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Freedom and Determinism

Freedom and Determinism

Fourteenth lecture for a course on science.

GeorgeMatthews

January 25, 2018
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  1. Freedom and Determinism
    The laws of physics made me do it!
    George Matthews
    CC 2017

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  2. The Scientific World View

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  3. The Scientific World View
    ! Nature is law-governed.

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  4. The Scientific World View
    ! Nature is law-governed.
    ! Scientific explanations are
    mechanistic.

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  5. The Scientific World View
    ! Nature is law-governed.
    ! Scientific explanations are
    mechanistic.
    ! Science is reductive.

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  6. Newton’s Laws of Motion

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  7. Newton’s Laws of Motion
    1. An object in uniform motion tends to
    stay in motion, an object at rest tends to
    stay at rest unless acted upon by forces.

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  8. Newton’s Laws of Motion
    1. An object in uniform motion tends to
    stay in motion, an object at rest tends to
    stay at rest unless acted upon by forces.
    2. Changing the momentum of an object
    (accelerating it) requires application of a
    force such that F = ma.

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  9. Newton’s Laws of Motion
    1. An object in uniform motion tends to
    stay in motion, an object at rest tends to
    stay at rest unless acted upon by forces.
    2. Changing the momentum of an object
    (accelerating it) requires application of a
    force such that F = ma.
    3. Every action has an equal and opposite
    reaction.

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  10. What’s the better explanation?

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  11. What’s the better explanation?
    1. The planets we can see move in circles
    because it is in the nature of perfect
    things to move in circles.

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  12. What’s the better explanation?
    1. The planets we can see move in circles
    because it is in the nature of perfect
    things to move in circles.
    2. All planets move in ellipses because all
    things with mass exert gravitational
    attraction on one another.

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  13. Our place in the universe? Insignificant.

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  14. What’s the better explanation?

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  15. What’s the better explanation?
    1. Thunder is the sound of Thor’s chariot,
    lightening comes from his hammer.

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  16. What’s the better explanation?
    1. Thunder is the sound of Thor’s chariot,
    lightening comes from his hammer.
    2. Thunder is the shock wave generated by
    the disruption of air masses resulting
    from the sudden movement of
    electrically charged particles in a
    lightening strike.

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  17. Do things to please the gods? Pointless.

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  18. What’s the better explanation?

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  19. What’s the better explanation?
    1. Living things move, grow and reproduce
    because they are animated with a
    life-force or immaterial soul.

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  20. What’s the better explanation?
    1. Living things move, grow and reproduce
    because they are animated with a
    life-force or immaterial soul.
    2. Living things do all that they do as a
    result of the complex interactions of
    molecular machinery.

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  21. Life after death? Not happening.

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  22. What’s the better explanation?

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  23. What’s the better explanation?
    1. I did it because I freely chose to do it.

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  24. What’s the better explanation?
    1. I did it because I freely chose to do it.
    2. I did it because of the complex interplay
    of genetic, environmental and
    physiological forces acting on my brain
    and body.

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  25. Punishment for crimes? Try preventing or treating it
    instead.

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  26. reductionism
    What is the Heart, but a Spring; and the Nerves, but so
    many Strings; and the Joynts, but so many Wheeles, giving
    motion to the whole Body?
    – Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651

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  27. scientific determinism
    We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect
    of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at
    a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in
    motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is com-
    posed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these
    data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the
    movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those
    of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be
    uncertain and the future just like the past would be present
    before its eyes.
    – Pierre-Simon Laplace, 1814

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  28. determinism and freedom

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  29. determinism and freedom
    true or false?
    ! A meaningful life requires real choices.

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  30. determinism and freedom
    true or false?
    ! A meaningful life requires real choices.
    ! Responsible adults make up their own minds.

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  31. determinism and freedom
    true or false?
    ! A meaningful life requires real choices.
    ! Responsible adults make up their own minds.
    ! To explain something is to say what caused it to happen.

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  32. determinism and freedom
    true or false?
    ! A meaningful life requires real choices.
    ! Responsible adults make up their own minds.
    ! To explain something is to say what caused it to happen.
    ! Human behavior can be explained.

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  33. Buridan’s Ass
    ?
    If there is no difference between these equidistant bales of hay
    and the donkey has no inner biases towards left or right it will
    not be able to choose one or the other and will starve. How are
    we any different?

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