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A pragmatic discussion about free will
Posted: 25 April 2012 02:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 211 ]
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TimB - 24 April 2012 01:49 PM

But certainly you must, from subjective, experience recognize times in which you did reflect and were aware before making a choice.  An example could be choosing to submit a text that you have written or choosing instead to hold off and edit first.

So I type, then hit the submit buttom, inbetween I’m aware of hesitation, tension in the body, then I relax and hit the button. I interpret this as I evaluate hitting the button now more highly than stopping to check.

My point is I become conscious of my motivations, or at least believe I do. I could watch you doing the same thing and become conscious of your motivation, or at least believe I am. The difference is, for you, that you feel what it’s like as well. 

The chosen action is dependent upon the weighing up process.

I don’t see how any of this makes the choice a conscious choice, as I say, anymore than a pain is a conscious pain, or a cloud is a conscious cloud. We are conscious of the cloud we are conscious of the pain we are conscious of the process we call choice.

I’d be surprised if this is just semantics.

I think there must be some reason you are calling choice conscious choice, rather than we are conscious of making choices.

Stephen

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Posted: 25 April 2012 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 212 ]
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And I wonder again: does a worm know it’s feeling pain when you cut it in half? Does a baby know he’s feeling discomfort when his diaper is wet? I don’t think feeling pain is enough to make us feel aware. You probably need to be able to think about the pain you’re feeling to make you aware of it. But then, what does it feel like if you are a worm to feel pain if you are not really aware of it?

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Posted: 27 April 2012 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 213 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 April 2012 02:22 AM
TimB - 24 April 2012 01:49 PM

But certainly you must, from subjective, experience recognize times in which you did reflect and were aware before making a choice.  An example could be choosing to submit a text that you have written or choosing instead to hold off and edit first.

So I type, then hit the submit buttom, inbetween I’m aware of hesitation, tension in the body, then I relax and hit the button. I interpret this as I evaluate hitting the button now more highly than stopping to check.

My point is I become conscious of my motivations, or at least believe I do. I could watch you doing the same thing and become conscious of your motivation, or at least believe I am. The difference is, for you, that you feel what it’s like as well. 

The chosen action is dependent upon the weighing up process.

I don’t see how any of this makes the choice a conscious choice, as I say, anymore than a pain is a conscious pain, or a cloud is a conscious cloud. We are conscious of the cloud we are conscious of the pain we are conscious of the process we call choice.

I’d be surprised if this is just semantics.

I think there must be some reason you are calling choice conscious choice, rather than we are conscious of making choices.

Stephen

Our awareness of, and our self talk about, a “choice” is one of the factors that controls the behavior of “choosing”.

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Posted: 27 April 2012 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 214 ]
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TimB-
But certainly you must, from subjective, experience recognize times in which you did reflect and were aware before making a choice.  An example could be choosing to submit a text that you have written or choosing instead to hold off and edit first.

Holy cow!  Never looked at it like that.  That makes perfect sense.  So we do have free-will?!?!

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Posted: 27 April 2012 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 215 ]
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VYAZMA - 27 April 2012 11:55 AM

TimB-
But certainly you must, from subjective, experience recognize times in which you did reflect and were aware before making a choice.  An example could be choosing to submit a text that you have written or choosing instead to hold off and edit first.

Holy cow!  Never looked at it like that.  That makes perfect sense.  So we do have free-will?!?!

(Responding on the chance that you are being sincere, here)  I can live with the compatibilist definition of free-will, and also conceptualize that our will (ability to choose) has some degree of freedom, in that it depends to some extent (sometimes) on our conscious input.

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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: 27 April 2012 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 216 ]
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VYAZMA - 27 April 2012 11:55 AM

TimB-
But certainly you must, from subjective, experience recognize times in which you did reflect and were aware before making a choice.  An example could be choosing to submit a text that you have written or choosing instead to hold off and edit first.

