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Martian

Objectivism and determinism

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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.

I agree, the machine specified could not exist but that only addresses predicatability as a practical notion.

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."

I think there are some advantages and at times some necessity to supposing people will act in accordance with the way they believe they are 'meant' to act at times. For instance if you give me sufficient evidence that you are a killer on the loose it is to my benefit to consider you a dangerous person and prepare much more for the eventuality in which you would choose to kill me than the eventuality in which you would choose not to. Past choices don't dictate future ones but it would be foolish to ignore the implications your past choices have on what type of choice you might make. Whenever this inductive leap is taken there is a chance of error but use of it as a hypothetical is helpful in many cases.

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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.

Not for determinism in the brain. See for example: M. Tegmark, Importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes, Phys. Rev. E 61, 4194-4206 (2000), or Maximilian Schlosshauer, Decoherence and the Quantum-to-classical Transition, Ch. 9: Observations, the Quantum Brain and Decoherence, Springer 2007.

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.

Contradictions do not exist, but determinism does exist in reality. Your computer for example is a deterministic machine. The solution to the prediction paradox is simple: it is impossible to predict the future, even in principle. Determinism does not imply predictability. Even a simple classical and deterministic system like the molecules in an ideal gas is unpredictable. First it would be necessary to measure the parameters of the molecules with infinite precision, which is impossible. Second, even if we assume for the sake of argument that we could measure those parameters exactly, we cannot isolate the system from external influences. Borel showed already in 1914 that the gravitational effect of the displacement of a small rock at the distance of Sirius by a few centimeters would completely change the behavior of the individual gas molecules here on Earth, so we would have to know the parameters of the whole universe with infinite precision, which is of course impossible.

The prediction paradox is easily solved: as the predictor is part of the system the future of which he wants to predict, he must also predict his own predictions as these may influence future events, and also those predictions, etc. This results in an infinite regress, or an infinite loop. That means that the time needed for the calculations to predict the future is infinite, which makes prediction of the state of the system at any time in the future impossible.

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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.

In your analogous reasoning you keep ignoring an essential difference between the two cases, which I've mentioned before: while "life" is just a label we attach to certain complex systems, determinism is an observed property of physical systems that is independent of the size or the complexity of those systems, unless you pose some mystical intervention that for large systems mysteriously disables determinism. There isn't a shred of evidence for such a mysterious intervention, that some large systems seem to be indeterministic is due to the fact that it is practically impossible to describe those systems completely. I can illustrate that with another analogy: a famous quote by Einstein is "God doesn't play dice", where "playing dice" is a metaphor for randomness. Yet there is in fact nothing random in throwing a die: if we could measure all the parameters (velocity, position, mass, etc.) of the hand-die-table system accurately enough, we could in principle predict the outcome, as this is a deterministic system. As it is in practice impossible (perhaps it might be possible using a sophisticated throwing machine), we use the die as a generator of random outcomes. The randomness we observe is not a fundamental randomness however, it is the result of the in practice unpredictable variation of the parameters of a deterministic system.

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it is impossible to predict the future, even in principle.

we could in principle predict the outcome, as this is a deterministic system.

It seems as though you are determined to stick to your argument no matter how many contradictions it generates.

What could possibly be the predetermined cause for you to contradict yourself. Is determinism trying to make you believe you are wrong or are you just wrong? Either way I win you lose. Unless of course you choose to see the err in your logic and beginning premises.

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It seems as though you are determined to stick to your argument no matter how many contradictions it generates.

What could possibly be the predetermined cause for you to contradict yourself. Is determinism trying to make you believe you are wrong or are you just wrong? Either way I win you lose. Unless of course you choose to see the err in your logic and beginning premises.

The truth value of Determinism is not dependent on man's ability to predict the future.

In the definition of Determinism, "in principle predictable", meant that the future was possible to be predicted ignoring the restrictions of man's ability. Tensorman meant, from what I can tell from the context, that it was not possible to predict the future state of the system if it is part of it. They may seem the same, but they meant different things based on the context.

I agree, this was not stated well enough for someone who is trying to understand the concept. I hope this clears it up.

Edited by Martian

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This leads to an impossibility in terms of computing power.

This results in an infinite regress, or an infinite loop. That means that the time needed for the calculations to predict the future is infinite

As all of us learned in basic computer programming: the problem with an infinite loop is not computing power or time, it is the program. You two should learn from this: there is something wrong with your program.

