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Objectivism and determinism

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What makes you describe me as a robot?

This is becoming ridiculous -- everything you have said indicates that you believe that you are some sort of biobot -- i.e. a robot determined to do what you do, including thinking and replying to posts here, because of the neuro-chemical reactions going on in your head. Objectivism rejects this idea. Our will is not only free from external billiard banging, it is also free of internal billiard banging. By our own choice, we do things like thinking and debating; these actions are not determined by brain states. In other words, me writing this post in reply to you is not necessitated by a neuro-chemical reaction in my brain. I freely chose to reply. One can say that the bio-mechanical neuro-chemical components of what we are made this reply possible -- i.e. we are what we are, including what we are composed of -- and it is this make-up that gives us the ability to have free will; but those mechanics did not necessitate that I reply the way I am replying. I could have done something else, but I decided to post. And once posting, I am not determined to finish it, I have the free will to stop at any time and do something else. It was not a chemical chain reaction that led me to reply in this manner. I chose to do it. And you are choosing to hold onto a contradiction. Free will is not compatible with determinism. If your thoughts and actions are necessitated by a bio-mechanical neuro-chemical process in your brain, then you do not have free will; but we do have free will, so that conception of man and his nature must be wrong based upon the evidence.

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In other words, me writing this post in reply to you is not necessitated by a neuro-chemical reaction in my brain. I freely chose to reply. One can say that the bio-mechanical neuro-chemical components of what we are made this reply possible -- i.e. we are what we are, including what we are composed of -- and it is this make-up that gives us the ability to have free will; but those mechanics did not necessitate that I reply the way I am replying. I

When does biochemistry end and free will begin? Or are you saing that there is no way to possibly ask/answer this question?

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but in general we can say that a cell is a living entity while it can grow, reproduce itself etc., using the DNA/RNA machinery that forms the basis of all life on Earth,

Nope, sorry, we are not alive. It is all just an illusion of the DNA machinery or DNA algorithm if you will. We grow and reproduce via natural processes similar to fusion and fission.

if we build a system consisting of deterministic subsystems then, no matter how complex the total system is, in a complete description it is still a deterministic system.

If we build a system consisting of inanimate parts, then no matter how complex the total system is, in a complete description it is still an inanimate system.

Due to its enormous complexity the deterministic substrate is in general hidden to us (except when it is the subject of a specialized study done by neuroscientists) and therefore the total system may surprise us with unexpected actions.

Due to its enormous complexity the inanimate substrate is in general hidden to us (except when it is the subject of a specialized study done by physicists) and therefore the total system may surprise us with unexpected actions.

Conscious thoughts (that we observe by introspection) are not sufficient to determine future thoughts of the brain, they form an incomplete, reduced description that is not deterministic: a given state at that level of description does not contain sufficient information to determine a later state of the system.

I'm not sure if this is circular reasoning or if you have just conceded the argument to your opponents.

in daily life [...] we see only a non-deterministic system with "free will", but it would be wrong to conclude that therefore the system in a complete description (in terms of the fundamental building blocks) is also indeterministic. There is no contradiction between the non-deterministic character of the world of thoughts and the fact that it is a deterministic system in a complete description in terms of fundamental building blocks.

in daily life we see only an animate system of "life", but it would be wrong to conclude that therefore the system in a complete description (in terms of the fundamental building blocks) is also animate. There is no contradiction between the animate character of the world of thoughts and the fact that it is an inanimate system in a complete description in terms of fundamental building blocks.

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Nope, sorry, we are not alive. It is all just an illusion of the DNA machinery or DNA algorithm if you will. We grow and reproduce via natural processes similar to fusion and fission.

If we build a system consisting of inanimate parts, then no matter how complex the total system is, in a complete description it is still an inanimate system.

