Wait, can free will exist?

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Malconstant
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Malconstant » Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:19 am UTC

What Dopefish said. Again, Ben, you're appealing to a practical determinism which nobody claims exists. Your argument of
Technical Ben wrote:Given the same inputs, two people make difference choices. This follows neither random or deterministic models. People "choose" a preference/result/decision. Is it influenced by input? Yes. But both people had the same input, so why did they choose difference actions? Something other than the input (deterministic) and something other than a random result was applied.

makes it glaringly obvious that we are not using the same terminology here. What you think determinism, initial conditions, and randomness are, are totally different things than what everybody else in this discussion is talking about.

I know that's not a productive thing to say without a follow up to clarify the terminology, but I'm not sure I have it in me right now. Not to mention it has surely been egregiously discussed in these forums a thousand times at this point. But at heart, you're interpreting things through a practical lens, and I imagine one with a flair of mind/body dualism (correct me if I'm wrong here). As in "how can I actually predict something". Whereas the ideas of determinism are just that "our brains are physical things, so if we knew enough about physics, and we had the information of an earlier brain state + all of the input surrounding a person, then future brain states are theoretically perfectly predictable." The idea of determinism is ultimately slightly more nuanced, just because it's ultimately in Philosophy's domain and they just hate brevity, but that's a perfectly legitimate formulation. Your formulation sounds quite a bit more like Behaviorism taken far too literally.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:09 am UTC

I have no interest in "mind/body" dualism. I agree our minds are entirely physical. Which is why I suggested the universe only needs a physical "third" option to totally break the assumptions.
I see no problem with "determinism" in the example where we would act the same with the same inputs each time. If travelling back in time to the point of decision, then all things are exactly the same, and choice is not random, so the decision would be the same. The choice however is not determined by external systems, but internal (our selves). We have an ability to modify our own actions. These are "free" choices as the system of choice is separate from the system of input. Separate with normal physical attributes (IE an isolated system).

My main point is, imagine waking up on a planet with only humans, and no other intelligent life (no animals, only bacteria/plants to eat). Now, do we conclude intelligence is impossible because we do not observe anything else with this ability? Perhaps we don't have the knowledge to program a robot with intelligence. Do we then consider our logical conclusion, or mathematical calculations, towards intelligence proves it does not exist?

So, if I only see humans as having the ability to choose, do I conclude choice does not exist, because I cannot see it anywhere else? Well, I cannot model choice with my models of determinism or randomness, but that is a limit of my models is it not? While reality does have physical limits and constraints, we don't get to decide what they are, experimental evidence helps show what they are. If I can make choices, I can only conclude I "choose".

PS, as to "even and odd" numbers, we are at an undefined point. Like "zero" it is not defined as even or odd, I'd consider choice as neither random or determined.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:15 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote: We have an ability to modify our own actions. These are "free" choices as the system of choice is separate from the system of input. Separate with normal physical attributes (IE an isolated system).
How can you be certain that we have an ability to modify our own actions?

Technical Ben wrote:Well, I cannot model choice with my models of determinism or randomness, but that is a limit of my models is it not? While reality does have physical limits and constraints, we don't get to decide what they are, experimental evidence helps show what they are. If I can make choices, I can only conclude I "choose".
Your points about models are valid, but you can't conclude that we have the ability to freely choose merely because we feel like our choices are free.

Technical Ben wrote:PS, as to "even and odd" numbers, we are at an undefined point. Like "zero" it is not defined as even or odd, I'd consider choice as neither random or determined.
Um, no. Zero is quite definitely even. If you want to discuss that, feel free to start a thread in the Mathematics forum.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:41 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:
Technical Ben wrote: We have an ability to modify our own actions. These are "free" choices as the system of choice is separate from the system of input. Separate with normal physical attributes (IE an isolated system).
How can you be certain that we have an ability to modify our own actions?

Spoiler:
Technical Ben wrote:Well, I cannot model choice with my models of determinism or randomness, but that is a limit of my models is it not? While reality does have physical limits and constraints, we don't get to decide what they are, experimental evidence helps show what they are. If I can make choices, I can only conclude I "choose".
Your points about models are valid, but you can't conclude that we have the ability to freely choose merely because we feel like our choices are free.

