The Instigator
drafterman
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
hightreason
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Free Will is incompatible with Foreknowledge

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
drafterman
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/24/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,233 times Debate No: 35030
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

drafterman

Pro

Definitions:
q is an atomic proposition[1]
s_i is a set of consistent[2] atomic propositions known as a "state"

States represent "possible worlds"[3]. Any collection of consistent (non-contradictory) propositions could possibly be true in a logical sense, thus any such state represents a world that could be or could have been.

Not all such worlds are "accessible" in the sense that there exists a series of events that could lead to such worlds coming into being. Many "possible worlds" could have been given a different past but will never come to be given the actual present. To represent accessible worlds (possible futures) we use the following definition:

(s_i, s_j) is an ordered pair of states known as a transition

Transitions represent progression through time. The second state in the pair represents a possible future with respect to the first state. In other words, if the first state is the actual present, then the second state represents a possible future that could come to be.

C(a,b) - a free will choice between mutually exclusive options a and b
F(x)
- x is foreknown

The premises and the argument will be based primarily in predicate logic[4]. While I will provide prose interpretations of the premises and the argument, the formal expressions are what are in contention here. The formal expressions were created using LaTeX and uploaded as gifs. Explanations will follow each section.

(For some reason, it is not letting my upload pictures, please use the links)

https://www.debate.org...

P1. If there is a free will choice between (s_i), then:
there exists a state (s_j) where a is true and that state is a possible future to s_i;
and there exists a state (s_k) where b is true and that state is a possible future to s_i.
P2. Formal representation of the mutual exclusivity of a and b. If b is true in a state, then a is false (and vice versa).

Argument, part 1:

https://www.debate.org...

1. We will suppose that there is a free will choice between a and b in state s_0.
2. Therefore, according to P1, there exists a state (s_j) where a is true that is a possible future to s_0; and a state (s_k) where b is true that is a possible future to s_0, using modus ponens[5].
3. This is simple conjunction elimination from #2[6].
4. #3 says there exists such a state s_j; we will represent this state as s1a using existential instantiation[7].
5. Therefore, "a is true" is foreknown in s_0, given 4 and P3, using modus ponens.
Summary: We have established foreknowledge of a being true in s_0.

Argument, part 2:

https://www.debate.org...

6.
This is simple conjunction elimination from #2.
7. #6 says there exists such a state s_k; we will represent this state as s1b using existential instantiation.
8. This is simple conjunction elimination from #7.
9. Since b is true in s1b, then a is false, given P2.
10. This is simple conjunction elimination from $7.
11. We conjoin #9 and #10 using conjunction introduction[8].
12. Therefore, "a is false" is foreknown in s_0, given 11 and P3, using modus ponens.
Summary: We have established foreknowledge of a being false in s_0.

Argument, part 3:

https://www.debate.org...

13. We conjoin #5 (from part 1) and #12 (from part 2).
14. Since each is individually true in s_0, then the conjunction is true in s_0, given P4.
Summary: We have both foreknowledge that a is true and foreknowledge that a is false in the same state (s_0)

Conclusion: This contradicts the given premise P5, where such foreknowledge is not possible. This either disproves either: our supposition in #1, or one of the premises via reduction ad absurdum[9].

I contend that P1, P2, P4 and P5 cannot be thrown out, as they are so fundamental as to be axiomatic.

This means we have to dismiss our supposition (that a free will choice exists) or P3 (that we can foreknow the outcome of such a choice), proving that Free Will is incompatible with Forewknowledge.

Con Must:
Demonstrate some invalid inference in the argument;
or argue for different premises that remove the contradiction and explain why Con's premises are superior to Pro's.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[9] http://en.wikipedia.org...
hightreason

Con

I accept this debate and will be arguing that free will is compatible with foreknowledge.

I accept that the argument Pro presented is logically valid.

My case will be based on showing that Pro's first premise (P1) is not true.

I accept Pro's remaining premises (P2-P5).

Pro explains this first premise in natural language as follows:

"P1. If there is a free will choice between (s_i), then:
there exists a state (s_j) where a is true and that state is a possible future to s_i;
and there exists a state (s_k) where b is true and that state is a possible future to s_i."

Essentially my argument is that Pro has used the word "choice" out of context.
This is because the universe of discourse[1] in which foreknowledge exists is different from that in which free will exists. Choice only exists in one of them.

To make this more easy to understand, I'm going to coin two terms for use in this debate:

Moud - The universe of discourse of the mind and the mind's experience of itself.

Wuod - The universe of discourse of the objective world.

