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How to convince someone they don't have free will?


Tampitump
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I recently posted a discussion in one of my online college courses wherein I laid out a case for determinism. Explaining that free will is actually an illusion, that everything is predicated on prior causes, whether they be environmental, situational, biological, neurological, etc. Pretty much all of my classmates rejected my case, each of them citing various ways in which they have free will (beginner/newb arguments, all of them). One girl said that she had a best friend who got murdered by her boyfriend who wrote a facebook post prior to committing the murder, which showed premeditation, and showed that he had a choice whether to commit the crime or not. I tried to explain to her that he still did not have the free will for that regardless if you gave him multiple choices and all the time in the world to decide, but still no meeting of the minds. A different girl's argument was that she could have chosen not to reply to my thread, which meant to her that she had free will. Again, I tried to explain to her that even if she took ten years to decide whether or not she was going to reply to the thread, she still didn't have free will. I found myself not being able to explain it to them in ways in which they could understand.

 

How can this be more easily explained to someone.

Edited by Tampitump
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Personally, I think the whole dichotomy between free will and determinism is a bit silly and mostly comes down to poorly defined terms. I can't think of a good definition of free will that doesn't have some degree of determinism baked in as a prerequisite.

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Except, of course, when it isn't.

A case which never occurs because EVERYTHING is determined by prior causes that you don't choose. It's not like the brain has a "channel surfing" feature wherein it can scan every thought there is to think before you think it and say "ah yes, I think I'll think this thought right now." You cannot think a thought before you think it. You do not choose, author, or originate the thoughts you think. Your thoughts simply arise into your mind based on prior, external influences, and the neurophysiology of how your brain responds to it. You have never, and will never author a thought in your life. Thoughts will simply arise in your mind when it is influenced to do so.

 

And quantum indeterminism does not negate determinism.

Personally, I think the whole dichotomy between free will and determinism is a bit silly and mostly comes down to poorly defined terms. I can't think of a good definition of free will that doesn't have some degree of determinism baked in as a prerequisite.

What are the terms that are "poorly defined"? And name me a way in which you can actually author a thought. You can't. You cannot consciously author a thought. A thought just has to come to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regardless of who is right or wrong. My question is how to explain this to laypeople who have a hard time grasping what I'm talking about.

Edited by Tampitump
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Regardless of who is right or wrong. My question is how to explain this to laypeople who have a hard time grasping what I'm talking about.

It is still not an open-and-shut case, but the evidence seem pretty strong. A deterministic universe is one angle of said argument, but apart from- and in further support thereof are the mounting behavioural and neuroscientific evidence. This may help: Free Will - Jerry Coyne. Here is an introduction: Our thoughts and actions are the outputs of a computer made of meat—our brain—a computer that must obey the laws of physics. Our choices, therefore, must also obey those laws. This puts paid to the traditional idea of dualistic or "libertarian" free will: that our lives comprise a series of decisions in which we could have chosen otherwise. We know now that we can never do otherwise...

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And quantum indeterminism does not negate determinism.

 

 

Why not? It says that not everything has a cause.

 

 

Regardless of who is right or wrong. My question is how to explain this to laypeople who have a hard time grasping what I'm talking about.

 

Learn more about the subject so you can make a more convincing argument. (It sounds like maybe you believe you are right rather than having a convincing argument.)

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Strange, you're the one who doesn't understand the subject, as evidenced by the fact that you think there are instances of no causality. Whatever the case, don't comment in this thread again. You have a personal bent and hostility towards me, and I wouldn't listen to a word you say even if you were right. I don't want your help, or your advice, okay buddy? Go fly a kite.

Edited by Tampitump
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Strange, you're the one who doesn't understand the subject, as evidenced by the fact that you think there are instances of no causality. Whatever the case, don't comment in this thread again. You have a personal bent and hostiluty towards me, and I wouldn't listen to a word you say even if you were right. I don't want your help, or your advice, okay buddy? Go fly a kite.

 

That's a pretty immature response, to be honest. I've never seen a post by Strange which I could attack (although I'm always on the lookout).

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Strange, you're the one who doesn't understand the subject, as evidenced by the fact that you think there are instances of no causality.

Radioactive decay.

 

 

Whatever the case, don't comment in this thread again.

Forum rules do not allow you to dictate who can or cannot participate in a thread you start.

 

 

You have a personal bent and hostiluty towards me, and I wouldn't listen to a word you say even if you were right. Go fly a kite.

Nice, mature, consistent approach! Did it occur to you that this is what Strange finds unpalatable in your posts? Not that I speak for Strange.

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Strange, you're the one who doesn't understand the subject, as evidenced by the fact that you think there are instances of no causality.

 

 

There very obviously are. (Ask if you want examples.) Whether they are relevant to the subject or not, I couldn't say. But I do think they undermine the idea of complete determinism.

 

I am not convinced that determinism and free will are incompatible, anyway (depending what definition of free will is being used).

