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Freedom and ethics (principles of universal morality)
Posted: 12 July 2014 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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GdB - 12 July 2014 02:46 AM
OE - 10 July 2014 01:45 PM

1. Determinism is a property of reality such that the same process under the same conditions always produces the same result. The “result” may be stochastic

A stochastic process does not produce always the same result, and therefore is not deterministic. 

The laws of probability are still the laws, therefore, I define stochastic processes as deterministic.

GdB - 12 July 2014 02:46 AM
OE - 10 July 2014 01:45 PM

and a “process” may be physical or logical, for example, interaction of quantum particles or solving a system of equations by a man.

I think if you call logical derivations ‘determined’ you are overstretching the meaning of determinism..

This is my definition. If you think it is wrong or contradictory, you should find more viable objections.

GdB - 12 July 2014 02:46 AM
OE - 10 July 2014 01:45 PM

When a man is a direct participant in a process, he feels it as coercive force, impact, compulsion, influence, violence (consider the force of a good argument, for instance).

Hmmm. If you can choose between vanilla or strawberry ice cream, and you choose vanilla, do you feel coerced then? If not, was your choice determined or not? Was it an act of free will?.

I did not say anything about free will yet. As to your example, it depends. Simple choice of food is more likely determined by tastes, prior event or external/internal conditions. But in rare cases, it can quite possible be free. I’ll come to this situation (and free will) later.

GdB - 12 July 2014 02:46 AM
OE - 10 July 2014 01:45 PM

2 Freedom, on the other hand, is an opposite property, ie an ability of reality to produce (by using/combining the old processes) a completely new result which did not exist before.

Doesn’t mean ‘producing a new result by using/combining old processes’ the same as being determined?

No, the “same result” and the “new result” are completely different results. To better understand it, consider this. A new is new only in the moment of creation. As soon as it has been created a new turns into an old and is subjected to the laws, usually new laws that were created simultaneously.

GdB - 12 July 2014 02:46 AM

If so, then every process leading to more complexity is an expression of free will? Of what? E.g. the weather is a very complex process, only predictable a little in advance. Is the weather an expression of free will?.

As long as we can predict something it is not free. In case of the weather I think we just do not know yet all regularities here. If you like, see the works of I.Prigogine on complex systems.

GdB - 12 July 2014 02:46 AM
OE - 10 July 2014 01:45 PM

Freedom can’t be analyzed, studied and generally comprehended by reasoning alone. Freedom is intrinsically paradoxical.

Freedom can be easily defined: it is the capability to act according somebody’s own wishes and beliefs. There is no contradiction with determinism at all.

You simply have repeated a popular definition that is full of contradictions.

GdB - 12 July 2014 02:46 AM

See here for a good overview of the non-contradiction of free will and determinism.

Your link gives “No posts with label Free. Show all posts”. And again, I did not say anything about free will yet. I would suggest to focus on my definitions for now. Thanks.

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Posted: 12 July 2014 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

The laws of probability are still the laws, therefore, I define stochastic processes as deterministic.

Sorry, that is a flatout contradiction. You define determinism as:

- the same process under the same conditions always produces the same result
- the result can be stochastic

It means that given a set of conditions several different futures can arise. E.g. if I use a ‘quantum coin’ for helping me in making a decision, 2 totally different results may occur. Determining a chance distribution and determining an event are very different concepts.

OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

This is my definition. If you think it is wrong or contradictory, you should find more viable objections.

I did not say it is wrong or contradictory. I said it is overstretched. I think you should show us first why you use other definitions than the usual ones. There may be grounds for it, but just starting with redefining concepts that have clear technical meanings in philosophy doesn’t seem a good idea to me.

OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

I did not say anything about free will yet. As to your example, it depends. Simple choice of food is more likely determined by tastes, prior event or external/internal conditions. But in rare cases, it can quite possible be free. I’ll come to this situation (and free will) later.

You used these words like ‘coercive force’ and ‘compulsion’. These concepts make sense only in a context where free will is intentionally limited, i.e where actions are intentionally influenced by the will of somebody else. And I don’t feel forced by my determined brain when I do what I want to do. So even if I am determined, I do not necessary feel coerced.

OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

No, the “same result” and the “new result” are completely different results. To better understand it, consider this. A new is new only in the moment of creation. As soon as it has been created a new turns into an old and is subjected to the laws, usually new laws that were created simultaneously.

New laws are created? You mean new laws of nature? That does not make sense to me.

OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

As long as we can predict something it is not free.

If determinism is true, then everything is predictable in principle. But ‘being predictable’ does not imply ‘not being free’.

OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

You simply have repeated a popular definition that is full of contradictions.

Then please show me these contradictions.

OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

Your link gives “No posts with label Free. Show all posts”.

That is the forum software. Copy/Paste the link as below.

http://philosophyfortheeveryday.blogspot.ch/search/label/Free Will 
[ Edited: 12 July 2014 10:13 PM by GdB ]
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Posted: 13 July 2014 06:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM
OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

The laws of probability are still the laws, therefore, I define stochastic processes as deterministic.

Sorry, that is a flatout contradiction. You define determinism as:

- the same process under the same conditions always produces the same result
- the result can be stochastic

It means that given a set of conditions several different futures can arise. E.g. if I use a ‘quantum coin’ for helping me in making a decision, 2 totally different results may occur. Determining a chance distribution and determining an event are very different concepts.

They are different somewhat but the difference is not essential. I see both of them as belonging to the same class of results, namely “obeying the laws, repeatable, predictable”. The “same” result is the same because it can be described in advance somehow, in our case - by a mathematical expression. Both results (random and certain) and the versions of a future that arise from them are not qualitatively different. We may see the certain result as the random result with the probability = 1 if you like. Stochastic processes is simply a more generic class of processes.

Anyway, because philosophy transcends mathematics, we should not try to apply mathematics here. Let me rephrase my definition more clearly. If the result obeys any laws, then the result is determined by those laws. Any regularities whatsoever make future predictable (even if not completely). Only the result which is “new”, which has not “existed before” can be called non deterministic. I hope it is clearer now.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

I did not say it is wrong or contradictory. I said it is overstretched. I think you should show us first why you use other definitions than the usual ones. There may be grounds for it, but just starting with redefining concepts that have clear technical meanings in philosophy doesn’t seem a good idea to me.

May be a new term instead of “determinism” (like “unfreedom”?) would be better, but I do not think so. Determinism has different meanings (and had throughout the history) and I think there is a need to redefine it more properly. I believe the currently held views on (and definitions of) determinism are not correct. I hope to show (and to see for myself too) that the concept of objective ethics is more plausible and trustworthy.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

You used these words like ‘coercive force’ and ‘compulsion’. These concepts make sense only in a context where free will is intentionally limited, i.e where actions are intentionally influenced by the will of somebody else.

Coercive force not necessarily has to be caused by somebody else’s will. The forces of nature are a good example. The concepts also have nothing to do with own free will. Forces are frequently opposing each other. Suppose, you are hungry but you have to swim to the shore because your ship has sank. Your will is paralyzed, you are trying to survive.  While there is no place for free will in this situation, there are a lot of coercive forces.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

And I don’t feel forced by my determined brain when I do what I want to do. So even if I am determined, I do not necessary feel coerced.

It is an interesting question. I may certainly feel the forces of determinism when my brain / body does not want to do what my moral duty requires. My body is lazy and my brain sometimes tries to rationalise, to find excuses and reasons to avoid what is the right thing to do. The pleasure I feel is caused by my biology, and my wishes often comes from my body. Usually, but not always, I am aware of the situations when my nature goes against my ethics. Many people do not know what is right, what is moral and why they live. Thus, they probably think that what they want is the right thing to do. In that case, I agree, it is difficult to feel the forces of our nature. In short, in order to feel the force you have to have a wish to go against it.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

New laws are created? You mean new laws of nature? That does not make sense to me.

