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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 04 March 2014 07:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 946 ]
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VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 06:54 PM

...
I already said if you want to call this stuff free-will, then I have every right to call a rock cracking in half due to the freeze/thaw cycle free-will.
Does that make sense to you? From a theoretical perspective?...

 

Respectfully (using this preface, in case you don’t already know that I value your perspective), it does not make sense to me, from my theoretical perspective.  I cannot rationally attribute wants and beliefs and behavior (in the sense that organisms have behavior) to a rock.

Perhaps your true message eludes me.

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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: 04 March 2014 11:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 947 ]
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VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 01:30 PM

Like I said before also, why do you think this and 2 or three other threads have gone on for over 200 pages collectively?

Because it is so difficult for people to change their perspective on free will. They do not see that there is a perfect meaning of free will that completely covers all we think already about free will (acting based on wishes and beliefs, doing what you want, being responsible for your actions, etc etc), except one single point which totally confuses people like you and Lois: that ‘could have done otherwise’ means more than its normal, modest modal meaning, that people think that it means ‘under exactly the same physical conditions (which include my brain state), I could have done otherwise’. That would override determinism, and therefore also a naturalistic world view.

But if you see ‘could have done otherwise’ in its simple modal meaning, then there is no conflict with determinism at all. Again, read here and here for explanations of what ‘could have done otherwise’ really means. If I am wrong then show me, with arguments.

VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 01:30 PM

Does it take that many pages to explain how people “choose” things?

Obviously it does. And people do not “choose” things, they choose things. It is only your illusion that ‘choosing’ must mean, ‘choose independently of prior causes’. No, your choices are determined, but why should that mean that they are not choices anymore? Give reasons, VYAZMA, this is the Philosophy Forum. If you would have understood the posting I linked too, you should see that choices are causally effective, and that there is no contradiction with the fact that the choices are determined themselves.

VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 01:30 PM

Why has it gone on for that many pages do you think?

Because you suffer under the illusion that free will means ‘under exactly the same physical conditions, I could have done otherwise’.

VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 01:30 PM

You’re the one who keeps claiming you understand how all behavior is caused…

No, I claim that I know that all behaviour is caused, not how. If you want to know how, then ask neurologists and behavioural specialists.

VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 01:30 PM

What’s left after that?  You want to talk about people eating oranges?

No. I want to discuss why you stubbornly stick to an illusionary concept of free will.

VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 01:38 PM
GdB - 04 March 2014 06:55 AM

Read this and give reasons why I am wrong. If you can’t, (or refuse; what a nice way to escape a real discussion…) then you should be honest enough to confess that your standpoint, philosophically seen, is worthless crap.

I already explained to you that your differentiation is a philosophy too.

LOL You criticise that my viewpoint is a philosophy??? Wow, I must be in the wrong forum here. And what is opposing a philosophy? VYAZMA, VYAZMA, you make a clown of your self.

VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 01:38 PM

It’s one that a naturalistic view overrides.

That is just stating the same again. I know you think that. Now give arguments. Show me which elements in my linked posting override a naturalistic world view. Come, on VYAZMA!

VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 06:54 PM

If someone wants to call the observation of people choosing and acting according to their wishes “free-will” then who am I to tell them they are wrong?

Well, you are doing nothing else all the time. The only point I am saying is that this meaning covers all the aspects of what free will is, except the idea that ‘under exactly the same physical conditions, I could have done otherwise’. Compatibilist free will unmasks this as an illusion.

TimB - 04 March 2014 07:50 PM

I cannot rationally attribute wants and beliefs and behavior (in the sense that organisms have behavior) to a rock.

Tim is exactly right.

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Posted: 05 March 2014 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 948 ]
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TimB - 04 March 2014 07:50 PM
VYAZMA - 04 March 2014 06:54 PM

...
I already said if you want to call this stuff free-will, then I have every right to call a rock cracking in half due to the freeze/thaw cycle free-will.
Does that make sense to you? From a theoretical perspective?...

 

Respectfully (using this preface, in case you don’t already know that I value your perspective), it does not make sense to me, from my theoretical perspective.  I cannot rationally attribute wants and beliefs and behavior (in the sense that organisms have behavior) to a rock.

Perhaps your true message eludes me.

What made you want something? Was it causally determined? Did it involve chemicals and electricity in your nervous system? Did it involve outside environmental causes? Both most likely.
Anything else?
Now if you can look at that for what it is, how can you say that’s different from a rock cracking open?
How much of your “rationally attributing” wants, beliefs and behavior is subjective?
Where does “you” end and the machine begin? In that sense, tracing back through evolution, when did a consciousness begin? It doesn’t matter
anyways for this discussion. They both offer perspective though.

