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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 31 January 2014 05:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 766 ]
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VYAZMA - 30 January 2014 05:50 PM

There’s another definition of action.
So like I said, can someone show me a want, desire, or intention that doesn’t fall under this definition?

It seems to me, VYAZMA, that you have problems with polysemy: the ability of words, signs and symbols to have multiple meanings. (“the greedy habit some words have of taking more than one meaning for themselves”). See also here.

If a word can have different meanings, one normally uses the context in which the word stands to understand what the speaker or author meant. One does not walk away with an argument that is based on another meaning of the same word.

Also from wiktionary, on action, first entry:

Something done so as to accomplish a purpose.

And then follow 12 more meanings. Which of the 13 meanings do you think Bryan meant? This one?

(slang) sexual intercourse.

  She gave him some action.

You (and George) use it as ‘a mechanism; a moving part or assembly’.

You do not realise you are the one playing word games.

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Posted: 31 January 2014 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 767 ]
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I do agree that compatibilism does create a new set of rules, specifically with regard to our legal system. Fine. We do find people guilty all the time and compatibilism is clearly the best way to explain why we do it. But, that doesn’t mean it accurately describes the true nature of our universe. I guess it depends on how much of a reductionist one is. The same goes for options and choices. It does seem like reasoning allows us to choose from a number of options, but it would be wrong to assume we could have done otherwise. If you decide to go for the rice dish, then that was the only available option all along. Our brain has choices just like my calculator has choices. If I decide to marry the wrong person, later recognizing it was a mistake, it’s the same thing as my calculator deciding that 1+1 equals 3. Some of my computer programs can now also recognize when they make a mistake (i.e., a “bad choice”). Reasoning, therefore, is clearly an adaptation because “malfunctioning” brains (brains that made wrong choices) got selected against.

[ Edited: 31 January 2014 07:01 AM by George ]
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Posted: 31 January 2014 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 768 ]
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Thanks for your thoughtful reaction.

George - 31 January 2014 06:50 AM

I do agree that compatibilism does create a new set of rules, specifically with regard to our legal system.

New set of rules? I don’t think so. Compatibilism gets rid of ‘ultimate responsibility’, so if a legal system still sees some people as really evil, and therefore deserve to suffer, yes, then you are right. For the rest however, I think our legal system (at least as it is in Western Europe, and probably Canada) does not need any reformation. Society shows that it abhors of certain actions, but also aims at reintegrating criminals.

George - 31 January 2014 06:50 AM

We do find people guilty all the time and compatibilism is clearly the best way to explain why we do it.

Thanks.

George - 31 January 2014 06:50 AM

But, that doesn’t mean it accurately describes the true nature of our universe. I guess it depends on how much of a reductionist one is.

Well, I am a reductionist. But not a naive, or vulgar reductionist. Atoms are simple objects with simple causal (and partially non-causal) relationships, they can build up to molecules that can have complexer relations with their environment, molecules to cells that can replicate (which atoms never can!), molecules to organisms. On every level behaviour becomes more complex, and the objects have more possible relationships with the environment. On the other side, of course they can never override the causal relationships that their constituents have. So there definitely is no room for LFW: it would override the causal relationships of our constituents. (This is the point I think where you and VYAZMA suspect me of introducing some magic in the system. I don’t.)

George - 31 January 2014 06:50 AM

It does seem like reasoning allows us to choose from a number of options, but it would be wrong to assume we could have done otherwise.

But we have options! But the options, as I wrote before, are from the perspective of the ‘reasoning system’. It is true that what this system will do is fixed, but the reasoning can only be about the possible options, the different ways a system can go from the situation where it is in. If not, what is reasoning then? What is reasoned about, when not about the possible options?

Take Stephen’s chess computer: say black stands mate. There are three possible moves which bring him out of mate. So these are three options. It depends on the evaluation of the subroutines what move the computer will do. But of course it is determined what the computer will do. But that does not mean that there are not three options! And if the move turns out to be a bad one, we can say ‘it could have done otherwise’, meaning ‘there was another, better option’.

It is also illustrative what are not options: e.g. to move the king from one side of the board to the other side. That is against the ‘physics of the chess universe’.

