Gerald O'brian


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Free will and the illusory open-ness of the future.

The controversy seems to be making a comeback through quantum mysticism and such attempts to put consciousness at the core of reality.
I've seen comments about this on several discussions. I'd love to see how far these arguments go in favour or not of the reality of free will.

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    Oct 7 2012: The principle of free will has religious, ethical, and scientific implications. For example, in the religious realm, free will implies that individual will and choices can coexist with an omnipotent divinity. In ethics, it may hold implications for whether individuals can be held morally accountable for their actions. In science, neuroscientific findings regarding free will may suggest different ways of predicting human behavior.

    Free will is the ability to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long been debated in philosophy. Historically, the constraint of dominant concern has been the metaphysical constraint of determinism, which stated most simply is the notion that the present dictates the future entirely, that every occurrence results from prior events. The two main positions within that debate are metaphysical libertarianism, the claim that determinism is false, so free will exists is at least possible—and hard determinism, the claim that determinism is true, so free will does not exist.

    Since this has been debated for centuries Las Vegas odds are 1000 to 1 that it will not be decided during this conversation. And even odds that I am determined to have free will ..... Aw come on that was funny.

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      Oct 7 2012: The odds look bad, but only if people don't discuss their position. For instance, take the religious concept of free-will. God believed Eve had free-will when she went for the forbidden fruit, so he punished the crap out of her. He should've known better : He had only warned her that she'd die if she took a bite, and then a cunning snake convinced her otherwise. If anything, Eve was being a puppet. An ignorant child, and an innocent one.
      And then all the Jesus stuff about bad people being ignorants, really, who deserved love and education the most. If there is a religious concept of free-will, I don't see it. I only see a big moral mess because it's not carried by consistent philosophy. Someone should fix this.
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        Oct 7 2012: Can you help me understand?
        Does being ignorant of doing something make you innocent of it? If it did then if someone killed a person without the knowledge of it being wrong would they then be innocent due to their ignorance?

        Was Eve even ignorant, because God did warn her? Was she innocent, because she did take a bite?
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          Oct 8 2012: Children don't go to jail, right?
          And adults don't go to jail for something they did as a child.
          That's what i meant
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          Gail .

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          Oct 8 2012: Sterling, God didn't warn Eve. He warned Adam. Eve didn't come along until later. The problem was not with Adam who violated instructions. It was with Eve who didn't know that those instructions existed and was punished for her ignorance.
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        Oct 8 2012: @ Gerald O'brian

        Children don't go to jail but they would still undergo some form of punishment, right?

        @ TED Lover

        But Eve did know, didn't she? She told the serpent what would happen upon eating the fruit and the serpent replied saying that she would not die. Should someone ever be punished for just being ignorant of something? Shouldn't they only be punished for wrongful action?
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          Oct 8 2012: Right, but in proportion to the amount of responsability they had in the crime.
          God taught its creatures to do as they are told, and this is how our children are brought up. A father won't punish a kid for doing what Mommy asked.

          Oh, about Eve : "The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”"

          Come on, you have no excuse! The book of genesis, which explains the creation of the entire universe, life on earth and the drama of losing immortality takes about 45 seconds to read!
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        Oct 8 2012: What if the mother asked the kid to murder and the kid new it was wrong? The kid's punishment wouldn't be as harsh as the mother's should be but the kid would still need to be punished right?
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      Oct 7 2012: Metaphysical libertarianism... I have never heard that phrase before, but I like it.
    • Oct 7 2012: wiki cut paste
  • Oct 9 2012: In the context of QM the whole issue of freedom of choice and determinism goes into the melting pot.
    All is flow, all is flux, all relationships are in motion to everything else.
    I think, it’s a truer picture of the world.

    In a philosophical context : the 'thing' is what it is and what it is not . One side exists by the virtue of the other. It is set up as a dichotomy, but it is one thing it is entangled , but we perceive it as opposites. IOW . determinism and free will are just concepts that represent the motion of human consciousness and are two sides of the same coin.

