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Evolution and Determinism

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Wmhoerr
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Evolution and Determinism

Post by Wmhoerr » January 12th, 2019, 1:38 am

Free will is often linked with determinism. Arguments against determinism include randomness at the quantum level. But others argue that there no real randomness and had we a better understanding of mechanism and measurement this randomness would disappear.

Another argument for free will is that if there was nothing before the big bang then it must have been a “random” event in that it had no cause. The big bang was “free will” in this sense. Also the universe is lumpy and irregular in its matter distribution and this could point to random events in its unfolding.

Evolution depends on a single process that separates it from non-living matter and this process is “the differential survival of variations”. Organisms have offspring which vary due to random mutations and recombinations, and these survive differentially. Dawkins and others extended this process to the differential survival of ideas in a sea of minds.

But if determinism is true then these random genetic changes are not really random. They are bound to happen. Just as the real choices we think we are making are illusionary, variations in offspring are not real variations, but just follow from prior chemical reactions.

If determinism is true, the idea of evolution, as well as free will, disappears.

Fdesilva
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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by Fdesilva » January 12th, 2019, 7:03 am

Wmhoerr wrote:
January 12th, 2019, 1:38 am
Free will is often linked with determinism. Arguments against determinism include randomness at the quantum level. But others argue that there no real randomness and had we a better understanding of mechanism and measurement this randomness would disappear.

Another argument for free will is that if there was nothing before the big bang then it must have been a “random” event in that it had no cause. The big bang was “free will” in this sense. Also the universe is lumpy and irregular in its matter distribution and this could point to random events in its unfolding.

Evolution depends on a single process that separates it from non-living matter and this process is “the differential survival of variations”. Organisms have offspring which vary due to random mutations and recombinations, and these survive differentially. Dawkins and others extended this process to the differential survival of ideas in a sea of minds.

But if determinism is true then these random genetic changes are not really random. They are bound to happen. Just as the real choices we think we are making are illusionary, variations in offspring are not real variations, but just follow from prior chemical reactions.

If determinism is true, the idea of evolution, as well as free will, disappears.
Yes what you say is true. However here is a thought. If you look at the universe over time it is a 4 Dimentional structure. Now what if this 4 Dimensional structure is a flexible stucture. That is it were possible to change its shape 4 dimentionally. In other words when you change a given part of the structure it changes the past, present and future. If you think about it such changes will not be detectable from within the universe. As such they form the best avenue for a concept such as Free will

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Conodfam4
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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by Conodfam4 » January 12th, 2019, 7:34 am

Why can there not be both determinism and evolution working in conjunction with one another?
How could something evolve from nothing that possesses love, hate, and intellect? Why would the nothing that created us give that kind of power that is not in our control. Why would the nothing that created us give us a beginning and an end that is also not in our control? Why would something that evolved from nothing even care to ask a question?

What ever created existence is pure existance and is not limited to time. So what ever is created is not measured by time, it just “is”no matter what stage of development it is in. Does this make sense?

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Scribbler60
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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by Scribbler60 » January 12th, 2019, 1:38 pm

There are a couple of issues with this argument right off the bat:
Free will is often linked with determinism.
There's a world of difference between free will and determinism.

Free will is dependent upon random events. Determinism discards random, chaotic events. Alas, the universe is chock-full of random, chaotic events, so determinism seems to fail.
Arguments against determinism include randomness at the quantum level.
Well, yes and no. Randomness at the quantum level is a fact of life. But we do not exist at the quantum level.
But others argue that there no real randomness and had we a better understanding of mechanism and measurement this randomness would disappear.
No, that's incorrect. It's not as if we simply perceive quantum mechanics as a set of probabilities, it actually is a set of probabilities. It's been proven beyond any doubt.

An electron in space is not at any particular place at any particular time; one can only measure the probability of it at a particular place and time. The higher a probability of place you can measure, the lower the probability of time. And the converse is true as well.

But we - people, dogs, tacos, hairpieces - are not singular electrons. We are decoupled from the chaotic, random nature of the quantum level. By our very nature, we have "collapsed the wave function".

There are numbers to back all this up but frankly the mathematics are way above my pay grade.

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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by Eduk » January 12th, 2019, 4:27 pm

I would back up my opinion but I can't.
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Felix
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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by Felix » January 12th, 2019, 5:44 pm

Random is not the opposite of determined, as you (Wmhoerr) suggested. Random simply means the pattern(s) of operation is indecipherable to us, as we are only capable of recognizing causal symphonies. All else is noise to us, sound and fury signifying nothing.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » January 12th, 2019, 8:53 pm

I don't think evolution necessarily is impossible in a determined universe but rather all the more chemically pure. I think of evolution and nature as possibly not a system with feng shui and all but rather a system of chemical reaction.

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bucky
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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by bucky » January 13th, 2019, 8:27 am

Free will needs to be defined first before you can say that determinism is relevant.

The problem with a term like Free Will is that it used to have a very clear meaning in theology, which is the notion that you're able to make free choices despite God's omniscience. The problem used to be very much a problem of how to deal with omniscience.

Once we lost the bit about a deity, Free Will became a term that no longer has a fixed meaning.

When you talk about Free Will, do you mean "The freedom to do otherwise"? Do you mean "The freedom to act unimpeded"? Do you mean "Being the source of one's own actions"?

You can't answer questions of whether Free Will exists, whether you have it, or whether determinism is or isn't relevant in relation to it until it's clear what this Free Will is that you're talking about.

The Free Will Problem is like a jukebox where someone has to put money in before the music starts. You have to wait until someone says, "Ok, X is what Free Will is." to get the engine going.

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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by chewybrian » January 13th, 2019, 12:11 pm

bucky wrote:
January 13th, 2019, 8:27 am
When you talk about Free Will, do you mean "The freedom to do otherwise"? Do you mean "The freedom to act unimpeded"? Do you mean "Being the source of one's own actions"?
I'll cast my vote for 'freedom to do otherwise'.

Why would outside influences or physical constraints negate free will? If you put me in jail, I can't play golf or ride my motorcycle, but I can still choose what to do within the confines of the cell, or what to think about, and I would retain the ability to ride a motorcycle, or to play golf (such as it is...). I'd be stuck in the cell, but my eyes would still be blue, even if nobody could see them, and my will would still be free, even if limited temporarily in scope of action. If it's raining, I might decide not to ride my motorcycle or play golf, but that is still a decision.

If I could have done otherwise, isn't that the critical element, not whether the world is against my choice in any way to whatever extent?
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by Eduk » January 13th, 2019, 12:17 pm

I would say free will is extremely hard to define. For one I don't like @chewybrian definition. I think free will is not understood, so any attempt to fully define and categorise it is futile.
So I would define free will normatively. As in I can choose which shoes I want to buy.
I would say it was more to do with agency, but then part of the definition of agency is freedom, so it's rather circular.
Unknown means unknown.

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Count Lucanor
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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by Count Lucanor » January 13th, 2019, 12:44 pm

Wmhoerr wrote:
January 12th, 2019, 1:38 am
Free will is often linked with determinism. Arguments against determinism include randomness at the quantum level.
As I understand it, free will linked to determinism is called compatibilism, while there is a form of determinism that is contrary to links with free will: incompatibilism. All of this just says that for a determinist either compatibilism or incompatibilism are true or false, but it doesn't say to the rest of us whether determinism or indeterminism are true or false. So it follows that arguments against determinism could support free will, but arguments for determinism could exclude it, if they come from incompatibilists, and include it, if they come from compatibilists.

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h_k_s
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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by h_k_s » January 13th, 2019, 4:32 pm

Wmhoerr wrote:
January 12th, 2019, 1:38 am
Free will is often linked with determinism. Arguments against determinism include randomness at the quantum level. But others argue that there no real randomness and had we a better understanding of mechanism and measurement this randomness would disappear.

Another argument for free will is that if there was nothing before the big bang then it must have been a “random” event in that it had no cause. The big bang was “free will” in this sense. Also the universe is lumpy and irregular in its matter distribution and this could point to random events in its unfolding.

Evolution depends on a single process that separates it from non-living matter and this process is “the differential survival of variations”. Organisms have offspring which vary due to random mutations and recombinations, and these survive differentially. Dawkins and others extended this process to the differential survival of ideas in a sea of minds.

But if determinism is true then these random genetic changes are not really random. They are bound to happen. Just as the real choices we think we are making are illusionary, variations in offspring are not real variations, but just follow from prior chemical reactions.