Technical Ben wrote:PS, as to "even and odd" numbers, we are at an undefined point. Like "zero" it is not defined as even or odd, I'd consider choice as neither random or determined.
Um, no. Zero is quite definitely even. If you want to discuss that, feel free to start a thread in the Mathematics forum.


Ok, if zero is even, fair enough. I'll have to look for a better counterargument for that one.

"How can you be certain that we have an ability to modify our own actions?" Are you questioning "how can we be certain of anything" or "how can you be certain yourself modified your actions"? If the first, I have to be certain of at least one thing to make a theory (hence axioms etc). The only rational axiom I can accept here is the ability for one's self to make a choice independent of others. If the second, well, it's easy to put into practice. It might be difficult to explain, but we have the evidence laid out in front of us.

Imagine a person existing separate from the universe, in a little "bubble" as it were. They would be able to make decisions and choices. These choices would not be random and would not be determined by external forces. So, their will is "free" to do what they themselves wish. Even if we include their own physical motivators, these are part of "self" and so they have not been forced into a decision. It's still "themselves" making the decisions as the mental processes are made from physical systems. (I guess this is irrespective on how their decision process is constructed, random or deterministic.)

If we see a third result, we apply a third rule. I can't describe my actions as random, they are far from it. I also can make certain to determine my own actions (irrespective of previous input). So what system does that fall into? I can only pigeon hole it into the box "choice". Is it not foolish to try and fit it into one of the two other possibilities when it does not fit?
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:57 pm UTC

Your thought experiment is what we call "begging the question."
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Malconstant » Fri Oct 07, 2011 7:39 pm UTC

Ben.

Determinism is the idea that, if I had all of the information about the universe, including all of the information about your brain, and if I also had a perfect theory of reality, then I could predict exactly what you would do given any "input". This is because by assumption I would know your brain completely. And there is no way in which you could receive an input but then do something that I would not predict you to do, because by assumption my knowledge of your brain is perfect and my theory of reality is (by assumption) perfect.

Given that, even if I personally did not have this perfect information or this perfect theory, if the theory and information theoretically exists (if, say, Goddess knew it), that's just as philosophically constraining as if I did have this knowledge.

Does that make sense? Because, for the fourth time, that is a very different thing that what you're talking about. To be clear, I completely understand the arguments that you are making, but you do not understand the arguments that I am making. You're starting to fail the Turing test, which is historically the part in our conversations where I accuse you of trolling. But we can skip that song and dance if you'd just actually consider what has been said.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:02 pm UTC

Sorry, I know what you mean. I'm just failing to get my thoughts across. And not hinting at any divine ideas (even thought you keep trying to suggest I am :? ).

So I'll consider your example of a perfect simulation or prediction.
This is because by assumption I would know your brain completely. And there is no way in which you could receive an input but then do something that I would not predict you to do, because by assumption my knowledge of your brain is perfect and my theory of reality is (by assumption) perfect.

Say for example I want to simulate my computer, what do I do? To simulate it perfectly, I need a perfect model or imitation of the computer. I would not have 1 computer but 2 running in tandem. If I run one faster than the other to get a prediction, I've run the program, it's not a prediction. The two models are exactly the same, just time shifted. We can describe them as the same object distanced in time, not space. So are we effectively seeing the future? By "assuming perfect knowledge" we break the separation between the systems "universe" and "simulation". The thought experiment forces us to unify the two. IE in your thought experiment you are no longer running a simulation, you are by definition of the assumption, running the universe. I would not suggest that this can be done, it is the suggestion of your assumption though. :)

Do we reach time travel paradoxes in this thought experiment then? If the two sets of information can never co exist, the simulations where you know all my future actions and the real universe, then how can it be a coherent thought experiment?

My arguments are from a different direction, because I don't assume "choice" is not a third option in the thought experiment. I'm more arguing for an extra option, than arguing it is "random" or "determined". This is however still built in the physical world. It's just a system we have not yet found a good model for. The models for random or determined systems don't fully give an explanation.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Malconstant » Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:17 pm UTC

No, you really really don't understand what I'm saying. For the fifth time, you're trying to insist on practical application, I'm saying that's irrelevant. These ideas are old ones, long before we could imagine using computers to simulate complex behavior as an analogy.

You don't have to actually have another simulation running. You don't need to actually make a prediction. All you need is for initial conditions of your brain and outside universe to uniquely determine the future. No paradoxes. Noone's trying to tell you "hey, you're gonna lift your left hand in 10 seconds, better try to prove him wrong!" It just has to be theoretically something which could be figured out.

