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The greatest proof of free will…
Posted: 02 December 2011 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1486 ]
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TimB - 02 December 2011 12:54 PM

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.

Sorry, just to be clear, this is not correct. Free will requires at least some amount of determinism. (There is room for a small amount of indeterminism as we’d find from QM for macroscopic events; that’s to say, virtually none). Otherwise your beliefs and desires couldn’t cause your actions, etc.

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Posted: 02 December 2011 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1487 ]
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Tim,

I always think calling free will an illusion muddies the waters a great deal.

Options are things you can do.

Now, what if can means can if you want to. We often hear people say that and it’s often what they mean when they just say can or think about things they can do.

Want is not always used to mean the same thing, so better, to be clear is can if you choose to.

Can= Not prevented.

So you evaluate things that you are not prevented from doing if you choose to.

Is that an illusion if determinism is true?

Stephen

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Posted: 02 December 2011 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1488 ]
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StephenLawrence - 02 December 2011 01:30 PM

Tim,

I always think calling free will an illusion muddies the waters a great deal.

Options are things you can do.

Now, what if can means can if you want to. We often hear people say that and it’s often what they mean when they just say can or think about things they can do.

Want is not always used to mean the same thing, so better, to be clear is can if you choose to.

Can= Not prevented.

So you evaluate things that you are not prevented from doing if you choose to.

Is that an illusion if determinism is true?

Stephen

In my paradigm, I would call “things you can do” your existing repertoire of potential responses.  “Want” is one’s current motivational state and is determined by one’s existing physiology and history of conditioning.  My “want” makes one or more of among my repertoire of potential responses more likely than the other potential responses. When you say “Can= Not prevented”, that does not compute for me. Thus I am having trouble making sense of your subsequent question.  I agree, however, that “illusion” may be not be the best term.  In the process of engaging in this discussion, I came to the term “virtual” (free will), which seems more comfortable (and possibly more accurate?) to me.

Your question paraphrased, “Is (evaluating things that you are not prevented from doing if you choose to) an illusion if determinism is true?”  My attempt at an answer:  If I am evaluating something, I would not consider my evaluating behavior to be an illusion.  The part of your question “if you choose to” is problematic, for me, because I would say that my choice is determined, despite (and possibly partially because of) my consideration and examination of my repertoire of potential available responses.

TimB

[ Edited: 02 December 2011 02:38 PM by TimB ]
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Posted: 02 December 2011 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1489 ]
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TimB - 02 December 2011 02:15 PM

In my paradigm, I would call “things you can do” your existing repertoire of potential responses.  “Want” is one’s current motivational state and is determined by one’s existing physiology and history of conditioning.  My “want” makes one or more of among my repertoire of potential responses more likely than the other potential responses.

Ok.


When you say “Can= Not prevented”, that does not compute for me.

Best to explain with an example. I can go to Scotland in the morning means there is nothing to prevent me from going if I choose to. Why? Because I have enough money for the ticket, the trains are running, I have the ability to find out about the trains, I’m able to get to the appropriate station and so on.

But I already know I’m not determined to go to Scotland in the morning. I need the money for my grandsons christmas present, I’ve no reason to go, I don’t know anybody in Scotland etc.

So I already have awareness that many examples of what I can do and what I’m determined to do are different things.

Another way of putting the same thing is I can go to Scotland in the morning means I will if I choose to.

Thus I am having trouble making sense of your subsequent question.  I agree, however, that “illusion” may be not be the best term.  In the process of engaging in this discussion, I came to the term “virtual” (free will), which seems more comfortable (and possibly more accurate?) to me.

From what I’ve been saying above I wonder if you still feel the need for the “virtual” at all?

Stephen

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Posted: 02 December 2011 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1490 ]
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dougsmith - 02 December 2011 01:10 PM
Write4U - 02 December 2011 12:54 PM

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.

