Review article in Science on experimental philosophy and free will
Posted: 26 March 2011 02:58 PM   [ Ignore ]
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A review article in Science was reviewed by John Tierney in NYTimes
[Tierney article]
The full Science is interesting but I don’t have a free link
[abstract & link to Science mag]

Basically people look at the world two ways, one deterministically, and one as if there is ‘free will’...  The article describes a number of surveys showing the contradiction.

No wonder it gives me a headache….

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Posted: 26 March 2011 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Jackson - 26 March 2011 02:58 PM

A review article in Science was reviewed by John Tierney in NYTimes
[Tierney article]
The full Science is interesting but I don’t have a free link
[abstract & link to Science mag]

In the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, “Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills.”

Just my point…

Some scientists like to dismiss the intuitive belief in free will as an exercise in self-delusion — a simple-minded bit of “confabulation,” as Crick put it. But these supposed experts are deluding themselves if they think the question has been resolved. Free will hasn’t been disproved scientifically or philosophically. The more that researchers investigate free will, the more good reasons there are to believe in it.

Well, we are still far away from this, but of course, it is true.

Sorry for the headache…

Try this:

Thomas Metzinger - The Ego Tunnel - The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self

[ Edited: 30 March 2011 01:25 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 26 March 2011 08:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Jackson - 26 March 2011 02:58 PM

No wonder it gives me a headache….

Not surprising, as the attempt to reconcile the contradictions of determinism/indeterminism with free will is schizophrenic…..hence the headache.  grin

IMO, resolving the paradox (without the headache) comes from the perspective of considering processes as fundamental, i.e. understanding reality by verbs rather than by nouns.

From this essay in the SEP on process philosophy

From the time of Aristotle, Western metaphysics has had a marked bias in favor of things or substances. However, another variant line of thought was also current from the earliest times onward. After all, the concentration on perduring physical things as existents in nature slights the equally good claims of another ontological category, namely processes, events, occurrences — items better indicated by verbs than nouns. And, clearly, storms and heat-waves are every bit as real as dogs and oranges.

Processes are evolutionary:

Evolution, be it of organism or of mind, of subatomic matter or of the cosmos as a whole, reflects the pervasive role of process which philosophers of this school see as central both to the nature of our world and to the terms in which it must be understood. Change pervades nature. The passage of time leaves neither individuals nor types (species) of things statically invariant. Process at once destabilizes the world and is the cutting-edge of advance to novelty.

Since nature is evolutionary and creative (neither static nor deterministic), free will is essential and inherent in the universe.

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Posted: 27 March 2011 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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kkwan - 26 March 2011 08:46 PM
Jackson - 26 March 2011 02:58 PM

 

Processes are evolutionary:

Evolution, be it of organism or of mind, of subatomic matter or of the cosmos as a whole, reflects the pervasive role of process which philosophers of this school see as central both to the nature of our world and to the terms in which it must be understood. Change pervades nature. The passage of time leaves neither individuals nor types (species) of things statically invariant. Process at once destabilizes the world and is the cutting-edge of advance to novelty.

Since nature is evolutionary and creative (neither static nor deterministic), free will is essential and inherent in the universe.

Thanks—

This is consistent with how I somewhat reconciled things for myself. In my view there is a lot of understanding of nonlinear systems so that the long term predictablity of a system is low.  This would be part of the piece and it’s similar to the process angle. But it’s also true that everything at each instant is deteriministic (but nonlinear).  However this isn’t really a complete explanation with sufficient thought behind it to defend on the CFI forum.

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Posted: 27 March 2011 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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There are two good books out on free will from Dan Dennett: Elbow Room and Freedom Evolves. Great places to start, particularly the first.

Re. “experimental philosophy”, that is a contradiction in terms. Or perhaps better put, in order to do experiments that are philosophically relevant, a number of the most trenchant philosophical positions must already have been established. Though all good philosophy must be done with an eye on the sciences, philosophy is not science.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Jackson - 27 March 2011 04:20 AM

This is consistent with how I somewhat reconciled things for myself. In my view there is a lot of understanding of nonlinear systems so that the long term predictablity of a system is low.  This would be part of the piece and it’s similar to the process angle. But it’s also true that everything at each instant is deteriministic (but nonlinear).  However this isn’t really a complete explanation with sufficient thought behind it to defend on the CFI forum.

There is adequate determinism in the macro world which compatibilists contend, is needed for free will to exist. This is a definite compromise which limits human potential by placing too much importance on the adequate determinism of Newtonian physics, reductionist materialism/physicalism, strong AI and the Laws of Nature (whatever it means) wrt to free will. The only form of free will worth having is much more than what compatibilists deem necessary and sufficient.

From this article on adequate determinism

Adequate Determinism is the kind of determinism we have in the world, which also includes indeterminism.

It is the determinism of Newtonian physics, capable of sending men to the moon and back with astonishing accuracy. It is the determinism of those physiologists who think that quantum uncertainty is insignificant in the macromolecular structures of cell biology.

OTOH, nature is creative, evolutionary and infinitely complex, hence no human theory can describe nature precisely with adequate determinism. Nature uses indeterminism. From the same article:

But these random events drive the creation of new species and we can show that they underlie all creativity, all actions that bring new information into the universe, whether the formation of stars and galaxies or the writing of a new play.

In this little corner of the universe, humans are nature’s latest, most complex creation, endowed with prodigious minds/brains, consciousness, creativity and free will. Why would some philosophers/scientists/engineers doubt that? Do they have a hidden agenda to convince themselves and other humans…..... that they are only complicated “conscious” epiphenomenal machines/computers?

BTW, from the wiki on experimental philosophy

Experimental philosophy is an emerging field of philosophical inquiry that makes use of empirical data—often gathered through surveys which probe the intuitions of ordinary people—in order to inform research on philosophical questions. This use of empirical data is widely seen as opposed to a philosophical methodology that relies mainly on a priori justification, sometimes called “armchair” philosophy. Experimental philosophy initially began by focusing on philosophical questions related to intentional action, the putative conflict between free will and determinism, and causal vs. descriptive theories of linguistic reference. However, experimental philosophy has continued to expand to new areas of research.

Consciousness:

Bryce Huebner, Michael Bruno, and Hagop Sarkissian (2010) have further argued that the way Westerners understand consciousness differs systematically from the way that East Asians understand consciousness, while Adam Arico (2010) has offered some evidence for thinking that ordinary ascriptions of consciousness are sensitive to framing effects (such as the presence or absence of contextual information).

Determinism and moral responsibility:

One area of philosophical inquiry has been concerned with whether or not a person can be morally responsible if their actions are entirely determined, e.g., by the laws of Newtonian physics. One side of the debate, the proponents of which are called ‘incompatibilists,’ argue that there is no way for people to be morally responsible for immoral acts if they could not have done otherwise. The other side of the debate argues instead that people can be morally responsible for their immoral actions even when they could not have done otherwise. People who hold this view are often referred to as ‘compatibilists.’ It was generally claimed that non-philosophers were naturally incompatibilist, that is they think that if you couldn’t have done anything else, then you are not morally responsible for your action.Experimental philosophers have addressed this question by presenting people with hypothetical situations in which it is clear that a person’s actions are completely determined. Then the person does something morally wrong, and people are asked if that person is morally responsible for what she or he did. Using this technique Nichols and Knobe (2007) found that “people’s responses to questions about moral responsibility can vary dramatically depending on the way in which the question is formulated” and argue that “people tend to have compatiblist intuitions when they think about the problem in a more concrete, emotional way but that they tend to have incompatiblist intuitions when they think about the problem in a more abstract, cognitive way”.

Charming.  LOL

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