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Tags free will , predeterminism

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Old 19th December 2010, 06:03 PM   #41
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I was predetermined to like this thread, so I subscribed to it.
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Old 19th December 2010, 07:25 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
Just wondering...
Conservation of information, specifically in the physics of information theory and storage. Where do you store the information about what's going to happen?
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Old 19th December 2010, 09:18 PM   #43
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I seem to remember that Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow makes a point in The Grand Design that free will is not really free, but because of the almost endless outcomes that a complex being such as human can produce. We will think of it as free will, but we are really just choosing between a limited number (although that number is huge beyond our comprehension) of possible choices.
I don't have the book besides right now, so I cannot remember the exact wording. You will have to look that up on your own. Even better read the whole book if you haven't already. It gives a fantastic insight into modern theoretical physics.
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Old 20th December 2010, 04:30 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by tkmikkelsen View Post
I seem to remember that Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow makes a point in The Grand Design that free will is not really free, but because of the almost endless outcomes that a complex being such as human can produce. We will think of it as free will, but we are really just choosing between a limited number (although that number is huge beyond our comprehension) of possible choices.
I don't have the book besides right now, so I cannot remember the exact wording. You will have to look that up on your own. Even better read the whole book if you haven't already. It gives a fantastic insight into modern theoretical physics.
Which would then seem to make one wonder, how much does it really matter whether or not it's "really" free or just "seems" so, insofar as it relates to how we should live our lives?
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Old 20th December 2010, 04:52 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by mike3 View Post
Which would then seem to make one wonder, how much does it really matter whether or not it's "really" free or just "seems" so, insofar as it relates to how we should live our lives?
That is pretty much the conclusion the Hawking and Mlodinow also comes to.
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Old 20th December 2010, 05:08 AM   #46
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I found where it is that Hawking and Mlodinow speaks about free will.

Quote:
How can one tell if a being has free will? If one encounters an alien, how can one tell if it is just a robot or it has a mind of its own?
The behavior of a robot would be completely determined, unlike that of a being with free will. Thus one could in principle detect a robot as a being whose actions can be predicted. As we said in Chapter 2, this may be impossibly difficult if the being is large and complex. We cannot even solve exactly the equations for three or more particles interacting with each other. Since an alien the size of a human would contain about a thousand trillion trillion particles even if the alien where a robot, it would be impossible to solve the equations and predict what it would do. We would therefore have to say that any complex being has free will - not as a fundamental feature, but as an effective theory, an admission of our inability to do the calculations that would enable us to predict its actions.
Straight from page 178 of The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow.
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Old 7th June 2019, 10:19 AM   #47
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Maybe

Actually I think there is. The idea of predeterminism stems from spacetime by Minkowski/ Einstein. The idea is that it is a single construct that humans happen to be a part of, the concept is that each person is like a line on the side of a stack of papers, and as you flip through, the line does not change, it is predetermined where it is as you flip. That much I know. However, there is a logical criticism, that may or may not be true and it goes as follows: What is the fundamental difference between a line made of graphite on the side of a stack of papers, and a human in s fourth dimensional construct? The ability to control energy. Graphite is entirely stagnant. In contrast, humans have free flowing electrons in our brains that allow us to take action. If that graphite had energy, and the ability to use it, it would be able to move around the stack of papers at will. Predeterminism only affecting stagnant objects means that humans MAY have choices in the matter. Further, due to our knowledge that time is often warped, we know that it is malleable, thus power and the ability to control it may have an affect over time.
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Old 7th June 2019, 11:00 AM   #48
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I'd just like to throw this in:

While the macroscopic world works mainly based on averages (e.g., you can calculate the trajectory of a cannonball even if the individual particles in it are impossible to pin down in both position and velocity) QM effects CAN occasionally cause spectacularly massive effects in the macroscopic world. E.g., the haemophilia that Queen Victoria's descendants inherited was most likely due to a one off DNA break in the sperm cell that produced her. That's fundamentally a quantum effect, but the effects included being one of the causes for the Soviet Revolution, and three quarters of a century worth of communism.

Now I'm not proposing anything a la Schrödinger's Cat being both alive and dead. That quantum effect was "measured" when that particular atom in the DNA broke. But the effect can kill the cat anyway, so to speak.