Same with us. For example, I only have 10 minutes to catch a train. My options are to take a bus or a taxi. I evaluate the advantages of both (the cost, the risk that the bus comes late, etc. etc.) and then I choose for one. I take the bus and I come too late. The train is gone. Then it is perfect legitimate to say ‘I could have taken a taxi’, because it was an option. Even if it was determined that I would take the bus.

Contrast this again with another ‘option’: run as fast as possible. A simple calculation shows that I should run 10 km in 10 minutes, so 60km/h. This is not possible, so this is not an option. It is against the real physics of our universe (or biology if you want).

So there is a perfectly logical use of options in a determined universe. We should just not fall in the pit of thinking that these options are real options in the meaning that under exactly the same circumstances (same body, same brain state, same taxis and buses etc) I could have done otherwise. When the starting conditions are the same, exactly the same will happen. There will be the same options (bus or taxi) and my brain will come to the same conclusion. There lies the chimera of LFW.

PS Just discovered that on the same web site that I linked above is a great article about free will. If my English would have been better I could have written it…

[ Edited: 31 January 2014 08:50 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 31 January 2014 08:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 769 ]
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I still don’t think that even the chess example proves that options are what you describe them to be (I think we agree on everything else), but I am not sure. I don’t think the difference between reasoning and acting on impulse is as much qualitatively different as it is different quantitatively. If I kick my foot against a door frame while going to the washroom at 4:00 am and scream some profanity my options (and a final decision) to do (or not do) so are as determined just like are my options and decision when “deciding” on the form of transportation. It’s just that screaming the profanity was produced by a different, more primitive part of my brain and it was processed so fast that consciousness never got a chance to kick in. “Choosing” (maybe I should call it “finding”) the way to travel simply takes a bit longer and for some yet unknown reason the whole process makes us aware of the actual computing. IOW, we (i.e., our consciousness) are witnessing the calculating as it happens (although it’s actually with a slight delay) and for some reason makes us feel that we (again, our consciousness) are in charge. But we are not. If I decide to take the bus instead of the taxi, it was my unconscious part of the brain coming up with the final and only (!) decision—though that is not what my conscious part of the brain thinks is happening) and there were simply no other possibilities.

[ Edited: 31 January 2014 08:53 AM by George ]
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Posted: 31 January 2014 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 770 ]
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Of course there are actions we do without much deliberation. But assume you were a burglar, I think you would be very well able to keep your profanity at a very low acoustical level…

Then there are also reflexes, where I react automatically before I am even conscious. But when I realise what I have done (or shouted) and I see that if I had been conscious first, and then acted, and would have done the same, I still see the action as expression of my own free will.

I gave the example once long ago: tennis goes much too fast to react consciously on every occasion. One could say I train in order to get my consciousness out of the way when I act, because it is too slow. But my tennis playing is still my actions. The options are still there (do I play the ball to the right or to the left?), but I have delegated their evaluations to the motoric subsystems in my brain that react much faster than when consciousness would have been involved.

PS You might not have noticed, but in my postings I never use concepts like ‘being in charge’ or ‘being in control’. They only confuse. I only use them to deconstruct their meaning. Greeting to Lois…

[ Edited: 31 January 2014 09:09 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 31 January 2014 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 771 ]
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Agree with everything except for the second paragraph. Again, I do agree that’s indeed how we (and our legal system) perceive our actions and responsibilities for those actions, but I still think it’s wrong—wrong in a technical way. And you won’t change my mind, so don’t even try. It would be a waste of your time. cheese

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Posted: 31 January 2014 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 772 ]
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George - 31 January 2014 09:17 AM

And you won’t change my mind, so don’t even try. It would be a waste of your time. cheese

What! I should give up on you?  grrr

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Posted: 31 January 2014 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 773 ]
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GdB - 31 January 2014 09:27 AM
George - 31 January 2014 09:17 AM

And you won’t change my mind, so don’t even try. It would be a waste of your time. cheese

What! I should give up on you?  grrr

LOL

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Posted: 01 February 2014 04:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 774 ]
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George - 31 January 2014 09:17 AM

Again, I do agree that’s indeed how we (and our legal system) perceive our actions and responsibilities for those actions, but I still think it’s wrong—wrong in a technical way.

I keep it short, so I do not waste too much of my time.

