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    Considering Free Will: Moral Responsibility
    By Gerhard Adam | October 6th 2009 08:31 AM | 14 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    In the last article we considered the formation of choices as providing a set of predetermined responses to various situations.  It is this phase of data gathering and assessment that sets the groundwork for our moral responsibility.

    Specifically it is erroneous to consider that choices are evaluated and determined solely at the point of action, but rather, default states may well be set within the brain based on our training and indoctrination.  It is these default states that represent the possibility of choices that we can base a decision on.

    The shorter the time interval to make a decision, the more established the choice must be to be considered as a default action.  This is one reason why training becomes so important in ensuring that proper and valid choices are used in circumstances that may require split-second decisions.

    There is a strong argument that our choices are governed by rationalizing responses to our pain/pleasure centers in the brain.  In the end, it doesn't really matter what motivations or rationalizations occur, but whatever is determined to be the most desirable or appealing aspects of a choice will tend to be those that are the most likely to be used.

    Some may argue that there are far too many events for which we have no specific knowledge or experience for this to be a plausible explanation, however careful examination will show that in the absence of any particular response the default of "fight, flight, or freeze" will invariably occur.  Any other response must originate from some cause, therefore we must consider that the "cause" has already been processed and accepted into the brain as a possible solution at some previous point in time.  Anything else would require that we accept an indeterministic or random solution having originated, against which we have absolutely no evidence that such a circumstance has ever, or would ever occur.

    Similarly when we consider acts that we consider morally reprehensible, it is inconceivable that such acts originated without prior thought or consideration.  In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that before such crimes occur, there is a considerable amount of thought and time invested in reviewing the particulars of such a choice.  This lends credence to the idea that such a choice is used to "grant permission" for use as a decision, and that such a choice also carries with it the moral responsibility for considering it as a possibility.

    Once a decision has been made, then other choices may no longer be relevant since this can send the individual down an irrevocable path that cannot be undone.  This is often the case with addictions where the early decisions may be made thinking that there will be no consequences, however the choice must be considered as an acceptable option for this to be an issue.  When someone excludes a choice from possible use (either morally or through training), then it is exceedingly unlikely that it would ever manifest in an individual's actions.

    This also lends support to the role of self-indulgent behaviors, especially those that reinforce anger and even "mob" behaviors are created because we effectively create an environment in which radical responses are considered acceptable.  For example, if we indulge in unconstrained anger as a response, we may find that it escalates to violence and perhaps killing.  While it was never intended that an individual be killed, the absence of a constraint against anger effectively allows the brain to escalate it to whatever degree is needed for the circumstance since it is considered a viable solution.  In the mob, the individual decisions may be superceded by the consensus of a group "choice" so that it lends justification to the action being perpetrated.  If an individual's choices have not been well-formed or considered, it is entirely possible that they will be subsumed to the authority of the mob.  

    It is precisely behaviors with unintended consequences that lend credence to the idea that once a choice is in progress it simply isn't possible to intervene without alternative choices ready. To do so would require considerable training and a range of alternative choices, so while it may be possible for a martial artist to "pull a punch", it isn't likely with an untrained fighter responding with adrenaline or panic. This is also a reason why people in these circumstances invariably respond with statements like, "I don't know, I just didn't think".

    Invariably when a decision to act is made that results in something we consider negative or detrimental, the argument that assigns moral responsibility is based on the presumption that one of the available choices was to preclude that particular action.  As we indicated before, that there must be a cause to perform that action, one is forced to conclude that to retain an undesirable option as a choice requires a decision wherein the actor has concluded that it (a) isn't a bad thing, or (b) they don't care that it is a bad thing.  The only exemption from this reasoning is if they truly didn't know that it was bad, in which case they couldn't be held morally responsible for the choice.  This is also why even our legal system attempts to determine the "motive" for a crime, since it represents the sequence of events and possible rationalization that could explain what happened and how/why it was chosen.  We are suspicious of crimes without motive, because that suggests either psychopathic behavior, or a falsely accused individual.
     
    While we may not have free will in the sense of dynamically being able to modify our behavior, there is sufficient reason to believe that we are morally culpable in the thoughts we process and accept, long before any action is decided upon.  As a result, there is some merit to the notion that a crime or action must be committed in one's mind before it can ever manifest in the real world.  

    Comments

    After Heisenberg, there really is no scientific way to be sure about Free Will.

    Uncertainty could be claimed as a degree of freedom, or it could be represented as just one more constraint.

