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A pragmatic discussion about free will
Posted: 19 October 2013 06:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 361 ]
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StephenLawrence - 18 October 2013 11:57 PM

It depends upon what you mean by free will Kkwan.

From this article:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/

“Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives. Which sort is the free will sort is what all the fuss is about. (And what a fuss it has been: philosophers have debated this question for over two millennia, and just about every major philosopher has had something to say about it.)

So, what do you mean by free will, Stephen?

There is free will compatible with determinism as I described, a giant two stage model.

The problem with that giant two stage model is that indeterminism is sidelined and relegated to the initial “beginning” of the universe and the unjustified assumption that determinism rules thereafter which is neither true nor justifiable.

As a model, it is a map and not the territory. The universe (territory) is much more complex than that and to characterize it as such is flawed, false, naive, simplistic, misleading and misconceived.

In reality, indeterminism and not determinism, is fundamental in the dynamic, changing and evolving universe from the micro to the macro.

A clockwork universe is a reductionist concept, anthropomorphic and anachronistic, promoted to support determinism, that everything has a cause, causal chains and ultimately, compatibilist free will.

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

In the history of science, the clockwork universe compares the universe to a mechanical clock. It continues ticking along, as a perfect machine, with its gears governed by the laws of physics, making every aspect of the machine predictable.

This idea was very popular among deists during the Enlightenment, when Isaac Newton derived his laws of motion, and showed that alongside the law of universal gravitation, they could explain the behaviour of both terrestrial objects and the solar system.

Modern science finds no evidence that it is so. It is a dead myth, metaphor and concept. 

The plot thickens here. From this paper on “The Myth of the Clockwork Universe”.

http://isaacnewtonstheology.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/the-myth-of-the-clockwork-universe.pdf

The myth of Newton’s clockwork universe is one of the most persistent and pervasive myths in the history of science, perhaps almost as widespread as the mistaken and essentialistic belief that the Galileo Affair involved some sort of clash between “science” and religion (even though one of the main dynamics was a clash between two forms of science). Like the popular conception of Galileo’s troubles with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the myth of Newton’s clockwork universe is recognized as a myth by most informed historians of science but not by the wider public.

From the conclusion:

A careful reading of Newton’s massive corpus, both published and unpublished, reveals that he was, without question, committed to biblical Christianity—even if not always orthodox—and understood his own work, particularly his physics, in providentialist terms, reflective of his theistic and prophetic understanding of the cosmos. In a certain sense, Blake was right. Newton had a single vision rather than a double vision. But it was a single vision of the cosmos as a whole that contained both matter and spirit and that involved both nature and the superintendence of the God of Israel.

So, it is apparent that many people have been deluded for centuries and it is ironic and incredible that compatibilists would use this “religious myth” to promote their version of free will.

The theists are….LOL

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Posted: 19 October 2013 08:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 362 ]
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kkwan - 19 October 2013 06:03 PM

So, what do you mean by free will, Stephen?

Libertarian free will is: Could have done otherwise in the actual situation in a way that makes us ultimately responsible for our actions.

Ultimate responsibility is the idea that we could be guilty in god’s eyes. No need to believe in god for this. The point is assuming determinism god would see we were merely unlucky to get the distant past that led to us doing something wrong. Ultimate responsibility is the idea that we can overcome that and that the choice can be entirely up to us.

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Posted: 19 October 2013 08:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 363 ]
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StephenLawrence - 19 October 2013 12:02 AM

And yet they can’t see how adding some dice in with the dominoes makes the slightest difference to us except to add another luck factor.

Not so.

However, you have committed the ludic fallacy when you wrote the above.

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

The ludic fallacy is a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2007 book The Black Swan. “Ludic” is from the Latin ludus, meaning “play, game, sport, pastime.” It is summarized as “the misuse of games to model real-life situations.” Taleb explains the fallacy as “basing studies of chance on the narrow world of games and dice.”

What is indeterminism? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indeterminism

Indeterminism is the concept that events (certain events, or events of certain types) are not caused, or not caused deterministically (cf. causality) by prior events.

Indeterminism does not assume that all events are caused by or caused deterministically by prior events, as determinism does.

Indeterminism does not imply pure chance or luck. You have misinterpreted indeterminism for your convenience.

