Is free will possible in a deterministic universe?

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

  1. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    As explained numerous times before, anything that is certain to occur is set in stone.
    Are you that unable to come up with something that is certain?
    Is that the issue here?
    Okay - so let's assume you really are that incapable, and let's pick the death of someone's pet dog.
    This dog's death is, alas, certain, it is set in stone.
    Is this an adequate example for you?
    Now, are you saying that this dog's death already exists as a state?
    If so, then sure, you're an Eternalist, but the growing block brigade, and the Presentists, would agree with each other that the state of the dog being dead does not yet exist as a state.
    Does this resolve your little issue here, your incapability of coming up with anything that is certain?
    Or are you still failing to grasp the difference between something being certain and the small matter of ontology?
    I can't prevent something being irrelevant just because you bleat on about it being relevant yet fail to provide anything to support it being so.
    I have explained repeatedly to you why I consider it irrelevant, and you have simply refused to listen, and you continue to refuse to explain why it is relevant.
    That you don't care about being taken seriously is all too apparent.
    Only one of us here is providing anything of substance, anything by way of support for their position.
    And here's a big hint: it isn't you.
    Your judgement in the matter is as relevant as you have shown the theory of time to be to this thread: i.e. not at all.
    When you want to offer something that is actually relevant, I'll be here to listen.
    I have not only fully explained why I consider the theory of time irrelevant, I have also explained many times to you why your assertions of it being relevant are wrong.
    You have not countered any of those explanations, nor supported your assertions, and are now simply throwing a tantrum and have started crying.
    So let's see if you can follow these dots:
    Does the theory of time affect the nature of determinism?
    Is the nature of determinism sufficient to provide argument that free will is not possible in a deterministic universe?
    Is raising an issue that does not affect the nature of determinism therefore an irrelevancy?
    Would certainly seem to be.

    Now, I have no doubt that you want to dispute the middle of these answers, so please feel free.
    And who knows, in doing so you may, even just once, show that the theory of time really is relevant to the issue.
    But you haven't done that yet, no matter how much you keep asserting that you have.
    You're the only one wasting people's time, Vociferous.
    You're the one failing to support your claim that the theory of time is relevant to the issue.
    If you can't be bothered to do that, and it is patently clear that you can't be, then be a good little boy, stop crying, and leave the conversation to the grown-ups.
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  3. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Setting FW aside for the moment, can one ask if in a determiniscic universe certain non-deterministic processes are mathematically "permitted"?
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  5. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I'd like to think so, but...
    And there you go confusing assumption with conclusion. There is no such assumption. There is simply an assumption of a deterministic universe, and an assumption of what freedom is. And I, and others, have been at lengths to give you the out that if you use a different notion of what it means for something to be free then you will conclude differently. But you, for whatever reason, try instead to claim that there is an assumption of "supernatural freedom", which is patently, and demonstrably, false.
    There is no such assumption, thus you are arguing a strawman.
    If you want to argue about what it means for something to be free, have at it. Noone is stopping you. But don't confuse that for assuming the conclusion.
    False. It is a conclusion, reached from the assumption of what it means for something to be false that is being used in the argument presented, and the assumption of the deterministic universe in the argument presented. I get it that you want to use a different notion of what it means to be free. I have always given you that out, as have others, that if you want to discuss another notion of what it means to be free then you will get a different result. And I, and others, will happily argue with you that your notion offers no actual freedom to do anything, that everything is predetermined to play out exactly as it does, and that any freedom you think you have is illusory, and that any freedom you describe will be of the kind found in a thermostat, for example.
    If you mean, trying to clear the muddiness of your strawman from the issue, that noone has granted that freedom is the ability to do other than one must, my response is that "being able to do otherwise" (i.e. than one must) is the oldest notion going in these debates as to what freedom of will requires.
    Every example you have given, all the hours you have spent on your illustrations, explanations, examples, show nothing that is genuinely free, offers nothing that offers an ability to do otherwise. It flounders on the rock of it being nothing but the appearance of it, the illusion of it. Sure, you can deny the assumption of what it means to be free, and you can beg the question by going with a notion that assumes it exists - which you do when you reject all notions of freedom that you would otherwise conclude to not exist - as is your strategy. And in using a different notion of freedom you will reach a different conclusion. So be it. Noone has stopped you. You can come up with a different notion of what it means to be free, post a different argument, and come to a different conclusion. So go at it.
    And you will only ever be able to come up with a notion that is the appearance of being able to do something different, etc. Such is the way of things.
    It is being discussed: and my conclusion is that it is not possible, for all the reasons given. How is that not discussing the possibility?
    And back you go to confusing assumption with conclusion. Is there really no hope for you in this regard?
    Well, we've had more than a few look at that very question, and certainly a good few reach the same conclusion I do. We have all looked at the very question, and none of us see freedom as being possible within a deterministic universe, other than as an illusion. I get that you don't like the answer, but it is rather churlish for you to thus claim that such people have not looked at the question when they have gone to lengths to provide an answer to it.
    As far as a good portion of the contributers to this thread, they have aimed, fired, and hit the target squarely in the bulls-eye. If you want to swap weapons and take another aim, sure, you can hit a different target.
    No, not that it had to conclude before it could begin. Unless you want to beg the question, of course, which does seem to a tactic you want to favour in this matter, it seems. The thread asks the question "is it possible...". So just answer it, provide argument in support of your anwer. Not too difficult is it?
    Question: is a perpetual motion machine possible? Yeah, we could all discuss "well, if it is possible then we might come up with a definition of natural perpetual motion". Or, you know, we could just answer the question posed.
    Since there is no supernatural assumption to get over, who can really say how long it will take you to get past you seeing your ghosts?

