Super Free Will: Metaprogramming and Quantum Indeterminism

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  • #26
loseyourname
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moving finger said:
With respect, I am trying simply to ensure there is no misunderstanding. Many people confuse “determinable” with “deterministic”, I simply wanted to ensure that you were not doing the same.

Thus, it seems that by “determinate” you did indeed mean “deterministic” when you said “It just says that the behavior of the system is determinate, whereas the behavior of its lower-level constituent parts is not.”, in which case I disagree with this statement.

If the behaviour of a chaotic system is deterministic, then there is NO reason (from chaos theory) to suspect that the behaviour of its “lower parts” is not also deterministic.
Okay, I actually thought it was obvious from the context of the post that by "determinate" I did not mean "deterministic." To rephrase the original statement,

The behavior of the system can be determined, whereas the behavior of its lower-level constituent parts cannot be determined, whether or not they are deterministic.

What do you know? I just looked it up, and I am right to say that my definition conforms exactly to the definition given in the dictionary based on the way this word is commonly used. I will promise you this, MF: If I should use terms that I made up or that have ambiguous or unclear definitions, then I will do my best to define them in the post. Doing so really wasn't necessary here and has only detracted from what was actually being discussed.

I think you will find that we “just don’t know” anything at all. Everything that we think we know is built upon a foundation of assumptions and axioms. If you want absolute certainty, in absence of any assumptions or axioms, before you pass judgement then IMHO you will never pass judgement on anything.
There are degrees of certainty. I am more certain that I have a right arm than I am that I have a soul composed of epiphenomenal ectoplasm. On the other hand, I have no idea whether or no you have a right arm. That's the kind of lack of certainty that I was referring to. There is just no reason to be swayed either way in this particular case.

Then please do not ask me to try to understand your statement “it has always struck me as odd that this would be seen as free will.”. If you refuse to define what you are talking about then your statement is, with respect, meaningless.
I didn't ask you to understand my statement. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you can be clear to some of the people all of the time, you can be clear to all of the people some of time, but you can't be clear to all of the people all of the time. Being clear to some of the people is good enough for me.

By the way, I did say I was pretty certain that the defenders of this line of reasoning are defending libertarian free will, which you seem to understand pretty well as you formed a cogent response to it at the bottom of your post.

You asserted “I'll bet you anything that dynamic systems theory usurps QM as the hot new scientific 'proof' of free will over the next two decades.” – again with respect it is meaningless to make such an assertion unless you are prepared to specify what kind of free will you are talking about.
No, it isn't. If this is used to 'prove' free will of any kind, then I win the bet. The kind of free will being 'proven' need not be clearly defined. There are plenty of poorly defined concepts out there that people defend using popular misconceptions of esoteric science.
 
  • #27
loseyourname
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Just so I don't have to be so patronizing with you folks (I know I can be and I'm sorry), I found a list of common terms here. If I use any of these, the given definitions are what I intend. I actually hadn't heard of some of these before.
 
  • #28
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loseyourname said:
Just so I don't have to be so patronizing with you folks (I know I can be and I'm sorry), I found a list of common terms here. If I use any of these, the given definitions are what I intend. I actually hadn't heard of some of these before.
Interesting reading, loseyourname, but the article waffles on about "determinism" and how it is variously used, without actually offering an unambiguous definition of the word. Or have I missed something? What follows is everything the referenced link has to say about "determinism" :

loseyourname url said:
The term 'determinism' is also variously used. It is mainly used by many philosophers for accounts of our human choices and actions that make them into effects of causal sequences -- sequences of such a kind as to raise a question about the freedom of the choices and actions. Determinism so understood has a limited subject-matter -- ourselves and our lives, and indeed less than that. It is not the scientific and general or cosmic doctrine associated with Newtonian physics in the past. Certainly the term 'determinism' can be differently used for the general doctrine, as it typically is in the Philosophy of Science.