For example, when we are within Muod, we can speak of things like emotions and desires. These are unique to Muod and do not exist in Wuod. If we believe that the mind is completely caused by the natural world then we can explain the physical causes of emotions in Wuod but this is not the same as talking about emotions. If there happened to be some entirely different causes in Wuod, this would not change the definition of the word in Muod. Therefore the concept of emotion exists entirely within Muod.

Another concept that lies entirely within Muod is the concept of choice. When we talk about choices, we are not talking about anything that exists in Wuod. The concept simply does not exist there.

Foreknowledge, however, is referencing future states of the objective world which are firmly within Wuod. Therefore we cannot discouse them along with the concept of choice. To do so would be to render a meaningless statement.

Pro's P1 references choice along with possible future states and is therefore meaningless. Meaningless statements cannot be true (whether or not they are false or simply lack a truth value is not relevant to this debate).

Therefore, Pro's P1 is not true. Pro cannot prove the resolution without P1 and so the resolution is negated.

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...;
Debate Round No. 1
drafterman

Pro

Review:
Con has contended that the concept of Free Will vis-a-vis choice and that of Foreknowledge exist in separate universes of discourse (UOD). For the purposes of argument, I will try to incorporate this concept in previously established formal framework.

Based on Con's representation, what is true in one UOD has no meaning in the other. We can link this to the previously introduced fundamental concept of the "state" defined in the previous round. To do this, we designate which UOD each state belongs to. For example, for states within Moud, we can designate them as m_i; for states within Wuod, we can designate them as w_i.

Con asserts an inability to combine these states. This means that C(a,b) can only exist within m_i; and F(q) can only exist within w_i; and there can be no transition (either (m_i, w_j) or (w_i, m_j)) between the two. We must rewrite the premises.

P1, P2, and P5 can be rewritten using this new nomenclature:

http://tinyurl.com...

P1 and P2 are rewritten to be applicable only to Muod and P5 is rewritten to be applicable only to Wuod.
P4 is unchanged, since it is valid regardless of the UOD (and retains the generic "s" variable for any state in any UOD).

P3, however, is tossed out. While it can be rewritten in terms of Wuod, it no longer has a place in this conversation as the results of Free Will Choices can no longer exist in states in which we can have Foreknowledge of the outcome.

Rebuttal, the first:
It may seem, on the surface, that, by accepting Con's refutations, I am conceding that his premises are superior to my own. However, the resolution is that: Free Will is incompatible with foreknowledge. That is my ultimate conclusion. The refutation of the premises, rather than Con's goal, should be a means to the end of showing that Free Will is not incompatible with Foreknowledge. (For example, this debate is not a debate about which methods are better at demonstrating incompatibility.)

Con has not done this. His separation of the discussion into UOD has eliminated the third premise. The third premise is the premise that links Free Will and Foreknowledge. Even Con admits that "Foreknowledge, however, is referencing future states of the objective world which are firmly within Wuod. Therefore we cannot discouse them along with the concept of choice. To do so would be to render a meaningless statement." Combining Free Will and Foreknowledge outputs meainginless statements. In essence, a reductio ad absurdum. It seems that Con has reached the same conclusion as me, simply through different means.

Rebuttal, the second:
However, I need not accept Con's response to my premises. There is a lack of justification for why Con's premises are superior to mine. I have engaged in the hypothetical, seeing how those premises affect the argument (they lead to the same conclusion through different means) but I do not see why we should accept that choice is limited to one domain while foreknowledge is limited to another. Having established the groundwork for the argument in R1, it would seem that an unstated premise was the inclusion of all defined concepts as being within the same UOD.

I contend that choice is not merely something that exists in the mind. Indeed there is the perception of choice, our internal point-of-view that does the choosing, but this is not the end all, be all of free will choices. Choices have some affect on the real world. What I do affects the objective world around me. To suggest otherwise would be to suggest that I am completely detached from the objective world, unable to interact with it.

Since my choices lead to actions which affect the objective world (Wuod) then the outcome of those actions are within the scope of Foreknowledge, meaning that my premises, and the subsequent argument, stands.
hightreason

Con

I will address Pro's second argument first.

Response to second rebuttal:
This argument is basically a rejection of the notion that mind and foreknowledge exist in different universes of discourse. In order to defend this position, I need to prove three things:

1. Choice can exist only in Muod and not Wuod.
2. Objective states can exist only in Wuod and not Muod.
3. Foreknowledge refers to objective states.

