Determinism, Randomness, and Free Will

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by NoXion, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. NoXion

    NoXion It's been 600 years...

    OK, I kind of wanted to get something off my chest about an equivocation on the title subject that seems to be common. I'll illustrate with a quote from this article: Photons, Quasars and the Possibility of Free Will

    Here we see see an example of randomness being equivocated with choice. Why? When I roll a dice, I don't choose which of the numbers come up. If my behaviour ultimately breaks down to the influence of random quantum fluctuations, then how on Earth would be I be choosing anything?

    It's this point which I feel that is missed by the vast majority of people who advocate for some quantum mechanism for free will, like what some do with the Orch-OR hypothesis.

    No, instead my fate is subject to the roll of the die. This is no more allowing for free will, any more than a roulette table allows for a steady income.
     
    kabbes and SpookyFrank like this.
  2. Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson Well-Known Member

    Yes, I can't for the life of me fathom how anybody could think that randomness at the quantum level, or any level for that matter, could be adduced as evidence in favour of the free will thesis.
     
    NoXion likes this.
  3. SpookyFrank

    SpookyFrank We kill the flame

    Quantum processes are still deterministic, just determined according to a mechanism we don't yet comprehend. If entangled particles were 'choosing' their quantum states, well firstly which particle chooses and which has choice inflicted upon it, and secondly why when you repeat a quantum experiment with two possible outcomes enough times do the results always end up 50/50? If one quantum state was 'better' you'd expect to see maybe observed particles choosing it 50.1% of the time, but that never happens.

    We can't predict individual quantum-scale events but we can model them very accurately on a large scale. Hence things like radioactive half-life, which is constant for a given material even if we have no idea when or if an individual atom will decay.
     
  4. SpookyFrank

    SpookyFrank We kill the flame

    I heard this line of argument from a friend who also believes in spiritual energy, astrology, faith healing and basically all the hoodoo bullshit you can think of. She'd clearly heard the word quantum mentioned somewhere, and decided it was a get out of jail free card that absolved her from having to worry about determinism.
     
    8ball and Jeff Robinson like this.
  5. dialectician

    dialectician Minimal Donk

    a pseudo-problem. no need if you reject god.
     
  6. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    'free will' seems an incoherent idea in the first place to me. I'm not sure how it can even be defined. 'I did what I thought was best at the time. How could I have done anything else?'
     
    NoXion likes this.
  7. dialectician

    dialectician Minimal Donk

    it's not an incoherent idea. it exists in a specific period and form of social domination. a seudo-problem for the materialist.
     
    seventh bullet likes this.
  8. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Ok, can you define it for me?
     
  9. dialectician

    dialectician Minimal Donk

    read qur'an and you will understand. what is there to define?
     
  10. dialectician

    dialectician Minimal Donk

    it's not like the question ever existed as an abstract hypothetical did it.
     
  11. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    What is there to define? The term 'free will'. As in what I said above - 'I did what I thought best at the time, and how could I have done anything else?' Where is 'free will' in this? What would its opposite look like? What does it mean?

    Read Mr. Tickle. It will show you.
     
    kabbes likes this.
  12. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    Who came up with the term or concept of free will. Or randomness come to that.
     
  13. NoXion

    NoXion It's been 600 years...

    What's God got to do with free will? If anything I would have thought that free will, at least as I rather hazily understand the concept, would be impossible in a universe containing an omniscient being.
     
  14. dialectician

    dialectician Minimal Donk

    oh, we're back to man in the sky. Sometimes i really regret being an atheist.
     
  15. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    I'm very happy to start from an assumption of atheism. You're the one who brought up 'god'.

    Read Mr. Mean next after Mr. Tickle.
     
    8ball likes this.
  16. cheesethief

    cheesethief Well-Known Member

    Are you sure about that? Do you know something the physics community has thus far missed?

    There may be an underlying deterministic explanation, or there may not. Last I checked the jury was still very much out on that one.

    And even if it were shown to be the case, you'd also have to convincingly demonstrate that the purported quantum determinism wasn't itself built upon an underlying layer of non-determinism.
     
    NoXion likes this.
  17. SpookyFrank

    SpookyFrank We kill the flame

    Even if there was a layer of non-determinism, which as creatures bound by what-goes-up-must-come-down deterministic physical laws we'd never truly be able to comprehend, that wouldn't in itself allow you to derive the existence of free will or a soul or fundamental human nautre or whatever. It might simply change the underlying cause of human behaviour from deterministic interactions to deterministic interactions plus blind luck.
     
    8ball likes this.
  18. dialectician

    dialectician Minimal Donk

    See, you're still talking about it as a separated abstraction. why did the debate between free will and atheism gain traction within religion? or the history of religious thought (aka. philosophy?)
     
    8ball likes this.
  19. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    If you just say things have a history he may get it. That said, i spent years trying get people to understand that art has a history with little or no success.
     
  20. cheesethief

    cheesethief Well-Known Member

    If there's a layer of non-determinism, anywhere below us, then everything above is non-deterministic.

    If we're bounded by determinism, then there's really no such thing as blind luck, or any other type of luck. There's merely ignorance of a future that's predetermined.
     
  21. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    I'm capable of having this discussion without being a condescending prick. Maybe you are too. If so, I would still pose the original question. If you'd like to flesh the debate out with some historical context and think this will help, then please do.
     
    8ball likes this.
  22. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    Every time I make a choice, I do so because of the particular configuration of my biological system at that time. How could I have made a different choice from within the confines of that same biological system?

    However, that doesn’t mean the choice isn’t real. I still had to go through a process to arrive at it, even if that process was one controlled outside my conscious awareness. So I have to live as if free will is a thing, because I have no other way of accessing the choices I need to make.

    It’s a bugger alright.
     
    SpookyFrank and littlebabyjesus like this.
  23. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    Ah, but the real test is if you can do it without writing like a periwigged buffoon from the regency.
     
  24. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Yep, I think that's about it. It's a concept we live by, and like many of the concepts we live by, it is at best only fuzzily defined. The concept of the unified self is another of these.
     
  25. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Go fuck yourself. I've addressed each question on this thread using the simplest of language. I always try to do that, not to hide behind semi-understood jargon.
     
  26. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    I reckon the number of people who live by these concepts is pretty small. Trivially so.
     
  27. TruXta

    TruXta tired

    What does it matter, except to keep philosophers in grant money?
     
  28. Santino

    Santino lovelier than lovely

    This article: Is Neuroscience a Bigger Threat than Artificial Intelligence? - suggests that modern neuroscience proves that we are not really conscious. But I think the article actually demonstrates that Anglo-American philosophers are still thinking of minds as a kind of machine with propositional content, which I don't think they are.
     
  29. TruXta

    TruXta tired

    That's pretty much the standard model these days.

    What do you think it is?
     
    NoXion likes this.
  30. Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson Well-Known Member

    Theists often claim the opposite: that free will is only possible if there is an omnipotent being to bestow it upon us. It is only such a supernatural entity that can insert a break in the casual chain of effects that would otherwise compel our conduct and thoughts.

    If one rejects both libertarian free will and compatiblism then I think one has to accept this conditional form of the theist argument is right but of course one can simply conclude from it that there is no free will because there is no such supernatural entity.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice