Comments about "Determinism" in Wikipedia

This document contains comments about the article In the last paragraph Reflection I explain my own opinion.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The article starts with this following text:

This article is about the general notion of determinism in philosophy. For other uses, see Determinism (disambiguation).
With the emphasis on: philosophy.
Next we read:
Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition and behaviour, decision and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences.
Why the use of the word Philosophical? The problem is when you are discussing cognition and behaviour, you could call that discussion philosophical, but when you include every event (i.e. every physical phenomena) this discussion becomes a physical proposition.
Does it make sense to call each wave in the ocean deteministic ? All spots of foam ?

Varieties of determinism

Next we read:
(1)Simon-Pierre Laplace's determinist dogma (as described by Stephen Hawking) is generally referred to as "scientific determinism" and predicated on the supposition (1a) that all events have a cause and effect and (1b) the precise combination of events at a particular time engender a particular outcome. (2) This causal determinism has a direct relationship with predictability. (3) (Perfect) predictability implies strict determinism, but lack of predictability does not necessarily imply lack of determinism.
What we are discussing here is a physics.
In sentence 1 the part 1a is very vaque. The part 1b is correct and you can call that perfect predictability. The problem is that that is the case for only a small number of cases. For example: the physical effect when you decrease the temperature of water it becomes ice. But this is an effect at macro scale. At micro scale you have no idea what happens first i.e. the place where you see the first ice crystal.

In the next sentence we read:

Limitations on predictability could alternatively be caused by factors such as a lack of information or excessive complexity.
This may be true, but what has this to do with determinism ?
Read: Reflection part 1

Varieties of determinism

In this paragraph we read:
(1) Logical determinism is the notion that all propositions, whether about the past, present or future, are either true or false. (2) The problem of free will, in this context, is the problem of how choices can be free, given that what one does in the future is already determined as true or false in the present.
That is the question.
How do you know that sentence 1 is correct ?
Of course you can claim that, but how important is such a claim ?
IMO on a scale from 1 to 10 : 1 i.e. of no importance. It has no predictive power
AS such you can not use it to solve the issue if we ourself can make choices.
Determinism can not use used as an argument for or against a Free will

Determinism in mathematical models

In this paragraph we read:
Many mathematical models are deterministic. This is true of most models involving differential equations
Models are mathematical descriptions of the physical reality and when those models are in the form of differential equations than they are predictive. The problem is they are only approximations of the reality. Their accuracy is limited.

Arguments against determinism

In this paragraph we read:
Libertarianism is the belief that we have complete free will. Compatibilism is a mixture of Libertarianism and Determinism. The negation of determinism is sometimes called indeterminism.
All the terms used here can be deleted if we do not use the word determinism
We do not have a complete free will. We have a Free will. We can make choices ourself.

Determinism, quantum mechanics and classical physics

In the next paragraph we read:
Newtonian physics, taken in isolation rather than as an approximation to quantum mechanics, depicts a universe in which objects move in perfectly determinative ways.
You have to change this sentence as follows:
Newtonian physics, taken in isolation, depicts a system in which objects move in perfectly predictive ways.
Now it is correct. With the emphasis on: In isolation.
The problem is what has this to do with cause and effect. IMO nothing.
In the next sentenc we read:
At human scale levels of interaction, Newtonian mechanics gives predictions that in many areas check out as completely perfectible, to the accuracy of measurement.
At home, Newton mechanics involves moving objects and forces. You can use them in order to predict the next state of an object, however only for a small number of physical systems. You can not use Newton Mechanics in order to solve chemical reactions.
In principle you can all physical system that you can describe by Newton's Law: Deterministic, but this does not be said for all chemical reactions.

A title further down we read:

Even before the laws of quantum mechanics were fully developed, the phenomenon of radioactivity posed a challenge to determinism.
That is the question.
A gram of uranium-238 a commonly occurring radioactive substance, contains some 2.5 x 10^21 atoms. By all tests known to science these atoms are identical and indistinguishable. Yet about 12600 times a second one of the atoms in that gram will decay, giving off an alpha particle.
All those 3 sentences are correct.
This decay does not depend on external stimulus and no extant theory of physics predicts when any given atom will decay, with realistically obtainable knowledge.
Most probably this decay depents about some internal stimulus. The problem is we do not know. We do not know why it happens, which elemenent shows decay, nor predict which value it should have. For a full list go to uranium-238. We can measure it. That is all. Maybe in the future we can learn more about this behaviour.
For determinism to hold, every uranium atom must contain some internal "clock" that specifies the exact time it will decay. And somehow the laws of physics must specify exactly how those clocks were set as each uranium atom was formed during the supernova collapse.
IMO nonsense. Why introduce a clock?. You should not use the word determinism at all.

Reflection Part 1

Suppose we change and extend the definition of determinism as follows:
Determinism is the proposition that every event is causally determined by an chain of prior events and causes a chain of future events
There are two problems with this definition That is also the problem with determinism, it is a very vaque concept and of no practical value.
And what is more important it should not be used.
The same with concepts like: Libertarianism, Compatibilism and Indeterminism.
And what is worse, is to use the concept of determism as an argument in discussions about "Free will"

Reflection Part 2 - Quantum Mechanics

In the article "Quantum Mechanics" in Wikipedia.
In the paragraph: Philosophical consequences we read:
Quantum mechanics provides probabilistic results because the physical universe is itself probabilistic rather than deterministic.
At Quantum level certain physical phenomena are described with probabilities. See for example "decay" discussed above. But that does not mean that those phenomena are probabilistic nor that the universe is probabilistic.
Along the same line, the fact that you can not predict the outcome when you throw dice, does not mean that the universe is probabilistic. (Nor that that event is deterministic)

Reflection Part 3

Read the following discussion in sci.physics.research about: "deterministic systems" in Wikipedia
A very interesting reply is given by Tom Roberts number 33 in the list.

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Created: 4 September 2008

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