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Imagining "Indeterminism"

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In modern times, the Epicurean notion of atoms, subject to “indeterministic swerves”, is mirrored in the suggestion of quantum indeterminacy. Unfortunately, causal indeterminism, if it exists anywhere, reduces our ability to understand, predict, and control events, because the event has no reliable cause (if the cause is reliable, then the event is deterministic). Ironically, causal indeterminism does not increase our freedom at all, but instead reduces it, by limiting our ability to control events.

Causal determinism asserts that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where there are no uncaused events, and each event is the reliable result of some specific prior events. Causal indeterminism would be the opposite of determinism, where the effects of a given cause are unreliable, and thus unpredictable.

The concept of “causal indeterminism” is impossible to imagine, because we’ve all grown up in a deterministic universe, where, although we don’t always know what caused an event, we always presume that there was a cause.

To get an idea of a “causally indeterministic universe”, imagine we had a dial we could use to adjust the balance of determinism versus indeterminism. We start by turning it all the way to determinism: I pick an apple from the apple tree and, as expected, I have an apple in my hand. Then, we turn the dial a little bit toward indeterminism: now if I pick an apple, I might find an orange or banana or some other random fruit in my hand. Turn the dial further toward indeterminism, and when I pick an apple I may find a kitten in my hand, or a pair of slippers, or a glass of milk. One more adjustment toward indeterminism and when I pick an apple gravity reverses!

If objects were constantly popping into and out of existence, or if gravity erratically switched between pulling things one moment to pushing them the next, then any attempts to control anything in our lives would be hopeless. We would have even less control than Alice, in Wonderland. In such a universe, we could not reliably cause any effect, which means we would not be free to do anything at all.

Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case. We, ourselves, are a collaborative collection of reliable causal mechanisms that keep our hearts beating, and enables us to think and to act. Without reliable cause and effect, we could never reliably cause any effect, and would have no freedom to do anything at all. The very notion of "freedom" implies a world of reliable causation.
 

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In modern times, the Epicurean notion of atoms, subject to “indeterministic swerves”, is mirrored in the suggestion of quantum indeterminacy. Unfortunately, causal indeterminism, if it exists anywhere, reduces our ability to understand, predict, and control events, because the event has no reliable cause (if the cause is reliable, then the event is deterministic). Ironically, causal indeterminism does not increase our freedom at all, but instead reduces it, by limiting our ability to control events.

Causal determinism asserts that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where there are no uncaused events, and each event is the reliable result of some specific prior events. Causal indeterminism would be the opposite of determinism, where the effects of a given cause are unreliable, and thus unpredictable.

The concept of “causal indeterminism” is impossible to imagine, because we’ve all grown up in a deterministic universe, where, although we don’t always know what caused an event, we always presume that there was a cause.

To get an idea of a “causally indeterministic universe”, imagine we had a dial we could use to adjust the balance of determinism versus indeterminism. We start by turning it all the way to determinism: I pick an apple from the apple tree and, as expected, I have an apple in my hand. Then, we turn the dial a little bit toward indeterminism: now if I pick an apple, I might find an orange or banana or some other random fruit in my hand. Turn the dial further toward indeterminism, and when I pick an apple I may find a kitten in my hand, or a pair of slippers, or a glass of milk. One more adjustment toward indeterminism and when I pick an apple gravity reverses!

If objects were constantly popping into and out of existence, or if gravity erratically switched between pulling things one moment to pushing them the next, then any attempts to control anything in our lives would be hopeless. We would have even less control than Alice, in Wonderland. In such a universe, we could not reliably cause any effect, which means we would not be free to do anything at all.

Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case. We, ourselves, are a collaborative collection of reliable causal mechanisms that keep our hearts beating, and enables us to think and to act. Without reliable cause and effect, we could never reliably cause any effect, and would have no freedom to do anything at all. The very notion of "freedom" implies a world of reliable causation.
Another thread.. based of the same crap...
Before this gets way outta hand and you get feelings, ponder this: LIFE IS NOT UNIQUE, it is fragile..so please stop.
 

Bomb#20

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In modern times, the Epicurean notion of atoms, subject to “indeterministic swerves”, is mirrored in the suggestion of quantum indeterminacy. ...
The concept of “causal indeterminism” is impossible to imagine, because we’ve all grown up in a deterministic universe, where, although we don’t always know what caused an event, we always presume that there was a cause. ...
If objects were constantly popping into and out of existence, or if gravity erratically switched between pulling things one moment to pushing them the next, then any attempts to control anything in our lives would be hopeless. ...
Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case. ...
Am I missing some subtlety in your presentation, or are you claiming to have demonstrated the existence of "hidden variables" underlying quantum mechanics, by philosophizing from your armchair?

"I, at any rate, am convinced that God does not throw dice." - Einstein
 
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In modern times, the Epicurean notion of atoms, subject to “indeterministic swerves”, is mirrored in the suggestion of quantum indeterminacy. ...
The concept of “causal indeterminism” is impossible to imagine, because we’ve all grown up in a deterministic universe, where, although we don’t always know what caused an event, we always presume that there was a cause. ...
If objects were constantly popping into and out of existence, or if gravity erratically switched between pulling things one moment to pushing them the next, then any attempts to control anything in our lives would be hopeless. ...
Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case. ...
Am I missing some subtlety in your presentation, or are you claiming to have demonstrated the existence of "hidden variables" underlying quantum mechanics, by philosophizing from your armchair?

"I, at any rate, am convinced that God does not throw dice." - Einstein

I don't know anything about about quantum mechanics. I'm simply demonstrating the problem with indeterminism. The hard determinists present reliable causation (causal necessity) as a boogeyman that robs us of our freedom and control of our destiny. This sends the theist running to the supernatural and the atheist running to quantum indeterminism. I'm demonstrating why indeterminism is not a source of freedom.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Marvin Edwards said:
In modern times, the Epicurean notion of atoms, subject to “indeterministic swerves”, is mirrored in the suggestion of quantum indeterminacy. Unfortunately, causal indeterminism, if it exists anywhere, reduces our ability to understand, predict, and control events, because the event has no reliable cause (if the cause is reliable, then the event is deterministic). Ironically, causal indeterminism does not increase our freedom at all, but instead reduces it, by limiting our ability to control events.

Causal determinism asserts that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where there are no uncaused events, and each event is the reliable result of some specific prior events. Causal indeterminism would be the opposite of determinism, where the effects of a given cause are unreliable, and thus unpredictable.

The concept of “causal indeterminism” is impossible to imagine, because we’ve all grown up in a deterministic universe, where, although we don’t always know what caused an event, we always presume that there was a cause.

To get an idea of a “causally indeterministic universe”, imagine we had a dial we could use to adjust the balance of determinism versus indeterminism. We start by turning it all the way to determinism: I pick an apple from the apple tree and, as expected, I have an apple in my hand. Then, we turn the dial a little bit toward indeterminism: now if I pick an apple, I might find an orange or banana or some other random fruit in my hand. Turn the dial further toward indeterminism, and when I pick an apple I may find a kitten in my hand, or a pair of slippers, or a glass of milk. One more adjustment toward indeterminism and when I pick an apple gravity reverses!

If objects were constantly popping into and out of existence, or if gravity erratically switched between pulling things one moment to pushing them the next, then any attempts to control anything in our lives would be hopeless. We would have even less control than Alice, in Wonderland. In such a universe, we could not reliably cause any effect, which means we would not be free to do anything at all.

Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case. We, ourselves, are a collaborative collection of reliable causal mechanisms that keep our hearts beating, and enables us to think and to act. Without reliable cause and effect, we could never reliably cause any effect, and would have no freedom to do anything at all. The very notion of "freedom" implies a world of reliable causation.
While I agree that compatibilism is true, that goes too far. The indeterministic interpretations of QM do not seem to imply anything of the sort. Granted, QM is not a 100% accurate description of our universe because it lacks some stuff, but still, "indeterminism" does not mean 100% randomness.


Imagine, for example, that we pick a number from 1 to 10, we can - deterministically - choose an indeterministic number, i.e., the choice to pick a random number follows deterministically from our previous thought processes and some other stuff, but not the number we pick. I fail to see how that would take away any freedom from us.
 

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Marvin Edwards said:
In modern times, the Epicurean notion of atoms, subject to “indeterministic swerves”, is mirrored in the suggestion of quantum indeterminacy. Unfortunately, causal indeterminism, if it exists anywhere, reduces our ability to understand, predict, and control events, because the event has no reliable cause (if the cause is reliable, then the event is deterministic). Ironically, causal indeterminism does not increase our freedom at all, but instead reduces it, by limiting our ability to control events.

Causal determinism asserts that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where there are no uncaused events, and each event is the reliable result of some specific prior events. Causal indeterminism would be the opposite of determinism, where the effects of a given cause are unreliable, and thus unpredictable.

The concept of “causal indeterminism” is impossible to imagine, because we’ve all grown up in a deterministic universe, where, although we don’t always know what caused an event, we always presume that there was a cause.

