies inevitability.
Yes. It implies that there are no choices.
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  Determinism doesn't imply inevitability.
Let's not use that label then.
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  Some things happen because you cause them to happen, you are a participant in many chains of causes and effects.
If a rock falls from a cliff and lands on an ant, the ant is crushed because the rock caused the ant to succumb to pressure. But the rock didn't choose to fall, it fell because it must. The rock was not an uncaused cause.
Same as a person. A person can chop down a tree, not because the person is an uncaused cause, but because the atoms, electrons and energy moving within the person caused the person to chop down the tree. There was no choice.
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  Most of those chains of causes and effects are driven by your wants.
Wants are an abstract concept. If we are to remain at the physical layer then we must say that the chains of causes and effects are driven by the forces of nature. Gravity, Electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear.
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  Had you not wanted X then you would have behaved differently and the outcome would have been different. This is where you equivocate with respect to I.
Here you are ignoring the physical layer and jumping into a realm of abstraction. There is no "want" force. No "thought" force. No "will" force. Only the forces of nature exist. There is no "You" or "I" only energy/matter, space and time. Without the abstract terms of "You" or "I", "wants" or "desires" atoms will still form replicating structures, they would still form complex structures with the ability of mobility, but they will never be able to escape the laws of nature. Events occur only because of gravity, electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces.
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  You create an I that is something other than your brain to say "there are no choices I can possibly make".
"I" am quite happy to give up on the abstract term "I". Instead this body, this brain made up of atoms, electrons and energy, this structure has no choices, it does as it must, as the forces dictate.
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  There are other choices you can make and those are contingent on you having different wants. Again here you equivocate and implicitly introduce a homunculus. You are in effect saying "but I didn't choose my wants" as if there were something other than your brain that is watching your brain. You are your brain and your brain has wants which could have been otherwise had your circumstances, history, genes etc. been different.
I don't think you will find a Physics book that describes motion and laws based on "wants". Inanimate objects such as atoms move only as they must, they have no wants, they have no choices. The brain is made of inanimate atoms reacting as they must without any choice.

(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  We don't want to "avoid the causality governing material existence". Our survival depends on the lawful regularities of the physical and natural world. The key point is that we are participants in the "causality governing material existence", i.e. human behaviour occurs as causes and effects in chains of causality. We are not just passive observers of causality. You are trying to make us passive observers by making your I not your brain but some fictional part of it.
I challenge you to give up on the words "I", "we", "mind", and instead talk from the physical layer. Talk about the atoms and electrons and energy and explain how systems made solely of these things can make choices.
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18-12-2013, 01:52 AM
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(17-12-2013 09:18 AM)IndianAtheist Wrote:  LOL you should go and argue with neurologists you will change the science as we know it! because all those neurologists believe in consciousness and sub-consciousness.

I checked two standard neurology textbooks, viz. Harrison's Neurology in Clinical Medicine (2nd Edition) and Essential Neurology (4th Edition). In neither texts is there any reference to a "subconscious mind" and only in the second book the word "subsconcious" appears twice (in a 290-page book) and only as an adjective.

LOL all you want. You are talking bollocks. The idea of the conscious mind vs. subconscious mind is pseudoscientific pop-psychology. All of the brain's activity is subconscious, i.e. below the level of conscious awareness. We have no more awareness of our brains activity than we have of the kidneys' activity. Your subjectivity, your consciousness is itself an artifact of the brain, it does not represent a privileged view of what the brain is actually doing.
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18-12-2013, 03:17 AM
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(18-12-2013 12:14 AM)Stevil Wrote:  I am a collection of atoms and energy bound entirely to the forces governing nature.
The forces governing nature are autonomous, without purpose, without plan or goal.
My body is controlled by my nervous system, the large part of which is my brain.
A brain is a collection of atoms and energy bound entirely to the forces governing nature.
In so far as human understanding, the forces of nature are well documented in science books. Gravity, electromagnetic forces, strong and weak nuclear forces. Each of which can be accurately modeled by formula and used to predict events and consequences of those events with an extremely high degree of accuracy. e.g. given a known state of matter and energy we can predict what will happen next.

Yes that is all true but generalising these properties to everything these fundamental particles and forces comprise is fallacious, it is greedy reductionism.

An executable binary image has properties that its constituents (CPU instructions and data) lack.

A cake has properties that its ingredients lack.

An oil painting has properties that its constituents (oil paint and cotton fibre) lack.

A herd of buffalo has properties than an individual buffalo lacks.

A bee-hive has properties that an individual bee lacks.