What you need is a way that bringing indeterminism into the decision making process can get us responsibility over and above compatibilist responsibility. That’s the acid test.

Libertarian free will also entails responsibility for one’s actions. It is not exclusive to compatibilist free will.

As such, there is no necessity for any test per se.

However, there exist numerous cognitive biases in the human decision making process.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

Decision-making, belief, and behavioral biases:

Many of these biases affect belief formation, business and economic decisions, and human behavior in general. They arise as a replicable result to a specific condition: when confronted with a specific situation, the deviation from what is normally expected can be characterized by:

Specifically:

1. Ambiguity effect

2. Anchoring or focalism

3. Illusion of control

4. In formation bias

5.Ludic fallacy

6. Neglect of probability

The above list is only a cursory sample.

Also, from From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fooled_by_Randomness

Human beings tend to:

1. overestimate causality, e.g., they see elephants in the clouds instead of understanding that they are in fact randomly shaped clouds that appear to our eyes as elephants (or something else);

2. tend to view the world as more explainable than it really is. So they look for explanations even when there are none.

The problems of compatibilist free will and their supporters, are:

1. Wrongful and misguided reliance on the “religious” myth of the clockwork universe as explained in my post 361, when the universe is clearly not so.

2. Unjustified belief (not grounded in compelling evidence), that the universe had a beginning and ignoring the possibility that if the universe is infinite, there is no beginning or end.

3. Unjustified belief in determinism, that everything has a cause, causal chains and overestimating causality.

4. Unjustified and wrongful assumption that all systems are (bottom-up) causal systems whereas in, reality, there are (top-down) causal, anticausal and acausal systems.

5. Prejudice and unjustified value judgment of libertarian free will.

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Posted: 19 October 2013 08:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 364 ]
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kkwan - 19 October 2013 06:03 PM

The problem with that giant two stage model is that indeterminism is sidelined and relegated to the initial “beginning” of the universe and the unjustified assumption that determinism rules thereafter which is neither true nor justifiable.

Assuming this model is justified if adding further complication makes no difference regarding the question of free will.

In any two stage model indeterminism is relegated (to the first stage) and sidelined.

It makes no difference how far back in time the first stage is.

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Posted: 19 October 2013 08:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 365 ]
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kkwan - 19 October 2013 08:42 PM
StephenLawrence - 19 October 2013 12:02 AM

And yet they can’t see how adding some dice in with the dominoes makes the slightest difference to us except to add another luck factor.

Not so.

Absolutely yes so Kkwan. That’s the bottom line.

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Posted: 19 October 2013 09:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 366 ]
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kkwan - 19 October 2013 08:42 PM

Libertarian free will also entails responsibility for one’s actions. It is not exclusive to compatibilist free will.

 

It’s the difference between responsibility compatible with determinism and the responsibility libertarian free will is supposed to give us that the subject is about.

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Posted: 19 October 2013 11:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 367 ]
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StephenLawrence - 19 October 2013 08:36 PM

Libertarian free will is: Could have done otherwise in the actual situation in a way that makes us ultimately responsible for our actions.

That would be agent-causal libertarianism.

However, from http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/libertarianism.html

1. Agent-causal:

In recent free will debates, these dualist explanations are called “agent-causal libertarianism.” The idea is that humans have a kind of agency (an ability to act) that cannot be explained in terms of physical events.

2. Event-causal:

One alternative to dualism is called “event-causal libertarianism,” in which some events are uncaused or indeterministically caused. Note that eliminating strict determinism does not eliminate causality.

We can still have events that are caused by indeterministic prior events. And these indeterministic events have prior causes, but the prior causes are not sufficient to determine the events precisely. In modern physics, for example, events are only statistical or probabilistic. We can call this soft causality, meaning not pre-determined but still having a causal explanation.

3. Non-causal:

Still another position is to say that human freedom is uncaused or simply non-causal. This would eliminate causality. Some philosophers think “reasons” or “intentions” are not causes and describe their explanations of libertarian freedom as “non-causal.”

So, there are three variants of libertarian free will.

Ultimate responsibility is the idea that we could be guilty in god’s eyes. No need to believe in god for this. The point is assuming determinism god would see we were merely unlucky to get the distant past that led to us doing something wrong. Ultimate responsibility is the idea that we can overcome that and that the choice can be entirely up to us.

