AX: Causal Determinism

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First, allow me to give some background information. I became interested in this topic from a few philosophy texts I have been reading, and I am by no means an expert in regards to this topic. I am not 100% sure I agree with everything causal determinism entails, but it’s a concept I feel is worth exploring. This discussion will hopefully allow me to learn more about Casual Determinism and its implications while (hopefully!) providing an interesting topic for you guys to discuss.

Axiom: Let us assume Causal Determinism is true. Free will is nonexistent, and everything event is based on past occurrences. That being said, people’s actions cannot be attributed to themselves, but merely their surroundings and past experience.

So, if this philosophy was suddenly embraces as true one day (lets just say 2012 for kicks and giggles) how would it affect anything and everything?

Keep in mind that this will be a pretty “loose” axiom. I’m perfectly fine with you guys arguing for or against casual determinism, but please denote this to avoid confusion with the AX.

Law

People are no longer accountable for their actions, but will our legal system agree? Should people be punished for actions that they cannot be held directly responsible for?

I’m of the opinion that the law would continue as it does already, setting examples, protecting society, and reforming criminals. Since people respond to their environment, reform is still possible. An example set by our judicial system would also spread, showing people that society (which could be seen as a social environment) does not tolerate this type of behavior, perhaps altering people’s actions.

Will this change the nature of punishment? Maybe so, maybe not. I’d hope for the latter, but if society were to accept causal determinism I’d assume that draconian punishment would be used to set stringent rules and curb crime.

Thoughts, opinions?

Religion

I’ve gotten mixed signals on how this affects the Christian faith, but I’d be interested to hear both sides of the coin. Other faiths are also welcome to contribute.

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Ok guys, I given enough for tonight. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and I’m all ears to criticism.

 
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If people aren’t responsible for their actions, would the legal system be responsible for sentencing them?

 
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If people aren’t responsible for their actions, would the legal system be responsible for sentencing them?

I’m making the assumption that if everyone were to drop everything and accept Causal Determinism on a certain day (lets just say 2012 for kicks) the government would still attempt to function as it does. It’s definitely an arguable point, though.

I’d think so, as this would allow society to curb criminal activity, which would probably remain just as much a priority as it is now.

 
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The punishment for action would most likely be determined by the beleifs of the government. Otherwise maybe god descided to make that mans life horrible for another man to arrest him to even out the scales.

 
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I’m not sure how much a god has to do with it, but if you’d like to discuss this from a religious point of view, be my guest.

The punishment for action would most likely be determined by the beleifs of the government.

Could you expand on that a little?

 
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if the government believes in free will or if god chose for him to do the otherwise punishable act.

 
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If Causal Determinism is true than we should be able to reverse engineer time, and thus predict it. If we knew the causal future, it would still have to happen, so we would essentially live out plays of our known future, knowing that our knowledge of our future, and the recursive knowledge of this fact are both included in the initial “act.” So you find out that you’re going to Mary a girl named Brenda in your future so you seek her out and you get married. No matter what they told you, it would happen, thus knowing would both play a role and would be meaningless at the same time, because knowing is what caused you to seek them out (or avoid them and still end up with them). Here’s the head trip though: Eventually, knowing would change that knowledge into fact. To know something would be to actualize it, which is ironically the goal of several philosophies.

Interesting thread, and likely one of the few SD threads worth anyone’s time.

 
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If Causal Determinism is true than we should be able to reverse engineer time, and thus predict it.

Theoretically, yes. However, there is has always been a set of hidden variables behind things. As demonstrated by this link (I think it’s the one I looked at earlier) things at the sub atomic level affect how light travels, and these variables are unpredictable. Something as simple as this could set of all calculations.

If we knew the causal future, it would still have to happen, so we would essentially live out plays of our known future, knowing that our knowledge of our future, and the recursive knowledge of this fact are both included in the initial “act.” So you find out that you’re going to Mary a girl named Brenda in your future so you seek her out and you get married. No matter what they told you, it would happen, thus knowing would both play a role and would be meaningless at the same time, because knowing is what caused you to seek them out (or avoid them and still end up with them). Here’s the head trip though: Eventually, knowing would change that knowledge into fact. To know something would be to actualize it, which is ironically the goal of several philosophies.

I’m a little confused, so hopefully my response still makes sense.
Wouldn’t this knowledge interfere with the predictions, though? If someone somehow calculated they would die in a car crash and moved to an Amish village to prevent this fate, wouldn’t that change make the original prediction moot?

