Why is there such little talk regarding superdeterminism?

In summary: There are many theories that posit that everything is predetermined. So, even if superdeterminism is true, it would not be a very strong argument for the existence of free will.In summary, there is little talk about superdeterminism because it is not testable or falsifiable. However, with the erosion of free will in neuroscience, scientists may be more open to the possibility of free choice experiments.
  • #1
Descartz2000
139
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.
 
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  • #2


Descartz2000 said:
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.

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)
 
  • #3


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.

ueit said:
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 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?

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)

What are your grounds for knowing that this intuition (of the existence of free choice) is wrong?
 
  • #4


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).
 
  • #5


madness said:
Isn't the fact that our current physical theories are deterministic grounds for believing that our intuition about free choice might be wrong?

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.
 
  • #6


confinement said:
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?

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.

What are your grounds for knowing that this intuition (of the existence of free choice) is wrong?

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?
 
  • #7


confinement said:
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 hum*an choices. It is not deductively valid to extrapolate these theories to domains where they have not been tested.

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.
 
  • #8


ueit said:
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?

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".
 
  • #9


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.
 
  • #10


ueit said:
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.

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.

By applying the known physical laws for a human brain.

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

I see no possible mechanism for "free choice" anywhere.

Then by the fallacy of argument from ignorance, we may "conclude" that there is no such mechanism?
 
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  • #11


madness said:
Well I would argue that we don't really have any evidence for free choice (other than we "feel" like we have it).

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.
 
  • #12


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.
 
  • #13


madness said:
We feel like we have free choice intuitively, but on any closer philosophical investigation it becomes incredibly difficult to justify.

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.
 
  • #14


confinement said:
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.

My objection was:

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

Please clarify this first.

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

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

Then by the fallacy of argument from ignorance, we may "conclude" that there is no such mechanism?

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.
 
  • #15


DrChinese said:
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".

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.
 
  • #16


ueit said:
My objection was:

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

Please clarify this first.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.
 
  • #17


confinement said:
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?
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.

confinement said:
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.
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?
 
  • #18


ueit said:
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.

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.
 
  • #19


Fredrik said:
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?

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.
 
  • #20


DrChinese said:
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.

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.
 
  • #21


Look at Libet's studies and the field of research on neuroscience in general. It seems obvious that the feeling of free will is alive and well, but the neurobiology that supports 'free will' is not. How can biology be 'free'? Our actions are either free, determined, or random. If free, then what is the source or process that allows my actions to be free? If not free, then possibly determined, which implies superdeterminism and no free choice experiments. If random, which some QM theorists have tried to insert into neuroscience, how then might actions still be free? It seems if random, they are still determined, but under the guise of unpredictable or 'random' process. And if random is true, then how might free choice experiments be conducted?

So, it seems we are either left with free choice, with an unknown variable or process outside of science. Or, we are left with determined choices and no free choice experiments. Some may say I am trying to refute Bell. But, Bell was the first (as far as I know) to introduce the idea that superdeterminism can put to rest many of the paradoxes of QM.
 
  • #22


madness said:
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.

Without determinism, you could not have freewill, since any choice you made would have a random effect. The problem is not with freewill, but with your 'intuitively' vague definition of freewill.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hume#Free_will.2C_determinism.2C_and_responsibility
 
  • #23


I'm reading this article right now.

http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Superdeterminism

Superdeterminism is beyond determinism in that everything is fated to happen by some controlling entity. Superdeterminism is beyond determinism in that everything is fated to happen by some controlling entity. For example, determinism is often analogized by a pool or billards table where given the initial position of a ball and then struck by the pool-stick we can determine the future position, but the analogy of superdeterminism with these pool and billards balls is that the owner is going to take the balls and do with them as he pleases, whenever he pleases.

The problem with this is that it's actually some form of limited compatibilism.
 
  • #24


It would seem to me like what we call "the past", has through the passage of time become set in stone, or super-determined. It seems sound to say that Newton no longer has a choice about giving the laws of gravity to science, nor Einstein about publishing his theory of general relativity. Whether an atom decayed or not at time X in the past and was measured, becomes a certainty too. Either it happened or it did not at that particular moment in the past.

To suggest that Einstein, Newton, Darwin, etc still have a choice to do otherwise(with regards to sharing their research|theories), would put our 'present' world in a seemingly nonsensical state, the current present state simply does not follow should the result of said choices be contrary to what took place.

Now, things like the arguments derived from the relativity of simultaneity, put into question the existence of the 'present', 'past' and 'future as distinct and qualitatively different states. If an event can be in the future for one observer, and in the past for another, and both are equally valid, than a transition to a super-determined state(past) through the passage of time is not what actually happens, all states past|present|future are equally super-determined|certain-to-take-place from the start.
 

Related to Why is there such little talk regarding superdeterminism?

1. What is superdeterminism?

Superdeterminism is a philosophical concept that suggests that everything in the universe is predetermined and there is no such thing as free will. This means that all events, including human actions and decisions, are predetermined by previous causes and cannot be altered.

2. Why is there controversy surrounding superdeterminism?

Superdeterminism is a controversial concept because it challenges the idea of free will and personal responsibility. It also goes against the traditional scientific view of causality and determinism, which suggests that events are caused by previous events but can be influenced by random factors.

3. How does superdeterminism differ from determinism?

Superdeterminism differs from determinism in that it suggests that not only are all events predetermined, but the initial conditions that determine these events are also predetermined. In determinism, while events are predetermined, the initial conditions may not be.

4. Why is there little discussion about superdeterminism in scientific circles?

Superdeterminism is a relatively new concept and has not yet gained widespread acceptance in the scientific community. It also challenges many fundamental theories in physics, such as quantum mechanics, which makes it a controversial and debated topic.

5. What are the implications of superdeterminism?

If superdeterminism were to be proven true, it would have significant implications for our understanding of the universe, as well as our ideas of free will and causality. It would also require a major shift in the way we approach scientific research and experimentation.

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