An economy has properties that indidual humans lack.

Quote:There has never been any objective scientific observation that complexity (such as that found within the brain) overcomes the predictability of matter/energy, events and consequences.

No and there doesn't need to be to have the kind of freedom that is worth wanting and that allows for moral responsibility.

Quote:Electrons within my brain react predictably to the forces acting on them. These electrons do not have multiple possible futures, there is no mechanism of choice which allows an electron to move in one direction rather than another.

No there isn't.

Quote:My conscious thoughts are an abstract interpretation of the state and events of my physical brain.

Indeed.

Quote:Given the above, at no point do I see where choices are possible. My conscious thoughts might consider that there are choices, but my conscious thoughts aren't physically real, they are merely an abstract interpretation. At the physical layer, atoms, electrons, energy, all does as it must due to the forces acting on them.

Chippy, are you able to explain where "choice" exists in this picture?
Am I able to choose the path of an electron?

This is just contra-causal free-will again. Even if you could choose the path of an electron it would lead to an infinite regress which I have already covered. It is an incoherent idea. No, you don't have the ability to choose to suspend causaility at any level. There is no point talking about electrons, it doesn't add anything to your argument. You are just appealing to contra-causal free-will regardless.

Talking about electrons and their paths only componds the error because it introduces a greedy reductive account of consciousness and life.

Quote:I don't see much difference between inanimate objects and animate objects.
I am defined as animate, but I am made up of inanimate objects (e.g. atoms). I don't see that there is a spark of life which magically transforms me into animate.

There is no need for a "spark of life". Life emerges at the cellular level. Cells can do things that atoms (and even many organic molecules) are unable to do: reproduce, repair themselves, grow, respond to stimuli etc. To quote Dennett's reviewer: "Yes, we have a soul, but it’s made of lots of tiny robots." Those tiny robots are cells.

Quote:Just as a cliff tumbles over time into a landslide due to its moving parts e.g. water movement, erosion, gravity etc, so does my body move due to a complex network of atoms, electrons and energy shifting around. It gives the appearance of a spark of life, something much more than the sum of the parts. But I am only sum of my parts. Electrons move because they must and this movement drives my body. My body and brain are biomechanical machines.

No, a cliff lacks most of the properties of a living thing. Classically, something has life it it exhibits the following:

--Reproduction
--Nutrition
--Respiration
--Irritability/responsiveness
--Movement
--Growth
--Excretion

Quote:Sentience, responsiveness, intentionality are all just consequences of atoms forming replicating structures, where those that are successful replicate and those that are not don't replicate. But this doesn't overcome the problem that ultimately we are atoms and energy bound by the forces of nature, doing as we must.

Atoms don't have sentience, responsiveness or intentionality.

What you are doing is creating psuedo-philosophical problems that sound like real problems. It is like I present you with a chocolate cake and you respond, "But is there really such a thing as a chocolate cake? Isn't it just

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
2 cups self-raising flour
¾ cup cocoa
¾ cup milk
¾ cup water

Baked in an oven at 180°C for 40-minutes? Do we ever really eat chocolate cake? Isn't the chocolate cake an illusion?"

This is just silly pseudo-philosophy.

Quote:If a rock falls from a cliff and lands on an ant, the ant is crushed because the rock caused the ant to succumb to pressure. But the rock didn't choose to fall, it fell because it must. The rock was not an uncaused cause.
Same as a person. A person can chop down a tree, not because the person is an uncaused cause, but because the atoms, electrons and energy moving within the person caused the person to chop down the tree. There was no choice.

Your conception of a choice is incoherent. We not only expect, we want the same set of antecdent influences to produce the same outcome. Our survival depends on that. Expecting the same set of antdendent influences to produce a different outcome is the opposite of determinism, it is indeterminism. The locus of the choice in your example was that the lumberjack wanted to cut down the tree and he was not prevented by physical incapacity, mental incapacity or external coercion from doing so.

Quote:Wants are an abstract concept. If we are to remain at the physical layer then we must say that the chains of causes and effects are driven by the forces of nature.

No, organisms have wants and intentionality you can't just disregard those with a wave of your hand. It is irrelevant that wants and intentionality are reducible to particle physics, they still exist in organisms and they are not illusions.

Quote:Here you are ignoring the physical layer and jumping into a realm of abstraction.

No, organisms and their wants are not "abstractions", they are real and concrete things that you can hold in your hands.

