GeorgeMatthews
January 25, 2018
62

# Freedom and Determinism

Fourteenth lecture for a course on science.

January 25, 2018

## Transcript

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

2. The Scientiﬁc World View

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

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

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

6. Newton’s Laws of Motion

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.

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.

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.

10. What’s the better explanation?

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.

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.

13. Our place in the universe? Insigniﬁcant.

14. What’s the better explanation?

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

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.

17. Do things to please the gods? Pointless.

18. What’s the better explanation?

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

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.

21. Life after death? Not happening.

22. What’s the better explanation?

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

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.

25. Punishment for crimes? Try preventing or treating it

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

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

28. determinism and freedom

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

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

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.

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.

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?