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Old 12-13-2005, 04:17 AM
stackm stackm is offline
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Default A Refutation of Determinism

It seems clear that there are two distinct possibilities when considering how the world and its inhabitants operate. Either

A) All actions are fully predetermined by the laws of physics, etc., and an omniscient being with full information could give you the complete state of the universe at any point in space-time; thus, free will does not exist

or

B) Humans, and potentially other beings, living or otherwise, have some degree of free will and volition, and thus have the power to affect the future state of the world to the extent that it cannot be predicted fully, even with full information.

Quantum mechanics and the like may provide us with a situation in which the state of the world is predetermined but with certain probabilities, but let's set that aside for the moment (I don't think it makes much difference in any case). Clearly, one of the two possibilities is the actual state of nature. If we are to assume that A is correct, then it seems as if our traditional standards of morality go out the window. After all, morality is about choices: murdering an innocent is presumed to be "wrong" because one could have had refrained from this action, yet chose not to. If a crazy , humongous serial killer grabs my arm and uses it to beat a little old lady to death, most people would not say that I did anything wrong: while it's technically true that I beat Grandma to her grave, I had absolutely no choice in the matter; the serial killer was entirely responsible for my actions, for better or for worse. It is difficult to see where morality can fit into a purely determinate world.

Thus, again consider the state of your own personal mentality if situation A is indeed correct. If you were to believe in choice B, you would be incorrect - but is there anything "wrong" with being incorrect here? After all, you have no say in the matter, and in fact you're not right or wrong at all, you're just carrying out the thought process that you must carry out, with no appeal to logic or reason. Your wrongness has no consequences since it has no alternative.

Let's say, however, that situation B is correct. Now, if you believe in situation A, you are again incorrect. However, this time there may be consequences; in a world where we are free to make decisions, maintaining an invalid belief may prove costly. Believing in determinism may lead to choices that are practically irrational (drawing to a the low end of a straight), as well as morally deplorable (socking the dealer when your straight hits and you lose to the high end).

Therefore, it appears as if determinism is in fact correct, it does you no good to "believe" in it, but if it is not, it may do you much harm. Therefore, you should do your best not to believe in (or at least not to act in accord with) determinism, as this decision seems to leave you with the highest possible EV. Note that this analysis is not analogous with the "better believe in God in case he actually exists" argument - in that case, there may be negative consequences to believing in a higher power if in fact there is none. Here, however, it's not even clear what it would mean to be a determinist if that were the reality, since your belief would have no meaning or importance (nor would any other action or happening).

In conclusion, it is the nut best belief to trust in free will, whether or not it actually exists. Make sense?
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  #2  
Old 12-13-2005, 09:46 AM
hmkpoker hmkpoker is offline
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Default Re: A Refutation of Determinism

No, no, no, no, no.

First off, if determinism is true, we have to rethink our position on justice. Perhaps the correct thing to do to a criminal in some situations is try to correct him (imagine that!) rather than brutally punish him.

Morality, as you point it out, is archaic and useless. As a useful tool, morality provides a few guidelines which, if followed by each social member, enable all of them to live a happier life. That's the only useful purpose it has. Morality has to be based on determinism (or its more correct alternative); not the other way around. The physical theory is more fundamental.

I believe in determinism, yet you don't see me socking the dealer. That will get me thrown out of the casino or worse. I'm aware of that, and that awareness helps cause me not to do something stupid.

[ QUOTE ]
Believing in determinism may lead to choices that are practically irrational (drawing to a the low end of a straight), as well as morally deplorable (socking the dealer when your straight hits and you lose to the high end).

[/ QUOTE ]

Wow, did you pull that right out of your ass? DETERMINISTS DON'T DO THIS! It DOESN'T make you insane or angry or deadly or nihilistic or any of that. I don't know why people think determinism is dangerous, and I think it's because they can't think about reality clearly.
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Old 12-13-2005, 10:31 AM
stackm stackm is offline
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Default Re: A Refutation of Determinism

[ QUOTE ]
No, no, no, no, no.

First off, if determinism is true, we have to rethink our position on justice. Perhaps the correct thing to do to a criminal in some situations is try to correct him (imagine that!) rather than brutally punish him.

