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Free-will and Determinism co-exist

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c.l.sears

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Jan 31, 2002, 9:47:52 PM1/31/02
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Since there are compelling arguments F & D, I can only conclude that both
exist. And when you think about it, it makes sense:

If I 'will' myself to fly, I sadly, do not fly. Why? Because my
deterministic environment has not provided me with the facilities to fly.
What I *can* do is to have the free will to build a plane.

I have free will, but its scope is constrained within the boundaries of a
deterministic environment.


Jim Bromer

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Jan 31, 2002, 10:08:07 PM1/31/02
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"c.l.sears" <c.l....@ntlworld.com> wrote in message
news:Xkn68.6340$IY1.1...@news2-win.server.ntlworld.com...

I would agree to the extent that I am free to determine my own will, but I
can't make up my mind if I want to.


c.l.sears

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Jan 31, 2002, 10:09:58 PM1/31/02
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Let the weather decide!


"Jim Bromer" <jbr...@concentric.net> wrote in message
news:a3d0qn$j...@dispatch.concentric.net...

Neil W Rickert

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Jan 31, 2002, 10:40:52 PM1/31/02
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"c.l.sears" <c.l....@ntlworld.com> writes:

>Since there are compelling arguments F & D, I can only conclude that both
>exist. And when you think about it, it makes sense:

I have not yet come upon any compelling arguments for determinism.
The evidence seems to be against it.

Michael Altarriba

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Feb 1, 2002, 1:44:17 PM2/1/02
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c.l.sears wrote:


When a process is deterministic, it will always produce an output Y
given a set of inputs [X]. When a process is stochastic, then Y is a
random value conditional upon [X]. So, what does "free will" mean in
this context? Does it mean that human behaviour is stochastic? If that
isn't what "free will" means, then what -does- it mean? I get the
feeling that "free will" is assuming some sort of dualistic description
of sentience whereby some sort of metaphysical "Mindstuff" interfaces
with our physical nervous systems.

Just what does it mean to speak of "free will" when dealing with a
purely material body operating via purely physical processes?


Zagan

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Feb 2, 2002, 8:57:34 PM2/2/02
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"c.l.sears" <c.l....@ntlworld.com> wrote in message
news:FFn68.6499$IY1.1...@news2-win.server.ntlworld.com...
> Let the weather decide!

[Zagan]
Which, of course, is was set by what a butterfly did 200 years ago. :^)

// Jim
--
|| Free Science Fiction
|| The Keepers of Forever
|| Read reviews & download Novel
|| www.atlantic.net/~jcd

Bhupinder Singh Anand

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Feb 3, 2002, 5:24:02 PM2/3/02
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Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3d2o4$peo$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...

Neil et al
==========
So it would seem.

Here is some recent correspondence that may be of peripheral interest
on this subject. Although not directly addressing the issue at hand,
the unusual context in which the issue of "determinism and free-will"
is raised is fascinating!

(The salient points of this correspondence form a significant part of
the PREAMBLE to a paper titled PARADOX REGAINED: LIFE BEYOND GOEDEL'S
SHADOW whose abstract I intend offering as a short communication in
the Logic section at the International Congress of Mathematicians
2002, scheduled to be held 25thAug-3rd Sept at Beijing. An updated
version of this paper containing the PREAMBLE is accesible on the web
at http://alixcomsi.com/index01.htm. A downloadable PDF version
without the PREAMBLE is available at
http://arXiv.org/abs/math/0201307.)

<<<
Sent: 06 January 2002 1:20 AM
To: Perry Bezanis
Subject: Determinism and Godelian sentences

|| From: Perry Bezanis [mailto:pb...@compuserve.com]
|| Sent: 30 December 2001 2:13 AM
|| To: Bhupinder Singh Anand
|| Subject: A small problem that may be of interest to you.

|| No 'scientist' today (at least that I know of) believes in
determinism:
||
|| determinism n. The philosophical doctrine that every event,
|| act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedents
|| that are independent of the human will.
|| (The American Heritage Dictionary
|| Copyright (c) 1986, 1987)
||
|| -which, in a simpler form reads (I think) something like-
||
|| All human consequence is a function of non-human precedence.
||
|| -the statement itself (a 'consequence') included.
||
|| Question:
|| I would like someone to consider subjecting this definition to
|| Godel's Undecidability Theorem -you, primarily, if possible, but
|| anyone else if not you. My 'more simple' statement will have to be
|| recast, I'm sure, but what I'd like to get back is something like
(or
|| better than) the blurb below which excerpted from June 1999
|| Scientific American's 'The Limits of Logic' by John Dawson Jr:
||
|| " This statement is unprovable.
||
|| The above can be coded as a numerical equation according to a
|| formula devised by Godel. The equation is not provable and
|| therefore affirms the meaning of the English-language
|| proposition. That means, however, that the statement is true."

"Goedelising" your sentence
===========================
Re your proposed "Goedelian" sentence built around the phrase:

"All human consequence is a function of non-human precedence."

A very loose way of interpreting this would be as:

(Ax)(x is a "human consequence" => (Ey)(y is a "non-human precedence"
& (y => x)))

If we define:

F(x) is true if and only if x is a "human consequence", and

G(y) is true if and only if y is a "non-human precedence",

where x and y are variables that "somehow" represent "actions" ranging
over the set of "human" and "non-human" "actions", then the above can
be symbolically expressed further as:

(Ax)(F(x) => (Ey)(G(y) & (y=>x))).

If we now postulate that the expression "(Ax)(F(x) => (Ey)(G(y) &
(y=>x)))" itself is some "human action" h, we then have that:

F(h) => (Ey)(G(y) & (y => h)).

Prima facie there is nothing remarkable or "Goedelian" about such an
assertion. It simply symbolises a Platonistic assertion about the
existence of a "non-human precedence" that caused the "human
consequence", namely the expression of "(Ax)(F(x) => (Ey)(G(y) &
(y=>x)))".

Thus there would seem little of interest to warrant devising a
rigorous theory that could formalise the above reasoning.

"Determinism" and "factual truth"
=================================
Nevertheless, you have raised two fascinating issues that are quite
commonly, and, I personally believe, misleadingly conceptualised
because of the very richness of both our conceptual ability as well as
our formal and informal languages of communication. Let me, again very
loosely, try to address them.

As I see it, "Determinism" involves the concepts of "factual truth"
and "perception".

We may choose to define "factual truths" - as Goedel does - in
Platonistic terms as a characteristic of "relationships" that "exist"
in some "absolute" sense (i.e. even in the absence of any "perceiver")
between the "objects" of an external "ontology" (both of which are
also taken to "exist" in some "absolute" sense).

However, we are then faced with cogent, reasonable and irrefutable
classical arguments both for and against the proposition that every
event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedents
that are independent of the human will.
>>>

The above, possibly, is the meaning of C.L.Sears remark that both
free-will and determinism appear to co-exist (comfortably?).

<<<
Most 'scientists' today would be uncomfortable committing themselves
intellectually to either of these positions even as a working
hypothesis (although they may conceptualise ideas Platonistically for
psychological reasons of inducing within oneself a feeling of
temporary, even if illusory, certitude).

The reason: Commitment to a philosophy whose antithesis is "logically"
irrefutable would limit their ability to conceptualise the "essence"
of a universe that is accepted as beyond "complete" conceptualisation
(reflecting the belief that the only faithful "model" of the
"universe" is the "universe" itself).

Another alternative is to view "relationships" as belonging to
"perceptions" that we "selectively" assign to "objects" (that
themselves are conceptual "constructs") of an "ontology" (that is
similarly a conceptual "construct").

In other words, each "perception" is reasonably assumed to be a
"construct" based on a unique, one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-repeated
experience. "Factual truth" is then the "subjective" characteristic of
the expression of our constructed "perception" (loosely speaking, it
corresponds to what is common to the way we express our various
"perceptions"), rather than an "objective" characteristic of
"something" which we "perceive".

If we accept "free will" to imply that we are at liberty to choose
whether to "perceive" or not, and that each "perception", although
rooted in the external world, is essentially a mental "construct" that
is nowhere reflected in the external world, then every "perception"
actually "contains" a "factual truth", along with all its
"constituents".

To the extent that every decision to "perceive" gives rise to an
experience that involves exchange of energy at the "perception" point,
excercise of "free will" affects and significantly alters the energy
state of the entire universe "unpredictably" after each "perception"
(the "butterfly-in-China" effect).

The reason for the "unpredictability": Since each individual
"perception" involves Heisenberg's "uncertainty" principle, the "free
will" involved in a decision to "perceive" can only be conceptualised
by us in statistical terms.

On this view, the universe cannot be conceived, or expressed, by us as
"deterministic" in the classical sense.
>>>

Neil W Rickert

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Feb 3, 2002, 7:47:28 PM2/3/02
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ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:
>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3d2o4$peo$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...
>> "c.l.sears" <c.l....@ntlworld.com> writes:

>> >Since there are compelling arguments F & D, I can only conclude that both
>> >exist. And when you think about it, it makes sense:

>> I have not yet come upon any compelling arguments for determinism.
>> The evidence seems to be against it.

