Wednesday, February 17, 2016

604: Determinism - Indeterminism

First I want to do is to congratulate Gemma with her appointment as Assistant Professor of The Philosophy Class.

The Board of Directors of the Philosophy Class, of which I am the only member, voted unanimously for her appointment 

to express its appreciation and gratitude for the pleasant cooperation through the many years and her never wavering loyalty to philosophical thinking.

Congratulations, Gemma, you really deserve it….. ^_^

And now back to work….. The idea of being in control of how we act, the “up-to-us-ness” of our actions, is an idea we all share. 

It is a constant and fundamental feature of our thinking, and one that we can all recognize. 

And the idea is irresistible. However sceptical we may become when doing philosophy, 

once we fall back into ordinary life we do all continue to think of how we act as being up to us. 

Thinking of ourselves as being in control of how we act is part of what enables us to see living as something so valuable. 

In so far as we can direct and control how we ourselves act, our lives can be genuinely our own achievement or failure. 

Our lives can be our own, not merely to be enjoyed or endured, but for ourselves to direct and make. 

Or so we think. But are we really in charge of our actions? Is how we act truly up to us as things 

such as the past, the nature of the universe, even many of our own beliefs and feelings, are not? 

The problem of whether we are ever in control of how we act, and what this control involves, is what philosophers call the free will problem.

Most important is, of course, what Isaiah Berlin called the “positive” freedom, the freedom to… to be an individual, in our case.

It is fascinating to see , that the free will problem is as old as philosophy itself. In other words, like ethics, we apparently are not able to answer the fundamental questions in an unambiguous way.

This is understandable, because, as we already saw, free will is closely related to action and thence to the question “Was this a good, just or fair action?”

This could lead to the conclusion, that there would be no ethics at all, if there does not exist a free will. Everything would have a physical cause.

That is pretty extreme. It is counterintuitive. It is not the way we think about ourselves. So let’s summarize our position.

Regarding the  problem of free will, you could see the situation like this: You can not speak of a free will. Our will is our determination to act.

It is like Sartre’s idea of choice. The adjective “free” can not be applied to “choice”. You can not escape to chose.

So, when we are determined to…. or ready to choose to…., then we are free, that is, we are free to act, we have options.

To put it in a simple way: for centuries philosophers wander between on the one hand the idea that whatever we do is just an event in a determined causal chain of events,

while at the other extreme there is the idea whatever we do is totally undetermined. Indeterminism is important for the question of free will 

because strict determinism implies just one possible future. Indeterminism means that the future is unpredictable. 

Indeterminism allows alternative futures and the question becomes how the one actual present is realized from these potential alternatives.

In the previous lectures we studied the development of the concept of “the individual”.  One of the quintessential characteristics of the individual is freedom, call it free will.

In the coming lectures I’ll present you with the answers suggested by a number of philosophers and it will be up to you to take your stand.

Thank you for your attention…the floor is yours ..:-)

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995

Free Will, Ilham Dilham, 1999
On Free will, J.J.C.Smart, Mind 1961
Of Liberty and Necessity, James A. Harris, 2005
Free Will, A very short Introduction, Thomas Pink, 2003

