Is free will possible in a deterministic universe?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Sarkus, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    An earthworm can, if sufficiently motivated with heat lamps, eventually learn to crawl left instead of right.

    Does it "choose" to crawl left instead of right? Or is it simply repeated stimulus/response adaptation?

    The entire argument of this thread is that adapting does not necessarily mean it had any choice in the matter.

    So earthworms are self-determining, because they adapted to take a different action, based on experience.
    Write4U likes this.
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    As I said, it's recreational. From the outset it selectively filters what "free will" is going to be in its game, and THAT is whatever will make it incompatible with determinism. The whole object is to invent an issue, to maintain a conflict. Whether it is the feuding between those basic offspring it engenders and subsumes or any next-level wrangling with rival brother compatibilism.

    The folly is treating such a game too seriously, or at least as still important when outside of or not playing in its own artificial contrivances. The other pejorative "garbled" is intended in similar context. But recreations can no doubt seem serious and pregnant with importance when romping within their boundaries.

    Something I stated earlier: "On the flip side, compatibilism becomes an unnecessary label once the folly of incompatibilism is dismissed. You don't need the fix-it tool of "no incongruity" if "incongruity" was an invented and garbled fabrication from the outset."

    Even if this thread is compatibilism versus incompatiblism, one first has to touch upon how the latter spawns internal conflict with its own progeny before jumping to the next level of its cat-and-mouse with compatiblism. Compatibilism is dignifying incompatibilism by even designating itself with that label. Via that it slots as a reaction to the latter, and accordingly linking itself to that category or family. It might be better to say that compatibilism and incompatibilsm can be elevated together to a more inclusive hypernym or umbrella concept where they can be deemed as rival aspects of it, feuding with each other just as incompatibilism's own sub-members do.

    The very designation of "compatibilism" ties it to the same ideational bloodline. When that label is used, it is not an independent harmony between determinism and free will (i.e., there never was a discord), but instead something sharing a yin/yang like dependency relationship with incompatibilism (which introduces discord). Lending credence to the latter school of thought's presuppositions in a backhand way. ("Don't argue with Not Even Wrong. You lend legitimacy to that candidate's policies, Mayor.")

    And accordingly one can step outside the game when nothing fruitful or practical to what is outside it is transpiring or can transpire within it. But I admit this really only applies to those who are taking it too seriously. By all means continue with another variation of the "How many angels can dance on the head a pin?" template if it's just fun and the participants understand it is about creating a problem and indulging in its quarrelsome bounty, not solving one -- or rather, preventing one to begin with. Maybe I'm the one addressing this too seriously by even bothering. Probably I am.

    As pertains to reasons circa the middle of this post, I reject the label of compatibilism and the interpretative background assumptions it is being run through to produce that classification. I reject the underlying conceptual filter to that whole framework which construes determinism and free will as so distinct or alien from each other to begin with that there is an issue of compatibilism (is or is not). So while this ponderous ideational bulk can still plop itself down and advertise as THE mindset which everyone must genuflect to... IOW, it is certainly free to label _X_ or my _X_ however it wants according to its own fundamental precondition and bias for engendering discord... I reject its labels and affiliation with the compatibilist/incompatibilist game.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    After several extended forays into and back out of this thread over the past several months, I am safe in concluding that no one can provide a definition of what exactly free will is. Heck, we cant even provide a definition for self-determinism.

    Without that, this thread is little more than unsupported opposing opinions, beating on each other. And it's causing grief. It can go nowhere but downhill.

