1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Free will is theoretically possible

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Ostronomos, Feb 15, 2021.

  1. Ostronomos

    Ostronomos Active Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Messages:
    335
    Ratings:
    +67
    Religion:
    None
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/artic...e-of-life/

    EXCERPTS: . . . Of course, the Game of Life can be interpreted in different ways. [...] For example, philosopher Daniel Dennett, commenting on Conway’s invention in the Times, points out that Life’s “higher-order patterns” emerge from processes that are “completely unmysterious and explicable.... No psionic fields, no morphic resonances, no élan vital, no dualism.”

    [...] Life, Dennett goes on to say, shows that deterministic rules can generate “complex adaptively appropriate structures” capable of “action” and “control.” Yes! I thought, my own bias coming into play. Dennett clearly means that deterministic processes can spawn phenomena that transcend determinism, like minds with free will.

    Then another thought occurred to me ... Conventional cellular automata, including [the Game of] Life, are strictly local, in the sense that what happens in one cell depends on what happens in its neighboring cells. But quantum mechanics suggests that nature seethes with nonlocal “spooky actions.” Remote, apparently disconnected things can be “entangled,” influencing each other in mysterious ways, as if via the filaments of ghostly, hyperdimensional cobwebs.

    I wondered: Can cellular automata incorporate nonlocal entanglements? And if so, might these cellular automata provide even more support for free will than the Game of Life? [...] Yes, researchers have created many cellular automata that incorporate quantum effects, including nonlocality. There are even quantum versions of the Game of Life. But, predictably, experts disagree on whether nonlocal cellular automata bolster the case for free will.

    [...] Nobel laureate Gerard ‘t Hooft, flatly rules out the possibility of free will. [...] ‘t Hooft’s model assumes the existence of “hidden variables” underlying apparently random quantum behavior. His model leads him to a position called “superdeterminism,” which eliminates ... any hope for free will. Our fates are fixed from the big bang on.

    Another authority on cellular automata, Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica and other popular mathematical programs, proposes that free will is possible. [...] He notes that many cellular automata, including the Game of Life, display the property of “computational irreducibility.” That is, you cannot predict in advance what the cellular automata are going to do, you can only watch and see what happens. This unpredictability is compatible with free will, or so Wolfram suggests.

    John Conway, Life’s creator, also defended free will. [...] the physicists are free to measure the particles in dozens of ways, which are not dictated by the preceding state of the universe. Similarly, the particles’ spin, as measured by the physicists, is not predetermined. Their analysis leads Conway and Kochen to conclude that the physicists possess free will—and so do the particles they are measuring.

    [...] To be honest, I have a problem with all these treatments of free will, pro and con. They examine free will within the narrow, reductionistic framework of physics and mathematics, and they equate free will with randomness and unpredictability. My choices, at least important ones, are not random, and they are all too predictable, at least for those who know me.

    [...] Just as it cannot prove or disprove God’s existence, science will never decisively confirm or deny free will...
    (MORE - details)

    The CTMU covers this topic at some length and maintains that while locality results in determinism and super-determinism, non-locality and Quantum mechanics allows for true free will (a self-deterministic feedback loop).

    In my experience, reflexivity between mind and reality (a Quantum process) makes self-determinism and free will possible.

    This in its entirety requires that one's influence over reality is Quantum probabilistic.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  2. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Messages:
    48,209
    Ratings:
    +4,720
    I willfully make denial of your thread title
     
  3. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Advaita Vedantin
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2016
    Messages:
    12,743
    Ratings:
    +19,376
    Religion:
    Sanatana Dharma
    Your willful denial of this thread’s title was your destiny. :D
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Messages:
    48,209
    Ratings:
    +4,720
    nay.....like tomorrow

    destiny never arrives
     
  5. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Messages:
    48,209
    Ratings:
    +4,720
    no....wait a minute

    if I make denial.....now
    and denial is my destiny

    hmmmmmm
     
  6. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Messages:
    48,209
    Ratings:
    +4,720
    so.....I willfully accept my destiny

    and I willfully make denial

    I now have.....freewill
     
  7. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Messages:
    31,028
    Ratings:
    +11,820
    Religion:
    liber-scripta grim Christian
    The real free will question is whether persons ought to be held responsible for what we do. That is the free will which matters. "Should we punish criminals that are the product of bad environments?" is a relevant question while "Are criminals ultimately responsible for what they are?" seems irrelevant unless you can change something about it.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  8. Roguish

