The Instigator
GeoLaureate8
Con (against)
Losing
55 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Pro (for)
Winning
57 Points

Philosophy: Determinism Accurately Describes Reality

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 20 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/6/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,338 times Debate No: 9960
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (84)
Votes (20)

 

GeoLaureate8

Con

In this debate, my opponent is taking the hard determinist stance that everything in the whole of existence is predetermined. My duty is to demonstrate that some things are not determined, and I will also present a case for free will.

Definitions:

Determinism - The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs. [1]

Free Will - The philosophical doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces. [1]

==========
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. [2] 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 or random. [2]

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. [3]

So it can be concluded, that absolutely, on a small scale, determinism is demonstrably false.

==========
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.

A hard determinist would like to view things as if there is only one way to react to a prior action. For example, someone gets hungry, and therefore eats to satisfy that need. However, a person will also have conflicting information in the mind that suggests otherwise. If that person is on a strict diet, they have a desire or urge to eat to appease the hunger, but may choose not to eat for other personal reasons. But the choice could go either way, and no prior action can trigger an inevitable reaction in that case. That person was free to choose. This is rather quite common in everyday life where someone has to choose, whether it be something they want to do, something against their will, or something they don't want to do, but do it in order to achieve something. One must also take into consideration that a person can clear their mind, disregard previous experiences, and make decisions that are not influenced by past experiences. This will enable free choices to be made, regardless of prior external agents or actions.

===========
Other Arguments
===========

Determinism, is essentially this: if you push a domino, the domino after that will fall, and the one after that will also fall as the result of action and inevitable reaction. You can predict that the next domino in line will fall, but if this were true for reality, we should also be able to predict future outcomes in the same manner. Of course though, reality doesn't work like that. There are choices in reality, and the analogy of dominoes does not allow for alternative choices. It's just a straight line of action-reaction. In life, there are actions, and *many possible reactions* in which a conscious entity has the free will to choose from.

In a deterministic framework, everything is a logical if-then statement of "if this occurs, then this inevitable reaction occurs." However, human beings have made many *illogical and irrational* choices. Therefore, under determinism, irrationality and illogicality do not exist and every action is an inevitable, logical reaction to a prior condition.

Another point to be made is that something may be probable to occur after a certain action, but it cannot be proven that it will happen. My opponent is unable to prove that a certain reaction will occur as the result of an action. It might be probable that A --> B, but she cannot prove that it will be B, for it is an unknown, undetermined future event. It could be C, D, E, F, or any other letter or outcome.

======
Free Will
======

In the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, he suggests that people can decide to break with their past, and such a person must continually redefine himself. Sartre holds that things are far from being determined, and that people are so free, it terrifies them into believing they are determined. [4]

=======
Conclusion
=======

In conclusion, I have demonstrated that determinism is not true for quantum particles nor is it wholly true for objects and conscious beings. There can sometimes be multiple external agents and multiple possible reactions that a deterministic framework cannot account for. It instead presents a false paradigm of a strict action-reaction model.

"Man is condemned to be free." - Jean-Paul Sartre

[1] http://www.dictionary.com...
[2] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[3] http://www.aip.org...
[4] http://instruct.westvalley.edu...
Danielle

Pro

==========
Introduction
==========

I'd like to thank my opponent for beginning this debate; I agree with all of the proposed definitions and terms.

==========
The Microcosm
==========

Copenhagen's interpretation loses ground to other interpretations such as Bohm's Interpretation, which is a hidden variable theory. The Bohm interpretation posits that every particle has a definite position and momentum at all times, but we do not usually know what they are, though we do have limited information about them. The particles are guided by the wave function, which follows the Schr´┐Żdinger equation.

Like the Copenhagen interpretation, the Bohm interpretation is equally confirmed by experimental results. So, both theories have not been disproved as of yet and therefore my proposition is no less logically valid from a physics point of view than Con's. The incomplete nature of quantum physics at this moment can not give either interpretation soundness, but my opponent should know that the Copenhagen interpretation is not the only interpretation, nor is it at all a proven interpretation - thus thwarting his negation.

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle says that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known to arbitrary precision. It does NOT state that the position and momentum do not exist - simply that they can not be measured. Just because we can't measure them doesn't mean their positions and momentum don't exist, thereby making Con's argument useless. To conclude this point, there is inconclusive evidence that indeterminism exists at the atomic level. Also, the readers should note that my opponent is trying to enforce a physics view of indeterminism - which, by the way, is also against free will existing!