The point is, we cannot assume either god or determinism and therefore it does not necessarily follow that “we were merely unlucky to get the distant past that led to us doing something wrong”.

Wrt alternative possibilities (AP), ultimate responsibility (UR) and many other free will issues:

http://www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/philosophers/kane/

Please see the long video (1hr. 22min.) of Robert Kane discussing free will in the web page.

Conceptual error:

Many of the writers tend to conflate free will and moral responsibility. They describe free will as the “control condition” of moral responsibility. This is a conceptual error.

Kane’s original contribution to the free will debate :

Kane’s most original contribution to the free-will debates is his example of a decision that is indeterminate, but for which the agent can properly claim moral responsibility. Normally, chance as the direct cause of an action compromises agent control and therefore any responsibility. But in the case of what Kane calls a “torn decision,” the agent may have excellent reasons for choosing “either way.” In such a case, the agent can choose randomly (Kane defends the possibility of irreducible quantum indeterminism), yet properly take responsibility for either option. Kane calls this “dual (or plural) rational control.”

Aristotle and Epicurus said that decisions “in us” or that “depend on us” are a tertium quid, or third thing, that is neither chance nor necessity Kane says that this type of torn decision is involved in his self-forming actions (SFAs), which form the basis for an agent’s “ultimate responsibility” (UR). By ultimate responsibility Kane means that the sources or origins of our actions lie “in us” rather than in something else (such as decrees of fate, foreordained acts of God, or antecedent causes and laws of nature) which are outside us and beyond our control.

There are various interesting topics to explore in the above website.

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Posted: 19 October 2013 11:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 368 ]
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StephenLawrence - 19 October 2013 08:46 PM

Assuming this model is justified if adding further complication makes no difference regarding the question of free will.

For the model to hold, we will have to assume the following:

1. There is a beginning of the universe and it is indeterminate.

2. Determinism rules thereafter the beginning of the universe.

3. There is a cause for everything and causal chains are not problematic.

None of 1, 2, or 3 are justified, therefore the model is misconceived and/or flawed.

In any two stage model indeterminism is relegated (to the first stage) and sidelined.

It makes no difference how far back in time the first stage is.

Why should it be so?

Indeterminism could be was, is and will be in an infinite, dynamic and evolving universe.

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Posted: 19 October 2013 11:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 369 ]
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StephenLawrence - 19 October 2013 08:49 PM

Absolutely yes so Kkwan. That’s the bottom line.

Not so. What bottom line….by fiat?

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Posted: 19 October 2013 11:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 370 ]
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StephenLawrence - 19 October 2013 09:00 PM

It’s the difference between responsibility compatible with determinism and the responsibility libertarian free will is supposed to give us that the subject is about.

There is no difference, with adequate determinism.

http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/adequate_determinism.html

Adequate Determinism is the kind of determinism we have in the world. It is a statistical determinism, where the statistics are near to certainty for large objects. Adequate Determinism also includes indeterminism, an irreducible property of the microscopic quantum world..

There is actually no strict determinism at any “level” of the physical world. Determinism is an abstract theoretical ideal that simplifies physical systems to allow the use of logical and mathematical methods. The macroscopic “determinism” we see is the consequence of averaging over extremely large numbers of microscopic particles.

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Posted: 20 October 2013 01:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 371 ]
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kkwan - 19 October 2013 11:22 PM


The point is, we cannot assume either god or determinism and therefore it does not necessarily follow that “we were merely unlucky to get the distant past that led to us doing something wrong”.

The very important point is that is the problem determinism poses for free will.

Now if you accept that you see that the indeterminism in Libertarian free will is supposed to overcome that.

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Posted: 20 October 2013 01:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 372 ]
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kkwan - 19 October 2013 11:54 PM

There is no difference, with adequate determinism.

Adequate determinism is indeterminism.

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Posted: 20 October 2013 01:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 373 ]
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kkwan - 19 October 2013 11:40 PM
StephenLawrence - 19 October 2013 08:46 PM

Assuming this model is justified if adding further complication makes no difference regarding the question of free will.

For the model to hold, we will have to assume the following:

1. There is a beginning of the universe and it is indeterminate.

2. Determinism rules thereafter the beginning of the universe.

3. There is a cause for everything and causal chains are not problematic.

None of 1, 2, or 3 are justified, therefore the model is misconceived and/or flawed.

