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Core Concepts

Actualism
Adequate Determinism
Agent-Causality
Alternative Possibilities
Causa Sui
Causal Closure
Causalism
Causality
Certainty
Chance
Chance Not Direct Cause
Chaos Theory
The Cogito Model
Compatibilism
Complexity
Comprehensive   Compatibilism
Conceptual Analysis
Contingency
Control
Could Do Otherwise
Creativity
Default Responsibility
De-liberation
Determination
Determination Fallacy
Determinism
Disambiguation
Double Effect
Either Way
Emergent Determinism
Epistemic Freedom
Ethical Fallacy
Experimental Philosophy
Extreme Libertarianism
Event Has Many Causes
Frankfurt Cases
Free Choice
Freedom of Action
"Free Will"
Free Will Axiom
Free Will in Antiquity
Free Will Mechanisms
Free Will Requirements
Free Will Theorem
Future Contingency
Hard Incompatibilism
Idea of Freedom
Illusion of Determinism
Illusionism
Impossibilism
Incompatibilism
Indeterminacy
Indeterminism
Infinities
Laplace's Demon
Libertarianism
Liberty of Indifference
Libet Experiments
Luck
Master Argument
Modest Libertarianism
Moral Necessity
Moral Responsibility
Moral Sentiments
Mysteries
Naturalism
Necessity
Noise
Non-Causality
Nonlocality
Origination
Paradigm Case
Possibilism
Possibilities
Pre-determinism
Predictability
Probability
Pseudo-Problem
Random When?/Where?
Rational Fallacy
Refutations
Replay
Responsibility
Same Circumstances
Scandal
Science Advance Fallacy
Second Thoughts
Self-Determination
Semicompatibilism
Separability
Soft Causality
Special Relativity
Standard Argument
Supercompatibilism
Superdeterminism
Taxonomy
Temporal Sequence
Tertium Quid
Torn Decision
Two-Stage Models
Ultimate Responsibility
Uncertainty
Up To Us
Voluntarism
What If Dennett and Kane Did Otherwise?

Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Heraclitus
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Abraham Pais
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
John Stachel
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Vlatko Vedral
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium

 
Complexity Theory
Complexity Theory is the study of how order, patterns, and structure appear in complex, apparently chaotic systems that are far from equilibrium, sharing matter and energy (of low entropy) with their environment and exhibiting "self-organization" and stability, apparently avoiding the degradation (increase of entropy) normally required by the second law of thermodynamics.

It has historical connections with the General Systems Theory of Ludwig von Bertalanffy. General Systems Theory is a theory of emergence, which was implicit in the work of John Stuart Mill and explicit in "emergentists" like George Henry Lewes (1875), C. Lloyd Morgan (1912), Samuel Alexander (1920), and C. D. Broad (1925).

Many scientists had known for decades before Bertalanffy that living systems somehow avoid the inevitable degradation suffered by physical systems, according to the second law of thermodynamics. Instead of approaching thermodynamic equilibrium (complete chaos and maximum entropy, living systems maintain themselves in a high state of order (or information) far from equilibrium. Earlier thinkers had called this a "dynamic equilibrium," but Bertalannfy called it "flow equilibrium." In his 1932 book Theoretische Biologie, he described living systems as open systems that exchange matter and energy with the environment.

More important than the new terminology, Bertalanffy in 1940 described what was happening in a way made famous five years later by Erwin Schrödinger in his book What is Life?, namely that energy is not enough, it must be energy with low (or negative) entropy, or what Bertalanffy correctly called "free energy.".

Bertalanffy wrote:

In open systems we have not only production of entropy due to irreversible processes, but also import of negative entropy. This is the case in the living organism which imports [consumes nutrients with] complex molecules that are high in free energy. Thus, living systems, maintaining themselves in a steady state, can avoid the increase of entropy, and may even develop towards states of increased order and organization.

In his 1945 essay What is Life?, Schrödinger would say that "life feeds on negative entropy." Schrödinger described this as "order out of order" that distinguishes life from the "order out of chaos" exhibited by many complex physical systems studied today.