    I get that you don't like the notion of freedom used in the argument presented way back, I really do. I get that freedom being the ability to do otherwise (than one must) is too much of a limit for you to be able to claim freewill exists, even though it is the notion that has been debated for aeons. I get that you favour a notion that allows freewill to exist, because that is what you want to conclude. And I also get that you don't comprehend what determinism is and entails. But hey, I guess we play the hands we're deal, right.
    Well, I've been at the table for too long, so I'll leave you to play with whoever still cares what you have to say.
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Only if one doesn't consider all the causes that wholly determine the state of the system - what I would consider an open system in this context. E.g. in a deterministic universe, processes can appear non-deterministic. If state A of the system can equally lead to state B or to state C, A is not wholly determining the effect - i.e. the system appears non-deterministic - there must be something outside of the system state A that is determining which of B or C results. When one includes what that determining factor is, such that state A wholly determines the effect (i.e. always the same effect) then the system is deterministic again, and there is no appearance of non-determinism.
    Thus a deterministic system can at best appear non-deterministic due to not considering all the pertinent factors that wholly determine the effect. Contrast this to an inherently indeterministic process where, even when you take in all pertinant factors, the system is still non-deterministic.

    It's the difference between a deterministic psuedo-random number generator, and something that is truly random. If you didn't take into account what was creating the number, the deterministic pseudo-random number would appear to be indeterministic. But if you took into account all the factors that drive that number, it would be clearly deterministic. The truly random number has no factors behind it to take into account, and is inherently indeterministic. Which has no place in a deterministic universe.
    cluelusshusbund and Write4U like this.
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    And the supernatural assumption once again faceplants your argument. (Remember when I pointed out that "genuine" is one of your many euphemisms for "supernatural"? You should have paid better attention)
    Until you learn to quit making it, you will never be able discuss natural freedom of will.
    You gave no reasons.
    As far as discussing the possibility - you were the one claiming it didn't belong here, getting possibility mixed up with assumption, etc. This is what I was replying to - it's one of yours: "Try a different thread for discussion of freewill that starts with the assumption that it exists, if that is what you want."

    Again: I don't need the ability to do otherwise, because I want to discuss natural freedom of will. Everything natural does what it must, by assumption and definition. Supernatural freedom, being able to do other than one must, is irrelevant to me (I am not a supernatural being) - there's no evidence for it, and no need of it.