Apparently you don't understand the essential difference between the example of life and that of determinism. Life is an emergent property, it is defined as the property of certain complex systems consisting of inanimate parts that can grow, self-replicate etc. Such systems don't become inanimate by a detailed description in terms of its inanimate parts, as the term "life" refers to the whole system (or subsystems that are large enough, like cells) and not to the individual molecules. On the other hand determinism is a fundamental property of classical physical systems. If you combine two (three,.., many) deterministic systems the new system is necessarily also deterministic, unless you suppose that by merely combining them suddenly some mysterious non-deterministic element is created. However, that is mysticism and therefore rejected by science. That we do seem to observe non-determinism in complex systems is only the result of the fact that we have to use very incomplete data, in a full description it is still deterministic. Really, it isn't that difficult.

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This is becoming ridiculous -- everything you have said indicates that you believe that you are some sort of biobot -- i.e. a robot determined to do what you do, including thinking and replying to posts here, because of the neuro-chemical reactions going on in your head.

Yes. My actions are determined by my will. My will, my essence, is created by my Deterministic parts. The problem is trying to seperate the man from his essence. Existence precedes essence.

Objectivism rejects this idea. Our will is not only free from external billiard banging, it is also free of internal billiard banging.

This contradicts science.

By our own choice, we do things like thinking and debating; these actions are not determined by brain states.

If my will is not Determined by my existence, then what is it, arbitrary?

In other words, me writing this post in reply to you is not necessitated by a neuro-chemical reaction in my brain. I freely chose to reply. One can say that the bio-mechanical neuro-chemical components of what we are made this reply possible -- i.e. we are what we are, including what we are composed of -- and it is this make-up that gives us the ability to have free will; but those mechanics did not necessitate that I reply the way I am replying.

Bolding is mine.

What did then, that necessitated that you reply the way you are replying? It can't be arbitrary, so then it is Deterministic. You're saying, in essence, that if we calculated the movements of particles in your body, and figured out what they would do, that in the brain the particles could go the opposite way for no reason? This claim is out of line with science.

More realistically, nature follows order so that each particle does exactly to result in what it's exact future state should be. BUT because of our limited knowledge, we cannot determine what the next state is going to be. We usually generalize the most probable future state of an entity. Because we don't know what will happen next, it may appear that to could have gone either way, but that is not so. If we drop an indestructible, spherical stone on an indestructible cone, we wouldn't know which way it would roll. That is because the smallest effects of the air and such would cause it to go slightly one way more than the other, and result in it rolling down just one way. It may have appeared that anything was possible and that the rock could have rolled down the cone in any direction, but that is not so. If we had knowledge of the forces on the rock, we could figure out the only one possible direction it will run down. This does not mean the rock chose to roll one way nor does it have Free Will.

Upon analysis of yourself it may seem that you could have gone with any option, had you chosen to. But that is not so because you had not chosen, to have chosen otherwise would have contradicted your will at that moment. Do you understand?

I could have done something else, but I decided to post. And once posting, I am not determined to finish it, I have the free will to stop at any time and do something else.

The thing is, to attempt to predict your future choice is silly, because that knowledge would be factored into your rational process to create a different choice. This is the definition of a paradox, it would go on to infinite regress. But if I viewed your particles separately, I would see everything acting as it should, that is according to laws of nature.

It was not a chemical chain reaction that led me to reply in this manner. I chose to do it. And you are choosing to hold onto a contradiction.

If you ARE the chemical chain reaction that led you to reply, then of course you were the one who chose it. Your will is built up by your deterministic parts, it isn't arbitrary like you so hold it to be. If I'm wrong that you hold it to be arbitrary, then correct me and present a valid idea that doesn't contradict reality. There is no contradiction in what I'm saying.

If your thoughts and actions are necessitated by a bio-mechanical neuro-chemical process in your brain, then you do not have free will; but we do have free will, so that conception of man and his nature must be wrong based upon the evidence.

