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The greatest proof of free will…
Posted: 06 December 2011 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1576 ]
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A stab at what we “really want” means:

Something we would like to be the best option but isn’t either because it’s not an option at all or because negative consequences over rule it.

Stephen

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Posted: 06 December 2011 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1577 ]
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StephenLawrence - 06 December 2011 05:48 AM

Firstly, I’m doubtful that this concept of what we “really want” has anything to do with it.

It doesn’t. I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase in the present discussion.

StephenLawrence - 06 December 2011 05:48 AM

It seems to me that sometimes we have nice options to select between and some times we have crap ones, I just don’t see what that’s got to do with free choices or free will. That’s about having good options and bad options that’s it. I also say I don’t know what we “really want” means.

But Ok that’s not an argument.

In the bank robber example and the Sophie’s choice example, in both cases the reason the will is not free is because the restriction comes immediately from other agents and without those restrictions a different choice would be made.

So that gives me at least a reason to reject your claim that it’s to do with not being what they really want in those cases.

That’s not my claim. See above: “So while it is generally true that to will freely is to do what you want, in the specifics that has to be amended slightly. It is [either] to do what you want or to do the better of two unwanted options in the case that they are the results of blind circumstance and not the forced choice of another agent.”

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Posted: 06 December 2011 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1578 ]
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dougsmith - 06 December 2011 07:14 AM

That’s not my claim. See above: “So while it is generally true that to will freely is to do what you want, in the specifics that has to be amended slightly. It is [either] to do what you want or to do the better of two unwanted options in the case that they are the results of blind circumstance and not the forced choice of another agent.”

Ok.

It is hard to see the relevence of doing what you want Doug.

When the choice isn’t forced by agents, or something else that counts as restriction of freedom the will, it matters not.

And when the choice is forced upon us by agents or something else that counts as restriction of freedom of the will, that is the reason the will is restricted and so again, it matters not.

Also, I hope you see the ambiguity of talking about unwanted options. The will is the result of the competing beliefs and desires, so the option that is picked is always the willed or wanted option in one sense.

Lastly on “really want” I took the idea from the bank robber who you said didn’t really want to hand over the money. It’s a way of distinguishing between the will or want being the most highly evaluated option and what you’re talking about. Some way is needed to distinguish between want/will as in most highly valued of the available options and what you are talking about, which although I believe there is such a thing, it’s not clear what it is.

Stephen

[ Edited: 06 December 2011 08:52 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 06 December 2011 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1579 ]
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We’re going around in circles here, Stephen. The main issue is that one can end up having to do what one does not want to do.

Frankly, it’s plain as day; it’s the sort of thing we routinely notice. Once you see it you will see that your concerns evaporate.

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Posted: 06 December 2011 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1580 ]
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dougsmith - 06 December 2011 09:16 AM

We’re going around in circles here, Stephen. The main issue is that one can end up having to do what one does not want to do.

Frankly, it’s plain as day; it’s the sort of thing we routinely notice. Once you see it you will see that your concerns evaporate.

Well, I have no problem with the idea of having to make a choice you otherwise wouldn’t make. Then it’s a question of deciding which restrictions count and which don’t and why.

But one thing I know is the concept of what we want when it’s not refering to the most highly valued option is not plain as day. And the concept of free will as doing what we want is not plain as day. You only need to observe how much trouble people have understanding this to realise that.

I also think you are tremendously over estimating the amount of time people spend doing what they want. My Dad has spent most of his time doing it, he was a photographer and when he retired he just kept right on doing it.

It would take as little as £10,000 for me to gladly leave work and say to hell with the consequences for a while, which I would say means I’m not doing what I want, I’m forced into the situation.

And I suspect that goes for the majority.

Stephen

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Posted: 06 December 2011 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1581 ]
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StephenLawrence - 06 December 2011 09:44 AM
dougsmith - 06 December 2011 09:16 AM

We’re going around in circles here, Stephen. The main issue is that one can end up having to do what one does not want to do.

Frankly, it’s plain as day; it’s the sort of thing we routinely notice. Once you see it you will see that your concerns evaporate.

