The problem with the unanswered questions comes from the fact that on one hand because we cannot predict any system's outcome over indefinite time limits it gives the impression that there exists an element of uncertainty. Uncertainty just means you dont know for sure, exactly, at all times for all of time what it will do - it does not mean that the system being observed is chaotic - it means that the methods we use to understand and predict are incomplete.
Be careful with this. When doing science, we generally assume that the results are deterministic, and that any noise in the system is due to our incomplete knowledge of the deterministic processes that cause the phenomenon being studied.
But, since it's an assumption, it cannot also be a conclusion.
Not sure I understand what you mean there. Can you elaborate on where what I said is incorrect?
AshsZ, post #57, writes:
Uncertainty just means you dont know for sure, exactly, at all times for all of time what it will do - it does not mean that the system being observed is chaotic - it means that the methods we use to understand and predict are incomplete.
The bolded portion is an assumption used in science.
The free will debate is all about whether or not that bolded portion is correct.
In reality, there is no way to distinguish between an unknown variable and a chaotic variable, so it can't actually be shown that the uncertainty is due to incomplete knowledge.
Science generally assumes that the uncertainty is due to insufficient knowledge on our part. But, we can't really present that as an argument, because experiments are not generally set up in such a way to evaluate the source or cause of the statistical noise.
AshsZ, post #57, writes:
Find any experiment and do it over and over again - I assure you the same results will always occur.
As Otto said, this is actually wrong. If you repeat an experiment enough times, you are almost guaranteed to obtain at least one contradictory result.
The only thing that allows us the ability to formulate understandings of the universe is because these laws dont change. Have the laws of physics ever changed? I'm not referring to the understandings that people have come up with to explain things - our understanding of the universe has evolved over time. We are revising our theories about how the universe works as we discover new things, but all the things that make the universe tick has always been the same.
This is what Otto was trying to explain.
On what grounds can you state with such certainty that “all the things that make the universe tick have always been the same”?
It would be more appropriate to say that, “As far as we know, all the things that make the universe tick have always been the same.”
But, as our knowledge changes, our conclusions about the nature of the universe will also undoubtedly change.
The knowledge has to proceed the conclusion. Your statements assume that the conclusion is true, and that our knowledge will eventually conform to it. But, until our knowledge conforms to it, the conclusion is only tentative.
So, we tentatively assume that the uncertainty in a data set is due to our lack of knowledge about the complexities of the situation, rather than to the intrusion of a chaotic variable.
Being that our bodies are made of this very stuff that we know behaves according to a specific set of rules, the human body as a whole is a complex biochemical entity that interacts with its surroundings according to the same set of rules that the individual atoms themselves must adhere to. Granted, elements composing molecules within the body are incredibly complex, but this complexity does not allow it to deviate from set laws.
I have no expertise in quantum mechanics or theoretical physics, so I can't claim qualification to comment on the mechanisms of this debate, but I can see that your arguments have a strong reductionist penchant.
If true, your argument would suggest that all actions can be explained by reducing the actor to atoms and analyzing the activity at that level. This effectivey denies the existence of a distinct entity on the level of the human organism.
I have no way to show whether or not your argument is accurate, but my personal feeling is that the "mind" is an emergent property of human physiology, rather than a simple extrapolation of atomic processes.
The reactions of chemicals aren't dependent on what one thinks - you can't put that flame to the hydro-oxy balloon and think it not to explode.
You're probably correct. But, I've been through enough chemistry classes to know that the size and intensity of the balloon's explosion is not guaranteed.
Most chemical reactions do not go to completion, even when perfect ratios of reactants and perfect conditions for the reaction to take place are provided.
We can't predict the behavior of each individual molecule or atom within the balloon. Although most of the molecules will react in dramatically exothermic fashion, a fair amount of them will not, and we currently do not have the technical understanding to explain why this is so.