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The greatest proof of free will…
Posted: 11 January 2012 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1756 ]
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Sorry, Stephen. Still not in the mood. To paraphrase Winnie-the-Pooh: I am a bear of very little brain and thinking about free will bothers me.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1757 ]
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George - 11 January 2012 09:49 AM

Sorry, Stephen. Still not in the mood. To paraphrase Winnie-the-Pooh: I am a bear of very little brain and thinking about free will bothers me.

  I’m not talking about free will, I’m talking about evaluating possibilities, just common all garden choice making.

I guess that bothers you too but it’s worth bearing in mind they are not the same thing.

Stephen

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Posted: 11 January 2012 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1758 ]
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StephenLawrence - 11 January 2012 12:51 AM
TimB - 11 January 2012 12:28 AM

...So if this is true:


In the first case, most people would say you owned your valuables and had a right to keep them.

In the 2nd case, most people would say you didn’t have a right to exceed the speed limit.

Am I missing something?

This is true but it misses the point.

What Doug is saying is the bank teller is coersed and so is not responsible for getting shot. If that’s true then it looks like the speeder is also coersed and so is not responsible for paying the fine.

The problem is over the definition of free will, which is the focus of the discussion.

Stephen

Okay, Here’s my take:

First case:  I would say that the bank teller was not succsessfully coerced into giving up the money, thus he acted responsibly. He was not responsible for getting shot.  The bank robber was responsible for that. (When William Wallace yelled “FREEDOM!!!!” just before getting his guts ripped out, he was acting reponsibly, according to his free will, as he was not successfully coerced into doing otherwise.)

2nd case:  When you sped thru the no speed zone, you acted according to your free will (I am assuming you really wanted to speed).  You were responsible for speeding. You were not successfully coerced into acting out of accordance with your free will. You were not responsible for getting fined.  The collective of individuals which comprise the state’s enforcement capacities were responsible for that.

If you really want to speed and it is consistent with your belief system, and you are not irrational, but then choose not to speed because of the threat of state imposed fines, then you are not acting freely and are not responsible for your decision to not speed. You were successfully coerced into acting otherwise. (You wimp…  Just kidding.) 

(Note: I am taking the position that a collective of individuals working together to attempt to coerce a behavior is essentially the same as an individual doing so. Otherwise one seems forced into the uncomfortable position that state imposed consequences are a matter of blind circumstance.) 

Bottom line: I am suggesting that one can act according to free will even though an agent attempts to coerce them to do otherwise. It is only when the coercive agent is successful in coercion that free will is lost.

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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: 11 January 2012 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1759 ]
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TimB - 11 January 2012 12:25 PM

Okay, Here’s my take:

First case:  I would say that the bank teller was not succsessfully coerced into giving up the money, thus he acted responsibly. He was not responsible for getting shot.  The bank robber was responsible for that. (When William Wallace yelled “FREEDOM!!!!” just before getting his guts ripped out, he was acting reponsibly, according to his free will, as he was not successfully coerced into doing otherwise.)

2nd case:  When you sped thru the no speed zone, you acted according to your free will (I am assuming you really wanted to speed).  You were responsible for speeding. You were not successfully coerced into acting out of accordance with your free will. You were not responsible for getting fined.  The collective of individuals which comprise the state’s enforcement capacities were responsible for that.

If you really want to speed and it is consistent with your belief system, and you are not irrational, but then choose not to speed because of the threat of state imposed fines, then you are not acting freely and are not responsible for your decision to not speed. You were successfully coerced into acting otherwise. (You wimp…  Just kidding.) 

(Note: I am taking the position that a collective of individuals working together to attempt to coerce a behavior is essentially the same as an individual doing so. Otherwise one seems forced into the uncomfortable position that state imposed consequences are a matter of blind circumstance.) 

Bottom line: I am suggesting that one can act according to free will even though an agent attempts to coerce them to do otherwise. It is only when the coercive agent is successful in coercion that free will is lost.

This sounds about right to me.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1760 ]
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dougsmith - 11 January 2012 07:29 AM
StephenLawrence - 11 January 2012 07:07 AM

And yet the state is acting in order to stop people speeding, intentionally coersing them into slowing down, by penalising speeding and letting them know there will be a price to pay, just like the bank robber, in the relevent details.

Well ... I’m not really sure how to work out the ontology of the state (whether a state is just a group of people, etc.), but yes, certainly people enact laws to stop others from doing certain things that they feel are immoral or otherwise undesirable.

And we do tend to talk about the state as if it were a person; it’s nothing unusual to say that the state has the power to coerce. So long as that power is in accord with stated law, it is a legal power. So long as that law is in accord with our moral principles, it is a moral power.

Right.

On a different tack, we do find entities, such as the state, the government, countries, corporations, morally responsible. We do it according to what they should have done, what they could have done, whether they were coerced etc etc.

And yet we don’t need to use the term free will when assigning praise, blame, moral responsibility, or any applicable penalties.

I can’t help wondering if that should be telling us the same goes for individuals?

Stephen

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Posted: 11 January 2012 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1761 ]
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StephenLawrence - 11 January 2012 12:47 PM

On a different tack, we do find entities, such as the state, the government, countries, corporations, morally responsible. We do it according to what they should have done, what they could have done, whether they were coerced etc etc.

And yet we don’t need to use the term free will when assigning praise, blame, moral responsibility, or any applicable penalties.

I can’t help wondering if that should be telling us the same goes for individuals?

