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Author Topic: What is Liberty?  (Read 6735 times)

The Plano Texan

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What is Liberty?
« on: October 09, 2003, 07:10:32 pm »

With a small breeze, a whirlwind was unleashed.  A single drop of water precipitated a flood.  In two days, one question prompted 78 responses – well over 1/10th of the views.  What was the question?  â€œIf drugs are legalized in the FSP, will other laws restricting their use be enacted?”  No, that wasn’t the real question, but I will return to that in a moment.  As the debate continued, I found those who agreed with almost all of what I said; I found those who agreed with some of what I said; I found those who agreed with almost none of what I said.  Do I agree with everything I said?

Kater, I hope will not think ill of me.  You asked me what it is about the Free State Project that I find attractive.  I purposely avoided your question and I apologize.  The reason I avoided your question is because I do not agree with everything I said.  In some cases, I believe exactly the opposite.  Please, forgive me.  I hope as I continue this post, your question will be answered.

Reaper, I owe you an apology as well.  You’re so passionate.  A little harsh sometimes, but that will be great when the rest of us need a swift kick in the pants on occasion.

Zack, I certainly hope sex isn’t nasty…  I have four kids.  As for shooting the breeze over likes and dislikes, I had an agenda.

ATR, you were the hardest to respond to.  You based your answers on what I was truly asking.  So what was my question?

WHAT IS LIBERTY?

Nobody noticed, or at least nobody commented on, the contradiction in my very first post.  After the question of the drug laws which eventually turned into orgies and firing machine guns in the street, I basically stated that if I don’t like something, I go somewhere else.  To quote myself from my first post,
Quote
If … I want my children to pray in school, I take them to the New Hampshire Christian Academy.  If I don't agree with prayer in school, I take them to the Darwinian School of Maths and Sciences in which case it's a moot point, correct?
According to Webster (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, copyright 1993), Liberty is “The quality or state of being free; the power to do as one pleases; freedom from physical restraint; freedom from arbitrary or despotic control; the positive enjoyment of various social, political or economic rights and priviledges; THE POWER OF CHOICE”.  So what is “the quality or state of being free?”  Webster (same source) defines free as “Not subject to the control or domination of another; CHOOSING OR CAPABLE OF CHOOSING FOR ITSELF; Determined by the choice of the actor or performer; Not bound, confined or detained by force”.  Freedom according to Webster (again, same source) is “The absence of necessity, COERCION or constraint in choice or action; Liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another; The quality or state of being exempt or released usu. from something onerous”.

Several here consider Webster to be right on target with these definitions.  Some don’t.  As America has changed over the past two centuries, so has the definition of liberty it seems.  Let’s look at more of what Webster has to say about Liberty.  Liberty is “A right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or grant <privilege>; An action going beyond normal limits as: … A violation of rules or a deviation from standard practice.”  This almost sounds like Webster contradicted himself.  On one hand, he states liberty is the power to do as one pleases while on the other, he states that liberty is breaking the rules.

So what is liberty?  The authors of the Declaration of Independence held that our inalienable rights life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Life before liberty, for without life, we have no liberty.  Without liberty to make our own decisions, we cannot pursue that which makes us happy.  Why stop there?  Why not wealth and prosperity?  Many believe that wealth and prosperity will make them happy, but we do not have the right to happiness.  Without liberty, though, we cannot even pursue it.  Reading through the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence, we can see that they include protecting life, protecting property, protecting the right to make a choice, and protecting ourselves from a government of tyranny.  To me, that does not sound like liberty can be defined as breaking the rules.  <A “modern day” Declaration of Independence can be found at http://www.freewebz.com/jeffhead/liberty/index.htm. Close to the top is a link “The Modern American Declaration of Independence”.>

I apologize for being misleading.  If the moderators see this as trolling or a reason to warn me or ban me from the site, so be it.  I only wish more people had responded.  My true reason for the question was to find out what the FSP really believed in.  Kater, ATR, Reaper, Zack, forgive me if you can, but thank you for standing up.  You are the type of people this project will need to succeed.

What do I believe in Kater?  I believe in Freedom.  I believe in the Liberty our forefathers believed in which earned them the brand of Traitors.  I believe in Choice.  I believe in a government by the people and for the people but which does not rule the people.  Will I fight for what I believe?  â€œGive me liberty or give me death.”  Where do I sign.
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atr

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Re:What is Liberty?
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2003, 07:42:12 pm »

Damn you!

