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determined actions?

Posted Oct 26, '13 at 2:17am

Bladerunner679

Bladerunner679

1,343 posts

alright, I decided to start back up on AG again, and to begin, I'm going to post you this thread on philosophical determinism.

some people in philosophy hold the notion that everything you do, no matter what it is, has already been predetermined. bear in mind, that this isn't by some supernatural force or deity, but more like all of the circumstances of the situation you are in will prompt you to make a certain decision in the end. this basically means that everything you have done, and will do, is the direct result of the circumstances causing it.

Do you, the reader, believe that our actions are determined? Do you disagree with this notion, or do you think something different? why is it that you think this?

-Blade

 

Posted Oct 26, '13 at 2:43am

Kasic

Kasic

5,591 posts

Do you, the reader, believe that our actions are determined? Do you disagree with this notion, or do you think something different? why is it that you think this?

I've said this in other threads before, but if we knew -everything- about the universe, we could predict everything. Things do not happen without reason. Organisms do not react in unpredictable ways. Unless you could prove there is an element of sheer randomness on the smallest level (I'm not sure how quantum mechanics would apply to brain neurons), then things follow this natural cause and effect. We, as complicated organisms, have the illusion of free will because the behind the scenes mechanisms are far too complicated for us to turn into formulas like math - here's the input, here's the outcome, except with a trillion variables of which most are unknown or seemingly irrelevant.

The better question, in my opinion, is whether believing you have free will constitutes having free will. Are you defying the natural order by thinking about it and acting on choices made not from impulses? Or is that thought process an inevitability based on your individual biochemical makeup, life experience, and situation? We've known for a while now that "who" people are is not determined wholly by genetics - identical twins raised apart, while similar, are not exactly the same despite their genes being such.

The only real way this could ever be answered is if we could repeat situations and reset all the variables. Which is the equivalent of going back in time and watching whether people make the same choices.

 

Posted Oct 26, '13 at 2:45am

Bladerunner679

Bladerunner679

1,343 posts

also, here is a link on determinism

 

Posted Oct 26, '13 at 2:48am

pangtongshu

pangtongshu

8,704 posts

I've said this in other threads before, but if we knew -everything- about the universe, we could predict everything. Things do not happen without reason. Organisms do not react in unpredictable ways. Unless you could prove there is an element of sheer randomness on the smallest level (I'm not sure how quantum mechanics would apply to brain neurons), then things follow this natural cause and effect. We, as complicated organisms, have the illusion of free will because the behind the scenes mechanisms are far too complicated for us to turn into formulas like math - here's the input, here's the outcome, except with a trillion variables of which most are unknown or seemingly irrelevant.

Now, if you are to argue for determinism, the the big issue about it comes up...because we do not hold ourselves inherently responsible for our actions (due to, as you explained, them all being for a cause outside our control), so therefore any actions that we perform are out of our control and therefore not of our fault.

 

Posted Oct 26, '13 at 3:37am

EmperorPalpatine

EmperorPalpatine

5,011 posts

so therefore any actions that we perform are out of our control and therefore not of our fault.

Agreed. However, society can put limits on what actions are deemed permissible in order to function more productively. Such limits are subjective and change often, as the system is perpetually imperfect. It's similar to attempting to build a perfect machine. If one part isn't doing a desirable task toward the desired goal, it gets tossed through no inherent moral fault of its own. By comparison, any punishments for "wrong" actions are not the fault of the State. Sometimes tossing the bad cog might later be seen as having been a terrible idea and a hindrance to the process, such as killing people like Socrates, but the process continues to strive toward "better", whatever that means.

 

Posted Oct 26, '13 at 4:36am

EmperorPalpatine

EmperorPalpatine

5,011 posts

Since we're on the topic of free will, I recently had a discussion on the topic with my mom (an overly-religious JW) who believes that people have entirely free will. The discussion focused on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, particularly on 19:15-16
"15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them."-NIV
This seemed to be a violation of their free will to remain in the city. Her primary argument was emotional, that this was an act of love and kindness and it was a good thing ("Wouldn't you want to be pulled out, too?"), even if it violated their free will. And I pointed out that it was unnecessary, as there were plenty of ways that he and his family could've been saved without leaving and without infringing on their free will, such as how the 3 men in Daniel 3 were saved in the furnace. Cornered, she stated that maybe it was easier for God to protect them by taking them out of there. Main problems with that: God supposedly has unlimited power, so ease is not a factor for Him because any expenditure of effort is absolutely nothing; the easiest course of action would be to never expend energy at all, never creating anything in the first place. With no further outs, the discussion was over.

