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Free to choose
Posted: 11 September 2007 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 106 ]
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I’d have said a grammatically challenged weirdo, looking back at the question, but yes, a specific arangement of quarks and leptons feels quite flattering.  Although, in truth, I’d say that i’m also the mental product of those things - my thoughts and feelings are the only things I can really are the things that consider themselves to be me.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 03:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 107 ]
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Take some quarks and leptons, abracadabra!, here comes Narwhol. Tale a few musical notes, abracadabra!, here come The Moonlight Sonata. Fine.

What about the String Theory? What is it that is vibrating there?

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Posted: 11 September 2007 03:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 108 ]
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Well, string theory was only ever a what if.  Basically a few pure maths guys postulated on the idea that this is how things would be if differential geometries existed.  No reputable physicist or mathematician ever thought they were real, just that if they could be used to explain the universe, this would tell us that they possibly were real.  There has never been evidence that this is the case, and they have certainly never predicted anything that turned out to be true, so I guess they were a failed experiment, but one that had to be tried. They are losing favour rapidly.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 04:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 109 ]
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George,
Hmm, you sound pretty sure you won’t understand, (which is sometimes a way of saying you don’t want to understand because you’ve already decided it’s BS, though of course I don’t know if that’s true in this case),  so I don’t know that it matters if I try again to explain, but I guess I will. I believe (and I don’t speak for Doug, Dennett, et al.) that our behavior is generated by the physical materials that make up our brains. Just like the motions of a car are generated by its parts and their properties. In this sense, I am a determinist. I doubt there is any nonmaterial soul that is free from physical laws. However, the way our brains work makes us feel like we are thinking about what to do and then choosing freely from a set of alternatives. And there is no way we will ever be able to analyze the details of all the quarks, leptons, etc and predict exactly what a given person will do at a given moment. The relationship is complex and maybe even fundamentally unpredictable due to the inherent randomness of some of the constituent parts. So acting as if our intuitive feelings about how we function were actually correct works, it makes sense. Acting as if Newtonian mechanics were true works at the scale of everyday life, even if relativity and quantum mechanics proves that it isn’t exactly true, works in an analagous way. It’s true enough for practical pu\rposes. And just as I’m never going to feel time dilation, I’m never going to feel like a lepton/quark robot, so I’m happy behaving as if I had free will. It’s true enough.

Any help?

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Posted: 11 September 2007 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 110 ]
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Brennen, I don’t think you’ve understood my talk of ab-initio quantum calculations.  This method is purely QM, and the models it generates for one particle and two particle systems show the randomness of quantum.  But for large systems of 20 atoms of more its Molecular dynamics calculations give models that differ only by arc seconds in one or two of the bond rotational angles in the final conformations it comes up with.  These are tiny differences, whereas the differences we see on cat scans between two decisions are fairly large and encompass multiple regions of the brain.  The differences you would see between any two pictures generated by ab-initio methods would correspond to nothing in terms of any different choice made - they would be the same choice for the same minimisation calculation variables.  In other words, whilst a small two particle system may show the polar opposite results for the same variables, the brain (many moles of particles) would give the same choice each time provided bulk and surface atoms were clearly demarkated and the variables inputted were an accurate reflection of the real system at the moment of making the choice.  It would not have the wavy uncertainty that we only see in very small things because the whole is a medium-sized object.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 111 ]
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Narwhol,

Well, there’s certainly lots in your answer I don’t understand! I’m not being modest when I say my understanding of mathematics is rudimentary at best. The only branches I ever felt any meaningful comprehension of were elementary geometry and statistics.

The original question was can actual behavior be predicted by an adequate understanding of the underlying materials and their properties using physical laws and mathematics, or is something like chaos theory a “proof” that complex systems are inherently unpredictable. I.e. is the brain and its relationship to specific thoughts and behaviors inherently irreducible in some way, or is it just a very difficult problem? You seemed to say originally that it was theoretically possible (though practically impossible) to predict precisely at least brain states, though these might not correlate with output in different brains even if they were identical. To me, the point in terms of the free will issue then, is that the underlying materials and their properties are wholly responsible for the brain state and behavior, but that as a practical matter we cannot make the analysis to trace the causal chains. This fits with my general impression that strict determinism is likely true, but that it doesn’t matter too much because the appearance and perception of free choice is not going to be replaced by any more precise mechanistic understanding. As a heuristic model, the idea of selves making choices works better than the more abstract idea of sub-atomic particles bouncing aorund in terms of understanding, predicting, and managing human behavior. Our intuition is, in some ways, better than our understanding. But perhaps I misunderstood you?

