MarbitChow wrote:Even if you believe in a completely deterministic universe (which is your choice, but is currently unprovable, so falls into the category of 'belief' rather than 'science'), a completely deterministic universe is not incompatible with Free Will.
Ah, but belief that there are truly random events in the universe is also a matter of faith. The very best you can say is "This process is unpredictable in a way we cannot explain. It appears to be random." This does not constitute proof that randomness exists.
Free Will is a meme that allows, in effect, that the human decision-making engine (or 'brain') the 'freedom' to prioritize internal stimuli over external: the brain can choose to rank ideas higher than outside forces. This allows the brain to select the ability to die for a cause (or other idea) over the hard-coded self-preservation instincts.
It isn't an 'illusion', it's a decision-making algorithm. It works, and it works exactly like you think it does: by freeing up the brain's prioritization logic to allow 'arbitrary' (i.e. self-determined) priorities to be assigned, so that the choice that is most important to the individual brain can be selected.
Okay, let's look at this from a different angle. Don't apply your standards for Free Will on your own mind. Let's use Hypothetical Bob.
Hypothetical Bob is just some schmo we picked off the hypothetical street. We do not have access to his subjective experience from the inside, so he makes a good candidate for experimentation. We're currently role playing enormously powerful aliens, so we abduct poor Hypothetical Bob, pull his brain out of his head and plop it in a jar, jam a bunch of electrodes in it, and hook him up to a computer which is simulating his environment. This makes the thought experiment a little easier since we can control (and therefore have complete knowledge) of his environment.
At this point, once we're happy that the brain is integrated into the simulation correctly and Bob suspects nothing, we hit the big button on the Stasis Generator and freeze the whole contraption in time. Nothing moves, nothing changes. Hypothetical Bob's brain state (and that of the apparatus) is carefully noted, and this data is then fed into another, more powerful computer, which is set up to simulate Hypothetical Bob and his VR rig. The simulation is executed, and Simulated Hypothetical Bob experiences a personal dilemma. He's standing in line at his office cafeteria deciding what to have for lunch. He chooses the chicken, and proceeds to sit and eat it.
This is the crucial decision the aliens, for whatever reason, are interested in. To verify their results, they turn off the stasis generator and run the sim "for real" using Hypothetical Bob's actual brain. Surprise surprise, Hypothetical Bob chooses the chicken.
Did Hypothetical Bob really have a choice? Of course not. It only appeared to Hypothetical Bob that he did, but the eventual outcome was already determined, both by the secondary simulation, but also by the natural progression of the machinery of the universe. One brain state leads to the next, leads to the next in entirely predictable ways (EDIT: given that we have perfect knowledge of the situation)
But in Hypothetical Bob's subjective viewpoint, he was presented with a choice consisting of multiple options. He chose the chicken because of whatever preferences exist in his mind at that time, whatever external environmental effects were operating on him at the time, and by using logic and decision making algorithms. But at the end of the day, he will still not be able to choose anything other than the chicken. It is inescapable.
Chaos mathematics and finite-state algorithms show that you can use completely deterministic methods to create unpredictability.
Mmm. But, again, randomness is not fully synonymous with unpredictability. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randomness ... ictability