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Free to choose
 Posted: 28 September 2007 11:04 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 136 ]
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morgantj - 28 September 2007 10:09 AM
StephenLawrence - 28 September 2007 09:56 AM

Morgan,

morgantj - 28 September 2007 09:23 AM

Lets say I select “a” over “b”. It is because I have determined “a” to meet my needs more then “b” in some way. How I made that determination is based off of a series of values I applied to the options. These values are conditions that determine what we “choose.”

Precisely, this is how it feels to most people, we value different pairs of shoes, one pair we give a higher value to than another and pick that pair.

What you have done is described the experience rather well, I would say you have described what it is like, to choose freely.

Stephen

I’m afraid not. I illustrated how what we are calling “choice” was “determined” by the influence of my conditioning. Therefore, I must ask, how are you defining “freely?”

You indicated that we place values on each option and select the one with the highest value. The result of the choice depends on the value you place on each option. This just seems to me to be what being free to choose is, if we can do this we are free to choose.

The word freely describes what doing this feels like sometimes, it describes the feeling I can pick any pair I like.

Stephen

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 Posted: 28 September 2007 01:28 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 137 ]
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StephenLawrence - 28 September 2007 11:04 AM

You indicated that we place values on each option and select the one with the highest value. The result of the choice depends on the value you place on each option. This just seems to me to be what being free to choose is, if we can do this we are free to choose.

The word freely describes what doing this feels like sometimes, it describes the feeling I can pick any pair I like.

Stephen

Ah! You are defining “freely” as a feeling. Yes, you will end up picking the pair you “like.” That is my point. The conditions that have provoked you to “like” one pair over another is what makes your choice a “determined choice” and not a “free choice.” Conditions and influences have determined your choice, not freedom.

Free: A magic word with some strings attached. Before signing at the dotted line of the Freedom contract… read the “conditions” at the bottom of the page that are in fine print.

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 Posted: 29 September 2007 01:57 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 138 ]
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morgantj - 28 September 2007 01:28 PM

Ah! You are defining “freely” as a feeling. Yes, you will end up picking the pair you “like.” That is my point. The conditions that have provoked you to “like” one pair over another is what makes your choice a “determined choice” and not a “free choice.” Conditions and influences have determined your choice, not freedom.

Free: A magic word with some strings attached. Before signing at the dotted line of the Freedom contract… read the “conditions” at the bottom of the page that are in fine print.

Yes, (I think?) The significance of freely choosing in this case, is although I don’t know what shoes I’ll end up with, if I choose, it will be a pair I like.

The weather might be sunny or rainy but it will make no difference which one of these I would like, Imagine if the weather depended upon what I wished it to be.

My point is being able to do what I wish is a very important advantage, type of freedom?

But the ability has absolutely nothing to do with being able to do other than I do.

Although I don’t know if determinism is true, it doesn’t matter as far as choice is concerned because the choice making we experience is a deterministic process (we wouldn’t even notice we were choosing if it wasn’t) and what ever freedom we experience when choosing, is obviously, therefore compatible with determinism.

To give an example of not choosing freely, my Dad lent me the money to buy a second hand car years ago. I thought I could pick any car I liked but he said it must be Japanese and it must have an alarm, so I felt restricted but found one in the price range 150 miles away. I told him I was off to see it but he said no it must be close by so you are not under pressure to buy it. Then I felt very restricted indeed as I couldn’t find any cars that met these conditions.

So we experience different circumstances in which we feel more or less free but all perfectly compatible with determinism.

I cant imagine what freedom could come from being able to pick a pair of shoes I didn’t like or being able to like a pair other than the ones I like.

It’s one of the questions I never get an answer to from the incompatibilists.

Stephen

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 Posted: 30 September 2007 06:55 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 139 ]
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Morgan,

So if choosing is as you and I describe, then what is it that leads you to conclude, that we are not free to choose?

Isn’t ‘choose’ simply a verb describing what we experience doing?

Or is the word free the problem, would we agree if I said, we are able to choose?

When I say to someone you are free to choose, I mean you can select which ever option you prefer. I think we agree we can do that sometimes, so you must have a different definition of free to choose in mind. What is it?

Stephen

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 Posted: 30 September 2007 05:59 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 140 ]
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StephenLawrence - 30 September 2007 06:55 AM

Morgan,When I say to someone you are free to choose, I mean you can select which ever option you prefer.

