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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 09 April 2013 07:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 601 ]
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Lois completely understands the idea of determinism.
George completely understands the ideas of determinism.
GdB completely understands the idea of determinism.
Write understands the idea.
Doug understands the idea.
I completely understand the idea. And everyone else who has participated in this.(who’s not a free-willer)
GdB wants to also view the concept from the outside…actually observing sentient beings with determined wishes and beliefs further determining the world.
That’s all this is.  That’s what this debate is.
There’s nothing wrong with GdB’s angle.  GdB is trying to define the causality(past and future) of sentient beings actions.
All the stuff about liberty, desserts, dualism is superfluous.  That is in the realm of human consciousness and/or behavior.

[ Edited: 09 April 2013 07:14 PM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 09 April 2013 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 602 ]
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VYAZMA - 09 April 2013 06:59 PM

I was typing, then I deleted it all.  I kicked myself for getting sucked back in here.

I know, this can happen… Never trust a computer, never trust the internet, and never trust our forum software… If I notice my texts becomes longer and longer I switch to a local editor, e.g. notepad on Windows.

VYAZMA - 09 April 2013 06:59 PM

George-“You” can train the chemical part of the brain? Who or what is “you”?

If I’m not mistaken, here is George refuting another member’s ideas of dualism.

Yep. That was clear, and I gave my portion to it here. Write4U gives compatibilism a bad name when he is writing such things.

VYAZMA - 09 April 2013 06:59 PM

GdB-Now you have fallen deeper in the dualist hole than George and VYAZMA ever did.

I don’t remember falling in any hole?

You both do, all the time. The idea that we are determined by causal processes and therefore we are not free can only be formulated when one supposes that ‘we’ are different from what causes us. Also George’s ‘only observing’ is dualistic, as if there is a position separate from our brain from which we are conscious.

The discourse about free will has everything to do with being coerced or not. Saying we have no free will is saying that the physical events in my brain coerce me to do what I do, and I only feel as if I am not coerced. But that is a category mistake: it is the application of concepts of free or coerced actions on the level of the brain, as if ‘physical causes’ exist on the same level as ‘coercion’. I can only be coerced by something that is not me, but I am my working brain. My brain does not force me to do anything.

Being a free agent just means that I am capable to participate in a moral discourse, in which free or coerced actions, responsibility, awareness of what I am doing an why can be reflected. When I have some brain damage, and it can be shown that I am not capable of doing that, I might not be held responsible. Also, when I was not able to act according to my own wishes and beliefs (e.g. when I am blackmailed), I might not be held responsible. But simply say, ‘it was my brain’ will not do. We even need determinism, to be sure that we can identify the causal agent of an action.

VYAZMA - 09 April 2013 07:11 PM

...
GdB completely understands the idea of determinism.
...
GdB wants to also view the concept from the outside…actually observing sentient beings with determined wishes and beliefs further determining the world.
That’s all this is.  That’s what this debate is.

Well, it seems I am slowly getting through. At least I am not accused of indeterminism anymore.

The debate however, is the debate if ‘determined wishes and beliefs further determining the world’ can account for our daily use of free will. Combatibilists say it can.

I do not understand your expression ‘viewing the concept from the outside’. I would say you all do. You seem to deny that you are perfectly aware of your own wishes and beliefs, as well those of others, close your eyes for it and only see firing neurons. That is what I would call an ‘outside view’. I repeat my ‘subjective’ idea of free will once again, maybe it starts to make sense by now:

The experience of free will occurs when I know that, everything else staying the same, what will happen next depends on me. (Think again about the determinist sitting in the restaurant with the menu card!) This definition works perfectly also in a determined world: I did not lose one word about on which I depend. The illusion of libertarian free will is that my choice is not caused by previous factors. Compatibilism says that of course my choice is determined by previous factors.

VYAZMA - 09 April 2013 07:11 PM

All the stuff about liberty, desserts, dualism is superfluous.  That is in the realm of human consciousness and/or behavior.

I do not understand what you mean here. Wishes, beliefs, arguments, reasons, actions, free will etc belong to ‘the realm of human consciousness and/or behavior’. Liberty belongs to political theory, deserts to law, dualism to philosophy, determinism to the hard sciences.

