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Tags free will , predeterminism

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Old 10th June 2019, 07:17 AM   #81
HansMustermann
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Because virtually nobody prior to VERY recent times was even interested in that kind of a definition of free will or its implications. And most of us still aren't.

There are more interesting things to discuss about free will, like, say, in theology why does a benevolent god allow certain actions. Or if we're talking determinism, whether a god can be as omniscient as to know the whole of human history and future from the start. Or in a more secular context, what kind of rules are needed vs how much freedom.

Reducing it all to something as trivial as "derp, you take decisions for REASONS" isn't helping do anything for that except derail it into useless trivia. It doesn't help our understanding of, say, legalism one bit, much less how to optimize it, if the whole thing is derailed into "derp, you take decisions for REASONS". We knew that. That's why we're talking about laws or judicial procedures in the first place. Because we want them to be reasons.

I mean, hell, even theologians will be thrilled to know that people take decisions for reasons, because if people just did random stuff, they could stop preaching what everyone should do
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Old 10th June 2019, 07:50 AM   #82
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I'm saying that weather systems, for all their chaotic complexity, are driven by averages of billions of tons of air. Avogadro's number being 6.02214076×1023 mol−1, the effects of each mollecule are negligible. Whereas in the example I just gave, just ONE specific atom could cause a major effect, that was not mitigated nor depending on any averages.

Statistics may be able to tell you on the average how many people with haemophilia are born in a year or such, but can't tell you that specifically the crown prince of Russia will be one of them. And that situation was not driven by averages, but by a sample of exactly one.

Hans, you may not have followed my argument: which is to say, I may not have adequately explained myself in my earlier comments.

In your example, you're saying the Czar's hemophilia was a black swan event, so to say. And hemophilia can occur deterministically, and therefore be predicted by sufficiently advanced genetics (and sufficiently exhaustive information on people, say the Czar's parents) -- but you're assuming, in this case, that that this was a truly random event, perhaps basis some quantum randomness, or simply de facto genetic randomness. And thus unpredictable. And I agree with your example.

The example I presented, in response to yours, was an apples-to-apples comparable: just as the Czar ended up with hemophilia, think of a butterfly ending up with some random condition. (I'm not sure what condition, it could be anything, something that makes it flap its wings in some manner, that is different from how it would have flapped its wings had that particular mutation not occurred.) And the chances of this happening is exactly parallel to, comparable to, your example of the Czar's hemophilia, wouldn't you say?

Well, just as the Czar hemophilia, via the butterfly effect you describe, ended up having cataclysmic effects in Russia's politics, similarly, the butterfly's mutation can -- hypothetically -- via some literal butterfly effect, end up causing a hurricane. I mean, that's what the butterfly effect literally is, right, the hyperbole within that idea notwithstanding?

Well then, in that case, just as you've shown that human affairs, specifically Russian history of that period, was wholly unpredictable, I hope I've shown that, equally, in this (admittedly exaggerated) hypothetical, weather systems, specially that particular hurricane, is wholly unpredictable. Right?

Well, my objection to your original argument is this: Despite that unpredictability, and despite our inability to make cent per cent infallible predictions, we do think of weather systems as essentially deterministic and (approximately) predictable, don't we?

Well, is there any reason, then, to imagine that we might not be able to predict human affairs with similar approximation, at least in theory, going forward? So that, in principle at least, and basis the example you present, there isn't really any essential difference between weather systems and human affairs. If you're prepared to think of the one as deterministic, why would you not, in principle at least, think of human affairs also as essentially deterministic?
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Old 10th June 2019, 08:54 AM   #83
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To make QM deterministic you probably need to go down a rabbit whole of infinite causes with infinitely diminishing effects, say, all particles affecting all others due to being members of the same linked quantum fields. Or something like that. Here is the blog of a stunningly brilliant physicist who is a superdeterminist. She sounds sane.

I fully reject any superdeterminism that purports to be immune to crossing scalar boundaries intact. For example, there is nothing about the subatomic components of atoms that predetermines molecular behavior. You have to observe at that level to see the new effects. More Is Different.

Basically, what are emergent phenomena? Nondeterministic behaviors at the boundaries of changes in scale and/or complexity. Infinite causes do not predict how the first complex molecule had, say, a surfing phonon excitation. That's an emergence from causes newly made possible by specific atomic arrangement.

Can all of observed nature be derived from the properties of quantum fields alone, or does how that nature is arranged come into play, adding a new degree of freedom where, in principle, there had been none? If new degrees of freedom can come into play, ones that cannot be predicted from priors, what then?

In my defense, it's Sunday and I'm digesting a fine meal, while yesterday I walked up a mountain and back down in one quick go, and I believe half my brain is asleep and the other half posting.
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Old 10th June 2019, 09:14 AM   #84
dann
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
Do you think what you think about things is caused on any level at all?

I'd say your decision to post was caused by numerous factors such as 1) having memories of previous times you've thought about this topic, 2) your current environment of having the time to post your thoughts, 3) ect. and so on.

eta:
dann...can I get you to think about this from another angle?

Think about someone you've known, who "objectively" has made really bad life choices. If you were born with the exact same genetic makeup as them, and had had 100% of the exact same experiences as they had from the moment of conception onwards, do you really think you would have done things differently from them?

Yes, I'm certain that I would, but your premise is absurd. It is the standard argument for determinism, but:
1) even monozygotic twins can make different choices;
2) nobody can have "had 100% of the exact same experiences".

Some people consider things seriously and take their time before they make decisions. Others don't. Some people get laid off, not because of their job performance, but because the company they were working for went bankrupt. Others don't. Etc.
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Old 10th June 2019, 10:33 AM   #85
HansMustermann
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@Chanakya
The problem there is that an argument from analogy is only as good as the analogy. And I'd say unfortunately yours is fundamentally broken.

You first build a hypothetical superman butterfly that can cause tornadoes, something which doesn't exist on Earth (it's just a very hyperbollic metaphor,) yet try to keep the premise that, see, on Earth we can predict tornadoes. Yes, we can, but only because such butterflies don't really exist. You haven't shown in any form or shape that that would still be the case if some butterfly could randomly cause hurricanes across the globe.

Here, let me give you an example of the same kind of reasoning where it's more obvious what's wrong with it:

- imagine that by some mutation, someone with actual psychic mind-control powers were born. Kinda like Professor X, if you will.

- so someone could end up in court accused of a crime they were mind-controlled into doing

- IRL we can deal just fine with claims of mind control by dismissing them in court

- therefore we wouldn't need anything special to deal with that psionic mutant, we can just keep dismissing such claims

But actually the premise at the third step is true ONLY BECAUSE the previous two steps have never been shown to have ever happened. If that objectively changes, then so would the way we deal with it.
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Old 10th June 2019, 10:52 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
We don't know that magic does not exist, either. The list of things we do not technically know is almost infinitely long.
Scientific statements can be descriptions of facts or methodological rules. "X is Y" or "For X you must do Y".