[ Edited: 11 September 2007 06:14 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 11 September 2007 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 112 ]
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chaos theory is not really applicable to ab-initio modelling on large dense systems - multiple runs don’t give vastly differing answers.

I have already agreed that the free will thing is more valid in daily life (more useful) but I was just saying no free will thing is true but it would be dreadfully difficult to get it to give usable predictions and so would be less valid.  I suppose I can leave that as an agreement given that I seem to have got an astonishingly easy ride on my physics determines our choices kick, which was nice going in a debate that was brilliantly and fiercely contested on all other sides.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 113 ]
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Well, you get a free ride on “ab-initio modelling on large dense systems” because I have only the vaguest idea what you’re talking about! Stray into my bailiwick and it’ll be a differnet story, partna’! grin

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Posted: 11 September 2007 08:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 114 ]
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mckenzievmd - 11 September 2007 04:46 PM

Any help?

Hmm, funny thing. It now feels as if you didn’t believe in free feel. No, Brennen, I really don’t understand it. I’ll keep reading your discussion and try to learn from it. Thanks for your patience.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 09:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 115 ]
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“free feel?” You mean free will? If so, no I don’t believe in it as a reality, just as a convenient way of looking at how people behave.

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Posted: 12 September 2007 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 116 ]
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George - 11 September 2007 08:50 PM
mckenzievmd - 11 September 2007 04:46 PM

Any help?

Hmm, funny thing. It now feels as if you didn’t believe in free feel. No, Brennen, I really don’t understand it. I’ll keep reading your discussion and try to learn from it. Thanks for your patience.

Hi George,

Here’s the “third way” on offer.

I feel free. I am free. I am free to select the option I prefer. This is compatible with that being the one and only thing I can do.

Sometimes I feel freer than at other times. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing what I want to do and sometimes I feel like I’m doing what I have to do.

I’d like to study the difference in the level of freedom I feel from zero to 100%, in the extremes of these two positions.

But what I’m darn sure of, is it has diddly squat to do with being able to do otherwise.

If I’m doing what I have to do it still means I am choosing to do that, it’s just I can’t find a better option.

someone said to me, we always have choices, it’s just sometimes you’re staring into a barrel of shit trying to select the best turd!

Any way this is the third way I’m suggesting. Drop the idea that could do otherwise, has anything to do with freedom what so ever and see if it works.

After all, we experience freedom but we don’t experience doing otherwise.

And why on earth would you want to do other than pick the option you prefer?

And how could it give you freedom if you could?

Stephen

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Posted: 12 September 2007 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 117 ]
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mckenzievmd - 11 September 2007 09:41 PM

“free feel?” You mean free will?

What the hell is “free feel”? rolleyes Sorry.

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Posted: 12 September 2007 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 118 ]
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StephenLawrence - 12 September 2007 07:43 AM

I am free to select the option I prefer.

This kind of reminds me of the joke that says that “the advantage of being married is that you can have sex even if you don’t feel like it.”

I think philosophy can help us to ask the question. But I believe it will be science that will one day answer if we have free will or not. I’ll wait for that day.

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Posted: 12 September 2007 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 119 ]
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George - 12 September 2007 09:46 AM

This kind of reminds me of the joke that says that “the advantage of being married is that you can have sex even if you don’t feel like it.”

LOL 

I started a thread on what I will and what I want sometime ago. Because I know what the joke means but I don’t think you can have sex, unless it’s your preferred option, assuming you are choosing it. I would call selecting your preferred option, what it is your will to do but am not sure why sometimes we feel this coincides with what we want and sometimes we don’t.

I think philosophy can help us to ask the question. But I believe it will be science that will one day answer if we have free will or not. I’ll wait for that day.

Ok well I think two good questions are these.

1. What freedom would being able to select the option we don’t prefer, give us?

2. What freedom could being able to prefer a different option give us?

If, as I suspect, the answer is none, why wait for science?

Stephen

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Posted: 12 September 2007 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 120 ]
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George - 12 September 2007 09:46 AM

I think philosophy can help us to ask the question. But I believe it will be science that will one day answer if we have free will or not. I’ll wait for that day.

In a compatabilistic view this is obviously not true. Then determinism and free will go along.

GdB

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