Proof of 1: Choice is something that is experienced by a mind. Without the experience of choice, choice does not exist. Furthermore, I cannot be mistaken about whether or not I made a choice. It would be nonsnse to say that I believe that I am making a choice but am mistaken or vice versa. At any time, when I believe that I am making a choice, I am indeed making a choice and if I believe that I am not making a choice, I am not making one. Outside of the mind, there is nothing to have the experience of choice making and therefore there is no choice. Choice is an experience and only minds can have experiences. In order to argue against this, Pro would have to demonstrate some way in which a choice can be made by something that is not a mind.

Proof of 2: An objective state is a state that can be independantly verified. For example, if I tell you that I am happy, this is a statement about a subjective state. You cannot disagree with me that I am happy and indeed my believing that I am happy proves that it is true. On the other hand, if I were to tell you that the Earth is round, this is a statement about an objective state. You can agree or disagree with me based on evidence you are able to perceive and my belief that it is true has no bearing on whether or not it is true or false. When speaking in Muod, my belief that something is true actually makes it true. Because of this, there can be no objective statements made about Muod. Objective states can therefore only exist in Wuod. In order to argue with this, Pro would have to demonstrate some way in which I can be mistaken about my own experience as I am experiencing it (part of the the criteria for objectivity being the ability to be mistaken).

Proof of 3: In order for a belief to qualify as knowledge, there must be possibility that I am mistaken. It is absurd to claim that I have knowledge about something when that something is true simply by virtue of the fact that I believe it. This is not something that can correctly be called knowledge. So knowledge (and by extension foreknowledge) can only pertain to objective states which are the only states I can be mistaken in my beliefs about.

Lastly, to address Pro's arguments about choices interacting with the real world, keep in mind that we are discussing universes of discourse, not other dimensions or something. A universe of discourse is only the types of things that are able to be discussed in a certain context. There are things in Wuod which affect actions (functionings of the brain) which are described as the experience of the choice in Muod and affect the world of Wuod. This is precisely how it is possble for all things in Wuod to be predetermined and yet for free will to still exist within Muod.

Response to second rebuttal:
Pro changes the premises to be in line with what he believes my argument to be. I'd like to point out first of all that these premises were not introduced by me as Pro seems to imply when he references them as "Con's premises." I did not introduce any premises. I only eliminited one (P1).

I don't see why Pro feels he has to eliminate P3. He states that he does so because "it no longer has a place in this conversation" which I assume to mean that he can no longer use it to deduce the two contradictory premises. In that case, all of Pro's new premises should be eliminated because none of them can any longer be used to prove Pro's point. Indeed, Pro's argument is dead regardless of whether we accept my proposed premises (P2-P5 from Pro's original argument) or Pro's new premises from last round.

Pro contends that my arguments also result in a reductio ad absurdum but has not given an argument to demonstrate this. I simply contended that Pro's P1 was meaningless. I did not argue that it was absurd because in order for something to be absurd, all the terms within it must have meaning. For example, "all elephants are mice" is absurd while "All elephants are jkwehdkjhwed" is simply meaningless. I argued that P1 was meaningless because not all of the terms used within it were in the same universe of discourse so at least one term would not have a meaning within a single universe of discourse.
Debate Round No. 2
drafterman

Pro

Choice only in the Mind:
Con defines choice only as the perception of choice, and ignores the consequences - on the objective world - of making choices. I am not merely talking about the perception of choice, but also the acting out of that choice. It is indisputable that the world is in a constant state of change. It is indisputable that the cause of some of those changes are the actions of humans. It is indisputable that humans made choices in carrying out those actions. Ergo, our choices affect change on the world. Choice occurs in both UOD.

Objective states only in Wuod:
This argument enters the unresolved philosophical, psychological, and neurological debate of mind-brain duality. Given my previous rebuttal, it is irrelevent. Even if Objective states exist only in the objective world (Wuod), our ability to make choices and act on them bridges those two UOD.

Foreknowledge only in Wuod:
This has nothing to do with my argument or my representation of Foreknowledge. My definition of foreknowledge simply states that if something is true in the future, then it is foreknown now. Regardless, the argument presented by con is incoherent. Knowledge is a justified, true belief[1]. Whatever I know, must actually be true (precluding it from possibly being false). That doesn't mean it is true simply because I believe it to be true, just that it is, in fact, true. I don't understand why the possibility of being mistaken makes something objective. Con needs to explain this point better.

Universes of Discourse:
Con attempts to reject my "bridging" analogy on the basis of UOD explicitly defining the scope of respective contexts. Since our choices can affect the objective world, I am then denying, and refuting, that they are in separate and un-bridge-able universes of discourse in this sense.

