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Free Will vs Determinism
(05-05-2021, 07:44 PM)stevebowers Wrote: I tend towards Dennett's view. Even if we don't have free will, we behave exactly as if we do; and in a complex multiverse full of quantum uncertainty, that is closer to the truth than any idea that our actions are pre-determined.

The thing is - the universe isn't just clockwork. It is clockwork plus true randomness, in the form of quantum events. The random events affect the clockwork mechanisms of the universe, making it inherently unpredictable; not even a S:6 archailect could predict the future precisely, so there is no real predetermination, and no rigid fate to conspire against us mortal victims. Instead everything that happens is subject to an infinite number of probability distributions of various scales. Humans, and all responsive entities including microbes and thermostats, respond to the universe by gathering data and acting upon that data. Since the universe is unpredictable, the responses we make due to this processing are unpredictable too; if you look at the results of our actions, they cannot be predicted, but they have a probability that clusters around the goals that we have evolved over time. So we have a kind of 'fuzzy' free will - only determined by the past history of the universe and the random events that no-one can predict or control.

That's good enough for me- no-one can say that we are 'fated' to perform a particular action, because the universe does not follow a predictable path. Even if human minds were Turing-complete computers, no-one could predict what their responses to the past history of the universe would be - you have to run the program to find out, and that is worth doing. Sentient minds are more complex than Turing machines, and I think that gives us even more leeway to avoid a clockwork universe.

Apart from true randomness, which is put in by quantum mechanics, there is also the associated issue of chaotic behaviour. Even a system that is completely deterministic, or as close as Nature can get to that state, may be completely unpredictable on sufficiently long timescales because of nonlinearity and the impossibility of getting perfect data. "Sufficiently long" is highly variable, of course.

An example of this is the celestial mechanics of the solar system. Even ignoring external interference, which is highly dubious in itself, the orbits of the planets are chaotic. It is possible to calculate the future position of Pluto out to about 5 million years, but for 100 million years Pluto's position in its orbit is completely unpredictable.

The weather on Earth is a much better known example, of course. No matter how much computer power one throws at it, predicting the UK's weather beyond about ten days or so is impossible in general - although at times, that isn't the case; it depends on how stable the weather is at the time.

Messages In This Thread
Free Will vs Determinism - by DarrenRyding - 05-05-2021, 01:42 AM
RE: Free Will vs Determinism - by Vitto - 05-05-2021, 02:39 AM
RE: Free Will vs Determinism - by stevebowers - 05-05-2021, 07:44 PM
RE: Free Will vs Determinism - by iancampbell - 05-06-2021, 02:34 AM

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