Note too that determinism in our limited sense, whatever its consequences, is not in itself a claim or doctrine about freedom. It is not the claim that we are not free. Nor does it uncontroversially entail that. Many determinists suppose or say we are perfectly free.
Would you care to clarify this by pointing out where in this article the word "determinism" is actually defined?

Sorry to repeat myself, but in absence of a clear definition of a concept like determinism, it is meaningless to discuss determinism. Simply saying that "determinism is variously used" does not lay sufficient groundwork for making any progress, all it does is make further discussion of the term meaningless.

Thanks

MF
 
  • #29
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moving finger said:
With respect, I am trying simply to ensure there is no misunderstanding. Many people confuse “determinable” with “deterministic”, I simply wanted to ensure that you were not doing the same.
loseyourname said:
Okay, I actually thought it was obvious from the context of the post that by "determinate" I did not mean "deterministic." To rephrase the original statement,

The behavior of the system can be determined, whereas the behavior of its lower-level constituent parts cannot be determined, whether or not they are deterministic.
Your original statement was :
loseyourname said:
It just says that the behavior of the system is determinate, whereas the behavior of its lower-level constituent parts is not.
I have highlighted the phrases in question. The phrase “can be determined” does not have the same meaning as the phrase “is determined” (think about it – another example : “can be created” does not mean the same as “is created”), and “can be determined” certainly does not mean the same as the word “is determinate”.

The phrase “can be determined”, by virtue of the qualifying “can be”, implies an epistemic property of the world – ie that “an observer can determine”. It is possible for a world to be “determined” (an ontic property) without at the same time it being possible for “an observer to determine it” (an epistemic property).

The phrase “can be determined” is thus another way of saying “epistemically determinable” (and “cannot be determined” is another way of saying “epistemically indeterminable”). One of the defining properties of chaotic systems (the reason they are called chaotic) is that they are indeed epistemically indeterminable.

loseyourname said:
What do you know? I just looked it up, and I am right to say that my definition conforms exactly to the definition given in the dictionary based on the way this word is commonly used. I will promise you this, MF: If I should use terms that I made up or that have ambiguous or unclear definitions, then I will do my best to define them in the post. Doing so really wasn't necessary here and has only detracted from what was actually being discussed.
What do you know? Clarifying your meaning WAS really necessary, because your original statement did NOT use the phrase “can be determined”, it used the phrase “is determinate”, which phrases have very different in meanings - one is epistemic, the other is ontic.

Determinate in my dictionary is defined as follows : “Precisely determined or limited or defined; especially fixed by rule or by a specific and constant cause.”

Determinate is thus an ontic property, it says something about “how the world is”, and not “what we can know about the world”, it says nothing about epistemology. By this definition, a chaotic system could be “determinate”, but it could still be impossible for an “observer to determine” that system.

It is only by clearing this up that we have identified your mistake and finally arrived at what you intended to say. With respect, this is exactly the kind of confusion and ambiguity in the use of words and phrases that I have been trying to point out. Unless one uses terms very carefully, and very clearly defined, one will end up making (at best) meaningless statements or (at worst) incorrect statements.

moving finger said:
I think you will find that we “just don’t know” anything at all. Everything that we think we know is built upon a foundation of assumptions and axioms. If you want absolute certainty, in absence of any assumptions or axioms, before you pass judgement then IMHO you will never pass judgement on anything.
loseyourname said:
There are degrees of certainty. I am more certain that I have a right arm than I am that I have a soul composed of epiphenomenal ectoplasm. On the other hand, I have no idea whether or no you have a right arm. That's the kind of lack of certainty that I was referring to. There is just no reason to be swayed either way in this particular case.
It seems you agree that there is no absolute certainty, therefore strictly speaking it is true that we “just don’t know” (the best we can say is that “we think we know”).

loseyourname said:
I didn't ask you to understand my statement. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you can be clear to some of the people all of the time, you can be clear to all of the people some of time, but you can't be clear to all of the people all of the time. Being clear to some of the people is good enough for me.
If “being ambiguous” is synonymous with “being clear” in your book, then with respect I don’t think I’ll read your book, thanks.