If "Every phenomenon has a cause" (Principle of Causality) were a statement of facts it could neither be proved nor refuted. Frequently there appear phenomena whose cause we do not know, but that apparent refutation does not refute the principle. Any other statement of facts would be refuted if it is not fulfilled, but the Principle of Causality is not. Because it is not a description but a rule: "If you want to know something, look for its cause". The rule is valid if it is good for something. And the Principle of Causality has proven its effectiveness many times over.

"Magic exists (sic)" (="Magic phenomena exist"?) can be verified: show yourself a magic phenomenon. It cannot be shown, then it is refuted. And you cannot turn that statement into any rule, as it is the case with the Causality Principle. Therefore it makes no sense because it is neither a description of facts nor a methodological rule.

Other considerations may reinforce the foregoing, but for the moment these seem sufficient.
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Old 10th June 2019, 11:21 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
As I showed before, most of those reasons can be traced to the SAME cause. It's not just for example, whether the economy going down the drain or the backlash against the incompetent government or the backlash against the Tsar's military leadership of the army could cause the revolution without the haemophiliac prince or not, it's that all four can be traced to the SAME root cause. Without a haemophiliac prince, you have no Rasputin dictating to the Tsarina what should be done, and then you don't have official positions sold to incompetent twits for sexual favours by Rasputin, nor would you have the Tsar taking personal command of the military, and thus the other three reasons for anger against the government disappear too.

I don't think any historian is prepared to say that the revolution would have happened even if you removed all four main causes for it. Because that's no longer history, it's rationalizing some kind of magical predeterminism.
The "anger of Russian people against the Tsarism" was not mainly founded on these three simple reasons that you point out. Misery, industrialization, the suppression of peaceful demonstrations or the disasters of war were more determinant reasons. These are the kind of causes that modern historians look for in documents and testimonies. Rasputin and hemophilia are typical of TV documentaries and best-sellers. But this is entertainment not academic history.

Of course, nobody can warrant that the Russian revolution was unavoidable. Just that, given the sociopolitical situation, it was probably unavoidable. Counterfactual conditionals are banned from true history. And prediction is unthinkable.
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Old 11th June 2019, 12:39 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Yes, I'm certain that I would,
You're certain you would have made different choices even if your genetics and previous experiences had been 100% identical?

Quote:
1) even monozygotic twins can make different choices;
Of course. They start having different experiences in the womb.
Quote:
2) nobody can have "had 100% of the exact same experiences".
Agreed, but it's irrelevant to the question of if free will is an illusion or not.

Quote:
Some people consider things seriously and take their time before they make decisions. Others don't
Yes, and I think the difference there is the result of a combination of
1) genetics
2) previous experiences
3) current environment

If not those things, what?

Quote:
Some people get laid off, not because of their job performance, but because the company they were working for went bankrupt. Others don't. Etc.
That's just a case of different experiences being the result of different environments.
How does that support "free will"?
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Old 11th June 2019, 01:20 AM   #89
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
The "anger of Russian people against the Tsarism" was not mainly founded on these three simple reasons that you point out. Misery, industrialization, the suppression of peaceful demonstrations or the disasters of war were more determinant reasons. These are the kind of causes that modern historians look for in documents and testimonies. Rasputin and hemophilia are typical of TV documentaries and best-sellers. But this is entertainment not academic history.
Yet two of the causes I bolded in your response are exactly linked to mine. Misery took an upswing when government positions were sold by Rasputin for sexual favours, and the disasters of war became directly blamed personally on the Tsar after he took command of the army because Rasputin said so.

So, you know, maybe actually learn history before decreeing what is real history and what's entertainment?
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Old 11th June 2019, 03:29 AM   #90
dann
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
You're certain you would have made different choices even if your genetics and previous experiences had been 100% identical?

I'm primarily certain that your hypothesis is 100% impossible, which makes it a very bad one.

Quote:
Of course. They start having different experiences in the womb.

Which just goes to prove the point. It's a very bag hypothesis when you imagine that if something that is absolutely impossible were to occur, something would happen: One person would respond to things exactly the same way as another person with the same genetics and experiences.
It proves one thing only: that you insist on believing in predetermination, not because of your nature, not because of your nurture, but because you think that you have good reasons to believe it.
(When you start inventing a hypothesis that you know is 100% imaginary and impossible, it should occur to you that you probably don't!)

Quote:
Agreed, but it's irrelevant to the question of if free will is an illusion or not.

And, as mentioned above, this is when I ask the question, What makes you think so?! Your genes? The hormone level in your mother's womb when you were still a fetus? Your biology teacher in 6th grade? Or your parents' religion? Notice that you come up with reasons for your attitude to this question.

Quote:
Yes, and I think the difference there is the result of a combination of
1) genetics
2) previous experiences
3) current environment

Yes, you do. You imagine that your thinking is caused by nature/nurture, and not by what you are actually doing when you think.

Quote:
If not those things, what?

The consideration you make when contemplating something. You may not have noticed, but sometimes you actually change your mind. It may happen when you are presented with an argument that you consider to be particularly striking, but even in that case the argument doesn't cause the change: You may dismiss it immediately, you may consider it and reject it, you may let the idea rest for a while until you have more time to contemplate it, you may consider it again or forget it.
In some cases, you might not think what you're thinking without a certain experience that set the whole thing in motion, but it's still your thinking about that experience that makes you reach a certain conclusion.

Quote:
That's just a case of different experiences being the result of different environments.
How does that support "free will"?

It was my response to your idea:

Quote:
Think about someone you've known, who "objectively" has made really bad life choices. If you were born with the exact same genetic makeup as them, and had had 100% of the exact same experiences as they had from the moment of conception onwards, do you really think you would have done things differently from them?

(Think about why you put "objectively" in quotation marks.)
It is 100% certain that I couldn't have been "born with the exact same genetic makeup as them, and had had 100% of the exact same experiences," so maybe you should consider why you need this fantasy to prove to yourself that free will doesn't exist.
You also make the mistake of thinking that the fate of people has much to do with "bad life choices." Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, but that still doesn't prove that there's no free will. You can choose to behave in a approximately the same way and still have two very different outcomes. You may even be a very good (or intelligent, whatever) person and yet be struck dead by lightning, but it was still your choice to stand on a hill to get a better view of the spectacle, seek (imaginary) shelter under at tree, try to reach your car before the ligtning struck etc.
I'm not claiming that your decisions would have nothing at all to do with your background, your knowledge of meteorology, for instance. But even with that knowledge, it's still up to you to abide by what that knowledge tells you or to ignore it. It is your decision. And even then, the outcome of that decision is not for you to decide: You're neither omniscient nor omnipotent. You may be struck dead when you're doing what is supposed to be the right thing, and you may survive and prosper when you're doing what is supposed to be unwise. It was still your decision.
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 11th June 2019, 08:39 AM   #91
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I'm primarily certain that your hypothesis is 100% impossible, which makes it a very bad one.
It's a thought experiment. Those don't need to be possible to illuminate a principle.