Those processes construct my will, if you corrupt them, then you have corrupt me. It's not a coincidence that alcohol impairs judgment, that brain trauma can lead to a lack of consciousness, that people in a coma lose mental functions and memories, that a bullet to the brain will cut the processes of your neurons, your mind short. to result in death. These are causes that lead to effects because the brain obeys the laws of nature LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE WE'VE SEEN. Medicine attempts to understand the body so that it may be healed. This ad hoc argument, that the brain is exempt from the rules of nature is nonsense. If I believed in this kind of purpose instilled in the universe, I would have been able to believe in the Christian God like I was expected to. But no, it is anti-reality to claim this. It only leads to doublethink.

And I want to point out my struggle to understand how you can believe that Determinism is false. If you expect that the pressing of the buttons on your keyboard will result in an intended effect, then you have accepted that it is a cause and effect that is Determined. If you can find something in the Universe that is arbitrary, that doesn't follow the laws of nature, then you have disproven Determinism. But this had never happened, and no one assumes this, everyone believes that nature can be understood, and act like it. I just don't understand how Determinism can be denied.

And either way, to deny Determinism solves nothing. It doesn't even grant you Free Will.

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If you are determined to think a certain way, then how can you justify ANY of your points? Hard Determinism denies the entirety of the branch of epistemology.

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When does biochemistry end and free will begin? Or are you saying that there is no way to possibly ask/answer this question?

I think we can say at this point of our knowledge about ourselves, that having all of that wetware makes our consciousness possible -- at least we haven't found anything else in there that would be the equivalent of mind stuff or spirit stuff. Of course, we simply may not be able to detect that yet, but not having that kind of evidence means that it has to be rejected. What cannot be rejected is the introspective awareness of the nature of our own minds, and that we direct it on the conscious level. How all of that wetware works together and how it relates to our introspection is not known -- we don't even know how we are able to introspect. Our eyes are pretty obvious, and we can tell from eye damage leading to blindness that it is the eyes, the optic nerves, and the visual cortex that makes vision possible; still, all of that wetware is not sight. Similarly, it is possible to lose the ability to introspect due to severe head injuries, so something up there makes that possible; still, that wetware is not introspection.

So, whatever the connection is, we don't know that yet. We only know that with all of that wetware functioning properly, we have a consciousness; and when it isn't working properly -- i.e. we get knocked out due to a head blow or take certain medications (sleeping pills) -- then we don't have consciousness. So, there is a relationship going on there.

The claim that introspection is not the reply to free will invalidates consciousness as an axiom, because it is only via our own awareness of our awareness via introspection that we have the axiom consciousness. You are conscious of reading this post; but that consciousness of this post is not the same as the healthy functioning of the brain. Animals with a healthy functioning brain do not have awareness of their consciousness, so we have something extra. Exactly what that is remains unknown, but to say that introspection is not the right answer to the nature of man's mind is to invalidate that which is directly observed; which gets very close to evasion, especially if one does it as an ideal based on non-introspective observations of what it is to be a man.

So, if you want to claim that you are a biobot based on neuro-science, you are free to do so, but that involves a direct contradiction to what is directly observed, which philosophically, must take precedence over higher-level knowledge. One must start somewhere, and starting at neuro-science is not the place to start. If neuro-science or physics contradicts what you directly observe, then one needs to check one's premises regarding the true nature of man.

Besides, this is not a new argument. It goes back to the beginning of philosophy more than two thousand years ago. The issue then was, Is man just meat? and they didn't have a clue about neuro-science. These days for some people is, Is man just neuro-chemicals? I answer no to that, and so does Objectivism. How it all came to be and how we got free will is an unknown, but it does exist -- except for the self-deluded biobots; except for that fact that they do have free will and have no choice in the matter short of doing brain damage to themselves.

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What did then, that necessitated that you reply the way you are replying? It can't be arbitrary, so then it is Deterministic. You're saying, in essence, that if we calculated the movements of particles in your body, and figured out what they would do, that in the brain the particles could go the opposite way for no reason? This claim is out of line with science.