Now while this may not have huge implications for assigning culpability post-facto, it ruins predeterminism in another way. Let me illustrate.

Let's say I had a time (and relative dimension in space) machine and, for reasons of my own, decided to go back to the year of 1800 to Zwettl in Austria, a ways NW of Vienna, and offered you a ride. It's a one time offer, and no, I'm not changing the dial to where and when YOU might want to go. I'm not The Doctor, I don't take requests.

Would you kill Maria Anna Schicklgruber, age 5 at the time, who happens to be the grandmother of Adolf Hitler, and is within range if you can get a horse? Think about it. You have the one in a million years chance to go back and prevent one of the most evil people, one who caused more death and suffering than anyone before him, from being even born. Would you use that chance?

Well, if the future is random, at that point you don't even know if Hitler will be born in that timeline, much less whether he'll end up being the guy from our history.
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Old 7th June 2019, 01:22 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by DaveThomasNMSR View Post
The September meeting of NMSR featured James Thiel on "The Nonexistence of Free Will and Merit."

It's written up here.

Thiel's basic argument is that no functional relationship exists between Free Will and Merit, because neither exists.

He concludes that

Quote:
"The nonvoluntary origin of desires and infinite regression demonstrate the nonexistence of choice. There exists no capacity to do otherwise and no capacity to have done otherwise. Predestination does not exist since uncaused events equate with fundamental unpredictability. No one merits or deserves anything. Nothing is anyone’s fault or to anyone’s credit. ..."

Cheers, Dave

Nobody actually believes that there is no free will. It's a little like Christianity: People claim that they believe in God and Paradise, and yet they all cry at funerals and do whatever they can to postpone dying.
When somebody in this forum claims that there is no free will, I usually ask them, "What makes you think so?", and they invariably tell me their reasons for thinking so, which is the sensible way to answer my question. It never fails. Nobody has ever said, "Well, that's the way the neurons in my brain happened to work today."

Thiel's basic mistake seems to be that he confuses free will with omnipotence: "The nonvoluntary origin of desires" has nothing to do with an absence of free will. It just means that some things are not for you to decide. The failure of gay conversion therapy, for instance, only disproves an example of wishful thinking. It's still up to the gay persons if they want to believe in gay conversion therapy and subject themselves to it or not.
It's not very different from other kinds of wishful thinking: You may wish for Santa Claus to bring you a pony next Christmas, but it's beyond you and your free will to decide that he does. However, it's still your decision if you want to believe in Santa or not.
You also can't decide if it's going to rain or not. Deciding to bring an umbrella, just in case, or deciding to stay at home is up to you.
Thiel's alleged "nonexistence of choice" is ********.
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Old 8th June 2019, 06:06 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I'd just like to throw this in:

While the macroscopic world works mainly based on averages (e.g., you can calculate the trajectory of a cannonball even if the individual particles in it are impossible to pin down in both position and velocity) QM effects CAN occasionally cause spectacularly massive effects in the macroscopic world. E.g., the haemophilia that Queen Victoria's descendants inherited was most likely due to a one off DNA break in the sperm cell that produced her. That's fundamentally a quantum effect, but the effects included being one of the causes for the Soviet Revolution, and three quarters of a century worth of communism.

Now I'm not proposing anything a la Schrödinger's Cat being both alive and dead. That quantum effect was "measured" when that particular atom in the DNA broke. But the effect can kill the cat anyway, so to speak.

Now while this may not have huge implications for assigning culpability post-facto, it ruins predeterminism in another way. Let me illustrate.

Let's say I had a time (and relative dimension in space) machine and, for reasons of my own, decided to go back to the year of 1800 to Zwettl in Austria, a ways NW of Vienna, and offered you a ride. It's a one time offer, and no, I'm not changing the dial to where and when YOU might want to go. I'm not The Doctor, I don't take requests.

Would you kill Maria Anna Schicklgruber, age 5 at the time, who happens to be the grandmother of Adolf Hitler, and is within range if you can get a horse? Think about it. You have the one in a million years chance to go back and prevent one of the most evil people, one who caused more death and suffering than anyone before him, from being even born. Would you use that chance?

Well, if the future is random, at that point you don't even know if Hitler will be born in that timeline, much less whether he'll end up being the guy from our history.
Speaking for myself, there's no way I'd kill Maria Anna Schicklgruber.