To get an idea of a “causally indeterministic universe”, imagine we had a dial we could use to adjust the balance of determinism versus indeterminism. We start by turning it all the way to determinism: I pick an apple from the apple tree and, as expected, I have an apple in my hand. Then, we turn the dial a little bit toward indeterminism: now if I pick an apple, I might find an orange or banana or some other random fruit in my hand. Turn the dial further toward indeterminism, and when I pick an apple I may find a kitten in my hand, or a pair of slippers, or a glass of milk. One more adjustment toward indeterminism and when I pick an apple gravity reverses!

If objects were constantly popping into and out of existence, or if gravity erratically switched between pulling things one moment to pushing them the next, then any attempts to control anything in our lives would be hopeless. We would have even less control than Alice, in Wonderland. In such a universe, we could not reliably cause any effect, which means we would not be free to do anything at all.

Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case. We, ourselves, are a collaborative collection of reliable causal mechanisms that keep our hearts beating, and enables us to think and to act. Without reliable cause and effect, we could never reliably cause any effect, and would have no freedom to do anything at all. The very notion of "freedom" implies a world of reliable causation.
While I agree that compatibilism is true, that goes too far. The indeterministic interpretations of QM do not seem to imply anything of the sort. Granted, QM is not a 100% accurate description of our universe because it lacks some stuff, but still, "indeterminism" does not mean 100% randomness.


Imagine, for example, that we pick a number from 1 to 10, we can - deterministically - choose an indeterministic number, i.e., the choice to pick a random number follows deterministically from our previous thought processes and some other stuff, but not the number we pick. I fail to see how that would take away any freedom from us.

3.14159....->
 
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Marvin Edwards said:
In modern times, the Epicurean notion of atoms, subject to “indeterministic swerves”, is mirrored in the suggestion of quantum indeterminacy. Unfortunately, causal indeterminism, if it exists anywhere, reduces our ability to understand, predict, and control events, because the event has no reliable cause (if the cause is reliable, then the event is deterministic). Ironically, causal indeterminism does not increase our freedom at all, but instead reduces it, by limiting our ability to control events.

Causal determinism asserts that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where there are no uncaused events, and each event is the reliable result of some specific prior events. Causal indeterminism would be the opposite of determinism, where the effects of a given cause are unreliable, and thus unpredictable.

The concept of “causal indeterminism” is impossible to imagine, because we’ve all grown up in a deterministic universe, where, although we don’t always know what caused an event, we always presume that there was a cause.

To get an idea of a “causally indeterministic universe”, imagine we had a dial we could use to adjust the balance of determinism versus indeterminism. We start by turning it all the way to determinism: I pick an apple from the apple tree and, as expected, I have an apple in my hand. Then, we turn the dial a little bit toward indeterminism: now if I pick an apple, I might find an orange or banana or some other random fruit in my hand. Turn the dial further toward indeterminism, and when I pick an apple I may find a kitten in my hand, or a pair of slippers, or a glass of milk. One more adjustment toward indeterminism and when I pick an apple gravity reverses!

If objects were constantly popping into and out of existence, or if gravity erratically switched between pulling things one moment to pushing them the next, then any attempts to control anything in our lives would be hopeless. We would have even less control than Alice, in Wonderland. In such a universe, we could not reliably cause any effect, which means we would not be free to do anything at all.

Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case. We, ourselves, are a collaborative collection of reliable causal mechanisms that keep our hearts beating, and enables us to think and to act. Without reliable cause and effect, we could never reliably cause any effect, and would have no freedom to do anything at all. The very notion of "freedom" implies a world of reliable causation.
While I agree that compatibilism is true, that goes too far. The indeterministic interpretations of QM do not seem to imply anything of the sort. Granted, QM is not a 100% accurate description of our universe because it lacks some stuff, but still, "indeterminism" does not mean 100% randomness.

Imagine, for example, that we pick a number from 1 to 10, we can - deterministically - choose an indeterministic number, i.e., the choice to pick a random number follows deterministically from our previous thought processes and some other stuff, but not the number we pick. I fail to see how that would take away any freedom from us.

There are two meanings of "determine", one suggesting knowledge and the other suggesting causation. For example, "We were unable to determine (know) whether it was the increase in temperature or the increase in pressure that determined (cause) when the chemical reaction happened".

Notions of random or chaotic behavior suggest problems of prediction (knowledge) rather than problems of causation. For example, a coin toss, to see who goes first, appears to produce a random (unpredictable) result. But, if we give it some thought, we know that the behavior of the coin is reliably caused by the location and force of the thumb during the flip, and then the air resistance, and then the bouncing before the coin settles, heads up or tails up. And we can imagine building a machine where all these factors are controlled, such that the machine could always cause the coin to land heads up. So, random or chaotic behavior is still deterministic, in that the result is reliably caused, even if we are unable to predict the results.

So, we use statistical analysis to predict the coin's behavior over a large number of cases. And, couldn't that be the same problem with quantum indeterminism? Isn't it more likely that the behavior of quarks is actually reliably caused but simply unpredictable? We generally get our "physical laws" by observing reliable patterns of behavior. But it is very difficult to observe the behavior of quarks without building huge colliders.

Physical matter organized differently follows different rules of behavior. Inanimate objects behave passively in response to physical forces, but living organisms behave as if they had skin in the game. It may be the case that quarks are reliably following a different set of rules that apply only to quarks.

Imagine, for example, that we pick a number from 1 to 10, we can - deterministically - choose an indeterministic number, i.e., the choice to pick a random number follows deterministically from our previous thought processes and some other stuff, but not the number we pick. I fail to see how that would take away any freedom from us.

I don't see how it is possible to deterministically produce a causally indeterministic number. We can easily produce a number that someone else cannot guess (determine as in "to know"). But I don't think it is possible to deterministically cause a causally indeterministic number. The means by which the number is produced makes it predictable in theory, if not in practice.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Marvin Edwards said:
Notions of random or chaotic behavior suggest problems of prediction (knowledge) rather than problems of causation. For example, a coin toss, to see who goes first, appears to produce a random (unpredictable) result. But, if we give it some thought, we know that the behavior of the coin is reliably caused by the location and force of the thumb during the flip, and then the air resistance, and then the bouncing before the coin settles, heads up or tails up. And we can imagine building a machine where all these factors are controlled, such that the machine could always cause the coin to land heads up. So, random or chaotic behavior is still deterministic, in that the result is reliably caused, even if we are unable to predict the results.
What degree of reliability are we talking about to get "reliable"?
We know that classical physics provided a really good approximation to reality, to the point it allowed people to go to the Moon. Yet, a claim that classical physics provides a true depiction of reality (no qualifications) would be false.

Is the behavior of the coin deterministic?

That said, I do believe the problems we deal with are generally problems of knowledge, not of causation. Indeed, assigning (close to) 1/2 to the hypothesis that an ordinary coin will land heads is rational, but so is the (almost) 1/2 prediction that it already landed heads, if we know it landed already. So, in this case, our focus seems clearly on knowledge. Nevertheless, this does not tell us that the coin is deterministic, or that the universe is. Maybe it is. Maybe it is not. But if it is not, it seems to me that the sort of indeterminism that there is, is not the sort of indeterminism that threatens or ability to act of our own free will. It might at most reduce it a little bit in some odd circumstances, but generally we can act of our own free will regardless of whether determinism happens to be true. Furthermore, some forms of indeterminism - if real - would not reduce the aformention ability at all.

Marvin Edwards said:
So, we use statistical analysis to predict the coin's behavior over a large number of cases. And, couldn't that be the same problem with quantum indeterminism? Isn't it more likely that the behavior of quarks is actually reliably caused but simply unpredictable? We generally get our "physical laws" by observing reliable patterns of behavior. But it is very difficult to observe the behavior of quarks without building huge colliders.
Well, in any case from the little I know there are some difficulties with that, no matter how big the collider. But that's a side issue. I do not have the belief that the world is not deterministic. I do not have the belief that it is deterministic, either. But my objection is to the claim that indeterminism would have the consequences that you say it would have. Granted, some forms of indeterminism would do that. But others wouldn't.


Marvin Edwards said:
I don't see how it is possible to deterministically produce a causally indeterministic number. We can easily produce a number that someone else cannot guess (determine as in "to know"). But I don't think it is possible to deterministically cause a causally indeterministic number. The means by which the number is produced makes it predictable in theory, if not in practice.
You just need a rule in the universe that is something like (If B obtains, then the output is a number between 1 and 10), and no rule that fixes which number it is. I'm not suggesting that this is how our universe works. Rather, it's an example to show that some forms of indeterminism would not threaten our ability to act of our own accord.
 

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Causal determinism asserts that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where there are no uncaused events, and each event is the reliable result of some specific prior events. Causal indeterminism would be the opposite of determinism, where the effects of a given cause are unreliable, and thus unpredictable.



Carl Hoefer one of the more influential authors of the Stanford Encyclopedia chapter on Determinism wrote the following Causality and Determinism:Tension, or Outright Conflict?: https://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/RESF/article/download/RESF0404220099A/9609

There has been a strong tendency in the philosophical literature to conflate determinism and causality, or at the very least, to see the former as a particularly strong form of the latter. The tendency persists even today. When the editors of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy asked me to write the entry on determinism, I found that the title was to be “Causal determinism”.

