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    Thread: Choice

    1. #1
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      Choice

      Our brains are constructed from matter. I think our thoughts use chemicals and electricity? Right? Our brains, like everything else, is a chain reaction of chemicals, other matter, and electricity. Some chain reactions being more complex than others, of course. The human brain is arguably the most complex chain reaction in the universe, but it is still a collection of the chemicals, matter, and electricity, just like what you might find in a chemical lab, volcano, or even our remote controls.
      As such, when I shoot someone, there is one or several laws of physics that come together, to create an electrical impulse in my brain. That electrical impulse is the first step in a chain reaction of events that passes through the nerve cells in the arm, then the contraction of my trigger finger, causing shapes of matter to shift around and ignite some gun powder... It gets grizzly from there, but you get the idea.

      It really doesn't stop there, either, does it. I would not have been able to pull that trigger if I had not eaten this year. There is a long trail that lead up to my consumption of that food, and even the slow creation of the stomach that I use to incorporate it into my body (or cluster of clusters of co-reacting chain reactions of matter under the influence of the laws of physics), and on, and on...
      The victim's body will go on too. It will decompose and it will fertilize things, and perform other dead body activities.

      It actually goes on until the end of time, if you do not overestimate the weight of the fact that over time, that dead body's affect on the world and the universe is diluted by the huge sea of other events and matter throughout time, and over distance. The dead body doesn't matter much in 100 years, or to the inhabitants of Omecron Percei 8.

      What are the limiting or end laws on this?

      I have trained my dog to poo on command. When going through our normal potty cycle he will wait for me to tell him to go. When I do, it seems he HAS to sniff. This may actually be required for him, for he insists upon it. This caused me to think. Yes, I thought about this while my dog stunk up the yard. Does he have a choice in whether or not to sniff before he pees? I know that I have a hard time taking drug tests in which some guy is present. Perhaps it is similar. Can you pee on command? Perhaps dogs have something in-grained that causes this. Does he have a choice?

      I have brought up the logical experiment before. You are stranded in a huge desert. You walk for two days with no water. Some guy comes up from the distance and offers you a glass of water, or a slinky.

      Using scientific method we can make predictions based upon our theories. If I were to make the prediction that something would happen, based on the laws of physics, then we can use that as evidence. This breaks down due to the fact, I think, that this is a gray area for people. What is a "choice"?

      If I can predict that you will choose the glass of water, am I adding a bit of evidence to a prediction that I make based off of the known laws of physics themselves, or am I making a prediction based off of the person, or of reoccurrences and past events in my life?

      Well, what did you choose?
      ---o--- my DCs say I'm dreamy.

    2. #2
      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      The universe contains a certain amount of randomness which is often confused with free will. You can call a man's actions free will, but if you do you must extend the same amount of choice to the randomness of the weather.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      That comes down to the question of "Does God play dice?" and honestly, I don't think he does. I think that on a microscopic level, everything COULD be calculated, and predicted, given unlimited computational power.

      The question, I think, is where does that initial brain signal come from? Is it a result of our brains reacting to the the laws of physics, or does it come from something of a "soul", or even a scientific equivalent of some sort?

      Are our choices a result of the natural collapse of the quantum wave function?
      ---o--- my DCs say I'm dreamy.

    4. #4
      Xei
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      'Choice' is just a word, and as such is just a tool for communicating a certain thought inside your head; it doesn't have any objective meaning, independent of human language. So one must simply be clear about which particular meaning of the word 'choice' you are trying to communicate. Then questions about choice become pretty trivial.

      There are two common meanings. The first is performing some action independently of physical events which preceded it, thus violating determinism. As you say, this doesn't really exist; the brain is a macroscopic physical object following physical laws. The second meaning is that of some kind of agent, consciously weighing up different options and making a decision about them based on various factors. Obviously this does exist, it's what our brains do.

      I really don't mind this situation. The first meaning doesn't even make sense to me, really. What would it really mean to make a choice that was independent of things like your past experience and your reason? It'd just be a random, blind throw of a die, which seems contrary to the essential concern about choice to me, let alone somehow being necessary to it. The fact we were conscious of different options and selected one of them for a personal reason is the important thing to me; I'm not really concerned about the fact I was 'always going to make that choice'. That seems academic. I still made a choice.
      sloth and Darkmatters like this.

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      Quote Originally Posted by sloth View Post
      That comes down to the question of "Does God play dice?" and honestly, I don't think he does. I think that on a microscopic level, everything COULD be calculated, and predicted, given unlimited computational power.

