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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 07 March 2013 01:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 406 ]
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George - 06 March 2013 07:35 PM

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.

The compatibilist concept of free will shows that determinism has nothing to do with how we distinguish between free and coerced actions, and therefore that neurological discoveries (or so called discoveries) of how the brain functions do not touch our daily concepts of free will, responsibility, coercion, etc. at all.

It touches upon a few wrong ideas about free will however, e.g. that an action is only free when it is itself not caused.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 02:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 407 ]
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GdB - 07 March 2013 01:29 AM
George - 06 March 2013 07:35 PM

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.

The compatibilist concept of free will shows that determinism has nothing to do with how we distinguish between free and coerced actions, and therefore that neurological discoveries (or so called discoveries) of how the brain functions do not touch our daily concepts of free will, responsibility, coercion, etc. at all.

It touches upon a few wrong ideas about free will however, e.g. that an action is only free when it is itself not caused.

And why is it not possible that even as our thoughts are caused, we are able to add to this causality. This is what I mean by the term “influencing the future”. 
IOW, if we do not act on our knowledge of an impending event, the event will happen as projected, but if we take a certain action now, the event may be averted.  All very causal, but we played a role in the “outcome”.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 03:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 408 ]
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Write, it is not quite clear what you mean.

There are two ‘causal moments’:

1. our wishes and beliefs are caused by our biological and biographical past
2. our wishes and beliefs cause our actions

1. is always true, 2. is only true when I am not coerced to do something that is not according my wishes and beliefs. Then my actions are caused by the wishes and beliefs of somebody else, i.e. I cannot identify with my actions anymore.

I certainly have influence on my future: the thermostat has too. That there is also a physical low level explanation of how the thermostat works does not mean it does not influence the future. Only when somebody uses the incoherent definition of ‘it must be uncaused itself’ (s)he comes to the conclusion that the thermostat does not influence the future, and so we neither.

But this conclusion is wrong, namely based on the idea that for free will 1. should not be the case.

Did that explain your point?

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Posted: 07 March 2013 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 409 ]
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Lois - 06 March 2013 09:31 PM

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.

Lois, your questions throughout these threads demonstrate that you still haven’t understood compatibilism. You say “I am a hard determinist and I am likely to remain one” as though compatibilists were not hard determinists and were trying to get you not to be a determinist. But compatibilism is defined as that free will is compatible with determinism.

You talk about “impossible middle grounds” as though compatibilism asserted that it was some kind of indeterminism that made us free. So long as you suffer under that misconception, you won’t have begun to understand compatibilism.

Compatibilism says that in order to be free, we must be determined: without deterministic causal forces affecting our perceptual organs, we would have no knowledge of the world. Without deterministic causal forces between desire and perception, desire would not be properly calibrated to the world. Without deterministic causal forces between desire, will, and action, our actions would not be properly directed at what we want.

Think of us as robots: we’re Data from Star Trek. (We really are, in the relevant sense). Yet there are some times when Data acts because he wants to do the action, and other times he is compelled to act by some bad guy with a gun. In both cases determinism is true, yet in the second case his actions did not come from his own desires, they came from the desires of the other guy. So he was compelled. So he would not be held responsible if the other guy forced him to steal money from the bank.

None of this picture has anything non-deterministic in it anywhere. (At least, not necessarily. On one very influential interpretation of quantum mechanics, atoms behave stochastically rather than deterministically. If so, determinism is false, but that has no relevance to our picture, since it has nothing to do with free will).

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Posted: 07 March 2013 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 410 ]
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Of course, it remains to be seen if our actions actually come “from our desires,” or if the feeling of desire is simply a reaction of the body that plays no role in determining our action. I don’t know much about the design of Data, but it seems that in us feelings play more of a role of synchronizing the body with the mind (at least from what I read) than a part of decision making. I am not sure if any of this has anything to do with compatibilism, but I would be careful saying that “actions come from our desirers.”

