Free will Compatibilists? Help!

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  • #51
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Free will within the rules of the universe.
Define what you mean by free will.
A) Define the agent.
B) Define what you think this agent can do.
 
  • #52
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How can free will emerge from subjectivity, if subjectivity emerges from an organic nervous system, which is governed by deterministic laws of biochemistry and neural electronics?

Think of it this way, the brain has evolved the means to reflect on sensory impulses prior to responding to them. If every action was purely a reflex to stimulus, you would have a determined nervous system. However, your nervous system is too complex to interpret every sensory input unproblematically. So you encounter dillemas of deciding how to interpret a particular situation, and which actions to undertake to achieve a desired outcome.

So, basically, I think you can attribute free-will to the evolution of the possibility of multiple interpretations of perceptions and the ability to postpone reflexive response until a preferred course of action is selected.

I think the best theory to read that connects the biological mechanisms to the emergence of free-will would actually be Freud on the formation of the ego through the conflict between id and superego. As the instinct-driven id follows its desires reflexively, it encounters resistance from its environment. As such it develops an internalized superego, i.e. knowledge of what actions result in punishment or other suffering. Consequently, the ego develops as a means of balancing the desires of the id against the constraints of the superego, which involves choosing when and how to pursue means to gratification that don't result in punishment or other painful and frustrating failures.
 
  • #53
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I'm in agreement with most of your analysis. You're misunderstanding my position. My only claim is that we don't have reason to suspect a materialistic consciousness can escape the laws of physics that "runs" it/"determines" its evolution (random or determined).

I understand that the brain is self-organized. I understand all your points - it's not a reflexive responder but it matches stimuli recursively (or however it does it) to mind models (memory, desires, beliefs, etc) and outputs a response that is non-linear and as a result of what is essentially a chaotic system (I'm not talking about behaviorism, subjectivity is there as well), etc etc.

My claim all along has been that underneath all this are laws of physics. These laws precede/cause this complexity. These laws are, as far as our knowledge can tell, either random or determined (if the former, it'll be a mixture of both, and for the brain randomness may not even come into the picture in any significant way). So if you want true agent self-causation, a self-program that has its own causality, you need to show us how this self-causation can be layered onto either randomness or determinism (i.e. how this self-program escapes randomness &/or determinism, somehow). My position is that there is almost no reason to suspect the brain has this capacity, and so the type of free will that the random guy on the street thinks he has - the ability to actually bias outcomes - can't exist.
I think you've misunderstood my position.

Then my following question to the members of PF is, is this definition of free will - the perspective from physics - more pertinent than the definition concerning intelligent choice (in people) under the usual constraints (beliefs, environmental, attitudes, etc). So those are the two definitions of free will that have achieved attention in the literature. The former, the one that I brought up, HAS achieved some attention - Jaegwon Kim gives a good overview of it in his recent book (and attempts to refute the possibility of it existing on a supervening consciousness).

So my question I posed was whether the definition of a self-causing agent should be discussed. Apeiron answered no because there's nothing to argue about, you misunderstood me (thought I was denying the other definition of free will), ThorX agreed with me, and nobody else commented so I assumed they weren't interested (which is why I recommended the previous thread take a detour).

On another note:
How can free will emerge from subjectivity.
I don't think it's clear yet to say that intelligent choice arises from subjectivity which then arises from 'X' processes. Intelligent choice and subjectivity could be inextricably (perhaps dependently) linked.
 
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  • #54
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I'm in agreement with most of your analysis. You're misunderstanding my position. My only claim is that we don't have reason to suspect a materialistic consciousness can escape the laws of physics that "runs" it/"determines" its evolution (random or determined).

I understand that the brain is self-organized. I understand all your points - it's not a reflexive responder but it matches stimuli recursively (or however it does it) to mind models (memory, desires, beliefs, etc) and outputs a response that is non-linear and as a result of what is essentially a chaotic system (I'm not talking about behaviorism, subjectivity is there as well), etc etc.

My claim all along has been that underneath all this are laws of physics. These laws precede/cause this complexity. These laws are, as far as our knowledge can tell, either random or determined (if the former, it'll be a mixture of both, and for the brain randomness may not even come into the picture in any significant way). So if you want true agent self-causation, a self-program that runs itself, you need to show us how this self-causation can be layered onto either randomness or determinism (or escape it totally, somehow).
My understanding of your logic is that somehow the determinism of physical matter, i.e. lack of free-will in atomic interactions, must somehow automatically transfer to subjectivity. There's no basis for assuming that, since the mechanism(s) that cause matter to behave deterministically are not the same as those that result in free-will agency in subjective beings.

Just consider the relationship between voluntary and involuntary nervous system and body behavior. Certain muscles reflexively control bodily processes whether someone is conscious of them or not. Other muscles respond to conscious control. So the very fact that the body has the voluntary option to contract or relax certain muscles means that the body has to have a way of deciding which option to choose.

What you seem to want to argue is that there is some subconscious mind that totally determines what happens in the conscious-mind to the point that what is experienced consciously is just an echo of what has already been decided sub-consciously. So you think that whatever reasoning or other method is "chosen" to make a decision is just the body's method of making a subconsciously pre-determined choice seem voluntary instead of involuntary.

If this is what you think, then you should find or develop a theory of how the subconscious mind connects with and interacts with the conscious mind. I believe Karl Jung wrote that the sub-conscious mind could or should be measured the same way sound is measured, as having a threshold of audibility. In other words, he thought that the same way humans can't hear sounds below a certain amount of decibels, they also couldn't hear thoughts below a certain level of whatever unit you would use to measure thought-levels.

The problem with this is what would cause the conscious mind to obey the subconscious mind's will if it couldn't hear it? Freud's subconscious would work better, in that it supposedly actually "drives" conscious process directly, but again you get to the problem of conflict between the biological drives/desires (id) and moral and environmental dissuasions from pursuing those drives by certain means (superego). Thus, you end up with a conflicted ego that has to choose between behaving itself and foregoing its desires, at least temporarily, or pursuing them directly and getting punished or otherwise suffering as a result.

My position is that there is almost no reason to suspect the brain has this capacity, and so the type of free will that the random guy on the street thinks he has - the ability to actually bias outcomes - can't exist.
I think you've misunderstood my position.
What prevents the random guy on the street from doing anything he desires at any moment if he has no free-will? If you say it is reflexive fear repressing him, then what causes him to overcome his fear to leave the house, cross-streets, talk to strangers, etc.?

I don't think it's clear yet to say that intelligent choice arises from subjectivity which then arises from 'X' processes. Intelligent choice and subjectivity could be inextricably (perhaps dependently) linked.
Intelligent choice does not require free-will. A computer can make intelligent choices given the right algorithm. Out of thousands of dictionary words, a spell check can narrow a misspelled word down to just a few or even one replacement choice, balancing spelling similarities with usage frequency, etc. The computer always wins against me at chess too.

Humans are different in that they have the free-will to avoid or choose rational choices. E.g. it's rational to turn off lights when they're not needed, but you have the free-will to decide that it's not important enough to bother if you don't feel like it. However, the fact that you don't feel like it is also not determinant of your choice, because you could just as easily overcome the feeling, get up, and go turn off the unnecessary lights. It's not random or rationality that causes your choice, it's a whim that can go in either direction according to what you ultimately will.
 
  • #55
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i.e. lack of free-will in atomic interactions, must somehow automatically transfer to subjectivity. There's no basis for assuming that,
OK, please demonstrate how your new causality could arise on top of determined and/or random processes. Then claim your Nobel prize in physics.

laws --> brain heuristics and self organization.

Please demonstrate how the latter has no (total) causal dependency on the former. Again, once you've done that your contention with my position will be resolved and you will be famous.

brainstorm said:
Just consider the relationship between voluntary and involuntary nervous system and body behavior. Certain muscles reflexively control bodily processes whether someone is conscious of them or not. Other muscles respond to conscious control. So the very fact that the body has the voluntary option to contract or relax certain muscles means that the body has to have a way of deciding which option to choose.
You're debasing to the other definition of free will/"choice"(by a subjective agent) again. I clearly agreed with this view, this is not the definition I'm talking about.

brainstorm said:
What you seem to want to argue is that there is some subconscious mind that totally determines what happens in the conscious-mind to the point that what is experienced consciously is just an echo of what has already been decided sub-consciously.
You're misunderstanding. Read my last post. This is sooooooooooooooooo not what I'm saying. In fact I said in my second paragraph that I agree this is NOT what is occurring. !!!!!!

brainstorm said:
If this is what you think, then you should find or develop a theory of how the subconscious mind connects with and interacts with the conscious mind. I believe Karl Jung wrote that the sub-conscious mind could or should be measured the same way sound is measured, as having a threshold of audibility. In other words, he thought that the same way humans can't hear sounds below a certain amount of decibels, they also couldn't hear thoughts below a certain level of whatever unit you would use to measure thought-levels.
It's clear you're NOT understanding the two definitions, and how I'm talking about the OTHER one. Read my last post extremely carefully. All the required information is there. You're still latching on to the idea that I'm discussing the definition you think I am discussing. I am not discussing that definition.

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You keep talking about the subconscious or whatever and how it's not like that. Well, I AGREE. Nor did I ever propose this in any way. I proposed that the brain cannot bias physical law. You have replied to my last post, where I restated that proposal, but have argued a notion that I never proposed, nor did I even hint at it. I stated in the second paragraph that it is not what I thought, and then I stated in the proceeding paragraphs what my position is.

brainstorm said:
it's a whim that can go in either direction according to what you ultimately will.
The perspective I suggested was this.