Edited by Strange
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It is still not an open-and-shut case, but the evidence seem pretty strong. A deterministic universe is one angle of said argument, but apart from- and in further support thereof are the mounting behavioural and neuroscientific evidence. This may help: Free Will - Jerry Coyne. Here is an introduction: Our thoughts and actions are the outputs of a computer made of meatour braina computer that must obey the laws of physics. Our choices, therefore, must also obey those laws. This puts paid to the traditional idea of dualistic or "libertarian" free will: that our lives comprise a series of decisions in which we could have chosen otherwise. We know now that we can never do otherwise...

Yeah, I've read/watched coyne. I've also watched Harris' good explanations. Daniel Dennett's case for compatibalism seems very convoluted to me. I never hear what his point is. It is esoteric at best, and that's giving him more credit than I think is due. I don't think there is any case for compatibalism or libertarian free will. The determinists seem to have a much better, practical, and obvious case. I say this recognizing I could be wrong. But my big problem is thinking of scenarios that could relate to lay people.

 

God you guys on this forum are such fucking pricks. Hold me to it. I'll never be back to this forum of assholes. Don't ever let me post here again. If I come back again, let me have it. Hold me to my promise. I'll never even go to this website again.

Edited by Tampitump
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Strange, you're the one who doesn't understand the subject, as evidenced by the fact that you think there are instances of no causality. Whatever the case, don't comment in this thread again. You have a personal bent and hostility towards me, and I wouldn't listen to a word you say even if you were right. I don't want your help, or your advice, okay buddy? Go fly a kite.

That's not language we use on this forum. You came up with subject to discuss, and you have to deal with opponents with different view than yours.

 

How can this be more easily explained to someone.

That's very simple if we start with laser and polarization filter.

Laser is sending beam of photons with random polarizations, or random circular polarizations.

Then they interact with polarization filter.

50% of beam of photons is reflected,

50% of beam of photons pass through.

post-100882-0-64129100-1476175496_thumb.png

If you have just single photon, which way it will go?

 

Suppose so that after reflecting there is photodiode, or other optoelectronics, which is triggering nuclear explosion (similar case like in Schrödinger's cat)

 

You're sending single photon with random polarization.

There will be explosion or not?

Edited by Sensei
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God you guys on this forum are such fucking pricks. Hold me to it. I'll never be back to this forum of assholes. Don't ever let me post here again. If I come back again, let me have it. Hold me to my promise. I'll never even go to this website again.

I see.

So when you attack perfectly valid, relevant and pertinent posts of a member, we are pricks.

When we point out the forum rules, we are pricks.

When we take note of your immature comments, we are pricks.

When a couple of people offend you, everyone on the forum, bar yourself, is a prick.

 

And now I await your reply. Go on, you know you want to.

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I know I should not be sticking my nose into this, but let us all just calm down a bit. Who knows, Tampitump might just have a bad day and might have over-reacted. Keep in mind the topic of the discussion...did he have free will..? Enough said.

 

Radioactive decay.

 

That's very simple if we start with laser and polarization filter.
Laser is sending beam of photons with random polarizations, or random circular polarizations.
Then they interact with polarization filter.
50% of beam of photons is reflected,
50% of beam of photons pass through.

If you have just single photon, which way it will go?

Suppose so that after reflecting there is photodiode, or other optoelectronics, which is triggering nuclear explosion (similar case like in Schrödinger's cat)

You're sending single photon with random polarization.
There will be explosion or not?

These examples do not necessarily point to indeterminism (or randomness), even though it may seem like it. An eternal deterministic block (4D) universe could resolve that particular argument as it states that all events (past, present and future) are immutable, carved in stone and equally real. Whatever may appear to be random, cannot be as it "has already occurred in the future" (according to said theory). In that sense Tampitump had a point when he wrote that (perceived) "quantum indeterminism does not negate determinism".

Edited by Memammal
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These examples do not point to indeterminism (or randomness), even though it may seem like it. An eternal deterministic block (4D) universe settles that particular argument as it states that all events (past, present and future) are immutable, carved in stone and equally real.

 

That sounds like superdeterminism. I don't think may people take that very seriously as an explanation of quantum phenomena. (At least partly because it is a bit like "god did it" in that it shuts down any further questioning or investigation.)

 

As there is, currently, quite a fundamental disconnect between GR (which I assume is what you base the "block universe" model on) and quantum theory, I don't think it is reasonable to use one to try and invalidate the other.

 

Perhaps that means that when (if?) we have a theory of quantum gravity then it will move away from a simplistic idea of a block universe.

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(At least partly because it is a bit like "god did it" in that it shuts down any further questioning or investigation.)

Possibly (but not necessarily) w.r.t. something like deism or pantheism, but not w.r.t. theism. Said model does not allow for an external agent or tinkerer. It also implies that the universe is eternal, i.e. no beginning and no end.

 

As there is, currently, quite a fundamental disconnect between GR (which I assume is what you base the "block universe" model on) and quantum theory, I don't think it is reasonable to use one to try and invalidate the other.

Yes, the standard block universe model incorporates Minkowski spacetime and is based on GR & SR. I was merely trying to explain Tampitump's p.o.v. as quoted in my previous post.

