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Free Will

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Re: Free Will
Post by The E   » Sat Dec 09, 2023 7:59 am

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tlb wrote:Consider a box that initially contains only carbon dioxide at room temperature, where the main interaction between molecules is collisions. Seems straight forward, although there can be internal vibrations. Also there might be a possibility of a collision generating an oxygen molecule and two carbon monoxide molecules.


Uhh, no? CO2 is chemically stable at room temperature, it does not degenerate into 2 CO and O.

However, even though the molecules are not in the quantum level, they are light enough that there is a measurement problem. In order to get their initial values, they have to be hit with energy; which means that those initial values cannot be known to great precision. In turn that means the results of collisions cannot be predicted with almost any precision.

So the system (meaning the position and velocity of each molecule) cannot be predicted after any iteration that includes a significant number of collisions. By your definition, that means it is NOT deterministic. Only a probabilistic description can be made of it.


Okay, that's just the Heisenberg uncertainty principle though.
What I posited was a thought experiment: "What if we could know the initial state of a system to arbitrary position?"
As I mentioned upthread:
Leaving aside various proofs that show that a laplacian demon cannot exist due to fundamental limitations of performing computation and things like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, I believe that in theory, a complete definition of the universe's ruleset can exist - whether or not human science will ever reach that point, who knows.

WE, as in literal actual humans living in this current year, cannot know the initial state of a system at subatomic precision, therefore we can't use that information to predict future iterations of said state.
However, we know that such a state does exist. Atoms and molecules have defined positions, energy states and movement vectors, and the interactions between them are governed by rules that are fairly well known (one such rule being that two CO2 molecules colliding at room temperature does not cause them to lose cohesion).
Therefore, an entirely theoretical observer that has the ability to get around the uncertainty principle could construct an accurate representation of the world state, apply known rules, and arrive at a prediction that - again, leaving aside that this is physically impossible - would allow such an observer to predict what would happen next, which would rule out free will as a concept.
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Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Sat Dec 09, 2023 8:15 am

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The E wrote:WE, as in literal actual humans living in this current year, cannot know the initial state of a system at subatomic precision, therefore we can't use that information to predict future iterations of said state.
However, we know that such a state does exist. Atoms and molecules have defined positions, energy states and movement vectors, and the interactions between them are governed by rules that are fairly well known (one such rule being that two CO2 molecules colliding at room temperature does not cause them to lose cohesion).
Therefore, an entirely theoretical observer that has the ability to get around the uncertainty principle could construct an accurate representation of the world state, apply known rules, and arrive at a prediction that - again, leaving aside that this is physically impossible - would allow such an observer to predict what would happen next, which would rule out free will as a concept.

Very interesting, so you do not believe in God nor Free Will; yet you are postulating a omniscient God to prove that Free Will does not exist.

PS: I only suggested the chemical change as a possibility; a more relevant problem is that the collisions are NOT elastic, due to internal vibrations of the oxygen about the carbon atom.
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Re: Free Will
Post by The E   » Sat Dec 09, 2023 11:47 am

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tlb wrote:Very interesting, so you do not believe in God nor Free Will; yet you are postulating a omniscient God to prove that Free Will does not exist.


No, I am not. My core argument is this: If the universe is deterministic at every level, then free will cannot exist because free will requires acausal interactions (as in, interactions that cannot be traced back to a physical cause). This whole talk about simulations is a thought experiment, a way to illustrate what "deterministic at every level" means, nothing more (I have said, at least twice over the course of the discussion, that the observer I postulated cannot and does not exist).

Is the universe deterministic? As far as our current science tells us, no - quantum interactions seem to be random.
But to get back to my original point, they aren't exactly random - there are probabilities we can assign to certain outcomes, which (again) suggests to me that what we assume to be random is in fact just the result of interactions we haven't been able to measure yet.
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Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Sat Dec 09, 2023 12:18 pm

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tlb wrote:Very interesting, so you do not believe in God nor Free Will; yet you are postulating a omniscient God to prove that Free Will does not exist.

The E wrote:No, I am not. My core argument is this: If the universe is deterministic at every level, then free will cannot exist because free will requires acausal interactions (as in, interactions that cannot be traced back to a physical cause). This whole talk about simulations is a thought experiment, a way to illustrate what "deterministic at every level" means, nothing more (I have said, at least twice over the course of the discussion, that the observer I postulated cannot and does not exist).

Is the universe deterministic? As far as our current science tells us, no - quantum interactions seem to be random.
But to get back to my original point, they aren't exactly random - there are probabilities we can assign to certain outcomes, which (again) suggests to me that what we assume to be random is in fact just the result of interactions we haven't been able to measure yet.

Yet, if your thought experiment requires an "omniscient God" to prove that Free Will does not exist and then you say such a being cannot exist; then you have to be saying that you cannot prove that Free Will does not exist. Basically your thought experiment removed any source of randomness (including Heisenberg Uncertainty) and then pointed out the result was not random (and probably not representative of physical reality).

