Yet another weird SF fan


I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Deterministic or Random or …

In a recent New York Times article, there's a commonly-expressed opinion on free will:

“Is it an illusion? That’s the question,” said Michael Silberstein, a science philosopher at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. Another question, he added, is whether talking about this in public will fan the culture wars.

………

“That strikes many people as incoherent,” said Dr. Silberstein, who noted that every physical system that has been investigated has turned out to be either deterministic or random. “Both are bad news for free will,” he said. So if human actions can’t be caused and aren’t random, he said, “It must be — what — some weird magical power?”

In the world of mathematics, at least, there are real numbers that are neither recursive (analogous to deterministic) nor random. For example, if you take an uncountable recursive set of measure zero and remove all recursive real numbers from it, no point in the remainder will be random.

I'll have to give a clearer explanation in a future post. After all, I don't want anybody trusting an incomprehensible post …

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anton Sherwood said...

I for one didn't know that 'recursive' or 'random' can be an inherent property of a number.

2:14 PM  

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