I know this has been discussed before, but I have read Sam Harris' book Free Will and Michael Shermer's book The Believing Brain, and I must say that I agree with both authors. Studies show that our brains make a decision on an unconscious level three tenths of a second and sometimes more before we even consciously know we're going to act. To take a short quote from Shermer's book: "The neural activity that precedes the intention to act is inaccessible to our conscious mind, so we experience a sense of free will. But it is an illusion, caused by the fact that we cannot identify the cause of the awareness of our intention to act".

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I haven't read that one. SOunds interesting. :)

Also, I'm not saying I know that if we rewind time that it will play out exactly...I'm saying that logically, if the universe is entirely causal (determinism), then it must play out that way. Otherwise we will be injecting in a self-contradictory cause (a cause that can be both the cause of X and not the cause of X). The Hitler example I'm giving only applies to an entirely causal universe.

If, however, the universe isn't entirely causal (indeterminism). If there are some acausal events (events that happen without a cause), it is quite possible that it could "play out differently" on rewind. But any changes such an acausal event would make simply can't be a "willed" event. So such a universe would not only be as incompatible with free will, but also a larger detriment to willing than causality (causal will). In this case, any changes in what Hitler does wouldn't be anything in Hitlers control.


QI doesn't follow any macro biological system as far as I know, so rather than the values randomly occurring in line with our physiology to change the way we act, and do so in a manner to significantly alter the result of WW2, I think it is infinitely more likely that we all get tumors and die spontaneously. I mean, it must take enormous molecular coordination to get a muscle twitch, which would be unlikely if randomness of each particle is the primary driver.

Someone eons ago, when I was in college, spoke of the wonders of the sophomore year.

It went something like this: After adapting to the freedoms of the freshman year, the young man's mind knows no boundaries. Until the junior year.

Ah, Trick and Jonathan can, when they choose, get past the sophomoric (religion-like?) musts and cannots and into the mathematics.

I didn't go as far as they now are, but I got past the musts and cannots.

Tom, that's ironic, considering mathematics and discrete logic are systems of musts and cannots. If you choose intuition over rational deduction, then that, in my opinion, is more religion-like. Calling arguments against metaphysical concepts such as free will sophomoric or religion-like is like a Christian calling atheists recalcitrant or religious.

Jonathon, a difficulty with "must" and "cannot" language is that people who use it invest a lot of ego in what they say.

One use of such language is to conceal uncertainty. Preachers of religion use it so their believers will continue to believe.

Another use is to convey power, which is why the police use it.

If you know the history of science and mathematics, you know some of the mistakes scientists and mathematicians made.

Saying "X does ...," or Y doesn't ...." avoids those difficulties.

Sorry to be frank, but this is a fallacy of association. The fact that some people have faulty conclusions of a kind does not make all conclusions faulty. Science is about making mistakes and correcting them. When a fact is confirmed and considered true insofar that we know what 'truth' is, it becomes a theory. When it is be generalizable, it is a law. Such as Newton's Laws of Motion. We can improve upon these laws, but rarely are they flat out wrong, and we improve upon them with evidence. We do not, however, challenge scientific laws out of ignorant skepticism. We do not reject science because certain conclusions have been incorrect. More so than asserting truths, preachers of religion tip-toe around facts, and use coercive language to convince other people to do so as well. There is no difficulty in asserting a proposition, provided that there exists evidence.

...this is a fallacy of association. The fact that some people have faulty conclusions of a kind does not make all conclusions faulty.

I agree, Jonathan, that some people have faulty conclusions of a kind does not make all conclusions faulty.

It does however lead to doubt about other conclusions by those same people.

BTW, when I was in college I heard that fallacy described as generalizing -- applying a statement that's true as to some people to more than those people.

A logical inconsistency is a logical inconsistency (e.g. a self contradiction). Free will is and must be logically incoherent. It cannot be "logical" in any analytic sense. I don't believe in any absolute knowledge in regards to "musts" or "cannots", but we certainly can apply the epistemological standard of logic to our reasoning. Mathematics IS deductive logic. Free will is logically incoherent, shown deductively. Induction also is evidence against free will.

So before you call something sophomoric, actually explain why this is the case. Otherwise it's just fallacious name calling. 

And neither Heisenberg nor Godel did what they did.

Sarcasm is what people turn to when they cannot coherently explain their position.

Jonathan, I welcome frankness. I thank people for it and I thank you for it.

Explaining my position coherently on this thread would require more time than I want to invest in the attempt, partly because I see the frequent uses of 'must" and "cannot" as assertions of power intended to cover uncertainty.

Or, being frank, intended to bully.

In the New Oxford American Dictionary, sarcasm is the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

Mockery yes; contempt no.



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