On Saturday, April 13, 2013 12:51:15 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
>
> On Sat, Apr 13, 2013 at 1:26 PM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> > ...which fully supports my entire philosophy of science and 
> understanding of 
> > free will. 
> > 
> > 
> http://mills.quora.com/Free-Will-and-the-Fallibility-of-Science/comments?__ac__=1#comment200399
>  
> > 
> > 
> >> Free Will and the Fallibility of Science 
> >> 
> >> Mills Baker 
> >> 5 votes by David Cole, Marc Bodnick, Craig Weinberg, (more) 
> >> One of the most significant intellectual errors educated persons make 
> is 
> >> in underestimating the fallibility of science. The very best scientific 
> >> theories containing our soundest, most reliable knowledge are certain 
> to be 
> >> superseded, recategorized from "right" to "wrong"; they are, as 
> physicist 
> >> David Deutsch says, misconceptions: 
> >> 
> >> I have often thought that the nature of science would be better 
> understood 
> >> if we called theories “misconceptions” from the outset, instead of only 
> >> after we have discovered their successors. Thus we could say that 
> Einstein’s 
> >> Misconception of Gravity was an improvement on Newton’s Misconception, 
> which 
> >> was an improvement on Kepler’s. The neo-Darwinian Misconception of 
> Evolution 
> >> is an improvement on Darwin’s Misconception, and his on Lamarck’s… 
> Science 
> >> claims neither infallibility nor finality. 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> This fact comes as a surprise to many; we tend to think of science —at 
> the 
> >> point of conclusion, when it becomes knowledge— as being more or less 
> >> infallible and certainly final. Science, indeed, is the sole area of 
> human 
> >> investigation whose reports we take seriously to the point of 
> >> crypto-objectivism. Even people who very much deny the possibility of 
> >> objective knowledge step onto airplanes and ingest medicines. And most 
> >> importantly: where science contradicts what we believe or know through 
> >> cultural or even personal means, we accept science and discard those 
> truths, 
> >> often enough wisely. 
> >> 
> >> An obvious example: the philosophical problem of free will. When 
> Newton's 
> >> misconceptions were still considered the exemplar of truth par 
> excellence, 
> >> the very model of knowledge, many philosophers felt obliged to accept a 
> kind 
> >> of determinism with radical implications. Give the initial-state of the 
> >> universe, it appeared, we should be able to follow all particle 
> trajectories 
> >> through the present, account for all phenomena through purely physical 
> >> means. In other words: the chain of causation from the Big Bang on left 
> no 
> >> room for your volition: 
> >> 
> >> Determinism in the West is often associated with Newtonian physics, 
> which 
> >> depicts the physical matter of the universe as operating according to a 
> set 
> >> of fixed, knowable laws. The "billiard ball" hypothesis, a product of 
> >> Newtonian physics, argues that once the initial conditions of the 
> universe 
> >> have been established, the rest of the history of the universe follows 
> >> inevitably. If it were actually possible to have complete knowledge of 
> >> physical matter and all of the laws governing that matter at any one 
> time, 
> >> then it would be theoretically possible to compute the time and place 
> of 
> >> every event that will ever occur (Laplace's demon). In this sense, the 
> basic 
> >> particles of the universe operate in the same fashion as the rolling 
> balls 
> >> on a billiard table, moving and striking each other in predictable ways 
> to 
> >> produce predictable results. 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> Thus: the movement of the atoms of your body, and the emergent 
> phenomena 
> >> that such movement entails, can all be physically accounted for as part 
> of a 
> >> chain of merely physical, causal steps. You do not "decide" things; 
> your 
> >> "feelings" aren't governing anything; there is no meaning to your sense 
> of 
> >> agency or rationality. From this essentially unavoidable philosophical 
> >> position, we are logically-compelled to derive many political, moral, 
> and 
> >> cultural conclusions. For example: if free will is a phenomenological 
> >> illusion, we must deprecate phenomenology in our philosophies; it is 
> the 
> >> closely-clutched delusion of a faulty animal; people, as predictable 
> and 
> >> materially reducible as commodities, can be reckoned by governments and 
> >> institutions as though they are numbers. Freedom is a myth; you are the 
> >> result of a process you didn't control, and your choices aren't choices 
> at 
> >> all but the results of laws we can discover, understand, and base our 
> >> morality upon. 
> >> 
> >> I should note now that (1) many people, even people far from 
> epistemology, 
> >> accept this idea, conveyed via the diffusion of science and philosophy 
> >> through politics, art, and culture, that most of who you are is 
> determined 
> >> apart from your will; and (2) the development of quantum physics has 
> not in 
> >> itself upended the theory that free will is an illusion, as the sorts 
> of 
> >> indeterminacy we see among particles does not provide sufficient room, 
> as it 
> >> were, for free will. 
> >> 
> >> Of course, few of us can behave for even a moment as though free will 
> is a 
> >> myth; there should be no reason for personal engagement with ourselves, 
> no 
> >> justification for "trying" or "striving"; one would be, at best, a 
> >> robot-like automaton incapable of self-control but capable of 
> >> self-observation. One would account for one's behaviors not with 
> reasons but 
> >> with causes; one would be profoundly divested from outcomes which one 
> cannot 
> >> affect anyway. And one would come to hold that, in its basic conception 
