The Instigator
viraj.mahesh
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
00
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

That reality is predetermined and that free will does not exist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/15/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,075 times Debate No: 27237
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

viraj.mahesh

Con

It has often been conjectured that we live in a predetermined world. That is, events that will occur in the future are already determined.

To say that out world is predetermined is to deny the power of human though. The very fact that we are able to ponder over the nature of our world points to the fact that the world is undetermined.

Theological determinists believe the world is determined by a deity or a god. To accept this, the existence of such a deity must be proved. Even if we were to accept the existence of such a deity, how exactly does the deity determine the outcomes of events? Is it through some random event like the roll of a die? If so, then the world is undetermined. If the deity's decision is based on some logical reasoning then it should have been possible for us to deduce that reasoning and therefore predict the outcome of events. The fact that we cannot do so means that reality is undetermined.

Another way is to approach the argument scientifically. Those familiar with quantum mechanics would know that heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that there will always be uncertainty in our measurement, due to the wavelike nature of subatomic particles. Thus, any event always has a non zero probability of occurring even if that probability is small.

Again, this points to the fact that reality is undetermined.
00

Pro

"To say that out world is predetermined is to deny the power of human though. The very fact that we are able to ponder over the nature of our world points to the fact that the world is undetermined."

If in our pondering, we stumble upon a formula that allows us to predict the future, then the world must be predetermined. I will argue that it is possible for us to find such a formula and use it to predict the future while still pondering over the nature of the world. If such a formula exists, then the two are not mutually exclusive.

"Theological determinists..." I concede that theologically speaking, predestination is difficult to prove.

"Another way is to approach the argument scientifically. Those familiar with quantum mechanics would know that heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that there will always be uncertainty in our measurement, due to the wavelike nature of subatomic particles. Thus, any event always has a non zero probability of occurring even if that probability is small."

Either an event occurs, or it does not occur at any instant in time. Subatomic particles must have a position and a velocity (that may not be measurable) at every point in time. Regarding quantum mechanics, quantum entanglement proves that reality cannot be local (http://arstechnica.com...). The fact that nonlocal variables exist supports the de Broglie"Bohm theory of quantum mechanics (http://en.wikipedia.org...), which is deterministic, meaning that it allows the future to be determined if the current state of the universe is known, suggesting that the future/reality is and can be predetermined. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle does not matter in this case, since the current state of the universe can be guessed if not measured.

The only way for reality to not be predetermined is if true randomness exists in the universe. Thus far, the exact opposite has been found to be true. For example, a "random event like the roll of a die" can today be predicted with very high accuracy based upon the velocity and spin of the dice that is being rolled, the wind speed, etc. Although it is not possible to disprove the theoretical existence of a source of perfect randomness, thus far, nothing has been found to be perfectly random, suggesting that it is more likely than not that reality is predetermined and free will does not exist.

"If the deity's decision is based on some logical reasoning then it should have been possible for us to deduce that reasoning and therefore predict the outcome of events. The fact that we cannot do so means that reality is undetermined." A more likely reason that we cannot perfectly predict the outcome of events is that the our tools are not good enough yet and the logic governing the universe is very complex. For example, hundreds of years ago, this same argument was used against Newton and other such scientists for why science could not explain the world as well as religion. However, science is getting better and better at predicting the outcome of events. The only level at which there currently are difficulties are at the quantum mechanical level, and even there, the only reason why there are difficulties is because of the measuring equipment used (http://www.nature.com..., http://www.tgdaily.com..., http://www.bbc.co.uk...). Given how recent quantum mechanics is, and that some quantum mechanical theories do allow reality to be predetermined, it seems likely that even at the subatomic level, pure randomness does not exist.
Debate Round No. 1
viraj.mahesh

Con

I accept your premise that if we were to find a formula (or a set of formulae) that allow us to determine the future course of particles with a 100% accuracy, then our world is predetermined.

The Bohr theory of quantum mechanics was only truly valid for single electronic species. ie. Atoms with only one electron. (http://en.wikipedia.org... As a theory, it can be derived as a first-order approximation of the hydrogen atom...) Applying it to multi electron atoms yield, at best, only crude approximations.

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle says that uncertainty is a fundamental property of quantum systems, and is not a statement about the observational success of current technology. Thus, it will never be possible to exactly determine the position and velocity of a particle simultaneously. It has been around since 1927 which isn't exactly recent.

Your statement "...since the current state of the universe can be guessed if not measured" just supports my argument. Guessing the state of the universe is not the same as predicting it. A guess is inherently undetermined.

"A random event like the roll of a die" can today be predicted with very high accuracy based upon the velocity and spin of the dice that is being rolled, the wind speed, etc.
Again, the accuracy of the roll of the die is not a 100%. With high levels of data inputs, we have managed to calculate the outcome of the event with a higher degree of probabilistic certainty. In the example, you say that the wind speed affects the outcome of the die. But we cannot predict the wind speed. Furthermore, this isn't a very good example as the die is a macroscopic system. The degree of error due to randomness is so small that it may not affect 99.9999% of outcomes, thus leading to the feeling of "pseudo determinism" regarding the rolling of a die.

Even if you were to know the positions of each and every particle in the universe, you would not be able to determine the outcome of the dice 100% of the time as the interaction between the particles would be governed by quantum mechanics which then leads to uncertainty.

Einstein was amongst the few scientist who claimed the probabilistic nature of the universe to be unnatural. But the Uncertainty principle is very well verified by modern experiments. Uncertainty Principle is one of the reasons why we have such difficulty developing a Quantum Computer.