You cannot build a computer based on the laws of determinism because determinism doesn't exist.

But even if you could magically create one or have god send one down, it would explode every single time it was asked a question.

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The truth value of Determinism is not dependent on man's ability to predict the future.

So wait, since man is unable to predict the future he cannot disprove determinism? But if he could predict the future, then determinism would be disproved? Seems not only false but backwards.

Tensorman meant, from what I can tell from the context,

[...]

I hope this clears it up.

I checked the context. Tensorman contradicted himself just as anyone who holds this position must, so that doesn't clear it up at all.

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As all of us learned in basic computer programming: the problem with an infinite loop is not computing power or time, it is the program. You two should learn from this: there is something wrong with your program.

Of course there is something wrong with such a program, that is exactly my point: as such a program couldn't work, prediction of future states such a deterministic system is impossible, that was the crux of my argument.

You cannot build a computer based on the laws of determinism because determinism doesn't exist.

A computer is a deterministic machine par excellence. The state of the machine at any time is determined by its previous state. If this were not so, no useful program would be possible. You couldn't perform the simplest of calculations on a non-deterministic machine, as you would get different outcomes every time you performed the same calculation.

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It seems as though you are determined to stick to your argument no matter how many contradictions it generates.

You ignore the context of my statements. The first one refers to the prediction of a system in which the predictor is part of the system, which leads to the infinite loop and the essential impossibility of prediction (apart from the practical impossibility of using parameters which are known with infinite precision in a chaotic system and the external influence on small particles).

The second example (playing dice) is a simple isolated system which is not sensitive to external influences (hurricanes excepted) in which the predictor is not part of the system. I'm not saying that deterministic systems are never predictable (then we wouldn't be able to build a working computer or any other machine), but that deterministic systems are not necessarily predictable. You see only a contradiction when you take my statements out of context.

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Of course there is something wrong with such a program, that is exactly my point: as such a program couldn't work, prediction of future states such a deterministic system is impossible, that was the crux of my argument.

You continue to contradict yourself. The program we were running was a deterministic one.

A computer is a deterministic machine par excellence. The state of the machine at any time is determined by its previous state.

What about when I decide to turn it off? Was that determined by its previous state?

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While there are some interesting thought experiments going on here I think it might be fruitful to other implications of deterministic vs non-deterministic systems. Specifically if we are in a completely materially deterministic system then mental states have no causal efficacy, aka Epiphenomenalism. An epiphenomenalist can not argue that they have any responsibility for any actions, hence any form of compatibilism, like that espoused by the article you linked to Martian, is meaningless. If you are going to argue that we are conscious and that we are determined, anything mental about us is basically John Cusack's character at the end of "Being John Malkovich". I am not offering this as a disproof of determinism but if you advocate it then you are also advocating Epiphenomenalism.

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As all of us learned in basic computer programming: the problem with an infinite loop is not computing power or time, it is the program. You two should learn from this: there is something wrong with your program.

You cannot build a computer based on the laws of determinism because determinism doesn't exist.

But even if you could magically create one or have god send one down, it would explode every single time it was asked a question.

It's not an infinite loop, it's an infinite regress in the design, not the operation, of the computer: In order to predict the future of a system you must store the information for all particles in that system. If the outcome of your computation is going to influence the system (and it is) then you must store information about the processor and all of its information storage. Assuming there is not some weird entropy to take advantage of in the system, which would allow a large amount of information to be stored in a very small amount of data, the physical storage requirement for any one particle would entail many particles' worth of storage mechanism, which particles would require even more storage capacity. The equation calculating the amount of processor power required to compute the system would go something like this:

P = P(S) + P(P)

where P(S) is the power required for "just" the system, and P(P) is the amount required for the processing mechanism. Assuming a linear relationship (which we know is conservative for multi-particle system prediction), and throwing away the processing required for just the system, the equation becomes:

P = kP

If k = 1, then it is possible to solve for just the processor. If k is less than one, then it is possible to solve for an external system as well. For all but one case that I can think of, k is greater than 1, in fact, much and possibly infinitely, greater. Given k > 1, there is only one processor and system for which there is adequate processor power to determine the future. That is: the null, the void. For this case, the processor power is zero, the system information is zero, and the determination of the future and past is infinitely predictable, self-referential and self-stored. So determinism would work great for the void, if only one existed.