It is a small secret, so don’t let anybody know: there is no technical way…

The meaning of free will, responsibility, coercion etc. are fully given in the context of their daily use. The whole free will confusion arises where people think that free will, options etc are metaphysical categories, and that we need this for our legal system. This error is made both by LFWer and free will deniers. CFW is just one big intellectual therapy to get people out of their confusion. But many people don’t want to get healed…

6.53 The right method of philosophy would be this. To say nothing except what can be said, i.e. the propositions of natural science, i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and then always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had given no meaning to certain signs in his propositions. This method would be unsatisfying to the other—he would not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy—but it would be the only strictly correct method.

Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

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Posted: 01 February 2014 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 775 ]
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You might be right here. I really don’t know anymore.

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Posted: 01 February 2014 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 776 ]
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Live coverge of Zurich chess championship for those interested: http://www.zurich-cc.com/games.html

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Posted: 01 February 2014 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 777 ]
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GdB - 31 January 2014 09:03 AM

Of course there are actions we do without much deliberation. But assume you were a burglar, I think you would be very well able to keep your profanity at a very low acoustical level…

Then there are also reflexes, where I react automatically before I am even conscious. But when I realise what I have done (or shouted) and I see that if I had been conscious first, and then acted, and would have done the same, I still see the action as expression of my own free will.

I gave the example once long ago: tennis goes much too fast to react consciously on every occasion. One could say I train in order to get my consciousness out of the way when I act, because it is too slow. But my tennis playing is still my actions. The options are still there (do I play the ball to the right or to the left?), but I have delegated their evaluations to the motoric subsystems in my brain that react much faster than when consciousness would have been involved.

PS You might not have noticed, but in my postings I never use concepts like ‘being in charge’ or ‘being in control’. They only confuse. I only use them to deconstruct their meaning. Greeting to Lois…

Greetings to you, too. IMO, compatibisim is used by people who can’t make up their minds about two conflicting philosophies so try to combine them. It doesn’t work any better than trying to combine oil and water.

Lois

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Posted: 01 February 2014 11:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 778 ]
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Lois - 01 February 2014 12:25 PM

Greetings to you, too. IMO, compatibisim is used by people who can’t make up their minds about two conflicting philosophies so try to combine them. It doesn’t work any better than trying to combine oil and water.

I know that is your opinion. But I would invite you to read my postings here (in this posting you will find your name too, 4th paragraph) and here, and then tell me where you find an error in my thought. If you can’t find an error, then you should change your opinion. If you can, tell me. Then we can discuss.

Otherwise your opinion is only that, just an opinion, and not worth anymore than anything people believe in without thinking.

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Posted: 02 February 2014 02:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 779 ]
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GdB - 01 February 2014 11:40 PM
Lois - 01 February 2014 12:25 PM

Greetings to you, too. IMO, compatibisim is used by people who can’t make up their minds about two conflicting philosophies so try to combine them. It doesn’t work any better than trying to combine oil and water.

I know that is your opinion. But I would invite you to read my postings here (in this posting you will find your name too, 4th paragraph) and here, and then tell me where you find an error in my thought. If you can’t find an error, then you should change your opinion. If you can, tell me. Then we can discuss.

Otherwise your opinion is only that, just an opinion, and not worth anymore than anything people believe in without thinking.


How about your opinions?  Are they worth any more than anything people believe in without thinking?

Lois

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Posted: 02 February 2014 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 780 ]
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Lois - 02 February 2014 02:44 AM

How about your opinions?  Are they worth any more than anything people believe in without thinking?

You react very defensive on my postings. In the postings I linked I have given a pretty clear overview of my ideas on determinism and possible meanings of ‘free will’. Why would you not take some time, read them and understand them? I’ve read you postings, and it is obvious that you argue against the libertarian concept of free will. I agree with that: LFW is a nonsense concept. However I present another one, and until now you have not reacted on it. And therefore, yes, your opinion is worth less. Truth is not the result of a democratic process, where all opinions have equal weight.

When somebody too often (it is not the first time you react like this) says that her option is not worth less then somebody else’s, it becomes clear that her opinion is worth less. So I suggest, aim your reactions at the content of what I write.

Bryan is defending LFW very strongly. He forces to think over again my own position, and make some of the ideas more precise. I think he is wrong, and I have arguments for it (of course he thinks they are wrong), but without him I think I would not have written the postings I linked to.

Why wouldn’t you dive into my position? Find the holes, the errors! It will sharpen your and my position, make it worth more.

[ Edited: 02 February 2014 05:22 AM by GdB ]
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