Quote:
And, as mentioned above, this is when I ask the question, What makes you think so?! Your genes? The hormone level in your mother's womb when you were still a fetus? Your biology teacher in 6th grade? Or your parents' religion?
All of those things very well might play a part, among other causes/reasons.

Quote:
Notice that you come up with reasons for your attitude to this question.
Of course.

Quote:
You may not have noticed, but sometimes you actually change your mind. It may happen when you are presented with an argument that you consider to be particularly striking, but even in that case the argument doesn't cause the change: You may dismiss it immediately, you may consider it and reject it, you may let the idea rest for a while until you have more time to contemplate it, you may consider it again or forget it.
In some cases, you might not think what you're thinking without a certain experience that set the whole thing in motion, but it's still your thinking about that experience that makes you reach a certain conclusion.
I just think we compute things differently at different times for a variety of reasons.
Do you take issue with this hypothesis?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comput...theory_of_mind

Quote:
(Think about why you put "objectively" in quotation marks.)
It is 100% certain that I couldn't have been "born with the exact same genetic makeup as them, and had had 100% of the exact same experiences," so maybe you should consider why you need this fantasy to prove to yourself that free will doesn't exist.
Again, it's a thought experiment. If you could just answer the question instead of misclassifying the thought experiment as a hypothesis and then complaining about its impossibility, you might at least be able to meet me where I'm at so we could discuss it.

Quote:
You also make the mistake of thinking that the fate of people has much to do with "bad life choices." Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, but that still doesn't prove that there's no free will.
Again, I was just trying to engage you in the thought experiment - thinking of someone you know who took a fantastically dangerous path in life which panned out poorly for them...the sort of person most people have no sympathy for and just write off under the banner of "they brought it all upon themselves."


Quote:
You can choose to behave in a approximately the same way and still have two very different outcomes. You may even be a very good (or intelligent, whatever) person and yet be struck dead by lightning, but it was still your choice to stand on a hill to get a better view of the spectacle, seek (imaginary) shelter under at tree, try to reach your car before the ligtning struck etc.
I'm not claiming that your decisions would have nothing at all to do with your background, your knowledge of meteorology, for instance. But even with that knowledge, it's still up to you to abide by what that knowledge tells you or to ignore it. It is your decision.
Obviously it's your decision, but your decision was as caused as any other things which happens in this world.

The person who decides to stand on the hill to watch the lightening storm makes that choice based on a combination of genetics (things like this, in this case, perhaps), previous experiences (maybe as a child you saw an amazing lightening storm which made you want to see more with ever better vantage points for forever after), and current environment (there was a storm, and hill to look at it from, right there, right then.)
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Old 11th June 2019, 12:31 PM   #92
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It would be interesting to know how valence is signaled neurologically, how the brain represents values that are not simply whole integers (arc of a baseball one is to catch), and if any of these methods of representation or storage and retrieval are subject to random variations at the subatomic level; i.e., subject to quantum effects.* If so, regardless of cognition, human volition would be probabilistic on a basic level.


*Dear god in heaven, not trying to backdoor QM for consciousness, rather, admit of a role at low physical level, such as would be the case, say, for photosynthesis.
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Old 11th June 2019, 04:34 PM   #93
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Oh, cognition is already known to be probabilistic. There is such a thing as synapse STRENGTH. Which is basically a probability for it to actually fire.

Edit: and yes, that is based on QM. That's the random number generator in the probability there. That's not the same as the QM consciousness woowoo that woowoo peddlers propose, but simply a built in random number generator. In fact some trillions of them.
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Old 11th June 2019, 06:05 PM   #94
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That sort of randomness doesn't create room for free will, though. (Not that anyone argued that it does ...just sayin'.)
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Old 11th June 2019, 07:00 PM   #95
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Well, sure. You created a definition where you tautologically have no free will. If it's random it's not free will, if you have reasons, it's still not free will. You defined a set that tautologically and trivially is empty. Which is why I call it a useless derail. It doesn't add a single bit of information about anything.

But I guess that some people are that determined to find a reason to avoid personal responsibility. I guess the guys who don't have the "the devil made me do it" excuse, have to redefine free will so they still have an excuse to not be responsible for anything in their life.

And I'd even let them have it, really, except as you show, they have to stick it into everything. Doesn't matter that, in your own words, "Not that anyone argued that it does", but you just have to say it anyway. 'Cause surely everyone must be dying to have you turn a talk about synapses into your personal "but I'm still not responsible" soapbox
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Old 11th June 2019, 10:24 PM   #96
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Yet two of the causes I bolded in your response are exactly linked to mine. Misery took an upswing when government positions were sold by Rasputin for sexual favours, and the disasters of war became directly blamed personally on the Tsar after he took command of the army because Rasputin said so.

So, you know, maybe actually learn history before decreeing what is real history and what's entertainment?
The data you quote are not true, but that is not the issue.
I have long since learned what history is. I read a lot about that subject, especially that of ancient Greece and Rome, but also of other epochs out of curiosity and obligation. I can recommend some reading that illustrates to you the difference between academic history and TV documentaries. To begin with, no documentaries from the Historia channel are quoted in doctoral theses. You'll imagine why.
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Old 12th June 2019, 01:08 AM   #97
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Yet you didn't seem to get in those studies that once you get past the school level, it's no longer about memorizing the bulleted points at a superficial level (including the lists of names and dates), but about causes and interconnects?
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Old 12th June 2019, 02:54 AM   #98
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Yet you didn't seem to get in those studies that once you get past the school level, it's no longer about memorizing the bulleted points at a superficial level (including the lists of names and dates), but about causes and interconnects?
There is a never ending debate among historians on the subject of causes in history. The predominant opinion is that "cause" cannot be used as in sciences of nature. Some weaker candidates are usually proposed such as "conditions", "forces", "determinations", etc. These candidates never mean efficient causes as in natural sciences.