==========
The Macrocosm
==========

Con's argument asserts, "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." This is wrong for two reasons. First, every single action that we commit is a direct result of our brain and the chemical going-ons for which we are not completely in control. For instance, if I am predisposed to schizophrenia, I can't tell myself NOT to be predisposed to schizophrenia.

Our brain tells us what to do, how to feel, what to think, etc. Indeed the only reason I can even type this argument is because my brain is communicating with the rest of the muscles in my body via the nervous system allowing my body to follow its commands. Similarly, when a person makes a decision, it is dependent upon their brain. Environment plus biology necessitate your actions. You're just reacting to stimuli; your brain learns reactions as time goes by thus developing personality. We know that personality is part biology (traits determined by genetics) and part environment (experiences and outside stimuli).

Now, if our choices are dictated by genetics and stimuli, clearly we have no control over them. We cannot control the genetics that make us who we are, nor the experiences that we have. "Heredity establishes the limits of one's personality traits that can be developed, while the environment - represented by the cultural, social and situational factors - influence the actual development within the limits... Cultural factors are related to the cultural values earned by someone in the course of his/her life, especially during the period when his/her personality is formed. These cultural values have a great impact upon an individual's behavior... Situational factors emphasize or diminish some aspects of one's personality. For example, a person that has experienced recently one failure after another would not wish to be involved in another project - at least for a period of time - even if this particular one might be successful" [1].

As you can see, Con is completely wrong in asserting that we exercise our will over our experiences. The human being is at the mercy of these forces (behavioral factors and genetics), and is simply the instrument through which they are expressed. Con writes, "If a person is on a strict diet, they have a desire or urge to eat to appease the hunger, but may choose not to eat... The choice could go either way, and no prior action can trigger an inevitable reaction in that case. That person was free to choose." This is completely false. The person's choice to not eat would be based on the fact that they're trying to lose weight, therefore their decision was the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs. Everything in the universe aligned to put the individual in the position to make that necessary and specific decision.

Further, Con is wrong in exclaiming, "A person can clear their mind, disregard previous experiences, and make decisions that are not influenced by past experiences. This will enable free choices to be made, regardless of prior external agents or actions." First of all, if you disregard previous occurrences, memories and experiences, then it wouldn't be YOU making the decision. Those are the very things that make up who you are. Additionally, the decision to clear your mind was pre-determined (the inevitable consequence of an antecedent state of affairs).

===========
Other Arguments
===========

"You can predict that the next domino in line will fall, but if this were true for reality, we should also be able to predict future outcomes in the same manner." I'm surprised that Geo would put forth this idealistic argument. There is far too much information for human beings to be able to predict every future outcome. The individual factors that make up the entire universe are so minute that the human brain could never fathom such intricacy to the point where we would be able to determine everything.

Con also says, "Human beings have made many *illogical and irrational* choices. Therefore, under determinism, irrationality and illogicality do not exist and every action is an inevitable, logical reaction to a prior condition." This is a completely straw manned argument. Determinism says no such thing. Geo, please show me where determinism says that human choices can't be irrational. NAY. Determinism merely states that those choices were determined by factors outside of the individual's control, such as prior occurrences or the laws of nature.

While we're on the subject of making random stuff up about determinism, I completely reject Co's point that, "Another point to be made is that something may be probable to occur after a certain action, but it cannot be proven that it will happen." I've already explained that the human brain (at least for now) could never fathom such intricacy to the point where we would be able to determine everything. However, in retrospect, we can observe how determinism is valid.

======
Free Will
======

The only "argument" Con presents here is the idea that Sartre is not a determinist. Well, a lot of people aren't determinist. That isn't proof that determinism is false, therefore this was a completely irrelevant and unnecessary aspect of the debate.

=======
Conclusion
=======

Con concludes by stating that he has demonstrated determinism is not true for quantum particles; however, you can see from my microism rebuttal that this is certainly not the case. Additionally, Con states, "There can sometimes be multiple external agents and multiple possible reactions that a deterministic framework cannot account for." Since all of Con's proposed examples have failed (I have demonstrated how they were determined), I'd like to invite Con to attempt to try and cite more examples of decisions without predetermined factors. Remember, just because one can Google "arguments against determinism" doesn't make their valid arguments sound.

[1] http://news.softpedia.com...
Debate Round No. 1
GeoLaureate8

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for her excellent response, however, her attack against the originality of my arguments was unwarranted. I can assure the readers that these arguments are entirely my own.