Take a look at the abundance of natural laws. The laws of chemistry, solid state physics or fluid dynamics have probably emerged when the corresponding entities/substances emerged, and the laws of survival have probably emerged together with life. To say that all the laws have been existing since the “beginning of time” is to declare that the future of the universe is/was predestined. While I certainly can’t prove it, it looks highly unlikely to me.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM
OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

You simply have repeated a popular definition that is full of contradictions.

Then please show me these contradictions.

The essence of your definition is “freedom is the absence of obstacles”. Therefore, freedom may be defined (in your terms) as “the capability to act according against somebody’s own wishes and beliefs”, because wishes and beliefs are certainly obstacles - they imposed on us by nature and society. You confirm that fact (namely, that our wishes and beliefs are determined) by the second part of your definition - “There is no contradiction with determinism at all”.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

That is the forum software. Copy/Paste the link as below.

I am aware of the unsolvable troubles which modern philosophy has with free will. By the way, they are a good reason to redefine the term “determinism”.

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Posted: 13 July 2014 10:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM
GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM
OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

The laws of probability are still the laws, therefore, I define stochastic processes as deterministic.

Sorry, that is a flatout contradiction. You define determinism as:

- the same process under the same conditions always produces the same result
- the result can be stochastic

It means that given a set of conditions several different futures can arise. E.g. if I use a ‘quantum coin’ for helping me in making a decision, 2 totally different results may occur. Determining a chance distribution and determining an event are very different concepts.

They are different somewhat but the difference is not essential. I see both of them as belonging to the same class of results, namely “obeying the laws, repeatable, predictable”. The “same” result is the same because it can be described in advance somehow, in our case - by a mathematical expression. Both results (random and certain) and the versions of a future that arise from them are not qualitatively different. We may see the certain result as the random result with the probability = 1 if you like. Stochastic processes is simply a more generic class of processes.

Anyway, because philosophy transcends mathematics, we should not try to apply mathematics here. Let me rephrase my definition more clearly. If the result obeys any laws, then the result is determined by those laws. Any regularities whatsoever make future predictable (even if not completely). Only the result which is “new”, which has not “existed before” can be called non deterministic. I hope it is clearer now.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

I did not say it is wrong or contradictory. I said it is overstretched. I think you should show us first why you use other definitions than the usual ones. There may be grounds for it, but just starting with redefining concepts that have clear technical meanings in philosophy doesn’t seem a good idea to me.

May be a new term instead of “determinism” (like “unfreedom”?) would be better, but I do not think so. Determinism has different meanings (and had throughout the history) and I think there is a need to redefine it more properly. I believe the currently held views on (and definitions of) determinism are not correct. I hope to show (and to see for myself too) that the concept of objective ethics is more plausible and trustworthy.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

You used these words like ‘coercive force’ and ‘compulsion’. These concepts make sense only in a context where free will is intentionally limited, i.e where actions are intentionally influenced by the will of somebody else.

Coercive force not necessarily has to be caused by somebody else’s will. The forces of nature are a good example. The concepts also have nothing to do with own free will. Forces are frequently opposing each other. Suppose, you are hungry but you have to swim to the shore because your ship has sank. Your will is paralyzed, you are trying to survive.  While there is no place for free will in this situation, there are a lot of coercive forces.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

And I don’t feel forced by my determined brain when I do what I want to do. So even if I am determined, I do not necessary feel coerced.

It is an interesting question. I may certainly feel the forces of determinism when my brain / body does not want to do what my moral duty requires. My body is lazy and my brain sometimes tries to rationalise, to find excuses and reasons to avoid what is the right thing to do. The pleasure I feel is caused by my biology, and my wishes often comes from my body. Usually, but not always, I am aware of the situations when my nature goes against my ethics. Many people do not know what is right, what is moral and why they live. Thus, they probably think that what they want is the right thing to do. In that case, I agree, it is difficult to feel the forces of our nature. In short, in order to feel the force you have to have a wish to go against it.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

New laws are created? You mean new laws of nature? That does not make sense to me.

