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The greatest proof of free will…
Posted: 25 November 2011 04:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1471 ]
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Write4U - 24 November 2011 04:10 PM

I can see the problem when free will is applied to human interpretation. Perhaps human actions are proof of determinism, our actions are a result of causality and themselves causal to a specific result, i.e. determinate.

But removing humans (or other conditioned reactive organisms) from the equation, are we then not left with probability only, i.e. “probabilistic determinism”?  But that would rule out pre-determinism, wouldn’t it?

What matters is why you think that makes any difference?

Presumably it’s because you think if everything is predetermined you don’t have free will.

Stephen

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Posted: 25 November 2011 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1472 ]
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dougsmith - 24 November 2011 03:37 PM

Stephen is right that many people believe that free will is not compatible with determinism. The problem is that these same people use the concept ‘free will’ or ‘acting freely’ in cases where determinism is true—or at least true enough. At base this can be described as a kind of incoherency, though I’d prefer to describe it as simply a common error of not thinking things through in deep enough detail.

Ok, so this is not a dead horse. No more than a common error that homeopathy sometimes works.

And this common error is much more pervasive.

Stephen

[ Edited: 25 November 2011 04:17 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 25 November 2011 04:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1473 ]
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By the way, all this stuff about wanting to get away from philosophy and wanting to get more scientific is nonsense. Before we do any testing or experiments we need to know what it would be for a creature to have free will. We first need to understand exactly what this notion of free will amounts to. For example, what exactly is the difference between an intelligent robot that has only the illusion of free will (ie thinks/feels it has it but doesn’t) and an intelligent robot that actually has free will. We can’t possibly do tests to determine whether or not this or that creature has real freedom because we can’t even say what real freedom is.

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Posted: 25 November 2011 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1474 ]
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Dom1978 - 25 November 2011 03:09 AM

  The philosophical arguments against strong free will seem absolutely rock solid, but at the same time we have this consciousness/phenomenology of choice, of having alternate possibilities, and we just can’t shake it. 

What compatibilists are often saying is that we do have these alternatives and that having alternatives is compatible with determinism.

So the compatibilist is saying it’s a common error to imagine these alternatives are incompatible with determinism, rather than alternatives being an illusion.

So alternatives which don’t get selected are possible in the following ways:

1) Temporal possibilities.

2) They are things we are able to do.

3) There is nothing to prevent us from doing any one of them if we evaluate that option most highly.

4) Physically possible.

5) Epistemic possibilities.

Stephen

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Posted: 25 November 2011 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1475 ]
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Stephen, as far as I can see, there are only two options here. Either I have the feeling of alternate possibilities and I really have alternate possibilities, OR I merely have the feeling of alternate possibilities but I don’t actually have alternate possibilities. Compatibilists go with the second one. Given everything about my body and brain and the history of the universe, there is now only one thing that I can do.

[ Edited: 25 November 2011 05:06 AM by Dom1978 ]
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Posted: 25 November 2011 05:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1476 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 November 2011 04:09 AM
Write4U - 24 November 2011 04:10 PM

I can see the problem when free will is applied to human interpretation. Perhaps human actions are proof of determinism, our actions are a result of causality and themselves causal to a specific result, i.e. determinate.

But removing humans (or other conditioned reactive organisms) from the equation, are we then not left with probability only, i.e. “probabilistic determinism”?  But that would rule out pre-determinism, wouldn’t it?

What matters is why you think that makes any difference?
Presumably it’s because you think if everything is predetermined you don’t have free will.
Stephen

Why yes, I do.

I have posited this before and am still not convinced that I am wrong in this.
I see the subject divided into three seperate definitions, each more exacting in nature.

a) Cause and Effect. A generic definition that “something causes something”, without considering any specific cause or specific effect.
The BB created a chaotic unpredictable but causal environment from which the elements, i.e. H and O emerged, combining into H2O under certain circumstance.

b) Determinism. A definition that a specific causal something causes a predictable specific effect or result.
Water quenches thirst. I am thirsty so I will drink a glass of water and select a cafe that has nice cold water.

c) Predeterminism. A definition that a series of deterministic (specific causal events) create a specific and predictable future, which is unalterable from the moment of the first deterministic causality.
From the moment H and O were created, it was inevitable that I would drink a glass of cold water 10 billion years later.

