Okay, I know Stef is sick to death of these threads. He's probably not the only one. I rarely engage in them myself. But I think I may have something to add. This idea is 'original' to me, which is to say I have added a part which I have not heard before. I make some attempts at basically answering Free Will objections to Determinism with a strictly Deterministic framework. It is novel and I hope you will, for that reason alone, read it. All of it - you might think you've heard the same thing but find I've got my little twist. And if I'm wrong, feel free to politely and constructively refute me. Likewise, if you've read something relevant to it you should send me a link or something. Please not a lot of back-and-forth on the actual Free Will-Determinism argument. But certainly all comments on the argument and how well you think it addresses or fails to address Determinism and Free Will.
I'm poor, lazy, young, almost totally self-taught, hardly attended school and intentionally ignored the rest. If you care, I'm a cultural 'American' from the Korean genetic population. I'm not a professionally trained logician, but Socrates was a wiseass curmugeon so I don't think that will too adversly affect the argument amongst this lot. But if I make some mis-statements or odd uses of word, try to look at it contextually and assume I probably believe in the laws of logic as most Austrian economists and (a favourite amongst the Stirnerite community) George H. Smith. I am familiar with some of the more sophisticated (and sophistic) logical from Wittgenstein, Russell, Rand, Aristotle and a smattering of random articles from practically random time frames. This is mainly mentioned to put you in my intellectual mileu. It may be justified or it may be a conceit, but I believe that most fundamental logic can be worked out by sufficiently clear and precise speech. For this reason I will eschew formal logic (which I believe is largely pointless symbolry) as well as exactitude in terms such as differentiation of the meaning and reference of a word. If you call me on these articles it will really annoy me. I'm open to the idea, but it's not substantive to the argument. Certainly don't make a reply refuting me in this manner, send me a message if you think it's really informative. I imagine that you are probably tired enough of reading this to be in agreement or apathetic to the point, so onward.
- Logic. Just the basic laws of logic, validity of deduction and induction to distinguish truth from error, reality with objective facts which can (in principle) be comprehended by all who understand logic.*
- All objects behave according to their properties. This very behaviour is what makes it an object and they its properties. That this regularity of behavour within (and thus between) objects, altogether causation. Non controversial so far, right? But here's where the controversy comes up (at least in my argument). Causation is...causation. Everything happens according to - causation. Because I believe this to be directly implied by the basic law/laws of logic I do not see much room for doubt or wiggle. I also believe Causation can be indepedently deduced or proven by other deductive arguments. Causation, in any case, will be posited and I doubt there will be much objection to it.
- If everything behaves according to its properties everything is it's properties and its existence in said behaviour. This, I think, is Determinism in a veral literal sense. No thing could ever act in a way which contradicted its properties, and no properties could contradict one another. Expand this to interaction between objects and one must also conclude this: all things which exist can only be said to exist because they can (in principle) be perceived, that they manifest their properties in some way and that this manifestation is the very existence of any 'thing'. Thus reality is objective (though not obvious). Yet if all things are the fact of their properties consistency then everything happened because of what it is. Everything which ever developed through the actions of these things is ultimately the product of the different manifest properties in relation to one another. It is my belief that it is perfectly possible to reconcile all uncertainty and observational limitations within science with a strict Determinism in metaphysics. Taking quantum physics as an example, the fact that we can not observe the reason light and electrons behave as they do might mean we can only speak of their behaviour in probabalistic terms, but it simply does not make rational sense to say that this is 'random', 'indeterminite' or the like. But while must be true that the properties themselves must be deterministic and causational, that they are comprehensible in principle does not mean anyone ever could actually observe them. There may be things that can never be known, and the future seems a strong candidate first of all, but that simply indicates ignorance. This argument is secondary, and is subsumed within the Identity-Causation-Determinism theory, but is the basis of one of the claims I am going to make.
- One point, which Stefan Molyneux argues, has to deal with determinists unwilling to say that no one is morally responsible. I do not doubt his observation, I have encountered it myself. But, as those who bother to read my bombastry will know, I have absolutely no problem with this. I don't believe in moral responsibility at all because I don't believe in morals. I am more charitable with the issue of deterministic responsibility than Stefan, but I will grant him that it is inconsistent. Nonetheless this is merely contradiction in a person's ideas, and not a refutation of either. Obviously one must be wrong but, especially as I view this as a fundamental fact of logical reality, I would very easily resolve it by abandoning ethical responsibility rather than reason altogether. I wish people could understand how goofy I find ethical arguments. In any case there is no possibility than anyone can level this particular contradiction, if it be one, and Mr. Molyneux can now say that he has talked to someone who will say that people are not morally responsible.
Looked at from a perspective of necessary ideas of truth-falsity and identity-property, causal determinism seems to be definitionally true. It's implied in our action, our ideas, it's implied in reality and knowledge. Nobody can make a meaningful statement with assumptions of cause, effect and identity. A thing is the case or it is not the case, it is so by objective and real distinctions which (in principle) are comprehensible by logic. I have heard many objections and apparent contradictions between experience, individuality and Determinism but very little in the way of counter-argument of this basic, seemingly incontestable, point of Determinism. If anyone promoting Free Will and accepting the basic laws of logic can argue their way out of this specific point I'd like to read it, though preferably by message, since I don't want to restart the old debates.