Well, no, it's actually not out of line with science at all. In fact (and I use that word looooosely), according to the Copenhagen interpretation, and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, particles do indeed go the opposite way for no reason, all the time. Electrical synapses transmit electrical signals between neurons using electrical coupling across a very small (3.5nm) gap, as compared to chemical neurotransmitter synapses, which operate through the chemical diffusion of neurotransmitters across a relatively large (20-30nm) gap. The reason this is important is that, according to science, quantum mechanical effects can influence the movement of electrons across gaps of this width (they're what make semiconductors work), because the statistical uncertainty of the electrons' positions can put them, randomly, on either side of the gap. Therefore, you could say, with complete agreement with widely accepted science, that electrons in the synapses of your brain can be either here or there, and for no particular reason (pardon the pun). If nothing in science can explain why an electron jumped the gap in my brain and "caused" me to post this, than can you really say that something I like to call "free will" had nothing to do with it?

Oh, and just to make the argument a little more interesting, it turns out that electrical synapses are especially abundant only in certain areas of your brain, most notably, your cerebral cortex.

I don't know if I will ever buy in fully to the QM interpretation of reality, but they certainly seem to have closed the door on determinism.

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If you are determined to think a certain way, then how can you justify ANY of your points? Hard Determinism denies the entirety of the branch of epistemology.

If I were Determined to act to my will, why would I act any differently?

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Well, no, it's actually not out of line with science at all. In fact (and I use that word looooosely), according to the Copenhagen interpretation, and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, particles do indeed go the opposite way for no reason, all the time. Electrical synapses transmit electrical signals between neurons using electrical coupling across a very small (3.5nm) gap, as compared to chemical neurotransmitter synapses, which operate through the chemical diffusion of neurotransmitters across a relatively large (20-30nm) gap. The reason this is important is that, according to science, quantum mechanical effects can influence the movement of electrons across gaps of this width (they're what make semiconductors work), because the statistical uncertainty of the electrons' positions can put them, randomly, on either side of the gap. Therefore, you could say, with complete agreement with widely accepted science, that electrons in the synapses of your brain can be either here or there, and for no particular reason (pardon the pun). If nothing in science can explain why an electron jumped the gap in my brain and "caused" me to post this, than can you really say that something I like to call "free will" had nothing to do with it?

Oh, and just to make the argument a little more interesting, it turns out that electrical synapses are especially abundant only in certain areas of your brain, most notably, your cerebral cortex.

I don't know if I will ever buy in fully to the QM interpretation of reality, but they certainly seem to have closed the door on determinism.

I addressed this at the begining of the thread. Objectivism rejects the Copenhagen interpretation. Only a confused person, or a mystic would accept it. The seemingly "randomness" is explained by our limitations at observing the delecate subatomic particles. Here's what I said, and note the link to the talk at ARI.

My understanding of QM is that it is used as a heuristic, not as a description of the nature of the universe. The reason for this is that subatomic particles are so small and such large quantities that it is hard to determine all of the forces acting upon them as well as the fact that merely viewing them changes their state dramatically. QM is used to predict the probable position of the actual subatomic particle. This is what I think of the theory.

If you are registered with ARI you can view a talk on this issue (link). From 29:00 to 32:00 talks (about causality, A is A, and so on) applies, though I think you should watch the whole video.

Also, there is another topic I saw (link) on this forum that expressed the issue with QM (I liked post #24).

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I addressed this at the begining of the thread. Objectivism rejects the Copenhagen interpretation. Only a confused person, or a mystic would accept it. The seemingly "randomness" is explained by our limitations at observing the delecate subatomic particles. Here's what I said, and note the link to the talk at ARI.

There are three schools of thought on subatomic particles: "We don't know", "We can't know", and "There is nothing to know."

