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Old 2013-01-05, 23:19   Link #41
Qilin
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I like how this is turning into an argument on semantics.
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Old 2013-01-05, 23:29   Link #42
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There's no element of semantics in the argument I was trying to make. His response, yes, but I think (hope) he was joking. For me personally, I think a being that knows the outcome of the future, by its definition, precludes there from ever being any alternatives, thus no choice. Whether that being is a god, demon, or whatever you'd like to call it. And it really isn't an anti-religious argument on my part, as determinism essentially states the same thing (that there is, in truth, no free will) without invoking religion whatsoever, and I already mentioned I had not so long ago been a 'believer' in determinism (though I'm no longer so sure).
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Old 2013-01-06, 00:03   Link #43
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On a more serious note:
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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
a being that knows the outcome of the future, by its definition, precludes there from ever being any alternatives, thus no choice.
Incorrect. Alternatives exist whether you take them or not.

For example, choosing to go to one college does not mean that there were no alternative colleges you could've chosen instead. It just mean you didn't take any of those alternative colleges.

Moreover, if I were to know which college you would've chosen, it does not mean that I took away your alternatives. Those other colleges would still be there. Rather, it just means I know you well.

So the alternatives are still there and you still had your choices, but I simply knew of your decision beforehand based on my knowledge of you.
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Old 2013-01-06, 00:35   Link #44
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^ Okay, you can't just tell people "incorrect" when their statement started with "For me personally" -- moreover you haven't bothered to attempt to understand what he's saying, even though it may disagree with your viewpoint. People need to chill out and "discuss" .. Anyways, the response to your statement (whether I believe this or not, I am simply arguing on the basis of logic) is that your perspective is the "person had alternatives" but "based on their personality they would choose X" -- so therefore, at the moment of choosing, their choice was already determined based on their personality and past experiences?
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Old 2013-01-06, 00:42   Link #45
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Originally Posted by willx View Post
.......so therefore, at the moment of choosing, their choice was already determined based on their personality and past experiences?
That is where "knowledge" and "intuition" comes in. If you have done something that is almost similar, you use knowledge (experience). If not, you use intuition (personality).

That is why when we faced with odd events, people are classified as conservative and aggressive when it comes to risk taking. It all really depends on how you perceive it.
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Old 2013-01-06, 01:19   Link #46
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Originally Posted by willx View Post
^ Okay, you can't just tell people "incorrect" when their statement started with "For me personally" --
Chainlegacy made a claim that he/she personally thinks is correct. I personally think it's incorrect.
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moreover you haven't bothered to attempt to understand what he's saying, even though it may disagree with your viewpoint.
What is it that you don't think I understand about what Chainlegacy is saying?
Quote:
Anyways, the response to your statement (whether I believe this or not, I am simply arguing on the basis of logic) is that your perspective is the "person had alternatives" but "based on their personality they would choose X" -- so therefore, at the moment of choosing, their choice was already determined based on their personality and past experiences?
Multiple factors can and do influence a person's decision.
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Old 2013-01-06, 07:36   Link #47
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monster is talking about something different here, not determinism. He's talking about an all-knowing God, which solely by itself does not require a deterministic link of events. That's the difference he's trying to make. He says that in his view, individualities and alternatives do exist, yet God still knows which one will be picked. It is not the same as not having any individualism and alternatives whatsoever and somebody or something being able to predict the future because of it. The fact that a God would be able to see the future would not necessarily mean that everything is predictable by logic and therefore deterministic, because God is something that defies logic to begin with (I'm almost sounding like a theist here, trying to defend a theists point of view. ).
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Old 2013-01-06, 14:30   Link #48
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I think there's a difference between knowing in a human sense, a 'prediction' sense, what someone will do based on your observations/information about the individual, and 'knowing' in an omniscient sense. The former could be incorrect, regardless of how sure you are, whereas the latter has no possibility of being incorrect. Without even the slightest possibility of your prediction failing, it's reached into the 'destiny' or 'fate' category - yeah, alternatives might exist, but they are predestined to not occur. Doesn't seem much different to me from a deterministic universe.
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Old 2013-01-06, 15:14   Link #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
I think there's a difference between knowing in a human sense, a 'prediction' sense, what someone will do based on your observations/information about the individual, and 'knowing' in an omniscient sense. The former could be incorrect, regardless of how sure you are, whereas the latter has no possibility of being incorrect. Without even the slightest possibility of your prediction failing, it's reached into the 'destiny' or 'fate' category -
I think it's all a matter of different levels of complexity. After all, what makes knowing in a human sense different from knowing in an omniscient sense? Isn't it just the difference in knowledge? Think about the amount of knowledge a being who can observe everything can gather about a person.
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yeah, alternatives might exist, but they are predestined to not occur. Doesn't seem much different to me from a deterministic universe.
The problem I find with your choice of word is that "predestined" in this context may imply that all of your choices were made by something else other than you beforehand.

