Free Will vs Determinism

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:07 am

davidm wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:20 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:11 pm

Which maths?
Cantor?
Fire away. I'm interested.
Does it work or not work both ways? Do we have similar problems counting forward as backward?
It does work for any chain that is composed of prerequisites. You can't have infinite prerequisites, and get the chain started.
This suggests that the "arrows" of time are epistemic and not ontic.
On the ontic level, there can only be two models of time, it seems: linear and cyclical. (Others, like "spiral" reduce to one of these very quickly: a spiral is, if left open, merely a curved linearity; or, if it's closed, a cycle).

If time is linear, then infinite regress of causes is impossible. But if time were cyclical, then it would require some very elaborate kind of explanation, given the empirical features of the universe...the sorts of features that scientists used to sponsor general confidence in the Big Bang, such as the expanding universe, the amount of matter and space in it, and the red shift effect.

That's why non-empirical theories (like the Multiverse Hypothesis) are all the rage now. Linearity necessitates an origin point. And if our universe is the only one, and it's on linear (non-cyclical) time, then we're back to the need for a First Cause.

davidm
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by davidm » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:49 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:07 am
If time is linear, then infinite regress of causes is impossible.
Not so.

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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by davidm » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:23 am

There are so many things wrong here that it would take a pretty long post to sort them. I haven’t the time or motivation at the moment so I’ll try to summarize.

William Lane Craig is a big exponent of the idea that there cannot be an infinite past. Why this is so important to his god belief eludes me. But whatever.

First, the Big Bang does not (necessarily) show that the universe had a start. Inflationary cosmology, which is well supported, argues that bubble universes are constantly forming and that this process has been going on eternally. Our (observable) universe is simply one bubble among infinitely many.

But let’s put that aside and suppose, for the sake of argument, that there is only one universe (ours) and that it “began” in the big bang. Now here is the Kalem argument of Craig.

Everything that begins to exist has a cause. (It is presumed god did not begin to exist)
The universe began to exist
Therefore, the universe had a cause

Now even we accept the above argument, it is far from clear that God caused the universe to exist — still less a vengeful monster God that throws unbelievers into a lake of fire for eternity after they die for the “sin” of not believing he exists.

But does the above argument even work? Is it valid? Is it sound?

Well, it’s definitely not sound. P.1 is demonstrably false. In QM virtual particles pop in and out of existence with no cause at all, even in principle. P1 is therefore already wrong and the argument is unsound.

Is it at least valid? (conclusion follows from stated premises even if one or more of the premises is actually wrong).

No, it isn’t. The argument commits an equivocation fallacy. What do we mean by “begins to exist”? Do we mean, “begins to exist IN time,” or “WITH time”?

According to the big bang model, time began with the universe. What this means is that under the big bang, the universe has always existed even if it had a beginning! That is because there was no time before time.

From this there follows Craig’s composition fallacy: Even assuming it is true that everything that begins to exist has a cause (not true; see virtual particles, above), all that follows from this is that everything within spacetime has a cause — it does not follow that spacetime itself must have a cause. Another way to see this is to say that the cause of everything in spacetime explains spacetime itself, just as the cause of each individual brick explains a brick wall.

Now remember, in modern physics, the universe has always existed even if it had a beginning from the perspective of those inside the universe (and where else would they be?). Always simply means “all the time that there is.” But put that aside and suppose the past is infinite in an absolute sense — that there is an actual infinity of past events. Craig claims this is impossible. Is he right?

No again!

More later. I’m enjoying bitch-slapping Craig even though he did good work on Newcomb’s “Paradox.”

Image

BTW, the notion that time exists only within the universe was championed by Augustine of Hippo, many centuries before modern physics.

OuterLimits
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by OuterLimits » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:14 am

Virtual particles can't be said to have no cause. They just don't have a known or comprehensible cause. Please source this. There is still ongoing debate regarding whether the randomness is intrinsic or a matter of epistemology. In Bohmian mechanics for instance, particles have definite location and velocity at all times.

