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Offline dloubet

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #58 on: December 30, 2012, 11:54:17 PM »
mhaberling wrote:
Quote
No you haven't shown me there are truly random events in nature you have told me...

Do you know what a half-life is?

If atomic decay was not random, that non-randomness would leave a statistical trace in the measurements of half-lives.

There is no statistical trace found in the measurements of half-lives indicating a non-random component to atomic decay.

Therefore atomic decay is random.

Suck it up and join us at the adults table.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #59 on: December 31, 2012, 07:31:43 AM »
I'm going to weigh in on mhaberlings side for a couple points here.....

Oh do come on! You use the term Godless in your OP and then say it isn't about a God and free will, if it were true then you would have called the thread "A thought on the universe and its implications on free will"
Bertaberts... The entire argument in this thread operates under the assumption of a lack of god. That is why its called "A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will

Mhaberling is, we are all aware, a believer.  So if he had just started a thread on free will, we would have swiftly gone down the "god and predestination and omniscience" debate.  I've got no problems with him wanting to discuss "our"  ;) version of the universe rather than re-hash his own.  We often chastise believers for telling us "what atheists think" - shouldn't we be pleased that this one believer wants to find out what we think rather than telling us?

Of course, this may all be a long-winded preface to a "Bam! You atheists can't believe in free will without god by the rules of your godless universe, so if you believe in free will you HAVE to believe in god!!!" sucker punch.  I don't think its mhaberling's style, to be honest - and as a non-believer in free will that punch holds no worries for me anyway! - but I can see why it could be a fear.  Personally, I'm happen to run this entire thread on the basis that there is no god.....or, to put it anothere way, "the real world".   ;D

Anyhoo......second point.

So I will ask you again... Can you show me that there are truly random events in nature??

no no no.... No you haven't shown me there are truly random events in nature you have told me...

I’ve already given you a link to the quantum random number generator service offered by the Department of Physics at Humboldt University in Berlin. They explain how they use truly random events in nature to generate random numbers. So it isn’t just me telling you, it’s university physicists as well and they have the physical proof. You can even download random numbers generated by their device. You only need to Google for “quantum random number generator” and you’ll find plenty of them and papers explaining how they work.

Mhaberling's point, I believe, is "how do we KNOW that these allegedly random events are indeed random, and not following some specific causal rules that we are currently unable to determine?"  To take the dice analogy, I'm sure there was a point way back when when we thought the roll of a dice was random, as opposed to completely causal and predetermined, albeit unpredictable.  I confess I'm not up enough on quantum theory as I might like - is there an "idiot's guide" that shows how it is provably random?

I think to be honest you are both on the same page - from where you say "Random means unpredictable, not uncaused. Yes, everything has a cause, but some of those causes are unpredictable in one way or another".  I believe that that is the point he was making - that there are quantum events that are singularly unpredictable, but that if we could "go back in time" to the same point, would that quantum event happen differently?  Or, if you prefer, can a particular quantum event potentially happen in two or more different ways, or can it ONLY happen in one specific (but completely unpredictable) way?  (Bolded that bit because (a) I don't know the answer(!), and (b) I think its crucial to the argument.  I thought the answer was "two or more", but from what you said I'm now not sure!)

My summary: my position was that 99.999% of things were causal, with (perhaps) some potentially TRULY random quantum level things being put into the mix which would make prediction imposible, even were some mechanism for prediction possible.  I may now have to change that to EVERYTHING is causal, including quantum happenings, but it all remains unpredictable due to limitations on what we can calculate.

Either way, I see no "free will" aspect to things.  Causal or random, I still am unable to undestand where "choice" (in the "I could do different things in identical circumstances, in a way that is directed by 'me' rather than being the result of 'non-me randomness' ") comes into play.

.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 07:34:15 AM by Anfauglir »
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #60 on: January 01, 2013, 06:14:46 PM »
Of course, this may all be a long-winded preface to a "Bam! You atheists can't believe in free will without god by the rules of your godless universe, so if you believe in free will you HAVE to believe in god!!!" sucker punch.  I don't think its mhaberling's style, to be honest - and as a non-believer in free will that punch holds no worries for me anyway! - but I can see why it could be a fear.

I don’t see why it would be a problem either. If mhaberling shows there is no free will in this universe by proving that it is physically impossible then the same applies to him and he would also be proving that his god couldn’t have granted free will. Showing that there is free will in this universe in no way proves it is a gift from any god or that any god exists.


