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A pragmatic discussion about free will
Posted: 27 October 2013 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 481 ]
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StephenLawrence - 27 October 2013 10:52 AM

So if your car fell into the sun and melted, indeterminism would be true, for instance.

Oh, yeah, I was afraid so. The point you did not reacted on here.

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Posted: 27 October 2013 11:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 482 ]
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GdB - 27 October 2013 11:58 AM
StephenLawrence - 27 October 2013 10:52 AM

So if your car fell into the sun and melted, indeterminism would be true, for instance.

Oh, yeah, I was afraid so. The point you did not reacted on here.

Well, I’ve reacted lots of times.

You have two ways of going about these true counterfactuals either indeterminism would be true or the initial conditions of the universe would have been different.

If neither of these options were available you would have no meaningfully true counterfactuals only vacuously true counterfactuals.

Also the problem is greater when the word would is changed for could because you are making the claim that the world could be as in the counterfactual rather than the way it is.

Well it couldn’t if you mean physically possible since indeterminism would be true the way you are doing it.

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Posted: 28 October 2013 12:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 483 ]
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Stephen,

Let’s keep the discussion a bit separate, when possible.

Please react in the other thread. I will also react there.

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Posted: 28 October 2013 12:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 484 ]
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GdB - 28 October 2013 12:17 AM

Stephen,

Let’s keep the discussion a bit separate, when possible.

Please react in the other thread. I will also react there.

OK.

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Posted: 30 October 2013 05:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 485 ]
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Lois - 14 October 2013 05:32 PM

Can someone explain what “libertarian free will” is and how it differs from run of the mill free will? I’m a a loss to know the difference.

Just realise this was already answered ages ago here.

GdB - 12 March 2013 03:24 AM
Lois - 11 March 2013 12:29 PM

—Please define libertarian free will and tell us how it differs from plain old vanilla free will.

There is no difference. Libertarian free will is what most people think free will is. So that means ‘plain old vanilla free will’ is just as incoherent as libertarian free will. The idea is logically rooted in the dualist idea that our soul or something like that steers the body and is itself (at least partially) uncaused. Therefore it is also known as ‘contra-causal free will’, meaning that our soul can break through the causal fabric of the universe.

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Posted: 30 October 2013 12:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 486 ]
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GdB - 30 October 2013 05:16 AM
Lois - 14 October 2013 05:32 PM

Can someone explain what “libertarian free will” is and how it differs from run of the mill free will? I’m a a loss to know the difference.

Just realise this was already answered ages ago here.

GdB - 12 March 2013 03:24 AM
Lois - 11 March 2013 12:29 PM

—Please define libertarian free will and tell us how it differs from plain old vanilla free will.

There is no difference. Libertarian free will is what most people think free will is. So that means ‘plain old vanilla free will’ is just as incoherent as libertarian free will. The idea is logically rooted in the dualist idea that our soul or something like that steers the body and is itself (at least partially) uncaused. Therefore it is also known as ‘contra-causal free will’, meaning that our soul can break through the causal fabric of the universe.

Ah, yes, of course.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 05:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 487 ]
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StephenLawrence - 27 October 2013 01:24 AM

There is a slight error in the article since soft determinists believe determinism is true whilst compatibilists don’t necessarily believe it is true.

The wiki mentioned no such thing i.e. “soft determinists believe determinism is true”. So, where is the error?

The point is a compatibilist believes that we have free will and that it is logically consistent with determinism. That doesn’t mean a compatibilist believes free will is logically inconsistent with adequate determinism.

That was what the wiki stated:

Compatibilism (or soft determinism) is the belief that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, and that it is possible to believe both without being logically inconsistent.

OTOH, from http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/compatibilism.html

An increasing number of compatibilists, often reluctantly, accept the view that random quantum mechanical events occur in the world. Whether in the physical world, in the biological world (where they are a key driver of genetic mutations), or in the mind, randomness and uncaused events are real.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 06:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 488 ]
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StephenLawrence - 27 October 2013 01:32 AM

I think we just don’t know whether determinism is true or not.

Strict determinism does not exist in reality, at any level.

There is no reason for a compatibilist to think free will is only compatible with adequate determinism and it is not more tenable to believe it in the modern world since obviously the difference between adequate determinism and determinism can’t overcome the problem it is supposed to, which is the problem of luck.

