AMA #13 - My Objection to Hard Determinism… Agree or Disagree?

 
RedJamaX
 
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RedJamaX
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21 September 2018 12:29
 

In AMA #13, around the 50 minute mark… Sam reiterates his view on Determinism.  (which I “mostly” agree with)

For those without access to the AMA episodes… I will recap the point.  The idea of “Free Will” in the most traditional sense, being that “we freely make the choices that we do, and you could have done it differently”, is simply wrong.  If we were able to rewind the Universe to the exact moment of any given choice and start again from that point, your brain-state would be exactly as it was in that moment previously, and you would make the “exact same choice”. 

I slightly disagree with this because of Quantum Uncertainty (Randomness), and brain function in general.

Quantum uncertainty, shows a certain amount of randomness to the universe.  How much does that actually effect the function of individual atoms, or molecules, specifically as it would relate to neuron activity in the brain…  We don’t know.

Brain Function, specifically regarding the decision making process.  We have experiments that clearly show that our conscious recognition about the decisions we make actually comes after the decision is made.  We even understand, at least at a basic level, which parts of the brain perform which functions and what kinds of states those functions might have an influence on.  At any given moment, “You”, are basically a representation of your “brain state” in that moment.  Which is to say that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are determined by, genetics, environment, the various elements of memory (including the ones your brain remembers but the cognitively aware version of “you” does not)... etc etc etc…  And we know that there is no “control center” of the brain.  No, Central Processing Center where input is gathered from all points of the nervous system and then some process gives priority to one thing over another…  Rather, the most influential part of the brain at any given moment, depends entirely on THAT moment.  Extreme example:  If, at the age of 10, your Fight or Flight response was ALWAYS Flight, but then you trained as a fighter for 20 years, your response would be different if you found your self in a relevantly equivalent situation between “flight at the age of 10”. 

Tangent:  (I do this a lot, for good reason)
I’m new here, so I am unfamiliar with the community and the flow of conversations.  But in every other discussion board in which I have participated, somebody will completely miss the point here and begin to criticize the example.  For example, you might say, “no amount of martial arts training will make you “fight” a group of 10 thugs armed with shot-guns”.  Of course, that’s not necessarily true, but let’s stick to one tangent at a time…  It’s likely “that” situation would result in the same “flight” response.  But a less extreme situation is very likely to result with “you” responding very differently if you did, or did not have the 20 years of martial arts training.  Perhaps being cut in a waiting line by somebody who clearly has no right to do so and presents with an overbearing sense of entitlement (he’s an asshole).

Ah… BUT (now on to the “relevant” counter argument), “YOU” at the age of 10, either WOULD, or WOULD NOT, begin martial arts training, so there is no possibly “different version” of you 20 years later.  Not so fast… That depends on the influence for getting the martial arts training to begin with.  At this point, I’m realizing that I probably should have chosen a better example that could explain my point a bit more simply, but what the hell… In for a Penny, in for a Pound.  (also, I suck at “fictional examples”)

My argument against Hard Determinism is that we cannot say for certain that there is “no randomness” in the system of decision making process.  We don’t even understand the process of which brain functions get influential priority for the majority of any possible brain-state.  I believe we do know that hormones have a huge influence, but even then, the question of “how” those hormones result in the manifestation of any given emotion is dependent upon various factors such as the social situation, or previous emotional states, even when the “level” of said “influential hormone” is measurably identical.  (See the book, “Behave”, by Robert Sapolosky).

Next possible argument…  “Ok, sure, but how much can randomness really effect a single choice that has such a substantial impact on somebody’s life?”
Valid question.  For the most part, I am willing to bet that anybody in their mid 30’s can relate to the possibility of a single event, or a single person having an influence on your opinion about something, even if you have been presented with the exact same information by multiple sources previous to that “one time”.  Perhaps it was the person’s character and how you emotionally related to him, maybe it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back…  Either way, that influence prompted a course of action that has played a substantial role in your life.  THAT example is probably one that, if you rewind to that experience, the outcome would likely be the same.  But the Randomness I am going to address is where the difference could exist.