    Clearly Planck’s constant applies to brain waves, and smaller mental processes.

    In the Dark Ages the argument was about Destiny or Free Will.

    After Shakespeare the debate was largely irrelevant. He established a consensus that each person can (and will) be held responsible for choices and actions, no matter how the choices are made, even if the witches predicted it.

    That is what the Renascence was all about. Now we are debating the same topics again.

    Does it mean we are coming out of another Dark Age, or going into a new one? On this I change opinions fairly often.

    It could be argued that on average, there is something of a Destiny, but your readers are not average, so you have to give them something more, even if it is only the choice to read or not read.

    The concept of creativity enters the discussion at this point, at least I hope there is a place for it.

    Creativity makes new options and removes obstacles, part of the time, for some of the people.

    With Heisenberg we could argue that if we want to have Free Will, there is a chance to get it, but not a guarantee.

    For those who don’t wan to exercise Free Will, there is the lesson from Shakespeare. His patron made the wrong choice, and was beheaded.

    Fred Pauser
    Hello Astronomer,



    With Heisenberg we could argue that if we want to have Free Will, there is a chance to get it, but not a guarantee.




    How could the Uncertainty Principle contribute to free will? If you need to make a decision among a set of options, the greater the incertainty involved, the more likely you are to NOT get the results you would like. Your decision would necessiate guesswork, and reduced freedom.



    The concept of creativity enters the discussion at this point, at least I hope there is a place for it.

    Creativity makes new options and removes obstacles, part of the time, for some of the people.




    Humans do indeed demonstrate creativity. At the core of our beings we strive for satisfaction and the avoidance of pain. We have inherited the impetus to strive to improve our condition – daily in small personal ways, and in more comprehensive ways as a society. This has nothing to do with free will. Nature is obviously very creative. It has created millions of species of life including humans. Our creativity is an extension of natures creativity.
    Gerhard Adam
    I wouldn't place as much emphasis on the uncertainties of the quantum world when considering our minds.   Prior to quantum theory, no one would have had a problem considering that the world is completely deterministic, which suggests that are the macro level there are no indicators of uncertainty or probability that negate or effect our results or experiences.  Similarly, I can imagine no instances where behavior occurs which is completely indeterminate (even for one event), such that it cannot be related to some original thought or choice.

    There are certainly unknown quantities at work in our brains, such as the connections between data elements and how those might be interpreted and used.  Certainly what we're exposed to is probabilistic.  However, once this data is stored, then even completely unexpected connections might lead to insights or creativity, but the data itself wouldn't get scrambled (in a normal brain).  Certainly many of these things would change in the event of a defect, but it would appear that for every action, people expect that it has a cause or reason (even if it's simply rationalization).
    Mundus vult decipi
    Fred,

    There is an answer to your question, but maybe not a good one.

    Uncertainty generates opportunities and prevents Destiny from controlling everything.

    For a creative system, like the things you mentioned, the opportunities can be exploited in a non random way. Then the results are something like Schrödinger described in his discussion about the third law of thermodynamics. The output of the system is more orderly than the inputs, and the second law of thermodynamics is not violated as long is the process in not completely random and reversible.

    Like you said there are disadvantages with uncertainty and some of the opportunities are best to be rejected. In a rational system like Gerhard is describing, a lot of harmful opportunities are continually rejected.

    The quantum mechanical effects dominate any action where the wavelength is longer than the size of the particle. Also whenever Planck’s constant is invoked there are quantum effects.

    Electrons are borderline between classical and quantum behavior, but are most often dominated by quantum effects.

    Protons on the other hand often can be described by a classical behavior.

    The contents of our brains fall more in the classical category, while a lot of the electrical processes in them have quantum effects that must be averaged to get determinism.

    Averaging a signal always leads to determinism, even if the uncertainty principle provides some of the opportunities. Electrons move near light speed, so an average is done very quickly.

    An example like the firing of neurons and the avalanche or cascade of electric charges that result is one example of how a signal can be averaged

    The way to get deterministic electronics like in computer chips is to design the system to automatically average 20 or 30 electron events (or holes), or maybe a smaller number when the design is a very good one. On a larger scale the computer also has a clock cycle that counts to see if it has enough data to make a decision. Then the software checks for errors and fixes most of them.

    In Gerhard’s discussion of the brain I believe there is determinism by signal averaging, but also the unpredictable chance for new ideas at the same time.

    In that regard Determinism can be thought of as intermediate between Destiny and Free Will and with a better chance of being proven.