Since you really seem to insist on practical application, though, how about this. Suppose I have the perfect theory on how the universe works at every level. So I run this universe simulation on my computer. Problem is, it's gonna be processed much more slowly than the actual universe. So I'll still make my prediction about what you will do given a certain input, but that prediction won't be processed until many years after you actually react to some input. All that determinism needs is for this slow computer simulation to be nonetheless totally accurate, and for it to only depend on the initial conditions of the situation. No paradoxes. All that matters is that your actions be theoretically determinable.

That, at the ground level, we're all just physical things and our brains are subject to the laws of physics just as much as a rock is. This is all that the thesis of Determinism requires. The reason I seem to suggest that you are appealing to mind/body dualism is because:

There is no room for a third option of "choice" in this context without appealing to mind/body dualism.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:22 pm UTC

But the problem is still that your assuming a determined universe. Is it not proven that there are undetermined variables in this universe? Thus a perfect model or prediction is impossible. "Assume a perfect model" assumes prediction, thus assumes determinism. So the thought experiment fails as a test for free will. The thought experiment mealy tricks us into thinking we tested for it. Without a test, how can we conclude free will does or does not exist with this thought experiment alone?

Basically, I do not agree we can re-run or predict anything in the universe "exactly". It's forbidden by the laws of physics on too many levels. So we cannot use it as even a theoretical test for free will.

It just has to be theoretically something which could be figured out.

At the point of figuring it out though, you have an exact replica. So similar it is indistinguishable from the original. So much so, that if a future action it is actually occurring and if a past action it is just a recording of the event. How can we describe this as breaking free will? Does it pre-determine the event? As in each option the action would be the "present" or the "past" and not a future prediction. It's the phrase "exact" that breaks the idea for me.

Another way to prove if free will exists or not would be to test if we can create information. As, an independent source of information is "free" from determinism is it not? This might be called random information, so I'm not certain it can be called choice, but it defiantly breaks the determinism model and thought experiment. As you cannot predict what information can be created from a third party/simulation/theory or calculation, it's a "source" of the information.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Malconstant » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:36 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:Basically, I do not agree we can ... predict anything in the universe "exactly". It's forbidden by the laws of physics on too many levels.

Yeah, this is why what you're calling "determinism" isn't what everyone else means by "determinism". Nobody is talking about approximate predictions, only perfect predictions. And you're right, QM forbids it trivially, so as a matter of practicality this is not something which can actually be done.

However, the argument then goes "but if you're saying that the reason we can't predict the universe perfectly is because of quantum randomness, then surely that is where free will must lie". And this is where everyone who understands anything about quantum mechanics responds "you have no idea what you're talking about. You cannot 'will' wavefunction collapse to fall a certain way." And so the QM randomness response is shown to be a red herring. In a discussion of free-will, pointing out quantum randomness is totally besides the point. So it is customarily ignored flat-out, because it is just not philosophically relevant unless you're actually arguing that the secret to free will is to be found in quantum randomness.

So if we ignore that, then there is nothing to suggest that we can't theoretically perfectly model the universe exactly. So just think about that and the implication for free-will of that alone. Don't even try to think about a practical simulation to actually get a prediction, just think about what a universe would be like if you could make perfect predictions given total information of initial states and a perfect theory of physics. And think about how that would inform a discussion of free will.

Technical Ben wrote:Another way to prove if free will exists or not would be to test if we can create information. As, an independent source of information is "free" from determinism is it not? This might be called random information, so I'm not certain it can be called choice, but it defiantly breaks the determinism model and thought experiment. As you cannot predict what information can be created from a third party/simulation/theory or calculation, it's a "source" of the information.

Yeah, how can you fail to see that you're implicitly reaching into mind-body dualism with how you view all of this? You're being flagrant about it. If our minds are just physical things, guided by physical laws, just like a rock, then how could it be the source of independent information? Anything which could act as an independent source of information from within its own system is necessarily appealing to dualism. Unless you're again appealing to QM randomness, in which case you're going to have to actually argue that free-will is to be found in QM randomness.