    To repeat: The ability to do other than one must is irrelevant to a discussion of natural freedom of will in a deterministic universe. It is a supernatural ability, and the matter up for discussion is natural - not supernatural - freedom of will.
    That's the supernatural stuff. We have assumed it does not exist.
    The discussion topic was natural freedom of will - as recorded in a lab, say, or by a traffic camera, or by observation of physical reality.
    It specifically, explicitly, and repeatedly, is not. That is supernatural freedom, and it imposes no limit whatsoever on me. I'm trying to discuss the possibility of natural freedom of will. Natural freedom is not the ability to do other than one must.
    You claim to "get" my posts, and then immediately prove that after months you still have no idea what the central point of them is and has been from day one.

    As far as supernatural freedom having been discussed for aeons - as this discussion demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt, discussing supernatural freedom for a long, long time says nothing about a discussion of natural freedom. Furthermore: The ancient thinkers were very deep thinkers, but I would not be surprised if we needed the findings of modern science to free us from naive materialism. It's obviously very difficult to extricate oneself from that rut, without help. We needed the physical demonstration of the derivative and contingent nature of cause/effect, to force a new perspective.
  9. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Now you're just making a faulty analogy to your own bare assertion. Your own "set in stone" is not only about events but also about their cause and timing. That something will certainly happen, like death or taxes, has nothing to do with when or how those certainties will be realized, and thus tell us nothing about the nature of time as it pertains to determinism. So if you really think that vague and abstracted certainties alone are sufficient to tell how time relates to determinism, the incapacity is still yours. After all, you're the one who complained that abstractions of things like "smoking causes death" were irrelevant to determinism. So by your own previous argument, this analogy of yours is equally irrelevant. Certainty in a future event of unknown date or cause are not "set in stone" in any manner that anchors it to a specific time or cause, which are necessary elements of a deterministic future.

    Now if you say you're certain that this dog will die next January from being hit by a car, you'd again be back to needing to explain how that specific future is certain without yet existing. If you still can't grasp this, I can only assume it's forever beyond you.

    If you don't see the above (which I've repeated many times now) as substantive, that's your personal problem.
  10. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    You misunderstand the purpose of the example.
    The purpose is thus: in all possible futures, the dog is dead - it is a certainty.
    So whichever future turns out to be the one determined by the system, it is certain that the future has a moment we can call "death of dog".
    But in an eternalist theory of time, the dog's death already exists as a moment, as real as any other moment in the future, present, or past.
    In a growing block and presentist theory of time, the dog's death does not yet exist as moment.
    Thus, as I have said previously, the certainty of a future event is independent of whether that future can be said to exist or not.
    Determinism is independent of the theory of time.
    You are again trying to shift the burden here on to me.
    It is you who has to show how time relates to determinism, and in a manner that makes the theory of time one adopts relevant to the issue.
    And for that I am still waiting.
    I am saying that the theory of time - i.e. the ontological status of the past, present, and future, does not relate to the nature of determinism, and thus not to the certainty of the future.
    It is the deterministic nature of the system that fully explains that future being certain.
    We personally might not know the specifics, but in a deterministic system, the future that will transpire is the only one that could possibly do so.
    It is certain / set in stone.
    If state A of a system can only lead to state B, and B to C, C to D etc (i.e. determinism), then the future is certain from the outset.
    Given state A, it will, with certainty, lead to state D.
    That is the nature of determinism that you seem to be conveniently glossing over.
    And if, as you have previously asserted, that deterministic nature is not altered by any of the theories of time that you put forth for consideration, then you have to accept that the future being set in stone, being certain, is independent of whether or not that future can be said to exist.

    So again, we are left with a system where the future states are certain (due to its deterministic nature), and where you have accepted that all three theories of time are viable.
    Now, if you disagree that a deterministic system is one where the future results are certain, I guess we can explore where your error is in that regard.
    But if you agree with that, and still agree that a deterministic system is possible in any of the theories of time, then in the Growing Block, and in the Presentist theories, you have a future that is certain - but where that future can not be said to exist.

    So your continued request for an example of a future set in stone that doesn't exist is, as I have stated from the outset, dependent only upon the theory of time you opt for, because the existence of otherwise of the future is independent of the deterministic nature, and it is that nature that means the future is certain, not the theory of time one adopts.

    And if you can't grasp this then I can only conclude it is forever beyond you.
  11. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    No, but do go on.