However the computer temprature control of the cafe refrigerator had broken and the only available water was warm, which I then decided to drink anyway. Here pre-determination fails on quantum uncertainty and we fall back to determinism of a specific event, breaking the pre-determined chain of events.

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Posted: 25 November 2011 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1477 ]
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Dom1978 - 25 November 2011 05:03 AM

Stephen, as far as I can see, there are only two options here. Either I have the feeling of alternate possibilities and I really have alternate possibilities, OR I merely have the feeling of alternate possibilities but I don’t actually have alternate possibilities. Compatibilists go with the second one.

I, as a compatibilist, would say that actually having alternatives really amounts to the types of possibilities I listed and I believe that’s fairly common amongst compatibilist.

Given everything about my body and brain and the history of the universe, there is now only one thing that I can do.

Many compatibilists would say this cannot restrict us in any way that matters. Dennett puts it like this: We have all the freedom “worth wanting” in a deterministic world.

Stephen

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Posted: 25 November 2011 05:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1478 ]
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Dom1978 - 25 November 2011 04:37 AM

By the way, all this stuff about wanting to get away from philosophy and wanting to get more scientific is nonsense. Before we do any testing or experiments we need to know what it would be for a creature to have free will. We first need to understand exactly what this notion of free will amounts to. For example, what exactly is the difference between an intelligent robot that has only the illusion of free will (ie thinks/feels it has it but doesn’t) and an intelligent robot that actually has free will. We can’t possibly do tests to determine whether or not this or that creature has real freedom because we can’t even say what real freedom is.

Good point.

On the other side, I would say such a kind of test is already proposed: the Turing test. The only difference with the real Turing test would be that the input/output devices are more extensive than a computer terminal. The robot needs to have a voice and micros, motorical devices to move body parts and itself through space etc. But that is only a technical problem… If the robot acts as if he has free will, he is free. He can give grounds for why he did something, make mistakes, be coerced to do something, or refuse it, etc. If he can all this, what would our reasons be to say it has no free will?

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Posted: 25 November 2011 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1479 ]
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Write4U - 25 November 2011 05:06 AM

However the computer temprature control of the cafe refrigerator had broken and the only available water was warm, which I then decided to drink anyway. Here pre-determination fails on quantum uncertainty and we fall back to determinism of a specific event, breaking the pre-determined chain of events.

But it’s very unclear why you think this makes a difference. Say it was “inevitable” that only warm water was available, what difference does that make?

What I believe is you are using inevitable incorrectly. Dennett deals with this.

And you have an impossible concept of ‘future altering’ in mind too. Dennett also deals with this.

These are the two sticking points.

Stephen

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Posted: 25 November 2011 05:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1480 ]
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Dom1978 - 25 November 2011 05:03 AM

Stephen, as far as I can see, there are only two options here. Either I have the feeling of alternate possibilities and I really have alternate possibilities, OR I merely have the feeling of alternate possibilities but I don’t actually have alternate possibilities. Compatibilists go with the second one. Given everything about my body and brain and the history of the universe, there is now only one thing that I can do.

Hmm…

Imagine one bean in a bean machine. Is it possible that that it comes into the most left bin? Is it really possible?

Now imagine a technically highly sophisticated bean: it has mechanisms to steer left or right. Now suppose that the mechanisms are completely controlled by internal states of the bean. Now the bean is programmed to go to the left bin. Is it possible that it comes into the left bin? Really? Into the right bin?

Now imagine that the bean’s internal states change because of the history it had…

And now imagine that the bean is able to talk, and give grounds to you why it goes to the left bin. And at last imagine that you can convince it to go to the right bin, because at the left there is a pot with cooking bean soup… Do we need real possibilities? Is the bean determined? Free?

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Posted: 25 November 2011 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1481 ]
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Writer4U,

http://meaningoflife.tv/video.php?speaker=dennett&topic=freewill

This might be helpful wrt inevitability and future altering.

Stephen

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Posted: 01 December 2011 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1482 ]
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GdB - 24 November 2011 05:25 AM

Hi TimB,

What you deny is the concept ‘libertarian free will’, the idea that free will must be able to overrule causally determined events. That idea is of course already incoherent from the beginning. It would need events that are not caused, but from the other side, are caused by an independent agent. That does not work of course, it is just dualism in disguise. It also just shifts the problem of free will to another non-physical realm, and the same question would arise in that realm.