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Mhaberling's point, I believe, is "how do we KNOW that these allegedly random events are indeed random, and not following some specific causal rules that we are currently unable to determine?"  To take the dice analogy, I'm sure there was a point way back when when we thought the roll of a dice was random, as opposed to completely causal and predetermined, albeit unpredictable.  I confess I'm not up enough on quantum theory as I might like - is there an "idiot's guide" that shows how it is provably random?

As far as I know, there is no test to prove something is random[1], but there are tests to prove something is not random. If those tests fail to show that a phenomenon is predictable or non-uniformly distributed then it is considered to be random.

Here are some notes on quantum indeterminacy explaining why quantum events are unpredictable, even in principle.


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I think to be honest you are both on the same page - from where you say "Random means unpredictable, not uncaused. Yes, everything has a cause, but some of those causes are unpredictable in one way or another".  I believe that that is the point he was making - that there are quantum events that are singularly unpredictable, but that if we could "go back in time" to the same point, would that quantum event happen differently?  Or, if you prefer, can a particular quantum event potentially happen in two or more different ways, or can it ONLY happen in one specific (but completely unpredictable) way?  (Bolded that bit because (a) I don't know the answer(!), and (b) I think its crucial to the argument.  I thought the answer was "two or more", but from what you said I'm now not sure!)

Mhaberling is arguing that if we knew all the algorithms and conditions, we could, in principle, predict the outcome of all future events and decisions we may make and we could trace those events and decisions all the way back to the big bang. Therefore, everything is predetermined and we have no free will. Quantum indeterminacy shows us that we cannot know all the conditions, even in principle, because they are actually unknowable. To answer your first question, if we could go back in time to the same point where a quantum event occurred and went forward again, then it could have happened differently. To answer your bolded question, yes, a particular quantum event can happen in two or more different ways and in some cases those quantum events affect events in the macroscopic world. Let me give you a real-world example.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that in some telephone exchange equipment routes are selected randomly using radioactive decay as the mechanism. Here’s a little more detail. In Ericsson ARF exchanges (older crossbar exchanges) the marker (decision making equipment) in the group selector stage selects a route from those available using radioactive tubes. Each tube has a speck of radioactive material inside that is slowly ionising the gas in the tube. When a route is to be selected, a voltage is applied across all the tubes in parallel and the one with the highest ionisation potential fires, selecting that route. This discharges the ionisation in that tube so on the next selection it is at the bottom of the pile. The ionisation potential is dictated by how many atoms have decayed over a period of time. That is completely unpredictable due to quantum indeterminacy so even if we could replay events, another tube may have fired instead.

Now, the available routes all give a path to the destination for any particular call, but what if one of those routes is faulty and it is the one that happens to be selected? In that case, you get a no progress call. You dial the number and get nothing—no ring tone, no busy tone—just an open line. I’m guessing you’ve had this happen to you. After some time you may receive some failure tone. What do you do? Normally, people will hang up and dial again. So here we have a situation where there were two possible outcomes governed by quantum indeterminacy: one tube fired and selected a usable route or another tube fired instead and selected a faulty route. This led to the caller acting differently. They either held the call or dialled again—or maybe didn’t bother to dial again. So here we have an action someone made that cannot be traced all the way back to the big bang no matter how hard we try. It was determined entirely by what occurred only one second before. The future branches right there and who knows what consequences the failed call may have. These sorts of events are happening all the time in many different ways so it just isn’t true to say the cause of every action we take can be traced all the way back to the big bang.


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My summary: my position was that 99.999% of things were causal, with (perhaps) some potentially TRULY random quantum level things being put into the mix which would make prediction imposible, even were some mechanism for prediction possible.  I may now have to change that to EVERYTHING is causal, including quantum happenings, but it all remains unpredictable due to limitations on what we can calculate.

Either way, I see no "free will" aspect to things.  Causal or random, I still am unable to undestand where "choice" (in the "I could do different things in identical circumstances, in a way that is directed by 'me' rather than being the result of 'non-me randomness' ") comes into play.

