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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
 
Dennett's Indeterminism Challenge
A contribution to Daniel Dennett's Fall 2010
Seminar on Free Will at Tufts University

Dan Dennett challenged me to give reasons why quantum indeterminacy is better than computer pseudo-randomness. Dennett does not deny quantum indeterminacy. He just doubts that quantum randomness is necessary for free will. I think it breaks the causal chain of pre-determinism.

Quantum randomness has been available to evolving species for billions of years before pseudo-randomness emerges with humans. But Dennett does not think, as does Jacques Monod, for example, that quantum indeterminacy is necessary for biological evolution. The evolved virtual creatures of computer-based artificial life programs demonstrate for Dennett that biological evolution is an algorithmic computational process.

Here I propose five cases where quantum chance is critically important and more fundamental than a computer's pseudo-randomness. They all share a basic insight from information physics. Whenever a stable new information structure is created, two things must happen. The first is a collapse of the quantum wave function that allows one or more particles to combine in the new structure. The second is the transfer away from the structure to the cosmic background of the entropy required by the second law of thermodynamics to balance the local increase in negative entropy (information).

Laplace’s Demon
Indeterministic events are unpredictable. Consequently, if any such probabilistic events occur, as Dennett admits, Laplace's Demon cannot predict the future. Information cosmology provides a second reason why such a demon is impossible. There was little or no information at the start of the universe. There is a great deal today, and more being created every day. There is not enough information in the past to determine the present, let alone completely determine the future. Creating future information requires quantum events, which are inherently indeterministic. The future is only probable, though it may be "adequately determined." Since there is not enough information available at any moment to comprehend all the information that will exist in the future, Laplace demons are impossible.
Intelligent Designers
Suppose that determinism is true, and that the chance driving spontaneous variation of the gene pool is merely epistemic (human ignorance), so that a deterministic algorithmic process is driving evolution. Gregory Chaitin has shown that the amount of information (and thus the true randomness) in a sequence of random numbers is no more than that in the algorithm that generates them.

This makes the process more comprehensible for a supernatural intelligent designer. And it makes the idea of an intelligent designer, deterministically controlling evolution with complete foreknowledge, more plausible. This is unfortunate.

An intelligent designer with a big enough computer could reverse engineer and alter the algorithm behind the pseudo-randomness driving evolution. This is just what genetic engineers do.

But cosmic rays, which are inherently indeterministic quantum events, damage the DNA to produce genetic mutations, variations in the gene pool. No intelligent designer could control such evolution.

So genetic engineers are intelligent designers, but they cannot control the whole of evolution.

Frankfurt controllers
For almost fifty years, compatibilists have used Frankfurt-style Cases to show that alternative possibilities are not required for freedom of action and moral responsibility.

Bob Kane showed in 1985 that, if a choice is undetermined, the Frankfurt controller cannot tell until the choice is made whether the agent will do A or do otherwise. Compatibilists were begging the question by assuming a deterministic connection between a “prior sign” of a decision and the decision itself.

More fundamentally, information philosophy tells us that because chance (quantum randomness) helps generate the alternate possibilities, information about the choice does not come into the universe until the choice has been made.

Either way, the controller would have to intervene before the choice, in which case it is the controller that is responsible for the decision. Frankfurt Controllers do not exist.

Dennett Eavesdroppers
I call this Dennett's Eavesdropper because, in a discussion of quantum cryptography, Dennett agrees there is a strong reason to prefer quantum randomness to pseudo-randomness for encrypting secure messages. He sees that if a pseudo-random number sequence were used, a clever eavesdropper might discover the algorithm behind it and thus be able to decode the message. Quantum cryptography and quantum computing use the non-local properties of entangled quantum particles. Non-locality shows up when the wave-function of a two-particle system collapses and new information comes into the universe. See the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment.
Meme Makers
Richard Dawkin’s unit of cultural information has the same limits as purely physical information. Claude Shannon’s mathematical theory of the communication of information says that information is not new without probabilistic surprises. Quantum physics is the ultimate source of that probability and the possibilities that surprise us. If the result were not truly unpredictable, it would be implicitly present in the information we already have. A new meme, like Dennett’s intuition pumps, skyhooks, and cranes, would have been already predictable there in the past and not his very original creations. Dennett creates new information. He is a meme maker!
Animating Libet's Clock
Dennett likes to demonstrate the Libet experiments by swinging his arm around like a clock hand and asking students when they are conscious of flexing their wrist. The students have to imagine the seconds of his arm position. I programmed a web version of Libet's clock, so Dennett could use it instead of his arm.

He says he has used it in many talks.

 

 

 

 

 

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