[[[Laws]]] --complete dependency--> [[[brain "weighing" up alternatives/decides (subjectivity is there as well!). ]]]

(I am not asserting that total reduction of laws to some base-level TOE is necessarily possible, BTW).
(And yes, I accept the conceptual schema of communicative hierarchies. Laws being the antecedent of the above "-->" does not deny this.)
 
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  • #56
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OK, please demonstrate how your new causality could arise on top of determined and/or random processes. Then claim your Nobel prize in physics.

laws --> brain heuristics and self organization.

Please demonstrate how the latter has no (total) causal dependency on the former. Again, once you've done that your contention with my position will be resolved and you will be famous.
I think the opposite is the case. When you unify social science or just psychology with physics, you'll be famous. In fact, when you turn the tables so that philosophy is a branch of physics, instead of physics being a branch of natural philosophy, that would a radical paradigm shift.

You're debasing to the other definition of free will/"choice"(by a subjective agent) again. I clearly agreed with this view, this is not the definition I'm talking about.
How are you not making up a definition to suit your desired conclusion?


You keep talking about the subconscious or whatever and how it's not like that. Well, I AGREE. Nor did I ever propose this in any way. I proposed that the brain cannot bias physical law. You have replied to my last post, where I restated that proposal, but have argued a notion that I never proposed, nor did I even hint at it. I stated in the second paragraph that it is not what I thought, and then I stated in the proceeding paragraphs what my position is.
I don't know what you're arguing then? I think you're arguing for some kind of epistemological consistency between physics and psychology by grounding it in the logic that subjectivity is hard-wired into material tissue. Epistemological reasoning does not just magically follow associative logic. You are arguing that determinism in one kind of system automatically implies determinism in a radically different type of system.

This reminds me of when people used to think hitting their computers would fix them when they froze up the same way it helped their TV sets when the tubes were out of alignment.

The perspective I suggested was this.

[[[Laws]]] --complete dependency--> [[[brain "weighing" up alternatives/decides (subjectivity is there as well!). ]]]

(I am not asserting that total reduction of laws to some base-level TOE is necessarily possible, BTW).
(And yes, I accept the conceptual schema of communicative hierarchies. Laws being the antecedent of the above "-->" does not deny this.)
What are these supposed "laws" that govern brain-function through dependency? Please provide a specific, concrete example so I can analyze how such a law is related to natural laws of physics, and what mechanisms connect them with actual functioning of brain or subjectivity in the operational sense.
 
  • #57
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I think the opposite is the case. When you unify social science or just psychology with physics, you'll be famous. In fact, when you turn the tables so that philosophy is a branch of physics, instead of physics being a branch of natural philosophy, that would a radical paradigm shift.
Just because one cannot possibly "deduce"/predict a complex system arising from the laws of physics we have laid out (given today's knowledge/technology) is no argument for the existence of a brand new type of causality that supersedes determinism &/or randomness.

You acquire the burden of proof of outlining how randomness &/or determinism is surpassed, and how a complex systems can escape from determinism &/or randomness (just one reason will do).

I comprehend the systems viewpoint, which apeiron elucidates well, but I think such a viewpoint does not preclude laws that cause that system to change over time. Such laws are not created by the system. Rules are created by the system, shaped around the laws. Rules are governed by laws that the system cannot change, no matter how much it likes to think so!

brainstorm said:
How are you not making up a definition to suit your desired conclusion?
I'm not sure what you mean here. This definition has achieved attention in the literature (see Kim's book for a rigorous handling) and it's not a case of "making it up". I specified a semantic category.

brainstorm said:
I don't know what you're arguing then?
That the brain's "evolution" through time is caused by random &/or determined laws. That a complex system doesn't lead to a new, third type of causality that is layered on top of determinism &/or randomness but is not determined &/or random. It leads to chaos and emergent properties that are the result of determined &/or random interactions.

You MUST bear the burden of proof for this new type of causality, because I don't think anyone can even begin to envisage of a way that the existence of the system itself can be the root cause of the creation of a third type of causality - the ability to self-cause around laws of its own making (and not just its own heuristics that are created in tandem to physical law).

brainstorm said:
I think you're arguing for some kind of epistemological consistency between physics and psychology by grounding it in the logic that subjectivity is hard-wired into material tissue.
This makes it sound like I'm arguing for a reductionist/weak emergence stance on consciousness. I am not. I am arguing that the brain cannot bias physical law. Do you think the brain, that evolves according to laws, can bias laws? I hope not. Can it create its own laws? Outlook seems doubtful. Even if there are laws that arise at the hierarchical "level" that consciousness "arises" on, this is no case for a self-causing consciousness. Those laws are still objective laws, laws that consciousness is totally and utterly constrained under.

brainstorm said:
You are arguing that determinism in one kind of system automatically implies determinism in a radically different type of system.
Our observations of the micro does indeed allude to what type of causation is responsible for the complex macro. You must provide a coherent reason as to why we should expect a brand new type of causality, layered on top of the determined/random micro, yet not determined &/or random. Such a feat would be amazing.

brainstorm said:
What are these supposed "laws" that govern brain-function through dependency? Please provide a specific, concrete example so I can analyze how such a law is related to natural laws of physics, and what mechanisms connect them with actual functioning of brain or subjectivity in the operational sense.
Obviously I can't lay out all the laws - random &/or determined - that govern a system.

However, I am asserting that they are laws. I am also asserting that they cause the evolution of complex systems through time, and hence those complex systems cannot "escape" them. "Self-organization" according to specific heuristics (Rules are different to Laws) and subjectivity and the feeling of actually choosing is not denied, of course.

This is one definition of free will that I'm proposing can't exist. The other one, the one you were talking about, I am in total agreement with.
 
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  • #58
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Just because one cannot possibly "deduce"/predict a complex system arising from the laws of physics we have laid out (given today's knowledge/technology) is no argument for the existence of a brand new type of causality that supersedes determinism &/or randomness.

You acquire the burden of proof of outlining how randomness &/or determinism is surpassed, and how a complex systems can escape from determinism &/or randomness (just one reason will do).
I still don't get where you think that determinism has been established as a universal law. Are you trying to establish it as universal by insisting on the need for explaining exceptions? Isn't that putting the cart before the horse?

I'm not sure what you mean here. This definition has achieved attention in the literature (see Kim's book for a rigorous handling) and it's not a case of "making it up". I specified a semantic category.
Why can't you just keep things explicit within this discussion so that I don't have to go on a literature search just to have a fruitful online forum discussion?

That the brain's "evolution" through time is caused by random &/or determined laws. That a complex system doesn't lead to a new, third type of causality that is layered on top of determinism &/or randomness but is not determined &/or random. You MUST bear the burden of proof for this new type of causality, because such a discovery would be incredible... and unlikely.
The water level of lakes is determined by rainfall and evaporation, and cold air causes clouds to begin condensing into raindrops, which fall through the cloud causing more vapor to condense into more raindrops. Does that mean that air temperature determines the water level of a lake? Two systems can be related and even cause each other without having the same operational parameters. Each system operates according to its own logic and parameters. Generalizations are the result of observed consistencies, not the rule prior to an exception being demonstrated as an exception.

Do you think that the number of hits a particular website gets is determined by the speed of computer processors because the internet evolved by interconnecting computers?

And even if the brain can create its own laws (we have no reason to suppose this, by the way), this STILL isn't a cause for pure agent self-causation. Laws --> brain --> New laws. The original, objective laws have an unknown level of constraint on the resulting self-causal laws that are created by the brain. (I am not saying that the brain can create laws, but you may back up to this stance).
What I'm saying is that you need to at least temporarily move from generally philosophizing about the logic of causation and how laws are created and followed to put forth an empirical example for analysis.

This makes it sound like I'm arguing for a reductionist/weak emergence stance on consciousness. I am not. I am arguing that the brain cannot bias physical law. Do you think the brain, that evolves according to laws, can bias laws? I hope not. Can it create its own laws? Outlook seems doubtful. Even if there are laws that arise at the hierarchical "level" that consciousness "arises" on, this is no case for a self-causing consciousness. Those laws are still objective laws, laws that consciousness is totally and utterly constrained under.
Claiming that the brain can't alter gravity is different from claiming that the subjective behavior is determined by natural laws because the brain evolved within a gravitational field.

Our observations of the micro does indeed allude to what type of causation is responsible for the complex macro. You must provide a coherent reason as to why we should expect a brand new type of causality, layered on top of the determined/random micro, yet not determined &/or random. Such a feat would be amazing.
Actually, free-will preceded determinism as a type of causation, but that's completely irrelevant. Also, you're not stating what you are implying has to do with micro and macro. Why do you avoid using concrete examples if you're not trying to pull a fast one by hovering at the abstract level and pulling logical strings the way a magician does to make one thing change into another?

Obviously I can't lay out all the laws - random or determined - that govern a system.
You don't have to. If you just provide one clear example, I can analyze what you're saying in a concrete sense, repeat it, and compare it to my own empirical observations and analysis.

However, I am asserting that they are laws. I am also asserting that they cause the evolution of complex systems through time, and hence those complex systems cannot "escape" them. Self-organization and subjectivity and the feeling of actually choosing is not denied, of course.
I know you're asserting that. What you're not doing is providing anything concrete that can be analyzed and discussed at an empirical level.
 
  • #59
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I still don't get where you think that determinism has been established as a universal law.
Never said this.

brainstorm said:
Why can't you just keep things explicit within this discussion so that I don't have to go on a literature search just to have a fruitful online forum discussion?
You stated that I was inventing the definition to suit my own needs.