Ilya Prigogine and his collaborator Isabel Stengers titled their 1984 book Order Out Of Chaos. In it, they focused on physical systems far from equilibrium which exhibit the flow of matter and energy from the environment through an open system. Prigogine called them "dissipative structures" and developed the non-linear thermodynamics needed to describe them mathematically.

Prigogine thought these dissipative systems showed "self-organizing" characteristics similar to those of biological systems. He also thought their irreversibility could provide a new definition of time beyond classical Newtonian physics, which makes collisions between microscopic particles reversible.

Prigogine believed that before him, there was "no direction of time, no distinction between past and future," because even quantum mechanics, in the form of Erwin Schrödinger's deterministic wave equation, could not do so (without invoking a collapse of the wave function). Prigogine introduced what he called a "third time" into physics - time as irreversibility. He saw non-equilibrium, dissipative systems far from equilibrium, as a new source of order giving to the system ill-defined "new space-time properties." ("The Meaning of Entropy," in Evolutionary Epistemology, p.63)

In the 1950's and 1960's, American meteorologist Edward Lorenz found that small rounding errors in his computer data (which has a limited number of significant figures) leads to large non-linear instabilities that expand exponentially in time and make long-term prediction impossible. This is the famous "Butterfly wings in Beijing" effect discovered in weather predictions.

Lorenz's work led to the mathematical theory of deterministic chaos, a central component of modern complexity theory. Lorenz had discovered that deterministic and linear dynamical laws could not explain the non-linear processes he saw in weather data. This made a non-linear theory necessary.

Deterministic Chaos
Chaos theory is the study of systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.

It is important to stress that there is nothing random or undetermined about chaos theory. It involves no quantum indeterminacy, which is the basis for ontological chance. Although it exhibits behaviors that resemble some phenomena in the real world, they are metaphors for behaviors, not physical explanations.

Chaos should not be confused with unpredictability, just as determinism should not be confused with predictability. The fundamental importance of chaos theory is its application to systems that are extremely sensitive to initial conditions. Chaotic systems are deterministic, but not predictable. Their unpredictability does not mean that they are random or indeterministic, as many philosophers and a few scientists who dislike quantum mechanics have mistakenly believed (e.g., Ilya Prigogine).

Some philosophers appear to believe that chaos theory can provide all the randomness need to prevent free will from being deterministic (e.g., Daniel Dennett). Some think that non-linear chaotic behavior disproves the determinism of Laplace's super-intelligent demon. Laplace probably knew that the information required by the demon was unobtainable. Isaac Newton certainly knew that his observations could not confirm his theory to arbitrary accuracy needed to prove perfect determinism.

Ludwig Boltzmann, his admirer and contemporary Franz Exner, and Exner's student Erwin Schrödinger, often pointed out that deterministic theories go beyond the available evidence. Popularization of physical theories has often confused not just the public, but even philosophers of science.

On the three hundredth anniversary of Newton’s Principia, Sir James Lighthill gave a lecture to the Royal Society, lamenting the confusion between Newton's classical mechanical determinism and the apparent claim of perfect predictability:

”We are all deeply conscious today that the enthusiasm of our forebears for the marvellous achievements of Newtonian mechanics led them to make generalizations in this area of predictability which, indeed, we may have generally tended to believe before 1960, but which we now recognize were false. We collectively wish to apologize for having misled the general educated public by spreading ideas about determinism of systems satisfying Newton’s laws of motion that, after 1960, were to be proved incorrect...”

Sensitivity to initial conditions was in fact known long before modern chaos theory and complexity theory. James Clerk Maxwell noted in the 1860's that even if two molecules were adjacent to one another in a hydrodynamic flow, they might find themselves in random places in the container after relatively short mixing times. He wrote:

When the state of things is such that an infinitely small variation of the present state will alter only by an infinitely small quantity the state at some future time, the condition of the system, whether at rest or in motion, is said to be stable; but when an infinitely small variation in the present state may bring about a finite difference in the state of the system in a finite time, the condition of the system is said to be unstable.

Maxwell may have been first, but certainly not the last, to connect this sensitivity to initial conditions to free will (e.g., John Eccles, with his "critically poised neurons.")