I therefore felt obliged to point out in the opening paragraph that determinism actually has little or nothing to do with causation; for the philosophical tradition has it all wrong. What I hope to show in this paper is that, in fact, in a complex world such as the one we inhabit, determinism and genuine causality are probably incompatible with each other. After we see why this is so, we can appreciate better the different metaphysical options available to philosophers hoping to understand the complex issues concerning laws of nature, causality, and physical theory.


Then there's Determinism_without_causality https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235357679_

Abstract Causality has been often confused with the notion of determinism. It is mandatory to separate the two notions in view of the debate about quantum foundations. Quantum theory provides an example of causal not-deterministic theory. Here we introduce a toy operational theory that is deterministic and non-causal, thus proving that the two notions of causality and determinism are totally independent.

I suggest you read these before you go forward with your windmill constructions.

In other words your premise is pure fiction, has nothing to do with determinism and further removes from possibility of any issue about compatibility.


Oh the chaos we raise when our hands begin to wave.
Read then revise, or better, abandon.

Second point be sure to have the following available to you was you read>

Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.

Also: Determinism and natural law work forward and backward so how do you get backward causation.

Oh the chaos we raise when our hands we begin to wave.
 
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What degree of reliability are we talking about to get "reliable"?
We know that classical physics provided a really good approximation to reality, to the point it allowed people to go to the Moon. Yet, a claim that classical physics provides a true depiction of reality (no qualifications) would be false.

I believe there are three distinct classes of causal mechanisms that correspond to three levels of organization: physical (inanimate objects respond passively to physical forces), biological (living organisms, biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce), and rational (intelligent species making deliberate choices by reason or calculation). Quantum events are most likely happening at a fourth level of organization, with quarks operating by a fourth set of rules.

To get a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, we would have to presume that each of these causal mechanisms is perfectly reliable within its own domain. Then we could further presume that every event is reliably caused by some specific combination of physical, biological, and rational causation.

Physics does not get us to the Moon. But an intelligent species imagining that possibility, as a way of increasing the likelihood of biological survival, is able to use its knowledge of physics to make sure the rocket and the Moon show up at the same place at the same time.

So, I agree with you that physics is not sufficient to explain how all real world events come about.

Is the behavior of the coin deterministic?

Yes. I am assuming that deterministic means that how it will land is reliably caused by physical events that make the result theoretically 100% predictable, even though we don't usually have the ability to make that prediction in practice.

That said, I do believe the problems we deal with are generally problems of knowledge, not of causation.

Right. But the question is whether it is reasonable to assume a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where each event is reliably caused by preceding events.

Indeed, assigning (close to) 1/2 to the hypothesis that an ordinary coin will land heads is rational, but so is the (almost) 1/2 prediction that it already landed heads, if we know it landed already. So, in this case, our focus seems clearly on knowledge. Nevertheless, this does not tell us that the coin is deterministic, or that the universe is. Maybe it is. Maybe it is not.

I'm working under the assumption that the real world operates with perfectly reliable cause and effect. There is a second question as to whether this assumption has any meaningful implications for any human scenarios.

So, the post pushes us to the opposite extreme, where cause and effect is perfectly unreliable, just to consider what that might look like.

But if it is not, it seems to me that the sort of indeterminism that there is, is not the sort of indeterminism that threatens or ability to act of our own free will. It might at most reduce it a little bit in some odd circumstances, but generally we can act of our own free will regardless of whether determinism happens to be true. Furthermore, some forms of indeterminism - if real - would not reduce the aformention ability at all.

My position is that freedom requires the ability to reliably cause effects. If I cannot reliably cause any effects, then I have no freedom to do anything at all.

To the degree that the outcome of my actions is unreliable, I would necessarily lose some ability to accomplish what I chose to do. So, my freedom goes up as the reliability of causation goes up, and my freedom goes down as reliability of causation goes down. And this is the reason that causal indeterminism does not improve our freedom.

Well, in any case from the little I know there are some difficulties with that, no matter how big the collider. But that's a side issue. I do not have the belief that the world is not deterministic. I do not have the belief that it is deterministic, either. But my objection is to the claim that indeterminism would have the consequences that you say it would have. Granted, some forms of indeterminism would do that. But others wouldn't.

I believe that as long as determinism is limited to asserting that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, there should be no problem. It is only when determinism is claimed to strip us of freedom and control, of free will and responsibility, that people find the notion of determinism repulsive, and feel a need to invoke indeterminism to counter those false implications.


Marvin Edwards said:
I don't see how it is possible to deterministically produce a causally indeterministic number. We can easily produce a number that someone else cannot guess (determine as in "to know"). But I don't think it is possible to deterministically cause a causally indeterministic number. The means by which the number is produced makes it predictable in theory, if not in practice.

You just need a rule in the universe that is something like (If B obtains, then the output is a number between 1 and 10), and no rule that fixes which number it is. I'm not suggesting that this is how our universe works. Rather, it's an example to show that some forms of indeterminism would not threaten our ability to act of our own accord.

But, if nothing fixes which number it is, then either nothing will be output, or all numbers will.
 
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Carl Hoefer one of the more influential authors of the Stanford Encyclopedia chapter on Determinism wrote the following Causality and Determinism:Tension, or Outright Conflict?: https://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/RESF/article/download/RESF0404220099A/9609

Then there's Determinism_without_causality https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235357679_

Abstract Causality has been often confused with the notion of determinism. It is mandatory to separate the two notions in view of the debate about quantum foundations. Quantum theory provides an example of causal not-deterministic theory. Here we introduce a toy operational theory that is deterministic and non-causal, thus proving that the two notions of causality and determinism are totally independent.

I suggest you read these before you go forward with your windmill constructions.

In other words your premise is pure fiction, has nothing to do with determinism and further removes from possibility of any issue about compatibility.

Oh the chaos we raise when our hands begin to wave.
Read then revise, or better, abandon.

Second point be sure to have the following available to you was you read>

Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.

Also: Determinism and natural law work forward and backward so how do you get backward causation.

Oh the chaos we raise when our hands we begin to wave.

I've read Hoffer's original article on Causal Determinism in the SEP, and I did a critical analysis of it here:
https://marvinedwards.me/2017/08/19/determinism-whats-wrong-and-how-to-fix-it/

But I have not read articles separating determinism from universal causal necessity. I tried to read Hoffer's other essay on separating the two, but found it too difficult to follow, and gave up on it.

On the other hand, the notion of determinism has accumulated so many false implications that it might be useful to totally drop the word, and start clean again, with the notion of causal necessity. But, since that is the underlying foundation of the notion of determinism for most philosophers (thus Carl's regrets about having to attach "causal" to the title of his SEP article), that it seems to be best to attack the false implications where they already exist.

I'm certainly open to hearing your views (or Carl's for that matter, if I could understand them) about the distinction between determinism and causation.
 

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Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.

Also: Determinism and natural law work forward and backward so how do you get backward causation.
There's nothing in your definition of determinism that requires it to work backward. Just because given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law, that doesn't imply that given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things went before is fixed as a matter of natural law. Consider the rules of Conway's Life, for example. It's deterministic going forward but not going backwards -- it's trivial to come up with two different patterns at time T that have the same successor pattern at time T+1.
 

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Am I missing some subtlety in your presentation, or are you claiming to have demonstrated the existence of "hidden variables" underlying quantum mechanics, by philosophizing from your armchair?

I don't know anything about about quantum mechanics. I'm simply demonstrating the problem with indeterminism.
But you haven't demonstrated that there's a problem with it; and not knowing anything about quantum mechanics is a bad idea if you want to philosophize about determinism. It's like Aristotle philosophizing about motion without knowing anything about force, mass and acceleration: he deduced erroneous conclusions about an unmoved mover. You need to learn enough about QM to stop taking 19th-century physics concepts for granted.

The hard determinists present reliable causation (causal necessity) as a boogeyman that robs us of our freedom and control of our destiny. This sends the theist running to the supernatural and the atheist running to quantum indeterminism. I'm demonstrating why indeterminism is not a source of freedom.
It certainly isn't; but it's not indeterminism's fault that Christianity trained western culture to equate determinism with lack of freedom. 1920's physicists didn't adopt nondeterminism because they were running to it in search of freedom. They adopted it because they were a bunch of hard-core classical Newtonian physicists committed to determinism, who had been raised steeped in 19th-century assumptions, but they were dragged kicking and screaming to non-determinism by the outcomes of their experiments.
 

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Notions of random or chaotic behavior suggest problems of prediction (knowledge) rather than problems of causation. For example, a coin toss, to see who goes first, appears to produce a random (unpredictable) result. But, if we give it some thought, we know that the behavior of the coin is reliably caused by the location and force of the thumb during the flip, and then the air resistance, and then the bouncing before the coin settles, heads up or tails up.
We don't know that. Maybe a random radioactive decay will send an ion through the air, or not; and maybe that variation will be exponentially amplified by the chaotic behavior you describe enough to make heads or tails turn on whether the random radioactive decay occurred.