Take a look at the abundance of natural laws. The laws of chemistry, solid state physics or fluid dynamics have probably emerged when the corresponding entities/substances emerged, and the laws of survival have probably emerged together with life. To say that all the laws have been existing since the “beginning of time” is to declare that the future of the universe is/was predestined. While I certainly can’t prove it, it looks highly unlikely to me.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM
OE - 12 July 2014 09:20 AM

You simply have repeated a popular definition that is full of contradictions.

Then please show me these contradictions.

The essence of your definition is “freedom is the absence of obstacles”. Therefore, freedom may be defined (in your terms) as “the capability to act according against somebody’s own wishes and beliefs”, because wishes and beliefs are certainly obstacles - they imposed on us by nature and society. You confirm that fact (namely, that our wishes and beliefs are determined) by the second part of your definition - “There is no contradiction with determinism at all”.

GdB - 12 July 2014 10:10 PM

That is the forum software. Copy/Paste the link as below.

I am aware of the unsolvable troubles which modern philosophy has with free will. By the way, they are a good reason to redefine the term “determinism”.

How would you redefine it? Seems to me the definition we use is perfectly adequate. The only reason anyone would want to redefine it is if such a person can’t make a rational argument against the present concept, so has decided to move the goalposts.

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Posted: 15 July 2014 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

They are different somewhat but the difference is not essential. I see both of them as belonging to the same class of results, namely “obeying the laws, repeatable, predictable”.

I think it is a huge difference if future events are exactly predictable in principle, or not. That laws of nature cannot give exact predictions anymore was a shock for the physics community. Measurements are not exactly repeatable anymore. Under exact the same circumstances, different outcome can occur, and in the right context the difference in the outcomes can be huge (e.g. a living or a dead cat).

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

Anyway, because philosophy transcends mathematics, we should not try to apply mathematics here. Let me rephrase my definition more clearly. If the result obeys any laws, then the result is determined by those laws. Any regularities whatsoever make future predictable (even if not completely). Only the result which is “new”, which has not “existed before” can be called non deterministic. I hope it is clearer now.

No, it isn’t. Can you give an example of a ‘new result’?

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

May be a new term instead of “determinism” (like “unfreedom”?) would be better, but I do not think so. Determinism has different meanings (and had throughout the history) and I think there is a need to redefine it more properly.

Why? Why should your definition be more properly?

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

Coercive force not necessarily has to be caused by somebody else’s will. The forces of nature are a good example.

It is pure anthropomorphism to use the word ‘coercion’ in this context. Is a stone forced to fall by gravity, or does the stone want to move in the direction of the earth? 

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

It is an interesting question. I may certainly feel the forces of determinism when my brain / body does not want to do what my moral duty requires. My body is lazy and my brain sometimes tries to rationalise, to find excuses and reasons to avoid what is the right thing to do. The pleasure I feel is caused by my biology, and my wishes often comes from my body. Usually, but not always, I am aware of the situations when my nature goes against my ethics. Many people do not know what is right, what is moral and why they live. Thus, they probably think that what they want is the right thing to do. In that case, I agree, it is difficult to feel the forces of our nature. In short, in order to feel the force you have to have a wish to go against it.

You just describe the fact that we are not an undivided unity: we have contradicting wishes, struggles between what our feeling urge us to do, and what we think is most reasonable to do.

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

Take a look at the abundance of natural laws. The laws of chemistry, solid state physics or fluid dynamics have probably emerged when the corresponding entities/substances emerged, and the laws of survival have probably emerged together with life. To say that all the laws have been existing since the “beginning of time” is to declare that the future of the universe is/was predestined. While I certainly can’t prove it, it looks highly unlikely to me.

That is highly speculative, and it is based on the idea that laws of nature force processes to run as they do. But that is not the case: they are valid descriptions of how nature develops (see the article referred to at the end of this posting). Nothing is forced, everything just takes its course.

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

The essence of your definition is “freedom is the absence of obstacles”. Therefore, freedom may be defined (in your terms) as “the capability to act according against somebody’s own wishes and beliefs”, because wishes and beliefs are certainly obstacles - they imposed on us by nature and society.

Obstacles? For what and who? What would I do when these obstacles were not there? My own will is an obstacle for my own will? Why would the fact that my wishes and beliefs are determined make it impossible to act according my will?

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

I am aware of the unsolvable troubles which modern philosophy has with free will.

I am not. Compatibilism solves the problem very well. See e.g here.

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Posted: 15 July 2014 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM
OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

I am aware of the unsolvable troubles which modern philosophy has with free will.

I am not. Compatibilism solves the problem very well. See e.g here.

I’m not a fan of Compatibilism.  It seems to only work if one redefines Free Will (note the caps) in a way that is contrary to the views of the vast majority of the population.  Most people are dualists and believe that the source of Free Will is the soul or spirit, and that it is not subject to the laws of physics—that is, our actions are not deterministic because our souls or spirit transcend the clockwork nature (at macro scales) of the universe.

For this and other reasons I have given up on Daniel Dennett.  I think Sam Harris, in his book Free Will, makes a pretty airtight case that Free Will—as the vast majority of the population thinks of it—is an illusion.  In fact, I think he shows that it is not even a coherent concept.

But that’s just my humble opinion.

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Posted: 15 July 2014 10:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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BugRib - 15 July 2014 11:24 AM

It seems to only work if one redefines Free Will (note the caps) in a way that is contrary to the views of the vast majority of the population.  Most people are dualists…

Yes, of course. But we know they are wrong, isn’t it? So to be logically consistent, we must redefine free will. If you define ‘earth’ as the flat surface in the middle of the universe, we do not live on the same earth as did most people from ancient times. Should we therefore not redefine earth as the 3 planet revolving around the sun?

If we are honest, we do not have the experience that we are not caused. We just do not feel the complete causal chain that led us to our decisions. I don’t know why I like pizza and hate brussels sprouts. But I can anticipate the future, and when I can choose, avoid a horrible experience by choosing the pizza, and not the brussels sprouts.

BugRib - 15 July 2014 11:24 AM

I think Sam Harris, in his book Free Will, makes a pretty airtight case that Free Will—as the vast majority of the population thinks of it—is an illusion.  In fact, I think he shows that it is not even a coherent concept.

Sam Harris’ pamphlet ‘Free Will’ is inconsistent. If you look how he still defends morality and ethics, it becomes clear that he is just a compatibilist as Dennett is: he only refuses to call ‘Free Will’ ‘free will’.

But that’s just my humble opinion.  wink

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Posted: 16 July 2014 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM

No, it isn’t. Can you give an example of a ‘new result’?

I gave but you called them “natural course of development”.

GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM

Why? Why should your definition be more properly?

Because the current definitions are not able to explain anything. Or, rather, they are able to explain everything only to those people who refuse to notice the obvious contradictions in them.

GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM
OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

Coercive force not necessarily has to be caused by somebody else’s will. The forces of nature are a good example.

It is pure anthropomorphism to use the word ‘coercion’ in this context. Is a stone forced to fall by gravity, or does the stone want to move in the direction of the earth?

Definition of COERCION:  the act, process, or power of coercing
Full Definition of COERCE
1:  to restrain or dominate by force
2:  to compel to an act or choice <was coerced into agreeing>
3:  to achieve by force or threat <coerce compliance>

(Merriam-Webster)

GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM
OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

In short, in order to feel the force you have to have a wish to go against it.

You just describe the fact that we are not an undivided unity: we have contradicting wishes, struggles between what our feeling urge us to do, and what we think is most reasonable to do.

So now you admit that you feel it?

GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM
OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

Take a look at the abundance of natural laws. The laws of chemistry, solid state physics or fluid dynamics have probably emerged when the corresponding entities/substances emerged, and the laws of survival have probably emerged together with life. To say that all the laws have been existing since the “beginning of time” is to declare that the future of the universe is/was predestined. While I certainly can’t prove it, it looks highly unlikely to me.

That is highly speculative, and it is based on the idea that laws of nature force processes to run as they do. But that is not the case: they are valid descriptions of how nature develops (see the article referred to at the end of this posting). Nothing is forced, everything just takes its course.