What is compatitiblism compatible to, if not to adequate determinism?

OTOH, consider the Cogito Model of human freedom.

From http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/cogito/

The Cogito Model of human freedom locates randomness (either ancient chance or modern quantum indeterminacy) in the mind, in a way that breaks the causal chain of strict physical determinism, while doing no harm to responsibility.

The Cogito Model combines indeterminacy - first microscopic quantum randomness and unpredictability, then “adequate” determinism and macroscopic predictability, in a temporal sequence that creates information.

Bold added by me.

Insoluble problem of two stage models:

The insoluble problem for previous two-stage models has been to explain how a random event in the brain can be timed and located - perfectly synchronized! - so as to be relevant to a specific decision. The answer is it cannot be, for the simple reason that quantum events are totally unpredictable.

The Cogito solution:

The Cogito solution is not single random events, one per decision, but many random events in the brain as a result of ever-present noise, both quantum and thermal noise, that is inherent in any information storage and communication system.

The mind, like all biological systems, has evolved in the presence of constant noise and is able to ignore that noise, unless the noise provides a significant competitive advantage, which it clearly does as the basis for freedom and creativity.

Bold added by me.

As it is, in reality:

But remember that instead of strict causal determinism, the world offers only adequate determinism, and the random origins of possibilities provides libertarian freedom of thought and action.

Bold added by me.

Causal luck. Finally, there is causal luck, or luck in “how one is determined by antecedent circumstances” (Nagel 1979, 60). Nagel points out that the appearance of causal moral luck is essentially the classic problem of free will. The problem of free will to which Nagel refers arises because it seems that our actions—and even the “stripped-down acts of the will”—are consequences of what is not in our control. If this is so, then neither our actions nor our willing are free. And since freedom is often thought to be necessary for moral responsibility, we cannot be morally responsible even for our willings.

Not so, as explained above. As such, there is no such problem of causal luck at all.

Q.E.D.?  grin

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Posted: 31 October 2013 08:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 489 ]
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FreeInKy - 11 April 2012 04:51 AM

I intentionally posted this in the Humanism forum rather than the Philosophy forum because I want this discussion to be pragmatic rather than philosophical. My question is this:

Does it really matter to my everyday life if human free will technically exists or not? And if so, how?

My feeling at this point is that it does not matter. Whether my actions are predetermined or not, I operate from the perspective that my actions are my own responsibility.

Thoughts?

[EDIT: given the progress of this thread, I’ve moved it to Philosophy. Sorry! dougsmith—Admin]

Seems to me that we will never know if we have a free will or not.  It certainly seems to me that we may not have a free will which was suggested by Darwin some time ago.  But how would we ever know.  So comments about police and the law, etc. see superfluous.  Just my opinion.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 11:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 490 ]
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volcanoman - 31 October 2013 08:48 PM
FreeInKy - 11 April 2012 04:51 AM

I intentionally posted this in the Humanism forum rather than the Philosophy forum because I want this discussion to be pragmatic rather than philosophical. My question is this:

Does it really matter to my everyday life if human free will technically exists or not? And if so, how?

My feeling at this point is that it does not matter. Whether my actions are predetermined or not, I operate from the perspective that my actions are my own responsibility.

Thoughts?

[EDIT: given the progress of this thread, I’ve moved it to Philosophy. Sorry! dougsmith—Admin]

Seems to me that we will never know if we have a free will or not.  It certainly seems to me that we may not have a free will which was suggested by Darwin some time ago.  But how would we ever know.  So comments about police and the law, etc. see superfluous.  Just my opinion.

There are two meanings of free will.

1) Could have done otherwise in the actual situation in a way that makes us entirely responsible for our actions.

2) Acting in accordance with our beliefs and desires.

We do have the information to know 1) is not true and the information to know that often our actions are in accordance with our beliefs and desires.

The facts are already known people just won’t accept 1)

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Posted: 01 November 2013 12:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 491 ]
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kkwan - 31 October 2013 06:48 PM

Strict determinism does not exist in reality, at any level.

You don’t know that.

What is compatitiblism compatible to, if not to adequate determinism?

One physically possible future we can get to from the actual past.

 

The Cogito Model of human freedom locates randomness (either ancient chance or modern quantum indeterminacy) in the mind, in a way that breaks the causal chain of strict physical determinism, while doing no harm to responsibility.