Quote:There is no "want" force. No "thought" force. No "will" force. Only the forces of nature exist. There is no "You" or "I" only energy/matter, space and time. Without the abstract terms of "You" or "I", "wants" or "desires" atoms will still form replicating structures, they would still form complex structures with the ability of mobility, but they will never be able to escape the laws of nature. Events occur only because of gravity, electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces.

Again this is greedy reductionism and it is fallacious. Biology isn't predicated on "escap[ing] the laws of nature", rather it depends on the laws of nature. Just because atoms don't reproduce it doesn't mean that nothing can really reproduce. That is just your chocolate cake argument again: are we really ever eating a chocolate cake?

Quote:I don't think you will find a Physics book that describes motion and laws based on "wants". Inanimate objects such as atoms move only as they must, they have no wants, they have no choices. The brain is made of inanimate atoms reacting as they must without any choice.

But you will find many biology books that describes "wants".

Quote:I challenge you to give up on the words "I", "we", "mind", and instead talk from the physical layer. Talk about the atoms and electrons and energy and explain how systems made solely of these things can make choices.

"Talk[ing] from the physical layer" is fallacious if we are concerned about organisms. Biology is not reducible to physical chemistry or physics. Can you find me any biologists, chemists or physicists that contend that all of the life sciences should be binned because they are all reducible to particle physics? I don't know of any. Are there any social scientists, chemists or physicists that contend that all of the social sciences should be binned because human behaviour is reducible to particle physics?

Are there any computer scientists or physicists that contend that computer science should be binned because all hardware and software is ultimately reducible to particle physics?

You are commiting the fallacy of greedy reductionism and are appealing to an incoherent conception of choice and free-will.
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18-12-2013, 08:18 AM
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(18-12-2013 12:14 AM)Stevil Wrote:  
(17-12-2013 09:09 PM)Chippy Wrote:  As I read it your position rests on four errors:
--an implicit appeal to contra-causal free-will as if it is something an agent could possibly have
--conflation of fatalism and determinism
--an equivocation regarding I, i.e. you are and aren't your brain
--greedy reductionism
I think it would suit our dialogue much better if we avoid (for now at least) any attempts at placing our respective thoughts into various philosophical boxes.
Maybe after our positions are well understood then an attempt at boxing them up could prove fruitful?
But for now my position is as follows:
I am a collection of atoms and energy bound entirely to the forces governing nature.
The forces governing nature are autonomous, without purpose, without plan or goal.
My body is controlled by my nervous system, the large part of which is my brain.
A brain is a collection of atoms and energy bound entirely to the forces governing nature.
Such a (greedy) reductionist description of yourself is incomplete.
I am also a collection of atoms and energy bound entirely to the forces governing nature. My body is also controlled by my nervous system, the large part of which is my brain.

Conclusion, you and I are the same. However, we are not. Can you explain the difference between you and me in terms of positions of atoms?
Quote:In so far as human understanding, the forces of nature are well documented in science books. Gravity, electromagnetic forces, strong and weak nuclear forces. Each of which can be accurately modeled by formula and used to predict events and consequences of those events with an extremely high degree of accuracy. e.g. given a known state of matter and energy we can predict what will happen next.
There has never been any objective scientific observation that complexity (such as that found within the brain) overcomes the predictability of matter/energy, events and consequences.
But we observe it every day! What is going to be the weather one year from now?
It is unpredictable because of complexity.
Quote:Electrons within my brain react predictably to the forces acting on them. These electrons do not have multiple possible futures, there is no mechanism of choice which allows an electron to move in one direction rather than another.
My conscious thoughts are an abstract interpretation of the state and events of my physical brain.
I disagree. Conscious thoughts are very concrete. I have them all the time.
On the other hand, the notions of atoms in a brain is very abstract. For
one thing, without conscious thoughts you would never been even
aware of the notion of an "atom". How can an atom then be more concrete
than conscious thoughts?
Quote:If a rock falls from a cliff and lands on an ant, the ant is crushed because the rock caused the ant to succumb to pressure. But the rock didn't choose to fall, it fell because it must. The rock was not an uncaused cause.
Same as a person. A person can chop down a tree, not because the person is an uncaused cause, but because the atoms, electrons and energy moving within the person caused the person to chop down the tree. There was no choice.
Sure there was. The person could have chosen not to chop down the tree.
Quote:Wants are an abstract concept. If we are to remain at the physical layer then we must say that the chains of causes and effects are driven by the forces of nature. Gravity, Electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear.
No, "wants" are a very concrete concept. I experience "wanting" all the time.
Gravity, and other forces of nature
are abstract.
Quote:"I" am quite happy to give up on the abstract term "I". Instead this body, this brain made up of atoms, electrons and energy, this structure has no choices, it does as it must, as the forces dictate.
"I" is not really abstract. We all have some concept of "I". I would contend
that even some animals have some concept of "I". However, it is not
very precise. In different situations we use different concepts of "I".