When a contemporary historian is searching the "causes" of the defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian war, he almost ever lets in the last place Pericles' death, if ever. And Pericles was probably the most determinant leader in Greece of his time.
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Old 12th June 2019, 06:19 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, sure. You created a definition where you tautologically have no free will. If it's random it's not free will, if you have reasons, it's still not free will. You defined a set that tautologically and trivially is empty. Which is why I call it a useless derail. It doesn't add a single bit of information about anything.

But I guess that some people are that determined to find a reason to avoid personal responsibility. I guess the guys who don't have the "the devil made me do it" excuse, have to redefine free will so they still have an excuse to not be responsible for anything in their life.

And I'd even let them have it, really, except as you show, they have to stick it into everything. Doesn't matter that, in your own words, "Not that anyone argued that it does", but you just have to say it anyway. 'Cause surely everyone must be dying to have you turn a talk about synapses into your personal "but I'm still not responsible" soapbox
It's really most philosophically useful to me for the purposes of forgiveness and compassion.

It's hard or impossible to be angry with someone when you understand that if you were them, you would have done the exact same things.
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Old 12th June 2019, 02:18 PM   #100
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Things that don't actually follow from determinism (but a lot of people seem to think do):

- It doesn't follow that you're constrained against your wishes or will, because the process of making choices must operate by means of (that is to say, must generate) your wishes and will. "I'd choose the healthy grilled chicken instead of the cheese steak, if only my decisions weren't deterministically generated," is an absurd category error and was never honestly believed by anyone.

- By the same token, on a more basic level, it doesn't follow that you have no choices or will at all. That's what your brain (and probably conscious experience) evolved for. It's only a question of the nature of the process(es) by which those choices come about.

- It doesn't follow that there's no purpose or no rationale for punishing crime. The purpose of punishing crime is to influence behavior, and while the relative merits of various systems of punishment are debatable, the premise that punishment can influence behavior is unaffected under determinism.

- It doesn't follow that it's inappropriate to blame people for their bad behavior. Under determinism, people don't suddenly become passive inanimate objects. Their decision-making minds are processes. We can and do blame processes for their effects. A medical procedure or industrial control system that causes unnecessary deaths will be blamed for those deaths and altered or eliminated. We can look at precursor processes (such as how the misbehaving system was designed or tested, or a murderer's upbringing) but we still also focus blame on the lethal system or murderer itself.

- It doesn't follow that some hypothetical god or supercomputer with sufficient analytical power and complete information about the present could predict all future events, or that the universe if reset precisely to some previous state would repeat the same events. That depends on whether or not quantum events such as radioactive decay are truly random. Random in this case means that knowing everything that actually exists about the present state of e.g. a radioactive atom, and the rest of the universe, is NOT sufficient to predict when the atom will decay. Such hypothetical predictive state information is also called "hidden variables." Current quantum theory interprets recent findings as indicating that hidden variables are ruled out if locality is preserved. But I don't think we can regard the question as definitively settled.
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Old 12th June 2019, 03:03 PM   #101
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
It's really most philosophically useful to me for the purposes of forgiveness and compassion.

It's hard or impossible to be angry with someone when you understand that if you were them, you would have done the exact same things.
Is it? One of the purposes -- and arguably the MAIN purpose -- of laws and social norms is deterrence. If everything is forgiven, then there is really no reason not to do something evil.

Regardless of whether you think it's deterministic or not, people take decisions for REASONS and even more importantly because of EXPECTATIONS.

E.g., you flick a light switch because you expect the effect to be that the light turns on. If you brought in a tribesman from the Amazons who hasn't learned to expect that cause-effect relationship, they won't even try to look for a light switch.

E.g., if I told you there's free booze and hotdogs at a beach volleyball this weekend, and you're any good at it, you might decide to participate. But if I told you it's in a former minefield, that might change what you can expect and thus your decision.

The same applies to crime and punishment, including civilian liability and social stigma. E.g., the same people who'll screw on a beach on vacation abroad, might not do it near their home town.

Basically deterministic or not, free will or not, deterrence works. If you think people deciding not to do something unlawful don't have free will in that choice, good. All the better, in fact. I see no reason to change that, then.
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Old 12th June 2019, 06:21 PM   #102
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Quote:
If everything is forgiven, then there is really no reason not to do something evil.
You see how this sounds like a Christian or theist argument, don't you?
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:37 PM   #103
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post

- It doesn't follow that it's inappropriate to blame people for their bad behavior. Under determinism, people don't suddenly become passive inanimate objects. Their decision-making minds are processes. We can and do blame processes for their effects. A medical procedure or industrial control system that causes unnecessary deaths will be blamed for those deaths and altered or eliminated. We can look at precursor processes (such as how the misbehaving system was designed or tested, or a murderer's upbringing) but we still also focus blame on the lethal system or murderer itself.
According to F.B. Skinner, the father of behaviourism and a prominent determinist, blaming for doing evil is useless and even harmful (Cf. Beyond Freedom and Dignity). It is useless because words are powerless against conditioned behaviours. Effective programs of deconditioning are better than well-intentioned discourses. It is harmful because blaming evil creates the illusion of freedom in society and prevents it from doing better things against crime and evil in general.

It seems logical to me. No morality is consistent with determinism.

Last edited by David Mo; 12th June 2019 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 13th June 2019, 12:25 AM   #104
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
You see how this sounds like a Christian or theist argument, don't you?
Hmm? How on Earth do you come to THAT conclusion?
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Old 13th June 2019, 02:40 AM   #105
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I'd like to add this blog post by physicist Sean Carroll to the discussion:

https://www.preposterousuniverse.com...n-determinism/

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Quantum mechanics is where things get interesting. When a quantum state is happily evolving along according to the Schrödinger equation, everything is perfectly deterministic; indeed, more so than classical mechanics, because the space of states (Hilbert space) doesn’t allow for the kind of non-generic funny business that let non-deterministic classical solutions sneak in. But when we make an observation, we are unable to deterministically predict what its outcome will be. (And Bell’s theorem at least suggests that this inability is not just because we’re not smart enough; we never will be able to make such predictions.) At this point, opinions become split about whether the loss of determinism is real, or merely apparent. This is a crucial question for both physicists and philosophers, but not directly relevant for the question of free will.

The traditional (“Copenhagen”) view is that QM is truly non-deterministic, and that probability plays a central role in the measurement process when wave functions collapse. Unfortunately, this process is extremely unsatisfying, not just because it runs contrary to our philosophical prejudices but because what counts as a “measurement” and the quantum/classical split are extremely ill-defined. Almost everyone agrees we should do better, despite the fact that we still teach this approach in textbooks. Someone like Tom Banks would try to eliminate the magical process of wave function collapse, but keep probability (and thus a loss of determinism) as a central feature. There is a whole school of thought along these lines, which treats the quantum state as a device for tracking probabilities; see this excellent post by Matt Leifer for more details.

