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Author Topic:   free will
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 37 (27890)
12-26-2002 9:00 AM


currently there are a few threads having to do with the mind, free will, and determinism/randomness... some say that if the material is all that exists, free will is impossible (strict determinism, ie. states of affairs are contingent upon prior antecedent states etc)... some say that quantum mechanics coupled with chaos theory is the only way free will can exist
i say that any naturalistic (determinism OR quantum theory) system, if true and if the whole truth, results in no free will... if there isn't some reason apart from the natural universe for man to truly have free will, free will is an illusion
i think most would agree that materiality alone results in determinism thus no free will... but why should a quantum view result in no free will?.. the reason is, to my way of thinking, free will is a casuality in either case... quantum theory merely replaces determinism with randomness...
whether our actions today are a result of an immediately prior state of affairs or whether they are purely random, they are not free... we can't be said to have a real choice in either case... if no real choice, no accountability for our actions...
so in both views of the universe, morality doesn't exist, ethics don't exist... man individually and corporately either reacts to prior states of affairs else acts according to purely random movements of particles at the quantum level...
love doesn't exist, truth doesn't exist, in either universe... they are both merely functions of random interactions of sub-atomic particles else they are contingent upon some cause
it seems to me that the person who affirms free will in any naturalistic, material universe has a serious problem, internally, in her worldview

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by Mr. Davies, posted 12-26-2002 9:58 AM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 37 (27892)
12-26-2002 9:06 AM


DELETED DUPLICATE POST BY EDIT
[This message has been edited by forgiven, 12-26-2002]

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by forgiven, posted 12-26-2002 9:27 AM forgiven has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 37 (27896)
12-26-2002 9:27 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by forgiven
12-26-2002 9:06 AM


Originally posted by joz:
A system in chaotic motion is completely unpredictable. Given the configuration of the system at any one point in time, it is impossible to predict with certainty how it will end up at a later point in time.
Does that help?
somewhat, but it still leaves me wondering whether the statement is true or whether it's only true given our inadequate interpretation of the data... iow, it says "..at any one point in time.." prediction is impossible for "..a later point in time.."
but we do "predict" the weather from one PIT to another, just not perfectly... does it follow that imperfection of prediction is due to the impossibility of that prediction? why can't we look forward to a time when our interpretation of the data makes such prediction not only possible but commonplace?
Originally posted by joz:
And while it also says...
These systems are called chaotic. The unpredictability of chaotic systems comes about from their sensitivity to their initial conditions. Two identical chaotic systems that area set in motion with slightly different initial conditions can quickly exhibit motions that are very different.
What do you think billions upon billions of random interactions at the quantum level will do two two identical systems with identiccal starting conditions?
now here's where i have a slight problem with the whole idea (actually i have rather large problems but maybe we'll work our way to them)... if, as you believe, our current state of affairs is caused by random interactions of sub-atomic particles on the quantum level, why isn't our *next* state of affairs contingent upon this one?
do you see the problem here? the very fact of randomness (if it exists) doesn't negate casuality... whatever state one finds himself in seems contingent upon the state one *found* himself in immmediately prior... using randomness to explain our present state while denying the necessity of an immediately prior state seems somewhat misleading

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by forgiven, posted 12-26-2002 9:06 AM forgiven has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by joz, posted 12-26-2002 9:55 AM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 6 of 37 (27902)
12-26-2002 10:06 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Mr. Davies
12-26-2002 9:58 AM


^^^^
perhaps you should start a new topic that incorporates your concerns regarding God and your possible misconceptions/misunderstandings

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Mr. Davies, posted 12-26-2002 9:58 AM Mr. Davies has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Mr. Davies, posted 12-26-2002 10:23 AM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 37 (27905)
12-26-2002 10:28 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by joz
12-26-2002 9:55 AM


