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Everything posted by Malkuth

  1. The statement is saying that all things are caused, yes, but it's saying that all the things that resulted from the cause are the only things that could result from that cause. You can still have causality--cause and effect relationships--without having determinism. You can have some set of initial conditions which can result in multiple sets of final conditions, any of which would be caused by the initial conditions. The initial conditions could, say, be the state of the world at the moment of a person's birth. If any set of initial conditions could only result in one, inevitable set of final conditions at any time, then anything going on at any time during the person's life (what they do, what they think, etc) would have been determined by those initial conditions. Your last statement is a simpler way of stating the same thing, I believe. In order for the person's life to be determined in such a way, of course, nature as a whole would have to be. The environment influences your choices, your relationships, your thoughts, and various other things, so if the conditions of the environment at any point in time are not the inevitable result of the environment's initial conditions, neither are a person's thoughts or actions.
  2. Make up your mind. So you're saying that thoughts aren't the result of electrochemical processes occuring in the brain? The data is encoded in some physical form, whether it be in terms of electric charge, polarity, varying frequency or varying amplitude in radio waves, or grooves, and all the processes that read it follow the laws of physics. The things that read it are physical things and upon reading the commands do processes which are also dictated by physical law.
  3. I see. So not all forms of determinism state that our actions are predetermined, only that our actions are entirely controlled by impersonal phenomena? That is, there are forms of determinism in which a person could, in principle, take either or two actions, as neither is predetermined? If this is so, I don't see how those forms of determinism conflict with volition. And I still fail to understand how volition is axiomatic. I can see that it is intuitive, but that doesn't make it necessarily true. The chicken and egg had both evolved from ancestral species of birds, dinosaurs (or dinosaur-like creatures), amphibians, fish, invertibrates (I'm supposing worm-like creatures), etc, and their eggs. The first eggs (and sperm) were probably nearly identical, except that an egg could not fertilize another egg and a sperm could not fertilize another sperm. Prior to that, there may have been three such reproductive cells, as in fungi, and prior to that, all reproductive cells were probably the same. The egg obviously came before the chicken, but it was the egg of another species. Since the chicken-and-the-egg question has been addressed, could you address LauricAcid's question?
  4. I'll define determinism as any philosophical theory which states that all states are inevitable results of initial conditions. That encompasses the assertion that all choices made by conscious beings are predetermined. I define volition as the ability to consciously take one of two or more possible actions. I'm not entirely sure if this contradicts determinism, but I suppose you could say that if the action taken is predetermined, then it's not possible for other actions to be taken, and determinism would assert that volition (like probability, according to determinism) doesn't really exist but is a useful conceptual tool for analysis. Assume for a moment that determinism is true (a false assumption, but assume it for the sake of discussion). There is no such thing, metaphysically, as 'probability'--what will happen is predetermined. If we flip a coin, a certain outcome will inevitably occur--either it will be heads or it will be tails. We, however, don't know what the result will be, so we invent probability to approximately describe the distribution of results. We think of probability as something that exists, even though it really doesn't--it's an illusion. Volition would, according to determinism, be illusionary in a somewhat analogous way. Physical phenomena includes matter, energy, charge, momentum, spin, fields... pretty much anything that can be observed. I don't see why I can't assert with impunity that consciousness is a physical phenomenon. This is somewhat true, I believe. There's a certain problem in defining things like matter, however--definitions relate concepts to previously known concepts, and when you get to basic properties like matter and charge, you're going to get tautological definitions; a definition of one phenomenon will refer you to a second phenomenon, and the definition of the second will refer you back to the first. Matter is anything which has mass (...and takes up space? I think singularities have zero volume), if I remember correctly, and mass is a measure of the amount of matter. Quantum mechanics is a very well-supported theory. Perhaps they meant that certain popular interpertations of it are bunk. If consciousness is physical phenomena, a good philosophy should acknowledge this and not assign contradictory properties to consciousness and to non-conscious physical phenomena. A philosophy should either say both consciousness and non-conscious physical phenomena are deterministic, or neither of them are, unless it wishes to assert that consciousness is not physical phenomena... but then you're getting into the supernatural.
  5. I'm curious, how do you define volition? Because I don't see how determinism is necessarily false because volition exists. But the actions matter takes aren't strictly predetermined. The nature of the matter determines the way that it can behave and the probability that it will behave in that way, but the initial conditions of a particle of matter and its environment don't cause a single, inevitable, predetermined final set of conditions. (This is what quantum mechanics says; there are, however, hidden variable theories which state that there are, well, hidden variables that we just aren't aware of and that matter really does behave in deterministic ways, but I don't think there's any evidnece for these. I've also read that some 'Bell Inequality' is supposed to challenge hidden variable theories, but I don't know anything about it. Anyway, this is science, not philosophy, and I should try to avoid going off subject. I'm just bringing this up because it is relevant to determinism.) However, if matter (and waves and fields and all physical phenomena) always did behave in a predetermined way, then conscious beings should as well, because those beings--and consciousness--are physical phenomena, and if it's in the nature of physical phenomena to be strictly deterministic, then it should be in the nature of consciousnesses--being physical phenomena--to be strictly deterministic.
  6. Since consciousness is physical phenomena, just as anything else, its actions should be predetermined if all other physical phenomena are. If the actions which a conscious being takes are not predetermined, then the most fundamental physical phenomena must not be deterministic either, and the actions of non-conscious entities can't be predetermined either.
