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A pragmatic discussion about free will
Posted: 17 October 2013 02:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 301 ]
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StephenLawrence - 17 October 2013 01:57 AM

The point about we can’t want what we is the want is out of our control. So one could say the want is forced upon us (in a sense). I think you mixed things up by implying that’s not true because the laws of nature are descriptive.

Your ‘(in a sense)’ is revealing. It shows you are mixing concepts.

Does the earth ‘force’ the moon in an orbit around the earth? Or is it just the natural way masses behave? Why would you use the word’ force’? If you like it or not, but ‘force’ has anthropomorphist connotations. It is an expression for the effort I (a human) must do to get something done. With the same right I could say that the moon ‘wants’ to orbit around the earth. It is just as anthropomorphist as using the word ‘force’. Masses are masses because they behave as they do. It makes no sense to discuss if the moon is forced to orbit the earth: why is it forced? Because it really wants to move in a straight line?

So if you tell causal stories you should get rid of these connotations. So saying we are forced to act as we do when you really mean that bodily movements are caused is misleading. Of course you can also tell a none-causal story about your actions: in this concepts like wishes, beliefs, free wil and forcing (in the exact sense of coercion) make sense. Responsibility belongs to this discourse, not to the discourse of laws of nature.

But then, people mixup ‘free will’ with ‘uncaused’, which is nonsense.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 03:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 302 ]
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GdB - 17 October 2013 02:35 AM
StephenLawrence - 17 October 2013 01:57 AM

The point about we can’t want what we is the want is out of our control. So one could say the want is forced upon us (in a sense). I think you mixed things up by implying that’s not true because the laws of nature are descriptive.

Your ‘(in a sense)’ is revealing. It shows you are mixing concepts.

You’re going off on a tangent. The point is the want is an effect necessitated or forced by it’s prior causes (assuming determinism)

The way compatibilists write about this, so often looks like it’s designed to mask this or even that they don’t believe it.

It was confusing to mix the concept of wants being effects i.e we can’t want what we want and descriptive laws of nature.

I’ll just leave it to Lily to see that.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 03:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 303 ]
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StephenLawrence - 17 October 2013 03:00 AM

The way compatibilists write about this, so often looks like it’s designed to mask this or even that they don’t believe it.

I couldn’t care less about what it looks like. Fact is that if people look for a (meta)physical basis or lack of thereof for responsibility and free will at the wrong place. I think you are avoiding the problem of the self-defeating character of your standpoint. You appeal to my sense of responsibility to argue that we must not see people as responsible for their deeds.

StephenLawrence - 17 October 2013 03:00 AM

It was confusing to mix the concept of wants being effects i.e we can’t want what we want and descriptive laws of nature..

They are just two different points (they were in different paragraphs, not for nothing!).

The first is that free will means we are able to do what we want, and not that we can want what we want.
The second is that words like ‘force’ put my causal conditions in the same bucket as other people forcing me to do things. The word ‘force’ is just confusing in the context of laws of nature. Seeing this takes something from the emotional weight of the idea that we are not free because we are caused.

And again: do you want me to treat you as somebody who is not responsible for his actions, that I treat you and your arguments just as ‘he can’t help it, it is just his causal history’? Why should I discuss with you then?

[ Edited: 17 October 2013 06:35 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 17 October 2013 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 304 ]
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GdB - 16 October 2013 10:56 PM

However: the compatibilist notion of free will is not touched by this. Being free means being free to act, i.e. to do what you want. Incompatibilists want that we extend the notion of free will to that we can want what we want, which is of course an absurd notion. The libertarian however says that the notion is not absurd, and the incombatibilist determinist follows him in his incoherent notion of free will, but then denies that it exists. As the incombatibilist determinist thinks this notion of free will is the only one, he thinks that with that his work of denying free will is done.

Thank you!  Very interesting.  Am I right to say compatiblilists define free will in the ability of each individual to act on the influences and causes in his life in his own way.  The same influences and causes on another person may be processed by that other person differently.  Therefore, free will is how each individual determines his actions in response to prior events and causes.  This is free will because the person themselves is the cause of processing the prior events and influences in their lives.  They are not outside the chain of events, but a link of the chain.  When nothing stands in their way, they have done their will.

I suspect Stephen will say, however, the person is only acting in accordance with the way that he was created by luck and so has no responsibility for how he processes prior events and influences in his life.  He can act no other way and so he has no free will.

It seems to me the question comes down to whether each one of us is an individual or simply a part of a whole.  If we view ourselves as individuals, then the circumstances of our lives reveal who we are by our resulting actions.  If we are part of a larger reality, then we have no individual responsibility. 

I suspect I have more study to do.  It’s a bit mind bending. I’ll check out the article link.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 305 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 October 2013 01:21 PM

Here is food for thought:http://www.einsteinandreligion.com/spinoza2.html

Upon a friend commending the Christian maxim “Love they enemy” Einstein replied:

I agree with your remark about loving your enemy as far as actions are concerned. But for me the cognitive basis is the trust in an unrestricted causality. ‘I cannot hate him, because he must do what he does.’ That means for me more Spinoza than the prophets.