Next time you're in DC, let me know and I'll buy you a beer.
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kater

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Re:What is Liberty?
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2003, 07:44:56 pm »

HALLELUJAH!!!!  I knew it!!  (Actually, the first thing I did upon reading this post was turn to my husband and say, "Did this guy just get a new brain?")

I feel greatly comforted by your unveiling--not because now we agree, but because what seemed to be almost a willful lack of comprehension suddenly makes sense as a rhetorical device, and I respect you for wanting to find out what people here really think.  If FSP required sponsors for membership, I'd be your girl.  Welcome.

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Daniel McGuire

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Re:What is Liberty?
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2003, 08:41:05 pm »

...  Let’s look at more of what Webster has to say about Liberty.  Liberty is “A right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or grant <privilege>; An action going beyond normal limits as: … A violation of rules or a deviation from standard practice.”  This almost sounds like Webster contradicted himself.  On one hand, he states liberty is the power to do as one pleases while on the other, he states that liberty is breaking the rules.

Like lots of words, "liberty" has different meanings depending on how it is used.  These definitions fit with "guests of the hotel are at liberty to use the sauna" or "many newspapers take liberties with the spelling of Arnold's last name".

Dan
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The Plano Texan

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Re:What is Liberty?
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2003, 09:05:25 pm »

Quote
Like lots of words, "liberty" has different meanings depending on how it is used.  These definitions fit with "guests of the hotel are at liberty to use the sauna" or "many newspapers take liberties with the spelling of Arnold's last name".
That's true which is why I didn't quote all 50+ definitions of the word "Free" from the same dictionary.  I didn't see how "not assigned to a particular opponent as in football: free safety" or "risk; chance as: taking liberties with his health" was relevant to the discussion.

In other words, I fail to see your point or are you just being argumentative to pay me back for starting the "Drugs in the FSP" string?
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rodschmidt

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Re:What is Liberty? (also determinism and quantum mechanics)
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2003, 12:07:43 am »

I basically stated that if I don’t like something, I go somewhere else

Someone said "I need two tailors in town.  One to take my clothes to, and one to threaten to take my clothes to."

Liberty is having a choice.  Slavery is having no choice.

Choice means competition.  Competition means natural selection.  Liberty is when you have natural selection working for you instead of against you.

Darwin said that natural selection means individuals competing for survival.  I understand natural selection more broadly:  Potential futures compete to become real.

If determinism is right, then it's not clear to me how the idea of "potential futures" can mean anything.  If determinism is not right, then nothing is clear to me.  

It seems like determinism must be right (the future is determined by the present) since there is only one future.  On the other hand, we know from quantum mechanics that this last assumption is false.  There is NOT one unique future.  There is NOT one unique past either.  (If the record of the past is lost, i.e. if the information about the past does not exist in the present, then in a very real sense, all possible histories consistent with the present are equal.  Double-slit.)  (Past and future follow the same rules; time and space follow the same rules.  Relativity.)  (While we're at it: Momentum and energy follow the same rules.  Momentum is conjugate to position, and energy is conjugate to time.  Angular momentum is conjugate to angular position.  QM)

The idea of "wavefunction collapse" is old, inaccurate and imprecise.  This "collapse" is not a physical event but merely an accounting event.  I.e. there is no possible test to measure whether a collapse has happened or not.  (Also the term "collapse" suggests irreversibility which is incorrect.)

There is a more modern idea called quantum decoherence.

The role of consciousness in defining what a measurement is has been overblown by the newage writers.  A measurement event can be defined in terms of movement of information.  The information can just move from one place to another, it doesn't have to go to any ultimate repository.  Nobody or nothing has to be awake.  However, there has to be something similar to a "reference frame" in relativity.  A reference frame is defined by a velocity.  What I'm talking about would be defined by a set of information.

</philosophy>
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rodschmidt

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Re:What is Liberty? (uncommitted resources)
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2003, 01:04:15 am »

I didn't see how "not assigned to a particular opponent as in football: free safety" ... was relevant to the discussion.

Ivan Sutherland, the inventor of the bitpad (ancestor of the mouse), and "father of computer graphics", also worked on multi-legged locomotion.  A multi-legged machine can put its feet on the ground or (some of them) up in the air.  After gaining some experience he wrote that "the stock of uncommitted legs is the most valuable currency that the machine possesses."  Those would be -- here comes the relevance -- "free" legs, as in your definition of uncommitted football-player resources not yet assigned to a specific opponent.

Freedom is the ability to make a choice.  That would be a choice that you haven't yet made.  After you've made it, you no longer have that choice available.  Hopefully there will be others.

