Weak foundation of determinism analysis

Deter­minism is the be­lief that ev­ery ac­tion in time is born by the pre­vi­ous one. [1] In de­ter­minis­tic terms you can­not have an event E if you didn’t have an event D be­fore, which in turn is the re­sult of a cause C and so on, with­out any type of alpha­bet­i­cal bound. This philo­soph­i­cal con­cep­tion is one of the most dis­cussed, di­rectly or in­di­rectly, be­cause it is the gen­er­a­tor of very im­por­tant on­tolog­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions, first of all the ex­is­tence of free will which, we could claim, is one of the most courted top­ics by the philoso­phers of all time. Some­thing that has always struck me about the end­less de­bates on the sub­ject it is a sim­ple log­i­cal flaw that peo­ple seem to com­mit when they put for­ward their ar­gu­ments, both for and against de­ter­minism. This (ir)ra­tio­nal weak­ness lies in the very con­cept core of de­ter­minism it­self and, for sim­plic­ity, I will call it the “What if ?” prob­lem. It goes like this:

  • If de­ter­minism is true, then should crim­i­nals be per­se­cuted for their crimes ? ”

  • If de­ter­minism is true, then should sci­ence cease to ex­ists ? ”

  • Why, if de­ter­minism is true, do we look care­fully be­fore cross­ing the road ? ”

  • If de­ter­minism is true why should I do any­thing ? ”

I think you got the point. Now, ques­tions like these can be found in countless pub­li­ca­tions, on­line blog dis­cus­sions, talk with friends on a drug-in­duced Fri­day night and they gen­er­ally give way to end­less ver­bosity flows, some of which may also con­tain an­gu­lar view­points that shed new lights on your be­liefs. So far so beau­tiful, too bad all these in­tel­lec­tual dis­putes are in­con­sis­tent with the very premise of de­ter­minism. Think of the first ques­tion, the only cor­rect an­swer is:

  • “If de­ter­minism is true, crim­i­nals will con­tinue to com­mit crimes and we will con­demn them for this, we could not change our way of act­ing be­cause oth­er­wise it would not be de­ter­minism.”

The sec­ond an­swer is a re­flec­tion of this and also the third. In fact, this an­swer is a blueprint for ev­ery pos­si­ble ob­ser­va­tion to such ques­tions which, no­tice well, make up a good 95% of the to­tal dis­cus­sions on the ma­te­rial. The same er­rors are dragged by in­duc­tion into the rea­son­ing on any type or by-product of the main theme.
For ex­am­ple, I re­mem­ber a post on red­dit in which a user won­dered if, taken as as­sump­tion the ve­rac­ity of eter­nal­ism (block uni­verse de­ter­minism [2]), then it would have been more eth­i­cally ap­pro­pri­ate for hu­man be­ings to stop hav­ing chil­dren be­cause you know, life is un­fair and in this way those poor be­ings would suffer for­ever. To this my an­swer was the fol­low­ing:

  • If eter­nal­ism is true nothig is cre­ated. Every­thing already ex­ist. You fail to see it from a 4D per­spec­tive. Every­thing is already ar­ranged, beg­gin­ning to end, ev­ery state of mat­ter, ev­ery per­mu­ta­tion of it all. There is no move­ment, no ac­tion, no in­ten­tion. ”

You can ob­serve a cer­tain iso­mor­phism be­tween this an­swer and the one given above. If you want to ex­plore these con­cepts (eter­nal­ism and its philo­soph­i­cal, phys­i­cal and eth­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions) in a baroque, liter­ary fas­ci­na­tion, I strongly recom­mend the mon­u­men­tal novel Jerusalem by Alan Moore [3]. Nowa­days sci­ence has not yet suc­ceeded in prov­ing the ex­is­tence of a sin­gle ran­dom nat­u­ral source and even if quan­tum physics seems to put sticks in the wheels of de­ter­minism, my per­sonal be­lief is in line with that of no­bel prize Ger­ard ’t Hooft [4] , which hy­poth­e­sizes that there may be a mechanis­tic struc­ture at the base of ev­ery­thing, of which quan­tum physics is noth­ing more than an emer­gent prop­erty that we do not yet fully un­der­stand [5][6]. How­ever, the the­sis of this post is not to af­firm the ex­is­tence of de­ter­minism, the the­sis, to make it short, is to af­firm that de­ter­minism (in all its spec­trum of forms) is a sort of on­tolog­i­cal cul-de-sac. I don’t think we will ever be able to de­sign ex­per­i­ments, phys­i­cal or psy­cholog­i­cal, that can prove or dis­prove it, let alone ar­rive at a solu­tion through the tools of log­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The ex­is­tence of de­ter­minism could very well be an un­de­cid­able prob­lem. Psy­cholog­i­cal stud­ies have already been con­ducted, show­ing that peo­ple who be­lieve in de­ter­minism are less pro­duc­tive, flirt more eas­ily with de­pres­sion and have a more creaky moral­ity than oth­ers but these stud­ies (and con­se­quently the re­sults) fall into the same cat­e­gor­i­cal er­rors an­a­lyzed above. If ev­ery­thing is carved in the mar­ble of time, we can­not change things in any way and peo­ple who be­lieve in stochas­tic sal­va­tion do it be­cause they can­not do oth­er­wise and are (gen­er­ally) more serene be­cause they can­not do oth­er­wise. In essence, in my opinion, it is im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine whether a sys­tem is de­ter­minis­tic or not from within the sys­tem it­self. Deter­minism, as a con­cept, can de­velop the same some­times an­noy­ing and some­times fas­ci­nat­ing self-refer­en­tial­ity of the halt­ing prob­lem.