Redefined Conclusions:
Con is confused about my inclusion of his arguments in the formal logical framework I have used. I was hoping that my opponent would be using the same order of logic and for this to be an argument in these terms. That portion of my argument is actually immaterial (I was simply being thorough) and my argument and support stands on the refutations and rebuttals I have previously made.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
hightreason

Con

It seems that Pro's only remaining objection to my arguments is that the UOD's must be able to be bridged because free will affects the objective world. I will address this at the end. First, I'll make a few clarifications.

"This argument enters the unresolved philosophical, psychological, and neurological debate of mind-brain duality."

I agree with Pro that this is an unresolved issue at least to some extent. However, my contention is merely that foreknowledge and free will are compatible, not that either one is necessarily true in the world in which we live. If it is possible that the mind is caused entirely by the brain, then I have presented a situation in which this could be the case even if it turns out not to be a representation of the way the world really is in reality.

"I don't understand why the possibility of being mistaken makes something objective."

This is because a person is incapable of being mistaken about one's subjective beliefs. By the very nature of a subjective belief, the belief itself makes it true. Since a belief that I can be mistaken about cannot be subjective, it must be objective.

"Con is confused about my inclusion of his arguments in the formal logical framework I have used. I was hoping that my opponent would be using the same order of logic and for this to be an argument in these terms."

I understood Pro's intentions but was just clarifying for the record that the additional premises had not been added by me. I would have been happy to engage in a debate in these terms if the situation had presented itself. However, I already agreed that Pro's arguments were logically valid and only contended that one of his premises was not true. Pro's new premises did not fix this problem.

Now to the issue of a "bridge" between Muod and Wuod:

Pro argues that because the decisions made using free will affect the real world that this is a sort of bridge between the two universes of discourse. I contend that this is a misunderstanding of the issue. I will give an analogous and more simplistic example which might clarify the situation:

For this example, I will be discussing the following:

:-)

What is represented above can be talked about in two different ways. It can be a smiley face or it can be a colon followed by a dash followed by a close parenthesis. Each of these two things is correct but only in its own universe of discourse. I will coin the following terms:

Euod: The universe of discourse containing emoticons
Cuod: The universe of discourse containing characters typable on a computer keyboard

in Euod, it can be correctly stated that I have typed a smiley face. It cannot be said that I typed colon-dash-closed parenthesis because colons, dashes, and closed parentheses do not exist in Euod. When we are talking in Cuod, I cannot have typed a smiley face because smiley faces do not exist in that universe of discourse.

If I am talking about what is in this text box within Cuod, there is a colon, a dash, and a closed parenthesis there. It cleary has an effect in the UOD. There is no smiley face in Cuod. There is no concept of a smiley face possible in Cuod, yet my typing of a smiley face within Euod had an affect on Cuod. There does not need to be a bridge between Euod and Cuod because there is no material difference, only a difference in the universe of discourse.

If the resolution was whether or not a smiley face was compatible with the letter H the answer would be yes it is. This is because when we are talking about smiley faces we are always talking in Euod and when we are talking about the letter H we are always talking in Cuod. Something that exists in only one universe of discourse cannot be incompatible with something that exists only in a different universe of discourse.

http://en.wikipedia.org...(philosophy)
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by hightreason 3 years ago
hightreason
Wow, voting period on this was really short. Congrats, drafterman.
Posted by hightreason 3 years ago
hightreason
Thanks for the fun debate, drafterman
Posted by hightreason 3 years ago
hightreason
Oops, I labeled my second section which is a response to the first rebuttal "response to second rebuttal" dang copy and paste.
Posted by hightreason 3 years ago
hightreason
Ah, ok. Yes, I see that. Then I will accept this debate and attempt to argue that P1 is not true.
Posted by drafterman 3 years ago
drafterman
In P1, I'm stating that a consequence of having free will is that multiple possibilities must exist.
Posted by hightreason 3 years ago
hightreason
Your argument is sound, however I don't believe it proves the resolution. The argument proves that foreknowledge in incompatible with multiple possibilities. It doesn't prove that it is incompatible with free will (the capability of a human to make one's own decisions). However, this may not be the debate you are wanting to have, so I'm reluctant to accept.
Posted by KingDebater 3 years ago
KingDebater
I may be interested in taking this.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Enji 3 years ago
Enji
draftermanhightreasonTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con seems to implicitly agree with the resolution by proposing two mutually exclusive universes of discourse, one of which pertains to free will and choice (Muod) and the other of which pertains to foreknowledge and objective world (Wuod). Con agrees with Pro that you cannot meaningfully discuss foreknowledge with regards to future choices in the Muod which is what Pro sought to prove. Arguments to pro.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
draftermanhightreasonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Way over my head, somebody needs to vote.