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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 29 November 2012 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 241 ]
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GdB - 29 November 2012 02:14 AM

...The following question I would answer with “no”: Is it unfair to assign blame or responsibility? (It is fair because we can distinguish between coerced and free actions)...

But would you know that (if you could actually set aside your knowledge of the compatibilist version of free will)?

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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: 29 November 2012 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 242 ]
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TimB - 29 November 2012 04:00 AM
GdB - 29 November 2012 02:14 AM

...Is it clear what the others meant with their respective answers?

If it were, this thread would likely not be going on as long as it is.

Then what was it you wanted to find out with your second question?

TimB - 29 November 2012 04:07 AM
GdB - 29 November 2012 02:14 AM

...The following question I would answer with “no”: Is it unfair to assign blame or responsibility? (It is fair because we can distinguish between coerced and free actions)...

But would you know that (if you could actually set aside your knowledge of the compatibilist version of free will)?

Sorry, I don’t get your point.

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Posted: 29 November 2012 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 243 ]
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StephenLawrence - 28 November 2012 11:09 PM

The chess computer, like us, works out that checkmate in 3 would be the consequence of move A and so selects move B instead, it’s working out what would happen if it did A and giving that a lower valuation than doing B, is why it does B. Making move B prevents checkmate in a calculated way. It could have made move A, which means it would have done if it had evaluated that move most highly instead.
(...)
Yes. And you would know that behaviour is the computer evaluating the moves and preventing checkmate. And it’s a machine that’s designed to do that in order to avoid checkmate.

There are many insightful comparisons between the mind and chess programs. This is one. But before somebody says that then chess programs are conscious, one should not forget that the chess computer has no self model. It is not programmed to have a picture of itself in its ‘chess world’.

I would take the example a bit further (based on an example of Dennett): imagine two chess programs playing against each other. They each run in their own part of memory of one single computer, the only ‘contact’ they have is via the interface in which they exchange their moves. Everytime program A wins, a green light is turned on, when program B wins a red light is turned on. Now nearly always the green light is burning.

Then aliens come, who have no idea about chess or our primitive computers. One of the alien researchers, Dr Onestone, wonders why mostly the green light is burning. As he is equipped with the best Quantum-Organic computers of his civilisation, he is able to make a complete representation of the physical structure of the computer. He lets his simulation run, and indeed, nearly always the ‘simulated green light’ burns. So he can be sure he made, in this respect, a correct simulation of the computer. Every other snapshot Dr Onestone makes of his simulation is exactly the same as the factual physical state of the real computer device.

Now the question: does Dr Onestone really understands why mostly the green light is burning?

Dr Onestone hesitates. Would his result justify the astronomical budget he got for understanding this device? In the end, he did not much more than proving that the computer thing device is a physical possible artefact. So he decides to turn to his socio-psychological colleague, Dr Weaver. Dr Weaver then makes interviews with the constructors of the computer device, and after a few days he presents his conclusion to Dr Onestone. This is what he wrote:

The people of this planet sometimes play war games. One of these games is called ‘chess’. It has certain very strict rules, but these rules still allow for practically infinite different ways in which these games develop. The strict rules however made it possible to make computer models of the games, and in this computer two different chess programs play against each other. The bytes in the interface represent the moves the programs make. Everytime program A wins, the green light burns, when B wins the red light burns.

Dr Onestone sighs. So that was it. He realises he will have a heavy day tomorrow, because he knows that his physical simulation in the end brought no insight at all. During a restless night, he suddenly jumps up. One question was not answered by Dr Weaver’s report: why did Program A nearly always win? From his physical model he knows already that program B is as complicated as program A. He looked at his simulation again, but there was no chance to find out what the crucial factor was. Desperately he called Dr Weaver. “Ah”, he says “I did not write it in the conclusion, because for me it was a minor point. Yes, both programs are of about the same level, but program B has one possible chess rule not implemented: it never castles.”

With this final remark, Dr Onestone’s understanding was complete. He realised that without knowing what the physical states mean, one cannot really understand such devices.