    The notion that that may be more than one "possible future" is necessarily one in which some degree of indeterminism exists. And since you've repeatedly said that is irrelevant to this thread, any such argument is moot, and by your own reckoning.

    At best, your now just repeating your bare assertion that anything can be "set in stone" while not yet existing. Granted, by a slight detour through the irrelevancy of indeterminism or our imprecise knowledge. IOW, you're failing to make whatever poitn you imagine you are.

    How does that differ from it already being "set"? You've repeatedly failed to give any concrete example aside from your own continued bare assertions.

    And why would something already determined to occur not yet exist? You keep dodging that central question.

    Yes, your bare assertion.

    Who said otherwise? You keep erecting this same straw man.

    Welp, I'm bored again. Ta ta.
  12. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    In a deterministic system there are no possible futures other than the one that is predetermined.
    We can talk of what we think are possible, that perception of possibility due to our lack of knowledge, but in the reality of a deterministic system there is only what is predetermined.
    Are you not able to recoginse the difference between what we perceive to be possible alternatives, and the actual lack thereof?
    If I roll a six-sided die and cover it with my hand, to you there is the perceived possibility of it showing any number from 1 to 6.
    In reality the die has already been rolled.
    No such possibility actually exists, if it is perceived to exist.
    In a deterministic system, all future states are equally already rolled, due to the nature of determinism itself.
    No, the point has been made, explained, and supported, such that any reasonably intelligent person could understand it.
    Unfortunately I don't seem to be discussing with someone up to that level.
    Because, as explained, being "set" and "existing" are different matters.
    In a deterministic universe, only in an eternalist viewpoint are they the same.
    In a presentist or growing block they are not.
    I have given you every concrete example you could want: in a deterministic universe everything is a concrete example under the presentist or growing block theories of time.
    Is that concrete enough for you?
    When Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the moon, the trajectory of the ball was set in stone.
    Even if you start the "system" from the moment it was struck, the future path of that ball was, in a deterministic system, set in stone.
    But only the eternalist would have said, at the moment it was struck, that the ball already existed at its eventual resting place.

    In a deterministic universe everything, including the future, is set in stone, predetermined, due to the reasons already given.
    Under a presentist or growing block theory of time, the future does not yet exist.
    You do the math.
    This isn't bare assertion on my part, this is simply understanding what the theories of time are, and what determinism entails.
    Because, under the presentist and growing block theories of time, nothing beyond the present exists, whether the universe under consideration is deterministic or not.
    It is the determinism that sets things in stone, and it is the theory of time that one adopts that says whether the future can be said to exist or not.
    How hard is this for you to understand?
    What exactly is your stumbling block?
    And next you'll be claiming that 1+1=2 is bare assertion.

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    If I keep saying it it is because you can't seem to separate the two: determinism entails things being set in stone, and the theory of time one adopts indicates whether one can say the future exists or not.
    So if, as you continue to say you agree, that determinism (being set in stone) is independent of the theory of time, how can you continue to be oblivious to things being set in stone (e.g. a deterministic future) not yet existing - if one adopts the presentist or growing block theory of time??
    If is because you seem to struggle with that independence, and what that can mean, that I feel I have to keep reminding you that you have agreed that the theories of time are independent of determinism.
    I think everyone's bored waiting for you to show how the theories of time are relevant to freewill in a deterministic universe.
    But then again I'd also be bored if, like you, I kept trying to push a boulder uphill only for it to slide back down due to my own misunderstandings.
  13. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Then why did you bring it up?
    That's my point. You have yet to justify how "all future states are equally already rolled" and somehow not yet existing in any real sense. You're the only one here talking about perceived possibilities. And I can't even imagine how you're connecting the dots between merely perceived possibilities somehow justifying a thing being certain but nonexistent. At best, it would seem the nonexistence of a future state to be merely a perception due to our situation in time. Where our uncertainty is the only thing that leads us to doubt the future already exists.

    You do keep saying it, but you have yet to explain or justify it beyond your repeated bare assertion that it does happen with time.