Sorry, just to be clear, this is not correct. Free will requires at least some amount of determinism. (There is room for a small amount of indeterminism as we’d find from QM for macroscopic events; that’s to say, virtually none). Otherwise your beliefs and desires couldn’t cause your actions, etc.

Sorry Doug, I need to consider my little tags better. I believe I was correct until I added the “not FW”. I do agree that determinism allows a certain amount of FW, within the larger parameters of determinism.
I think that the question if we would or could make a different decision under the same circumstances, is a valid one. We may have a certain amount of FW in the original decision, but once that was made, would we be able to make a different one if we went back to the exact same time and circumstances? We may be able to change our mind (FW) at a later time, but then the circumstances have changed and the question if we could have done differently at that (later) time poses the same dilemma.

[ Edited: 03 December 2011 10:59 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 02 December 2011 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1491 ]
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StephenLawrence - 02 December 2011 02:49 PM

[From what I’ve been saying above I wonder if you still feel the need for the “virtual” at all?

Stephen

I am new to thinking deeply about this topic, but right now “virtual” free will feels best to me, so I have exercised my “virtual” free will to use the term. smile

TimB

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Posted: 02 December 2011 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1492 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence” date=“1322880590 ...Best to explain with an example. I can go to Scotland in the morning means there is nothing to prevent me from going if I choose to. Why? Because I have enough money for the ticket, the trains are running, I have the ability to find out about the trains, I’m able to get to the appropriate station and so on.

But I already know I’m not determined to go to Scotland in the morning. I need the money for my grandsons christmas present, I’ve no reason to go, I don’t know anybody in Scotland etc.

So I already have awareness that many examples of what I can do and what I’m determined to do are different things.

Another way of putting the same thing is I can go to Scotland in the morning means I will if I choose to…

Stephen


When you say “...means I will if I choose to.”  I suggest that it doesn’t make sense, because you have previously clearly stated the factors that determined that you will not go to Scotland.  You will not make that “choice”, although you have the perception that you could.  If you did go to Scotland, despite all of the factors that you cited as determining you would not go, then some other factor/s would be determining that you make that “choice”, e.g., going just to prove that you had the “choice”, but in doing so the controlling factor might be the need to prove that you could make the “choice”. 

Your recognition that you have the capacity to go to Scotland in the morning, I would suggest, does not mean that you will if you “choose to”.  It means that you will go if your contingencies change to the extent that determine that you make that “choice”, e.g., your best friend surprises you by calling you tonight and says “Guess what? I won the lottery and I’m in Scotland. There’s a ticket waiting for you at British Airlines, for in the morning. The trip’s on me.”

TimB

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Posted: 02 December 2011 07:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1493 ]
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Write4U - 02 December 2011 03:12 PM

Sorry Doug, I need to consider my little tags better. I believe I was correct until I added the “not FW”. I do agree that determinism allows a certain amount of FW, within the larger parameters of determinism.
I think that the question if we would or could make a different decision under the same circumstances, is a valid one. We may have a certain amount of FW in the original decision, but once that was made, would we be able to make a different one if we went back to the exact same time and circumstances? We may be able to change our mind (FW) at a later time, but then the circumstances have changed and the question if we could have done differently at that (later) time poses the same dilemma.

If you went back to the exact same time and circumstances, you would not choose differently. This is because part of those circumstances includes your beliefs and desires.

The only way to make sense of choosing differently is if you assume you’d had either different desires or different beliefs. Basically you have to go to the closest possible world (the possible world that is otherwise most similar to this one) in which you’d wanted something different. If you were free to act, you would have done differently. If OTOH you were somehow compelled, then you would not have been able to do differently.

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Posted: 02 December 2011 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1494 ]
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dougsmith - 02 December 2011 07:51 PM
Write4U - 02 December 2011 03:12 PM

Sorry Doug, I need to consider my little tags better. I believe I was correct until I added the “not FW”. I do agree that determinism allows a certain amount of FW, within the larger parameters of determinism.
I think that the question if we would or could make a different decision under the same circumstances, is a valid one. We may have a certain amount of FW in the original decision, but once that was made, would we be able to make a different one if we went back to the exact same time and circumstances? We may be able to change our mind (FW) at a later time, but then the circumstances have changed and the question if we could have done differently at that (later) time poses the same dilemma.