    Roguish Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2020
    Messages:
    132
    Ratings:
    +83
    Religion:
    True Religion
    Perhaps you will not consider what I am about to write pertinent to your inquiry (if there was one), but I'll throw it in anyway. I do apologize if to you it seems entirely beside the point.

    See, there seems to be a misunderstanding among modern-day philosophers, be they scholars or the self-taught kind, about what the famous "question (or problem) of free will" is about. The old concept of free will referred simply to the ability of man (or any intelligent creature) to pursue (or avoid) that which he imagines. He envisions something (e.g. wild boar for dinner tonight), likes or dislikes the thought of it, and therefore sets out to make it happen, or prevent it from happening. This makes him a creature that can pursue plans, goals, thoughts, fantasies — plans and thought and fantasies that have nothing to do with God's Will. It was truly only this characteristic of man's intentions (i.e. that they are independent of God's Will), that made old-school theologians and philosophers refer to man's will as "free". (And interestingly, man can also consciously resist his urge to pursue what he has envisioned, even if he finds that which he has envisioned attractive. From this it follows then that man is also free to resist acting out his freedom of will.) It was this ability to pursue something other than God's Will, and only this, that pre-modern philosophers and theologians thought of when they spoke of "free will".

    Modern philosophers seem to have completely lost sight of this. They have made the "free will problem" not about man's ability to pursue an imagined (i.e. envisioned) future state of affairs, but more about the question of whether that which he imagines/envisions is a deterministic function of his "brain", or (equivalently) that he "chooses his thoughts". That man will act on whatever comes to his mind and appeals to him, is taken for granted — so that man's freedom not to act against God's Will is completely lost sight of. So the problem has been recast, from the freedom to act (or not) in pursuit of bringing about one's thoughts — a freedom that man truly does have — to the "problem" of deciding whether man's mental impulses are deterministic or not. And it is assumed (incorrectly[*]) that if the answer is yes, that man is a creature that is only helplessly acting out those impulses. It is also assumed that if the answer is no, then suddenly quantum mechanics should be brought to bear on the matter to bolster this (attempted) escape from determinism.

    I reiterate: man's freedom (of will) is the freedom to choose between acting or not acting on his own thoughts, imaginations, plans, fantasies. How man's thoughts originate is certainly an interesting question (with an obvious answer), but it has nothing to do with his free will — at least not as the term was originally used. As I see it, this so-called "problem" should at the very least go under a new title — the "problem of free thought", perhaps? — so as not to conflate it with the true problem of free will.

    [*] It is incorrect because, even if man's mental impulses are deterministic, it does not follow that he has no freedom to resist those impulses. Curiously though, modern philosophers completely lose sight of this, the (much) more important freedom. Brickjectivity (above) makes the same point in different words, for indeed what matters is the ability (of a criminal, in his example) to resist his impulses, and what matters much less (in practice anyway) is whether those impulses themselves are "choosable" or not.
     
    #8 Roguish, Feb 15, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. Inquire of God

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2021
    Messages:
    173
    Ratings:
    +65
    Religion:
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
    Then, we are as free or as un-free as God is.
     
  10. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Messages:
    4,591
    Ratings:
    +2,005
    Religion:
    Christian
    How does saying Free Will is based on probabilistic or nonlocal processes make it more plausible? Why not just use complex adaptive systems at a "classical", even Newtonian, level to show that agency (free will) can exist due to non-linear feedback embedded in a system?