The other way to go is many-worlds, which says that the ordinary deterministic evolution of the Schrödinger equation is all that ever happens. The problem there is comporting such a claim with the reality of our experience — we see Schrödinger’s cat to be alive or dead, not ever in a live/dead superposition as QM would seem to imply. The resolution is that “we” are not described by the entire quantum state; rather, we live in one branch of the wave function, which also includes numerous other branches where different outcomes were observed. This approach (which I favor) restores determinism at the level of the fundamental equations, but sacrifices it for the observational predictions made by real observers. If I were keeping a tally, I would certainly put this one in the non-determinism camp, for anyone interested in questions of free will.
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Old 13th June 2019, 04:20 AM   #106
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
According to F.B. Skinner, the father of behaviourism and a prominent determinist, blaming for doing evil is useless and even harmful (Cf. Beyond Freedom and Dignity). It is useless because words are powerless against conditioned behaviours. Effective programs of deconditioning are better than well-intentioned discourses. It is harmful because blaming evil creates the illusion of freedom in society and prevents it from doing better things against crime and evil in general.

It seems logical to me. No morality is consistent with determinism.
The problem there is that it seems to assume that your words and actions don't ALSO cause conditioned behaviours. E.g., that, say, Ted Bundy was conditioned by X, Y or Z in his past to kill all those women, but society deciding that it's wrong to kill would totally not also cause a difference in his behaviour.

But, regardless of whether decisions are deterministic or not, they are based on the WHOLE set of available data. Which includes how society will react to it, possible punishments or rewards, etc.

And generally, the decision taking in the brain -- which by now we can even watch in real time on MRI -- is essentially a voting process. The reasons for doing it are weighed against the reasons for not doing it.

Essentially if we all just shrug and go "poor guy, he must have been conditioned to kill those women" and let him get away with it, then he'll just do it again. Because a bunch of reasons not to do it just disappeared from that column.
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Old 13th June 2019, 04:21 AM   #107
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It seems that there is pretty solid evidence from GR that SpaceTime is one thing and that from different perspectives we are all long dead and gone and from others we haven't even evolved yet. Determinism rules!
It seems that there is pretty solid evidence from QM that the universe is probabilistic. Hidden variables are impossible. Non-Determanism rules!

I can understand how you seem to lose free will if the future is as unchangeable as the past. You are still making choices and considering multiple options before deciding something, but whatever you end up deciding has, in a sense, already happened.

The problem for me is, how does adding randomness give you more free will? Does having a random element influence your choices make you freer?


Who knows, whatever, all that aside...
From my, a biologist's point of view, determinism doesn't really make sense. For me it comes down to complexity, the complexity of the universe and of life. Life is incredibly complex and brains add a whole new level of complexity. Very complex things have few ways of working and many, many ways of breaking. They are very unlikely to just happen by accident.
The universe does seem to have an origin, a beginning, and if it was deterministic all the complexity we see must have been present from the start. It must have been inherent in the rules and configuration from the moment of whatever quantum fluctuation caused the whole thing to exist.

This seems unlikely, where did all the complexity come from?
If the universe is non-deterministic and choices can be made, the complexity is easily explained by evolution. Evolution drives complexity. Complex life have brains. Brains evaluate the state of the environment and make choices, that's why they evolved.
Seems weird to have all this complexity around and brains making choices if choosing was not important.
Free will rules!
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Old 13th June 2019, 07:13 AM   #108
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Well, if we're talking about evolution, the DNA breaks creating those mutations are still random.

That has nothing to do with free will, way I see it. There is no choice involved in which Nitrogen atom will turn into Carbon 14 (due to interaction with neutrons from the Sun), nor whether it will end up in some DNA strand (brownian motion is still random) or where in it, nor when it will decay and cause a DNA break, etc. There's neither determinism nor free will there, but neither is needed to drive the random mutations part of evolution.

So, yes, complexity does increase.

I'm sure that as a biologist you understand all that. Probably better than I do, in fact.

As for how bigger brains were an advantage, think of it this way: regardless of whether brains are deterministic or have free will, a bigger brain is STILL an advantage anyway. Because the "whatever you end up deciding has, in a sense, already happened", is contingent on having the brain that can take that decision. It doesn't happen in a vacuum. Some synapses have to be connected in a certain way and fire or fire in a certain way, or that decision doesn't happen. Even if someone wants to take that as deterministic, as in the outcome is guaranteed, it's only guaranteed for THAT specific synapse configuration. For another one, something else happens.

E.g., one could believe that both my brain and the brain of my cat are deterministic, but the "predestined" decisions of my cat in any given situation won't be the same as mine.

I mean a kid I grew up with a cat, and presumably we observed the same things happening. In fact, a lot more so than you'd think. I was a very sick kid, I didn't go outside much, and neither did the cat. So whatever happened or was said in that house, chances are both me and the cat observed them. But if you took me at the age of, oh, say, 6 years old, before I started going to school and seeing other things there that the cat at home didn't, my choices in most situations would have been very different from the cat's. Deterministic or not, they were based on a different brain complexity, and the difference in world model that came with it.
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Old 13th June 2019, 07:22 AM   #109
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
It's a thought experiment. Those don't need to be possible to illuminate a principle.



All of those things very well might play a part, among other causes/reasons.

But one of the most common "causes/reasons" when people make decisions is their intentions - even when they make bad og even self-defeating ones.

Quote:
Of course.



I just think we compute things differently at different times for a variety of reasons.
Do you take issue with this hypothesis?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comput...theory_of_mind

Yes, I do. And for almost the same reason I take issue with most of the fears of an AI apocalypse. Whenever people talk about developing consciousness, they tend to forget that intention came before consciousness (and before intention probably feelings like [Frankenstein mode]pleasant/unpleasant: sunlight: good, darkness: bad; warmth: good, cold: bad; sustenance: good, lack of sustenance: bad[/Frankenstein mode].) Will and consciousness are definitely connected, but they are different things.

Quote:
Again, it's a thought experiment. If you could just answer the question instead of misclassifying the thought experiment as a hypothesis and then complaining about its impossibility, you might at least be able to meet me where I'm at so we could discuss it.

OK, but your thought experiment is like a self-fulfilling prophecy: You have two persons who are exactly identical, and then you ask if they can be different. And of course they can't. Your construct doesn't allow it: They have to be exactly the same. Can they sit down and reach different conclusions? No, they can't because even different conclusions are something that they'll experience and in your thought experiment that is as impossible as random mutations that would make their genetic makeup different. You have eliminated the possibility in your thought experiment. That's why it's wrong from the very beginning.

