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This is a spin-off from rookie1ja's Lazy-Bones Paradox (if there is a destiny, why bother going to the doctor's when ill?). A belief in destiny may lead to bad decision making, but that's not to say the belief itself is incorrect.

I'd like to get some thoughts on the Destiny vs Free Will subject, but first let's get a few things out of the way:

The question of destiny doesn't depend on some quasi-religious notion of a "master plan". Destiny may simply exist without anyone knowing what the "plan" is, perhaps just as a consequence of physics. If the current state of the universe and the laws of physics acting upon it dictate all that happens, then this determines the future regardless of whether we can predict it. In my opinion destiny simply requires there to be just one possible future.

Clarification of "possible": "Possible" is often taken to mean "something we do not know to be untrue (or impossible)". If I bought a ticket for last night's lottery but haven't checked the results yet, and you ask me "Did you win the lottery?", I might answer "It's possible, I don't know yet". In reality, the outcome is already determined, so my winning the lottery is only possible if it actually happened. I either won or I didn't, I just don't know which it is, so I used the word "possible" to indicate a lack of knowledge in this case. But that's not what I mean when I say "one possible future". I mean only one future which may happen (regardless of knowledge).

Picture a hypothetical observer standing outside of time. Would they see time as a line, as a single sequence of events from the distant past to the distant future? If so, however unpredictable the future may be, destiny is a reality. In this case, the notion of "free will" may be a useful one, but it is an illusion (caused by our inability to keep track of the underlying mechanics, the cause and effect which dictates our every thought). You might say that those who believe in destiny and make bad decisions because of it were destined to do so, and those who believe in free will and make good decisions because of it were equally destined to do so.

You might argue that Free Will can exist alongside Destiny. Consider this example:

You've been kidnapped and locked in a room with a red door and a green one. You are told "You have the freedom to leave the room by whichever door you choose, and accept the consequences". So you choose (say) the green door, which leads to a reward and an exit. Later you find out that the red door was a fake door with just a wall behind it. The maker of this room (having studied the way you think in infinite detail) knew that you were certain to choose the green door and therefore didn't bother building a second exit. It's true that you had "the freedom to leave the room by whichever door you choose", since you would only ever have chosen the green door, regardless of how "free" you thought your choice was. Freedom doesn't necessarily mean that there is more than one possible outcome.

For the purposes of this debate, however, I would like to define "Free Will" as the ability to make more than one possible choice. Which makes it utterly incompatible with Destiny.

So it's a fight to the death. And I propose that the deciding factor is whether or not we have more than one possible future.

Let battle commence!

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Posted · Report post

Nooo! think of all of the duplicate versions of your family that would have to attend your funeral in most of the duplicate universes! :unsure:
"most"? Surely the set of universes in which unreality survives will be an infinite set of the same cardinality as if he hadn't done it in the first place! What's he got to lose?

PS. Bagsie exclusive TV rights!

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Posted · Report post

Sorry octopuppy, I'm auctioning off the TV rights, you'll have to place a bid like everyone else :P Maybe I'll do a random raffle. You'll win the raffle in an infinite number of universes so there's nothing to lose by buying a ticket!

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Come on, let's be reasonable about this. How about we split the TV rights in all futures you continue to experience and I get 100% in all futures you don't? That way everyone's a winner.

Oh by the way we shouldn't lose sight of the scientific importance of this. Nobody really knows that there are multiple futures, not for a fact, so we are in effect conducting a grand experiment here (it's what I like to call science-o-tainment :thumbsup: ). The trouble as I see it is that we can only experience one outcome in any one stream of consciousness, but I have an idea. We can simulate multiple outcomes by repeating the experiment every week (perhaps adding more mines and maybe blindfold you as well to vary the experimental parameters). That way we gather more data as well as getting a bigger revenue stream.

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Posted · Report post

"most"? Surely the set of universes in which unreality survives will be an infinite set of the same cardinality as if he hadn't done it in the first place! What's he got to lose?

PS. Bagsie exclusive TV rights!

Although the number or alternate universes that spawn at any moment would be huge. They would still be finite because there is a finite amount of space, matter and time in each. It's pretty self evident that your free will (I'm trying to keep this on topic) is one of the factors that "choses" your particular path.