To summarise, a "Great Equation" into which we feed in data about each particle of the universe and which return the exact state of the universe will never be found. At best, our approximations of the universe may increase in accuracy until we are 'almost certain' about the predictions we make. But we will never be completely certain.

00

Pro

1. "I accept your premise that if we were to find a formula (or a set of formulae) that allow us to determine the future course of particles with a 100% accuracy, then our world is predetermined."

As stated in the previous round, we have found such formulae that allow us to determine the future course of particles with 100% accuracy known as the De Broglie-Bohm theory. In case the wikipedia article was difficult to understand, here is a more clear description: http://plato.stanford.edu.... Unless Con can find a flaw in the De Broglie-Bohm theory, Pro automatically wins this debate.

2. "The Bohr theory of quantum mechanics was only truly valid for single electronic species. ie. Atoms with only one electron. (http://en.wikipedia.org...... As a theory, it can be derived as a first-order approximation of the hydrogen atom...) Applying it to multi electron atoms yield, at best, only crude approximations."

I agree - I am defending De Broglie-Bohm, not the Bohr theory of quantum mechanics.

3. "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle says that uncertainty is a fundamental property of quantum systems, and is not a statement about the observational success of current technology."

This is blatantly false - Heisenberg's uncertainty principle does not say that uncertainty is a fundamental property of quantum systems. Con is saying that by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, quantum particles do not have positions or velocities, which is clearly incorrect. Heisenberg's principle (http://en.wikipedia.org...) states measuring position more accurately will cause momentum measurements to be less accurate, and vice versa, by changing the particle's position/momentum. In order for the quantities to be measured, the particle must have a specific, certain position and velocity at the time when the measurement is taken.

4. "Your statement "...since the current state of the universe can be guessed if not measured" just supports my argument. Guessing the state of the universe is not the same as predicting it. A guess is inherently undetermined."

Con concedes that the current state of the universe can be guessed. It follows that the quantum particles have a certain specific position and velocity at every point in time, invalidating point 3.

Just because the state of the universe can be guessed does not mean it cannot be determined. If every possible guessed state of the universe is taken and plugged into the de Broglie"Bohm equations, then exactly one guess (which we will then know is the current state of the universe) will result in a formula that determines the future course of all particles with 100% accuracy. Although taking every single guess and apply the de Broglie"Bohm theory to it may not be humanly possible, it is theoretical possible. Thus, although the equation predicting the future may never be discovered (the probability of discovering it is infinitesimal), it must exist (since it is possible to discover it), making our world predetermined.

5. "Again, the accuracy of the roll of the die is not a 100%. With high levels of data inputs, we have managed to calculate the outcome of the event with a higher degree of probabilistic certainty. In the example, you say that the wind speed affects the outcome of the die. But we cannot predict the wind speed. Furthermore, this isn't a very good example as the die is a macroscopic system. The degree of error due to randomness is so small that it may not affect 99.9999% of outcomes, thus leading to the feeling of "pseudo determinism" regarding the rolling of a die."

Locality is key here. Wind is caused by factors that lie outside of the room that the die is in. Basically, since everything in the universe impacts everything else, it is impossible to make a deterministic prediction without using the state of the universe. In this example, if we knew that the sun was causing the temperature gradient to increasing by 10 degrees per second, we could better predict wind speed. Also, if this is not a good example, Con ought find an example of true randomness in a microscopic system (I cannot find one since I am arguing that no such example exists).

6. "Even if you were to know the positions of each and every particle in the universe, you would not be able to determine the outcome of the dice 100% of the time as the interaction between the particles would be governed by quantum mechanics which then leads to uncertainty."

This is incorrect. The de Broglie"Bohm theory of quantum mechanics describes a "guiding equation" that gives the exact velocities and positions of every particle without any uncertainty. Basically, the de Broglie"Bohm thoery take the quantum mechanical wave equation describing problematically the position of each particle and uses it to determine the actual position of the particle. Source: http://plato.stanford.edu....

7. "Einstein was amongst the few scientist who claimed the probabilistic nature of the universe to be unnatural. But the Uncertainty principle is very well verified by modern experiments. Uncertainty Principle is one of the reasons why we have such difficulty developing a Quantum Computer."

Although Einstein is perhaps the most well-known scientist who did not believe that the universe was probabilistic, there are many others who agree with him. As stated earlier, the uncertainty principle relates to measurements and not to any inherent randomness in the universe. It is compatible with the de Broglie"Bohm theory.

On a side note, I would be interested to know which experiments (if any) support the existence of true randomness in the universe.

8. "To summarise, a "Great Equation" into which we feed in data about each particle of the universe and which return the exact state of the universe will never be found. At best, our approximations of the universe may increase in accuracy until we are 'almost certain' about the predictions we make. But we will never be completely certain."

A two-step method for finding the great equation has already been found. First, make a random guess about the state of the universe. Next, plug the guessed state into the de Broglie"Bohm equations and see if the resulting prediction matches reality. If not, repeat this process until the great equation is found. Although the equation may never be found, it must exist and can theoretically be found though the process described.

To summarize, Con has failed to show that the universe contains true randomness that cannot be explained by the de Broglie"Bohm theory of quantum mechanics. Unless he can do so, Pro ought win this debate.
Debate Round No. 2
viraj.mahesh

Con

viraj.mahesh forfeited this round.
00

Pro

Please extend all my arguments from the previous round and vote Pro on conduct.
To keep this debate fair, I will not be making any new arguments this round.
Debate Round No. 3
viraj.mahesh

Con

viraj.mahesh forfeited this round.
00

Pro

Please extend all my arguments from the previous round and vote Pro. I will not be making any new arguments this round.
Debate Round No. 4
viraj.mahesh

Con

viraj.mahesh forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
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