Robert Pirsig, in his book "Lila" (sequel to "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance") defined life as that which maximizes its future options.   Maximizing future options -- acquiring uncommitted resources -- connect the dots.

Again, the idea of maximum future options doesn't make much sense under determinism.

Let's connect one more dot:  the concept of cash and liquidity.
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Zack Bass

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Re:What is Liberty? (also determinism and quantum mechanics)
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2003, 01:22:22 am »


If determinism is right, then it's not clear to me how the idea of "potential futures" can mean anything.  If determinism is not right, then nothing is clear to me.  
It seems like determinism must be right (the future is determined by the present) since there is only one future.  On the other hand, we know from quantum mechanics that this last assumption is false.  There is NOT one unique future.


Actually, we don't know that from QM.  (In fact, Wave Functions evolve in a purely deterministic manner, and give precise probabilities of possible futures.  It's Reduction/Decoherence that seems to pick one future out of many.)  But I am convinced that there is not one unique future.  Sort of as a matter of Faith.
That Faith doesn't seem to be holding up well in my own reasoning, though.  Here's where I am so far:
Any conscious entity (of which I am one, perhaps the only one) makes choices; not completely freely, but within the bounds of what physics/QM allows.  I may take this road, or that road.  QM does not contradict the view that there are many possible futures (nor does it guarantee it... my Consciousness is a Hidden Variable).  Fine so far.  My problem comes in when I try to believe that others (you, for example) are also Conscious and capable of making their own choices.  See, if I take this path, and you take that path, then I am in a different future from the one your Consciousness has taken.  Sure, an exact copy of your body (down to the exact quantum state) is still there, but your Consciousness is no longer with me.  So, even if at one time I were in a universe of fellow Consciousnesses, they have long passed to The Other Side Of The Hedge.

I can get Free Will out of Quantum Mechanics; but it leads to Solipsism.

Quote

The idea of "wavefunction collapse" is old, inaccurate and imprecise.  This "collapse" is not a physical event but merely an accounting event.  I.e. there is no possible test to measure whether a collapse has happened or not.
  ....
The role of consciousness in defining what a measurement is has been overblown by the newage writers.  A measurement event can be defined in terms of movement of information.  The information can just move from one place to another, it doesn't have to go to any ultimate repository.  Nobody or nothing has to be awake.


Thank you.  I get so annoyed by such misinterpretation.  I wish Schrodinger had just killed that cat outright.
The Cat In The Box is NOT in some sort of "twilight zone", neither dead nor alive, as so many popularizations - and even scientists! - tell us.  I think it should be obvious that THE CAT, at least, has observed whether or not it has been killed.
Any instrument counts as an Observer.  In fact, just about anything at all does, even if it was not built as an instrument.

I do disagree with you about reversibility.  The CPT (Charge-Parity-Time) Theorem tells us what is conserved in reversible processes, but it ignores Gravity.  Drop your watch into a Black Hole and describe the theoretical reverse scenario (Hawking, 1976).  String Theory might get you your watch back (from the branes), though... we don't know yet.

« Last Edit: October 10, 2003, 01:29:48 am by Zack Bass »
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SteveA

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Re:What is Liberty?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2003, 04:21:56 am »

Quote
It seems like determinism must be right (the future is determined by the present) since there is only one future.  On the other hand, we know from quantum mechanics that this last assumption is false.

We don't know either for certain.  The waves on the ocean may appear random but (ignoring quantum influences) could be modeled exactly if we had an accurate model of the entire universe.  A system that appears random or chaotic from one vantage point, may apear very regular from another (i.e. a fourier transform of waves could show their periodicity, with a strong period correlating with lunar gravitation).  Quantum effects may be similar but because we don't have the ability to resolve interactions efficiently at such small scales and fast speeds though there could be "particles" at a much smaller scale.  I like the idea of space not being empty but a sea of tiny particles, matter is just a disturbance in the otherwise generally even distribution of them and the manner which they interact creates the relativistics effects of time dialation and increased mass at high velocities.  I read some theories about this that give rise to "negative energy" (less than the average energy distribution), ways to semi-violate the law of thermodynamics and faster than light travel (isolate an area of space from interacting with nearby areas).