To make my objection completely clear, I lump your thought experiment together with the mathematical joke that demonstrates that 0 = 1. Both require an impossible intermediate step: either an "omniscient God" or a divide by zero. Mind you, I do not consider an "omniscient God" an impossibility and have pointed to that as a refutation of Free Will; but you insist that it is an impossibility, so that should bar you from using the concept as part of your proof.

Yes, maybe those deeper interactions do exist to make what we measure only pseudo-random; but until we know and study them, we have no way of deciding whether they are deterministic or random. The fact that we can assign probabilities to an event is NOT evidence of determinism, the whole field of probability was invented to put numbers onto random events.
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Re: Free Will
Post by The E   » Mon Dec 11, 2023 4:45 am

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tlb wrote:Yet, if your thought experiment requires an "omniscient God" to prove that Free Will does not exist and then you say such a being cannot exist; then you have to be saying that you cannot prove that Free Will does not exist.


... am I talking to a wall here?
For the third time, the observer does not exist except as a character in a thought experiment. It is not a necessary part of the argument.

Basically your thought experiment removed any source of randomness (including Heisenberg Uncertainty) and then pointed out the result was not random (and probably not representative of physical reality).


Yes, it did. Because (and for better or worse, this is as close as I get to an actual faith-based statement) I do not believe randomness actually exists.
The weather seems random to us, but it isn't: It's just a hugely complex system of interactions and feedback loops that we cannot measure (and therefore predict) in its entirety.
Quantum interactions may be the same way. I don't know. As far as I can tell, noone does and there are barriers to our (as in, humanity's) ability to gain that knowledge, so we might never know.
This is where the argument about whether or not free will exists transitions from something rooted in "hard" science and enters the land of philosophy - and my philosophical beliefs tell me that the idea of a fundamentally random universe seems incongruent with our observations of it, which is dominated by entirely deterministic interactions.

To make my objection completely clear, I lump your thought experiment together with the mathematical joke that demonstrates that 0 = 1. Both require an impossible intermediate step: either an "omniscient God" or a divide by zero. Mind you, I do not consider an "omniscient God" an impossibility and have pointed to that as a refutation of Free Will; but you insist that it is an impossibility, so that should bar you from using the concept as part of your proof.


Except, again, the omniscient entity is not necessary for the argument I was making. My argument is thus:
1. The observable universe is deterministic.
2. Interactions between observable elements are governed by a set of hard, known rules.
3. Free Will requires the existence of interactions that are, to an outside observer, acausal - as in, not traceable to another interaction
4. If quantum level interactions are describable as deterministic interactions between discrete elements, then there is no randomness and therefore no source for acausal events.

Yes, maybe those deeper interactions do exist to make what we measure only pseudo-random; but until we know and study them, we have no way of deciding whether they are deterministic or random. The fact that we can assign probabilities to an event is NOT evidence of determinism, the whole field of probability was invented to put numbers onto random events.


Yes, but how many of the events we use probability for are actually random? The weather isn't, but we are incapable of modelling it any other way.
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Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Mon Dec 11, 2023 7:46 am

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I have to say that we are done,because we have reached the level of fundamental incompatibility. I am willing to accept a looser definition of randomness based on the impossibility to compute and you are not. That willingness means that I believe there are areas of classical physics that exhibit randomness; which you reject.

It has been interesting, but it is clear that going forward we would just be restating our unmovable positions.
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Re: Free Will
Post by Daryl   » Tue Dec 12, 2023 3:59 am

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I'll drop down a level here.
Personally I do believe in free will, and don't believe in a master puppiter.
However (always a but), how come Earth is so suited to humans? No corner is unsurviable using techniques we can utilise. As an Australian, I add, how come none of the many deadly species can fly or run fast (or be big enough to shoot)?
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Re: Free Will
Post by The E   » Tue Dec 12, 2023 6:20 am

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Daryl wrote:I'll drop down a level here.
Personally I do believe in free will, and don't believe in a master puppiter.
However (always a but), how come Earth is so suited to humans? No corner is unsurviable using techniques we can utilise. As an Australian, I add, how come none of the many deadly species can fly or run fast (or be big enough to shoot)?


That's at least several levels you've dropped there.
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Re: Free Will
Post by The E   » Tue Dec 12, 2023 6:20 am

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Daryl wrote:I'll drop down a level here.
Personally I do believe in free will, and don't believe in a master puppiter.
However (always a but), how come Earth is so suited to humans? No corner is unsurviable using techniques we can utilise. As an Australian, I add, how come none of the many deadly species can fly or run fast (or be big enough to shoot)?


That's at least several levels you've dropped there.
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Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Tue Dec 12, 2023 8:31 am

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Daryl wrote:However (always a but), how come Earth is so suited to humans? No corner is unsurviable using techniques we can utilise. As an Australian, I add, how come none of the many deadly species can fly or run fast (or be big enough to shoot)?

The easy answer is that if Earth were not suitable for humans, then humans would have died out. It actually seems that the deadliest creatures are humans.
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