Talk:Dilemma of determinism

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Citations needed[edit]

I've indicated with Template:Citation needed where some sources would be useful.

In the first paragraph, these include a source supporting the claim that the dilemma consists in a conflict between "determinism and its negation, indeterminism". Another requests that a source be provided for the particular formulations of determinism and indeterminism used here, topics whose interpretation often runs to pages in encyclopedias. Personally, I find this version of the dilemma vastly oversimplified, and even within that simplification, very narrowly focused.

In the second paragraph, another cn requests a source for the claims about the either/or relation between determinism and randomness. This might be an empirical claim or a logical claim based upon particular definitions: it isn't clear.

The remaining cn’s are in the last paragraph and suggest that sources be provided that tie the mentioned standard views upon free will directly to the 'dilemma of determinism'. Personally, I believe this paragraph to be a digression on positionsug about free will, which are not in fact directly tied to the dilemma by any author.

If these sources are provided, it would go a long way to substantiate what is presently simply unsourced opinion. Brews ohare (talk) 17:28, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Even if these sources are provided, they support only a specific view of the dilemma, and ignore entirely the topic of moral responsibility tied into the dilemma by James, by Russell, by Fischer, and many other philosophers. As such, the article suffers from narrow mindedness, perhaps a violation of WP:NPOV. Brews ohare (talk) 17:35, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Recently Snowded removed these citation requests apparently under the misapprehension that Intros are exempt from sourcing requirements. There is no such policy, although there could be a basis for one when the body of the article takes up the same issues and does provide sources there. In the present case that is not so, and citations are necessary, the more so as there is doubt that the Intro is an accurate introduction to the terminology dilemma of determinism. This doubt is reinforced by the observation that the history section, the section with actual sources, employs a completely different interpretation of the phrase 'dilemma of determinism', namely the conflict identified by William James between 'fate' in some form and 'personal autonomy'.

Accordingly, and as is usually done with unsourced assertions, these Template:Citation needed requests have been reintroduced in the hope that some sources supporting the assertions of the Intro can be located. Brews ohare (talk) 16:51, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Lede summarises the article and does not have to be referenced. You also seem to by wikilawyering trying to introduce your rejected edits using citations and notes. Again, if no editor backs you up on this, they get reversed ----Snowded TALK 20:46, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Snowded: Your remark Lede summarises the article and does not have to be referenced. does not appear in WP policy or guidelines so far as I know. According to WP:WHYCITE: "sources are required for material that is challenged or likely to be challenged – if reliable sources cannot be found for challenged material, it is likely to be removed from the article." I would take it that the introductory section of Dilemma of determinism can be removed if no sources are provided.
As noted in the immediately preceding remark that you ignore, your objection to sources would make sense provided the rest of the article has the appropriate sources cited in a more detailed discussion of the points raised in the lead material. However, again as per the above ignored comment, there is in fact no subsequent discussion of the framework proposed in the introduction. In fact, the introduction is not in keeping with about six published works on the subject of the dilemma, all of which put the 'dilemma of determinism' in a different context. The Introduction also is contrary to the views that actually are cited in the history section.
Snowded, you continue to avoid confronting the difficulties with the article to instead chastise me for pointing them out. Tsk, tsk! You again confuse adding citations to sources to support assertions in WP text with some kind of unwarranted digression from the topic. Although footnotes to supplement material in the text is perfectly appropriate under some circumstances, that is not the issue here. Sources are required here simply to back up what (without sources) amount to only a personal interpretation of what the dilemma is about. Brews ohare (talk) 21:51, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

This citation-needed attack is somewhat exaggerated, but I agree with some of the tags: The second paragraph seems like completely original commentary to me. Also, please note that this article started life as part of Doyle's self-promotion campaign where he copied articles from his site over to Wikipedia. It seems that people have removed all reference to his work but still kept his material, and this included original wording such as "Van Inwagen dramatized his understanding..." Leaving aside the history, the body of this article is largely a bunch of quotations, so while I do not support everything that Brews is doing, I also do not think this article needs to be defended as if it were a featured article. Vesal (talk) 15:05, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