 

Posted Oct 26, '13 at 5:16am

MageGrayWolf

MageGrayWolf

9,691 posts

Knight

It looks like it determined I would find it. (Blade will get what I mean)

Here is a video where he argues for an ethical framework looking at it from the point of view of hard determinism. The basic rundown is that he argues that we are essential self reflective robots. It's within this ability to self reflect that we can construct an ethical framework even if there was no such thing as free will.

Basically in the same way we can look at how our computer works and can determine when it's not operating the way it should we can also do the same with us. From that we can go about trying to fix or prevent those of us not operating in the manner we should.
Christopher diCarlo: The future of ethics: Exorcising the ghost in the machine (Eschaton 2012)

I remember coming across a study which showed that when making a decision our subconscious reacted  before we were even aware that we had made the choice. This study supported a deterministic function of our decision making. Now I do also remember a later study that would seem to counter this argument to determinism that was derived from this study. Unfortunately I can't remember the specifics or find either study right now.

I did find this video which does glosses over that study while talking about deterministic morality. In it he starts off with putting forth two scenarios. One we have a guy who gets pushed off a cliff by the wind. Now he had no control over being pushed it was an entirely based on natural forces. In this the man ends up falling on a guy and killing the guy at the bottom of the cliff.
Now the second scenario has a man who contentiously decides  to jump off the cliff with the intent to land on and kill the person at the bottom.

Now from this we would punish the second person but we wouldn't the first. Why is that? If we are looking at it from a deterministic perspective both were simply acting on the natural processes and ultimately would go off the cliff and kill the guy at the bottom. So why would we punish one and not the other?

Now I think that's where the argument made in the first video can be applied. In the first scenario we can look at the situation and fix the problem from happening again by maybe putting up railing. This would prevent the first man from going over the cliff. This wouldn't work with the second man, because the natural processes that lead to the man going over the cliff were different. In the second man we would have to do something with the man himself to prevent him from going over the cliff.

Anyway here is the second video. The video does touch on soft determinism but also get's into viewing morality under hard determinism, talking about how we can measure actions based on our measure of control. Such as a person with a malfunctioning brain will lack the same control as someone with a brain working correctly. Very much like what was said in the first video, just stated in a different way.
How to Dissolve the Problem of Free Will and Determinism

Both videos together are about an hour and thirty minutes, so I hope I was able to put forth enough for discussion without having to watch the videos if you decide not to (or perhaps that the ultimate deterministic state brings you to not watch the videos.)

 

Posted Oct 26, '13 at 5:53am

HahiHa

HahiHa

5,082 posts

Knight

Personally, I believe in what I like to call probabilistic determinism. Don't know if there is an 'official' term for that.

What do I mean by this? Let's look at an example, the nervous system. Signals are fired not on a 0/1 principle, but according to increasing probability. An individual nerve cell will only fire a signal if a specific threshold has been reached. And the signal will only efficiently be transmitted if most nerve cells in a nerve fire the signal. There is always the possibility of one not firing.

I believe there is something similar on the smallest physical scale, some kind of stochastic events. It all looks very deterministic on our scale, and if we knew every information of every tiny bit of matter in our universe, we could predict tomorrow with 99.9999999......% probability. Further into the future, this prediction accuracy would decrease as stochastic events accumulate.

 

Posted Oct 29, '13 at 9:21am

Moegreche

Moegreche

2,855 posts

Moderator

Personally, I believe in what I like to call probabilistic determinism.

I'm pretty sure that's the proper term for what you're talking about. There seems to be increasing evidence that some of our biological processes - and especially the electro-chemical processes that occur in our brains - are affected by quantum fluctuation. I have little to no understanding of what that means or what it amounts to. But on that front, Bill Lycan wrote a paper a few years ago that explored the notion of Cartesian dualism with a quantum mechanical twist. I just wonder if this view of the mind doesn't get things backwards.

 

Posted Oct 29, '13 at 1:07pm

pangtongshu

pangtongshu

8,704 posts

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle..doesn't this play a role in the idea of "measuring the universe" and whatnot?

 
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