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8 Great Philosophical Questions That We’ll Never Solve
Posted: 30 October 2012 12:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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George - 29 October 2012 01:05 PM

It could be the unsolvable question #9: Why don’t philosophers let go of free will?  grin

Because they think the term is useful and because they think there are negative consequences of telling people they don’t have free will. 

Stephen

[ Edited: 30 October 2012 12:50 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 30 October 2012 12:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Lois,

As you probably see, free will discussions have a long tradition here. The problem that all those who deny free will, deny the absurd notion of libertarian free will: that free will means that it has no physical causes. Nobody in his right mind defends this position here.

The position that Doug, TimB, I, and several others defend here is that of compatibilist free will. Free will means that your actions are determined by your wishes and beliefs. Libet’s experiments say nothing about this.

Your formulation ‘step outside their brains’ just denies libertarian free will, nothing more. As you see the only way you can formulate this, is presupposing Cartesian dualism. Without Cartesian dualism, your critique, and Libet’s experiments, have no meaning at all. Therefore also Occam’s posting is just beating the dead horse of libertarian free will.

Search for ‘Libet’ in the forum, you probably find some more interesting postings. And we have already two threads with more than hundred pages on free will.

Enjoy.

[ Edited: 30 October 2012 02:01 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 30 October 2012 01:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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GdB - 30 October 2012 12:49 AM

Lois,

As you probably see, free will discussions have a long tradition here. The problem that all those who deny free will, deny the absurd notion of libertarian free will: that free will means that it has no physical causes. Nobody in his right mind defends this position here.

The notion is that:

1) Conscious control

+

2) The ability to do otherwise in the actual situation

3) Gets us ultimate responsibility for the choice.

Ultimate responsibility is that the choice is ‘totally up to us’ in a way the denies that “luck swallows everything” (Galen Strawson)

Luck swallows everything means we couldn’t do otherwise without something out of our control having been different. So we are merely lucky or unlucky how that something turned out.

Belief in this version of free will leads people to think that what happens to us is deserved in a way that it can’t possible be if it is the luck of the draw.

There is not a problem with denying this “absurd notion”, it’s important that we do.

We can also affirm we have compatibilist free will. It’s unfortunate that we have the same term for the different versions but as we are stuck with that it only adds even more confusion to answer “do we have free will” with a yes or no.

It can’t be a yes or no sought of question because free will is used to mean different things.

Stephen

[ Edited: 30 October 2012 01:06 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 30 October 2012 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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It doesn’t matter how much you spin it, GdB. What Libet’s experiment (and others like his; his was not the only one) show, is that we make the decision before we become aware of it. This includes the decision of believing or wishing something, even the decision of participatin in the experiment of pressing the buttons, as Tim questioned earlier on. This is what it means not to have free wil: we are conscious robots, with every step and action being decided before we become aware of that decision, and where consciousness plays merely a role of a spectator.

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Posted: 30 October 2012 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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George - 30 October 2012 04:30 AM

It doesn’t matter how much you spin it, GdB. What Libet’s experiment (and others like his; his was not the only one) show, is that we make the decision before we become aware of it. This includes the decision of believing or wishing something, even the decision of participatin in the experiment of pressing the buttons, as Tim questioned earlier on. This is what it means not to have free wil: we are conscious robots, with every step and action being decided before we become aware of that decision, and where consciousness plays merely a role of a spectator.

This issue of whether consciousness plays any role at all is interesting. Say I see glass in the road and am consciously aware of it and steer my bike around it, my feeling is if I had not become consciously aware of the glass I would have ridden straight over the glass.

I suppose this is because I don’t find myself taking such action without being conscious of why I did it.

Stephen

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Posted: 30 October 2012 05:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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StephenLawrence - 30 October 2012 05:28 AM

Say I see glass in the road and am consciously aware of it and steer my bike around it, my feeling is if I had not become consciously aware of the glass I would have ridden straight over the glass.

Yeah, but not necessarily because you were not aware of it.

We make so-called conscious decisions all the time, only later to realize that they were the wrong decisions. Consciousness kicks in when we do a lot of thinking. That’s all. It also seems that the process of rational thinking (what Kahneman calls “System 2”), the one that leads to our awareness of doing the thinking, happens in a different part of the brain when compared with the the quick and inaccurate “System 1,” where decisions take place without us realizing it—say, jumping back to the sidewalk when we hear a car horn.

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Posted: 30 October 2012 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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[quoteThis issue of whether consciousness plays any role at all is interesting. Say I see glass in the road and am consciously aware of it and steer my bike around it, my feeling is if I had not become consciously aware of the glass I would have ridden straight over the glass.

