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free will identity paradox


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5 replies to this topic

#1 phil1882

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 04:07 PM

here's kind of a depressing paradox.
let's start with the assumption that identical things are identical.
now imagine creating an exact copy of the whole universe.
if a week from friday you do the exact same thing in both universes, then
what you do a week from friday is pre-determined by the state of the universe.
therefore free will is an illusion.
or if what happens a week form friday is different in both universes, then you have free will, but the principle of identity is invalid at the universal level.

so which would you perfer, free will but no identity, or identity, but no free will?
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#2 Molly Mae

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 04:31 PM

What if all copies of me independently choose to do the same thing each Friday?
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#3 mmiguel

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 05:17 AM

here's kind of a depressing paradox.
let's start with the assumption that identical things are identical.
now imagine creating an exact copy of the whole universe.
if a week from friday you do the exact same thing in both universes, then
what you do a week from friday is pre-determined by the state of the universe.
therefore free will is an illusion.
or if what happens a week form friday is different in both universes, then you have free will, but the principle of identity is invalid at the universal level.

so which would you perfer, free will but no identity, or identity, but no free will?


I have spent some time thinking about this idea before.
Essentially, the belief that everything in the future is determined by the state of the universe at any point in the past is called determinism.

This is a philosophical debate that no one can really prove or disprove.

I believe in determinism, but if you think about it, it shouldn't impact how you feel about the universe and carrying out your life.
It is different than the Greek concept of destiny.

The reason being, that no one can possibly predict the future without knowing everything at one point in time.
No physical creature could ever know everything at one point in time, because they would need a physical body to support the mental processes going on to model the external world --- and it would not be possible for them to model all of the information contained within such a physical body by storing that information in the same physical body.

Therefore, no one can tell you it is your destiny to fail or succeed or blah blah blah.

Another thing, is that the phrase "free will" refers to multiple things.
Under determinism, you can still make decisions, it's just that any decision you make is part of the unfolding of the future, and you made them for the deterministic reasons that influenced your mind, which may have been pre-determined, but so what.
What you cannot do, is make a decision which was not caused by anything.
You cannot do something with no motive, no impetus, no influencing factor to make you do that.

Essentially, you cannot be truly random.

Does that prevent you from making decisions you actually care about? No.
You can still choose to vote however you want, to buy what you want, to act like you want etc.
All you should realize is that there are reasons for you doing those things, be it derived from the way you were raised, your experiences in life, the culture around where you were born, etc.
That isn't so depressing, and in many senses of the word "free will", you still have it. You are free to be what you are, even if what you are is a deterministic, evolving process of incredible complexity (just like all life).
Think about it, even these thoughts, and the conclusions you draw from them are part of that evolving process, and your conclusions may influence future decisions. I think that this was determined at the start of the universe, but unknowable by any part of the universe until now.


Essentially, I think that believing in determinism means that randomness doesn't really exist. What we mistake for randomness, is actually just complexity. Both of them are explanations for unpredictability, but I think randomness is more of a superstitious one (and false).
Some folks might say quantum mechanics and stuff proves randomness, but I'm not really convinced - all it shows is that a model that ideally assumes randomness is consistent with experimentation to a high degree of accuracy. It doesn't mean that an explanation that unveils a further degree of complexity in a deterministic way does not exist.

So yeah.
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#4 joshuagenes

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 08:04 AM

A universe includes everything that is connected so any parallel universe that may exist we can not know of because we are not connected. So what happens in this universe has no relationship to any other and therefore we can not make any such comparison or have any such consequence. Freewill is also suspect as some choices are made for us and have to a certain extents have molded the environment in which we operate. I prefer partial freewill as a better model of the choices we make. You have to play the hand that you are dealt to the best or your ability that is all you can do.


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#5 bonanova

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 08:35 PM

here's kind of a depressing paradox.
let's start with the assumption that identical things are identical.
now imagine creating an exact copy of the whole universe.
if a week from friday you do the exact same thing in both universes, then
what you do a week from friday is pre-determined by the state of the universe.
therefore free will is an illusion.
or if what happens a week form friday is different in both universes, then you have free will, but the principle of identity is invalid at the universal level.

so which would you perfer, free will but no identity, or identity, but no free will?

 

To your question:

  • I prefer a single universe, with an identity that is more or less persistent and choices [free will].
    That's the game and rules I accepted early on, and with which I am more or less comfortable.

 

However.

  • As I read current thought about the multiverse, there seems to be a universe for each outcome.
     
  • That's beyond me at present, both in comprehension and in comfort.
    Also, it probably reduces "identity" in a physics sense, to be an attribute only of elementary particles,
    not conglomerations of them, like myself.

 

We could also take an intuitive sense of identity [without invoking multiple universes.]

  • If someone asks me "who" I am, I could take that as an identity question.
    I would probably start with name, address, phone number [two of them], Social Security # [being a successful colonist, but what if the British had prevailed?], hair color, height, weight, ethnicity, distinguishing marks, habits and so forth. In short, the kinds of information that might be in a police dossier.
     
  • But I could move. Would a different address change "me"?
    I could change my name, phone number, hair color, have moles removed, lose a limb or two in combat, have plastic surgery, and so forth. Would any if this change my "identity"?
     
  • My intuitive answer here is No.

 

But in the sense of the OP,

  • I could turn right or turn left at the next intersection.
    Would my identity be the same in either case as it would be if I stop my car and walk home?
    Here, in the physics sense, I would say the choice did change me.
    Three universes are necessary to house the three different outcomes.

     
  • In the physics sense, moving and changing my name, etc. also would change me.
    In that discussion I was taking identity as an intuitive thing: my identity = the "real" me.

 

Identity is complex, needing a frame of reference.

 

Determinism, just to address the point, had its funeral with double-slit interferometry.

 

Enough rambling.


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#6 iSpelBadlie

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 02:52 AM

it doesnt really take away your identity to have an exact copy of you as long as you never meet


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