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Motivations, Intentions, or Consequences
Posted: 26 March 2007 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Barry,

how does the environment change if all of us are doing only that which we can based on the current environment?

Any suggestions?

Sounds like one of the core questions of history. Rephrased, can people influence the course of history, by which I mean changes in the social environment. It is a given that the physical environment changes, and natural selection leads to changes in organisms in response. We do influence the changes in the physical environement and our own selective contingencies through our behavior, though not in any organized, directed, or especially rational way. It is also a given that the social environment changes-or at least it always has. But what drives that change? Macroeconomic forces? Charismatic/visionary individuals? The zeitgeist? Marxist dialectic? If there are any professional historians out there, is there a current consensus? In any case, I am not at all convinced that individuals can drive the changes in human social organizations through deliberate effort, not so much because I buy into your rejection of free will as because I think the interplay of factors is too complex and too in flux to deliberately select a moment and a strategy that will drive history where you want it to go. Maybe serendipity puts people and moments together from time to time so individuals do have large impacts (for good or ill), but I don’t think we can make it happen.

I prefer the intuitive model we have of having feelings and having choices for several reasons. Firstly, because I think extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and the claim that our intuitive understanding of how we come to make choices is illusory doesn’t yet seem to me supported by sufficient evidence. Regardless of this, though, I think the intuitve model is more useful. It gives us reasons to take our goals and desires seriously and to take actions to realize them. I personally find this hard to do if I accept in any but the most abstract intellecgtual level the notion that I am, as you say, a pre-programmed robot. I’m basically a compatibilist because while I recognize the logic of determinism and reject non-physical causation, I don’t see that this invalidates the utility or practical value of believeing that my deliberations and choices are what they seem to be. Still, I guess it is possible to believe that we are merely enacting a biological/environmental destiny and still be passionate activists, since you certainly seem to do both!  smile

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Posted: 26 March 2007 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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smile Here,here! We can indeed change our causes .Therapy and medecine help me to be more extroverted while my inborn causes make me introverted . :wink:

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
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Posted: 27 March 2007 12:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Brennan,

[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]

I prefer the intuitive model we have of having feelings and having choices for several reasons. Firstly, because I think extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and the claim that our intuitive understanding of how we come to make choices is illusory doesn’t yet seem to me supported by sufficient evidence.

Having not been following the thread I don’t know if someone has made this claim but I don’t think it is a claim most who don’t believe in free will would make. I think calling free will an illusion is a big mistake, that the people in my camp make because it looks like an extraordinary claim and confuses people.

My claim is that the choice making experience is compatible with what happens, happening necessarily. It being the one and only thing that could happen.

This fits with our experience as we only experience one thing happening, so the power that being able to make choices gives us and the control we have is consistent with this.

So my claim is that choice making is as people experience it to be, not as they imagine it to be.

If a person has the intuitive feeling that they could do otherwise, then it must come from something other than what infact they experiencing.

It must originate in something you imagine or believe to be possible.

To make the claim that what you imagine or believe to be possible is unfounded is not an extraordinary claim at all.

It is also easy to see why people believe it, as it is a cultural myth.

Looked at in this way, claiming we have no free will is no more extraordinary than claiming Jesus was not the son of God.

Stephen

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Posted: 27 March 2007 12:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Skeptic Griggsy

[quote author=“skeptic griggsy”]:) Here,here! We can indeed change our causes .Therapy and medecine help me to be more extroverted while my inborn causes make me introverted . :wink:

You can’t change your causes.

What would you call therapy and medicine? external causes? or the affect your environment has upon you perhaps?

And what is the reason you want the therapy and medicine, weren’t you caused to want it?

If you want to change you can change, yes.

Stephen

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Posted: 27 March 2007 03:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]Doug:

We make a choice by having certain preferences among our desires, and by using our beliefs about the way the world is to help achieve those preferences. This is a CAUSAL process.

How do we have our “preferences,” and regarding our beliefs about the way the world is, how do they affect our choices?  This still seems like free will, so I must be missing something here :?

We have our preferences from our learning, our history, our genetics.

It is free will ... as I have argued already, free will is compatible with determinism being true—indeed, determinism is necessary for free will, in that free will involves the causal influence of beliefs and desires for action.

The incoherency is in so-called “libertarian” (i.e. contra-causal) free will.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 04:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]
It is free will ... as I have argued already, free will is compatible with determinism being true—indeed, determinism is necessary for free will, in that free will involves the causal influence of beliefs and desires for action.

The incoherency is in so-called “libertarian” (i.e. contra-causal) free will.