People often assume QM effects are so tiny they only matter to the microscopic world. In freshman physics our teacher posed the problem of a perfectly sharp pencil balanced exactly on its point, and challenged us to predict how long it would stay standing up. In classical physics, forever, since the forces on it are exactly in balance; but in QM nothing is ever exact because of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. So the students offered guesses: we ranged from days to centuries. Then the prof worked the problem on the blackboard. Quantum uncertainty knocks the pencil over in a random direction in about five seconds.

And we can imagine building a machine where all these factors are controlled, such that the machine could always cause the coin to land heads up. So, random or chaotic behavior is still deterministic, in that the result is reliably caused, even if we are unable to predict the results.
But what we can imagine doesn't affect what the world does. Maybe if you actually try to build that machine you'll always fail. Maybe when you've controlled every variable you can, you'll still get a random result.

So, we use statistical analysis to predict the coin's behavior over a large number of cases. And, couldn't that be the same problem with quantum indeterminism?
It could be. That's not a reason to decide it is.

Isn't it more likely that the behavior of quarks is actually reliably caused but simply unpredictable?
That seemed a lot more likely back in the 1920s, when physicists had only spent a couple of years trying to come up with deterministic alternatives, than it does now. Quantum mechanics is 95 years old, and a lot of the smartest people in the world have spent years of their professional lives trying to come up with a deterministic theory that matches experimental results, and so far they've all* failed. Doesn't that shake your confidence that reliably caused quark behavior is more likely?

(* Unless you think the "Many Worlds" hypothesis qualifies as a viable option. (That's the interpretation that says all possible universes are real parallel universes. Where the quark goes is in some philosophical sense "deterministic" and "known in advance" -- it goes everywhere -- but that's useless for making predictions, because one copy of you will see it here and another copy of you will see it there.))

We generally get our "physical laws" by observing reliable patterns of behavior. But it is very difficult to observe the behavior of quarks without building huge colliders.
This isn't an issue of huge colliders and quarks. The fundamental problem shows up in simple desktop experiments you can do with light bulbs and prisms and vacuum tubes and so forth. Quantum systems show an effect called "entanglement" in which events on this side of the lab appear to make a difference to what happens on that side of the lab, faster than the speed of light. Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance". It's mathematically very difficult to reconcile that with Relativity in a theory with reliable causation.

The means by which the number is produced makes it predictable in theory, if not in practice.
Predictable in which theory? The situation would be different if we had an unpredictable theory that works and a predictable theory that works; then philosophizing about how the number is predictable in theory would carry some weight. But as it is, in 2021, all we have is an unpredictable theory that works and a bunch of predictable theories that don't work.
 

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I don't know anything about about quantum mechanics. I'm simply demonstrating the problem with indeterminism.
But you haven't demonstrated that there's a problem with it; and not knowing anything about quantum mechanics is a bad idea if you want to philosophize about determinism.

I think QM is a red herring. I don't think Marvin is making a case for universal determinism - I think he's talking about Adequate Determinism.

The hard determinist case against free will relies on adequate determinism being true. Marvin is making the case that adequate determinism is no threat to free will.
 

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Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.

Also: Determinism and natural law work forward and backward so how do you get backward causation.
There's nothing in your definition of determinism that requires it to work backward. Just because given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law, that doesn't imply that given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things went before is fixed as a matter of natural law. Consider the rules of Conway's Life, for example. It's deterministic going forward but not going backwards -- it's trivial to come up with two different patterns at time T that have the same successor pattern at time T+1.

Have a baloney sandwich.

It's just as trivial to come up with two or more distinguishable at time t that have the same predecessor pattern at time t-1.

It's not requirements in maths it's structure of maths where forward backward calculations are achieved simply by manipulating transactional operators.

Of course if you can show me a "can't do that" rule ... Now if you are talking natural law and you suggest entropy I'll suggest negative entropy. Logical equivalent not scientific equivalent.
 

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Marvin Edwards said:
I believe there are three distinct classes of causal mechanisms that correspond to three levels of organization: physical (inanimate objects respond passively to physical forces), biological (living organisms, biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce), and rational (intelligent species making deliberate choices by reason or calculation). Quantum events are most likely happening at a fourth level of organization, with quarks operating by a fourth set of rules.

To get a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, we would have to presume that each of these causal mechanisms is perfectly reliable within its own domain. Then we could further presume that every event is reliably caused by some specific combination of physical, biological, and rational causation.

Physics does not get us to the Moon. But an intelligent species imagining that possibility, as a way of increasing the likelihood of biological survival, is able to use its knowledge of physics to make sure the rocket and the Moon show up at the same place at the same time.

So, I agree with you that physics is not sufficient to explain how all real world events come about.
I don't think there are such different levels of causation - in fact, the "lines" between living and non-living, and between species (including humans) seem to be fuzzy.

However, that doesn't seem to affect the issue of determinism vs. nondeterminism, so I'll leave that for another time maybe. :)


Marvin Edwards said:
Yes. I am assuming that deterministic means that how it will land is reliably caused by physical events that make the result theoretically 100% predictable, even though we don't usually have the ability to make that prediction in practice.
I would say that:

1. That does not seem to be what "deterministic" means in philosophy. By that definition, I would say that's probably false, the result is probably not theoretically 100% predictable, at least not for agents within our universe.

2. In any case, going by any traditional definition of "deterministic", I would say that we do not know whether the coin is deterministic.


Marvin Edwards said:
Right. But the question is whether it is reasonable to assume a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where each event is reliably caused by preceding events.
Reliably, or perfectly reliably?

At any rate, that's one of the questions. Of course, the answer is that it depends on the information available to the agent. But given the information available to me (very limited, but which includes what people much more knowlegeable about physics say about the matter), it seems clear to me that the answer is negative: it would not be reasonable to assume either that or its negation; the reasonable option is to acknowledge we do not know.

Marvin Edwards said:
I'm working under the assumption that the real world operates with perfectly reliable cause and effect. There is a second question as to whether this assumption has any meaningful implications for any human scenarios.

So, the post pushes us to the opposite extreme, where cause and effect is perfectly unreliable, just to consider what that might look like.
But that doesn't tell you whether the assumption has meaningful implications. It tells you that under some forms of indeterminsm, all hell breaks lose. That is true. But it is not true of all forms of indeterminism. Furthermore, determinism without predictability has the same problem. For example:

Marvin Edwards said:
If objects were constantly popping into and out of existence, or if gravity erratically switched between pulling things one moment to pushing them the next, then any attempts to control anything in our lives would be hopeless.
Consider a deterministic many worlds interpretation. Everything that can happen, happens. Objects do pop in an out of existence so to speak, or close to that. Some people - in a parallel universe perhaps - experience the unfortunate and deterministic but extremely improbable and unpredictable consequences. The problem happens anyway, in a deterministic universe. Unless you're using your definition of "deterministic " to rule out, say, the Many Worlds interpretation? (or something like that with respect to a theory more complete than QM).

Marvin Edwards said:
But, if nothing fixes which number it is, then either nothing will be output, or all numbers will.
No, the rule I suggested says it's just one number. What is not fixed is which one. That rule is logically possible, indeterministic, and unproblematic for freedom.
 
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But you haven't demonstrated that there's a problem with it; and not knowing anything about quantum mechanics is a bad idea if you want to philosophize about determinism. It's like Aristotle philosophizing about motion without knowing anything about force, mass and acceleration: he deduced erroneous conclusions about an unmoved mover. You need to learn enough about QM to stop taking 19th-century physics concepts for granted.

Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga touches on the problems that physicists have with determinism several times in his book, "Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain". For example:

Gazzaniga said:
"More than half a century ago, Niels Bohr, in his Gifford Lectures spanning 1948–1950, and even earlier in a 1937 article, was already pulling in the reins on determinism when he said, “The renunciation of the ideal of causality in atomic physics . . . has been forced upon us . . .”13 and Heisenberg went even further when he said, “I believe that indeterminism, that is, is necessary, and not just consistently possible.”14" (p. 122)

Of course many determinists are anxious to point out that the chain of causes according to determinism is a chain of events not particles, so it never gets down to atoms or subatomic particles. Instead, it traces back to the big bang. In Aristotelian terms, the chain is a series of efficient causes rather than material causes. (p. 124)

"The thing is, you can’t predict Newton’s laws from observing the behavior of atoms, nor the behavior of atoms from Newton’s laws. New properties emerge that the precursors did not possess. This definitely throws a wrench into the reductionist’s works and also throws a wrench into determinism. " (pp.125-126)

-- Gazzaniga, Michael S.. Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Personally, I do not plan to become a physicist or a neuroscientist in order to explain how determinism and free will are compatible.

The arguments in play, regarding the determinism "versus" free will paradox, are matters of logic and semantics. They are not beyond the mastery of a twelve year old.

Marvin said:
The hard determinists present reliable causation (causal necessity) as a boogeyman that robs us of our freedom and control of our destiny. This sends the theist running to the supernatural and the atheist running to quantum indeterminism. I'm demonstrating why indeterminism is not a source of freedom.

