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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 05 March 2013 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 391 ]
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Lois - 04 March 2013 01:11 PM

—IMO, you can’t have it both ways. Either we have free will or we don’t. You are suggesting that maybe we can have a little bit of free will and a little but of determinism.  That sounds as if you’re saying we can have a little bit of god and a little bit of no god.  Meanwhile there is not a grain of evidence upholding the free will concept.  All you have is what theists have—you want to believe free will exists just as theists want to believe god exists and you and they will do verbal contortions to have your cake and eat it, too. Wishing for something with no evidence has never contributed a grain of common sense to the argument.  My challenge to you is the same as it is to theists. Come up with some objective evidence that free will (like god) is possible.

This is as wrong as it can be. Did you really read the postings in this thread?

Firstly, I asked you to give your definition of free will. Whatever’s existence you are denying, it is not the idea of free will I am defending here, nor that of Stephen. You are just beating thin air here.
Secondly, you seem to see your ‘Either we have free will or we don’t’ as ‘Either we have free will or we are determined’. But the opposite of free will is coercion, not determinism. The opposite of determinism is randomness, but is very clear that what we mean with free will is not randomness. Free will would be impossible without determinism, our actions would be like the throwing of dice, with no connection with my biological and biographical background, in short, with the person and character I have become. I could not be made responsible for my actions, because those are not my actions.

The point is that in our social practices, the difference between free actions and coerced actions is used on a daily basis. We know very well when an action is free or not, even if there are problematic border cases. Signing a contract for buying a house, paying the money for it as a consequence of you signing the contract, etc are examples of free actions; unless somebody forces us to sign a contract by pointing a gun at us, or by blackmailing us, in which case my actions are not done from free will. This is a clear distinction, and a useful concept of free will must describe such differences, not some difference in the (meta)physical background.

And this useful concept compatibilists propose is that actions are free if they are according to our wishes and beliefs. That is what Stephen wrote, and that is what I am writing about all the time. And your argument does not touch this at all.

You and George are throwing your arguments again and again against the chimaera of libertarian free will, the illusion that my choices are causally independent of my biological and biographical past.

[ Edited: 05 March 2013 12:10 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 05 March 2013 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 392 ]
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Well put, GdB. The problem with all this folderol is there’s a background assumption that libertarian free will is somehow a coherent doctrine, one that could be tested for and rejected solely on the basis of scientific experimentation.

But the problem with libertarian free will isn’t simply that it violates conservation of energy. That’s bad enough. The problem is that it makes no sense. It makes no sense that an uncaused cause could consistently direct our bodies in ways that fulfill our desires. How would the uncaused cause of free will know which way to push my hand, if it were not getting causal input from my eyes? How would it know to push my hand towards the water when I am thirsty if it were not getting causal input from my state of dehydration?

We don’t need scientific experiments to know this can’t work.

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Posted: 05 March 2013 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 393 ]
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Your describing the sensory means and systems of and for our existence;

Falderal, assumption, doctrine, problems, experimentation,

Conservation of energy, bodies, hand, causal, input from my eyes, thirsty, dehydration,

These descriptions do make sense as they come from our functioning for existence.

Should we make sense of our senses before we take on philosophies for free will and existence?

You did create some excitement with your spelling of falderal as folderol—-thanks

[ Edited: 05 March 2013 10:00 AM by arnoldg ]
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Posted: 05 March 2013 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 394 ]
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arnoldg - 05 March 2013 09:54 AM

You did create some excitement with your spelling of falderal as folderol—-thanks

question

“Folderol” is the correct spelling. “Falderal” is a variant, at least in my dictionary.

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Posted: 05 March 2013 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 395 ]
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The excitement continues—- from sourcing on line dictionaries,

Comparative analyses of the definition suggest—- a compromise,

How about Falderol?

[ Edited: 06 March 2013 07:24 AM by arnoldg ]
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Posted: 06 March 2013 02:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 396 ]
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Words—put in a sentence, like observation, reality, philosophy…

Deep thought is suggested—can this be observed?

Or is this just folderol?

My Turing program - it becomes better and better.

What an excitement!

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Posted: 06 March 2013 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 397 ]
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GdB - 05 March 2013 12:01 AM
Lois - 04 March 2013 01:11 PM

—IMO, you can’t have it both ways. Either we have free will or we don’t. You are suggesting that maybe we can have a little bit of free will and a little but of determinism.  That sounds as if you’re saying we can have a little bit of god and a little bit of no god.  Meanwhile there is not a grain of evidence upholding the free will concept.  All you have is what theists have—you want to believe free will exists just as theists want to believe god exists and you and they will do verbal contortions to have your cake and eat it, too. Wishing for something with no evidence has never contributed a grain of common sense to the argument.  My challenge to you is the same as it is to theists. Come up with some objective evidence that free will (like god) is possible.