But then, given that there is no such physically independent agent, what are you denying? That we, as independent agents, are bound to the laws of nature (that is what non-free will would mean opposed to free will…)? But what when laws of nature give rise to agents, how can a conflict between laws of nature and our will can occur? It seems the concept of free will you are using does not apply at all.

If the concept ‘free will’ does mean something, in such a way that saying ‘we have no free will’ has content (a scientific discovery maybe?) you should look for another concept of what free will could be.

I should probably not be in this conversation, as I have no training in philosophy, and some of your response is over my head.  However, if we are simply talking about a common understanding of free will, such as “I chose coffee instead of tea.” it still seems to me that conditioning (including my established rule-governed behavior as well as my past experiences with tea vs. coffee) and the current influencing contingencies are in play.  Because of these, I will want one over the other, or want them equally, or want neither.  Because of, or regardless of, my want, I may choose one or the other or neither.  Again, I think that my choice is a product of my history of conditioning, my established rule governed behavior, and/or current contingencies.  In retrospect, then, if I think about my choice in that specific situation, I am not going to be thinking about my history of conditioning, and may be only obtusely aware of the current contingencies effecting my choice. I will percieve that I chose coffee of my own “free will”, even if I am choosing based on a rule I have accepted.  If someone offered me $100.00 to choose tea, instead.  I would choose tea, and again percieve it to be of my “own free will”.  If I were told that I would be shot if I did not choose tea, I would not percieve my choice as my “own free will”, if I then chose tea.  So perhaps there is something to do with positive vs. aversive contingencies that determines what we refer to as “free will”.  (I apologize in advance if my input is too simplistic or irrelevant to the discussion.)

[ Edited: 01 December 2011 04:46 PM by TimB ]
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Posted: 01 December 2011 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1483 ]
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confused

TimB - 01 December 2011 04:19 PM
GdB - 24 November 2011 05:25 AM

Hi TimB,

What you deny is the concept ‘libertarian free will’, the idea that free will must be able to overrule causally determined events. That idea is of course already incoherent from the beginning. It would need events that are not caused, but from the other side, are caused by an independent agent. That does not work of course, it is just dualism in disguise. It also just shifts the problem of free will to another non-physical realm, and the same question would arise in that realm.

But then, given that there is no such physically independent agent, what are you denying? That we, as independent agents, are bound to the laws of nature (that is what non-free will would mean opposed to free will…)? But what when laws of nature give rise to agents, how can a conflict between laws of nature and our will can occur? It seems the concept of free will you are using does not apply at all.

If the concept ‘free will’ does mean something, in such a way that saying ‘we have no free will’ has content (a scientific discovery maybe?) you should look for another concept of what free will could be.

I should probably not be in this conversation, as I have no training in philosophy, and some of your response is over my head.  However, if we are simply talking about a common understanding of free will, such as “I chose coffee instead of tea.” it still seems to me that conditioning (including my established rule-governed behavior as well as my past experiences with tea vs. coffee) and the current influencing contingencies are in play.  Because of these, I will want one over the other, or want them equally, or want neither.  Because of, or regardless of, my want, I may choose one or the other or neither.  Again, I think that my choice is a product of my history of conditioning, my established rule governed behavior, and/or current contingencies.  In retrospect, then, if I think about my choice in that specific situation, I am not going to be thinking about my history of conditioning, and may be only obtusely aware of the current contingencies effecting my choice. I will percieve that I chose coffee of my own “free will”, even if I am choosing based on a rule I have accepted.  If someone offered me $100.00 to choose tea, instead.  I would choose tea, and again percieve it to be of my “own free will”.  If I were told that I would be shot if I did not choose tea, I would not percieve my choice as my “own free will”, if I then chose tea.  So perhaps there is something to do with positive vs. aversive contingencies that determines what we refer to as “free will”.  (I apologize in advance if my input is too simplistic or irrelevant to the discussion.)

Being in the same position re philosophy (and physics), I made a very similar argument.

Allow me a self-test to offer what I learned from these discussions (hoping that someone with expertise will confirm or correct me).

