Defense of Freewill Against Determinism

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kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 08:24 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent wrote:

kennethamy wrote:

TuringEquivalent wrote:

wayne wrote:

TuringEquivalent wrote:

wayne wrote:

TuringEquivalent wrote:

There is no free will. I am sorry kids. The world is deterministic, and it is governed by laws. What free will cannot be is some process that breaks from the laws that govern our world. Whatever, it is, it must obey the law, or else, it is just wrong.


I don't understand how you make the jump from the restriction of freewill, by the governing laws of reality, to the non-existence of freewill.
Freewill could very well exist within restrictions, no one said freewill need be omnipotent.




Well, most people i think imagine free willing as something that breaks with the laws. If this conception is true, then there is obvious no free will.


OK , that works fine, I can't say whether or not most people think that, but it doesn't matter. It is true that freewill must exist within the framework of laws governing existence, if it exists at all. I feel the same about miracles.
So far as I can see, though, there is no reason freewill cannot exist within those restrictions as a limited ability, relative to choice.


Perhaps you agree with this "John is not free, but john thinks he is free".


Well, it would depend on the circumstances. John might think he was free to marry Esmeralda or not, as he chose. But he really might be under the power of a powerful hypnotist, who is making him want to marry Esmeralda. In that case, he is not marrying Esmeralda freely.

But, on the other hand, if John met Esmeralda at a ball, and fell in love with her because of her beauty and her kindness (and the fact that her father is the CEO of Walmart's ) then he is marrying Esmeralda freely, because he wants to, and he is not compelled, then if John thinks he is free to marry Esmeralda (or not) he is (of course) right.

So, as I say, it depends.


This is gold! Why can ` t you replace the demon with the laws of physics? If you do, then by the very reasoning you use here would suggest, John is not free at all.


But why should I do that? The laws of physics are not a demon, and the laws of physics describe what happens, but don't compel what happens. I think you are confusing two different kinds of laws. Man-made laws which compel people to do things they may not want to do (like shovel the snow off their walks) or restrain people from doing what they want to do, like shoplift. But the laws of nature neither constrain nor restrain, they are simply descriptions of how things and people act. The man-made laws are prescriptive laws; the laws of nature are descriptive laws. The failure to make that distinction is one of the confusions that cause people to think that descriptive laws are incompatible with free will when, of course, it is prescriptive laws that are.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 08:42 am
Jesus fucking christ, can you idiots cut out this crap of quoting the entire fucking conversation. Reading what you add to the discourse doesn't justify scrolling past the meaningless repetition.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 08:52 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu wrote:

Jesus fucking christ, can you idiots cut out this crap of quoting the entire fucking conversation. Reading what you add to the discourse doesn't justify scrolling past the meaningless repetition.


U. I really worry about you and your extreme emotions about little things. How is your blood-pressure?
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 09:08 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
U. I really worry about you and your extreme emotions about little things. How is your blood-pressure?
1) you know nothing about my emotions
2) my blood pressure kicks shit
3) congratulations on the imaginative derail.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 10:30 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu wrote:

kennethamy wrote:
U. I really worry about you and your extreme emotions about little things. How is your blood-pressure?
1) you know nothing about my emotions
2) my blood pressure kicks shit
3) congratulations on the imaginative derail.


You mean that I derailed from your rather overwrought complaint that people quote the entire message rather then just the part they want to reply to? That's a derail? From what?
 
ACB
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 10:46 am
@kennethamy,
On page 84 of this thread, you said the following about the term "prescriptive laws":

kennethamy wrote:
the term is also applied to scientific laws which describe (or so as not to beg any questions) supposed to describe what are called, "causal necessities" such as that heating metal causes metal to expand. And here, the view is that the strict Humean view that such a statement describe only a regularity, namely that the heating of metal is regularly followed by the expansion of the metal, is too weak to describe the relation between the heating of the metal and the expansion of the metal. That although it it is true that the heating is regularly followed by the expansion, to say this is not enough to describe what is really going on. There is a sense in which the expansion not only does regularly follow the heating, but that it must do so. Not in the logical sense of "must" which is logical necessity, but in a different physical sense of "must" which is the "must" of physical necessity. It is not simply an accident or a coincidence that the expansion follows the heating, but a sense in which (in normal circumstances) the expansion must follow the heating. And this "must" is not merely something located in the mind where Hume located it as a kind of subjective expectation, but rather is something located in the world and is objective.