Is that what you're arguing? Or that maybe it seems random to us, but in a consciousness maybe we're able to take that mechanism and use it to enact agency? If that's what you're arguing than say so.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:21 pm UTC

I said nothing about QM being where free will stems from. But that your argument fails if we have a non-deterministic universe. Which universe do we have? Anyone can say "in my theoretical universe where unicorns exist, do unicorns exist?" The question "In a deterministic universe, is it deterministic?" is redundant*. So if the thought experiment assumes a determined universe, but ours is not, the thought experiment tells us nothing about free will in this universe. Which one is correct for our universe?

We don't get to choose where the wavefunction collapse will fall, but neither does the universe, it is not a predetermined system. Is this an example of a system that is not determined? If we have an example of one system separate from determinism, why can we not have others?

I'm sorry, I don't know what the details of "mind/body dualism" are. Is information dependant on physical systems or is it independent? The mind is based on information, right? My understanding is that information is dependant on the physical world to exit in. With a computer the information is independent of the hardware only to certain degrees though. The information can be expressed irrespective of the physical thing it is stored on, however it is dependant on the physical thing as a place to be encoded or expressed. Information cannot exit without a place or thing to be in. Would you call a computer a "software/hardware" dualism? I would say no. I'd give the same answer about the mind, it is defiantly dependant on our physical attributes. But both systems have a distinct separation of the information involved. IE I see no reason we could not program a computer with free will. It runs on the same physical matter our minds do. However what hardware or software that would require is not something I could even guess at.

[edit]
*PS, if the universe specifically forbids "perfect predictions" we can't use them to get answers. They are forbidden by the maths! ;)
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:33 pm UTC

Let's try being concise. You have two options:
determinism
randomness

Neither of these look anything like choice. If you want the things we narrate in our lives with words like "choice" to be something other than deterministic or fully random, you have to invoke something like mind body dualism.

These options are exhaustive.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:05 pm UTC

Thanks, but why do we have to invoke "mind body dualism"? What makes those two options exhaustive?

We have two systems. However, do they exclude the existence of any other type of system?

Determinism does not exclude the existence of non deterministic models in the same universe. In the real universe we have randomness as well.
Randomness does not exclude the existence of non random models in the same universe. In the real universe has determinism as well.

So, I have a result that fits neither randomness or determinism, the result is called "choice". The other models do not forbid choice from existing. Do I not have 3 models to work with now? I don't see dualism being invoked here. Do you?

PS, I'm reminded of the rule ""Everything not forbidden is compulsory." If choice is not forbidden by the rules...
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:32 pm UTC

Choice *is* forbidden. Where are you supposing it comes from?
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Malconstant » Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:22 pm UTC

Since you really insist on not using the language that everyone else uses for this topic.

Yes, it seems that some things in the universe can be only predicted by probabilities, we call these random.

Yes, it seems that some things in the universe can be predicted with much more certainty, you want to call this "deterministic".

So the universe seems to be a combination of these two kinds of phenomena. That list is exhaustive. It's either "we can predict something totally" or "we cannot predict something totally, which is another way of saying "it is genuinely random/probabilistic". And all of the phenomena of the universe can be described by these two. It's a combination, not a "the whole universe needs to be either/or" thing. But if you had to push it to either/or, you'd want to side with QM randomness, because all large scale "deterministic" phenomena can be described in terms of this. So from that perspective, the universe is purely probabilistic/random, entirely, totally. Don't object to that statement unless you actually understand QM (it's a trap, because if you actually understood QM you wouldn't object to it).

Where could you possibly find room for a third option? We're talking A or Not A here.

A third option would look like "it cannot be predicted, but it's not due to genuinely probabilistic or random chance either". That actor, that agent, that is the dualism. That is where you have to appeal to divine intervention. There is no recourse in natural law for something like that, something that is neither predictable nor unpredictable, but rather is driven by some "force of will" at a fundamental level of physics.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:38 pm UTC

doogly wrote:Choice *is* forbidden. Where are you supposing it comes from?


Ok, if it is, I would be fine. But stating it without an explanation does not help me to understand why. Do we need a "method" when we see evidence? I don't need to produce a mathematical model of fusion to prove the sun exists. I just have to point to the evidence it exists. Neither do I need to show where the sun comes from.

Malconstant, again, I am not insisting everything in the universe is random or everything is determined. I also know most of your comments are "traps". You sidestep my comments every time, suggesting I'm for one or the other side of the argument, when I'm trying to give an open test for both. Yet your test seems to prefer determinism, is that not so?