Thanks, I think I’ll stop right here.

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Posted: 18 July 2014 09:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM

I gave but you called them “natural course of development”.

Sorry, that is not the kind of example I thought of. To clarify what you mean you should give ‘real life’ examples: like the opening of a flower, an earthquake, measuring a quantum particle, a human action or a feeling. Such kind of things. The concreter the better.

OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM
GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM

Why? Why should your definition be more properly?

Because the current definitions are not able to explain anything. Or, rather, they are able to explain everything only to those people who refuse to notice the obvious contradictions in them.

Without telling why the current definitions are not able to explain anything, and what the contradictions are, this doesn’t help.

OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM

Definition of COERCION:  the act, process, or power of coercing
Full Definition of COERCE
1:  to restrain or dominate by force
2:  to compel to an act or choice <was coerced into agreeing>
3:  to achieve by force or threat <coerce compliance>

(Bold by me)
Don’t you see that all the meanings relate to (human) actions? So yes, to use this concept for natural forces is an anthropomorphism.

OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM

So now you admit that you feel it?

Feel what? That I am determined? Or that I have conflicting desires? Did you see my example about pizza in my posting above?

I notice that you do not react on the most important question: why are my wishes and beliefs obstacles? And obstacles for whom?

OE - 03 July 2014 07:26 PM

- Nevertheless, science has shown that freedom is a fiction because everything in the world obeys the laws. Feeling of a free will is simply a tricky illusion. In reality, there is no will at all and any action has its direct cause. Is this true?

Of course not. Free will is real just like the existence of self is real. One without the other is not possible. As for laws, science is limited by determinism because everything else could not be studied. And the “everything else” is exactly what “freedom” actually is, and all that comes along, such as ethics.

If there are events that are not caused in a lawful way they would appear to science as randomness. That means that for the outside observer the freedom of another person would be indistinguishable from randomness. A person having and giving reasons for his actions does not look like a random generator to me.

OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM

Thanks, I think I’ll stop right here.

That’s your free choice. I think you have good reasons for it, and that it is not a random choice.

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Posted: 18 July 2014 10:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Lausten - 11 July 2014 05:46 AM
LoisL - 10 July 2014 04:26 PM
Lausten - 10 July 2014 01:59 PM

I’ve never got a handle on the determinism debate. If anyone asked, I’d say I am a compatibilist since that’s what I experience, and it’s what our laws and culture currently agree with. But I couldn’t debate it or define it much better than that.

In short, it means that everything we do has precedents and driving influences that are out of our control and that we don’t have free will, even if it seems as if we do and we would like to think we do. The culture doesn’t “agree”  with anything and most peopl
e’s opinions and supposed understanding have been shown to be wrong more often than right. That is also an argument from popularity—a fallacious argument.  If you think we have free will, the burden of proof is on you to show evidence of it.  What the culture “thinks” has no influence on the truth. The “culture” thought that the sun revolved around the earth and “the culture” at one time had no understanding of biology or bacteriology—to it’s detriment. What you think you experience also has no bearing on the how the universe or its creatures function.  Ancient peoples “experienced” the sun revolving around the earth and religions killed people for denying it. Did that make it so?

It’s not a popularity fallacy when it is something that philosophers and legal experts have worked on for centuries and tested and experimented with a variety of legal and moral systems. Currently, pretty much everyone agrees that at least some of our actions are affected by our environment, our genetics, our childhood, etc. The disagreements are a matter of degree as to just what our brains do. You say they are just reacting to all the input that came before, others say there is some processing going on there.

I think we could be better at recognizing the “nurture” aspects of our lives and in criminal justice for instance, focus more on rehabilitation than punishment. But it’s something I’ll have to wait for experts in those fields to do anything about.

No matter how long experts have worked on and experimented with a variety of legal and moral systems, no objective evidence has over been presented that we have free will. There is plenty of evidence that our actions are determined. So why bring in a theory of free will that has never been shown to exist. You might as well be talking about god—another idea that has no objective evidence.