    So I'm stepping out until and unless someone can provide a definition that we can at least agree upon.
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  7. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    duplicate post deleted
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Of course not. We here are still stuck with the supernatural assumption, for starters. We have several posters denying the existence of human willed choice and willful capability altogether. The Atlantic article I linked contains similar confusions and diverse approaches.
    If you read and consider my posts as they are written, and never mind about QQ or whatever interpretations have popped into your head, it will be easier for you to keep track of what I am posting.
    Cyanobacteria - formerly known as blue-green algae - cover the planet. They occupy almost all niches. They probably grow on your roof - certainly in the gutters - and in your yard. They do just fine in aerobic environments. You seem to be confusing them with something else.
    Yeah, it is.
    It's your understanding of free will, for example, whenever you claim it conflicts with determinism - the only one you can imagine, according to your explicit posting here.
    Only supernatural freedom of will conflicts with determinism.
    I did not create a definition. I described an observed feature. It's an accurate observation -you can verify it for yourself.
    I don't use nonexistent definitions in my arguments here.
    A set of definitions of the key subjects would end this discussion - they are a large part of what we are trying to settle.
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    My opinions have been supported at some length and detail - illustrations, examples, arguments, analysis of posts, couple of links, etc.
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Not talking about any other actor other than human.
    Why do you seek to confuse the issue?
    Btw research indicates that much depends on the critical metacognition ability being present and to what degree it is present.
    Do earthworms demonstrate the degree of metacognition needed to learn any thing?
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  11. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Again you seek to avoid the necessity of self determination to even form your opinion.

    Try having any opinion with out the learned capacity to form it...
    Self determination is not just about adaptation. It's about learning to choose how to adapt.
  12. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    It's not about agreeing or winning an argument. It about finding a higher truth by utilising collective discussion. Disagree as much as you wish if that provides you with that higher truth...or be the poorer for it if it doesn't. Your choice, your call, your gain, your is up to you to determine...which...
    Unless of course you believe you have no choice...
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I know you are. That's the problem.
    Your definition can be applied to virtually any other living organism. So it's not exactly useful.
    Earthworms and bacteria apparently can also self-determine. You need a better definition.

    Fuzzy, poorly-defined terms are central to this thread, but if it looks like those definitions can be improved, leading to some forward movement, I may chime in here and there.
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I know you are. That's the problem.
    Your definition can be applied to virtually any other living organism. So it's not exactly useful.
    Earthworms and bacteria apparently can also self-determine. You need a better definition.

    Yeah. It kinda is.

    Fuzzy, poorly-defined terms are central to this thread, but if it looks like those definitions can be improved, leading to some forward movement, I may chime in here and there.
  15. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    no, it is defined as well as it needs to be, if it applies elsewhere then good if it doesn't then too bad...

    I say: Life is directly related to self determination in humans
    and you wish to discuss earth worms... why?