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Sir-Sister-of-Suck
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:31 am

davidm wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:23 am
William Lane Craig is a big exponent of the idea that there cannot be an infinite past. Why this is so important to his god belief eludes me. But whatever.
I'm not a theist or anything, but playing devil's advocate the reason why WLC thinks that infinite regression isn't possible is because of the way he views a timeless reality, which would be before the universe existed. An event that doesn't progress, cannot finalize. So, something like a bomb rolling down a cliff to create an explosion is something that can never happen without time, because something like that can only be done with progression. He believes that a sentient being mitigates this issue, because he thinks that a will is the only thing capable of cause in a timeless reality, as it's not exactly guided by progression. God would have 'chosen' to create existence, himself, without an external force (that needs progression) causing it.
Well, it’s definitely not sound. P.1 is demonstrably false. In QM virtual particles pop in and out of existence with no cause at all, even in principle. P1 is therefore already wrong and the argument is unsound.
WLC assumes that the quantum field must have a cause as well. And I'm pretty sure that he has an interpretation of quantum mechanics that the particles come from elsewhere
Is it at least valid? (conclusion follows from stated premises even if one or more of the premises is actually wrong).

No, it isn’t. The argument commits an equivocation fallacy. What do we mean by “begins to exist”? Do we mean, “begins to exist IN time,” or “WITH time”?

According to the big bang model, time began with the universe. What this means is that under the big bang, the universe has always existed even if it had a beginning! That is because there was no time before time.
While I think that's an interesting point, I'm not sure it's a relevant one. He's saying that something existed, in some capacity, in order to create the universe and space-time.

Londoner
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Londoner » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:16 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:35 pm

You don't have to believe in CD, of course; but if you believe in linear time plus causality (as at least an empirical, material explanation), then you're inevitably also going to be stuck with a First Cause.
I do not think 'causality' is the same as 'empirical, material explanation'. Nor do I believe in linear time as if it was a thing in itself, which it plainly is not.
Me: That causal determinism ends up in metaphysics...
I don't think it does, though.
It is metaphysical in that it is outside physics. Otherwise, what piece of physical evidence could disprove it? As I say, it is no different to declaring that everything that happens is directed by God's will. Again, there is no physical evidence could disprove that.
It certainly can, if one adds in a Determinist God, as in the case of Calvinism; and it certainly does have implications for metaphysics...most importantly, that there is no such thing as Metaphysics -- at least, not as a Metaphysics that refers to real entities. It's fundamental claim is that there is nothing real beyond the physical-causal world, and all explanation must collapse into a physical-causal kind of explanation.
Perhaps there isn't anything real beyond the physical-causal world, but we cannot know that, indeed we cannot know that what we experience is the physical-causal world. It seems highly unlikely that it is, since our understanding of that world includes such things as linear time, which is not a physical-causal thing. Indeed, in our physical model of the world, 'time' is not like that.

A metaphysical theory is infinitely adjustable, so we can propose a structure to explain any idea of the world we choose, including one where there are different sorts of 'time'. But what would be the point?
Or, wait a minute...did you mean that Determinism issues in Metaphysics because it logically requires a First Cause? I think that's more a function of the two things I pointed out before: linear time, plus material causality. And in that case, you're quite correct to say that it pushes us there.
I think there are versions of Determinism, but the ones being used regarding 'free will' seemed to amount to either some sort of metaphysical construct or defining 'free will' into some sort of an oxymoron.

Londoner
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Londoner » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:00 am

Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
(davidm has already done a comprehensive job on the argument as a whole (see above))

I would say of this premise that it exploits an ambiguity in language; does 'everything' mean 'the universe, all that is, all that has ever been, all that will be, as a single totality? Or does it mean 'every thing', meaning each separate thing, this computer, that tree, the Battle of Waterloo etc.

If it is each separate thing, then the 'cause' is us; that we choose to describe it in such a way that we distinguish it from the rest of the universe. 'This computer' could instead be subsumed in 'my property' or 'electrical devices' or 'matter in a solid state' - or separated into its component parts. The sort of things we might list as the 'cause' of 'this computer' will therefore change - not because the computer has changed but because of the way I have chosen to think of it has changed. For example, if by 'this computer' I mean 'a thing I own', then the cause I own it is 'I bought it'. Easy!