This is as wrong as it can be. Did you really read the postings in this thread?

Firstly, I asked you to give your definition of free will. Whatever’s existence you are denying, it is not the idea of free will I am defending here, nor that of Stephen. You are just beating thin air here.

—my definition of free will is the ability of a person to overcome his determining factors, most of which he is unaware of. Such factors as genes, experience and environment and probably countless other ones we can’t possibly know about. Please provide evidence that humans can actually do this and evidence that refutes the brain scan evidence that our minds make decisions before we are consciously aware of them.


Secondly, you seem to see your ‘Either we have free will or we don’t’ as ‘Either we have free will or we are determined’. But the opposite of free will is coercion, not determinism.

—coercion is only one more determining factor our minds use to make decisions. 


The opposite of determinism is randomness, but is very clear that what we mean with free will is not randomness. Free will would be impossible without determinism, our actions would be like the throwing of dice, with no connection with my biological and biographical background, in short, with the person and character I have become. I could not be made responsible for my actions, because those are not my actions.


That’s right, but you would be held responsible and seen to be responsible by everyone elsr. We all hold others responsible for their actions and decisions because our own minds are running on determined factors we have no control over.

The point is that in our social practices, the difference between free actions and coerced actions is used on a daily basis.


They are used by our minds, not our conscious intent.  Our mins are affected by social practices and coercion.  But outside of our determined minds we have no control.

We know very well when an action is free or not, even if there are problematic border cases. Signing a contract for buying a house, paying the money for it as a consequence of you signing the contract, etc are examples of free actions; unless somebody forces us to sign a contract by pointing a gun at us, or by blackmailing us, in which case my actions are not done from free will. This is a clear distinction, and a useful concept of free will must describe such differences, not some difference in the (meta)physical background.

—but all of those things are determined actions.  You wouldn’t sign a contract if your determining factors didn’t bring you to that action.


And this useful concept compatibilists propose is that actions are free if they are according to our wishes and beliefs. That is what Stephen wrote, and that is what I am writing about all the time. And your argument does not touch this at all.

You and George are throwing your arguments again and again against the chimaera of libertarian free will, the illusion that my choices are causally independent of my biological and biographical past.


No, they are not independent of your biological or biographical, past. They are part and parcel of it.  You are claiming that you can remove some part of your mind (by what magical process, I don’t know) from those things and control their effect on your decisions.  I say you cannot do that. Everything that makes you you is out of your control, including your desire that you can overcome those factors.  I say you can’t and I say no one can.  We are products of our genes, the physical state of our brains and absolutely everything that happens to us, includingour environment. We have no control over whether or how those things affect our decisions and actions.

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Posted: 06 March 2013 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 398 ]
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Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

 

No, they are not independent of your biological or biographical, past. They are part and parcel of it.  You are claiming that you can remove some part of your mind (by what magical process, I don’t know) from those things and control their effect on your decisions.  I say you cannot do that. Everything that makes you you is out of your control, including your desire that you can overcome those factors.  I say you can’t and I say no one can.  We are products of our genes, the physical state of our brains and absolutely everything that happens to us, includingour environment. We have no control over whether or how those things affect our decisions and actions.

There is no conflict with this and compatibilist free will. You are reading something into the definition which is not there.

Stephen

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Posted: 06 March 2013 05:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 399 ]
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StephenLawrence - 06 March 2013 02:53 PM
Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

 

No, they are not independent of your biological or biographical, past. They are part and parcel of it.  You are claiming that you can remove some part of your mind (by what magical process, I don’t know) from those things and control their effect on your decisions.  I say you cannot do that. Everything that makes you you is out of your control, including your desire that you can overcome those factors.  I say you can’t and I say no one can.  We are products of our genes, the physical state of our brains and absolutely everything that happens to us, includingour environment. We have no control over whether or how those things affect our decisions and actions.

There is no conflict with this and compatibilist free will. You are reading something into the definition which is not there.

Stephen

Can you elucidate?

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Posted: 06 March 2013 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 400 ]
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Louis, you may want to look up compatibilism. It’s more silly and irrelevant than magical. It’s kind of like saying that you believe in God and that God is the laws of physics, or something like that. It’s not that it isn’t true, but it doesn’t really answer what we are after. It only messes things up.

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Posted: 06 March 2013 08:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 401 ]
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It’s actually more like saying that defining the earth as that thing that sits at the center of the universe is not a good definition.

But of course it’s always up to you to say you think the earth doesn’t exist.

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Posted: 06 March 2013 09:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 402 ]
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George - 06 March 2013 07:35 PM

Louis, you may want to look up compatibilism. It’s more silly and irrelevant than magical. It’s kind of like saying that you believe in God and that God is the laws of physics, or something like that. It’s not that it isn’t true, but it doesn’t really answer what we are after. It only messes things up.

