What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
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27-09-2013, 10:38 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(27-09-2013 10:08 AM)black_squirrel Wrote:  If you claim that science can predict a lot of stuff, and even more so in the future, I agree. If you claim that science can predict everything at some point in the future, then there is no way of testing this hypothesis. At no point in the past have we been able to predict everything, so there is simply no precedence for such a claim.

Someone somewhere on this forum said that everything is predictable, but the math is just too hard. I tend to agree with that statement. If you had all the variables and understood the relationships between them, you could predict what color socks I'll wear tomorrow. There's just no way for you to process the equation or gather all the necessary variables. I don't think that we'll every get to a point where we have all the variables. I can't imagine it, anyways. So while I agree that WE will never be able to predict everything (at least in my lifetime), I completely disagree that it's not possible.

The variables, and the equation to determine a specific outcome, do exist.

If Jesus died for our sins, why is there still sin? If man was created from dust, why is there still dust? If Americans came from Europe, why are there still Europeans?
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27-09-2013, 11:11 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
you are stupid bc evil, even gods cant know that nor predict such thing

bc u cant but mean to live through everything else, so u fancy on knowing all things being possible which could justify to b through that knowledge the living u dont have then to define or b real urself

the more objective existence is realized the more what realized it is isolated and cant get access but in abstract ways of means associations,

but also, objective existence is never constant of same things nor that it changes, but reality is about constant redefinition of things in different terms from the value of being constant so principally true
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27-09-2013, 11:21 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
This may have already been asked or discussed in this thread, but doesn't the act of praying for something negate free will? If a superpower deity can give you something based on a prayer, isn't that a breach of free will, as he has chosen to give you something? That deity has interfered with your life, thus negating free will. So having your prayers answered would negate the premise of free-will. As would the sayings of "god has a reason for everything," "he works in mysterious ways," etc. If he has a reason or outcome in mind, then you have no free will, because the outcome has already been determined.

My logic on this may be way-off, so please give me some insight if ya have any!
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27-09-2013, 11:55 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(27-09-2013 11:21 AM)jaguar3030 Wrote:  This may have already been asked or discussed in this thread, but doesn't the act of praying for something negate free will? If a superpower deity can give you something based on a prayer, isn't that a breach of free will, as he has chosen to give you something? That deity has interfered with your life, thus negating free will. So having your prayers answered would negate the premise of free-will. As would the sayings of "god has a reason for everything," "he works in mysterious ways," etc. If he has a reason or outcome in mind, then you have no free will, because the outcome has already been determined.

My logic on this may be way-off, so please give me some insight if ya have any!

Yup, those are some of the classic hurdles that apologists try (and in my opinion fail) to 'explain.' If they describe their god as omnipotent, then they must accept that every second of their lives has already been predetermined. If a god knows every single thing you're going to do, then your destiny already exists and you are merely fulfilling it with absolutely no ability to change the outcome. If a god does not know every single thing you're going to do and you can change your destiny and 'surprise' god, then that god is not omnipotent.

Prayer is nothing but an exercise in confirmation bias. A theist will argue you had the free will to 'ask' god for something and therefore no free will was violated. If the prayer is answered, you have simply exercised the option to ask for god's help. If the prayer wasn't answered, you did something wrong, were not faithful enough, or god gave you what you 'really needed.' So basically, any outcome works within the parameters of prayer. Phbbbbbbbbb! I'll believe in prayer when limbs start growing back. Big Grin

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27-09-2013, 12:00 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
Man, this thread is making my head hurt.

But I suppose that was bound to happen. Drinking Beverage

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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27-09-2013, 12:35 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(27-09-2013 10:38 AM)guitar_nut Wrote:  Someone somewhere on this forum said that everything is predictable, but the math is just too hard. I tend to agree with that statement.

That's... a bit of a misunderstanding, I think.

Knowing everything possible about some given processes - that is to say, ignoring chaotic properties, which can be sort-of conceived of as due to insufficient information - outcomes are still probabilistic rather than known per se (the probabilities themselves may be well-known).

But given that the initial conditions of a 'chaotic' system are themselves probabilistic, and bound by uncertainty (so they cannot all be simultaneously well-known), that's not quite so.

tldr - no, prediction can be inherently impossible. And when it is possible it is in a probabilistic sense only.

(27-09-2013 10:38 AM)guitar_nut Wrote:  If you had all the variables and understood the relationships between them, you could predict what color socks I'll wear tomorrow. There's just no way for you to process the equation or gather all the necessary variables.

Let's say I do know everything about you (!) and my uber-prediction tells me you will... flip a coin to decide. Assuming I also know everything about the particular coin you'll use (why not, right?) then I can only ever predict the odds.

(27-09-2013 10:38 AM)guitar_nut Wrote:  I don't think that we'll every get to a point where we have all the variables.

Well; at a quantum mechanical scale (and some macroscopically chaotic systems may well arise from quantum-level initial conditions) we can't simultaneously know everything to arbitrary precision.

(27-09-2013 10:38 AM)guitar_nut Wrote:  I can't imagine it, anyways. So while I agree that WE will never be able to predict everything (at least in my lifetime), I completely disagree that it's not possible.

The variables, and the equation to determine a specific outcome, do exist.

Probabilistically. Maybe.
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27-09-2013, 12:43 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
I got a pet peeve, here. Hearing a lot of people cite "golden rule ftw!" Like it's some kind of sacred wisdom or some shit... It's not. It's evolutionary, it's simulation of mind of another in mind plus simulation of future; and my peeve is based on dogmatic acceptance of this "rule" rather than careful reflection - it leads to expectations and anxieties when those expectations are not fulfilled.