    The proof is a hard one, and probably not possible in 4 dimensions, but the signal averaging goes a long way toward removing the arguments against it.

    Why more than 4 dimensions for decision making?

    Signal averaging of quantum events cannot reach complete determinism inside a confined space, certainly not inside the space of a human brain.

    Chances are better than average that the cause of a choice resides inside the brain that made the decision.

    Better than average is not what we are talking about here. The topic is about completely determined mental processes.

    This is one of the tests that quantum mechanics was supposed to fail. It passed and in doing so added a new chapter to the history of science.

    The result is a calculation method called Sum Of Paths, developed by Richard Feynman and others. It gives a well accepted way to add up the quantum probabilities of interacting particles and waves to get a total of exactly 100%. It is the way that averaging a signal leads to determinism in an electronic process like brain activity.

    Sum Of Paths never reaches 100% in a confined space, except by allowing the probabilities to extend beyond the boundaries. It is not a hand waving argument. It is a published calculation method that has been tested by many experiments and accepted by the opposition., as proven.

    So we are left with a large part of our thinking contained inside our heads, and the remainder distributed elsewhere.

    Distributed !!! .. ??? Distributed ??? … Yes the accepted calculation method says that a part of our thoughts are distributed everywhere, with the smaller portions in the least likely places.

    Now you can see why the leading scientists like Rodger Penrose and Stephen Hawking have debated the issue of determinism. Something really important is involved, and it isn’t going to disappear any time soon.

    Everywhere ? It really means everywhere and clearly says that some of the unlikeliest pathways go into the future and the past, then come back inside our brains, slightly altered by the things that were found along the way. The smallest particles tunnel through any barrier.

    There are some recently published research reports about the measurement of entangled photons and their decision making processes.

    It is still a mystery of how the particles go every where and still come back to where they belong in classical laws.

    Most likely the vacuum energy called zero point keeps track of everything, enforces the conservation laws, and balances the equations.

    For sure you are going to need more than 4 dimensions to get 100% determinism. Science is usually satisfied with 95%.

    At present the most dimensions we can measure are 6, three of space and three of time. The majority in science is voting for 10 dimensions, and some strong voices are calling for 26.

    So I’m predicting that you will prove your point about determinism, after you stretch your imagination to get there.

    Fred Pauser
    Astronomer, You wrote:



    So I’m predicting that you will prove your point about determinism, after you stretch your imagination to get there..




    Who is stretching the imagination here? I’m no expert on quantum physics (is anyone?) but it seems that much of quantum physics seems to be more hypothetical and math dependent, than actually scientifically theoretical. However, on the MACRO level, determinism proves to be case over and over. Every time you drive your car or use your computer you are demonstrating the success of thousands of cause-and-effect deterministic predictions. When a machine malfunctions, we troubleshoot or analyze such problems using deterministic means and methods. In our daily lives we see determinism demonstrated almost constantly. Even seemingly random events such where the balls go after a billiards break are determined according to well established laws of physics.



    Uncertainty [principle] generates opportunities and prevents Destiny from controlling everything.




    This is an important point in that absolute destiny, or fatalism, or “hard determinism” would mean that every detail of existence is unfolding in essentially a predestined manner. That would mean that the speck of dirt on your eyeglasses was destined to be there at exactly this time and place ever since the Big Bang. A fixed future intuitively seems quite absurd…



    ‘Uncertainty’ pertains to human perception or knowledge. It is not nature that is uncertain. Stephen Hawking wrote the following:



    “Indeed, we have evidence that quantum uncertainty in the early universe, made some regions slightly more or less dense, than the otherwise uniform background. We can see this in small differences in the background of microwave radiation from different directions. The hotter, denser regions will condense out of the expansion as galaxies, stars and planets. All the structures in the universe, including ourselves, can be traced back to quantum effects in the very early stages.”



    That is a critical point! What is it about the laws of nature that caused the evidently TRULY RANDOM dispersal of matter soon after the Big Bang? Why didn’t the universe merely expand uniformly as a sea of subatomic particles? Whatever is at cause of this irregular dispersal of matter, I suggest is what provided the universe with diverse possibilities and the potential for creativity. Truly random accidents are thus possible, such as the collision of particles with genes causing mutations. And a somewhat open-ended future became possible… But this phenomenon does not grant living creatures “free will” (for the reason mentioned in my first response).



    Also consider modern philosopher, Galen Strawson’s summation of his case against free will (or for determined will, will-of-nature) as follows:



    (1) It is undeniable that one is the way one is, initially, as a result of heredity and early experience.