The only thing that matters in this discussion is whether you think every last scrap of “you” is causally determined or not?
If you think it isn’t, then you claim special powers. That’s fine.
If you think that every last scrap of “you” is causally determined then this thread and the other 2-3 “free will” threads should have gone on for
3-5 pages at most.
Unless, unless there was someone who claimed that every last scrap of “you” was NOT causally determined. Then the thread might have gone on for many pages.

Now like I said, anybody can call anything “free-will”. We all do it all the time. We use it in language, it makes sense.
We observe people and ourselves picking and choosing and believing and wanting etc etc.

So like the title of this thread suggests, let’s talk about squirrels or dogs picking and choosing, wanting and believing.

[ Edited: 05 March 2014 08:32 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 05 March 2014 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 949 ]
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A squirrel has free will.  It chose to store acorns in the tree rather than in the ground because it knew there would be heavy rains and the acorns would be flooded out.
So the squirrel was able to put the acorns in the tree. Nothing stopped the squirrel and that was where he wanted to put the acorns.
The squirrel moved about freely and and was not obstructed by anything during the acorn storing operation.

The next day a large cat was in the yard stalking the squirrel. The cat was freely doing this. It chose to stalk the squirrel.
The squirrel saw the cat and stayed high in the tree. The squirrel wanted to stay high in the tree and was freely doing so.
But the squirrel also wanted to get to some more acorns on the ground. But it couldn’t not, because it knew the cat was there.
So the squirrels free-will was being hindered by the cat.
Or was it? Because the squirrel could still go to the ground. There was no invisible force shield preventing it from doing so. Or was there?
Plus the squirrel was fully exercising it’s free-will to stay high in the tree. Or was it? LOL

Please anyone continue on. Fascinating.
So I guess cats and squirrels have free-will. I missed the whole point of this and other threads years ago.
Silly me!!

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Posted: 05 March 2014 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 950 ]
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VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 08:12 AM

What made you want something? Was it causally determined? Did it involve chemicals and electricity in your nervous system? Did it involve outside environmental causes? Both most likely.

Not likely. Sure they did! But do you say that a a computer is not calculating, in the end it is all just electrical currents floating through silicon? But there is a meaningful way to say that a computer calculates, therefore you trust the result of a calculation by a computer. Did you ever programmed a stone to make a calculation? Or a vacuum cleaner: it also has electrical currents! There is an essential difference between a computer and a stone (and a vacuum cleaner).

And so there is also an essential difference between humans and stones. It is meaningful to assign beliefs, wishes and reasons to them, but it is absolute meaningless to assign beliefs, wishes and reasons to a stone. But of course, at the lowest level we are just a chemo-electrical process, just as determined as any other physical system.

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 08:12 AM

If you think it isn’t, then you claim special powers. That’s fine.

Nobody is claiming we need special powers for having free will. Not even Bryan!

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 08:12 AM

If you think that every last scrap of “you” is causally determined then this thread and the other 2-3 “free will” threads should have gone on for
3-5 pages at most.

No. Because there always are a few stubborn forum members who refuse to investigate a naturalistic account of free will.

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 08:12 AM

Now like I said, anybody can call anything “free-will”. We all do it all the time. We use it in language, it makes sense.
We observe people and ourselves picking and choosing and believing and wanting etc etc.

Right. And where is this choosing, believing, wanting in conflict with the fact that we are determined?

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 08:26 AM

So I guess cats and squirrels have free-will. I missed the whole point of this and other threads years ago.
Silly me!!

Of course you are ironic here (i.e. I think you do not believe what you’ve written yourself), but I answered the original question as first reaction on Lois’ starting post. So we could have stopped there already.

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 08:26 AM

But the squirrel also wanted to get to some more acorns on the ground. But it couldn’t not, because it knew the cat was there.

Exactly. The squirrel would like to go to his acorns, but he could not act according his own wishes and beliefs. One now can discuss if the cat wanted to avoid the squirrel to come down. He probably wants to eat it. So there are philosophers who would say that animals have no free will, but humans have. Humans can rationally reflect on their reasons for actions, and try to influence the behaviour of intentionally.

But I find the discussion about free will of animals not very interesting. For me it is enough to know that they can suffer and can have joy.

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Posted: 05 March 2014 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 951 ]
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GdB - 05 March 2014 09:19 AM

Right. And where is this choosing, believing, wanting in conflict with the fact that we are determined?

It isn’t in conflict, in the realm of language and perception.

Exactly. The squirrel would like to go to his acorns, but he could not act according his own wishes and beliefs. One now can discuss if the cat wanted to avoid the squirrel to come down. He probably wants to eat it. So there are philosophers who would say that animals have no free will, but humans have. Humans can rationally reflect on their reasons for actions, and try to influence the behaviour of intentionally.