There is one case in which k is not greater than one, and that provides the source for another thought experiment:

Imagine I build a "computer" the size of the universe, programmed with the laws of physics, and booted with every particle set in the exact position and velocity as a particle in our universe. Assuming I could isolate that universe infinitely from ours, would my parallel universe "predict" the behavior of our universe? What philosophical impact would result if it did? If it didn't?

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Imagine I build a "computer" the size of the universe, programmed with the laws of physics, and booted with every particle set in the exact position and velocity as a particle in our universe.

Assuming I could isolate that universe infinitely from ours, would my parallel universe "predict" the behavior of our universe? What philosophical impact would result if it did? If it didn't?

The point is that any entity that is part of a closed system cannot predict anything that will happen within this system. The only entity that could "predict" it right in time would be the system itself as a whole, as you described it correctly. But you can't create such an entity. And if you imagine that a parallel universe already exists that is identical with our own but is totally isolated from our own universe I ask: What evidence do you have for that? If you have evidence then both universes are affecting each other and they are no longer isolated.

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You continue to contradict yourself. The program we were running was a deterministic one.

Of course it is a deterministic program. Why should that be a contradiction?

What about when I decide to turn it off? Was that determined by its previous state?

Of course I mean a running computer, not one that is turned off or destroyed by an axe. I think I don't have to spell out such obvious conditions. If someone tells you that car X can attain a speed of 200 km/h, do you ask then: what about when the fuel tank of the car is empty?

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You see only a contradiction when you take my statements out of context.

If you insist I'll provide more context and let others decide whether you have contradicted yourself. Here are your two statements:

The solution to the prediction paradox is simple: it is impossible to predict the future, even in principle. Determinism does not imply predictability. Even a simple classical and deterministic system like the molecules in an ideal gas is unpredictable.

Yet there is in fact nothing random in throwing a die: if we could measure all the parameters (velocity, position, mass, etc.) of the hand-die-table system accurately enough, we could in principle predict the outcome, as this is a deterministic system. As it is in practice impossible (perhaps it might be possible using a sophisticated throwing machine), we use the die as a generator of random outcomes. The randomness we observe is not a fundamental randomness however, it is the result of the in practice unpredictable variation of the parameters of a deterministic system.

In the first you make a general statement about the nature of deterministic systems and in the second you contradict that statement.

But seriously, you are just kicking the can down the street. If it bothers you then remove the predictor from the system. Send someone in to the Crystal Ball, ask the future of someone else and promise the seuth system that you won't tell that person. Once you have the prediction in hand, go and tell them. It doesn't matter how many levels of hell there are, the question remains: can someone alter their predetermined destiny?

The question is unanswerable because there is no predetermined destiny but it still destroys your position because it points out the inherent contradiction between your position and the nature of man.

Of course I mean a running computer, not one that is turned off or destroyed by an axe. I think I don't have to spell out such obvious conditions.

Here is what you said:

A computer is a deterministic machine par excellence. The state of the machine at any time is determined by its previous state.

And I replied:

What about when I decide to turn it off? Was that determined by its previous state?

So the question is: is the state of the computer just after I turned it off determined by its previous state? I'm just reading the words you typed -- if english is not your first language, let me know and I'll make allowances. If you don't like the on/off button then just leave it on and still the current state of the computer is not determined by its previous state. Its current state is caused by what I and other programmers have decided to input.

A computer follows the laws of physics which have nothing to do with the non-existent laws of determinism. Computers follow the laws of cause and effect. When I cause it to turn on it turns on. When I type "freewill" into the browser a search is initiated following the parameters set by another volitional consciousness. If I send an email threatening to kill the President you'd better believe that the Secret Service will hold me responsible for my freely chosen action.

If you want to continue to assert determinism and as a result deny all of the concepts dependent upon volition such as reason, truth, knowledge, decide, convince, debate, argument, responsibility, justice, good and bad, right and wrong, then don't be surprised if people here treat you as you deserve.

while "life" is just a label we attach to certain complex systems, determinism is an observed property of physical systems that is independent of the size or the complexity of those systems,

My sarcastic reply is: yes, life is just a label. It's not an observed property of physical systems that is independent of the size or complexity of those systems.

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My sarcastic reply is: yes, life is just a label. It's not an observed property of physical systems that is independent of the size or complexity of those systems.

Just a little comment on that one:

It's not just a label if one defines it properly. Life is to sets of properties as existence is to entities. All entities are alive, but life refers not to the sum of 'atoms' of that entity but to the properties it possesses. The atoms and molecules in my body are constantly replaced with others, but most of my properties remain the same, i.e. the set of properties which define me remains existent, i.e. I am alive. Of course in common speech we call entities alive only if they are very good at sustaining its 'life' actively. On the other hand we properly talk of the 'lifespan' of radioactive isotopes, they loose their significant properties after their "death".