That's not what I believe. Yes, God knows all of your choices beforehand, but God did not necessarily make all of those choices for you.

With that said, God is certainly capable of making your choices for you, and there are certain things (even many things) that God has predestined. But this goes back to my original post where I stated that I do not believe in absolute free will for any being other than God.
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Old 2013-01-06, 16:23   Link #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZGoten View Post
monster is talking about something different here, not determinism. He's talking about an all-knowing God, which solely by itself does not require a deterministic link of events. That's the difference he's trying to make. He says that in his view, individualities and alternatives do exist, yet God still knows which one will be picked. It is not the same as not having any individualism and alternatives whatsoever and somebody or something being able to predict the future because of it. The fact that a God would be able to see the future would not necessarily mean that everything is predictable by logic and therefore deterministic, because God is something that defies logic to begin with (I'm almost sounding like a theist here, trying to defend a theists point of view. ).
However, if said god is also omnipotent at the same time (like the christian/muslim/judaism god), then he has the power to change everything, just by willing it.
If he deciedes to intervene in some cases, and not in others, that would effectively negate free will, because it is all up to god in the end to permit something to happen.
The only way such a god could enable free will in other beings, would be to always refrain from intervention, because this is the only option that requires no active 'permission' from god, for things to actually happen.
This however would be equivalent to god not existing.
So either (monotheistic) god does not exist, or we have no free will...


On the part of determinism, you have to distinct between theoretical possibility to predict something and real science.
Most real systems include parts that behave non linear, which means small variations in starting conditions can lead to very different outcomes.
These systems are still deterministic, because you could theoretically calculate the outcome, if only you'd know the starting conditions exactly.

Science will always use a simplified model of reality and assume somewhat simplified starting conditions. Because of this, the prediction science comes up with will only ever be correct to a limited certainty.

But the philosophical concept of determinism is not about that.
It is about the theoretical possibility of prediction, given the 'demon', a being not bound by the physical limitations of human scientists, that does not use science, but his unlimited knowledge and computational power instead.
So the possibility of real science to predict your dreams is of no importance here.
If it was theoretical possible to predict them, determinism would still stand.

But it does not, because there is uncertainty , so you can not know the perfect starting conditions, even if you were all knowing.
And there are real random events, like atom decay and other particle interactions.
Both, in a non linear system, could possibly have a huge impact on the whole system.
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Old 2013-01-06, 16:53   Link #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhomochevsky View Post
However, if said god is also omnipotent at the same time (like the christian/muslim/judaism god), then he has the power to change everything, just by willing it.
If he deciedes to intervene in some cases, and not in others, that would effectively negate free will, because it is all up to god in the end to permit something to happen.
The only way such a god could enable free will in other beings, would be to always refrain from intervention, because this is the only option that requires no active 'permission' from god, for things to actually happen.
This however would be equivalent to god not existing.
So either (monotheistic) god does not exist, or we have no free will...
You're talking about absolute free will, which I do not believe exists for any being other than God.

However, limited free will do exists.

It is like the laws and rights that exist in human societies. There are many freedoms and rights that people possess, but none possesses absolute freedom. People's freedoms and rights are limited in one way or another, some more than others, but to a certain degree, freedom exists.
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Old 2013-01-06, 16:54   Link #52
Asuras
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Oh I love talking about Determinism! I recently took a university philosophy class which delved into determinism for awhile. It actually managed to change my views a bit, and I'm not sure if any of you have heard of this theory yet, but I'll lay it out as best I can here. This comes from a paper called "Compatibilism: Free Will is consistent with Determinism" by W.T. Stace.

One "problem" some have with determinism is that, quite literally, it was a poorly coined term given an even worse definition by philosophers back when it first popped up. Thinkers looked to their world and said that because their definition of free will (a ghost in the machine, if you will) was not seen in the world, that it did not exist, and so determinism was undeniable. It would seem so to many who agree with determinism (like Mr. ZGoten, for example) that because the universe is governed by cause-and-effect rules that not even biological entities are capable of evading fate; their brains are merely input-output machines, after all.

But this is where Compatibilism comes in, as Stace believes. Free will is not a question of whether or not we can freely control our own actions internally, but whether or not the action itself was free. Let me explain.

You have two individuals; a man imprisoned in chains, and a man living at home. The man at home is free to eat his hamburger whenever he likes, while the chained man is force-fed a hamburger by his captors. One is an action of free will, while the other is not. Thus, free will is a question of whether or not the action was caused by a immediate psychological state. If the action was carried out due to the individual's own psychological desire/need then it is a free action. If it was not, then it was not free. This allows free will to be compatible with determinism in an unbending, linear universe.

