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Determinism
06-23-2010, 07:08 AM
Post: #1
Determinism
Not sure where to put this so i'll put it here, Move of in wrong place

Please can I ask for help in understanding what determinism means? I am listening to "Reasonable Doubts" podcast about this subject and I can't get to grips at all. If anyone could just give me a short and simple definition cos I can't get this at all and I'm getting really frustrated with myself.

I know it's not a simple concept but is there just a basic explanation that I can build my understanding on?

Thanks Wink

To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.
Woody Allen
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06-23-2010, 05:01 PM
Post: #2
RE: Determinism
My understanding (which may be incorrect) is that "Determinism" conveys the idea that no action is truly voluntary. In other words, there is no such thing as free-will, because every action is pre-DETERMINED as a result of natural physical laws.

This doesn't mean that we can know what every action will be, because we don't have access to all the factors that lead to a particular action. But if we were able to gather that knowledge, Determinism suggests that we would know in advance what every decision would be.

Determinism is generally used as a counter-argument to Free Will, which suggests that a person is completely free to decide upon any action.

That is my (undoubtedly flawed) understanding of Determinism.

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09-01-2010, 01:23 PM
Post: #3
RE: Determinism
Actually, MerryAtheist is pretty much spot on. Determinism supposes that the brain works entirely on reactive impulses. Various external stimuli go into a machine that spits out a determined reaction. If we could know the state of all things and the rules of the machines, we'd be able to model exactly what's going to happen from now until the end of time. A good argument against this is that the brain is better modeled as a quantum machine, which wouldn't exactly be predictable. In either of these cases, free will is mostly an illusion. You are either destined to behave in one specific way, or else chaotic randomness happens in the brain to cause action.

Determinism isn't a particularly far-fetched concept. If you know someone well, you can guess what they'll say, what they'll choose, and how they'll behave in certain situations. Cognitive-behavioral therapy suggests that we can rewire the brain's reactions to external stimuli from something undesirable (say, fear at seeing spiders) to something desired (calm when seeing spiders). Literature wouldn't be comprehensible if we couldn't formulate archetypes who behave in predictable ways. And the entire study of statistics suggests we can make accurate predictions of the future from seemingly random initial variables.

Personally, when I think that there is no soul and the mind/brain duality is a myth, some form of determinism is the only rational conclusion to explain human behavior. An atheist would have a hard time explaining the mechanics of free will.

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09-02-2010, 04:38 AM
Post: #4
RE: Determinism
Determinism often goes further, it states that nothing is up to chance, everything is predetermined, the idea that there is no free will is often just one part of it. The basis of this being that everything must obey natural laws, and as jrpurdon outlined above that includes the human mind which is treated as mearly a form of complex self aware computer.
There are also variant beliefs, that hold determinism to be true, but only after the creation of the universe, thus this moment set the universe in unstoppable and entirely predicetable motion. Others see the creation of the universe as a reaction carried out by natural laws, some property of absoloute nothing that causes the creation of energy. Of course this is all mere speculation, but in short determinism can be protrayed as the belief that the whole universe is governed only by natural laws and hence everything is predetermined and anything can be predicted with absoloute knowledge of all factors affecting it.

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09-02-2010, 05:17 AM (This post was last modified: 09-02-2010 05:39 AM by may.)
Post: #5
RE: Determinism
What do you think?
Has your destiny already been fixed by forces completely beyond your control? Or is there some truth in the words of English playwright William Shakespeare, who wrote:
“Men at some time are masters of their fates”


HAVE A READ OF THIS

http://www.watchtower.org/e/20050115/article_01.htm
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09-02-2010, 01:36 PM
Post: #6
RE: Determinism
(09-02-2010 05:17 AM)may Wrote:  HAVE A READ OF THIS

It was hard to finish reading it when they start by labeling someone as an "evolutionist." Nevertheless, most atheists don't need to be convinced that humans have free will. As I have experienced it, determinism is a minority stance amongst atheists. Even as a determinist myself, I don't discount that we need to feel like we are in control of our own destinies.

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09-02-2010, 06:42 PM
Post: #7
RE: Determinism
(09-02-2010 01:36 PM)jrpurdon Wrote:  Nevertheless, most atheists don't need to be convinced that humans have free will. As I have experienced it, determinism is a minority stance amongst atheists. Even as a determinist myself, I don't discount that we need to feel like we are in control of our own destinies.
I remember when I was a boy around 8 I wet the bed one night. The next day when my mother found what I had done she taught me that wetting the bed wasn’t an option in our family. Since then I have had many night that I didn’t want to get up to use the bathroom, but I always do. Because of an unpleasant experience I had you could pretty much bet your last dollar on what I will do if nature calls at night. But the choice factor could cause you to lose your money. If for some stupid reason I choose to wet the bed to prove that I am god of my world, it would change everything. Since mankind has the ability to choose, determinism flies out the window with us. I have learned that I can’t depend on anything most people tell me, because they might change their minds. Because they can choose its hard to tell what they will do. The character of a person will determine what choice he might make. A man with honor will sometimes go against what his natural desires would have him do. But don’t place too much hope in a person who has no honor. There is no law that can determine what a person will do in every situation.
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09-03-2010, 01:40 AM
Post: #8
RE: Determinism
Determinism argues that when something unusual and unpredictable happens our lack of ability to predict it was because of a lack of knowledge. Thus choice is an illusion, our decisions are determined by what we have seen and experienced prior to making them, in this case the urge to be a 'god in your own house' would be something caused by hundreds of seperate stimuli in your life leading to this. The fact that we seem to make choices is thus an illusion created by the complexity of the influences which affect a person, and other parts of the natural world.

my atheism is just like your religion
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09-03-2010, 06:41 AM
Post: #9
RE: Determinism
Choice in not just an illusion, the biggest choice I have ever made was choosing to believe in God. Believe me, it was a choice in the beginning and I thought it was impossible for me to ever believe, but one day I choose to believe that option. My experiences told me that there couldn’t be a God, but I chose to look beyond my experiences and believe. I clearly remember several different times during my life making choices that absolutely changed the course of my life. Some of them were good choices, but some have been very regretful. A picture of the moment I made some of my important choices was printed in my mind and I can’t forget. The question of choice isn’t even a question for me. My experiences have determined that I do have choice.
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09-03-2010, 07:35 AM (This post was last modified: 09-03-2010 07:37 AM by athos123.)
Post: #10
RE: Determinism
Anthem im not arguing that we dont experience making a choice, im just presenting to you the argument of determinism, that this is a false perception and our choices are predetermined by the countless factors which affect our brains, stimuli from senses and the body transmitted as chemical and electrical signals. To a determinist the fact that we can experience choice is not proof that we have an actual choice, our responses to any option set being to a determinist, pretermined.
* our responses to any option set, being to a determinist predetermined

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