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The greatest proof of free will…
Posted: 07 January 2012 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1711 ]
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Sterhen:  But say I make an agreement to fix a bike by this afternoon and find myself working on it this morning. My story is that I’m working on the bike this morning because I have made an agreement and I have a goal to meet the agreement and am aiming for that goal.

If my story isn’t true I’d expect to be able to come up with an evolutionary explanation that doesn’t include aiming for the goal. Can we? If so I’m quite likely to change my mind.

More specifically what you are getting at, I think, is that a critical controlling factor in your fixing the bike was the statement “I will fix the bike by this afternoon.” The spider spinning its web did not require verbal behavior. 

However, this leads me to the questions (In terms of a compatibilist’s view of free will): Is verbal behavior a requisite for doing a “free will” behavior?  And if not, can organisms other than humans exert “free will”?

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Posted: 08 January 2012 02:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1712 ]
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TimB - 07 January 2012 02:19 PM

However, this leads me to the questions (In terms of a compatibilist’s view of free will): Is verbal behavior a requisite for doing a “free will” behavior?  And if not, can organisms other than humans exert “free will”?

No.

Yes. Animals also have wishes and beliefs, that cause their behaviour. Or said otherwise: they can anticipate the future. Speech tremendously increases the possibility to anticipate the future, because you do not need to make all experiences your self. Tradition and science can be given to peers that do not have had specific experiences themselves.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 02:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1713 ]
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TimB - 07 January 2012 02:19 PM

Sterhen:  But say I make an agreement to fix a bike by this afternoon and find myself working on it this morning. My story is that I’m working on the bike this morning because I have made an agreement and I have a goal to meet the agreement and am aiming for that goal.

If my story isn’t true I’d expect to be able to come up with an evolutionary explanation that doesn’t include aiming for the goal. Can we? If so I’m quite likely to change my mind.

More specifically what you are getting at, I think, is that a critical controlling factor in your fixing the bike was the statement “I will fix the bike by this afternoon.” The spider spinning its web did not require verbal behavior. 

However, this leads me to the questions (In terms of a compatibilist’s view of free will): Is verbal behavior a requisite for doing a “free will” behavior?  And if not, can organisms other than humans exert “free will”?

It doesn’t need to be verbal.

I need to be doing it because I have a goal in the future that I am aiming for.

Stephen

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Posted: 08 January 2012 03:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1714 ]
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StephenLawrence - 08 January 2012 02:23 AM
TimB - 07 January 2012 02:19 PM

Sterhen:  But say I make an agreement to fix a bike by this afternoon and find myself working on it this morning. My story is that I’m working on the bike this morning because I have made an agreement and I have a goal to meet the agreement and am aiming for that goal.

If my story isn’t true I’d expect to be able to come up with an evolutionary explanation that doesn’t include aiming for the goal. Can we? If so I’m quite likely to change my mind.

More specifically what you are getting at, I think, is that a critical controlling factor in your fixing the bike was the statement “I will fix the bike by this afternoon.” The spider spinning its web did not require verbal behavior. 

However, this leads me to the questions (In terms of a compatibilist’s view of free will): Is verbal behavior a requisite for doing a “free will” behavior?  And if not, can organisms other than humans exert “free will”?

It doesn’t need to be verbal.

I need to be doing it because I have a goal in the future that I am aiming for.

Stephen

Can you give a different example, because the one above does require verbal behavior (as it includes an agreement with another person) and, also, because I am not understanding how you could “have a goal in the future that you are aiming for” without words?  Would you be thinking in pictures rather than words? Or would thinking be unecessary? In the latter case your behavior would simply be due to your past experiences of doing the behavior in similar circumstances. The verbal concepts of “goal” or “aiming for it” would be unecessary, in that case.  (The spider can do that sort of behavior, e.g. weave a web in a certain way that has resulted in catching more flies in its past experience.)

