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I can’t believe there is still a debate about free will.
Posted: 16 May 2011 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Seriously. There is no free will, get over it. We have awareness of being (which Hofstadter and others have suggested plausible mechanisms for), and many seem to conflate this with free choice. The alleged ethical issue this ‘creates’ is irrelevant, i.e. “we cannot chose right from wrong”. We will do whatever we will do regardless. This ‘doing’ is a result of natural law, (a level of existence that we do not directly perceive) acting on larger macroscopic agents that act upon each other (neural constructs), which is the level of our perception. We are the woods, blind to the trees. There is either deterministic natural law (and it applies to everything), or there isn’t. And no, quantum mechanics is not a refuge for wishful thinking. We are passengers, but we still don’t know what will happen next. So enjoy the ride.

You don’t make a choice, you are a choice being made.

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Posted: 16 May 2011 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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As long as there people with such unreflected opinions, there will be.

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Posted: 16 May 2011 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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GdB - 16 May 2011 12:53 PM

As long as there people with such unreflected opinions, there will be.

Thanks for commenting, GdB. I would like some clarification though, as your statement can be taken at least two ways. Are you saying that my opinion is “unreflected”, or that the opinion that free will exists is?

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Posted: 16 May 2011 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The beginning of a new endless debate?
tongue laugh

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Posted: 16 May 2011 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Gnostikosis - 16 May 2011 02:25 PM

The beginning of a new endless debate?
tongue laugh

Hehe. No debate required, though thanks for replying. This is just something I needed to get off my chest. If someone has a salient point (or has read ‘I am a Strange Loop’), then I would enjoy discussing it.

The crux of what I’m saying, other than the obvious, is that we can be self-aware, and yet not have free will.

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Posted: 16 May 2011 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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sixfootbrit - 16 May 2011 02:32 PM
Gnostikosis - 16 May 2011 02:25 PM

The beginning of a new endless debate?
tongue laugh

Hehe. No debate required, though thanks for replying. This is just something I needed to get off my chest. If someone has a salient point (or has read ‘I am a Strange Loop’), then I would enjoy discussing it.

The crux of what I’m saying, other than the obvious, is that we can be self-aware, and yet not have free will.

I suspect what you mean is there is no Libertarian Freewill, LFW.

Not everyone here but most are in agreement with that. However a compatibilist defines freewill as being able to do what you want to do. Your wants maybe dictated by nature, however you can be free to or restricted from acting on them.

The big debate here centers around the details of compatibilism. And regardless of the truth of it, society can’t act as if we can’t change the course of the future. We have to believe we can in order to strive to improve the choices we make.

Maybe we can’t but belief itself affects the choices we make doesn’t it. But how can that be if we can’t actually affect the future?

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Posted: 16 May 2011 05:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Gnostikosis - 16 May 2011 04:17 PM

 

The big debate here centers around the details of compatibilism. And regardless of the truth of it, society can’t act as if we can’t change the course of the future. We have to believe we can in order to strive to improve the choices we make.

Maybe we can’t but belief itself affects the choices we make doesn’t it. But how can that be if we can’t actually affect the future?

I would agree that we must act as if we have free will. I think that the mechanism that enhances our survival is our ability to model the world (and people) around us mentally, and exchange information and action back and forth between our inner model and the outer world. My point is that we are not actually steering this process in any way whatsoever. We are ‘observing’ it because we are it. What we perceive as thinking, is in fact the automatic action of our highly sophisticated brains. The critical idea here is that conscious observation isn’t something apart from this process; it is this process aware of itself.

I am not a compatibilist. There is no free will of any kind, it is a hallucination. Or as Hofstadter put it, “We are a hallucination hallucinated by a hallucination”. Strange Loop indeed!

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Posted: 16 May 2011 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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SFB, the reason some members here cringe at the mention of the free-will/determinism argument is that, if you check, there are a number of threads on that, the two main ones generated over 4,000 posts.  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 16 May 2011 06:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Occam. - 16 May 2011 06:08 PM

SFB, the reason some members here cringe at the mention of the free-will/determinism argument is that, if you check, there are a number of threads on that, the two main ones generated over 4,000 posts.  LOL

Occam

Thanks, and I fully sympathize. As I said, this was mainly a stress reliever for me, and a way to avoid wading through pages of convoluted arguments!

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Posted: 16 May 2011 06:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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sixfootbrit - 16 May 2011 05:20 PM

I think that the mechanism that enhances our survival is our abilityto model the world (and people) around us mentally, and exchange information and action back and forth between our inner model and the outer world.

Sure, but most of it (all of it?) still takes place at the unconscious level. If consciousness merely allows us to observe what’s going on it can play no role in our struggle for survival. Maybe it’s a byproduct of something else.