Well there’s more than philosophers who would claim that some animals can reflect on their reasons for actions and try to influence the behavior of intentions. Scientists can show this in animals too.

Of course without adequate knowledge of consciousness and theory on where the “You” ends and the machine begins, I can easily claim that a
Trigger Fish reflects on their intentions and tries to influence the behavior of intentions(of other fish).
Just as you are claiming that humans have special abilities to do this.

You just can’t come to terms past your own subjective, inward view of your OWN consciousness.
That is what I meant when I said it would be VERY VERY important for the Third party, Extra-Terrestrial observers from a completely different world to be NEUTRAL in their observations of rocks and humans. And that goes for vacuum cleaners and computers too.

You GdB are not a third party observer. You are the intent! Trying to describe the intent!

But let’s continue talking about how cats want to eat squirrels. It’s good to use language and understand what we mean as humans with wishes and beliefs.

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Posted: 05 March 2014 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 952 ]
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VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 09:43 AM
GdB - 05 March 2014 09:19 AM

Right. And where is this choosing, believing, wanting in conflict with the fact that we are determined?

It isn’t in conflict, in the realm of language and perception.

Right. I hope you do agree that those realms exist, even that they are implemented in a physical machine, the brain? In that case we are more or less there. Free will has no meaning in the physical realm, somebody who looks for it in the physical realm is looking at the wrong place. And therefore it is not very interesting to say free will does not exist in the physical realm; it attributes nothing to question if we have free will or not.

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 09:43 AM

Well there’s more than philosophers who would claim that some animals can reflect on their reasons for actions and try to influence the behavior of intentions. Scientists can show this in animals too.

Yes, some animals can. If free will can only be attributed to them?

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 09:43 AM

Of course without adequate knowledge of consciousness and theory on where the “You” ends and the machine begins, ....

I am not sure what you mean here, but I smell a category error. There is no ‘gray area’ or something between a ‘You ending’ and a ‘machine beginning’. We are machines, but very complex ones. If you mean there is not exact border in evolution where e.g. animals become conscious, then you are right.

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 09:43 AM

I can easily claim that a Trigger Fish reflects on their intentions and tries to influence the behavior of intentions(of other fish).
Just as you are claiming that humans have special abilities to do this.


But you cannot claim e.g. that the Trigger Fish is reasoning about the pain he does to other fish. We do.

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 09:43 AM

You just can’t come to terms past your own subjective, inward view of your OWN consciousness.
That is what I meant when I said it would be VERY VERY important for the Third party, Extra-Terrestrial observers from a completely different world to be NEUTRAL in their observations of rocks and humans. And that goes for vacuum cleaners and computers too.

ETs will not understand our behaviour if they do not understand intentions and reasons. Read this (wow, in this same thread!), the story of Dr. Onestone and Dr. Weaver to get the idea.

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 09:43 AM

You GdB are not a third party observer. You are the intent! Trying to describe the intent!

Yes, of course! Therefore it is so easy to assign intents, beliefs and wishes to them. They surely do the same as I do. We are the same species, functioning at very similar ways in our society.

VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 09:43 AM

But let’s continue talking about how cats want to eat squirrels. It’s good to use language and understand what we mean as humans with wishes and beliefs.

To be honest. I am not so interested. I love animals, and I respect them, and think that everone should do so.

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Posted: 05 March 2014 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 953 ]
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GDP, What do you think are the essential elements for an entity to have in order to have CFW?  (I say entity rather than organism because I don’t want to rule out complex robots from the future.) 

One, I think you would say would be perceptual abilities.  If so, what else can you think of?

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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: 05 March 2014 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 954 ]
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Sorry, I meant GdB.  I didn’t mean to confuse you with Gross Domestic Product.

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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: 05 March 2014 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 955 ]
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Well I’m happy to leave it at this.
You are very concerned that we use terms(specifically the term ‘free-will”) to describe our observations and perceptions of human behavior.

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Posted: 05 March 2014 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 956 ]
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GdB - 05 March 2014 10:30 AM

I am not sure what you mean here, but I smell a category error. There is no ‘gray area’ or something between a ‘You ending’ and a ‘machine beginning’. We are machines, but very complex ones. If you mean there is not exact border in evolution where e.g. animals become conscious, then you are right.

Oh no. There is no category error.  There is a “you” separate from the machine. It’s called consciousness.
Now yes, you and I agree that the “you’(consciousness) is just another determined, physical extension of the brain.
But it is there nonetheless.
This is what gives us an illusion of free-will.(among some other illusions) To the point of you claiming that we are different from the trigger fish because we can reason about the pain we inflict. That right there. You infer that we can reason about pain and intentions.
I claim that you are just analyzing sensory input and memory and instinct. Just like the fish.(Like a trigger fish. Maybe the fish has no memory. It has instinct. Maybe memory is the only thing that makes us more advanced than other animals. Probably does.)