But if we keep the meaning of 'everything' ambiguous, then no explanation for a 'thing' will satisfy because the ground is always shifting. 'This computer' is not 'this computer', it merges into the totality of everything. So our problem with finding any satisfactory 'cause' for 'everything' is that there is no 'thing'. We are being asked the cause of 'no-thing-in-particular'.

'Everything' meaning the totality of all things is not itself a 'thing', so it cannot have a cause.

(It is like asking somebody to tell me what half of 'any number' is. You cannot do it; you can only tell me what half of particular numbers are. 'Any number' is not a number.)

Belinda
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Belinda » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:32 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Yet that is the problem of the "infinite regress." It posits a universe in which event -2 is the "cause" of event -1, which is the "cause" of event 0, which is the "cause" of event 1...but infinitely so. So there's no point at which the chain gets going, just as you cannot actually perform the mathematical exercise I propose above.
For a man who has considerable knowledge of religious matters you are surprisingly limited as to understanding causality. What you describe is linear causation which is only one of the aspects of causality. There are also causal circumstances, and (apparently) nomic causes which we commonly refer to as "laws of nature" or " laws of science".

If there be a supernatural all-knower then he knows not only linear causes such as your mathematical example references but also causal circumstances and nomic causes.

To bring causal determinism to its logical conclusion you may see that all events are interconnected by causality(or by some other logic of God we know not how or what) to the extent that reality is one big eternal fact.

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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by lesley_vos » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:07 pm

Once you live in society, there's no free will for you. even if they try to convince that it's you who choose, and it's your will - it's far from true as society has made the choice for you. it relates to the statement that each person is intelligent by himself but stupid in the crowd.

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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Belinda » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:56 pm

lesley_vos wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:07 pm
Once you live in society, there's no free will for you. even if they try to convince that it's you who choose, and it's your will - it's far from true as society has made the choice for you. it relates to the statement that each person is intelligent by himself but stupid in the crowd.
A practical observation but maybe a bit too pessimistic. The best of education aims to empower the individual to think for himself and to hell with what his parents, peers, and social betters think.

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Post by henry quirk » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:30 pm

"Libet (is) not a philosopher by profession."

Neither am I, not even by inclination.

#

"you are..mistaken about the philosophical implications of Free Will."

Not about the one implication that matters, I'm not.

If I'm an agent (a cause) then I'm responsible, when I fail, when I succeed, it's all on me. My good choces, bad choices, mine to bear.

The route available to the anti-free will crowd (i'm not [fully] responsibke cuz I'm just an event) isn't possible for me.

What's also not available to me is the self-castration of dismissing my own experience of myself simply because of an observation about the world (cause ---> effect).

Simply: I'm not a domino in a line of dominos, waitin' to be toppled...I'm the domino who steps out of the line to go do sumthin' else, and I step out of line not because It's been determined I will, but cuz 'I' determine I will. And when I step out of line, what happens is my responsibility.

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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Belinda » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:31 pm

Henry Quirk wrote:
Simply: I'm not a domino in a line of dominos, waitin' to be toppled...I'm the domino who steps out of the line to go do sumthin' else, and I step out of line not because It's been determined I will, but cuz 'I' determine I will. And when I step out of line, what happens is my responsibility.
Because you were born of free parents in a country where individuality is prized, and more importantly you were born a man not a prey animal.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:48 pm

I coulda been born to slaves in a nation where individuality is taboo and I'd still be agent.

My agency is 'me', not my circumstance.

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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Belinda » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:59 pm

Henry Quirk wrote:
I coulda been born to slaves in a nation where individuality is taboo and I'd still be agent.
Yes, and then you would have been less free than you actually are to attend to a man's responsibilities.

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henry quirk
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by henry quirk » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:01 pm

No, not less free, more encumbered...there's a difference.

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