Interesting thread, and likely one of the few SD threads worth anyone’s time.

I appreciate your saying that, thanks.

 
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Casual determinism… relieve one’s responsibility over any actions due to determinism of outcome….?(Please correct me if I’m misunderstood)

Gotta assume “goodness” is consistent. A different set of Law is required to maintain the “goodness” of outcome.
A constant monitoring of everyone’s actions is needed to maintain the “goodness” (What’s the Tom Cruise movie?)
1) Any act that can be countered by another action/s to maintain “goodness” is not punishable.
2) Any inaction that doesn’t disrupt “goodness” or can be countered by another action/s to maintain “goodness” is not punishable.
3) Any uncounterable act that disrupts “goodness” is punishable.
4) Any inaction that disrupts “goodness” is punishable.
5) Any inaction to counter item 1) is punishable.

Can’t really bring God to the picture right now……

edit: reverse time engineering? If the inputs are change, the outcome is surely different….

 
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Well, if the universe is indeed causal (which logically means predictable) than those predictions include the knowledge of the predictions. If there is no choice, you’ve already decided based on the information you received. You move to an farm and the only car for 100 miles hits you. It gets interesting if everything is knowable, as it would be in a causal universe, since the reaction to the initial “cause” can be used to predict the “next” reaction. If we can know everything, we’ll know exactly how every moment of our lives will be up until our death, including the knowledge of those things. We would also know the future of all people and things. The point at which we gained this knowledge would be the point where the individual would become omnipotent. This is kind of where the axiom breaks up.

 
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Sounds a lot like utilitarianism, Aneslayer.

But how would one know what actions will cause a “good” result? People’s past experiences are so varied that an action could create positive results as easily as bad. I like the thought, though. It definitely provides a better alternative than the draconian measures that I predicted.

Well, if the universe is indeed causal (which logically means predictable) than those predictions include the knowledge of the predictions. If there is no choice, you’ve already decided based on the information you received. You move to an farm and the only car for 100 miles hits you. It gets interesting if everything is knowable, as it would be in a causal universe, since the reaction to the initial “cause” can be used to predict the “next” reaction. If we can know everything, we’ll know exactly how every moment of our lives will be up until our death, including the knowledge of those things. We would also know the future of all people and things. The point at which we gained this knowledge would be the point where the individual would become omnipotent. This is kind of where the axiom breaks up.

Yeah, I see what you mean. But is it possible to know everything that could factor into these predictions? You’d have to instantaneously acquire this knowledge, as the second you know one thing something else changes. Even ignoring slight sub atomic changes (I can’t see something as slight as those affecting the bigger picture) things change to fast for us to gather a definitive number for the trillions of things that cause/determine future events, right?

 
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Yeah, I see what you mean. But is it possible to know everything that could factor into these predictions? You’d have to instantaneously acquire this knowledge, as the second you know one thing something else changes. Even ignoring slight sub atomic changes (I can’t see something as slight as those affecting the bigger picture) things change to fast for us to gather a definitive number for the trillions of things that cause/determine future events, right?

Some sort of computer could do it maybe? People are already very good at predicting things weather, elections, sports and etc. It is only a matter of time before we start predicting the unpredictable.

 
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We can hardly predict the weather with near certainty; it seems like a pretty big leap to go to predicting the future.

 
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We are ok at predicting the weather. But let me give another example. The way I navigate the forums. To a casual onlooker it may just look like a random clicks, however if you were to watch my mouse over time I believe you would be able to accurately predict my next click. I thought of this only because i seem to always click the community button then the SD button when i could just click the SD button at the top of this thread or the back button.

Now the real question is how I will navigate out of this thread? I don’t want to do it the way I always do for some reason now.

 
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So, if this philosophy holds true (and it does, for the sake of discussion) how does it affect anything and everything?

I don’t think it would have any effect considering if it is true then that is simply the way things work. Do you mean “what effect will it have if people find out about it”?

If we can know everything, we’ll know exactly how every moment of our lives will be up until our death, including the knowledge of those things.

I disagree. Even if the everything were predetermined, this does not negate the fact that we could never perfectly predict it. I am not the best with math and computer related terms but it is basically the premise that a system cannot contain the entirety of knowledge regarding it within itself. Something to do with thermodynamics. That is horribly thought out but hopefully you get what I mean.