Holy cow!  Never looked at it like that.  That makes perfect sense.  So we do have free-will?!?!

Doug once said something, somewhere, about consciousness having to play a role in all of this since consciousness is clearly a part of our process of thinking. But I can’t remember where he said said it or what exactly he said…and neither can Doug. Too bad.

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Posted: 21 May 2012 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 217 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 21 May 2012 08:43 AM

If people didn’t believe in free will they would have a very different attitude to those who were to be punished, understanding that they were unlucky to have the past they had in contrast with the sense of deservedness people actually feel they have

THat’s a bit self evident don’t you think?

Ah well it’s interesting you say that. What those on Sam’s side of the debate say is we don’t have Libertarian free will (obviously) and it matters, things do change as a result (self evidently).

What the compatibilists say is we do have compatibilist freedom, which they call free will and things don’t change much, so it doesn’t matter.

Some will even go as far as to say people can deserve to suffer for what they have done. Dennett will go that far.

It definitely depends on which side of the law you are on. Ex. You’re setting on a jury deciding the fate of an accused rapist as opposed to actually being the accused. Harris’s contention is that given the same set of circumstances, the the juror would behave the same as the accused rapist.

Yep but so what? The problem is the same as with any erroneous belief, what is it doing? So what is belief in God doing, can it be harmful? What is belief in homeopathy doing, can it be harmful? what is belief in Libertarian free will doing, can it be harmful.

What you’re describing is the classic positive v. neagtive reinforcement. It works well on animals but I’m not sure you would see the same results from a psychopath. Their behavior is pre-set by (dare I say it???) a combination of nature and nurture.

How much nuture plays a role is interesting, we wouldn’t say there are any bad dogs, just bad owners. How true is that of psychopaths nuture? I really don’t know but I certainly believe that growing up in an environment in which people believe in deserved suffering and mete out punishments on the bases ain’t helping!

I must have misunderstood Harris’ statement here. He was addressing the three views on free will and It sounded to me that Dennet was a determinist as opposed to a Libertarian. I’ll read it again to be sure.

Yes, that’s what I meant. Sam Harris is saying we do not have Libertarian free will. And Dennett says that’s true. He defines free will differently and says we have that version. Sam Harris says that’s a related but different subject.  http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/free-will-and-free-will

Stephen

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Posted: 21 May 2012 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 218 ]
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Some will even go as far as to say people can deserve to suffer for what they have done. Dennett will go that far

But Doesn’t Harris make the distinction of someone who committs a crime due to a brain anomoly (ex. a tumor) as opposed to a career criminal who kills for kicks and giggles? Would they both deserve the same fate? I’ll finish the book tonight and hopefully Harris’ position will make more sense. It appeared to me from what I’ve read so far that Harris doesn’t think the two should be treated the same.

Yep but so what? The problem is the same as with any erroneous belief, what is it doing? So what is belief in God doing, can it be harmful? What is belief in homeopathy doing, can it be harmful? what is belief in Libertarian free will doing, can it be harmful.

I’m not sure what you’re alluding to here but as to harm, belief in god and homeopathy are harmeful as they lead to false conclusions about reality. Not sure about Libertarianism, yet!

How much nuture plays a role is interesting, we wouldn’t say there are any bad dogs, just bad owners. How true is that of psychopaths nuture? I really don’t know but I certainly believe that growing up in an environment in which people believe in deserved suffering and mete out punishments on the bases ain’t helping!


Your contention in the former is purely nurture; owners create “bad” dogs, ex. fighting dogs such as the pit bull were specially bred for agression but may be trained to not to display it. I do agree with you that holding out the threat of capital punishment doesn’t deter a psychopath.

Yes, that’s what I meant. Sam Harris is saying we do not have Libertarian free will. And Dennett says that’s true. He defines free will differently and says we have that version. Sam Harris says that’s a related but different subject.