    What sort of free will but that perched between a non-causal ambivalence and a meaningfully causal influence would you like to show exists? I suspect that a complex-adaptive systems propensity to exist at the crossover between order and chaos in a system IS the best basis for understanding how agency can arise in a causal, yet unpredictable, system. Too much predictability and you have simple determinism. Too little predictability and you have agency without meaning or value.
     
  11. Jaiket

    Jaiket Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Messages:
    8,740
    Ratings:
    +2,316
    Religion:
    Something else
    If we have no free will then we can't choose to hold people responsible or not.
     
  12. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Messages:
    4,591
    Ratings:
    +2,005
    Religion:
    Christian
    What if our society has formed a sense of responsibility for individuals to be accountable for their actions although there is no actual free will? Given that the consequences that society may inflict undoubtedly are influential for the individual and contribute to that which determines the individual's actions, is there any appreciable difference between this and having "free will"? If so, what is the difference?
     
  13. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Messages:
    4,591
    Ratings:
    +2,005
    Religion:
    Christian
    Enacting societally-enforced consequences for individual actions goes towards the co-creation of "free will" in those individuals by the society. Our free will is intuited based on this sense of a space between context and action which plays out in our minds. Adding consequence from society helps to heighten the tension between certain options causing more potential for conflict that must be "sorted out mentally". This pause between context and action is a strong part of the phenomenology that convinces us that we have an experience of agency or free will.

    If society didn't make it "a thing" then we would have a diminished sense of our agency.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Messages:
    31,028
    Ratings:
    +11,820
    Religion:
    liber-scripta grim Christian
    In most people that seems like how it works.
     
  15. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Messages:
    31,028
    Ratings:
    +11,820
    Religion:
    liber-scripta grim Christian
    "Can't choose..." "Can't choose" oh! But there would be no fun in that since we couldn't do whatever we wanted to.
     
  16. Ostronomos

    Ostronomos Active Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Messages:
    335
    Ratings:
    +67
    Religion:
    None
    That is a possibility if you argue in favor of local hidden variables. But the point is to demonstrate that genuine free will uncoerced by the external factors of physical local reality is possible. The point I was trying to make is that causal influences do indeed travel at superluminal speeds such as with Quantum entanglement. Although no known science experiment has proven it at the macroscopic Newtonian level I know it to be a fact.

    My understanding and point in saying all this is that even the universal consciousness lacks free will when He creates Himself to exist within this universe as demonstrated on multiple occasions. The mathematics of functions would disprove free will.

    I can predict people's behaviors and reactions to me while high off weed, among other things. But whenever they see through it they appear to respond with a kind of meta-determinism (enabled by seeing beyond a single possible response/ reaction to my actions).

    That is more accurate than the way I was describing. Lest we leave out Quantum entanglement between mind and reality and feedback by a universal consciousness.
     
  17. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Messages:
    4,591
    Ratings:
    +2,005
    Religion:
    Christian
    My counterpoint is that the local/non-local approach is entirely unnecessary. It is not the locality of circumstances that we need freedom from but more of what I would call finding a relatively "ambivalent perch". Consider as a metaphor the point of a pencil balanced vertically on the tip of a person's finger. The person "chooses" to continue to balance the pencil and then chooses to suddenly stop that effort. Which way will the pencil fall? Let's say the person doesn't consciously choose to stop when the pencil seems like it will go in any particular direction. There is an ambivalence within the causal systems at play here that also creates a space in which we can say there is agency or freedom.

    You can introduce a meta-level here by considering that the individual human being is a sort of focal point or node in a very complex array of systems and has, within itself, an accessible history which, no matter how unrelated to the local causal systems, may, in fact, play a significant causal role in the local context. This history reflects all the human cultural contexts such as beliefs, language, culture, knowledge, experience, etc. So God is in the overall systemic environment as it has manifested within the lifetime and experience of the individual. Certainly such rich and complex contexts can provide room for creative and non-obviously deterministic action on the part of the individual as agent with degrees of freedom from but not meaninglessly uncoupled to the causal factors of the local present.
     
Loading...