    No, that's just you presuming determinism (begging the question) while never justifying why presentism or growing block would be the case. You just keep presuming they could without any reasoning whatsoever. I'm saying that if either were the case, there would be reasons why. That notion seems beyond you though.
  14. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    To try to remove your confusion.
    When I previously referred to possible futures I was referring merely to the perception that there are possible futures.
    This seemed to confuse you, hence the clarification.
    You yourself have agreed, have you not, that none of the theories of time prevent the universe from being deterministic, that none of them alter what it means for a system to be deterministic (i.e. that all future states are already rolled)?
    As such, you yourself must agree, if you can follow simple logic, that the presentist theory of time, where only the present is said to exist, still allows the future to already be rolled!
    What of that do you not understand?
    What of that do you not accept?
    Because at the moment you're complaining that I'm not justifying something that you yourself must also be agreeing with.
    And you're the only one failing to grasp what you yourself have said you agree with.
    Go figure.
    Maybe because those are not dots that I have connected, nor can I even imagine how they could be.
    But nice straw man.
    No, the existence or non-existence of a future state, within a deterministic system, is due to the theory of time we adhere to.
    That theory is the lens through which we accept what is real or not with regard the past, present, and future.
    It is irrelevant as to the nature of the system.

    You seem to want to confuse matters massively, so let me try again to give you an analogy:
    A car can operate on whatever fuel you want it to, be it hydrogen, battery, petrol, diesel.
    A car can be red or blue or black.
    The two aspects of the car are independent of each other.
    You can thus have a red hydrogen car, just as you can have a black diesel car.

    Now change the fuel type for whether the universe is deterministic or non-deterministic.
    And change the colour for what stages of time (past, present, future) one considers to be real.
    You have agreed that the two (determinism or not) and the theory of time are independent.

    Do you yet see how you can have a deterministic system (where the future is set in stone) but where the future does not exist?
    I have said it and you have previously agreed to it.
    You yourself have agreed that a system being deterministic or not is independent of the theory of time one adopts.
    It is the deterministic nature of the system that means the future is set in stone.
    It is only the eternalist theory of time that says the future exists.

    Thus, if you agree that presentism and growing block theories are not mutually exclusive with determinism, as you have previously agreed them not to be, then you must accept that the future can be set in stone yet not exist: e.g. if one views a deterministic system through the lens of either a presentist or growing block theory of time.

    If you don't get it now then you never will.
    Seriously, if you don't get it then you're disagreeing with yourself.
    It is no more begging the question than presuming anything is to beg the question.
    As for justifying why presentism of growing block would be the case: because we have agreed - you and I - that the deterministic nature of a system is independent of the theory of time one adopts.
    We have agreed that.
    We have agreed that you can have a deterministic system and adopt any of the theories without impacting the deterministic nature of the system in any way.
    Thus the justification is simply that there is nothing stopping it.
    I'm sorry that you don't comprehend the simplicity of the situation, that you don't comprehend the very theories you put forward as being relevant, and I'm sorry that you are now arguing with yourself.
    No wonder you're bored with this thread, as the argument with yourself must clearly be far more interesting... just nor relevant here.
  15. river


    To your last statement ;

    Exactly , time has never had anything , influence nor efficacy on the Nature of the system .
  16. river

    A deterministic Universe is fundamentally critical to the existence of the Universe .

    The Periodic Table . Is the perfect example of this .
  17. river

    None of which are alive . Alive being defined as being that evolves or de-evolves .
  18. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    No dice. You literally said that your "dead dog" example explained something being "set in stone" while not yet existing. You even said:
    "You misunderstand the purpose of the example.
    The purpose is thus: in all possible futures, the dog is dead - it is a certainty."​
    If "the purpose of the example" is, as you now claim, only referring to the perception of possible futures then it does not explain how something is "set in stone" while not yet existing. So it seems you've just backed away from the point you claimed you were making.
    Seems you've completely missed the point. It's not about "if" the future is already determined, it's about "when" the future is determined. How far in advance, and requiring how much cause from the present.
    Then you need to get your story straight. You gave me your "dead dog" example to supposedly explain something being "set in stone" while not yet existing. You claimed that "in all possible futures" it is a certainty. If you interjecting "all possible futures" was completely superfluous, don't interject it. Easy. But it seems you were only obfuscating the fact that you have yet to give me any example beyond your bare assertion, and you whining about a straw man is only a red herring.
  19. river

    Free - will has nothing to do with energy and matter . And any determinism .