    Something like this ... :)
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    Gail .

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    Oct 8 2012: Quantum mysticism? The two words are irreconcilable. To conflate the two is to understand neither.
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      Oct 8 2012: It's an expression. It reffers to pseudo-quantum physics. Enter "quantum" on, you'll see what I mean. Quantum healing, quantum medecin, quantum metaphysics... all that stuff about consciousness, too.
      I kind of liked that term, but if you have a better one, I'm all ears!
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        Gail .

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        Oct 8 2012: I prefer the word "science", but I do concede that as a science, it's in its infancy or toddlerhood.
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          Oct 8 2012: Perhaps you've misunderstood me. I think quantum physics is science.
          I don't think that quantum healling, etc... are science, though.
          There is quantum physics, and pseudo-quantum physics.
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        Gail .

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        Oct 8 2012: When I was growing up, I remember laughing at the idea of acupuncture, but few laugh any more.

        20 years ago, the idea that meditation could eliminate many diseases, increase IQ, enhance the immune system, and treat mental illnesses was simply crazy. Today, the evidence is pouring in.

        10 years ago, the idea that group meditation could be quantifiably proven to reduce violence and other social ills in inner cities, while enhancing social benefits, was thought to be so ludicrous that when the study was published, six groups immediately began studies to challenge the absurd idea. Now it's fact and even the US NIH agreed along with other countries and major universities who have undertaken their own studies.

        I suggest that these studies (and others) are the new field of science that is providing us with stunning bodies of evidence that challenge our preconceived notions.

        The fact that quantum science initiated these studies as a result of inescapable questions as a result of Twin Slit, Schroedinger's equation, Delayed Choice, Bell's Inequality, etc, is important. The physicists involved are not afraid of exploring new dimensions of knowledge. That's why it's called science rather than religion.
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          Oct 8 2012: Indeed, it's science when it explores new fields.
          It's pseudo-science when it merely mimmicks science and explains absolutely nothing. The whole point of pseudo-science is to set itself as a victim to sell a few books, not to provide understanding of reality. Coul I ask you to tell me where I can find an explanation about group meditation?
    • Oct 9 2012: Hi, TL !
      Do you understand QM ?
      Do you understand Mysticism ?

      You see ? They have something in common, they are not fully intelligible.

      Re : God didn't warn Eve. He warned Adam.

      There is a point, i guess. Adam and Eve represent ying/yang of human psyche.It's adam/eve, the being. It's already duality without which there is no existence, but they are in harmony and reside in Paradise, which is not a place but a state of mind/ consciousness.

      I have this kind of understanding :)
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    Oct 15 2012: It really depends on determinism and what consciousness' relationship is with determinism. There is great deal in this that we don't know therefore it is speculation, but a nice intriguing speculation.

    First there is still debate whether or not the universe is deterministic in nature. We know Newtonian mechanics is deterministic for sure. You hit a bunch of billiard balls and set them in motion. Everything from then on is deterministic, it is calculable. Depending on the initial conditions and the physics of the environment (table, friction, elastic coefficients, etc) we can calculate in advance where the balls will be 100 years from now, down to every second. The same thing applies if there are 100 billion balls on the table or 10 times as much. You really need a big computer to calculate but the fact of the matter is, that the balls must follow an exact history. There is no free will.

    We don't know if the universe is deterministic. Quantum mechanics, which is a better description for the universe than Newtonian mechanics is unpredictable by nature, but we can still not say for sure if it is deterministic or not. There may be some quantum determinism that we don't yet understand and if consciousness arises from any kind of physical phenomenon that is subject to this quantum determinism than the answer is really as simple as in the previous case. The Big Bang set the universe in motion, and those initial conditions + laws of physics dictate the history of the universe. There are lots of balls, but they must follow the predetermined sequence of events.