    The definition is found in most common online dictionaries...
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  16. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    I fully agree that they are indistinguishable in their physical reality.
    Two things that don’t exist are equal in their physical reality and features.
    The capability you mention is simply an abstraction of what one thinks one to be capable of at any given moment, the array of options open to it if the input allows.
    But there is only ever going to be that input that was predetermined from the dawn of time.
    And from that there will only ever be the one output that must follow.
    Everything else is just a subjective viewpoint based on what little information of reality that we have.
    Causation does not go backward, and I have never said it does.
    But since everything is predetermined in a deterministic universe, the future is set in stone.
    The future predetermined outcome is factual to the extent that it will come to pass, and nothing else will come to pass other than that predetermined future.
    It is as much a fact of the present conditions as the present itself.
    Any considered future other than that factual future is thus counterfactual.
    A perceived capability at a given moment that is not factually present at that moment is counterfactual.
    There is no “obvious fact” to overlook.
    If I want to discuss the subject of rhetoric with you then I will engage with you in the linguistics forum.
    I do, however, find it more than humourous that you raise issue with what you consider to be irrelevant words by writing 3 irrelvevant paragraphs.
    That should warn you.
    As stated, there were reasons for the words posted.
    If they do nothing for you, great, move on.
    It was raised to act as a reminder of your previous confusion with what determinism entails, and to act as warning of any claims of quantum mechanics and a probabilistic universe being deterministic.
    I have seen you use the phrase in your post here, sure, but it lacked relevance.
    Similarly elsewhere.
    I am thus asking for examples of where you think it is relevant.
    And the explanation has been duly provided above, although I am still at a loss as to how you think issues of whether something is counterfactual or not has a bearing on the temporal direction of causality.
    Care to actually explain why you think it relevant?
    Your efforts at pop-psychology are adorable.
    You are also confusing a lack of registering the point with disagreement with it.
    Insults aside, you keep claiming this yet I have seen no evidence of it, no evidence of anyone, ever, having the capability of stopping or going at the same moment in time.
    “Capabilities” that you refer to are mostly counterfactual ones, in that only one of them will transpire, only one of them is factual.
    What exists is not the capability but the thought that the capabilities exist, the imagined scenarios in which one or the other option is enacted.
    Those thoughts exist, not an actual capability.
    No one here is denying the existence of high level mental events, no one is reacting to them as if they were essentially supernatural, which must mean that no one here is a delusional materialist.
    Lucky us that you’re arguing a straw man, then.
    They do genuinely exist.
    There is just no freedom within them, no capability of doing anything other than what was already predetermined to do.
    No one, as far as I can tell, has denied the existence of these processes, and on numerous occasions have even explicitly stated as much to you and to others.
    So I suggest you pop your straw man back into whatever drawer you pulled him out of.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  17. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    I think this has been mentioned to you before, but whether or not a person, a self-determining organism, comprehends objective reality or not does not stop it being objective reality.
    If, as premised, determinism is the objective reality, then that is what it is, regardless of anything else.
    So the lack of any “you”, not that I agree there would be such a lack, is irrelevant to the objective reality.
    That is what it means to be objective.
    So to argue that, somehow, determinism defeats itself logically without self determinism is wrong.
    Determinism, without self determinism, would simply remain what it always is: determinism.
    I don’t need to determine that x is x for x to be x: x will be x whether I am here or not.
    Objectivity remains.
    That is what it means to be objective.
    Determinism is the objective in the hypothetical universe we are discussing, because that is what we have premised it to be.
    No, it doesn’t.
    Objectivity simply requires something to be what it is irrespective of perspective.
    How is a deterministic universe, the one we have premised in this thread, not one that has binary logic?
    Given that computers are a reasonable example of a deterministic system, and computers operate on binary logic, im struggling to see how you have reached your assertion?
    Quite simply rubbish.
    Determinism describes the nature of the causal relationship between cause and effect, in that the effect is completely determined by the preceding causes.
    So, again, I am struggling to understand your thought process here, as you don’t seem to be making much sense?
    The single chain of events described by the initial conditions and the laws of the deterministic universe is the objective reality, along with those laws.
    Objectivity is the concept of being true independent of any subjective viewpoint.
    I.e. it is what remains when there is nothing to perceive it.
    To speak of the objective not existing if there is no self-determinism is to misunderstand what it means to be objective.
    If you want to talk of a material dualism then go right ahead and expand on that, and how it fits within the deterministic universe premised here.
    Otherwise I’m not sure how it is relevant.
    Perhaps you can expand to show how it is?
  18. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Then the analogy to the deterministic universe is flawed, as the deterministic universe governs everything, even if that is through the complex condensed activity of life.
  19. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Understood, and I do agree.
    Here I disagree.
    The largest population in the game is split on lines on in/compatibilism.
    Only when agreeing on that point would the incompatibilists turn inward and look at what further subdivides them, if anything.
    If the thread debate was along the lines of “Assuming freewill is incompatible with determinism, what does that say of our reality?” or some such then this premises the incompatibilist position and all hell can break loose between the previously peaceful factions.
    For someone clearly not keen to put on the sponsored shirt and join the game, you are doing a good job of explaining why you don’t think you’ll partake, even while watching the game unfold in front of you (and by “unfold” I just mean watching the ball get kicked back and forward across the halfway line, with no one actually moving, apart from the occasional player with their eyes closed or unaware of the rules).

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    Feel free to reject the label, the sponsored shirt.
    But if you want to join the game you will almost certainly have views that see you on one team or the other.
    And bear in mind that if something looks, moves, and sounds like a duck then it almost certainly is a duck, whether it rejects being called one or not.

