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Old 06-07-2014, 08:47 PM   #61
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

Actually my answer to the thread is NO.
If you study Continental Philosophy you know what I mean.
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Old 06-07-2014, 09:15 PM   #62
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Unforced Terror View Post
Pure and utter bullshit. No psychological, social, or metaphysical pressure stopped me from dropping this notebook onto the floor, stepping on it, and ripping it apart with my feet. See? I did this by myself. My unconscious brain certainly did not pre-decide for me to do that, that would be retarded.
Perhaps your brain knows that your usual reaction to seeing something which questions your free will is random violence in order to disprove it. Also since your brain knows of your fondness for violence and dislike of notebooks, it convinced you to drop said notebook on the floor and rip it to shreds.

Perhaps our brains are secretly trolling us into believing in free-will, exploiting the proletariat brain cells, dangling the carrot of "free will" to keep them dreaming yet oppressing them with malnourishment so they are never strong or smart enough to overthrow their overlords.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:33 AM   #63
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Time Violation View Post
Ok then, it's only subjective opinions - btw, why did you write in this topic?
I stumbled upon this thread discussing a topic I like and am well versed on. That's what triggered me to write the previous post, which in turn has triggered you to write this reply that I am now replying to.

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Was it just particles logging you into MTF?
Absolutely. Ofc, decoding human actions to the level of atomic particles is a tremendous task, but maybe in 10 or 20 years we will have computer models good enough to show that. The brain is an area of research in physics as well, you know?

In any case, one can have a more or less abstract notion of what is going on, if you go layer by layer: organ level -> cell level -> molecular level -> atomic level.

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However, then you proceed to say that you were 'convinced' by some guy who sent you some text, in other words, you were convinced by somebody's subjective opinion, all it took was someone's clever text, not physics certainly.
No, that was the nail in the coffin, so to speak. There is a whole background of knowledge (scientific and otherwise) which I have built throughout my life in order to get where I am now.

We humans have a hard time interpreting information in a purely objective way, specially if it conflicts with our system of beliefs (this forum provides ample evidence of that ). The best way to tackle this issue is to, first, allow ourselves to be wrong on the subject at hand (it is ok to be wrong); and second, read on the issue from different sources, different angles. That is what I did.

Good place to start would be Robert Sapolsky or Jacque Fresco lectures. Just type 'Robert Sapolsky free will' on youtube and you'll get videos of that.


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Originally Posted by MichaelKrep View Post
I have two questions for you:

1. How do you deal with the issue of unfalsifiability? Is there any evidence which can be adduced to disprove determinism?
1. I'm not sure what you mean by the bolded part, but what the free will believers hold on to, in the scientific community, is on the limit imposed by the Heisenberg Principle. I'll give you a brief on what is behind this Principle, before I jump into the issue of free will. You can also take a read on wikipedia if you want a more detailed explanation.

There is a degree of uncertainty in quantum systems which is related to the wave-particle duality of matter. Past a certain point, increasing the precision of your measurement equipment or the way you prepare your experiment won't get you better results. If you get more precision in an observable, you get less precision in another (for example: the position vs momentum of an electron).

This can mean that even under the same conditions the outcome is not allways the same. The outcome however cannot be anything, it is limited to a region of possibilities, with varying degrees of probability. The equations from quantum theory define these regions and the distribution of probabilities inside them; experiments agree with the theory.

However I am of the opinion that reality is not truly probabilistic, it's just that this limit forces us to deal with the problem in a probabilistic way. I am open to both possibilities though. The difference here is between an absolute determinist view and a determinist-probabilist view. Both are deterministic.

What the believers of free will extrapolate from here is that, within this region of probabilities, we can control the outcome. This extrapolation is completely void of any scientific validity however, and is nothing more than trying to fit true scientifical knowledge into their system of beliefs.


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2. Doesn't the negation of free will also negate personal responsibility? If I go out and commit a crime, I bear none of the blame, since my actions were obviously completely dictated by factors outside of myself?
2. Here the issue is even more complex (although it doesn't require any background in quantum mechanics ).

The blame game is an outdated notion. Despite the blame, if a person kills another, there is a problem that needs to be fixed. What should be done is an in depth analysis on the situation to assess what caused the killer to kill and try to fix what is triggering people to kill. The killer usually will also have to be fixed due to trauma or a negative thought pattern he holds. Meanwhile he has to be locked up as long as he is considered a danger to society. And prisons shouldn't be shitholes, they should be true rehabilitation centers. This prison in Austria is going in the right direction:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/ma...pagewanted=all

Instead, what the current system does is giving sentences whose weight is linked to the gravity of the crime and with what predisposition has the criminal performed his crime. Most often that not, this leads for the criminal to withhold relevant information in order to avoid a harder sentence.