    If quantum physics is not deterministic just plain old random, and consciousness arises from this randomness, than the history is not predetermined, but there still isn't any free will. All decisions are dictated by the initial setup + some random events that we cannot control.

    Finally, if consciousness has some weird origin that will allow it to defy the laws of physics and the randomness it may actually exist.
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      Oct 15 2012: Thank you for the very informative contribution. You put your finger on something I don't understand. Perhaps you can help me.
      Randomness means that the outcome is not knowable, for physical reasons. I don't see how this changes anything about our deterministic model of the world.
      In fact, hold on. I don't even understand what random means... or why it should be possible for anything to be really random. Hmmm, perhaps I'll start a conversation about this.
      Thanks a lot!
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    Oct 10 2012: Gerald,

    There is no future nor past.

    What is - is always and ever changing.
    The dynamics of perception is an interplay between the perceiver and the perceived. Perceiving isn't done by any individual but any living organism filters the actual state of being into any personal reality depending on the characteristics of that organism. This process in life mirrors that of the non living universe. What you call your consciousness is just your personal reality as a modulation of that of the universe.
  • Oct 7 2012: One could argue that pure free will would require the absence of a conscience toward good and bad. Removing all constraint enables friction-less interaction between thought and action. This can be observed in nature almost universally. Openness when viewed in regards to disclosed data used to formulate potential outcomes can never be viewed as absolute. I myself have yet to find the fully disclosed individual, for it is this person that demonstrates free will.
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    Oct 7 2012: My parents are both obese, and I weighed 280 lbs in college, at my worst... Now I'm about 10 lbs. away from looking like a UFC fighter... Free will exists... most people are lazy. Every minute of the day you are doing exactly what you want to do.

    PS... "There's no such thing as addiction... There's just things you enjoy doing... More than being alive" Doug Stanhope.
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      Oct 7 2012: Or one could say you were a puppet of the environment. The obese parents, the hard time in college and the influence of UFC shows... you just had to wind up with an awesome body.
      I agree that free will exists, but as a metaphor. We can't ever figure out the exact details of the initial states, and a thought implies billions of interacting neurons. So instead of trying to predict what a person is about to do through reductionnist physics, it's handy to suppose that behaviour results of actual decision making.
      When i interact with humans, I believe in free-will, even though I think it's all an illusion.
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        Oct 7 2012: People say that... but you can't say it logically. My fat friends all watch the UFC, and when they experienced the same stimulus as I did in college, they responded by stress eating, and getting fatter. I didn't even really start losing weight till 23 or 24, a very odd time to suddenly improve.

        I'm practically an asexual monk, and have no interest in having children, so rationally, and based on the stimulus of my environment, I should care more about finances, than looks... but, I'm on strike. I refuse to contribute money to this government, because I believe it's evil... So I have free time.

        I am genetically fat. The world is trying to determine, that I will grow up to be a fat guy. If I eat 2 meals in a day, or eat until I'm no longer hungry, I gain 2 pounds a day. Most of my life, I believed, that I had been screwed, by genetics, and there was nothing I could do about it... Then I realized, some people can eat 3 meals a day, and stay healthy... I can eat one, and a light snack. The world makes it hard for me to stay thin... It does not determine that I will be fat.

        If I put more energy into it, than other people do, I can overcome my genetics, and have. If you believe you have no free will, you cannot do this. So I would actually go one step further, free will exists, if you believe in it.

