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Critique My Philosophy of Life?
Posted: 17 January 2014 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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Has anyone ever wondered how to be in two places at the same time? What, you didn’t know it’s possible? In my model I’d like to show how the same green ball can be both in Paris and in New York at the same time. Ah, forget it, just read this:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment

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Posted: 18 January 2014 12:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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George - 17 January 2014 06:09 PM

Has anyone ever wondered how to be in two places at the same time? What, you didn’t know it’s possible? In my model I’d like to show how the same green ball can be both in Paris and in New York at the same time. Ah, forget it, just read this:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment

Ever wonder if George will cut out the ill-considered mockery and actually deal with the issue of the way we understand causation (instead of falsely implying that I’m somehow illicitly mixing classical physics with QM)?

Ah, forget it,  just read this:
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/191326/

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Posted: 18 January 2014 06:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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Sorry I was away for a while.

First George’s point. It is a complete false understanding of what Bryan is doing in his posting about the coloured balls. Bryan is just trying to convey a concept with a visible example. The question at hand is what he means with determinism, indeterminism and causation. His flying balls are just an illustration, if you want, a didactic device, nothing more. Many scientists use the same kind of device when explaining some of the exotic phenomena in QM: coins that fall on both sides, balls changing colours when another ball is observed, fish that are in a pond because it is not in the other one, etc. etc.

It is used to explain ideas with simple but non-existing events, before applying the conveyed concepts to the real stuff, like photons, wave functions and so on.

The example would be useful if Bryan can show that his concept of indeterminism
1. is relevant to the problem of free will,
2. really exists at the basis of human behaviour.

But Bryan does nothing wrong when he illustrates what he means with indeterminism using an unrealistic but clear example.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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I don’t mind the ball analogy at all; I have done it myself before. It’s what he is after that is wrong. Were he to leave QM out of it, I wouldn’t have said a thing. None of us here has the slightest idea how indeterminism is relevant to QM and what he is doing is simply laughable. So why not add another joke? My model of being in two places and referencing QM is exactly the same thing as him implying that free will is possible because of QM.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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Bryan - 16 January 2014 12:48 AM

Are these actions uncaused?  Unless I’m mistaken, the compatibilist and the determinist will tend to answer “yes.”

I do not like the ‘black or white’ character of your question. Say I repeat the experiment with the green ball 1000 times and find: 712 times it flies to the right after the collision, 245 times it flies off to the left, 43 times it doesn’t move. So in statistical boundaries that is the same result as you describe. So what is determined is a chance distribution. So is the event determined? Yes, partially. Is it uncaused? Yes, but not totally. Now where our standpoint differs in which of both ‘partial answers’ we see the possibility of free will. As I understand you, you see it in the uncaused aspect, whereas I see it in the determined part.

The point is, I don’t subscribe to the idea that free will would mean ‘could have done otherwise’ in the rigid metaphysical meaning, that given a certain set of conditions, the exact effect is not determined. Or so as you say it here:

...determinism eliminates one of the requirements for free will:  The ability to act differently without regard to preceding conditions.

That is not a requirement for me. What I require is that I recognise my actions as following from my own wishes and beliefs. Given my wishes and beliefs, it would be astonishing that I (undetermined) would do something else in exactly the same situation. It would mean that my action has nothing to with me.

Let’s take the idea of the ‘chance distribution’. My wishes and beliefs determine a small spectrum of possible actions. Say I like vanilla and strawberry ice cream. I have the choice between vanilla, strawberry and nougat, which I do not like at all. So my chance distribution would be: 50% vanilla, 50% strawberry, 0% nougat. Now the free will aspect for me is that it is determined that I will not take the nougat. That is determined by my disgust of it. Now I can’t choose between vanilla and strawberry, I like them both. So I just ‘randomly’ say I’ll take the strawberry. But exactly that is not a great example of expressing free will. I would also recognise a choice for vanilla as my own action. So the random element, even if it is there, is not the reason to see my choice as an expression of free will. It is my determined decisiveness not to take the nougat, and at least to choose for the vanilla or the strawberry ice cream that makes my choice an expression of free will.

Now I think it is telling that you have to turn to a nearly science fiction example to show why the compatibilist notion of free will does not work. I hope I understood you correctly that you say: imagine somebody manipulates my actions not by opposing my wishes and beliefs, but by actually changing them. In that case you would say that the compatibilist notion that my wishes and beliefs cause my actions still applies, but at the same time it is clear that I am coerced.

