Causal Determinism as a start to defining free will

I got started in a fucking discussion at the blog Pharyngula about the simple topic of free will. Now I have to read thick fucking philosophy just to understand what the contributers are even talking about because they throw around terms like compatiblist and Mary’s room. It basically comes down to, in my view, what our mind is made of, where it comes from and how.

I found this tidbit below during my research on causal determinism:

Prediction and determinism are also easy to disentangle, barring certain strong theological commitments. As the following famous expression of determinism by Laplace shows, however, the two are also easy to commingle:

We ought to regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its antecedent state and as the cause of the state that is to follow. An intelligence knowing all the forces acting in nature at a given instant, as well as the momentary positions of all things in the universe, would be able to comprehend in one single formula the motions of the largest bodies as well as the lightest atoms in the world, provided that its intellect were sufficiently powerful to subject all data to analysis; to it nothing would be uncertain, the future as well as the past would be present to its eyes. The perfection that the human mind has been able to give to astronomy affords but a feeble outline of such an intelligence. (Laplace 1820)

In this century, Karl Popper defined determinism in terms of predictability also.

Laplace probably had God in mind as the powerful intelligence to whose gaze the whole future is open. If not, he should have: 19th and 20th century mathematical studies have shown convincingly that neither a finite, nor an infinite but embedded-in-the-world intelligence can have the computing power necessary to predict the actual future, in any world remotely like ours. “Predictability” is therefore a façon de parler that at best makes vivid what is at stake in determinism; in rigorous discussions it should be eschewed. The world could be highly predictable, in some senses, and yet not deterministic; and it could be deterministic yet highly unpredictable, as many studies of chaos (sensitive dependence on initial conditions) show.

This puts religion in a whole new perspective!


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