==========
The Microcosm
==========

My opponent contended my argument by noting that alongside the Copenhagen Interpretation, there is an equally valid quantum theory called the Bohm Interpretation which posits hidden variables to account for the behavior of quantum particles.

1. First of all, these hidden variables are hypothetical, have not been observed, and therefore, don't hold much weight at this point. The Copenhagen Interpretation is based on actual observation that quantum particles move in an unpredictable, undetermined manner. Bohm posited that, perhaps at a deeper quantum level, there are hidden variables or particles that determine the seemingly unpredictable behavior of quantum particles. Therefore, this is more of a hypothetical theory than the Copenhagen Interpretation.

2. If Bohm's Interpretation were true, these hidden variables would, in fact, provide an objective causal determination of seemingly unpredictable quantum particles. However, this says nothing about the behavior of these hidden variables/particles. Bohm himself posited that the hidden variables are SELF-DETERMINED (Free), but to us, would be seemingly random fluctuations.

"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 [1]

3. My opponent also says that both theories are valid and that neither have been disproven. This however, is not necessarily true. Bell's Theorem has countered Bohm's Interpretation and states that "no physical theory of local hidden variables can ever reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics." [2]

4. David Bohm himself says: "In principle, every new moment could be entirely unrelated to the previous one—it could be totally creative." - David Bohm [4] Bohm later updated his interpretation to include stochastic (random behavior). Therefore, using Bohm to prove determinism renders itself ineffective.

My opponent contested that just because quantum position and momentum can't be measured, doesn't mean it's non-existent. This however, is unrelated to the causal behavior. There's no denying that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is indeterministic. It's even referred to as Heisenberg's Indeterminacy Principle and Heisenberg himself asserted the indeterministic nature of his principle. There's no way around it.

Pro commits a composition fallacy by concluding that indeterminism or randomness on the quantum level refutes free will on the macrocosmic level. What's true of the parts, isn't necessarily true of the whole.

Pro also asserted that indeterminism or randomness would refute free will, however, randomness isn't actually random and is a form of self-determinism (Free), but because we don't understand why something acts a certain way, we call it random.

I would also like to point out that, if you want to assert determinism on a quantum level, and go even deeper than that, by saying underlying, smaller quantum particles predetermine quantum particles, you will eventually reach (to avoid infinite regression) the smallest quantum particle, the basis of reality, which in itself would have to be SELF-DETERMINED (as Bohm also noted) because no underlying particle would or could exist to predetermine it.

==========
The Macrocosm
==========

Pro denies that a human being can make free choices based on the analysis of stored and processed information by asserting, "every single action that we commit is a direct result of our brain and the chemical going-ons for which we are not completely in control." The first contention is a non-sequitur. Just because our actions are the direct result of our brain (this may or may not be true), does not mean that the brain can't make free choices. The second contention is an unproven assertion. The human mind/consciousness is still somewhat of a mystery (a conscious observer literally affects the wave function of quantum particles, which in itself creates a distinction between unconscious machines and conscious beings) and by no means has it been proven to be purely mechanical.

Richard Dawkins rejects this view, and posits that "we are evolved to second guess the behavior of others by becoming brilliant, intuitive, psychologists." He also asserts that we and our consciousness have evolved so greatly that we now have been able to REBEL against previously deterministic causes. Our consciousness has evolved far beyond that of a lifeless machine of simple cause-effect operations.

Con: If a person is on a strict diet, they have a desire or urge to eat to appease the hunger, but may choose not to eat. The choice could go either way, and no prior action can trigger an inevitable reaction in that case. That person was free to choose.

Pro: This is completely false. The person's choice to not eat would be based on the fact that they're trying to lose weight, therefore their decision was the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs.

^^^
My opponent was unable to refute this. I put forth a set of two choices, each just as likely, and my opponent simply picked one (as if it were inevitable) and said why it was determined. The problem is that neither outcome happened, and both were equally likely. Point still stands. Said person still has the ability to freely choose whether to eat or not. There are two external agents: hunger drives her to eat, the diet drives her to not eat, and she is in control to make an equally likely choice on her own.

"There is far too much information for human beings to be able to predict every future outcome. The individual factors that make up the entire universe are so minute that the human brain could never fathom such intricacy to the point where we would be able to determine everything."

Then how can your human brain fathom the nature of the intricacy, let alone the intricacy itself? My position allows for such intricacy to be indeterministic. Your claim makes the extraordinary leap of assigning every aspect of the intricate Universe to be deterministic. Mine allows for unknowns. My opponent is making an absolute knowledge claim, yet admits that no one can fathom the intricacy and multiple factors of the entire Universe. If there are so many unfathomable, unknowns, how can my opponent claim to know that these unknowns are deterministic?