Originally posted by joz:
That view would be fine if the those random events happened, disordered the system and then stopped and let purely deterministic forces take over, the problem is that the random interactions still occur so there will always be some random influence, in most real world systems statistical aproximations are very good at describing macroscopic effects and hence there is to a large extent causality in the macroscopic world, however other systems are chaotic and small fluctuations lead to increasingly unpredictable patterns...
But the point is that the disordering randomness of QM can`t be switched off to let classical physics etc take over.....
let's imagine three temporally consecutive states of affairs.. we'll call them, strangely enough, A, B, and C with C being the latest state...
what i read from your posts is that state C obtains with or without state B having obtained... or state A, for that matter... this very second there is a state of affairs in your life such that the immediately prior state of affairs was not necessary... now i could be wrong here but it seems to me that your present state of affairs is either contingent, necessary, or impossible... are there other alternatives?
you (and q.t.) assert that your present soa is not contingent (it has no antecedent cause), thus it must be either necessary or impossible... it can't be impossible for it exists, thus it must be necessary... yet if this state is necessary then so was state B... however, we see above that there is no necessity for any state of affairs... how can this be?
if your present soa is in fact necessary, it could not be random... moreover, no preceding states of affairs could have been other than they were... being necessary, there was no freedom of choice/will involved either in your present soa OR in the temporal progression, and by extension preceding states, leading to it
how is a necessary occurance undetermined? the best you can say, it seems, is that this state of affairs is contingent upon randomness, which is exactly what i said in my first post
it appears that in a material universe, free will is impossible, and it appears this is so whether we adopt a cause/effect or quantum model

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by joz, posted 12-26-2002 9:55 AM joz has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by joz, posted 12-26-2002 4:08 PM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 37 (27907)
12-26-2002 10:44 AM


i have moved to here joz's reply to a post in the now-closed 'true or false' thread
Originally posted by joz:
(Of course that doesn't make the universe totally predictable because as I mentioned before Chaos theory rears its head)....
forgiven:
now as for this part, why do you need chaos theory to account for our lack of predictive ability? isn't the random nature of q.t. enough?
joz:
Not entirely, because there are so many interactions on the quantum level their macroscopic effects can be described fairly well statistically...
What Chaos theory says is that certain systems are increadibly susceptible to minute changes in conditions so that fairly good statistical description can`t help you predict what will happen terribly far into the future...
remember joz, i'm simply trying to understand some things... when you say (emphasis mine) "...on the quantum level their macroscopic effects can be described fairly well statistically..." did you in fact mean to use the word "effects" and if so does it presuppose a cause?
on a deeper level it appears to my untrained eye that if chaos theory grants the necessity of changes in conditions for "certain systems," and if these conditions themselves are necessary for whatever state of affairs obtains at the time, there is far less chaos in the theory than one would be led to believe

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by joz, posted 12-26-2002 4:24 PM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 37 (27918)
12-26-2002 12:32 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by joz
12-26-2002 11:52 AM


quote:
Originally posted by joz:
I'm getting a little hint of an idea that this is ultimately going to come down to how we define free will, I'm using a fairly open definition basicaly equivalent to not predetermined, Would you argue with that definition? I guess what I`m saying is that I reckon that QM chaos theory et al lead to situations where causality breaks down and that these situations give the impression of free will, which is an anthropisation of the indeterminant nature of certain aspects of our universe.....
I've got a feeling that we are going to have to do the whole define free will thing before we can go on....