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Posted: 08 January 2012 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1715 ]
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GdB: ...Animals also have wishes and beliefs, that cause their behaviour. Or said otherwise: they can anticipate the future…

I am sure that nonverbal animals can react to current circumstances, based on their past experiences or based on how they are genetically programmed to react to certain circumstances. I am sure they react in states of deprivation, which indicates that they have wants.  I am sure they can react as if they are anticipating the future. I am not sure they actually do think about the future or how they would do that very well without verbal behavior or how they would have “beliefs” without verbal behavior.

Nevertheless, we are both sure that nonverbal animals have wants, so I can accept the assertion that they can act in accordance with those and thus have “free will”.  This clarifies for me, if I am understanding correctly, that virtually all organisms have the compatiblist’s version of “free will”, as all organisms respond to deprivation states (aka “have wants”).

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Posted: 08 January 2012 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1716 ]
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TimB - 08 January 2012 03:29 AM

Can you give a different example,

I will.

because the one above does require verbal behavior (as it includes an agreement with another person)...

I’ll remove it.

and, also, because I am not understanding how you could “have a goal in the future that you are aiming for” without words?  Would you be thinking in pictures rather than words? Or would thinking be unecessary?

When we refer to thinking we are usually not refering to anything we are conscious of doing, so neither pictures or words are necessary to think.

Example:

I walk in the direction of my tool drawers. I stop, feel around my apron pocket, pull out my allen keys, turn around and go back to the bike.

Now, I will put into words what I believe happened. I wanted my allen keys, I believed they were in the top drawer, started walking towards it, aiming to get them, thought that perhaps they were in my apron, checked, they were, and so, as I had no need to go to the drawers afterall, walked back to the bike.

OK, wanting my allen keys requires having a future aim, when do I want them? I want them in the future. Why did I walk towards the drawers? I did it in order to get what I wanted in the future.

(The spider can do that sort of behavior, e.g. weave a web in a certain way that has resulted in catching more flies in its past experience)

I don’t think spiders do this but imagining they do (or perhaps they do), do they do it because they want to catch more flies in the future, in which case they aim for a future target.

And did I walk towards the drawers aiming for a target in the future or not?

Stephen

[ Edited: 08 January 2012 10:22 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 08 January 2012 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1717 ]
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TimB - 08 January 2012 04:33 AM

I am sure they can react as if they are anticipating the future. I am not sure they actually do think about the future or how they would do that very well without verbal behavior or how they would have “beliefs” without verbal behavior.

Well, if my dog wants to come in, and ticks with his paw at the window, I am pretty sure he is expressing the belief that I will open the garden door for him. Not explicitly of course, but he is anticipating the future.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1718 ]
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GdB - 08 January 2012 10:28 AM
TimB - 08 January 2012 04:33 AM

I am sure they can react as if they are anticipating the future. I am not sure they actually do think about the future or how they would do that very well without verbal behavior or how they would have “beliefs” without verbal behavior.

Well, if my dog wants to come in, and ticks with his paw at the window, I am pretty sure he is expressing the belief that I will open the garden door for him. Not explicitly of course, but he is anticipating the future.

I have a very similar experience with my cat.

The question is can that behaviour be explained without your dog/my cat having a purpose?

And if it can, is that also the case for all of our behaviour?

And if so which explanation should we believe?

Stephen

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Posted: 08 January 2012 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1719 ]
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Stephen:  When we refer to thinking we are usually not refering to anything we are conscious of doing, so neither pictures or words are necessary to think.

Example:

I walk in the direction of my tool drawers. I stop, feel around my apron pocket, pull out my allen keys, turn around and go back to the bike.

Now, I will put into words what I believe happened. I wanted my allen keys, I believed they were in the top drawer, started walking towards it, aiming to get them, thought that perhaps they were in my apron, checked, they were, and so, as I had no need to go to the drawers afterall, walked back to the bike.

Alternate explanation:  The moment that you began walking toward the toolbox you wanted your keys. (Your want existed in that moment.  If you could have easily, instantaneously produced your keys you probably would have.) In your past, many times, walking toward the toolbox resulted in your finding your keys, thus you are operantly conditioned to be somewhat likely to move toward the toolbox when you want your keys.  Simlarly, in your past, you have been operantly conditioned by often finding the keys in your apron.  Apparently, the past reinforcement of finding your keys in your apron vs. the toolbox was relatively equal. (That does not necessarily mean that half the time you have found the keys in your past was in the toolbox and half the time you found them in your apron).  Concievably, you have rarely found them in your apron, but when you have it was more reinforcing because it took less effort than going to the toolbox.

So no subconscious thought is necessary to explain your behavior.  All that is truly necessary is your want of the keys (at that moment), the circumstances you were in, and your history of reinforcment in those or similar circunstances. I can see the value of considering conscious thought, which is essentially verbal behavior that is covert to everyone except the person that is thinking.  But how is it efficient to consider thoughts that are so covert that even the person thinking them is not aware of them?  There is not even subjective evidence that those thoughts existed.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 01:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1720 ]
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GdB - 08 January 2012 10:28 AM
TimB - 08 January 2012 04:33 AM

I am sure they can react as if they are anticipating the future. I am not sure they actually do think about the future or how they would do that very well without verbal behavior or how they would have “beliefs” without verbal behavior.

Well, if my dog wants to come in, and ticks with his paw at the window, I am pretty sure he is expressing the belief that I will open the garden door for him. Not explicitly of course, but he is anticipating the future.

Might your dog, simply be ticking with his paw because this has resulted, in the past, in your opening the garden door? (Perhaps he is picturing you opening the door or is remembering times that you have opened the door in the past, but I don’t know how you would know that.)

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“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb… We are bound to others, past and present… And by each crime and every kindness… We birth our future.”  Sonmi, 2144.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1721 ]
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TimB - 08 January 2012 01:57 PM
GdB - 08 January 2012 10:28 AM
TimB - 08 January 2012 04:33 AM

I am sure they can react as if they are anticipating the future. I am not sure they actually do think about the future or how they would do that very well without verbal behavior or how they would have “beliefs” without verbal behavior.

Well, if my dog wants to come in, and ticks with his paw at the window, I am pretty sure he is expressing the belief that I will open the garden door for him. Not explicitly of course, but he is anticipating the future.

Might your dog, simply be ticking with his paw because this has resulted, in the past, in your opening the garden door? (Perhaps he is picturing you opening the door or is remembering times that you have opened the door in the past, but I don’t know how you would know that.)

I am surprised at the serious understimation and lack of understanding animal intelligence.
They just communicate differently; it takes more than language to convey clear and direct messages. Having had lots of experience with animals, chickens, pigs, goats, horses, dogs, cats, I can vouch that animals think, communicate, show need, sharing, warn, and show love in many different ways. You just cannot expect them to do this in human ways.

[ Edited: 08 January 2012 02:14 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 08 January 2012 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1722 ]
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StephenLawrence - 08 January 2012 10:34 AM
GdB - 08 January 2012 10:28 AM
TimB - 08 January 2012 04:33 AM

I am sure they can react as if they are anticipating the future. I am not sure they actually do think about the future or how they would do that very well without verbal behavior or how they would have “beliefs” without verbal behavior.

Well, if my dog wants to come in, and ticks with his paw at the window, I am pretty sure he is expressing the belief that I will open the garden door for him. Not explicitly of course, but he is anticipating the future.

I have a very similar experience with my cat.

The question is can that behaviour be explained without your dog/my cat having a purpose?

And if it can, is that also the case for all of our behaviour?

And if so which explanation should we believe?

Stephen

My suggestion is that with verbal behavior the chances for getting your wants met can be greater.  Stephen, if you actually stopped on the way to the toolbox and thought to yourself, in words, “Hold on, the keys might be in my apron.” That would be a key part of the circumstances to which you were responding, thus increasing the chances of your finding the keys most effeciently.  GdB, if your dog could actually think in words to himself “I know he is in there, and if I just keep on ticking/pawing at the door, he will open it.” then your dog would be more likely to keep pawing at the door.  But your dog could just as easily be pawing at the door without thinking or remembering or picturing, simply because extensive pawing at the door has been intermittently reinforced in the past. I am not sure that the latter case could qualify as “anticipating the future” unless you want to very loosely define “anticipating the future”.