Edited by Memammal
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It also implies that the universe is eternal, i.e. no beginning and no end.

 

Really? I am surprised by that. I don't see why the block should not be limited in extent in or or more of its dimensions.

 

For example, if you consider the idea that the universe started from a singularity of zero size (*) then the spatial dimensions would shrink to zero and the temporal dimension would come to an end (rather like going to the North pole, there is not further north to go). The same could happen in the future if the universe were to collapse to a singularity. (And all black holes would be similar "pinch off" points).

 

 

(*) This is probably not realistic, but it is the result of extrapolating using just GR and is thus consistent with the block model

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Note the following:

 

The eternal block universe is one (of more) interpretation(s) of said model, but seemingly the most "popular".

Secondly, eternal does not necessarily imply (physically) infinite. That illusionary time concept again...(among other things).

 

Perhaps we are steering a bit off topic, no? The block universe has been (and still is being) discussed in a number of threads here in the Philosophy category.

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The eternal block universe is one (of more) interpretation(s) of said model, but seemingly the most "popular".

 

Ah, OK. So the block model does not have to be eternal, you are just thinking of a version where it is?

 

 

Secondly, eternal does not necessarily imply (physically) infinite. That illusionary time concept again...(among other things).

 

I agree that spatially and temporally infinite are separate things (I'm not sure that is relevant though). The universe could be eternal and finite in extent. Or infinite in extent and of limited duration. (Similarly, it could have a point of creation or destruction but still be eternal!)

 

Perhaps we are steering a bit off topic, no? The block universe has been (and still is being) discussed in a number of threads here in the Philosophy category.

 

Perhaps. But as the OP has stormed off in a huff...

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That's not language we use on this forum. You came up with subject to discuss, and you have to deal with opponents with different view than yours.

 

 

That's very simple if we start with laser and polarization filter.

Laser is sending beam of photons with random polarizations, or random circular polarizations.

Then they interact with polarization filter.

50% of beam of photons is reflected,

50% of beam of photons pass through.

attachicon.gifPolarization Filter.png

If you have just single photon, which way it will go?

 

Suppose so that after reflecting there is photodiode, or other optoelectronics, which is triggering nuclear explosion (similar case like in Schrödinger's cat)

 

You're sending single photon with random polarization.

There will be explosion or not?

 

It could be that it only seems to be indeterminate because we do not have enough knowledge of the system.

 

Take a double pendulum for example. If all you can see is the tip of the pendulum swinging under the glare of a strobe light, you could be forgiven for thinking that you are watching random movement that over time obeys a probability wave function.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_pendulum#Lagrangian

 

post-90558-0-13751000-1476186482.jpg

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@ Strange: This is one of the most concise and best explanations of the implications of the block universe model that I have come across and it also happens to have relevance to this thread: Time, Free Will and the Block Universe.

 

PS. The above article refers to tensed and tenseless theories of time. These correspond with presentism vs eternalism. A block universe model featuring tensed time or presentism is commonly referred to as the growing or evolving block universe.

Edited by Memammal
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@ Strange: This is one of the most concise and best explanations of the implications of the block universe model that I have come across and it also happens to have relevance to this thread: Time, Free Will and the Block Universe.

 

PS. The above article refers to tensed and tenseless theories of time. These correspond with presentism vs eternalism. A block universe model featuring tensed time or presentism is commonly referred to as the growing or evolving block universe.

 

Interesting that he argues that free will is compatible with the block universe model. I wonder if Tampitump is still around to read an alternative point of view.

 

So it seems you (and philosophers?) are using "eternal" in a very different sense than the usual meaning, which may be what confused me. (I also don't see a clear link between presentism and what he calls a tensed view. But then I don't see any inherent contradiction or incompatibility between "tensed" and "tenseless" either.)

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Interesting that he argues that free will is compatible with the block universe model. I wonder if Tampitump is still around to read an alternative point of view.

Yes, but it remains to be illusionary...akin to the randomness of the quantum phenomena that we discussed earlier. His argument really boils down to yes, you may have free will to choose...but said choice will be deterministic as it has already been made/implemented (seeing that the future event is as real as the present).

 

The difference between presentism/tensed and eternalism/tenseless lies in the fact that with the first-mentioned only the present (-event) IS real [EDIT: a past event WAS real, a future event WILL BECOME real...these imply that the past and future are seen as less real than the present] whereas with the eternalism/tenseless approach ALL events ARE EQUALLY real and simply occurring at different coordinates of spacetime. It is a very important distinction.

Edited by Memammal
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The difference between presentism/tensed and eternalism/tenseless lies in the fact that with the first-mentioned only the present (-event) is real whereas with the eternalism/tenseless approach all events are equally real and simply occurring at different coordinates of spacetime. It is a very important distinction.

 

OK. But I was thinking of "eternal" in the sense of having infinite extent in the temporal dimension. So there is a clear difference between eternal and eternalism. In both the eternalist and presentist views, the universe could be eternal or have a finite existence.

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