[ Edited: 29 November 2012 06:32 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 29 November 2012 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 244 ]
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GdB - 28 November 2012 11:38 PM
George - 28 November 2012 02:32 PM
TimB - 28 November 2012 01:39 PM

2) it seems unfair to assign blame or responsibility, because no one has libertarian free will

2. I don’t know what “unfair” has got to do with any of this. Shit happens, be it “fair” or “unfair.”

One of your children has eaten all the chocolate that was meant to share in the family. You punish your son from who you know he could not have done it. Is that fair? “Sorry my boy, shit happens?”

You are the king of reductio ad absurdum, GdB.

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Posted: 29 November 2012 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 245 ]
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George - 29 November 2012 07:11 AM

You are the king of reductio ad absurdum, GdB.

Sorry, but this is just the logical consequence of what you say. And yes, I show that your point doesn’t hold because it leads to absurd view points.

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Posted: 29 November 2012 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 246 ]
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GdB - 29 November 2012 07:26 AM
George - 29 November 2012 07:11 AM

You are the king of reductio ad absurdum, GdB.

Sorry, but this is just the logical consequence of what you say. And yes, I show that your point doesn’t hold because it leads to absurd view points.

The chances of that happening are about one degree above the chances of a statue waving at you while you take a walk through a park.

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Posted: 29 November 2012 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 247 ]
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George,

I would prefer that you react at the content. I said that your idea that fairness has nothing to do with blame or responsibility, and that shit just happens, leads to absurd conclusions, that I am pretty sure of, you do not draw in daily life. I interpreted your remark that you think that fairness has nothing to with how people react on other’s behaviour, especially if they did what they did from their free choice or not. If I am not right then correct me, instead of playing the insulted.

I am pretty sure you are using the idea of free actions everyday, and you do not want to blame someone for actions he could not help doing. Instead of trying to reconcile this daily practice with your scientific world view, you seem to declare it just as metaphysical nonsense. That means for me that you in reality you believe something else than what you are telling us here.

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Posted: 29 November 2012 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 248 ]
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Yeah, I already told you I am susceptible to the illusion of free will, fairness and all kinds of optical illusions in my everyday life. I obviously feel that people are guilty or not guilty, and I see the colour grey (that is not there) in an optical illusion. I cannot not feel it/see it. But just because I was programmed by evolution to feel a certain way, it doesn’t make it true. Nobody is guilty of anything, because nobody could have done otherwise. But that’s where it ends for me; I am lucky enough to be a sane person (i.e., similar to most people around me) who acts under the illusion that people are responsible for their actions.

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Posted: 29 November 2012 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 249 ]
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George - 29 November 2012 08:11 AM

Yeah, I already told you I am susceptible to the illusion of free will, fairness and all kinds of optical illusions in my everyday life. I obviously feel that people are guilty or not guilty, and I see the colour grey (that is not there) in an optical illusion. I cannot not feel it/see it. But just because I was programmed by evolution to feel a certain way, it doesn’t make it true. Nobody is guilty of anything, because nobody could have done otherwise. But that’s where it ends for me; I am lucky enough to be a sane person (i.e., similar to most people around me) who acts under the illusion that people are responsible for their actions.

Hmmm… Is it sane to act upon things you do not believe in?

The problem seems to me, still, that you only declare those things as real that exist physically. Did you read my little chess-story?

And about your colour grey: I think you put the comparison on the wrong aspect of it. I think you should compare ‘free will’ with seeing something that is ‘really’ grey. Physically, colour does not even exist. For a thing to be grey, it means that it reflects light partially, i.e. all wavelengths of visible light equally. But that does not mean that grey things do not exist. It is the natural way grey things appear to us. And so ‘free action’ is the natural way how wishes, beliefs and actions are related to each other. But of course you cannot physically feel or see it.

[ Edited: 29 November 2012 10:20 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 29 November 2012 09:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 250 ]
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GdB - 29 November 2012 08:38 AM

The problem seems to me, still, that you only declare those things as real that exist physically. Did you read my little chess-story?

I don’t think that’s what is going on GdB.

