Friday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. A slight change in the aerodynamic profile there.
  2. Let’s see, a Democrat recipe for business success, the taxpayers will be loaning money to startups, but require they can’t advertise or market, can’t negotiate with vendors, and can’t hire people with prior expertise. That’s a bucketful of beltway stupid if there ever was one.
  3. Those who think this man committed war crimes are picking up more of them buckets (of stupid). We gave him a Medal of Honor for a good reason.
  4. So while considering crossing the Rubicon … in stealth. The only remaining trick is with term limits and elections, eh? One wonders how Mr Obama now feels about his participation in efforts to block appointments by passive aggression.
  5. Sex and the Song of Songs in modern context.
  6. If you can consider spending $45k on a wristwatch … money means something different to you than the rest of us. On the other hand, it is an interesting piece.
  7. A common (but I think silly) modern neurological objection to free will noted.
  8. A global economic indicator to consider.
  9. Hah! Take him out back and beat the snot out of him. That’s the solution.
  10. That’s English they’re speaking. Amazing. I wonder if I’m as incomprehensible to them as they are to me.

29 Responses to Friday Highlights

  1. Sex and the Song of Songs in modern context.

    We were always taught — strenuously — that it’s an allegory. ArtScroll (one of the most popular makers of translated prayers and scripture) hilariously is so terrified that people will not “understand” the allegory that it translates the Hebrew word for breasts as “Moses and Aaron” among other monstrosities. It’s always funny when religion’s own scriptures can’t support their close-minded worldviews.

    If there’s one thing fundamentalist religions can’t handle, it’s sex. (Yes, they will tell you that sex within a marriage is good, but other than that lip service every action, rule, and deed gives the message that sex is something to be ashamed of and done out of obligation only, not celebrated.)

    A common (but I think silly) modern neurological objection to free will noted.

    I don’t think that particular argument is claiming that the unconscious mind is deterministic (which is irrelevant to me) but that it’s not “will” if it’s unconscious.

    That’s English they’re speaking. Amazing. I wonder if I’m as incomprehensible to them as they are to me.

    I think that might actually sound more like the original English than ours does!

  2. JA,
    In the kindle copy of China Mieville’s The City and the City Mr Mieville notes his story (like I think LOTR and many other stories which people attempt to approach as allegory) wasn’t allegory. His remark was kind pointed against allegory noting that moving everything in a hidden fashion to say something directly allegorical … heck just say what you mean don’t bother with all the obfuscation. But making parallels for people to consider … or writing stories or verse that brings other things to mind … is not allegory and I think ultimately often more useful.

    (which is irrelevant to me) but that it’s not “will” if it’s unconscious

    Now you are just hiding behind words. Unconscious networks in interaction make all your decisions … they are you and they are your will (and they are free, i.e., not mechanically deterministic in any meaningful way).

    I think that might actually sound more like the original English than ours does!

    That may be, but I think also for English to have dialects that are practically incomprehensible others is also an original feature.

  3. and they are free, i.e., not mechanically deterministic in any meaningful way).

    We’ve been through this. I think that’s a false dichotomy. It doesn’t have to be deterministic not be free will. Let’s say your brain is probabilistic — that wouldn’t be any more free than a deterministic brain would be. Let’s say it’s got a random component — still not any more “will” than would be a computer algorithm with a random number generator at its core. There’s no will anywhere, it’s all an illusion. The only way it could actually be free is if there’s some sort of supernatural/magical soul. (I don’t get the whole compatibilism thing.)

    That may be, but I think also for English to have dialects that are practically incomprehensible others is also an original feature.

    I’m pretty sure that’s a bug/feature of all languages with sufficient userbases.