Because in 1940 my father and mother met at the Seaplane base in Pembroke Dock, both being corporals in the RAF at the time.

Kill Maria and I don't exist. And I can't go back to kill her.
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Old 8th June 2019, 07:50 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
Just wondering...

There's no way to test it because the entirety of the universe throughout all of time is only one data point. We'd have to run the universe over again from the same starting conditions to run a valid test and we can't do that. In fact, by definition we will never be able to do that. In order to run the universe over, we'd have to be outside the universe and, by definition, we can't get there from here.
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Old 8th June 2019, 09:08 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
When somebody in this forum claims that there is no free will, I usually ask them, "What makes you think so?", and they invariably tell me their reasons for thinking so, which is the sensible way to answer my question. It never fails. Nobody has ever said, "Well, that's the way the neurons in my brain happened to work today."
What you're thinking IS how your neurons are behaving, and there is a "why" behind both.
Everything is caused.

If you stub your toe badly, you'll be thinking about how it hurts. Your thoughts are pretty clearly caused there. All the other things you think are more or less the same, just usually more multifactorial and nuanced.
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Old 8th June 2019, 11:23 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
Just wondering...
I am not sure what the question is. It seems to me that there are many questions in one.
I suppose that the question refers to our current state of our knowledge.
I suppose that the question is about the totality of universe and every thing in particular.
The simplest answer is "we don't know".

Many people misunderstand the principle of causality that says that everything has a cause. They think that it is a description of facts. It is not. It is a rule of thinking. This is a condition for knowing. It works in every field of human knowledge, but has some exceptions as every rule has.

There are two main fields of exception: quantum mechanics and human behaviour. This doesn't means that the principle of causality is not used in both fields. When a scientist throws an electron at a plate through a hole he knows that the electron will impact on the plate. Forcibly. But the behaviour of an electron is not predictable in other cases. Scientists say this is because reality is random. According to our current level of knowledge, of course. We must not forget that the scientific concept of reality sometimes changes. We also need to remember that even in quantum mechanics the principle of causality works. In its own way, but it works.

Human behaviour is more complex. Here the principle of causality also works. A psychiatrist ever looks for the causes of an abnormal behaviour. But the exceptions are more frequent than in the sciences of nature. We don't know why. Perhaps the nature of brain is not determined. Or perhaps we have not the appropriate tools to examine the brain.

The result of this is that we are dualist in some sense: in the common life we behave like we were free and seek the causes of our behaviour as we were determined.

Because we don't know what we are.
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Old 8th June 2019, 11:36 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post

While the macroscopic world works mainly based on averages (e.g., you can calculate the trajectory of a cannonball even if the individual particles in it are impossible to pin down in both position and velocity) QM effects CAN occasionally cause spectacularly massive effects in the macroscopic world. E.g., the haemophilia that Queen Victoria's descendants inherited was most likely due to a one off DNA break in the sperm cell that produced her. That's fundamentally a quantum effect, but the effects included being one of the causes for the Soviet Revolution, and three quarters of a century worth of communism.
(...)

Well, if the future is random, at that point you don't even know if Hitler will be born in that timeline, much less whether he'll end up being the guy from our history.
I don't understand. Do you mean if Queen Victoria hadn't been haemophiliac, the Russian revolution wouldn't have taken place? Or that Hitler wouldn't have been born?

I get the impression that you exaggerate the importance of events in quantum mechanics and history.
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Old 9th June 2019, 12:55 AM   #55
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Queen Victoria herself was not a haemophiliac, as women have two copies of that gene, and if one works, then it's ok. A lot of her male descendants were, among them, the Russian crown prince Alexei.

This not only was a problem by itself, as an infirm future Tsar added fuel to the discontent during WW1, but also caused the inordinate amount of influence that Rasputin ended up having on the Tsarina. Which in turn led to the dismissal of the Grand Duke Nicholas as commander of the army in WW1 for daring oppose the holy man, and the Tsar taking personal command of the army. Literally, Rasputin conveniently had a vision in which the army would not have a victory until the Tsar personally takes command of the army. And by now what Rasputin said was law for the Tsar's wife, so if Rasputin said so, the Tsar HAD to take command of the army. Which he didn't do well, adding to even more discontent back home. But more importantly, now every defeat, which Russia would have plenty, was now his responsibility. The people blamed the guy in charge of the army, when more and more people got slaughtered.