I HAD to reference a credible source to refute your accusation.

brainstorm said:
Each system operates according to its own logic and parameters.
Precisely. The brain is the same. Unfortunately for your position, these parameters are bound to physical law, until you show why they are not. Computers are similar in this regard. They are bound to algorithms and rulesets. Data comes in (the exogenous), it is processed and apposed to these models and rulesets (the processing), and an output is made that is optimal/correct. Of course, physical law was underpinning this entire operation from time 0. The rulesets were built around the law, physical law wasn't invented. Whilst it is true that the brain is not functionally like this computer, and is therefore not an accurate analogy, this scenario demonstrates what I mean by physical law underpinning the entire operation - an example of a mildly complex system still being governed by physical law.

The brain doesn't create physical law. The brain is bound to physical law. The brain has rules (i.e. its structure, its constraints), and these rules are bound to laws. Physical law causes the brain to evolve over time. This is my position, and you are disagreeing with this, which I think is magical. How can the brain not be bound by physical laws? It's inside the physical universe.

brainstorm said:
Claiming that the brain can't alter gravity is different from claiming that the subjective behavior is determined by natural laws
Are you asserting that the brain is NOT governed by natural laws? Magic.

The two ways you can disagree with me:
1. The brain doesn't follow laws.
2. The brain creates its own laws.

If 1., there is no arguing with you.
If 2., you have to demonstrate how it does this, and demonstrate how it escapes from the micro's determined/randomness. The burden of proof is not for me to outline some magnificent etiology and interconnectedness of a complex system and "prove" that it operates according to random/determined laws. The burden is on you to demonstrate where the brand new type of causality is coming from, and how it is surpassing the micro's random &/or determined laws. Where is the Shrodinger equation breaking down? Where exactly is the biasing of wave packets occurring? Where does this magical biasing mechanism come from? Please demonstrate where these equations are being tampered with. I am NOT the one that has to describe, fully, a complex system and prove that there is no 3rd causality. You're the one proposing the third causality, divorced from randomness/determinism, you have to give a coherent picture of how it can arise.

When I say random &/or determined laws, I'm not saying that any random laws of the quantum play any significant role in the state changes of the brain as a whole. But I have to state it for correctness and so I'm not accused of assuming determinism.

brainstorm said:
(please provide) concrete examples
That's fair, but not really. You think that I'm undertaking a position that requires proving. The burden isn't on me. Whoever claims that a physical system inside the physical universe is not bound by the laws of physics is the one proposing the magic. I'm simply saying that we have no reason to suppose such a thing is happening.

However, I'll try to give you my actual reasons. Of course I can't provide a complete example of a complex system, with the exact etiolgical pathway in tact. I have not modeled such a system bit by bit.

What I do know is that everything we've observed of the micro seems to follow laws (random &/or determined) - strictly - without deviation.
Everything (not literally everything has been observed of course) in the macro apart from complex systems have been observed to follow law without deviation.
Smaller meso systems (coalitions of molecules) are known to follow strict laws.

What's left is medium/large scale (Anything living, cells, etc), (usually incredibly) complex systems that really do seem to be able to govern, downwards cause, and choose. Now, you seem to think that since the brain is so amazingly complex, it could allow an escape hatch away from being controlled completely by natural laws. I think this is magic until I am provided with a reason why it isn't.

There's two main problems with this perspective:
- 1. You have
A) My position: The brain running via the observed determined &/or random mechanisms (so an extrapolation of the 2 possible basic types of causality that exists for the simple to the complex),
B) Your position (or perhaps you're ambivalent to this but just arguing because you're not certain): The brain is not following physical laws, there exists a type of causality that we can't envisage at present (something other than random &/or determined).

The issue is, both scenarios seem compatible with observations of what appears to be pure agent-causation. One can easily see certain rule-sets and heuristics governing the brain (I'm not talking functionalism here), that conform to physical law in all totality, producing what looks like actual choice from the perspective of the scale of emergence (and there are many philosophers and physicists that agree with this, so don't call it bonkers. Read Stephen Wolfram, he's published some nice stuff on this). So both your position and my position are fully compatible, until conclusively demonstrated otherwise, with observations of "choice".

The problem lies with the fact that A) is much more parsimonious because it matches our observations of the simple meso, the micro, and the simple macro. B) does not follow, nor do we have reason to suspect that it is correct when A) is a viable option, and no framework for a new type of causation has been outlined that makes any sense that arises despite of the random &/or determined governing the micro and the meso.

The burden of proof is all on you.

- 2. The macro is constructed on the micro. I understand the posit of Aristotle's formal causation. This is still a type of causation, and while the type of causation is there because of the state of the system itself, it adheres to laws. So is interactive hierarchies, and any other systems view that you may want to propose. The micro has been observed to be purely causal, strictly so. I don't see reason to afford any exception for an incredibly complex system. You have to demonstrate how something can have a micro level, with what seems to be perfect causation, then have the system as a whole escaping from either randomness &/or determinism. You must demonstrate this ability of systems before we even entertain the idea.

When I say "perfect", I don't mean determined. I just mean there's laws, and those laws don't seem to deviate/'slip up'. And, of course, if the laws have a random element, this could be a type of acausation. I wasn't trying to address this when I said "perfect".

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You even asserted that brain function can be thought as analogous to algorithmic processes. Algorithms are determined ...

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You asked me to give an empirical example of a complex system we know that definitely follows physical law. I tried my best, although of course a rigorous example from my perspective is impossible.

Now I ask you, do we have 1 single reason to suppose that the brain doesn't follow physical laws? Remember I was assuming physicalism (i.e. no soul) for this whole discussion.
 
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Precisely. The brain is the same. Unfortunately for your position, these parameters are bound to physical law, until you show why they are not. Computers are similar in this regard. They are bound to algorithms and rulesets. Data comes in (the exogenous), it is processed and apposed to these models and rulesets (the processing), and an output is made that is optimal/correct. Of course, physical law was underpinning this entire operation from time 0. The rulesets were built around the law, physical law wasn't invented. Whilst it is true that the brain is not functionally like this computer, and is therefore not an accurate analogy, this scenario demonstrates what I mean by physical law underpinning the entire operation - an example of a mildly complex system still being governed by physical law.
I see what you are saying now, i.e. how can a brain consist of deterministic chemistry and electrical activity and not be determined in its more complex functioning.

The only answer I can come up with, through empirical reflection on the experience of having a brain and nervous system that responds to impulses in various ways, is that the various systems operate relatively independently of each other. So, for example, while I do think light that hits my corneas does determine more or less the signal that reaches the brain, there's another part of my brain that thinks about what I see and what to do about it, and yet another that controls musculature, movement, actions, etc.

Probably the interactions between the thinking part and the seeing or doing parts of my brain are deterministic in some way. Only, I think the signals compete in such a way as to create conflicting protocols. For example, seeing a bull can trigger an adrenaline/flight response, which could trigger me to run away. But if I see a strong fence between me and the bull, my sense of satisfaction and relaxation is triggered, as if I had fought against the bull and dominated it, which may overpower the adrenaline response. If the fence appears to be weak or structurally compromised, and the bull appears to be at the point of finding its way through the fence, the conflict between the two deterministic patterns has to be resolved, so a third system-mechanism comes into play that analyzes the bull's behavior, the weakness of the fence-breach, etc. This may all take place relatively sub-consciously, but the fact remains that the different systems are operating more or less independently and conflicting, and the one that resolves the conflict is going to generate the feeling that triggers either adrenaline response or euphoria based on a sense of control.

How can you assume that the outcome of a conflict between multiple deterministic systems is determined by a third control system? If a warm front and a cold front run into each other, there is no third deterministic system that mediates the conflict. Yet it is also not totally random which system dominates the other, or what dynamic process of synthesis emerges between the two systems. Perhaps will-power itself is a deterministic process at the level of neural activity, but the particular choice made could synthesize competing information and reasoning in any number of ways depending on the feedback generated by various sub-levels of cognitive experimentation with the parameters of representation of the conflict within the theoretical imagination.

Free-will probably evolved as a neural function to intervene in unresolvable theoretical complexity. It may be nothing more than the ability for part of cognition to short-circuit other parts and supercede them in controlling action-initiative. Maybe it initially operates as a random choice generator, which becomes hesitant to act due to failures. As a result, it may oscillate between intervention and hesitating and allowing theoretical cognition to continue as long as some other process fails to exert enough deterministic power to overcome it. It might even develop the ability to keep conflicting deterministic processes in balance whenever possible, yet the balance results in the ability to postpone action or to "allow the scale to tip" when it senses that action is necessary to avoid problems. Yet, which direction is allows it to tip in is also controlled by the specific method of achieving balance it is using, so it has to choose between methods and therefore learns to mitigate the competing choices through exercise of the more or less random-choice system that could be called free-will.

I wonder if anyone has tried programming an AI system with multiple, competing algorithms and protocols and then given it a random escape algorithm that must select the most appropriate decision on the basis of processing up to the point escape-necessity is reached. If the random-choice generator was programmed to develop non-random choices by analyzing and learning from outcomes of past escape-choices, maybe the computer would develop increasingly complex free-will. You could ask the computer how it mitigated between conflicting algorithms and it would provide an exact record of the process of emergent algorithm-creation it generated in order to reach the point of an escape-choice, as well as what it learned from the outcome of the particular choice and how it has incorporated that new information into its self-revising escape-logic generator/algorithm.

The brain doesn't create physical law. The brain is bound to physical law. The brain has rules (i.e. its structure, its constraints), and these rules are bound to laws. Physical law causes the brain to evolve over time. This is my position, and you are disagreeing with this, which I think is magical. How can the brain not be bound by physical laws? It's inside the physical universe.
Cognition does not have fixed rules. It has variable processes and the ability to mitigate between multiple ones as they conflict.