>Neil et al
>==========
>So it would seem.

>Here is some recent correspondence that may be of peripheral interest
>on this subject. Although not directly addressing the issue at hand,
>the unusual context in which the issue of "determinism and free-will"
>is raised is fascinating!

>(The salient points of this correspondence form a significant part of
>the PREAMBLE to a paper titled PARADOX REGAINED: LIFE BEYOND GOEDEL'S
>SHADOW whose abstract I intend offering as a short communication in

I'm not sure why you would want to connect this to Goedel's work.
Goedel's incompleteness theorem is about limitation in systems of
formal rules that we construct. The question of determinism is an
empirical question, about the behavior of the natural world, and is
independent of our construction of rules.

You might perhaps argue that Goedel's result demonstrates that there
are limitations on scientific laws that we may
{construct,develop,discover}. But it is not obvious how it could
constrain the natural world.

>"Determinism" and "factual truth"
>=================================
>Nevertheless, you have raised two fascinating issues that are quite
>commonly, and, I personally believe, misleadingly conceptualised
>because of the very richness of both our conceptual ability as well as
>our formal and informal languages of communication. Let me, again very
>loosely, try to address them.

>As I see it, "Determinism" involves the concepts of "factual truth"
>and "perception".

>We may choose to define "factual truths" - as Goedel does - in
>Platonistic terms as a characteristic of "relationships" that "exist"
>in some "absolute" sense (i.e. even in the absence of any "perceiver")
>between the "objects" of an external "ontology" (both of which are
>also taken to "exist" in some "absolute" sense).

From that perspective, the only "factual truths" available to us are
abstract truths, such as those used by Goedel. There could be no
empirical "factual truths" available to us, for we are forever stuck
inside our world and unable to access the world from the perspective
of the external ontologist.

>However, we are then faced with cogent, reasonable and irrefutable
>classical arguments both for and against the proposition that every
>event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedents
>that are independent of the human will.

I think not. Determinists are perhaps impressed by the determinism
of our scientific laws. But these laws, even if correct, express
only internal relations. Moreover, their determinism as laws only
implies that the result is determined by the combination of the
inputs and the laws. You would have to know, from an externalist
viewpoint, how the inputs to our laws originate in order to be able
to conclude anything about determinism as an empirical claim.

Quinn DuPont

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Feb 3, 2002, 11:28:50 PM2/3/02
to
I'm no expert, but it seems to me that all the postings are assuming an
objective reality... I have no quarrels with this, its just something to
note. Further, one could turn to quantum theory for a bit of aid on the
subject. A current theory is that conciousness is attained through a
Bose-Einstein condensation of the water within the microtubules of the axon.
My understanding is that the B-E condensation (the proccess of which a laser
is created, rather than just "focussing" light, the photons are "lined up"
to create a non-diffusing beam) can create a unity of conciousness, thus
allowing for a determinist perspective of free will (paradoxical in terms,
sorry). Further, this allows for the process to be stochastic, however we
can attain a unity of conciousness though the process (without this theory,
I would find it difficult to see how a unified conciousness could arise from
a "random" or even stochastic proccess). The attractive property of this
theory is that it allows humans to have free will yet still remain well
within the scientific paradigm....It also removes any need for a dualist
approach, which suffers heavily against this theory as Ocham's razor is keen
indeed.

If anyone has an extensive background in B-E condensation or quantum
theories of the mind, I would apprieciate a reply to check my knowledge, I'm
rather green in the area.

Bhupinder Singh Anand

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Feb 16, 2002, 12:05:36 AM2/16/02
to
Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3kln0$88r$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...

> ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:
> >Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3d2o4$peo$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...
> >> "c.l.sears" <c.l....@ntlworld.com> writes:
>
> >> >Since there are compelling arguments F & D, I can only conclude that both
> >> >exist. And when you think about it, it makes sense:
>
> >> I have not yet come upon any compelling arguments for determinism.
> >> The evidence seems to be against it.
>
> >Neil et al
> >==========
> >So it would seem.
>
> >Here is some recent correspondence that may be of peripheral interest
> >on this subject. Although not directly addressing the issue at hand,
> >the unusual context in which the issue of "determinism and free-will"
> >is raised is fascinating!
>
> >(The salient points of this correspondence form a significant part of
> >the PREAMBLE to a paper titled PARADOX REGAINED: LIFE BEYOND GOEDEL'S
> >SHADOW whose abstract I intend offering as a short communication in
>
> I'm not sure why you would want to connect this to Goedel's work.

Neil
====

why? Why?! WHY?!!

Damned if I know.

Perhaps, since I am currently obsessed with the implicit implications
of Goedel's reasoning, the universe appears an essentially
Goedel-centric "World according to G"!

(Thanks for placing things in perspective, and yet running with the
ball.)

>
> Goedel's incompleteness theorem is about limitation in systems of
> formal rules that we construct. The question of determinism is an
> empirical question, about the behavior of the natural world, and is
> independent of our construction of rules.
>

Yes. That is a reasonable thesis to take as a starting point. However,
it does contain Platonistic overtones as regards the (intuitively
implicit) distinction between what we "construct" and what we consider
"empirical".

A counter-Platonistic thesis - of interest to AI - would be that
"factual (or empirical) truth" belongs to our consciously constructed
intuitive "perceptions" just as abstractly as "formal (logical) truth"
belongs to our consciously constructed intellectual "formal systems"
(languages) of "communication".

In other words, "truth" does not "exist" outside "consciousness". Thus
there is no "factual (or empirical) truth" in the absence of conscious
intuitive "perception", just as there is no "formal (logical) truth"
in the absence of conscious intellectual "communication".

>
> You might perhaps argue that Goedel's result demonstrates that there
> are limitations on scientific laws that we may
> {construct,develop,discover}. But it is not obvious how it could
> constrain the natural world.
>

Yes. In fact I would argue further that Goedel's result not only does
not constrain our world of intuitively constructed body of "factual
(or empirical) truths", but it also does not constrain our
intellectually constructed body of "formal (or logical) truths".

The reason: I argue that Goedel's Generalisation Rule of Inference
essentially postulates as theorems formulas that translate as "true"
propositions over every element of every (unspecified) domain under
interpretation. If an interpretation has a non-constructive domain,
then Goedel's formal system essentially assigns non-verifiable "formal
(logical) truth" values to propositions that involve non-constructive
elements on the basis of constructive proof-sequences in the formal
system (which is assumed - and asserted by Goedel - to be constructive
and intuitionistically unobjectionable).

Clearly, from this point of view, such a formal system, and
particularly its non-intuitive theorems, are of limited relevance (and
practical use) to our languages where we essentially want to
faithfully communicate our intuitively constructed "factual
(empirical) truths" to another - since the essence of effective
communication is a common standard of constructive verifiability.

>
> >We may choose to define "factual truths" - as Goedel does - in
> >Platonistic terms as a characteristic of "relationships" that "exist"
> >in some "absolute" sense (i.e. even in the absence of any "perceiver")
> >between the "objects" of an external "ontology" (both of which are
> >also taken to "exist" in some "absolute" sense).
>
> From that perspective, the only "factual truths" available to us are
> abstract truths, such as those used by Goedel. There could be no
> empirical "factual truths" available to us, for we are forever stuck
> inside our world and unable to access the world from the perspective
> of the external ontologist.
>

Essentially, yes. However, that may not be the drawback it seems if we
treat "factual (or empirical) truths" as "subjective" abstract
concepts created by an individual intuition to reflect "perception",
and "formal (or logical) truths" as "objective" abstract concepts
created by an individual intelligence to reflect "communicability".

It does mean, however, questioning the concept of an "external
ontologist".

>
> >However, we are then faced with cogent, reasonable and irrefutable
> >classical arguments both for and against the proposition that every
> >event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedents
> >that are independent of the human will.
>
> I think not. Determinists are perhaps impressed by the determinism
> of our scientific laws. But these laws, even if correct, express
> only internal relations. Moreover, their determinism as laws only
> implies that the result is determined by the combination of the
> inputs and the laws. You would have to know, from an externalist
> viewpoint, how the inputs to our laws originate in order to be able
> to conclude anything about determinism as an empirical claim.
>

Yes. That is how one would broadly put the case against
micro-determinism. But a "determinist" would reasonably ask "How does
any individual input affect the result at the macro (statistical)
level?". The "Butterfly-in-China" effect only argues that every
individual action affects the future of the universe uniquely, but in
unspecified, and possibly unspecifiable, ways. So it can still be
reasonably argued that the Universe is completely "deterministic" at
the macro-level in the above sense of being overall independent of the
human will.

An interesting question: Does Entropy imply macro-determinism?

Neil W Rickert

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Feb 16, 2002, 1:43:50 PM2/16/02
to
ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:
>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3kln0$88r$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...
>> ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:
>> >Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3d2o4$peo$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...

>> >Here is some recent correspondence that may be of peripheral interest

>Neil
>====

>why? Why?! WHY?!!

>Damned if I know.