Quote:I don't think you will find a Physics book that describes motion and laws based on "wants". Inanimate objects such as atoms move only as they must, they have no wants, they have no choices. The brain is made of inanimate atoms reacting as they must without any choice.
Correct, but another science, psychology does. Since physics is, with its
reductionist approach to reality, is unable to explain human behavior
adequately, other science has been created that deals with
complex notions such as human behavior, language, etc.
Quote:I challenge you to give up on the words "I", "we", "mind", and instead talk from the physical layer. Talk about the atoms and electrons and energy and explain how systems made solely of these things can make choices.
Are you saying, that if we cannot explain something with our current knowledge
of physics, then it cannot be real?
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18-12-2013, 11:46 AM
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(18-12-2013 08:18 AM)black_squirrel Wrote:  Such a (greedy) reductionist description of yourself is incomplete.
I am also a collection of atoms and energy bound entirely to the forces governing nature. My body is also controlled by my nervous system, the large part of which is my brain.

Conclusion, you and I are the same. However, we are not. Can you explain the difference between you and me in terms of positions of atoms?
Yes, I can explain this.
Two electrons are exactly the same. There is no difference between them, they are indistinguishable.
You and me, we have different DNA. Our DNA is made up of atoms, electrons, energy, but they are arranged differently.
There are many different ways that electrons, protons, neutrons can be arranged. These differences are very important, sometimes they form Hydrogen, sometimes Helium, sometimes Nitrogen etc. Arranging these elements into compounds forms different structures, sometimes water, sometimes sugar or salt, sometimes Hydrochloric acid. These things can combine into mixtures and combined with heat you may get a chocolate cake, or over time you might get a living breathing talking human. All of these things are governed entirely by the laws of nature, modeled accurately at the macro level by our laws of physics and our understanding of chemistry. Although a cake, a human or even a snow flake exhibit emergence. This emergence is weak emergence i.e. the sum of all the parts rather than strong emergence i.e. more than the sum of all the parts.

If all your atoms, electrons and energy were arranged exactly like mine, then our form would be the same, our DNA would be the same, our brains would be the same, and even in abstract terms our thoughts and memories would be exactly the same, we would make exactly the same decisions. in terms of the abstract concept of morality, we would be exactly the same level of goodness or badness as each other.

Unless of course you believe in something else that is in the mix. Something that can't be found in physics or chemistry books. Maybe an essence or "soul" that makes "you" different from "me", that makes "you" in some way morally accountable for your actions?

(18-12-2013 08:18 AM)black_squirrel Wrote:  Are you saying, that if we cannot explain something with our current knowledge
of physics, then it cannot be real?
No, I am not saying that.
I am however saying that our best explanations involve that which we know about.
Explanations involving things we don't know about e.g. souls, moral obligation, strong emergence all amount to special pleading.
This doesn't mean that an explanation with special pleading is wrong, it means that there is no reason to believe that the explanation is true.
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18-12-2013, 04:08 PM
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(18-12-2013 11:46 AM)Stevil Wrote:  Unless of course you believe in something else that is in the mix. Something that can't be found in physics or chemistry books. Maybe an essence or "soul" that makes "you" different from "me", that makes "you" in some way morally accountable for your actions?

If subsequent evolution of the system involves chaotic or probabilistic elements - it does - the the systems would diverge over time.

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18-12-2013, 05:53 PM
RE: Determinism, indeterminism, free will. Does it really matter?
(18-12-2013 03:17 AM)Chippy Wrote:  
Quote:Chippy, are you able to explain where "choice" exists in this picture?
Am I able to choose the path of an electron?
This is just contra-causal free-will again. Even if you could choose the path of an electron it would lead to an infinite regress which I have already covered. It is an incoherent idea. No, you don't have the ability to choose to suspend causaility at any level. There is no point talking about electrons, it doesn't add anything to your argument. You are just appealing to contra-causal free-will regardless.
I'm not appealing to contra-causal free-will, I don't believe such a thing exists.
My whole argument is based on atoms, electrons and energy because that is what everything is entirely made of.
It is the forces acting between these that causes all events within the universe.
You cannot have an event without these things being the cause.
Given that these things are autonomous and the forces are constant, then where does that leave us?
Events happen because they must. There are no choices to be had.
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