It does no good to responsibility either. It makes no relevant difference, which is why it doesn’t get us Libertarian free will.

But remember that instead of strict causal determinism, the world offers only adequate determinism, and the random origins of possibilities provides libertarian freedom of thought and action.

It doesn’t make any relevant difference, specifically it doesn’t solve the problem of luck which is the motivation for it in the first place.

Not so, as explained above. As such, there is no such problem of causal luck at all.

The above does nothing to solve the problem of causal luck, since anything that just happens uncaused is out of your control. And if causes are probabilistic you still have the problem that effects can be traced back to prior causes beyond your control.

So which ever way you look at it, to have done otherwise circumstances out of your control would have had to be appropriately different. And if circumstances out of your control had been appropriately different you would have done otherwise.

So if circumstances out of your control had been appropriately different you would be a murderer.

And if circumstances out of a murderer’s control had been appropriately different the murderer would not have committed murder.

Luck swallows everything. The motivation for belief in libertarian free will is to avoid this conclusion. And once you are clear on that it is equally clear that the two stage model fails.

[ Edited: 01 November 2013 12:38 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 01 November 2013 03:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 492 ]
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StephenLawrence - 01 November 2013 12:35 AM

You don’t know that.

Modern science knows that determinism is only “an abstract theoretical ideal”.

One physically possible future we can get to from the actual past.

Is that compatibilism?

It does no good to responsibility either. It makes no relevant difference, which is why it doesn’t get us Libertarian free will.

It does get us LFW, but you don’t or won’t accept, that it could.

It doesn’t make any relevant difference, specifically it doesn’t solve the problem of luck which is the motivation for it in the first place.

The problem of luck is a non-problem, posed as an intractable problem.  cheese

The above does nothing to solve the problem of causal luck, since anything that just happens uncaused is out of your control. And if causes are probabilistic you still have the problem that effects can be traced back to prior causes beyond your control.

So which ever way you look at it, to have done otherwise circumstances out of your control would have had to be appropriately different. And if circumstances out of your control had been appropriately different you would have done otherwise.

So if circumstances out of your control had been appropriately different you would be a murderer.

And if circumstances out of a murderer’s control had been appropriately different the murderer would not have committed murder.

Luck swallows everything. The motivation for belief in libertarian free will is to avoid this conclusion. And once you are clear on that it is equally clear that the two stage model fails.

“That luck swallows everything” is a misnomer for the inherent unpredictability of extremely complex self adaptive dynamic systems and as such, is simplistic, misconceived and misleading.

There are many concepts of cause.

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

In logic, necessary and sufficient or contributory causes:

Necessary causes:

If x is a necessary cause of y, then the presence of y necessarily implies the presence of x. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur.

Sufficient causes:

If x is a sufficient cause of y, then the presence of x necessarily implies the presence of y. However, another cause z may alternatively cause y. Thus the presence of y does not imply the presence of x.

Contributory causes:

A cause may be classified as a “contributory cause,” if the presumed cause precedes the effect, and altering the cause alters the effect. It does not require that all those subjects which possess the contributory cause experience the effect. It does not require that all those subjects which are free of the contributory cause be free of the effect. In other words, a contributory cause may be neither necessary nor sufficient but it must be contributory.

Theories:

1. Counterfactual theories:

Research in the psychology of reasoning shows that people make different sorts of inferences from different sorts of causes.

2. Probabilistic causation:

Interpreting causation as a deterministic relation means that if A causes B, then A must always be followed by B.

However:

This is sometimes interpreted to reflect imperfect knowledge of a deterministic system but other times interpreted to mean that the causal system under study is inherently probabilistic, such as quantum mechanics.

3. Derivation theories:

Rather, a causal relation is not a relation between values of variables, but a function of one variable (the cause) on to another (the effect).

4. Manipulation theories:

Some theorists have equated causality with manipulability. Under these theories, x causes y only in the case that one can change x in order to change y.

Criticisms of circularity:

First, theorists complain that these accounts are circular. Attempting to reduce causal claims to manipulation requires that manipulation is more basic than causal interaction.

and anthropocentrism:

If causality is identified with our manipulation, then this intuition is lost. In this sense, it makes humans overly central to interactions in the world.