Stephen

Once again, which I ever I prefer, correct…? Have not my preferences been conditioned into me based off of the experiences with my environment? Am “I” not the product of an accumulation of experiences with my environment. Therefore, does not my environment determine the actions I make?

If my shoes hadn’t of fallen apart, I may not have been inclined to go buy a new pair. For every action, there is a reaction. You can not beat it. If you attempt not to react because you are trying to prove you have “free choice,” that too was a determined response as a result of your participation with your environment.

These actions we call “choices” are nothing other then attempt to convince ourselves we have control. Man has an obsession with control.

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 Posted: 30 September 2007 09:35 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 141 ]
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StephenLawrence - 28 September 2007 02:58 AM

Jackson,

Jackson - 27 September 2007 10:34 PM
StephenLawrence - 23 December 2006 07:32 PM

Do people here believe we are free to choose?

Stephen

Yes.

I agree.

Do you think being free to choose is compatible with determinism?

Stephen

Sorry I got roped into another thread in this forum where curiously someone thinks that natural selections you don’t have free will or something.

Anyway, I thought about this exact topic a lot when I was in college 30 years ago. I now think that being free to choose is compatible with determinism.

However, I would probably rather than from a practical perspective we are free to choose. I think that the Turing Test for artificial intelligence is a good analogy.  If a computer could completely fool you into thinking that you were talking to a person,  then at some point Turing suggests the program which is running demonstrates artificial intelligence (i.e. intelligence).  To use the popular expression if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck we can treat it like a duck.

I think the science of chaos figures into this—the idea that small differences in the initial condition make a big difference in the eventual results.  Butterfly effect on the weather, stuff like that.  So   my decisions might in some sense be deterministic but depend on some many factors and nuances that it might as well be free will.

OK these are my thoughts.

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 Posted: 01 October 2007 12:29 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 142 ]
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Jackson - 30 September 2007 09:35 PM

I think that the Turing Test for artificial intelligence is a good analogy.  If a computer could completely fool you into thinking that you were talking to a person,  then at some point Turing suggests the program which is running demonstrates artificial intelligence (i.e. intelligence).  To use the popular expression if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck we can treat it like a duck.
OK these are my thoughts.

I’ve programed a chat bot before, Feel free to have a conversation with her. Anyways, I don’t feel this is a good analogy. My bot is hard coded and programmed to “appear” to learn from her conversations, however she does not. Just because people actually fall for my programming, does not demonstrate my bots intelligence, if anything it demonstrates the lack of intelligence of the people talking to it.
That fact that one can be fooled into believing something, does not demonstrate the true identity of what fooled you, it demonstrates your ignorance to the truth of the matter.

Same goes for free will, just because you feel like you have free will, does not prove that you do. Sure, you can act all day like you have free will, but it doesn’t change that fact that you don’t.

Your chaos theory comment however does fit right into supporting my argument, and almost suggest that you understand the fact that your actions are determined. But your comment “my decisions might in some sense be deterministic but depend on so many factors and nuances that it might as well be free will.” is corrupted if you are trying to suggest the possibility of free will. It actually supports the latter. The fact that your decisions depend on so many “factors and nuances” is part of what makes them determined.

[ Edited: 01 October 2007 12:31 AM by morgantj ]
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 Posted: 01 October 2007 03:38 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 143 ]
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Morgan,

author=“morgantj” date=“1191214770

Once again, which I ever I prefer, correct…?

Correct.

Have not my preferences been conditioned into me based off of the experiences with my environment?

I think so, I don’t know for sure, what I do know is ultimately they are a given as far as we are concerned, we can just observe ourselves to see that.

Am “I” not the product of an accumulation of experiences with my environment.

I’m happy to agree for the sake of the debate and again I think you are probably right.

Therefore, does not my environment determine the actions I make?

If my shoes hadn’t of fallen apart, I may not have been inclined to go buy a new pair. For every action, there is a reaction. You can not beat it. If you attempt not to react because you are trying to prove you have “free choice,” that too was a determined response as a result of your participation with your environment.

Absolutely fine I agree but I don’t claim we have free choice. I vehemently attack belief in free choice because I think it is a particularly nasty myth.

These actions we call “choices” are nothing other then attempt to convince ourselves we have control. Man has an obsession with control.

Here is where I disagree, we do appear to make choices, we do experience considering options and picking the one we prefer. This process is a deterministic process but we have the control it gives us.

