Has determinism ever bothered you?

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Tournesol said:
If there is no 100% strict determinism ITFP, there is no need for a miraculous ability to override physical laws in order to implement determinism.
How do you know there is no "strict" determinism. Can you tell me about an event in space/time reality that is not caused?
 
I knew you were going to ask that.

Or has that joke already been done? Couldn't be arsed reading all 4 pages.
 
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Quote:Can you tell me about an event in space/time reality that is not caused?

As for 'causeless' events (if there really are such things), atomic decay, the spontaneous existence and annihilation of pairs of virtual particles.
 
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Picklehead said:
Quote:Can you tell me about an event in space/time reality that is not caused?

As for 'causeless' events (if there really are such things), atomic decay, the spontaneous existence and annihilation of pairs of virtual particles.
Those events do not exist in space/time and cannot be observed. You need to come up with a real example.
 
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To LindaGarrette:
In post 49 I agree with you when you say:
“Most people are very confused about both the definitions and the philosophical interpretations of determinism and free will. Determinism means predictability…”

Because your own statement is either simply wrong or an extreme example of this confusion! If you have, as you say, been reading this and related threads, you have failed to understand what Moving Finger has made very clear - Determinism is an ontic property, predictability is an epistemic property.

Determinism DOES NOT means predictability. Rather than show this by giving definitions, I will give a specific example. (One counter example is sufficient to prove “Determinism means predictability” is false and is quite possibly an example of your confusion.)

Suppose I write a good random number generator program for my battery powered computer, and seal it up in a box which has a 32 digit display of the new number generated in response to each button push. (This button and display obviously are available on outer surface of the box.) I then give it to you.

You can not predict the number that will be displayed prior to pushing the button, but surely you would agree that computers running fixed programs are deterministic. Thus, you statement is false or at best confused by not knowing what the words you use mean.

I want to remove any possibility that you could learn the details of the deterministic program before using it, so I tell a little more about my box and me:
The box will explode if opened or following the fifth button push. I died just after giving it to you. You (and every one assisting you) will surely fail to predict all of the first four deterministic displays produced by the first four button pushes. One example of unpredictability of a deterministic system is sufficient counter example to prove your statement wrong or confused.


I also find unintelligible your post 54 statement:
“Those events do not exist in space/time and cannot be observed. You need to come up with a real example.”

Pickelhead’s post 53 examples (atomic decay, the spontaneous existence and annihilation of pairs of virtual particles.), which you reference by “those events,” certainly occur in space and time. If not, I ask where do they occur or are denying that they exist?

The first (atomic decay) may be observed immediately when it happens by radiation detectors and often subsequently by the transformation of the decaying element. For example, in Beta decay when a negative charge leaves the nucleus, the atomic number of the element increases by one, and the chemistry of that atom becomes completely different. In some cases, perhaps even a single decay can be confirmed by sensitive physical chemistry, for example by repeated excitation and observation of the new line spectra from a low pressure gas discharge.

The experimentally observed Casimir effect is an observable consequence of the second, (vacuum polarization), which violates conservation of energy for such a brief time that this violation is consistent with the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics. The existence of the VP pair is of such a short duration that you may be correct in statement that it has never been observed directly. Another consequence of VP, widely accepted, but definitely not yet observed is Hawking radiation.

I will also make a “most people” statement:

Most people tend to agree with Pickelhead that these events are at least probably “uncaused” but one can not be sure. There could be “hidden variable” that mankind has yet to discover, operating in a completely deterministic to cause both of Pickelhead‘s examples, but currently (and forever if the UP of QM is true) epistemically indeterminate (unpredictable) fashion.
 
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LindaGarrette said:
How do you know there is no "strict" determinism. Can you tell me about an event in space/time reality that is not caused?
Firstly , that was an 'if' statement. Secondly, look to QM.
 
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I was wondering if this statement is true:

"for someone to prove that determinism is true, he would have to 'break' the Uncertainty Principle"

(in other words, he would have to know the exact position and impulse of a particle at a certain time)

Can anyone tell me if this is correct?
 