My excursuses into dualism were meant to show that only when you are a dualist it can make sense to say we have no free will because we are determined. Without dualism, the opposition between determinism and free will does not make sense. The concept of having free will or not simply does not apply in a physical discourse, and a physical discourse has nothing to say about the question of free will.

[ Edited: 10 April 2013 02:30 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 10 April 2013 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 603 ]
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GdB-The debate however, is the debate if ‘determined wishes and beliefs further determining the world’ can account for our daily use of free will. Combatibilists say it can.

Yeah. Fine.  Like I said you are seeking a definition for those actions(or uses…).  Compatabilism.  OK.

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Posted: 10 April 2013 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 604 ]
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GdB-I do not understand what you mean here. Wishes, beliefs, arguments, reasons, actions, free will etc belong to ‘the realm of human consciousness and/or behavior’. Liberty belongs to political theory, deserts to law, dualism to philosophy, determinism to the hard sciences.

My excursuses into dualism were meant to show that only when you are a dualist it can make sense to say we have no free will because we are determined. Without dualism, the opposition between determinism and free will does not make sense. The concept of having free will or not simply does not apply in a physical discourse, and a physical discourse has nothing to say about the question of free will.

Oh, I thought you had brought these items up many times in this debate with varying contexts.
I don’t think I’m a dualist….but the difference between free-will and determinism seems to make sense to me.

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Posted: 10 April 2013 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 605 ]
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VYAZMA - 10 April 2013 05:51 AM

Yeah. Fine.  Like I said you are seeking a definition for those actions(or uses…).  Compatabilism.  OK.

I assume your reaction here means that you think it is a useless discussion. As said a few pages earlier, I think it is important. Some neurologists do as if we should change our practice of punishment because neurology has discovered that we are determined. From the correct definition of free will it is clear that there is no reason for it.

You can take the outside view, and then all our moral justifications are just as determined as the actions of a criminal. But that means nothing changes when we realise that we are determined. Or you can take the view from inside the discourse: then the criminal and we stand under the same moral obligations, and nobody can claim he is not responsible because he is determined. You cannot mix physical and moral discourse, that leads to absurd consequences.

And yes, I think you have still some remnant of dualist thought in your thinking. Maybe you should practice Zenmeditation…  wink

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Posted: 10 April 2013 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 606 ]
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GdB-And yes, I think you have still some remnant of dualist thought in your thinking. Maybe you should practice Zenmeditation…  wink

Of course I have dualist “thoughts” in my mind.  Everyone does!  It’s how we think and perceive through consciousness.
I’ll work on the Zen.

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Posted: 10 April 2013 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 607 ]
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VYAZMA - 10 April 2013 09:04 AM

Of course I have dualist “thoughts” in my mind.  Everyone does!  It’s how we think and perceive through consciousness.

That maybe true. But we should try to get rid of it especially when we try to understand the mind/body problem and the problem of free will.
In my opinion, reading Dennett’s ‘Consciousness explained’ helps, but it is no easy read. Maybe Metzinger’s ‘The Ego tunnel’ helps too. An easier read, but also a bit less deeper.

VYAZMA - 10 April 2013 09:04 AM

I’ll work on the Zen.

Maybe that helps too.  tongue rolleye

[ Edited: 10 April 2013 10:02 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 10 April 2013 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 608 ]
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Can someone answer this;  is Determinism purely coercive in nature? In that case we should not be able to make choices at all. Coercion takes choice away.
Is choice just an illusion? If so then why are we responsible for our actions?  Are laws not a counter coercion to “prevent” (coerce) us to deviate from a future where we might commit a crime.

IMO, we are perfectly able to predict certain futures and be motivated to prepare for future events in order to thwart purely deterministic processes. We become the causal agents influencing the shape of future deterministic events.

What difference do political parties make, if they do not have a deterministic application in society?  What does majority rule mean? Something happens in spite of opposition to it?

What is mass hysteria?

[ Edited: 10 April 2013 10:19 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 10 April 2013 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 609 ]
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GdB- this could be insightful to getting closer to our debate:  What do you mean “mind/body problem
Or “problem” of free-will?  What’s problematic about those things. 
We can temporarily “get rid of it” when we have these “objective as possible” discussions.  I don’t see us getting any closer to an understanding or a conclusion.
And I don’t see getting closer to these things as any improvement in the human condition anyways.
If science could perfectly map out the physical mechanics of what makes a mind-I doubt that would enable us to rid ourselves of dualism.
But if we could eliminate dualistic thinking I’m sure that would make us automatons or something….