If you went back to the exact same time and circumstances, you would not choose differently. This is because part of those circumstances includes your beliefs and desires.

The only way to make sense of choosing differently is if you assume you’d had either different desires or different beliefs. Basically you have to go to the closest possible world (the possible world that is otherwise most similar to this one) in which you’d wanted something different. If you were free to act, you would have done differently. If OTOH you were somehow compelled, then you would not have been able to do differently.

Ok, that confirms my understanding.

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Posted: 02 December 2011 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1495 ]
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TimB - 02 December 2011 05:46 PM

When you say “...means I will if I choose to.”  I suggest that it doesn’t make sense, because you have previously clearly stated the factors that determined that you will not go to Scotland.

Will if… is being used as the future tense of would if…, which is probably causing confusion.

You will not make that “choice”,

Correct but it’s still the case that there is nothing to prevent me from doing so if I choose to or put the other way I will if I choose to. (equivocation over will causing the apparent contradiction) It just so happens that in this case I’m not determined to choose to.

although you have the perception that you could.

The point is I have the perception that I could not given the circumstances but could if... the circumstances were different.

If you did go to Scotland, despite all of the factors that you cited as determining you would not go, then some other factor/s would be determining that you make that “choice”,

Yep.

Your recognition that you have the capacity to go to Scotland in the morning, I would suggest, does not mean that you will if you “choose to”.  It means that you will go if your contingencies change to the extent that determine that you make that “choice”, e.g., your best friend surprises you by calling you tonight and says “Guess what? I won the lottery and I’m in Scotland. There’s a ticket waiting for you at British Airlines, for in the morning. The trip’s on me.”

I used the example because I knew those things weren’t going to happen.

Stephen

[ Edited: 03 December 2011 12:39 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 03 December 2011 12:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1496 ]
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dougsmith - 02 December 2011 07:51 PM

If you went back to the exact same time and circumstances, you would not choose differently. This is because part of those circumstances includes your beliefs and desires.

I’m interested in the relationship between what did happen and what would have happened.

Am I right to think what did happen = what would have happened in those circumstances?

Stephen

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Posted: 03 December 2011 12:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1497 ]
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TimB - 01 December 2011 04:19 PM

I should probably not be in this conversation, as I have no training in philosophy, and some of your response is over my head. 

No problem! Everybody who is seriously prepared to think is welcome in the house of philosophy!

TimB - 01 December 2011 04:19 PM

Again, I think that my choice is a product of my history of conditioning, my established rule governed behavior, and/or current contingencies.

Yes, of course what you choose, coffee or tea, is a product of your biological, psychological and cultural history. But the important point to call an action a free action is that your choice is caused by your wishes and beliefs. That these wishes and beliefs are caused by your history makes no difference. Just imagine the opposite: that your choice has nothing to do with your history, i.e. not with what you are now. How could we say that it is your will? ‘You’ wouldn’t simply be there!

TimB - 01 December 2011 04:19 PM

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”.

That is a very interesting point. Formally, in all cases you are free. You choose between different alternatives: coffee, tea, getting $100, being shot. Now the choice for coffee you mostly recognise as you own choice. You know of your self that you normally prefer coffee (your taste is biologically formed that way; or maybe your parents only drank coffee, whatever). Said otherwise, you can perfectly identify yourself with the choice to take coffee. With the $100 the situation slightly differs. It is very unusual to get offered $100 if you take tea, i.e. it might be a bit funny to you. On the other side, you know of yourself that if you have a chance to get money, you like that. So there is still a identification with the choice, even if it is less than the normal, daily choice between coffee and tea. With the threat of being shot, it becomes much more difficult. Such a threat overrules everything you would usually do, so you ‘choose’ tea, but with a strong realisation that this is not you who chooses (even if you do, in fact). So the idea that the choice for coffee or tea could cost you your life is completely alien to you. So it might not be the aversion, but the degree of alienation from yourself. Just imagine that you are offered life long happiness if you choose for tea now, would that not be a forced action too?