Meanwhile back home the economy was taking a nose dive, creating even more discontent, because of Rasputin got even more influence over the Tsarina while the Tsar was away to mostly ceremonially show his face to the troops. And Rasputin started using it to force replacing government officials with whichever unqualified twits his visions told him to appoint. But actually quite overtly with whoever had a sexy female relative that was willing to sleep with Rasputin. The increasingly incompetent government driving the country into the crapper, as you can guess, made even more people want to change that government. And by "more people", I mean by now EVERYONE hated that government, from peasants to upper aristocracy.

This is mainstream history really. And everything I wrote above hinged on crown prince Alexei being a haemophiliac. Which was the effect of on one random mutation in one cell, way back.

As for Hitler, different example is different
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Old 9th June 2019, 06:42 AM   #56
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Surely predeterminism is trivially, tautologically, consequent to a materialist paradigm? Given that there is literally no possible source at all for what is happening now, anywhere in this universe, that isn't caused by what has gone before? ( ... Leaving the quantum bits out of this, that is, simply because I myself don't understand it well enough, not really, to properly comment on it.)

The only difference between how "we" act, and how any simpler system acts, is just a matter of complexity. And even that difficulty is not wholly insurmountable: we do keep coming closer to understanding more and more about what makes us tick, after all, even while complete exhaustive knowledge remains beyond our reach (and probably always will).
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Old 9th June 2019, 08:25 AM   #57
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Well, to put it simply, the quantum part simply throws the randomness described above into the mix.

Basically have you read Asimov's foundation series? There the idea is that knowing enough about society right now, you could guess remarkably accurately what they'll do waaay into the future. Sorta imagine if you will that with enough detailed knowledge nowadays, someone could predict that in the year 2050 the USA will leave the NATO, and in 2060 the newly elected president Gerry Oilman will declare war on Canada for its oil.

That quantum randomness of the universe says you really can't. There are a lot of dice that haven't been rolled yet. Mind you, even in Asimov's series it eventually goes off the tracks, but it takes AGES before that happens. In RL it would probably go spectacularly off track a lot sooner.
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Old 9th June 2019, 08:36 AM   #58
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Yeah, psychohistory is a great example, I guess, although there was always an escape clause: those algos apply only to collectives, large ones at that, not individuals.

But about what you say: Can you really say for sure that quantum randomness necessarily means unpredictability for humans? After all we can predict the weather fairly well.

It's all a matter of degree after all; Who is to say we might not, some day, be able to predict human behavior with far greater certainty than we do now? In other words, how complex is too complex?
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Old 9th June 2019, 09:05 AM   #59
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Well, see the Queen Victoria example. There's no way anyone in, say, 1800 could have predicted that 100 years later prince Alexei would be a haemophiliac. And I just detailed a couple of messages ago how THAT snowballed. Asimov's psychohistory might possibly have predicted how humans would react to something like that, but not that it would happen in the first place.
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Old 9th June 2019, 10:59 AM   #60
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Yes, I enjoyed your post tracing hemophilia all the way through to its full butterfly effect. And agreed: Seldon could've worked through the effects of hemophilia. As for not predicting the incidence of hemophilia itself, sure, psychohistory couldn't: but surely sufficiently advanced genetic science, equipped with enough information about the Tsar's parents (and other antecedents), could?

In any case, I'm a bit unsure what your argument here is: are you saying quantum randomness necessarily means humans can never be predicted?

That's why I presented the example of weather systems. After all, the butterfly effect is to do, literally, with weather.

Sure, 100% prediction will always be beyond us. But we do a good enough job predicting weather systems. Not infallible, but good enough, despite randomness. And we're getting better.

Why assume we can never 'do' humans? Why assume, apparently arbitrarily, that human brain complexity is forever beyond some insurmountable threshhold?
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Old 9th June 2019, 11:07 AM   #61
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Wait, okay, I get it: you're assuming the hemophilia was caused not by mechanistic, deterministic processes, but by some truly random quantum effect. Given that assumption, I agree, your argument holds.

But my larger point, my essential objection, stands: After all, much like hemophilia, we may be unable to predict some hurricane, for those exact same quantum-randomness-causing-butterfly-effect reasons, right? Yet, while not necessarily with literally cent per cent certitude, nevertheless we do know that weather systems are by and large deterministic and more or less predictable.