Determinism has suffered not from a lack of subtlety or rigor in defense of its basic premises, but from a paucity of conclusions. Determinists have often declined to address problems raised by Free Will arguments, and even become frustrated with them, because the fundamental logic of it seemed incontestable. While I hold the view that Determinists were justified in doing so, because causality and identity are certainly more fundamental than the impression of freedom. It is far more likely that somone has a mistaken understanding of will than that causality has been abolished and reality with it. But this neglect has left a paucity of deterministic attempts to explain perception, knowledge, choice, understanding and communication as they are actually experienced. Generalizations about 'atoms' may be correct in the sense that these do compose physical beings but Walter Block wasn't attacking Straw Men when he said that we know of no particle that causes argumentation.
My basic argument is this:
Human beings do engage in in rational deliberation, they do make decisions and take actions. This is a fact of my own observation. But this is entirely consistent with the fact that I am composed of things which have definite properties which behave in definite ways. My perception is the fact of my brain inside of an objective physical reality, where the laws of logic do and must apply. This perception arises, not from 'chemistry' or 'molecules' either in the abstract or in specific, but rather from an emergent system of these things. My existence-as-perspective derives from an organization of specific things in a specific place at a specific time. As I can record information and comprehend objective principles of reality, this creates a perspective which is unique not only in its physical cohesion but also its temporal status. This may seem like a minor point, but I think that to understand what it is to be an individual and conscious one must take not only the physical but temporal properties into account. Time makes individuality because (with the appropriate system) a specificity of circumstance operates through time. Presuming that system is a capacity to recognize logical relationships and record events causually, it would become a cascade not of particles - and especially not specific lumps - but of observations of reality around (and inside) that thing. It is not 'omniscient', it's knowledge is specific and limited. That is indeed what makes it conscious and individual at all. If you throw in some motivations, for evolutionary reasons among others, you have a conscious actor with a specific awareness of space, time, causality and the ability to differentiate truth and falsehood. It will rationally plan and act in an objective reality with certain ends in mind. But the fact of its action is predicated upon its ignorance of the future. In order to make choices, it must possess ignorance at least about the future of its own preferences. Thanks to causality, though, there is no danger of this. Its preferences can not be known until they are formed, for the formation of these preferences and ideas are precisely what the experience of individuality is.
The fact that individuals act in certain ways categorically seperate from that of rocks is not because one is 'free' and the other is not, but because the human possesses motivation, perspective, memory and the capacity to recognize rational relationships. Yet this capacity is precisely deterministic. An organized rationality system's behaviour accords with all the laws of physics, but the system that makes it up is distinguished as 'conscious' only because it recognized rational relationships and holds both memory and preference. A series of random impulses or nonsense certainly are not thought or awareness. The altogether rational-memory-preference system, while certainly tenative, seems to explain certain facts very well. We engage in both conscious and unconscious examination of reality, hold certain ideas about it and act on these ideas. We are uncertain of our own future actions and thoughts. We do not see our thoughts as electrons or gears, but experience them, well, cognitively. Why? Because that IS our thoughts, like cell functions or a car the materials that make up a thing determine it while being an objective system all their own. The reason we don't see our 'thoughts' the way that a neurologist does is because we are a certain part of that system and we are aware of/are certain elements of the system while being ignorant of much of the machinery that makes it up. Because we are capable of/are a rational perspective we have a certain logical incapacity to calculate our own future decisions. The more general problems of equipment, limits of observation, limited information on the premises of physical law and initial conditions and the complicating factors like the fact that every object in the Universe affects every other object in the Universe put substantial problems in front of omniscience. Non-omniscience is a prerequisite of individual existence, and yet consistent with a deterministic physical reality. Just because the conclusions we came to, and actions we chose, could not have been any other way does not deny that we actually thought about it, had some feelings and arrived at a decision. This purely mechanical, though high order, phenomena would explain calculation, valuation, storage and arbitration. Indeed, many here probably except a physiological-material brain description.
This is, I think, exactly the model we implicitly accept when we talk to other people. We accept that the fact of perspective and reason is equal to a certain physical body without which such an individual could not 'exist'. Yet we can not directly experience his perception any more than we can experience the future. The very fact of his being an individual means that his perspective is distinct from yours (and anyone else's). You can comprehend his ideas, you can understand how his brain works, show how he does math, what processes physiologically manifest his emotions and intellectual activities. The difference between what you see and what he sees is in perspective, and the indivdual's perspective is precisely that the existential uniqueness of a particular arrangements precludes anyone else 'observing' it, it includes being a part of it. The reason we can understand other individuals as rational beings is because we are; but this very understanding both precludes future-knowledge of our own knowledge and the ability to identify our objective perspective-feeling-will from a unique perspective to observation of the mechanisms through certain other methods.
* Am I the only one who thinks the fact that this is necessary half the time is weird? It's more Twilight Zone than 1984. I keep imagining this 30s WASP male in a dark suit talking to a gas station attendent who says "it's all relative, nobody really knows anything", waking up in his hotel room and not being able to remember what relation numbers bear to eachother and trying to figure it out for hours, finally he ends up pacing back and forth and screams, "I can't remember the laws of logic!" At that point he wakes up from a fever and says to his wife, "I had a strange dream." She asks him what it was and he says, "Nevermind. It doesn't make any sense."
Hey, maybe I shouldn't be writing for the television, but logicians and economists need their jokes, too.
Also someone should give me a good but brief link/s on the basics of
grammar and composition. I want to eleminate issues that might cause
comprehension error. I don't care about the minor stuff, as long as
everyone seems to be getting it. But, heck, I wouldn't mind being awesome in general. Forward to Awesome, Reality is the Victory.