It certainly isn't; but it's not indeterminism's fault that Christianity trained western culture to equate determinism with lack of freedom. 1920's physicists didn't adopt nondeterminism because they were running to it in search of freedom. They adopted it because they were a bunch of hard-core classical Newtonian physicists committed to determinism, who had been raised steeped in 19th-century assumptions, but they were dragged kicking and screaming to non-determinism by the outcomes of their experiments.

The notions of voluntary choice and personal responsibility, and of cause and effect, are not created by nor owned by Religion.

Science assumes a world of reliable causation. Without it, no experiment would be repeatable. The human mind seeks the causes of events that affect our lives. Knowing the causes gives us some control over these events. Knowing the Covid-19 is caused by a virus, and that our immune systems can be primed to destroy that virus through vaccination, enables us to prevent the spread and avoid the illness and death that would otherwise be caused by the virus.

So, a world of reliable causation is desirable. Reliable causation should not be turned into a monster by the hard determinists.
 
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We don't know that. Maybe a random radioactive decay will send an ion through the air, or not; and maybe that variation will be exponentially amplified by the chaotic behavior you describe enough to make heads or tails turn on whether the random radioactive decay occurred.

In that case the ion would be one of the specific reliable causes determining the coin flip. Which leads us to wonder, "What quantum event caused the ion to be released at precisely that moment?" The question itself implies the expectation of a reliable cause, even if we never discover what it is.

The mind raising the question, is evidence that we all believe that every event has its specific causes, that reliably bring it about.

People often assume QM effects are so tiny they only matter to the microscopic world. In freshman physics our teacher posed the problem of a perfectly sharp pencil balanced exactly on its point, and challenged us to predict how long it would stay standing up. In classical physics, forever, since the forces on it are exactly in balance; but in QM nothing is ever exact because of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. So the students offered guesses: we ranged from days to centuries. Then the prof worked the problem on the blackboard. Quantum uncertainty knocks the pencil over in a random direction in about five seconds.

Concepts cannot knock over pencils. "Quantum uncertainty" is a notion, not a causal agent. The pencil being hit by one of those random ions might tip it over. Gravity waves from a distant pair of Quasars could create the vibration that unbalances the pencil. But Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle cannot touch it. It can only describe it.

But what we can imagine doesn't affect what the world does. Maybe if you actually try to build that machine you'll always fail. Maybe when you've controlled every variable you can, you'll still get a random result.

On the other hand, if I'm hammering a nail, I'd prefer to reliably hit the nail, rather than randomly hit my hand. Reliable causation is our friend. (Well, after we become skilled enough to stop hitting our thumb).

So, we use statistical analysis to predict the coin's behavior over a large number of cases. And, couldn't that be the same problem with quantum indeterminism?
It could be. That's not a reason to decide it is.

Well, if we're going to keep smashing protons into stuff, then we should hope that the consequences are contained.

Isn't it more likely that the behavior of quarks is actually reliably caused but simply unpredictable?
That seemed a lot more likely back in the 1920s, when physicists had only spent a couple of years trying to come up with deterministic alternatives, than it does now. Quantum mechanics is 95 years old, and a lot of the smartest people in the world have spent years of their professional lives trying to come up with a deterministic theory that matches experimental results, and so far they've all* failed. Doesn't that shake your confidence that reliably caused quark behavior is more likely?

Not at all. The inability to discover the cause does not mean there is no cause.

(* Unless you think the "Many Worlds" hypothesis qualifies as a viable option. (That's the interpretation that says all possible universes are real parallel universes. Where the quark goes is in some philosophical sense "deterministic" and "known in advance" -- it goes everywhere -- but that's useless for making predictions, because one copy of you will see it here and another copy of you will see it there.))

I think it is hard enough to deal with the one world we have.

We generally get our "physical laws" by observing reliable patterns of behavior. But it is very difficult to observe the behavior of quarks without building huge colliders.

This isn't an issue of huge colliders and quarks. The fundamental problem shows up in simple desktop experiments you can do with light bulbs and prisms and vacuum tubes and so forth. Quantum systems show an effect called "entanglement" in which events on this side of the lab appear to make a difference to what happens on that side of the lab, faster than the speed of light. Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance". It's mathematically very difficult to reconcile that with Relativity in a theory with reliable causation.

Actually, gravity and electromagnetism could also be called "spooky action at a distance". The only reason it is not spooky is because we see it so often that we take it for granted. So, entanglement might eventually become so common as to be ordinary as well.

The means by which the number is produced makes it predictable in theory, if not in practice.

Predictable in which theory? The situation would be different if we had an unpredictable theory that works and a predictable theory that works; then philosophizing about how the number is predictable in theory would carry some weight. But as it is, in 2021, all we have is an unpredictable theory that works and a bunch of predictable theories that don't work.

The theory of predictability is that every effect is reliably caused. It's that ordinary notion of reliable "cause and effect". The problem is to discover the specific causal mechanism and how it works. Then plug in those causes, run the mechanism, and observe the result.
 
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Marvin Edwards said:
But, if nothing fixes which number it is, then either nothing will be output, or all numbers will.
No, the rule I suggested says it's just one number. What is not fixed is which one. That rule is logically possible, indeterministic, and unproblematic for freedom.

You'll have to show me such an algorithm. I'm currently convinced it is impossible to output a specific number through any method that is causally indeterministic. Even the random number function in a computer program operates deterministically.
 

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You'll have to show me such an algorithm. I'm currently convinced it is impossible to output a specific number through any method that is causally indeterministic. Even the random number function in a computer program operates deterministically.
But that's because the computer engineers who design digital computers have gone to a great deal of effort to make sure that happens. Unpredictable, unrepeatable output is a massive practical problem when you have a computer program that doesn't do what you want, and you need to find out why. But back in the days before digital computers, we used analog computers, and the computer giving a slightly different answer every time you ran it on the same problem was a familiar occurrence.

Today we have the best of both worlds. Lots of digital computers provide "true random number generators" that give as-far-as-we-know indeterministic results when you specifically ask for that but otherwise run deterministically.

The simplest way to build such a device is to get rid of the "clock". In conventional computer design, the main tool engineers use to force the computer to run deterministically is a wire called a "clock" that switches between high and low voltage on a regular schedule, typically under the control of the same sort of crystal oscillator you'd find in a digital watch. Everything that happens in the computer is synchronized to that wire's periodic voltage changes -- if some data is ready before the clock wire voltage change arrives, then that data will just have to wait for the clock wire to switch before it has any further effect on the computer's operation. Computer determinism is the cumulative consequence of all those picoseconds of data waiting for clocks. So if you get rid of the clock wires in two subcircuits and design them to run full-speed-ahead-damn-the-torpedoes, and build a third circuit that compares the outputs of the first two, then the output of the third circuit will be unpredictable, unrepeatable, and as far as we know, nondeterministic.
 
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You'll have to show me such an algorithm. I'm currently convinced it is impossible to output a specific number through any method that is causally indeterministic. Even the random number function in a computer program operates deterministically.
But that's because the computer engineers who design digital computers have gone to a great deal of effort to make sure that happens. Unpredictable, unrepeatable output is a massive practical problem when you have a computer program that doesn't do what you want, and you need to find out why. But back in the days before digital computers, we used analog computers, and the computer giving a slightly different answer every time you ran it on the same problem was a familiar occurrence.

Today we have the best of both worlds. Lots of digital computers provide "true random number generators" that give as-far-as-we-know indeterministic results when you specifically ask for that but otherwise run deterministically.

The simplest way to build such a device is to get rid of the "clock". In conventional computer design, the main tool engineers use to force the computer to run deterministically is a wire called a "clock" that switches between high and low voltage on a regular schedule, typically under the control of the same sort of crystal oscillator you'd find in a digital watch. Everything that happens in the computer is synchronized to that wire's periodic voltage changes -- if some data is ready before the clock wire voltage change arrives, then that data will just have to wait for the clock wire to switch before it has any further effect on the computer's operation. Computer determinism is the cumulative consequence of all those picoseconds of data waiting for clocks. So if you get rid of the clock wires in two subcircuits and design them to run full-speed-ahead-damn-the-torpedoes, and build a third circuit that compares the outputs of the first two, then the output of the third circuit will be unpredictable, unrepeatable, and as far as we know, nondeterministic.

Ages ago, when I read about random number generation in Knuth, he pointed out that adding more bells and whistles to a random number generator usually makes the output less random. I'll have to type this from the book: "One of the common fallacies encountered in connection with random number generation is the idea that we can take a good generator and modify it a little, in order to get an "even-more-random" sequence. This quite often is not true..." and he goes on to give a several examples. (Donald E. Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming, Volume II, Seminumerical Algorithms, Chapter Three, "Random Numbers"). Knuth was a classic back in the old days when I was a young programmer. But my programming was for business applications, so I didn't get to do much that was technically challenged. Although I did have a Visual Basic application that spoke to Word through DDE and communicated with the IBM mainframe through its terminal emulator program.

I don't think Knuth mentioned hardware generation from a source of electric noise. But here's the thing, doesn't the noise have a cause? (Consider, for example, the noise they were picking up in early radio telescopes, which they eventually concluded came from the Big Bang.)

My theory is that every tick in that noise is reliably caused, perhaps by some quantum level chain of events. But we would call it chaotic, because it is beyond our ability to predict these events. It is indetermistic in that it cannot be be predicted, but it may still be causally deterministic.