You adhere to the first, believing that parameters exist which, if known, would determine the future (and past) of existence; the QM'ers adhere to the last, believing that there is no "reality" beyond the statistical uncertainty of QM. If Objectivists reject the last, it does not mean that they accept the first.

The interesting thing about determinism is that it posits that the development of the concept of "free will" was ordained from the beginning of time. And it thereby posits that the effects of the belief in free will on the actions of man were also determined. Likewise it concludes that the belief in determinism, and the effects that belief has on a man's actions were also determined from the instant of the big bang. A hard determinist will spend his life believing that everything he does is the result of some collisions a few billion years ago. He will live his life as if he was dead, irrational, enslaved; a useless, worthless, valueless pile of chemicals temporarily sentenced to the lifelong futility of the empty promises called consciousness and life. Poor him. He will go to his grave never knowing if he was right, but knowing to his dying breath that if he was right, his life was worthless, and if he was wrong, it was a waste.

So choose.

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There are three schools of thought on subatomic particles: "We don't know", "We can't know", and "There is nothing to know."

You adhere to the first, believing that parameters exist which, if known, would determine the future (and past) of existence; the QM'ers adhere to the last, believing that there is no "reality" beyond the statistical uncertainty of QM. If Objectivists reject the last, it does not mean that they accept the first.

The interesting thing about determinism is that it posits that the development of the concept of "free will" was ordained from the beginning of time. And it thereby posits that the effects of the belief in free will on the actions of man were also determined. Likewise it concludes that the belief in determinism, and the effects that belief has on a man's actions were also determined from the instant of the big bang.

Yes, but "we don't know" and "we can't know" both fit under Determinism.

A hard determinist will spend his life believing that everything he does is the result of some collisions a few billion years ago. He will live his life as if he was dead, irrational, enslaved; a useless, worthless, valueless pile of chemicals temporarily sentenced to the lifelong futility of the empty promises called consciousness and life. Poor him. He will go to his grave never knowing if he was right, but knowing to his dying breath that if he was right, his life was worthless, and if he was wrong, it was a waste.

So choose.

This does not logically follow.

Edit: In addition, I would like to point out that randomness does not progress the idea of Free Will.

Edited by Martian

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This does not logically follow.

It doesn't address the validity of a claim that everything is determined but it yet again affirms that you can't have responsibility in a world in which you have no causal efficacy.

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It doesn't address the validity of a claim that everything is determined but it yet again affirms that you can't have responsibility in a world in which you have no causal efficacy.

Why not? If you can reason and consider your actions, you can be held accountable for them.

Edited by Martian

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The root problem I see going on with Tensorman, Martian, and Ifatart is that you do not comprehend the Objectivist understanding of causation; and that we live in a fully causal universe, but that it is not deterministic.

In Objectivism, the locus of causation is identity; in fact, causality is a corollary to identity. What this means is that what something is leads to what it does. If you read the section of OPAR on causality, it is very clear that Objectivism does not say that an entity acts the way it does due to external influences; but rather that it acts the way it does because it is what it is. As I have said before, the eight ball going into the corner pocket is not caused by the cue ball hitting it, but rather that interaction occurs because they are billiard balls. In short, the cause of the eight ball going into the corner pocket is that it is an eight ball; if it were something else, like an egg, it would not go into the corner pocket.

A lot of the mental gymnastics going on about claiming that we are deterministic and yet have free will, if I understand you correctly, is because you don't grasp this point. Under Objectivism, our actions are caused by what we are; and our ability to have free will is caused (i.e. brought about) by our nature, but our will (i.e. our specific choices) are not necessitated by what we are. Being what we are leads to the ability to have free will, but our specific choices are not necessitated. We freely choose our thoughts and actions on the conscious level. In other words, there is no contradiction between saying that our will is caused and yet free, or caused but not necessitated. The cause of free will is that we are what we are, but the action of freely choosing to think about one thing versus another or taking a consciously chosen action is not prescribed or necessitated by what we are. We have free will.