Anyway, most crimes are directly or indirectly related to the monetary system. Only when we redesign our socio-economical system will crime rates really go down.



The negation of free will does allow one to negate personal responsability, but does it do any good? I can say that when I realised there was no free will, my life was a bit of a mess at the time (I mean it already was before that). I was skipping school and playing video games all day. So I did use negation of personal responsability in order to rationalise for myself the way I was leading my life. But later on knowing there is no free will has helped me get out of the hole I was in. I am of the opinion that knowing the truth is allways the best. The most correct decisions are made when one is dealing with as much correct information as possible.

The focus has to be on the future: what will be the consequences of your actions in the short-term and the long-term, for you, the people surrounding you, and the world in general. It is important to remember that we are all connected, directly or indirectly, so the more positive things you do for society, the best chances you have of getting positive things in return. Being a good and productive person is actually a selfish act in itself as it increases our chances of having a good life. Not to mention the millions of years of living in community have hardwired us to feel good when we help others, maintain good relationships with them, etc.
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:43 PM   #64
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by redshift36188 View Post
1. I'm not sure what you mean by the bolded part, but what the free will believers hold on to, in the scientific community, is on the limit imposed by the Heisenberg Principle. I'll give you a brief on what is behind this Principle, before I jump into the issue of free will. You can also take a read on wikipedia if you want a more detailed explanation.

There is a degree of uncertainty in quantum systems which is related to the wave-particle duality of matter. Past a certain point, increasing the precision of your measurement equipment or the way you prepare your experiment won't get you better results. If you get more precision in an observable, you get less precision in another (for example: the position vs momentum of an electron).

This can mean that even under the same conditions the outcome is not always the same. The outcome however cannot be anything, it is limited to a region of possibilities, with varying degrees of probability. The equations from quantum theory define these regions and the distribution of probabilities inside them; experiments agree with the theory.

However I am of the opinion that reality is not truly probabilistic, it's just that this limit forces us to deal with the problem in a probabilistic way. I am open to both possibilities though. The difference here is between an absolute determinist view and a determinist-probabilist view. Both are deterministic.

What the believers of free will extrapolate from here is that, within this region of probabilities, we can control the outcome. This extrapolation is completely void of any scientific validity however, and is nothing more than trying to fit true scientifical knowledge into their system of beliefs.
This doesn't really address my question at all. What I meant was that some very influential theorists (Karl Popper being the leader of this strand of thought) have identified falsifiability (the ability of a theory to be disproven by adducing some new evidence) as a defining characteristic of a sound scientific theory. According to Popper, calling an unfalsifiable theory (one that is able to incorporate any evidence) true is a fallacy.

In your answer you have touched briefly on free will proponents doing this, but I put to you that determinists are even more guilty of this. All they do is point to a vast number of factors (social, historical, evolutionary, environmental, etc.) which allegedly lead to an outcome which is wholly out of our hands to change. Yet the mechanism of these factors leading us to this "decision" is never explained. This makes the "theory" of determinism so vague as to be unable to be disproven by any evidence I can imagine. We do not have an alternative universe to check the hypothesis of determinists and therefore it is an unfalsifiable theory (an examples of another unfalsifiable theory is God). This in turn leads us to the conclusion that its scientific value is doubtful.
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Old 06-08-2014, 06:53 PM   #65
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by MichaelKrep View Post
This doesn't really address my question at all. What I meant was that some very influential theorists (Karl Popper being the leader of this strand of thought) have identified falsifiability (the ability of a theory to be disproven by adducing some new evidence) as a defining characteristic of a sound scientific theory. According to Popper, calling an unfalsifiable theory (one that is able to incorporate any evidence) true is a fallacy.

In your answer you have touched briefly on free will proponents doing this, but I put to you that determinists are even more guilty of this. All they do is point to a vast number of factors (social, historical, evolutionary, environmental, etc.) which allegedly lead to an outcome which is wholly out of our hands to change. Yet the mechanism of these factors leading us to this "decision" is never explained. This makes the "theory" of determinism so vague as to be unable to be disproven by any evidence I can imagine. We do not have an alternative universe to check the hypothesis of determinists and therefore it is an unfalsifiable theory (an examples of another unfalsifiable theory is God). This in turn leads us to the conclusion that its scientific value is doubtful.
Ah, I understand what you meant now. By definition, a theory that is correct is unfalsifiable. So how to distinguish between two kinds of unfalsibiable theories: one that is correct and one that is not? I guess you'll eventually find some loophole in the incorrect one, like in the God problem. God is by definition the personification of magic, so it can't be falsified, because it has no physical/logical reference. The proponents of God theory say: what if some things are not logical? Then yeah, what can we do to disprove God if we can't use logic?

