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Free Will

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Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Tue Dec 12, 2023 8:46 am

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The E wrote: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.

Since I am back, one more post.

I thought I gave a good example (the explosion of Betelgeuse) to show that statement 1 cannot be true unless statement 4 is true. Statement 4 is a conjecture and I do not believe there are any ideas on how to show that it is correct.

So your argument stands or falls on what is to you an article of faith. Perhaps as science advances we will get an answer, but it is possible that the answer is just a deeper layer of randomness. Like turtles all the way down.
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Re: Free Will
Post by Robert_A_Woodward   » Wed Dec 13, 2023 2:05 am

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The E wrote:
(SNIP!)

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.

(snip)


There are "simple" cases in the macro world that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. For example, in billiards, a ball is hit at another ball, which could, in turn hit another and so forth. After a few interactions, the only way to predict the final positions requires knowing that initial positions (and the velocity of the hit ball) to over 10 significant figures.
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Beowulf was bad.
(first sentence of Chapter VI of _Space Viking_ by H. Beam Piper)
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Re: Free Will
Post by Daryl   » Wed Dec 13, 2023 3:34 am

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As previously stated I'm not religious, and I do believe in free will. However some of the old religious writers did touch on how we can not grasp the higher technicalities of existance.
I expect that generations hence we will still be groping to a fuller understanding of the cosmos and our place in it.
My dog has a sweet tooth, and resents that I don't share my chocolate with him. Hard to explain that sugar and cacao are bad for him. The sugar isn't good for us, but at least it isn't an uninformd choice.
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Re: Free Will
Post by The E   » Wed Dec 13, 2023 4:46 am

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tlb wrote:So your argument stands or falls on what is to you an article of faith. Perhaps as science advances we will get an answer, but it is possible that the answer is just a deeper layer of randomness. Like turtles all the way down.


As I have stated, yes, this is based on my personal assumptions and conceptions of the world, not something grounded in hard data.

But then, that's what all discussions of free will ultimately boil down to. We cannot conclusively prove that free will does or does not exist; all we have to go on are what our philosophies tell us.

Robert_A_Woodward wrote:
The E wrote:There are "simple" cases in the macro world that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. For example, in billiards, a ball is hit at another ball, which could, in turn hit another and so forth. After a few interactions, the only way to predict the final positions requires knowing that initial positions (and the velocity of the hit ball) to over 10 significant figures.


And many other factors besides. The point is that simple interactions iterated over time can produce complex behaviours, so no matter how complex the system gets, it stays fundamentally deterministic. Free Will, or what appears to us as free will, could be an emergent effect of those interactions - the question is if there is a source of randomness that cannot be predicted, which at our current understanding of the world does seem to be the case at the quantum level. If such a source exists, then free will could be construed as the result of random events in the quantum realm bubbling up into the macroscopic world. If there isn't, then it's all an illusion, and my decision to type up these words right now is entirely deterministic and was predetermined eons ago.

Regardless, this is an argument that is essentially meaningless, much like its cousin, the simulation argument. The simulation argument is meaningless unless we can prove that we can influence the simulation; similarly, the free will debate is meaningless unless we can prove otherwise.
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Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Wed Dec 13, 2023 8:29 am

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The E wrote: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.

Robert_A_Woodward wrote:There are "simple" cases in the macro world that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. For example, in billiards, a ball is hit at another ball, which could, in turn hit another and so forth. After a few interactions, the only way to predict the final positions requires knowing that initial positions (and the velocity of the hit ball) to over 10 significant figures.

To be fair to The E, his process does answer that objection, because he is saying that the results of each hit can be calculated to the precision of the initial values; which can be known to an arbitrarily high precision. That last part being one of the points of disagreement, since it eliminates a classical (and quantum) source of randomness. That is what he means when he says that the weather is not random.

So the discussion has not been completely meaningless, because it prompted a clearer picture of the principles on which we stand. Since those principles are incompatible, we have a stalemate.
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Re: Free Will
Post by The E   » Wed Dec 13, 2023 8:43 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)?


tlb wrote: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.


Welcome to the anthropic principle.