  4. Hume’s Fork: “Either our actions are determined, in which case we are not responsible for them, or they are the result of random events, in which case we are not responsible for them”….from Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate pp 178-180

    Another interesting observation:

    If behavior is not utterly random, it will have some explanation; if behavior were utterly random, we couldn’t hold the person responsible in any case. So if we ever hold people responsible for their behavior, it will have to be in spite of any casual explanation we feel is warranted, whether it invokes genes, brains, evolutions, media images, self-doubt, bringing up-ke, or being raised by bickering women

    I’ll also invoke the late Christopher Hitchens’s paradox of free will that seems to bind both the philosopher and theist. It goes roughtly like this:

    The philosopher says we have no choice but to act like we have free will. The theist says we have free will because the Boss Upstairs demands it.

  5. “Either our actions are determined, in which case we are not responsible for them, or they are the result of random events, in which case we are not responsible for them.”

    Well shit, that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say, only better said.

    I found this piece very enlightening. I like this definition of free will which makes the flaw obvious:

    We have, it is widely believed, the power to think, choose, and act in some crucial respect independently of those causal factors that create us as persons, and that surround us each moment of our lives. Unlike anything else in nature, human beings have a special contra-causal freedom to cause things to happen without themselves being fully caused in turn.

    Free will is as imaginary as God is, I’m afraid.

  6. Well to be honest with you I suspect causality is probably imaginary as well. Let me give you my Simpsons story….

    Bart plays a joke on Homer. Homer gets pissed and strangles Bart.

    So the cause of Homer’s anger is Bart playing the joke and the cause of Homer gagging Bart is Homer’s anger…..

    But no, its just a cartoon. It looks like Homer’s anger was caused by the joke. But the animation cells of Bart playing the joke were played before cells of Homer getting angry. Bart’s joke didn’t cause anything. Consider…

    A nefarious person sneaks into the studio and swaps the order of the cells. Now the story is Homer strangles Bart. Bart plays joke on Homer. How it looks like Bart’s joke was revenge caused by Homer’s inexplicable decision to strangle his son.

    To what degree though does cause really exist here? It doesn’t, it’s only existing because of a certain perspective you take, viewing the cells in a particular order, not knowing what will be on future cells, guessing what will be on future cells and being confirmed right. If causation doesn’t really exist on a macroscale, the determination issue becomes moot. Your behavior just is, there’s nothing to cause it and it doesn’t cause anything.

  7. Well even if the direction of time is somewhat more arbitrary than we perhaps think of it, although if I recall Hawking has some points that it’s not completely arbitrary. For example, entropy tends to increase in one direction (forward) along with some other things. I don’t think causation is imaginary.

    In a cartoon, it’s obviously imaginary, but that’s not a great analogy because it is of course imaginary. If you ran time backwards and watched something un-explode, you would have to hypothesize some kind of reason that a bunch of debris suddenly collected into a bomb, some kind of local gravity that only applies to pieces of the bomb and anything that those pieces and the shockwave took with them

  8. If you ran the show backwards, you’d start thinking of different causes. You’d think a puddle on the floor causes milk to jump up to a glass. You’d think a bunch of debries on the ground, when they get very hot by incoming light and heat, cause a bomb to assemble and then fly up to an airplane….. In fact you may want to read Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow about a mind that happens to be ‘born’ into a man’s brain at the end of his life. The entity has no control over the man but it experiences time going backwards. Instead of being a back ally abortionist in the 50’s, he sees the man as making women pregnant. Instead of working at a Nazi concentration camp in WWII buring Jews, he creates Jews from the ground. Instead of seeing his father conceive him, he worries that his father will end his existence when he has sex with his mother.

    Anyway, don’t dismiss the cartoon as so clearly imaginary in causation. Perhaps God has simply arranged it that in the sliver of time 1.5 seconds after any sliver that involves you dropping a glass, a glass shatters. You assert a relationship of causation…dropping a glass causes it to shatter even though we can’t really prove its not just a relationship of correlation…dropping glasses almost always are followed by shattering glasses because the structure of the universe…which runs in the time dimension as well as physical ones…is just distributed that way.

