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Free Will and Determinism

By Punkerslut

Image by NiD
Image: "Freedom" by NiD

Start Date: November 7, 2001
Finish Date: November 7, 2001

     I don't necessarily believe in Free Will. Of course, I ought to explain this, as the concept of Free Will -- like that of god -- is a philosophical Rubik's Cube. When I say that Free Will does not exist, I mean it in the sense that our actions can be entirely predicted when enough knowledge surrounding these actions is collected. Newton said something similar to that effect: if you know enough, you can predict something with 100% accuracy.

     However, I could issue two completely different statements that may appear rather contradictory two each other. For example: (1) Nobody has the will to change their path, and (2) Everyone is responsible for their own actions.

     Well, allow me to break down and defend the concept of Determinism (or lack of Free Will). When I pushed a rock down a hill, it will roll down. Now, if I take an identical rock and push it down an identical hill - with identical conditions of wind, temp., etc. - the rock will roll down the hill in the same manner. Now, what can be deduced from this rather simple observation? What can be deduced is that the laws of nature show a regularity within them. The laws of nature must be followed, and they cannot be outrightly disobeyed. To deny the law of regularity is even more self destructive epistemologically than to deny the laws of Logic themselves (epistemology is the field of study concerning a "theory of knowledge"). Anyways...

     Who can say that the rock had Free Will? I doubt anyone could say that. The rock was responsible for itself, as it was itself, as it fell down. Why did it fall? Partly because of the environment, and partly because of the generic nature of the rock (mass, shape, etc.). A rock is made out of physical material. Humans, similarly, are made out of physical material. When we are composed of the same physical material, and when we follow the same laws of physics and the same law of regularity, who can say that a human has more Free Will than a rock? It cannot be done reasonably. For example, if you take a human and put them in situation X and watch how they respond, and then you take an identical human and put them in the same situation, and watch them respond, they will respond the same. Partly because of the nature of the human and partly because of the environment.

     However, since a human's mind and an animal's mind are by far much more complicated and sophisticated than a rock, their actions will seem less predictable and more diverse. However, this is to little effect. A complicated being must follow the laws of physics just as much as a simple being.

     Now, then, what is the opposite of Determinism? What would the world be in a world of "Free Will"? Well, firstly, atoms and molecules would not need to follow the laws of physics or regularity. If you take a rubber ball and drop it, it may bounce 1,000 feet in the air. If you take an identical rubber ball and drop it in the same conditions, it may explode, it may go through the ground, it make turn into an animal, it may fly through the air; it could do anything, because it does not have to conform to the laws of physics or the law of regularity. -- This is at least what would happen in a realm where there was Free Will.

     I doubt that the Quantum levels of atoms operate at a completely chaotic level. Surely, however, certain parts aren't entirely predictable as of yet, but scientists still have at least a 50% or 60% estimating ability. However, I doubt that the law of Regularity can be broken. It is the law that is at the very base of science itself. And even so.... the fact that a scientist can't predict with 100% which way a quark will go, I don't think this reimburses humanity with moral responsibility and Free Will.

     But the point remains: the Law of Regularity is more essential than the Laws of Logic. You may as well define the atoms as married bachelors or whatnot. Without the Law of Regularity, all science is devoid of any value at all, and an actual existence within the world nearly impossible.

     In regards to the complexity/love argument brought up from Holy Cow...

     The fact that I am comparing something as simple as a rock to something as complex as human emotion is no means a poor analogy. The point I was attempting to demonstrate was that both a rock and human emotion are both governed -- in nature -- by the same principles: the laws of physics and science. Human emotion, although somewhat of a completely unfathomable thing to certain individuals, is a natural occurrence that is explainable by the laws of chemistry and physics acting out their principles in the matter of the brain. Also, it is by far much more reasonable to say "emotion" rather than just "human emotion." It's a well-accepted fact that even ants are capable of highly complex emotions. Consciousness is an electro-chemical process that is entirely dependent upon the physical brain. The action of a rock falling to the earth is a process that is entirely dependent upon the nature of the rock - a thing affected by gravity.

     The Law of Regularity, as I refer to it, is the law that can be summed up - rather roughly and simply - as the law that states that similar things act similarly. Or, if we reproduce the exact elements from one situation, then we'll get the same results<./p>

     Even though some physicists claim that quarks work in a completely chaotic way, I do not think they are so chaotic as much as they are seemingly chaotic. Up till the 1970's and the investigation of the atomic and sub-atomic levels (or whenever it was), science was completely dependent upon determinable aspects. If someone conducts an experiment - say, mixing 2 grams of sodium with 1 cup of water and getting an explosion (good-bye, by high school toilet & bathroom) - and someone else conducts the same experiment, under the same conditions, with the same materials, they SHOULD get the same results. [In regards to emotion, the process of consciousness can be summed up as being a large quantity of small chemical and electrical processes that create the things of emotion and whatnot.] Now, every single experiment and fact was thought to be dependent upon this one aspect -- reproducible results. To say that things on the atomic or sub-atomic levels are purely chaotic is an impossibility of logic and the nature of the universe. The law of regularity, as I speak of it, is not necessarily the scientific process of confirming and reconfirming experiments, but rather the natural process by which the natural Universe is governed. If sodium natural forms on the surface of an arctic desert and slips into a naturally formed pond of water, then it should explode similar to a controlled experiment in a laboratory. To say that an atom with X conditions (G-Force, size, electrons, protons, etc.) and that an exact same atom with the exact same X conditions acts responds to the natural world in a different manner is perhaps the most outright and unscientific declaration of the law of regularity.

     Of course, this is not a matter of changing the laws of the universe, such as Newtonian to Einstein, but rather it is the foundation of science and the belief that things -- although relative -- may be know-able.


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