Well, I have no problem with the idea of having to make a choice you otherwise wouldn’t make.

That’s not the same thing. Without my wife, I might not have made the choice for Thai food. But not because I don’t want Thai food.

StephenLawrence - 06 December 2011 09:44 AM

But one thing I know is the concept of what we want when it’s not refering to the most highly valued option is not plain as day. And the concept of free will as doing what we want is not plain as day. You only need to observe how much trouble people have understanding this to realise that.

This is a non sequitur. The point is that it’s clear as day that we can end up doing what we don’t want to do.

StephenLawrence - 06 December 2011 09:44 AM

I also think you are tremendously over estimating the amount of time people spend doing what they want. My Dad has spent most of his time doing it, he was a photographer and when he retired he just kept right on doing it.

It would take as little as £10,000 for me to gladly leave work and say to hell with the consequences for a while, which I would say means I’m not doing what I want, I’m forced into the situation.

And I suspect that goes for the majority.

Perhaps it is that people spend a large amount of time doing what they don’t want to do. What relevance does it have to our discussion whether they spend a lot of time or a little time? Either can be modeled as I’ve suggested, above.

This response is basically a long non sequitur, near as I can figure it.

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Posted: 06 December 2011 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1582 ]
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dougsmith - 06 December 2011 10:09 AM

Perhaps it is that people spend a large amount of time doing what they don’t want to do. What relevance does it have to our discussion whether they spend a lot of time or a little time? Either can be modeled as I’ve suggested, above.

This response is basically a long non sequitur, near as I can figure it.

Because what you have said is having free will is generally doing what you want. But as people so often have free will whilst not doing what they want that’s not true.

Stephen

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Posted: 06 December 2011 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1583 ]
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StephenLawrence - 06 December 2011 10:13 AM
dougsmith - 06 December 2011 10:09 AM

Perhaps it is that people spend a large amount of time doing what they don’t want to do. What relevance does it have to our discussion whether they spend a lot of time or a little time? Either can be modeled as I’ve suggested, above.

This response is basically a long non sequitur, near as I can figure it.

Because what you have said is having free will is generally doing what you want. But as people so often have free will whilst not doing what they want that’s not true.

*Sigh*

Two things:

(1) We talked about the fact that free will is relative, and on a sliding scale. People who do not do what they most want to do are thereby less free than those who do what they most want to do.

(2) Please re-read my above condition, since it doesn’t seem as though you’ve yet grasped it: “So while it is generally true that to will freely is to do what you want, in the specifics that has to be amended slightly. It is either to do what you want or to do the better of two unwanted options in the case that they are the results of blind circumstance and not the forced choice of another agent.”

In the case of someone choosing work, we will assume that is the result of blind circumstance. (I.e. nobody has forced him into slavery).  It is the better of two unwanted options, the closest second option being presumably to get a worse job yet, or to go without work. By the condition I have provided, it is willed freely.

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Posted: 06 December 2011 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1584 ]
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Ok Doug, I’ll have to keep dwelling on this thing about what we want when it’s not refering to the best option in the circumstances.

See if I can come to agree, perhaps I will.

On free will being generally doing what you want, I do believe it so often isn’t the case that, that isn’t true.

Stephen

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Posted: 07 December 2011 01:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1585 ]
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StephenLawrence - 06 December 2011 06:19 AM

A stab at what we “really want” means:

Something we would like to be the best option but isn’t either because it’s not an option at all or because negative consequences over rule it.

Stephen

I understand “want” to be a motivational state that is determined by one’s current physiological state and one’s history of conditioning.

Given the operational definition of free will as “It is either to do what you want or to do the better of two unwanted options in the case that they are the results of blind circumstance and not the forced choice of another agent.”,  I would say that “free will” is simply our way of thinkiing about a “choice” we made, in terms of our recognition of the positive influences on our “choice” or the aversive influences on our “choice” by an outside agent vs. the aversive influences of general circumstances.

