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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 15 November 2012 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 106 ]
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George - 09 November 2012 08:46 AM
Dead Monky - 09 November 2012 08:37 AM

Question: If we have no free will and no real control over anything we die, why shouldn’t we all just lie down and die?

Here goes the word “should(n’t)” again. Some people lie down and die, others don’t—at least for awhile.

right on.

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Posted: 15 November 2012 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 107 ]
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Occam. - 09 November 2012 11:11 AM

I also don’t care for the word “should” as it is often used as a directive, however, there are other uses that don’t bother me.  We have to be careful not to be prejudices against the entire word rather than just some of the definitions. smile

And, how would it have been if D-M has used don’t rather than shouldn’t in his rhetorical question?

Occam

good point on the first, and good question on the second, but you already know the answer: we have impulses and drives and whatnot to grow and live and reproduce and help (and kill and compete and all that).

(from evolution, of couse.)

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Posted: 16 November 2012 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 108 ]
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isaac - 15 November 2012 02:36 PM

did someone actually post a coherent definition of libertarian free will—something sensible enough to rise to the level of being called an illusion?

Obviously not. But it is also not necessary. Showing that an coherent definition is not possible is enough to see that it does not exist.

There is some clear illusion: as we do not have access to our own hardware layer in the brain where just determined processes run, it seems that our thoughts and feelings have no clear causes. It is only very partially clear where our thoughts and feelings come from. E.g. when something is very funny I laugh: that is a kind of causal explanation, even if it is very incomplete (just to be sure: the only way we can talk about causes because we can separate them from an environment that is more or less stable, or where we are able to keep control over the environment (scientific experiments!)). This unexplained rising of feelings and thoughts feels like they come from nowhere: they seem uncaused. And that is the illusion: they seem uncaused, but of course they aren’t.

[ Edited: 16 November 2012 04:34 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 17 November 2012 02:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 109 ]
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Questions,

Does self-motivation have a place in this discussion? Obviously non-sentient things do not possess self-motivation, any actions are purely mathematical in nature. But does sentience bring another dimension into play?

While it is true that fundamentally there is no difference in physical laws for volcanoes or brains, there is an issue of the “mind”. What exactly does “free will” mean? Are there levels of free will commensurate with ability to willfully introduce conditions designed to influence the future?

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Posted: 17 November 2012 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 110 ]
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Write4U - 17 November 2012 02:04 AM

Does self-motivation have a place in this discussion? Obviously non-sentient things do not possess self-motivation, any actions are purely mathematical in nature. But does sentience bring another dimension into play?

Not separately from the rest that is already discussed here. Except you mean something completely different than I can imagine, but then you must elaborate a little on what you mean.

Write4U - 17 November 2012 02:04 AM

While it is true that fundamentally there is no difference in physical laws for volcanoes or brains, there is an issue of the “mind”. What exactly does “free will” mean? Are there levels of free will commensurate with ability to willfully introduce conditions designed to influence the future?

It is a philosophical bon mot to say “mind is what the brain does”. Volcanoes have no brains. So the laws of nature are surely exactly the same for volcanoes and brains, but brains are just highly complicated structures, that therefore can give rise to a much complexer ‘behaviour’ than volcanoes. To give an example: I never heard of volcanoes doing science, and based on their findings change their behaviour, and so try to improve their chances of survival. Nor did I ever hear about volcanoes discussing if they spit fire because they are motivated to do so. But maybe VYAZMA knows more about this? At least he is saying humans are just like volcanoes…

I hate the phrase ‘influence the future’. Every cause has an effect, so the future is what it is because of causal processes. One of the causal processes that causes future events is what the brain does. What the brain does is in itself caused, and what the brain does has causal effects. But one of the things the brain does is trying to predict the (nearby) future, i.e. evaluating possible actions it can take. This idea can lead to the confusing phrase ‘influence the future’, as if we can subtract what the brain does from what will happen in the future. Depending on what the brain does, different events will happen, but, and here VYAZMA is right, the same holds for volcanoes. If the volcano spits fire a village might be destroyed, which would not have happened without the volcano spitting fire. So a volcano ‘influences the future’ too. But it does not on basis of evaluations, on anticipating possible future events. We do.