    Free-will is about life evolving .
  20. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    No, you simply fail to comprehend what has been written...
    To wit: the clarification was with regard what is meant by "all possible futures" - i.e. those being the perception we have of what is possible, while in a deterministic universe only one of those is actually possible, and will transpire.
    To consider there to be more than one possible future is simply a subjective view we have due to lack of knowledge of the current state.

    So there is no backing away, and the point adequately describes something that is set in stone (the dog being dead, however that occurs - the specific details of the death being something we don't yet know, but knowledge is irrelevant to something being set in stone) but not yet existing (the dog is currently alive in the present).
    No, I haven't missed any point because in a deterministic universe every moment, from the first to the current, equally determines on its own the future from that point onward.
    There is no consideration of "when" - the state of the system at any point in the past is equally sufficient to determine every point in the future.
    If you think there needs to be something from the past, plus something from the present, then you are simply failing to comprehend what it means for the system to be deterministic.
    Whatever you think is required from the present is already there in the moment before, and the moment before that, all the way back to any initial conditions of the system.
    Whatever you think is required from the past is equally here in the present.
    The past moment determines the present moment, and the present wholly determines the future.
    For a deterministic system this is true at all moments of time since any initial conditions.
    At t=1 it was true (i.e. the state at t=1 wholly determines the state at t=2), and it was true at t=3 (i.e. the state at t=2 wholly determines the state at t=3, thus the state at t=1 wholly determines the state at t=3.
    You can do this all the way to the present (e.g. t=1000), where the state at t=999, or t=998, or t= any value from the past, all are individually sufficient to wholly determine the present, and the future, because the state at t=1000 wholly determines the state at t=1001, and by the same logic it wholly determines the state at t=2000, or 20,000, or 1,000,000.

    Take a system that simply adds one to the current number, and start with 1.
    Every moment is wholly determined by the initial condition and the rules/laws of the system.
    It doesn't matter if at the moment we are on number 1000 or 10,000,000.
    Every state of the system is wholly determined by the previous state, which means that every future state is equally wholly determined by any previous state.

    That is what you are seeming to refuse to comprehend, possibly because it makes your sojourn into the realms of theories of time utterly irrelevant to the matter of freewill in a deterministic universe.
    My story is straight - I simply continue to overestimate your ability to comprehend.
    I have given you every example you could possibly want.
    I have previously said that everything in the future can be taken as a concrete example.
    And explained why.
    You failing to grasp that, and to comprehend it, and failing to even address it, puts you beyond my help in this matter.
    No whining - simply pointing out that you misunderstood and then cast aspersions on that misunderstood position rather than the actual position.
    As for being a red herring, alas the vast majority of the discussion with you has been a red herring with regard the question in the thread title, due to the irrelevance of the theories of time to the matter.

    And maybe you want to go back and address the rest of my previous post, you know, the bit that continues to explain why the theories of time are irrelevant, why everything in the future (in a deterministic universe) is an example of something being set in stone yet not existing, etc.
    And maybe you want to brush up on what it means for a system to be deterministic, because that in itself (assuming you can join the dots) should provide explanation of why the theories of time are irrelevant to this discussion.
    Up to you, though, but until you can demonstrate a sensible understanding of determinism, there is little point in me continuing with you, as you will just continue to bore me.
    And even in lockdown I have more interesting things to occupy my time.
  21. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    And you're the only one who has been talking about that. Hence me asked why you're interjecting irrelevancies.

    Damn, I'm already bored with your nonsense again.
  22. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    It's not an irrelevancy.
    In every possible (from subjective viewpoint due to lack of knowledge) future the dog in the example will, in that future, be dead.
    It is set in stone.
    See - not an irrelevancy.
    That you went down the path of equating "every possible" with indeterminism is why the clarification was provided.
    Deal with it.
    It's not my problem that you continue to be ignorant on the matter.
    But if you find your ignorance boring, or maybe find bliss there, so be it.
  23. river

    To reiterate

    Free - will has nothing to do with energy and matter . And any determinism .
    Free-will is about life evolving .

    A quote From my post # 1316 .

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