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Posted: 10 April 2013 11:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 610 ]
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VYAZMA - 10 April 2013 10:58 AM

GdB- this could be insightful to getting closer to our debate:  What do you mean “mind/body problem

I just mean the philosophical topic under this name.

VYAZMA - 10 April 2013 10:58 AM

Or “problem” of free-will? 

May people see a contradiction in the fact that we are free, and the fact that for all practical purposes, everything is determined. Funny, what? So it is a philosophical topic too.

VYAZMA - 10 April 2013 10:58 AM

What’s problematic about those things. 

They are problematic because both topics are concerned with contradicting intuitions, and that is the reason they are intelligibility problems: they are not necessary easy to understand. Cursory looking at these topics leads to wrong conceptions lightly.

VYAZMA - 10 April 2013 10:58 AM

We can temporarily “get rid of it” when we have these “objective as possible” discussions.  I don’t see us getting any closer to an understanding or a conclusion.
And I don’t see getting closer to these things as any improvement in the human condition anyways.

Well, I see some of these cursory ‘solutions’ as bringing us farther away from ‘the human condition’, e.g. when people are not held responsible because they are determined.

VYAZMA - 10 April 2013 10:58 AM

If science could perfectly map out the physical mechanics of what makes a mind-I doubt that would enable us to rid ourselves of dualism.

There is no physical mechanics of the mind: there is a functional. If the mind were physical, we would only be able to create consciousness or intelligence in ‘brainy matter’. I think we can do it with computers too, but computers work physically totally different from brains. For computers to get conscious or intelligent, they should be able to reproduce the brain on functional level. See e.g. artificial neural networks.

VYAZMA - 10 April 2013 10:58 AM

But if we could eliminate dualistic thinking I’m sure that would make us automatons or something….

Why? Why not the opposite? Make automatons alive?

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Posted: 10 April 2013 11:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 611 ]
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Write4U - 10 April 2013 10:13 AM

Can someone answer this;  is Determinism purely coercive in nature?

No. Read some of my postings above, and you will see that this is a category mistake.

Write4U - 10 April 2013 10:13 AM

IMO, we are perfectly able to predict certain futures and be motivated to prepare for future events in order to thwart purely deterministic processes. We become the causal agents influencing the shape of future deterministic events.

There is no ‘thwarting’ from ‘purely deterministic processes’. Every event in the universe is determined, every event fixes the initial conditions for followup events. We are causal agents in the sense that we, as every other determined process, ‘change’ initial conditions for followup processes. But we are causal agents because we do so based on our anticipation of the future. But this anticipation is a determined process in itself.

Sorry, Write, your thinking is very confused, and you seem to look still for some indetermined corner of the universe where our libertarian free will can arise.

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Posted: 11 April 2013 02:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 612 ]
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Write4U - 10 April 2013 10:13 AM

If so then why are we responsible for our actions?

There is such a thing as compatibilist responsibility but this is so far removed from what you have in mind that the simple honest answer is you are not responsible for your actions.

IMO, we are perfectly able to predict certain futures and be motivated to prepare for future events in order to thwart purely deterministic processes. We become the causal agents influencing the shape of future deterministic events.

 

You influence the shape of future events but only in the way you are predetermined to shape them.

Stephen

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Posted: 14 April 2013 12:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 613 ]
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GdB - 09 April 2013 05:49 AM
StephenLawrence - 09 April 2013 05:08 AM

There is a logical consequence of treating all else the same as you do, and you are simply ignoring it.

Yes. The point is that you do not see that it is perfectly OK to ignore it.

We were talking about the correct interpretation of “all else the same”. I think it’s a mistake to treat it as you do. The coffee example is a good one. If I ask “how could I have had the knowledge” there will be a further answer which will be another counterfactual supporting the first and so it goes on.

This does seem to be important in the context of the free will debate because it’s missing this which is part of the ‘illusion’ of free will.