Vesal: I take your comment as an exhortation to actually look at sources instead of repeating personal prejudices as to what is the topic here and squelching discussion of sourced opinion. Bravo!! Hope you will help out. Brews ohare (talk) 17:16, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

Relation of the 'dilemma' to the 'standard argument'[edit]

As it stands, Dilemma of determinism is unclear about what 'standard argument' is and what is the connection. As this article is a redirect from 'standard argument' that argument should be presented. An additional paragraph that explains the connection is as follows:

The 'dilemma' is connected to the standard argument against free will. That argument can be phrased as a syllogism with three premises and a conclusion:[1]
P1: If our actions, choices and decisions are caused, they are not free
P2: If our actions, choices and decisions are not caused, then they still are not free
P3: Our actions, choices and decisions are either caused or they are not caused
 C: Either way, our actions, choices and decisions are not free
This syllogism then sets up a 'dilemma' for the select group of those who (i) want to believe in free will, and also (ii) accept the third premise of the syllogism. This group finds itself "in a spot of bother. The trouble takes the form of what is known as a dilemma...You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't."[1] Specifically, this group is 'damned' if they accept the first premise and 'damned' if they accept the second. In this formulation, the forced alternatives one must choose between are sometimes referred to as the 'horns of the dilemma', the 'horns' being the first two of the three postulates of the standard argument against free will.
[1] Mark Rowlands (2012). The Philosopher At The End Of The Universe: Philosophy Explained Through Science Fiction Films. Random House. p. 144. ISBN 1448116678. 

Any comments? Brews ohare (talk) 17:52, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

Comments on the connection[edit]