I agree with this in that the control, freedom, choice making ability we have, depend on determinism.

What puzzles me is how compatibilist free will gives us the same (or close enough) moral responsibility that the incoherent version gives us.

I’ve got one question that I think may help find the answer.

Is compatibilist free will compatible with everything happening necessarily?

Of course I know you think everything doesn’t happen necessarily and I’m prepared to agree with that but what interests me is would the moral responsibility we have alter if everything did happen necessarily?

Stephen

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Posted: 27 March 2007 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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OK all, it seems we all have differing takes on what free will is, which goes back to my thoughts on debateing religion or god… we need to know we are all talking about the same thing. Definitions count!  So, here is one of the best philosophers on Free Will and Determinism .. Let’s first see if we are all on the same page:

The term ‘cause’ is variously used, but perhaps mainly for one member of a set of things that precedes the effect. In this sense, it is likely to be the striking of the match that is called the cause of the lighting. It is perfectly possible to say, however, that what ‘caused’ the lighting, or `the cause’ of the lighting, was not just the striking but the whole set of things including the presence of oxygen. Here, implicitly, the cause is what can also be called, with a lot less ambiguity, a causal circumstance or a causally sufficient condition.

The term ‘determinism’ is also variously used. It is mainly used by many philosophers for accounts of our human choices and actions that make them into effects of causal sequences—sequences of such a kind as to raise a question about the freedom of the choices and actions.

Determinism so understood has a limited subject-matter—ourselves and our lives, and indeed less than that. It is not the scientific and general or cosmic doctrine associated with Newtonian physics in the past. Certainly the term ‘determinism’ can be differently used for the general doctrine, as it typically is in the Philosophy of Science.

Note too that determinism in our limited sense, whatever its consequences, is not in itself a claim or doctrine about freedom. It is not the claim that we are not free. Nor does it uncontroversially entail that. Many determinists suppose or say we are perfectly free.

‘Indeterminism’ is sometimes used in a limited sense—to cover our human choices and actions. It thus refers to accounts of our choices and actions that deny they are certain effects. The term is more often be used in a general or cosmic way, for theories that events in general, or a large class of events, wider than the class of human choices and actions, are not certain effects.

Note that while most indeterminists take their indeterminism to be essential to a kind of freedom they think we have—origination—it is not true that indeterminism itself is enough for this freedom. This originating of choices, decisions and actions comes to more than indeterminism—an originated choice is not just an uncaused choice, but also one that somehow is in the control of the person in question. The world could have indeterminism in it without origination.

The term ‘free will’ can be used in at least two ways. In my own preferred usage, it means the same as ‘origination’. Thus it is not synonymous with ‘freedom’. Freedom, rather, is a genus or family of things that includes a number of species or members.

It has to be said, however, that ‘free will’  is pretty commonly used in philosophy so as to be synonymous with ‘freedom’. Thus it covers not only origination, which if it exists is something inconsistent with determinism. But ‘free will’ in this wide sense also covers voluntariness, that kind of freedom which at bottom is absence of compulsion or constraint. Presumably it also covers other sorts of freedom—one where being free is akin to being righteous.

Compatibilism is the doctrine that determinism is logically compatible or consistent with what is said to be a single idea of freedom that really concerns us and with a related kind of moral responsibility—the freedom in question being voluntariness.

Incompatibilism is the doctrine that determinism is logically incompatible with what is said to be the single idea of freedom that concerns us and with another kind of moral responsibility—the freedom in question being origination or origination as well as voluntariness.

Other things that may be taken to be compatible or incompatible with determinism are life-hopes, such personal feelings as gratitude and resentment, claims to knowledge, attitudes having to do with moral responsibility and the like, and social punishment and reward.

Strictly speaking, Compatibilism does not assert the truth of determinism, but only the consistency of this doctrine with our idea of freedom and moral responsibility. What is called ‘soft determinism’, in contrast, does take determinism to be true, and take our actual freedom to consist in no more than what is consistent with it—voluntariness. What is called ‘hard determinism’ also takes determinism to be true, but takes freedom to consist in what is incompatible with it and cannot exist with it—origination as well as voluntariness.

Strictly speaking, Incompatibilism does not claim the reality of either determinism or the freedom with which it is concerned. As just remarked, some Incompatibilists take determinism to be a fact and hence draw the conclusion we are unfree. The common breed, however, take their freedom to be a fact, and hence draw the conclusion that determinism is false. These Incompatibilists have been known as Libertarians . - Ted Honderich

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Posted: 27 March 2007 09:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Hi Barry,

Yes definitions count.