My opponent also denies my point that irrationality and illogicality don't exist under a deterministic framework. However, determinism holds that every action is an inevitable, logical (if this, then that) reaction. If something illogical happens, it defies determinism.

======
Free Will
======

My opponent did not attempt to refute Sartre's argument, and simply dismissed it. He argued that one can break away from their past and constantly recreate and redefine himself, thus allowing for every action of that individual to be independent of any prior experiences.

=======
Conclusion
=======

In conclusion, I once again demonstrated that quantum particles on the microcosm are indeterministic, and conscious beings on the macrocosm do indeed have free will. Pro cannot refute (she attempted to, but I demonstrated that her contention was flawed) that there are multiple, influential external agents, and MANY POSSIBLE REACTIONS. Not every reaction is inevitable, nor is reality a strict, linear paradigm of cause-effect, action-inevitable reaction. There are things that are in fact avoidable, and thus overcoming inevitability, should it ever occur.

Thank you all for reading.

Sources: In comments section.
Danielle

Pro

========
Clarification
========

I did not mean to insinuate that Con's arguments weren't his own, but to clarify that just because there are arguments against determinism, it doesn't make determinism false. The arguments against determinism are unsound.

==========
The Microcosm
==========

Con has said that Copenhagen's theory holds more weight than Bohm's because it has been observed and Bohm's has not. However, that is quite obvious (and the entire point) since Bohm's theory revolves around unobserved hidden variables. Again, because Copenhagen's theory has NOT been proven to be consistent enough for a law, then there really is no weight on it, and especially not any more weight than mine (Bohm's).

Further, it is common knowledge amongst physicists that upon studying an atom, one disturbs its natural state. Thus, observations made of these quantum quarks can not be their true state; they are instead in a disturbed state that energy laid upon them through observation compels them to be in. Because of this faulty detail, Con can not prove that Copenhagen's theory holds ground, or that it's not only a result of quantum disturbance given to the atoms upon observation. These direct observations clearly conflict with the observation disturbances (Con even mentioned this). So again, Bohm's theory is no more hypothetical than Copenhagen's.

Moving on, my opponent obviously does not understand the definition of what Bohm calls "self determined." What Bohm is referring to is that nothing could have evolved that base unit from itself; it is the base unit that all of matter is made up from. No other particle determines it's existence and its initial behaviors. This doesn't at all go against determinism -- as even determinism begs for a start movement -- but the states that follow after this initial movement are clearly determined (thus establishing determinism). Now, even if the base unit is indeterministic -- the only indeterministic thing in our universe -- this does not get rid of determinism. All this base unit provides is an initial movement that starts in motion a chain of events, like a chaotic system (which is 100% predictable if one knows the initial move).

So, while my opponent brought up objections to Bohm's theory, keep in mind one clear, huge problem with Copenhagen's theory and that is that it clearly violates the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Violation of such a principle would lead the world to a completely indeterministic state (which doesn't imply free will either, as both determinism and indeterminism don't allow for free will). Additionally, even if my opponent is implying that his indeterministic quantum state carries up to the macro, then he too is making a "composition error."

My opponent accused me of committing a composition fallacy: Illegitimately transfer a property of the parts of a thing to the whole. However, the composition error is not always illegitimate. It is common knowledge amongst logicians that some arguments from fallacies are sound. For example, atoms have mass (property of the part), and humans (the whole) are made of atoms. If humans are made of atoms, and atoms have mass, then humans have mass (and we all know this is true). So, humans have mass, and as you can see, sometimes fallacious arguments are sound. What can be considered fallacious in one setting may not be proven false in another.

Moving on, Con brings up the Uncertainty Principle, but Einstein himself went head to head with this one saying that it was "a reflection of our ignorance of some fundamental property of reality." He clearly defends this with the EPR Paradox. My source [1] and Wiki provide the simple version of the EPR Paradox described by physicist Brian Greene along with the complete mathematical formula verifying this paradox:

"A positron and an electron are emitted from a source by pion decay, so that their spins are opposite; one particle's spin about any axis is the negative of the other's. Also, due to uncertainty, making a measurement of a particle's spin about one axis disturbs the particle so you now can't measure its spin about any other axis.