We cannot say the same for humans, yet. But why assume we never will be able to? After all, the only difference is degree of complexity. Why assume that human brain complexity represents some unscalable limit?

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Old 9th June 2019, 11:48 AM   #62
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Well, there are arguments that hinge on the complexity of the human brain, but mine isn't. In fact the perfect storm in Russian politics that happened back then is quite well explained at a macro level, Asimov style. What it hinges on is the CAUSE of all that: that a DNA strand broke, and it was a very specific piece that broke, in a very specific sperm cell. And that is a quantum effect, and thus purely random.

Even if we were to assume that we can predict exactly what each person's brain will decide in each given circumstance -- although, again, we don't really need that here -- you still need to predict that that situation will actually occur. And this one was purely random.

And it's more complex than predicting a hurricane, because here there are specific pieces that influence the whole disproportionately more than everything else, and thus don't average out in the way Asimov assumed they would. There were literally billions of DNA breaks in humans even just in the year that Victoria was conceived. The average human gets a couple of thousands DNA breaks per year just from C14 decay in your DNA. But not even all of them put together came even close to averaging the one break that caused Victoria to have that broken gene.

When specific pieces affect the whole that disproportionately more than others, you can't average things out.
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Old 9th June 2019, 12:19 PM   #63
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You're right, you didn't speak of human brains at all. My bad, I kind of got carried away, there.

But then, minus the human brain complexity factor: Since random quantum factors can cause hemophilia in a human being, then surely random quantum factors can cause ... something, in a butterfly? And get it to flap its wings? Leading to a hurricane? So that that hurricane is, in theory, wholly unpredictable, at least before that particular butterfly hatched out.

Yet we're not arguing that weather systems are unpredictable, are we? So why are we saying that human affairs are necessarily indeterministic, even in theory? (If that is indeed what you're arguing!)

Leaving brain complexity out of the picture actually makes the comparison with weather systems (somewhat) more apples to apples.
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Old 9th June 2019, 12:30 PM   #64
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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.
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Old 9th June 2019, 01:49 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
What you're thinking IS how your neurons are behaving, and there is a "why" behind both.
Everything is caused.

The theme I was dealing with was free will. If I decide to think of or do something else, other neurons will be involved. I never claimed that everything isn't caused.

Quote:
If you stub your toe badly, you'll be thinking about how it hurts. Your thoughts are pretty clearly caused there.

... unless I'm preoccupied with something else. If I am, I'll probably ignore the pain. As a motorcyclist, I've encountered wasps a couple of times, one was in my helmet, the another one was on my chest. I never found out what happened to the one in my helmet. When I stopped and got it off, it had gone, and until then I was focussed on the road. The one inside my jacket stung me three times before I was able to stop and get my jacket off. Until then, I was able to ignore the pain.
At other times, I've had bruises that hurt quite a bit, yet I didn't remember how I got them - and it wasn't because I was drunk or otherwise anesthetized, but because other things had been more important at the time. You may have had similar experiences yourself. Hurting your toe may make you think of pain, but it's not at all a given.

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All the other things you think are more or less the same, just usually more multifactorial and nuanced.
No, they also aren't.
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Old 9th June 2019, 02:20 PM   #66
kellyb
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
The theme I was dealing with was free will. If I decide to think of or do something else, other neurons will be involved. I never claimed that everything isn't caused.




... unless I'm preoccupied with something else. If I am, I'll probably ignore the pain. As a motorcyclist, I've encountered wasps a couple of times, one was in my helmet, the another one was on my chest. I never found out what happened to the one in my helmet. When I stopped and got it off, it had gone, and until then I was focussed on the road. The one inside my jacket stung me three times before I was able to stop and get my jacket off. Until then, I was able to ignore the pain.
At other times, I've had bruises that hurt quite a bit, yet I didn't remember how I got them - and it wasn't because I was drunk or otherwise anesthetized, but because other things had been more important at the time. You may have had similar experiences yourself. Hurting your toe may make you think of pain, but it's not at all a given.



No, they also aren't.
If you're on the road and focused on that, your current environment combined with your survival instinct will be the cause of your focus on driving.