        If you choose not to believe in free will, you will likely end up very fat, very drug addled, very lazy, and very sex addicted, cus lets face it, that's the devil on all our soldiers.
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          Oct 7 2012: at this point i share the same idea with you
          i think we are born equal and free. we are all animals .and we also have the characteristic
          of animals .free will can bring us a good moor ,then we wont feel stressed .

          when you are stuck it is the time that you do something jsut as you said very lazy and sex addicted .

          so freedom is very important .
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          Oct 7 2012: Not at all! Genes are just a fraction of your environment. You were perhaps genetically determined to be fat, but other factors managed (or barely managed, since it didn't work on your fat peers) to win the battle against obesity, lust and becoming a billionaire.
          When you think of something, doesn't it matter what you've been through, who brought you up, what books you've read and who you've dated? You'd be someone else if you hadn't grown up with the exact same environment, wouldn't you?
          Now if you can aknowledge this, then where's your limit about how much your thoughts are determined?
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        Oct 7 2012: No, I don't acknowledge that at all. The only things I have no control over, are the physical world. I was lucky to grow up in a lower middle class household, where at 45ish, one of my parents was promoted to management, and was lucky enough to buy a house. I'm an only child, so now we live a relatively comfortable life. I had absolutely no control over that, and I have been very blessed/lucky/determined to have a decent shot at happiness.

        However, beyond that... The key words you use, are "to win the battle against obesity, lust, and becoming a billionaire"... That's free will. You acknowledge that every one of us experiences that desire, and some of us go down that path, some do not.

        I chose what books I read, and I chose to read, in a generation, in which that did me no social favors... Thinking Dostoevsky is a valid conversation reference, is not a particularly learned or encouraged behavior in the society of 20 year olds in Los Angeles. There is nothing about the city I live in, or my parents (who hate subtitles)... which leads me to be shocked every time someone tells me they haven't seen "The Seven Samurai".

        My choices, reflect very often who I haven't dated... but it also reflects my taste. Theoretically there is a woman in Los Angeles who loves classic movies, and can't wait to build clean energy products in the garage with me... but I certainly haven't been conditioned by my environment to have much faith in that.

        So little about me, has anything to do with my environment, or upbringing, so little of it is related to anyone I know, I can't even imagine believing that my life is predetermined.
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          Oct 7 2012: I admire your determination, then. And here's a series of questions for the free spirit :

          1- Do you believe free-will can be programmed, in theory?

          2- What other animals, in your opinion, have free-will?

          3- If you can make decisions regardless of the environment, what's the difference between randomness and free-will?

          Thanks for your contribution on this.
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        Oct 7 2012: 1... Very good question... and I'll give you a very strange answer. I believe that an intelligent being, would have no interest in programming free will into an entity. Robots, are better than humans for the purpose of anything save entertainment. Free will is not useful, to any entity but the individual. I find great difficulty in believing in a creator, because I think if there is one, it expects to be entertained, and worshipped. I'm not a fan of that idea. I'm a fan of the idea that there is an intangible, purpose to existence, but it centers on the choices you are lucky enough to make.

        I think programming free will in theory, would resemble a random error generator... but that's not the same experience.

        2. Not sure... I actually believe atoms may have free will, and that explains quantum theory, but I admit, that's just crazy talk.

        3. The best question, and the most difficult to answer. I believe, some things are objectively awe inspiring, and beautiful. I think all human beings can benefit from experiencing them. I mentioned once before that the best experience in my life was backpacking around Europe spending time in hostels and riding the rails. Aside from the flight, I was amazed how little people still appreciate things that are just objectively awesome, and how cheap you can experience things which have survived for centuries.

        It's like a movie... I, shockingly, even as a young man, always thought, "Most things of value, probably weren't made this year". I don't know what made me attuned to that at a young age, certainly modern pop helped. Once I chose to evaluate things in this way, my choices lead me down a very strange path, which makes me happy, but very frustrated with modern society. I don't think free will is encouraged. I think people would rather feel sorry for their station in life, and that is the constant struggle we are all trapped in. It's up to each one of us to overcome this, or not.
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        Oct 7 2012: If, on the whole of human actions, we as a species choose a path of balance, and creation... Free will was a positive evolved trait in human beings... If we choose destruction, perhaps a hive mind would work better for chimps, hehe.

