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Why is there such little talk regarding superdeterminism?

  1. Feb 14, 2009 #1
    why is there such little talk regarding superdeterminism? So, it's not testable or falsifiable, but it seems with the erosion of free will in neuroscience - there would be more talk about the possibility or impossibility of free choice experiments.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2009 #2
    Re: superdeterminism

    Why are you saying that superdeterminism is not testable?

    I think that "free choice" has no scientific basis whatsoever. It's an old concept that can only be justified by the hypothesis of mind/brain dualism. I doubt that any scientist today will agree with such an hypothesis.

    I can think of two explanations of why superdeterminism is not seriously investigated:

    1. it goes against intuition (even if this intuition is known to be wrong)
    2. no one has proposed a superdeterministic theory at the level of being published in a serious paper ('t Hooft might be an exception)
     
  4. Feb 15, 2009 #3
    Re: superdeterminism

    Superdeterminism is one way to explain the quantum mechanical violations of Bell's inequality --- allowing us to preserve a local, definite, theory of reality at the expense accepting that both the experiment and our actions are determined by initial conditions in such a way that we see the results predicted by QM.

    I am a scientist, and I have free choice.

    The existence of "free choice" is so certain that we cannot give grounds for it, since any attempt to do so would require using something that is no more certain than the existence of free choice. In other words, if I am mistaken about my and others ability to make choices, then how can I trust my senses to perform any experiment or to verify any theorem?

    What are your grounds for knowing that this intuition (of the existence of free choice) is wrong?
     
  5. Feb 15, 2009 #4
    Re: superdeterminism

    Isn't the fact that our current physical theories are deterministic grounds for believing that our intuition about free choice might be wrong? There is the possible exception of the collapse of the wavefunction, but I'm not sure this provides a good avenue for free will. Not having freewill doesn't invalidate the results of your experiment, it means that you never had a choice in carrying out the experiment. It is difficult to reconcile freewill with our current physical theories (but perhaps easier since the advent of quantum mechanics).
     
  6. Feb 15, 2009 #5
    Re: superdeterminism

    This only works if we have more evidence for our current physical theories than we have for free choice. But our physical theories have not been tested by experiment on human choices. It is not deductively valid to extrapolate these theories to domains where they have not been tested.
     
  7. Feb 15, 2009 #6
    Re: superdeterminism

    I don't see how a lack of free choice invalidates our observations through sensory organs. Your perceptions are OK and they are in agreement with the laws of physics. Your decisions are also in agreement with the laws of physics. Everything, including humans obey the same set of laws and everything is consistent.

    By applying the known physical laws for a human brain. I see no possible mechanism for "free choice" anywhere. Can you point to such a mechanism?
     
  8. Feb 15, 2009 #7

    DrChinese

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    Re: superdeterminism

    It would be wrong to believe that superdeterminism makes *no* testable predictions. In fact, you would need to posit a tremendous amount of baggage for superdeterminism to be viable. In addition, you will find that your version of superdeterminism will change as these challenges fail. For example: you could use a radioactive sample to generate random polarizer settings in a Bell test; and to explain the results you will now have to assume that the weak nuclear force and the electromagnetic force are related in a previously unknown way (to explain how radioactive decay occurs to satisfy Bell test requirements).

    There is a term for that, and it is called an ad hoc theory. Ad hoc theories, by definition, make no useful predictions. For example, the theory that the universe is only 10 minutes old is an example of an ad hoc theory which cannot be disproven. And so is superdeterminism. So the deal is, you will need a useful prediction to advance this as a scientific theory.
     
  9. Feb 15, 2009 #8

    DrChinese

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    Re: superdeterminism

    As always, back to the same argument, which is merely a way to divert attention from the true issue. Which is whether the mind of a scientist has any causal connection to the polarization results of entangled photons in Bell tests. You do not need true "free will" (whatever that is) to disprove superdeterminism. Superdeterminism is as much of a scientific theory (and equally as useless) as so-called "intelligent design".
     
  10. Feb 15, 2009 #9
    Re: superdeterminism

    Well I would argue that we don't really have any evidence for free choice (other than we "feel" like we have it). The results of our experiments are independent of our (lack of) free choice and do not require any extrapolation to that region.
     
  11. Feb 15, 2009 #10
    Re: superdeterminism

    What I am saying is that all arguments must precede from strong to weak, that is, at the onset your premises must appear more plausible than your conclusion. Consider the following argument:

    (Premise) Newton's principle of determinism x''(t) = F(x,x') has been thoroughly verified in the case of physical systems consisting of a small number of rigid bodies executing simple motions.

    (Conclusion) Therefore my sensation of having freedom of choice is false.

    The problem is that the premise is not as plausible as the conclusion.

    I have done some work in neurophysics; to what model are you referring?