I thought we were talking A or B? As in, the universe is real, whatever it presents us with, we have to accept. So if it presents something that can be neither A or B, we have to have a separate class called C (even if C includes A and B as it's description). Does the action of choice fit the class of determinism or randomness?

"It cannot be predicted" is due to anything out side of our (the universes ability to detect) scope. Is this "divine"? No, as I can ask "is there anything in physics that suggests some things cannot be measured by the universe?" Because if we answer "yes", can we make a rule saying "nothing can be both undetermined and non-random"? Why does an "agent" have to be anything other than a physical entity (a book, computer, brain or sufficient application of information or physical processes)?
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:51 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:But stating it without an explanation does not help me to understand why.
See all those other posts? There's your explanation...
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:47 pm UTC

Gmalivuk, do you mean the answer "if it is not random it is determinism"? What makes us certain that is true? I ask, why is it an exclusive "A or not A" and not "A or B" for randomness and determinism? I don't think this question has been answered.

In QM we have a system where we can predict every possible outcome. However, we cannot predict which outcome the result will give. So why can we not have other systems we can model (via deterministic models), but still not predict? A system we call "choice"?

If QM is an example of a system without determinism, then why can we not have other systems, methods or descriptions without determinism? Why can randomness be a system without determinism, but "choice" cannot? What insists a system we are unable to determine is random and not just "undefined" by our current models?

Basically, why can choice not be a third option, why does it have to be random or determined?
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:04 pm UTC

You either obey laws - determinism
Or you do not - random

If you want something to behave in accord with some will, making choices, that will needs to boil down to either determinism or randomness. Or, alternatively, something that is not reducible to physical components.

I mean, it sounds like you have something in mind. Why don't you describe it a little, and we can demonstrate how your particular example (like every other proposal anyone could ever possibly come up with) can be reduced to either law or chance.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Macbi » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:04 pm UTC

New question: Some people say the universe is deterministic, some say it is random, some say there is free will, some say that it is a mixture of the three. Now, you may argue that some of these options don't make sense, that free will is an illusion caused by the way our brain evaluates choices. But you have to agree that there are people who think that they can imagine what the it would be like if there was free will.

So my question is this: why are these three (determinism,randomness,free will) the only ways that people think that the future can be made? I challenge you to create a fourth option, to describe a way in which the future happens that is entirely different from the three suggested so far.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Malconstant » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:18 pm UTC

Macbi, I don't know you so well on these forums. Just tell me that you read the previous page and that this post was a joke given the context of the immediately preceding ridiculously-prolonged discussion.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:49 pm UTC

doogly, thanks for defining determinism as "following rules", it helps a bit. However, what if the rule is "make a choice" or "create information"? We already have the evidence that the universe has information in it, so it has a method of creating information. Would you say all the information in the universe is random? So if the physical universe can construct coherent information, can a physical brain constructed within that universe also do the same? Why would one physical object be allowed to, but the other not?

For the system to be "free" it only needs to be able to operate separate to outside influence. Not all the time, but at some point in time. So it would be a system free to construct it's own (hence not determinable) information (non-random information).
Last edited by Technical Ben on Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:53 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:53 pm UTC

OK, I can refine "following rules" to be "differential equations." This is actually what I am talking about.
How is information created in a deterministic universe? It's coarse graining baby, make buddies with Boltzmann.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:58 pm UTC

Then it's a system that may, or may not, follow the rules. The switch for following rules is constructed and applied by "it's own self". Without going into what "self" is, but for the sake of the discussion, I only think of a "physical self".

I guess, if we cannot describe free will with a "Turing machine" or "difference engine" then it's a failure of our models, not of the physical universe.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:18 pm UTC

Wait, you seriously think you are still working in a physicalist setting if you think that a "self" has the ability to turn off the differential equations it needs to be obeying?
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Macbi » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:39 pm UTC

Malconstant wrote:Macbi, I don't know you so well on these forums. Just tell me that you read the previous page and that this post was a joke given the context of the immediately preceding ridiculously-prolonged discussion.

I think I've communicated badly. I won't bother trying to explain better, I don't care that much.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:38 am UTC

doogly wrote:Wait, you seriously think you are still working in a physicalist setting if you think that a "self" has the ability to turn off the differential equations it needs to be obeying?
Yeah, we all wish Ben would just admit to dualism already, so we can go from there.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Twistar » Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:22 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
doogly wrote:Wait, you seriously think you are still working in a physicalist setting if you think that a "self" has the ability to turn off the differential equations it needs to be obeying?
Yeah, we all wish Ben would just admit to dualism already, so we can go from there.