  9. I think we get into occam’s razor terriroty when we start hypothesizing causes of glasses assembling from shards of glass. I’d go so far as to say that even if we naturally perceived time to be moving in that direction, we’d be able to reason that causation flows in the other direction.

  10. Or do we know that causation really exists? The cartoon example is quite non-imaginary. Homer always strangles Bart not because Bart plays a joke on him but because the cartoonists always arrange the cells that way. The glass always shatters after getting knocked off the table not because gravity causes it but because ‘shattering glass’ is always happens to be distributed around ‘glass knocked off table’ in this universe in the same way that an ankle is always distributed with a foot. The foot doesn’t cause the ankle, though, it just happens you don’t get a foot without an ankle.

  11. JA,
    OK. This conversation when a long ways. I’ll try to start assembling some replies.

    It doesn’t have to be deterministic not be free will. Let’s say your brain is probabilistic — that wouldn’t be any more free than a deterministic brain would be. Let’s say it’s got a random component — still not any more “will” than would be a computer algorithm with a random number generator at its core. There’s no will anywhere, it’s all an illusion. The only way it could actually be free is if there’s some sort of supernatural/magical soul. (I don’t get the whole compatibilism thing.)

    You have a false dichotomy being offered … in your view it is random, deterministic, or magic. You’re imagination is failing you. A computer or rock is deterministic and doesn’t have will. External inputs completely explain the outcome. A rock in a stream is moving, but it is moving only as the result of external forces. A computer/robot is pretty much the same thing. External inputs/programs determine its choices and movements. Your cat (my puppy) as well as you or I make choices. Our choices and actions are not externally determined. We move. That is what we call “willing” or making choices. Is that choice free? The alternative is that it is not, that it is constrained by external factors. This is also false.

    Free will is as imaginary as God is, I’m afraid.

    You have free will. Sorry. You have volition. It is not constrained. It is not random, nor deterministic, nor magic. It doesn’t have to depended on quantum randomness (and the free will of electrons) to have indeterminate randomness, ordinary classical nonlinear systems are indeterminate without resorting to quantum probabilities.

    Boonton,

    If behavior is not utterly random, it will have some explanation; if behavior were utterly random, we couldn’t hold the person responsible in any case. So if we ever hold people responsible for their behavior, it will have to be in spite of any casual explanation we feel is warranted, whether it invokes genes, brains, evolutions, media images, self-doubt, bringing up-ke, or being raised by bickering women.

    Again you fail the Pospero test, i.e., there are other things beyond that imagining. You offer two choices, random or explainable. Emergent complex behavior for example need not be either, random nor explainable.

    The philosopher says we have no choice but to act like we have free will. The theist says we have free will because the Boss Upstairs demands it.

    And I say you have free will because you aren’t a puppet with strings and creative genius is impossible to imagine (for me, my Prospero failure) without free will.

    I should google, to check, but isn’t it Pinker who has the new book on how there’s been a long term trend moving to less and less violence in society. That’s absurd, in light of what 50 million dead after WWII? Why give his writing the time of day in that light?

    The book I’ve been reading is Gazzinaga’s “Free Will”, btw if you want to get it. The periodical Science News just recommended it this week. I’m about 25% done. I’ll get further, I’ve two long flights next week.

  12. Again you fail the Pospero test, i.e., there are other things beyond that imagining. You offer two choices, random or explainable. Emergent complex behavior for example need not be either, random nor explainable.

    Emergent complex behavior is not unexplainable. Granted it may not be predicable unless you actually create the system that produces the emergent behavior but that’s not the same thing as unexplainable, at least it seems so to me. Let me clarrify what I think emergent complex behavior is…

    Emergent means its produced by the parts of the system but you can’t see it by looking at just the parts. Look all you want at a water molecule, you won’t see a cloud. Look all you want at the letter ‘e’, it won’t tell you what the plot of War and Peace is. while the cloud or book ‘emerges’ from its parts, you can’t really analyze it by parts but you must view it as a whole.

