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The greatest proof of free will…
Posted: 26 September 2011 04:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1426 ]
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GdB - 26 September 2011 04:08 AM
Mingy Jongo - 26 September 2011 03:52 AM

What could possibly be the process for gaining knowledge of U2 laws?  I dislike bigotry, but how do I know bigotry is wrong?

See here for how science becomes a religion for certain people. As is pointed out later in that thread, these points are called scientism.

2. The trust that science will eventually solve every human problem. E.g., one must not worry about global warming, science will find a solution: extract CO2 from the atmosphere, using nuclear fusion, or build gigantic solar panels in tropical areas. Said otherwise, we do not have to take any responsibility, ‘they’ (scientists) will solve it for us.

3. Related to 2: the faith that every aspect of human life, be it morality, aesthetics or politics can in principle be understood by science, and in this way can take responsibility from us. It is the idea that norms and values can in principle derived from basic scientific facts only.

4. The idea that only things that can be scientifically can be proven are valuable for us, because they bring gain and power to us via technology. This is more or less the opposite of 3. Instead of using science for ethics, aesthetics, and politics, these are thrown away as unscientific. Science becomes a value in itself.

You seem to think according the lines of 3 or 4?

None of those describe me at all.  I am a rare breed; a skeptic of everything beyond my immediate experience, be it physical objects, induction, morality, etc.

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Posted: 26 September 2011 04:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1427 ]
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Mingy Jongo - 26 September 2011 04:21 AM

I am a rare breed; a skeptic of everything beyond my immediate experience, be it physical objects, induction, morality, etc.

You mean, you are when you have your philosopher’s hat on ... smile

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Posted: 26 September 2011 05:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1428 ]
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Mingy Jongo - 26 September 2011 04:21 AM

None of those describe me at all.  I am a rare breed; a skeptic of everything beyond my immediate experience, be it physical objects, induction, morality, etc.

Then why do you ask how we know bigotry is wrong? We cannot know it. But we can agree on it in a rational discourse, in which we give grounds for why we are convinced that bigotry is wrong.

[ Edited: 26 September 2011 05:30 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 26 September 2011 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1429 ]
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dougsmith - 26 September 2011 04:32 AM
Mingy Jongo - 26 September 2011 04:21 AM

I am a rare breed; a skeptic of everything beyond my immediate experience, be it physical objects, induction, morality, etc.

You mean, you are when you have your philosopher’s hat on ... smile

I’m afraid it is taped to my head.

GdB - 26 September 2011 05:07 AM
Mingy Jongo - 26 September 2011 04:21 AM

None of those describe me at all.  I am a rare breed; a skeptic of everything beyond my immediate experience, be it physical objects, induction, morality, etc.

Then why do you ask how we know bigotry is wrong? We cannot know it. But we can agree on it in a rational discourse, in which we give grounds for why we are convinced that bigotry is wrong.

What are the grounds for why bigotry is wrong?

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Posted: 26 September 2011 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1430 ]
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[quote=“MJ”]What are the grounds for why bigotry is wrong?

I hope you don’t think you are telling me something I don’t know!

Conventionally, there is no way to prove that bigotry or slavery is wrong.  I am not disputing that, and I think my posts make that clear. 

I would point out that this thread is 96 pages long, and no conclusion about free will has been reached yet.  If we had a thread about consciousness we would probably have an even longer one!  In the non-online world (remember that?) ‘real’ philosophers have done no better in sorting these issues out.  I think we might need a bit of unconventional thinking. 

Naturally I have considered the objections raised.  So what are the grounds why bigotry is wrong?  I have to refer back to my notion of U1 and U2.  I think we can agree that the concept of right and wrong is not part of U1.  There are no atoms of good or molecules of evil.  So if asked ‘what are the grounds why bigotry is wrong’ I can’t offer one in terms of the elements of U1.  But - and this is perhaps to put a cat amongst the pigeons - is there really any doubt that bigotry is wrong?  I am not prepared to concede that bigotry is or could be ok just because there is there is no U1-based proof.  Bigotry is wrong - if we can’t prove it, I think the fault lies in our methods of proof, not in the assertion.

We have come to rely on U1-based proof because they have been extremely successful up to now.  But they are not proving to be much use when it comes to solving problems like free will, consciousness, good and evil.  Indeed, many people would say that such things like free will cannot be proven, or that nothing definite can be said about them.  That seems to be what MJ is implying in his previous post.  I think that if we are going to solve the mind/brain problem (etc.) then we are going to have to take U2 seriously. 

In emotive terms, anyone who doubts that bigotry is not wrong has not been on the wrong end of it.  If ‘bigotry is wrong’ is a fact, then we should be able to prove it just as we should be able to prove objective (U1) facts.  We can’t, which leaves us in the absurd position of having to concede (or even defend) the notion that bigotry is ok.  Clearly our proof methods need re-examining.  Why not discourse?  Well, I would hope that if we did debate bigotry, GdB would be against it.  But why take that position before the debate and during it, waiting for a concensus?  That is what GdB’s stated position implies we should do.  Suppose the debate came out in favour of bigotry - would GdB really accept that result?