    (2) It is undeniable that these are things for which one cannot be held to be in any way responsible (this might not be true if there were reincarnation, but reincarnation would just shift the problem backwards).



    (3) One cannot at any later stage of one’s life hope to accede to true or ultimate responsibility for the way one is by trying to change the way one already is as a result of one’s heredity and previous experience.



    For one may well try to change oneself, but



    (4) both the particular way in which one is moved to try to change oneself, and the degree of one’s success in one’s attempt at change, will be determined by how one already is as a result of heredity and previous experience.



    And



    (5) any further changes that one can bring about only after one has brought about certain initial changes will in turn be determined, via the initial changes, by heredity and previous experience.



    (6) This may not be the whole story, for it may be that some changes in the way one is are traceable to the influence of indeterministic or random factors.



    BUT



    (7) IT IS FOOLISH TO SUPPOSE THAT INDETERMINISTIC OR RANDOM FACTORS, FOR WHICH ONE IS EX HYPOTHESI IN NO WAY RESPONSIBLE, CAN IN THEMSELVES CONTRIBUTE TO ONE’S BEING TRULY OR ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR HOW ONE IS. [emphasis mine]



    The claim, then, is not that people cannot change the way they are. They can, in certain respects (which tend to be exaggerated by North Americans and underestimated, perhaps, by members of many other cultures). The claim is only that people cannot be supposed to change themselves in such a way as to be or become truly or ultimately responsible for the way they are, and hence for their actions. One can put the point by saying that the way you are is, ultimately, in every last detail, a matter of luck—good or bad.



    briantaylor
    I'm baaaaaaaaack....
    Thought provoking as usual Gerhard. Haven't been around for a while because last time we got into a real discussion I had to spend several months learning things.
    What I've come to realise is that your thoughts on free will push my buttons.
    It's not that I disagree, on the contrary, for the most part, I think it's that I'd just rather you were wrong. It's easier.
        Some thoughts...

        You say: "Specifically it is erroneous to consider that choices are evaluated and
    determined solely at the point of action, but rather, default states
    may well be set within the brain based on our training and
    indoctrination.  It is these default states that represent the
    possibility of choices that we can base a decision on."
        I'm only contesting the absoluteness of your declaration here.
        I can be at the U2 concert and see a security guard twist a girls arm behind her back for trying to sneak onto the floor.  I can feel myself get excited, perhaps preparing to act out in some fashion. I can notice this and effectively squash my reaction. I know you'll agree with this as readily as I will that I'm exceptional, in this regard. My point is, "How very dare you...." (actually it's that the counter reaction was a choice in the moment.) This we can volley further if you like.
        For now I put free will to bed.
         Amateur Astronomer's comments at first lead me to believe he was Andrew Cohen, only smarter. He has a refreshing confidence that brings to mind a healthy person on anti-depressants. I'm glad Fred was signed in to counter his creativity. Fred's comments are what spurred me to answer this piece with the conclusions pending. I feel that Fred's thoughts about the (currently) unanswerable nature of things like the "fixed future" reflect a similar impasse in Gerhards thoughts on free will.
        I'd like to suggest that we meet somewhere in the middle, for now.
        The Machine does not predetermine outcomes, only mechanics.
        There is a flexibility, an allowance inside the Machine, but only inside.
        One, (be it a person, planet or photon,) has finite parameters put upon them but are allowed to discover them, alone.
     
       
    P.S. (I've never heard of Galen Strawson but those conclusions seem silly to me.)
       
       
       
       
    Gerhard Adam
    I can be at the U2 concert and see a security guard twist a girls arm behind her back for trying to sneak onto the floor.  I can feel myself get excited, perhaps preparing to act out in some fashion. I can notice this and effectively squash my reaction. I know you'll agree with this as readily as I will that I'm exceptional, in this regard. My point is, "How very dare you...." (actually it's that the counter reaction was a choice in the moment.)
    Brian, glad to see you're back.  In your comment, you're indicating that you are simply choosing from a set of options that already exist in your brain.  The issue isn't specifically where you are at the moment, but rather what your options are for reacting in such a circumstance.  You may feel angry, feel compelled to be protective, engage in a fight, believe that it isn't any of your business, etc.  In short, there isn't a single thing you might feel that you haven't felt before and for which a scenario exists in your brain that you might choose from.

    As a result, my point is that your specific reaction will be drawn from one of those choices based on your current state of mind and emotions. 