After reading the philosophy of Spinoza, I recognized it as my understanding of panentheism.  I didn’t know it came from a Jewish man named Baruch Spinoza!  It is the view of God as being material and the universe as an extension of this material God.  This then makes all of creation of God and in God.  Einstein’s remark, “I cannot hate him, because he must do what he does,” is consistent with this view of God, but as his remark also indicates, it is inconsistent with the view of the prophets, meaning the Jewish Prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament.  If you understand determinism based on Spinoza’s view of God, and Einstein contrasted Spinoza’s view with the Jewish Prophets, then it would be logical to conclude this is a religious view in the sense that it is a set of beliefs about the cause and nature of the universe.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 306 ]
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I can make it more easy to understand:
Compatibilism is way of bridging the notion of determinism with the viewers seemingly contradictory awareness of choosing/wanting/responsibility.
It’s an unnecessary step.  But if it helps…

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Posted: 17 October 2013 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 307 ]
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I have one too, I have one too! Compatibilism is to free will what accommodationism is to theism.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 07:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 308 ]
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Because compatibilism is shackled to determinism and causal chains, it is not free will per se.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will

Free will is the ability of agents to make choices unconstrained by certain factors. Factors of historical concern have included metaphysical constraints (such as logical, nomological, or theological determinism), physical constraints (such as chains or imprisonment), social constraints (such as threat of punishment or censure), and mental constraints (such as compulsions or phobias, neurological disorders, or genetic predispositions).

OTOH, libertarian free will is apparently, the only genuine free will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism_(metaphysics)

In particular, libertarianism, which is an incompatibilist position, argues that free will is logically incompatible with a deterministic universe and that agents have free will, and that, therefore, determinism is false.

Two stage models?

Mark Balaguer, in his book Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem argues similarly to Kane. He believes that, conceptually, free will requires indeterminism, and the question of whether the brain behaves indeterministically is open to further empirical research.

Bold added by me.

As such, it is an open scientific problem but what is clear is that there is no free will in a deterministic brain and/or universe.  cheese

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Posted: 17 October 2013 11:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 309 ]
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LilySmith - 17 October 2013 01:09 PM

I suspect Stephen will say, however, the person is only acting in accordance with the way that he was created by luck and so has no responsibility for how he processes prior events and influences in his life.  He can act no other way and so he has no free will.

 

Hi Lily, here is what I would say.

It is a mistake to say we do or we don’t have free will. This is because the term free will is used to mean different things and half the confusion is caused over arguing it means this or it means that. What matters is the difference between the main two versions. Same goes for responsibility. I argue against *libertarian* free will and *ultimate* responsibility.

The thing is indeterminism can’t get us responsibility, it does just adds a luck factor to the process not responsibility, and so free will and responsibility that makes sense *must* be compatible with determinism.

Secondly I don’t think a person can act no other way, a person can. But in order for a person to act differently the distant past would have to have been different. Also it’s true that if the distant past was appropriately different you and I would make all sorts of different choices.

So if the distant past had been appropriately different you would be an atheist and I would be a Christian. Also if the distant past had been appropriately different we would be on death row for murder.

the person is only acting in accordance with the way that he was created by luck

I’ve just picked this bit out. Yes this is significant I have no control over the distant past, it’s sheer luck as far as I’m concerned how it was and to make particular choices I’m relying on it having been a certain way. Those who we blame and punish were out of luck the distant past wasn’t as they needed it to be and those who we praise and reward are in luck, they got the distant past they needed.

Now Lily, this is very different to the way we usually view it because what people believe is we have a sort of free will which overcomes this luck.

My beef with compatibilism is it tends to sweep this difference under the rug.

We don’t want this difference swept under the rug because if we are to treat each other fairly and do the best we can morally, we need this difference out in the open.

[ Edited: 17 October 2013 11:37 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 17 October 2013 11:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 310 ]
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kkwan - 17 October 2013 07:19 PM

Two stage models?

 

I think that really determinism with a beginning is one giant two stage model Kkwan. The idea is the universe could have started out in infinite different ways and then runs like clockwork.

So what’s wrong with that two stage model?

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Posted: 18 October 2013 05:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 311 ]
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VYAZMA - 17 October 2013 03:52 PM

Compatibilism is way of bridging the notion of determinism with the viewers seemingly contradictory awareness of choosing/wanting/responsibility.

You are dead right. But the word ‘seemingly’ is important…

VYAZMA - 17 October 2013 03:52 PM

It’s an unnecessary step.  But if it helps…

No, it is not unnecessary. For most people free will and determinism seem to be contradictory, and they draw funny conclusions from this logical error.

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Posted: 18 October 2013 06:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 312 ]
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GdB - 18 October 2013 05:52 AM
VYAZMA - 17 October 2013 03:52 PM

Compatibilism is way of bridging the notion of determinism with the viewers seemingly contradictory awareness of choosing/wanting/responsibility.

You are dead right. But the word ‘seemingly’ is important…

VYAZMA - 17 October 2013 03:52 PM

It’s an unnecessary step.  But if it helps…

No, it is not unnecessary. For most people free will and determinism seem to be contradictory, and they draw funny conclusions from this logical error.

Yeah I guess “seemingly” is unnecessary.  After all, what’s awareness?

I can’t recall if you ever explained how free-will and determinism are not contradictory.
But I’m assuming this is part of the foundation of compatabilism.
I’m guessing that this all only applies to cogent beings too.

After all, for me determinism is as much applicable for an asteroid as it is for a honey bee or a person.

Can one apply compatabilism to an asteroid? Or a bee?

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Posted: 18 October 2013 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 313 ]
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LilySmith - 17 October 2013 01:09 PM

Thank you!  Very interesting.  Am I right to say compatiblilists define free will in the ability of each individual to act on the influences and causes in his life in his own way.  The same influences and causes on another person may be processed by that other person differently.  Therefore, free will is how each individual determines his actions in response to prior events and causes.  This is free will because the person themselves is the cause of processing the prior events and influences in their lives.  They are not outside the chain of events, but a link of the chain.  When nothing stands in their way, they have done their will.

Close. But not quite enough. One stone may roll from the same slope in another way as another stone with a different form, so you could also say of the stone that it has different reactions on the same prior events and causes. Essential is that contrary to stones people have wishes and beliefs. If these are causes for their behaviour, then the person acts free.

LilySmith - 17 October 2013 01:09 PM

It seems to me the question comes down to whether each one of us is an individual or simply a part of a whole.  If we view ourselves as individuals, then the circumstances of our lives reveal who we are by our resulting actions.  If we are part of a larger reality, then we have no individual responsibility. 

Not quite. It is the cognitive level. If you look at the atoms and molecules that build up a human, you will not see any wish, belief, or action, you see just simple natural processes. So we will not see something like free will either. However, on the level of wishes, beliefs and actions you can see if somebody acts from his own wishes and beliefs, or is driven by those of somebody else, i.e. he is forced to act in ways he would not do without this coercion. That is the criterion for a free or forced action. No causal chain is broken anywhere, as you noticed above. ‘Free will’ means that somebody can act freely, free from coercion. Of course we have to add a few capabilities: a person must be able to reflect his wishes and beliefs, know his environment, be able to evaluate possible consequences of his actions. The more he can do this, the freer and responsible he can be.

I think this last point is factored out by Stephen in his position that it is all just luck. We can definitely distinguish between people who are more responsible than others, or are more capable to act according to their own wishes and beliefs instead of those of others. To say it is all the same because all of us are determined by our causal history means he still thinks that responsibility must have a (meta)physical basis, and because there is none, it is all just luck. So he is still attached to the libertarian notion of free will.

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Posted: 18 October 2013 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 314 ]
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GdB - 18 October 2013 06:23 AM

Close. But not quite enough. One stone may roll from the same slope in another way as another stone with a different form, so you could also say of the stone that it has different reactions on the same prior events and causes. Essential is that contrary to stones people have wishes and beliefs. If these are causes for their behaviour, then the person acts free.

And why is the stone’s form not 100% analogous to a persons wishes and beliefs?
If I’m not mistaken, Lily will be readily acceptable to these concepts you have outlined above GdB.
You’re putting a hint of magic in “wishes and beliefs”.
ie..“wishes and beliefs” just materialize out of thin air without any prior causality.


Essentially somewhere along your reckoning of this, a “magic” comes into play.(or, unfortunately for the 10th time or so, you are using free-will to mean: not tied up with rope to a chair)
A human being is nothing more than the stone above.  It’s just far more complicated.

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Posted: 18 October 2013 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 315 ]
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VYAZMA - 18 October 2013 06:16 AM

I can’t recall if you ever explained how free-will and determinism are not contradictory.

Then you have a bad memory. I assume everytime when I use the words ‘free will’ you think ‘libertarian free will’.

But just read my posting just above, there you find a short summary.

VYAZMA - 18 October 2013 06:16 AM

But I’m assuming this is part of the foundation of compatabilism.
I’m guessing that this all only applies to cogent beings too.

After all, for me determinism is as much applicable for an asteroid as it is for a honey bee or a person.

Yep. For entities that have no will at all, there is no use to speak of ‘coerced’ or ‘free’, so what should determinism be compatible with?

VYAZMA - 18 October 2013 06:16 AM

Can one apply compatabilism to an asteroid? Or a bee?

Just in case you did not find the answer yourself: in the case of asteriods definitely not, because an asteroid has no wishes and beliefs.
In the case of the bee it is a bit more complicated. But I am inclined to think that a bee does not reflect his reasons and options and more or less directly reacts on stimuli. So, no, compatibilism does not apply.

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