Everything has a cause, but that cause may be unpredictable and may immediately precede the event with no path back into the past. Here are a couple of situations where you could do different things in identical circumstances. For a start, think about whether you have ever changed your mind when making a choice even though the circumstances haven’t changed. Here are some other situations. You are walking through the supermarket and you pick a can of peas (or whatever) from the shelf. There are many identical cans on the shelf (same brand, same product, same use-by date). Couldn’t you have picked a different one? You are at a party or a restaurant and a magician comes up to you, fans a deck of cards face down in front of you and asks you to pick one. They all look identical. You pick one somewhere in the middle. Couldn’t you just as easily have picked one either side of the one you chose? Did you make those choices or were they dictated by some non-you randomness?

 1. presumably because you would need to wait an infinite period of time to be certain that a sequence of events never repeats
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Online Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #61 on: January 01, 2013, 07:08:20 PM »
Everything has a cause, but that cause may be unpredictable and may immediately precede the event with no path back into the past. Here are a couple of situations where you could do different things in identical circumstances. For a start, think about whether you have ever changed your mind when making a choice even though the circumstances haven’t changed. Here are some other situations. You are walking through the supermarket and you pick a can of peas (or whatever) from the shelf. There are many identical cans on the shelf (same brand, same product, same use-by date). Couldn’t you have picked a different one? You are at a party or a restaurant and a magician comes up to you, fans a deck of cards face down in front of you and asks you to pick one. They all look identical. You pick one somewhere in the middle. Couldn’t you just as easily have picked one either side of the one you chose? Did you make those choices or were they dictated by some non-you randomness?

Absolutely none of the things you list are examples of what you say they are.  I don't think you quite grok Anfauglir's meaning.  Let's take a single one of your examples - the one you pick a can from the shelf.  These cans are not strictly identical.  It is physically impossible for them to be strictly identical, for that would require them to occupy the same position as each other.  Something causes you to pick one over the other.  That thing, that cause, is true - it exists.  In another universe, where that cause was not true, a different choice might be made.  But we're not living in that universe.  The state you exist in determines which can you pick.  Picking a different one would have required you to be, essentially, a slightly different person.
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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #62 on: January 01, 2013, 08:16:02 PM »
Absolutely none of the things you list are examples of what you say they are.


Really? You’ve never been in a situation where you’ve changed your mind even though the circumstances haven’t changed? I have, many times. I’ve often thought about performing some task one way then changed my mind even though none of the circumstances have changed. I have all the information I’m going to use in making a decision and then I think about it in different ways. I might initially decide to do it one way, but after further thought I change my mind  because I think of a better way. For example, I get a flat on the front wheel of my car. I have everything I need and I decide to jack the car then undo the nuts. Then I think, no, that’s silly, if I do that, the wheel will just spin so I decide to slightly loosen the nuts first then jack the car. The circumstances haven’t changed. I’ve just thought about it and arrived at a better solution. Haven’t you ever done something like that? Do you just go with your first thought on any decision you make?



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Let's take a single one of your examples - the one you pick a can from the shelf.  These cans are not strictly identical.  It is physically impossible for them to be strictly identical, for that would require them to occupy the same position as each other.

They’re identical enough for the purpose of making a choice in everyday life. This is particularly true in my example of the cards side by side.


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Something causes you to pick one over the other.  That thing, that cause, is true - it exists.  In another universe, where that cause was not true, a different choice might be made.  But we're not living in that universe.  The state you exist in determines which can you pick.  Picking a different one would have required you to be, essentially, a slightly different person.

Yes, you are a slightly different person. Your thoughts have changed even though the circumstances haven’t
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #63 on: January 01, 2013, 08:58:16 PM »
Really? You’ve never been in a situation where you’ve changed your mind even though the circumstances haven’t changed? I have, many times.

I havn't, and neither have you.  Because the circumstances have changed.  The passing of a mere nanosecond changes the circumstances.  Between one thought and the next, the variables have shifted and the two scenarios being compared are no longer identical ones, so that the occurrence of different outcomes is neither surprising nor significant.

Also, keep in mind that your thoughts are part of the circumstances.  Step back from yourself for a second.  Observe as a third person.

You still don't seem to understand Anfauglir's point.
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Offline shnozzola

Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #64 on: January 01, 2013, 09:04:37 PM »
Great argument, isn't it 3sigma.  I was in your shoes, arguing I could choose vanilla over chocolate ice cream if I wanted, and, the great minds here convinced me that, although the free will argument divides atheists, maybe what Mhaberling intended, I come out on the side of no free will - every pathway is decided.
 
This thread:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22045.58.html

Again, from Plethora:
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It frustrates me a little that I wrote this whole argument explaining that we have will but it's not "free" and that the capacity to make choices does not mean the choices are "free" ... and it seems to have been completely ignored and people fall into the same old "choice" arguments over and over.