Actually I do know how compatiblism is defined but wanted to hear from compatibilists how they define it,in case they had a different spin on it.  I thought we might be able to toss it around.  I think you’re right that it only messes things up.  I’m a hard determinist and I am likely to remain one.  It’s the only stance that makes sense to me.  I think some people are so reluctant to accept that they have no control over their actions that they try to create impossible middle grounds.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 12:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 403 ]
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Lois - 06 March 2013 05:34 PM
StephenLawrence - 06 March 2013 02:53 PM
Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

 

No, they are not independent of your biological or biographical, past. They are part and parcel of it.  You are claiming that you can remove some part of your mind (by what magical process, I don’t know) from those things and control their effect on your decisions.  I say you cannot do that. Everything that makes you you is out of your control, including your desire that you can overcome those factors.  I say you can’t and I say no one can.  We are products of our genes, the physical state of our brains and absolutely everything that happens to us, includingour environment. We have no control over whether or how those things affect our decisions and actions.

There is no conflict with this and compatibilist free will. You are reading something into the definition which is not there.

Stephen

Can you elucidate?

I don’t see how.

Stephen

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Posted: 07 March 2013 12:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 404 ]
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Lois - 06 March 2013 09:31 PM

  I think some people are so reluctant to accept that they have no control over their actions that they try to create impossible middle grounds.

That’s true.

But with real compatibliism there is no middle ground.

Free will compatible with determinism means compatible with one future we can get to from our distant past. I get the bad distant past I make the bad choice. You get it you make the bad choice.

100% out of our control in that sense.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 01:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 405 ]
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Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

—my definition of free will is the ability of a person to overcome his determining factors, most of which he is unaware of. Such factors as genes, experience and environment and probably countless other ones we can’t possibly know about.

Exactly. That means you have given no single argument at all against my position. This is just not the compatibilist concept of what free will is.

Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

Please provide evidence that humans can actually do this and evidence that refutes the brain scan evidence that our minds make decisions before we are consciously aware of them. 

Such evidence would prove the existence of a homunculus in the brain, which is itself uncaused. Again, that does not touch the compatibilist concept of what free will is.

Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

—coercion is only one more determining factor our minds use to make decisions. 

That is perfectly true. But be aware that the reverse is not true: not all determining factors force me to do something. Such a thought presupposes a form of dualism: who is the one that is forced?

Free actions belong to the subset of actions that are determined, but not coerced, namely those actions that are according to my wishes and beliefs.

Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

The point is that in our social practices, the difference between free actions and coerced actions is used on a daily basis.

They are used by our minds, not our conscious intent.  Our mins are affected by social practices and coercion.  But outside of our determined minds we have no control.

I have no idea what you are saying here. I cannot recognise a consistent view point in this. You are using the concepts of ‘we’, ‘minds’, ‘control’ and the concept of (physical) ‘determined’ as if their use is unproblematic. You do as if ‘we’ and ‘minds’ are objects.
And we already talked once about the concept of control: you are using it in a confused way. In the example of the thermostat I showed that it makes perfectly sense to say that a thermostat controls the temperature where it in the same time is also very clear that a thermostat is a physically determined system. The whole idea of the construction of a thermostat is that it controls the temperature: but you suggest you may only say that it controls the temperature if it does so in an uncaused way. Sorry, that makes no sense at all, and therefore your idea that ‘we’ are not in control because we are determined, is just an invalid argument.

Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

—but all of those things are determined actions.  You wouldn’t sign a contract if your determining factors didn’t bring you to that action.

Of course. And? There is no contradiction between determinism and free will.

Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

You are claiming that you can remove some part of your mind (by what magical process, I don’t know) from those things and control their effect on your decisions. 

I don’t anywhere. That is your definition of free will chiming in, and I do not define free will as you do.

Lois - 06 March 2013 02:14 PM

I say you cannot do that. Everything that makes you you is out of your control, including your desire that you can overcome those factors.  I say you can’t and I say no one can.  We are products of our genes, the physical state of our brains and absolutely everything that happens to us, includingour environment. We have no control over whether or how those things affect our decisions and actions.

Simply said, I define free will as being able to do what you want. You define free will as being able to want what you want, which is a ridiculous incoherent concept from the beginning. And it is just not my definition.

There is something very inherently wrong in the way you and George argue. If I say that the compatibilist view on free will is that free will and determinism are compatible, then it is simply no use to show me in all kind of ways that we are determined. Sorry, I am already convinced that we are determined. The question is if the compatibilist definition of free will fits to our daily way of differentiating between free and coerced actions. And both you and George made no single argument against it. You both always use your own incoherent definition of libertarian free will again and again, and then think that you are arguing against compatibilist free will.

[ Edited: 07 March 2013 04:24 AM by GdB ]
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