    Complex to me means that while the system emerges from the properties of its parts, you cannot predict the system by just modeling the properties of the parts. You may do this with a cloud to some degree but you probably can’t predict the actual exact shape of a cloud. While some properties may be observable on the system as a whole, you can’t master the system by just mastering the nature of the parts and adding that together.

    Related here is the issue of choas which I believe has more to do with the actual mechanics of calculation. In a particular equation you must multiply something by 2/3. But computers don’t do that, they tend to round 2/3 off to something like .666666666. Even if you got exact physical laws, trying to calculate exact behavior in a choatic system will always fail because you will always be looping off some digits as your calculations churn. Granted you may be able to avoid this with 2/3 by leaving it as a fraction as long as possible and not using a decimal approximation, that won’t work for most square roots or numbers like pi or e. At some point you’re goint to have to round off to get to the next step in calculation and the errors introduced by rounding off in some systems will not be small or cancel themselves out but instead will cause massive instability in the model causing huge deviations from reality. So everything may be ‘explainable’ but only a tiny minority of things may strictly be predictable.
    And I say you have free will because you aren’t a puppet with strings and creative genius is impossible to imagine (for me, my Prospero failure) without free will.

    Perhaps you’re suffering from lack of imagination here. You’re assuming a lack of ‘free will’ means something else is holding the strings. Might we be assuming too much.

    Or another possibility is that ‘free will’ simply lacks coherent meaning here. You seem to be saying that free will has to be ‘magic’ of some sort meaning that it can never be explainable by physical processes. Why?

    You also seem to be saying free will behavior has to be both unpredictable but also not ‘indeterminate randomness’. That’s odd because a lot of behavior that we would credit as ‘free’ and meriting either scorn or praise is hardly unpredictable nor simply appear as crazy, indeterminate randomness. In fact truely indeterminate randomness as behavior would probably be viewed more as madness (say trying to a cow, walking off the top of the roof claiming gravity had reversed itself etc.) Yet the most mundane and nearly predictable of all behaviors….a middle aged man going home to his wife rather than hiring a hooker, a mother picking her child up at school, is almost always credited as products of ‘free will’.

    I should google, to check, but isn’t it Pinker who has the new book on how there’s been a long term trend moving to less and less violence in society. That’s absurd, in light of what 50 million dead after WWII? Why give his writing the time of day in that light?

    You really shouldn’t read the silly writers on First Thoughts unless you also read my skillful takedowns of them for fair balance. You wouldn’t have tarnished yourself with the above false point if you had. It’s also not really good form. Do you want to discuss free will and determinism or do you want to discuss his thesis on violence?

  13. Mark,

    If it’s not ” random, deterministic, or magic”, what is it? And how do you know?

  14. JA,
    Are you saying that list is complete in your view? Emergent behavior of complex systems, for example, are neither (necessarily) random or deterministic. Does that make it magic?

    Boonton,
    Emergent behavior is, typically, when small local interactions produce unexpected long range behaviors (which cannot be predicted from the details of the interaction).

    Chaos of the type you quote is not a factor of the calculation and roundoff error. It is seen in nature and experiment (turbulent flows). What it is is a high sensitivity on initial conditions. Move the position of a pool ball by a nanometer and the positions of the group of balls a few minutes later is drastically different than if you didn’t move them. Chaotic systems cannot be “predicted” except by running the tape, unlike simple systems (like two body orbital mechanics) by which knowledge of the initial conditions can predict the results and small errors in the initial measurements lead to only small errors in your estimate of the final positions.

    “Either our actions are determined, in which case we are not responsible for them, or they are the result of random events, in which case we are not responsible for them.”

