String Theory trumps determinism

It has been said that determinism is an unhealthy philsophy, as people resign themselves to the fact they are not ultimately responsible for their choices or actions. I wish to propose a hole in the determinism philosophy presented by string theory for agree/disagree or comment:

String theory is a theory that all matter and forces are comprised of tiny vibrating strings of energy, and it is the type of vibration that they emit that determines the kind of matter or force that they constitute. The existence of such concept is looking like it will give mathematical consistency to existing descriptions of nature as are currently used to explain the observable world, and the ‘quantum’ (or tiny) world that has otherwise been observed to follow different rules of physics. The catch is that string theory, as elegant as it appears to be mathematically, requires ten dimensions of space for it to make sense. We only know of three. Width, height and depth (additional dimensions of time, the fourth known dimension, are apparently not required in string theory). What I do not understand about string theory is whether the known laws of physics, are thought to apply or not in these other dimensions. If they do not (as with a black hole which I understand might be regarded as another kind of dimension), then does this not solve the determinism conundrum? If there are additional dimensions that comprise our world, and they are not necessarily bound by known laws of cause and effect, cannot free will be possibly inserted into our actions via such routes? Who is to say that one or more of those dimensions do not include an invisible hand that permits freedom of choice? The hitherto before unknown omnipresence of these other dimensions in our world could surely be the long sought after Achilles heel in the philosophy of hard determinism that is otherwise all but irrefutable. The question I have is whether the mathematics of string theory requires that the additional dimensions be subject to laws of cause and effect? And if not (for the philosophers), doesn’t this mean there is a rational basis for overcoming determinist arguments that true free will cannot exist?



  • If you are wrong you were always going to believe that anyway.

  • Take care not to stray too far to the other extreme-if the world is totally random, I still don't have to take responsibility for my actions

  • If it's any help, it turns out these little strings are thought to be what make up the smallest things otherwise known, which in turn make up atoms, that used to be the smallest things known. String theory is nothing more than a further breaking down of things to smaller still - little vibrating strings. And the mathematicians calculate this would explain the behavior of big things ( to which gravity applies) and little things, to which the law of gravity doesn't apply. If the world was made up of 11 dimensions, the maths works. And that is entirely possible given we know there is stuff beyond our reach to know. It is like deep sea fish working out through logic that light exists, though we can't imagine what it would be like to experience it. It is humanity moving an inch closer to the surface.

  • I object because string theory has nothing to do with the problem of determinism and free will, which I assume is what you're talking about. The problem of rejection of responsibility based on the rule of determinism can be thrown out of the window by judging philosophical principles as well as other scientific theories by their merit or utility. Thus the idea that truly free will doesn't exist because of its possible irreconcilability with causality is not a useful idea - it doesn't lead anywhere. Even if determinism in this sense is true and we have no choice, the fact remains that we act and feel and perceive as if we have free will.

  • Thanks for your comment 1774. But you missed the point, as I'm sure most people will as I am a clumsy explainer. The point is not that determinism is true or that it can lead to somewhere useful. The point is that string theory opens up a logical path for rationalising against determinism - something missing in our four dimensional understanding of the world.

  • I was not astounded by the fact that 11% of Memphis high scoohl to be pregnant. Pregnancy rates in teens have been on the climb in recent years. The fact that this scoohl isn't financially stable also affects these percentages. It acts as an invisible string because low-income and urban regions tend to have higher rates of pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, amongst other things. So, simply residing in a certain area or growing up somewhere can greatly affect the likelihood of adolescent pregnancy. According to "Eleven Facts about Sex Education in the U.S.," over one half of districts in the South have an abstinence-only policy, as opposed to the 20% in the Northeast. So, based on location, a teen could be more or less likely to become pregnant. For instance, if I grew up in the South and the percentages were higher for pregnancy than in the North or Northeast, I might be more or less inclined to engage in unprotected sex based on my community as well as the impact of the abstinence-only policy. A person's perspective of life can be completely different because of their upbringing and communities, greatly affecting their chances of pregnancy and other issues.The idea that a scoohl's pregnancy percentage could be higher based on a group decision is quite comical to me. Although group pregnancies are a real and serious issue, it is perhaps the most stupid and ironic decision a group of teens can make. First of all, it is hardly a decision at all. These girls are choosing to embark on the most personal and intimate journey they could possibly make, together. Yet, they end up completely alone and the outcome is probably not what they imagined. When a person makes a decision to have a baby later in life, when married and financially stable, it is hardly a decision then. This is because their decision is shaped by many other factors like society's standards and modern times. These girls are unable to care for this child properly on their own and their decision to have the child was shaped much too largely by social issues, family problems, lack of maturity, and etc. So, if the decision to get pregnant is hardly one's own choice as an adult, it is clearly not one for an adolescent.Recent research shows that abstinence-only strategies may deter contraception use and therefore increase the risk of unintended pregnancy and STDs. The organizations that promote this, should therefore rethink their strategies, as well as parents and teachers. This particular invisible string, one supported by the government, communities, and families, has intentions to help improve the climbing statistics of teen pregnancy. However, by demoting the accuracy of contraceptives and constantly promoting a one-way road, it is having the opposite effect on students. These organizations might even be provoking rebellion and frustration in young adults. This causes them to question authority and therefore, make poor decisions in the long run. The more sexually educated teens are, the wiser the decision making process will become in future years. More effective ways of presenting sexuality and safe sex should be practiced and continue to improve, providing teens with the proper knowledge to make their own, educated decisions. Will the decisions be their own? Probably not. But, are they ever one's own to make?