Just found and watched a youtube video of a Harris lecture and he mentions that in his lecture. More when I finish the book. It’s short so I’ll probably give it a re-read.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 21 May 2012 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 219 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 21 May 2012 10:47 AM

Some will even go as far as to say people can deserve to suffer for what they have done. Dennett will go that far

But Doesn’t Harris make the distinction of someone who committs a crime due to a brain anomoly (ex. a tumor) as opposed to a career criminal who kills for kicks and giggles? Would they both deserve the same fate? I’ll finish the book tonight and hopefully Harris’ position will make more sense. It appeared to me from what I’ve read so far that Harris doesn’t think the two should be treated the same.

There are good reasons not to treat them the same. Punishment acts as deterrent and correction. It doesn’t make sense to deter and correct behaviour caused by a brain tumour with punishment. But it can make sense in other cases.

But when we talk about what people “deserve” as a result of their choices that doesn’t fit with it being the luck of the draw what past they got and therefore what choice they made.

And initially you said that was self evident (I think)

I’m not sure what you’re alluding to here but as to harm, belief in god and homeopathy are harmeful as they lead to false conclusions about reality.

Belief in libertarian free will is more pervasive than belief in homeopathy and even God. And it’s so much more central to human life, as it’s to do with responsibility, praise, blame, guilt, shame, rewards, penalties and so on. People do intuitively believe in false versions of these based on Libertarian free will. The false version is that they deserve them in a way they just could not if whether they make a good or bad choice depends upon their distant past. There but for circumstances go I.

Stephen

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Posted: 21 May 2012 12:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 220 ]
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Dennett’s latest talk might be of interest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwbnGqOrAEM

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Posted: 21 May 2012 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 221 ]
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StephenLawrence - 21 May 2012 12:28 PM

Dennett’s latest talk might be of interest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwbnGqOrAEM

Thanks for that, very good lecture. Wish he could have gone further.

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Posted: 04 November 2012 03:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 222 ]
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A review from Dennett of Bruce Waller’s ‘Against moral responsibility’ and related articles.

http://www.naturalism.org/DCDWallerreview.htm

Stephen

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Posted: 09 December 2012 12:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 223 ]
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FreeInKy - 11 April 2012 07:40 AM
traveler - 11 April 2012 07:14 AM
dougsmith - 11 April 2012 06:58 AM

Sure, you can live your life very well without investigating any of these things with any depth or seriousness. But that doesn’t mean that you aren’t in so doing simply accepting one or another account. It’s like math: you don’t need to understand complex mathematics to live a complete life. But much of what you do depends upon it in one way or another.


I like that, I think. The only thing that seems incongruent (to use a math term) between the two is that mathematics can clearly be shown to be attached to the physical world. Philosophy is not even “sure” what that means.

Exactly. I don’t mean to rag on philosophy. I know many here—especially you Doug—are very devoted to it. When I say that it is not something I see a lot of practical value in, I don’t mean to dismiss it’s pursuit altogether. It’s just not something I have much interest in. And while I also don’t understand complex math, I very much see the benefits of it. I don’t, in the same way, see the practical benefits of knowing whether or not free will exists.

The ‘free will’ argument is useful in a practical sense if you use it as a mechanism or tool to argue some other case. For example, most protestant conservative Christians believe that one reason why God allows evil in the world is because He wanted humanity to have a free will to choose to favor or believe in God (Jesus). Without out it, we would be determined or programmed to automatically choose God or the devil according to His wishes making us robots with no real accountability or meaning to any decisions we make.

I have argued that if God produces man with free will, however, that He’s granted us powers beyond his determination and therefore He couldn’t appropriately know all because the very knowing of the outcome of an individual implies that He must be influenced upon his or her birth. If God knows the outcome and cannot do anything about it, He has no capable influence throughout their life. At least, He would certainly know that any investment in humanity is useless.

It is a dilemma that a real God could not escape. Therefore, either He is not real or he is not superior in any moral absolute sense.

