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Free to choose
Posted: 28 December 2006 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]

I thought that on your system if you picked it up then you had no other choice but to pick it up, and mutatis mutandis for if you left it on the ground. How exactly are you going to make sense of this “freedom of choice” without freedom of the will?

You can’t have it both ways. Seems to me you are just confused here.

No I don’t want it both ways and I am not confused. I am questioning the way you and we in general are using the word choice.

If I see a man drop a 50 note and consider whether to give it back to him or not and decide to pick it up and put it in my pocket then I made a choice.

The fact I made a choice does not mean that I could have given the money to him and there is no reason to think it does.

It has nothing to do with free will.

If I am in the pub and somebody offers me a choice of which darts to use, I will quite likely feel the weight of both sets, give each a couple of throws and choose the ones I like the best.

Of course I couldn’t choose the ones I didn’t like the best, and I couldn’t like any other set than the set I like the best.

This is what choice or choosing is like for all of us in reality and it has nothing to do with free will or having the ability to do otherwise.

So I have freedom of choice in this sence.

What other sense is there that I can have freedom of choice in and doesn’t it involve using the word choice to mean could do otherwise, when in reality that is not what choice really means? By really means I mean what we experience making choices to be like.

Stephen

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Posted: 28 December 2006 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I’m getting in on this late, but it seems you are saying that your choice is determined by your information and motivations so you are not free to make any other choice.  As such, free will is not involved.

Using your dart example, let’s add the facts that your opponent is a much weaker player than you, and you don’t want to humiliate him by beating him too badly.  To give yourself a handicap, you choose the set of darts that you normally wouldn’t choose.

You made a different choice, but you based it on a different motivation.  I assume you would say that this new choice was still forced because of the additional condition.

Occam

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Posted: 28 December 2006 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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1. because it makes people believe that if you had a choice you had free will.

2. Because it makes people think that if we dont have free will we can’t make choices.

But when people talk about free will, with the implications that you have the ability to make choices and so bear responsibility for what you choose, they are usually talking about choices with ethical or moral consequences. In your example of keeping or not keeping money someone else lost, the choice does have an ethical dimension. Of course you must have alternatives available (what you call freedom to choose) before you can actually make a choice, but if you actually decide to keep or not keep the money, you made a choice among alternatives withing an ethical context, which seems to me to be the definition of exercising free will. So in that sense, I guess you have to have free will to actually make a choice.

Now we can argue endlessly about how free you choice is (predestination, behavioral predispositions due to neurology, circumstantial factors that constrain you freedom such as poverty, etc), but all I mean by free will is that when you have alternatives and you make an intentional choice among them you have exercised free will. And of course not all choices have ethical implications (brussel sprouts for dinner?). But even at the level of the language, “to choose” as a verb carries the implication of deliberation and intention, so to say you made a choice without any volition seems meaningless.

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Posted: 28 December 2006 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”]I’m getting in on this late, but it seems you are saying that your choice is determined by your information and motivations so you are not free to make any other choice.  As such, free will is not involved.

Using your dart example, let’s add the facts that your opponent is a much weaker player than you, and you don’t want to humiliate him by beating him too badly.  To give yourself a handicap, you choose the set of darts that you normally wouldn’t choose.

You made a different choice, but you based it on a different motivation.  I assume you would say that this new choice was still forced because of the additional condition.

Occam

Yes

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Posted: 28 December 2006 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]The fact I made a choice does not mean that I could have given the money to him and there is no reason to think it does.

So basically you are claiming that you had a “choice” of one option: the option that you ended up choosing.

This isn’t what we mean when we say so-and-so had freedom of choice. It frankly seems a misuse of the term.

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Posted: 28 December 2006 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]

1. because it makes people believe that if you had a choice you had free will.

2. Because it makes people think that if we dont have free will we can’t make choices.

But when people talk about free will, with the implications that you have the ability to make choices and so bear responsibility for what you choose, they are usually talking about choices with ethical or moral consequences. In your example of keeping or not keeping money someone else lost, the choice does have an ethical dimension. Of course you must have alternatives available (what you call freedom to choose) before you can actually make a choice, but if you actually decide to keep or not keep the money, you made a choice among alternatives withing an ethical context, which seems to me to be the definition of exercising free will. So in that sense, I guess you have to have free will to actually make a choice.