I don’t understand. Our description of the state and other similar terms is clearly parasitic upon our descriptions of human individuals. The fact that those descriptions might not fit perfectly should be expected given that states are not human individuals.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1762 ]
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dougsmith - 11 January 2012 01:35 PM
StephenLawrence - 11 January 2012 12:47 PM

On a different tack, we do find entities, such as the state, the government, countries, corporations, morally responsible. We do it according to what they should have done, what they could have done, whether they were coerced etc etc.

And yet we don’t need to use the term free will when assigning praise, blame, moral responsibility, or any applicable penalties.

I can’t help wondering if that should be telling us the same goes for individuals?

I don’t understand. Our description of the state and other similar terms is clearly parasitic upon our descriptions of human individuals. The fact that those descriptions might not fit perfectly should be expected given that states are not human individuals.

I don’t know why you don’t understand Doug? Except that the big bang didn’t bang appropriately differently.  LOL

The point is the American government can find BP, for instance,  morally responsible for oil spills, with no need for any discussion over whether BP or the government has free will.

Stephen

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Posted: 11 January 2012 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1763 ]
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StephenLawrence - 11 January 2012 02:01 PM

The point is the American government can find BP, for instance,  morally responsible for oil spills, with no need for any discussion over whether BP or the government has free will.

The courts consider corporations to be open to lawsuit (moral responsibility is another thing). I don’t know if there was any discussion of coercion involved, but there certainly could have been, so free will is certainly something that could have come up. The question is what the intentions were behind the spill: what did BP believe, what did it want, how did those cognitive states cause the actions, etc. It’d be roughly the same discussion as with people. Of course, it’s all a bit cockeyed since it’s all just a manner of speaking.

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Posted: 13 January 2012 10:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1764 ]
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George - 11 January 2012 09:49 AM

Sorry, Stephen. Still not in the mood. To paraphrase Winnie-the-Pooh: I am a bear of very little brain and thinking about free will bothers me.

I think, forget about free will or even choices for starters. Just think about mutually exclusive possibilities in general. The two envelope problem is a good one (even if it is a silly problem). When you pick an envelope there are numerous mutually exclusive possibilities. You could have half of what is in the other envelope, you could have double of what is in the other envelope and so on and so on.

When we talk about two or more mutually exclusive possibilities and say any of them can happen, we are thinking about circumstances in a wide sense. How wide varies. But it never narrows right down to the precise circumstances.

Stephen

[ Edited: 15 January 2012 02:54 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 15 January 2012 02:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1765 ]
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TimB - 11 January 2012 12:25 PM

First case:  I would say that the bank teller was not succsessfully coerced into giving up the money, thus he acted responsibly. He was not responsible for getting shot.  The bank robber was responsible for that. (When William Wallace yelled “FREEDOM!!!!” just before getting his guts ripped out, he was acting reponsibly, according to his free will, as he was not successfully coerced into doing otherwise.)

Right, so what I was saying is that the bank robber had just the free will we are looking for in analysing whether it was his fault that he got shot.

I believe the point of the example was that he didn’t.

Stephen

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Posted: 15 January 2012 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1766 ]
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Right, so what I was saying is that the bank robber had just the free will we are looking for in analysing whether it was his fault that he got shot.

I believe the point of the example was that he didn’t.

I am confused.  In your statement above, does “he”  refer to the bank teller”?  Are you now focusing on the bank robber’s free will?  If so, my saying that the bank robber was responsible for shooting the bank teller, indicates that I think the bank robber was acting as a free will agent when he shot the teller.  To be sure, though, we would have to examine the bank robber’s wants, beliefs, and mental stability.

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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: 15 January 2012 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1767 ]
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Doing things you don’t want to do is an act of free will.

Doing things you actually want to do is not free will but predetermined by the programming instilled in us.

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I, therefore I AM.

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Posted: 15 January 2012 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1768 ]
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LuckyBezel - 15 January 2012 11:14 AM

Doing things you don’t want to do is an act of free will.

Doing things you actually want to do is not free will but predetermined by the programming instilled in us.

I can by no means bill myself as a philospher or an expert in free will but here is my take:

If your 2nd assertion is absolutely true, and it may be (if you don’t have a limited definition of free will), then your 1st assertion cannot be true because you are either:

1) purposefully acting against what you want in order to show that you are “free”, in which case this was also, as you say, programmed in, or

2) someone or some thing forced you to do something you didn’t want (which clearly is not free), or

3) you decided to subjugate your own wants to some other authority (again your decision to subjugate what you want is either what you wanted more or was “programmed” in) or

4) you were mentally and/or emotionally deranged, in which case you are suggesting we can only exert free will when we are crazy. But the latter doesn/t work because, despite there being some “freedom” in craziness, there is no rational will.

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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: 15 January 2012 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1769 ]
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LuckyBezel - 15 January 2012 11:14 AM

Doing things you don’t want to do is an act of free will.

Yes, I think often it is, interestingly.

Doing things you actually want to do is not free will but predetermined by the programming instilled in us.

You’ll often find yourself doing what you want of your own free will, so that can’t be right.

Stephen

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Posted: 15 January 2012 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1770 ]
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TimB - 15 January 2012 09:48 AM

Right, so what I was saying is that the bank robber had just the free will we are looking for in analysing whether it was his fault that he got shot.

I believe the point of the example was that he didn’t.

I am confused.  In your statement above, does “he”  refer to the bank teller”?

Drat, sorry my mistake. Bank robber should read bank teller.


Are you now focusing on the bank robber’s free will?  If so, my saying that the bank robber was responsible for shooting the bank teller, indicates that I think the bank robber was acting as a free will agent when he shot the teller.

Yes, the point I want to make is the bank teller had the free will necessary to make it his fault that the bank robber shot him.

Stephen

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