Quote:
Again, I was just trying to engage you in the thought experiment - thinking of someone you know who took a fantastically dangerous path in life which panned out poorly for them...the sort of person most people have no sympathy for and just write off under the banner of "they brought it all upon themselves."

It changes nothing: The bad outcome may have been intended, or circumstances may have led to it. Whatever.

Quote:
Obviously it's your decision, but your decision was as caused as any other things which happens in this world.

Yes, but again the most common cause of decisions is people's intentions, and they aren't determined by Newtonian or even Einsteinian laws. You know where the Earth is going to be in a thousand years in relation to the other major celestial bodies in our vicinity if nothing interfers with their orbits. In so far, you could say that it's pre-determined. You don't know what Trump is going to Tweet tomorrow. (But it's a pretty good guess that it will be something stupid.)

Quote:
The person who decides to stand on the hill to watch the lightening storm makes that choice based on a combination of genetics (things like this, in this case, perhaps), previous experiences (maybe as a child you saw an amazing lightening storm which made you want to see more with ever better vantage points for forever after), and current environment (there was a storm, and hill to look at it from, right there, right then.)

Again: You're not omnipotent, so very good and well-thought-out decisions may have disastrous consequences, and very stupid ones may work out to your advantage. Not on average - that's why evolution tends to work - but in specific cases. The wise choice would have been to stay in your car, but then it was hit by that truck instead of by lightning ...

In discussions like this, I usually point out the following, which is not a thought experiment. It's reality:
We know from physics and chemistry how matter behaves, but if matter is organized into the shape of a squirrel or a sparrow, it no longer behaves the way you would expect matter to behave: The squirrel runs up the tree, away from the centre of gravity.
And if matter is organized into the shape of a human being, it may consider that running up trees the whole time may be a waste of time and energy.
A human being still obeys the laws of nature, but it doesn't act the way matter is supposed to act according to those laws. That's why we leave those fields of science behind and move on to medicine, psychology and the social sciences when we want to know why people do what they do.
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Old 13th June 2019, 08:33 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
@Chanakya
The problem there is that an argument from analogy is only as good as the analogy. And I'd say unfortunately yours is fundamentally broken.

You first build a hypothetical superman butterfly that can cause tornadoes, something which doesn't exist on Earth (it's just a very hyperbollic metaphor,) yet try to keep the premise that, see, on Earth we can predict tornadoes. Yes, we can, but only because such butterflies don't really exist. You haven't shown in any form or shape that that would still be the case if some butterfly could randomly cause hurricanes across the globe.

Here, let me give you an example of the same kind of reasoning where it's more obvious what's wrong with it:

- imagine that by some mutation, someone with actual psychic mind-control powers were born. Kinda like Professor X, if you will.

- so someone could end up in court accused of a crime they were mind-controlled into doing

- IRL we can deal just fine with claims of mind control by dismissing them in court

- therefore we wouldn't need anything special to deal with that psionic mutant, we can just keep dismissing such claims

But actually the premise at the third step is true ONLY BECAUSE the previous two steps have never been shown to have ever happened. If that objectively changes, then so would the way we deal with it.


Apologies for the belated response!

Absolutely, I realize my analogy was lopsided, in as much as it was based on hyperbole, as I'd said myself in that earlier post of mine.

But I don't think you really need some kind of super-butterfly here. I was referring to that chaos theory meme, that suggests that a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico may end up affecting how (or if) we end up with a hurricane in Texas. Of course, it is my understanding that this is not literally the case, which is why I said it is probably hyperbole. Still, the principle stands: a large number of such trivial events may well end up having a non-trivial effect on the weather. And that complexity is what makes weather forecasting such a challenge, beyond a point. That complexity is why you cannot make exact weather predictions for every part of the globe six months ahead, because making such crazily complex models is beyond us.

Now since you mentioned mutations resulting in hemophilia, the obvious counter-example that comes to mind is some mutation that gets a butterfly to flap its wings, or not, at some particular time.

If we can go back to your fictional Asimov reference: Something like Seldon's psychohistory can, in theory (and in fiction!), let us arrive at probabilistic predictions of the consequences of the Czar's hemophilia, but cannot really speak to the mutation causing the hemophilia itself. That is your argument, correct? In other words, to use Asimov's fictional structure, it can let us arrive at probabilistic predictions consequent to The Mule, but cannot help us with actually speaking of the actual occurrence of the Mule's mutation.

Thus with weather systems: As far as butterfly wings flapping and their effect on weather systems: a sufficiently complex model can -- much like psychohistory -- let us, in theory, work out probabilistic meteorological models consequent to butterflies' wing flaps, but they cannot really let us speak to the initial event, the flapping of the wing itself, since that is based on genetic factors equally as unpredictable as the hemophilia mutation.

I don't know, I don't see any difference between the two. Sure, there's a difference in degree of complexity (given that human beings are far more complex than molecules, and human society far more complex than weather) -- but, as I see it, there is no essential difference.

So, unless you're saying that that complexity itself is what you're basing your different opinion of human society on (when compared to weather systems), I don't see what your point is here. And if indeed you do base your argument on that complexity, well then I for one am in complete agreement. I believe that the free will argument can reasonably be made not in absolute terms, but only in pragmatic terms, basis ad hoc complexity level threshholds (with us humans favoring a human-level threshhold, for obvious reasons).



Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, sure. You created a definition where you tautologically have no free will. If it's random it's not free will, if you have reasons, it's still not free will. You defined a set that tautologically and trivially is empty. Which is why I call it a useless derail. It doesn't add a single bit of information about anything.


You disagree with kellyb's definition. What definition do you yourself favor, then?

In arguing about free will, what is it that you yourself are arguing for or against, what exactly does free will mean to you?



Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
It's really most philosophically useful to me for the purposes of forgiveness and compassion.

It's hard or impossible to be angry with someone when you understand that if you were them, you would have done the exact same things.


Indeed. That is how I view the free will discussion myself.

I see the absence of free will as a tautological consequence of a materialistic paradigm. No big deal, really.

The only thing that sets apart a human being from other simpler systems is our level of complexity, that's all.

And the reason I find this concept, this paradigm, this argument, useful, is because it lets one realize that ultimately human beings are no different, really, than a car -- in the sense that there is no ultimate free will, therefore no ultimate responsibility, so that "punishment" per se is a senseless idea.

Sure, I favor building in deterrence. Obviously. Even strong deterrence, if appropriate. And also behavioral correction.

But, coming to our penal systems (or indeed how we informally think of how we, as individuals, are to respond to others), it makes sense to think of understanding people, it makes sense, certainly, to build in deterrence, even very strong deterrence if appropriate to influence behavior a priori (as well as correctional strategies post some crime). But "punishment", in the sense that we generally understand it, seems to me as senseless as a child angrily kicking the table legs that tripped her up, or someone kicking a car that's spluttered to a stop in the middle of nowhere at a particular inconvenient time.