Actually, I do take the position that "truth" is a construct. And
there is certainly a sense in which our statements are constructed.
Still, if you are not a solipsist, then you would have to agree that
our constructs are constrained by reality. The question of
determinism then becomes the question of whether the constraints of
reality are total, or whether they still give us some freedom to
choose what we construct. You cannot reduce determinism to a purely
abstract question.

On the other hand, if you are a solipsist, I suppose you could
imagine up a completely deterministic world. Then you could use your
free will to knock it down, and then imagine up a completely
different deterministic world.

>> I think not. Determinists are perhaps impressed by the determinism
>> of our scientific laws. But these laws, even if correct, express
>> only internal relations. Moreover, their determinism as laws only
>> implies that the result is determined by the combination of the
>> inputs and the laws. You would have to know, from an externalist
>> viewpoint, how the inputs to our laws originate in order to be able
>> to conclude anything about determinism as an empirical claim.

>Yes. That is how one would broadly put the case against
>micro-determinism. But a "determinist" would reasonably ask "How does
>any individual input affect the result at the macro (statistical)
>level?". The "Butterfly-in-China" effect only argues that every
>individual action affects the future of the universe uniquely, but in
>unspecified, and possibly unspecifiable, ways. So it can still be
>reasonably argued that the Universe is completely "deterministic" at
>the macro-level in the above sense of being overall independent of the
>human will.

That argument is often given. But it is surely bogus. If there were
macro-level determinism, we would not be seeing reports of
micro-level indeterminism. For each such report is itself a
macro-level event that resulted from indeterminism.

>An interesting question: Does Entropy imply macro-determinism?

That does not make sense. You can perhaps ask whether the 2nd
law of thermodynamics implies macro-determinism, and maybe that is
what you intended.

But there is no such implication.

Bhupinder Singh Anand

unread,
Feb 16, 2002, 8:47:31 PM2/16/02
to
Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a4m996$sn6$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...

> ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:
>
> >In other words, "truth" does not "exist" outside "consciousness". Thus
> >there is no "factual (or empirical) truth" in the absence of conscious
> >intuitive "perception", just as there is no "formal (logical) truth"
> >in the absence of conscious intellectual "communication".
>
> Actually, I do take the position that "truth" is a construct. And
> there is certainly a sense in which our statements are constructed.
> Still, if you are not a solipsist, then you would have to agree that
> our constructs are constrained by reality.
>

A good point that raises the question: When are our "constructs"
"constrained by 'reality'"?

If I accept the "pre-existence" of a Platonistic "reality" that is
independent of my "perception" and "constructs", then it would be
unreasonable to deny that my "perceptions" and "constructs" are
"constrained by 'reality'" in some objective sense.

However, if I extrapolate the quantum-mechanical thesis (confusing
Schroedinger's eternally bewildered, possibly schizophrenic,
'cat-no-cat' even further) and view "reality" as having been "created"
by my "perceptions" at the instance of the "perception", then in what
sense could I reasonably hold that my "constructs" of "factual
(intuitive) truths" - which reflect my "perceptions" - or my
"constructs" of "formal (logical) truths" - which reflect my "desire
to communicate" my "constructs" of "factual (intuitive) truths" - are
"constrained by 'reality'"?

>
> The question of determinism then becomes the question of whether the
> constraints of reality are total, or whether they still give us some
> freedom to choose what we construct. You cannot reduce determinism to
> a purely abstract question.
>

Yes. The question of "determinism" is clearly meaningful and
significant within a Platonistic view of "reality". As you suggest, it
might even be impossible to express, or discuss, the concept
meaningfully in a world entirely of abstract "constructs" where we
enjoy, and excercise, "free will" without limitation.

> On the other hand, if you are a solipsist, I suppose you could
> imagine up a completely deterministic world. Then you could use your
> free will to knock it down, and then imagine up a completely
> different deterministic world.
>

Yes, this is conceivable. However, my very limited understanding of
"solipsists" is that they would prefer to part company when issues
involve attempts to "analyse" the "objective" nature of "reality".
They would rather address issues that involve attempts on how to
adequately "describe" the "subjective" "perceptions" that are, in a
sense, their "reality", expressed in "intuitive" and "formal" abstract
"constructs".

>
> >So it can still be reasonably argued that the Universe is completely
> >"deterministic" at the macro-level in the above sense of being overall
> >independent of the human will.
>
> That argument is often given. But it is surely bogus. If there were
> macro-level determinism, we would not be seeing reports of
> micro-level indeterminism. For each such report is itself a
> macro-level event that resulted from indeterminism.
>

Yes. A connection between instances of "free will" that abound around
us, and our instinctive sense of being but "pawns" in some gigantic
chessboard of a universe ruled by inexorable laws of an unknown, but
strongly felt, "destiny", is certainly difficult to "perceive" except
perhaps, curiously and paradoxically, through "blind" faith.

>
> >An interesting question: Does Entropy imply macro-determinism?
>
> That does not make sense. You can perhaps ask whether the 2nd
> law of thermodynamics implies macro-determinism, and maybe that is
> what you intended.
>

Sorry. That was indeed intended, but irresponsibly expressed. Thanks.

>
> But there is no such implication.
>

As an optimist, I would agree. But how would one adequately address
the issue when raised by a committed prophet of doom?

gmb

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Feb 17, 2002, 4:01:19 AM2/17/02
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"Bhupinder Singh Anand" <ana...@vsnl.com> wrote in message
news:ecee0276.02021...@posting.google.com...

I was born into reality. Everything in predictable order. Then I
found out about false awakenings and saw a nearly perfect
reality being generated by my imagination. Nearly perfect
because I sensed that the reality I saw was not quite the
same as to what I am used to seeing in reality. In another
situation I had an out of body experience after I fainted. I
fainted, lost full control of my body, but my consciousness
fully remained during the experience. A loud ringing noise
and heard everything as if came from a bucket from very far.
I was fully awaken. I thought I was dead. Then I floated out
of my body and found a very similar situation to false awakening.
I saw my surroundings. But it did not feel the same real. I
also saw a silver thingy running from where I was floating
to my physical body. Weird. But, the moment I heard the
people around me say: "he is not dead", in an instant I
found myself in my body again. Slow separation. Instant
return. What does this tell you? My mind that generated
the image of the experience generates it based on chances.
But why does it feel so different to be out of body or having
false awakenings from actual reality? Because one involves
the physical body and it's "hardware", and the other is a
mental recreation only without having real senses to the
real world. But is reality real? Even if it is some simulation
that is meant to appear real, it is the only reality we know;
assuming of course that we share the same reality, and
how could we even test something like that? We share
the same physical world to start with. We share information
about the same environment and often attribute similar
appreciation and feelings about the world we experience.

> > The question of determinism then becomes the question of whether the
> > constraints of reality are total, or whether they still give us some
> > freedom to choose what we construct. You cannot reduce determinism to
> > a purely abstract question.
> >
>
> Yes. The question of "determinism" is clearly meaningful and
> significant within a Platonistic view of "reality". As you suggest, it
> might even be impossible to express, or discuss, the concept
> meaningfully in a world entirely of abstract "constructs" where we
> enjoy, and excercise, "free will" without limitation.

But the problems about free will surface exactly when one
encounters boundaries. I think it is an issue that involves
instincts. Instincts deal with and handle vast amounts of
information parallel at once. But when consciousness reaches
a limit in perception regarding one's own knowledge base,
free will in a way is blocked. I know I am trying to surface an
abstract issue, if I could be clearer about it, but don't know
how at this point. I guess I am just mumbling here for now.

George

gmb

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Feb 17, 2002, 4:31:05 AM2/17/02
to
"gmb" <g...@nomail.com> wrote in message
news:zjKb8.3982$UT6....@rwcrnsc52.ops.asp.att.net...

Now watch. I return to the world of "I don't know". To the
boundaries of my world that I know. And weird things begin
happening to my behavior and mind. In a sense schisophrenic.
My imagination does not know what to make of the abstract
information and my imagination begins to play tricks on me.
It's like crossing the line of reality into the world of chaos
and random not natural things begin happening. I return to
the straightforward world that I see and saw from childhood,
and I return to being normal. I really have no idea if this
makes any sense to anyone here.

George

Neil W Rickert

unread,
Feb 17, 2002, 10:04:25 AM2/17/02
to
ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:
>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a4m996$sn6$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...
>> ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:

>> >In other words, "truth" does not "exist" outside "consciousness". Thus
>> >there is no "factual (or empirical) truth" in the absence of conscious
>> >intuitive "perception", just as there is no "formal (logical) truth"
>> >in the absence of conscious intellectual "communication".

>> Actually, I do take the position that "truth" is a construct. And
>> there is certainly a sense in which our statements are constructed.
>> Still, if you are not a solipsist, then you would have to agree that
>> our constructs are constrained by reality.

>A good point that raises the question: When are our "constructs"
>"constrained by 'reality'"?

Roughly speaking, they are constrained by reality when we want them
to be so constrained. When we are trying to make as accurate a
representation of reality as we can, then obviously we want that
to be as constrained as possible.