Are you asserting that the brain is NOT governed by natural laws? Magic.
At the chemical/electronic level of infrastructure, it probably does. It's only at the meta-level of synthesizing process-outcomes that variability emerges. It sees what it sees, but vagueness of information about whether an object is a living person or a scarecrow results in the stimulus to undertake actions that increase relevant information as quickly as possible. It is programmed to avoid short-circuiting or getting frozen in a feedback loop, so it learns to manage its choices.

The two ways you can disagree with me:
1. The brain doesn't follow laws.
2. The brain creates its own laws.

If 1., there is no arguing with you.
There is no arguing with you if you sincerely believe that the reason nature behaves in predictable ways is because it is following laws or rules the way a computer follows protocols. Objects don't fall because they are complying with gravity as a law. That's just a term used to express the observed pattern that all objects fall at the same rate in the same direction. The reason any given object falls is force imparted on it and expressed by it, not because it is following a law or rule but because it is forced to do so by a field. If it contains sufficient force/energy to resist the force of gravity, either by friction, counter-force from another gravitational field (lagrangian points) or orbital velocity/momentum, it will not follow the rule that it must fall in the direction of another object that lacks the same means of resistance.

If 2., you have to demonstrate how it does this, and demonstrate how it escapes from the micro's determined/randomness. The burden of proof is not for me to outline some magnificent etiology and interconnectedness of a complex system and "prove" that it operates according to random/determined laws. The burden is on you to demonstrate where the brand new type of causality is coming from, and how it is surpassing the micro's random &/or determined laws.
The brain does not escape from the force of gravity, except by controlling blood pressure to get blood to flow upward against it, and even then the muscle contraction of blood-vessels to achieve this is determined by autonomic nervous activity. The brain also does not escape the flow of current between the synapses, except to the extent that those are mitigated by factors that evolve in response to learned effects of them firing with disappointing consequences. Each of these natural forces operate independently of the others. Their determinism is not a general force that drives all of them any more than time is a general force that drives all energy-motion occurrences. You are confusing the logical extrapolation of a generality (determinism) for a physical force, which it's not.

That's fair, but not really. You think that I'm undertaking a position that requires proving. The burden isn't on me. Whoever claims that a physical system inside the physical universe is not bound by the laws of physics is the one proposing the magic. I'm simply saying that we have no reason to suppose such a thing is happening.
Do you accept my argument that forces do not act on the basis of laws but purely as forces, or rather expressions of force in individual particles and objects?

What I do know is that everything we've observed of the micro seems to follow laws (random &/or determined) - strictly - without deviation.
Everything (not literally everything has been observed of course) in the macro apart from complex systems have been observed to follow law without deviation.
Meso systems (coalitions of molecules) are known to follow strict laws.
But this may well be due to the ability of cognition to interpret observations according to patterns and refine the patterns to a level of generality/regularity that allows abstract laws to be stated, which apply to multiple occurrences. The law-like regularity is probably more due to the ability of cognition to generate general categories that distinguish individual commonalities from their differences and focus on the similarity by predicting behavior in terms of them. If you would focus on the reason why different objects fall at different rates, instead of explaining the differences as mitigating factors in uniform force-behavior, no law of gravity would emerge because each falling object would appear to follow its own set of rules according to its shape, where it was falling, what it bumped into on the way down, etc.

B) Your position (or perhaps you're ambivalent to this but just arguing because you're not certain): The brain is not following physical laws, there exists a type of causality that we can't envisage at present (something other than random &/or determined).
My position is that the brain's materiality is subject to the same physical forces, but these physical forces do not produce law-like behavior when they interact and conflict with each other's unimpeded functioning.

I think this position sufficiently addresses your other points. If not, please repeat which ones do not follow your misapplication of law-governance as causal force in and of itself and I will reconsider.
 
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I see what you are saying now, i.e. how can a brain consist of deterministic chemistry and electrical activity and not be determined in its more complex functioning.
Yes. I accept chaos. I accept systems viewpoints. I don't accept that the brain exists inside the physical universe but does not evolve through time according to physical law. I think this is magical. I need you to show me the exact place where physics breaks down.

there's another part of my brain that thinks about what I see and what to do about it, and yet another that controls musculature, movement, actions, etc.
Yes, and this other part of your brain is in the physical universe and so is governed by the laws of physics.

brainstorm said:
I think the signals compete in such a way as to create conflicting protocols. For example, seeing a bull can trigger an adrenaline/flight response, ....
(you go on to talk about some other examples of complex brain functioning)

Non-linearity (violation of the superposition principle) and chaos never ever implies that the system isn't governed by physical law.

brainstorm said:
Yet it is also not totally random which system dominates the other,
You are asserting that this is random, but you cannot say this.. at all.

Yes, it will be stochastic in the statisticians sense. But only insofar as our ignorance (assuming no truly random quantum events are messing about).

brainstorm said:
Perhaps will-power itself is a deterministic process at the level of neural activity, but the particular choice made could synthesize competing information and reasoning in any number of ways depending on the feedback generated by various sub-levels of cognitive experimentation with the parameters of representation of the conflict within the theoretical imagination.
I get what you're saying, this doesn't refute the proposition that the brain "follows" physical law. The brain thinks it has free will with or without the strict laws guiding it. The feeling of free will fits both models. It's too bad for the model that leaves physical causality at the door as the opposing proposition is the most parsimonious, and borders on a deductive certainty.

brainstorm said:
Free-will probably evolved as a neural function to intervene in unresolvable theoretical complexity.
I feel you're going back to the other definition of free will, which I've already agreed with. Are you saying that "the ability for the brain to bias physical law evolved as a neural function to intervene....."? If you disagree with this statement, you agree with me. If you agree with this statement, we're in disagreement.

The brain can't bias physical law, though. The brain evolving through time is as a result of physical laws. Any 'biasing' that occurs - i.e. shifts in how the laws operate in complex systems - will also be thanks to physics. Physics for physical systems.

brainstorm said:
As a result, it may oscillate between intervention and hesitating and allowing theoretical cognition to continue as long as some other process fails to exert enough deterministic power to overcome it.
This is still random & determined. I cannot see a possible way of anything but randomness and determined-ness existing for any system whilst the micro seems to be comprised of only randomness &/or determinism. I need to be provided with a potential way for a 3rd type of causality before I can deviate from my position: the brain (almost certainly) follows physical law, and that physical law is random &/or determined.

brainstorm said:
(Some other ways the brain may process information and arrive at choice-like outcomes.)
I have no problem with this. This is the other definition of free will. You're still not saying why you think the brain won't necessarily follow physical causation of the form of determinism &/or randomness.

brainstorm said:
If the random-choice generator was programmed to develop non-random choices by analyzing and learning from outcomes of past escape-choices, maybe the computer would develop increasingly complex free-will.
Yes, this could be a type of free will under the other definition. I thought we agreed that the definition we were arguing was that complex systems can't escape physical causation? (I stated this sooo many times 3 posts ago and 2 posts ago ><).

brainstorm said:
Cognition does not have fixed rules. It has variable processes and the ability to mitigate between multiple ones as they conflict.
Correct. Where's the new type of causality that's not random &/or determined?

brainstorm said:
It is programmed to avoid short-circuiting or getting frozen in a feedback loop, so it learns to manage its choices.
Look, you seem to have some interesting ideas, but I don't understand why you're disagreeing with me. You're just outlining ways that validate the other definition of free will. The one I'm talking about relates to physics - the agent can't bias the outcomes of what is predicted by physical causation. It shouldn't be able to add a new type of causality into the mix that isn't either random &/or determined.

brainstorm said:
The brain does not escape from the force of gravity, except by controlling blood pressure to get blood to flow upward against it, and even then the muscle contraction of blood-vessels to achieve this is determined by autonomic nervous activity. The brain also does not escape the flow of current between the synapses, except to the extent that those are mitigated by factors that evolve in response to learned effects of them firing with disappointing consequences. Each of these natural forces operate independently of the others. Their determinism is not a general force that drives all of them any more than time is a general force that drives all energy-motion occurrences. You are confusing the logical extrapolation of a generality (determinism) for a physical force, which it's not.
So where's this new type of causality that you seem to believe in? I haven't found it in your whole post. You gave me an intro lesson into physics (which I appreciated), some thoughts on cognition and how choices are made. I'm still waiting for the new type of causation. I'm still waiting for the demonstration of how the equation describing the wave packets is biased by consciousness itself and not by the physics itself. Where is the biasing happening? Where's the third type of causation that is not of A) determined &/or B) random? Please claim your Nobel prize already.

brainstorm said:
Do you accept my argument that forces do not act on the basis of laws but purely as forces, or rather expressions of force in individual particles and objects?
Why can't we just call them laws? An apple falling from a tree isn't going to stop half way and levitate. For practical purposes, they are laws. That's why physicists call them laws. They run things.

brainstorm said:
But this may well be due to the ability of cognition to interpret observations according to patterns and refine the patterns to a level of generality/regularity that allows abstract laws to be stated, which apply to multiple occurrences. The law-like regularity is probably more due to the ability of cognition to generate general categories that distinguish individual commonalities from their differences and focus on the similarity by predicting behavior in terms of them. If you would focus on the reason why different objects fall at different rates, instead of explaining the differences as mitigating factors in uniform force-behavior, no law of gravity would emerge because each falling object would appear to follow its own set of rules according to its shape, where it was falling, what it bumped into on the way down, etc.
Still no new type of causation outlined.

brainstorm said:
My position is that the brain's materiality is subject to the same physical forces, but these physical forces do not produce law-like behavior when they interact and conflict with each other's unimpeded functioning.
Correct me if I'm incorrect, but is your position that the entire system as a whole causes a breakdown in laws that are observed in highly controlled/simplistic systems?