    You both (and other authors) seem to make a connection between responsibility and free will. I don’t think that’s correct. Personal responsibility is a social construct. If “Jacques is a Frenchmen” makes sense as a sentence (or statement) independently of whether free will exists or not … then you’re contention that free will and responsibility (or morals) are connected doesn’t follow. That sentence depends for its meaning on social constructions. That it make sense independently of free will means social constructions also make sense. Responsibility and ethics (like personhood) depend not on individual attributes (to which category free will/not-free will belongs) but on inter-personal connections.

  15. What it is is a high sensitivity on initial conditions. Move the position of a pool ball by a nanometer and the positions of the group of balls a few minutes later is drastically different than if you didn’t move them

    My impression was that ’roundoffs’ are just as much to blame. Even if you’re precision of the pool ball is perfect you’re still not going to be able to determine all the interactions because you’re going to be rounding off at some point in the calculation and even taking it out to a billion digits after the decimal will still cause dramatically different results.

  16. Boonton,
    If you’re saying it an artifact of a simulation/calculation … that’s wrong. It’s an artifact of the physical situation, which is that non-linear systems in some regimes are highly sensitive to initial conditions.

    You can’t take anything real “out to a billion digits” of accuracy. It’s not physically possible.

  17. How do you address the problem of rounding off in calculation then? Roundoff’s do indeed have to happen which means ‘errors’ have to be introduced into just about any calculation….even if the original equations do not have irrational numbers in them. Even the mundane value of, say, ‘2/3′ will end up producing some round off issue.

    In some systems the round offs are too small to matter but in other systems they do. It’s not about measuring down to billions of digits precision, its about calculating.

  18. And we haven’t really explored the issue of causality. How do we know it really exists? How do we know that what we think of as casuality isn’t really a causal relationship but just a correlational one?

    Example, consider the statement:
    Obama is president, Jan 13, 2012 falls on a Friday.

    This is a correlational statement. Both happen to be true but we wouldn’t think either caused the other to happen.

    So consider:
    Marc knocked over the glass, it fell and shattered.

    Do we really know this is a causation relationship or does it just seem to be because we happened to observe lots of knocked over glasses seem to shatter.

  19. Mark,

    Emergent behavior describes something that can happen in a determinist system.

    Determinism and emergent behavior.

  20. JA,
    Uhm, Gazzinaga points out there is a distinction between two types of emergence which you are glossing over. He terms it “weak emergence” and “strong emergence”. In weak emergence the new (emergent) property arises as a result of interactions at a elemental level and the emergent property is reducible to its individual components, i.e., you can figure out the steps to move from one feature to the next. In strong emergence the new property is irreducible and because of the amplification of small random events the laws or features cannot be predicted by an underlying theory of the interactions at a lower more fundamental level of organization. I think both occur in nature. For example, predict “Beatlemania” from interactions of neurons isn’t something you can do.

    Classical determinism isn’t the clockwork universe you think it is.

    Boonton,
    For now, I’m operating under the assumption that what we know about physics is the closest estimation of how things work. Your suggestions about causality don’t fit into that picture.

    Sensitivity to initial conditions is not a roundoff issue. Inasmuch as it is a calculational problem it is an artifact of the model accurately not poorly representing the behavior of non-linear systems in certain regimes.

  21. I wasn’t aware of “strong emergence” but I don’t see how it helps your case. If it’s not deterministic or random or magic, what is it then?

  22. For now, I’m operating under the assumption that what we know about physics is the closest estimation of how things work. Your suggestions about causality don’t fit into that picture.

    I think it does. Assume you were living in a universe with no causality, but 100% perfect correlation. The glass would continue to shatter after you knock it from the table. You couldn’t tell the difference.

    Inasmuch as it is a calculational problem it is an artifact of the model accurately not poorly representing the behavior of non-linear systems in certain regimes.

    It would seem the problem is not in the model itself. In principle if you took calculations out to infinite digits the model should perform perfectly. The issue is that you may have a perfect model but that doesn’t mean you can compute the model perfectly.

    Re: Strong versus weak emergence….sounds kind of subjective to me.