There is no conceptual problem with us having free will, because it is directly observed that we have free will; it is self-evident to introspection. I choose to lift my arm and it goes up; so there is no problem. I chose to write this essay; so there is no problem. The conceptual problem only comes about if we try to deduce free will, which is what you are trying to do by starting at the level of neurons. You are trying to start at neurons or molecules or atoms and then wondering how we can possibly have free will, when it is clearly evident that we have free will, as a directly observable ability.

But I am done with this thread.

Of my own free will I have decided not to argue with you further. If you want to think of yourself as something that is determined as in necessitated to do the things you think and do, then that is your business. I know that my thoughts and actions are not necessitated. I choose them.

And I choose not to engage with you any further.

If you want to read more about causality, then I suggest you read those sections in OPAR or read some of my essays on my website. I wrote a lot on causality; just do a search.

We are either seriously talking past one another, which I doubt; or we are not communicating because you think that causation means necessitated, and it doesn't. Man's free will shows that it is not necessitated. Free will comes about because we are what we are, but the specific choices are free from necessity; they are chosen.

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What makes you describe me as a robot?

I'd like to point out that a computer is capable of making a choice

But, no matter. I just found this:

Determinism: the idea that all events are causally determined by their antecedents and therefore in principle predictable

Let's pursue it.

We performed this exercise in the other thread on determinism.

Let us perform a thought experiment:

Many years into the future we are able, using the laws of determinism, to construct a machine with the ability to predict the future, it is a simple machine composed only of a crystal ball. I go to visit this crystal ball and discover that I am going to get hit by a bus the minute I leave. Can I then avoid the bus?

Discover what is wrong with this hypothetical and you will discover what is wrong with your argument.

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Why not? If you can reason and consider your actions, you can be held accountable for them.

Even if they could not have been otherwise? Follow Mark K.'s bus example...

If something could not have been otherwise how is it that he predictable machinations of a deterministic computer like our brain can be held responsible? Responsible implies moral choice, that it could ahve been otherwise.

Do we hold animals responsible for their actions in the way that we hold humans responsible? Do we hold trees responsible when they fall on houses?

Edited by KendallJ

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Do we hold animals responsible for their actions? Do we hold trees responsible when they fall on houses?
Animals and trees, yes... and the non-living. I'm still waiting to see why a lever should not be held accountable for moving when we push at one end!

Nothing the lever does is different from the human, in the deterministic model. In that model, "self-awareness" and "consciousness" are simply different terms for the same type of "transmission" of "information" -- via molecules -- from one end of the lever to the other. I don't see why determinism would give electrical currents operating in a mammal some type of special category over the same phenomena in a non-living entity. TV cables = nerves?

Sometimes when a machine doesn't work I might curse at it. Maybe I'm, on the right track with that :thumbsup:

Edited by softwareNerd

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Sometimes when a machine doesn't work I might curse at it. Maybe I'm, on the right track with that ;)

:thumbsup:

And here I thought I was being irrational when I did that. Who knew....

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I'm still waiting to see why a lever should not be held accountable for moving when we push at one end!
It's very simple: levers have been denied their historical rights by the oppressive human hegemonists. They are treated as mere pieces of mindless meat -- sometimes even cooked with onions.

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Many years into the future we are able, using the laws of determinism, to construct a machine with the ability to predict the future, it is a simple machine composed only of a crystal ball. I go to visit this crystal ball and discover that I am going to get hit by a bus the minute I leave. Can I then avoid the bus?

Discover what is wrong with this hypothetical and you will discover what is wrong with your argument.

The interesting thing is that I already answered this, plus the answer to that seems pretty obvious. Either way, here's what I said:

The thing is, to attempt to predict your future choice is silly, because that knowledge would be factored into your rational process to create a different choice. This is the definition of a paradox, it would go on to infinite regress. But if I viewed your particles separately, I would see everything acting as it should, that is according to laws of nature.