In any two stage model indeterminism is relegated (to the first stage) and sidelined.

It makes no difference how far back in time the first stage is.

Why should it be so?

 

Why not? In a two stage model the indeterminism is put back to the first stage. After that it plays no relevant role. So the question is why not just put the indeterminism back to the beginning of time in the model?

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Posted: 20 October 2013 01:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 374 ]
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VYAZMA - 19 October 2013 09:12 AM

I suppose you have been conditioned to be defensive with me.  Sorry.  I didn’t come looking for a fight.  I just wanted to drop into this thread for a little visit.

No, it was a fully free expression of my thinking. wink You just did it again in some of your previous postings: arguing against compatibilism by saying we are determined. There seems to be no other way to get it in some people’s heads that I am defending that we need determinism for having free will than being as little angry. Your “The rest of consciousness is chemical/electro stimulus brought on by hormones” (here), and your comparison with asteroids (here) show you still argue with me that we are determined. Can you please stop that? It is true but irrelevant.

VYAZMA - 19 October 2013 09:12 AM

In my latest discussions here I am just trying to discover redundancies in this thought process.

Why would thinking in terms of wishes and beliefs be redundant? Please explain.

VYAZMA - 19 October 2013 09:12 AM

The next thing that baffles me is why people have to talk about the other form of freedom or liberty.  It really confuses things.

This is truly one of the arguments that costed me some thinking. If I may rephrase your question (so I can check if this really is what you mean), you are asking: what is the difference between compatibilist free will and (political) liberty? This may be a gradual difference. To flesh it out it is useful to see that incompatibilist determinists argue that we cannot hold people responsible for their actions because free will is an illusion. Now their argument has obviously nothing to do with political liberty. In our more or less free western societies we can be made responsible and even punished for crimes, and this is not a reduction of liberty. So for me it is clear that the concepts of free will and responsibility have their own meaning independent of (political) liberty.

As said before, free will and responsibility have to do with a person’s capability to reflect on his motives, his possible actions and the consequences of it. The better he is in acting according to his wishes and beliefs, the freer he is. The better he can give an account of why he acts the way he does, the more responsible he is. And these capabilities are just as real when we are determined.

So it is true that it is theoretically possible to give a complete causal description of what happens when somebody acts freely: freely but causally determined commits a crime, and is sentenced to prison by a causally determined judge. The point is that the fact such a causal description exists does not make any difference for the criminal and the judge. As I think you agreed upon, dialogues using concepts of responsibility, crime and punishment make a causal difference. Maybe it is possible to build up a (dystopian) society in which we treat each other as robots, and in such a society free will would simply not exist anymore. ‘Free will’  is not the magic added by some soul substance, it is a concept that works in a society that also uses concepts as persons, individuals, moral, (self)consciousness, responsibility, praise, blame, punishment etc. etc. In this context, and only in this context, free will exists.

It is a category error to look for it in some metaphysical attribute as indeterminism, or ‘could have done otherwise’ in anything more than its simple modal meaning.

VYAZMA - 19 October 2013 09:12 AM

One that is over ruled by causality anyways.

And here you are doing it again…

VYAZMA - 19 October 2013 09:12 AM

Why aren’t Lois, George and me not getting the compatibilist approach? 

You look for ‘free will’ at the wrong place. You think it should break through the causal fabric of the physical universe. ‘Free will’ exists as a social practice that has nothing to do with laws of physics. But that does not mean it does not exist. It is just not what people think it is. It is not libertarian free will.

“I’m writing a book on magic,” I explain, and I’m asked, “Real magic?” By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers.  “No,” I answer: “Conjuring tricks, not real magic.”  Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.

From here.

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Posted: 20 October 2013 02:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 375 ]
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“I’m writing a book on magic,” I explain, and I’m asked, “Real magic?” By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers.  “No,” I answer: “Conjuring tricks, not real magic.”  Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.

I do like this Dennett quote and it’s true real free will is compatible with determinism.

But I also think it’s worth pointing out what someone means by magic when they say “I don’t believe in magic”.

Wouldn’t it be folly to reply “well I do” and go into conjuring tricks. Of course they are not saying they don’t believe in conjuring tricks and of course it would cause no end of confusion to insist magic exists because conjuring tricks exist.

[ Edited: 20 October 2013 02:19 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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