@Tensorman:

We are talking a lot about computers. Are you familiar with the "Halting Problem"?

It is proven that it is impossible to write a program that determines if another program will finish or will run forever.

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In the first you make a general statement about the nature of deterministic systems and in the second you contradict that statement.

I've explained this already in post #160, which you ignore. You seem to be more interested in finding apparent contradictions by taking statements out of their context, looking for a gotcha, but you don't address the arguments themselves.

But seriously, you are just kicking the can down the street. If it bothers you then remove the predictor from the system. Send someone in to the Crystal Ball, ask the future of someone else and promise the seuth system that you won't tell that person. Once you have the prediction in hand, go and tell them. It doesn't matter how many levels of hell there are, the question remains: can someone alter their predetermined destiny?

You call that "seriously"? You think that an example with a Crystal Ball in a discussion about determinism deserves serious consideration?

So the question is: is the state of the computer just after I turned it off determined by its previous state? I'm just reading the words you typed -- if english is not your first language, let me know and I'll make allowances. If you don't like the on/off button then just leave it on and still the current state of the computer is not determined by its previous state. Its current state is caused by what I and other programmers have decided to input.

Again you're deliberately obtuse, so that I have to spell it out for you: of course when I talk about states of the computer this implies a given input.

A computer follows the laws of physics which have nothing to do with the non-existent laws of determinism.

Then I have a suprise for you: Newtonian physics, relativistic physics and even chaos theory are completely deterministic theories. But of course you know better than all those dumb physicists.

If you want to continue to assert determinism and as a result deny all of the concepts dependent upon volition such as reason, truth, knowledge, decide, convince, debate, argument, responsibility, justice, good and bad, right and wrong, then don't be surprised if people here treat you as you deserve.

I've seen many intelligent, thoughtful reactions in this thread by people who take arguments seriously, but not from you.

We are talking a lot about computers. Are you familiar with the "Halting Problem"?

It is proven that it is impossible to write a program that determines if another program will finish or will run forever.

Yes, I know. Chaitin omega numbers and Solovay machines, fascinating stuff.

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You call that "seriously"? You think that an example with a Crystal Ball in a discussion about determinism deserves serious consideration?

As much serious consideration as determinism deserves.

I've seen many intelligent, thoughtful reactions in this thread by people who take arguments seriously, but not from you.

Argument? I thought it was a joke. I don't take joke arguments seriously. I take ideas seriously.

You've hurt my feelings. Did you have to respond that way? Couldn't you have responded differently?

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In post #160 you stated

I'm not saying that deterministic systems are never predictable (then we wouldn't be able to build a working computer or any other machine)

All machines work correctly only with a certain probability. 1+1 is not always 2 on the computer.

You call that "seriously"? You think that an example with a Crystal Ball in a discussion about determinism deserves serious consideration?

Not that arguments are open for a democratic vote but I thought his example was right to the point.

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As much serious consideration as determinism deserves.

Argument? I thought it was a joke. I don't take joke arguments seriously. I take ideas seriously.

You've hurt my feelings. Did you have to respond that way? Couldn't you have responded differently?

What is your disagreement with Determinism? What are the contradictions?

Please state them if you can.

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It is essential to distinguish control from influence - your previously held knowledge, opinions and mood may influence your choice, but that influence is not controlling (this is another way of saying that you cannot "bind your future choices"). Nothing you think at time t can guarantee what your choice will be at time t+1. Your freedom to choose is always interposed, not only between external stimulus and response, but also between past and future. The same basic choice confronts you at each moment, so that you must choose whether to follow what your previously held knowledge, opinions and mood are suggesting, or not. Do you accept this distinction?

I'm sorry seeker, I just don't have time to reply... I'm busy-nuts with school. Great post, as always. I'll reply when I have more time, so keep an eye open :P .

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I don’t see what this misunderstanding is about.

It is obvious that we have free will; however that does not mean that we ought not to explore what we actually mean by “free will”. To say that that it is self evident is at best careless and at worst the risk of assuming a mistake, not to mention that it is obviously not so self evident considering that some people don’t understand what is meant by “free will”. Needless to say, the “free” in “free will” has been used and abused many times. Without defining what is meant by free will, any discussion about it collapses into a meaningless game without any solid rules.