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Posted: 07 March 2013 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 411 ]
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In the case of thirst in particular, osmoreceptors detect the change in osmotic pressure in the blood (typically due to an increase in salt concentration, when we are dehydrated), which registers in the brain as thirst. This is the causal mechanism at play when we reach for a glass of water. Far as I’m concerned, these receptors function to produce thirst or a desire to drink liquid.

The question you’re after (I assume re. Libet) is whether these desires must register consciously before becoming active. Clearly the answer is “no”.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 412 ]
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please: answer—-

what would free will be for—-

why do humans need free will—-

what is an example of free will—-

is will the means to free will will—

what is will—-

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Posted: 07 March 2013 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 413 ]
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I think my Turing program is better.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 09:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 414 ]
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This thread seems to deal with descriptions of historic discoveries about “what is alive;”

We do not known yet—-most of the discoveries of “what” are consider functions now,

which is allowing the question “who are we” more prominence in Modern Philosophy.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 415 ]
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Write4U - 07 March 2013 02:19 AM

And why is it not possible that even as our thoughts are caused, we are able to add to this causality. This is what I mean by the term “influencing the future”. 
IOW, if we do not act on our knowledge of an impending event, the event will happen as projected, but if we take a certain action now, the event may be averted.  All very causal, but we played a role in the “outcome”.

Do you mean this just like if it stops raining now a flood may be averted but if it doesn’t it will happen as projected?

If so that’s right.

Stephen

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Posted: 07 March 2013 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 416 ]
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dougsmith - 07 March 2013 05:24 AM
Lois - 06 March 2013 09:31 PM

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.

Dougsmith: Lois, your questions throughout these threads demonstrate that you still haven’t understood compatibilism.

Lois: I think it’s more likely that you don’t understand determinism.


Dougsmith: You say “I am a hard determinist and I am likely to remain one” as though compatibilists were not hard determinists and were trying to get you not to be a determinist. But compatibilism is defined as that free will is compatible with determinism.

Lois: I don’t think it is.  To me, that’s like saying that atheism is compatible with theism. IMO, you are trying pound the round peg of free will into the square hole of determinism. Your sentence above is the same as if a person who didn’t want to give up a belief in god we’re to say,“your questions throughout these threads demonstrate that you still haven’t understood compatibilism. You say ‘I am an atheist and I am likely to remain one’ as though compatibilists were not atheists and were trying to get you not to be an atheist. But compatibilism is defined as that atheism is compatible with theism.”  It makes as much sense.  Either there is free will or there is not. Its the same as saying either there is a god or there isn’t. The fact that “compatibilists” agree that determinism exists has no bearing on whether free will exists. If we have free will we can overcome determined thoughts and actions, so that means determined thoughts and actions are subject to our will.  Where does this will come from?  Doesn’t it come from the same mind that is determined? Or are you suggesting that we have a will that is separate from and independent of our determined minds?


Dougsmith: You talk about “impossible middle grounds” as though compatibilism asserted that it was some kind of indeterminism that made us free. So long as you suffer under that misconception, you won’t have begun to understand


Lois: I have no idea what that means. I have never said or implied such a senseless notion.

Dougsmith: Compatibilism says that in order to be free, we must be determined: without deterministic causal forces affecting our perceptual organs, we would have no knowledge of the world. Without deterministic causal forces between desire and perception, desire would not be properly calibrated to the world. Without deterministic causal forces between desire, will, and action, our actions would not be properly directed at what we want.

Lois: Our actions are not directed as we want if they are in opposition to our determined decisions.

Dougsmith: Think of us as robots: we’re Data from Star Trek. (We really are, in the relevant sense). Yet there are some times when Data acts because he wants to do the action,

Lois:How does he do that if his actions are determined by factors beyond his control? (or in this case, beyond his programmed responses?)


Dougsmith: and other times he is compelled to act by some bad guy with a gun.

