The Instigator
At0micf0ggy
Pro (for)
Losing
5 Points
The Contender
GeoLaureate8
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

<< Determinism >>

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/3/2010 Category: Science
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,934 times Debate No: 11230
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (21)
Votes (6)

 

At0micf0ggy

Pro

Premise 1: The rules of the universe are set in place (Be it physics or religion -- the rules don't change -- they just are.) Everybody, mind included, operates by these preset rules.

Premise 2: Given that the rules are set in place, everything that falls under these preset rules (everything) is determined by said rules.

Like a Rube Goldberg machine -- as long as you have set items (matter) that fall under the same rules (physics, religion... you name it) then there is only one possible outcome. All outcomes were already determined -- reality simply set them in motion.

Conclusion: Free will is an illusion -- our actions were determined ever since the rules that govern everything, including our mind, were determined. Anything we won't do we never were going to do, and anything that was going to happen was always going to happen given these underlying rules.
GeoLaureate8

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for instigating this debate, though I must apologize for taking so long to accept. I will now present my case.
.

====> C O N T E N T I O N S <====

Pro has put forth an argument for determinism supported by no evidence. His conclusion, to a certain extent, logically follows, but his premises are bare assertions and simply hold no weight.

Premise 1: The rules of the universe are set in place (Be it physics or religion.)

A: I assume he is referring to the laws of physics and by "religion" he means "God" or "divine law." First of all, which is it? You haven't even chosen your side. Is the Universe predetermined by the laws of physics or is it determined by God? Whichever you choose, you must prove your position and why it is correct. However, putting aside who or what put the rules here, do these laws apply to everything? Are these laws all encompassing? My opponent must demonstrate that these laws do in fact, apply to everything in order to assert that everything is predetermined by them.

Premise 2: Everything that falls under these preset rules (everything) is determined by said rules.

A: As I addressed in my first rebuttal, he hasn't proven that everything falls under these preset laws, nor has he proven that these laws are factual and absolute. There really isn't much else that can be said here because this is merely a bare assertion with no reasoning or evidence to support it.

There is no need to refute his conclusion if his initial premises that support it are incorrect.

====> A R G U M E N T S - A G A I N S T - D E T E R M I N I S M <====

Definitions:

Determinism: The idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature. - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) [1]

Indeterminism: Uncaused events, nondeterministically caused events. - SEP [2]

Free Will: Choice is not wholly determined by prior factors, it is free and under one's own control simply in virtue of being it's own. - SEP [3]

::::: The Microcosm :::::

On a small scale, it is quite clear that quantum particles are indeterministic and here's why:

The Copenhagen Interpretation (standard interpretation) of Quantum Theory holds that the laws of nature are indeterministic and probabilistic. [4] In this interpretation, a small particle swerves in a particular direction at a particular time and can only be described by probabilistic equations. However, the movement of the particle is indeterministic. [4]

In classical physics, the future motion of a particle can be exactly predicted or determined based on physical laws. However, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle contradicts this and we find that quantum particles are unpredictable and indeterministic. The future motion of a particle cannot be known, but only a range of possibilities. It is also true that the position and momentum cannot even be precisely measured. [5]

Even if we take that a scale further and assert David Bohm's theory of hidden variables, determinism still fails. Assuming that there is a field of even smaller quantum particles (Bohm's hidden variables) that are responsible for determining the seemingly indeterministic quantum particles of the Uncertainty Principle, these variables themselves would be *self-determined* even as admitted by David Bohm himself. Self-determination is antithetical to determinism and supportive of free will.

"Of course, the precise manner of fluctuation of the field is determined by the infinity of deeper field variables not taken into account, but in the context of the level in question, NOTHING DETERMINES THIS PRECISE BEHAVIOR." - David Bohm [6]

"In principle, every new moment could be entirely unrelated to the previous one—it could be totally creative." - David Bohm [7]

So it can be concluded, that absolutely, on a small scale, determinism is demonstrably false. My opponent would have to deny Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which is observably true, in order to have a case for a Universe governed by entirely predeterministic physical laws.

:::::: The Macrocosm ::::::

On a large scale, there are two things that need to be considered: objects and conscious beings. It is obvious that objects are most certainly deterministic as can be predicted by physics and laws of motion. An object such as a ball, is bound by predetermined events and physical laws. If it moves, it's because it reacted to an external agent exerting force on it and inevitably moved a certain distance. However, the decisions and actions of humans and animals are not entirely deterministic. We have minds that have the ability to contain, process, and analyze information, and based on the analysis of that information, a person can choose freely, how to react.

There are also no scientific laws that govern the conduct of human beings. People don't act a certain way because there is an absolute law that governs their actions. The only way this could be true is if monistic physicalism is assumed and that the particles that compose the human brain are deterministic. But as I have just demonstrated, quantum particles that compose the human brain are indeterministic.