Logic is the basis of all scientific theories and so far it has succeded in advancing our understanding of the Universe, so I go by that.

Now that I think about it, this is exactly the same thing for free will proponents. Free will has no physical reference. Why do you choose to take a certain action instead of another? If you answer: because it is what I want to do. Then I will ask: and why do you want to?

There must be a cause or set of causes that make you want to do that thing, even if you're not aware of it.

When you accuse determinists of not giving a full explanation behind the causal mechanism, you are failing to grasp the level of complexity of reality, which is full of interdependent variables and functions.

But I can try to give a basic example with a very superficial analysis (going full in depth is a very complex task).

Let's say you are lacking nutrients in your body, you will feel hungry as a result, or in other words, you will get the desire to eat. But at the time you got hungry you were also watching a movie and you "decided" to keep watching the movie. You may try to answer that despite having this biological need to absorb nutrients, you have chosen out of your free will to not do so, but in reality it was simply another biological need which was being predominant over hunger: being entertained, fullfiling your curiosity or having a deeper understanding in human relationships, which the movie provides.


Still on the subject of unfalsifiability, I must also mention that we can never know that a given theory is truly correct since there may be some evidence out there which disproves the theory but that we have simply not found yet.

As I've said though, not everything is completely settled in the deterministic theory, but its core principles are very sound and in accordance to current experimental data.
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Old 06-08-2014, 07:23 PM   #66
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by redshift36188 View Post
Let's say you are lacking nutrients in your body, you will feel hungry as a result, or in other words, you will get the desire to eat. But at the time you got hungry you were also watching a movie and you "decided" to keep watching the movie. You may try to answer that despite having this biological need to absorb nutrients, you have chosen out of your free will to not do so, but in reality it was simply another biological need which was being predominant over hunger: being entertained, fullfiling your curiosity or having a deeper understanding in human relationships, which the movie provides.
Hardly so. Eating is a genuine biological need, because you don't eat you die, watching movies not really, you can comfortably live without seeing a single movie. Moreover, there are plenty of way to be entrained, watching a movie, watching a football game, reading a book, playing a video game etc. Why did I choose movie over a book or a football game? There's no biological need that will cover such decision process.
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:08 PM   #67
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by redshift36188 View Post
By definition, a theory that is correct is unfalsifiable.
Absolutely wrong. There is a difference between unfalsifiable and as yet unfalsified.

Quote:
There must be a cause or set of causes that make you want to do that thing, even if you're not aware of it.
Flat out assertion, unsubstantiated by evidence.

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When you accuse determinists of not giving a full explanation behind the causal mechanism, you are failing to grasp the level of complexity of reality, which is full of interdependent variables and functions.
Again, you are only asserting what you are required to prove in the first place. You just say "there must have been a cause which left the individual no choice" but fail to produce any proof of that statement.

Quote:
Still on the subject of unfalsifiability, I must also mention that we can never know that a given theory is truly correct since there may be some evidence out there which disproves the theory but that we have simply not found yet.
Yes, finally you are (kind of) getting falsifiability. What the problem with determinism is that there is no such evidence which can be adduced to disprove it. All its proponents will do is say "well, there must have been a cause which made the individual choose this way" without ever discharging the burden of proof of actually demonstrating that the choice was forced.

I completely freely choose to end this post with the following emoticon:
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:29 PM   #68
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Flat out assertion, unsubstantiated by evidence.

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Originally Posted by MichaelKrep View Post
Again, you are only asserting what you are required to prove in the first place. You just say "there must have been a cause which left the individual no choice" but fail to produce any proof of that statement.
Spot on
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:26 PM   #69
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Time Violation View Post
Hardly so. Eating is a genuine biological need, because you don't eat you die, watching movies not really, you can comfortably live without seeing a single movie. Moreover, there are plenty of way to be entrained, watching a movie, watching a football game, reading a book, playing a video game etc. Why did I choose movie over a book or a football game? There's no biological need that will cover such decision process.
Eventually you will eat if you don't want to die of hunger, but you can put that need aside for a while in order to fullfil other needs. They're both biological needs, obviously some are life threatening if you don't fullfil them while others aren't. Ok, if you don't want to call the non-life threatening ones needs, call them desires. The point is that the source is biological/physical, it's not out of nothing.