  • It has been my understanding that the "randomness" of electrons and other quantum phenomena led physicists to the conclusion that Einstein was wrong in his conclusion that god didn't play dice with the universe. I would like a simple, authoritative answer (from someone other a philosopher or moralist regarding human nature) about whether or not all of the newer theories of everything essentially hypothesize that there are unseen forces in additional dimensions that would establish cause-effect relationships for phenomena that we now see as "random", i.e., that indeed god has not been playing dice with the universe. If evidence was generated in support for any of these theories wouldn't that reopen the determinism debate that Einstein reportedly lost decades ago with quantum theory?

  • Whether or not there is randomness in the universe is irrelevant. People's actions are still determined by past events either way.

    If people use determinism to absolve themselves of responsibility, that's not an argument against determinism or a reason to discount it. That's a problem with how those people are using determinism.

    Even though our actions are determined by past events, we still have the sensation of making choices, or moreover we do make choices, so the idea that we have no responsibility is false. It depends on one's definition of responsibility and one's conception of morality.

  • String theory is usually taken to be deterministic. Determinism means that past, present and the future are fixed events that are unalterable. String theory is deterministic in this regard, think of it more as "plural determinism", in that there are a few more variables of different outcomes in parallel worlds... but they are all predetermined and had to happen. You don't need cause and effect demonstrated to prove determinism. All you need is that the events must come about(for instance in a tenseless view of time were no passage occurs).

  • I would like a string theory mathematician to advise whether the mathematics that supports string theory tells us anything about the extra dimensions (other than that they could exist), eg, do the equations require that they or the material in them behave according to laws of nature that prevail in known dimensions? Also, is it thought to be the case that a black hole is one kind of these other dimensions?

  • Your confusion arises from the fact that you're confusing the term "dimension" with "parallel universe". This is understandable, because every sci-fi movie you've ever seen uses the word "dimension" to mean "parallel universe". A dimension is not a parallel universe. In fact, it is not a "place" at all. Rather, it is merely a direction of travel. The world we perceive is called 3-dimensional because it takes three coordinates (x,y,z) to specify an exact point in space; there are three perpendicular directions of travel. In a four-dimensional universe, it would take four coordinates. I recommend the excellent book "Flatland" for understanding this intuitively (though it's impossible to for humans to visualize a 4-dimensional space, much less an 11-dimensional one. If you don't believe me, try to visualize a direction which is simultaneously perpendicular to north, east, and up).

    When you ask "does physics work the same way in those other dimensions?", this is like asking "does physics work the same in north as it does in east?" This question makes no sense, because north and east aren't places; they're directions. So nothing can be "in" them. Saying that our universe has 11 dimensions means that there are 11 perpendicular directions in which you could travel within our universe -- but you can't travel further than a few femtometers in 8 of those directions, so they're imperceptible and are rather useless except to string theorists.

    The short answer is that there's only one universe (that we know of), and physics works the same throughout all of it (in all 11 directions), so far as we know. So if you're looking for parallel universes where the normal rules of cause and effect don't apply, you won't find them in string theory. Hope that clears things up!

    -- Damon Hastings

  • Thanks for this advice. I great answer. Back to the drawing board...

  • Surpirisng to think of something like that

Similar Ideas: