Is the future predetermined?
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12-03-2017, 06:57 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(12-03-2017 06:28 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Personally I think that, given what little we know about reality at the quantum level, the best you can get to are estimations of probability. I think that the past does set the stage for the present, but the present in the moment is not set, rather it is probabilistic. Exactly what those probabilities are, and what all exactly can have an effect on such probabilities, is still something we have a lot to learn about.

Recently I've been entertaining the idea that we are not materially determined because we evolved through chance occurrences. In other words, the deterministic aspects of the world were not themselves responsible for making us who we are. Instead, we evolved whatever adaptive abilities we needed to survive, including the ability to act impulsively, etc.
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12-03-2017, 07:23 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(12-03-2017 06:57 AM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  Recently I've been entertaining the idea that we are not materially determined because we evolved through chance occurrences. In other words, the deterministic aspects of the world were not themselves responsible for making us who we are. Instead, we evolved whatever adaptive abilities we needed to survive, including the ability to act impulsively, etc.

I'm not grokking the distinction. Would not the traits needed to survive be dictated by the deterministic aspects of the world?

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12-03-2017, 10:57 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(12-03-2017 07:23 AM)unfogged Wrote:  Would not the traits needed to survive be dictated by the deterministic aspects of the world?

If they never changed, sure. But life influenced the equation by creating new environments over time, like how cyanobacteria created an oxygen-rich atmosphere in the great oxidation event, and enabled the future evolution of plants, animals, and even rocks. In that sense, chance played a role even in the evolution of the world itself.
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12-03-2017, 11:00 AM
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(12-03-2017 10:57 AM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  But life influenced the equation by creating new environments over time, like how cyanobacteria created an oxygen-rich atmosphere in the great oxidation event, and enabled the future evolution of plants, animals, and even rocks. In that sense, chance played a role even in the evolution of the world itself.

You're speaking my language. One of the expressions of my god LC is the pure number hypothesis that everything we know about the physical universe emerged from the simple emergence of number from the void.

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12-03-2017, 11:37 AM (This post was last modified: 12-03-2017 01:41 PM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(12-03-2017 11:00 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  You're speaking my language. One of the expressions of my god LC is the pure number hypothesis that everything we know about the physical universe emerged from the simple emergence of number from the void.

You might be surprised to know that what I wrote actually made sense. Google "the great oxidation event" if you don't believe me.

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12-03-2017, 03:39 PM (This post was last modified: 12-03-2017 06:08 PM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: Is the future predetermined?
(11-03-2017 11:50 AM)DLJ Wrote:  
(11-03-2017 11:09 AM)Jay Vogelsong Wrote:  ...
Perhaps you want to establish some ethical or legal understanding of freewill, and I don't think that's possible.
...

That's already been done.

See Dan Dennett on Moral Competence.

I watched the hour long University of Melbourne lecture by Daniel Dennett on YouTube, and I see what you mean. Practical free will, as he calls it, is a political consideration bearing on issues of law and morality. In the sense in which he addresses the issues as a compatibilist, this makes perfect sense, and he successfully shows that whether we are determined or not should have no effect at all on our moral responsibilities -- contrary to what many determinists argue. His analysis is very convincing in tackling those issues.

However, I am not a compatibilist -- at least not yet (though the lecture certainly makes me want to read Dennett's books). So far I still think free will is an emergent property of our complex brains which is not reducible to any deterministic scheme. As I have mentioned in other posts, I consider this emergence a result of evolution being based on chance events (rather than determined events). In other words, whatever works is what evolved, and nothing was determined to evolve necessarily. What works for us is free will, the ability to choose. What also works for us is the symbolic processing of information, which enables such an emergent property to operate when overlaid on a substratum of deterministic brain chemistry.

This idea is based in part on what I know about dreaming. Our brains go through patterns of determined activation every night when we sleep and dream, yet each symbolic interpretation of what is happening to us (each dream) is unique. That makes a good illustration of the difference between the determined and the symbolic. Free will operates on the level of symbolic interpretation, and a symbolic cause is not the same thing as a material cause.

So in other words, I still think that ethics per se is unrelated to the very basic question of whether we have contra-causal free will or not. However, I would be interested to read what you, EK, and Unfogged think.
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