But in your example my wishes and beliefs are determined in the wrong way. If they did not arise by my own observations, by arguments and experiences I have, they cannot count as my actions. If I would commit a crime because you used such a device on me, and it would turn out that you did this, I would not recognise my action as my action anymore. So would a judge. I am not morally culpable because I was manipulated, even if I originally thought I committed the crime motivated by my own convictions.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 08:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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George - 18 January 2014 07:47 AM

I don’t mind the ball analogy at all; I have done it myself before. It’s what he is after that is wrong. Were he to leave QM out of it, I wouldn’t have said a thing. None of us here has the slightest idea how indeterminism is relevant to QM and what he is doing is simply laughable. So why not add another joke? My model of being in two places and referencing QM is exactly the same thing as him implying that free will is possible because of QM.

Your reactions were already wrong before Bryan mentioned QM. You reacted as if Bryan did say something about the world, where he did only explain his concept of (in)determinism.

I do not see a problem in that: in science, building complex hypotheses with certain concepts is normal praxis. If the hypothesis turns out to be correct, and so if the concepts apply is a matter of experimental or observational research.  But therefore you must first understand the concepts, how could you otherwise ever test a hypothesis? How can one test something one does not understand?

But of course you touch on a point I never understood with Bryan.

1. LFW supposes that we are not (completely) determined.
2. QM shows the world is not (completely) determined.
3. QM is not the basis of LFW.

So then I would say for all practical purposes we can assume a determined world, because QM does not play a role. As long as Bryan cannot name the indeterminist element in reality, his ‘model’ just does not apply on our real world.

[ Edited: 18 January 2014 08:07 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 18 January 2014 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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I think we all understand what indeterminism means and I am pretty sure none us here has the slightest clue how it applies to QM. The reactions on the quantum level are nothing like what we can see in our world and his analogy is therefore not appropriate. Do atoms (balls) really react the way he describes it in his “model”? Of course not. So what does that have to do with anything? Is the “concept” of indeterminism the same on the quantum level as it we understand it in our world? Does even 1+1 equal 2 on the quantum level? Wanna talk philosophy? Leave QM out of it.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 09:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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And I responded BECAUSE I knew he was trying to bring QM into his “model.” No idea where you are getting from me responding before he mentioned QM. He didn’t explicitly say so, but I knew it was a duck because it quacked like a duck. And I was right. His “model” had everything to do with QM.

[ Edited: 18 January 2014 10:06 AM by George ]
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Posted: 18 January 2014 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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OK.

I just think that is a good habit in a philosophical discussion to wait till the duck is mentioned, or if you suspect one, explicitly ask if it was meant like that.

BTW: philosophy would be a very stupid activity if it does not take the present state of science into account. Of course QM is science, not philosophy, but to know that determinism is not true for everything in reality is a point philosophy should deal with. Especially when physicists draw philosophical conclusions from quantum indeterminacy. Like Simon van der Meer: ‘We have free will because of the noise in the brain.’  (He said this in an interview in a Dutch newspaper, long ago when he got the Nobel price). BTW, that sounds like Bryan’s position in a nutshell. Let’s see if that is what he means.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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I don’t care if Bryan or anyone else brings QM into their philosophical discussion, but it has to make sense and it must be relevant. Free will has nothing to do with QM, no matter how much he twists it. And I don’t need to wait until he explicitly mentions the “duck” because I have heard about his “model” many times before.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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George - 18 January 2014 12:18 PM

I don’t care if Bryan or anyone else brings QM into their philosophical discussion, but it has to make sense and it must be relevant. Free will has nothing to do with QM, no matter how much he twists it. And I don’t need to wait until he explicitly mentions the “duck” because I have heard about his “model” many times before.

I challenge you to find a claim from me that uses QM to explain LFW (anywhere, not just here).  The duck is in your imagination.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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GdB - 18 January 2014 10:52 AM

I just think that is a good habit in a philosophical discussion to wait till the duck is mentioned, or if you suspect one, explicitly ask if it was meant like that.

That is sage advice, and thanks for supporting my method of arguing (if not the conclusion).