> of 
> >> time and will, the human consciousness was totally deluded. 
> >> 
> >> As it happens, determinism is a false conception of reality. Physicists 
> >> like David Deutsch and Ilya Prigogine have, in my opinion, defended 
> free 
> >> will amply on scientific grounds; and the philosopher Karl Popper 
> described 
> >> how free will is compatible in principle with a physicalist conception 
> of 
> >> the universe; he is quoted by both scientists, and Prigogine begins his 
> book 
> >> The End of Certainty, which proposes that determinism is no longer 
> >> compatible with science, by alluding to Popper: 
> >> 
> >> Earlier this century in The Open Universe: An Argument for 
> Indeterminism, 
> >> Karl Popper wrote," Common sense inclines, on the one hand, to assert 
> that 
> >> every event is caused by some preceding events, so that every event can 
> be 
> >> explained or predicted… On the other hand, … common sense attributes to 
> >> mature and sane human persons… the ability to choose freely between 
> >> alternative possibilities of acting." This "dilemma of determinism," as 
> >> William James called it, is closely related to the meaning of time. Is 
> the 
> >> future given, or is it under perpetual construction? 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> Prigogine goes on to demonstrate that there is, in fact, an "arrow of 
> >> time," that time is not symmetrical, and that the future is very much 
> open, 
> >> very much compatible with the idea of free will. Thus: in our lifetimes 
> we 
> >> have seen science —or parts of the scientific community, with the rest 
> to 
> >> follow in tow— reclassify free will from "illusion" to "likely 
> reality"; the 
> >> question of your own role in your future, of humanity's role in the 
> future 
> >> of civilization, has been answered differently just within the past few 
> >> decades. 
> >> 
> >> No more profound question can be imagined for human endeavor, yet we 
> have 
> >> an inescapable conclusion: our phenomenologically obvious sense that we 
> >> choose, decide, change, perpetually construct the future was for 
> centuries 
> >> contradicted falsely by "true" science. Prigogine's work and that of 
> his 
> >> peers —which he calls a "probabilizing revolution" because of its 
> emphasis 
> >> on understanding unstable systems and the potentialities they entail— 
> >> introduces concepts that restore the commonsensical conceptions of 
> >> possibility, futurity, and free will to defensibility. 
> >> 
> >> If one has read the tortured thinking of twentieth-century 
> intellectuals 
> >> attempting to unify determinism and the plain facts of human 
> experience, one 
> >> knows how submissive we now are to the claims of science. As Prigogine 
> >> notes, we were prepared to believe that we, "as imperfect human 
> observers, 
> >> [were] responsible for the difference between past and future through 
> the 
> >> approximations we introduce into our description of nature." Indeed, 
> one has 
> >> the sense that the more counterintuitive the scientific claim, the 
> eagerer 
> >> we are to deny our own experience in order to demonstrate our 
> rationality. 
> >> 
> >> This is only degrees removed from ordinary orthodoxies. The point is 
> >> merely that the very best scientific theories remain misconceptions, 
> and 
> >> that where science contradicts human truths of whatever form, it is 
> rational 
> >> to at least contemplate the possibility that science has not advanced 
> enough 
> >> yet to account for them; we must be pragmatic in managing our 
> knowledge, 
> >> aware of the possibility that some truths we intuit we cannot yet 
> explain, 
> >> while other intuitions we can now abandon. 
> >> 
> >> It is vital to consider how something can be both true and not in order 
> to 
> >> understand science and its limitations, and even more the limitations 
> of 
> >> second-order sciences (like social sciences). Newton's laws were 
> incredible 
> >> achievements of rationality, verified by all technologies and analyses 
> for 
> >> hundreds of years, before their unpredicted exposure as deeply flawed 
> ideas 
> >> applied to a limited domain which in total provide incorrect 
> predictions and 
> >> erroneous metaphorical structures for understanding the universe. 
> >> 
> >> I never tire of quoting Karl Popper's dictum: 
> >> 
> >> Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as 
> a 
> >> sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which 
> it 
> >> was intended to solve. 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> It is hard but necessary to have this relationship with science, whose 
> >> theories seem like the only possible answers and whose obsolescence we 
> >> cannot imagine. A rational person in the nineteenth century would have 
> >> laughed at the suggestion that Newton was in error; he could not have 
> known 
> >> about the sub-atomic world or the forces and entities at play in the 
> world 
> >> of general relativity; and he especially could not have imagined how a 
> >> theory that seemed utterly, universally true and whose predictive and 
> >> explanatory powers were immense could still be an incomplete 
> understanding, 
> >> revealed by later progress to be completely mistaken about nearly all 
> of its 
> >> claims. 
> >> 
> >> Can you imagine such a thing? It will happen to nearly everything you 
> >> know. Consider what "ignorance" and "knowledge" really are for a human, 
> what 
> >> you can truly know, how you should judge others given this overwhelming 
> >> epistemological instability! 
>
> First: every scientific theory is tentative. Most will probably be 
> displaced at some point with a better theory. It's only natural for 
> scientists to become attached to their theories, but they will always 
> admit that they could be wrong if enough new evidence comes along. 
>