loseyourname said:
By the way, I did say I was pretty certain that the defenders of this line of reasoning are defending libertarian free will, which you seem to understand pretty well as you formed a cogent response to it at the bottom of your post.
The problem is that I do NOT understand libertarian free will because I can find nobody who can define, unambiguously and rationally, exactly what it is and then defend that definition in any way that makes rational sense. My concern with the concept of so-called libertarian free will is that IMHO the entire concept seems impossible – and I can find nobody who can successfully defend the concept. Whenever I try to ask questions and analyse exactly what Libertarians think they mean by free will I am given lots of vague and ambiguous statements using undefined terms, which leads me to suspect they are simply obfuscating and have no idea what they are talking about.

With respect, your confusion between the phrase “can be determined” and the word “determinate” are IMHO examples of the kind of ambiguity that libertarians also need to resort to to defend their concepts.

moving finger said:
You asserted “I'll bet you anything that dynamic systems theory usurps QM as the hot new scientific 'proof' of free will over the next two decades.” – again with respect it is meaningless to make such an assertion unless you are prepared to specify what kind of free will you are talking about.
loseyourname said:
No, it isn't. If this is used to 'prove' free will of any kind, then I win the bet. The kind of free will being 'proven' need not be clearly defined.
Lol – good luck in trying to find someone who will pay up. Anyone who takes on a bet that “dynamic systems theory usurps QM as the hot new scientific 'proof' of ‘something I will not define’ over the next two decades” deserves to lose money.

MF
:smile:
 
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  • #30
loseyourname
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moving finger said:
Would you care to clarify this by pointing out where in this article the word "determinism" is actually defined?
Determinism is defined here as the doctrine that all events (that is, occurances in space-time) are the proximate effects of a chain of necessary causal connections. That is, given that the preceding causes are present, it necessarily follows that the effects will also occur. There is no wiggle room. That is determinism. I don't think I've ever seen the word used in any other way, at least not by professional philosophers.
 
  • #31
loseyourname
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moving finger said:
I have highlighted the phrases in question. The phrase “can be determined” does not have the same meaning as the phrase “is determined” (think about it – another example : “can be created” does not mean the same as “is created”), and “can be determined” certainly does not mean the same as the word “is determinate”.
In the original post, I distinguished between "determinate" and "deterministic" in an attempt to be clear that I did not mean the same thing by the two terms. It seems my reading of the dictionary was not the same as yours.

The phrase “can be determined” is thus another way of saying “epistemically determinable” (and “cannot be determined” is another way of saying “epistemically indeterminable”). One of the defining properties of chaotic systems (the reason they are called chaotic) is that they are indeed epistemically indeterminable.
My mistake for speaking of chaos if that is the case. When I speak of dynamics systems theory, I'm speaking of simpler cases. A popular one is the boiling of liquid in a pot. Two definite patterns form and once a molecule enters one of the patterns, it behaves in a predictable manner. The system as a whole behaves in a predictable manner. There is, however, no way to predict which pattern any given molecule will fall into. Thus my referring to the lower-level constituent parts of this particular dynamic system as "indeterminate" (not epistemically determinable), even if they are deterministic (a question I have no need to address and am not equipped to anyway).

Determinate in my dictionary is defined as follows : “Precisely determined or limited or defined; especially fixed by rule or by a specific and constant cause.”
My apologies; my dictionary only had the first part, without any reference to being necessitated by a cause. That isn't the way I intended the term, which I thought I made clear by originally distinguishing between 'determinate' and 'deterministic.' Hopefully you are the only one that had the difficulty understanding.

It is only by clearing this up that we have identified your mistake and finally arrived at what you intended to say.
I'm still not entirely sure that you know what I intended to say, because you haven't pointed out any mistakes in what I said. I suppose I may have misused the word 'determinate' initially, but hopefully it is finally clear after three posts of clearing it up what I mean. If not, I can repeat myself a fourth time.