The real world is only approximately classical mechanical (obeying Newton's dynamical laws at all scales). At the small scales of atomic and molecular physics, the world is quantum mechanical. There is nothing corresponding to deterministic chaos in quantum physics. Deterministic chaos requires continuous motion to produce mathematical singularities and exponential non-linearity.

Despite their unpredictable and spontaneous "quantum jumps," the discrete states of the quantum world are more regular and stable than their classical analogues. Indeed, the long-term stability of quantum structures in their "ground states" is astonishing, as is the complete indistinguishability of elementary particles, which gives rise to extremely non-intuitive statistics. Finally, the long-term stability of quantum cooperative phenomena is evident in the ability of biological macromolecules to maintain (by error detection and correction) their information content over billions of years.

The desire to describe randomness and chance in the world with deterministic chaos resembles the view of Adolphe Quételet and Henry Thomas Buckle that statistical regularities in various physical and social phenomena are evidence of an underlying determinism. Is the motivation similar to that which seeks an intelligent designer behind biological evolution? It seems that the "antipathy to chance" observed by William James at the end of the nineteenth century is alive and well in the twenty-first.

The Santa Fe Institute
Scholars at the Santa Fe Institute promote the self-organization aspects of complexity and chaos theories as assisting Darwin's theory of evolution. There is no doubt that in the early stages between non-living and living systems that auto-catalytic molecular evolution might provide one of the steps to biogenesis.

But some of these scholars think that complexity theory adds something that is not provided by the randomness of quantum physics. It may, but it does not provide the purpose (the teleonomy or entelechy) that appears when molecules first discover how to replicate themselves. And more important, it does not add any teleological purpose that pre-exists life.

Physical systems far from equilibrium use the flow of matter and energy from the environment through an open system to create and maintain information structures. In this respect, they resemble living systems, whaich are information structures, patterns, through which matter and energy flows. They do produce Prigogine's "order from chaos." But they are not information replicators and the information processors that evolve from the simplest organisms.

Atomic constraints such as the quantum-mechanical bonding of water molecules allow snow crystals to self-organize into spectacular forms, producing order from disorder. Besides crystals, there are whirlpools, Bénard convection cells, basalt columns, and soil polygons, all of which apparently violate the fundamental tendency toward equilibrium and disorder in the universe. These are processes that information philosophy calls ergodic. They can do this only because of the negative entropy flow from the Sun. They all are completely undirected and purposeless, like the formation of the galaxies, stars, and planets. They cannot add meaning to the universe.

Stuart Kauffman is perhaps the best known exponent of complexity as aiding natural selection.

The origin of life, rather than having been vastly improbable, is instead an expected collective property of complex systems of catalytic polymers and the molecules on which they act. Life, in a deep sense, crystallized as a collective self-reproducing metabolism in a space of possible organic reactions. If this is true, then the routes to life are many and its origin is profound yet simple.

While heretical, this new body of theory is robust in the sense that the conclusions hold for a wide variety of assumptions about prebiotic chemistry, about the kinds of polymers involved, and about the capacities of those polymers to catalyze reactions transforming either themselves or other, very similar polymers. It is also robust in leading to a fundamental new conclusion: Molecular systems, in principle, can both reproduce and evolve without having a genome in the familiar sense of a template-replicating molecular species. It is no small conclusion that heritable variation, and hence adaptive evolution, can occur in a self-reproducing molecular system lacking a genome. Since Darwin's theory of evolution, Mendel's discovery of the "atoms" of heredity, and Weismann 's theory of the germ plasm, biologists have argued that evolution requires a genome. False, I claim.

Kauffman's ideas about autocatalytic systems are shared by Terrence Deacon.

Kauffman thought that he might even discover "laws" of self-organization. In his 1995 book, At Home in the Universe, he identified the discovery of such laws as showing that human life followed directly from these pre-existing laws, which would replace the arbitrary and purposeless system of Darwinian natural selection.

For Teachers
For Scholars

Chapter 3.7 - The Ergod Chapter 4.2 - The History of Free Will
Part Three - Value Part Five - Problems
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