====> A R G U M E N T S - F O R - F R E E - W I L L <====

:::::: The Microcosm ::::::

As I have just demonstrated on the microcosmic scale, quantum particles are SELF-DETERMINED. To demonstrate how this leads to free will, I will provide a syllogism:

P1: Indeterminism is something that is not determined by an external agent or cause.
P2: If it is not determined by anything else but itself, it is self-determined.
:. If it is self-determined, it is free.

:::::: The Macrocosm ::::::

The very idea of determinism that every event is necessitated by antecedent events is entirely arbitrary. If determinism rests on the notion of past events being the causal factor for determining current events, then it simply falls apart. Why? Because "events" are entirely arbitrary concepts and don't actually exist. What distinguishes one event from another? Whatever we define it to be. If events don't actually exist, one cannot assert that determinism is true. If my opponent wants to contend that events do exist, he must demonstrate that there is a way to empirically define what separates one event from another.

According to philosopher Alan Watts: "In reality, there are no separate events. Life moves along like water."

This leads me to my next point. Since there are no past events, our actions cannot be said to be determined by past events. In fact, the present determines the past, just as a ship in the sea leaves a wake or stream of water behind it. The ship is not determined by the wake it leaves behind it. The same analogy applies to us. All of our actions are free and all of our past events are just a trail that we leave behind us. The past does NOT determine our present actions. It can't. The past only exists in our memories and will eventually fade away like the wake of a ship.

As Alan Watts said: "Explaining things by the past, is a refusal to explain them at all. All you're doing is postponing the explanation. You're putting it back and back and back, and that explains nothing. What does explain things, is the present."

====> C O N C L U S I O N <====

In conclusion, I have successfully refuted my opponents premises and provided sufficient arguments for free will. Thank you for reading.

"No limits to my freedom can be found except freedom itself, or, if you prefer, we are not free to cease being free." - Jean Paul Sartre

Sources:

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[2] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[3] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[4] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[5] http://www.aip.org...
[6] http://tinyurl.com...
[7] http://www.anthonyflood.com...
Debate Round No. 1
At0micf0ggy

Pro

Con states that my argument is supported by no evidence, but since when is simply observing the world around
us not evidence? We know that there is cause and effect; everything we know in the world operates under
this principle. One thing causes something else, and everything we have known of so far works by a set of rules – rules that we do not always know or understand, but rules none the less. There is no evidence that we, as organic (or spiritual) beings are outside of these rules of cause and effect.

CON: "I assume he is referring to the laws of physics and by "religion" he means "God" or "divine law." First of all, which is it? You haven't even chosen your side. Is the Universe predetermined by the laws of physics or is it determined by God?"

My side in this debate is determinism. The presence that initiates these preset rules is irrelevant to the argument of freewill. If there is such a thing as physics or God then the rules is set – even if they are completely off the wall, the rules – as shown by any scientific experiment, aren't made up as we go. Everything, as far as modern science can tell, operates under rules – rules that are constant. Seeing how we, as beings, operate under the same rules of physics as anything else in the world; there is no evidence that we have a free will. If we do, and you assert that there is something more, then it is up to you to provide evidence. And, of course, if there were a God (defined as an omnipotent being), then he would have omniscience (a part of omnipotence), hence he would know exactly what would happened before it happened. If it knows what you're going to do before you were even born, then it would be paradoxical to say you ever had free will.

CON: "As I addressed in my first rebuttal, he hasn't proven that everything falls under these preset laws, nor has he proven that these laws are factual and absolute. There really isn't much else that can be said here because this is merely a bare assertion with no reasoning or evidence to support it."

Everything, as far as modern science can tell, operates under rules – rules that are constant. This is why we can perform the same experiments time and time again, and they work out the same each time, because the underlying rules stay the same. We may not know every rule, but we do reasonably surmise that there are rules that apply to everything, because given the exact same circumstances, we find that anything can be repeated.

CON: "The Copenhagen Interpretation (standard interpretation) of Quantum Theory holds that the laws of nature are indeterministic and probabilistic. [4] In this interpretation, a small particle swerves in a particular direction at a particular time and can only be described by probabilistic equations. However, the movement of the particle is indeterministic."

In classical physics, the future motion of a particle can be exactly predicted or determined based on physical laws. However, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle contradicts this and we find that quantum particles are unpredictable and indeterministic. The future motion of a particle cannot be known, but only a range of possibilities. It is also true that the position and momentum cannot even be precisely measured. [5]"

What CON is trying to say is that, because we do not understand the rules by which certain particles operate and we can only apply probability to them at this point; this means there are no determined rules behind these tiny particles. This, however, is a bogus argument. Let me give you an example of something else that we can only apply probability to – the weather. So CON, because we cannot accurately predict the weather, because we can only assign probabilities to it, does that mean the weather, too, doesn't operate under defined rules? Is the weather indeterministic? I think it's clear that everything we know does appear to operate under present rules, even if we do not yet understand those rules. Making assertions based on what science does not yet completely understand doesn't constitute an argument in any sense of the word.