For example, if we are taking a photograph we would normally want
reality to constrain the resulting photograph as much as possible.
On the other hand, if we are building a camera, we want as much
flexibility as possible, so as to be able to use a telephoto lens or
a wide angle lens. Still, our freedom is not complete, for if we
want to be able to use the camera to make useful photographs then we
are constrained by various requirements on focussing, etc.

>If I accept the "pre-existence" of a Platonistic "reality" that is
>independent of my "perception" and "constructs", then it would be
>unreasonable to deny that my "perceptions" and "constructs" are
>"constrained by 'reality'" in some objective sense.

>However, if I extrapolate the quantum-mechanical thesis (confusing
>Schroedinger's eternally bewildered, possibly schizophrenic,
>'cat-no-cat' even further) and view "reality" as having been "created"
>by my "perceptions" at the instance of the "perception", then in what
>sense could I reasonably hold that my "constructs" of "factual
>(intuitive) truths" - which reflect my "perceptions" - or my
>"constructs" of "formal (logical) truths" - which reflect my "desire
>to communicate" my "constructs" of "factual (intuitive) truths" - are
>"constrained by 'reality'"?

That's a pretty solipsistic view. A more reasonable idea is that we
construct our perceptions to usefully guide us in our behavior. And
for this, they need to be highly constrained by reality.


>> >An interesting question: Does Entropy imply macro-determinism?

>> That does not make sense. You can perhaps ask whether the 2nd
>> law of thermodynamics implies macro-determinism, and maybe that is
>> what you intended.

>Sorry. That was indeed intended, but irresponsibly expressed. Thanks.

>> But there is no such implication.

>As an optimist, I would agree. But how would one adequately address
>the issue when raised by a committed prophet of doom?

The 2nd law is a statistical law, about averages. You cannot make
specific predictions with it. Compare the Law of Large Numbers,
sometimes loosely referred to as the Law of Averages. You cannot use
it to predict the outcome of the next spin of the Roulette wheel,
although it will tell you something about averages after many spins.

Mark

unread,
Feb 17, 2002, 10:45:16 PM2/17/02
to
>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3d2o4$peo$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...
>> I have not yet come upon any compelling arguments for determinism.
>> The evidence seems to be against it.

Evidence is irrelevant. It's a trivial exercise to make anything
determinstic by adding to it, as a hidden variable, the complete list
of future outcomes. Then it's automatically true that whatever laws
govern its evolution, taken in conjunction with the hidden variable (the
list) completely determines its entire future course. Hell, you don't
even need laws, the list will do just fine. Of course, it helps to
have some laws anyway, to factor out the redundancy of the list.

Neil W Rickert

unread,
Feb 18, 2002, 12:01:19 AM2/18/02
to
whop...@alpha2.csd.uwm.edu (Mark) writes:
>>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3d2o4$peo$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...

>>> I have not yet come upon any compelling arguments for determinism.
>>> The evidence seems to be against it.

>Evidence is irrelevant. It's a trivial exercise to make anything
>determinstic by adding to it, as a hidden variable, the complete list
>of future outcomes.

However, that has nothing much to do with the question of
determinism, usually take as whether all future outcomes are already
predetermined by past events.

IPmonger

unread,
Feb 18, 2002, 1:34:36 AM2/18/02
to

Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> said:
> I have not yet come upon any compelling arguments for
> determinism. The evidence seems to be against it.

whop...@alpha2.csd.uwm.edu (Mark) replied:

> Evidence is irrelevant. It's a trivial exercise to make anything
> determinstic by adding to it, as a hidden variable, the complete list
> of future outcomes.

and Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> writes in response:

> However, that has nothing much to do with the question of
> determinism, usually take as whether all future outcomes are already
> predetermined by past events.

Determinism usually means that the set of actual outcomes - defined
as a strict subset of all possible outcomes - is generated by a factor
or factors which pre-existed the beginning of time. As with most
things, you'll find people (at least in recent years) falling along a
spectrum between strong (mechanistic) and weak (stochastic)
determinism.

For those who believe in God, determinism implies that God's will -
which pre-existed time - is the relevant factor which determines which
actual outcomes appear. This, in turn, implies that either:

a) humans have no autonomy (strong determinism) or

b) that autonomy is real, but is irrelevant (weak determinism)

There are suitable translations to other "higher powers or forces"
for those who do not subscribe to the notion of the Judeo-Christian
God. Many modern atheists who are determinists would track their
belief in determinism back to the Big Bang.

Strong determinists are rarer these days than they were even into
the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This strong determinism was
widely influenced by Newton's explanations of physics and the
improvements in technologies (machines) to manipulate the physical
world. The universe was seen as a giant mechanism that would
mindlessly carry out the actions which were designed into it.

Weak determinists tend to see dependency and causality between all
situations, usually through a misapplication of statistics. For
example, if flipping a coin repeatedly yields "tails", weak
determinists believe that "heads" is more likely to occur on the next
try. This position seems to be largely influenced by attempts to
raise the general level of knowledge of the average citizen of Western
countries. It has been reinforced by the drastic improvements in the
technologies (computers) for manipulating the intellectual world.

Weak determinism is an improvement over the formerly popular strong
determinism position, but both are at odds with the data that we can
observe from the universe around us. The most promising remaining
hope for weak determinists is chaos theory. Perhaps the dependency is
there, but is so weak that in local measurements it fails to appear;
only upon "zooming out" can we see that there is a larger pattern in
which it appears.

Determinism is hard to give up on as a philosophical viewpoint
because it is intimately tied to perceptions of causality. Denial of
determinism *seems* to imply a denial of causality to the more casual
observer. If there is a causal relationship between A & B and B & C,
this would *seem* to imply that one exists between A & C. The question
of whether or not causality is transitive is the same as whether or
not causality is non-local.

What does this mean for the AI minded? Each important question that
AI researches can be influenced by a deterministic perception. For
example:

What actually constitutes intelligence? "Ownership" of intelligence
is generally deemed to be something inherent in the entity exhibiting
said intelligent behavior. Interestingly, a belief in determinism
implies that no *activity* can ever demonstrate genuine intelligence
since it is all pre-determined. Therefore, no entity can inherently
"own" intelligence. All entities are equally intelligent in that we
are all just "computing" our particular piece of the universal
program. So, AI is nothing *more* than computer science, with humans
as a complicated computing device.

Of course, we are free to re-define our notion of intelligence to
encompass any activity that was generated by intelligence even if the
intelligence is not inherent in the entity performing the
action. [I.E. the Chinese Room *does* understand Chinese as a system,
even if no particular part does]. In this case, the intelligence
inherent in the system is either "owned" by God (as Master Designer)
or is purely accidental (random universe model). But, in either case,
AI becomes a means for exploring (and appreciating!) the inherent
intelligence of the "system."

However, absent a belief in determinism, AI becomes much more
exciting /to me/: AI becomes an opportunity to participate in the
creation of newly intelligent entities. To bring into being something
that previously did not exist and would not otherwise have developed.
And, in the process, to better understand my fellow humans - or was
that fellow AI constructs? :-)

-IPmonger
--
------------------
IPmonger
ipmo...@delamancha.org

gmb

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Feb 18, 2002, 2:31:52 AM2/18/02
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"IPmonger" <ipmo...@delamancha.org> wrote in message
news:m3bsenu...@cornelius.delamancha.org...

It's been the Roman Catholic church that attributed to the super-
power that the western civilization has grown into. To improve
the average intellectual level of people is based on the realization
of what constitutes to being civilized. A person unable to read
and write is a less beneficial to the citizen compared to a person
who is literate. More educated people can benefit the society
better. The internet culture has given a huge boom to information
recently. In fact, we are experiencing an information overload
already. Kids these days are far far more informed as a result.
Intelligence really narrows down to being informed about the
world and of the events in the world if that is what you mean
here.

That is stupid. Because we react based on our available knowledge
to situations. That knowledge is owned in our frame. From our frame
of reference the Universe is chaotic. If there would be no surprises,
than there would be no intelligence. So once we can predict the
weather in the Universe with perfect accuracy, we may be talking
about not being intelligent. Oh, but then God (all knowing) would
not be intelligent either. So nothing we speak here makes too
much sense, does it?

George

Jim Balter

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Feb 18, 2002, 6:08:15 AM2/18/02
to

If you a take pan off the fire, I predict that it will cool down.

> Compare the Law of Large Numbers,
> sometimes loosely referred to as the Law of Averages. You cannot use
> it to predict the outcome of the next spin of the Roulette wheel,
> although it will tell you something about averages after many spins.


--
<J Q B>

IPmonger

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Feb 18, 2002, 3:11:33 PM2/18/02
to

George,

I had some trouble following your commentary. Comments in-line.

"gmb" <g...@nomail.com> writes:

> It's been the Roman Catholic church that attributed to the

> super-power that the western civilization has grown into.

Perhaps you meant to say "contributed" rather than "attributed"?

> To improve the average intellectual level of people is based on the
> realization of what constitutes to being civilized. A person unable
> to read and write is a less beneficial to the citizen compared to a
> person who is literate. More educated people can benefit the society
> better.

This is true.