how're these? i added quantum mechanics in also, not as a definition but to show where it differes from classical physics... in the meantime, did you decide whether or not your present state of affairs is contingent, necessary, or impossible? or did you come up with another alternative to those three? i'd really appreciate a reply to my previous posts when you have time
Freedom:
The human capacity to act (or not to act) as we choose or prefer, without any external compulsion or restraint. Freedom in this sense is usually regarded as a presupposition of moral responsibility: the actions for which I may be praised or blamed, rewarded or punished, are just those which I perform freely.
The further question of whether choice the volition or will to act is itself free or subject to ordinary causality raises the issue of determinism in human conduct.
Determinism:
Belief that, since each momentary state of the world entails all of its future states, it must be possible (in principle) to offer a causal explanation for everything that happens. When applied to human behavior, determinism is sometimes supposed to be incompatible with the freedom required for moral responsibility.
Precepts Found in Classical Physics Denied by Quantum Mechanics:
The principle of space and time, i.e., physical objects (systems) exist separately in space and time in such a way that they are localizable and countable, and physical processes (the evolution of systems) take place in space and time
The principle of causality, i.e., every event has a cause
The principle of determination, i.e., every later state of a system is uniquely determined by any earlier state
The principle of continuity, i.e., all processes exhibiting a difference between the initial and the final state have to go through every intervening state
The principle of the conservation of energy, i.e., the energy of a closed system can be transformed into various forms but is never gained, lost or destroyed.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by joz, posted 12-26-2002 11:52 AM joz has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 16 of 37 (27937)
12-26-2002 6:32 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by joz
12-26-2002 4:08 PM


Originally posted by joz:
Right here we go...
Basically the way I see it if you have a complete set of starting conditions A you cannot predict that a set B will be next instead what you have is a set of solutions (B1,B2....Bn where n is a pretty darn tooting big number for any system much more complex than a couple of particles interacting)....
Because the interactions on the quantum level are essentialy random one cannot predict which of these possible Bx solutions will come to pass, so while the set of conditions A effects the set of possible solutions B it does not predetermine which of those outcomes will occur....
Obviously the more intervals ellapse between A and nX (the nth set of conditions) the harder it is to predict what nX will be as each of Bn leads to Cnm leads to Dnmp etc.....
So what does that make it?
see, the word "essentially" throws me... it's like the word "basically"...outside of that, it's not that i don't understand what you say it's that i'm still left wondering if condition B1, B2, etc are: contingent, necessary, or impossible... this is the question you haven't yet addressed...
see joz, even for those who say the answer to everything is found in the q.t. can't escape the fact that it's *still* material-based which means there can be no such thing as free will...
contrary to your belief that God and free will can't co-exist, free will is only possible given a transcendental explanation...
if there isn't more than nature, than the material, nihilism is the only rational choice, and even it has its own internal problems

This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by joz, posted 12-26-2002 4:08 PM joz has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 17 of 37 (27938)
12-26-2002 6:52 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by joz
12-26-2002 4:24 PM


Originally posted by joz:
quote:
Originally posted by forgiven:
remember joz, i'm simply trying to understand some things... when you say (emphasis mine) "...on the quantum level their macroscopic effects can be described fairly well statistically..." did you in fact mean to use the word "effects" and if so does it presuppose a cause?
In that quantum events without causality per se have effects that we can observe (casimir effect etc) yes but thats an effect observed at the macroscopic level caused by an event on the quantum level...
Also "...on the quantum level their macroscopic effects can be described fairly well statistically..." has quite a different meaning than "because there are so many interactions on the quantum level their macroscopic effects can be described fairly well statistically..."
I appreciate that you were just quoteing an abreviated portion but it may be that you attributed to much significance to one part of the sentence without looking at the meaning of the whole thing....
yes, i didn't mean to quote out of context but it appears i may have done so... my apologies... i don't know what "..without causality per se.." means exactly... it boils down to whether or not your present state of affairs is contingent upon a prior state, or whether it is a necessary state in and of itself
quote:
forgiven:
on a deeper level it appears to my untrained eye that if chaos theory grants the necessity of changes in conditions for "certain systems," and if these conditions themselves are necessary for whatever state of affairs obtains at the time, there is far less chaos in the theory than one would be led to believe
Yep two identical chaotic systems with identical starting conditions and no random factors will develop in the same way, however as soon as the system contains some random elements the two will diverge fairly quickly, QM provides just such a random element...
but is it truly random? for it to be so it must not be contingent *at all* on any prior state... that doesn't leave many options as to why this particular state of affairs exists...