Also there need to be truths about reality which make counterfactuls true. It seems that one of those truths is either that indeterminism is true, in a strict sense i.e defining determinism so that not even the first moment could be indetermined. Or that indeterminism is a metaphysical possibility. In your example knowledge would have just appearing uncaused. One of the reasons I’m so interested is that I find it unsatisfactory, I’d like a metaphysics in which indeterminism can be removed completely.

You don’t manage to remove indeterminism from your metaphysics,  you just think you can ignore it, as you say.

Thinking about the fact that the big bang should have banged differently, or that there is magic going on, or indeterminism would be true, does not have any impact on the formulation and the truth value of counter-factuals. They are true or false completely independent of the factual possibilities that I could somehow prepare the initial conditions or not.

This doesn’t appear to be the case. The possibility of indeterminism being true is the metaphysical basis in your example.

The material implication makes all counterfactuals true but it’s vacuous truth. It’s not what we mean by truth. It just says if the antecedent and consequent are false the statement is true. But the truth we are interested in is not truth by virtue of the fact the antecedent and consequent are false.

So “If I eat 6 weetabix tomorrow I will run a marathon in 3 minutes flat” is true, according to the truth table, but it’s false. Your reply is yes but it’s false because eating 6 weetabix wouldn’t cause that. But this misses the point. The falsity of the antecedent and consequent have nothing to do with the truth of counterfactuals or their meaning.

“If I had eaten 6 weetabix yesterday I could have traveled faster than the speed of light”. This gives us the result that it is physically possible to travel faster than the speed of light, by virtue of the fact that the antecedent and consequent are false.

And take your example “Oh, I could have bought a pack of coffee if I would have known we were run out of it!” True according to the truth table. But isn’t this also true according to the truth table? “Oh, I could not have bought a pack of coffee if I would have known we were run out of it!”

These counterfactuals are tied up with causation. Since it appears we need indeterminism somewhere as a metaphysical basis of counterfactuals we also need it as a basis of causation and therefore free will. I’m not arguing for this because I believe it but because I don’t see how to overcome the problem and I’d like to.

Stephen

[ Edited: 14 April 2013 12:43 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 14 April 2013 01:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 614 ]
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George,

I was just looking around and something you wrote on the smplexity thread jumped out at me. When I’ve commented on things like this before I’ve tended to get an irritated reaction.

I’m really not trying to irritate you, I really am trying to understand your view on choice (not free will).

So here goes shut eye : “What the author is forgetting is that you have a choice these days. You can buy a smart TV and spend days, if not months, trying to figure out all the features, or you can get Apple TV instead, plug it in, and set it up in a couple of minutes.”

Do you believe what you wrote makes sense or not?

Stephen

[ Edited: 14 April 2013 01:21 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 14 April 2013 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 615 ]
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Stephen,

Do you think that logic is dependent on metaphysics? That the material implication can only produce true sentences when indeterminism is true?

The meaning of the sentence “Oh, I could have bought a pack of coffee if I would have known we were run out of it!” just says “all other conditions being the same, if I’ve only had known we have run out of coffee, I could have bought a pack of coffee”. Say, you were in the shop, there was coffee available, you had enough money etc. etc. The only reason you did not buy coffee is that you did not know you had no coffee anymore at home. Does this sentence only have meaning if the world is indeterministic? Sorry, this just makes no sense to me.

StephenLawrence - 14 April 2013 12:18 AM

These counterfactuals are tied up with causation. Since it appears we need indeterminism somewhere as a metaphysical basis of counterfactuals we also need it as a basis of causation and therefore free will. I’m not arguing for this because I believe it but because I don’t see how to overcome the problem and I’d like to.

There is a point in saying that free will is needed to do scientific experiments. If I cannot freely change the initial conditions of experiments, I cannot observe how my measurements are dependent on the different initial conditions. However, for scientific experiments there is completely unproblematic way of seeing this: what is necessary is that the are no common causal factors in the behaviour of the experimentalist and in the measurements, i.e. the change of measurement is only caused by the experimentalist’s change of initial conditions.

Happily enough that just fits the coffee-example: if the experimentalist would not have changed the initial conditions, the measurements would not have been different. Or “Everything being the same, if the experimentalist would have changed the initial conditions, the measurements would have been different”. That secures he is researching a causal relationship. None if this presupposes indeterminism.

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