I suppose this is because I don’t find myself taking such action without being conscious of why I did it
]


this is a bit of a no-brainer as your mind only processes the information taken in by the senses. If you were able to detect the glass before actually seeing it that would be precognition. Something we only wish we had. Of course you would have ridden over the glass. But after hearing it crunch under your tire your brain would have already registered your response to pull over and check for leaks before you actually do.

 

Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 30 October 2012 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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George - 30 October 2012 04:30 AM

It doesn’t matter how much you spin it, GdB. What Libet’s experiment (and others like his; his was not the only one) show, is that we make the decision before we become aware of it. This includes the decision of believing or wishing something, even the decision of participatin in the experiment of pressing the buttons, as Tim questioned earlier on. This is what it means not to have free wil: we are conscious robots, with every step and action being decided before we become aware of that decision, and where consciousness plays merely a role of a spectator.

Does that mean that we cannot act according to our wishes and believes? You keep believing that free will may only be called free will when the wishes and believes are not caused themselves. But that is plain nonsense, and Libet’s experiment shows that, but nothing more.

I would extend your standpoint a little: we are conscious, acting, and therefore responsible robots. And that is all we mean, when we say we are free.

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Posted: 30 October 2012 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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And I also suspect that people with higher intelligence are “more conscious.” Except for those who suffer from autism, where, say, the ability to calculate (or most of it at least) probably happens in their System 1. To Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, counting the matches was probably as obvious (and therefore effortless) as it is for me looking at the sun and seeing it as yellow.

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Posted: 30 October 2012 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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GdB - 30 October 2012 05:56 AM

Does that mean that we cannot act according to our wishes and believes?

Of course we can. And we do. We act according not only to our wishes and believes, but also according to our goals, plans, desires, tastes, etc. That’s what the System 2 does and that’s why it takes a bit longer to come with the equation when compared with the System 1. But none of this has anything to do with free will.

[ Edited: 30 October 2012 06:24 AM by George ]
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Posted: 30 October 2012 06:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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Re. being ‘conscious robots’, couldn’t agree more! That’s exactly what we are. Conscious robots. But even robots can act in accord with their beliefs and desires.

That said, we have plenty of threads on free will already where we have hashed this out ... So that plus the fact that the hurricane has knocked out my ISP and I am on a cellular data plan now means that I am not going to take this any further here ...

smile

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Posted: 30 October 2012 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 30 October 2012 05:51 AM

this is a bit of a no-brainer as your mind only processes the information taken in by the senses. If you were able to detect the glass before actually seeing it that would be precognition. Something we only wish we had. Of course you would have ridden over the glass.


Cap’t Jack

Of course I would have ridden over the glass if I hadn’t detected it. But what I’m saying is I detected it and became conscious of it.

The difficulty is what also becoming conscious of it does, if anything.

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Posted: 30 October 2012 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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Oh come on, Doug. Unless you start watching YouTube on your phone/tablet, it costs pennies.  wink

How is NYC? Is it as bad as they say on news? Hope you and your family are okay. We got only about 100km/h winds here and some rain, but it was pretty wild; I think one person died in Toronto.

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Posted: 30 October 2012 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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George - 30 October 2012 06:09 AM
GdB - 30 October 2012 05:56 AM

Does that mean that we cannot act according to our wishes and believes?

Of course we can. And we do. We act accordingly not only to our wishes and believes, but also accordingly to our goals, plans, desires, tastes, etc. That’s what the System 2 does and that’s why it takes a bit longer to come with the equation when compared with the System 1. But none of this has anything to do with free will.

What the compatibilists say is there is a distinction to be made between this and when we choose not based on these things. “Sophie’s choice"was a good example. Sophie didn’t want those outcomes for her children but had the choice forced upon her.

The term for that is also free will. It’s in use, were stuck with it aren’t we?

Stephen

[ Edited: 30 October 2012 06:27 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 30 October 2012 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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George - 30 October 2012 06:09 AM
GdB - 30 October 2012 05:56 AM

Does that mean that we cannot act according to our wishes and believes?

Of course we can. And we do. We act accordingly not only to our wishes and believes, but also accordingly to our goals, plans, desires, tastes, etc. That’s what the System 2 does and that’s why it takes a bit longer to come with the equation when compared with the System 1. But none of this has anything to do with free will.

A reason to call it ‘free will’ is that we can contrast it with actions under coercion. There are free acts, because they fit to our daily wishes and believes; and there are coerced actions in which we are forced to do things we normally would never do, e.g. under threat give our money to a robber, or act based on intentionally false information.

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