Lois: No, he’s not compelled to act by some bad guy with a gun.  The bad guy with a gun sets off Data’s determining factors,he will be unaware of how they are working and he will not be able to step out of his determined mind and make a contradictory decision, no matter how much he or you think he can.

Dougsmith:In both cases determinism is true, yet in the second case his actions did not come from his own desires, they came from the desires of the other guy.

Lois: No, they didn’t come from the desires of the other guy.  They came from Data’s determined responses to what his mind perceives. Data has no independent control over what actions his determined factors compel him to perform under any set of circumstances.

Dougsmith: So he was compelled. So he would not be held responsible if the other guy forced him to steal money from the bank.

Lois: Whether he’s held responsible would be a result of people’s determined responses to the situation. We don’t hold people responsible if our determining factors decide to not hold them responsible (based on our genes, our experience and our environment, not our “free will”.)  Then our mind tries to justify our decisions by creating ideas about responsibility. But when we do that it is also determined by factors beyond our control.

Dougsmith: None of this picture has anything non-deterministic in it anywhere. (At least, not necessarily. On one very influential interpretation of quantum mechanics, atoms behave stochastically rather than deterministically. If so, determinism is false, but that has no relevance to our picture, since it has nothing to do with free will).

Lois: it’s free will that has no relevance.  You are bringing up a red herring. Quantum mechanics means only that we don’t know why particles are acting as they do and we are unable to predict what they will do.  We can’t predict what our determining factors will do, either.  If there is randomness in the universe there is randomness inour determining factors, it is simply one more factor that determines our decisions, over which we have no independent control. Randomness or quantum mechanics is an argument for determinism, not free will.  Or are you saying that you believe that free will can overcome the effects of quantum mechanics? If so, by what mechanism would that take place?

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Posted: 07 March 2013 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 417 ]
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Lois - 07 March 2013 12:35 PM

Or are you saying that you believe that free will can overcome the effects of quantum mechanics? If so, by what mechanism would that take place?

Yeah, OK, it’s pretty clear you aren’t understanding what’s going on in this thread, Lois. All I can suggest is that you reread what’s gone before. Perhaps something will click eventually.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 418 ]
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Lois and Doug and others—-you are getting close—-

“If so, by what mechanism would that take place?“and “aren’t understanding”—-

replace “mechanism” with means—-and “aren’t understanding” with do not know—-

modern physics is for function—-what is taking place;

modern philosophy is for Being—-what is is my place;

understanding our place may give us the means for free will—-

[ Edited: 07 March 2013 01:38 PM by arnoldg ]
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Posted: 07 March 2013 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 419 ]
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dougsmith - 07 March 2013 12:43 PM
Lois - 07 March 2013 12:35 PM

Or are you saying that you believe that free will can overcome the effects of quantum mechanics? If so, by what mechanism would that take place?

Yeah, OK, it’s pretty clear you aren’t understanding what’s going on in this thread, Lois. All I can suggest is that you reread what’s gone before. Perhaps something will click eventually.

It’s interesting though isn’t it. Just how strongly free will is libertarian free will for many.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 420 ]
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StephenLawrence - 07 March 2013 10:53 AM
Write4U - 07 March 2013 02:19 AM

And why is it not possible that even as our thoughts are caused, we are able to add to this causality. This is what I mean by the term “influencing the future”. 
IOW, if we do not act on our knowledge of an impending event, the event will happen as projected, but if we take a certain action now, the event may be averted.  All very causal, but we played a role in the “outcome”.

Do you mean this just like if it stops raining now a flood may be averted but if it doesn’t it will happen as projected?

If so that’s right.

Stephen

Or if we build a dike now we may avert flooding, no matter how hard it rains. Thus if we had not acted with foresight, we’d all be swimming for our lives.
IOW, we purposefully and actively participated in building a passive defense against a perceived future threat, which “may or may not” happen, i.e. a choice in priorities. All deterministic, but with a component of choice and free will in the mix.

[ Edited: 07 March 2013 03:30 PM by Write4U ]
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