  23. JA,
    Something else. Why did you think determinism, random, or magic was a complete cover of all possibilities?

  24. Something else?? Then what? Free willium?

  25. Boonton,
    Your 100% correlation absent any cause has the same problem as the “big book of experiments” has as a TOE (as a reminder the “big book of experiments” is a exhaustive compilation of the results of any and all possible experiments, entirely lacking in . It lacks explanatory power. It isn’t convincing. No understanding is conveyed, there is no model.

    Look at the Copernican change. It wasn’t about data. As noted, the data between Copernicus and Kepler/Newton (a centuries+ timespan) gave rise to no new data that yielded anything to distinguish the heliocentric and geocentric points of view. Yet the by the time of Newton, in the complete absence of any empirical reason to favor one over the other, the heliocentric view was dominant. Why? Because it fit better. It was prettier. It had better clearer explanatory power. The universe is driven cartoon/causality with a narrator who consistently is “matching” our physics driven expectations is is as useful for understanding the universe as the big book above.

    To go back to the brain model views, the rejection of the narrator/big book is because we are model builders. It was noted in Gazzinaga’s (sp?) book that 3d vision is really hard. But our brains cheat. Our vision centers don’t actually see 3d very well, but they give queues to model building analysis circuits which cheat. They build models which we believe … and which in fact give us more data that is reliable quicker than is computationally possible by modeling and guessing.

    Re: Strong versus weak emergence….sounds kind of subjective to me.

    Why? Seems fairly clear cut. When I get a chance I’ll see if I can dig up more on that.

  26. Your 100% correlation absent any cause has the same problem as the “big book of experiments” has as a TOE (as a reminder the “big book of experiments” is a exhaustive compilation of the results of any and all possible experiments, entirely lacking in . It lacks explanatory power. It isn’t convincing. No understanding is conveyed, there is no model.

    Isn’t everything an observation or experiment? If one day you fell off the roof but hovered in the air rather than hit the ground it would indeed be an ‘experiment’ that demonstrates something is wrong with gravity. The ‘big book of experiments’ is simply a book detailing the history of every particle or unit of energy in the entire universe for the life of the universe. If such a thing existed it would be quite convincing, after all not a word of it would be false. But it would be quite large, I suspect if you kept this information in normal matter/energy you’d need a different, larger universe than ours to contain it.

    So theories offer an advantage over the Big Book in that they allow you to dramatically condense the information required. Newton’s laws let me sketch out something like 99.99% of the movement of everything in orbit around the earth. But there’s no difference between a causal and a correlation view of things. I can say per Newton a rocket that applies a certain amount of force to a metal ball will cause it to go in a polar orbit. I can also say per Newton 100% of metal balls that have a certain amount of force applied to them in time period T-1 will be in a polar orbit in time period T. Just like 100% of Februaries occur as the month following January but January doesn’t ’cause’ February. To derive the correlation you apply the exact same model thereby making it irrelevant to the model.

    Of course psychologically causation feels better but this doesn’t mean we should trust our ‘common sense’ that its the true narrative. We know lots of things in physics defy our ‘common sense’, and not even modern physics. Our ‘common sense’ evolved from a very limited set of experiences in the universe, once we are outside of that we can’t rely on it.

  27. Something else. Why did you think determinism, random, or magic was a complete cover of all possibilities?

    Aren’t you really just trying to say that some actions are determined by free will? In that case it would still be ‘determinism, random, or magic’. You’re saying that free will doesn’t obey the laws of nature. This means that if free will exists, the movement of particles inside the brain must behave in a particular way that the simple laws of physics can’t explain. So we’d say that particles, when inside a brain, cannot be modeled by standard physics in certain conditions.

    I agree this does not mean that such pariticles behave according to ‘randomness, or magic’. Even if we discovered that certain particles behave differently from normal physics in the brain, we haven’t established free will. After all, there may be a different set of laws regarding those particles and then we are right back to determinism.