It is only in this philosophical sense that the argument came about. Even if we try to make use of it in practical human applications, all arguments are necessarily circular if one tries to argue the superiority of free will over determination. The reality is that society will use whatever rationality to determine judgements that works in the times and environments a situation presents. Personally, I think that we can be absolutely determinate AND absolutely indeterminate within reality. For instance, if every possibility exists, at every determinate juncture, there is always a sufficient set of ‘parallel’ universes to accommodate each possibility.

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Posted: 09 December 2012 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 224 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 21 May 2012 10:47 AM

Some will even go as far as to say people can deserve to suffer for what they have done. Dennett will go that far

But Doesn’t Harris make the distinction of someone who committs a crime due to a brain anomoly (ex. a tumor) as opposed to a career criminal who kills for kicks and giggles? Would they both deserve the same fate? I’ll finish the book tonight and hopefully Harris’ position will make more sense. It appeared to me from what I’ve read so far that Harris doesn’t think the two should be treated the same.


.....


The point you’re missing is that it doesn’t matter what the criminal’s motivations are.  They are not under the criminal’s conscious control.  Whether various criminal motivations ‘“deserve” the same response is a matter of opinion.  They will receive the punishment that others deem appropriate—and what they deem appropriate is also out of their conscious control.  The whole point is that NO ONE has conscious control, neither criminals nor those “deciding” punishment.  In every case it’s a matter of millions of individual genetic, experiential and environmental factors, many of which we have no awareness of and all of which we have no control over.

.....

Yep but so what? The problem is the same as with any erroneous belief, what is it doing? So what is belief in God doing, can it be harmful? What is belief in homeopathy doing, can it be harmful? what is belief in Libertarian free will doing, can it be harmful.

I’m not sure what you’re alluding to here but as to harm, belief in god and homeopathy are harmeful as they lead to false conclusions about reality. Not sure about Libertarianism, yet!

How much nuture plays a role is interesting, we wouldn’t say there are any bad dogs, just bad owners. How true is that of psychopaths nuture? I really don’t know but I certainly believe that growing up in an environment in which people believe in deserved suffering and mete out punishments on the bases ain’t helping!


Your contention in the former is purely nurture; owners create “bad” dogs, ex. fighting dogs such as the pit bull were specially bred for agression but may be trained to not to display it. I do agree with you that holding out the threat of capital punishment doesn’t deter a psychopath.

Yes, that’s what I meant. Sam Harris is saying we do not have Libertarian free will. And Dennett says that’s true. He defines free will differently and says we have that version. Sam Harris says that’s a related but different subject.


Just found and watched a youtube video of a Harris lecture and he mentions that in his lecture. More when I finish the book. It’s short so I’ll probably give it a re-read.


Cap’t Jack


(repeating my response below in case it gets lost inside the quote.)

The point you’re missing is that it doesn’t matter what the criminal’s motivations are.  They are not under the criminal’s conscious control.  Whether various criminal motivations ‘“deserve” the same response is a matter of opinion.  They will receive the punishment that others deem appropriate—and what they deem appropriate is also out of their conscious control.  The whole point is that NO ONE has conscious control, neither criminals nor those “deciding” punishment.  In every case it’s a matter of millions of individual genetic, experiential and environmental factors, many of which we have no awareness of and all of which we have no control over.

.....

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Posted: 09 December 2012 10:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 225 ]
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Lois - 09 December 2012 11:31 AM

The point you’re missing is that it doesn’t matter what the criminal’s motivations are.  They are not under the criminal’s conscious control.  Whether various criminal motivations ‘“deserve” the same response is a matter of opinion.  They will receive the punishment that others deem appropriate—and what they deem appropriate is also out of their conscious control.  The whole point is that NO ONE has conscious control, neither criminals nor those “deciding” punishment.  In every case it’s a matter of millions of individual genetic, experiential and environmental factors, many of which we have no awareness of and all of which we have no control over.

Lois, does a thermostat control the temperature?
Does a thrown away cigarette cause a fire?

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