"they will always admit that they could be wrong if enough new evidence 
comes along." should be added here:

http://www.joke-archives.com/toplists/biggestlies.html

No, Max Planck had it right:

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and 
making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, 
and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” 

 

> Second: theorems in mathematics and logic are not tentative. They are 
> true for all time, true in all universes, true for omnipotent beings. 
>

Only if local sanity allows them to seem true. All logic supervenes on some 
underlying capacity to interpret, preserve, and appreciate it.
 

> Third: the article does not define "free will" and does not explain 
> why randomness (which is the alternative to determinism) is better 
> than determinism for free will. 
>

Randomness is not the alternative to determinism. Randomness and 
determinism are both forms of unintentional causality. Intention is the 
alternative, and free will does not need to be defined, it is experienced 
directly, like any other aesthetic.
 

> Fourth: confused though the article is about determinism and free 
> will, it does not claim that determinism is incompatible with 
> CONSCIOUSNESS, nor does it claim that determinism is impossible A 
> PRIORI. These positions are yours alone. 
>

I don't say that determinism is incompatible with consciousness, I say that 
determinism is subordinate to consciousness. I don't say that determinism 
is impossible in theory, only in fact in the universe which we actually 
live. Your views of my positions are incorrect.

Craig
 

>
>
> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 
>

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