George only allows as a definition of guilt, “ultimate guilt” and as a meaning of CHDO “could have done otherwise in the actual circumstances in a way that makes us ultimately responsible”.

So sticking to these definitions he’s right.

He disallows the meaning of responsible as “causally responsible in a way that makes us apt targets of praise and blame” etc. And disallows the meaning of CHDO as “nothing to prevent us if we had chosen to”.

He does believe we can be causally responsible in a way that makes us apt targets of praise and blame because that’s why he says we should carry on with our practices, but reserves the words guilt and responsibility and free will for the ultimate versions.

He imagines we should stay under the illusion of people being ultimately guilty and ultimately responsible because he doesn’t see that shifting to the naturalised versions of these things is a great improvement.

Stephen

[ Edited: 29 November 2012 09:42 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 29 November 2012 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 251 ]
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isaac - 29 November 2012 01:29 AM
StephenLawrence - 29 November 2012 12:01 AM

There but for circumstances go I. That doesn’t make it fair that makes me lucky, mostly (so far).

It’s dreadful to imagine those whose determinants were less favourable (so far) deserve it.

Stephen

this presupposes an ‘I’ apart from circumstances,...

No it doesn’t.

I’m part of the circumstances, I do what I do because I am what I am but I’m merely lucky or unlucky to be what I am.

Stephen

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Posted: 29 November 2012 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 252 ]
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StephenLawrence - 29 November 2012 09:40 AM

George only allows as a definition of guilt, “ultimate guilt” and as a meaning of CHDO “could have done otherwise in the actual circumstances in a way that makes us ultimately responsible”.

You might be right. But for me that means also that he sticks to the concept of libertarian free will. And even referring to Libet as a proof that free will does not exist means that he looks for free will at the physical level.

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Posted: 29 November 2012 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 253 ]
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GdB - 29 November 2012 10:23 AM

You might be right. But for me that means also that he sticks to the concept of libertarian free will. And even referring to Libet as a proof that free will does not exist means that he looks for free will at the physical level.

I think the point of the experiments is that they show (if they do) that consciousness doesn’t give us some special way of doing otherwise as it is reportedly “down stream” of the decision.

Stephen

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Posted: 29 November 2012 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 254 ]
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GdB - 29 November 2012 04:19 AM
TimB - 29 November 2012 04:00 AM
GdB - 29 November 2012 02:14 AM

...Is it clear what the others meant with their respective answers?

If it were, this thread would likely not be going on as long as it is.

Then what was it you wanted to find out with your second question?

TimB - 29 November 2012 04:07 AM
GdB - 29 November 2012 02:14 AM

...The following question I would answer with “no”: Is it unfair to assign blame or responsibility? (It is fair because we can distinguish between coerced and free actions)...

But would you know that (if you could actually set aside your knowledge of the compatibilist version of free will)?

Sorry, I don’t get your point.

I was already pretty sure that there was disagreement in the area of compatibilism.  I was hoping to see what level of agreement there was without the insertion of compatibilism, hence the rule for responding to the questions was “Just for a moment, setting the compatibilist version of free will aside”.

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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: 29 November 2012 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 255 ]
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I think the question about fairness is the trickiest Tim.

Occasionally I’ll hear this said: “Sometimes bad things happen to good people and it isn’t fair” the implication is bad stuff happening to bad people is fair.

This sense of fairness is as if ‘bad people’ magically are 100% self caused, as if they are totally responsible for being themselves.

There are no words to describe this self caused idea because it’s impossible, it just makes no sense but there is no doubt people believe in the absolute sense of fairness that is mean to follow. And this is why the natural reaction to lack of libertarian free will is it is unfair to blame people etc.

But we can make sense of fairness in other ways. So it is relatively fair to only fine people for speeding if they speed. It would be unfair to fine them if they didn’t. And it would be unfair to speeders if they hadn’t had fair warning, at least that way they could have slowed down if they’d chosen to heed the warning.

I’m sure there is lots more to say about compatibilist fairness but blame isn’t fair in the way commonly believed and it does make a difference to people’s lives if they get that, contrary to the common belief that it makes no difference.

Stephen

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