Now we can argue endlessly about how free you choice is (predestination, behavioral predispositions due to neurology, circumstantial factors that constrain you freedom such as poverty, etc), but all I mean by free will is that when you have alternatives and you make an intentional choice among them you have exercised free will. And of course not all choices have ethical implications (brussel sprouts for dinner?). But even at the level of the language, “to choose” as a verb carries the implication of deliberation and intention, so to say you made a choice without any volition seems meaningless.

Ok if that is what free will means to you, then I believe in it too. The only part I’m not sure I agree with is bear responibility for your actions.

If that means we have to live with the consequences of our actions, then again, I agree.

If we go back to the article ;

The man who had the brain tumour had free will as you define it.

The man with the brain tumour was free to choose or had freedom of choice as I have defined it.

The writer like most people believed that the man did not have free will and was not free to choose.

Obviously free will and free to choose mean something different to the writer and I think most people.

When we use free will to mean that something different, it is that something different that I don’t believe exists.

When we use the word choice to mean something different, then it is that something different that I don’t believe exists.

Do you believe the man in the article had free will and was free to choose?

Stephen

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Posted: 28 December 2006 06:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“StephenLawrence”]The fact I made a choice does not mean that I could have given the money to him and there is no reason to think it does.

So basically you are claiming that you had a “choice” of one option: the option that you ended up choosing.

This isn’t what we mean when we say so-and-so had freedom of choice. It frankly seems a misuse of the term.

Am I?

The kind of choice I am talking about is real choice. By that I mean the kind of choice making we experience and understand.

I came across a concept of choice yesterday.

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

“Rational choice theory assumes human behaviour is guided by instrumental reason. Accordingly, individuals always choose what they believe to be the best means to achieve their given ends. Thus, they are normally regarded as maximizing utility, the “currency” for everything they cherish (for example: money, a long life, moral standards). As the modern formulation of much older descriptions of rational behaviour, Rational choice theory belongs to the foundational theory of economics. Over the last decades it has also become increasingly prevalent in other social sciences.”

Now I am not saying that choice works as above but when we choose we must pick amongst options and we must pick the option we prefer. That is what choices are like. If we don’t do this then it isn’t a choice.


The term freedom of choice uses the word choice to mean something else, other than that which real choices are like.

That is the reason I started this thread, choice is actually being used to mean something other than what we experience choice to be.

I think the reason we do this stems from the religious belief in free choice.

I think the word choice is being used to mean free choice or free will.

I would say when we do this we are misusing the word choice and the fact we do this is causing a great deal of confusion.

The writer of the article thinks choice disappears along with free will. I think that is because in his mind choice=free will=free choice

We can make choices without having the power to pick any other option than the one we pick.

In fact a kind of choice making where we didn’t pick the option we prefer or that had a higher value to us than the other options, would be hard to imagine. 

And yet it seems that you do believe in another kind of choice making.

You think my using the word choice to mean the kind of choices we experience making is a misuse of the term.

What is the proper use of the term?

Stephen

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Posted: 28 December 2006 08:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“StephenLawrence”]The fact I made a choice does not mean that I could have given the money to him and there is no reason to think it does.

So basically you are claiming that you had a “choice” of one option: the option that you ended up choosing.

 

Yes.

I’ll quote from the same source as I used on moral responsibility.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbow_Room#Determinism_does_not_rule_out_moral_responsibility

The type of free will that Dennett thinks we have is finally stated clearly in the last chapter of the book: the power to be active agents, biological devices that respond to our environment with rational, desirable courses of action. Dennett has slowly, through the course of the book, stripped the idea of behavioral choice from his idea of free will. How can we have free will if we do not have indeterministic choice? Dennett emphasizes control over libertarian choice. If our hypothetically mechanical brains are in control of our behavior and our brains produce good behaviors for us, then do we really need such choice? Is an illusion of behavioral choices just as good as actual choices? Is our sensation of having the freedom to execute more than one behavior at a given time really just an illusion? Dennett argues that choice exists in a general sense: that because we base our decisions on context, we limit our choices as the situation becomes more specific. In the most specific circumstance (actual events), he suggests there is only one choice left to us.[citation needed]

I believe in this kind of free will and this kind of choice making.