This was my post:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22045.msg491978.html#msg491978

Its worth looking this stuff up in wiki to see the debate even the classic philosophers had.

Quote
Free Will - a. voluntary choice or decision. The ability or discretion to choose
                b. freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes
Determinism - a. the philosophical doctrine that all events including human actions and choices are fully
                         determined by preceding events and states of affairs, and so that freedom of choice is illusory.
                      b. (Philosophy) the scientific doctrine that all occurrences in nature take place
                        in accordance with natural laws
                      c. (Physics / General Physics) the principle in classical mechanics that the values of dynamic
                           variables of a system and of the forces acting on the system at a
                          given time, completely determine the values of the variables at any later time
Necessitarianism –
                        -choice can not take place independently of motive
                         -Necessarians will say that even voluntary effort for a good end is ultimately the
                          effect of causes extraneous to the man's self

•   Incompatibilism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incompatibilism) which says one cannot accept determinism and free will, with the resulting positions:
•   Hard determinism (choosing determinism)
•   Metaphysical Libertarianism (choosing free will)
•   Hard Indeterminism (rejecting both determinism and free will)
« Last Edit: January 01, 2013, 09:06:57 PM by shnozzola »
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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #65 on: January 01, 2013, 09:50:37 PM »
Really? You’ve never been in a situation where you’ve changed your mind even though the circumstances haven’t changed? I have, many times.

I havn't, and neither have you.  Because the circumstances have changed.  The passing of a mere nanosecond changes the circumstances.  Between one thought and the next, the variables have shifted and the two scenarios being compared are no longer identical ones, so that the occurrence of different outcomes is neither surprising nor significant.

Also, keep in mind that your thoughts are part of the circumstances.  Step back from yourself for a second.  Observe as a third person.

You still don't seem to understand Anfauglir's point.

Go back and read what Anfauglir wrote. He said, “Causal or random, I still am unable to undestand where "choice" (in the "I could do different things in identical circumstances, in a way that is directed by 'me' rather than being the result of 'non-me randomness' ") comes into play.” Now, are your thoughts “you” or “non-you”? It seems to me that Anfauglir is saying he can’t envisage changing his mind unless external circumstances change and he isn’t considering his own thoughts to be part of those circumstances. In fact, he appears to be deliberately differentiating the two.

Do you think there is free will or not? Do you think we are responsible for our actions or are we just slaves to external causes?
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #66 on: January 01, 2013, 10:07:19 PM »

Do you think there is free will or not? Do you think we are responsible for our actions or are we just slaves to external causes?
[/quote]

i don't think it's so cut and dry...i think we are responisble for our own actions...if you ask jesus to take the wheel...i'm sorry, but you're gonna crash, you still need to hold the wheel, steer, and drive...or pull the F over, so those of us who are physically behind the wheel can actually get to where we're going without an accident. that said however, i think there are external causes that influence our choices. if there's super bad weather out, and i was supposed to be somewhere, i may decide not to go because i don't like being on the road with people who don't know how to drive in bad weather, that just ups my chance of being in an accident, i can make another choice, to change the appointment, the end result could end up changing with the circumstances as i change my plans. there's no way with how crazy my day typically turns out that this was all planned in advance. no. way.  but i can see how there could be some of both ideas combined into our 'free will'/'predetermined futures'

Offline Bagheera

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #67 on: January 02, 2013, 05:25:11 AM »
The premise of the argument is that Randomness does not exist in nature, only causation. So any decision we make is based off a crazy complex chain reaction that started in the beginning of the universe. Since our thoughts would simply be directly controlled by things that came before them we wouldn't have free will. Everything that we ever do is predetermined.

Take a cube. Even a dice will do. It's a nice cube.

Now look at it from a two-dimensional perspective. From directly above it will be fine.

All you will see is a square. The height and width are obvious, but the depth is not. You would have to guess at the depth.

Ah, you say. But it's a cube. I just have to know how high and how wide it is, and I will have figured out the depth! Easy!

Sure. But what if I told you that wasn't really a cube? Suppose I was just making that cube shit up back in the first sentence, and it's really a three-dimensional parallelogram (parallelepiped) with a depth that you thought was the same as the height and width, but now you can't be sure.