So, I believe that even the "true" random number generator's output will be causally deterministic, but certainly random enough to be unpredictable, which is sufficient for its usage in cryptography. Basically, you just want a number that no one else can guess.
 

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Marvin Edwards said:
My theory is that every tick in that noise is reliably caused, perhaps by some quantum level chain of events. But we would call it chaotic, because it is beyond our ability to predict these events. It is indetermistic in that it cannot be be predicted, but it may still be causally deterministic.
But I'm not saying it's indeterministic. I'm saying that:

1. It is not known whether it's deterministic.

2. If it turns out to be nondeterministic, we are not less free because of it - at least not as long as the nondeterminism is limited to the rule I mentioned; different kinds of nondeterminism can be relevant for free will.

Marvin Edwards said:
So, I believe that even the "true" random number generator's output will be causally deterministic, but certainly random enough to be unpredictable, which is sufficient for its usage in cryptography. Basically, you just want a number that no one else can guess.
Suppose for the sake of the argument that your theory happens to be false. Are we not free?
 

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Random does not equate to free will. Determined does not equate to free will. The term "free will" simply does not apply....therefore a semantic construct.
 
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Marvin Edwards said:
My theory is that every tick in that noise is reliably caused, perhaps by some quantum level chain of events. But we would call it chaotic, because it is beyond our ability to predict these events. It is indetermistic in that it cannot be be predicted, but it may still be causally deterministic.
But I'm not saying it's indeterministic. I'm saying that:

1. It is not known whether it's deterministic.

2. If it turns out to be nondeterministic, we are not less free because of it - at least not as long as the nondeterminism is limited to the rule I mentioned; different kinds of nondeterminism can be relevant for free will.

Marvin Edwards said:
So, I believe that even the "true" random number generator's output will be causally deterministic, but certainly random enough to be unpredictable, which is sufficient for its usage in cryptography. Basically, you just want a number that no one else can guess.
Suppose for the sake of the argument that your theory happens to be false. Are we not free?

Reliable cause and effect enables prediction, which enables control, which enables our ability to do things. Our ability to do things makes freedom, the ability to do what we want, possible. Unreliable causation would impair or remove prediction and control, reducing our ability to do things, thus reducing our freedom.

If you're worried about the loss of imagination, and variety, and surprise, don't be. Imagination is a deterministic operation in which we deliberately move stuff around, or sort things differently, or unintentionally but reliably make mistakes that enlighten us to new possibilities.

The brain presumes reliable cause and effect. When something good, or bad, happens, we want to know why. If we know the cause then we gain some control over the event. We take it for granted that every event has a cause. So, it's not really my theory, but a common understanding.
 
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fromderinside

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Have a baloney sandwich.

It's just as trivial to come up with two or more distinguishable at time t that have the same predecessor pattern at time t-1.
In Conway's Life? Example, please.

The only way for the game to be consistent with t = 0 natural law statement is for the game to permit both forward and backward reference for all time. Stacking deck is not an example of determinism statement. Provide a game that works both ways and I'll bet my assertion works.

Conway's life game isn't an example of anything relevant to determinism discussion.
 

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But I'm not saying it's indeterministic. I'm saying that:

1. It is not known whether it's deterministic.

2. If it turns out to be nondeterministic, we are not less free because of it - at least not as long as the nondeterminism is limited to the rule I mentioned; different kinds of nondeterminism can be relevant for free will.


Suppose for the sake of the argument that your theory happens to be false. Are we not free?

Reliable cause and effect enables prediction, which enables control, which enables our ability to do things. Our ability to do things makes freedom, the ability to do what we want, possible. Unreliable causation would impair or remove prediction and control, reducing our ability to do things, thus reducing our freedom.

If you're worried about the loss of imagination, and variety, and surprise, don't be. Imagination is a deterministic operation in which we deliberately move stuff around, or sort things differently, or unintentionally but reliably make mistakes that enlighten us to new possibilities.

The brain presumes reliable cause and effect. When something good, or bad, happens, we want to know why. If we know the cause then we gain some control over the event. We take it for granted that every event has a cause. So, it's not really my theory, but a common understanding.

Because each 'cause' is an effect and each 'effect' is a cause, cause and effect is not an accurate description.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Marvin Edwards said:
Reliable cause and effect enables prediction, which enables control, which enables our ability to do things. Our ability to do things makes freedom, the ability to do what we want, possible. Unreliable causation would impair or remove prediction and control, reducing our ability to do things, thus reducing our freedom.
Actually, the situations under consideration are such that we cannot predict the outcome. It happens with some random number generators. Our inability to predict the outcome remains the same regardless of whether it turns out that the randomness is real - i.e., indeterminism - or apparent but invincible - due to some deterministic but unpredictable quantum stuff.

If it turns out that your theory that it's not true randomness is true, or if it turns out it is false, our ability to make predictions remains equal.



Marvin Edwards said:
If you're worried about the loss of imagination, and variety, and surprise, don't be.
I am not. Again, compatibilism is true. And we do not lose any freedom if your theory happens to be correct and the world is deterministic, compared to the indeterministic alternative. My point is that in the opposite scenario, we still do not lose freedom.


Marvin Edwards said:
The brain presumes reliable cause and effect. When something good, or bad, happens, we want to know why. If we know the cause then we gain some control over the event. We take it for granted that every event has a cause. So, it's not really my theory, but a common understanding.
That's a matter for psychology research. And it seems many physicists think otherwise (and are indeterminists or take no stance), given the information available to them (which is a lot more than that available to the public at large). Perhaps, it is the default view for inanimate objects and pretheoretically. For minds, it's harder to tell. Iirc (it's been a while), some experiments give different results depending on how the questions are worded. But I see no evidence that there is some kind of default belief that when we choose a random number, the outcome was determined beforehand. Not that I think would matter.
 
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Actually, the situations under consideration are such that we cannot predict the outcome. It happens with some random number generators. Our inability to predict the outcome remains the same regardless of whether it turns out that the randomness is real - i.e., indeterminism - or apparent but invincible - due to some deterministic but unpredictable quantum stuff.

If it turns out that your theory that it's not true randomness is true, or if it turns out it is false, our ability to make predictions remains equal.




I am not. Again, compatibilism is true. And we do not lose any freedom if your theory happens to be correct and the world is deterministic, compared to the indeterministic alternative. My point is that in the opposite scenario, we still do not lose freedom.


Marvin Edwards said:
The brain presumes reliable cause and effect. When something good, or bad, happens, we want to know why. If we know the cause then we gain some control over the event. We take it for granted that every event has a cause. So, it's not really my theory, but a common understanding.
That's a matter for psychology research. And it seems many physicists think otherwise (and are indeterminists or take no stance), given the information available to them (which is a lot more than that available to the public at large). Perhaps, it is the default view for inanimate objects and pretheoretically. For minds, it's harder to tell. Iirc (it's been a while), some experiments give different results depending on how the questions are worded. But I see no evidence that there is some kind of default belief that when we choose a random number, the outcome was determined beforehand. Not that I think would matter.

Ironically, I would agree that events are not causally determined beforehand. No event is ever happens until its final causes have played themselves out. And, in an infinite causal chain, what we really care about are just the meaningful and relevant causes. A meaningful cause efficiently explains why something happened. A relevant cause is one we can do something about. The most meaningful and relevant cause of a deliberate action is the act of deliberation that precedes it.

The Big Bang is not a meaningful or relevant cause of any human event. Nor is causal necessity. After all, causation never causes anything and determinism never determines anything. Only the actual objects and forces that make up the universe can cause events to happen. Causation is a concept we use to describe the interactions of these objects and forces as they bring about events. And determinism merely asserts that the behavior of these objects and forces is reliable, and thus theoretically predictable. We happen to be one of those actual objects that go around causing stuff to happen, and doing so for our own purposes, our own reasons, and our own interests. So, causation is about us (and of course all those other objects and forces).
 
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Random does not equate to free will. Determined does not equate to free will. The term "free will" simply does not apply....therefore a semantic construct.

Then again, random and determined are also semantic constructs. Every word and concept is.
 

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Deterministic has a mathematical and subjective meaning.


A deterministic mathematical function means you plug numbers into an equation an get an answer.

Speed = Distance x Time is a deterministic function.

Flipping a coin is probabilistic. The probability of heads or tails is 50/50 on each toss, but there is ni dteenistic way to predict which will occur on a toss. Flip a coin 100 times and it will be close to 50/50.

Probabilistic does not Violeta causality.

Quantum indeterminacy plays out in routine measurements. There are no absolutely exact measurements. Therer is alwas a probability that goes with a measurement. DC current in a wire wire is measured as an average of a large quantity of electrons in a wire. At 10 amps the error or uncertainty is low, quantum effects of the electrons can be ignored. As current gets small quantum effects become an issue. At the quantum level there is 'quantum noise'.

Philosophical determinism is whether or not all things are predetermined. Am I destined to write this post?
 

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Random does not equate to free will. Determined does not equate to free will. The term "free will" simply does not apply....therefore a semantic construct.