Possibility 1:  Turn Left or Right?
This idea is cited often by people who agree with me, but I think it’s the weakest.  Let’s say that the crucial moment of influence “was” meeting a specific person, and you only happened to cross paths with that individual because you decided to turn Left, instead of Right, on a path to some destination for which there are many way to get there. 
    Tangent:  This is not figurative…  I, personally, do NOT take exactly the same route to work every day.  Sometimes it depends on when I leave the house.  Fifteen minutes can have a huge impact on morning traffic for specific routes.  And other times, it “appears” to be random.  Even if traffic “is” an influence, there are various “alternate routes”, and I do not always take the same one.  Sure, I present my self with a narrative to justify why I chose one over the other… but sometimes it’s just some emotional draw to drive down some particular road instead of another.  Why?  Maybe the scenery?  I don’t “actually” know…  Clearly, there are times that I can present a narrative that maps to the decision.  “I took this way because I wanted to drive fast and this path has the longest, least traveled, least monitored road.”  But, why did I want to drive fast on THAT occasion?  At this point I am getting into retrospective analysis for decisions which have already been made… that’s a different topic.
    Back to the example… Perhaps the individual in question took a particular path which led him to pass by an advertisement for a few “free lessons”, or maybe he saw an old friend who said he was on his way to training, and it was THAT moment of influence that triggered the desire to actually put forth the effort to sign up for martial arts lessons.
    Why I think this is a weak argument…  In a situation where the crucial moment of a life changing, single event, is based on true dichotomy, it’s very likely that all of the factors that influence the individual to choose “Left” would probably ALWAYS result in the decision to choose “Left”.  Influence of randomness at that moment might adjust the scale from 60/40 to 61/39, but probably not 40/60.  And, while not “impossible”, I would argue that it is far less frequent to find situations of a true 50/50 split when it comes to our brains choosing one or the other.  Even if we don’t fully understand, or know all of the contributing factors.

Possibility 2:  The Rolodex
For this part, I am going to use Sam’s “Rolodex” reference.  If you don’t know the Rolodex reference, please watch his YouTube video on Free Will (it might be part of the TED Talk as well).  THIS is where we could find that Randomness plays a role in crucial decisions.  To use Sam’s example… What’s your favorite movie?  OK, it’s likely that most of us already have a “favorite” movie.  Now pick your favorite movie for “action”, and now “drama”, and now “thriller”, maybe you have one of each of those too.  Let’s jump to the end.  List your FIVE Favorite movies of all time.  If you give this any significant amount of thought, AND, provided you haven’t recently made this list and have it readily available… then your brain will provide you with a list of movies to choose from… probably a long list.  Don’t like movies??  OK, switch it to “Songs”, and “Genres”.  I bet if we had 100 people list their “5 Favorite” of anything, and then review each others lists, many people would find that they would like to go back and edit their original selection because somebody else mentioned an item that, for some reason, their brain did not include in their original set of items to select from (the Rolodex).  The longer the list of source material, I would bet money, that the more possibility there is for Randomness to play a role in the subset of those possibilities which are presented to each individual.  Picking a movie or song is probably irrelevant.  But, what if the Rolodex was say… Lottery numbers??  Let’s just go ahead and assume that we’re talking about somebody who won by picking numbers “randomly”.  Example:  https://abcnews.go.com/US/758-million-powerball-jackpot-winner-speaks/story?id=49388616  Granted, even in this situation, she chose a few birthdays, and her “lucky number 4”, AND the other “random” number were still chosen from a “defined” limited set of possibilities which she was cognitively aware of.  But… why THOSE birthdays?  How many people does she know that are important to her?  Which part of the birthday do you pick?  The day? Month? Year?  And the other “random” numbers, why didn’t she pick 47, 34, 25, or 52?  Even if she HAD a method for picking the random numbers, can you imagine how many possible methods you could imagine to help you “randomly” pick numbers on a chart?  Why did her brain select “that” method, which ended up with her winning the full jackpot?