5. Process theories:

These theorists claim that the important concept for understanding causality is not causal relationships or causal interactions, but rather identifying causal processes. The former notions can then be defined in terms of causal processes.

6. Systematic causation:

Systemic causation, because it is less obvious, is more important to understand. A systemic cause may be one of a number of multiple causes. It may require some special conditions. It may be indirect, working through a network of more direct causes. It may be probabilistic, occurring with a significantly high probability. It may require a feedback mechanism. In general, causation in ecosystems, biological systems, economic systems, and social systems tends not to be direct, but is no less causal. And because it is not direct causation, it requires all the greater attention if it is to be understood and its negative effects controlled. Above all, it requires a name: systemic causation.

Causal processes and systemic causation are relevant in complex dynamic self adaptive biological systems, such as the human mind/brain (together with the importance of top down causation).

So, what concept of causality does “causal luck” refer to and why should it be that fundamental at all, in reality?

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

Causal Moral Luck:

Thomas Nagel has been criticized [who?] for including causal moral luck as a separate category, since it appears largely redundant. It does not cover any cases that are not already included in constitutive and circumstantial luck, and seems to exist only for the purpose of bringing up the problem of free will.

Alternatives:

Some philosophers, such as Susan Wolf, have tried to come up with “happy mediums” that strike a balance between rejecting moral luck outright and accepting it wholesale. Wolf introduced the notions of rationalist and irrationalist positions as part of such a reconciliation.

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Posted: 01 November 2013 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 493 ]
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volcanoman - 31 October 2013 08:48 PM

Seems to me that we will never know if we have a free will or not.  It certainly seems to me that we may not have a free will which was suggested by Darwin some time ago.  But how would we ever know. 

I am wondering what you mean with ‘knowing’. It seems that you think that the question of ‘having a free will or not’ is not a scientific question. If that is what you mean, I agree. But if you are also saying that because it is not a scientific question, we can say nothing about it, I do not agree. As Stephen pointed out there is more than one meaning people have when they use the concept of free will (there are many more than the two Stephen mentions of course). And it is certainly possible to have and understanding of free will that is useful in daily life, and does not contradict any scientific insight. That is the second one mentioned by Stephen.

volcanoman - 31 October 2013 08:48 PM

So comments about police and the law, etc. see superfluous.

No it is not. If you define ‘coerced’ as acting against your own wishes and beliefs, and ‘free’ as acting according to your own wishes and beliefs, then we have a meaningful concept of free will that very well matters in areas where police and the law are involved.

volcanoman - 31 October 2013 08:48 PM

Just my opinion.

Your opinion is appreciated.

But discussed.  wink

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Posted: 01 November 2013 09:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 494 ]
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kkwan - 01 November 2013 03:42 AM
StephenLawrence - 01 November 2013 12:35 AM

You don’t know that.

Modern science knows that determinism is only “an abstract theoretical ideal”.

Nope, there are deterministic and indeterministic interpretations of QM.

One physically possible future we can get to from the actual past.

Is that compatibilism?

Yeah, that’s what compatibilists say free will is compatible with, of course.

It does get us LFW, but you don’t or won’t accept, that it could.

Since it doesn’t overcome the problem it’s supposed to, the problem of luck, it doesn’t.

 

“That luck swallows everything” is a misnomer for the inherent unpredictability of extremely complex self adaptive dynamic systems and as such, is simplistic, misconceived and misleading.

Tosh. I just explained what luck swallows everything means. If circumstances beyond your control had been different you would be a murderer etc etc. Nothing to do with unpredictability or chance or anything else you mix the concept up with. It’s to do with circumstances beyond your control. Luck in that sense.

So, what concept of causality does “causal luck” refer to and why should it be that fundamental at all, in reality?

Any.

Some philosophers, such as Susan Wolf, have tried to come up with “happy mediums” that strike a balance between rejecting moral luck outright and accepting it wholesale.

And always fail. There can be no happy medium. If something out of your control had to be different for you to have done otherwise that’s 100% luck. No happy medium and obviously so. There are no degrees of this luck. It just stays precisely as it is.

That’s what people won’t accept tragically.

[ Edited: 01 November 2013 10:04 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 01 November 2013 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 495 ]
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Here is where the expression “Luck Swallows Everything” comes from Kkwan, I hope you’ll read it.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/107995.article

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