CON: "these variables themselves would be *self-determined* even as admitted by David Bohm himself. Self-determination is antithetical to determinism and supportive of free will."

Now you're just operating on the mere speculation of one guy who does not even know if smaller particles exist. Are you saying these smaller particles have free will? If you are implying that a "self" determines anything, you are implying free will; however you still have provided no evidence of free will.

CON: "'Of course, the precise manner of fluctuation of the field is determined by the infinity of deeper field variables not taken into account, but in the context of the level in question, NOTHING DETERMINES THIS PRECISE BEHAVIOR.' - David Bohm"

Apparently this is contextual, so I don't know the rest of what he was saying, but what evidence does he have that nothing determines this precise behavior? That goes against everything we have ever known – everything we know is determined by something – be it by physics or anything else, if it weren't determined there would be no cause for an effect.

CON: "In principle, every new moment could be entirely unrelated to the previous one—it could be totally creative."

Everything we know is interrelated in some form or another, so asserting that these movements aren't, again, is mere speculation. It isn't evidence of free will, it is evidence that modern science clearly doesn't yet understand the rules of the quantum realm; which makes complete sense seeing as we can't directly observe any of it.

CON: "So it can be concluded, that absolutely, on a small scale, determinism is demonstrably false. My opponent would have to deny Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which is observably true, in order to have a case for a Universe governed by entirely predeterministic physical laws."

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle doesn't prove anything except that we don't have the technology to accurately observe particles. My argument still follows, yet you haven't shown any evidence that indicates that we have free will. At most you've shown that science doesn't understand the rules of elementary particles. Also, Heisenberg's principle does demonstrate cause and effect – the basis of determinism. Saying, "hey, we don't know the rules regarding elementary particles yet" in no way furthers the argument that the rules, which there demonstrably ARE, do not apply to humans.

Conclusion: You're going to have to prove that free will exists in order to prove that free will exists. It is quite clear that constant rules do exist, even if we do not understand them all. There is no evidence that these constant rules don't apply to us as well, but plenty of evidence that they do.
GeoLaureate8

Con

GeoLaureate8 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
At0micf0ggy

Pro

"A man can surely do what he wills to do, but cannot determine what he wills." - Schopenhauer
GeoLaureate8

Con

I apologize for the forfeit as I simply lost track of time. Remember, a forfeit only affects the conduct vote.
.
.

==> D E F I N I T I O N S <==

Self-determination: Free will; the free choice of one's own acts without external compulsion [1]

==> R E F U T A T I O N S <==

PRO: "Con states that my argument is supported by no evidence, but since when is simply observing the world around
us not evidence? We know that there is cause and effect; everything we know in the world operates under"

Question begging. You can't assume the conclusion to form your argument.

PRO: "Everything, as far as modern science can tell, operates under rules – rules that are constant. Seeing how we, as beings, operate under the same rules of physics as anything else in the world"

I have already provided evidence to the contrary in my first round which you have failed to refute. I demonstrated that under the Copenhagen Interpretation, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and David Bohm's hidden variable theory, particles are INDETERMINISTIC and/or SELF-DETERMINED.

PRO: "there is no evidence that we have a free will. If we do, and you assert that there is something more, then it is up to you to provide evidence."

It would seem as if I have the burden of proof, however, my assertion rests on an observable phenomenon as we all at least experience the feeling of free will. We both have the burden of proof in this debate because you are making as much of an assertion than me. To argue otherwise would be to delve into solipsism which would defeat all purposes of this debate.

==> Q U A N T U M - M E C H A N I C S - A N D - I N D E T E R M I N I S M <==

PRO: "Everything, as far as modern science can tell, operates under rules – rules that are constant. This is why we can perform the same experiments time and time again, and they work out the same each time, because the underlying rules stay the same. We may not know every rule, but we do reasonably surmise that there are rules that apply to everything"

This is a false assertion. There are in fact many scientific reasons as to why things do NOT operate under a deterministic set of rules.

Observer Effect: "Changes that the act of observation will make on the phenomenon being observed. This is often the result of instruments that, by necessity, alter the state of what they measure in some manner. This effect can be observed in many domains of physics." [2]

Superposition: "[In quantum mechanics], if the outcome of an event has not been observed, it exists in a state of 'superposition', which is akin to being in all possible states at once." [3]

Quantum States: "In quantum theory, even pure states show statistical behaviour. Regardless of how carefully we prepare the state ρ of the system, measurement results are not repeatable in general, and we must understand the expectation value (A)sigma of an observable A as a statistical mean. It is this mean that is predicted by physical theories." [4]

Wave Particle Duality: "All energy (and thus all matter) exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties." [5]

Wave particle duality is particularly interesting because the classical view of particles acting like billiard balls (cause and effect) no longer applies. Everything truly exists as a wave and only appears as a particle when we observe or measure it. If everything is a wave, the view of cause and effect becomes less plausible and even inconceivable.