    Randomness doesn’t seem to work for free will either. First off, if particles in a ‘standard physics suspended zone’ behave randomly and that causes some of our decisions, that would hardly be free anymore than making major life decisions by flipping a coin is ‘freedom’ because no one will be able to predict your behavior. Second off, if free will means anything it means some consistency to our decisions. We can choose to guide our lives to be better, for example. Yet randomness does not offer that. You may show mercy today, and take vengence tomorrow. I suppose, though, you might be able to build up a ‘guided randomness’ type of model….choosing to show mercy today means tomorrow there’s an increased chance you’ll show mercy as well, but always in the ‘tails of the curve’ the possibility you may choose to be totally inconsistent.

    To me it sounds like free will is starting to go down the ‘god of the gaps’ route, where ‘free will’ just happens to live wherever there’s something that happens in a brain that is neither predictable nor explainable in infinite. Since the brain is very complex, there will always be ‘gaps’ but that doesn’t give free will very firm foundations IMO. I’m not going to say free will doesn’t exist, mostly because I think the problem is not in understanding the atomic particles inside the brain but properly defining what exactly it means.

  28. Boonton,

    I can say per Newton a rocket that applies a certain amount of force to a metal ball will cause it to go in a polar orbit. I can also say per Newton 100% of metal balls that have a certain amount of force applied to them in time period T-1 will be in a polar orbit in time period T. Just like 100% of Februaries occur as the month following January but January doesn’t ’cause’ February. To derive the correlation you apply the exact same model thereby making it irrelevant to the model.

    Oh. I see, what you’re driving at is the “what is really happening” … it might be very different from our theories. Physics, in the modern era, doesn’t care what is really happening. That isn’t their project. Their project isn’t to give you a description of “underlying reality” but … to give a method for calculating the results of experiments. They don’t make claims that the models describing the method correspond to what “really” is happening.

    Aren’t you really just trying to say that some actions are determined by free will? In that case it would still be ‘determinism, random, or magic’. You’re saying that free will doesn’t obey the laws of nature.

    No. No. No. I have not said (ever) that free will doesn’t obey laws of nature.

    This means that if free will exists, the movement of particles inside the brain must behave in a particular way that the simple laws of physics can’t explain. So we’d say that particles, when inside a brain, cannot be modeled by standard physics in certain conditions.

    Again. That’s not what I’m saying. Strong emergence says order (new regular phenomena in a aggregate regime) can arise from local interactions driven by randomness. What occurs at that emergent layer is not random, and not predictable.

    The point is random/not-random (determined) is not a complete cover of the phenomena.

    But to the question of personal responsibility and morals … the question of free will (or not free will) is irrelevant. Personal responsibility and morals are social constructs. Social constructs do not depend on the question of whether one’s has will or not, be it free or not. I claim, “Jacques is a Frenchman” is a sentence that depends on social constructs for meaning (that individual person, nation and so on have meaning). Just as that depends on social constructs for meaning that you are a responsible accountable adult has meaning based on the same sort of social construct.

  29. Again. That’s not what I’m saying. Strong emergence says order (new regular phenomena in a aggregate regime) can arise from local interactions driven by randomness. What occurs at that emergent layer is not random, and not predictable.

    Ok but the emergent layer is determined by the underlying laws of physics. Determined != predictable.

    But to the question of personal responsibility and morals … the question of free will (or not free will) is irrelevant. Personal responsibility and morals are social constructs. Social constructs do not depend on the question of whether one’s has will or not

    What of the claim then that religion(s) provide an ‘objective foundation’ for ethics and morals? If these are just ‘social constructs’ then how are they objective? Or are ‘social constructs’ objective too in the sense that they are determined by an ‘emergent layer’. “Jacques is a Frenchman” may be debateable but it’s not really entirely subjective in the manner that “I like ice cream” is. For example, we can say pretty clearly that “Julia Child was not a Frenchman”.

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