Know that I don’t enter this discussion with the interest to “win” I merely want to understand what this problem is about. Sometimes, knowing why something is wrong can be more revealing that knowing why something is right.

Now to the problem; what do I mean by free will? I'm not sure if it is out of evasiveness that no one has been willing to throw out a definition, but let me give it a try.

My definition is simply; will that is internally unrestricted, e. g. if I go down to the kitchen to get something to eat, I choose whatever I will to choose. By “internally” I mean consciously, subconscious actions are not affected by free will (but the process of learning the subconscious reactions could very well be conscious). If I wanted (consciously) to get a sandwich, but my body somehow decided to get an apple, my will would not be free. It is important to note that it is only in case of a choice that free will must be unrestricted. If I would will to do something physically impossible, and find myself unable to do so it is not a breach of free will as impossible actions do not constitute choices, more on choices later.

By “free will” I do not mean free from causation and identity. A free will is not a “first cause”, it does not choose arbitrarily and it is just like everything else; caught in the chain of determinism. The free will acts in accordance to its identity and to say that under the exact same event—where the mind has the same identity—would yield different outcomes is as far as I understand impossible. The very reason I choose what I choose is due to my mental (internal) identity. Only in case of a magic will, somehow free from causation, would it be possible to see different outcomes of the same events.

A choice is an instance in which our internal identity determines the outcome, and only if the identity is different, could the outcome change. The reason why it is a choice for me to pick what I want to eat is because of my internal identity. If whatever is in my head at the moment was different, a different choice would have been a possibility. If someone else was in the exact same situation, they might make a different choice. Likewise, it is enough that a different mind was “possessing” my body, a different choice could be made. That mean that choices are not really choices as we usually think of them, as only one outcome is possible, but this outcome is entirely dictated by my conscious state; the identity of my conscious mind. This does of course not mean that external events do not affect the choice, if there was a sandwich on a table in front of me, my degree of hunger would affect the choice, however it would not dictate it (otherwise it would obviously not be a choice).

So does this mean that since my choices are “determined”, that responsibility becomes impossible? That since my actions are determined, if I would for example kill someone, I would be no less guilty that a stone that falls to the ground due to gravity? I would say the exact opposite is true; it is since I have a determined identity that responsibility can exist in the first place. If a person’s will could suddenly (magically) turn into a different will, then how could it be object to responsibility?

Let me also define determinism so that there is no confusion over the term:

That an action is determined mean that there is a single outcome and that if all information is provided it is possible to calculate the outcome. That “if” is quite important, as it is possible (and often expected) to be unable to determine the future states of a system, due to inadequate information (the weather is a good example). However that does not mean that the system is not deterministic. It is even possible to have deterministic systems that are always impossible to predict, since the information required to do so is unattainable. For example all the digits of pi are determined, yet we will never know them all, as there are an infinite number of them.

An example of a system that behaves deterministically, yet was once unpredictable is the orbit of the planets. To claim that since we cannot currently predict something does not imply that it is not a deterministic process. To say that since we don’t know every state in a system, it cannot be deterministic is obviously wrong. While I was not around at the time, I’m quite sure that the planets did not behave erratically before we put up the laws “forcing” them to have determined orbits.

As Tensorman proved quite nicely, there is no paradox in predicting the whole of reality; such a thing is impossible, unless you are “outside” of reality and it thus becomes a system isolated from the prediction.

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I don’t see what this misunderstanding is about.

It is obvious that we have free will; however that does not mean that we ought not to explore what we actually mean by “free will”. To say that that it is self evident is at best careless and at worst the risk of assuming a mistake, not to mention that it is obviously not so self evident considering that some people don’t understand what is meant by “free will”. Needless to say, the “free” in “free will” has been used and abused many times. Without defining what is meant by free will, any discussion about it collapses into a meaningless game without any solid rules.

Know that I don’t enter this discussion with the interest to “win” I merely want to understand what this problem is about. Sometimes, knowing why something is wrong can be more revealing that knowing why something is right.

Now to the problem; what do I mean by free will? I'm not sure if it is out of evasiveness that no one has been willing to throw out a definition, but let me give it a try.