I don't like to have to repeat myself. Are you guys reading my posts? I make such an effort to explain my thoughts by analyzing other posters' posts, why doesn't anyone do the same for me?

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I don't like to have to repeat myself. Are you guys reading my posts? I make such an effort to explain my thoughts by analyzing other posters' posts, why doesn't anyone do the same for me?

Infinite regress is an epistemological trick. There is no infinite regress in reality.

As argumentation it amounts to saying "Aha, I just tied your brain into an infinite do loop, therefore the problem is unsolvable." It is a form of rationalism.

Mark is simply asking SoftwareNerds lever question another way. Which I've noticed no one wants to take on. Maybe that because it's too simple to use the "infinite regress"

I know you're getting frustrated Martian, but Mark is a new entrant to the discussion and may or may not have gone back and read all the drivel in this thread. I know I haven't. If you don't want to engage someone new who hasn't, then don't. It's your choice.

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The interesting thing is that I already answered this, plus the answer to that seems pretty obvious.

In your definition of determinism you said it was, in principle, possible to predict the future, so I guess the obvious answer to my question is yes: it is possible to alter your predetermined future. This is as you say "a paradox" or more accurately: a contradiction.

Please take this time to reflect upon what is a contradiction.

A contradiction is a warning sign.

Contradictions do not exist in reality and neither does determinism.

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Life is an emergent property, it is defined as the property of certain complex systems consisting of inanimate parts that can grow, self-replicate etc. Such systems don't become inanimate by a detailed description in terms of its inanimate parts, as the term "life" refers to the whole system (or subsystems that are large enough, like cells) and not to the individual molecules.

I'm going to end the Devil's Advocate game now. It is confusing and hard to pull-off in this case because I'm not only contradicting my actual position, I am contradicting a contradiction which, like a double negative, never seems to convey what you mean.

The description you give of life is directly applicable to free will:

Volition is an emergent property, it is the property of certain complex systems consisting of parts that act deterministically. Such systems don't become determined by a detailed description in terms of its deterministically acting parts, as the term "freewill" refers to the whole system and not to the individual atoms.

Please read this carefully because I don't want to give you any false impression: determinism or predeterminism does not exist. The reason I say: "act deterministically" is because while some particle's actions seem predetermined they are really effects of causes.

Science is not advanced by observing predetermined effects. It is advanced by discovering the unknown causes of observed effects.

That we do seem to observe non-determinism in complex systems is only the result of the fact that we have to use very incomplete data, in a full description it is still deterministic.

Please address the hypothetical I posed to Martian.

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The contradiction arises due to the impossibility of the machine. Leaving aside the outside world, such a machine would have to consider information about every particle within itself, since those particles themselves are causal to the future. This leads to an impossibility in terms of computing power. Thus, such a machine, but not necessarily the principle behind it, is impossible.

A more reasonable thought experiment would be one in which the machine's processing does not leak into the scenario. For instance, a massive processor arrayed around a small room containing a man and some objects. The question then becomes, can the computer predict the behavior of the man?

Regardless of what answer you believe is correct - now, extend the experiment so that the entire universe is the closed system under scrutiny. (If you think about it, you will soon realize that any such scenario must include the entire universe)

In order to predict the behavior of the universe, and thus the man in the small room, you would have to "know" with infinite precision, the position and velocity of each particle. The possibility of storing and manipulating such knowledge, within the universe (i.e., within reality), is the contradiction.

Thus, the premise of determinism, that in principle we could predict the future, is a metaphysical impossibility. (assuming that principles refer to properties of reality)

This refutation of the premise does not necessarily refute determinism itself, but it brings us back down to the essential question:

What purpose does consideration of determinism serve?

Since the universal thought experiment proves the lack of any conceivable purpose to anything in reality, the answer is: None.

Determinism has no relevance to reality, regardless of its "truth."

Edited by agrippa1

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