Then again, random and determined are also semantic constructs. Every word and concept is.

Before I begin uncontrolled laughter Let me get something straight.

You assert logic depends, depends on semantic structure. That maths, science, history - even though all of these have material basis independent of the domains which their semantic definitions encompass - are subservient to how each lexicon is derived represented by a word or few "how one expresses it" sentences.

a ha, a ha ha, a ha ha ha, hahahahahahahahaha........

You may go back to your Platonic heritage now you poor puppy.
 

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Random does not equate to free will. Determined does not equate to free will. The term "free will" simply does not apply....therefore a semantic construct.

Then again, random and determined are also semantic constructs. Every word and concept is.

Philosophizing without a knowledge of math and science. Math and scince exist in te brain as thoughts and concepts. That does not men tere is no semnatc difference between terms.

Random has a specific definition in proximity. The occurrence of one event does not affect the occurrence of the next evet, there is no correlation between random variables.

I did this stuff waaaayyy back when going through statistics. Just flip a coin or toss a die 100 times and write down the results.
 

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Random does not equate to free will. Determined does not equate to free will. The term "free will" simply does not apply....therefore a semantic construct.

Then again, random and determined are also semantic constructs. Every word and concept is.

The words random and determined refer to conditions in the world: how the world works, how it's objects and events interact.

Compatibilism selects a slice of how the world works deterministically and declares this slice of determined behaviour to be an example of free will.
 

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The only way for the game to be consistent with t = 0 natural law statement is for the game to permit both forward and backward reference for all time. Stacking deck is not an example of determinism statement. Provide a game that works both ways and I'll bet my assertion works.

Conway's life game isn't an example of anything relevant to determinism discussion.
Possibly; but we don't actually know that the natural laws of the universe work both ways. We tend to assume they do because the equations of Newtonian mechanics and the "Standard Model" of quantum mechanics are time-symmetric. But there are anomalies in kaon decay experiments that suggest the Standard Model may be in need of some modification; and let's not forget gravity. General Relativity isn't time-symmetric. If you drop one black hole into another, according to Einstein's equations they merge to form a bigger black hole; and this is irreversible. There's no process by which a black hole can spontaneously split in two. So any philosophizing about time symmetry is premature -- as with many other questions about the universe, we really need to suspend judgment until somebody comes up with a working theory of quantum gravity.
 
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Deterministic has a mathematical and subjective meaning.


A deterministic mathematical function means you plug numbers into an equation an get an answer.

Speed = Distance x Time is a deterministic function.

Flipping a coin is probabilistic. The probability of heads or tails is 50/50 on each toss, but there is ni dteenistic way to predict which will occur on a toss. Flip a coin 100 times and it will be close to 50/50.

Probabilistic does not Violeta causality.

Quantum indeterminacy plays out in routine measurements. There are no absolutely exact measurements. Therer is alwas a probability that goes with a measurement. DC current in a wire wire is measured as an average of a large quantity of electrons in a wire. At 10 amps the error or uncertainty is low, quantum effects of the electrons can be ignored. As current gets small quantum effects become an issue. At the quantum level there is 'quantum noise'.

Philosophical determinism is whether or not all things are predetermined. Am I destined to write this post?

I have a problem with the notion of "predetermined" in regards to causation. An event is not fully caused until its final prior causes have played themselves out. Usually, the most meaningful and relevant causes are those closest to the event. As we trace backward through the prior causes of those prior causes, our causes become more incidental and more meaningless and less relevant.

So, for all practical human purposes, the most direct causes are usually all we care about. To be meaningful, a cause must efficiently explain why the event happened. To be relevant, a cause must be something we can actually do something about.
 
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Random does not equate to free will. Determined does not equate to free will. The term "free will" simply does not apply....therefore a semantic construct.

Then again, random and determined are also semantic constructs. Every word and concept is.

Philosophizing without a knowledge of math and science. Math and scince exist in te brain as thoughts and concepts. That does not men tere is no semnatc difference between terms.

Random has a specific definition in proximity. The occurrence of one event does not affect the occurrence of the next evet, there is no correlation between random variables.

I did this stuff waaaayyy back when going through statistics. Just flip a coin or toss a die 100 times and write down the results.

It's hard to control the flip of a coin, but a professional knife thrower controls the number of revolutions sufficiently to assure that the point rather than the hilt hits the target.

The result of the coin toss will be reliably caused by the position of the thumb under the coin and the force applied. Then the inertia of the coin versus the air resistance. Then how it bounces on the surface where it lands. If you control all of these factors, perhaps by building a machine that flips the coin under controlled conditions, then the result of the coin toss cannot only be reliably predicted, but it can be reliably controlled. Oh, and the math and physics would be used to describe and calculate the effects at each stage.

Controlling the behavior of a quark is likely to be much more challenging. But, we may as well assume reliable causation even though we do not yet understand the rules that the quark is following.
 
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Random does not equate to free will. Determined does not equate to free will. The term "free will" simply does not apply....therefore a semantic construct.

Then again, random and determined are also semantic constructs. Every word and concept is.

The words random and determined refer to conditions in the world: how the world works, how it's objects and events interact.

Compatibilism selects a slice of how the world works deterministically and declares this slice of determined behaviour to be an example of free will.

Free will is an event, just like any other event. And it is deterministic, just like any other event. The "free" in free will has nothing to do with "freedom from causal necessity". It simply means the choosing event was free from coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Causal necessity is not a meaningful or relevant constraint. It is not meaningful because what I will inevitably do is exactly identical to me just being me, choosing what I choose, and doing what I do. And it is not a relevant constraint, because there's nothing we can do about it.

Basically, causal necessity is just a background constant that always appears on both sides of every equation, and it can be subtracted from both sides without affecting the result. It literally makes no difference.
 

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Personally, I do not plan to become a physicist or a neuroscientist in order to explain how determinism and free will are compatible.

The arguments in play, regarding the determinism "versus" free will paradox, are matters of logic and semantics. They are not beyond the mastery of a twelve year old.
Sure; and I think all of us here except DBT are compatibilists. But there are two distinct debates about determinism: there's the one about whether it matters one way or the other to free will, and then there's the one about whether the world really is deterministic. It's not a good idea to let your judgment of one of these debates impact your judgment of the other.

It certainly isn't; but it's not indeterminism's fault that Christianity trained western culture to equate determinism with lack of freedom.

The notions of voluntary choice and personal responsibility, and of cause and effect, are not created by nor owned by Religion.
No, of course not; but the widespread conviction that they're in opposition to each other very much was. Religion taught that the real you, the important part of you, the part of you that has voluntary choice and responsibility, is an immaterial immortal soul; the rest is mere flesh which is not important. Then the scientific revolution came along and started telling people that material cause and effect determine everything that happens, including everything that happens to human flesh and everything that's done by human flesh. So people started thinking in terms of Cartesian Dualism, where not only are you and your body two different things, but your body is made of matter, which science tells us follows Newton's laws of motion; and that implies your crimes are caused by your flesh. So how can we hold your immortal soul responsible for them? In that world view your soul looks like a helpless passive passenger in the coach, with no control over where the horse pulls it. And if "you" are your immortal soul, then that means "you" aren't in control of what your body does. This is what caused the delusion that ordinary common-usage freedom -- the freedom to work or not without regard to whether your master wants you to -- isn't real freedom. That's where the goofy notion comes from that there's some allegedly freer kind of Freedom(TM) that "free will" refers to.

Science assumes a world of reliable causation. Without it, no experiment would be repeatable.
Why do you believe that? If we live in a world where there's only a 99% chance that the laws of physics will make your experiment come out the same way, instead of a 100% chance, how the heck will that stop you repeating it and making scientific discoveries? Experiments already come out wrong a lot more than 1% of the time just from the experimenter screwing something up in the setup. If there's irreducible natural indeterminism adding a little uncertainty to the uncertainty that's already there from human error and from earthquakes and passing trucks and experimental subjects getting sick and having to drop out of the study, all it means is experimenters might have to slightly up their skillsets as statisticians.

So, a world of reliable causation is desirable. Reliable causation should not be turned into a monster by the hard determinists.
True; but we need to be careful not to mistake desirability for evidence.
 

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The words random and determined refer to conditions in the world: how the world works, how it's objects and events interact.

Compatibilism selects a slice of how the world works deterministically and declares this slice of determined behaviour to be an example of free will.

Free will is an event, just like any other event. And it is deterministic, just like any other event. The "free" in free will has nothing to do with "freedom from causal necessity". It simply means the choosing event was free from coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Causal necessity is not a meaningful or relevant constraint. It is not meaningful because what I will inevitably do is exactly identical to me just being me, choosing what I choose, and doing what I do. And it is not a relevant constraint, because there's nothing we can do about it.

Basically, causal necessity is just a background constant that always appears on both sides of every equation, and it can be subtracted from both sides without affecting the result. It literally makes no difference.

Behaviour that happens without coercion is an event, being an event generated by numerous factors, conscious will playing very little part, declaring it to be 'free will' is false labelling. We are able to act out of our own volition. Volition is not willed, volition is not free will.
 

fromderinside

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The only way for the game to be consistent with t = 0 natural law statement is for the game to permit both forward and backward reference for all time. Stacking deck is not an example of determinism statement. Provide a game that works both ways and I'll bet my assertion works.