  • This formulation is similar to the two versions given by Fischer, but he includes 'moral responsibility' in his. The 'standard argument' is not the same as the 'dilemma' because it points out that three premises are needed to reach the conclusion, while the 'dilemma' is between two of the three, the third not being stated clearly and separately, a decision made so as to arrive at only two choices as required by the definition of a 'dilemma'. Hence a complete statement of the 'standard argument' is needed. Brews ohare (talk) 18:11, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
  • The article on incompatibilism has the metaphysics correctly laid out, and we should stay with that. There are three incompatible premises of three [im]possible worlds. In my humble opinion, Fischer's emphasis on the dilemma misrepresents both the nature of the William James address and the equal metaphysical status of each of the three incompatible premises. Therefore, our focus should be switched away from dilemma and back to freedom of will. Free will is the one which actually does some work in ethics — in being necessary for moral responsibility in some ethical formulations. BlueMist (talk) 02:33, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
  • I still do not understand this distinction between "standard argument" and "dilemma". For any dilemma, it is assumed that the horns are jointly exhaustive, and for any dilemma, one may raise the objection that it poses a false dichotomy. This does not make the assumption implicit or somehow unstated. This is precisely what it means to be a dilemma. Vesal (talk) 14:37, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
Vesal: I agree with you about the nature of a 'dilemma' as a choice between two unpleasant and jointly exhaustive alternatives. And I agree that a rejoinder is bound to include the charge of a 'false dichotomy'. However, that is not the only response against this dilemma. As pointed out by Rowlands, and just above by BlueMist, the 'dilemma' is made a choice between two of three premises by making the third premise only implicit, and thereby avoiding its consideration. It may or may not be a 'false dichotomy', but it is definitely a forced dilemma manufactured by burying the third premise out of sight. That also is the main difference between the 'dilemma' as posed in this article and the 'standard argument'. The 'standard argument' states the third premise explicitly so that it becomes part of the discussion. I wonder if you can see matters that way? Brews ohare (talk) 16:31, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
Vesal: I'd like to add that IMO the topic of 'dilemma' actually is a deeper and more fundamental topic than the 'standard argument' if it is posed correctly as a conflict of two intuitions: that of 'fate' or 'karma' or 'nature' and that of personal autonomy in decision making. From the standpoint of our intuitions, the 'standard argument' is simply one attempt to formalize this conflict in an axiomatic manner, and the conflict itself remains as a deeper concern than any such axiomatization, just as the utility of various geometries is subsidiary to the actual layout of the universe. The 'standard argument' fits in somewhat along the lines of a linguistic framework as proposed by Rudolf Carnap. Perhaps you agree???? Brews ohare (talk) 17:24, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
There is no logical dilemma among the three suggested possibilities, unless a false dichotomy is fabricated.
One can argue that in a 100% deterministic world free will (or chance) is impossible. This is the usual incompatibilism argument. For example, see van Inwagen, 1975. This argument needs no unrelated dilemma to make its case.
One can also argue that an entirely different self-contained world of 100% chance makes free will impossible. This would be true for the first second of the Big Bang, or for worlds entirely at the lowest, very simplest quantum level.
However, the two possible worlds, as above, do not make a dichotomy where there are only two logical alternatives to consider. There are infinitely many other worlds, including the actual naked eye world which we always see, where all three alternatives are intermixed, in partial compatibility.
Ideally, we should relay the case against free will as has been historically stated. As long as the metaphysics are explicitly possible and the argument is valid (see van Inwagen's intro), the source is acceptable. BlueMist (talk) 01:42, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
BlueMist: I am unsure that we actually agree completely about what is wrong with the present article on the 'dilemma'. Perhaps you could comment upon the following formulation?
The two premises that are considered as the 'dilemma' (either chance or causal determinism) as presented in this article can be boiled down to one: that 'the laws of nature' contradict 'free will', whether these laws are probabilistic or deterministic being a matter for further discussion. Then, as BlueMist has noted, there is no dilemma, and the 'standard argument' can be simplified to two postulates and a conclusion. That boiling down of government of events by 'either chance or causal determinism' to simply government by the 'laws of nature' covers BlueMist's observation that there is a continuum of possibilities between pure chance and complete predictability, as exemplified by the contrast between various forms of natural laws.
There remains a need for an empirical premise such as: "every event is governed by a 'law of nature'". Although claiming empirical validity, this premise is not verifiable, being an extrapolation well beyond the reach of any observations. However, this premise along with the first (about incompatibility of the 'laws' with 'free will') allows the conclusion, as before, that there is no place for free will.
It is the empirical premise that is the most important in criticizing the present article, as the first premise is simply one of usage and definitions (selecting what is 'free will' and what constitutes a 'law of nature'), an academic consideration of terminology and usage that is a preoccupation of many philosophers. The question of fact is the empirical one, the blanket applicability of the 'laws of nature', and that is where the present article falls down by giving its validity no consideration at all, despite widespread debate in the literature and, of course, in theology.
BlueMist, you have considered the consolidation into one of the two premises of the dilemma. But you haven't gone into the last issue about the validity of the empirical premise. Perhaps you could comment further? Brews ohare (talk) 16:10, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
Brews ohare, Empirical premises, drawn as 'laws of nature', are dubious for philosophical purposes. Laws of nature do not only include Newton's or Schroedinger's physical formulations. For applicability to a construct like freewill, Psychology or anything from Philosophy of Mind also needs to be considered. There is no accepted or valid scientific reason why the mind should be fully deterministic or random, nor that it should be completely free of those constraints and potentialities.
Take a look at Ted Sider's outline of the van Inwagen argument HERE. The metaphysics laid explicit is an Aristotelian reformulation of Newton. Prominent is a God's-eye-perspective of time and space, rather than Newton's inertial frame. An inertial frame is arbitrary for practical reasons, but it is not eternally fixed. The origin of the frame moves with the observer or instrument, as one would expect in a Heraclitean/Galilean description of motion. This reformulation is essential to make the dichotomy of the argument valid. BlueMist (talk) 22:37, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
BlueMist: I agree that the term 'laws of nature' can be generalized to include laws not yet established, and of different form. And further, the entire scientific enterprise may be unable to encompass said 'laws of nature' - laws of the mind perhaps among them. (I think these are your main points, right?) From a philosophical viewpoint we need not speculate about what form future laws of nature may adopt. At this point in our understanding it suffices to point out the subject-object problem.
As for the 'Dilemma' , as posed in this article, it is discredited very easily as an irresponsible truncation of the standard argument, burying one essential hypothesis. A responsible presentation of 'Dilemma' at a minimum would be explicitly developed as a form of the 'standard argument' that emphasizes a very special version of two of its premises. A more basic approach to the 'Dilemma' would be based even more generally than upon the 'standard argument'. Is that how you see it? Brews ohare (talk) 00:12, 16 December 2013 (UTC)