I’m driving my car and I may turn left or I may turn right. If I couldn’t pick the one I prefer I’d have no control but I can.

what I believe in is not free choice or free will but common all garden choice, the type we experience.

The word choice has been hijacked and is now used synonomously with free choice.

Choice is about selecting the option you prefer, it’s easy to see that our preference is a given as far as we
are concerned but the dictionary doesn’t concern itself with that.

I believe choice is what we experience and what the dictionary says it is, without the metaphysics of free choice attached.

Do you see what I mean?

What is the control that we don’t have? The only control I’m claiming to have in this case, is the control that being able to select the option I prefer gives me.

Stephen

[ Edited: 01 October 2007 04:14 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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 Posted: 01 October 2007 04:10 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 144 ]
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Hi Jackson,

Jackson - 30 September 2007 09:35 PM

Anyway, I thought about this exact topic a lot when I was in college 30 years ago. I now think that being free to choose is compatible with determinism.

Ok so we can choose without free will?

I think the science of chaos figures into this—the idea that small differences in the initial condition make a big difference in the eventual results.  Butterfly effect on the weather, stuff like that.  So   my decisions might in some sense be deterministic but depend on some many factors and nuances that it might as well be free will.

This is a common argument, I never understand it.

I think free will is the thing which people believe in, which makes them think we can take ultimate credit or ultimate blame for our actions, I don’t see how chaos theory can make any difference.

Stephen

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 Posted: 01 October 2007 09:40 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 145 ]
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The chaos theory, popularly referred to as the butterfly effect, fits into this by supporting the argument that we do not have free will, it does so by illustrating that our actions are sensitive or dependent upon initial conditions and thus define their future dynamics. Because of an exponential growth of perturbations in the initial conditions, these actions can seem random while in fact they are nothing other then deterministic in the sense that their future dynamics are well defined by their initial conditions. In other words, small variations of the initial condition of a nonlinear dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system.

An example of the butterfly effect is as follows, The phrase itself refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or prevent a tornado from appearing). The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.

As a matter of fact, “determinism” if it is not exactly the same, it strongly resembles the same idea as the chaos theory.

[ Edited: 01 October 2007 09:42 AM by morgantj ]
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 Posted: 01 October 2007 10:03 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 146 ]
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StephenLawrence - 01 October 2007 03:38 AM

Absolutely fine I agree but I don’t claim we have free choice. I vehemently attack belief in free choice because I think it is a particularly nasty myth.

Ah ok, I thought you were pro “free choice” when actually you are just pro “choice” accepting that it is determined. Yes, “free” was the problem I was having with the argument.

StephenLawrence - 01 October 2007 03:38 AM

Here is where I disagree, we do appear to make choices, we do experience considering options and picking the one we prefer. This process is a deterministic process but we have the control it gives us.

Ok, I think I agree with you on this, that this action may be properly defined as simply “choice” without the “free” attached to it.  I’m not sure I agree that it gives us control though.

StephenLawrence - 01 October 2007 03:38 AM

The word choice has been hijacked and is now used synonomously with free choice.
Stephen

Excatly, I agree with you 100%. If this is not understood correctly in discourses, It can present some major misunderstandings.

StephenLawrence - 01 October 2007 03:38 AM

What is the control that we don’t have? The only control I’m claiming to have in this case, is the control that being able to select the option I prefer gives me.Stephen

I have a hard time believing that we really have control of choosing knowing that every choice is predetermined by previous conditions.

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 Posted: 02 October 2007 04:48 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 147 ]
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Morgan,

morgantj - 01 October 2007 10:03 AM

Ok, I think I agree with you on this, that this action may be properly defined as simply “choice” without the “free” attached to it.  I’m not sure I agree that it gives us control though.

What we can do is think about what we might do, play the ideas in our minds, test them out on ourselves, see how we feel about them before committing to action. I put it this way having watched the video on the happiness thread.  This gives us some control, some power over our futures.

I’ll give a bit of a silly example but hopefully useful nonetheless.

Imagine rocks rolling down a hill, bashing into trees and each other as they go. Now imagine some become conscious, are aware of the different paths they can follow and can select the paths that don’t include bashing into each other, or into trees if they want to.

Now they couldn’t do other than take evasive action in an incompatibilist sense but they can take evasive action and this gives them control.