Conway's life game isn't an example of anything relevant to determinism discussion.
Possibly; but we don't actually know that the natural laws of the universe work both ways. We tend to assume they do because the equations of Newtonian mechanics and the "Standard Model" of quantum mechanics are time-symmetric. But there are anomalies in kaon decay experiments that suggest the Standard Model may be in need of some modification; and let's not forget gravity. General Relativity isn't time-symmetric. If you drop one black hole into another, according to Einstein's equations they merge to form a bigger black hole; and this is irreversible. There's no process by which a black hole can spontaneously split in two. So any philosophizing about time symmetry is premature -- as with many other questions about the universe, we really need to suspend judgment until somebody comes up with a working theory of quantum gravity.

I'll give you woulda coulda shoulda land. Of course most anyone would call whatever physicists are doing on the problem of information and decay of black holes could be labelled whaddat. Still there are papers papers popping up all the time.

To wit:

Entropy bounds on effective field theory from rotating dyonic black holes https://journals.aps.org/prd/pdf/10.1103/PhysRevD.100.046003

We derive new bounds on higher-dimension operator coefficients in four-dimensional Einstein-Maxwell theory. Positivity of classically generated corrections to the Wald entropy of thermodynamically stable, rotating dyonic black holes implies a multiparameter family of field basis invariant inequalities that exhibit electromagnetic duality and are satisfied by examples from field and string theory. These bounds imply that effective operators modify the extremality condition of large black holes so as to permit their decay to smaller ones, thus satisfying the weak gravity conjecture.

Apparently satisfying the second law of thermodynamics still has staying power in models.
 
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The words random and determined refer to conditions in the world: how the world works, how it's objects and events interact.

Compatibilism selects a slice of how the world works deterministically and declares this slice of determined behaviour to be an example of free will.

Free will is an event, just like any other event. And it is deterministic, just like any other event. The "free" in free will has nothing to do with "freedom from causal necessity". It simply means the choosing event was free from coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Causal necessity is not a meaningful or relevant constraint. It is not meaningful because what I will inevitably do is exactly identical to me just being me, choosing what I choose, and doing what I do. And it is not a relevant constraint, because there's nothing we can do about it.

Basically, causal necessity is just a background constant that always appears on both sides of every equation, and it can be subtracted from both sides without affecting the result. It literally makes no difference.

Behaviour that happens without coercion is an event, being an event generated by numerous factors, conscious will playing very little part, declaring it to be 'free will' is false labelling. We are able to act out of our own volition. Volition is not willed, volition is not free will.

But volition is chosen. "Will I have the salad or the cheeseburger?" Pause for consideration of the benefits and deficits of each choice. "I had the salad yesterday, so I will treat myself to a cheeseburger today". A freely chosen volition is appropriately called "free will".

"Hand over your wallet or I'll put a bullet in you!". "I don't want to lose my wallet, but, then again I really don't want to lose my life, so okay, I will give my wallet to the guy with the gun." A choice forced upon us against our will is called "coercion".

Coercion is about manipulating the choosing, specifically to force someone to submit their will to the guy holding the gun.

Now, if the choice is made unconsciously, rather than consciously, then the dialog might not be expressed in words, but rather in whatever internal symbols are used by the unconscious brain to carry out the calculation. Either way, the dialog reflects the calculation.
 
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steve_bank

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Philosophizing without a knowledge of math and science. Math and scince exist in te brain as thoughts and concepts. That does not men tere is no semnatc difference between terms.

Random has a specific definition in proximity. The occurrence of one event does not affect the occurrence of the next evet, there is no correlation between random variables.

I did this stuff waaaayyy back when going through statistics. Just flip a coin or toss a die 100 times and write down the results.

It's hard to control the flip of a coin, but a professional knife thrower controls the number of revolutions sufficiently to assure that the point rather than the hilt hits the target.

The result of the coin toss will be reliably caused by the position of the thumb under the coin and the force applied. Then the inertia of the coin versus the air resistance. Then how it bounces on the surface where it lands. If you control all of these factors, perhaps by building a machine that flips the coin under controlled conditions, then the result of the coin toss cannot only be reliably predicted, but it can be reliably controlled. Oh, and the math and physics would be used to describe and calculate the effects at each stage.

Controlling the behavior of a quark is likely to be much more challenging. But, we may as well assume reliable causation even though we do not yet understand the rules that the quark is following.

Throwing a knife in a carnival at a human is not a random event. It is not a 'flip of the coin'.

Cup your hands and shake a coin, then open your hands and let it fall. Over 100 trials it will be close tp 50/50. Try it.

10 red balls and 90 blue balls are in a bucket. Pullo ne, put it back, shake the bucket and draw again. On the average the red balls will be picked 10% of the time and blue 90% of the time. This is called random sampling. Which color is pecked next is not predictable.

As to choosing salad or beef for dinner being a free choice, how are you conditioned by experience to make
that choice?

When you buy a car or shoes your 'free' choice is conditioned by advertising. Your choice is free in that it is not restricted, but I doubt any choice is made in a vacuum uncontained by experience. There is a subconscious aspect to all choices.

We are not disembodied consciousness unencumbered by experience and feelings, IOW we are not god.

I do not think free choice exists in any absolute sense. We are always limited by our brain biology.
 
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Philosophizing without a knowledge of math and science. Math and scince exist in te brain as thoughts and concepts. That does not men tere is no semnatc difference between terms.

Random has a specific definition in proximity. The occurrence of one event does not affect the occurrence of the next evet, there is no correlation between random variables.

I did this stuff waaaayyy back when going through statistics. Just flip a coin or toss a die 100 times and write down the results.

It's hard to control the flip of a coin, but a professional knife thrower controls the number of revolutions sufficiently to assure that the point rather than the hilt hits the target.

The result of the coin toss will be reliably caused by the position of the thumb under the coin and the force applied. Then the inertia of the coin versus the air resistance. Then how it bounces on the surface where it lands. If you control all of these factors, perhaps by building a machine that flips the coin under controlled conditions, then the result of the coin toss cannot only be reliably predicted, but it can be reliably controlled. Oh, and the math and physics would be used to describe and calculate the effects at each stage.

Controlling the behavior of a quark is likely to be much more challenging. But, we may as well assume reliable causation even though we do not yet understand the rules that the quark is following.

Throwing a knife in a carnival at a human is not a random event. It is not a 'flip of the coin'.

Cup your hands and shake a coin, then open your hands and let it fall. Over 100 trials it will be close tp 50/50. Try it.

10 red balls and 90 blue balls are in a bucket. Pullo ne, put it back, shake the bucket and draw again. On the average the red balls will be picked 10% of the time and blue 90% of the time. This is called random sampling. Which color is pecked next is not predictable.

As to choosing salad or beef for dinner being a free choice, how are you conditioned by experience to make
that choice?

When you buy a car or shoes your 'free' choice is conditioned by advertising. Your choice is free in that it is not restricted, but I doubt any choice is made in a vacuum uncontained by experience. There is a subconscious aspect to all choices.

We are not disembodied consciousness unencumbered by experience and feelings, IOW we are not god.

I do not think free choice exists in any absolute sense. We are always limited by our brain biology.

Right, there is no such thing as absolute freedom.
 
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Word twisting an argument does not make.

Much worse when such is being done in the name of philosophy.

Not funny.

Grotesques obviously.

Obviously you actually mean it when you say words are make ideas.

Not sure what you mean here. Could you give an example?
 

steve_bank

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Word twisting an argument does not make.

Much worse when such is being done in the name of philosophy.

Not funny.

Grotesques obviously.

Obviously you actually mean it when you say words are make ideas.

Not sure what you mean here. Could you give an example?

You are using words that have specific meaning to fromderinside and myself as philosophical ideas which they are not.
 

DBT

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Behaviour that happens without coercion is an event, being an event generated by numerous factors, conscious will playing very little part, declaring it to be 'free will' is false labelling. We are able to act out of our own volition. Volition is not willed, volition is not free will.

But volition is chosen. "Will I have the salad or the cheeseburger?" Pause for consideration of the benefits and deficits of each choice. "I had the salad yesterday, so I will treat myself to a cheeseburger today". A freely chosen volition is appropriately called "free will".

"Hand over your wallet or I'll put a bullet in you!". "I don't want to lose my wallet, but, then again I really don't want to lose my life, so okay, I will give my wallet to the guy with the gun." A choice forced upon us against our will is called "coercion".

Coercion is about manipulating the choosing, specifically to force someone to submit their will to the guy holding the gun.

Now, if the choice is made unconsciously, rather than consciously, then the dialog might not be expressed in words, but rather in whatever internal symbols are used by the unconscious brain to carry out the calculation. Either way, the dialog reflects the calculation.

Volition, the process by which actions are performed is unconscious. The brain responds to its inputs in each and every circumstance. Selecting circumstances that don't involve compulsion from external forces doesn't make it free will. It's simply will. We have will. We act according to our makeup and environment.
 
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