It is certainly unconventional to challenge our methods of proof rather than assertions, but I hope I have begun to persuade you it is not sheer loopiness that makes me want to do so.

[ Edited: 26 September 2011 10:47 AM by keithprosser2 ]
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Posted: 26 September 2011 11:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1431 ]
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dougsmith - 26 September 2011 04:32 AM
Mingy Jongo - 26 September 2011 04:21 AM

I am a rare breed; a skeptic of everything beyond my immediate experience, be it physical objects, induction, morality, etc.

You mean, you are when you have your philosopher’s hat on ... smile

Mingo, I take this idea of Doug a little further. I would even say: you are not serious. You daily are living with physical objects, induction and morality, and then one sided aim your arrows at one aspect of it. You seem to have fun with it, that’s OK to me, but other people are highly disturbed by this form of skepticism, and cannot so easily live with that. There are even people who make a serious problem of it that there is no logical basis for induction, therefore ask for the basis of why we believe in natural laws, causality, determinism, responsibility and praise and blame. wink

But if you are consistent in this, then your skepticism should make you a highly interesting person: if your car is not in the parking lot anymore where you left it, you should shrug your shoulders and think for your self ‘well, I have no prove of persistence of physical objects, so why bother’, instead of thinking that it has been stolen.

If you don’t, I would like to invite you to reflect how moral considerations really work in your life. As I assume you are not randomly killing people around you, you might have reasons for it, maybe even beyond the fact that it would mean you were put in prison, or on the electric chair. Maybe you think it even correct that one should not kill people randomly. You even might have reasons why you think bigotry is wrong… Why should these reasons be of the same kind as reasons for accepting (scientific) truths?

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Posted: 26 September 2011 11:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1432 ]
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keithprosser2 - 26 September 2011 10:36 AM

I would point out that this thread is 96 pages long, and no conclusion about free will has been reached yet.  If we had a thread about consciousness we would probably have an even longer one!  In the non-online world (remember that?) ‘real’ philosophers have done no better in sorting these issues out.  I think we might need a bit of unconventional thinking. 

Not quite agree with that. We know the solution already for a long time, but it is not accepted, because it is opposed to our cherished dualist feelings. Don’t forget: hard core scientist don’t do better in that: they suffer from neglect of the scientific subject. Without the freedom to choose input parameters of an experiment, it would be even impossible to discover natural laws. And if we apply this to the sciences that have humans (or human societies) as their object of study…

keithprosser2 - 26 September 2011 10:36 AM

We have come to rely on U1-based proof because they have been extremely successful up to now.  But they are not proving to be much use when it comes to solving problems like free will, consciousness, good and evil.  Indeed, many people would say that such things like free will cannot be proven, or that nothing definite can be said about them.  That seems to be what MJ is implying in his previous post.  I think that if we are going to solve the mind/brain problem (etc.) then we are going to have to take U2 seriously. 

Exactly. Could be my words… wink

keithprosser2 - 26 September 2011 10:36 AM

Well, I would hope that if we did debate bigotry, GdB would be against it.  But why take that position before the debate and during it, waiting for a concensus?  That is what GdB’s stated position implies we should do.  Suppose the debate came out in favour of bigotry - would GdB really accept that result?

Under the condition that this is a never ending societal debate (as science is a continuing process too), I would. But maybe I even think I have good reasons for it, and so can convince a lot of people.
@Mingo: Good reasons are not necessarily logical, mathematical or scientific reasons. See my posting above.

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Posted: 26 September 2011 11:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1433 ]
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GdB - 26 September 2011 11:38 PM

because it is opposed to our cherished dualist feelings.


Don’t think it’s got as much to do with it as you think.

Actually perhaps that was a bit hasty, perhaps the list of reasons I have wind back to that, not sure.

Anyhow here are the reasons.

What we know is free will is the thing we have to have to be morally responsible.

So firstly it’s the nature of responsibility which people believe in.

So reason 1) People believe responsibility is ultimate responsibility.

2) They believe we need to have “conscious control” in order to have free will.

3) They believe that unless we could get to a different future from the same past our freedom is restricted in an important way.

4) They believe Logical determinism also would restrict freedom (modal scope fallacy)

All of these appear to have convincingly be shown to be simply mistakes which is why I agree with you that the solution is known.

Stephen

[ Edited: 27 September 2011 01:00 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 27 September 2011 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1434 ]
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[quote=“I”]Well, I would hope that if we did debate bigotry, GdB would be against it.  But why take that position before the debate and during it, waiting for a concensus?  That is what GdB’s stated position implies we should do.  Suppose the debate came out in favour of bigotry - would GdB really accept that result?