This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by joz, posted 12-26-2002 4:24 PM joz has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 18 of 37 (27939)
12-26-2002 6:59 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by joz
12-26-2002 4:41 PM


Originally posted by joz:
See this is where I think it gets interesting, it is possible for a system (lets say a whole lot of neurons with a particular set of synapses under a particular stimulus) to have prefered outcomes, thus if one of us were to fall and gash our knee we might say "Jesus H christ" or "dammit" or even in an extreme situation "F@#!" we are not very likely to yell out "yippee", "woohooo" or the like even though we could, basically could you explain why you chose one of the likely utterences over all others? I can understand that F'given may avoid using the lords name in vain, but can you explain the one choice over all others?
So I don`t think we really do choose I think that free will is an anthropisation of a matrix of biased yet random inputs/outputs which is our brain.....
Comments...
ok, i'll buy that you think that for the reasons you say... in another thread you'd said free will can't exist if God exists, and now you appear to be saying free will can't exist if he doesn't exist... therefore, free will can't exist period... all is determined, whether we describe it as cause/effect or randomness... in the end they're just words used to describe our utter lack of knowledge of how the universe "works"
will you admit that the christian worldview, even with all the problems you think it contains, is at least internally consistent? if i can show that your worldview must embrace nihilism, and if i can further show that nihilism is inherently irrational, will you admit that my worldview should be looked at closer? that it might be superior to the one you currently embrace?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by joz, posted 12-26-2002 4:41 PM joz has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by joz, posted 12-27-2002 1:00 AM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 19 of 37 (27946)
12-26-2002 8:28 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Mr. Davies
12-26-2002 10:23 AM


quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Davies:
For the thread I saw that bloomed after I responded to you, I think you want to show that the causality of the Universe is so improbable that you need a creator.
ummm noooo i don't think i've ever entertained such a thought, much less posted it... we're actually talking about the possibility of free will given two naturalistic views of how the universe works, classic physics and quantum mechanics
quote:
Well, I'd say that the arguemnet is flawed as if you think everything needs a cause, then so does your god. If you god is supernatural, it is still someplace else, even if you call it heaven. Well, where did this "someplace else" come from?
your first sentence is an assertion without argument, therefore i'll just ignore it... as for the rest, i see no problem with a supernatural God existing supernaturally wheresoever he chooses

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Mr. Davies, posted 12-26-2002 10:23 AM Mr. Davies has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 21 of 37 (27959)
12-27-2002 6:22 AM


hey guys, this isn't a debate between joz and me, this is open to everyone so jump right in... the tone of joz's posts tells me that this subject interests him as much as it does me, and i think both of us are willing to listen to what others have to say
joz, i'm on my way to work and will try to get to your post this evening... meanwhile, i need to think on your definition of free will... it seems almost viciously circular at first glance, but i'm on my first cup of coffee *G*

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by Mr. Davies, posted 12-27-2002 8:48 AM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 23 of 37 (28002)
12-27-2002 6:35 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by Mr. Davies
12-27-2002 8:48 AM


quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Davies:
Why?
This is an exercise in "What if?".
Is there "freewill", I say yes? I will also say that we do not need any god to give it to us.
What more is there to say?

for you mr. davies, nothing...

This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by Mr. Davies, posted 12-27-2002 8:48 AM Mr. Davies has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 24 of 37 (28004)
12-27-2002 8:22 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by joz
12-27-2002 1:00 AM