Well, you sort of need some sort of dualism to have a conversation about free will. It's no surprise that purely materialistic models forbid free will. If there's no self then there's no will. The issue is that any dualistic model has to be consistent with physics and physics is a materialistic model. This is why we should explore the possibility of a non-deterministic, non-random model of reality. Unfortunately the point is sort of moot because I can't think of such a model, but I also don't see any reason that those two are exhaustive. In the 18th century I'm sure determinism seemed to exhaust the possible ways the universe could be. Laplace's Demon

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Malconstant » Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:06 pm UTC

@Twistar, yeah yeah, and it all depends on what definition you use for free will, and I could argue the point that we still have free will without dualism because the term "free will" was made to describe a part of the human experience and that experience stands regardless of any context. But I'm really hoping for this thread to turn into a teachable moment for Ben rather than falling back into the regular, predictable cycles of this sort of discussion.

As for the exhaustiveness, we've semantically framed the discussion in terms of A or not-A at several points. That's by definition exhaustive. You can say "well maybe there's more to the randomness than it seems" and try to find free will in there, and you'd be silly and wrong but you could do this, I can't stop you from arguing things. But I can say that there is no third option to be tacked on to A or not A at that level. Even in the 18th century they could have asked themselves "but what if not-determinism?" and that would have done the trick.
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Re: Thought-Expermient that (dis)proves Free Will?

Postby Turtlewing » Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:13 pm UTC

WarDaft wrote:
Turtlewing wrote:Sounds like the halting problem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halting_problem.
It turns out that in order to perfectly simulate a system you need a simulator that is at least as complex as that system. This means that the simulator can't ever be a proper subset of the system it simulates as it would have to simulate itself, and something else, which it can't do because simulating itself takes 100% of its computational power. In short, you can't simulate the universe without being outside the universe.

If you tried to simulate the universe while still inside it you'd end up with something very much like this http://xkcd.com/878/.


Actually, if the universe is infinite, then you could have an infinitely large computer with an infinitely large memory bank, containing the entire universe. You could even run it. Infinity's fun like that. You could not however use it to predict your future and then avert it, because it could not predict the universe faster than the universe itself in the local area of the output terminal.


No actually it can't.
The universe can't contain both itself and a perfect simulation of itself. If the universe is infinite, you'd need a larger infinite thing (some sort of metaverse) to contain both the universe and a perfect simulation of the universe. This is all covered in the Wikipedia article on the halting problem which I originally linked. In short infinite sets can still differ in size. For example the set of all real numbers between 1 and 2 is infinite, but smaller than the also infinite set of all real numbers between 1 and 3. When applied to a theoretical computer simulating itself you get the halting problem.

There is no reason a meterverse couldn't contain both the universe and a time shifted version of the universe (a perfect simulation of the Universe's state some set amount of time in the future.) However the problem of using the simulation to make decisions inside the universe once again becomes one of the halting problem, because once the simulation can affect events in the universe, you need to simulate those interactions in order to prevent the universe from diverging from the state of the simulation in a chaotic manner. You should notice at this point that you're looking at turtles all the way down, and that the problem always comes back to "building a scale model of an area that contains your scale model".

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:15 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
doogly wrote:Wait, you seriously think you are still working in a physicalist setting if you think that a "self" has the ability to turn off the differential equations it needs to be obeying?
Yeah, we all wish Ben would just admit to dualism already, so we can go from there.


Sorry gmalivuk. I am not supporting nor interested in dualism. A true RND could turn off or swap rule sets easily. So that's an example of one system that breaks rules, "randomness", and it's a physical system. I'm suggesting there is a second, "choice", it's still a physical system. How about this as an example:

The universe is "self caused" in the view of science. Is that correct? So, we have one system able to cause it's self. Does that forbid other physical systems within that universe to be self caused as well? Is the cause of the universe random or deterministic?

It has a system of independent cause either way. If the universe has an independent cause, would science suggest it requires a dualism? The same answer applies to the cause of choice (a thing existing within that universe). You're still free to answer "no" or "yes". But either way, the model for choice is still possible.

Trying to be realistic, I see free will acting both in a random way and in a deterministic way. If the two are exclusive, but I have a physical object that does both, am I not forced to create a third option? I hope it would not be such a problematic result.