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“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb… We are bound to others, past and present… And by each crime and every kindness… We birth our future.”  Sonmi, 2144.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1723 ]
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Write4U - 08 January 2012 02:11 PM
TimB - 08 January 2012 01:57 PM
GdB - 08 January 2012 10:28 AM
TimB - 08 January 2012 04:33 AM

I am sure they can react as if they are anticipating the future. I am not sure they actually do think about the future or how they would do that very well without verbal behavior or how they would have “beliefs” without verbal behavior.

Well, if my dog wants to come in, and ticks with his paw at the window, I am pretty sure he is expressing the belief that I will open the garden door for him. Not explicitly of course, but he is anticipating the future.

Might your dog, simply be ticking with his paw because this has resulted, in the past, in your opening the garden door? (Perhaps he is picturing you opening the door or is remembering times that you have opened the door in the past, but I don’t know how you would know that.)

I am surprised at the serious understimation and lack of understanding animal intelligence.
They just communicate differently; it takes more than language to convey clear and direct messages. Having had lots of experience with animals, chickens, pigs, goats, horses, dogs, cats, I can vouch that animals think, communicate, show need, sharing, warn, and show love in many different ways. You just cannot expect them to do this in human ways.

I am not denying that animals have emotions.  I am not denying that many species, especially more socially inclined animals, have communication abilities.  Bees can apparently communicate where the pollen is by doing a dance.  Ants can communicate where a food source is by leaving olfactory cues.  Clearly, species that are closer to us evolutionarily speaking, have at least rudimentary ways of communicating danger or a lot of other socially relevant information.  For all I know whales and dolphins can have advanced conversations about “free will”.  But I have no way of knowing that for sure. Also I am not denying that animals (including humans) get information from other animals by observing “body language” that doesn’t require words or by variations in vocal sounds that do not require words.  My point is that we do not know if animals other than humans have advanced enough verbal behavior to say that they have “beliefs” or “anticipate the future”, unless we define those last two terms rather loosely. 

Anyway these points, I think, are only relevant in a discussion about a compatibilist view of free will, to the extent of whether communication abilities and more explicit and advanced verbal abilities are an active part of having “free will”.  From what I am picking up from what GdB and Doug have said, they don’t need to be. GdB made the point, however, (and I apologize if I am mis-paraphrasing) that advanced verbal behavior would increase the options for “free choices”.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1724 ]
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Also, Wrte4U, in support of our animal friends, I am not even suggesting that humans are more intelligent as “intelligence” is a relative concept. smile  I am suggesting that, as far as I know, humans have more advanced verbal behavior.

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Posted: 08 January 2012 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1725 ]
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And I am not denying that humans have a much greater ability for abstract thinking, in addition to verbal language.

But there is a remarkable example of planning for gaining advantage. i cited it in another thread, but it’s worth repeating.
There is a species of monkeys that love to eat the roots of waterplants. They actually dive and gather the plants, root and all from the river bottom. These rivers are patrolled by crocodiles and there is a constant danger to the monkeys when completely exposed in the water. So they have look-outs sitting in branches overlooking the river. When a croc is spotted they issue a warning cry and everyone scrambles out of the water to the safety of the trees and many drop their bounty on the ground. It was observed and recorded that some clever monkeys figured it out that the whole scenario of warning for crocs yielded a bounty left behind for easy pickings. So this little thief would hide on the shore, issue a a loud croc warning, and when the rest of the troup scrambled for safety, he would come out of hiding, gather the dropped plants and scramble back to his little hiding place, all the while looking around if any of the other monkeys would spot him. When they do he faces severe punishment, for ‘crying wolf” and stealing what did not belong to him. If caught he would face justice and punishment.
This was a clear example of planning and execution of an “imaginary scenario” to the advantage of the thief as well as a system of law enforcement.  Free will?

[ Edited: 08 January 2012 04:02 PM by Write4U ]
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