This is where I think the Randomness exists.  If she went back to THAT moment, I think the “random” numbers could be different.  I think there are so many factors that play into the selection of “One item out of many seemingly similar options”, that those moments of choice could always end up differently if we “replayed” them over and over.  And I think that these situation present themselves to us far more often throughout our lives than we could ever possibly identify.  And if you rewind ALL the way back to the beginning of your life, the events that play out over the course of 40 years (in my case) could be very different.  Given what we know about human characteristics and personality, it’s likely that many things would also be the same.  There are studies of Identical twins who were separated at birth and they both ended up liking the same kind of sandwich (sorry, I forget what it was, but it wasn’t as simple as “PB&J”, reference: “The Blank Slate”, Steven Pinker).  So there certainly are elements of our character that definitely have genetic influence and events of our lives might not change them at all. 

To the original example of “martial arts”... maybe there was a situation where he was assigned a task to randomly choose an activity that was only revealed after everybody made their selection, and he was the first of 20 people.  He happened to choose Martial Arts, found out that he really enjoyed it, and kept doing it for the next 20 years where we finally end up with an asshole cutting in a line, and this individual’s reaction could have been very different if he had not had all those years of training.

Note:
I never mentioned any specific reaction, only that it could be very different
Not claiming Hard Determinism is definitely false, only that it’s not necessarily true
Not saying Sam agrees with Hard Determinism (he doesn’t), only referencing the implication from AMA 13

[ Edited: 21 September 2018 12:33 by RedJamaX]
 
RedJamaX
 
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21 September 2018 12:39
 

I tried to add a Poll for Agree / Disagree, but it didn’t work…  I’d be curious to get that response.
General Idea:  Hard Determinism is not accurate because Randomness plays a role in our decision making process.
1.  Agree with Statement, AND the assessment in the post.
2.  Agree with Statement, but NOT the assessment
3.  I Disagree because I think “Free Will” is more accurate
4.  I Disagree for other reasons

 
Twissel
 
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21 September 2018 12:51
 

Hello and welcome.


Just to clear up: randomness is a feature of Determinism: it is messy and inconvenient, but it is fully deterministic. If a quantum event has a 50/50 chance to happen, then it will happen with a 50/50 chance. There is no room for free will, since nothing can tip the balance one way or the other.
Because of this, theorists have come up with the “Multiverse” concept to work around having to pick one random event over another.

 
 
RedJamaX
 
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21 September 2018 16:53
 
Twissel - 21 September 2018 12:51 PM

Hello and welcome.
Just to clear up: randomness is a feature of Determinism: it is messy and inconvenient, but it is fully deterministic. If a quantum event has a 50/50 chance to happen, then it will happen with a 50/50 chance. There is no room for free will, since nothing can tip the balance one way or the other.
Because of this, theorists have come up with the “Multiverse” concept to work around having to pick one random event over another.

Thanks for the “welcome”.

Also, this is why I used “Hard Determinism”. 

For “Determinism”, as this relates to the “Multiverse”... the version where “left or right” causes a single universe to split off into two ... This conclusion is based on the fact that the past in “this” universe is always going to result in “this” exact state, because we are in “this” universe.  Personally, I have come to conclude that this is a simplified explanation of a much larger concept, which has resulted as a product of some need to be able to easily convey the idea.  Much in the same manner that the word “selection” is explained as though it’s an action when teaching evolution.  (It’s actually a process, which is different… but in the context that “Selection” is often used to teach evolution, it’s more a like a “result”) 

To clarify the distinction…  I do believe that the “Multiverse” exists, but not as the result of a new universe “being created” with the passing of each event that presents a range of possibilities, and the result is a new universe for each of the possibilities.  (note: I am using “event” in the scientific sense)  For Example. An individual is presented with choosing one of three options… BOOM, three entirely independent Universes.  I just reached for my mouse and didn’t use it… BOOM, new universe where I “didn’t” reach for my mouse.  As I reached for my mouse, my hand moved 12 inches before retracting… BOOM, new universe where it only moved 12.99999999999 inches, and so on.  I find this explanation to be absurd, and an insult the average person’s intellectual capacity.  I think explanations like these are born out of laziness from the teachers, the inability to teach properly, or as an economic decision (not necessarily money).