The Discussion

[13:28] herman Bergson smiles
[13:28] herman Bergson: If there  is no free will but everything just a causal event, Iguess you may have all fallen asleep :-)
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): never going to solve it here
[13:29] herman Bergson: the essence is not to solve it Gemma
[13:29] druth Vlodovic: there are so many variables involved in every decision, and many are delicately balanced
[13:29] Velvet (velvet.braham): we have all chosen to fall asleep! Indeterminism
[13:29] CB Axel: Every event since the big bang has determined that I would be speechless right now. °͜°
[13:29] herman Bergson: I knew it :-)
[13:30] druth Vlodovic: almost looks like the illusion of free will is the lack of processing power to crunch the equations
[13:30] herman Bergson: But that is the heart of the debate...
[13:30] CB Axel: I'm going to blame everything that happens to me from now on on the big bang.
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): someone's else's action might interfere with my free will and vv
[13:30] CB Axel: If I get caught speeding I'll just tell the officer, "Sorry. The big bang made me do it."
[13:30] druth Vlodovic: that falls down when others start using that argument on what they do to you CB
[13:31] herman Bergson: That is the Negative freedom, Gemma...
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:31] herman Bergson: Restrictions from outside...
[13:31] druth Vlodovic: sounds a bit like the nature versus nurture debate
[13:31] herman Bergson: Like are forced to stay inside when i heavily rains
[13:32] Velvet (velvet.braham): You can go out!
[13:32] herman Bergson: To some extend it is Druth
[13:32] Velvet (velvet.braham): you still have the choice
[13:32] herman Bergson: Eventually you have Velvet :-)
[13:32] CB Axel: Do you?
[13:32] Velvet (velvet.braham): sure!
[13:32] CB Axel: Not if everything is pre-determined.
[13:33] Velvet (velvet.braham): and if it's not, you're good to go
[13:33] herman Bergson: And that has been the debate for centuries CB...
[13:33] Velvet (velvet.braham): grab your umbrella
[13:33] herman Bergson: to what extend are you free to go out....?
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): singing in the rain Velvet?
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Velvet
[13:34] herman Bergson: To begin are forced to grab ab umbrella
[13:34] druth Vlodovic: you grab your umbrella in order to exercise the radical freedom you have been induced to believe in due to your environment
[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): no, umbrella is not needed
[13:34] Velvet (velvet.braham): always singin' in the rain
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i use a coat with a hood
[13:34] Velvet (velvet.braham): If you remember, Gene Kelly gave his umbrella away and danced in the rain
[13:34] druth Vlodovic: trapped in a habit of freedom
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): don’t like umbrellas
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): tho i have at least 5
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): are you free to dance naked in the rain?
[13:35] Velvet (velvet.braham): sure!
[13:35] herman Bergson: We'll going to meet a number pf philosophers who try to find their way in this dilemma of deterministic and indeterministic existence
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): if you like
[13:35] CB Axel: And others are free to arrest you for dancing naked in the rain.
[13:35] Velvet (velvet.braham): that's true
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol
[13:36] herman Bergson: And you are free to call me when it rains, Velvet :-))
[13:36] CB Axel: Or to throw a blanket over you, at least.
[13:36] herman Bergson: that is what I would come for, CB :-))
[13:36] Velvet (velvet.braham): it takes more than rain to stop me
[13:36] CB Axel: You'd throw the blanket over the both of you. :p
[13:36] herman Bergson: there...again free will :-)
[13:37] Velvet (velvet.braham): I'm big on choice. It's going to be tough to make me waver on that
[13:37] CB Axel: But if everything is pre-determined, you wouldn't even be aware that you're not making choices.
[13:37] herman Bergson: If you follow Sartre you'd even say that you are condemned to choice, Velvet
[13:37] druth Vlodovic: we have a strong social conditioning to believe in free choice and individual determinism
[13:38] Velvet (velvet.braham): I might be predetermined to believe in choice
[13:38] herman Bergson: we all believe we can choose in many situations
[13:38] Velvet (velvet.braham): So either I am free to choose or I'm not and I believe I am free to choose
[13:39] druth Vlodovic: my conditioning says that is better than being predetermined to believe that you lack choice
[13:39] herman Bergson: Take this example....
[13:39] herman Bergson: Someone commits a crime...
[13:39] Velvet (velvet.braham): If there's no way to tell the difference, then it's the same
[13:39] herman Bergson: free will
[13:40] herman Bergson: In court however the lawyer is caused by his childhood experiences...he couldn’t act differently in that situation
[13:40] herman Bergson: shoudl we take that into account or not?
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that has been used over and over
[13:40] herman Bergson: Indeed it has Gemma....
[13:40] Velvet (velvet.braham): we take everything into account
[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I think we always have a choise in that
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): last time it failed miserably
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): kid got off
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): did something he should not have
[13:41] herman Bergson: ok..another one....
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): Mother actually fled iwth him to mexico
[13:41] herman Bergson: man attacks woman....
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): no he is back in jail
[13:41] herman Bergson: he is her fault..she was wearing such a short skirt...
