Member Rara Avis
Absolutely true but you can assign responsibility for having flawed inputs and data, if I hit 1+3 on the calculator instead of 1+2 the calculator has no choice but to output 4 without any corresponding responsibility for the output.
If you want to posit that calculators have neither free will nor responsibility stemming from free will, you won't get an argument from me. Having never made a single "choice" in its entire existence, the inputs and data are out of its control. That is NOT true for a human being. If your buddy with the lead foot doesn't know the speed limit, his lack of knowledge is a direct result of choices he's made in the past. The speeder, unlike the calculator, is responsible for his inputs and data.
The uncertainty principle says that we cannot know both the position and velocity of an object at any given moment but it doesn't say that the object doesn't have a specific position and velocity ...
Actually, it sort of does, at least in sense that a wave doesn't have a specific location. Thus we end up with weird, non-intuitive stuff like quantum tunneling and entanglement.
... and fortunately we don't need to know the position and velocity to accept it as one causal domino on the way to determinism.
How so? Knowing that something has a cause (and I'm not entirely willing to grant cause and effect as an axiom) doesn't eliminate choice.
Yes, a re-run without the exact criteria will result in an approximate probability - but my point was that given the exact same inputs and data the result would show no deviation - the result would be exactly the same time after time.
No, the probability doesn't stem from inexact criteria; the Uncertainty Principle means that everything is at best only a probability. The Uncertainty Principle guarantees that you can NEVER start with exactly the same inputs and data a second time. That's true of everything, though it doesn't always matter at the macro level, but it's especially true of things like human beings that are constantly in flux, constantly evolving into something new. Even setting aside Heisenberg for a moment (and I hate to introduce a different, potentially distracting point), you can't do it a second time because the first time changed things.
Imagine for a second that you could download the sum total of knowledge the umbrella man possesses into a computer and repeatedly asked the same question, the answer from the millions of possibilities would always be the same as the TARDIS example.
Computers, like calculators, are stupid, do only what they're told, and probably don't have free will. At least not yet.
Just for the sake of argument, Uncas, let's agree that you somehow "could" run your wet pedestrian through the same exact scenario again and again. It can't be a function of time travel, read-only or otherwise, because
the our past, so far as we know, is immutable. Whatever the mechanism, however, let's agree it could be done.
Your position is that the man would always make exactly the same decisions, thereby turning free will into an illusion.
My position is two-fold.
First, if we agree to your experiment, we can't limit it to just one rainy day occurrence. We have to rerun every single event that happened in that man's entire life, from way before his birth right up to the first rain drop landing on his brow. Every choice he's ever made, as well as any choices made by others who touched his life, has to be similarly put on rewind. Are you really so confident that every event since the Big Bang will play out exactly as it did the first time? I certainly don't think it would, Heisenberg doesn't think it would, and I suspect most of the proponents of string theory don't think so either.
Second, even if there is no multi-verse of possibilities, even if everything that has ever happened was preordained and immutable, I still don't believe it would necessarily negate the reality of free will. Knowing the past doesn't mean that the choices we made in the past were dictated by fate. Knowing those choices can't be changed doesn't mean we didn't agonize over all the important ones. Knowing that we made the only choice that we could make doesn't mean we aren't responsible for those choices. Free will isn't about what others do, not those around and not even the universe. Free will, I believe, is about what each of us chooses to do at any given moment. Even if the Universe has already mapped out all of those choices, they're still OUR choices.
[This message has been edited by Ron (06-12-2011 05:07 PM).]