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Posted: 18 July 2014 11:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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GdB - 18 July 2014 09:08 AM
OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM

I gave but you called them “natural course of development”.

Sorry, that is not the kind of example I thought of. To clarify what you mean you should give ‘real life’ examples: like the opening of a flower, an earthquake, measuring a quantum particle, a human action or a feeling. Such kind of things. The concreter the better.

OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM
GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM

Why? Why should your definition be more properly?

Because the current definitions are not able to explain anything. Or, rather, they are able to explain everything only to those people who refuse to notice the obvious contradictions in them.

Without telling why the current definitions are not able to explain anything, and what the contradictions are, this doesn’t help.

OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM

Definition of COERCION:  the act, process, or power of coercing
Full Definition of COERCE
1:  to restrain or dominate by force
2:  to compel to an act or choice <was coerced into agreeing>
3:  to achieve by force or threat <coerce compliance>

(Bold by me)
Don’t you see that all the meanings relate to (human) actions? So yes, to use this concept for natural forces is an anthropomorphism.

OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM

So now you admit that you feel it?

Feel what? That I am determined? Or that I have conflicting desires? Did you see my example about pizza in my posting above?

I notice that you do not react on the most important question: why are my wishes and beliefs obstacles? And obstacles for whom?

OE - 03 July 2014 07:26 PM

- Nevertheless, science has shown that freedom is a fiction because everything in the world obeys the laws. Feeling of a free will is simply a tricky illusion. In reality, there is no will at all and any action has its direct cause. Is this true?

Of course not. Free will is real just like the existence of self is real. One without the other is not possible. As for laws, science is limited by determinism because everything else could not be studied. And the “everything else” is exactly what “freedom” actually is, and all that comes along, such as ethics.

If there are events that are not caused in a lawful way they would appear to science as randomness. That means that for the outside observer the freedom of another person would be indistinguishable from randomness. A person having and giving reasons for his actions does not look like a random generator to me.

OE - 16 July 2014 05:29 PM

Thanks, I think I’ll stop right here.

That’s your free choice. I think you have good reasons for it, and that it is not a random choice.

Randomness is not an argument for free will. It’s another determining factor we have no control over.

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Posted: 18 July 2014 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Lausten - 12 July 2014 08:38 AM

Like I said, I can’t grasp all the details of the argument, but there is a debate. Rather than go to Hume or Harris or Dennett or brain scans, the easiest example of where we are as a species is the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the US. These express a world where individuals have freedom as well as responsibility, a world where we are interdependent and affected by our past, and have the ability to affect the future. That’s cultural discussion I was referring to.

I’m not even sure where the burden of proof is on this one. To claim pure determinism, it seems you need to show the specific cause of every action that has ever happened. To claim free will, you would have to show that every choice ever made could have been made differently for no reason. Both of those are kinda silly.


No you don’t. All anyone has to show is that there has never been any objective evidence for free will. So determinism, for which there is plenty of evidence, is the default until someone can present objective evidence that something else interferes with the deterministic process, be it free will or something else.

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Posted: 18 July 2014 11:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM
OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

They are different somewhat but the difference is not essential. I see both of them as belonging to the same class of results, namely “obeying the laws, repeatable, predictable”.

I think it is a huge difference if future events are exactly predictable in principle, or not. That laws of nature cannot give exact predictions anymore was a shock for the physics community. Measurements are not exactly repeatable anymore. Under exact the same circumstances, different outcome can occur, and in the right context the difference in the outcomes can be huge (e.g. a living or a dead cat).

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

Anyway, because philosophy transcends mathematics, we should not try to apply mathematics here. Let me rephrase my definition more clearly. If the result obeys any laws, then the result is determined by those laws. Any regularities whatsoever make future predictable (even if not completely). Only the result which is “new”, which has not “existed before” can be called non deterministic. I hope it is clearer now.

No, it isn’t. Can you give an example of a ‘new result’?

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

May be a new term instead of “determinism” (like “unfreedom”?) would be better, but I do not think so. Determinism has different meanings (and had throughout the history) and I think there is a need to redefine it more properly.