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): phooey
[13:41] druth Vlodovic: if the person's behaviour is determined by his upbringing to the extent that he cannot act differently then shouldn't he be put away for longer than otherwise?
[13:41] druth Vlodovic: at least until his personal determinism has been restored
[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): that's what happened in Keulen
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje..
[13:42] Velvet (velvet.braham): yeah, the short skirt defence won't work
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): there are many that think that way
[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they couldn't help it because the girls wore not a djalebba
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): idiots
[13:42] herman Bergson: As you see there are close ties between a deterministic interpretation and a free will interpretation of behavior
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): couldn't these man think forthemselves?
[13:43] druth Vlodovic: funny that, if you think about it, fundamentalist Islam's women's dress codes says more negative about the men than the women
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): in a group situation probably not
[13:43] herman Bergson: not if it is your upbringing, Beertje
[13:43] Velvet (velvet.braham): apparently men give up free will in exchange for a Y chromosome.
[13:43] CB Axel: I agree, druth. They must be very, very weak men.
[13:43] Velvet (velvet.braham): no offense, Herman.
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): to much progesterone
[13:44] herman Bergson: I know I am a minority here, Velvet :-)
[13:44] CB Axel: You are seriously out-numbered. lol
[13:44] druth Vlodovic: but we can show that reaction to how a woman is dressed has much to do with acclimatisation and socialization
[13:44] Velvet (velvet.braham): you keep up the high standards!
[13:44] druth Vlodovic: even their physiological reactions
[13:45] Velvet (velvet.braham): well, that has nothing to do with with the price of tomatoes
[13:45] Velvet (velvet.braham): as my mother would say
[13:45] herman Bergson: Indeed Velvet...:-)
[13:45] Velvet (velvet.braham): my nipples get hard when it's cold out
[13:46] Velvet (velvet.braham): but I'm really not excited by it
[13:46] druth Vlodovic: if we regard behaviour as uncontrollable physiological reactions then it has much to do with it
[13:46] Velvet (velvet.braham): probably TMI
[13:46] herman Bergson: So, I think we'll have a touch job in figuring out what to do with determinism/indeterminism
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): very
[13:46] herman Bergson: For the investigative minds...
[13:47] Velvet (velvet.braham): If a personal has an uncontrollable psychological reaction
[13:47] herman Bergson: the in between is called compatibelism
[13:47] Velvet (velvet.braham): perhaps they need to seek help
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they need education
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): very good
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is very true
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): en een pak slaag van hun moeder
[13:48] herman Bergson: I'll take an historical approach in the next lectures to show you how this problem was handled through the ages...
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that will be interesting
[13:48] druth Vlodovic: well,anything taken to an ultimate extreme starts divorcing itself from both reality and sense
[13:48] herman Bergson: So, thank you all again for your participation ......
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): true
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): thank you
[13:49] druth Vlodovic: it's a shame the middle road is so complicated and boring
[13:49] Velvet (velvet.braham): Thank you!
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): will see if i can make it Thursday
[13:49] Velvet (velvet.braham): I dunno druth, the middle sounds pretty good most days
[13:49] herman Bergson: Thank you all...class dismissed :-)
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman
[13:49] Velvet (velvet.braham): life probably sucks on the fringes
[13:50] druth Vlodovic: just because it is true doesn't mean I want to believe in it
[13:50] herman Bergson: the middle road can be interesting....
[13:50] Velvet (velvet.braham): high five on that, druth
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:50] druth Vlodovic: :P
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): you can easily look right and left from there:)
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it is hard sometimes druth
[13:50] Velvet (velvet.braham): Beertje's got it
[13:50] Velvet (velvet.braham): Beertjeology
[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): nice
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont):
[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that works
[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye for now
[13:51] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman. I'll see you all on Thursday. If the big bang has determined that I will, that is. °͜°
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Gemma
[13:51] herman Bergson: Bye Gemma :-)
[13:51] Velvet (velvet.braham): Beertjeology elminates "us vs them" thinking!
[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): grins
[13:52] herman Bergson: Yes indeed CB
[13:52] druth Vlodovic: if we were created without free will then it means that our creator wanted us to debate free will which we don't have
[13:52] druth Vlodovic: disturbing
[13:52] druth Vlodovic: thanks for the lecture Herman
[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): have a goodnight all
[13:52] herman Bergson: My pleasure Druth :-)
[13:52] Velvet (velvet.braham): thank you everyone! Take notes for me until I can make a class

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