(by "cause" I mean "the method or model or rules" of the thing we are discussing. Nothing else is implied)
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Malconstant » Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:44 pm UTC

Do you even try to actually understand what we're saying?

There's nothing wrong with thinking that some systems of the universe are predictable and others are governed by quantum probabilities/randomness. Ultimately, of course, the predictable systems are subject to the same quantum uncertainties, so at a fundamental level everything really truly is unambiguously probabilistic/random. But functionally, many things are predictable.

But that's it. A rock being thrown has a predictable trajectory, but if you look at it close enough it's still governed by quantum physics. There's nothing missing. The fact is that some parts of the rock can be treated functionally as predictable and others need quantum physics to understand. But this isn't a problem. This isn't a paradox. This doesn't cry out for some third option "and oh hey lets just call it 'flagrant dualism'" required to reconcile the system as a whole.

The only building blocks are 'predictable' or 'unpredictable'. Those are your only two lego pieces, and you can build a brain from them if you like, but you don't get to add them together in such a way as to claim that you've discovered a third kind of lego piece. Everything goes back to those two. Always. Fundamentally. Necessarily. Exhaustively. Without exception.

And if you did build a brain from these, that brain doesn't get to swap all of the deterministic lego pieces out for random ones or vice versa at whim. Those are the fundamental building blocks. That's the end of the road. There's nothing missing. There's no paradox. There's no problem. There's just two kinds of lego pieces. predictable and unpredictable. A and not-A. Exhaustive.

I'm not laying traps for you. I'm just spelling out the way it is. If you think you have an actual argument against this, you should read everything that's been said again until you realize that there is no actual argument against this that doesn't appeal to dualism.

If you want interpret my lego argument by thinking "okay, ultimately everything's random or predictable, but if I want to choose chocolate over vanilla, I guess I have to re-measure the randomness a few times until it lands on the option that I want. Much like, if I want to pick the number 7, I can start up a random number generator between 1 and 10 and run it over and over again until it hits 7. So it's still ultimately random, but this way I get my 'choice'". That kind of argument is straight up, unapologetically dualism. If you don't absolutely 100% agree with that then you should spend some time researching what dualism is. Maybe it's not such a bad thing, there's no reason to be derogatory about it. But If that's how your epistemology is aligned, then at least you should be aware of it. But that right there is 100% dualism, and you need to recognize that to be the case because that's just what the word means and we need to all be speaking the same words here or else we're just wasting everyone's time.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:10 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:A true RND could turn off or swap rule sets easily.
How? By "choosing" to do so? You are once again either begging the question or contradicting yourself with this claim.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:58 pm UTC

Ben, please invoke explicitly any the differential equations or rules of Aquinas when you use them. Let's be honest here.
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Re: Thought-Expermient that (dis)proves Free Will?

Postby PM 2Ring » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:44 am UTC

Turtlewing wrote: For example the set of all real numbers between 1 and 2 is infinite, but smaller than the also infinite set of all real numbers between 1 and 3.

What?

For 1 <= x <= 2, and 1 <= y <= 3, we have this simple one-to-one correspondence:
y = 1 + 2 * (x - 1)

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:20 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Technical Ben wrote:A true RND could turn off or swap rule sets easily.
How? By "choosing" to do so? You are once again either begging the question or contradicting yourself with this claim.

So, does a QRND (or true random number generator) allow a system to be non-determined? Again, I did not say choice uses quantum randomness. But that quantum randomness is an example of "one" system of non-determinism. So, please, why can we not have "two" systems of non-determinism; random and choice?

[edit]
Malconstant wrote:
Spoiler:
Do you even try to actually understand what we're saying?

There's nothing wrong with thinking that some systems of the universe are predictable and others are governed by quantum probabilities/randomness. Ultimately, of course, the predictable systems are subject to the same quantum uncertainties, so at a fundamental level everything really truly is unambiguously probabilistic/random. But functionally, many things are predictable.

But that's it. A rock being thrown has a predictable trajectory, but if you look at it close enough it's still governed by quantum physics. There's nothing missing. The fact is that some parts of the rock can be treated functionally as predictable and others need quantum physics to understand. But this isn't a problem. This isn't a paradox. This doesn't cry out for some third option "and oh hey lets just call it 'flagrant dualism'" required to reconcile the system as a whole.