What exactly are you doing when you are reasoning about pain that you could inflict? I mean the actual thought processes?
If the trigger fish could reason about it(and he may well be able to…probably not, but we don’t know!) what would his thought processes be?
How would they be different from ours?

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Posted: 05 March 2014 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 957 ]
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I started this thread (in another age, it seems) and I wrote the subject line “Do Non-Human Animals Have Free Will?” for a reason. Non-human animals are conscious, just as humans are.  We could read free will into their behavior, but I wouldn’t. Most of their behavior is instinctual and not many people would describe their actions as free will. Yet they are conscious—they know what is going on around them, they respond to their environment, but I would not define that as deliberative behavior.  When a dog barks, for example, we don’t assume he is weighing options before he barks, nor when he attacks. A dog can be trained, but that ability to be trained is just another determining factor in his behavior, in his genes,  not free will. The very fact that he can be trained, that his species has been domesticated is a result of their determining factors.  I don’t think dogs wake up one morning and say to themselves, “Hmm, i think my life would be better if I ingratiated myself to a human, allow a human to be my master, get fed and protected. I’ve seen this and it looks like a nice life to me. All I have to do is mirror their emotions, look at them longingly, bark a warning when something looks amiss,  and I’m home free!” No, I don’t think dogs deliberate before they act any more than humans do.  They act as their own determining factors lead them to act, and we do the same. Yet they are conscious in every sense of the word. They just don’t attribute their thoughts and actions to free will (as far as we can tell).

Lois

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Posted: 06 March 2014 02:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 958 ]
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Wow, now I have 3 people to react on… See how far I come today.

I’ll start with Lois.

I think your posting is very revealing, and in some sense I should have known from the beginning, but it is very good you answered your own original question, with arguments. These arguments show what you really think about free will, and that you in fact very well know what I was saying all the time, but that you just did not want to shift from your dogmatic view point on free will.

In arguing why animals have no free will, you use many arguments that contrast animals with humans:
- most of animal’s behaviour is instinctual
- I would not define that as deliberative behaviour
- we don’t assume a dog is weighing options before he barks
- to be trained is just another determining factor in his behaviour
- dogs don’t wake up one morning and say to themselves “....

In other words, in arguing that animals have no free will, you contrast them with humans: not all human’s behaviour is instinctual, humans do deliberate at least some of the time, we weight options, not all our behaviour is trained, and we sometimes wake up and plan what to do. And it are exactly such aspects of human behaviour I mention when defending that humans have free will. Obviously you do so too, only not if you explicitly make a statement about human’s free will.

If you did not see these differences between animals and humans, your question would have been as useless as asking if animals have weight: in this aspect animals and humans do not differ at all. And of course they also do not differ in the aspect that humans and animals alike are determined. But they do differ, and according to you humans have free will. Just not this funny free will with the adjective ‘libertarian’.

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Posted: 07 March 2014 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 959 ]
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VYAZMA - 05 March 2014 11:35 AM

Oh no. There is no category error.  There is a “you” separate from the machine. It’s called consciousness.
Now yes, you and I agree that the “you’(consciousness) is just another determined, physical extension of the brain.

Oh no… Here is the category error in the fullest glory I’ve ever seen!

NO: there is no ‘you’ separate from the machine, there is no consciousness as physical extension of the brain. The whole process running in the brain is consciousness. It is this dualistic view, consciousness as separate module, that makes people think that because the brain is determined, we are not free. They think that consciousness follows what the brain does, and because there is no sign of the brain following consciousness (Libet!), our consciousness is determined by the brain. That is wrong: the illusion disappears when you realise consciousness is the process running on the brain. We are determined, yes, but not by the brain because we are the brain. There is no ‘you’ that is forced by the brain.

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Posted: 08 March 2014 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 960 ]
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Question: when a chimpanzee fashions a spear with a sharp point and the proper length to reach that bush baby hidden deep in the tree, is that instinctual or is it free will?

The observation that animals mostly function instinctually is true.  But what about that little bitty part which does not belong to the “mostly” part?  Finding the straight stick of proper length and biting and scraping it to fashion a point (how does an ape know a point works better than a blunt end?), then patiently poking the stick into the hole over and over until it spears the bush baby and has a nice little lunch.

Not so different than a human planning to fashion a spear, or a fishing pole to accomplish a future task. If not free will, I would call that at least “planning”. and planning is not instinctual, it is a reasoned decision.  An element of Free Will here?  Just asking.

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