It appears to be the case that you believe in another type of free will and another type of choice making. It looks like the Christian free choice or contra causal free will but you claim it isn’t.

I’m sure you sincerely believe it is different but why? and what is the difference?


Stephen

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Posted: 29 December 2006 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Stephen, I’m not going to repeat myself for the millionth time here. I think I’ve been patient enough.

For the last time, I can make sense of choice and options by discussing modalities (possible actions that were not taken, possible decisions that were not made). You have rejected that sort of talk. So on your theory the choice you take is a choice of one. It is a necessary choice. But a necessary choice isn’t a “free choice” in any sense.

If you can’t understand the distinction I am making to you, go back and reread the prior discussion. If that doesn’t help, nothing else will.

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Posted: 29 December 2006 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]Stephen, I’m not going to repeat myself for the millionth time here. I think I’ve been patient enough.

For the last time, I can make sense of choice and options by discussing modalities (possible actions that were not taken, possible decisions that were not made). You have rejected that sort of talk. So on your theory the choice you take is a choice of one. It is a necessary choice. But a necessary choice isn’t a “free choice” in any sense.

If you can’t understand the distinction I am making to you, go back and reread the prior discussion. If that doesn’t help, nothing else will.

Patient enough with what?

I understand perfectly well what you are saying but it makes no difference, at the moment you make a choice, it is the one choice you can make as Dennett thinks.

 

You are not accurate in thinking I believe the choice I make is a neccessary choice. I might have made any number of other choices.

It is raining outside. it is not neccessary that it is raining it might not be raining but the fact is it is raining.

I cannot make it not be raining when it is raining that is impossible. I am stating a fact, nothing more.

You may say that is because I have no control over rain.

Let us use the example of a tap running instead. The tap is running. 

It is not running neccessarily, it might not be running but the fact is that it is running and I do not have the power to make it not be running when it is. Again just a matter of fact.

What I can do is turn it off so I have control of the tap in that sence but not in the sence that I can make it not be running when it is.

I am sure that you agree with this but then suddenly, you change your mind even though the same must be true of my desires and choices.


Nobody is arguing that you have the desires you do or make the choices you make neccessarily. You are continuously arguing against a straw man here.

What I am saying is you do not have the power to desire anything other than that which you desire. What I am saying is you do not have the power to make another choice other than the choice you make. When the desire or choice is present in the universe like rain or running taps you do not have the power to make them not be present.

You know what I am saying is true of running taps and rain but you make a seperate special case for beliefs and desires and choices.

Why?

You need to explain where this extra special power comes from.

So far you have failed to do so but I am staying patient.

Stephen

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Posted: 29 December 2006 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Do you believe the man in the article had free will and was free to choose?

As I said above, the tricky part of “free will” is determining the limits or constraints on “free.” In my usage, to be free to choose requires the capacity to deliberate and then select among options with reasonably full cognizance of the implications of your choice. If the brain tumor created an interest in pedophilia that could be suppressed by deliberate choice (including the choice to have surgery to remove the tumor), then the man would be something like an alcoholic or drug addict-choices constrained by powerful forces but still possible with sufficient effort, and this would then be a mitigating factor from the point of view of his responsibility for his behavior. If the tumor eliminated his ability to understand the ethical consequences of his actions, then he would not have free will.

All of this debating the meaning of free will is a bit academic an exercise for me since I fundamentally believe the concept is predicated on the existence of God, which I don’t accept anyway. Free will was, as I understand it, largely a concept derived to explain why a god who pre-ordained, or at least saw in advance, all the actions of all humans could still judge and condemn us for those actions anyway. In the absence of such a god, the issue is more what factors in our brains and natural history shape and constrain our abilities as individuals and as a species to make deliberate choices. We have many drives inherent in our biology that we can alter or suppress through conscious choice, and probably many that we can’t, and we don’t understand the link between neurology and behavior well enough to make absolute statements about what “choice” really is. But we have the subjective experience of being able to make choices, and no one has yet convinced me that that perception is so erroneous as to invalidate the sense “freedom” I have to make choices in my daily life. Therefore, I still consider myself responsible for those choices, with all the caveats touched upon above regarding factors that constrain my freedom and thus mitigate my responsibility.