This is fine, I know not of any reason to doubt this a priori. But there is still physical causation. There is still law-like relations. No law like relations have been observed to break down in meso systems. We have observed nothing but randomness and determinism on the micro scale. If you can find a way for random/determined processes in the micro to somehow come together, and for a complex system produce a whole new type of causation, then do so, I'm all ears.

Please refute what I'm actually proposing: that the brain runs on laws. I know you've stated that "laws" is a misnomer. Clearly, the physics community disagrees with you. I know you've stated that the brain is non-linear, weighs up alternatives, etc. Yes, but physics must underlie this because the matter exists in the physical universe. You've stated that complex systems "do not produce law-like behavior". Well, if you think billiard balls clanging is law like but complex systems aren't because they're so chaotic, then you don't understand what law-like is. Laws don't have to be pretty and nice just to suit your picture of what physical causation should be.
 
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This is still random & determined. I cannot see a possible way of anything but randomness and determined-ness existing for any system whilst the micro seems to be comprised of only randomness &/or determinism. I need to be provided with a potential way for a 3rd type of causality before I can deviate from my position: the brain (almost certainly) follows physical law, and that physical law is random &/or determined.
I think that you're assuming, falsely, that physical determinism in all matter implies that no conflicts emerge between different deterministic processes. So you're going to always want to believe that when two deterministic systems conflict, the outcome of the conflict will be determined just because the sub-systems of the conflict behave deterministically. I am saying that deterministic systems can interact in a way that leads to non-deterministic power, i.e. free-will that influences the balances and interactions that occur among other deterministic systems. I explained in detail the mechanics of how this could occur. If you choose to ignore that, it's because you want to uniformly extend determinism to every level of interaction among inert matter. I believe that is overextending synthetic-inductive logic.

Correct. Where's the new type of causality that's not random &/or determined?
Free-will is causal insofar as it emerges from the conflicts between interacting deterministic systems. If a brain makes the choice to look both ways when crossing the street, but not check the first direction again before crossing, a car could have turned onto the road. The association of looking before crossing the street may be determined, as may be the desire to hurry up and cross without waiting to look. However, there is also the possibility of tipping the scale in the direction of the habit to look before crossing again, which overcomes the haste to cross the street, if the crosser so chooses. If not, she skips looking and maybe the car's inertia determines that she gets hit despite the operator reacting to his urge to stop before injuring her.

Look, you seem to have some interesting ideas, but I don't understand why you're disagreeing with me. You're just outlining ways that validate the other definition of free will. The one I'm talking about relates to physics - the agent can't bias the outcomes of what is predicted by physical causation. It shouldn't be able to add a new type of causality into the mix that isn't either random &/or determined.
Only in your homogenizing theoretical imagination. At this point you're just trying to render free-will as an exotic "new type of causality" to suggest that it is implausible. That's a really low strategy for asserting your will to obfuscate the existence of free-will.

So where's this new type of causality that you seem to believe in? I haven't found it in your whole post. You gave me an intro lesson into physics (which I appreciated), some thoughts on cognition and how choices are made. I'm still waiting for the new type of causation. I'm still waiting for the demonstration of how the equation describing the wave packets is biased by consciousness itself and not by the physics itself. Where is the biasing happening? Where's the third type of causation that is not of A) determined &/or B) random? Please claim your Nobel prize already.
I don't think I will be able to claim a nobel prize for something Freud explained pretty clearly, but I'll certainly accept it for the nearly insurmountable task of showing you that Freud in fact bridged the gap between instinct and free-will with the superego/id/ego trinity. How many times do I have to explain it?

Why can't we just call them laws? An apple falling from a tree isn't going to stop half way and levitate. For practical purposes, they are laws. That's why physicists call them laws. They run things.
And yet I can choose to envision what it would look like if it did happen. Or I can choose to forego the visual indulgence and just deal with the logic of your argument. How is it that I negotiate that choice, exactly, if not for free-will?

Correct me if I'm incorrect, but is your position that the entire system as a whole causes a breakdown in laws that are observed in highly controlled/simplistic systems?
Does the fact that water levitated during evaporation cause a breakdown in the law of gravity that ensure that liquid water is always denser than air?

Please refute what I'm actually proposing: that the brain runs on laws. I know you've stated that "laws" is a misnomer. Clearly, the physics community disagrees with you. I know you've stated that the brain is non-linear, weighs up alternatives, etc. Yes, but physics must underlie this because the matter exists in the physical universe. You've stated that complex systems "do not produce law-like behavior". Well, if you think billiard balls clanging is law like but complex systems aren't because they're so chaotic, then you don't understand what law-like is. Laws don't have to be pretty and nice just to suit your picture of what physical causation should be.
I'm not saying that laws are not valid descriptive tools to represent patterns of deterministic behavior. I am saying that the laws themselves do not determine the behavior of the materials from whose behavior they are extrapolated. FORCES impart behavior, not laws. Laws are DESCRIPTIONS. Would you watch a soccer game and say the commentary was causing the players to behave as the commentary is describing?
 
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imiyakawa, you are going about things the wrong way.

Here's where most people would agree you are correct:

(1) The brain is a physical object and thus obeys certain laws.
(2) The brain is "responsible" for all our choices (i.e., no other forces/spirits/etc. act to create our conscious experience).
(3) Therefore, all of our choices are governed by certain laws.

These statements I take to be TRUE.​

Here's where you are mistaken:

(4) Free will, as the average Joe understands it, cannot arise out of a system governed completely by laws.

This statement is FALSE.​

Here is why you are mistaken:

(5) You don't understand how the average Joe understands free will.
(6) You haven't understood what other people in this thread have been saying.

Here's an explanation for why (4) is false:

The average Joe has the feeling that free will means (i) he, personally, is in control of (ii) all the choices he makes. And he is.

Here's how the average Joe defines (ii): "all the actions I experience as having consciously decided to take". (i.e., he is not in control of his sleepwalking, his accent, the body he was born into, etc.)

Here's how the average Joe defines (i): "the (iii) forces driving the decision arise only from within myself" (i.e. not from some external influence).

Here's how the average Joe defines (iii): "the most direct cause" (i.e. "Sure, my papa taught me how to play chess, but the CAUSE of me making this move was me, not my father")

There.

If you disagree with this post, tell me which sentence you disagree with and why.
 
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(4) Free will, as the average Joe understands it, cannot arise out of a system governed completely by laws.
(This is NOT what the average Joe thinks).
Yes this sounds correct (your proceeding explanation of their definition). I was thinking of going up to a random person and asking if they can self-cause, but their intuitions would probably be what you outlined, they wouldn't even be thinking of true self-causation as apposed to physics. So I agree.

jgm340 said:
(6) You haven't understood what other people in this thread have been saying.
I have probably misunderstood a few things. Although, you asked for your input on each sentence so I'll give it :). I'm not sure I have "not understood what other people..". I've been arguing for a page about whether the brain follows laws. I think I get brainstorm's perspective, he's arguing what seems to be chaos in how the brain functions, he's demonstrated mechanisms by which the brain makes informed choice (I've agreed with all this), how complex systems are a whole new ballgame to the micro/simple macro, but he still hasn't shown where the brain doesn't follow physics (which is my posit, along with those laws being determined &/or random until further notice).

Although it was a while ago, I remember someone thought that random QM allowed free will moreso than causal determinacy, and I argued for that a page. Then I remember I got as far with someone else about how complex systems may somehow have an escape hatch from following laws, we don't know because we haven't been able to model it.

And after about page 1 I realized most were arguing for this model;
The average Joe has the feeling that free will means (i) he, personally, is in control of (ii) all the choices he makes. And he is.

Here's how the average Joe defines (ii): "all the actions I experience as having consciously decided to take". (i.e., he is not in control of his sleepwalking, his accent, the body he was born into, etc.)

Here's how the average Joe defines (i): "the (iii) forces driving the decision arise only from within myself" (i.e. not from some external influence).

Here's how the average Joe defines (iii): "the most direct cause" (i.e. "Sure, my papa taught me how to play chess, but the CAUSE of me making this move was me, not my father")
And said that this is a valid model, correct, and was arguing a totally different definition of free will. Then I thought everyone finally understood what I was arguing for, they went "oh so you're just asserting that the brain has to follow laws" (Stupi and Georg I think), and most of us were in close agreement. I think that's what happened :D Could be confabulation ^_^
 
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I think that you're assuming, falsely, that physical determinism in all matter implies that no conflicts emerge between different deterministic processes.
brainstorm said:
So you're going to always want to believe that when two deterministic systems conflict, the outcome of the conflict will be determined just because the sub-systems of the conflict behave deterministically.
Yes. That is called causal determinacy. I am not assuming QM is determined. That was one of the assumptions in your sentence. (Actually, you could have meant random QM underlies this system. Oh well)
brainstorm said:
I am saying that deterministic systems can interact in a way that leads to non-deterministic power,
This is not possible. And I'm not assuming that "no conflicts arise" in the sense that chaos isn't there. I've said clearly in over 3 posts that I accept chaos. Chaos with a random-QM element does not imply non-causation by physics. Chaos of a deterministic system (in your quote) does not imply a non-determined outcome.
"This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behaviour is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved."[2]

If you don't think the brain follows laws then there's no arguing with you. I just don't see how you think a chunk of matter inside of the physical universe doesn't obey physics. I challenge you to find a non-religious physicist who thinks that the brain doesn't follow physics.

And yes, when 2 purely deterministic systems interact, the outcome is deterministic. "Causal determinism is, roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together

And Freud didn't prove that the brain doesn't follow laws.


My position, which I have clarified in the last 8 posts so you can't have missed it: The brain follows the laws of physics - those that have been identified and any that have not been identified. These laws come in two varieties: deterministic &/or random. There may be a third type, but it has not been demonstrated. This third type may exist, but it is parsimonious to expect that it doesn't as complex systems can be understood just as well with the two we have now. The burden of proof is on those that believe in a third type.