Either way, you say you never claimed everything isn't caused. So, do you agree that your thoughts are caused?
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Old 9th June 2019, 11:15 PM   #67
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TBH, I'm more wondering when did free will get derailed to mean "random". Because that would be the only thing that's uncaused. Of course people take decisions because of reasons. They may not be good reasons, they may not even be sane reasons, but they are reasons. The idea that you don't have free will if your decision is based on any data at all from the real world is the weakest sauce ever.

Not having free will means you have to take a certain decision, regardless of what your own reasons would be to do that or not do that. I.e., you don't actually have a choice to make. E.g., if I'm the blackjack dealer at a certain casino and I pulled an ace and a six, I MUST pull another card, regardless of whether I think it's a winning move or not. Now I pull a ten, and I MUST not hit again. It doesn't matter if I see that the player has two cards, and the face-up one is an ace, so there is a very high probability that he has more than 17 points and will probably win. I CAN'T attempt to hit again. I don't have that choice.

But more importantly, I don't see how it's relevant when the topic is predetermination. No, the future isn't predetermined in any case, because there will be a lot of purely random dice that the universe has to roll for the before situations you react to even come up or not. Whether or not your response to that stimulus would be certain, there is no telling if and when that situation will arise.

E.g., if you were a rich merchant in Russia as late as early 1904, is your future predetermined that the communists will show up to confiscate your wealth some 15 years later? No it's not, because even that late it's not predetermined that Alexei will be born, that he'll be a boy, and that he'll have a bad case of haemophilia. Depending on how those dice roll, the situations in your future may be very different.
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Old 9th June 2019, 11:18 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, there are arguments that hinge on the complexity of the human brain, but mine isn't. In fact the perfect storm in Russian politics that happened back then is quite well explained at a macro level, Asimov style. What it hinges on is the CAUSE of all that: that a DNA strand broke, and it was a very specific piece that broke, in a very specific sperm cell. And that is a quantum effect, and thus purely random.

Even if we were to assume that we can predict exactly what each person's brain will decide in each given circumstance -- although, again, we don't really need that here -- you still need to predict that that situation will actually occur. And this one was purely random.

And it's more complex than predicting a hurricane, because here there are specific pieces that influence the whole disproportionately more than everything else, and thus don't average out in the way Asimov assumed they would. There were literally billions of DNA breaks in humans even just in the year that Victoria was conceived. The average human gets a couple of thousands DNA breaks per year just from C14 decay in your DNA. But not even all of them put together came even close to averaging the one break that caused Victoria to have that broken gene.

When specific pieces affect the whole that disproportionately more than others, you can't average things out.
The inability to determine some variables of the particles that make up a ball of pool doesn't impede players from predict the movement of a ball of pool. Macro objects are not particles and Asimov is not a historian. He is a sci-fi writer.
Historians work on the same assumption than pool players. Ignorance of particular facts doesn't prevent to know the evolution of historical events at social level. Of course, the predictability of historical events is not alike Asimov's novels.

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Old 9th June 2019, 11:27 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
The inability to determine some variables of the particles that make up a ball of pool doesn't impede players from predict the movement of a ball of pool. Macro objects are not particles and Asimov is not a historian. He is a sci-fi writer.
Historians work on the same assumption than pool players. Ignorance of particular facts doesn't prevent to know the evolution of historical events at social level. Of course, the predictability of historical events is not alike Asimov's novels.
As I was saying before, the point is that in history some variables are not averaged out, the same way it would be in a pool ball. There were probably a million haemophiliacs born between 1900 and the Russian revolution, but Alexei had a decisive role in it while the rest of them put together did not. That wasn't based on the average number of haemophiliacs, but on a sample of exactly one. Only one guy had that kind of disproportionate importance. You can average a billion billion mollecules in a pool ball into something deterministic, but you can't average the flip of one coin into being deterministic.
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Old 9th June 2019, 11:33 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
What you're thinking IS how your neurons are behaving, and there is a "why" behind both.
Everything is caused.