Each time you make a free-will decision (and the universe branches) a duplicate of the entire universe is not necessary. Only the local area around you, call it a "sphere of influence", would be needed. This would be the all of the universe that you could affect in your lifetime and would be similar to an event horizon. Even if you were to consider "yourself" as not merely being you the individual but all of humanity or even the Earth these things still have limited lifespans and therefore could only affect a limited portion of the universe.

There are already many TV shows movies that use this premise, but if you can do it better go right ahead :lol:

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Posted · Report post

Each time you make a free-will decision (and the universe branches) a duplicate of the entire universe is not necessary. Only the local area around you, call it a "sphere of influence", would be needed. This would be the all of the universe that you could affect in your lifetime and would be similar to an event horizon. Even if you were to consider "yourself" as not merely being you the individual but all of humanity or even the Earth these things still have limited lifespans and therefore could only affect a limited portion of the universe.
I'm not sure about the limited lifespan aspect. The light emitted from the Earth could be affected by the choices you make and make a tiny difference to some alien many light years away. But in principle you're probably right. To talk about a set of possible futures probably implies a universal division of events when the actual process is more of a blobby amorphous thing that can't be enumerated because there is no clear distinction between one and another. That seems to fit in better with what little I know about quantum decoherence. Though it's kind of difficult to turn it into a clear mental picture... gnnnzzzbblr.... :huh::blink::wacko: *head explodes*
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Posted · Report post

now that octopuppy's head exploded, mine's safe! We can just jump to a universe with time travel, go backwards, catch it on tape and use that instead!

btw, I think we have a little devious 1-star bandit downrating the nonreligious topics :ph34r: I've been giving 5* to counteract when I see it, but alas, we're down to 3 stars... whatever shall we do now!!! Oh noez!!!

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Posted · Report post

Hmm... Well, I think that there is a destiny, but if you try hard enough, you can change it.

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Posted · Report post

In my opinion, the existence of fate depends entirely on one thing.

If events on the subatomic level are completely random, then fate does not exist.

But if events on the subatomic level are not completely random, then parallel universes do not exist.

We cannot say either of these quite yet because we are not sure that we have discovered the smallest unit of matter/energy.

But the fact that all of the known particles of matter appear to be governed by certain rules, probability points to destiny.

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Posted · Report post

well, you're referring not to destiny on a personal level, but on a general level.

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Posted · Report post

well, you're referring not to destiny on a personal level, but on a general level.

He who controls the box controls what is inside it.

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Posted · Report post

Hmm... Well, I think that there is a destiny, but if you try hard enough, you can change it.
If you change it, then it doesn't happen, how is it your destiny?
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Posted · Report post

Alright, I haven't read everything, but here's what I think:

I think that there are many futures. The event that actually occurs is based on not only what you choose, but what others choose as well. (Interconnectedness. Gotta love it =)) Each event has a chance of being chosen, although not necessarily equally because of the interconnectedness.

EX:

You and another guy are in a promotional race. the boss has already decided that, if both of you work equally as hard, the other guy will win.

So if you pic the path of doing your best (whatever that may be), and he does too, you're out of luck. But if you do your best, and he only does a 50% effort, well, you win. Many futures.

On top of this, there is randomness. Where? I don't know. probably only on a quantum level. but it's there.

So true free will is bogus, true destiny is bogus, comlete randomness is bogus.

That's compatibalism, right?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Unreality introduced me to the philosorapter yesterday. This seems appropriate. :D

philosoraptor-free-will.png

Edit: Something I've realized recently is that if the reductionist philosphy is true (which I'm strongly inclined to believe given that everything in this universe is bound by the laws that govern it), then the Multi-verse explanation for the dual-slit trick has to be false because no other realities are possible.

Edited by Izzy
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Posted · Report post

Or, alternatively worded, if someone could prove the multi-verse, it would prove free will in this universe. :o

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Posted · Report post

Alright, I haven't read everything, but here's what I think:

I think that there are many futures. The event that actually occurs is based on not only what you choose, but what others choose as well. (Interconnectedness. Gotta love it =)) Each event has a chance of being chosen, although not necessarily equally because of the interconnectedness.

