Friday, November 2, 2012

Meeting on naturalism

A bunch of atheist intellectuals just had an informal discussion meeting, and a philosopher noted:
Coyne declared himself to be an incompatibilist (no surprise there), accusing compatibilists of conveniently redefining free will in order to keep people from behaving like beasts. However, Jerry himself admitted to having changed his definition of free will, and I think in an interesting direction. His old definition was the standard idea that if the tape of the history of the universe were to be played again you would somehow be able to make a different decision, which would violate physical determinism. Then he realized that quantum indeterminacy could, in principle, bring in indeterminism, and could even affect your conscious choices (through quantum effects percolating up to the macroscopic level). So he redefined free will as the idea that you are able to make decisions independently of your genes, your environments and their interactions. To which Dennett objected that that’s a pretty strange definition of free will, which no serious compatibilist philosopher would subscribe to. ...

During the follow-up discussion Weinberg declared his leaning toward Dennett’s position, despite his (Weinberg’s) acceptance of determinism.
This shows the confusion caused by physical determinism.

I say that determinism is absurd, and that so are Coyne's consequences. I am surprised to see the famous Steven Weinberg in the determinist camp, because most physicists believe that quantum mechanics proves that the world is fundamentally probabilistic and non-deterministic.

I am not advocating non-determinism either. There is no scientific evidence one way or the other. The main argument for non-determinism is quantum mechanics, but that is no more probabilistic than any other scientific theory.

These intellectuals move on to free will, morality, God, and various other issues. Needless to say, their foolish conclusions are even sillier than their faulty premises.

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