    While it feels like free will, if you consider your actions, (I think) you'll agree that when you examine what you did, you aren't shocked by your behavior and wonder "where did this come from".  Instead you'll have a perfectly reasonable logical explanation for whatever your action was.  That indicates that your action has a cause, and that cause can only have originated from your brain from a previous state.  It wasn't made up on the spur of the moment.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Reply to Fred.

    You are quiet right about the macro world being continually deterministic. Quantum mechanics was not accepted easily by rational people. The mathematical representations were not taken on face value. It was only after exhaustive testing in laboratories by determined opponents that QM became accepted. Quantum mechanics predicts the outcome of small particle interactions very reliably.

    So we are stuck with quantum mechanics being the foundation upon which the Macro world sits.

    It is isn’t nice, and no one is happy about it. In stretching the imagination, I really wonder just how far will we be asked to go?

    The good news is that quantum mechanics is not a complete science yet because it can’t predict the outcome of things like gravity. So there is hope for everyone that QM will further developed to everyone’s satisfaction.

    For quantum electro dynamics QED like our mental processes, the bronze plates have been cast. The opponents gave up and changed sides.

    Our common sense works fine in the categories where we have common experiences. That doesn’t extend into the micro world.

    Decision making has gotten a lot of attention since 1993 after the work in optics and entanglement of wave functions at the University Of Geneva. The researchers split photons in half and sent the two parts over telephone fiber optics in different directions. Then the photons were tested to see if they had become independent of each other.

    The result was that the photons were still connected together when 10 kilometers apart. When one of them was interfered with in any specific way, the other photon gave a predictable response. There is something called decoherence that is eventually supposed to sever the connection, and that topic has been discussed a lot in other articles on this site. Entanglement and decoherence applies to waves and particles when ever quantum mechanics is dominating.

    About stretching the imagination, mine has been stretched far beyond the comfort zone.

    Before decoherence occurs part of what is in our brains may very well be connected to other things far away from us. I believe the other articles were saying that when enough time has passed for decoherence to occur for a particular particle pair then the quantum mechanical probabilities have had enough time to average out into a deterministic situation for that part of our thinking.

    One way to look at decision making can be compared to dropping a bowling ball on a woven carpet. The out come is fairly certain. If a tiny machine part is dropped, it seems to always land in the most unlikely place. I would agree with you that it is very hard to predict where the machine part will go especially when the part is microscopic.

    My view of all of this is that everything happens for a reason, even if some causes are very strange to us, or the situation is very complicated, and the things involved are very small or hard to find. To fit all of that into the prevailing science, it is necessary to stretch the imagination.

    I believe what Gerhard was saying is that once a decision has been made, then the probabilities change, and there is a definite cause for the decision.

    Gerhard Adam
    It was only after exhaustive testing in laboratories by determined opponents that QM became accepted. Quantum mechanics predicts the outcome of small particle interactions very reliably.
    I think that this may well be a problem because of reductionism.  In other words, we look too closely and we assign a significance that isn't there.  In other words, the mere fact that quantum theory works, requires that historical behavior is a reliable indicator of future behavior.  Certainly they are spread over probabilities and each individual reaction isn't known, but in general the theory works so that means the behavior it predicts follows an ordered pattern.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to rewrite quantum physics nor to suggest that at the quantum level individual behaviors are deterministic.  Instead, I'm suggesting that by worrying about the randomness of the quantum world we are introducing an element that simply doesn't exist in the macro world.

    Consider the roll of a dice.  We agree that there is a 6:1 probability of any particular number coming up.  In addition, we need to allow for the remote probability that the dice could land in some fashion so that no number appears as definite.  However, few would argue that the probability of any number appearing is anything but 1 in 6.  Yet, if we consider that the dice is made up of molecules and atoms, and all the quantum effects that they are associated with, we would be absolutely astounded to suggest that this changes the probabilities of the dice's actual behavior.  More importantly we wouldn't think to suggest that numbers might appear or disappear or that the dice would cease being a cube, or any of the things that are technically possible given quantum theory.

    In short, everything that we depend on in the macro world is well-behaved regardless of the quantum chaos that might be seen at  the particle level. 

    Basically I'm very suspicious of the word "random", since the fact that probabilities can be determined, and even laws defined suggests mere unpredictability rather than truly non-deterministic actions.   Just like chaos theory with it's conditions of unpredictability because of incomplete information regarding initial conditions doesn't represent a "random" system, I'm sure that we need to be careful in assigning such attributes to physical systems simply because we aren't privy to their inner workings.