EX:

You and another guy are in a promotional race. the boss has already decided that, if both of you work equally as hard, the other guy will win.

So if you pic the path of doing your best (whatever that may be), and he does too, you're out of luck. But if you do your best, and he only does a 50% effort, well, you win. Many futures.

On top of this, there is randomness. Where? I don't know. probably only on a quantum level. but it's there.

So true free will is bogus, true destiny is bogus, comlete randomness is bogus.

That's compatibalism, right?

Yeah, I think this is the camp I belong to. Kind of like playing cards. We are dealt a hand can't control that. But we do have the ability to make choices with how we play those cards. And sometimes no matter how we play them we will either win or lose, our actions are of little consequence. But we won't usually know that. So the joy is in feeling like we had some influence, right?

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Yeah, I think this is the camp I belong to. Kind of like playing cards. We are dealt a hand can't control that. But we do have the ability to make choices with how we play those cards. And sometimes no matter how we play them we will either win or lose, our actions are of little consequence. But we won't usually know that. So the joy is in feeling like we had some influence, right?

The joy is in the realization that there is no difference between "mind" and "brain" and that though our "conscious mind" may not make the decisions but it's the projection of the physical computer that makes the decisions so the electrochemical 'decisions' are exactly those that "you" would make. That's one way to think of the determinism anyway.

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The joy is in the realization that there is no difference between "mind" and "brain" and that though our "conscious mind" may not make the decisions but it's the projection of the physical computer that makes the decisions so the electrochemical 'decisions' are exactly those that "you" would make. That's one way to think of the determinism anyway.

Since we're resurrecting this debate, I thought I'd toss my opinion too. As a computer science researcher, I was always amazed by how nedeterminism provides so much more than determinism in almost all areas (except for finite automata). Accepting that determinism shapes us (and the universe around us) would mean that we (as a universe) miss out on the great opportunities, limiting ourselves.

Hence, my conviction that nedeterminism (which sometimes manifests as free will) is indeed out there. You could always choose determinism and remain consistent as a whole, but it would be so much fun for the universe to be (entirely) nedeterministic :D

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Just because indeterminism is more appealing doesn't make it true. *shrug*

We cannot control how the atoms in our arms decide to move, bond, or grow. Otherwise, we could simply wish away cancer. Why should we believe our brains behave differently if they're bound by the same physical laws?

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Since we're resurrecting this debate, I thought I'd toss my opinion too. As a computer science researcher, I was always amazed by how nedeterminism provides so much more than determinism in almost all areas (except for finite automata). Accepting that determinism shapes us (and the universe around us) would mean that we (as a universe) miss out on the great opportunities, limiting ourselves.

Hence, my conviction that nedeterminism (which sometimes manifests as free will) is indeed out there. You could always choose determinism and remain consistent as a whole, but it would be so much fun for the universe to be (entirely) nedeterministic :D

With your CS background I would think you would see that nondeterminism is more of a myth than anything. No nondeterministic computer program has ever been written to date. Complex structures can come about from deterministic equations and simple units combining in surprising ways. Such as double pendulum, turbulence, etc.

Here's a thought experiment for you: what if the world was as you say 'nedeterministic'. What would be the mechanism that allows the motion of particles to 'choose'? Do conscious minds have a sway on that level? Eventually something has to get 'selected' from the possibilities. How does that selection occur? If this selection process is completely random, there is no free will. And that's not even addressing how it would be random in the first place, how anything can be truly random? On the other hand if this selection process has some kind of rule or structure to it, then it's not freely nondeterministic is it?

I don't see the room for choice.

Edited by unreality
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Posted · Report post

With your CS background I would think you would see that nondeterminism is more of a myth than anything. No nondeterministic computer program has ever been written to date.

Addendum: my CS background is in theoretical computer science mostly. Which might better explain my views on the matter.

About my belief in nondeterminism: Existing, yes. Touchable/reachable, doubtly.