> The internet culture has given a huge boom to information recently.
> In fact, we are experiencing an information overload already. Kids
> these days are far far more informed as a result.

While it is true that there has been an information explosion
triggered by the ready availability of the Internet, information !=
education. Information is a necessary precondition of education, but
it is not sufficient by itself. Intelligence requires applying a
mental model of the world to the information at hand. Education is
teaching others how to form mental models.

> Intelligence really narrows down to being informed about the world
> and of the events in the world if that is what you mean here.

I have a hard time defining intelligence in abstract - it seems like
intelligence is something that exists only in a given context, which
seems to be what you're saying here.

However, my point was that the mental models people use to
understand the world have evolved over time. As the level of
education of the average person has increased in the West, the mental
models have changed. Indeed, since the Industrial Revolution, they
have tended to track the advances of technology.

> That is stupid.

Are you saying that the conclusion is stupid? Or that my
understanding of determinism and it's implication is flawed?

> Because we react based on our available knowledge to situations.
> That knowledge is owned in our frame.

Are you saying that we are "owners" of intelligence within our frame
of reference? Or are you saying that that our "frame" - including us
- collectively owns the intelligence?

> From our frame of reference the Universe is chaotic. If there
> would be no surprises, than there would be no intelligence. So once
> we can predict the weather in the Universe with perfect accuracy, we
> may be talking about not being intelligent.

Do you mean chaotic in the sense of random/unpredictable? Or do you
mean chaotic in the sense of Chaos Theory?

> Oh, but then God (all knowing) would not be intelligent either. So
> nothing we speak here makes too much sense, does it?

Not necessarily, since God != the universe. Therefore, God is not
limited by the properties of the universe. Indeed, one could easily
speculate that a creator of a completely deterministic universe might
have created *multiple* universes - some deterministic and some
non-deterministic.

The existence of any single non-deterministic universe implies that
God is also non-deterministic. However, the *absence* of a
non-deterministic universe does *not* imply that God is completely
deterministic. I find it difficult to imagine that a God who was
completely deterministic would be intelligent - in any sense of the
word.

Mark

unread,
Feb 18, 2002, 8:26:11 PM2/18/02
to
In article <a4q1qv$imh$5...@husk.cso.niu.edu> Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> writes:
>However, that has nothing much to do with the question of
>determinism, usually take as whether all future outcomes are already
>predetermined by past events.

Which, however, has everything to do with the question of determinism,
since part of that predetermination may include an explicit listing of
all future outcomes.

Bhupinder Singh Anand

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Feb 19, 2002, 1:48:23 AM2/19/02
to
Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a4ogpp$rp0$2...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...

> ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:
>
> >A good point that raises the question: When are our "constructs"
> >"constrained by 'reality'"?
>
> Roughly speaking, they are constrained by reality when we want them
> to be so constrained. When we are trying to make as accurate a
> representation of reality as we can, then obviously we want that
> to be as constrained as possible. ...
>
> ... A more reasonable idea is that we construct our perceptions to usefully

> guide us in our behavior. And for this, they need to be highly constrained
> by reality.
>

This raises an interesting question: Is it _really_ "meaningful", or
"useful", to talk of a common "Reality", implicitly implying a
"common" ontological domain?

Would it reflect our "experiences" more faithfully if, instead, we
somehow individualise the domains of our "interpretations" to reflect
your "reality", my "reality" etc.?

In other words, should our formal languages be divorced completely
from the concept of representing "Reality", in the sense that we
restrict the domain of any formal system (language) to contain only
"commonly constructible elements"?

The concept of "reality" woud then be reflected only in individual
interpretations, each of which would be both unique and non-standard
by definition, with no two interpretations being isomorphic?

The significance of such a paradigm shift would be that our languages
would no longer be intended to represent and describe "Reality", but
only that which is common to your "perception" of your "reality", my
"perception" of my "reality", etc.

Concepts such as "truth", "consistency", "completeness" etc. could
then be characteristics of our modes of communication, rather than
characteristics of the "content" of our communication.

>
> The 2nd law is a statistical law, about averages. You cannot make
> specific predictions with it. Compare the Law of Large Numbers,
> sometimes loosely referred to as the Law of Averages. You cannot use
> it to predict the outcome of the next spin of the Roulette wheel,
> although it will tell you something about averages after many spins.
>

Yes, indeed. In fact all laws, on the above view, would perhaps be
statistically arrived at, reflecting only that which is common to our
"experiences".

gmb

unread,
Feb 19, 2002, 3:52:23 AM2/19/02
to
"IPmonger" <ipmo...@delamancha.org> wrote in message
news:m3vgcus...@cornelius.delamancha.org...

Good questions. Thanks. I'll think about them.

George

Daniel

unread,
Feb 19, 2002, 8:13:07 AM2/19/02
to
Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3d2o4$peo$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...

Are you talking about things this funny dictionary definition?

: determinism n. The philosophical doctrine that every event,

: act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedents

: that are independent of the human will.
: (The American Heritage Dictionary
: Copyright (c) 1986, 1987)

This is clearly pseudoscientific by modern standards (not to mention
crazy by any standards) because it assumes that there is something
called "the human will" can can be separated from nature, in order for
nature (the antecedents) to be unaffected by it... and then goes
further and declares it irrelevant anyway.

I'd define determinism as something like: The philosophical doctrine
that anything you observe is bound by the laws of nature, and
emphasises that the human will is not exempt from this, and hence the
behaviour of human beings is predictable to whatever degree any other
aspect of nature is predictable.

Anyone itching to mention QM, please note the second clause... if you
think QM says nature is inherently unpredictable, then I guess people
are as well. I don't think QM says that at all - I think it says that
if you insist on interpreting very small things as localised
particles, and you ask "where is the particle," then the answer will
be unpredictable. If you are happy to interpret very small things as
waves, then those waves evolve perfectly predictably, just like light
waves.

But personally I think that's irrelevant. Brains are (a) internally
very complicated and (b) have a very complicated relationship with
their environment.

It's (b) that is the real killer for the idea of simulating a brain
and predicting its future states. You need to drive it with the same
inputs as you run it for the simulated timespan, so you need to
simulate the whole detectable environment over that time, or else it
would diverge rapidly (butterfly effect.)

So what is your definition of determinism, what is a compelling
argument against it, and what evidence is there against it?

Neil W Rickert

unread,
Feb 19, 2002, 12:56:25 PM2/19/02
to
sp...@earwicker.com (Daniel) writes:
>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a3d2o4$peo$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...
>> "c.l.sears" <c.l....@ntlworld.com> writes:

>> >Since there are compelling arguments F & D, I can only conclude that both
>> >exist. And when you think about it, it makes sense:

>> I have not yet come upon any compelling arguments for determinism.
>> The evidence seems to be against it.

>Are you talking about things this funny dictionary definition?

>: determinism n. The philosophical doctrine that every event,
>: act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedents
>: that are independent of the human will.
>: (The American Heritage Dictionary
>: Copyright (c) 1986, 1987)

>This is clearly pseudoscientific by modern standards (not to mention
>crazy by any standards) because it assumes that there is something
>called "the human will" can can be separated from nature, in order for
>nature (the antecedents) to be unaffected by it... and then goes
>further and declares it irrelevant anyway.

There is nothing pseudo-scientific about that. Dictionary
definitions do not claim to be scientific. They are intended as a
usage guide to people. As long as "human will" is commonly used in
ordinary speech, it is alright to make reference to that in a
dictionary definition.

I do disagree with the definition. Philosophers often argue about
whether determinism denies the possibility of free will. There is
something wrong with a definition of determism that ignores the
distinctions that are commonly made between the two.

>I'd define determinism as something like: The philosophical doctrine
>that anything you observe is bound by the laws of nature, and
>emphasises that the human will is not exempt from this, and hence the
>behaviour of human beings is predictable to whatever degree any other
>aspect of nature is predictable.

After your complaint about the dictionary use "the human will", you
go ahead and use it anyway :-( . The problem with your definition is
that what the right hand giveth ("is predictable"), the left hand
taketh away ("to whatever degree ...").

>Anyone itching to mention QM, please note the second clause... if you
>think QM says nature is inherently unpredictable, then I guess people
>are as well. I don't think QM says that at all - I think it says that
>if you insist on interpreting very small things as localised
>particles, and you ask "where is the particle," then the answer will
>be unpredictable. If you are happy to interpret very small things as
>waves, then those waves evolve perfectly predictably, just like light
>waves.

Wow! You are confused. Try predicting which atom in a chunk of
radium will be next to decay, and try predicting exactly when it will
decay.

>But personally I think that's irrelevant. Brains are (a) internally
>very complicated and (b) have a very complicated relationship with
>their environment.

>It's (b) that is the real killer for the idea of simulating a brain
>and predicting its future states. You need to drive it with the same
>inputs as you run it for the simulated timespan, so you need to
>simulate the whole detectable environment over that time, or else it
>would diverge rapidly (butterfly effect.)

>So what is your definition of determinism, what is a compelling
>argument against it, and what evidence is there against it?

I don't try to define determinism. The vague dictionary definitions
will have to do. In my opinion, no precise definition is possible,
and the concept is an ill conceived one.