So what is then ‘free will’? It is the capacity to execute the preferred action, taking into account the wishes and believes that are implemented in the brain.

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Posted: 17 November 2012 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 111 ]
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Write4U - 17 November 2012 02:04 AM

Does self-motivation have a place in this discussion? Obviously non-sentient things do not possess self-motivation, any actions are purely mathematical in nature. But does sentience bring another dimension into play?

No. The difference here is quantitative, not qualitative. All actions in the end are purely mathematical, yours, the volcano’s or those of a bacterium. It’s just that your calculations are more complex.

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Posted: 17 November 2012 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 112 ]
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George - 17 November 2012 06:58 AM

No. The difference here is quantitative, not qualitative. All actions in the end are purely mathematical, yours, the volcano’s or those of a bacterium. It’s just that your calculations are more complex.

Do volcanoes evolve in a Darwinian way?

Is Darwinian evolution not something that only occurs when matter has reached a certain complex organisation?

Is Darwinian evolution not qualitatively different from what stones and volcanoes do?

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Posted: 17 November 2012 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 113 ]
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Do volcanos run 100 km per hour on our highways? Do they they grow in top of palm trees?

What’s your point?

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Posted: 17 November 2012 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 114 ]
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George - 17 November 2012 08:27 AM

Do volcanos run 100 km per hour on our highways? Do they they grow in top of palm trees?

What’s your point?

That increased complexity gives rise to new phenomena, that do not exist on lower levels. Atoms and volcanoes do not evolve in the Darwinian meaning of the word. Evolution is a new quality, which does not exist at the level of atoms.  And even that evolution is ‘implemented’ with atoms, it cannot even be understood from natural laws about atoms. Don’t you agree?

Edit: typo

[ Edited: 18 November 2012 01:01 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 17 November 2012 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 115 ]
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You know what? I don’t know. We have touched on this topic before and I often feel the answer is very simple, but when I give it a deeper thought it all starts to fall apart.

Let me think about it for a little longer and I’ll get back to you when I am ready.

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Posted: 17 November 2012 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 116 ]
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I just lost one of the longest posts I have ever written here, because I am a stupid idiot. I wanna die…

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Posted: 17 November 2012 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 117 ]
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George - 17 November 2012 12:45 PM

I just lost one of the longest posts I have ever written here, because I am a stupid idiot. I wanna die…

That’s really shit… Mostly I trust the forum software, but sometimes, when a post becomes longer, I really write it in another editor, save it on my disk (sometimes my computer ‘freezes’ too), and only when I think I am ready, paste it into the forum. I am really sorry. I know the frustration. Hope you can write it again.

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Posted: 17 November 2012 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 118 ]
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Must be a worldwide plague.  I wrote a very short post about an hour ago, and before I could even copy it prior to posting, my computer froze.  Now it’s working, but my Outlook Express is completely shut down and inaccessible.  vampire

Occam

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Posted: 17 November 2012 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 119 ]
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Perhaps it would be best if the compatibilist version of free will were called something other than “free will”.  As it seems to me that the concept of “libertarian free will” will perpetually be a point of confusion and contention. 

So when I do something of sound mind, that is in accordance to my own wishes and beliefs, without the aversive control of an outside agent, then I am acting according to (term to be decided).

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 17 November 2012 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 120 ]
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Dead Monky - 09 November 2012 08:37 AM

Question: If we have no free will and no real control over anything we die, why shouldn’t we all just lie down and die?

We do, eventually.  Valar morghulis.  But in the nonce, valar dohaeris.

More seriously, though, you don’t have control over a roller coaster ride, but it typically wouldn’t be prudent to get off in the middle of the ride.

[ Edited: 17 November 2012 03:56 PM by TimB ]
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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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