Why? Why should your definition be more properly?

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

Coercive force not necessarily has to be caused by somebody else’s will. The forces of nature are a good example.

It is pure anthropomorphism to use the word ‘coercion’ in this context. Is a stone forced to fall by gravity, or does the stone want to move in the direction of the earth? 

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

It is an interesting question. I may certainly feel the forces of determinism when my brain / body does not want to do what my moral duty requires. My body is lazy and my brain sometimes tries to rationalise, to find excuses and reasons to avoid what is the right thing to do. The pleasure I feel is caused by my biology, and my wishes often comes from my body. Usually, but not always, I am aware of the situations when my nature goes against my ethics. Many people do not know what is right, what is moral and why they live. Thus, they probably think that what they want is the right thing to do. In that case, I agree, it is difficult to feel the forces of our nature. In short, in order to feel the force you have to have a wish to go against it.

You just describe the fact that we are not an undivided unity: we have contradicting wishes, struggles between what our feeling urge us to do, and what we think is most reasonable to do.

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

Take a look at the abundance of natural laws. The laws of chemistry, solid state physics or fluid dynamics have probably emerged when the corresponding entities/substances emerged, and the laws of survival have probably emerged together with life. To say that all the laws have been existing since the “beginning of time” is to declare that the future of the universe is/was predestined. While I certainly can’t prove it, it looks highly unlikely to me.

That is highly speculative, and it is based on the idea that laws of nature force processes to run as they do. But that is not the case: they are valid descriptions of how nature develops (see the article referred to at the end of this posting). Nothing is forced, everything just takes its course.

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

The essence of your definition is “freedom is the absence of obstacles”. Therefore, freedom may be defined (in your terms) as “the capability to act according against somebody’s own wishes and beliefs”, because wishes and beliefs are certainly obstacles - they imposed on us by nature and society.

Obstacles? For what and who? What would I do when these obstacles were not there? My own will is an obstacle for my own will? Why would the fact that my wishes and beliefs are determined make it impossible to act according my will?

OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

I am aware of the unsolvable troubles which modern philosophy has with free will.

I am not. Compatibilism solves the problem very well. See e.g here.

No, it doesn’t. Compatibilism says that free will and determinism can coexist, but there is still no evidence that free will exists. Compatibilism is a theory designed by people who can’t accept that free will does not exist so they have tried to reach some kind of compromise by assuming compatibilism. But such a compromise is false because compatibilissts are still using a concept that has never been shown to exist. An analogy would be an atheist and a theist compromising on the existence of god by saying that god exists sometimes but not others. The compromise still contains an unfounded premise—that a god exists at all. I don’t know what rational person could accept compatibilism. It contains the concept of free will. So it contains an unfounded premise.

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Posted: 18 July 2014 11:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Lois,

For somebody who has shown not even to understand what it is all about, you have pretty strong opinions.

You do not even understand what compatibilists are saying, so you have never given any relevant argument against combatibilism. You keep saying that determinism and free will do not go together, without ever touching the concept of compatibilist free will.

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Posted: 18 July 2014 11:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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BugRib - 15 July 2014 11:24 AM
GdB - 15 July 2014 10:17 AM
OE - 13 July 2014 06:26 PM

I am aware of the unsolvable troubles which modern philosophy has with free will.

I am not. Compatibilism solves the problem very well. See e.g here.

I’m not a fan of Compatibilism.  It seems to only work if one redefines Free Will (note the caps) in a way that is contrary to the views of the vast majority of the population.  Most people are dualists and believe that the source of Free Will is the soul or spirit, and that it is not subject to the laws of physics—that is, our actions are not deterministic because our souls or spirit transcend the clockwork nature (at macro scales) of the universe.

For this and other reasons I have given up on Daniel Dennett.  I think Sam Harris, in his book Free Will, makes a pretty airtight case that Free Will—as the vast majority of the population thinks of it—is an illusion.  In fact, I think he shows that it is not even a coherent concept.

But that’s just my humble opinion.


It’s a perfectly rational one, Bug.

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