[quote=“GdB”]Under the condition that this is a never ending societal debate (as science is a continuing process too), I would. But maybe I even think I have good reasons for it, and so can convince a lot of people.

You skipped over what I think was the more important of my questions…  i.e. Suppose the debate came out in favour of bigotry - would GdB really accept that result?

I suggest that firstly it is very likely that the debate would come out in favour of bigotry and secondly GdB would not be content and would try to change the consensus. 

Both of those stem from the fact (I don’t know what else to call it at this point except a fact) that ‘bigotry is wrong’.  ‘Bigotry is wrong’ is a fact as much as ‘the world is round’ is a fact.  Just as the fact ‘the world is round’ took us time to discover, so did ‘bigotry is wrong’ take time to discover.  The world is round, but it not impossible to find people who believe otherwise.  Flat-earthers are, quite simply, wrong.  Similarly, bigots are simply wrong. 

Let me suggest that the role of social debate is not to choose whether bigotry is wrong but to discover whether it is wrong.  That such a debate (which is of course not a debate in formal terms) can get the wrong answer sometimes is a consequence of human falability.  The ‘debate’ amongst white plantation owners in the southern US clearly did not come out against bigotry and slavery… I feel that does not make bigotry and slavery morally right in the southern United States.  Slavery did not become ok because plantation owners concurred that it was.  They simply got it wrong.  If the societal debate in the deep south ended up with every southerner believing the world was flat, the world would not be flat. They would simply have got it wrong.

The difference is that for a U1 problem like the shape of the earth we have plenty of tools to discover the ‘real truth’.  No such tools exist to prove that a U2 fact - ‘bigotry is wrong’ is correct.  Societal debate is as close as we have to to such a tool, but it is hit and miss and not much better than trial and error.  In my (current and developing!) view, problems such as the apparent arbitrary, mutable and relativist nature of moral truths is the lack of adequate tools.  Moral truths may be no more arbitrary or mutable than the shape of the earth is mutable… we just don’t know how to discover or prove moral facts very well.

Sorry to ignore you, Steven, but it seems this thread is developing a lot of sub-strands!  I hope someone knows how to knit.

[ Edited: 27 September 2011 04:00 AM by keithprosser2 ]
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Posted: 27 September 2011 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1435 ]
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GdB - 26 September 2011 11:07 PM
dougsmith - 26 September 2011 04:32 AM
Mingy Jongo - 26 September 2011 04:21 AM

I am a rare breed; a skeptic of everything beyond my immediate experience, be it physical objects, induction, morality, etc.

You mean, you are when you have your philosopher’s hat on ... smile

Mingo, I take this idea of Doug a little further. I would even say: you are not serious. You daily are living with physical objects, induction and morality, and then one sided aim your arrows at one aspect of it. You seem to have fun with it, that’s OK to me, but other people are highly disturbed by this form of skepticism, and cannot so easily live with that. There are even people who make a serious problem of it that there is no logical basis for induction, therefore ask for the basis of why we believe in natural laws, causality, determinism, responsibility and praise and blame. wink

I am quite serious.  Though induction can not be justified epistemologically (that is, as a tool for gaining knowledge), it can be justified pragmatically.  I showed in the “Why are there laws of nature?” topic that if the inductive method does not work at making accurate predictions, then no method will.

GdB - 26 September 2011 11:07 PM

But if you are consistent in this, then your skepticism should make you a highly interesting person: if your car is not in the parking lot anymore where you left it, you should shrug your shoulders and think for your self ‘well, I have no prove of persistence of physical objects, so why bother’, instead of thinking that it has been stolen.

How do you know I “should” think that?  I think you are completely missing the point of skepticism with a claim like that.  As for what I would actually think if I did not act otherwise automatically, it would go something like this:
“I have an experience of a memory of there being the perception of what I recognize as a ‘car’ in this spot.”
“If my experiences can be trusted, and they follow constant universal law(s), then I can use induction to find the perception of the car.”
“If my experience can not be trusted, or they do not follow constant universal law(s), then induction is as useful (or useless) as any other method of reasoning from my point of view.”
“I want to experience the perception of the car again, so I will use induction, just in case the former is true.”

It seems like a lot of work, but it has become routine habit for me to reason as such.

GdB - 26 September 2011 11:07 PM

If you don’t, I would like to invite you to reflect how moral considerations really work in your life. As I assume you are not randomly killing people around you, you might have reasons for it, maybe even beyond the fact that it would mean you were put in prison, or on the electric chair. Maybe you think it even correct that one should not kill people randomly. You even might have reasons why you think bigotry is wrong… Why should these reasons be of the same kind as reasons for accepting (scientific) truths?