The Multiverse, version 1, proper explanation ... What ever exists “outside” of our universe, obviously contains all of the elements required for a universe such as our own to begin existing.  In our universe, there exists the quantum possibility of 50/50.  Therefore, at the very least, it is conceivable that another universe similar in structure to our own, also exists nearly identical to our own, with the exception of a single quantum event that split in the opposite direction.  If it is possible that such universe exists with only the difference of a single quantum event, the it is possible that there is universe which exists for each and every possible combination of quantum events.  Also, since “Time” is a property which appears to be directly related the the internal structure of our universe, then Time does not exist “outside” of our universe.  Therefore, all of those possible universes will exist simultaneously.
- This is a far cry from the simplified version.

(Not related to the topic, skip if you want)
Multiverse, version 2…  This is based on the “Observable Universe”.  We can “see” approximately 13.7 Billion years into the past of our universe.  Physically, due to spacial expansion, it is 73 Billion light years in distance.  (that’s 27.4 Billion light years of time, from one visible end to the other, and 156 Billion light years across in distance).  If we were to make those same observations form a different position, say, 1 Billion light years away (in any direction)... The viewable Time (light), and Distance measurements would “likely” be the same… BUT, that would constitute a “different” Universe.  And there is the possibility that if we could look outward from a point that is 156 Billion Distance light years away, even some of the physics for “that” Universe could be different from our own.

Back to the topic…
By direct acknowledgement of the Multiverse (version 1)... this admits of the possibility that, if you rewind your life and start from any given point… even 5 seconds ago… that, from that point on, you could experience one of those other possible universes.  Go back 20 years and start from there, and it could be more more different than say, “an extra drop of condensation on the outside of your glass of ice water” (which could be the difference of 5 seconds).  20 years of difference could result in living in an entirely different part of the world.

But, what Sam is saying is that it doesn’t matter if it’s 5 seconds, or 20 years… EVERY TIME, you will end up Exactly in the moment you find your self “now”.

I hope that clarified how I see the difference.  Also… before it’s pointed out… I recognize that the Multiverse also states that “some version” of the Universe will always end up with this exact version of “Me” in this exact moment of “Now”.  But all of those different Universes exist independently of one another, and I think that would be the fundamental point of misrepresentation.  Rewinding “this” Universe is only acting within the space and time of quantum events related to “this” Universe.  I would also point out, that the Multiverse allows for the existence of multiple, independent, and perfectly identical Universes.  Therefore, for this one to follow a chain of quantum events that results differently than “this” exact version of “now”, is also allowed.

Well… that should muddy the waters nicely…  smile

[ Edited: 21 September 2018 16:58 by RedJamaX]
 
GAD
 
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21 September 2018 19:50
 
Twissel - 21 September 2018 12:51 PM

Hello and welcome.


Just to clear up: randomness is a feature of Determinism: it is messy and inconvenient, but it is fully deterministic. If a quantum event has a 50/50 chance to happen, then it will happen with a 50/50 chance. There is no room for free will, since nothing can tip the balance one way or the other.
Because of this, theorists have come up with the “Multiverse” concept to work around having to pick one random event over another.

Determinism in the sense of freewill is causality, freewill violates causality in essence by saying there was no cause for a choice. No cause for a choice, randomness, makes freewill meaningless, cause for a choice, the preceding causal chain, is determinism.

 
 
Twissel
 
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21 September 2018 21:57
 

Harris’s understanding of Free Will is heavily influenced by his current practice of meditation and his past practice of psychedelics.
I’m not sure it is really useful.

My gut feeling is that it is futile to look for Free Will in the individual: it rests in the network of interactions with other minds. A brain that can simulate the outcome of interactions, anticipate the reactions of others to your actions, has just so many more possibilities for acion than one that only interacts with inert matter. Hence it appears as if we have Free Will when in fact all we have is more parameters that can affect the outcome of running our current program.