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Absolutely wrong. There is a difference between unfalsifiable and as yet unfalsified.
Ofc there is a difference, but if a theory is truly correct then it's unfalsifiable, not just as yet unfalsified. The problem is that when we have a truly correct theory in our hands, we can't know if it's proper unfalsifiable or just as yet unfalsified.


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Flat out assertion, unsubstantiated by evidence.
Not at all. There's plenty of experiments which point this way. You can change the behaviour of people by for example inserting them in a different culture. There's that experiment with brain scans which has been mentioned early in the thread. There's so many things on this, you just have to go and look out for them. On the other hand there are absolutely zero experiments which point in the free will direction.

Quote:
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Again, you are only asserting what you are required to prove in the first place. You just say "there must have been a cause which left the individual no choice" but fail to produce any proof of that statement.
You fail to grasp the complexity of the problem.

Scientific data agrees with determinism, so the burden of proof is not really on me. Free will on the other hand has a complete lack of physical reference. This is the atheists having to prove there is no God all over again.

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Yes, finally you are (kind of) getting falsifiability. What the problem with determinism is that there is no such evidence which can be adduced to disprove it.
So basically determinism is guilty of its own success.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:16 AM   #70
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

OK, this last one is just so daft that I could write pages and pages on all that is wrong with it. Let's see.

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Originally Posted by redshift36188 View Post
Ofc there is a difference, but if a theory is truly correct then it's unfalsifiable, not just as yet unfalsified. The problem is that when we have a truly correct theory in our hands, we can't know if it's proper unfalsifiable or just as yet unfalsified.
Let me break this down for you because you seem to refuse to see a very simple conceptual difference here, which I assumed was obvious.

Falsifiability refers to the inherent possibility of a theory being disproven, not to whether it is in fact correct or not. A simple example will hopefully put this to rest (the example is not mine, it was conceived by Bertrand Russell):

Unfalsifiability: I claim that there is a teapot orbiting the sun. But not only is the teapot small, but it is invisible, has no mass and is completely undetectable by any sort of sensory examination. Therefore there is nothing that you can do to demonstrate to me that my theory is incorrect, no empirical evidence will show the incorrectness of my position. This is what is called an unfalsifiable theory.

As yet unfalsified: I claim that the Earth exerts a gravitational pull on all objects in its vicinity. This is a theory which is as yet unfalsified, but one can easily imagine how that theory can be disproven (i.e. an apple that suddenly begins to float in the air). You can easily see that this theory, despite not being disproven and probably being correct, is falsifiable.

Quote:
Not at all. There's plenty of experiments which point this way. You can change the behaviour of people by for example inserting them in a different culture. There's that experiment with brain scans which has been mentioned early in the thread. There's so many things on this, you just have to go and look out for them. On the other hand there are absolutely zero experiments which point in the free will direction.
No one here is disputing that our decisions are heavily determined by our culture and our genetic make-up. But you are making a different claim: i.e. that our decisions are 100% determined by factors outside our free agency. Your evidence proves a conclusion which is somewhat similar, but ultimately rather different from the one you are trying to reach.

Quote:
You fail to grasp the complexity of the problem.
So you keep saying but that does not make it true.

Quote:
Scientific data agrees with determinism, so the burden of proof is not really on me. Free will on the other hand has a complete lack of physical reference. This is the atheists having to prove there is no God all over again.
No, it is not. You are making a positive claim that my decisions are wholly determined by my environment, my biology and my culture. The burden to adduce some evidence is squarely on you for that.

Both positions are equally unfalsifiable, at least until we devise an experiment which can show us what would have happened in an alternate universe where we can look at the same decision over and over again. Only then will we have evidence either way (that people either do or do not make the same decision every time when presented with the exact same external factors, for example).


Quote:
So basically determinism is guilty of its own success.
So are God, Zeus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster because nobody has disproved them so far, according to your logic. Please google "unfalsifiability" and stop making the same error again and again.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:41 AM   #71
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by redshift36188 View Post
Eventually you will eat if you don't want to die of hunger, but you can put that need aside for a while in order to fullfil other needs. They're both biological needs, obviously some are life threatening if you don't fullfil them while others aren't. Ok, if you don't want to call the non-life threatening ones needs, call them desires. The point is that the source is biological/physical, it's not out of nothing.
Like above posts says, you give zero proof. Whether I'm going to use this smiley or this one , or no smiley at all in post - sorry that is no biological nor physical need, I can choose either of them by pressing button, simply because I decided to do so, not because of a biological need to use smileys
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Old 06-09-2014, 01:50 PM   #72
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