You disagree:
- complex systems can "choose" ("Consider how the brain does 'X' in concordance with 'Y' systems.)?
- The complexity of the system may have an escape route (i.e. you say deterministic + deterministic --> non-deterministic)?

If this is an unfair summation of the reasons you disagree with my posit, add what you think is appropriate.

You give the example of two systems interacting in response to me requesting you demonstrate where a 3rd type of causality exists.

You still have not demonstrated where this new type of causality arises. Where in this example of two complex systems interacting is randomness &/or determinism being violated in this system?

YES, chaos. But where does chaos --> violation of randomness &/or determinism?

brainstorm said:
At this point you're just trying to render free-will as an exotic "new type of causality" to suggest that it is implausible.
Can you please just tell me where randomness &/or determinism is violated? At what point does the complex system come together and create a new type of causality that we haven't seen before? You agree that the only types of causality we can be absolutely sure of at present are randomness (maybe) &/or determinism?

My posit is that the brain follow physics. My second posit is that this physics is random &/or determined until further notice (I am fully open to being shown incorrect, and a new type of causality is articulated, and some will cite some type of retrocausation. This is fine, but this is still a type of physics that the brain is constrained under.).

All you've done is outline how complex systems are, how the interaction of complex systems leads to chaotic results. That is NOT disagreeing with my position. To disagree with my position and have a reason behind you disagreeing, you have to show me where the brain operating escapes from a combination of random &/or determined processes (NOT chaos, chaos is known by researchers to be layered on top of randomness &/or determinism).
 
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Yes this sounds correct (your proceeding explanation of their definition). I was thinking of going up to a random person and asking if they can self-cause, but their intuitions would probably be what you outlined, they wouldn't even be thinking of true self-causation as apposed to physics. So I agree.
I often end up in discussion with people who think freedom can only exist if it is absolute. Someone doesn't have to be totally self-causing to exercise free-will. Free-will and external causation can interact in generating individual actions and consequences.

I think I get brainstorm's perspective, he's arguing what seems to be chaos in how the brain functions, he's demonstrated mechanisms by which the brain makes informed choice (I've agreed with all this)
I described how conflict between organized determined sub-systems can result in a situation ripe for free-will insofar as the systems will fail or destroy each other in conflict without it. That's different than chaos, no?

how complex systems are a whole new ballgame to the micro/simple macro, but he still hasn't shown where the brain doesn't follow physics (which is my posit, along with those laws being determined &/or random until further notice).
I haven't argued that the brain doesn't operate through interacting physical forces. What you can't understand is how any system isn't a simple subsidiary of another, and therefore determined by it. To you, clouds are driven by atmospheric pressure systems, and rain-drops are the product of clouds, so therefore raindrops are driven by pressure systems. You're misapplying logic by remaining on too abstract a level of theory.

This is not possible. And I'm not assuming that "no conflicts arise" in the sense that chaos isn't there. I've said clearly in over 3 posts that I accept chaos. Chaos with a random-QM element does not imply non-causation by physics. Chaos of a deterministic system (in your quote) does not imply a non-determined outcome.
"This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behaviour is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved."[2]
You can't comprehend that conflict is a possibility for multiple determined systems? You seem to only recognized harmoniously organized determination and chaos. You don't see that deterministic forces can generate conflicts and resistances among divergent systems/elements?

If you don't think the brain follows laws then there's no arguing with you. I just don't see how you think a chunk of matter inside of the physical universe doesn't obey physics. I challenge you to find a non-religious physicist who thinks that the brain doesn't follow physics.
I told you how you're misapplying the concept of laws as causal forces. Laws are explanatory generalizations, which are separate and distinct from forces that actually cause behavior of particles and objects.

And Freud didn't prove that the brain doesn't follow laws.
I don't think Freud proved much, if anything. He just theorized how self-determined selectivity emerged from the conflict between environment and instinct. In other words, he showed how individual behavior was not simply determined by environment or by innate desires and drives internal to the individual. He showed that internal and external is in conflict, and therefore the will to choose must develop to mitigate the conflicts.

By this logic, you could say that the emergence of free-will is determined by conflict - but it is still a causal force, not simply a feeling or illusion that masks some true determinance operating outside the consciousness of individuals.

My position, which I have clarified in the last 8 posts so you can't have missed it: The brain follows the laws of physics - those that have been identified and any that have not been identified. These laws come in two varieties: deterministic &/or random. There may be a third type, but it has not been demonstrated. This third type may exist, but it is parsimonious to expect that it doesn't as complex systems can be understood just as well with the two we have now. The burden of proof is on those that believe in a third type.
I keep telling you, you mixing up epistemology with empirical logic. The fact that laws can be epistemologically extrapolated from observations of physical events does not mean that those laws CAUSE the physical events they were extrapolated from. The brain operates according to physical forces and energy-relations, but this doesn't prevent it from developing conflicts that require free-will for resolution. You're right that whoever identifies exactly how this capacity for exercising free-will evolved in living tissue system should get a nobel prize. It is not an unknown third type of "law," though. It is simply a method of causation that has developed to interact with and intervene in deterministic systems that is not completely random.

This is fine, but this is still a type of physics that the brain is constrained under.).
The cells that generate free-will initiative may still operate according to the same physical laws that describe any deterministic system. It's just the physical constraints do not prevent the brain from making choices that intervene in determinism and therefore influence its outcomes. A random choice generator could also intervene in other deterministic systems. For example, if a robot building cars was programmed to randomly go on strike at certain moments, it would influence the functioning of subsequent robots programmed to respond to whatever part it connected. So it is clear that deterministic systems can conflict with each other. You just seem to have trouble fathoming that a conflicted system could evolve that develops the capacity to actively negotiate conflicts. Why is this so impossible unless you think it is impossible for determinant systems to conflict and thereby fail to determine each other?

[/quote]All you've done is outline how complex systems are, how the interaction of complex systems leads to chaotic results. That is NOT disagreeing with my position. To disagree with my position and have a reason behind you disagreeing, you have to show me where the brain operating escapes from a combination of random &/or determined processes (NOT chaos, chaos is known by researchers to be layered on top of randomness &/or determinism).[/QUOTE]
The best I can get to contemplating a mechanism for it would be that the conflicts precede the system that mitigates them. So free-will may be an algorithm that identifies unresolvable conflicts and self-generates either reasons or other bases for making a choice to escape an endless feedback loop. It may begin as early as the moment when the fetus notices it can become more comfortable in the womb (shrinking by its perception) by moving its body in certain ways that relieve pressures and contortion, etc.

I'm not saying the fetus's choices aren't determined by the shape of the uterus. I'm just saying that it may require decision-making by the fetus to navigate the uterus's changing shape. Without exercising free-will to identify a more comfortable position for limbs, etc. the fetus would cut off circulation to its parts, etc. It has to perceive discomfort and solve the problem to seek comfort. The actual algorithm that allows it to do this may be as simple as 1)identify discomfort 2) do something 3) examine results. Then it learns from experience. How does it have the freedom to "do something" though? I don't know. Some kind of random choice generator? How does it integrate learned knowledge to replace the randomness with informed choice? Good question, but why would deterministic physical laws prevent it from doing so?
 
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I often end up in discussion with people who think freedom can only exist if it is absolute. Someone doesn't have to be totally self-causing to exercise free-will. Free-will and external causation can interact in generating individual actions and consequences.
Agreed.

brainstorm said:
I haven't argued that the brain doesn't operate through interacting physical forces. What you can't understand is how any system isn't a simple subsidiary of another, and therefore determined by it.
I can understand this. I was under the impression you were pushing this, because you brought up many examples of this. I think I said a few times that I agreed with your examples, but I disagreed that they weren't run by physics (that physics being random &/or determined). I disagree that we can justify a third type of causality as emerging from this system.

A third type of causality.

I'm not denying interactive hierarchies, any type of formal causation you wish to posit, violation of the superposition principle (non-linearity), unpredictability in practice, et cetera.

brainstorm said:
You can't comprehend that conflict is a possibility for multiple determined systems? You seem to only recognized harmoniously organized determination and chaos. You don't see that deterministic forces can generate conflicts and resistances among divergent systems/elements?
I think I understand what you mean by conflicts and resistances. That is the nature of chaos. I'm contesting that new type of causality emerges from this chaos. I contest that from the determined &/or random micro world, somehow there is something that escapes this that is not determined &/or random on the micro level. The violation of the superposition principle, interacting systems, complexity, etc, does not afford this as far as I can tell.

brainstorm said:
I told you how you're misapplying the concept of laws as causal forces. Laws are explanatory generalizations, which are separate and distinct from forces that actually cause behavior of particles and objects.
OK, if you don't like the use of the word law, let's just say the brain is matter inside of the physical universe and therefore is bound to physics. Right? Or do complex systems get an escape hatch?


brainstorm said:
you could say that the emergence of free-will is determined by conflict - but it is still a causal force, not simply a feeling or illusion that masks some true determinance operating outside the consciousness of individuals.
I think we have different ideas in mind of what constitutes a causal force.

I will say it very much looks like there's a new causal force existing from the perspective of being subjective and making "choices" all the time. But I also see this as possible with determinism or random laws underpinning the entire system. My main conceptual issue with your position is I don't see how the entire system can somehow bias the micro - which is needed if there's this new causal force caused by the brain/consciousness. So it would have to bias the micro (anything that biases any "level" has to also bias the micro), and I struggle to see where the physics is allowed to break down. I'm open to the possibility of non-reducibility of complex systems. A solution to the N-S equations may very well entail this. Such a case would be an example of the entire system biasing the micro, so I am definitely open to physical non-reducibility of systems.