        In short, life is a series of probabilities... however... You are the gambler. You invest your energy and resources where you enjoy them, and in doing so either profit or lose. Some odds are longer than others, but the game is rigged against us all.
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          Oct 8 2012: I do think a hive mind would work wonders on humans. The planet would get all cleaned up and people worldwide would just feel happy to go to their jobs (which are designed for termites 9 times out of 10, let's face it). People would be thrilled to go die on mars, planting stuff and preparing the terrain for the rest of the colony. But that's not really about free-will. It's about what we enjoy, and apes don't enjoy an anthill lifestyle. I don't think we have control over this.
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        Oct 8 2012: In the words of Niel deGrasse Tyson "I would so go to Mars - to low earth orbit? No. Boldly going where hundreds have gone before? No. But, if you are going to go where nobody has gone before... Sign me up!"

        We don't need a hive mind to go to Mars... Just free will + crazy people : )

        PS, the "It's like a movie..." That just trailed off had a follow up I deleted for space... 6 months after opening weekend, there's always a way to see it really cheap. So you can see 5 movies 6 months late, at a drive in or cheap theater, rental, netflix... Or you can watch one on opening weekend. 6 months after it comes out, if no one's talking about it still... It probably wasn't worth seeing in the first place.
  • Oct 6 2012: Gerald,

    All you are calling for is a huge mess. I will give it a try before mumbo-jumbo comes to the stage.

    1. I am not sure that determinism is correct. Why not? Because it is an overenthusiastic conclusion from the perfection in the mathematical descriptions of the workings of such things as the parables described by cannon balls in the planet to their connection to the ellipses described by planets in orbits around the sun. My point being that some "laws" of physics are quite precise, but that does not mean that everything in nature is. Thus it is possible that not everything is predictable from the positions and momenta of every atom in the universe. It is possible that the conclusion towards determinism was a hasty generalization.

    2. We have evolved in a way that we are able to "weight data," stuff going on around us. If the universe is deterministic, then at least it is not so predictable and weighting probabilities has been part of survival mechanisms for living beings.

    3. I could rephrase the above as this: laws might narrow, delimit, what can and cannot happen. That does not mean that they determine what exactly will happen.

    4. From the above I would conclude that at the very least some measure of free-will exist regardless of how much deterministic people would argue that the universe is. Why? Because we have still evolved as if things are unpredictable, as if we can make decisions. That is free-will at the very least at a level that we can understand.

    5. It is very hard to decide what free-will means (I know, I used one definition above, but you will see). This little point will be the source of most of the problems in this thing if you get more public.

    6. This will become religious and mystic and pseudoscientific (thus nonsense) in no time. So that's it from me.
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      Oct 7 2012: Free-will : the idea that complexe computation is less influenced by the laws of physics and its initial state than simple computation is.
      • Oct 7 2012: If you define free-will the way you did. Then there's no debate to be had. That's false by definition.

        What about free-will: the idea that complex computations being more than the sum of the parts does not go against the laws of physics? Or what about free-will: the idea that the laws of physics leave some room for decision making? Then you have authentically open questions. Questions that will not be easy to solve anyway, but at least something we can put our minds to run around.

        (Nice mess above.)
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          Oct 7 2012: "If you define free-will the way you did. Then there's no debate to be had"

          There is a debate : I've caused you to supply another definition, haven't I?
          So, there is a treshold in the complexity of computation, you say, at which point free-will emerges? Why not. Any idea (wild guess) where that line might be?
          But then it raises a new problem ; what's a free-will decision VS a more basic decision?

          I personnally think there is no special threshold in the scale that goes from chemical reactions to wondering whether Beethoven or Bach was the best composer. And I expect to be refuted.
      • Oct 8 2012: Hum,

        I might have created an undesirable problem. One of assuming that complex computations are simple computations on top of each other. Or maybe not. After all, we have seen that most logics can quickly lead to paradoxes. So, maybe it is the possibility and inevitability of paradoxes where the problem lies. Maybe if we were computing as exactly on complex problems we would find ourselves in one paradox after another ... interesting thought. Think of self referencing paradoxes like "this sentence is a lie."