TimB - 01 December 2011 04:19 PM

(I apologize in advance if my input is too simplistic or irrelevant to the discussion.)

Don’t ever think that again! It is amazing that in 100 pages of discussion (and 200 more in another thread) this point has never be brought by anyone else! Keep up the posting!

Edit:
Just to add, One cannot deny that I am free because of physical causation. On the level of physics there is no ‘I’, not even consciousness, no meaning of sentences, etc. So it doesn’t even make sense to ask if ‘I’ am ‘free’. But as soon as there is consciousness, wishes, beliefs, deliberations about actions, and rational arguments, there is an ‘I’ who does it, and the possibility of free actions is given.

[ Edited: 03 December 2011 01:04 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 03 December 2011 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1498 ]
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StephenLawrence - 03 December 2011 12:34 AM
dougsmith - 02 December 2011 07:51 PM

If you went back to the exact same time and circumstances, you would not choose differently. This is because part of those circumstances includes your beliefs and desires.

I’m interested in the relationship between what did happen and what would have happened.

Am I right to think what did happen = what would have happened in those circumstances?

I’m not sure I understand your question.

“Did” has the implication of actuality, that is, happening in the actual world.

“Would have” has the implication of counterfactuality, that is, happening in a counterfactual world.

At least, so it seems to me at first glance.

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Posted: 03 December 2011 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1499 ]
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dougsmith - 03 December 2011 06:41 AM
StephenLawrence - 03 December 2011 12:34 AM
dougsmith - 02 December 2011 07:51 PM

If you went back to the exact same time and circumstances, you would not choose differently. This is because part of those circumstances includes your beliefs and desires.

I’m interested in the relationship between what did happen and what would have happened.

Am I right to think what did happen = what would have happened in those circumstances?

I’m not sure I understand your question.

“Did” has the implication of actuality, that is, happening in the actual world.

“Would have” has the implication of counterfactuality, that is, happening in a counterfactual world.

At least, so it seems to me at first glance.

I wonder if I should have left the “have” off.

Say a child climbs a tree and falls and hurts himself and his mother says “I told you you would fall and hurt yourself if you climbed that tree”.

The mother has been proved right because there is a relationship between what would happen and what did happen.

It’s that relationship I’m looking for.

Stephen

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Posted: 03 December 2011 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1500 ]
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StephenLawrence - 03 December 2011 01:11 PM
dougsmith - 03 December 2011 06:41 AM
StephenLawrence - 03 December 2011 12:34 AM
dougsmith - 02 December 2011 07:51 PM

If you went back to the exact same time and circumstances, you would not choose differently. This is because part of those circumstances includes your beliefs and desires.

I’m interested in the relationship between what did happen and what would have happened.

Am I right to think what did happen = what would have happened in those circumstances?

I’m not sure I understand your question.

“Did” has the implication of actuality, that is, happening in the actual world.

“Would have” has the implication of counterfactuality, that is, happening in a counterfactual world.

At least, so it seems to me at first glance.

I wonder if I should have left the “have” off.

Say a child climbs a tree and falls and hurts himself and his mother says “I told you you would fall and hurt yourself if you climbed that tree”.

The mother has been proved right because there is a relationship between what would happen and what did happen.

It’s that relationship I’m looking for.

I’m still not quite getting your question. The force of the “would” in this circumstance is “will”, given the antecedent (IF you climb the tree, THEN you will fall and hurt yourself). It’s causal. It’s “would” because the way the mother is saying it is independent of whether the child actually did climb the tree or not.

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