39

Let us imagine a simple case. We have three tiny people, each of whom is placed in a box with a pencil and a limitless supply of slips of paper. Every minute, they each write a number on a slip of paper, and slide it out through a slot in their box. One of these people has "free will". By this we mean that the person can choose to write any number he or ...


31

I thought I would give a physicist's perspective here. There are two types of evolutions in quantum mechanics: unitary (or free) evolution and measurement. Free evolution is fully reversible and deterministic; a given operator takes a specific wave functions and maps it to a specific other wave function. The uncertainty comes from the non-unitary ...


27

Quantum Physics doesn't disprove determinism. What Quantum Physics does do is significantly complicate the task of arguing for determinism. Put in the simplest possible terms, the Uncertainty Principle indicates that: 1) our observation of an event has a significant effect on the event, and 2) it is impossible for a single observation to observe all ...


25

Well, there is an ancient and unsettled debate between libertarians who believe free will is incompatible with a deterministic (or random) universe, and compatibilists who believe the libertarian notion of free will is incoherent, and propose a definition of free will which is compatible with a deterministic (or random) universe. You can read about this ...


17

Can I predict my future by observing all humans/events According to Wolpert's theorem, no you can't. What you are describing here: I believe everything happened/happening in the universe is not random. There should be a reason for each and every event(Cause and Effect). In sameway Human brain, all my decision are impacted by environment, previous ...


15

"Free will" as broadly defined is "a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives" (SEP). Although there are extreme views, such as Descartes' where "the will is by its nature so free that it can never be constrained," most people accept that our will can at the very least be influenced by ...


14

I distinguish between "free will" and "freedom of action". Free will: A person at a situation A can decide between action B, C, D. He choses B but could have acted differently. Under the assumption that our decision-making process is not dependent on randomness this is not compatible with a physical world. All accounts of "I could have acted differently" ...


14

From what I have read so, atheism and materialism/physicalism are considered to be the same thing. This is incorrect. Atheism is a view about the existence of God. Materialism is a metaphysical view about the kinds of substance that exist. Specifically, atheism is the claim that there does not exist a God, or Gods, in the style of the major religions. ...


11

I tend to share your puzzlement. A lot of contemporary metaphysicians seem to have an outdated view of physics, not only about determinism but also about locality or mereology. (This was criticized by Ladyman and Ross in "everything must go".) I think the main reasons are the following: Generally, philosophers are not trained in physics (except ...


10

The Uncertainty Principle is not directly problematic for determinism; it just says you can't measure your states that accurately. You could always assume that the states were there, but you just couldn't measure them. Einstein preferred this view, and together with Podolsky and Rosen devised a paradox that would show that uncertainty is not fundamental. ...


10

I honestly cannot understand what this has to do with free will. Free will is hard to define, but roughly the philosophical definition is independence from external physical influences. If we have free will, then we are by default independent from these influences. Then, if we are told that certain actions will incur punishment, which is an external ...


10

The "intension" of a concept is its meaning, whereas the "extension" of the concept is the set of the things that fall under that concept. The most helpful way to see the distinction is with a pair of concepts that have the same extension, but different intensions. For instance "renate" (="having kidneys") and "cordate" (="having a heart"). Everything that ...


10

There are ways to reconcile libertarian free will even with classical physics. One could say (as was common position in 19-th century) that the laws of nature are only approximations and do not prescribe future events in every detail, free will is constrained only as far as the metaphysical margin of error. Non-Lipschitz forces (gravity, resistance) produce ...


10

Your point, "Determinism and free will are not discernible from the mortal perspective" is indeed the third antinomy (paradox) of Kant. According to Kant, human capacity for knowledge is innately limited by his 12 categories. The categories function like a fish net. Those that are caught by the net constitute human knowledge, and those that go though the net ...