Now say you measure the electron's spin about the X-axis. This automatically tells you the positron's spin about the X-axis. Since you've done the measurement without disturbing the positron in any way, it can't be that the positron 'only came to have that state when you measured it,' because you didn't measure it! It must have had that spin all along. Also you can now measure the positron's spin about the Y-axis. So it follows that the positron has had a definite spin about two axes – much more information than the positron is capable of holding, and a 'hidden variable' according to EPR."

And the Uncertainty Principle is just that: ignorance and hasty judgment.

==========
The Macrocosm
==========

Con begins by stating, "Just because our actions are the direct result of our brain (this may or may not be true)..." which really blows my mind right off the bat. What do you mean that might not be true!? If I lift a pencil, do you think my arm is doing that on its own?! Or because my brain told it to via the nervous system? Anyway, let's just move right on to Con's point: He thinks that our consciousness has evolved so greatly that we are now able to rebel against previously deterministic causes. Okay first, this assertion proves that my opponent acknowledges deterministic causes. Second, you'll see that this point doesn't hold any weight because Con hasn't proven HOW we overcome deterministic causes. Moreover, it is not our CONSCIOUSNESS that disturbs atoms; it is any observation (distribution of energy) that can disturb movement of these atoms. If Con argues that consciousness does this, then consciousness is that distribution of energy (movement or cause) thus still validating determinism.

Regarding the diet example, my opponent is completely ignorant to the reality that both choices (to eat or not eat) were NOT just as likely; obviously 1 choice is going to be made over the other. Every single choice we make is because 1 option has certain factors that lead us to choose it over the other. Even if we flip a coin, the factors that determine the result -- like the wind blowing, gravity or the amount of mass distribution in a particular setting -- are all out of our control due to the laws of nature.

Now, Con has completely misunderstood and thereby misrepresented my position. I have explained why determinism is a sound and valid argument, and then explained why we can't predict everything even though the reality of determinism is quite obvious. I said that the human mind can not know the position of every single sub-atomic particle in the entire universe, or the position of each and its potential from prior states. Con turned around and asked how we can know that these unknowns are deterministic... but I've already explained why they are (see: entire debate!).

Finally on this point, Con says that anything illogical happening defines determinism. Uh, what? This point proves absolutely NOTHING. If something illogical happens (whatever that is), all it means is that something determined led to that occurrence. Give me an example and in the final round I'll prove how.

======
Free Will
======

We certainly feel free, but what does that really prove? According to Sartre, he can re-evaluate his life and turn it around. This comes from a desire to do so, which comes from somewhere else... a chain. Again, his comment can be dismissed because he doesn't really say much that can't be easily refuted; his desire to change is just that - his desire - and where does that desire come from? Conflict, dislike of his current states that begs this next state of change.

=======
Conclusion
=======

Con has failed to adequately refute determinism.

[1] http://math.ucr.edu...
Debate Round No. 2
GeoLaureate8

Con

=
=
=

==========
The Microcosm
==========

My opponent concurs by saying "What Bohm is referring to is that nothing could have evolved that base unit from itself; it is the base unit that all of matter is made up from. NO OTHER PARTICLE DETERMINES IT'S EXISTENCE AND ITS INITIAL BEHAVIORS." In other words, whatever the base unit or particle of the Universe is, it is self-determined. Thus, the deepest quantum level is self-determined, which was my point from the very beginning.

There is no way of getting around it. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle has quantum particles moving in an unpredictable and indeterministic manner. And my opponent's counter argument of Bohm's Interpretation merely pointed out that a deeper field of quantum particles are determining that unpredictable behavior, but that, even this deeper field of quantum particles is SELF-DETERMINED. Again, as Bohm stated, [the very person she is using to argue against indeterminism]: "In principle, every new moment could be entirely unrelated to the previous one—it could be totally creative." - David Bohm

It is an inevitable conclusion. The quantum world is indeterministic and self-determined.

==========
Microcosm Pt.2
==========

{*Even if my opponent is implying that his indeterministic quantum state carries up to the macro, then he too is making a "composition error."*}

This is not the case. That is why I explicitly separated the microcosm from the macrocosm into different sections.

{*both determinism and indeterminism don't allow for free will*}

Let me provide a syllogism to explain how indeterminism would in fact allow for, or support, free will.

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.
P3: If it is self-determined, it is free.

Now, you may object and say that indeterminism is random, not free. Well then, what is randomness? Randomness is something that doesn't conform to a pattern or adhere to a prior arrangement. [1] So what's the problem? If we observe a particle moving about randomly, we just assume that it's blind randomness because we don't understand why it is moving in such a way. We cannot predict its movement because it is not restricted by a pattern nor does it adhere to a prior arrangement. Therefore, that particle is self-determined and free.