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Posted: 16 May 2011 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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George - 16 May 2011 06:50 PM

Sure, but most of it (all of it?) still takes place at the unconscious level. If consciousness merely allows us to observe what’s going on it can play no role in our struggle for survival. Maybe it’s a byproduct of something else.

Exactly. We cherish it so much, but it is not clear that ‘it’ has survival utility. I think it is a consequence of our brain’s ability to recursively model and remap, which does have survival utility. Consciousness is what it feels like to be a human brain/body unit. If you look back at your life memories, you realize that you haven’t always been conscious, that it was a gradual onset in fits and bursts. The perceptual machinery was always working, recording, etc. But you weren’t always there.

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Posted: 16 May 2011 07:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Seriously. There is no free will, get over it.

I don’t know that. And if the thousands of post debating the question are any indication, I’d say it’s a safe bet that the rest of us don’t know that either.

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Posted: 16 May 2011 08:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 16 May 2011 07:45 PM

I don’t know that. And if the thousands of post debating the question are any indication, I’d say it’s a safe bet that the rest of us don’t know that either.

Congratulations on being the official spokesperson! wink Your definition of free will would have to include a supernatural component, because the universe we inhabit is made up of tangible law-bound stuff and so are we. Ergo, we have no free will. We do have the illusion of free will because we perceive and map onto a level that is far removed from the roiling subatomic realm. Therefore we must act and think as if we have free will because that is what works. As I said, we are the forest unaware of the trees.

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Posted: 16 May 2011 09:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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sixfootbrit - 16 May 2011 08:05 PM

because the universe we inhabit is made up of tangible law-bound stuff and so are we. Ergo, we have no free will. We do have the illusion of free will because we perceive and map onto a level that is far removed from the roiling subatomic realm.

Actually the argument you seem to be relying on for your thesis is a fallacy known as the fallacy of composition.  It is the common mistake of claiming that what is true of the parts is also true of the whole.  For example:  Subatomic particles are lifeless.  Therefore anything made out of them is lifeless.  This argument is fallacious because a whole (e.g. a living organism) may be greater than the sum of its parts.  Take wetness for example.  It is an emergent property.  No individual water molecule is wet, but get enough of them together and wetness emerges.  Free agency may be like that as well—and for no spooky, supernatural reason.

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Posted: 16 May 2011 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Pragmatic Naturalist - 16 May 2011 09:46 PM

Actually the argument you seem to be relying on for your thesis is a fallacy known as the fallacy of composition.  It is the common mistake of claiming that what is true of the parts is also true of the whole.  For example:  Subatomic particles are lifeless.  Therefore anything made out of them is lifeless.  This argument is fallacious because a whole (e.g. a living organism) may be greater than the sum of its parts.  Take wetness for example.  It is an emergent property.  No individual water molecule is wet, but get enough of them together and wetness emerges.  Free agency may be like that as well—and for no spooky, supernatural reason.

You don’t seem to understand what I’m driving at. I do not deny emergent properties. I am not saying we are not conscious. I am saying that we have no free will, i.e. we do not chose, we experience the cumulative effect of countless deterministic events. We are an epiphenomena, and we can only ascribe meaning to our experience at this level. There is no mechanism for choice. There is no qualia in our neurons that choses. There is no ghost in the machine. All the emergent macro events in our mind are the direct result of, and dependent on, the laws governing the subatomic realm. The micro pushes the macro around, but at our level of perception, it appears that the reverse is true.

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Posted: 16 May 2011 10:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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sixfootbrit - 16 May 2011 10:02 PM
Pragmatic Naturalist - 16 May 2011 09:46 PM

Actually the argument you seem to be relying on for your thesis is a fallacy known as the fallacy of composition.  It is the common mistake of claiming that what is true of the parts is also true of the whole.  For example:  Subatomic particles are lifeless.  Therefore anything made out of them is lifeless.  This argument is fallacious because a whole (e.g. a living organism) may be greater than the sum of its parts.  Take wetness for example.  It is an emergent property.  No individual water molecule is wet, but get enough of them together and wetness emerges.  Free agency may be like that as well—and for no spooky, supernatural reason.

You don’t seem to understand what I’m driving at. I do not deny emergent properties. I am not saying we are not conscious. I am saying that we have no free will, i.e. we do not chose, we experience the cumulative effect of countless deterministic events. We are an epiphenomena, and we can only ascribe meaning to our experience at this level. There is no mechanism for choice. There is no qualia in our neurons that choses. There is no ghost in the machine. All the emergent macro events in our mind are the direct result of, and dependent on, the laws governing the subatomic realm. The micro pushes the macro around, but at our level of perception, it appears that the reverse is true.

I believe that both are true. Like the random eddies in a fastflowing river, not all the water acts in a uniform manner.
Thus IMO, on the river of life (determinism), we create the eddies (random/free) diverging from the general flow, albeit in relatively small ways.

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