Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
epistemologue

Determinism and free will

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Someone asked: "is determinism (or causation, I may be mixing the two up if they're different) not the way all logic and science works when talking about anything? ... studies that seem to indicate that free will may be more of an illusion"

The reductionist materialism of the "scientific worldview", does embrace determinism and the idea that free will is an illusion.

Logic does not dictate this, though, actually the reductionist worldview is incoherent. Without free will, morality or ethics would be a meaningless science, people will act strictly according to prior causes, and can't change their behavior based on a morality. So there would be no "good" or "bad", no right or wrong, no justice, nothing. These terms would be essentially meaningless. If behavior is determined, then what people do, just *is* what they do, there's no alternative to compare it against, it wasn't right or wrong, or better or worse, it just *happened*.

Worse than that, if reductionism is true, then all that exists in a metaphysically basic sense are millions of identical particles, behaving according to simple mathematical rules, a la Conway's game of life. There is no real line you can draw around one group of particles and think of it as a person, that would be a purely subjective choice that doesn't actually mean anything in reality. The things that you think you see around you aren't real. There are no men or women, there isn't even a self. Furthermore, statements or propositions you make don't have any meaning in the sense of true or false either since the concepts that make them up don't mean anything, and therefore neither does logic hold.

So in this materialist worldview there is no justice, no morality, no truth or reason or logic, or even self. These concepts are all contradicted by the nature of reality. They are essentially meaningless and impossible.

Yet despite all of this, they will still continue to speak as if these were true. They will talk about what you ought to do for your well-being, how you should be rational, use reason, seek truth, be logical, and speak as if people are real, that things around them are real, that they matter, and that there is meaning in life.

All of this is contradicted by their own philosophy, and so they are being incoherent, and engaging wholesale in the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/3/2017 at 5:58 PM, epistemologue said:

Someone asked: "is determinism (or causation, I may be mixing the two up if they're different) not the way all logic and science works when talking about anything? ... studies that seem to indicate that free will may be more of an illusion"

The reductionist materialism of the "scientific worldview", does embrace determinism and the idea that free will is an illusion.

Logic does not dictate this, though, actually the reductionist worldview is incoherent. Without free will, morality or ethics would be a meaningless science, people will act strictly according to prior causes, and can't change their behavior based on a morality. So there would be no "good" or "bad", no right or wrong, no justice, nothing. These terms would be essentially meaningless. If behavior is determined, then what people do, just *is* what they do, there's no alternative to compare it against, it wasn't right or wrong, or better or worse, it just *happened*.

 

This is a non-sequitur. Deterministic systems such as computer programs actually can learn and modify their behavior in response to new data.

Quote

Worse than that, if reductionism is true, then all that exists in a metaphysically basic sense are millions of identical particles, behaving according to simple mathematical rules, a la Conway's game of life. There is no real line you can draw around one group of particles and think of it as a person, that would be a purely subjective choice that doesn't actually mean anything in reality.

 

Again, a non-sequitur. If the concept of "person" makes sense , then it is definitely possible to check whether a given group of particles satisfies the "person relation" or not.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

This is a non-sequitur. Deterministic systems such as computer programs actually can learn and modify their behavior in response to new data.

One may count using one's fingers, but one's fingers can't count. A computer program, aside from the programmer, is as deterministic as the computer which runs the program. It can only "learn" and "modify" its "behavior" to the extent the programmer understands and exploits his understanding of the finite deterministic aspects of the device.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, dream_weaver said:

One may count using one's fingers, but one's fingers can't count. A computer program, aside from the programmer, is as deterministic as the computer which runs the program. It can only "learn" and "modify" its "behavior" to the extent the programmer understands and exploits his understanding of the finite deterministic aspects of the device.

 

This isn't exactly true. The exact behavior of a program may not be known to a programmer prior to actually running the program.

For example, programmers are capable of making chess AI's that are FAR better chess players than the programmers themselves.

Edited by SpookyKitty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

This isn't exactly true. The exact behavior of a program may not be known to a programmer prior to actually running the program.

For example, programmers are capable of making chess AI's that are FAR better chess players than the programmers themselves.

You missed the gist of my post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

This isn't exactly true. The exact behavior of a program may not be known to a programmer prior to actually running the program.

Human beings can't apprehend or focus on more than one (or perhaps two) things at a time.  That is the power and importance of writing, mathematics and programming.  It allows us to greatly extend past our inherent limitations (think of the severe limitations imposed on an illiterate, innumerate person in a literate society).

Just because programs exceed Man's perceptual limits of apprehension does not mean that the program is some how "thinking".  It is still merely executing algorithms written by the programmer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, dream_weaver said:

You missed the gist of my post.

Can you explain it better, then?

Quote

Just because programs exceed Man's perceptual limits of apprehension does not mean that the program is some how "thinking".  It is still merely executing algorithms written by the programmer.

Well, what do you mean by "thinking"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

Can you explain it better, then?

I would say epistemolgue is expounding on the following:

Determinism is the theory that everything that happens in the universe—including every thought, feeling, and action of man—is necessitated by previous factors, so that nothing could ever have happened differently from the way it did, and everything in the future is already pre-set and inevitable. Every aspect of man’s life and character, on this view, is merely a product of factors that are ultimately outside his control. Objectivism rejects this theory.

The facts that man can create computers and develop programming languages and write programs that emulate playing chess that can "beat" a chess Grandmaster is further evidence for the rejection of the theory of determinism.

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, dream_weaver said:

I would say epistemolgue is expounding on the following:

Determinism is the theory that everything that happens in the universe—including every thought, feeling, and action of man—is necessitated by previous factors, so that nothing could ever have happened differently from the way it did, and everything in the future is already pre-set and inevitable. Every aspect of man’s life and character, on this view, is merely a product of factors that are ultimately outside his control. Objectivism rejects this theory.

The facts that man can create computers and develop programming languages and write programs that emulate playing chess that can "beat" a chess Grandmaster is further evidence for the rejection of the theory of determinism.

 

What if I told you that programs can also write programs?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

This is a non-sequitur. Deterministic systems such as computer programs actually can learn and modify their behavior in response to new data.

I might have misunderstood Epist, but it looks like he means that morality (and free will) can't be used to modify behavior if determinism were true, not that behavior can't be changed without morality or free will. If volition is a pre-requirement for morality, and morality is a guide to flourishing through deliberately altering behavior, then losing volition means behavior alteration through moral standards is not possible.

EDIT: posted too soon.

" Again, a non-sequitur. If the concept of "person" makes sense , then it is definitely possible to check whether a given group of particles satisfies the "person relation" or not. "

How? Of course you could set a group of particles as equal to a person, but the causal nature is not so simple as "what these particles do in tandem". I've got a few replies in mind depending on your answer.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/5/2017 at 1:52 PM, SpookyKitty said:

What if I told you that programs can also write programs?

What is a computer program? If you look inside a computer all you will see is a bunch of charged and uncharged circuits. Where is this "program" you are talking about?

A computer program is usually defined as a set of instructions. Since a set is a mental collection of things, this implies that a conscious mind has grouped the instructions together. Without a conscious observer that is capable of reasoning (i.e., free will), there is no computer program, just bits.

For that matter, I've noticed that a general picture of the program usually exists in my mind before I even begin programming. The process of creating the program usually consists of breaking this picture down into parts, and then breaking each part down into the syntax of the language I am using.

Edited by William O

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×