Given any of the three identical circumstance, would you choose differently? If not, the result may be called deterministic, i.e. not FW.
Even in a situation of total randomness, it seems that at any given point in time and attributes of environment the result will be the same. To me that is a very difficult question to “visualize”.

I am glad this is still onpage 99. Hate to start page 100 with a total misunderstanding of what has been discussed so far….. confused

[ Edited: 01 December 2011 05:48 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 02 December 2011 09:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1484 ]
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TimB - 01 December 2011 04:19 PM

I will percieve that I chose coffee of my own “free will”, even if I am choosing based on a rule I have accepted.
If someone offered me $100.00 to choose tea, instead.  I would choose tea, and again percieve it to be of my “own free will”.  If I were told that I would be shot if I did not choose tea, I would not percieve my choice as my “own free will”, if I then chose tea.  So perhaps there is something to do with positive vs. aversive contingencies that determines what we refer to as “free will”.  (I apologize in advance if my input is too simplistic or irrelevant to the discussion.)

So, you’re saying free will is not about being able to do otherwise in the circumstances, it’s about being free from certain types of influences?

It’s not too simplistic or irrelevent, it’s what compatibilists believe.

The compatibilist definition that comes up here is you have free will if you act based on your beliefs and desires. The trouble with it is it doesn’t tell us much. Still there we go, the next thing is to look at different circumstances and try to work out whether you have this free will in certain cases and why, as you’ve done.

We’ve actually done surprisingly little of that here.

Usually free will gets tied to moral responsibility, probably because it’s easier to work out reasons for being morally responsible for choices.

If we imagine your examples were moral choices your judgement seems to match up with which choice you would have moral responsibility, or at least share, moral responsibility for.

Stephen

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Posted: 02 December 2011 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1485 ]
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Write4u: <quote> Being in the same position re philosophy (and physics), I made a very similar argument.

Allow me a self-test to offer what I learned from these discussions (hoping that someone with expertise will confirm or correct me).

Given any of the three identical circumstance, would you choose differently? If not, the result may be called deterministic, i.e. not FW.
Even in a situation of total randomness, it seems that at any given point in time and attributes of environment the result will be the same. To me that is a very difficult question to “visualize”.

I am glad this is still onpage 99. Hate to start page 100 with a total misunderstanding of what has been discussed so far….. confused

Thanks, Write4u.  Given that we do not have free will, i.e., our behavior is determined and thus we ultimately only have the perception that we are making choices, there may still be something to be gained by examining our perception (or the illusion?) of personal free will.  I suggest that the concept of free will involves two subconcepts - freedom and will.  “Will” is manifested by some behavior that we emit in response to a set of percieved stimuli.  Relative “freedom” (in percieved free will) is a matter, I think of the following factors: 1) the abililty to percieve a larger set of relevant stimuli (the more potential choice objects there are, the greater the sense of freedom), 2) one’s repertoire of potential choice making responses (the greater the repertoire, the greater the sense of freedom), and 3) one’s history of reinforcement/punishment (though only if this impinged on one’s awareness would it effect one’s “illusion?” of free will) and the currently existing availability of reinforcement/punishment. (A greater variety of available potential reinforcing stimuli and a dearth of availble potential punishing stimuli would promote the greater sense of freedom).

Thus I would suggest that this “illusionary?“free will, the capacity for it is relative to each individual.  Some have more than others.  It is desireable, I would think, on an individual basis to have the greatest capacity possible. 

If the above is correct, our sense of free will is limited by the parameters that exist in each factor involved in one’s sense of freedom, and by one’s current repertoire of potential responses.  To the extent that the parameters are finite in each factor of freedom, and to the extent that one’s repertoire of potential “choice making” responses is finite, there is a limit on our “illusionary?” free will. 

Now, sorry for the long winded preface, but here is what I was getting to:  In terms of verbal behavior, particularly intraverbal behavior, where one is one’s own listener, and the relevant percieved stimuli for the thoughts and the reinforcers are other words, it may be that at least the potential repertoire of responses is infinite or so close to infinite that it doesn’t matter that it is not infinite.  My point being, that our verbal behavior makes our “illusionary?” sense of free will a virtual reality.  So let’s be happy with our virtual sense of free will and seek to expand it to the greatest extent possible that it doesn’t impinge negatively on others.

[ Edited: 02 December 2011 12:56 PM by TimB ]
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