==========
The Macrocosm
==========

Now here I am going to throw a curve ball, so get ready.

We have been trying to answer this question of "free will vs. determinism" the wrong way. I am going to take a page from the philosophy of Alan Watts to answer this properly.

The general perception and accepted paradigm of time and events is a continuous line of events caused by previous events. Where the present is driven by the past. However, this an improper way to look at things, and is only viewed that way so that our minds can comprehend time. Here's why:

"The course of time is really, very much like the course of a ship in the ocean. Because here's the ship you see, and it leaves behind it, a wake. And the wake fades out and that tells us where the ship has been in just the same way the past, and our memory of the past, tells us what we have done. But as we go back into the past, and we go back and back to pre-history and we use all kinds of instruments and scientific method for detecting what happened, we eventually reach a point where all record of the past fades away in just the same way as the wake of the ship. ... THE WAKE DOESN'T DRIVE THE SHIP ANYMORE THAN THE TAIL WAGS THE DOG." - Alan Watts

In other words, describing present events as the result of prior, antecedent events, is like saying the jet stream guides the plane. This of course is ludicrous, and the stream only tells us where the plane has been.

Another example, you can record a person running and when you play back the video in slow motion, you will see a blur of himself behind him. You wouldn't say that the person made it to the finish line due to his prior position on the track. No, that blur behind him was the result of his current position.

===========
Macrocosm Pt. 2
===========

So you see, the past doesn't drive the present, the past is the result of the present. It is only when you try to figure out what determined the present, do you come to a problem. When you do that, then you are voluntarily letting the past drive you. You are looking back at the trail left behind and telling yourself that your actions are the result of that [the past.]

This then gets rid of such problems like the hungry person on a diet, because no longer do prior conditions matter by which a choice is determined, whether it be made freely or not. Every moment is a new and creative moment, and it is only when we look back to the past to figure out why something happened, that we feel like everything is determined. When we look back to see what determined us, we are looking at it backwards, from this present moment, to the previous moment. So we are really only tracing things backwards, but we don't realize that it's all just a trail left behind from the present.

===========
Macrocosm Pt. 3
===========

I'd also like to point out that we tend to identify our drives as something separate from us, when really, that is who we are. When we get hungry, it's not an external agent determining us to eat, we are that hunger. The same can be said for everything:

"If I define myself as the whole field of events, we'll say the "organism-environment field" which is the real me, then all the things that happen to me, may be called "my doing." - Alan Watts

So when we say that we are driven by external agents, are they really separate from us? Or are they a part of us? Where do we draw the line between the person and the environment, the cell from the body, the atom from the cell. It's all interconnected. The water in the river is flowing together as one, yet we're trying to divide it into sections. It's all one movement, there are no separate events until we arbitrarily define them as such, and therefore, it is our own thinking that binds us to deterministic causes. When we finally come to this realization, it is only then that we become fully liberated from being a "puppet of the past."

=======
Conclusion
=======

Determinism has now been rendered irrelevant. I thank you all for reading and thanks to my opponent for participating in this intriguing debate.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Danielle

Pro

==========
The Microcosm
==========

I'll begin by pointing out that my opponent did not effectively respond to my presentation of Einstein's Paradox, which indeed has effectively combatted his faulty ideology of indeterminism. Instead, he continued posting information that the paradox I have presented had already dismantled. For instance, Con keeps insisting that Bohm said that atomic particles are "self-determined" but never explains how/why Bohm believes this, or how it refutes Einstein's Paradox (it just seems to me like he skipped it entirely without consideration).

==========
Microcosm Pt.2
==========

Then Con presents this ridiculous 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.
P3: If it is self-determined, it is free.

So, in symbolic logic terms, his argument is such:

P = ~Q
P = R
---------
R --> S

Which completely doesn't follow. Syllogism = fail.

Then he claims that free will is randomness. Randomness actually means zero control. If atoms are moving in "random" ways, and they are "indetermined" as my opponent is claiming, then they are NOT free with their will. This goes against even my opponent's flawed definiton of free will: the philosophical doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces. As you can see, randomness does not involve choice. The answer is as simple as that (excluding the blatant fact that whatever the atom does is a physical force).