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  20. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    I stated earlier that actors in a simulation would have their actions completely determined in the context of that simulation. The creators of that simulation who would be considered intelligent actors themselves, would be actors who’s actions where determined by the whole of the universe as well. Every actor, whether simulated or not is ultimately an expression of the greater universe. If the universe itself happens to be a conscious intelligent actor, it too is a product of its own compositional nature.
    The problem with your description is that there is no apparent autonomy with regards to the ordered nature of the universe. When you consider all of the universal material interaction that comprise the action of human and non human matter, there is no autonomy to do as one or it pleases, it’s all strictly regulated by the greater whole.
    There are variations of quantum theory that leave nothing to chance, and leave open the ability to describe any action in complete detail. When Dave asserts that if a given process is repeated, he means that universally all conditions are identical, as if the entire universe was rewound to a given instant.
    The choice of any entity is simply its universally determined action. You can term human choice as a calculation based on the nature of human physiology, and term the vector of a golf ball a calculation based on the physical nature of a golf ball. Every aspect of the nature of those two entities is a result of a universally determined sequential cascade of events, and the actual calculation in each case involves not just a snapshot in time, but the entirety of time and space prior to the event in question.
    There is by definition no freedom of action in a completely deterministic system. If you want to play QQ’s game and propose a semi deterministic reality, then have at it, because it’s the only way to accommodate the contradictory elements of your present stance.
    No, more accurately stated, humans are the entities that the universe wields to produce human action. In the same way the universe wields humans to wield wrenches to produce the action of a wrench. Both are just examples of universally determined tools.
    Human decision is a miniscule factor on the stage that put the human entity and the golf ball in position to play their respective parts. It took an eternity of sequential universal action to finally tip that human domino into the golf ball domino to express the determined momentary result. That’s how the overall mechanism actually works.
    A completely determined system only has one possible outcome for any given moment, which leaves no option for alternate outcomes. Any notion of alternate possibilities can only exist as a subjective interpretation of reality based on incomplete knowledge.
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  21. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    so you say , yet you refuse to offer any logical reason to support the limitations you are placing upon your deterministic paradigm.
    In the deterministic paradigm I use human self determination is essential.
    • It is logically inclusive of observed phenomena.
    • It allows for an objective universe that science requires.
    • It does not force freewill to be a supernatural phenomena.
    • And it addresses the op question rather than blocking it.
    All you and Cap are doing as far as I can tell is repeating constantly a failed version of determinism with out any real desire to understand why it is a failure.

    Why do I think it is a failure?
    It is a failure because the question is still being asked after 2500 odd years:
    Does freewill exist in a deterministic universe?
    If it was a successful philosophy there would be no need to ask the question.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  22. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    It's a "game" now, which is all that eliminativism of the compatibilism complex (is or is not compatible) as being anymore than recreation could ask for.

    More than happy to accommodate the rules of a refereed game and its pre-established certainties, taxonomy, selective biases, and agendas by bowing out. It's a given that a royal procession of one of those through the streets wouldn't feature a window of tolerance for spectators remarking: "The emperor has no clothes!" Indeed, one might question the mental fitness of its designers if it did.
  23. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    You do know the difference between the word determined and the word influence don't you?
    To say that some event is being completely determined by a given actor ( universe ) with out offering a rational reason to support it is a bit lazy don't you think?
    There need not be autonomy from the universe, just delegation from the Principle, or in religious circles often refereed to as "Grace"

    For you and others to lock in your thoughts on fatalistic determinism, (whether secular or religious) you need to address the issues argued against them in a way that is logical and rational.

    As yet you are still not addressing the numerous issues raised but merely repeat your call to authority statements, that frankly mean little and are suggestive of irrational denial.
    1. Arbitrary and subjective limitations on what the universe can or can not predetermine.
    2. Inability to define "will"or the word "free"
    3. Refusal to acknowledge the "Life" factor, and all the unknowns concerning it.
    4. Predetermined evolution of learned self determination.
    5. The ability to be objective (scientific) relies on self determination.
    6. Ample evidence of self determination in humans.
    7. Macro determinations vs micro determinations.
    8. Meta-cognition and mirror self awareness

    ...and a heap more, that I can't think of at the moment but will add later when I do...

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