Neil W Rickert

unread,
Feb 19, 2002, 1:56:42 PM2/19/02
to
ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:
>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a4ogpp$rp0$2...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...
>> ana...@vsnl.com (Bhupinder Singh Anand) writes:

>> >A good point that raises the question: When are our "constructs"
>> >"constrained by 'reality'"?

>> Roughly speaking, they are constrained by reality when we want them
>> to be so constrained. When we are trying to make as accurate a
>> representation of reality as we can, then obviously we want that
>> to be as constrained as possible. ...

>> ... A more reasonable idea is that we construct our perceptions to usefully
>> guide us in our behavior. And for this, they need to be highly constrained
>> by reality.

>This raises an interesting question: Is it _really_ "meaningful", or
>"useful", to talk of a common "Reality", implicitly implying a
>"common" ontological domain?

I'm not sure why there has to be any implication of a common
*ontological* domain.

>Would it reflect our "experiences" more faithfully if, instead, we
>somehow individualise the domains of our "interpretations" to reflect
>your "reality", my "reality" etc.?

We live in communities, and we communicate with one another. If we
claim that we each have only our own private reality, then that would
rule out communication.

We have a common understanding of reality because of our mutual
communication. What is common, or shared, is what we can (more or
less) agree upon. Whatever is entirely private is incommunicable.

I suggest that "reality" simply refers to what we are able to
mutually communicate. The idealist (in the style of Berkeley) and
the naive realist can each have very different ontological
assumptions. Yet what they discuss can serve as a common reality,
even if there is no common underlying ontological domain on which
they can agree.

>In other words, should our formal languages be divorced completely
>from the concept of representing "Reality", in the sense that we
>restrict the domain of any formal system (language) to contain only
>"commonly constructible elements"?

Hmm. In my opinion, our formal languages are automatically divorced
from reality. They can represent only an abstract reality. Our
formal languages are not capable of representing our experiences. We
can represent our experiences, and bring that representation to our
formal discussions. But the formal languages themselves do not
represent anything in the real world.

>The concept of "reality" woud then be reflected only in individual
>interpretations, each of which would be both unique and non-standard
>by definition, with no two interpretations being isomorphic?

Take P as your private reality. Take Q as my private reality. For
the moment, we shall assume that these exist, for the sake of our
discussion.

We each discuss things about reality. And we agree about much.

We might say that there is some function F which maps your reality
into to content of agreeable speech. And similarly, there is a
function G that maps my private reality into agreeable speech
(conversation where we can agree).

In order for us to be able to share in agreeable speech, we must blur
some distinctions. You might be able to distinguish between x and y
in your P. But, to allow communication, you find that F(x) = F(y).

This introduces an equivalence relation. Say that x ~ u if F(x) =
F(y). Denote by R_F, that equivalence relation. Similarly, I have
an equivalence relation R_G.

We can take the quotient spaces. For you, that will be P/R_F, and
for me that will be Q/R_G. These quotient spaces are isomorphic, and
our shared language implements the isomorphism. The word "reality"
then just refers to either of these quotient spaces, treated as
equivalent. That your ontological committments are to P, and mine
are to Q, is only of private interest.

This is, of course, a gross simplification. Agreement in speech is
never perfect, and we are never certain where there is disagreement.

>The significance of such a paradigm shift would be that our languages
>would no longer be intended to represent and describe "Reality", but
>only that which is common to your "perception" of your "reality", my
>"perception" of my "reality", etc.

>Concepts such as "truth", "consistency", "completeness" etc. could
>then be characteristics of our modes of communication, rather than
>characteristics of the "content" of our communication.

Philosophy has made a mess of "truth". The main traditions of
philosophy come from a creationist view, where reality is what God
perceives, and truth is what God says is true. Although most
comtemporary philosophers disavow creationism, they have failed to
eradicate its influence in their assumptions. Thus most of
philosophy rests on a bogus notion of "truth".

Bhupinder Singh Anand

unread,
Feb 19, 2002, 5:40:07 PM2/19/02
to
Jim Balter <j...@digisle.net> wrote in message news:<3C70E0AD...@digisle.net>...

> Neil W Rickert wrote:
> > The 2nd law is a statistical law, about averages. You cannot make
> > specific predictions with it.
>
> If you a take pan off the fire, I predict that it will cool down.
>

JIM
===

You have a point there.

I suspect that Neil was implying "logical consequence" within a
"formal system" containing the 2nd Law, rather than the "physical
causality" we experience from which the "formal system" is, in a
sense, "extracted".

What is interesting is that, possibly for both ease and richness of
communication, we find it more effective to use the same words in
differing contexts. These may sometimes lead to absurd conclusions.
However, they also, occasionally and refreshingly, lead to unexpected
insights into the broader implications not only of our expression, but
sometimes also of our intent.

Daniel

unread,
Feb 19, 2002, 9:33:04 PM2/19/02
to
Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a4u3k9$fl6$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...

> sp...@earwicker.com (Daniel) writes:
>
> >I'd define determinism as something like: The philosophical doctrine
> >that anything you observe is bound by the laws of nature, and
> >emphasises that the human will is not exempt from this, and hence the
> >behaviour of human beings is predictable to whatever degree any other
> >aspect of nature is predictable.
>
> After your complaint about the dictionary use "the human will", you
> go ahead and use it anyway :-( .

We're talking about a viewpoint developed in reaction to the idea of
free will. It is about reducing free will to a mythical, invented
construct. This is the main point of it! My complaint was not that the
dictionary definition referred to human will, but that it left open
the possibility of the existence of human will. The real implication
of determinism is that free human will can be entirely discarded when
considering how the world works.

You just think determinism is junk but you're not prepared to say much
about why, is that a fair summary?

> The problem with your definition is
> that what the right hand giveth ("is predictable"), the left hand
> taketh away ("to whatever degree ...").

I'm simply avoiding claiming that the world is inherently
"predictable" given that predictability is another thorny question.
Like I say, determinism is about putting human beings in their proper
place, not one of the fundamental forces of nature. It doesn't
necessarily make them predictable any more than weather is
predictable.

> >Anyone itching to mention QM, please note the second clause... if you
> >think QM says nature is inherently unpredictable, then I guess people
> >are as well. I don't think QM says that at all - I think it says that
> >if you insist on interpreting very small things as localised
> >particles, and you ask "where is the particle," then the answer will
> >be unpredictable. If you are happy to interpret very small things as
> >waves, then those waves evolve perfectly predictably, just like light
> >waves.
>
> Wow! You are confused. Try predicting which atom in a chunk of
> radium will be next to decay, and try predicting exactly when it will
> decay.

I'm confused? To paraphrase myself: "If you insist on asking when and
where the next decay will occur, the answer will be unpredictable."
Maybe I'm confused, or maybe you skipped a couple of sentences when
you read my post, I don't know.

Or maybe I'm just talking about rejecting the
objective-collapse-of-the-wavefunction stuff invoked by Penrose, and
you're linking radioactive decay to the operation of the brain! Do you
have fission products flying out of your ears?

Neil W Rickert

unread,
Feb 20, 2002, 3:06:49 PM2/20/02
to
sp...@earwicker.com (Daniel) writes:
>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message news:<a4u3k9$fl6$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...
>> sp...@earwicker.com (Daniel) writes:

>> >I'd define determinism as something like: The philosophical doctrine
>> >that anything you observe is bound by the laws of nature, and
>> >emphasises that the human will is not exempt from this, and hence the
>> >behaviour of human beings is predictable to whatever degree any other
>> >aspect of nature is predictable.

>> After your complaint about the dictionary use "the human will", you
>> go ahead and use it anyway :-( .

>We're talking about a viewpoint developed in reaction to the idea of
>free will. It is about reducing free will to a mythical, invented
>construct. This is the main point of it! My complaint was not that the
>dictionary definition referred to human will, but that it left open
>the possibility of the existence of human will.

It is not the job of a dictionary to settle those questions.

> The real implication
>of determinism is that free human will can be entirely discarded when
>considering how the world works.

This is disputed. That is to say, it has been disputed and will no
doubt be disputed in the future. There is a point of view known a
"compatibilism" which claims that free will is compatible with
determinism. See, for example, Dennett's book "Elbow Room: the
Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting".

>You just think determinism is junk but you're not prepared to say much
>about why, is that a fair summary?

What I said, was that "the evidence seems to be against it." The
proponents of determinism rarely offer supportive empirical
evidence. They mainly offer rhetoric. But if you would care to
offer some empirical evidence for determinism, there might be some
things I could say about that.

>> The problem with your definition is
>> that what the right hand giveth ("is predictable"), the left hand
>> taketh away ("to whatever degree ...").

>I'm simply avoiding claiming that the world is inherently
>"predictable" given that predictability is another thorny question.
>Like I say, determinism is about putting human beings in their proper
>place, not one of the fundamental forces of nature. It doesn't
>necessarily make them predictable any more than weather is
>predictable.

And have you appointed yourself God, that you should put people in
their "proper place"?