 
 
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21 September 2018 22:11
 
Twissel - 21 September 2018 12:51 PM

Hello and welcome.


Just to clear up: randomness is a feature of Determinism: it is messy and inconvenient, but it is fully deterministic. If a quantum event has a 50/50 chance to happen, then it will happen with a 50/50 chance. There is no room for free will, since nothing can tip the balance one way or the other.
Because of this, theorists have come up with the “Multiverse” concept to work around having to pick one random event over another.

A determinism with elements of randomness is not the same as philosophical hard determinism. The latter assumes that all events proceed from first causes that are knowable in principle. Deterministic randomness seems to me to say that some first causes are not knowable in principle. For example, spontaneous fission of a radioactive nucleus may be considered highly deterministic in a statistical sense, but it is not knowable exactly when or where it will happen for a specific nucleus. The when and where matter in any macroscopic sense of determinism, if the specific nucleus in question is linked to a particular physical mechanism. That physical mechanism might be the trigger for the life or death of Schrodinger’s Cat, or it might be the potential mutation of a single gene that causes a fatal case of cancer.

What this means in terms of historical causality is that it is not possible to identify the positive cause of every physical event, because quantum events such as the decay of a single particle do not always have a cause that can be positively identified. The cause can only be identified as a general tendency of all particles of that kind. Hard philosophical determinism of the sort required to support moral determinism and predestination seems to require that every event be traceable in principle to a singular chain of causality back to the beginning of time.

I’m not arguing Determinism vs. Free Will. I think the classical all-or-nothing forms of each are bankrupt, and I think that any useful discussion using the terms considers them to be theoretical end points of a continuum.

[ Edited: 21 September 2018 22:26 by Poldano]
 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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21 September 2018 22:59
 

Welcome to the forum Mr. X and thanks for this fresh start on free will.

Every other weekend, we all post on the subject and share how much our opinions have evolved since last time.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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21 September 2018 23:40
 

I appreciate that various kinds of holes can be poked into various deterministic models. So, good work to whoever does so with diligence and integrity.

I’m still waiting a model for free will though. I’m still waiting for some kind of narrative that makes agency at the level of physical systems intelligible. I’m still waiting for some set of good reasons why we should believe that we are not composed of and emerge from a substrate that has no agency and are, at bottom beholden to that substrate whatever it’s active properties might be.

I can appreciate a distinction between hard and soft determinism as an academic concept within social science but for meta physics I think it’s a distinction without a difference. The forces that move us along could be chemical or cosmic or social or whatever but we are still simply riding a wave. These are not so much competing explanations as they are the same explanation expressed at different scales.

I guess what I need to ask is what the consequence of defeating hard determinism would be? Why does it matter?

 
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22 September 2018 00:33
 
Brick Bungalow - 21 September 2018 11:40 PM

I appreciate that various kinds of holes can be poked into various deterministic models. So, good work to whoever does so with diligence and integrity.

I’m still waiting a model for free will though. I’m still waiting for some kind of narrative that makes agency at the level of physical systems intelligible. I’m still waiting for some set of good reasons why we should believe that we are not composed of and emerge from a substrate that has no agency and are, at bottom beholden to that substrate whatever it’s active properties might be.

I can appreciate a distinction between hard and soft determinism as an academic concept within social science but for meta physics I think it’s a distinction without a difference. The forces that move us along could be chemical or cosmic or social or whatever but we are still simply riding a wave. These are not so much competing explanations as they are the same explanation expressed at different scales.

I guess what I need to ask is what the consequence of defeating hard determinism would be? Why does it matter?

We are the wave.

Defeating hard determinism frees the way for accepting common sense. It also opens the way for scientific and philosophical conceptions regarding the extent of determinism that is present in any context, ideally in a measurable way.

 
 
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22 September 2018 00:47
 

What we can say that if it is possible for a complex system to develop agency, this would give it a massive evolutionary advantage.
So if Free Will is possible, either we have it already or our descendants will.

 
 
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22 September 2018 21:45
 
Poldano - 22 September 2018 12:33 AM
Brick Bungalow - 21 September 2018 11:40 PM

I appreciate that various kinds of holes can be poked into various deterministic models. So, good work to whoever does so with diligence and integrity.