That's baggage we can do without. Not having to think in terms of "punishment" is, I believe, healthy, both at the individual level, as well as at the level of society.
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Old 13th June 2019, 08:44 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
... your thought experiment is like a self-fulfilling prophecy: You have two persons who are exactly identical, and then you ask if they can be different. And of course they can't. Your construct doesn't allow it: They have to be exactly the same. Can they sit down and reach different conclusions? No, they can't because even different conclusions are something that they'll experience and in your thought experiment that is as impossible as random mutations that would make their genetic makeup different. You have eliminated the possibility in your thought experiment. That's why it's wrong from the very beginning. ...

I think what she's getting at is (at least that is how I myself view this) that if you were born -- Godwin alert !! -- if you were born with Hitler's exact circumstances and Hitler's exact genetics, then you couldn't have acted any differently. You too, then, would have done the exact same things as Hitler.

And that's because there isn't a separate "you" at all! Hitler's body-mind complex is all that he was. Much like a car, except a great deal more complex (and also not quite "designed" by someone).

Sure, this is not a big deal, in as much as it follows trivially and tautologically from a materialistic paradigm, as I said earlier. But where this idea is useful, is it lets us view even a Hitler without any need for "punishment" per se.

So, if we caught hold of Hitler, then we'd see what we'd need to do to correct his particular mental kinks. If we couldn't correct those kinks adequately, then we'd see what we'd need to do keep society from him. And we'd also see what we'd need to do to build in ample deterrence to prevent future Hitlers and future minions of Hitler. But what we wouldn't need -- not even for a Hitler -- is "punishment", per se, as the word "punishment" is generally understood, not even for his particular heinous crimes.

Seeing things in this perspective appears healthy to me, both at the individual level, and at the level of society. So much less baggage that way.
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Old 13th June 2019, 08:49 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
As for how bigger brains were an advantage, think of it this way: regardless of whether brains are deterministic or have free will, a bigger brain is STILL an advantage anyway. Because the "whatever you end up deciding has, in a sense, already happened", is contingent on having the brain that can take that decision. It doesn't happen in a vacuum. Some synapses have to be connected in a certain way and fire or fire in a certain way, or that decision doesn't happen. Even if someone wants to take that as deterministic, as in the outcome is guaranteed, it's only guaranteed for THAT specific synapse configuration. For another one, something else happens.

Your argument is circular. You are taking it as a given that we exist in the universe as part of immutable spacetime and that since we are performing complex behaviors we need complex brains in order to do so. It does not explain where the complex behaviour or the brains come from.

We know that the universe started very hot, dense and uniform and evolved to it's current complex state over time. If the universe was deterministic it also means that all that complexity was already there at the start. It must have been inherent in it's properties and the laws that govern how it changes over time.
A deterministic universe cannot generate it's own complexity, everything has to be there from the start as part of the recipe so to speak, before the baking even starts.
A non-deterministic universe on the other hand is free to follow simple non-deterministic rules and therefore generate it's own complexity by exploring multiple possible options of how to evolve.

Just my personal take.
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Old 13th June 2019, 09:06 AM   #113
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
But one of the most common "causes/reasons" when people make decisions is their intentions - even when they make bad og even self-defeating ones.
But you intentions are caused, too. People's intentions are often based on their beliefs and feelings, and beliefs and feelings are caused.

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Yes, I do. And for almost the same reason I take issue with most of the fears of an AI apocalypse. Whenever people talk about developing consciousness, they tend to forget that intention came before consciousness (and before intention probably feelings like [Frankenstein mode]pleasant/unpleasant: sunlight: good, darkness: bad; warmth: good, cold: bad; sustenance: good, lack of sustenance: bad[/Frankenstein mode].) Will and consciousness are definitely connected, but they are different things.
I don't think you can have intention without consciousness, and which came first is not known, to my knowledge.
I think will is probably one manifestation of consciousness.

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OK, but your thought experiment is like a self-fulfilling prophecy: You have two persons who are exactly identical, and then you ask if they can be different. And of course they can't. Your construct doesn't allow it: They have to be exactly the same. Can they sit down and reach different conclusions? No, they can't because even different conclusions are something that they'll experience and in your thought experiment that is as impossible as random mutations that would make their genetic makeup different. You have eliminated the possibility in your thought experiment. That's why it's wrong from the very beginning.
Well, they could be argued to possibly be different. It just requires a supernatural explanation - different souls, divine intervention, or something like that.

Just because a thought experiment leads to only one conclusion doesn't make it wrong, either. It just means that the thought experiment solidly demonstrates the point.

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Yes, but again the most common cause of decisions is people's intentions, and they aren't determined by Newtonian or even Einsteinian laws. You know where the Earth is going to be in a thousand years in relation to the other major celestial bodies in our vicinity if nothing interfers with their orbits. In so far, you could say that it's pre-determined. You don't know what Trump is going to Tweet tomorrow. (But it's a pretty good guess that it will be something stupid.)
"It can't be predicted with current technology, or even technology we'd ever be able to create" is a different thing from the position that thoughts, feelings, and behavior are actually free from causation.

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In discussions like this, I usually point out the following, which is not a thought experiment. It's reality:
We know from physics and chemistry how matter behaves, but if matter is organized into the shape of a squirrel or a sparrow, it no longer behaves the way you would expect matter to behave: The squirrel runs up the tree, away from the centre of gravity.
And if matter is organized into the shape of a human being, it may consider that running up trees the whole time may be a waste of time and energy.
A human being still obeys the laws of nature, but it doesn't act the way matter is supposed to act according to those laws. That's why we leave those fields of science behind and move on to medicine, psychology and the social sciences when we want to know why people do what they do.
Yes, that which happens in the world of minds, with memories, emotions, beliefs, instincts, etc is very different from things like rocks interacting with gravity.

That does not mean that minds and what happens within them are uncaused, though.
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Old 13th June 2019, 09:11 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I think what she's getting at is (at least that is how I myself view this) that if you were born -- Godwin alert !! -- if you were born with Hitler's exact circumstances and Hitler's exact genetics, then you couldn't have acted any differently. You too, then, would have done the exact same things as Hitler.

And that's because there isn't a separate "you" at all! Hitler's body-mind complex is all that he was. Much like a car, except a great deal more complex (and also not quite "designed" by someone).

Sure, this is not a big deal, in as much as it follows trivially and tautologically from a materialistic paradigm, as I said earlier. But where this idea is useful, is it lets us view even a Hitler without any need for "punishment" per se.