Billy T said:
To LindaGarrette:
In post 49 I agree with you when you say:
“Most people are very confused about both the definitions and the philosophical interpretations of determinism and free will. Determinism means predictability…”

Because your own statement is either simply wrong or an extreme example of this confusion! If you have, as you say, been reading this and related threads, you have failed to understand what Moving Finger has made very clear - Determinism is an ontic property, predictability is an epistemic property.

Determinism DOES NOT means predictability. Rather than show this by giving definitions, I will give a specific example. (One counter example is sufficient to prove “Determinism means predictability” is false and is quite possibly an example of your confusion.)

Suppose I write a good random number generator program for my battery powered computer, and seal it up in a box which has a 32 digit display of the new number generated in response to each button push. (This button and display obviously are available on outer surface of the box.) I then give it to you.

You can not predict the number that will be displayed prior to pushing the button, but surely you would agree that computers running fixed programs are deterministic. Thus, you statement is false or at best confused by not knowing what the words you use mean.

I want to remove any possibility that you could learn the details of the deterministic program before using it, so I tell a little more about my box and me:
The box will explode if opened or following the fifth button push. I died just after giving it to you. You (and every one assisting you) will surely fail to predict all of the first four deterministic displays produced by the first four button pushes. One example of unpredictability of a deterministic system is sufficient counter example to prove your statement wrong or confused.


I also find unintelligible your post 54 statement:
“Those events do not exist in space/time and cannot be observed. You need to come up with a real example.”

Pickelhead’s post 53 examples (atomic decay, the spontaneous existence and annihilation of pairs of virtual particles.), which you reference by “those events,” certainly occur in space and time. If not, I ask where do they occur or are denying that they exist?

The first (atomic decay) may be observed immediately when it happens by radiation detectors and often subsequently by the transformation of the decaying element. For example, in Beta decay when a negative charge leaves the nucleus, the atomic number of the element increases by one, and the chemistry of that atom becomes completely different. In some cases, perhaps even a single decay can be confirmed by sensitive physical chemistry, for example by repeated excitation and observation of the new line spectra from a low pressure gas discharge.

The experimentally observed Casimir effect is an observable consequence of the second, (vacuum polarization), which violates conservation of energy for such a brief time that this violation is consistent with the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics. The existence of the VP pair is of such a short duration that you may be correct in statement that it has never been observed directly. Another consequence of VP, widely accepted, but definitely not yet observed is Hawking radiation.

I will also make a “most people” statement:

Most people tend to agree with Pickelhead that these events are at least probably “uncaused” but one can not be sure. There could be “hidden variable” that mankind has yet to discover, operating in a completely deterministic to cause both of Pickelhead‘s examples, but currently (and forever if the UP of QM is true) epistemically indeterminate (unpredictable) fashion.
You are quoting me out of context and not paying attention to what I said.

Obviously, determinism means predictability, otherwise, scientific experiments would have random results.

I specifically excluded quantum effects. Space time calculations and observations have nothing in common with quantum interactions. You are confusing two unrelated issues.
 
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PIT2 said:
I was wondering if this statement is true:

"for someone to prove that determinism is true, he would have to 'break' the Uncertainty Principle"

(in other words, he would have to know the exact position and impulse of a particle at a certain time)

Can anyone tell me if this is correct?
That is not correct. First of all, There is no adequate hypothesis to explain "uncertainty." There is a lot of conjecture. Second, even if there were uncertainty at the quantum level, any effect would be cancelled out in space/time reality. These are two separate issues which should not be confused.

It is not necessary to prove determinism since it is part of the scientific method. To disprove it would require evidence of an uncaused event which as far as anyone knows, has not yet been presented.
 
Tournesol said:
Firstly , that was an 'if' statement. Secondly, look to QM.
QM does not effect space/time reality. They are two separate issues. Even so, there is no evidence that quantum events are not caused, only "uncertainty." (I don't mean the Heisenberg usage, here.)
 
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LindaGarrette said:
Obviously, determinism means predictability, otherwise, scientific experiments would have random results..

Many do, in fact.