The thing is, that doesn't mean that physics isn't running this system.


brainstorm said:
The brain operates according to physical forces and energy-relations, but this doesn't prevent it from developing conflicts that require free-will for resolution.
Yes, sure. conflicts, hierarchies, structures, "neural architecture", constraints, non-linearity, irreducibility, complexity, unpredictability in practice, etc. Yep, we agree here. Let all this = (A). I see Physics --> (A), because the brain is in the physical universe. I think you're saying this is wrong because of interactive systems and the conflicts that may arise may introduce a new type of causality that we can't envisage?

brainstorm said:
It is simply a method of causation that has developed to interact with and intervene in deterministic systems that is not completely random.
OK let's say this is true, wouldn't this still be physics?


brainstorm said:
It's just the physical constraints do not prevent the brain from making choices that intervene in determinism and therefore influence its outcomes.
:eek: Ok, downwards causation. Do you think this is more parsimonious than a type of free will that is under-lied by physics? Do you think that people supporting this position should have to show where the biasing of physics occurs if they want people to take their viewpoint seriously?


brainstorm said:
A random choice generator could also intervene in other deterministic systems. For example, if a robot building cars was programmed to randomly go on strike at certain moments, it would influence the functioning of subsequent robots programmed to respond to whatever part it connected. So it is clear that deterministic systems can conflict with each other. You just seem to have trouble fathoming that a conflicted system could evolve that develops the capacity to actively negotiate conflicts.
Your example is completely plausible. The keyword was "random choice generator". That's a known type of causality, I don't have problems with this.. And I can fathom a system that evolves to actively negotiate conflicts - humans! I just don't think this ability supersedes physics. I also can't conceptualize how, if we keep adding layers of complexity, at a certain threshold of complexity &/or organization, somehow physics is bypassed. Does a single celled organism get to bypass physical causation? A fly choosing a route? Why can't this fly have a certain brain structure that makes it seem to the fly like it's choosing a route, but all this is being underpinned by physics?


brainstorm said:
The best I can get to contemplating a mechanism for it would be that the conflicts precede the system that mitigates them. So free-will may be an algorithm that identifies unresolvable conflicts and self-generates either reasons or other bases for making a choice to escape an endless feedback loop. It may begin as early as the moment when the fetus notices it can become more comfortable in the womb (shrinking by its perception) by moving its body in certain ways that relieve pressures and contortion, etc.
Ok, that seems coherent, I just don't see why physics isn't governing the evolution through time of this whole system. I'm not sure I know of anything that thinks conflicts between systems, combinations of complex systems, non-linearity, a system that weighs up sensory data, etc escapes physical causation (that being random &/or determined on the micro level, which can combine in complex systems to create chaos).

brainstorm said:
How does it have the freedom to "do something" though? Good question, but why would deterministic physical laws prevent it from doing so?
Physics wouldn't prevent the organism from weighing up choices and making a decision. That's why I say that for practical purposes, we all have free will. When I invoked this other definition, it was mainly targeted to the idea that if physics runs the whole system, can we really say we have free will? But you contest that physics is running this whole system, which is fine. This is an interesting discussion.
 
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I think I understand what you mean by conflicts and resistances. That is the nature of chaos. I'm contesting that new type of causality emerges from this chaos. I contest that from the determined &/or random micro world, somehow there is something that escapes this that is not determined &/or random on the micro level. The violation of the superposition principle, interacting systems, complexity, etc, does not afford this as far as I can tell.
I think you're making the same logical mistake here as the people who deny the existence of freedom because freedom is not absolute. You are saying that anything that's not perfectly organized is chaos. Conflicts among organized systems don't render them absolute chaos. The conflict may even proceed in an organized way.

Hunger may be a determined cognitive response to blood-sugar levels or some other deterministic source. At the same time, the thought of taking food from someone close-by may result in involuntary apprehension to steal. Both brain-patterns may be determined but something has to invent a logic for how to handle the conflict. A flexible, self-adapting algorithm?

OK, if you don't like the use of the word law, let's just say the brain is matter inside of the physical universe and therefore is bound to physics. Right? Or do complex systems get an escape hatch?
You ignore what I said about the difference between forces and empirically observable behaviors and laws. Laws refer to regularities, but they are not the cause of the behaviors they are observed to predict. Nothing "obeys" or "escapes" forces in a deterministic system. Things simply respond to and deliver force according to their inertia, momentum, etc. Complex systems may exhibit behavior distinct from the simple systems or elements that compose them by virtue of the fact that they are observed and explained at a different scale. All the cells in your body require constant access to water, yet you are not a fish. Your cells' aquatic nature does not translate into the complex system they constitute being aquatic, does it?

I think we have different ideas in mind of what constitutes a causal force.
Is this another case where you assume something to be absolute and exclusive in order to count, as with order/chaos? Nothing has an absolute exclusive single cause in reality, as far as I know. Everything occurs due to multiple influences co-constituting each other's effects. If some empirical example contradicts this, please provide it.

The thing is, that doesn't mean that physics isn't running this system.
This is where you start going on and on about how "physics" causes physical interactions to occur as they do. Physics is an epistemology for studying, explaining, and predicting physical occurrences. It makes no more sense to say that physics is causing anything to happen than it does to say that economics causes the price of a commodity to go up or down. You're confounding the study of causation with causation itself.

OK let's say this is true, wouldn't this still be physics?
If by "physics," do you mean that physical matter and energy are involved, yes. If you mean that laws observed at one level or scale necessarily must explain occurrences at another scale, then I think you're over-extending epistemology.


:eek: Ok, downwards causation. Do you think this is more parsimonious than a type of free will that is under-lied by physics? Do you think that people supporting this position should have to show where the biasing of physics occurs if they want people to take their viewpoint seriously?
Science is fundamentally empirical. I do not think that Galileo needed to show that Aristotle's logic was flawed in its own terms before dropping two balls from a tower and observing if they hit the ground at the same time. If the experiments you've cited about decisions attributed to free-will being predictable before the conscious decision occurs, there will be reason to believe that the decision was the result of sub-conscious processes, which if found to be deterministic would support your hypothesis. I think, however, that the experiment you described was probably measuring some component of the reasoning process other than the actual moment of decision-making. I would need to study the details of the experiment and methodology to reason about it.

I also can't conceptualize how, if we keep adding layers of complexity, at a certain threshold of complexity &/or organization, somehow physics is bypassed. Does a single celled organism get to bypass physical causation? A fly choosing a route? Why can't this fly have a certain brain structure that makes it seem to the fly like it's choosing a route, but all this is being underpinned by physics?
I don't think that all subsequent leveling of complexity has similar results. I don't think physics governs the complex patterns observed out of simple deterministic processes. Do you think the exact shape of any ocean wave at any given moment is perfectly predictable in terms of multiple constituent forces? I don't. I think there are so many levels of interaction whose results also interact that the patterns formed are beyond determinant causation. This doesn't mean that certain aspects can't be theorized to be influenced by certain factors - just that the multiplicity of factors makes it silly to imagine that all the various conflicts don't add up to a certain amount of unpredictability.

Ok, that seems coherent, I just don't see why physics isn't governing the evolution through time of this whole system. I'm not sure I know of anything that thinks conflicts between systems, combinations of complex systems, non-linearity, a system that weighs up sensory data, etc escapes physical causation (that being random &/or determined on the micro level, which can combine in complex systems to create chaos).
I think you need to distinguish physical forces and observables from epistemological concepts about them in complex interactive patterns. You can't use the law of gravity to predict anything with absolute precision because anything actually falling in a complex system has too many interacting variables for them not to appear to generate randomness. You can predict ideal systems using a model with limited parameters, but will the model ever match the actual phenomenon it is supposed to simulate? No, so physics doesn't "govern" anything - it's just a method of attempting to approximate things, and it does a good job most of the time - but I haven't seen any evidence that it can explain free-will decision-making yet.

it was mainly targeted to the idea that if physics runs the whole system, can we really say we have free will? But you contest that physics is running this whole system, which is fine. This is an interesting discussion.
By "whole system" do you mean every epistemological framing of the system at any level. So, for example, does the "whole system" of a cloud include 1) the electrostatics attracting molecules to each other 2) the contours of the lobes? 3) the distribution of translucency at various trajectories of light through the cloud 4) the temperature distribution throughout 5) the flow of air currents within the cloud 5) the amount the cloud will change shape per 100m it travels etc etc.? Do you expect physics to be able to explain and predict every one of these aspects of a cloud?
 
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A flexible, self-adapting algorithm?
An algorithm? Cool! Algorithms abide by physical causation, even self-adaptive ones.

brainstorm said:
Complex systems may exhibit behavior distinct from the simple systems or elements that compose them by virtue of the fact that they are observed and explained at a different scale.
So? All I've been proposing is this system adheres to physics, and this physics is random and or determined until a third type of causality is demonstrated that isn't random and or determined.

brainstorm said:
Is this another case where you assume something to be absolute and exclusive in order to count, as with order/chaos?
Please quote the first time I assumed this. No, I don't think free will has to be absolute for it to exist. I expressed my dislike of this position a few times.

brainstorm said:
Everything occurs due to multiple influences co-constituting each other's effects.
So? Since when does this refute the idea that the brain has to "adhere" to physical causation, and that this physics is random and or determined until shown otherwise?

You aren't rebutting my actual proposal.

brainstorm said:
Physics is an epistemology for studying, explaining, and predicting physical occurrences. It makes no more sense to say that physics is causing anything to happen than it does to say that economics causes the price of a commodity to go up or down. You're confounding the study of causation with causation itself.
Ok Sorry for misusing language... I hope it's clear now that I'm talking about physical causation (are you happy with that instead of laws?)

brainstorm said:
If you mean that laws observed at one level or scale necessarily must explain occurrences at another scale, then I think you're over-extending epistemology.
I never stated this.