But you now say (page 91):
"The man-made laws are prescriptive laws; the laws of nature are descriptive laws."

Can you clarify this point, please. Do you believe in physical necessity? And does physical necessity imply the existence of laws that are prescriptive in the sense referred to in the above quote?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 11:36 am
@ACB,
ACB wrote:

On page 84 of this thread, you said the following about the term "prescriptive laws":

kennethamy wrote:
the term is also applied to scientific laws which describe (or so as not to beg any questions) supposed to describe what are called, "causal necessities" such as that heating metal causes metal to expand. And here, the view is that the strict Humean view that such a statement describe only a regularity, namely that the heating of metal is regularly followed by the expansion of the metal, is too weak to describe the relation between the heating of the metal and the expansion of the metal. That although it it is true that the heating is regularly followed by the expansion, to say this is not enough to describe what is really going on. There is a sense in which the expansion not only does regularly follow the heating, but that it must do so. Not in the logical sense of "must" which is logical necessity, but in a different physical sense of "must" which is the "must" of physical necessity. It is not simply an accident or a coincidence that the expansion follows the heating, but a sense in which (in normal circumstances) the expansion must follow the heating. And this "must" is not merely something located in the mind where Hume located it as a kind of subjective expectation, but rather is something located in the world and is objective.

But you now say (page 91):
"The man-made laws are prescriptive laws; the laws of nature are descriptive laws."

Can you clarify this point, please. Do you believe in physical necessity? And does physical necessity imply the existence of laws that are prescriptive in the sense referred to in the above quote?


I have mentioned (earlier) that the term "prescriptive law" seems to be ambiguous as between man-made laws, and the idea of causal necessity which is what some also mean by saying that the laws of nature are prescriptive. The laws of nature are not, of course, laws in the former sense, but since they are not merely descriptions of regularities as Hume thought they were which would be consistent with those regularities being accidental, I think they are prescriptive in the latter sense. But these two senses of "prescriptive" need to be sharply distinguished. It is the latter sense which clearly needs analysis. Hume's famous (infamous) dictum that "anything can cause anything" is true only if we understand "can cause" as meaning it is logically possible, so that X causes Y if true is a contingent truth. But if it means that it is what Ughaibu calls, "ontologically possible" for any X to cause any Y, then it is false. It is not simply that it is not true that for all we know, X can cause Y. That would be epistemic possibility. It is that given the way nature is, X will not cause Y. There is an explanation for why X will not cause Y, and that X will not cause Y follows from that explanation. It is very difficult here not to throw up our hands and agree with Swartz and others that we are confusing epistemological with ontological impossibility, and that all this comes out of a modal fallacy which confuses the (alleged) necessity of the causal truth itself with the necessity of that truth following from is explanatory premises. But I don't think this analysis is right, although I confess, I am not at all sure it isn't, and that I am not a victim of a modal fallacy. But it should be noted that when I talk about the necessity of the causal truth that follows from its explanatory premises, I certainly do not mean logical necessity. I have not drifted from Hume on that matter.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 03:24 pm
@ughaibu,
1.) Regarding determinism: You believe all the other sources we have cited in this thread are mistaken, and the only source that is relevant and accurate is the one you keep citing. Is this correct?

2.) I have read most of the article you linked, and I would like to quote a tidbit from section 2.1 that seems relevant to your viewpoint:

Stanford Encyclopedia wrote:
For a variety of reasons this approach is fraught with problems, and the reasons explain why philosophers of science mostly prefer to drop the word “causal” from their discussions of determinism. Generally, as John Earman quipped (1986), to go this route is to “… seek to explain a vague concept—determinism—in terms of a truly obscure one—causation.” More specifically, neither philosophers' nor laymen's conceptions of events have any correlate in any modern physical theory.[1] The same goes for the notions of cause and sufficient cause. A further problem is posed by the fact that, as is now widely recognized, a set of events {A, B, C …} can only be genuinely sufficient to produce an effect-event if the set includes an open-ended ceteris paribus clause excluding the presence of potential disruptors that could intervene to prevent E. For example, the start of a football game on TV on a normal Saturday afternoon may be sufficient ceteris paribus to launch Ted toward the fridge to grab a beer; but not if a million-ton asteroid is approaching his house at .75c from a few thousand miles away, nor if the phone is about to ring with news of a tragic nature, …, and so on. Bertrand Russell famously argued against the notion of cause along these lines (and others) in 1912, and the situation has not changed. By trying to define causal determination in terms of a set of prior sufficient conditions, we inevitably fall into the mess of an open-ended list of negative conditions required to achieve the desired sufficiency.