BTW: philosophy would be a very stupid activity if it does not take the present state of science into account. Of course QM is science, not philosophy, but to know that determinism is not true for everything in reality is a point philosophy should deal with. Especially when physicists draw philosophical conclusions from quantum indeterminacy. Like Simon van der Meer: ‘We have free will because of the noise in the brain.’  (He said this in an interview in a Dutch newspaper, long ago when he got the Nobel price). BTW, that sounds like Bryan’s position in a nutshell. Let’s see if that is what he means.

The source indeterminism in mental activity doesn’t concern me so much.  The thing that concerns me is offering a coherent account of LFW.  And that’s because it is often argued that LFW is incoherent (with one version asserting that it is incoherent with respect to causation).  Brain activity that results from non-mental events can’t support LFW unless that “random” event *is* the brain activity (rather than a prior cause outside the self).  That’s the obvious reply to the attempt to justify LFW according to quantum random events, so I don’t bother.

Aside to George:  Quack.

(edited above to eliminate a harmful ambiguity)

[ Edited: 18 January 2014 12:45 PM by Bryan ]
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Posted: 18 January 2014 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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GdB - 18 January 2014 07:50 AM

I do not like the ‘black or white’ character of your question.

I tried to leave opportunities to occupy a gray area by simply asking a one-pronged question and allowing that I may be mistaken about the answer.  grin

Say I repeat the experiment with the green ball 1000 times and find: 712 times it flies to the right after the collision, 245 times it flies off to the left, 43 times it doesn’t move. So in statistical boundaries that is the same result as you describe. So what is determined is a chance distribution. So is the event determined? Yes, partially. Is it uncaused? Yes, but not totally. Now where our standpoint differs in which of both ‘partial answers’ we see the possibility of free will. As I understand you, you see it in the uncaused aspect, whereas I see it in the determined part.

What you’re describing is not determinism.  Determinism requires the same precise outcome from the same set of starting conditions (allowing for discrete segments of time to allow for determinism beyond classical).  The type of determinism you’re now describing can be all-encompassing because even completely random events can be said to be “determined” in the sense you’re now using (determined to be completely random).

The point is, I don’t subscribe to the idea that free will would mean ‘could have done otherwise’ in the rigid metaphysical meaning, that given a certain set of conditions, the exact effect is not determined. Or so as you say it here:

...determinism eliminates one of the requirements for free will:  The ability to act differently without regard to preceding conditions.

Right.  You’re a compatibilist.  And a determinism that included indeterminism wouldn’t bother you with regard to free will so long as control was involved (which I see you confirm below).  grin

That is not a requirement for me. What I require is that I recognise my actions as following from my own wishes and beliefs. Given my wishes and beliefs, it would be astonishing that I (undetermined) would do something else in exactly the same situation. It would mean that my action has nothing to with me.

Galen Strawson more careful than you are about trying to move around the location of randomness in the LFW conception of free will.  Once you place it subsequent to the entity’s decision to act, you’re no longer using the LFW model that anyone uses except for straw man manufacturers.  The LFW advocate requires control just as much as the proponent of CFW.  The difference is that the LFW advocate won’t find free will in a scenario that is causally determined by preceding conditions outside the control of the subject.  But you’d find the type of free will you accept (CFW).

Let’s take the idea of the ‘chance distribution’. My wishes and beliefs determine a small spectrum of possible actions. Say I like vanilla and strawberry ice cream. I have the choice between vanilla, strawberry and nougat, which I do not like at all. So my chance distribution would be: 50% vanilla, 50% strawberry, 0% nougat. Now the free will aspect for me is that it is determined that I will not take the nougat. That is determined by my disgust of it. Now I can’t choose between vanilla and strawberry, I like them both. So I just ‘randomly’ say I’ll take the strawberry. But exactly that is not a great example of expressing free will.

I’d identify this type of example as useful in drawing the distinction between libertarian free action and morally responsible libertarian free action.  The important point here is where the decision originates.  If it originates with your non-determined desire for either vanilla or strawberry ice cream, then it’s free will but has no discernible moral dimension.  If you choose vanilla because you’re concerned about the use of “blood strawberries” (something I just made up that’s conceptually related to “blood diamonds”) then there’s a moral dimension.  And that likely affects the probability distribution (maybe you’re not sure blood strawberries are real or rumor!).

I would also recognise a choice for vanilla as my own action. So the random element, even if it is there, is not the reason to see my choice as an expression of free will. It is my determined decisiveness not to take the nougat, and at least to choose for the vanilla or the strawberry ice cream that makes my choice an expression of free will.