    Then by the fallacy of argument from ignorance, we may "conclude" that there is no such mechanism?
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  12. Feb 15, 2009 #11
    Re: superdeterminism

    Why does feeling that we have it not count as evidence? I argue that this is the strongest evidence that you can have of anything in this world. When you make a measurement and see the result, all you are recording is a feeling, a sense impression, of seeing such-and-such.
     
  13. Feb 15, 2009 #12
    Re: superdeterminism

    We feel like we have free choice intuitively, but on any closer philosophical investigation it becomes incredibly difficult to justify. I find it more plausible that we do not have real free will.
     
  14. Feb 15, 2009 #13
    Re: superdeterminism

    It is no more wise to do philosophy without reading the important past works than it would be to do the same in physics. Some notable philosophers who have taken on the 'incredible' task of justifying free will are Epicurus, Kant, Shopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein.

    I would also point out that the non-existence of free will is attractive because (1) it absolves us of all responsibility for our actions (2) for the same reason as theories about conspiracies in government/authority are attractive.
     
  15. Feb 15, 2009 #14
    Re: superdeterminism

    My objection was:

    "I don't see how a lack of free choice invalidates our observations through sensory organs."

    Please clarify this first.

    I am speaking about physical theories at fundamental level, like QM.

    There is no fallacy, it was a question to you. I will repeat it:

    Suggest a possible physical mechanism by which "free choice" might arise.
     
  16. Feb 15, 2009 #15
    Re: superdeterminism

    Can you, please answer the question first? Do you agree that "free choice" has no scientiffic foundation? Once we establish this I will answer to your other objections.
     
  17. Feb 15, 2009 #16
    Re: superdeterminism

    In principle the two are compatible, but I consider this to be diversionary to the point I am making i.e. it is a strawman argument because no one claimed that "free choice invalidates our observations through sensory organs." I did not see the need to affirm your refutation of a claim that no one here has made.

    QM does not have anything to say about humans and free choice, it is a model with a totally different domain of applicability. To apply QM to make conclusions about humans and free choice requires an extrapolation that is not justified by any experiment.

    Whether I can suggest a mechanism is irrelevant to the observation that free choice exists. Remember that you are the one with the burden of proof, since all of our experiences suggest the existence of free will. Therefore it was natural for me to presume that you were hoping I would fail to provide a mechanism, and use this to further your argument, which would have been a argument from ignorance/incredulity.
     
  18. Feb 15, 2009 #17

    Fredrik

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    Re: superdeterminism

    The problem with this argument is the definition of "free choice". You clearly can't define it to be a choice that makes you feel like you could have chosen something else. It seems to me that the entire concept of "free will"/"free choice" only makes sense if a consciousness is something more than a bunch of interactions in my brain, and there's zero evidence of that.

    Because a) we have no reason to believe that this feeling isn't a (deterministic, or random) physical interaction in your brain, and b) because there are lots of people who have the feeling that they can communicate with dead people and that sort of thing.

    This thread doesn't really belong in the quantum physics forum. "Philosophy" or "general discussion" seems more appropriate.

    What does superdeterminism mean? Is that different from determinism?
     
  19. Feb 16, 2009 #18

    DrChinese

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    Re: superdeterminism

    As previously stated, "free will" is in the mind of the scientist. The science is trying to assert that there is a connection between what is in the mind of a scientist with the results of that scientist's experiments. Pains are normally taken by that scientist to remove any possible prejudicial bias which said scientist might have which would affect the experimental outcome. That is why double blind tests are often required, or tests in which a single variable is changed holding other variables constant. If there is an objection to a scientific experiment because of something you assert that introduces a bias, I am sure you will have the opportunity to express that. However, I don't see how that relates to the scientific basis for free will.
     
  20. Feb 16, 2009 #19

    DrChinese

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    Re: superdeterminism

    I agree, it should be in Philosophy but not Quantum Physics.

    Superdeterminism is simply another ruse to try and attack Bell's Theorem, much in the same vein as Intelligent Design is intended to attack evolution. The basic idea is to prove there are assumptions in Bell which allow local reality to be maintained while leaving us with the predictions of QM. Once they get you to agree, then they say "ha! Bell was wrong after all".

    Specifically: go back to LaPlace's mechanistic universe in which all future actions follow from the past. Now imagine that extended in such a way as to give the *appearance* that an experimenter's choice of measurement setting is a free variable. Actually, according to superdeterminism, the measurement setting was pre-ordained in such a way so as the results of Bell tests match the predictions of QM. So it appears that Bell's Theorem is true, when actually it is false.

    Note there is another thread going on in which a similar argument (Bell appears to be true but that experimental results are biased in favor of QM) is advanced. It is not science, because these are ad hoc theories making no (testable or otherwise useful) predictions.
     
  21. Feb 16, 2009 #20
    Re: superdeterminism

    The question is if the laws of physics, as we know them, allow for a system (a brain) to put itself in any state regardless of its previous state, its environment, etc. IMO the answer is no, regardless of QM being deterministic or probabilistic.
     
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