Now let's say that square was really big. Say, as big as a house. You can't see through the square in front, but lets say you're on a moving walkway taking you through it; every millisecond the pedway moves, you can see up and down and left and right, but straight "ahead" is always another layer of the square, while "behind" you is section of square you just passed through, impeding your view. Until the walkway takes you out the other side, and you can say "Well, I know how fast the walkway was going, and I know how long it was going, so now I know how deep that thing was. I figured it out."

And if you could go back to seeing things from a three dimensional way, you would see your measurements were spot on, and be all like, "Yeah, that was a great thought exercise, so what?"

So we're observing our universe in three dimensions, but are relegated to figuring out any fourth-dimensional qualities using clever tricks. But if we could see things in our four-dimensional universe (say, a fourth dimensional view of you)  you'd go "Oh, look, that's that's the beginning, that's the end, there's the part that's sitting in front of the computer reading some amateurish explanation of why free will is an illusion." Because that's us; a four-dimensional set of coordinates that describe us in terms of height/width/depth/time, and you're a "fishjie" shaped 4d construct that can't see where it (or the rest of the universe for that matter) starts and stops until the stopping part happens.

So yeah, it's predetermined, and random, and subject to quantum fluctuations, and all that makes no difference because there's no reason to believe it will happen any differently that it will happen, in the same way that a cube is already a cube even though you can't see how deep it is from a 2d perspective.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #68 on: January 02, 2013, 06:08:30 AM »
Really? You’ve never been in a situation where you’ve changed your mind even though the circumstances haven’t changed? I have, many times.

I havn't, and neither have you.  Because the circumstances have changed.  The passing of a mere nanosecond changes the circumstances.  Between one thought and the next, the variables have shifted and the two scenarios being compared are no longer identical ones, so that the occurrence of different outcomes is neither surprising nor significant.

Also, keep in mind that your thoughts are part of the circumstances.  Step back from yourself for a second.  Observe as a third person.

You still don't seem to understand Anfauglir's point.

Go back and read what Anfauglir wrote. He said, “Causal or random, I still am unable to undestand where "choice" (in the "I could do different things in identical circumstances, in a way that is directed by 'me' rather than being the result of 'non-me randomness' ") comes into play.” Now, are your thoughts “you” or “non-you”? It seems to me that Anfauglir is saying he can’t envisage changing his mind unless external circumstances change and he isn’t considering his own thoughts to be part of those circumstances. In fact, he appears to be deliberately differentiating the two.

Do you think there is free will or not? Do you think we are responsible for our actions or are we just slaves to external causes?

Sorry - that was my fault for being unclear in my language - the result of a too-hasty generated post.

To clarify, I DO believe that my thoughts are part of the world of circumstances.  They are the product of specific electro-chemical reactions in my brain, and hence are as predetermined (albeit unpredictable) as any other event in the universe (subject (many thanks!) to the quantum randomness you covered a few posts up).

So, at an given point in time, my thoughts will be at a particular point because of all the previous thoughts and experiences and the state of the charge in my neurons.  So the thought I will be thinking at the next conceivably small slice of time - indeed, the state of the universe at the next slice of time - will be the inevitable result of the combination of the previous state of the universe, as determined by the physical laws of that universe, plus or minus any quantum events that may occur.

That's the position I hold - so to answer your question, no: there is NO free will.  We are the inevitable result of everything that has come before, subject to some truly-random chances.

What I was trying to express before, is that for there to be a "free will" aspect to the world, there would perforce need to be some thing (most commonly labelled a "soul") which did not generate "choices" randomly (because that, to me, would mean it was not "will"), but which is also ungoverned by any other aspect of the universe.  This would HAVE to be the case to allow it to make a non-predetermined willed choice.

And THAT is the thing that I simply cannot grok.  Because what is being put forward is a thing that HAS no means of making a decision.  Anything and everything that happens to it CAN have no effect on it, because we've already said that it is outside of causality, so this "soul" thing can only be a rigidly unchanging thing.  If it is unswayed by circumstance and history, it cannot ever change or grow.....and, to be frank, I do not regard THAT as in any way "will", either. 

Its a complicated position that I am trying to explain, and not sure I'm 100% succeeding!  I know exactly what I mean, just not sure I'm getting it across!

To go back to the "changing the tyre" example.....my position is that in that instance you were NEVER going to "jack before nuts" - the thought emerged that you were going to do it, but then - inevitably - the other thought rolled along that said "loosen first".  Possibly if there had been a quantum burp in your brain at that point the second thought would not have happened.....but if its a random burp, then that (as I've said) does not qualify for free will.

