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Free to choose
Posted: 05 October 2007 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 151 ]
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Jackson - 04 October 2007 06:41 PM
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.

Choosing to be nice? As opposed to what?

I’m not pushing anything other then trying to get a better understanding.

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Vi veri veniversum vivus vici

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Posted: 07 October 2007 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 152 ]
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morgantj - 05 October 2007 10:19 AM

I’m not pushing anything other then trying to get a better understanding.

Okay, to go back through this thread one more time—It started with a link to an article in the Economist about a person whos anti-social compulsion was apparently tied to a tumor in the brain
http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8453850

This is an interesting article and it prompts me to look up the Pinker books on the mind and do some further reading on current science in this area.  So I apologize if my comments are less informed than they should be.

There are other examples like this. Extremes of obsessive-compulsive behaviour probably have a physical basis as well.

Since all of our decision-making is done using the physical object which is our brain, and that operates by physical means, in some sense our decisions are deterministic.  In going back through the thread Occam was first to make this point. However, I think this is sort of tautological.

In the initial post Stephen Lawrence said

StephenLawrence - 23 December 2006 07:32 PM

For the record I do as long as choose means: pick one out as the best from previously considered options.

I think of an example of how we are free to choose, or that the decision making process is so complicated we should treat it as such, is that even if we have a set of options before us, as humans we are able to consider a wide range of criteria by which to make the choice. 

We have record breaking temperatures (for October) and I think about buying an ice cream cone. I have the various flavors, but I am also free to choose the criteria.  I had vanilla last time.  My wife had peanut-butter chocolate.  If I start thinking about it, I remember liking butter brickle when I was in college, or maybe I’m reading a novel and the author has a character exclaiming over another flavor.  Or I remember a mint chocolate chip cone on a vacation in Kiawah or a bittersweet chocolate sundae in Ghiradelli Square.  But I am also “free” to just hurry up and choose a flavor and not keep the family waiting.  This is a pretty superficial example but I still think because human memory is so rich, human communication is to rich, that the decision of how much to think about a decision before making it is itself a pretty complex choice.

Decisions relating to smoking or dieting are closer to the original Economist article and there is a lot to read in this area.

Where the decision is just to push a button or not (in a scientific setting), I think this would look more deterministic, and that reflecting on the decision (what would my English teacher in high school say about this;  how would I write an essay about this experience, etc.) seems sort of dumb. 

I think post #2 by Occam gives a succinct summary which seems to align with my thinking (although another complication in “free choice” is misunderstanding information).

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Posted: 13 January 2009 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 153 ]
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Options

There is a fairly common belief that if determinism is true then we don’t have options.

The reason, for some, (not Bryan but I think perhaps George and Brennen?) is that if there is only one possible outcome, given the circumstances, then the other “options” are not possibilities and therefore cannot be options.

The mistake seems to be in confining what possible means to “given the causal antecedents”. But is possible has other meanings and often doesn’t refer to given the causal antecedents. Two other uses of is possible or could are:

1) Epistemic possibility

2)Logical possibility.

If we consider logical and epistemic possibilities, then we are correct to think we could select any one of them, even if there is only one possible outcome, given the big bang, banged the way it did.

So it seems to me there is no illusion, no deep problem, just a slip up over what could means.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 January 2009 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 154 ]
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I don’t understand, Stephen. confused I have no idea what “causal antecedents” are.

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Posted: 13 January 2009 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 155 ]
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George - 13 January 2009 12:41 PM

I don’t understand, Stephen. confused I have no idea what “causal antecedents” are.

Put it this way, given the big bang, banged the way it did.

So for example when considering all the logically possible ways a deck of 52 cards could be stacked, you have no problem , you don’t object and say there is only one possible way, given the big bang banged the way it did.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 January 2009 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 156 ]
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I don’t know how many different ways there were for the Bin Bang to “bang” (what are the laws that make physical laws?  confused ), but where we are now is a result of only one such a “bang,” and I am not sure where you are getting all the different possibilities from (?).

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Posted: 13 January 2009 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 157 ]
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Reply to Stephen (making yet another attempt to avoid the message that the page I’m looking for isn’t found):

There is a fairly common belief that if determinism is true then we don’t have options.

The reason, for some, (not Bryan but I think perhaps George and Brennen?) is that if there is only one possible outcome, given the circumstances, then the other “options” are not possibilities and therefore cannot be options.

Lacking any drift in the meaning of “possible” in its various forms, the argument supposed of George and Brennan seems to have much to recommend it.