    Just as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle limits the knowledge available in a particle's position and momentum, it doesn't say that the particle must behave randomly.  It only says that WE can't know absolute details of its behavior.  It doesn't mean that the particle's behavior isn't completely deterministic, but rather it means that we'll never be able to confirm whether it is or isn't.  It defines a limit of knowledge, not a dictate of behavior.
    Mundus vult decipi
    briantaylor
    Gerhard,
    Thanks, glad to be back.
    Where's Patrick? I haven't seen him around lately.

    Back to business...
    If we exclude the fact that 'everything' that I experience is within my brain then I must disagree with your following statement on exclusionary grounds, (from my U2 example:)

    "In your comment, you're indicating that you are simply choosing from a
    set of options that already exist in your brain.  The issue isn't
    specifically where you are at the moment, but rather what your options
    are for reacting in such a circumstance."

    What I am doing is: 1.) Reacting. 2.) Noticing the reaction. 3.) Pausing for assessment. 4.) Chosing NOT to succumb to the choices I've presented myself.

    It is through my realisation of what 'moment' I am in that both A.) I am able to dismiss reacting, and B.) I am able to realise I am doing so.

    So essentially, (remembering that for the sake of this argument we must eliminate the concept that each 'choice' I make is a from my self by default, or the discussion is moot,) my argument is that there are occasional opportunities for some of us, in some capacity, to choose.

    On the whole, I agree with your idea that most creatures are slaves to our associations or paradigms. I would just like to put forth that there are human exceptions to this rule and the possibility of choice is available, once you become aware of the existence of choice.

    (Oh crap, now I sound like Eckhart Tolle!)
    edited to add "Detachment! The power of Now" :)
    Gerhard Adam
    Brian

    My point is that your choices are already formulated.  In effect, it's like a Column A, B, and C, situation.  In other words, our choices cannot be anything other than what is available already.  However, in the moment of making a choice, we will be affected by a variety of circumstances, including our state of mind and emotional state.  Whatever choice you make, you will find that it is "reasonable", in the sense that you have a reason for having chosen it.  You cannot elect do to otherwise.

    The philosophical question becomes, could you have chosen otherwise, as it relates to free will.  In truth, you couldn't because the choices you had were already determined, and your mental/emotional state at the time would indicate which choice seemed most reasonable to you.  Therefore, we can only conclude that in the same identical circumstances, you would choose exactly as you already had.  To suggest otherwise, would require a different set of reasons, which then begs the question of why your reasoning would have changed under the same identical circumstances.

    The point is not what you might elect to do on a future occasion, since you do have the ability to formulate additional choices as well as remove others.  However, you cannot look at the same circumstances in the past and indicate that your choice was determined by anything except your state at the time.  To imply "free will" means that you can override your reasons.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Fred Pauser
    Astronomer,

    Your comments have been very helpful. You have significantly improved my understanding of quantum mechanics.

    Thank you!
    SCIENCE ANSWERS PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS BETTER THAN PHILOSOPHY DOES.

    Fred & Gerhard thanks for the comments.

    The nice thing about science is that it gets rewritten occasionally and we have a chance to change the parts we don’t like. Theoretical physics spends a lot of time struggling with deficiencies in the mathematical tools, instead of the underlying physical concepts.

    If you look at the way quantum mechanics is written, a lot of things get put in at the beginning, then later taken out to satisfy some rule about symmetry or normalization.

    There are hundreds of QM theories so a lot of people are in favor of rewriting.

    The procedure is to guess at the formula of a symmetry group, then build a theory from scratch to test with some type of experiment. Quantum theories don’t predict the macro world very well until the experiments are done. It is the test results that average to the classical laws.

    That might be a good technique before the macro law is discovered. After the macro law is known I would really prefer to see the quantum theories written as a divergence from the macro law, with some type of probability function to describe how the data distributes around the average.

    Something like that is done for describing the temperature of a macro system. For most purposes it doesn’t really matter what the temperature distribution is, unless there is a chemical reaction or some other energy sensitive process.

    The same type of example could be made for electrical processes where there is an average voltage with a predictable distribution around the average.

    When QM is described in this way then the probabilities become part of the deterministic system.

    In discussions of random events, we usually are speaking of a probability distribution in a highly structured system.

    Once we have probability distributions our brains learn how to find the averages and ignore a lot of the scattered data.

    So I’m in favor of rewriting the theories.