A couple of things:
1. "How come Earth is so suited to humans" is the wrong way around. The correct way is "How come humans are so suited to Earth", to which the answer is "Evolution".
2. "How come none of the deadly species can fly or run fast" Because you're not their prey, or the intended target of the venom. A predator that preys on humans would look different, act different; it would be more like a bear or big cat or wolf than anything else.
3. "If Earth was not suitable for humans..." ... then humans would not exist in their current form. Homo sapiens exists because, at one point in time, it represented a local maximum in survivability. If that hadn't been the case, something else would have evolved to fill whatever niche we developed in.
4. "No corner of the Earth is unsurvivable". Excuse me? The vast majority of the Earth is uninhabitable, if not instantly deadly, to humans. We are capable of existing in what seems like a broad range of environments, but only if we have time and tools to prepare - and even then, most of that preparation involves creating conditions more favourable to us.
Human beings require many things that might not be readily available - an N2/O2 atmosphere with partial pressures of component gases in a fairly narrow range, liquid water, a fairly complex ecosystem that can produce proteins that we can eat... we do quite well if those things are available, but die pretty quickly if they are not - and as we can see, just raising average temperatures by a seemingly tiny amount causes rather large changes in habitability.
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Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Wed Dec 13, 2023 9:04 am

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The E wrote:Welcome to the anthropic principle.

Indeed, it was in its infant stage and much discussed when I was in college. However, "anthropic" is a slight misnomer in the general principle (however apt it may be with regard to Earth), which only speaks about intelligent life.

PS: Daryl did say "No corner is unsurviable using techniques we can utilise", which covers one criticism (statement 4) that you made of him.
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Re: Free Will
Post by The E   » Wed Dec 13, 2023 2:25 pm

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tlb wrote:PS: Daryl did say "No corner is unsurviable using techniques we can utilise", which covers one criticism (statement 4) that you made of him.


If you get dropped into the arctic, dressed as you are right now, how long would you last? What if you get dropped in the middle of the pacific?

Like, yes, as tool users we can make tools to increase our chances of survival, but that has its limits - and for the most inhospitable regions of the planet (which, again, is most of it), the tools have to be built somewhere where we can live, and even then, literally noone is actually living on the ocean without being dependant on people on the land.
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Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Wed Dec 13, 2023 2:39 pm

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tlb wrote:PS: Daryl did say "No corner is unsurviable using techniques we can utilise", which covers one criticism (statement 4) that you made of him.

The E wrote:If you get dropped into the arctic, dressed as you are right now, how long would you last? What if you get dropped in the middle of the pacific?

Like, yes, as tool users we can make tools to increase our chances of survival, but that has its limits - and for the most inhospitable regions of the planet (which, again, is most of it), the tools have to be built somewhere where we can live, and even then, literally noone is actually living on the ocean without being dependant on people on the land.

True, but a very limited way to look at what he said. I would also die if dropped into the Kalahari or Australian Outback, but people have been living there for hundreds to thousands of years.

The Polynesians roamed the Pacific, finding new islands to colonize.
Arctic indigenous peoples include for example Saami in circumpolar areas of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Northwest Russia, Nenets, Khanty, Evenk and Chukchi in Russia, Aleut, Yupik and Inuit (Iñupiat) in Alaska, Inuit (Inuvialuit) in Canada and Inuit (Kalaallit) in Greenland.
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Re: Free Will
Post by Daryl   » Thu Dec 14, 2023 3:27 am

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Interesting response, as I have lived in the Australian outback. One behavioural clue, is that if something moves and you didn't initiate it, freeze. The deadliest snake on earth (Number 1 to rattlesnake's 28) the Fierce Snake lives there.

Different gear required there to Siberia or Antarctia, but the principle holds. Our Antarctic ship just left with the latest group of intrepid scientists, along with hundreds of kilos of coffee beans, and ice-cream. .

tlb wrote:
tlb wrote:PS: Daryl did say "No corner is unsurviable using techniques we can utilise", which covers one criticism (statement 4) that you made of him.

The E wrote:If you get dropped into the arctic, dressed as you are right now, how long would you last? What if you get dropped in the middle of the pacific?

Like, yes, as tool users we can make tools to increase our chances of survival, but that has its limits - and for the most inhospitable regions of the planet (which, again, is most of it), the tools have to be built somewhere where we can live, and even then, literally noone is actually living on the ocean without being dependant on people on the land.

True, but a very limited way to look at what he said. I would also die if dropped into the Kalahari or Australian Outback, but people have been living there for hundreds to thousands of years.

The Polynesians roamed the Pacific, finding new islands to colonize.
Arctic indigenous peoples include for example Saami in circumpolar areas of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Northwest Russia, Nenets, Khanty, Evenk and Chukchi in Russia, Aleut, Yupik and Inuit (Iñupiat) in Alaska, Inuit (Inuvialuit) in Canada and Inuit (Kalaallit) in Greenland.
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