If the state of the universe oscillates periodically (i.e. big-bang/big-crunch cycles), it could be almost entirely predictable after enough cycles even if the laws of thermodynamics could be violated.  If interactions were possible that destroyed energy but other interactions were passed unchanged it could be just probabilistically unlikely to see these violations but not impossible.  Like the planets in the solar system, we might think of them as discrete particles that seem never to be destroyed, but in reality they can collide and combine and create a new planet that will be stable as long as no other planet in the system can cross its orbit.  Some of the funky quantum effects could be observed because the system effectively "knows" what action will not violate the "law" of thermodynamics because encountering a new event, that destroyed energy, this cycle of the universe would be extremely unlikely so what could look like an unseen hand, selecting from a list of viable alternatives could just be the result of having the "unviable" results weaned away in a previous iteration of the universe.

To summarize, we may never know the probability of expressing a truly novel, and never before seen, act of freedom ;) :D
« Last Edit: October 10, 2003, 04:25:58 am by SteveA »
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RhythmStar

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Re:What is Liberty?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2003, 11:29:47 am »

>>Big Bang

It is interesting to note that the Ekpyrotic model of the universe accomplishes the same accomodation of observed phenomena with a completely different model.  Also, it neatly avoids the incredible 'inflationary' period, wherein the universe purportedly expanded at a rate faster than the speed of light.  Furthermore, it incorporates the higher dimensional space theories that the mathematics  seems to require.

Basically, it postulates that 4D space-time is a brane suspended in the 5th dimension like a sheet.   There are other sheets.  Gravity acts across the 5th dimension and is the only force than does so.  Our current universe was created when an adjacent sheet was attracted by gravity into collision with our sheet, resulting in the precipitation of energy-matter in an expanding field that has the peculiar property of a common background radiation seemingly coming from all directions at once.  Under this model, there was never a universal singularity, no magnetic monopoles, no inflationary period, no crunch-bang cycles.

However, there may be further universes created by additional brane collisions.

RS
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Sardonicous

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Re:What is Liberty?
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2003, 04:51:16 pm »

Anyone know of reverse-determination?

I know it has something to do with time flowing backwards from the future like AC. Two different directions.
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Zack Bass

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Re:What is Liberty?
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2003, 07:10:16 pm »



Basically, it postulates that 4D space-time is a brane suspended in the 5th dimension like a sheet.   There are other sheets.  Gravity acts across the 5th dimension and is the only force than does so.


There may be forces that act across additional dimensions.  Unfortunately, this would mean that they follow an inverse-cube rather than an inverse-square dropoff in strength with distance.  Gravity doesn't do that.
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rodschmidt

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Quantum Philosophy
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2003, 11:36:38 pm »


If determinism is right, then it's not clear to me how the idea of "potential futures" can mean anything.  If determinism is not right, then nothing is clear to me.  
It seems like determinism must be right (the future is determined by the present) since there is only one future.  On the other hand, we know from quantum mechanics that this last assumption is false.  There is NOT one unique future.


Actually, we don't know that from QM.  (In fact, Wave Functions evolve in a purely deterministic manner, and give precise probabilities of possible futures.  It's Reduction/Decoherence that seems to pick one future out of many.)  

My reasoning goes like this:  I get out of QM that the past is not deterministic, there is not one unique past.  Instead, all pasts that are consistent with the present are equally ... how do I say this ... equally real, equally historic, they all equally happened.  

I also get that the past and the future are not fundamentally different, they follow the same rules.  

I conclude that all possible futures that are consistent with the present are equal in the same sense that all possible pasts that are consistent with the present are equal.
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rodschmidt

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Re:What is Liberty? (also determinism and quantum mechanics)
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2003, 11:37:56 pm »

...
Any conscious entity (of which I am one, perhaps the only one) ...

And only when you're awake.
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rodschmidt

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That Darn Cat (quantum philosophy)
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2003, 11:57:32 pm »

...
The Cat In The Box is NOT in some sort of "twilight zone", neither dead nor alive, as so many popularizations - and even scientists! - tell us.  I think it should be obvious that THE CAT, at least, has observed whether or not it has been killed.

The experiment would have been less confusing if it had been more symmetric.  The cat should have been sitting on a rotating platform (like in a microwave oven) and been caused to turn 90 degrees either left or right.  Then, from the scientist's point of view, the cat is facing either north or south; but equally from the cat's point of view, the scientist is facing either forward or backward.  The symmetry I'm talking about is between the world-inside-the-box and the world-outside-the-box.  

Any "twilight zone" properties of the situation are not exclusively in the cat, nor exclusively in the scientist, but in the relationship between the two.  I see this experiment as similar to the games played in relativity, where I am in my frame and you are in your frame and I observe your stuff and vice versa.

Or maybe that would be MORE confusing.
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