The only building blocks are 'predictable' or 'unpredictable'.
Spoiler:
Those are your only two lego pieces, and you can build a brain from them if you like, but you don't get to add them together in such a way as to claim that you've discovered a third kind of lego piece. Everything goes back to those two. Always. Fundamentally. Necessarily. Exhaustively. Without exception.

And if you did build a brain from these, that brain doesn't get to swap all of the deterministic lego pieces out for random ones or vice versa at whim. Those are the fundamental building blocks. That's the end of the road. There's nothing missing. There's no paradox. There's no problem. There's just two kinds of lego pieces. predictable and unpredictable. A and not-A. Exhaustive.

I'm not laying traps for you. I'm just spelling out the way it is. If you think you have an actual argument against this, you should read everything that's been said again until you realize that there is no actual argument against this that doesn't appeal to dualism.

If you want interpret my lego argument by thinking "okay, ultimately everything's random or predictable, but if I want to choose chocolate over vanilla, I guess I have to re-measure the randomness a few times until it lands on the option that I want. Much like, if I want to pick the number 7, I can start up a random number generator between 1 and 10 and run it over and over again until it hits 7. So it's still ultimately random, but this way I get my 'choice'". That kind of argument is straight up, unapologetically dualism. If you don't absolutely 100% agree with that then you should spend some time researching what dualism is. Maybe it's not such a bad thing, there's no reason to be derogatory about it. But If that's how your epistemology is aligned, then at least you should be aware of it. But that right there is 100% dualism, and you need to recognize that to be the case because that's just what the word means and we need to all be speaking the same words here or else we're just wasting everyone's time.

Then is "unpredictable" the option I've been arguing for? However, "unpredictable" ≠ "random" in all instances.
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Re: Thought-Expermient that (dis)proves Free Will?

Postby Robert'); DROP TABLE *; » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:54 am UTC

Turtlewing wrote:The universe can't contain both itself and a perfect simulation of itself.

It can if it's infinite. At least, if it's a dense infinity, AFAIK.

Technical Ben wrote:The universe is "self caused" in the view of science. Is that correct?

AFAIK, it was that the universe isn't caused at all, because of timey-wimey.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Malconstant » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:14 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:So, does a QRND (or true random number generator) allow a system to be non-determined?

yes.

Technical Ben wrote: Again, I did not say choice uses quantum randomness. But that quantum randomness is an example of "one" system of non-determinism. So, please, why can we not have "two" systems of non-determinism; random and choice?

Because we're talking about whether something is fundamentally predictable or not. A or not-A. Deterministic or random (with probabilities). A third option is dualism.

Technical Ben wrote:Then is "unpredictable" the option I've been arguing for? However, "unpredictable" ≠ "random" in all instances.

We're talking about whether something is fundamentally predictable or not. If a given phenomenon (say, quantum physics) is fundamentally probabilistic/random, then it is not fundamentally determinable. A third option is dualism. If your brain is not governed by what are ultimately predictable/determinable laws of physics (using perfect laws, not our current measly approximations), but it's also not governed by quantum mechanical randomness/probabilities, then explain to me where does this choice come from?

Explain to me how you think something in the physical universe can be fundamentally unpredictable...and yet not random/probabilistic. Not talking about failures of current models of physics, I mean at the most fundamental truth of the matter. How can a process be actually, truly, 100%, fundamentally unpredictable, and yet not random/probabilistic, but instead guided by something called 'choice' and still be talking within a physical setting? I'm telling you that is the very definition of dualism. It's not a technicality, it's not a trap, I'm not twisting your words. It's as direct and incontrovertible a definition of dualism as exists.

It's not a bad thing, in fact it's a very natural extension of an implicitly Christian epistemology, which also isn't a bad thing. If free will wasn't something more like 'choice' then what's the purpose of heaven and hell, or anything else for that matter? That implicit understanding combined with the human experience of choosing chocolate over vanilla is plenty compelling for the need for a third option. But that option fundamentally is dualism. It's fine, but that's who you are, and if you intend to hold to this choice option, that's what it is.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Xanthir » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:54 pm UTC

As a random aside, I don't how dualism gets you out of the trap, either. Okay, so your body is run by physics, which is either deterministic or random. Your mind is something else. But that "something else" is also either deterministic or random, no?
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:17 am UTC

Or fucking magic, ever think a that?
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