==========
The Macrocosm
==========

Next, Con brings up this random concept of time supported by an unknown modern philosopher; certainly not of the caliber of Einstein, Bohm or Schrodinger. In fact, Alan Watts is seen by many as a kook with theories no more valid than Geo's typical pantheist prapganda. In looking up Watts' credentials, I came to see that he's a British speaker who held both a master's degree in theology and a doctorate of divinity. Famous for his research on comparative religion, he was best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Eastern philosophy (hahaha). He wrote more than 25 books on subjects such as personal identity, the true nature of reality, higher consciousness, meaning of life, concepts and images of God and the non-material pursuit of happiness. Need I say more? Ladies and gentleman, this man has a doctorate in something called DIVINITY STUDIES. Is this for real? Geo's presented theory in this final round is not suitable for judgment; it's based on unsupported make believe.

But let's entertain this silly idea anyway. Geo is essentially saying that just because you can analyze one's past (i.e. observe the ship's wake), that scrutinzinzing the past won't allow you to predict the future. This is a perfect example of what logicians call the BAD ANALOGY FALLACY. What Geo and Watts are trying to do is compare the human conciousness to the wake of a ship, when no such correlation can reasonably exist. I'll provide two examples explaining why this is so [1]:

A) "The solar system reminds me of an atom, with planets orbiting the sun like electrons orbiting the nucleus. We know that electrons can jump from orbit to orbit; so we must look to ancient records for sightings of planets jumping from orbit to orbit also."

B) Or, "Minds, like rivers, can be broad. The broader the river, the shallower it is. Therefore, the broader the mind, the shallower it is."

Here's why this analogy is logically flawed [2]:

A is like B.
B has property P.
Therefore, A has property P.
(Where the analogy between A and B is weak.)

If we can all agree that A and B are weak analogies - i.e. time is NOT like the course of a ship in ocean - then we can accept this analogy as just bad and flawed all around.

===========
Macrocosm Pt. 2
===========

Right off the bat, Con opens this section with, "So you see, the past doesn't drive the present, the past is the result of the present." Right there that is blatantly an obviously begging the question! He makes this statement as if it's a known fact, meanwhile that is the topic of this entire debate. This circular argument commits one of the biggest fallacies; another reason my opponent's argument is simply unsound all around.

He continues, "It is only when you try to figure out what determined the present, do you come to a problem. When you do that, then you are voluntarily letting the past drive you. You are looking back at the trail left behind and telling yourself that your actions are the result of that [the past.]" Okay, this sounds like some Oprah interview or a therapist session - not a philosophy debate. Here Con is making NO real argument against any of my presented points which represent how determinism is irrefutable at a quantum physical level and the only option that makes sense at a logical level.

Con says, "Every moment is a new and creative moment, and it is only when we look back to the past to figure out why something happened, that we feel like everything is determined." I honestly don't understand why he had to vary so off topic to start talking about this spiritual crap. Let's get back to his example of the hungry person on a diet. The hungry person who doesn't break their diet chooses not to go off their diet because of motivation to lose weight. Where does motivation (or any drive) come from? The past. Things that have happened in the past are the cause for their current state. Therefore, it IS determined; my opponent is making this a complete straw man argument when in fact it is blatantly obvious that my side rings true.

I'll break it down once again: Think of what state you're in right now. If you think about why you're in that state, you'll see that there are a zillion antecedent causes of why you are in that state. All of those causes are out of your control. Determinism posits that if it could SOMEHOW be known on the quantum level the original cause that all subsequent actions resulted from, that you could predict the entire universe following that moment. However, this will never ever ever happen because humans simply don't and can't have the capacity to have such knowledge. Con wants to disagree by saying that humans have "overcome" being able to be predicted but that's false. Why? Even your personality i.e. choices are the result of (a) all of the actions in your life; so if you knew them - you could determine how one would react because (b) people's personalities and habits stem from not only their experiences but biology (chemicals in the brain and other laws of nature).

===========
Macrocosm Pt. 3
===========

LOL! Geo, this is blatant pantheist prapoganda with NO logical or philosophical bearing! Con says, "When we get hungry, it's not an external agent determining us to eat, we are that hunger... The water in the river is flowing together as one... Where do we draw the line between the person and the environment... It's all interconnected." Once again, we visit the bad analogy fallacy I presented earlier.

Until this point (round, really) it had been an excellent debate. However, Geo completely lost me when he wandered out of the world of physics and philosophy and into the world of unsupported [eastern] spirituality. Nowhere did he effectively combat determinism. Instead, he presented kookoo examples and analogies that didn't refute a thing and instead just made bad and irrelevant connections. The fact is that determinism is a supported theory on the quantum physics level. Many think that indeterminism is equally valid; however Einstein's Paradox dismantles it. So, we use logic and reason to determine determinism (hehe) is accurate.