First, what are the reasons? The author says that there are reasons that thinking of determinism in local, causal terms is fraught with problems, but then doesn't explain what those reasons are. Seemingly he believes that quote from John Earman justifies his position. Or, is the only reason that, "By trying to define causal determination in terms of a set of prior sufficient conditions, we inevitably fall into the mess of an open-ended list of negative conditions required to achieve the desired sufficiency"? Can you explain what this means?

Next, I'd really like some evidence for this:

Stanford Encyclopedia wrote:
More specifically, neither philosophers' nor laymen's conceptions of events have any correlate in any modern physical theory.[1] The same goes for the notions of cause and sufficient cause.

There's certainly much more we have to go over, but let's start with this. And, to be honest, I'm starting to think you're the one that made the substantive revision of this article in January (Smile). Don't you find it odd that almost every other source speaks of determinism in terms of causation?



 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 03:45 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
Even if we followed your logic that everything that is obvious needs no explanation (which is clearly false), how is everything being mathematically reducible obvious? Isn't it more obvious that, for instance, I can choose what I want for dinner tonight?

Does this make sense to you at all? It is not that complex.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 03:48 pm
@ughaibu,
I have to ask, what does it mean for your blood pressure to be kicking shit?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 03:57 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:

1.) Regarding determinism: You believe all the other sources we have cited in this thread are mistaken, and the only source that is relevant and accurate is the one you keep citing. Is this correct?

2.) I have read most of the article you linked, and I would like to quote a tidbit from section 2.1 that seems relevant to your viewpoint:

Stanford Encyclopedia wrote:
For a variety of reasons this approach is fraught with problems, and the reasons explain why philosophers of science mostly prefer to drop the word “causal” from their discussions of determinism. Generally, as John Earman quipped (1986), to go this route is to “… seek to explain a vague concept—determinism—in terms of a truly obscure one—causation.” More specifically, neither philosophers' nor laymen's conceptions of events have any correlate in any modern physical theory.[1] The same goes for the notions of cause and sufficient cause. A further problem is posed by the fact that, as is now widely recognized, a set of events {A, B, C …} can only be genuinely sufficient to produce an effect-event if the set includes an open-ended ceteris paribus clause excluding the presence of potential disruptors that could intervene to prevent E. For example, the start of a football game on TV on a normal Saturday afternoon may be sufficient ceteris paribus to launch Ted toward the fridge to grab a beer; but not if a million-ton asteroid is approaching his house at .75c from a few thousand miles away, nor if the phone is about to ring with news of a tragic nature, …, and so on. Bertrand Russell famously argued against the notion of cause along these lines (and others) in 1912, and the situation has not changed. By trying to define causal determination in terms of a set of prior sufficient conditions, we inevitably fall into the mess of an open-ended list of negative conditions required to achieve the desired sufficiency.

First, what are the reasons? The author says that there are reasons that thinking of determinism in local, causal terms is fraught with problems, but then doesn't explain what those reasons are. Seemingly he believes that quote from John Earman justifies his position. Or, is the only reason that, "By trying to define causal determination in terms of a set of prior sufficient conditions, we inevitably fall into the mess of an open-ended list of negative conditions required to achieve the desired sufficiency"? Can you explain what this means?

Next, I'd really like some evidence for this:

Stanford Encyclopedia wrote:
More specifically, neither philosophers' nor laymen's conceptions of events have any correlate in any modern physical theory.[1] The same goes for the notions of cause and sufficient cause.

There's certainly much more we have to go over, but let's start with this. And, to be honest, I'm starting to think you're the one that made the substantive revision of this article in January (Smile). Don't you find it odd that almost every other source speaks of determinism in terms of causation?






You are right, of course. But you should never cite facts to a philosopher who is in the grip of a theory. It only tightens the grip he is in, and it makes him angry, to boot. What other source would he cite save the one that appears to agree with him?

But again, there are two issues. One is a factual one: to what extent do reputable sources agree that determinism is understandable in terms of causal laws, and to what extent do they not? According to my reading, and now according to yours) although U. claimed you agreed with him that they did not) they overwhelmingly believe that determinism is understandable in terms of causal laws. That is one issue.