Space time calculations and observations have nothing in common with quantum interactions.
all quantum effets take place in space and time.
 
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LindaGarrette said:
That is not correct. First of all, There is no adequate hypothesis to explain "uncertainty."
yes , observer effect.

There is a lot of conjecture. Second, even if there were uncertainty at the quantum level, any effect would be cancelled out in space/time reality.
If you mean at the macroscopic level, that is false , as Schrodinger's cat is intended to demonstrate.

It is not necessary to prove determinism since it is part of the scientific method.
Nope , much science is merely statistical.

To disprove it would require evidence of an uncaused event which as far as anyone knows, has not yet been presented.
Events without fully deterministic causes have already been mentioned.
 

selfAdjoint

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Tournesol, the observer effect is not the explanation for uncertainty. Uncertainty, in the form of commutation relations, is introduced as a basic feature of quantization.
 
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Don't tell me, tell linda
 
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LindaGarrette said:
Determinism means predictability but it does not mean predeterminism. There is no supernatural entity with a plan. Even though every event is caused each event preceding a future event has to occur before the future happens.
I’m not sure that “predeterminism” necessarily implies a supernatural entity. To me, determinism and predeterminism are the same thing.

LindaGarrette said:
The ultimate reality is maximum entropy. Until then, every event is part of the process. Our thoughts are causes of events. We are sensitive to events and that causes our thoughts to be directed.
Maximum entropy might never be achieved. Entropy tends to increase, but this is a statistical law and not a prescriptive law.

Picklehead said:
As for 'causeless' events (if there really are such things), atomic decay, the spontaneous existence and annihilation of pairs of virtual particles.
The most we can say at this point in time is that we are not aware of any causation for these particular events – that does not mean they are truly uncaused.

selfAdjoint said:
Uncertainty, in the form of commutation relations, is introduced as a basic feature of quantization.
I disagree. I think the most we can conclude is that the commutation relations imply a degree of unpredictability. But unpredictability (a subjective perspective) is not the same as uncertainty (an objective property).

MF
 
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NeutronStar said:
If determinism is true then no one is responsible for their actions. People who murder, rape or pillage are just as innocent as anyone else because they have no control over their own actions.
Personally I don't believe in determinism. At least not in the sense that all acts are predetermined. Now I do believe in another type of determinism. For example, it's been determined that we will have a free will and we have absolutely no control over that. So we have no free will to stop having free will. :biggrin:
Believing in determinism can be a bad thing. For one thing, if a person believes that everything is predetermined then a person could go out and do anything at all imaginable and not feel the least bit guilty about it. After all, it must have been predetermined right? In other words, it wasn't really their free choice to do whatever they did.
I personally don't believe that. I believe that people can genuinely choose how they will live out their lives.
Besides, I thought that with the discovery of quantum randomness indeterminism was the "in" thing. :approve:
Why would anyone believe in determinism? Didn't that go out with Newton's clockwork universe?
Read this

and you will see why determinism is indeed consistent with punishment!

Taken via definition
 
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Why not just look at this from a scientific point of view like we should everything else?
On the lowest level there may be complete determinism, as in the string or quantum level.
However that doesn't mean that all actions in the higher levels, like classical physics is completely determined by that.

The truth is we can never be free in a universe, ever.
We will always be guided by whatever rules are defined in that universe, either there is complete serenity with complete determinism, or there is complete chaos, of which in neither its inhabitants have any kind of free will.

By stating that the universe is either deterministic or random, or a mix, we are in fact comparing it to other universes.
Which is not possible, because we will never see other universes.
It's kind of like saying "this apple is either alok or hinde in color, however we have never seen either color, nor have we any idea what either color does, we just know that it must be either one of those."

When in fact the only sane thing we can say is "this apple has a color."
What I mean by this is that we can only say one thing in regards to the universe.. "It works this way."
It may seem redundant, but really, we have no idea how determinism or chaos works(in terms of the physical worl anyway.)
The only thing that can solve the free will problem is science, and one day when we can predict any event in the universe, we will truly know if we have the free will we some to long after. But then again, maybe we won't.