The problem for the advocate for free will, in any meaningful sense of "free" and "will", is that they must explain both how their choices are NOT causal (or stochastic), NOR random.  Everything we observe, every test we do, only points to a mainly stochastic universe that follws causal rules, aside from the occasional wobble thrown in by quantum activity.

So no.  No free will, period.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #69 on: January 02, 2013, 07:00:35 AM »
So no.  No free will, period.

So you don’t think we are responsible for our actions? If there is no free will and we are just driven by circumstances outside our control then we can’t be held responsible for our actions. I’m glad society at large and the courts don’t think that way otherwise “the universe made me do it” would quickly become a defence for any crime.
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #70 on: January 02, 2013, 09:54:44 AM »
So no.  No free will, period.

So you don’t think we are responsible for our actions? If there is no free will and we are just driven by circumstances outside our control then we can’t be held responsible for our actions. I’m glad society at large and the courts don’t think that way otherwise “the universe made me do it” would quickly become a defence for any crime.

Defence?  Yes.  Immunity from punishment?  No.

Say I punch someone in the head.  That was, indeed, inevitable as there is no free will.  HOWEVER, it was an inevitable action precisely because of my evolved character and history: I have become a person who (in particular circumstances) is liable to use an agressive physical response.

I would say that therefore it is entirely appropriate for me to be incarcerated for the protection of others, since I am proven prone to actions that harm others.

Prison, however, should in my opinion therefore be little or nothing to do with punishment, and ALL to do with rehabilitation and the removal and adjustment of those antisocial impulses.  In other words, alter my character to the stage where - should the same circumstances reoccur - I would NOT inevitably take the violent action.

In the broader spectrum, if my view were more widespread, there might be some significant social changes.  Currently, because SOME people from "bad" backgrounds do not turn to crime, society can kid itself nothing needs to be done, because "they CHOOSE to turn to crime".  If the realisation comes that if you have bad neighbourhoods, people will almost inevitably go bad themselves, then there would be a huge incentive to make those neighbourhoods better.  I see the acceptance of the lack of free will as a huge spur to society to move towards equality and helping others.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #71 on: January 02, 2013, 03:43:09 PM »
Thanks for articulating your position again, Anfauglir.

So no.  No free will, period.

So you don’t think we are responsible for our actions? If there is no free will and we are just driven by circumstances outside our control then we can’t be held responsible for our actions. I’m glad society at large and the courts don’t think that way otherwise “the universe made me do it” would quickly become a defence for any crime.

Funny how the question suddenly no longer becomes about truth, but about an appeal to perceived consequences.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #72 on: January 02, 2013, 03:57:37 PM »
So no.  No free will, period.

So you don’t think we are responsible for our actions? If there is no free will and we are just driven by circumstances outside our control then we can’t be held responsible for our actions. I’m glad society at large and the courts don’t think that way otherwise “the universe made me do it” would quickly become a defence for any crime.

Why Not, You are still the instigator of your actions... You responding in a predetermined fashion doesn't change what you did... And secondly the argument that a lack of free will would be inconvenient or bad isn't really an argument. The universe is impartial to your feelings.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #73 on: January 02, 2013, 04:37:04 PM »
Anfauglir wrote:
Quote
I would say that therefore it is entirely appropriate for me to be incarcerated for the protection of others, since I am proven prone to actions that harm others.

Yes. A thousand times yes.

Our usual system of assigning responsibility for our actions engenders a desire for irrational things like revenge. If, instead, we view people as machines, then that desire for revenge is blunted. We do not imprison computers for giving the wrong answer. We do not seek vengeance on them. What we do is seek to repair what's broken. To re-program the computer to eliminate the bug. If we thought of people that way, it would all be about rehabilitation. About fixing what's wrong with they way some units interact with society.

In essence, that's what we're doing already with prisons and punishment, except the addition of a desire for revenge poisons those crude efforts at fixing what's broken. The current tools for re-programming humans are cruel, costly, and not very effective, but they're all we've got.

I used to think that the knowledge we had no free will was pointless and could not inform our actions, but I have since changed my mind.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #74 on: January 02, 2013, 06:44:29 PM »
Funny how the question suddenly no longer becomes about truth, but about an appeal to perceived consequences.