I think you’re the one making the mistake, Stephen.

The premise of causal determinism is that it is not possible for any except one event to follow from a given set of conditions.  Taking causal determinism as true, only one would-be option is logically possible.

In the case of epistemic possibility, the observer will be mistaken regarding all of the epistemic possibilities, save for as many as one (if the observer happens to regard the one causally determined event as among the possibilities).

And as for your suggestion that we could select any epistemic possibility, it simply tries to trade on limited knowledge of the past.  Given causal determinism as true—even minus perfect knowledge of the past—it follows that a maximum of one epistemic possibility is true.  Invoking other logically possible worlds only opens up options if the presumption of causal determinism is relaxed.

So it seems to me there is no illusion, no deep problem, just a slip up over what could means.

I admire your persistence.

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Posted: 13 January 2009 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 158 ]
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George - 13 January 2009 01:15 PM

I don’t know how many different ways there were for the Bin Bang to “bang” (what are the laws that make physical laws?  confused ), but where we are now is a result of only one such a “bang,” and I am not sure where you are getting all the different possibilities from (?).

I don’t know where I get them from George but I do think you believe in them too, even as a determinist.

That’s why I used the deck of cards example. You believe there is a mathematical sum which tells you how many ways a deck of 52 cards could be arranged, don’t you?

My point is if you arranged them in a particular order 1 minute ago and they had not moved and nobody had touched them, you wouldn’t stop believing in all these possible ways the cards could be arranged and that is because the possibilities being refered to are not given the past was as it was.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 January 2009 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 159 ]
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Stephen,

If I were God I couldn’t play cards. The only reason we don’t know what to expect in a game of cards is not because there is a limitless number of possible outcomes, but because we don’t have enough information to see the “whole picture.” The moment you deal the cards, the game is over—again, if you are God. (Which actually makes me wonder why God got so upset at Adam and Eve eating the apple. question Did he not know?) 

Anyway, you can perhaps use the card analogy for the existence of different universes—who knows what the laws are like “out there”— but it has no place in only one such a universe. (Unless you want to go into all that quantum mechanics stuff, which I am not going to.)

[ Edited: 13 January 2009 01:57 PM by George ]
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Posted: 13 January 2009 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 160 ]
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George - 13 January 2009 01:15 PM

but where we are now is a result of only one such a “bang,”

Yes, we agree totally on this (leaving out randomness) but as another example if I asked you all the logically possible starting moves in a game of chess, you’d have no problem running through them for me.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 January 2009 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 161 ]
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Again, we are not about to start a fresh game of chess. We are in the middle of one such game. I told you this was gonna go nowhere… grin

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Posted: 13 January 2009 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 162 ]
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George - 13 January 2009 01:54 PM

Stephen,

If I were God I couldn’t play cards. The only reason we don’t know what to expect in a game of cards is not because there is a limitless number of possible outcomes, but because we don’t have enough information to see the “whole picture.” The moment you deal the cards, the game is over—again, if you are God. (Which actually makes me wonder why God got so upset at Adam and Eve eating the apple. question Did he not know?) 

We agree there is one possible outcome (leaving out randomness)

I’m pointing out that because we can only get to one outcome from the circumstances that we are in now, does not mean that we don’t select between logical possibilities.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 January 2009 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 163 ]
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George - 13 January 2009 02:04 PM

Again, we are not about to start a fresh game of chess. We are in the middle of one such game. I told you this was gonna go nowhere… grin

I’m literally talking about a game of chess, it’s not a metaphor.

We could agree on all the logically possible first moves in a game of chess.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 January 2009 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 164 ]
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George - 13 January 2009 01:54 PM

Stephen,

If I were God I couldn’t play cards. The only reason we don’t know what to expect in a game of cards is not because there is a limitless number of possible outcomes, but because we don’t have enough information to see the “whole picture.” The moment you deal the cards, the game is over—again, if you are God. (Which actually makes me wonder why God got so upset at Adam and Eve eating the apple. question Did he not know?) 

Anyway, you can perhaps use the card analogy for the existence of different universes—who knows what the laws are like “out there”— but it has no place in only one such a universe. (Unless you want to go into all that quantum mechanics stuff, which I am not going to.)

It’s not an analogy, I’m talking about cards! We could agree on all the logicaly possible ways a deck of cards could be stacked in.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 January 2009 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 165 ]
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The deck could be stacked in many different ways, but it is not, just like our universe is already stacked in only one way. I am now very confused and that’s a sign for me to stop.  blank stare

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