      The question, I think, is where does that initial brain signal come from? Is it a result of our brains reacting to the the laws of physics, or does it come from something of a "soul", or even a scientific equivalent of some sort?

      Are our choices a result of the natural collapse of the quantum wave function?
      This belief is common, but I don't think it's true. I think the laws of physics were created arbitrarily when the universe was born, limited only by necessity to exist. Causality is a misconception caused by the perception of patterns.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by sloth View Post
      That comes down to the question of "Does God play dice?" and honestly, I don't think he does. I think that on a microscopic level, everything COULD be calculated, and predicted, given unlimited computational power.

      The question, I think, is where does that initial brain signal come from? Is it a result of our brains reacting to the the laws of physics, or does it come from something of a "soul", or even a scientific equivalent of some sort?

      Are our choices a result of the natural collapse of the quantum wave function?
      I think that this comes from the fact that we are currently thinking about choice. The thought that we are just following the laws of nature since the beginning of the universe and that has led to us having a discussion about choice makes it seem unlikely that we are all just following a set path, I think this arises from the feeling of constraint. It is hard to imagine that every word I am typing has already been decided mainly because deep down I don't want to believe that I have no meaning in this world, I am just a reaction waiting to finish.

      The great thing is however is that I don't see anyone ever building a machine which could predict the future because it wouldn't be possible, there is no way that the entire current state of the universe could be written up into a machine and simulated without flaw. Therefore while we may be just following a series of chemical changes, the fact that we will never be able to know what will happen in the future 100% accurately means that we might as well consider our actions as an independent choice.

      I find it spectacular that even if everything was already determined it has little to no impact on our life, yet we are obsessed with thinking about it. There is no way to apply the knowledge that we are doing everything predetermined to real life.

    7. #7
      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      This belief is common, but I don't think it's true. I think the laws of physics were created arbitrarily when the universe was born, limited only by necessity to exist. Causality is a misconception caused by the perception of patterns.
      This. Causation with a capital C, in the sense of of some kind of 'universal principle' or ideal, doesn't really exist. Ask yourself, sloth, where your intuition about this is coming from. Your mind isn't some kind of detached, spectral entity with direct access to the universe. Your mind is your brain, which has been shaped by evolution and observation, and the only things which affect those two influences are those which reside in the everyday world, where every single event is deterministic. It's no wonder your intuition tells you that there is something called causality which applies to 'everything'. But you've never actually observed events at the scale of atoms, and so you have to recognise that your intuition is tricking you, and that it must necessarily be baseless. And when we do look at events on that scale, they do indeed appear to be random. It's exactly the same situation with general relativity. On the human scale, bizarre effects like the relativity of simultaneity are never observed and never effect us, because they are too tiny. Therefore we have a very strong intuition about how time works; that it is absolute, and external. It's no wonder; everything we've ever experienced supports this notion. But we must recognise that our domain of experience is limited; we never experience objects with high relative velocities, and so we must admit that our intuition about them is baseless. And in this case, when we do extend our observations to such objects, we find that our intuition was indeed totally wrong.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      This belief is common, but I don't think it's true. I think the laws of physics were created arbitrarily when the universe was born, limited only by necessity to exist. Causality is a misconception caused by the perception of patterns.
      The laws of physics seem to be limited to being static, at least. This is why bad things happen to good people. lol

      I agree with what you say about causality, if you are referring to patterns in the 4th dimension, time, as I have considered such possibilities. If such a dimension, as I see it, does not exist, however, that leaves the traditional model of causality as being the only one I know of. In three dimensions, that model makes sense to me. This would conflict with your model.
      Last edited by sloth; 04-12-2013 at 07:05 AM.
      ---o--- my DCs say I'm dreamy.

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      The laws of physics are static now but were not during the birth of the universe. They developed randomly, their only limitation being that laws which would not allow reality to be possible did not manifest. And though there are certain laws in reality, manifestation is still not purely causal, there is still randomness within reality's arbitrary limits.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      I once heard that the time when violent crime was at its height in the US was the time when they were using lead gasoline. If violent crime was caused by lead poisoning causing people to be more violent than they would have been otherwise, was that a choice? I believe that murderers could make a choice not to kill, but what if I am wrong? Our justice system and religions are predicated on the assumption that we have a choice, that it is not due to chemistry and cause and effect.

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