My definition is simply; will that is internally unrestricted, e. g. if I go down to the kitchen to get something to eat, I choose whatever I will to choose. By “internally” I mean consciously, subconscious actions are not affected by free will (but the process of learning the subconscious reactions could very well be conscious). If I wanted (consciously) to get a sandwich, but my body somehow decided to get an apple, my will would not be free. It is important to note that it is only in case of a choice that free will must be unrestricted. If I would will to do something physically impossible, and find myself unable to do so it is not a breach of free will as impossible actions do not constitute choices, more on choices later.

By “free will” I do not mean free from causation and identity. A free will is not a “first cause”, it does not choose arbitrarily and it is just like everything else; caught in the chain of determinism. The free will acts in accordance to its identity and to say that under the exact same event—where the mind has the same identity—would yield different outcomes is as far as I understand impossible. The very reason I choose what I choose is due to my mental (internal) identity. Only in case of a magic will, somehow free from causation, would it be possible to see different outcomes of the same events.

A choice is an instance in which our internal identity determines the outcome, and only if the identity is different, could the outcome change. The reason why it is a choice for me to pick what I want to eat is because of my internal identity. If whatever is in my head at the moment was different, a different choice would have been a possibility. If someone else was in the exact same situation, they might make a different choice. Likewise, it is enough that a different mind was “possessing” my body, a different choice could be made. That mean that choices are not really choices as we usually think of them, as only one outcome is possible, but this outcome is entirely dictated by my conscious state; the identity of my conscious mind. This does of course not mean that external events do not affect the choice, if there was a sandwich on a table in front of me, my degree of hunger would affect the choice, however it would not dictate it (otherwise it would obviously not be a choice).

So does this mean that since my choices are “determined”, that responsibility becomes impossible? That since my actions are determined, if I would for example kill someone, I would be no less guilty that a stone that falls to the ground due to gravity? I would say the exact opposite is true; it is since I have a determined identity that responsibility can exist in the first place. If a person’s will could suddenly (magically) turn into a different will, then how could it be object to responsibility?

Let me also define determinism so that there is no confusion over the term:

That an action is determined mean that there is a single outcome and that if all information is provided it is possible to calculate the outcome. That “if” is quite important, as it is possible (and often expected) to be unable to determine the future states of a system, due to inadequate information (the weather is a good example). However that does not mean that the system is not deterministic. It is even possible to have deterministic systems that are always impossible to predict, since the information required to do so is unattainable. For example all the digits of pi are determined, yet we will never know them all, as there are an infinite number of them.

An example of a system that behaves deterministically, yet was once unpredictable is the orbit of the planets. To claim that since we cannot currently predict something does not imply that it is not a deterministic process. To say that since we don’t know every state in a system, it cannot be deterministic is obviously wrong. While I was not around at the time, I’m quite sure that the planets did not behave erratically before we put up the laws “forcing” them to have determined orbits.

As Tensorman proved quite nicely, there is no paradox in predicting the whole of reality; such a thing is impossible, unless you are “outside” of reality and it thus becomes a system isolated from the prediction.

I'd say that raps everything up nicely. QED

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I have always found this and similar discussions of free will tedious because there is a subtle importation of the mind-body dichotomy. The "will" is an aspect of the mind, and it is purported to be free of the crude determinism that rules matter. The body is material and subject to the same crude determinism that rules all matter. The debate that ensues is doomed. The only way out is to recognize the inherent falsehoods smuggled into the debate by the words "free" and "determinism."

Free does not mean free from identity and causality. The body includes the brain and whatever is the material manifestation of the mind. No aspect of the mind is supernatural as that would contradict its identity. Objectivism does not claim that the will is free to transcend the limitations imposed by blood sugar level, blood oxygenation, hormone level of melatonin or the myriad other antecedent factors that make consciousness possible at all. The only freedom of the will claimed by Objectivism is the very narrow and restricted freedom to choose to be more active or more passive as a conceptual conscious entity than in the previous moment. The fact of consciousness is logically and chronologically prior to the will that modulates it.

Determinism is not crude. There have been many claims made in this thread about the nature of deterministic systems, their predictibility and calculability. I would direct your attention to the n-body problem (where n is much greater than 3), and then claim that not only is the realm of crude materialism not practically calculable for real systems but it is not even theoretically calculable. The idea of determinism as billiard balls whose positions, velocities, and masses are all perfectly known and theoretically predictable, is a fantasy realm which is not even a correct understanding of determinism.

There is not yet any detailed explanation of "how consciousness works." Even if there was, explaining something in terms of lower level entities doesn't annihilate it. Free will obeys identity and causality, and causality is more general than determinism. There is no contradiction.

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