        Since I am just thinking aloud I have created a million problems more. The thing being, we can't assume that simple computations put on top of each other are just as solvable. Roads to paradoxes can become invisible. Undecidability unavoidable, if we kept working with the wrong paradigm. Perhaps that's where the solution, if there's any, might be found. Simple computations can help us understand how things work at a very basic level. That does not mean they can help us understand exactly and unambiguously how much more complex problems work at the highest levels.

        No, I don't know where the line can be found. Maybe it is not a matter of lines, but of how the edifice is built. We quickly find a problem in a simple liar paradox. We might not so easily figure out complex systems where liar paradox would stop us were it not because reality does not truly work the way simple models work.

        I know, I lost you, didn't I? I lost myself, so no problem ... (can-of-worms/pandora's box thus opened.)
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          Oct 9 2012: At least it's well written.
          Yeah you really lost me with the introduction of paradoxes into this argument. I'll read it once more...
        • Oct 9 2012: This self-defeating limitation is built into the structure of logic itself. Try fuzzy logic , "where the truth value may range between completely true and completely false "
          Whenever we are confronted with opposites, we'd better try to unify them, to create a "coincidentia oppositorum" so that the differences can resonate and become complimentary rather than contradictory.
          You may get really 'something' out of it , but it's just hard as hell to talk about that what you've got ! :)
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          Oct 9 2012: I got lost a little bit in your response but enjoyed reading it and agree with your approach so plus-1.

          I like the metaphor of there being a dance and dancer in regards to this thing we call life. Many of us assume we are the dancer leading the dance. Perhaps more conscious folks accept that they are the dance. Perhaps even more that more consciousser (ha) peoples have a realization that they are both the dance and the dancer in this life of ours. pppp pppppp ppppparadox.
      • Oct 12 2012: Gerald,

        Maybe that's the point. Determinism was an overly enthusiastic idea born out of, again, the success of models of the physics of some century/centuries ago. Models are models. They represent reality, yet they are not reality. They could have trapped people into thinking that because their predictions about, say, gravitation-thus-elliptical-orbits, then everything would be predictable from such first principles, thus predetermined. No room for any deviations. Yet, we know that the predictions were not that accurate. That imagining all the mass and shape of the objects to be contained into points helps us develop the models, but that it is far from being an accurate representation of reality. if we know all of that, why believe that the universe behaves that way and still accept the idea of determinism?

        So, my paradox example shows an obvious defect in one kind of logic. This kind of logic is still useful, yet not the absolute model to judge the way nature works. Natasha then suggests fuzzy logic. This logic allows for some freedom and thus less predetermination. Right? It is still a model, yet it has not reached the minds of physicists to renounce the idea that they had everything figured out and that the universe, while somewhat predictable, is not completely predictable. That computations might not always be on/off bit to bit procedures. That models are models, while reality is reality.

        Thus, I stand by what I said. This is undecidable, but it looks a lot like we have free-will (something pretty much like it). So, for all practical purposes we have it. Could it be illusory? Yes. Could it be real? Yes. Can we break the laws of nature then? I don't think so. Does that not mean that free-will is an illusion? Nope. we know that these laws mean constrains, but we do not know that such constrains are absolutely precise. In rather metaphorical words, we do not know if such constrains allow for fuzzy-logic or demand boolean logic.

        See ya my friends.
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    Oct 30 2012: Here is some research:

    ( -- When biologist Anthony Cashmore claims that the concept of free will is an illusion, he's not breaking any new ground. At least as far back as the ancient Greeks, people have wondered how humans seem to have the ability to make their own personal decisions in a manner lacking any causal component other than their desire to "will" something. But Cashmore, Professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, says that many biologists today still cling to the idea of free will, and reject the idea that we are simply conscious machines, completely controlled by a combination of our chemistry and external environmental forces.