quote:
Originally posted by joz:
Thats sort of what I was getting at back in the post where I raised the question of how you define free will, under your definition I would have to say there isn`t any as your definition (correct me if I get this wrong) relies on our thoughts not having a material source....
hmmmm... i don't think the definition i gave (from a dictionary of philosophical terms) said that... i think thoughts may or may not have material sources... depends on the thought i guess... here's the definition again
The human capacity to act (or not to act) as we choose or prefer, without any external compulsion or restraint. Freedom in this sense is usually regarded as a presupposition of moral responsibility: the actions for which I may be praised or blamed, rewarded or punished, are just those which I perform freely.
if all our choices are caused by another agent, we don't have free will... in a material universe there can be no choice since my choices are dependent on an immediately prior state of affairs... as i tried to show, substituting quantum mechanics (or randomness) for classical physics doesn't solve the problem... our choices would still be contingent or necessary, (i leave impossible off)... unless you can come up with another alternative
here's a quote you might find interesting, since it's from a world-class physicist who also happens to be a materialist, paul davies:
Left to its own devices, an atom cannot make a choice. The problems seem insurmountable. The new physics undoubtedly gives a new slant to the longstanding enigma of free will and determinism, but it does not solve it. The quantum theory undermines determinism, but brings its own crop of difficulties concerning freedom, not least of which is the possibility of multiple realities. The theory of relativity offers us a universe extended in time as well as space, but still leaves the door open for some sort of freedom of action.1
i personally think davies underestimates the degree to which q.t. undermines determinism, as i've tried to show
quote:
Under my definition "free will" does exsist, its the anthropisation of the inherrant unpredictability of our world due to QM and chaos theory...
sorry, i don't follow this... is this a way to introduce something like emergent properties into the discussion? that's ok if you want to do that, i just have to make a mental shift... for the sake of argument let's say the universe "works" on the quantum model... now imagine a state of affairs in your life, a choice you may have made today... was that choice, that state, contingent upon *anything* immediately prior to it?
quote:
The point is in my view random/uncaused events don`t merely affect the thoughts they are part of the thinking process, thus thoughts having random/uncaused components are not determined by the starting conditions though they may be biased toward certain outcomes by the pattern of synapses/stimuli encountered by the individual...
are your thoughts material then? in another thread robin asked about a house he once lived in... he created an image of that house in his mind... was that image material? was it made of energy? matter? was it suspended in time and space? this is an important question, i think...
quote:
While our understanding of physics may improve into the future the fact is that QM, chaos etc are very good descriptive tools, IMHO it isn`t that we see things as random/uncaused because of any serious lack in our science but because it is actually random/uncaused, sure the models may need some tweaking but they are as models go pretty damm good...
i agree, they are good as models go... but are they sufficient? how does *any* materialistic view of the universe account for things like laws of logic?
quote:
I'm willing to grant that those who believe in the xtian paradigm honestly feel that it is internally consistent, however I can`t see the 2 (free will and an omniscient god) as anything but contradictory (for the reasons I gave earlier, omniscient god = predetermination etc)...
i've shown how predestination and free will are reconciled and will be glad to make another attempt... however, my worldview doesn't merely seem to be consistent, it is... i can account for things not suspended in time and space... the materialist can't... i can account for free will, the naturalist can't
quote:
And certainly you should feel free to explain why nihilism should be the logical outcome of the paradigm I subscribe to, but I think that you`ll have an uphill battle...
until you reach the point in your thinking where you can admit the possibility that even q.m. doesn't solve the problem of a necessary prior antecedent state of affairs, i doubt i can convince you that nihilism is the logical outgrowth of your paradigm... but if there is no free will in a materialistic universe, you'll have to make a decision... you'll have to either admit atoms can not only freely choose nothing, they can't rationally argue whether they should freely choose anything, and embrace nihilism, else you'll have to examine worldviews consistent with what you know to be true of the universe
1 - Paul Davies, God and the New Physics, Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, NY, 1983, p. 141.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by joz, posted 12-27-2002 1:00 AM joz has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by forgiven, posted 12-31-2002 6:45 AM forgiven has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 25 of 37 (28179)
12-31-2002 6:45 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by forgiven
12-27-2002 8:22 PM


bump

This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by forgiven, posted 12-27-2002 8:22 PM forgiven has not replied

  
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