My reasons are simply that I do not want to.  Those are not experiences that I feel I would want to have, and I am repulsed by them.

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Posted: 27 September 2011 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1436 ]
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keithprosser2,
Not much time now, but my position is heavily influenced by Jürgen Habermas.

See here for a trial of a very short outline of his philosophy…

Factual truth and moral correctness are not decided in the same way, but share their root in a presupposition of a discourse.

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Posted: 29 September 2011 11:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1437 ]
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Mingy Jongo - 25 September 2011 11:17 AM

In summary, it is a triple whammy: we have no way of knowing if we have free will or not, we have no way of knowing what ought to be if we have free will or not, and regardless of if there is or isn’t something that “ought” to be, it wouldn’t affect our experience either way.

I’ll try and tackle the first part of your triple whammy.

I’d say I can and do know if we have free will or not. Or rather I can know that we don’t have a version of free will and I can know that we do have a different version of free will.

Free will in both cases is the thing we have to have to be morally responsible for our actions.

We can be morally responsible for our actions by one definition and can’t by another.

What we can’t be is ultimately responsible, which would mean us having ultimate control. to have this what we do would have to be totally up to us. All these concepts are probably things that are impossible but we can still talk about what it takes to have this power.

Firstly it requires determinism to be false. Say the universe was in such a state 500 years ago such that the one possible future that can be arrived at from there is that I’ll make a bad choice tomorrow. And say if it had been in a slightly different state I’d be going to select a better option tomorrow.

Clearly that would mean that my choice, in part, would depend upon something out of my control, the state of the universe 500 years before my birth, and so the choice would not be totally up to me.

Still this doesn’t tell me we are not ultimately responsible because determinism might be false.

But it’s not enough for it to be false, we need some way that indeterminism can make the choice totally up to me. But all indeterminism appears to do is add some dice in with the dominoes, or some dicey dominoes. The dicey element again is not totally up to me.

So it looks like indeterminism doesn’t help and so evidence is starting to increase that we don’t have libertarian free will.

Still not enough?

Ok, what we know is that what we do partly depends upon our genes don’t we? It certainly isn’t totally up to us what our genetic make up is.

And surely we know that past experiences influence my decisions, I should hope so! But again all these past experiences can’t be totally up to us.

Don’t we know this? Really?

And there is more, this totally up to us control is a pretty awesome power, does it really seem to us like we have it? Us bumbling apes, who can barely come to terms with the amazing fact that we exist at all are totally in control of what it is that we are so that we have ultimate responsibility. Isn’t that a ridiculous idea?

Well that’s about it, I’m sure it’s not good enough for you but it seems to me that one of the few things I can say I know with confidence is that I don’t have libertarian free will.

I’ll deal with the free will I think we can know we do have next post.

Stephen

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Posted: 30 September 2011 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1438 ]
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StephenLawrence - 29 September 2011 11:30 PM

But it’s not enough for it to be false, we need some way that indeterminism can make the choice totally up to me. But all indeterminism appears to do is add some dice in with the dominoes, or some dicey dominoes. The dicey element again is not totally up to me.

And here is the dualism.

Without clear ideas about what ‘I’ is, what persons are, any concept of ‘free will’ or not, is impossible.

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Posted: 30 September 2011 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1439 ]
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I am still busy reading up on JH and brushing up on my Kant, so I will be fairly quiescent for a while.

Without clear ideas about what ‘I’ is, what persons are, any concept of ‘free will’ or not, is impossible.

Do you mean is that it’s impossible to say anything sensible about free will until you have sorted out what ‘I’ means/is?  Having cleared my own thinking during this thread I would agree with that, because if free will exists, it can only exist as an aspect of consciousness, and of course consciousness and ‘I’ are inseparable.  But that might or might not be what you mean, because I admit I found the quoted sentence a bit obscure.

[ Edited: 30 September 2011 12:23 PM by keithprosser2 ]
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Posted: 02 October 2011 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1440 ]
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keithprosser2 - 30 September 2011 12:20 PM

I am still busy reading up on JH and brushing up on my Kant, so I will be fairly quiescent for a while.

Without clear ideas about what ‘I’ is, what persons are, any concept of ‘free will’ or not, is impossible.

Do you mean is that it’s impossible to say anything sensible about free will until you have sorted out what ‘I’ means/is?  Having cleared my own thinking during this thread I would agree with that, because if free will exists, it can only exist as an aspect of consciousness, and of course consciousness and ‘I’ are inseparable.  But that might or might not be what you mean, because I admit I found the quoted sentence a bit obscure.

I’d say it’s difficult to say what free will is without sorting out what moral responsibility is, so that’s the route I take.

On sorting out what “I” means my theory is we have to sort out what it is that experiences time passing, because that can’t simply be the four dimensional spacetime worm.

I don’t think we are any where near answering what “I” means, sadly.

Stephen

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