10

Contrary to the other answer and the assumptions in your question: Hard determinism does not, in any way, mean that trying to better yourself does not work. Rather, under hard determinism, whether you decide to "try" to better yourself is also determined. You had no "free will" to decide whether or not to post this question. And you're "destined" to be ...


9

Omnipotence implies omniscience, which implies that the future is fixed, which removes free will in the sense that it is commonly understood. As some have pointed out, language can be used to justify just about anything. Thus, one could simply claim that "God can do anything and there are no conflicts", instantly solving the problem. But I think this ...


9

The basic thrust of Plantinga's argument is that God is not all-powerful (omnipotent); He cannot create a world where free will exists and not allow them to choose between evil or good. He doesn't specifically address the conflict between foreknowledge and free will, but it is implied that God lacks such foreknowledge (he is not omnipotent) because otherwise ...


9

Being an atheist does not imply a materialistic worldview, it simply means one does not believe in (a) God. Having said that, I think an atheist would likely have a materialist worldview simply because the same thing that caused an atheist to deny the existence of God (lack of evidence for this thing existing in another realm) would lead to a denial of ...


9

James was not the first one to realize that central "I" or "consciousness" as an entity is not in any way helpful in explaining the will, or any other mental faculties. It is just a homunculus in the head that moves all the problems along, with no explanatory power, and potential for infinite regress: what is the central "I" of the central "I"? The only ...


9

The problem of free will reads: How to explain the subjective experience of free will (first person’s stance) by a scientific theory, dealing with objective concepts (third person’s stance). Due to our subjective experience we do not need further arguments “for humans having free will” (first person's stance). What we need, is a scientific explanation ...


9

If according to some compatibilist free will is something that makes sense in a social context (where the notions of personhood, of responsibility or of agentivity take their appropriate meaning) then this is no argument. Evolution theory does not undermine the fact that we live in organised society. The question becomes "at which point in evolution did ...


8

NOTE: This answer was given to a previous incarnation of this question. The block quotes I am responding to come from this incarnation. If I have the time I will modify my answer to respond more directly to this version of the question. When a person is placed in a position of absolute power, is it necessarily true that this power will condemn that person ...


8

Certainly. Simply because one cannot both know position and velocity through measurement, for example, doesn't prevent the idea that if one did know both, then they could present with certainty the outcome. One might suggest a metaphor: if you were trying to aim a cannon and you measured exactly one of the angle of inclination or the amount of powder in the ...


8

Benjamin Libet in his book "Mind time. The temporal factor in consciousness (2004)" carefully describes the experimental setting of his investigations. His result: First, our brain starts the process of volition. At about 350-400 milliseconds later, the proband realizes - consciously - that he wants to act. Libet explains that a proband can well ...


8

First, B theory is a semantic theory about the proper way to refer to events in time, not a metaphysical theory about past and future events. The view that past and future events are real is called eternalism. It's true that B theory fits better with eternalism than with other metaphysical theories of time, but strictly speaking they are distinct. Second, ...


8

In the case of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, there is no inconsistency, because sin is restricted to humans. At the bottom of this page is a list of all HB occurrences for 'sin' (חטאת). Also interesting would be Gen 6:5 in the story of Noah: The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of ...


7

From what I have seen, a large portion of the debate over free will arises from unclear conceptions of what one means by the term. If you do not count your internal state as you but rather as "the situation", and you insist that your free will must be will (neither determined nor random, but selected based on some reason), then you cannot have free will: ...


7

Once we start using a scientific method, that is, observing nature in order to learn what is really happening, we are already assuming a determinism of some kind, that there are strict rules about how nature works. So it understandable to assume that all our rules about nature are lock-step, undeviating. And if they're not, that's just a failure of effort, ...


7

If I speak to somebody who doesn't know what "deterministic" or "random" means, I can give a precise, clear, mathematical definition. No, you can't, really. Saying "Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies with a probability of 0.5" is an example of a rule that defines a random process simply substitutes one undefined term ("random") with ...


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