About a nondeterministic computer being "written": Well, bound by the few laws of the universe we're able to manipulate right now, no. But we're so lame at programming as a species as opposed to theoretical limits, I would not take that as an everlasting argument. Plus I wouldn't count on "writing" a NonD computer first as much as I'd count on (re)discovering a NonD computing model in the universe.

Complex structures can come about from deterministic equations and simple units combining in surprising ways. Such as double pendulum, turbulence, etc.

Agreed. I'm not saying deterministic equations aren't not enough for my finite lifespan. They are. But it's not a matter of complexity.

I don't believe (again, faith is more involved than logical thinking) that it's enough for the universe.

Here's a thought experiment for you: what if the world was as you say 'nedeterministic'. What would be the mechanism that allows the motion of particles to 'choose'? Do conscious minds have a sway on that level? Eventually something has to get 'selected' from the possibilities. How does that selection occur? If this selection process is completely random, there is no free will. And that's not even addressing how it would be random in the first place, how anything can be truly random? On the other hand if this selection process has some kind of rule or structure to it, then it's not freely nondeterministic is it?

I don't see the room for choice.

Again existing / touchable. Not the same.

Existing - How about a global theory that is nondeterministic and looks deterministic when observed locally? Does it really sound that far-fetched?

Touching - Who says we're able / should be able to detect non-determinism? I agree on one thing though. You can indeed live without nondeterminism and probably be content.

About random vs. non-determinism. Not exactly the same thing IMHO. Probability is not non-determinism.

Here's a thought - non-determinism usually hides where you're not looking. And it's impossible to catch without looking. Consistent enough?

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Here's a thought - non-determinism usually hides where you're not looking. And it's impossible to catch without looking. Consistent enough?

That's the opposite of consistency. If it's not measurable in any possible way by anything that exists in the universe, why bother assuming it exists at all?

About a nondeterministic computer being "written": Well, bound by the few laws of the universe we're able to manipulate right now, no. But we're so lame at programming as a species as opposed to theoretical limits, I would not take that as an everlasting argument. Plus I wouldn't count on "writing" a NonD computer first as much as I'd count on (re)discovering a NonD computing model in the universe.

If the universe is "written" in a non-deterministic language then shouldn't we be able to create a non-deterministic language?

Agreed. I'm not saying deterministic equations aren't not enough for my finite lifespan. They are. But it's not a matter of complexity.

I don't believe (again, faith is more involved than logical thinking) that it's enough for the universe.

It's absolutely a matter of complexity. When things get more complex than we are able to simply understand in a quick instant of thought, we tend to give up and assign some kind of magic or non-determinism to them in our minds, convincing ourselves that this isn't a matter of complexity, but rather is unreachably un-understandable. That kind of attitude is insulting to the efforts of those who try to understand complex systems and how they can really exist, predictably, in theoretically predictable systems.

So inherently I don't think it's okay to see something hypercomplex (like the weather) and then give up trying to understand the minute factors that compose its overall behavior and how those fit together.

but nevertheless I still agree with your idea that the universe may be non-deterministic (MAY be non-deterministic, I can't really know so I guess i'm "agnostic" on the matter) but not because of logic. Logic points to determinism. But experimental data points to limitation laws, like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Which I don't really understand but seem to point more in the way of non-determinism at some level. Or just the inability to read back results? There is a difference.

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Just because indeterminism is more appealing doesn't make it true. *shrug*

We cannot control how the atoms in our arms decide to move, bond, or grow. Otherwise, we could simply wish away cancer. Why should we believe our brains behave differently if they're bound by the same physical laws?

I was not directly stating that non-determinism is true. Just sayin' it would be a shame if it weren't. And I'd personally be sad about it.

Plus a couple of crazy generation of physicists believing in the uncertainty principle (well, some dead now). And a couple of crazy generations of CSs believing P is not equal to NP.

A thing may exist and not be controllable. These are different things. And who says the arms should behave differently? (Is medicine a completely mapped-out science and I haven't heard about it? Strange, I'd rather think the end of Physics is nearer than the end of Medicine).