If you stub your toe badly, you'll be thinking about how it hurts. Your thoughts are pretty clearly caused there. All the other things you think are more or less the same, just usually more multifactorial and nuanced.
You don't know if everything is caused. Science and rational knowledge work like if everything would be caused. This is a basic methodological rule: If you don't know the cause of a phenomenon look for it.
In fact, we don't know the causes of a lot of events. Specially in human behaviour. This is why in psychology we speak of motivations rather than causes.
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Old 9th June 2019, 11:43 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
As I was saying before, the point is that in history some variables are not averaged out, the same way it would be in a pool ball. There were probably a million haemophiliacs born between 1900 and the Russian revolution, but Alexei had a decisive role in it while the rest of them put together did not. That wasn't based on the average number of haemophiliacs, but on a sample of exactly one. Only one guy had that kind of disproportionate importance. You can average a billion billion mollecules in a pool ball into something deterministic, but you can't average the flip of one coin into being deterministic.
Majority of academic historians think that the "disproportionate" importance of some individuals diminish when one zooms forward the scope and focuses on social evolution instead of particular events. Probably the eruption of the socialist revolution in Russia would have happened with Rasputin or without, with Lenin or without. Circumstances were given.

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Old 9th June 2019, 11:45 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Of course people take decisions because of reasons. They may not be good reasons, they may not even be sane reasons, but they are reasons. The idea that you don't have free will if your decision is based on any data at all from the real world is the weakest sauce ever.

Not having free will means you have to take a certain decision, regardless of what your own reasons would be to do that or not do that.
No, not having free will means that the reasons alone cause whatever decision is made.

Because our thoughts and feelings are caused, our choices are also caused, in spite of the illusion of them being "free".
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Old 9th June 2019, 11:48 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
You don't know if everything is caused. Science and rational knowledge work like if everything would be caused. This is a basic methodological rule: If you don't know the cause of a phenomenon look for it.
In fact, we don't know the causes of a lot of events. Specially in human behaviour.
Just because the causes are too complex to reliably figure out does not mean or even imply that causes do not exist.
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Old 10th June 2019, 12:12 AM   #74
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
Just because the causes are too complex to reliably figure out does not mean or even imply that causes do not exist.
That the principle of causality be a rule of method instead of a description of facts doesn't entail that causes don't exist or that really everything has a cause. It means that we don't know if some events have actually a cause.
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Old 10th June 2019, 12:17 AM   #75
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
That the principle of causality be a rule of method instead of a description of facts doesn't entail that causes don't exist or that really everything has a cause. It means that we don't know if some events have actually a cause.
We don't know that magic does not exist, either. The list of things we do not technically know is almost infinitely long.
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Old 10th June 2019, 01:03 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
If you're on the road and focused on that, your current environment combined with your survival instinct will be the cause of your focus on driving.

Either way, you say you never claimed everything isn't caused. So, do you agree that your thoughts are caused?

No, I don't, and you make the same mistake again: Anything may make me think about it. A sudden, unexpected loud noise, for instance. But it is up to me what I think about it, i.e. my thoughts.
Your post is obviously what made think about the idea you present in it. But my decision to consider your idea and criticizing it the way I do isn't caused by by your post. I had several other options. I could have ignored it, for instance. That was entirely up to me. You didn't make me think what I think.
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Old 10th June 2019, 02:48 AM   #77
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Majority of academic historians think that the "disproportionate" importance of some individuals diminish when one zooms forward the scope and focuses on social evolution instead of particular events. Probably the eruption of the socialist revolution in Russia would have happened with Rasputin or without, with Lenin or without. Circumstances were given.
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.
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Old 10th June 2019, 02:49 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
No, not having free will means that the reasons alone cause whatever decision is made.

Because our thoughts and feelings are caused, our choices are also caused, in spite of the illusion of them being "free".
Mate, again, if your choices have no reasons, then they're random.
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Old 10th June 2019, 04:06 AM   #79
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
No, I don't, and you make the same mistake again: Anything may make me think about it. A sudden, unexpected loud noise, for instance. But it is up to me what I think about it, i.e. my thoughts.
Your post is obviously what made think about the idea you present in it. But my decision to consider your idea and criticizing it the way I do isn't caused by by your post. I had several other options. I could have ignored it, for instance. That was entirely up to me. You didn't make me think what I think.
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?
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Old 10th June 2019, 04:10 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Mate, again, if your choices have no reasons, then they're random.
Agreed.

I don't understand why you say "Not having free will means you have to take a certain decision, regardless of what your own reasons would be to do that or not do that" when your reasons to do or not do things are, in whole or in part, the causes of your choices, though.
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