It seems you agree that there is no absolute certainty, therefore strictly speaking it is true that we “just don’t know” (the best we can say is that “we think we know”).
Sure, but I'm not strictly speaking. Philosophers, like all people, do make knowledge claims, such as the claim I made about having a right arm. I'm not prepared to make any such claim about the matter of emergent causation. In that case, I don't even know in the philosophically weak sense in which I know that I have a right arm.

If “being ambiguous” is synonymous with “being clear” in your book, then with respect I don’t think I’ll read your book, thanks.
Good. To clear up the ambiguity, the book is obviously not for you. You're free to ignore everything further that I post. There are plenty of others here to respond. To be clear again, by 'free' two sentences ago I mean that you have the capability to no longer read or respond and there is no external force compelling you not to exercise this capacity.

The problem is that I do NOT understand libertarian free will because I can find nobody who can define, unambiguously and rationally, exactly what it is and then defend that definition in any way that makes rational sense.
Defending it as a possibly real capacity is one thing, but simply defining is another. Libertarian free will simply postulates that human choices are self-forming acts, not necessitated by a chain of cause and effect. It further postulates that, though not necessitated by a chain of cause and effect, there is a reason for these self-forming acts to occur, and that is human willpower. This may very well be an incoherent definition - in fact, I think that it is - but it is necessary to understand the meaning of the definition in order to be able to say that it is self-contradictory. You're making the logical positivist mistake if you're supposing that a phrase is meaningless if it does not refer to any empirically real thing. I don't know whether or not you're making that claim, however. I guess you haven't been clear.

Lol – good luck in trying to find someone who will pay up. Anyone who takes on a bet that “dynamic systems theory usurps QM as the hot new scientific 'proof' of ‘something I will not define’ over the next two decades” deserves to lose money.
The bet is metaphorical, MF. If it becomes popular for people to use dynamic systems theory to defend free will (which I can tell you it is as someone well-versed in this field), regardless of what kind of free will they mean, then I win. However, as I specified twice already (perhaps I wasn't clear enough), I am expecting the defense to be of libertarian free will, defined somewhat as I have specified above.
 
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  • #32
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loseyourname said:
In the original post, I distinguished between "determinate" and "deterministic" in an attempt to be clear that I did not mean the same thing by the two terms. It seems my reading of the dictionary was not the same as yours.

When I speak of dynamics systems theory, I'm speaking of simpler cases. A popular one is the boiling of liquid in a pot. Two definite patterns form and once a molecule enters one of the patterns, it behaves in a predictable manner. The system as a whole behaves in a predictable manner. There is, however, no way to predict which pattern any given molecule will fall into. Thus my referring to the lower-level constituent parts of this particular dynamic system as "indeterminate" (not epistemically determinable), even if they are deterministic (a question I have no need to address and am not equipped to anyway).

My apologies; my dictionary only had the first part, without any reference to being necessitated by a cause. That isn't the way I intended the term, which I thought I made clear by originally distinguishing between 'determinate' and 'deterministic.' Hopefully you are the only one that had the difficulty understanding.

I'm still not entirely sure that you know what I intended to say, because you haven't pointed out any mistakes in what I said.
With respect, I have pointed out that changing the phrase from “is determinate” to “can be determined” changes the meaning of your sentence, at least for the definition of “determinate” in my dictionary, which is clearly defined as an ontic term not an epistemic term. I am curious to know exactly how your dictionary defines “determinate”?

Determinate in my (Websters) dictionary is defined as follows : “Precisely determined or limited or defined; especially fixed by rule or by a specific and constant cause.”

You seem to use “indeterminate” as meaning “not epistemically determinable”, whereas I would not equate these two terms (I equate “indeterminate” with “not ontically deterministic”), given the above definition of determinate. Again, I am curious to know eaxctly how your dictionary defines “determinate”?