If determinism is true, the idea of evolution, as well as free will, disappears.
Determinism is an idea whereas evolution is a theory/hypothesis.

Your use of language is flowery and inaccurate.

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chewybrian
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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by chewybrian » January 15th, 2019, 8:02 am

Eduk wrote:
January 13th, 2019, 12:17 pm
I would say free will is extremely hard to define. For one I don't like @chewybrian definition. I think free will is not understood, so any attempt to fully define and categorise it is futile.
So I would define free will normatively. As in I can choose which shoes I want to buy.
I would say it was more to do with agency, but then part of the definition of agency is freedom, so it's rather circular.
This is an odd comment. You seem to be saying:

"I disagree with your definition, because this thing can not be defined. So, here is my definition, which is essentially the same."

I chose that one, from the options offered, because it puts aside the typical objection to free will. The common argument against free will says we are material, and therefore subject to the laws of cause and effect, and so all our opinions, thoughts and actions are fully determined by genetics and environment. The idea that I could have chosen differently knocks down that argument, though it is impossible (at least beyond our abilities today) to prove that I could have chosen differently.

But, what is the difference between:

"I could have chosen to buy different shoes"

and:

"I can choose which shoes I want to buy"?

Other than past or present tense, these seem to say the same thing.

Outside the options offered, my own definition of free will would be:

the ability to form opinions, make choices and take actions which are not fully determined by outside influences.

It would not matter if I went with the influences in every single case through my entire life; as long as I had the ability to go against them, I had a free will.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by Eduk » January 15th, 2019, 8:56 am

The common argument against free will says we are material, and therefore subject to the laws of cause and effect, and so all our opinions, thoughts and actions are fully determined by genetics and environment.
Well I said I can't fully define free will. I can only define free will in practical day to day terms but it leaves a lot of unknowns. For example you see determinism as an argument against free will and I don't.
But, what is the difference between:

"I could have chosen to buy different shoes"

and:

"I can choose which shoes I want to buy"?
Yes I do see a difference. You see always choosing to do the same thing given the same circumstances as not a choice but I do see it as a choice. So you may be unable to choose in the manner in which you wish. Doing otherwise, given identical circumstances, seems to me to require some kind of randomness, which, to me, doesn't seem like a choice at all.
Unknown means unknown.

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chewybrian
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Re: Evolution and Determinism

Post by chewybrian » January 15th, 2019, 2:39 pm

Eduk wrote:
January 15th, 2019, 8:56 am
Well I said I can't fully define free will. I can only define free will in practical day to day terms but it leaves a lot of unknowns. For example you see determinism as an argument against free will and I don't.
When I was hit by a car on my motorcycle, I flew about 30 feet into a parking lot. I did not choose to fly 30 feet into a parking lot. Determinism means being hit by the car, though maybe you can think of some kinder example that doesn't send you to the E.R. If there is only one possible outcome, then the 'decision' is forced on me, and does not represent a choice at all, by definition:
choose
VERB
[WITH OBJECT]
1 Pick out (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/choose

I do appreciate your stance and agree that there is always much we don't know, and new possible answers may emerge. But, at this time, I don't think you have even a plausible way that determinism and free will can be compatible, save these two:

1-God created me and knew all the choices I would make. He created me with a free will, but all my choices were determined by him as I was created. God works in mysterious ways, so somehow in the believers' minds this adds up.

2-Determinism holds for material things, but my consciousness is not material, so the laws of cause and effect need not apply. This is actually the explanation I prefer and 'choose'.

I don't think you choose either of these. If we were on 'Let's Make a Deal', your choice would be 'what's behind curtain number three', though we don't know what is behind the curtain and you have not put forth a theory of what is back there. There's not much point, though, in arguing for or against what is behind the curtain without at least guessing what it is, so...
Eduk wrote:
January 15th, 2019, 8:56 am
Doing otherwise, given identical circumstances, seems to me to require some kind of randomness, which, to me, doesn't seem like a choice at all.
I do not believe randomness is required or even possible when I choose. What is required is my free will, which I can exert to do whatever suits me at that moment (though I may face many influences, strong or weak). I order black coffee because I like it and think it will make me happier than some chocolate foo foo drink with a shot of espresso mixed in. I'm not going to roll an eleven in my head and be forced to order the chocolate foo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlzyIbmyM78

(For the record, though, I do eat broccoli).
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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