Saturday, July 4, 2009

Weekend At Bernies 2: Electron Boogaloo (4 of 5)

(continued midstride from 3)...

Searle, to his credit, has not ignored quantum physics before committing himself to deterministic materialism. He gives an argument against it right before he mentions Laplace‘s image:

Indeterminism at the level of particles in physics is really no support at all to any doctrine of the freedom of the will; because first, the statistical indeterminacy at the level of particles does not show any indeterminacy at the level of the objects that matter to us – human bodies, for example. And secondly, even if there is an element of indeterminacy in the behaviour of physical particles – even if they are only statistically predictable – still, that by itself gives no scope for human freedom of the will ; because it doesn't follow from the fact that particles are only statistically determined that the human mind can force the statistically-determined particles to swerve from their paths. Indeterminism is no evidence that there is or could be some mental energy of human freedom that can move molecules in directions that they were not otherwise going to move. So it really does look as if everything we know about physics forces us to some form of denial of human freedom. (Minds, Brains & Science, 86-87)

I am grateful to Harry Frankfurt for introducing a very useful term into academic philosophy in his 2005 bestselling book. I am not writing my thesis right now, but a post for my blog, so I feel justified in using this very strong term to characterize Searle’s hand waving in the passage quoted above. It is BULLSHIT!

First, the phrase “statistically determined” is self-contradictory bullshit - the two words don’t cohere. Particles are not “statistically determined” and they do not have “statistically determined paths.” That’s another bullshit phrase. Quantum indeterminacy rules out the existence of determined paths. Any fusion of statistics and determination is bullshit. The statistics do not determine anything. The statistics are there because that is all we have in the absence of causal determination. Statistics and Determinism are as opposed as probability and certainty - they are incompatible.

Second, if causality is from the bottom up, then the causality that occurs at the level of objects familiar to us like our bodies is entirely grounded in quantum indeterminacy, so his curt dismissal here is ridiculous. If he wants to be a bottom-up Causal Determinist, he has to explain how and where the determinism comes in if it does not start at the bottom! What’s more, he willfully forgets that the whole strength of Determinism against the primary intuition of our freedom of will and action was the cogency of absolute causal determination from the bottom up, and the lack of causal gaps from the bottom up that would allow room for that freedom. Well, now we know that bottom-up Causal Determinism is false. That means Determinism is defeated! Quantum indeterminacy is not evidence for human freedom, and we don’t need it to be - we already have plenty of evidence for human freedom. It is the refutation of the Determinism that was the only evidence that ever counted against that freedom. With Determinism refuted, there is no more reason to deny the indubitable evidence of or own moment-by-moment conscious experience of making free decisions. Searle went too far when he said, Indeterminism is no evidence that there is or could be some mental energy of human freedom.” Indeterminism is admittedly not evidence that there is human freedom, but it is surely evidence that there could be such freedom, since it defeats the contrary position that, due to Determinism, there could not be such freedom - that it is impossible. The position asserting the impossibility of radical human freedom is refuted. What’s left? The possibility of radical human freedom!

Quantum theory knocked the living hell out of Bernie and kicked him in the balls while he was down. The injuries it inflicted on him were mortal blows. There was no chance of recovery. If false philosophies had souls that could go to hell, Bernie would be all burny. He’s a dead son of a bitch. So Materialists prop him up and parade him around as if he were alive and well. Don’t you believe it!

Link to Last Installment of WAB's 2 part 5 of 5 (ignore the fact that the url says its 06. It's the 5th of 5):