>> >Anyone itching to mention QM, please note the second clause... if you
>> >think QM says nature is inherently unpredictable, then I guess people
>> >are as well. I don't think QM says that at all - I think it says that
>> >if you insist on interpreting very small things as localised
>> >particles, and you ask "where is the particle," then the answer will
>> >be unpredictable. If you are happy to interpret very small things as
>> >waves, then those waves evolve perfectly predictably, just like light
>> >waves.

>> Wow! You are confused. Try predicting which atom in a chunk of
>> radium will be next to decay, and try predicting exactly when it will
>> decay.

>I'm confused? To paraphrase myself: "If you insist on asking when and
>where the next decay will occur, the answer will be unpredictable."
>Maybe I'm confused, or maybe you skipped a couple of sentences when
>you read my post, I don't know.

But if you look at only the gamma radiation from a radioactive
substance, and view that only as a wave phenomenon, it is still not
predictable. Your statement above appears to say otherwise.

>Or maybe I'm just talking about rejecting the
>objective-collapse-of-the-wavefunction stuff invoked by Penrose, and

Okay. I reject that too.

>you're linking radioactive decay to the operation of the brain! Do you

Where did I link radioactive decay to the operation of the brain? Or
are you making this up as you go along?

pk

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 3:30:01 AM2/21/02
to
I am new to this discussion. But I can say one thing with authority. We must
stop thinking of GOD as an almighty entity. The minute we start to put
attributes we are actually engraving imperfections. We must think in terms
of energy and processes........

"IPmonger" <ipmo...@delamancha.org> wrote in message
news:m3vgcus...@cornelius.delamancha.org...

Jim Balter

unread,
Feb 21, 2002, 11:21:50 PM2/21/02
to
Bhupinder Singh Anand wrote:
>
> Jim Balter <j...@digisle.net> wrote in message news:<3C70E0AD...@digisle.net>...
> > Neil W Rickert wrote:
> > > The 2nd law is a statistical law, about averages. You cannot make
> > > specific predictions with it.
> >
> > If you a take pan off the fire, I predict that it will cool down.
> >
>
> JIM
> ===
>
> You have a point there.
>
> I suspect that Neil was implying "logical consequence" within a
> "formal system" containing the 2nd Law, rather than the "physical
> causality" we experience from which the "formal system" is, in a
> sense, "extracted".

There are no *logical* consequences in the physical world.
Taken that way, we can't predict anything.
All physical laws are statistical in their application to
the physical world because the state of the physical world
is uncertain. But if we take the physical laws and some
hypothetical detailed description of the state of the universe,
and focus on a specific pan that has just been removed from
the fire, we can *logically deduce* the probability that,
at time t1, it will be "cool", however specified.
The 2nd law is a shorthand, a synopsis of the physical laws
and what they imply about heat transfer. As such, its
predictions are no less valid than predictions from the
physical laws that it summarizes.

> What is interesting is that, possibly for both ease and richness of
> communication, we find it more effective to use the same words in
> differing contexts. These may sometimes lead to absurd conclusions.
> However, they also, occasionally and refreshingly, lead to unexpected
> insights into the broader implications not only of our expression, but
> sometimes also of our intent.

Yes indeedy. But what we most often see, as in this case, is that
people apply concepts inconsistently in ways that favor one proposition
or the other -- much of what seems "logical" simply isn't to be trusted.

--
<J Q B>

Bhupinder Singh Anand

unread,
Feb 22, 2002, 6:39:34 AM2/22/02
to
Jim Balter <j...@digisle.net> wrote in message news:<3C75C75C...@digisle.net>...

>
> Bhupinder Singh Anand wrote:
> >
> > Jim Balter <j...@digisle.net> wrote in message news:<3C70E0AD...@digisle.net>...
> > >
> > > Neil W Rickert wrote:
> > > >
> > > > The 2nd law is a statistical law, about averages. You cannot make
> > > > specific predictions with it.
> > >
> > > If you a take pan off the fire, I predict that it will cool down.
> > >
> >
> > I suspect that Neil was implying "logical consequence" within a
> > "formal system" containing the 2nd Law, rather than the "physical
> > causality" we experience from which the "formal system" is, in a
> > sense, "extracted".
>
> There are no *logical* consequences in the physical world.
> Taken that way, we can't predict anything.
> All physical laws are statistical in their application to
> the physical world because the state of the physical world
> is uncertain. But if we take the physical laws and some
> hypothetical detailed description of the state of the universe,
> and focus on a specific pan that has just been removed from
> the fire, we can *logically deduce* the probability that,
> at time t1, it will be "cool", however specified.
> The 2nd law is a shorthand, a synopsis of the physical laws
> and what they imply about heat transfer. As such, its
> predictions are no less valid than predictions from the
> physical laws that it summarizes.
>

JIM
===

Yes, of course. That also raises another interesting point.

Our direct experience with hot pans is that they invariably cool down
(that is what lets me enjoy a cup of steaming, nearly scalding tea on
a cold winter morning).

So how does our current description of the process ascribe a
probability to the cooling-down process? Such a description clearly,
in a sense even "logically", implies that I might some day take a pan
off the fire and (if Red Tavia's God were to be in a particularly
mischievious mood, but felt kindly towards Tavia) find it heating up
even further!

If I really could experience the 2nd Law as a "physical law", similar
to my experience with "gravity" when I jump from a height, it might
just take the edge off my enjoyment of a cup of steaming-hot tea on a
cold winter morning!

So how should we go about distinguishing between our physical
experiences of "reality", which seem to be based on individual,
unique, never-to-be-exactly-repeated, one-off, sensory "perceptions",
and our intellectual, abstract "constructs" that attempt to describe,
and in a sense "capture", the common "essence" of our experiences in a
communicable language?

Jim Balter

unread,
Feb 22, 2002, 4:45:33 PM2/22/02
to

The probability of this is less than the probability that, say,
we will only imagine it happening due to our neurons entering an
unlikely state. So for any practical purpose, the probability
is zero.



> If I really could experience the 2nd Law as a "physical law", similar
> to my experience with "gravity" when I jump from a height,

Feeling pans cool is *exactly* like experiencing gravity.
When you jump, you *could* hover -- after all, the location of the
atoms of your body and of the earth and of the rest of the universe
is not strictly determined. Note that the inverse square law applies
to point masses, but the universe isn't made of such. The "center of
mass" of an object is a fiction -- hell, "objects" are a fiction;
but a damn convenient one, because, for all practical purposes
at the mid-level where we live (when we're not conducting
physics experiments), reality coincides with fiction for objects
and gravity and cooling pans (by which I mean that the fiction
always yields accurate predictions; one need not commit to
any particular ontology in re "reality").

> it might
> just take the edge off my enjoyment of a cup of steaming-hot tea on a
> cold winter morning!

It "might", with an effective probability of zero.

> So how should we go about distinguishing between our physical
> experiences of "reality", which seem to be based on individual,
> unique, never-to-be-exactly-repeated, one-off, sensory "perceptions",
> and our intellectual, abstract "constructs" that attempt to describe,
> and in a sense "capture", the common "essence" of our experiences in a
> communicable language?

They're both inferences to the best explanation.
You might read David Deutsch's _The Fabric of Reality_
for an accessible discussion of this fundamental concept,
and why it serves better than induction.

--
<J Q B>

Daniel

unread,
Feb 25, 2002, 7:09:02 AM2/25/02
to
>sp...@earwicker.com (Daniel) writes:
>>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message
>news:<a4u3k9$fl6$1...@husk.cso.niu.edu>...
>>> sp...@earwicker.com (Daniel) writes:
>>> >I'd define determinism as something like: The philosophical
doctrine
>>> >that anything you observe is bound by the laws of nature, and
>>> >emphasises that the human will is not exempt from this, and hence
the
>>> >behaviour of human beings is predictable to whatever degree any
other
>>> >aspect of nature is predictable.
>>> After your complaint about the dictionary use "the human will",
you
>>> go ahead and use it anyway :-( .
>>We're talking about a viewpoint developed in reaction to the idea of
>>free will. It is about reducing free will to a mythical, invented
>>construct. This is the main point of it! My complaint was not that
the
>>dictionary definition referred to human will, but that it left open
>>the possibility of the existence of human will.
>
>It is not the job of a dictionary to settle those questions.

I'm not asking it to settle any questions, merely to be clear about
the meaning of a particular word. A self-contradictory definition is
probably a bad one.

>>You just think determinism is junk but you're not prepared to say
much
>>about why, is that a fair summary?
>
>What I said, was that "the evidence seems to be against it." The
>proponents of determinism rarely offer supportive empirical
>evidence. They mainly offer rhetoric. But if you would care to
>offer some empirical evidence for determinism, there might be some
>things I could say about that.

I would say that determinism, by its nature, is something for or
against which it is impossible to produce "evidence."

This gets us somewhere, because I certainly can't claim that there is
any evidence for it. But I'm still intruiged that you claim "the
evidence seems to be against it." What do you mean by this?

>Like I say, determinism is about putting human beings in their proper
>place, not one of the fundamental forces of nature. It doesn't
>necessarily make them predictable any more than weather is
>predictable.
>
>And have you appointed yourself God, that you should put people in
>their "proper place"?