[1] http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org...
[2] http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
Debate Round No. 3
84 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 4 years ago
GeoLaureate8
I was getting too close to the truth so someone tried to stop me, lol. No, I know it wasn't you, you're an honest voter. I know that someone voted at the last minute because I logged on and saw that there was 16 minutes left. I checked a couple times after that and at the 1 minute mark, you had only 50. Then when I checked after the voting period ended, someone had given you a full 7 points. Anyways, it was a close debate so it doesn't matter either way, but it's ridiculous that there's vultures on this site stalking and vote bombing debates.

Yeah, I'll try to get to that email, I've just been busy lately with finals and being out of town and stuff. I'm not sure what I want to debate next, maybe you can pick the next one.
Posted by Danielle 4 years ago
Danielle
Sorry Geo - It wasn't me, as I haven't been online in nearly 24 hours (Vi too). That said, do you really think someone was trying to sabotage you? Or is this another one of your crazy conspiracy theories ;) How would you know exactly how many points someone gave me and when if you weren't sitting here monitoring this debate within the last minute yourself? Seems a little obsessive, don'tcha think? Anyway this was a good debate and I hope to debate you again in the future! I really want you to write back to my e-mail about determinism too lol so we can clarify some things and then move on to another debate! What do you wanna debate next?
Posted by GeoLaureate8 4 years ago
GeoLaureate8
Something's rather suspicious. Someone gave her an automatic 7 points one minute before the voting period ended. Whoever it was must have been sitting here monitoring the debate waiting to give their vote at the last second.
Posted by XimenBao 4 years ago
XimenBao
It was a tough call until the last round, but then Con did go off the rails with the broken syllogism and the reliance on the theologian.
Posted by Nails 4 years ago
Nails
"Nails, have you ever voted on this debate?"

I have not. I may eventually, but I don't have time to read the entire thing right now.
Posted by daniel_t 4 years ago
daniel_t
"Lastly, Pro's source says..."

Sorry, that should have been, "Lastly, Con's source says..."
Posted by daniel_t 4 years ago
daniel_t
=== The Macrocosm

Con effectively tells us that because Pro cannot conclusively predict the outcome of some human actions, they are fundamentally unpredictable. This argument from ignorance is unacceptable.

Pro tells us that Con's argument, that we have minds that can choose freely how to react, is wrong because the mind chooses how to react. Such circular reasoning is unacceptable. In particular she said, "Our brain tells us what to do..." I'm left wondering, who is "us" in this context if it isn't, at least partially composed of, "our brain"?

Pro tries to defeat Con's argument from ignorance by using a posteriori reasoning, which is also unacceptable.

=== Free Will

Con cites a source, but doesn't really make an argument using it.

Pro correctly notes the problem with Con's statement.

===
Conduct: Tie. Both participants were composed and mature.

Convincing Arguments: Tie. With so many problems in both arguments, I have to say that neither were any more convincing than the other.

Reliable Sources: Con. Primarily because of the lack of citations regarding the Bohm interpretation from Pro.
Posted by daniel_t 4 years ago
daniel_t
My RFD is a little too big to fit in one comment...

=========
The Microcosm
=========

Con explains to us that "Quantum Theory holds that the laws of nature are indeterministic and probabilistic" but sites a source that says in part, "There are also deterministic interpretations of Quantum Theory, such as the Many-Worlds Interpretation." In citing a source that accepts multiple interpretations of Quantum Theory, he should have spent at least some time addressing why we should accept the particular interpretation he accepts.

Pro claims that the Bohm Interpretation is deterministic but doesn't cite any sources.

Con brings up a quote from Bohm himself that says that even in the Bohm Interpretation, there is indeterminism. Thus defeating Con's argument.

Pro continues to discuss the Bohm Interpretation, but again without citing any sources. Since Pro has not proven herself to be an expert in the field, I simply cannot accept her arguments about this subject.

Lastly, Pro's source says, "Fortunately, the outcome of the debate regarding whether Quantum Theory is most properly interpreted deterministically or indeterministically, can be largely avoided for our current purposes." Since the sources purposes are the same as Con's, it seems the entire Microcosm argument is pointless.
Posted by Danielle 4 years ago
Danielle
Did you read it?
Posted by Danielle 4 years ago
Danielle
Nails, have you ever voted on this debate?
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