You and Anfauglir want to claim there’s no free will. I think you are wrong for the reasons I’ve already given, which have nothing to do with undesirable consequences. If you think you are right and I’m wrong then that’s fine, but there would be consequences if you were right. Free will is one of the foundations of legal systems around the world. If you say there is no such thing as free will then people cannot be held responsible for their actions. There is no longer any concept of blame, fault or liability. All contracts would become null and void because no one could ever have signed of their own free will. If you want to claim there’s no free will go right ahead. I’m just glad that society at large and the courts don’t believe you.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #75 on: January 02, 2013, 06:45:30 PM »
Why Not, You are still the instigator of your actions... You responding in a predetermined fashion doesn't change what you did... And secondly the argument that a lack of free will would be inconvenient or bad isn't really an argument. The universe is impartial to your feelings.

If there is no free will then you cannot be held responsible for your actions because you cannot act at your own discretion. You were forced to take a course of action by circumstances beyond your control. No one should be convicted of a crime if they were forced to commit it: they had no choice.

I’m not making an argument from consequences. I’ve already given plenty of reasons why I think there is free will and none of them have anything to do with undesirable consequences. I’m not saying there has to be free will otherwise bad things would happen. All I’m saying is that I’m glad most people don’t believe you when you claim there is no free will.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #76 on: January 02, 2013, 07:30:58 PM »
You and Anfauglir want to claim there’s no free will. I think you are wrong for the reasons I’ve already given, which have nothing to do with undesirable consequences.

The reasons you have already given have been trashed ad nauseum in the past, and now again in this thread.  Read up.  You have given no indication that you even understand the positon you're arguing against.

If you think you are right and I’m wrong then that’s fine, but there would be consequences if you were right. Free will is one of the foundations of legal systems around the world. If you say there is no such thing as free will then people cannot be held responsible for their actions. There is no longer any concept of blame, fault or liability. All contracts would become null and void because no one could ever have signed of their own free will. If you want to claim there’s no free will go right ahead. I’m just glad that society at large and the courts don’t believe you.

Why this is false, has also been explained to you, in the last couple of posts by Anfauglir and dloubet.  Your religious beliefs are demonstrably untrue.  That you believe we cannot be good without them is typical of believers in many religious traditions.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #77 on: January 02, 2013, 07:58:59 PM »
The reasons you have already given have been trashed ad nauseum in the past, and now again in this thread.  Read up.  You have given no indication that you even understand the positon you're arguing against.

Please point out the reasons I’ve given for thinking there is free will and please show me where they’ve been trashed. I ask you to do this because I think you are the one who hasn’t been paying attention.


Quote
Why this is false, has also been explained to you [in the last couple of posts by Anfauglir and dloubet].  Your religious beliefs are demonstrably untrue.  That you believe we cannot be good without them is typical of believers [in many religious traditions].

And this is why I don’t think you’ve been paying attention. I have no religious beliefs.  I’ve never had any religious beliefs. I’m an atheist. I would have thought that anyone who was paying any attention at all to my posts at WWGHA would have seen that by now.

Your attack here seems to be complete non sequitur. Nowhere in that post did I mention religious beliefs. I was referring to the legal system. Please show me where [Anfauglir and dloubet] have already explained why the lack of free will wouldn’t disrupt the legal system. For example, where did they explain how not signing contracts of one’s own free will would not invalidate them?
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #78 on: January 02, 2013, 08:15:05 PM »
Funny how the question suddenly no longer becomes about truth, but about an appeal to perceived consequences.

You and Anfauglir want to claim there’s no free will. I think you are wrong for the reasons I’ve already given, which have nothing to do with undesirable consequences. If you think you are right and I’m wrong then that’s fine, but there would be consequences if you were right. Free will is one of the foundations of legal systems around the world. If you say there is no such thing as free will then people cannot be held responsible for their actions. There is no longer any concept of blame, fault or liability. All contracts would become null and void because no one could ever have signed of their own free will. If you want to claim there’s no free will go right ahead. I’m just glad that society at large and the courts don’t believe you.
Murder is illegal,but people still do it,it goes against societal norms and laws but people still do it. They do it out of anger,fear,adrenaline,and yes even religious reasons. Are you saying free-will is the escape for God's inaction? How could we not hold someone accountable for there actions if they said God told them to? The court system you talk about holds God IN their actions as part of their procedure of the court,so how could they find someone guilty if they use God as an excuse?
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #79 on: January 02, 2013, 08:27:32 PM »
Are you saying free-will is the escape for God's inaction? How could we not hold someone accountable for there actions if they said God told them to? The court system you talk about holds God IN their actions as part of their procedure of the court,so how could they find someone guilty if they use God as an excuse?