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Posted: 29 December 2006 05:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Stephen, You say, “It might not be raining”. I.e. it is raining but it is possible that it not be raining.

You say, “The tap might not be running”. I.e. it is running but it is possible that it not be running.

You also say, “You do not have the power to desire anything other than that which you desire.” I.e. I desire X but it is not possible for me not to desire X. (This is logically identical to the claim that it is necessary that I desire X).

So you allow possibility when it comes to rain but not when it comes to desires.

What is so special about desires that they can’t be otherwise than they are, when you allow this possibility for other natural events like rain and running water?

Sorry, Stephen, you are hopelessly confused here. You need to understand modality before we have this discussion in earnest.

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Posted: 29 December 2006 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]We have many drives inherent in our biology that we can alter or suppress through conscious choice, and probably many that we can’t, and we don’t understand the link between neurology and behavior well enough to make absolute statements about what “choice” really is. But we have the subjective experience of being able to make choices, and no one has yet convinced me that that perception is so erroneous as to invalidate the sense “freedom” I have to make choices in my daily life. Therefore, I still consider myself responsible for those choices, with all the caveats touched upon above regarding factors that constrain my freedom and thus mitigate my responsibility.

Fair enough—I agree with this. I would only say that the false notion of “free will” is the one that comes from theology, i.e. the notion of god.

As you say so eloquently, we have an intutive notion of “freedom to make choices” which is not invalidated by the downfall of the theological notion of free will—(so-called “libertarian free will”). That’s all I’m saying when I argue for compatibilist free will, and Dennett does very much the same thing.

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Posted: 29 December 2006 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]Stephen, You say, “It might not be raining”. I.e. it is raining but it is possible that it not be raining.

You say, “The tap might not be running”. I.e. it is running but it is possible that it not be running.

You also say, “You do not have the power to desire anything other than that which you desire.” I.e. I desire X but it is not possible for me not to desire X. (This is logically identical to the claim that it is necessary that I desire X).

So you allow possibility when it comes to rain but not when it comes to desires.

.

No I make precisely the same claim about rain as I do about desires.

I claim that I do not have the power to make it not be raining when it is raining.

I know you know this claim is a statement of fact!

You do not dare to deny this fact because you know it would make you look foolish. 

I make the claim that I do not have the power to not desire a cup of tea when I desire a cup of tea.

In neither case am I denying the possibility of something else happening.

You know my claim about rain is true.

You deny my claim about my desires is true.

You have given no reason for that but try to get off the hook by discrediting my posts and saying I am confused rather than dealing with the question..

Why is it you don’t believe we have the power to make it not be raining when it is raining but do believe we have the power to not be desiring a cup of tea when we are desiring a cup of tea?

Stephen

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Posted: 29 December 2006 06:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”][quote author=“dougsmith”]Stephen, You say, “It might not be raining”. I.e. it is raining but it is possible that it not be raining.

You say, “The tap might not be running”. I.e. it is running but it is possible that it not be running.

You also say, “You do not have the power to desire anything other than that which you desire.” I.e. I desire X but it is not possible for me not to desire X. (This is logically identical to the claim that it is necessary that I desire X).

So you allow possibility when it comes to rain but not when it comes to desires.

.

No I make precisely the same claim about rain as I do about desires.

I claim that I do not have the power to make it not be raining when it is raining.

I know you know this claim is a statement of fact!

You do not dare to deny this fact because you know it would make you look foolish. 

I make the claim that I do not have the power to not desire a cup of tea when I desire a cup of tea.

In neither case am I denying the possibility of something else happening.

You know my claim about rain is true.

You deny my claim about my desires is true.

You have given no reason for that but try to get off the hook by discrediting my posts and saying I am confused rather than dealing with the question..

Why is it you don’t believe we have the power to make it not be raining when it is raining but do believe we have the power to not be desiring a cup of tea when we are desiring a cup of tea?

Stephen

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