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It seems like quantum physics does not support the idea of determinism, since it disproves the possibility of a scenario in which one could proof the reality of determinism. To make it short: Quantum physics make it impossible for determinsm to be proven right.
But how does apparent randomness (or rather, uncertainty in quantum physics) fail to support determinism? Just because something cannot be contained within a cause-effect scenario does not mean that the human (for example) chooses freely. If an individual's actions were based on the results of a coin I myself flipped, does that make them free even though its random?
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Old 2013-01-06, 17:36   Link #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhomochevsky View Post
On the part of determinism, you have to distinct between theoretical possibility to predict something and real science.
We did that on numerous occasions in this thread. I am aware of the differentiations you mentioned.

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Originally Posted by Asuras
You have two individuals; a man imprisoned in chains, and a man living at home. The man at home is free to eat his hamburger whenever he likes, while the chained man is force-fed a hamburger by his captors. One is an action of free will, while the other is not. Thus, free will is a question of whether or not the action was caused by a immediate psychological state. If the action was carried out due to the individual's own psychological desire/need then it is a free action. If it was not, then it was not free. This allows free will to be compatible with determinism in an unbending, linear universe.
That merely changes the definition of free will, though, does it not? You are basically saying that if something happens that is solely the result of immediate causes inside a person's body, with no outside influence at a given moment, then it can be considered free will according to Stace, right? I'm not sure, what to think of it. He is trying to fit free will and determinsim together, but in doing so deviates from what most people would consider free will, which kind of renders the whole attempt futile. Unless his only intention would be to not scare people of the reality determinsim would suggest, which many people find frightening.

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But how does apparent randomness (or rather, uncertainty in quantum physics) fail to support determinism? Just because something cannot be contained within a cause-effect scenario does not mean that the human (for example) chooses freely. If an individual's actions were based on the results of a coin I myself flipped, does that make them free even though its random?
I'm not sure whether or not you understood what I was saying in the opening post. Basically, if determinism were true, there would be no free will, obviously. The only way to prove determinism right would be through an entity that resembled Laplace's demon. Quantum physics however, among other schools, have already proven, that such an entity can never exist, thereby making it impossible for determinsim to be ever proven right, even though it may very well be.
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Old 2013-01-06, 17:48   Link #54
Asuras
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Originally Posted by ZGoten View Post
I'm not sure whether or not you understood what I was saying in the opening post. Basically, if determinism were true, there would be no free will, obviously. The only way to prove determinism right would be through an entity that resembled Laplace's demon. Quantum physics however, among other schools, have already proven, that such an entity can never exist, thereby making it impossible for determinsim to be ever proven right, even though it may very well be.
I had to look up what Laplace's demon was...

True enough, though I have a feeling even the uncertainty of quantum physics will later prove to be uncertain itself.

I suppose what I should have said is that quantum physics do not support free will (not Stace's version of free will, mind you ), though I can see now how it makes determinism impossible (for the time being).
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Old 2013-01-06, 18:05   Link #55
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That merely changes the definition of free will, though, does it not? You are basically saying that if something happens that is solely the result of immediate causes inside a person's body, with no outside influence at a given moment, then it can be considered free will according to Stace, right? I'm not sure, what to think of it. He is trying to fit free will and determinsim together, but in doing so deviates from what most people would consider free will, which kind of renders the whole attempt futile. Unless his only intention would be to not scare people of the reality determinsim would suggest, which many people find frightening.
It rests on the definition of what 'you' are.
Many religions and other spiritual directions have the idea of a 'soul' that is somehow more than the body.
It resides in the body and steers it (I get the image of a mecha...), but is a seperate, yet invisible part. 'You' are a soul, the body is merely a vessel for your intellect.

In this thinking, if the body decides what 'you' do, of course there is no free will any more.

But isn't this really baseless? The existence of a soul is just as far out there, as the existance of a god.

If 'you' and your body are the same thing, this problem does not arise.
'You', the system that is your body, comes up with a choice and this is then a free choice, no matter how it got created internally.

tldr:
It is only a problem if you believe in seperation of mind and body.
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Old 2013-01-06, 18:29   Link #56
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Yeah, I hadn't thought of the soul, because I don't believe in one and find the idea rather absurd. However, if there was such a thing, I can see how determinism and free will could potentially coincide.
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Old 2013-01-06, 18:56   Link #57
Qilin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhomochevsky View Post
It rests on the definition of what 'you' are.
Many religions and other spiritual directions have the idea of a 'soul' that is somehow more than the body.
It resides in the body and steers it (I get the image of a mecha...), but is a seperate, yet invisible part. 'You' are a soul, the body is merely a vessel for your intellect.

In this thinking, if the body decides what 'you' do, of course there is no free will any more.

But isn't this really baseless? The existence of a soul is just as far out there, as the existance of a god.