    Read more at:
  • Oct 15 2012: My two cents worth:

    Philosophy can be fun, but in my life, philosophy is the strategic thinking behind acting practically. From the practical point of view, there is no difference between actual free will and the illusion of free will. If I programmed a computer to play chess, I could claim that I programmed it to have free will. The only arguments you could form against that claim would be philosophical arguments. To support my claim, I could simply point out that it appears to have free will as much as any living organism, and no one can predict what move it will make next. This is exactly the same situation as claiming that humans have free will.

    For the practical purposes of living day to day, this debate is irrelevant.

    Enjoy your debate, its good entertainment.
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      Oct 15 2012: The debate is not irrelevant when people write interesting posts, such as this one.
      I completely agree with what you say about A.I. If you can build a machine that can fake human behaviour and feelings, then you've built a man... Because this is all we do : we fake being people.
      But you're right, this has nothing to do with the way we live. We all buy it, the fakeness, and make it real. It's the only way to figure practical things out.
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    Oct 15 2012: Take radioactivity for instance: we know Uranium decays, we know it's half life (which is a statistical calculation), but we don't know exactly when the decay occurs. It is caused by a physical force that we know exist but do not know if it is predictable at all. If it is not, it is by definition "true random", and it can happen now, five minutes from now or never at all. This can pose a problem in calculating the state of a system at a point in the future.

    To bring back the analogy with the billiard balls, imagine that some billiard balls can spontaneously get chipped for a well know reason but which cannot be determined when it occurs, just randomly. The chipping can seriously affect the balls trajectory because it alters its shape and thus behaviour. We still know all the physics about it, we could account for it, but because we don't know when the ball gets chipped, if at all, we cannot calculate its trajectory and its position at any point in the future, because it is affected by this randomness.
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    Oct 10 2012: So who has the ability to be the observer as well as the agency? After the moment has gone can a person say whether it was one or the other but to be three corners ahead is only virtual.
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    Oct 9 2012: We are always taking sensory "knowledge" of our surroundings. Some people have a heighten sense of this "reality" of consciousness. Some not so much. However every action has a equal and opposite reaction, so with chaos theory everything is connected in some way shape or form. So in that sense there is no free will. However the only place you have free will is in personal choice, which most people give up on this and surrender their personal choice for one reason or another (join the military). When you are able and capable of making your own personal choices, this is the only way to have free will because there are always options to choose from, some are "correct/good", some are "wrong/bad", other choices you may not even be able to see at the time.

    One could argue that everything is connected so even that personal choices path was predetermined, however the choice you make is not. Now I am not talking about turning left or right out of the driveway. I am talking about a choice where a lesson is to be learn. Once you make this choice your life could be set back on this "predetermined path" leading you your next personal choice/free will.

    To sum up my answer I would suggest that life is both predetermined and free will
  • Oct 8 2012: I was on the way to the post office, a trip i take daily, following the usual route. Busy driving and engaged in conversation with my wife I took a turn off the planned route. Though it was still in the direction of the post office, my wife kindly reminded me of my destination. I made the turn without "meaning" to. When I left the house I had a predetermined route based on previous journeys and my successful arrival at my destination. So how can I explain my seemingly random turn? My wife asked the question that has inspired men since the beginning of time, "why did you go this way"? so I said what I felt to be the most natural thing to say , " I guess i just wanted to go a different way today." Knowing full well that I did not have any intentions of going a different route, nor did I contemplate changing my route. I was focused on something else. It is my view that during my conscious conversation with my wife free will made an overriding choice to deviate from a previously well informed, thought out route that has given me 100% success. We are always constrained in the natural physical world. Constrained to the extent we depend upon our physical senses to define it. Free will can neither be manufactured or duplicated it is by definition unable to fit the restraint of any defined law or theory. Perhaps the question one should be asking is, What of the future open source society and illusory free will?
  • Oct 7 2012: Let's not be Aristotalian. We might look at a mixed solution from many inputs.
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    Oct 7 2012: What is the origin of this meme?