 
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I don’t think it would have any effect considering if it is true then that is simply the way things work. Do you mean “what effect will it have if people find out about it”?

Yeah, I’ll go back and edit that. Thanks for pointing it out.

I disagree. Even if the everything were predetermined, this does not negate the fact that we could never perfectly predict it. I am not the best with math and computer related terms but it is basically the premise that a system cannot contain the entirety of knowledge regarding it within itself. Something to do with thermodynamics. That is horribly thought out but hopefully you get what I mean.

I read something similar, but it was based on sub atomic particle movements.

Link

 
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But how would one know what actions will cause a “good” result?

The system that I picture only interferes if any actions were to disrupt “goodness” of the population. The one acting assumingly does not need to know what actions lead to a “good” result.

If there is no choice, you’ve already decided based on the information you received.

I try to picture the concept with “free will” intact. Thus for every opportunity for action, there are possibilities of actions.

 
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I disagree. Even if the everything were predetermined, this does not negate the fact that we could never perfectly predict it. I am not the best with math and computer related terms but it is basically the premise that a system cannot contain the entirety of knowledge regarding it within itself. Something to do with thermodynamics. That is horribly thought out but hopefully you get what I mean

It what your trying to say is the computer won’t predict itself catching on fire from an overload of information?

 
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will our legal system agree

Well, I think we already have an example of this in action. Any type of mitigating factor in law could, to a degree, be considered an example of this. For example the insanity defense, which can be interpreted as “I was not fully culpable as a condition outside my control forced or allowed the action I committed.”

The truth is such defense is rare and I believe juries have grown quite apathetic to such claims; I believe the same could be said of defenses based on causal determinism.

That being said I think it is a moot point. Few ideas generally reach such a level of penetration with society, and it won’t make people any less concerned with their own condition. In the end it might cause some uproar and shoddy legal defense tactics, but it would quickly blow over as people get back to more pressing concerns.

Is what your trying to say is the computer won’t predict itself catching on fire from an overload of information?

Hm, let me try to reword this.

To perfectly predict the future, a computer would need to hold all the necessary information; in this case it would mean all information that exists. However holding information requires energy. Even if you take the lowest units of energy the energy itself needs to be part of that information, as it is part of existence. In other words for every unit of power used you get precisely the same amount of information.

The problem thus becomes, having access to all information would require all the energy available in existence. According to our understanding of physics perfect energy conversion is impossible, making the task impossible.

Even assuming it were possible, you have spent all of existence making a copy of all of existence.

Hopefully that is a bit more clear.

 
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If Casual Determinism is true, it means that when you have situation A and situation B, assuming A and B are both reasonably similar, you get the same result? Well how do you even get the first result to compare it to?

If you were to come across a situation that you had never been placed in before, and had nothing to compare it to in context, how does Casual Determinism hold up to that?

 
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Originally posted by SaintAjora:

So, if this philosophy holds true (and it does, for the sake of discussion) how does it affect anything and everything?

I don’t think it would have any effect considering if it is true then that is simply the way things work. Do you mean “what effect will it have if people find out about it”?

If we can know everything, we’ll know exactly how every moment of our lives will be up until our death, including the knowledge of those things.

I disagree. Even if the everything were predetermined, this does not negate the fact that we could never perfectly predict it. I am not the best with math and computer related terms but it is basically the premise that a system cannot contain the entirety of knowledge regarding it within itself. Something to do with thermodynamics. That is horribly thought out but hopefully you get what I mean.

I think what you’re talking about is entropy, which is the eventual slow decay of al infinite systems (our universe). If that is true, and you were talking about a system that would know all things that could and would happen to it, the amount and rate of entropy would consume it immediately after coming unto the knowledge.

 
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That was a fallacious paradox raised by Einstein that was, luckily, proven false. The truth however is much stranger. That’d derail this thread, though.

I kind of took things down the path of fate vs free will, which is only one minor facet of the discussion.

 
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was that @ me?

, cause if that was, those two posts were conjured up from 4 years of High School education, my trawls of the wiki’s, and good old common sense coupled with 1 year of thermodynamics/chem.

 
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Also, in reply to the actual thread, it is impossible to “know every single thing about every single particle’s motion in order to now everthing possible etc.” because of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle . The Uncertainty Principle is HEISENBERG UNCERTAINTY PRICIPLE

 
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It would mean our life would be meaningless, and we should all commit suicide.