If 'you' and your body are the same thing, this problem does not arise.
'You', the system that is your body, comes up with a choice and this is then a free choice, no matter how it got created internally.

tldr:
It is only a problem if you believe in separation of mind and body.
This strikes me as strange because accepting the premises of determinism already implies belief in a purely materialistic universe. The idea's very nature makes it such that there is little to no room for any kind of "soul" to exist within its framework. As such, I'm not sure how objecting to the existence of the "soul" somehow invalidates the claim of determinism.

Under the framework of determinism, the concept we perceive to be self consciousness would amount to nothing more than an illusion of free will. Human "choice" and "autonomy", for example, would simply be a sum of genetics and environmental influences. In other words, before a person is born, his/her life is already predetermined by genes, the individual dispositions of his/her parents, and the environment the person will be raised in. This is where free will becomes an illusion. If our fate is already predetermined down to the activities of every single neuron in the brain, can we still say in honesty that we are truly in control of our own actions? The way I see it, there is simply no room for a third voice or a "soul" to exist within this model.

Now, just to note, this discussion is, by nature, a thinking exercise, so it doesn't matter if the ideas brought up are neither practical nor realistic as long as they're logical. We're all aware of how these ideas can't be carried over into scientific community, but it's an exercise in dissecting and evaluating ideas, so there's that.
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Old 2013-01-06, 19:33   Link #58
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I think determinism and souls could work together. You bring up the word 'fate', which does not entirely coincide with determinism. I actually think you are confusing determinism and fatalism in this case. The former just states, that there is a predictable cause-effect-relationship in everything. It does not go the extra mile and say that therefore fate exitsts. This is what fatalism does. Normally, in a world without souls, both ideas would pretty much amount to the same thing, because there's no influence from anything that does not obey that logic. If you have a world in which souls exists, however, fatalism and determinism are becomming two very distinct theories. The former would just not allow souls, because, like you said, fate is already programmed, which excludes the possibility of any divine or spiritual intervention. In the case of determinism, souls could be a part of the world, though, because, like I said, this theory does not say that fate exists. In this scenario, one could imagine souls as some kind of outside influence that can change links of processes that would otherwise run with clockwork precision and theoretical predictabilty. It would be kind of like a sandbox video game like GTA. The bots are minding their own business. The world just runs like it's programmed to run, but as soon as an outside force, in this case the player, intervenes, what up to a point appeared to be destined to happen in the game world, might change because of necessary but unforeseen reactions to the player's actions.
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Old 2013-01-06, 19:50   Link #59
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I was referred to Compatibilism in this forum on some other philosophical thread when I explained how I perceive 'fate'. To reiterate, "fate" is like a series of codes in a program, like a hugely complex and jumbled "If-Then-Else" and other functions. This program is deterministic, absolute and never changing, and everyone and everything is included in it and every possible outcome was already written. However, it is still dependent on an "input" to chose among all possible outcomes. That program is the Determinism, and that Input is freewill.
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Old 2013-01-06, 21:24   Link #60
Qilin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZGoten View Post
I think determinism and souls could work together. You bring up the word 'fate', which does not entirely coincide with determinism. I actually think you are confusing determinism and fatalism in this case. The former just states, that there is a predictable cause-effect-relationship in everything. It does not go the extra mile and say that therefore fate exitsts. This is what fatalism does. Normally, in a world without souls, both ideas would pretty much amount to the same thing, because there's no influence from anything that does not obey that logic. If you have a world in which souls exists, however, fatalism and determinism are becomming two very distinct theories. The former would just not allow souls, because, like you said, fate is already programmed, which excludes the possibility of any divine or spiritual intervention. In the case of determinism, souls could be a part of the world, though, because, like I said, this theory does not say that fate exists. In this scenario, one could imagine souls as some kind of outside influence that can change links of processes that would otherwise run with clockwork precision and theoretical predictabilty. It would be kind of like a sandbox video game like GTA. The bots are minding their own business. The world just runs like it's programmed to run, but as soon as an outside force, in this case the player, intervenes, what up to a point appeared to be destined to happen in the game world, might change because of necessary but unforeseen reactions to the player's actions.
But wouldn't the entire theory fall apart if there exists some element of the universe that can't be predicted by simply accounting for every single element of physical reality? By my understanding, the theory hinges on the assumption that the future can be predicted with absolute certainty just by knowing all those things. Is my understanding of that incorrect? The very existence of any variable to the equation, particularly human choice, would cause that entire idea to fall apart.

From how I understand your interpretations, it seems that you're drawing a dichotomy between natural phenomena and human-influenced phenomena. Determinism would then only be applicable to natural phenomena, and that human behavior and choice is somehow outside its effect. That's a fine view to take, but it would completely negate the idea of predicting the future of the universe in theory, which determinism relies on. For me, it's all about rejecting one and accepting the other. I can't see how any compromise can work here where free will and determinism can coexist.
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