I’m saying people should be held accountable for their actions because I think they have the ability to act at their own discretion. Of course we shouldn’t allow “God made me do it” as a defence and the courts don’t allow it. Similarly, I think we shouldn’t allow “the universe made me do it” as a defence either.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #80 on: January 02, 2013, 08:59:19 PM »
Whether or not the religious concept of free will exists, or even if there's what I now consider self-determination, I don't think we can or should treat individuals as machines.  We can look at people as being 'broken' and needing to be healed without acting like they had no influence over their own actions to begin with.

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #81 on: January 02, 2013, 09:57:40 PM »
Please point out the reasons I’ve given for thinking there is free will and please show me where they’ve been trashed. I ask you to do this because I think you are the one who hasn’t been paying attention.

You think there is free will because we are able to make different choices in what appear to be similar situations.  I've pointed out how this has nothing to do with free will as the situations are not the same ones.  You never addressed that.  Your Reply #65 was based on a misunderstanding of Anfauglir's position, which he has since clarified and which you seem to still not have read.

I suggest reading the thread that plethora linked to up-thread.  It contains this exact discussion, with pretty much everyone agreeing that free will doesn't exist by the end of it.

And this is why I don’t think you’ve been paying attention. I have no religious beliefs.  I’ve never had any religious beliefs. I’m an atheist. I would have thought that anyone who was paying any attention at all to my posts at WWGHA would have seen that by now.

Being an atheist does not preclude religious beliefs.  Scientologists, for example, are atheists (they believe in no deities) who have religious beliefs.  Homeopathy is a religious belief.  Reincarnation is a religious belief.  Neither of these require belief in deities, either.

Your belief in free will is similarly religious.

Your attack here seems to be complete non sequitur. Nowhere in that post did I mention religious beliefs. I was referring to the legal system. Please show me where [Anfauglir and dloubet] have already explained why the lack of free will wouldn’t disrupt the legal system. For example, where did they explain how not signing contracts of one’s own free will would not invalidate them?

A non sequitur fallacy would be if I was using your religiosity as a premise to an argument against your position.  I am not.  I am brining it up for your own benefit.

As for signing contracts, the "free will" to sign them legally is not the same concept we're talking about in this thread.  A condition of duress or immaturity is more or less deterministic than a condition free of duress or immaturity.  This stuff about contracts is a disingenuous red herring.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #82 on: January 03, 2013, 12:40:39 AM »
Oops.  I meant to say "is no more or less deterministic" in the bolded above.  Makes no sense otherwise.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #83 on: January 03, 2013, 02:05:26 AM »
It seems like you could call just about any belief 'religious' using that argument.  All it takes is for someone to believe something without evidence, and poof, you have a religious belief.

Though that may not be what you mean.  If not, I'd appreciate you clarifying just exactly how you tell the difference between a religious belief and a non-religious belief, assuming that there's no actual evidence to demonstrate either.

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #84 on: January 03, 2013, 02:22:39 AM »
Homeopathy?  No religion required.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #85 on: January 03, 2013, 03:16:53 AM »
Though that may not be what you mean.  If not, I'd appreciate you clarifying just exactly how you tell the difference between a religious belief and a non-religious belief, assuming that there's no actual evidence to demonstrate either.

I mean a belief that is held on faith, regardless of evidence.  Typically emotional, culturally inculated, etc.  Like our belief in metaphysically free will.  It's a belief that does not bear examination, and examination is discouraged.  Hence the appeal to consequences above.

Homeopathy was a bit of a stretch, I'll admit.  I guess it depends on how the believer treats the belief.

Free will isn't the title of some organized religious sect.  But then again, neither is Trinitarianism[1].  Do people hold to it religiously?  Does it entail supernaturalism?  Does it form the basis of peoples' world-views?

Yes, yes, and yes.  It's a religious belief.
 1. At least to my knowledge.
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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #86 on: January 03, 2013, 03:18:45 AM »
Homeopathy?  No religion required.

Theism?  No religion required.

And it doesn't require an actual religion.[1]  That doesn't mean that the theism isn't a religious belief.
 1. Even if one is usually involved, it's not strictly necessary.
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