Imagine if they became conscious, were aware of the dangers, aware of the different paths they may take but were impotent and could do nothing about it but wait to see which one happened, regardless of how they felt about the different options. Surely these rocks would lose control and be in a miserable situation, wouldn’t they?

I’ve described what I think control compatible with determinism is like, what is incompatibilist control like? I have no idea.

StephenLawrence - 01 October 2007 03:38 AM

The word choice has been hijacked and is now used synonomously with free choice.
Stephen

morgantj - 01 October 2007 10:03 AM

Excatly, I agree with you 100%. If this is not understood correctly in discourses, It can present some major misunderstandings.

Well Morgan I was in a minority of one, now there are two of us! :grin:

This is what the thread is about, the writer of the economist article believes “choose” means something other than it actually does, assuming the word merely describes what we experience doing. People view free will as a deep difficult problem and I just say ‘ang on a minute, aren’t we simply mistaken about what choose means?

morgantj - 01 October 2007 10:03 AM

I have a hard time believing that we really have control of choosing knowing that every choice is predetermined by previous conditions.

I wouldn’t say we have control of choosing, I would say being able to choose gives us control. The control it gives us varies, depending on the circumstances.

Stephen

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 Posted: 03 October 2007 11:45 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 148 ]
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morgantj - 01 October 2007 12:29 AM
Jackson - 30 September 2007 09:35 PM

I think that the Turing Test for artificial intelligence is a good analogy.  If a computer could completely fool you into thinking that you were talking to a person,  then at some point Turing suggests the program which is running demonstrates artificial intelligence (i.e. intelligence).  To use the popular expression if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck we can treat it like a duck.
OK these are my thoughts.

I’ve programed a chat bot before, Feel free to have a conversation with her. Anyways, I don’t feel this is a good analogy. My bot is hard coded and programmed to “appear” to learn from her conversations, however she does not. Just because people actually fall for my programming, does not demonstrate my bots intelligence, if anything it demonstrates the lack of intelligence of the people talking to it.
That fact that one can be fooled into believing something, does not demonstrate the true identity of what fooled you, it demonstrates your ignorance to the truth of the matter.

Same goes for free will, just because you feel like you have free will, does not prove that you do. Sure, you can act all day like you have free will, but it doesn’t change that fact that you don’t.

Your chaos theory comment however does fit right into supporting my argument, and almost suggest that you understand the fact that your actions are determined. But your comment “my decisions might in some sense be deterministic but depend on so many factors and nuances that it might as well be free will.” is corrupted if you are trying to suggest the possibility of free will. It actually supports the latter. The fact that your decisions depend on so many “factors and nuances” is part of what makes them determined.

Again I think that the Turing test is a good analogy but thanks for your insight.  My other point about chaos is that a decision can depend on a multitude of factors—some of which are of our own making as we reflect on our choices.

The question was did people here believe they were free to choose.  Sort of a vague question but my answer is yes.

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 Posted: 04 October 2007 09:16 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 149 ]
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Jackson - 03 October 2007 11:45 PM

Again I think that the Turing test is a good analogy but thanks for your insight.

You stating this again is no more convincing then before, but ok, and you’re welcome.

Jackson - 03 October 2007 11:45 PM

My other point about chaos is that a decision can depend on a multitude of factors—some of which are of our own making as we reflect on our choices. The question was did people here believe they were free to choose.  Sort of a vague question but my answer is yes.

I agree that “a decision can depend on a multitude of factors—some of which are of our own making” so if you believe this and understand all the conditions that compelled you to a decision then how can your believe you are still free to choose?

Jackson - 03 October 2007 11:45 PM

Sort of a vague question but my answer is yes.

It’s a rather popular question that philosophers have debated over for a very long time.

You say “yes, we are free to choose.” How did come to this conclusion? What compelled you to believe this. You see, that in which has compelled you to this conclusion is the reason it is not true. You have been compelled by your influences and conditioning into a belief in which even goes against the reality of how you came to the conclusion. You did not come to this belief by ” freedom of choice,” you were determined to it by “the influence of conditions.”

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 Posted: 04 October 2007 06:41 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 150 ]
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morgantj - 04 October 2007 09:16 AM
Jackson - 03 October 2007 11:45 PM

Again I think that the Turing test is a good analogy but thanks for your insight.

You stating this again is no more convincing then before, but ok, and you’re welcome.

I was just choosing to be nice.  Don’t push it.

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