An interesting question related to this is that do you consider animals to have free will? None have but some do or some don't?
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Old 06-09-2014, 02:35 PM   #73
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Lopez View Post
An interesting question related to this is that do you consider animals to have free will? None have but some do or some don't?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11998687

Interesting article which points to a conclusion that, as usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Now I should point out that what I am opposed to are statements of the sort of "human action is wholly determined by outside factors", not statements of the sort that we are constrained to a limited set of options. The latter is quite self-evident.
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Old 06-09-2014, 04:35 PM   #74
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

This is such a difficult question, to answer, to prove, and to believe. People have tried countless time to prove free will, and discredit it. This question has been one question that is nearly, if not actually, impossible to answer/prove. It's just something you believe in, or you don't. (like a religion) Personally, I believe in free will, though I see where others do believe that we don't have free will. It all depends on how much you study, and how you look at it.
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Old 06-10-2014, 05:34 AM   #75
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Let me break this down for you because you seem to refuse to see a very simple conceptual difference here, which I assumed was obvious.

Falsifiability refers to the inherent possibility of a theory being disproven, not to whether it is in fact correct or not. A simple example will hopefully put this to rest (the example is not mine, it was conceived by Bertrand Russell):

Unfalsifiability: I claim that there is a teapot orbiting the sun. But not only is the teapot small, but it is invisible, has no mass and is completely undetectable by any sort of sensory examination. Therefore there is nothing that you can do to demonstrate to me that my theory is incorrect, no empirical evidence will show the incorrectness of my position. This is what is called an unfalsifiable theory.

As yet unfalsified: I claim that the Earth exerts a gravitational pull on all objects in its vicinity. This is a theory which is as yet unfalsified, but one can easily imagine how that theory can be disproven (i.e. an apple that suddenly begins to float in the air). You can easily see that this theory, despite not being disproven and probably being correct, is falsifiable.
I understand the difference clearly, I was simply taking a more literal meaning out of the word, because if a theory is correct, it can't be falsified by real evidence, since there is no real evidence that falsifies it. But ok, I will follow your definition of (un)falsifiability from now on.

Funny thing is that your example of the teapot orbiting the sun is not only falsifiable, I can quickly prove it to you it is false. If the teapot has no mass, then it's made of photons, and light can only orbit around black holes, not the sun.

But let's assume you said a teapot orbiting a black hole. I can already imagine guiding another black hole to pass near the one where the teapot may be, countering its gravitational pull, and in a way that the eventual teapot comes towards a detector.

You see, anything you come up with which has a physical reference is falsifiable. If it has no physical reference, then it doesn't exist; it's that simple.

The only counter to this is to say: "some things in reality have no logic". Then yeah, I can't prove everything has logic - the demonstrations themselves are based on logic, so I can't prove or disprove something if I can't use logic. The progress of civilization, however, has been built by those - scientists - who think everything has logic and do not give up. You have no idea of the stuff we sometimes stumble upon that on the surface seem utterly illogical, but we never quit trying and eventually we get a logical explanation.


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Both positions are equally unfalsifiable, at least until we devise an experiment which can show us what would have happened in an alternate universe where we can look at the same decision over and over again. Only then will we have evidence either way (that people either do or do not make the same decision every time when presented with the exact same external factors, for example).
The experiment with the brain scans demostrates determinism. The guy reading the scans knows your choice before you do. He knows your action by reading physical data and physics=determinism.

Anyway, you are trying to discredit a theory by our inability to imagine an experiment that could possibly disprove it. This Popper theory is weak stuff I should say, not surprising coming from philosophy. I do understand what made Popper think this, but it fails in some aspects. His theory can only be applied when there is still a lot of room for progress. This happened mostly only until the infancy of modern science - around the 18th century - inclusivé.

Established scientifical theories are rarely disproven these days, they are rather updated. The previous ones weren't totally wrong, but they didn't encompass as many phenomena as the new one.

And as I've said in previous posts, not all the details on the determistic theory are settled, but its foundation is.

Another problem in applying the theory from Popper to determinism, is that we're not dealing with just some theory. Determinism is closely linked to the principles behind rational thought. Might be because of this that we can't imagine an experiment, but maybe one day someone will come up with something, who knows.



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What has been long established is that "deterministic behaviour" - the idea that an animal poked in just such a way will react with the same response every time - is not a complete description of behaviour.
So much fail in this one. Animals have memory, it's never the same situation. Not to mention the poke itself won't be done exactly the same way each time or the biological status of the organism is never exactly the same at the time of each poke. To describe determinism in this way is to completely miss the complexity of reality.
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