Saturday, June 21, 2014

Clarifying Non-determinism and Why Quantum Non-deterministic Noise In Your Brain Still Doesn't Give You Free Will

In my previous post my examples of non-deterministic systems were a little bit ridiculous, but in my opinion still valid. I took non-determinism to a logical extreme, that some Libertarian Free-Willers might take issue with. Reason being, most of them agree that the universe is deterministic until you get down to the very very small realm of quantum physics.

Enter Non-Deterministic Quantum Noise Free Will:
Red Guy has returned from my previous article, but this time we want to talk about the quantum noise deep within his brain, that might give him free will, since it is non-deterministic.

So let's zoom in:
Perfect.
How does this grant free will though? 
I will state that no one has proven that human minds have some kind of interaction with this level of existence. We are talking about a scale so small that it probably could not even break a covalent or ionic bond in a neurotransmitter molecule, but ignoring that, let's pretend there is a mechanism. We are still of course trying to include Moral Agency in this definition of free will and since we are talking about Red Guy, let's see if we can get a good representation of Red Guy's "Self" (the ego/id/superego etc in Freudian terms, but we'll just keep it simple and call it the "self"). Let's add that in the next picture, let's also give him a mechanism to interact with the quantum noise, a lever will do, and let's define the white dots of the noise as (Good) and the black dots as (Evil).
Ok, now we have the Red Guy's sense of self, with his itsy bitsy lever that no one has ever provided a shred of scientific evidence for, and we are really getting close to Libertarian Free Will. All Red Guy has to do is throw the lever up for Good. down for Evil (or imagine a less serious decision being made between pie and cake, we'll have UP represent PIE and DOWN represent CAKE, it really doesn't matter what the choice is or even if the lever has more than two positions as we shall see momentarily).

There's a few big problems with this already.
The first is that Red Guy's sense of self, even if it were capable of operating a quantum lever, that no one has one shred of scientific evidence for, on non-deterministic noise, does so for a reason, unfortunately for Libertarian Free-Willers, this is determinism. (cause-->effect, reason for decision-->decision)

In the next picture I've presented two alternatives and I will explain why neither is Free Will and both are deterministic.
On the left, pink lines represent data sources from outside of Red Guy. Say a parent telling him not to do something, or a response from his taste buds and memories telling him Pie is better than Cake. In this case, determinism doesn't happen from the Quantum Noise output, it happens from other sources of information input. This makes sense with most people's view of reality, because we base our choices off things that we know or in other words, have learned. People, we assume (and hope), do not base their decisions on whether or not hypothetical quantum noise inside their brain is harmonizing with their tinnitus.

On the right side of the diagram, we can imagine, as many religious-folk do, that the self is roughly synonymous with "the soul". If this supernatural form of self, did not base its choices on external senses and memories, what would it base them off of? 

I suppose that depends on your religion. Some Christians (who arguably do not understand their own religion) believe that our souls are corrupted by original sin, and thus can choose between good or evil (actually in my opinion, the serpent "Satan" didn't tempt us into eating the fruit and by giving in to this temptation we gained the ability to choose, but rather tempted us into eating the fruit and thus we egotistically believed the idea that we had ability to choose, it was really an ego trip almost identical to the one everyone who believes in free will is on, ironically, and it makes a lot more sense that way), but if people do truly commit "evils" and some do not, or even if everyone does commit them some of the time, and it isn't dictated by worldly sense data, what otherworldly data is the soul basing its choices on?

Faced with moral dilemma, does the "soul" end up doing something unlike using a lever and more like whack-a-mole upon the black (evil) dots. If the soul doesn't whack enough black dots, an evil action is committed? Is Red Guy then Good or Evil based on his soul's skill at whack-a-black-dot? Where do souls get their whack-a-dot skills? Should we base our moral judgements of individuals on something so tenuous? In any case, the choice between Good/Evil or Pie/Cake is determined by the lever-puller or dot-whacker. Reason being, Moral Agency. Whom do we hold responsible? By holding an agent responsible for an action you are saying they determined that outcome. 

You can't hold an agent responsible in an entirely non-deterministic system because the very act of holding someone responsible is saying they DETERMINED the outcome. This is what my ridiculous drawings in the previous article tried to convey, but I was worried that someone would try to pick them apart based on some claim that non-deterministic free will operates on a different level (ie. quantum noise in our brains) that was somehow less absurd.

This is arguably getting derailed quite a bit, but I'm not the one who said Quantum Noise Gives Us Free Will, END OF STORY, without providing a shred of evidence that this was possible or presenting a good scientific theory on the mechanism by which it works.
I'm really just attempting to do the work they are too lazy or inept to do and trying to build a theory out of their proposition. By the way, this is really not the way it's supposed to work.


If you assert that non-deterministic systems, such as quantum-noise in our brains, give us free will. Do your own legwork. The burden of proof is on you.

Most proponents of libertarian free will, I'd wager, know very little about actual non-determinism in physics. They are instead just setting up a magic black box scenario, where they are completely ignorant of the workings of the magic black box, but leap to the conclusion that free will must take place there.

I suppose someone will now come along and try to argue that I have the flow of causality backwards, that the Quantum Non-deterministic Noise determines the choice between Good/Evil or Pie/Cake, but if Red Guy's choices are determined by non-deterministic noise, rather than his "Self", his choices are dictated by random or perhaps chaotic forces and aren't really his choices at all. If his actions are determined by non-deterministic quantum noise, he's not even an agent, much less a moral one. (See the section I've bolded, 4 paragraphs up.)




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