So, if we caught hold of Hitler, then we'd see what we'd need to do to correct his particular mental kinks. If we couldn't correct those kinks adequately, then we'd see what we'd need to do keep society from him. And we'd also see what we'd need to do to build in ample deterrence to prevent future Hitlers and future minions of Hitler. But what we wouldn't need -- not even for a Hitler -- is "punishment", per se, as the word "punishment" is generally understood, not even for his particular heinous crimes.

Seeing things in this perspective appears healthy to me, both at the individual level, and at the level of society. So much less baggage that way.
Exactly!
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Old 13th June 2019, 09:18 AM   #115
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
The universe does seem to have an origin, a beginning, and if it was deterministic all the complexity we see must have been present from the start. It must have been inherent in the rules and configuration from the moment of whatever quantum fluctuation caused the whole thing to exist.

This seems unlikely, where did all the complexity come from?
I'm not sure the complexity was necessarily always there - just the potential for it.

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Seems weird to have all this complexity around and brains making choices if choosing was not important.
Free will rules!
Choosing is important, even if what you ultimately choose is caused and not free.
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Old 13th June 2019, 10:43 AM   #116
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Your argument is circular. You are taking it as a given that we exist in the universe as part of immutable spacetime and that since we are performing complex behaviors we need complex brains in order to do so. It does not explain where the complex behaviour or the brains come from.
Not really, no. I don't think it's immutable myself, but even if it were, it would be as a chain of cause-effect events, not in the same way as the script for the next Star Wars movie. The latter will happen regardless of whether you cast someone else in the role, or move the action to another place, or cut some event in between to save some budget. The former won't. You cast another creature with more or less brains in the same role, and the chain goes in a completely other way from there.

But basically all I'm saying is that you still got that brain because of evolution, not because of some fairy godmother. Less adapted creature X died and more adapted creature still thrived. Maybe it was predictable or maybe it won't, but you still can't just skip steps there.


Or to put it otherwise, you just seem to be confused about the time axis. It still flows in one direction, regardless of whether the actions are predictable or not.

You can say that in a METAPHORICAL sense it's as if something already happened from the start, but that's just metaphor. In the real world, it didn't ACTUALLY happen from the start. Or to use your exact quote, "whatever you end up deciding has, in a sense, already happened" again is so only in a METAPHORICAL sense. No, in the real world it didn't already happen. Confusing metaphor for reality is the falacy of reification, nothing more.
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Old 13th June 2019, 11:00 PM   #117
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The problem there is that it seems to assume that your words and actions don't ALSO cause conditioned behaviours. E.g., that, say, Ted Bundy was conditioned by X, Y or Z in his past to kill all those women, but society deciding that it's wrong to kill would totally not also cause a difference in his behaviour.

But, regardless of whether decisions are deterministic or not, they are based on the WHOLE set of available data. Which includes how society will react to it, possible punishments or rewards, etc.

And generally, the decision taking in the brain -- which by now we can even watch in real time on MRI -- is essentially a voting process. The reasons for doing it are weighed against the reasons for not doing it.

Essentially if we all just shrug and go "poor guy, he must have been conditioned to kill those women" and let him get away with it, then he'll just do it again. Because a bunch of reasons not to do it just disappeared from that column.
Skinner affirms that familiar or social pressure determines the behaviour. Therefore a person can be influenced if he is blamed by a parent or a friend. But this is not due to moral reasoning but to personal or social influence. Therefore this personal influence can be used in more efficient ways than moral sermons.

Determinism does not imply any kind of too compassionate morality. Quite the opposite.
If either what matters is only efficacy or morality is only a weaker way to modify the behaviour, aggressive means are justified over compassionate ones. If a brutal beating is more efficient than reasoning, go and beat your son until you got tired. If cutting off the hand of the thief in a public square prevents robberies, go and cut off hands, take off eyes, heads and every else you need to.

If efficiency is the rule, there are no limits to violence. It is not a comfortable conclusion for the determinist.

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Old 14th June 2019, 12:38 AM   #118
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Well, sorta. Actually it turns out that violence may be the wrong answer, that is, unless you actually want to create a psychopath. But otherwise, sure, do what works.

I'm just not sure what difference does determinism make. The same things still work or don't work, they still really only have a probability to work, and you still can't control all variables. Whether it would be actually deterministic if you could control them all, or there's some wiggle room on top of that, it's still just an academic discussion as long as you never will be in such a position.
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Old 14th June 2019, 03:13 AM   #119
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, sorta. Actually it turns out that violence may be the wrong answer, that is, unless you actually want to create a psychopath. But otherwise, sure, do what works.

I'm just not sure what difference does determinism make. The same things still work or don't work, they still really only have a probability to work, and you still can't control all variables. Whether it would be actually deterministic if you could control them all, or there's some wiggle room on top of that, it's still just an academic discussion as long as you never will be in such a position.
Applying euthanasia to mentally deficient persons is not academic. Hitler did it. Condemning to 500 lashes to alcoholics is not academic. Taliban did it. And they work: mental deficient persons were no longer a burden to the State and the alcoholism rate in Afganistan under talibans was one of the lowest in the world.

Should a determinist defend them? Since they are more effective than any measure taken under moral considerations...

"The same things still work or don't work, they still really only have a probability to work"
This sound just the opposite to determinism.

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Old 14th June 2019, 03:53 AM   #120
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Applying euthanasia to mentally deficient persons is not academic. Hitler did it. Condemning to 500 lashes to alcoholics is not academic. Taliban did it. And they work: mental deficient persons were no longer a burden to the State and the alcoholism rate in Afganistan under talibans was one of the lowest in the world.

Should a determinist defend them? Since they are more effective than any measure taken under moral considerations...
The presupposition there is that they actually are more effective, but that would first have to be proven. Otherwise the whole argument is unsound.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
"The same things still work or don't work, they still really only have a probability to work"
This sound just the opposite to determinism.
Why? It can be deterministic for the variables you control, but those you don't control can still cause deviations.

Take a medieval crossbowman for example. There is nothing random in how a crossbow works. It applies the same force in the same direction every time, and everything involved is WAY too large for any quantum randomness to come into play. Yet if you can't control the wind, variations in bolt mass, slight deformations of the quills or head, etc, and you can get spectacularly random results. I can link you to someone describing an actual shot with a swallowtail head bolt (hunting bolt, basically) that went down, then sideways, then up again along the flight path.

It's still deterministic from the point of view of the forces involved, but where on the target it will actually hit, if at all, is as good as random for the subset of variables you even know, much less control.

Same with education, really. Unless you lock that person up in a room where you can control all they see or hear, 24 hours a day, there will be a pseudo-randomness in the results you get for the same action. Just because there are a lot of variables you don't even know, much less control.
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