If it doesn’t give us ultimate responsibility, it isn’t free will, is the way I see it.

If anybody believes in a type of free will that doesn’t give us this, then I probably believe in it too but am not sure if there is any value in calling it free will.

I’ve replied on the free will thread as I thought it might be the right thing to do, to move the topic over to there.

Stephen

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Posted: 27 March 2007 09:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Doug,

A repeat question, I hope it doesn’t look like pressure, I want to understand the topic better and this seems like a key question to me.

Is compatibilist free will compatible with everything happening necessarily?

Of course I know you think everything doesn’t happen necessarily and I’m prepared to agree with that but what interests me is would the moral responsibility we have alter if everything did happen necessarily?

As the resident expert I’d be really interested to know the answer to this just for information, on what compatibilist free will is.

Does compatibilist free will depend on everything not happening necessarily?

Stephen

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Posted: 28 March 2007 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]Does compatibilist free will depend on everything not happening necessarily?

Sorry, I don’t have too much time to respond. On vacation.

I don’t really know how to make any normal sense of a world in which everything happens necessarily—it would be a world in which one could not make sense of causation, or the difference between a causal force producing something and that same thing happening by coincidence. There would be no other possible worlds, no other ways things could have been. One could not speak truthfully of “what would have happened if I hadn’t lit the match” or the like.

In that state of affairs, it does seem to me as though something like fatalism would hold true. There would be no causal influences, and so no real sense to be made of beliefs and desires “causing” actions. And in that sense, there would also be no free will.

But I don’t think this is a real possibility.

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Posted: 28 March 2007 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]

Sorry, I don’t have too much time to respond. On vacation.

Enjoy your vacation.

Best,

Stephen

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Posted: 28 March 2007 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]

I don’t really know how to make any normal sense of a world in which everything happens necessarily—it would be a world in which one could not make sense of causation, or the difference between a causal force producing something and that same thing happening by coincidence. There would be no other possible worlds, no other ways things could have been. One could not speak truthfully of “what would have happened if I hadn’t lit the match” or the like.

Leaving free will aside.

I find this very interesting so I’ll post now while thoughts are fresh in my mind, come back to me as and when.

I don’t think there is any reason to think one could speak truthfully of what would have happened if I hadn’t lit the match. I don’t see a need for there to be.

I see causation as a concept. I view it like a tool to do a job. Just like a knife is a tool to gut a fish. The job the tool does is helps us to learn to make what we want to happen, happen or vice versa.

I was helping my daughter play chess the other day, she is eight years old. She had two games where she was badly battered and bruised both for the same reason.

She didn’t bring her king’s knight out to bishop 3(in old language) and so was open to an attack on her king’s bishop’s pawn from the opponent’s queen.

I explained this to her but I don’t exactly think it is really true. Just like purpose and meaning evolve so do causation and reasons why. These are our inventions.

I don’t see a reason to think she had to have been able to move the knight in that particular game. It was still useful to invent the cause of her defeat.

What I think is by conjuring up an imaginary game where she did move the knight we can still analyse the situation and see if she would have been better off.

The reason we do this is it helps us learn for next time and so we react differently in the future as a result of the invention of the imaginery world where Chloe moved her knight.

This gives us an enormous advantage and it seems obvious that doing this would dramatically increase our survival chances.

Doesn’t it work equally well, whether real or imaginery?

Stephen

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Posted: 29 March 2007 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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:D Sure they caused me to want to change other causes .One cause before was paranoia . Now that cause is gone.  If you admit we can change, then why say what you said ? There are degrees to our free choices. Before paranoia kept me under its bondage a lot .Others’ paranoia is more stringent .If a friend causes one to be naughty , then she should get a new one instead who can help her to change- a new cause in effect . :wink:

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 29 March 2007 10:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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[quote author=“skeptic griggsy”]:D Sure they caused me to want to change other causes .One cause before was paranoia . Now that cause is gone.  If you admit we can change, then why say what you said ? There are degrees to our free choices. Before paranoia kept me under its bondage a lot .Others’ paranoia is more stringent .If a friend causes one to be naughty , then she should get a new one instead who can help her to change- a new cause in effect . :wink:

I obviously don’t deny you can do anything you experience doing. We mustn’t deny ourselves the power we have.

I deny that you could do anything other than that which you do, put in simple terms.

However if it is possible that something else could happen, at the moment you do one thing, you could do another, I deny that this could give you any more power than if it was not true.

Stephen

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Posted: 30 March 2007 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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But if I have the power of choice I can indeed do otherwise .Therapy and medecine changed that cause so that I could do differently !  :idea:

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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