There is probably a finite amount of complexity to the universe, which means the most basic building block in the universe is close to nothing both in terms of matter and shape.
Such a block could not have any kind of random element, because it is the most basic thing that can exist in the universe.
 
LindaGarrette said:
Obviously, determinism means predictability, otherwise, scientific experiments would have random results.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=determinism
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=predictability

As I see it, the definition of determinism does *NOT* imply predictability.

Reading what others have written in this thread, it makes perfect sense:
(1) determinism and predictability are mutually exclusive, and
(2) predictability requires observation; determinism does not.

LindaGarrette said:
You are confusing two unrelated issues.
And perhaps you are confusing two related issues?
 
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Human Being said:
Correct.
It is often assumed that if something is deterministic then it follows that it is also predictable - but this is not the case.
Chaotic systems may be deterministic, but they are certainly not predictable.
For this reason, the absence of predictability cannot be used to infer indeterminism (this is the error that many fall into when studying quantum mechanics)
Human Being said:
(1) determinism and predictability are mutually exclusive
Not quite. A system may be deterministic without being predictable (eg chaos), but a predictable system is by definition deterministic.
Thus, the set of predictable systems is a subset of the set of deterministic systems.
Human Being said:
(2) predictability requires observation; determinism does not.
Agreed.
Another way of saying this is that predictability is an epistemic property; determinism is an ontic property.
MF
 
moving finger said:
Human Being said:
(1) determinism and predictability are mutually exclusive
Not quite. A system may be deterministic without being predictable (eg chaos), but a predictable system is by definition deterministic.
Thus, the set of predictable systems is a subset of the set of deterministic systems.
Ugh, thanks for correcting my error!
 
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I have three things to say.

1) Wow, I started this thread 11 months ago and forgot about it! I wish I had kept up as it went.

2) This may not bring any comfort, but there is a way in which the universe could be determined and you can make choices. Let's say I flip a coin to make a choice. So I say that the coin is my choice, my will. Now that coin DID make the choice even though other things like the air and my flicking it caused it to choose in that way. I still made the choice. Now maybe this is just a play of words.

3) When I make a choice, I want that choice to be for a reason. For me to make logical choices based on things I know. Indeterminacy doesn't provide this. Determinism does. My choices could be caused or determined by what I know and how and what I think. I would like to think that my decisions make sense. Maybe I should be glad to live in a deterministic world.
 
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TheDonk said:
2) This may not bring any comfort, but there is a way in which the universe could be determined and you can make choices. Let's say I flip a coin to make a choice. So I say that the coin is my choice, my will. Now that coin DID make the choice even though other things like the air and my flicking it caused it to choose in that way. I still made the choice. Now maybe this is just a play of words.
But IF the universe is determined then the outcome of the coin flip, hence your choice, is already fixed (determined) before it takes place. It's a bit like saying a thermostat "chooses" when to switch on and off :smile:

TheDonk said:
3) When I make a choice, I want that choice to be for a reason. For me to make logical choices based on things I know. Indeterminacy doesn't provide this. Determinism does. My choices could be caused or determined by what I know and how and what I think. I would like to think that my decisions make sense. Maybe I should be glad to live in a deterministic world.
Welcome!!!! You and I think EXACTLY alike on this.

Indeterminism does not endow free will - it only "forces" random/erratic/irrational behaviour in an otherwise rational world.

MF
 
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I got tired reading all those posts so I dont know if you have already talked about the uncertainty of actions (what the hell is it in english? in finnish it would be Epätarkkuusperiaate...). Basically I mean the Heisenbergs theory/principle used in quantum mechanics. There is no specific state for a single particle only likely and unlikely positions and velocities. According to that there should be no determined actions cause basically even the weirdest things can happen unexpectedly. So this is in controversy with determinism because the action A caused by action B cannot be determined. Not even if you knew every possible thing there is to know about this action B and its particles. Not even if you knew all the factors (even the effect of Pluto´s gravity). So does this theory or principle (or whatever you call it) stand in the way of determinism?

I am also a determinist and I have my own answers for this but I would like to hear yours.
 

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