The second issue is, of course, whether it is true or false that determinism is understandable in causal terms. The argument I have read, and the arguments U. has offered that determinism cannot be understood in terms of causation, are, it seems to me extremely weak. But I have to confess that I have only a dim understanding of them. Especially U's. And that is a second issue.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 04:06 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
But again, there are two issues. One is a factual one: to what extent do reputable sources agree that determinism is understandable in terms of causal laws, and to what extent do they not? According to my reading, and now according to yours) although U. claimed you agreed with him that they did not) they overwhelmingly believe that determinism is understandable in terms of causal laws. That is one issue.

According to my research, the majority of sources explain determinism in terms of causality. In fact, the only source that did not, that I found, was the one Ughaibu cited. In short, I believe this issue is cleared up.

kennethamy wrote:
The second issue is, of course, whether it is true or false that determinism is understandable in causal terms. The argument I have read, and the arguments U. has offered that determinism cannot be understood in terms of causation, are, it seems to me extremely weak. But I have to confess that I have only a dim understanding of them. Especially U's. And that is a second issue.

I am not sure if they are weak. I did read the article almost in its entirety, but I did not fully understand the arguments. My most recent posting acknowledges this, and in an attempt to understand the matter, I've questioned Ughaibu again.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 04:08 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:

Even if we followed your logic that everything that is obvious needs no explanation (which is clearly false), how is everything being mathematically reducible obvious? Isn't it more obvious that, for instance, I can choose what I want for dinner tonight?

Does this make sense to you at all? It is not that complex.


The meaning of the term "obvious" as some use it, I find obscure. I suppose in one sense it means something that everyone thinks is true. In another sense it seems to mean what the person who announces that something is obvious thinks is true, and everyone else should think it true. In neither sense of "obvious" do I think that what is obvious is obvious. Of course, as many use, "it is obvious" it is just a way of trying to persuade others that what follows should not even be questioned. It is exactly the way representatives of the (blessedly) former Soviet Union in the United Nations, used to routinely begin their speeches with the ritualistic phrase, "As everyone knows...." which was an infallible signal that they were going to tell an outrageous lie.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 04:29 pm
kennethamy wrote:
Of course, as many use, "it is obvious" it is just a way of trying to persuade others that what follows should not even be questioned.

It seems to me that using "of course" to begin a sentence, like you often do, and just did, is another way of trying to persuade others that what follows should not even be questioned.

We call what just happened here ironic.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 04:46 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:

kennethamy wrote:
Of course, as many use, "it is obvious" it is just a way of trying to persuade others that what follows should not even be questioned.

It seems to me that using "of course" to begin a sentence, like you often do, and just did, is another way of trying to persuade others that what follows should not even be questioned.

We call what just happened here ironic.


But, of course!
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 04:49 pm
@kennethamy,
Back on topic, have you read the article that Ughaibu posted?

What makes you say that the arguments are weak? Can you be more specific?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 04:56 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:

Back on topic, have you read the article that Ughaibu posted?

What makes you say that the arguments are weak? Can you be more specific?


I qualified that with, "so far as I understand them" which is, not much.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 05:03 pm
@kennethamy,
If Ughaibu is really the only one here that understands the arguments, and we all have trouble understanding him, then it appears we have a problem. It doesn't help either that the author of that particular article is difficult to understand as well. We need another source that can more clearly explain the matter.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 07:56 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:

If Ughaibu is really the only one here that understands the arguments, and we all have trouble understanding him, then it appears we have a problem. It doesn't help either that the author of that particular article is difficult to understand as well. We need another source that can more clearly explain the matter.


Or, of course, there is a problem with the problem. As I recall, it all began with the notion that the distinction was not being made between the description of laws of nature, and the laws of nature. After it was made clear that no one was making that confusion, I rather lost the thread (in both senses). I would not worry about it. Philosophers rather specialize in making incomprehensible arguments. You are assuming that this distinction between determinism and causation makes sense (whether it is true or false). I don't.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 18 Jul, 2010 08:17 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
You are assuming that this distinction between determinism and causation makes sense (whether it is true or false). I don't.

It is not that I am assuming it does, it is just that I want to be certain that I am not mistaken about my understanding of determinism. The source that he cited is reputable. So, even if the author is incorrect, I want to know why he came to the conclusions he did, and why others peer-reviewed the work and approved it. It's very possible that this is a minority determinist camp, or something along those lines.

I'm just curious as to how popular this view is among philosophers, and what exactly the implications and distinctions they are making are.
 
 

 
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