A question arises:  I have 2 bad choices due to general circumstances.  I choose one and that is a “free choice”.  If I had 2 bad choices that were due to the actions of an outside agent, but the outside agent’s action was unbeknownst to me, couldI assume, correctly, that given the operational definition, I would have “chosen freely” from the 2 bad options?  The example here would be if the Nazi officer had told Sophie, your 2 children are very ill, we can save only one of them but only if you tell us which one to save (wherein the children were not actually sick, and the real Nazi plan is to kill one or both children).

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 07 December 2011 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1586 ]
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TimB - 07 December 2011 01:53 PM

Given the operational definition of free will as “It is either to do what you want or to do the better of two unwanted options in the case that they are the results of blind circumstance and not the forced choice of another agent.”,  I would say that “free will” is simply our way of thinkiing about a “choice” we made, in terms of our recognition of the positive influences on our “choice” or the aversive influences on our “choice” by an outside agent vs. the aversive influences of general circumstances.

A question arises:  I have 2 bad choices due to general circumstances.  I choose one and that is a “free choice”.  If I had 2 bad choices that were due to the actions of an outside agent, but the outside agent’s action was unbeknownst to me, couldI assume, correctly, that given the operational definition, I would have “chosen freely” from the 2 bad options?  The example here would be if the Nazi officer had told Sophie, your 2 children are very ill, we can save only one of them but only if you tell us which one to save (wherein the children were not actually sick, and the real Nazi plan is to kill one or both children).

Good question. But I can’t see why the Nazis wouldn’t have been able to save both children; it’s not clear how Sophie could be really given a legitimate choice in that instance.

That said, I’m sure if we thought long enough we could come up with the sort of case you’re looking for. I think it would be an act that seemed free to the agent, but in fact was compelled or coerced: had the agent known of the meddling, or were they to come to know of it later, they would no longer think of their act as free but rather as compelled.

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Posted: 07 December 2011 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1587 ]
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TimB - 07 December 2011 01:53 PM

I understand “want” to be a motivational state that is determined by one’s current physiological state and one’s history of conditioning.

It’s very tricky, although Doug and GdB will beg to differ.

We do use want or will to mean different things. Your want is the outcome of the evaluation of the options. But we do say things like, we are forced against our will.

On the example you gave I agree with Doug.

Stephen

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Posted: 07 December 2011 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1588 ]
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StephenLawrence - 07 December 2011 03:17 PM
TimB - 07 December 2011 01:53 PM

I understand “want” to be a motivational state that is determined by one’s current physiological state and one’s history of conditioning.

...Your want is the outcome of the evaluation of the options…

Stephen

“Want” in my definition is not “the outcome of the evaluation of the options”.  If I evaluate my options, this process of evaluating could only possibly effect my “want”, but my “want” could also very well be more a factor of my current physiololgical state and/or to my historical exposure to historical contingencies prior to my “evaluating my options”.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 08 December 2011 01:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1589 ]
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TimB - 07 December 2011 04:22 PM
StephenLawrence - 07 December 2011 03:17 PM
TimB - 07 December 2011 01:53 PM

I understand “want” to be a motivational state that is determined by one’s current physiological state and one’s history of conditioning.

...Your want is the outcome of the evaluation of the options…

Stephen

“Want” in my definition is not “the outcome of the evaluation of the options”.  If I evaluate my options, this process of evaluating could only possibly effect my “want”, but my “want” could also very well be more a factor of my current physiololgical state and/or to my historical exposure to historical contingencies prior to my “evaluating my options”.

In the bank robber case would you say the man hands the money over because he wants to stay alive?

Stephen

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Posted: 08 December 2011 01:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1590 ]
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I wonder where this falls in the scheme of things:

Suppose I am addicted to say, nicotine. I know it is harmful to smoke, but my body craves the narcotic.
There are several scenarios which can be painted here, i.e cold turkey, gradudal reduction, the patch, a food substitute, or give in to the craving of the body and continue to smoke, knowing it is bad for me, but makes me feel good instantly.

This obviously involves a struggle of the mind (will) and the the mind/body (needing satisfaction).

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