I suggest posting this draft article as a replacement for the existing redirect of Standard argument against free will, not as the ultimate form of such an article, but as a beginning point for development. There is a majority opinion here that some article should be placed under this header. I think that Snowded will immediately propose its deletion, and I hope that when that happens a focused consideration of what this article should be will result. Brews ohare (talk) 19:05, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

I have made this replacement. Brews ohare (talk) 19:23, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
And I have undone it. That was the subject of the RfC above which although still open has no editors agreeing so the consensus is against you. Doing it anyway against that consensus is disruptive. Further doing it by copy and paste is the incorrect procedure – the proper procedure is to delete the redirect and move the draft article. As a non-trivial and contended move it would need a RM, but that is moot given the already open RfC on the same subject.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 19:43, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
Well, John, congratulations in assisting with this article and advancing the state of WP without making a single constructive remark. Brews ohare (talk) 20:02, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
If he hadn't I would have. You have got to stop these unilateral edits which you know will be opposed. If it is agreed to have a separate article (stage I) then there is a question as to content (Stage II). One can agree to the first, but still reject your formulation for the second. Given that your edits in respect of determinism have generally been rejected by other editors you should have the common sense to get consensus before making a change. ----Snowded TALK 23:50, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I expect this bureaucratic approach from you and Blackburne inasmuch as neither of you has made any attempt to approach content, and have no such intentions, it appears. Brews ohare (talk) 00:17, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

Its a minor article Brews, if someone wants to improve it fine, but you want to make it a general discussion of free will and determinism based on your personal interpretation of the field. Attempts were made by Pfhorrest to engage you in improving the article but you simply carried on asserting your original opinion and ignored him. We now have some other editors involved so try and do this in stages. ----Snowded TALK 00:34, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
Your assessment is not based upon any factual discussion of content, and is simply your 'gut' feeling, which is worthless all by itself. Brews ohare (talk) 01:35, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
There was extensive factual discussion of content in the many, oh so many threads you have opened on this Brews. You just didn't like it and ignored it. ----Snowded TALK 10:40, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
There has been discussion of content on this page, Snowded, but no thanks to you or to Blackburne. You may notice that while this article about the 'standard argument' is completely sourced and summarizes about half a dozen perspectives, the perspective of dilemma of determinism remains completely unsourced and is simply a parochial opinion. Nonetheless, I have suggested two sources that do explain this parochial view, but they have not been added to the article, and the very many famous sources that present different perspectives remain excluded from the article. So, Snowded, all is not fine with this unsourced parochial article, and attempts to fix it are constantly interrupted by your personal campaign to suppress any attempts to fix things, regardless of the merits, regardless of sources, which BTW, you disdain to discuss. Brews ohare (talk) 15:50, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

Proposed deletion of controversial statements[edit]

Several assertions in the introduction of this article have been flagged for some time as requiring supporting citations. In fact, it appears from published sources that these statements cannot be supported, but present a parochial view of the subject dilemma of determinism, and also fail to connect this topic with the standard argument against free will, which presently is redirected to dilemma of determinism. It is therefore proposed that this introduction be rewritten.

In principle the introduction should express views that are in fact supported by reference to published sources, and should include widely recognized sources such as the seminal article by William James that popularized this designation of the topic. But at a minimum, Wikipedia editors' unsupported opinions that frame the subject as a claustrophobic academic exercise in semantics should be sourced, and supplemented by a presentation of the wider issues that the subject raises. Brews ohare (talk) 15:06, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

"However, St. Thomas' works have not been fully assimilated"[edit]

"However, St. Thomas' works have not been fully assimilated": what on earth does this mean? (talk) 18:06, 18 November 2014 (UTC) Mike Chase