I’m still waiting a model for free will though. I’m still waiting for some kind of narrative that makes agency at the level of physical systems intelligible. I’m still waiting for some set of good reasons why we should believe that we are not composed of and emerge from a substrate that has no agency and are, at bottom beholden to that substrate whatever it’s active properties might be.

I can appreciate a distinction between hard and soft determinism as an academic concept within social science but for meta physics I think it’s a distinction without a difference. The forces that move us along could be chemical or cosmic or social or whatever but we are still simply riding a wave. These are not so much competing explanations as they are the same explanation expressed at different scales.

I guess what I need to ask is what the consequence of defeating hard determinism would be? Why does it matter?

We are the wave.

Defeating hard determinism frees the way for accepting common sense. It also opens the way for scientific and philosophical conceptions regarding the extent of determinism that is present in any context, ideally in a measurable way.

I’m trying with that… I will reflect further.

The best I can do for now is to say that there are a myriad of concepts that are valid because they have utility and free will is a viable
member of that set. It doesn’t track with my best understanding of physical reality but neither do things like property, love, beauty, justice et cetera. They are aesthetics. They are, in some sense emergent properties of culture but in another the sense arbiters of our judgment about most anything else. We have a concept of agency because it’s a necessary tool. It’s real because it corresponds to real needs.

 
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24 September 2018 19:49
 
Nhoj Morley - 21 September 2018 10:59 PM

Welcome to the forum Mr. X and thanks for this fresh start on free will.

Every other weekend, we all post on the subject and share how much our opinions have evolved since last time.

Excellent…  Is this all part of a single thread I can find somewhere?

Thanks

 
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24 September 2018 20:30
 
Brick Bungalow - 21 September 2018 11:40 PM

I appreciate that various kinds of holes can be poked into various deterministic models. So, good work to whoever does so with diligence and integrity.

I’m still waiting a model for free will though. I’m still waiting for some kind of narrative that makes agency at the level of physical systems intelligible. I’m still waiting for some set of good reasons why we should believe that we are not composed of and emerge from a substrate that has no agency and are, at bottom beholden to that substrate whatever it’s active properties might be.

I can appreciate a distinction between hard and soft determinism as an academic concept within social science but for meta physics I think it’s a distinction without a difference. The forces that move us along could be chemical or cosmic or social or whatever but we are still simply riding a wave. These are not so much competing explanations as they are the same explanation expressed at different scales.

I guess what I need to ask is what the consequence of defeating hard determinism would be? Why does it matter?

I have a model of Free Will that you might enjoy… I’ll try to post it sometime this week.

Though, I’m not sure it’s going to provide a comprehensive “that makes agency at the level of physical systems intelligible.”... That’s Consciousness… which is a whole other subject.  And while I can piece that particular puzzle together in my own mind, it is not a complete picture in which all of those data points are based on information for which I could point you to a book that references specifics studies.  I would say that request is somewhat like asking for a single source that will explain everything we know about evolution as it relates to life on earth (including topics such as embryology, species classification, and genetics)... I don’t think that such a book exists… and that’s regarding a subject in which we actually do have all of that information available… but it takes LOTS of books smile

Metaphysics and my discussions on other forums…  One of the problems I have found in this area is that many people want to use a purely philosophical view to discount the analysis of data points gathered from experiments conducted in Particle Physics, or Evolution, or Neurology.  Several of these people were indeed very knowledgeable in philosophy, and when pressed, had admitted that they haven’t really “looked into” that field of science being discussed.  Even had one guy tell me flat out… he didn’t need to know anything specifically related to the topic because Philosophy is the only information we need to make conclusions about existence.

So, I would say they are not different ways of explaining the “same thing”.  If you are playing a card game… whether or not you are including the Jokers makes a difference to the person who is “playing to win by counting cards in game of poker” (particle physics), vs the person who’s just “playing cards” (metaphysics).  When we are using neuroscience and particle physics to determine the origin of the universe, or where consciousness seems to emerge from…  we’re counting cards, and Jokers matter.