And what is wrong with the theory that the brain is actually that specialized part of your body that navigates non-determinism making it look like determinism? Keeping time and all :P

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There's nothing wrong with any of that but for now it's speculation. And yeah P != NP, but this doesn't mean we live in a non-deterministic world, just an interesting world. The world can be interesting, rich and dynamic without needing a mystic element

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That's the opposite of consistency. If it's not measurable in any possible way by anything that exists in the universe, why bother assuming it exists at all?

Consistent means lack of contradiction. Which is exactly why I used the word.

From a logical point of view I'm saying it's independent - you get a consistent theory with and without it.

Bother? Well assuming non-determinism in different sciences can actually lead to improvements in every-day life. You think computers came from people trying determinism? They were more likely trying to experiment a way to *do* non-determinism themselves (Turing and such).

If the universe is "written" in a non-deterministic language then shouldn't we be able to create a non-deterministic language?

Hmm ... that's a tough question. In an infinite universe/infinite time, probably yes. Finitely, probably no.

It's absolutely a matter of complexity. When things get more complex than we are able to simply understand in a quick instant of thought, we tend to give up and assign some kind of magic or non-determinism to them in our minds, convincing ourselves that this isn't a matter of complexity, but rather is unreachably un-understandable. That kind of attitude is insulting to the efforts of those who try to understand complex systems and how they can really exist, predictably, in theoretically predictable systems.

So inherently I don't think it's okay to see something hypercomplex (like the weather) and then give up trying to understand the minute factors that compose its overall behavior and how those fit together.

but nevertheless I still agree with your idea that the universe may be non-deterministic (MAY be non-deterministic, I can't really know so I guess i'm "agnostic" on the matter) but not because of logic. Logic points to determinism. But experimental data points to limitation laws, like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Which I don't really understand but seem to point more in the way of non-determinism at some level. Or just the inability to read back results? There is a difference.

Au contraire, mon ami. Logic points in all ways - it does not praise determinism alone.

I'm also agnostic on most matters (mostly infinite ones) because of logic. Logic just says there are things we may never know. Godel said it first.

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Posted · Report post

I was not directly stating that non-determinism is true. Just sayin' it would be a shame if it weren't. And I'd personally be sad about it.

Plus a couple of crazy generation of physicists believing in the uncertainty principle (well, some dead now). And a couple of crazy generations of CSs believing P is not equal to NP.

A thing may exist and not be controllable. These are different things. And who says the arms should behave differently? (Is medicine a completely mapped-out science and I haven't heard about it? Strange, I'd rather think the end of Physics is nearer than the end of Medicine).

And what is wrong with the theory that the brain is actually that specialized part of your body that navigates non-determinism making it look like determinism? Keeping time and all :P

Heh, I agree, I'm not happy about it. It made me realize what the difference between existentialism and nihilism is to me. In nihilism, nothing matters because there's no point, but we go on living because of the meaning we create for ourselves, like having fun. In existentialism, nothing matters because we can't even control ourselves: we're merely victims of circumstance. The latter sucks infinitely more, but meh, we can't exactly do anything.

All that the uncertainty principle states is that we can't know everything about a system without disturbing it. This says nothing about the system itself. So yes, determinism in the sense that we can know everything and predict the future was shown impossible by science a quarter of a century ago, but I took determinism to mean "lack of free will" in this thread.

But nothing we know about suggests that anything within this universe transcends the laws of physics. Newtonian physics is eugh at best (especially for non-macro particles), and quantum theory is incomplete and not very well understood, but the way particles behave are bound by *some* rules whether we know them or not. If this is true, and it HAS to be otherwise no models of our universe would hold up outside of specific examples, then everything must behave a certain way, and how it behaves (read: moves) is determined by the current state of the world. Every atom only has a certain amount of allowable energy and a specific region where it can move. Well, it isn't a conscious entity, how can it "decide" where to go? Simply: it doesn't, and is moved somewhere by the influence of whatever is acting on it. Since the outside force moved it there, it can't have moved anywhere else. And if this holds true for our brains, *shrug* there is no room for free will.

The brain is made up of the same material (well, at a very very micro level :P) as the rest of your body and the rest of the world. I agree that consciousness is special (or at least seems so), but that isn't enough to assume it behaves differently.

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