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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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Yes - any deterministic system that keeps itself "blackboxed" in a way. I'm sure my understanding of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is very very very lacking - and I really should read up on it a lot more because I seem to mention it a lot haha - but even if physics is deterministic, the "algorithm" so to speak that computes the next time-step of the universe from the previous one is hidden to observers. Or maybe not the algorithm (the laws of physics?) but rather the data itself (position/momentum of particles a la heisenberg). So even if the algorithm is known (or for that matter, really simple) we can't compute if we lack the data.

But harkening back to the original topic somewhat, I was reading this (http://www.cs.princeton.edu/introcs/15inout/command.txt) and any time I read neal stephenson I end up googling words and one of them I googled was 'epiphenomenon' (though the way he used it was more of the medical context) but this led me to the philosophical context, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism which describes a good portion of my view on the manner. Maybe not all of it is relevant, but it's an interesting topic of debate maybe

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But if the world is deterministic, then that means that we could predict the future, given all the relevant prior facts. We could build a model of the Universe and watch it play out, if we had all the data points to start it. I think that that is in part what unreality is saying.

...

I see unreality is giving up on his own argument...but it seems to me that if a system is deterministic, then it must be possible to build a model of it, given the relevant data. Can anyone think of a system that while deterministic, couldn't be modeled? :unsure:

A system that you're a part of. We wouldn't be able to create a model of the universe and use it to watch the universe play out because we and that machine are part of the universe. The machine would have to predict what it itself was going to predict.

It would definitely be possible for some god or something outside the universe to calculate the future if the universe was deterministic, but from inside the universe we couldn't make such a calculation even if the universe was deterministic.

I notice that this is a different reasoning than unreality provided.

Yes - any deterministic system that keeps itself "blackboxed" in a way. I'm sure my understanding of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is very very very lacking - and I really should read up on it a lot more because I seem to mention it a lot haha - but even if physics is deterministic, the "algorithm" so to speak that computes the next time-step of the universe from the previous one is hidden to observers. Or maybe not the algorithm (the laws of physics?) but rather the data itself (position/momentum of particles a la heisenberg). So even if the algorithm is known (or for that matter, really simple) we can't compute if we lack the data.

That would certainly be a problem too. But, even if we were aware of what the algorithms/laws of physics were that were governing our universe and even if we had a way of determining the exact position/momentum of all the particles in the universe, it would still be impossible to calculate the future of the universe from within the universe at a rate equal to or faster than the passage of time in the universe. It would produce a paradox if you could do such a thing.

But harkening back to the original topic somewhat, I was reading this (http://www.cs.princeton.edu/introcs/15inout/command.txt) and any time I read neal stephenson I end up googling words and one of them I googled was 'epiphenomenon' (though the way he used it was more of the medical context) but this led me to the philosophical context, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism which describes a good portion of my view on the manner. Maybe not all of it is relevant, but it's an interesting topic of debate maybe

Interesting, I was just reading the Wikipedia article on Epiphenomenalism less than a month ago! A friend had posted an interesting essay on the subject on Facebook that he said "shook me right out of physicalism". I hadn't really thought about the subject before so of course I read the essay and then wrote a few pages on his wall about it. Here's the link: http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/epiphenomenal_qualia.html

I ended up partially disagreeing with him and the essay. I ended up deciding that physicalism was false, but concluded that the term was meaningless with its current definition and thus should either be modified or discarded. I couldn't think of a purposeful modification, so I really just left it at that. I think it's an interesting subject, so if you would like to discuss it I would definitely enjoy it.

I could definitely share the argument I put on my friend's wall January 29 - December 2 also. That's quite recent!

I'll take a look at that "In the Beginning was the Command Line" soon. Whatever it is, I'm sure it will be interesting. Out of curiosity, what are you planning on majoring in in college, unreality? Computer science?

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EDIT for my above post: I meant November 29 to December 2!

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A system that you're a part of. We wouldn't be able to create a model of the universe and use it to watch the universe play out because we and that machine are part of the universe. The machine would have to predict what it itself was going to predict

It would definitely be possible for some god or something outside the universe to calculate the future if the universe was deterministic, but from inside the universe we couldn't make such a calculation even if the universe was deterministic.

That would certainly be a problem too. But, even if we were aware of what the algorithms/laws of physics were that were governing our universe and even if we had a way of determining the exact position/momentum of all the particles in the universe, it would still be impossible to calculate the future of the universe from within the universe at a rate equal to or faster than the passage of time in the universe. It would produce a paradox if you could do such a thing.

Well said. Those are the conclusions I always come back to anytime I try to consider self-simulation.

This little story (I've posted it here before) is a fun read on the matter: http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1857290

Interesting, I was just reading the Wikipedia article on Epiphenomenalism less than a month ago! A friend had posted an interesting essay on the subject on Facebook that he said "shook me right out of physicalism". I hadn't really thought about the subject before so of course I read the essay and then wrote a few pages on his wall about it. Here's the link: http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/epiphenomenal_qualia.html

I ended up partially disagreeing with him and the essay. I ended up deciding that physicalism was false, but concluded that the term was meaningless with its current definition and thus should either be modified or discarded. I couldn't think of a purposeful modification, so I really just left it at that. I think it's an interesting subject, so if you would like to discuss it I would definitely enjoy it.

I haven't read the link nor even the entirety of the wikipedia article I posted, but it outlines a general thoughtline that I think is worth discussing: our bodies, our brains, etc, our physical self, reacts with neurochemistry and all the parts of the body working together. The self-aware "mind" exists as the "epiphenomenon" that thinks it has free will but of course is just observing what the physical brain is already computing and deciding.

I've brought that up before in this topic and for keeping spirits up (maybe just my own) usually end with something like "but it's not so bad for the Lazy-Bones paradox because the mind that seems to arise from the epiphenomenon-alism is that which 'agrees' with the brain such that the 'choices' the brain makes are (usually) what the mind wants as well". So it's kind of like your conscious mind is making choices although it's just an illusion. And sometimes your body makes choices for you, especially in situations where your epiphenomenon isn't equipped for it (like primeval fear/fight/flight responses or whatnot). Which seems close to what reality might be

I'll take a look at that "In the Beginning was the Command Line" soon. Whatever it is, I'm sure it will be interesting. Out of curiosity, what are you planning on majoring in in college, unreality? Computer science?

yup most likely ^_^

Edited by unreality
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