  7. Well, there are more states of matter that have been observed. Going from cold to hot (...roughly), the ones I know of (that have been created in labs) are: 1.) Fermionic condensates -- fermions, at low enough temperatures, form Cooper pairs and act like bosons in an Einstein-Bose condensate. 2.) Einstein-Bose condensates -- I'm not sure of the exact mechanisms by which this works, but it has something to do with the fact that the particles which go into this state are bosons and tend to go into the same quantum state. When cooled to a low enough temperature (higher than the temperature required for fermionic condensates to form), bosonic subtances such as helium become superfluids which have zero viscocity. 3.) Crystalline solids -- solids which exhibit a periodic crystalline structure. 4.) Quasi-crystals -- solids which exhibit a patterned, but aperiodic structure. 5.) Amorphous solids, or glasses -- rigid substances with no definite crystal structure. 6.) Liquid crystals (or was it crystal liquid?) -- I don't know anything about it. 7.) Liquids -- a non-rigid substance without a definite shape, with a definite volume, which exhibits a nonzero viscocity. 8.) Gasses -- Substance without a definite shape or volume... probably some other factors in defining it which I'm not aware of. 9.) ...I'm not sure of the name for this, but it's an odd fluid of some sort which you get when you raise a substance's temperature beyond the critical temperature, where seperate liquid and gas phases no longer exist. 10.) Electrical plasma -- Electrons are no longer bound to atoms. 11.) Gluon-quark plasma -- Quarks are no longer bound together. I haven't heard anything about this until now. So unless I've missed something (I probably have), this is the 11th state of matter created in a lab. ...and then there are all those that haven't been created in labs yet, like supersymmetric matter, which Rational One was referring to. It is classified as a phase/state of matter, by the way.
  8. All one really needs to do to disprove causal determinism is, of course, to demonstrate that two situations with identical initial conditions can result in different final conditions. I believe quantum mechanics already states this. Causality, however, still holds true, so I'd think the stance of 'free will'--if all it says is that causality holds true and determinism doesn't--is the most justifiable stance. Causal determinism doesn't say that a person can't be convinced of something, it only says that whether a person will be convinced of something or not is predetermined.
  9. Makes sense. I did know that causal determinism says that any state the universe is in--and any choice a person makes--is the only, inevitible result of initial conditions, but I don't seemed to have expressed that well. So it would be correct to say that causality isn't necessarily determinism because causality simply states that everything is the result of the cause and everything has an effect, but not that there is only one possible effect resulting from a particular cause? And that it's possible to get different final conditions from the same initial conditions, and causality (but not determinism) will still hold true? Alright, I see that I was confused when I made my previous post. So the stance of 'free will' as an alternative stance to determinism simply states that causality holds true, and that determinism is false?
  10. Are you having trouble explaining this to people who don't believe that laissez-faire capitalism and selfishness are good things to begin with? If that's so, part of the problem may be that they simply don't want to believe what you have to say is true. Or they could find what you have to say to be completely absurd; the word 'selfishness' has an extremely negative connotation attached to it and is usually associated with infringement of others' rights in order to satisfy one's own wants. Try to explain to them that you promote rational self-interest, which excludes any sort of infringements on others' rights. Also explain that a truly rationally self-interested person refrains from any such infringements on others' rights, because he wishes to help maintain an ordered society so that his own rights are respected. (That is, rationally selfish individuals mutually respect each others' rights so that their own tihys are respected. In a dog-eat-dog world without such a mutual respect, no-one's rights are safe, so it is in a person's best interest to engage in a mutual respect of others' rights.) Another potential problem is that you don't have your thoughts on the subject organized, in which case you should try organizing them on paper. Perhaps try to write a few essays on why you support laissez-faire capitalism and selfishness.
  11. I apologize if this seems an ignorant question, but what exactly do you mean when you speak of free will, volition, and choice? I understand their practical usage in everyday speech (ie, if a person can take one of two actions, and consciously takes one of them, he/she is said to have chosen that action, and the ability to choose between the two is volition), but I don't understand what is meant to free will as an alternative to causal determinism. Determinism would say that certain phenomena caused the person to make the choice that they did, and the choice that the peson made was the inevitable result of such phenomena. But what does the concept of free will say caused the person to make the choice that they did? Did something particular cause the person to make the choice they did, and this particular cause is somehow contradictory to causal determinism and unique to free will? Or did nothing cause the choice at all--it just happened? Or am I missing--or misinterperting--something?
  12. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the wavefunction of the atom (which was previously in a superposition between the parent and daughter isotope) collapse as soon as the state of the atom has a consequence on anything else? That is, doesn't the wavefunction collapse as soon as the particle it emits triggers the apparatus that releases the cyanide? If I remember correctly, the "observer" which causes a wavefunction to collapse in any situation in quantum mechanics doesn't have to be a conscious one. For example, if you set up the doulbe slit experiment in such a way that you could, in principle, tell which slit the photon/electron/particle/whatever went through, then the particle would behave "as a particle" rather than "as a wave" and no interference pattern would be observed--even if no conscious observer chose to take into account which slit the particle went through. Whatever apparatus was set up to detect which slit the particle went through could be considered an "unconscious observer" in this instance. In the Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment, the apparatus which triggers the release of the cyanide would be the "unconscious observer." Of course, I don't know much about quantum mechanics, so I don't know if this interpertation is at all correct. I would appreciate if anyone would care to verify or correct me.
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