Well, none of these opinions are my own. I'm talking about the
attitutude typically attributed to determinists. The controversial
aspect of determinism is that determinists attack people's sense of
self or freedom.

(If I were a determinist, I would of course deny putting anyone in
their place, not having the free will to make such decisions.)

No need to switch radiation types - alpha and beta radiation can be
made to interfere just like waves. And guess what - the interference
is utterly predictable.

That paragraph, despite having nothing to do with my original
question, seems to be giving you difficulties. It has a structure like
this:

IF [CONDITION A]

THEN X

OTHERWISE Y

Now, condition A is "Wave-like, large scale, long time periods." X is
"predictable" and Y is "unpredictable."

You appear to be challenging it by saying: "How can you claim that
when condition A doesn't hold, X still holds true?" e.g. the claim
that radiation measured in terms of individual decay events is
predictable. Which plainly I'm not saying, am I?

I'm saying that summed-over quantum events, despite the individual
events being unpredictable, produce utterly predictable aggregated
statistics, which is why, for instance, you are able to press the keys
on your computer keyboard and create electric currents that ultimately
have precisely the desired affect on the states of computers thousands
of miles away. I can read your postings. None of the character symbols
in your postings are in an indeterminate state. And yet electrons were
involved! It must be a miracle... It strikes me that people who invoke
quantum mechanics in the operation of the brain to avoid
predictability are missing something: Quantum mechanics is unavoidably
involved in everything at the most fundamental level, and yet many
things are predictable despite this.

>>Or maybe I'm just talking about rejecting the
>>objective-collapse-of-the-wavefunction stuff invoked by Penrose, and
>
>Okay. I reject that too.

Good, then we are both "rejectionists," if anything. Coming back to my
original line of enquiry, so far you have rejected determinism despite
also stating that you think it is impossible to define, and you have
also encountered evidence against it. What do you think determinism
is, and why do you think it is safe to reject it? And what is the
evidence against it? And for that matter, how can there be evidence
against it?

>>you're linking radioactive decay to the operation of the brain! Do
you
>
>Where did I link radioactive decay to the operation of the brain? Or
>are you making this up as you go along?

Of course I am, partly. I am not seriously suggesting that you are
linking radioactive decay to the operation of the brain. It was a joke
on the tendency of picking a statement out of context in order to have
something easier to reply to - note how you've done it again! You had
to chop the "Or maybe" from the start of my sentence to make it work.

Now, about determinism... (see questions above.)

Neil W Rickert

unread,
Feb 25, 2002, 7:28:19 PM2/25/02
to
sp...@earwicker.com (Daniel) writes:
>>sp...@earwicker.com (Daniel) writes:
>>>Neil W Rickert <ricke...@cs.niu.edu> wrote in message

>>>You just think determinism is junk but you're not prepared to say


>much
>>>about why, is that a fair summary?

>>What I said, was that "the evidence seems to be against it." The
>>proponents of determinism rarely offer supportive empirical
>>evidence. They mainly offer rhetoric. But if you would care to
>>offer some empirical evidence for determinism, there might be some
>>things I could say about that.

>I would say that determinism, by its nature, is something for or
>against which it is impossible to produce "evidence."

>This gets us somewhere, because I certainly can't claim that there is
>any evidence for it. But I'm still intruiged that you claim "the
>evidence seems to be against it." What do you mean by this?

The world does not seem to be the one that determinists claim it
should be. Roughly speaking, that we exist is evidence for free
will. That is, free will and consciousness appear to be closely
linked.

>>Like I say, determinism is about putting human beings in their proper
>>place, not one of the fundamental forces of nature. It doesn't
>>necessarily make them predictable any more than weather is
>>predictable.

>>And have you appointed yourself God, that you should put people in
>>their "proper place"?

>Well, none of these opinions are my own. I'm talking about the
>attitutude typically attributed to determinists. The controversial
>aspect of determinism is that determinists attack people's sense of
>self or freedom.

>(If I were a determinist, I would of course deny putting anyone in
>their place, not having the free will to make such decisions.)

But usually authors who take a determinist position do seem to be
trying to put people in their place. For example, Honderich, "How
free are you?" has a chapter where he tells you what you can do about
it, now that you know you don't have free will. This seems oddly
contradictory, for it would require free will to do anything about
it.

In any case, free will is usually connected to responsibility. An
author, in publishing a book, takes responsibility for what is
written. Roughly speaking, when a determinist writes a book denying
free will, the author is announcing

Here, by my own free will, I do announce that neither you nor
I have free will.

And that seems contradictory.

>>But if you look at only the gamma radiation from a radioactive
>>substance, and view that only as a wave phenomenon, it is still not
>>predictable. Your statement above appears to say otherwise.

>No need to switch radiation types - alpha and beta radiation can be
>made to interfere just like waves. And guess what - the interference
>is utterly predictable.

But it is not.

>That paragraph, despite having nothing to do with my original
>question, seems to be giving you difficulties. It has a structure like
>this:

>IF [CONDITION A]

> THEN X

> OTHERWISE Y

>Now, condition A is "Wave-like, large scale, long time periods." X is
>"predictable" and Y is "unpredictable."

>You appear to be challenging it by saying: "How can you claim that
>when condition A doesn't hold, X still holds true?" e.g. the claim
>that radiation measured in terms of individual decay events is
>predictable. Which plainly I'm not saying, am I?

>I'm saying that summed-over quantum events, despite the individual
>events being unpredictable, produce utterly predictable aggregated
>statistics, which is why, for instance, you are able to press the keys
>on your computer keyboard and create electric currents that ultimately
>have precisely the desired affect on the states of computers thousands
>of miles away. I can read your postings. None of the character symbols
>in your postings are in an indeterminate state. And yet electrons were
>involved! It must be a miracle... It strikes me that people who invoke
>quantum mechanics in the operation of the brain to avoid
>predictability are missing something: Quantum mechanics is unavoidably
>involved in everything at the most fundamental level, and yet many
>things are predictable despite this.

Okay. But then you are completely changing the claim. The earlier
claim was that it is "utterly predictable." In normal use, that word
"utterly" implies to the highest degree possible. That's quite
different from saying that it is broadly predictable -- long term
averages are predicable, but the details are not.

But it is not even broadly predictable.

If we take the day to day electro-magnetic radiation, that is
sensitive to the cloud cover. And the cloud cover is not
predictable. If you go to an even broader view, averages over many
years, that still depends on the climate, and the climate is not
predictable. I'm suggesting that this predictability is little more
than myth.

>>>Or maybe I'm just talking about rejecting the
>>>objective-collapse-of-the-wavefunction stuff invoked by Penrose, and

>>Okay. I reject that too.

>Good, then we are both "rejectionists," if anything. Coming back to my
>original line of enquiry, so far you have rejected determinism despite
>also stating that you think it is impossible to define, and you have
>also encountered evidence against it. What do you think determinism
>is, and why do you think it is safe to reject it? And what is the
>evidence against it? And for that matter, how can there be evidence
>against it?

The observed lack of predictability is evidence against determinism.
It may be less than conclusive, but it still counts as evidence. The
apparent dependence of science on the free will of the investigator
would seem to oppose claims that there is scientific evidence for
determinism.

Daryl McCullough

unread,
Feb 26, 2002, 12:45:57 PM2/26/02
to
Neil says...

>The world does not seem to be the one that determinists claim it
>should be. Roughly speaking, that we exist is evidence for free
>will.

I don't see that at all.

>That is, free will and consciousness appear to be closely
>linked.

I don't see how any of this follows. I agree that the
world doesn't seem to be deterministic, but I would say
that it is quantum phenomena, rather than the existence
of consciousness, that indicates that determinism is false.
I don't see any connection between determinism and
consciousness.

Just to make it clear what I mean by "determinism":
A system is deterministic if future behavior is
uniquely determined by present conditions and future
external influences. So determinism doesn't imply anything
about our ability to *predict* the future (because predicting
the future would require perfect knowledge of initial
conditions and external influences).

>But usually authors who take a determinist position do seem to be
>trying to put people in their place. For example, Honderich, "How
>free are you?" has a chapter where he tells you what you can do about
>it, now that you know you don't have free will. This seems oddly
>contradictory, for it would require free will to do anything about
>it.

No, it would require that Honderich's words are able to
some effect on the reader's future thoughts. I don't see
where nondeterminism is involved at all.

>In any case, free will is usually connected to responsibility.

Mistakenly, I think. I don't see any connection
between nondeterminism and a concept of responsibility.

>The observed lack of predictability is evidence against determinism.

Yes, I agree with that.

>It may be less than conclusive, but it still counts as evidence. The
>apparent dependence of science on the free will of the investigator

I don't think that there is any such dependence, if by "free will"
you mean to imply the negation of determinism.

--
Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

Neil W Rickert

unread,
Feb 26, 2002, 6:01:33 PM2/26/02
to
da...@cogentex.com (Daryl McCullough) writes:

>Neil says...

>>The world does not seem to be the one that determinists claim it
>>shou