Like - I love my Gwynnies (cause there has to be Gwynnies Big Grin ) so Imma fire up my creep van and drive out to LA, bag that girl. Drag her back to my den of... Ahem, moving forward...

Other people like Gwynnies, go, if he can do that, why cannot I? Why can I not just fulfill my carnal desires as soon as my chemical context fires 'em up?

Now, we know why; living in an educated and literate civilization, but back in the day, all there was parable in the oral tradition. the village wise man would sit around the campfire illustrating virtue by invoking divine retribution with allegory, as the nuances of economics and cost/benefit analysis played across the temporal, interactive canvas of society was quite beyond a people who only encountered these variables in terms of pornographic graffiti. Smartass

To me, the theistic "free will" concept is thus rather uninteresting.

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27-09-2013, 12:55 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(27-09-2013 12:35 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Let's say I do know everything about you (!) and my uber-prediction tells me you will... flip a coin to decide. Assuming I also know everything about the particular coin you'll use (why not, right?) then I can only ever predict the odds.

So my follow up question would be: How do we define when something is no longer a variable? For example, I could keep drilling down the list of what I consider variables (however unreasonable or unobtainable they might be) until I have enough data to actually predict the outcome of the coin toss, from where my hand will be during the toss to the speed at which it begins its rotations.

Trying to learn here... I realize I'm not totally understanding how a 'variable' is defined in this situation.

(27-09-2013 12:35 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Well; at a quantum mechanical scale (and some macroscopically chaotic systems may well arise from quantum-level initial conditions) we can't simultaneously know everything to arbitrary precision.

You've officially left my comfort zone. I'll take your word for it. Big Grin

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27-09-2013, 01:58 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(27-09-2013 12:55 PM)guitar_nut Wrote:  So my follow up question would be: How do we define when something is no longer a variable? For example, I could keep drilling down the list of what I consider variables (however unreasonable or unobtainable they might be) until I have enough data to actually predict the outcome of the coin toss, from where my hand will be during the toss to the speed at which it begins its rotations.

Trying to learn here... I realize I'm not totally understanding how a 'variable' is defined in this situation.

Well, I was doing a bit of conflation there, strictly speaking... A coin toss is chaotic but might in principle be deterministic - even things like spontaneous air currents during flight will affect the results. So in theory it might be predictable, but not in practice. That's not the point.

The point is that some things are not firmly predictable (in the sense of "I know which one and only one outcome will happen"), and that this is an inherent feature of our quantum mechanical universe. Some events can only be reduced to probabilities and not certainties. Well - certain probabilities. If you see what I'm getting at.

(27-09-2013 12:55 PM)guitar_nut Wrote:  
(27-09-2013 12:35 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Well; at a quantum mechanical scale (and some macroscopically chaotic systems may well arise from quantum-level initial conditions) we can't simultaneously know everything to arbitrary precision.

You've officially left my comfort zone. I'll take your word for it. Big Grin

Ironically that's much easier to explain. Quantum mechanics is probability. Like, literally. Take some state vectors and give them complex probability densities. Done!

Okay, so, non-glibly, what does that mean? It means that an exact description - that is to say, knowing everything about a system that it is possible to know - does not and cannot tell you what the outcome of a measurement will be. (loosely speaking all interaction is equivalent to measurement - or rather, measurement is a type of interaction...). It means that all of the things it is possible to know about a system cannot be known simultaneously.

Okay. Lesson 1: quantum measurements
The simplest example is of a two-state system; that would be, Spin-1/2, or binary polarisation, or some such. So, a Hermitian operator on the aforementioned state vectors (uh, but that's a bit esoteric...). Hmm.

Spin 1/2. Measuring the quantity we call "spin" (which, isn't really a thing actually floating about and spinning, but that's not important right now Tongue ) returns a result of up or down. Call that |+> and |->. A state that is only either up or down is called pure. Pure states are very rare. It's not precisely that "it can be more than one state at once" (you may have heard this about quantum mechanics) but that "it can't be more than one state at once while you're checking". If we pluck a random particle, what is its state? Before we measure it? All we know is that it must be one or the other after measuring.

A general state looks like this: a|+> + b|->. 'a' is the probability density of measuring up. 'b' is the probability density of measuring down. This is basically equivalent to saying 'a' is the odds of 'up' and 'b' is the odds of 'down'. The sum of their norms is unity (|a|^2 + |b|^2 = 1) - there is closure of the measurement basis, ie, orthonormal eigenvectors of the measurement operator... Whatever. That's just restating the idea that you must always get some result, whether up or down Big Grin . But 'a' and 'b' can be any complex numbers. That's reality on a quantum level.

Lesson 2: the uncertainty principle
(which probably you've heard of)
Due to certain consequences of the above (operators don't necessarily commute) it is fundamentally impossible to know non-commuting measurements at the same time. On a simple physical level this is because of what I said earlier - measurement is interaction. To be overly reductive, to see where something is you hit it with something else and see where the collision happened. But having hit it, its motion will change. Actually it's a matter of harmonic analysis of wave packets...

In quantum mechanics, for two non-commuting observables (if operators commute then their order doesn't matter - if I measure A then B vs B then A, is the result the same?)the uncertainty relation means that the product of uncertainties has a minimum value. What this means is that combined uncertainty cannot be zero. The more well-defined one is, the less well-defined the other is.

tldr:
It is impossible to say exactly which outcome will occur. The only possible knowledge is the probability of each outcome.
It is impossible to know, simultaneously, all knowable properties of a system to an arbitrary degree of precision.
Chaotic systems whose initial conditions are quantum are thus impossible to predict (no matter what we know / try to know).

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27-09-2013, 03:01 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
Wow, thanks for taking the time to write that! I'm going to have to read it a few more times, but I think I understand the basic premise.

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