Defeating Hard Determinism… Why does it matter?
This speaks to the common interpretation of nihilism being born out of science.  Having been a theist who converted to being an atheist, that transition included a great deal of time spent on exploring various sciences, and engaging in Religion vs Theism conflicts… (including my own thoughts, debates online, and trying to understand my the common beliefs of pretty much ALL of my family and friends)...  I can tell you with a good deal of confidence the idea that “science tells us nothing matters” is extremely pervasive in the lesser educated crowd (which is pretty much most of humanity).  And this breeds a significant level of distrust.  Determinism is ALWAYS PERCEIVED as Hard Determinism by the crowd who knows nothing about it.  So, if it’s not “set in stone”... then it potentially makes some information more approachable to some people who have mentally closed it completely off because the idea is “scary”, or threatens their sense of individuality.

 
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24 September 2018 22:13
 
RedJamaX - 24 September 2018 07:49 PM

Excellent…  Is this all part of a single thread I can find somewhere?

No, we have free will threads all over the place. They bloom, patrons enjoy them for awhile and then they wither. This one is fresh.

I have a model of Free Will that you might enjoy… I’ll try to post it sometime this week.

That would be splendid. I suggest one of the Halls of… departments depending on your approach.

 
 
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25 September 2018 23:59
 
RedJamaX - 24 September 2018 08:30 PM

...

Metaphysics and my discussions on other forums…  One of the problems I have found in this area is that many people want to use a purely philosophical view to discount the analysis of data points gathered from experiments conducted in Particle Physics, or Evolution, or Neurology.  Several of these people were indeed very knowledgeable in philosophy, and when pressed, had admitted that they haven’t really “looked into” that field of science being discussed.  Even had one guy tell me flat out… he didn’t need to know anything specifically related to the topic because Philosophy is the only information we need to make conclusions about existence.

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We fortunately don’t have a lot of people like that here, at least that I’ve encountered. Usually we argue about the facts, or rather the generalizations that we variously wish were facts.

RedJamaX - 24 September 2018 08:30 PM

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So, I would say they are not different ways of explaining the “same thing”.  If you are playing a card game… whether or not you are including the Jokers makes a difference to the person who is “playing to win by counting cards in game of poker” (particle physics), vs the person who’s just “playing cards” (metaphysics).  When we are using neuroscience and particle physics to determine the origin of the universe, or where consciousness seems to emerge from…  we’re counting cards, and Jokers matter.

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I don’t understand you here. Your example doesn’t seem to support your assertion. I would say that there are infinitely many different ways of saying the same thing; even if all the different ways can be reduced to the same statement, the syntactical and grammatical complexities of all the others will confuse people and lead many of them to believe that other things are being stated.

RedJamaX - 24 September 2018 08:30 PM

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Defeating Hard Determinism… Why does it matter?
This speaks to the common interpretation of nihilism being born out of science.  Having been a theist who converted to being an atheist, that transition included a great deal of time spent on exploring various sciences, and engaging in Religion vs Theism conflicts… (including my own thoughts, debates online, and trying to understand my the common beliefs of pretty much ALL of my family and friends)...  I can tell you with a good deal of confidence the idea that “science tells us nothing matters” is extremely pervasive in the lesser educated crowd (which is pretty much most of humanity).  And this breeds a significant level of distrust.  Determinism is ALWAYS PERCEIVED as Hard Determinism by the crowd who knows nothing about it.  So, if it’s not “set in stone”... then it potentially makes some information more approachable to some people who have mentally closed it completely off because the idea is “scary”, or threatens their sense of individuality.

I mostly agree with you here. “Nothing matters” is not the same as “can’t say anything about what matters”, but people are generally eager to read something about “what matters” into anything they encounter. With that in mind, defeating hard determinism to the extent of showing it’s fallibility and generally equivalent to soft determinism for most purposes, is necessary to bring about a rejection of nihilism and a sense of the relevance of moral responsibility, among other other things.

[ Edited: 26 September 2018 00:02 by Poldano]