Jan 12, 2010

Is determinism against free will?

Hi all,
(New assignment at the bottom)

We discussed the problem of induction in the scientific method and the conclusion seems to be as follows:
1. Most of the key hypothesis made in science are based on inductive thinking, which can be simply put as our ability to find patterns in different incidences of certain phenomena. We cannot always go to the cause of each phenomenon at the beginning. However, this alone cannot lead to scientific truth, but only notions, hypothesis or beliefs, which need to be either verified by experiments (usually this is the case) or reinforced by reason for them to be accepted as fact.
2. Ockham's razor is a means of differentiating between hypothesis, when they are not entirely deductive (and therefore are inconclusive) and thus allows us to select from between half-baked theories and a little more "baked" theories. Thus it is only helpful and not assuring.
3. Scientists are supposed to and so most, do follow the scientific method, wherein we understand that induction is a part of creating the hypothesis. However, due to personal limitations or prevailing peer-bias, they may be misled (usually while creating the hypothesis) and thus may unintentionally break away from the method. Only on rare occassions do scientiists intentionally comitt fraud by manipulating the evidence or ignoring some of it. And yet, science does not fail, since the inbuilt mechanism of peer review (i.e. scientists checking each others work before it is accepted by the rest of the community) ensures that frauds & mistakes come to light and scientific truth prevails.
So let us move further in our random walk through the philosophy of science, to take a look at another debate - Determinism Vs Free-Will.
Determinism simply put is the position that everything in the universe can be determined through certain computational steps once and if we know how to describe each phenomenon in the universe. In loose variants we could restrict this calculation to our immediate surroundings and to certain phenomena.
Free Will is about our abiliyt to choose what we want.
Q. If things are all pre-determined, then how can free will exist? If free will exists then the universe is unpredictable and un-calculable, then whats the point of doing science - an endeavour to explain the universe?
Use the following links to prepare your response -
http://www.galilean-library.org/manuscript.php?postid=43791 (a pedagogical view)
http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/swartz/freewill1.htm (a parochial view)
http://blogs.salon.com/0001561/stories/2002/11/17/freeWillVsDeterminism.html (the theological view)
http://www.trinity.edu/cbrown/intro/free_will.html (a synopsis)

(I am exaggerating things a little bit but this is the extreme and mostly resolved part of the debate. the actual ongoing debate is rather subtle and somewhet difficult to comprehend at first sight)