IMHO this is why we need to be very clear and precise in our definitions, and not simply assume that everyone uses the same (textbook) definition of these terms.

loseyourname said:
I suppose I may have misused the word 'determinate' initially, but hopefully it is finally clear after three posts of clearing it up what I mean. If not, I can repeat myself a fourth time.
Now that you have replaced the phrase “is determinate” by the phrase “can be determined” the meaning of your sentence (IMHO) has changed, and is now clear.

loseyourname said:
You're free to ignore everything further that I post. There are plenty of others here to respond. To be clear again, by 'free' two sentences ago I mean that you have the capability to no longer read or respond and there is no external force compelling you not to exercise this capacity.
That’s very kind of you.
I agree with this as a description of some of the properties of free will.
The description is also completely consistent with determinism.

loseyourname said:
You're making the logical positivist mistake if you're supposing that a phrase is meaningless if it does not refer to any empirically real thing.
Where did I say that? Read my sentence again.
“I can find nobody who can define, unambiguously and rationally, exactly what it is and then defend that definition in any way that makes rational sense.”

loseyourname said:
I don't know whether or not you're making that claim, however. I guess you haven't been clear.
You “guess” I haven’t been clear? How much clearer can I be? I’ll repeat the sentence :
“I can find nobody who can define, unambiguously and rationally, exactly what it is and then defend that definition in any way that makes rational sense.”
What is unclear here?

MF
:smile:
 
  • #33
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loseyourname said:
Just so I don't have to be so patronizing with you folks (I know I can be and I'm sorry), I found a list of common terms here. If I use any of these, the given definitions are what I intend. I actually hadn't heard of some of these before.
loseyourname said:
Determinism is defined here as the doctrine that all events (that is, occurances in space-time) are the proximate effects of a chain of necessary causal connections. That is, given that the preceding causes are present, it necessarily follows that the effects will also occur.
With respect, where on the webpage, for which you posted the URL, does it say this?

Just for clarity : The whole reason we got into this “show me your definition” wrangle was because you used the word “determinate” in post #21 of this thread, in a sentence which (given my Webster’s definition of “determinate”) I could not make sense of. I therefore asked you to define what you mean by determinate (post #23), but you declined to give a definition (post #24) saying instead “I mean exactly what you mean when you defined it earlier”, when in fact I had not (prior to your first use of the word) used the word “determinate”, let alone defined the word, in this thread.

Finally in post #26, still not having defined what you meant, you removed the phrase “is determinate” and replaced it with “can be determined”, thereby changing the meaning of your sentence.

As I have said all along, “is determinate” is ontic, “can be determined” is epistemic.

Determinism as defined by you above is also ontic.

I see no incompatibility at all between your definition of determinism and mine, which is :

Definition of Determinism : The doctrine that the universe, or any self-contained part thereof, has only one possible state at time t1 which is consistent with its state at some previous time t0 and with all the laws of nature.

MF
:smile:
 
  • #34
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moving finger said:
I don't think so. Can you give an example where you think QM makes an invalid prediction at the "everyday" level?
well, i was speaking generally. obviously, the equations involved in quantum physics do not even apply to things on a larger scale. however, if they were intended to do so, they would predict a lot of weird things going on.

moving finger said:
Not strictly true - our firing neurons do indeed "influence the outcome", because our neurons are a necessary part of the deterministic chain of events. What our firing neurons do not allow, however, is the Libertarian kind of free will which would "allow us to have chosen differently to the way we did actually choose".
yes, i agree with you. again, i was speaking generally. our neurons are the causes to our reactions, but like you said, they're part of a deterministic chain of events.

i'm pretty sure we hold the same view on this topic, so it's just a matter of semantics.
 
  • #35
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rygar said:
well, i was speaking generally. obviously, the equations involved in quantum physics do not even apply to things on a larger scale. however, if they were intended to do so, they would predict a lot of weird things going on.
Maybe some of the traditional philosophical puzzles, eg the MBP, are those 'weird things'.
 

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