==> S E L F - D E T E R M I N I S M <==

PRO: "What CON is trying to say is that, because we do not understand the rules by which certain particles operate and we can only apply probability to them at this point; this means there are no determined rules behind these tiny particles. This, however, is a bogus argument."

Yes, but the hidden variables theory already accounts for that. Even if the Uncertainty Principle was only due to our ignorance of the underlying laws that govern their movement, we would then have to resort to the hidden variables theory of quantum mechanics. These would be the uttermost elementary particle that determines the behavior of all the other larger particles. However, even these underlying particles would themselves be self-determined as clarified by Bohm himself.

**To keep asserting determinism is to end up in an infinite regress. He says that quantum particles are determined, but determined by what? Smaller particles? What determines these particles? Even smaller particles? You see, determinism inevitably leads to an infinite regress. There must be an elementary particle of all reality that is determined by nothing else but itself.

PRO: "Now you're just operating on the mere speculation of one guy who does not even know if smaller particles exist."

It doesn't matter if the smaller particles exist or not. His point is that whatever the smallest particle is, it is and must be self-determined.

PRO: "Are you saying these smaller particles have free will? If you are implying that a "self" determines anything, you are implying free will; however you still have provided no evidence of free will."

To be self-determined is to be free. I am merely asserting the law of identity, A = A. Are you really going to dispute that? If these particles are self-determined, they are indeed free because nothing determines their behavior.

PRO: "My argument still follows, yet you haven't shown any evidence that indicates that we have free will. At most you've shown that science doesn't understand the rules of elementary particles."

This is akin to an argument from ignorance. You are going against what has been demonstrated and observed and simply asserting "Unpredictable particles aren't possible! There must be some underlying rule that determines it, we just don't know what it is yet." Did you ever think that perhaps what scientists have observed is actual reality?

However, despite all that, I have still provided logical proof for indeterminism. Your assertion of determinism will always lead to an infinite regress of deeper elementary particles/variables that determine some larger particle. The only way to avoid an infinite regress is to reach the most fundamental elementary particle of reality. So far, from what we have observed, nothing indicates that there is an infinite regress of smaller particles that determine everything else.

==> C O N C L U S I O N <==

Conclusion: I have effectively refuted all of my opponent's arguments regarding deterministic laws and particles of the microcosm. All of my arguments for self-determination (which were successfully affirmed) are affirmative arguments for free will because they are one in the same. Unfortunately, Pro had not even attempted to even address any of my arguments of the macrocosm which supported the existence of free will. Thank you for reading.

Resolution NEGATED.

[1]http://www.answers.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 3
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
Btw, thanks for the RFD. :)
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
How do you refute quantum superposition?
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
Determinism wins, but not in this debate. Pro's first round was seriously lacking. Then Con's forfeit screwed up the entire debate, because Pro essentially posted nothing in the final round (he had nothing to respond to) meaning there was only 1 round of actual debate from Pro... and that was incredibly lacking, unsourced and informal. As a determinist, it was a little embarrassing. But anyway. I don't think the arguments for either side were that great. Pro was like, "Things operate under rules." And Con was like, "Nuh uh. There are things that DON'T operate under rules." And I'm thinking... okaaay... so what are they? I don't think Con's examples were sufficient. In fact, I actually think that Pro's one shoddy round could have possibly combatted Con had it been expanded. However, just because *I* could expand on it doesn't mean that I can give Pro points when he DIDN'T expand on it. I hate when people vote like that. So unfortunately, Pro did not win the arguments even though he should have :p
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
Haha, that's just my formal debate style. I don't think our real life debates are that much different. :)
Posted by At0micf0ggy 7 years ago
At0micf0ggy
I find your internet alter-ego to be quite amusing xD
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
Aww, what the heck? I thought I still had 5 more hours?
Posted by At0micf0ggy 7 years ago
At0micf0ggy
Thanks, though in this particular ebate my only source is the world around me thus far.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
Hey Atom, if you run out of room at the end to post sources, you can just post your sources in the comments section of this debate.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
But I mean, who brought those up? Just curious where that came from.

Btw, I did use quantum theory, Copenhagen, and Bohm's theory in my last determinism debate. http://www.Debate.org...

Even though I advocate the Many-Worlds Theory, I don't particularly like using it in a determinism debate. Well, probably because it argues *for* determinism, lol.
Posted by mercedzdanz 7 years ago
mercedzdanz
Oh, I meant quantum physics requires lots of math, but probably not so much for its philosophical implications, so I take that back. :)
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