Which is exactly why I brought up the N-S equations and the possibility of non-reducibility of physical systems to some fundamental TOE. Still doesn't preclude physical causation, or that that physical causation is either determined &/or random.

brainstorm said:
I don't think physics governs the complex patterns observed out of simple deterministic processes.
I made an effort to say "random &/or determined" so that this didn't happen.

But let's say that the universe is deterministic. Why wouldn't physical causation govern this system? Why does chaos = break in physical causation?

brainstorm said:
Do you think the exact shape of any ocean wave at any given moment is perfectly predictable in terms of multiple constituent forces?
I never brought up prediction in practice ... It has nothing to do with it.

brainstorm said:
I think there are so many levels of interaction whose results also interact that the patterns formed are beyond determinant causation.
Are you saying that if the universe is determined at the fundamental level (let's just assume something like deBB), chaotic systems can escape determinism and have a truly random/non-predictable even in principle element? How? Just because we couldn't build a computer to ever be able to predict such monstrously complex systems doesn't mean that suddenly causal determinism is breaking down.

brainstorm said:
just that the multiplicity of factors makes it silly to imagine that all the various conflicts don't add up to a certain amount of unpredictability.
Unpredictability in practice has nothing to do with it.

brainstorm said:
You can't use the law of gravity to predict anything with absolute precision because anything actually falling in a complex system has too many interacting variables for them not to appear to generate randomness.
Stochastic chaotic processes never implies fundamental indeterminacy. Prediction has nothing to do with this at all. Too many interacting variables doesn't have any consequences except for our minds being boggled and our abilities to predict the outcomes of such systems being stymied.

At what layer of complexity does physical causation break down? (Which is my assertion all along that you've been disagreeing with).

brainstorm said:
physics doesn't "govern" anything - it's just a method of attempting to approximate things, and it does a good job most of the time
Ok, but this is just language. Things adhere to physical causation.. because they exist in the physical universe, and matter is constrained under physics.

brainstorm said:
but I haven't seen any evidence that it can explain free-will decision-making yet.
Of course it can't explain complex systems yet! We've just been doing this for like 200 years. But to say that a complex system --> new type of causation when random &/or determined causation is doing fine for explanatory purposes (in most people's opinions) at the moment is not parsimonious.

brainstorm said:
By "whole system" do you mean every epistemological framing of the system at any level. So, for example, does the "whole system" of a cloud include 1) the electrostatics attracting molecules to each other 2) the contours of the lobes? 3) the distribution of translucency at various trajectories of light through the cloud 4) the temperature distribution throughout 5) the flow of air currents within the cloud 5) the amount the cloud will change shape per 100m it travels etc etc.? Do you expect physics to be able to explain and predict every one of these aspects of a cloud?
That's what I mean by the whole system. The entire thing. All hierarchies. All communications and interactions.

Do I think it can predict it? No, of course not. Maybe in a very very optimistic future.

Do I think it can explain it? Depends how you define explain, and what constitutes an explanation.

Do I think that something outside of randomness &/or determinism is occurring at absurd levels of complexity in chaotic systems? Not until someone demonstrates a way this can occur - it seems incredible, how such a causation could be layered onto the determined &/or random micro but NOT be determined &/or random. Especially when most people modeling chaotic system are wholly content with the two possible types of causation that underlie stochastic systems. But EVEN IF such a causation exists, this does not preclude physical causation of this system.
 
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An algorithm? Cool! Algorithms abide by physical causation, even self-adaptive ones.
I don't know, can you say that an intelligent chip that uses physical causation to run a logical algorithm is "abiding by physical causation" of the circuitry in the chip? Yes, the switches in the chip circuitry abide by physical causation, but does that translate to the algorithm itself abiding by that same causation? Or does the algorithm abide by the logic of its programming?

So? All I've been proposing is this system adheres to physics, and this physics is random and or determined until a third type of causality is demonstrated that isn't random and or determined.
I keep forgetting to tell you that I think determined and random refers to two different things. Determination, imo, refers to the actions of one thing translating transparently into the actions of a second thing. It is, therefore, a direct energy-transmission relationship. Random, on the other hand, refers to a description of relative order in a system. The directions of molecular motion in a gas are probably random at some level, but that doesn't mean their not determined by collisions with other molecules, correct?

Please quote the first time I assumed this. No, I don't think free will has to be absolute for it to exist. I expressed my dislike of this position a few times.
Ok, great. So our thoughts are not totally mutually exclusive. That is promising:)

Ok Sorry for misusing language... I hope it's clear now that I'm talking about physical causation (are you happy with that instead of laws?)
Yes, elated. Physical causation need not always result in law-like or even regularized predictable behavior.

But let's say that the universe is deterministic. Why wouldn't physical causation govern this system? Why does chaos = break in physical causation?
It doesn't, but I don't agree that chaos and organization are not ends of a continuum, depending on the level of analysis. A cue ball hitting a triangle determines to some extent the direction and distances each of the other balls will travel, but there is sufficient interaction in energy-exchanges between the balls to render the determination relatively dynamic, no?

I never brought up prediction in practice ... It has nothing to do with it.
Well, isn't a perfectly deterministic system predictable if you know all the parameters?

Are you saying that if the universe is determined at the fundamental level (let's just assume something like deBB), chaotic systems can escape determinism and have a truly random/non-predictable even in principle element? How? Just because we couldn't build a computer to ever be able to predict such monstrously complex systems doesn't mean that suddenly causal determinism is breaking down.
Why can't multiple causes interact to render a system non-deterministic in terms of any single cause OR any deterministic logic of interaction between the various causes?

Stochastic chaotic processes never implies fundamental indeterminacy. Prediction has nothing to do with this at all. Too many interacting variables doesn't have any consequences except for our minds being boggled and our abilities to predict the outcomes of such systems being stymied.
Aren't there complex equations that combine expressions in such a way that the outcome escapes any defined or regular pattern-forming? Like pi? I assume that complex systems, like ocean waves or snow flake pattern-generation, are so complex that they generate infinitely variable outcomes, albeit within a range of certain very general parameters, such as size.

At what layer of complexity does physical causation break down? (Which is my assertion all along that you've been disagreeing with).

Ok, but this is just language. Things adhere to physical causation.. because they exist in the physical universe, and matter is constrained under physics.
It depends what you say about my microchip algorithm example. The physical causation of the circuitry in the chip doesn't have to break down for the algorithm to follow the causation of its programming. The two things are separate aspects of the same system.

But EVEN IF such a causation exists, this does not preclude physical causation of this system.
No, even if it turns out that the cause of the algorithm is not deterministic, that does not preclude the fact that the circuitry of the microchip operates in a deterministic way.
 
  • #71
Albert Einstein:

I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer's words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.​

http://www.einstein-website.de/z_biography/credo.html

There is also a short discussion on "free will" at reductionism.org.

They say free will doesn't (can not) really exist. That we are robots of the first kind and our belief that we are free is a trick of the brain. Which reminded me of another quotation:

"Any man who thinks he is free is merely ignorant of the causes of his own behavior"​
BF Skinner Beyond Freedom and Dignity​

This is an interesting discussion and i will continue to follow it.
 
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Albert Einstein:

I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer's words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.​

http://www.einstein-website.de/z_biography/credo.html

There is also a short discussion on "free will" at reductionism.org.

They say free will doesn't (can not) really exist. That we are robots of the first kind and our belief that we are free is a trick of the brain. Which reminded me of another quotation:

"Any man who thinks he is free is merely ignorant of the causes of his own behavior"​
BF Skinner Beyond Freedom and Dignity​

This is an interesting discussion and i will continue to follow it.
If this is true, then it also seems that full belief in the power of one's free will is determined and therefore ultimately unchallengable. If humans are robots with a sense of freewill, it is useless to resist believing and even seeking scientific and philosophical grounds for free will. We simply don't have any choice but to pursue proof of free will at the cost of determinism's truth, if necessary. Certainly you wouldn't suggest that truth trumps the determinism of human belief as a causal force in science, philosophy, or any other human discourse, would you?
 
  • #73
I believe the laws of Physics ... I am pretty sure I don't know them all though! :biggrin:

I once imagined Quantum theory would allow us to have both Free Will and Causation ... just as light is both wave and particle. I have been persuaded by the Reductionists ... There is no free will.
 
  • #74
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I have been persuaded by the Reductionists ... There is no free will.

In truth, you must have been 'persuaded' by a prime cause. In which case, there could be no persuasion to speak of, so you were not persuaded and what you said was a case of the liar's paradox.

"I am a liar!"

"This sentence is false"

"I don't have free will"
 
  • #75
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In truth, you must have been 'persuaded' by a prime cause. In which case, there could be no persuasion to speak of, so you were not persuaded and what you said was a case of the liar's paradox.

"I am a liar!"

"This sentence is false"

"I don't have free will"
The truth is that there is actually a genealogical progression from the truth of determinism to belief in free will. It goes a little like this: First you discover that determinism drives all human thought and behavior without exception. Then, the more you study the details, the more you become mindful of the inevitability of your thoughts and actions. At some point, this begins to create cognitive dissonance for you, because you've received so much culture that assumes free-will in human actions. As you increasingly recognize that you are not in control of your ability to resist external determination, you become afraid of what this could cause you to do, and the consequences for that. At that point, you realize that your ONLY choice to save yourself from fear and madness is to choose to believe in free will. Thus, it turns out that belief in free will is not really a free choice but is determined by the necessity of not believing too faithfully in determination, because if you do you would lose the semblance of free will, which is central to sanity (imo).
 

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