You’re arguing against the “could have done otherwise” element of LFW, but your presentation is a tad ambiguous.  Are you drawing a distinction between being “determined” to choose vanilla 50 percent of the time/strawberry 50 percent of the time and a random event?  If so, I don’t see the distinction.

Now I think it is telling that you have to turn to a nearly science fiction example to show why the compatibilist notion of free will does not work.

What some people will take as significant evidence!  I’m a big fan of science fiction, and I’m a fan of outlandishly memorable illustrations.  Could I choose the mundane instead of the interesting?  I suppose so, but apparently I’m determined to pick the sensational more often than not.  wink

Obvious mind-control scenarios carry a strong illustrative punch.  Therefore I’m desperate or something?  Please.

Address it by explaining why the controlled individual does not have CFW without special pleading.  It makes you look desperate to avoid the issue when you focus on the outlandishness of the illustration.

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/mind-meld-scientist-uses-his-brain-control-another-guys-finger-8C11015078

(next step for science:  mind-meld scientist uses his brain to control another guy’s decision to move his finger)

I hope I understood you correctly that you say: imagine somebody manipulates my actions not by opposing my wishes and beliefs, but by actually changing them. In that case you would say that the compatibilist notion that my wishes and beliefs cause my actions still applies, but at the same time it is clear that I am coerced.

That’s the idea.

But in your example my wishes and beliefs are determined in the wrong way. If they did not arise by my own observations, by arguments and experiences I have, they cannot count as my actions.

You’re having the experience of having your mind controlled.  How is that not your experience?  Would you prefer it if the scientist brainwashes you with a movie?  Then it’s plainly your own experience that leads you to do as the diabolical Professor Science commands.  I don’t know what type of mental argument you conceive that can’t be yours.  Are you imagining Professor Science as an extra entity in the victim’s head? 

Bottom line:  It’s vague to me the basis on which you argue the reasoning isn’t truly yours.  I suspect if it’s not special pleading it might pass as “No True Scotsman.”  I hope you’ll take the opportunity to draw a clear distinction.

If I would commit a crime because you used such a device on me, and it would turn out that you did this, I would not recognise my action as my action anymore.

You underestimate me.  I’d make sure to use the machine to remind you that you performed the action with complete CFW.  grin

So would a judge.

You’ve got me there, if the judge believes in LFW.  But what if he’s a compatibilist?  In that case he’d have to come up with some sort of argument why you’re not responsible, and he can’t appeal to himself, can he?

I am not morally culpable because I was manipulated, even if I originally thought I committed the crime motivated by my own convictions.

All willful actions of a compatibilist are manipulated.  The question is why it makes a difference whether the manipulation is done consciously as a means to an end or unconsciously as a matter of happenstance.  The compatibilist’s requirement for control is met.  Why isn’t it CFW?  And why isn’t it possible that happenstance manipulation could make it so you do not recognize your own prior actions?

[ Edited: 18 January 2014 01:41 PM by Bryan ]
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Posted: 18 January 2014 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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Randomness is a human construct. It only exists through the human point of view.
It’s a definition of what we can’t quantize.

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Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

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Posted: 19 January 2014 02:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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Bryan - 13 January 2014 09:43 AM
StephenLawrence - 13 January 2014 02:47 AM

But why did subject P reject the desire to perform action X?

Because subject P wanted to resist.

And so the regress is going to kick in, why did subject P want to resist?

It will be due to something out of his control.

Explain how that works.

Either the want just appears out of the blue in which case the want itself is out of the agents control or we have a regress back to something out of the agents control.

It doesn’t matter where or when that something is placed.

Great.  That will make it easy for you to explain how it works.

If something out of our control manipulates the want, it makes no difference whether that was 1 second before the want or 1 million years before, it’s still our good or bad fortune which way that something turned out. The same applies if the want appears out of the blue.

All that matters is the want is manipulated by circumstances beyond our control or simply is a circumstance beyond our control.

And if you say it does, that is just special pleading of your own.

Well, you’ve got it all figured out.  Now if you can just explain it coherently.

The compatibilist says yes all wants are manipulated but some are manipulated in the wrong way. You’re calling that special pleading. Well in your example either the want is manipulated by circumstances beyond our control or it just appears out of the blue which still is out of our control.

[ Edited: 19 January 2014 03:53 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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