[/ QUOTE ]

If determinism is true, we don't need to (nor can we) rethink our position on anything. What are you correcting the criminal for? What did he do wrong? And how can you "try" to correct him? You'll either do it or you won't, but you certainly won't have any say in the matter.

[ QUOTE ]

[ QUOTE ]
Believing in determinism may lead to choices that are practically irrational (drawing to a the low end of a straight), as well as morally deplorable (socking the dealer when your straight hits and you lose to the high end).

[/ QUOTE ]

Wow, did you pull that right out of your ass? DETERMINISTS DON'T DO THIS! It DOESN'T make you insane or angry or deadly or nihilistic or any of that. I don't know why people think determinism is dangerous, and I think it's because they can't think about reality clearly.

[/ QUOTE ]

I didn't say determinists would do that - I said they might. I also didn't say determinism makes you insane or angry or deadly or nihilist, but if you believe in determinism, what difference does it make anyway? It doesn't make any sense to be angry or nihilist because it doesn't make any sense to be anything; nothing matters because everything is what it will be, and that's it.
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  #4  
Old 12-13-2005, 11:29 AM
hmkpoker hmkpoker is offline
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Default Re: A Refutation of Determinism

[ QUOTE ]
nothing matters because everything is what it will be, and that's it.

[/ QUOTE ]

Let's think of it this way:

Let's say I develop a robot that looks and behaves remarkably like a human being. I program this robot to become successful. The robot has the intelligence and motivation to pursue a path of success. It goes to school, invests wisely, works hard, and eventually becomes very successful.

As I see it, humans are much the same way, except that our "programming" is a little more abstract. Some people have developed different motivations than others, as a result of experience/environment. Some people have been conditioned with defeatist attitudes, and believe that their efforts are worthless, so as a result they don't try. Some people have been conditioned with more aggressive approaches to life, so they believe they have to work hard to get what they want, and as a result, they do.
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  #5  
Old 12-13-2005, 11:32 AM
KenProspero KenProspero is offline
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Default Re: A Refutation of Determinism

I believe a number of religions take he 'determinist' view, though rather than relying on physics (heaven forbid) they assume that anything that happens is the 'will of G-d'.

However, even in societies which have adopted such religions as the 'state religion' or which are effective theocracies, governed by such religions, those who transgress aren't off the hook because their actions were 'the will of G-d.'

I guess it comes down to this -- whether free will is real or an illusion, every society treats it as free will. To follow through on another poster in this thread. If I sock a dealer at a casino, it may well be the inevitable workings of the laws of physics. However, those same laws of physics inevitably result in a$$ will getting thrown out of the Casino, and most likely getting it thrown into jail.
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  #6  
Old 12-13-2005, 11:39 AM
purnell purnell is offline
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Default Re: A Refutation of Determinism

First, your post is not a refutation of anything.

Second,

[ QUOTE ]
I didn't say determinists would do that - I said they might. I also didn't say determinism makes you insane or angry or deadly or nihilist, but if you believe in determinism, what difference does it make anyway? It doesn't make any sense to be angry or nihilist<u> because it doesn't make any sense to be</u> anything; nothing matters because everything is what it will be, and that's it.


[/ QUOTE ]

is why I am fond of pointing out that one cannot be entirely rational.
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  #7  
Old 12-13-2005, 11:41 AM
snowden719 snowden719 is offline
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Default Re: A Refutation of Determinism

you have a much too broad understanding of what the term refutation means
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  #8  
Old 12-13-2005, 11:43 AM
purnell purnell is offline
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Default Re: A Refutation of Determinism

[ QUOTE ]
you have a much too broad understanding of what the term refutation means

[/ QUOTE ]

Please elaborate.
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  #9  
Old 12-13-2005, 12:39 PM
purnell purnell is offline
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Default Re: A Refutation of Determinism

OK, then, I will. Perhaps I used the word in too narrow a sense.

Refute:
1. To prove to be false or erroneous; overthrow by argument or proof: refute testimony.
2. To deny the accuracy or truth of: refuted the results of the poll.
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  #10  
Old 12-13-2005, 12:56 PM
Stu Pidasso Stu Pidasso is offline
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Default Re: A Refutation of Determinism

You haven't shown determinism to be wrong. You have just shown it is foolish to use it to guide your life. The argument concerning LaPlace's Demon in this thread does a better job of refuting determinism

Stu
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