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Eddy Nahmias examines the belief that - Neuroscience is the Death of Free Will
Posted: 08 December 2014 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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I’ll try submitting just one point instead of two.

GdB, I submit that someone can not only want to want something other than what they currently want, but can even, take steps toward, and sometimes, successfully, come to want what they wanted to want.  (I won’t get into examples, unless someone asks.)

However, since the 1st want is a product of factors that go well beyond the individual, having achieved wanting the 2nd want, would still not be a support of LFW, would it?

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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: 08 December 2014 05:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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GdB - 08 December 2014 06:36 AM
BugRib - 07 December 2014 09:43 AM

Contrarily, the traditional definition of Free Will (and, again, the definition historically held by pretty much all philosophers and theologians, and still held today by the vast, vast, majority of the population) is simply not compatible with the relatively recent compatibilist redefinition.  It’s a straight up redefinition, not a revision based on new data.

Well, the concept of libertarian free will is incoherent, and is more or less logically connected to the idea of a soul. Today we are convinced that the soul does not exist. We did not need neurologists for that. So doesn’t that mean that it is time to give a coherent concept of free will, that on on side is in correspondence with science and on the other side with our daily praxis of praising, blaming, punishing and responsibility? Compatibilist free will is exactly that.

Look, I completely get what you’re saying and what the compatibilists are saying.  There’s no lack of comprehension on my part.  I just disagree for the reasons I have articulated before.

Compatibilists, IMHO, are equivocating when they conflate free will with Free Will.  Yes, of course they know the difference, but I think they also know that the vast majority of the population isn’t going to realize what they’ve done.  Heck, when I first heard about CFW, I thought they believed that somehow Free Will in the deep philosophical sense could somehow coexist with determinism (mixed with a bit of quantum randomness).  I thought they would make some kind of esoteric argument of how this could be based on the 500 page tracts of people like Dennett.  When I learned that they were just substituting Free Will with free will, it felt to me like a bit of a swindle.

The problem is, the vast majority of people who intuitively believe in LFW aren’t going to read any of the books about CFW and are simply going to assume that the compatiblists support their notions, determinism or not, souls or not.  This is why I feel like CFW will is a dishonest, misguided project that only creates more confusion.

I don’t think there’s a whole lot more to say about this.  I respect your opinion, I just don’t agree with it.  Agree to disagree.

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Posted: 08 December 2014 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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TimB - 08 December 2014 05:18 PM

I’ll try submitting just one point instead of two.

GdB, I submit that someone can not only want to want something other than what they currently want, but can even, take steps toward, and sometimes, successfully, come to want what they wanted to want.  (I won’t get into examples, unless someone asks.)

However, since the 1st want is a product of factors that go well beyond the individual, having achieved wanting the 2nd want, would still not be a support of LFW, would it?

LFW would require that we can choose to choose to choose to want what we want what we want what we want, “turtles all the way down” to infinity.  That’s why it’s logically incoherent I think.  Neuroscience is just the icing on the cake.

Sam Harris’ book Free Will articulates this problem with LFW very well, and it has the added bonus of being concise, which is why GdB calls it a pamphlet.  Personally, I think concision is a virtue.

BTW, I was absolutely riveted with the first couple hundred pages of Dennett’s Consciousness Explained, in which he concisely and clearly discussed various philosophical thought experiments and discoveries in neuroscience.  It was the last two or three hundred pages that left me cold (and extremely bored) in which he made the same points over and over and over again in different ways and ultimately did not add anything new philosophically or scientifically to the discussion—and he certainly didn’t explain consciousness, although he claimed that he had laid out a new, more productive path to studying it that no one else had ever thought of before (he didn’t).  His whole point was that consciousness does not all “come together” at a single, dimensionless point in the brain.  Not much of a revelation there.  Harris could have explained all that in twenty pages without neglecting one iota of essential information.

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Posted: 09 December 2014 03:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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BugRib - 08 December 2014 01:41 PM

1:  voluntary choice or decision “I do this of my own free will.”  All of the workers at the homeless shelter are unpaid and are there of their own free will.

2:  freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention He argues that all humans have free will.

Yeah, right. That’s fine, I am fully aware of these meanings. But is it not interestingly, that the example for 2 is that of a philosophical discussion, and not of how the concept is used in daily life? So here we have a concept (2) about which neurologists, physicists, biologists and philosophers are quarrelling and rolling through the streets about who is right, in the meanwhile daily life is just going its way: children are punished for their stealing of a cookie, an artist is praised for the unexpected turn in his work, a criminal is convicted for robbery, and a totally confused schizophrenic is turned into a clinic. Then a neurologist stands up from the quarrelling and says ‘Hey, you are all wrong, humans have no free will!’ So you read his book, and discover that what he means is (2), but you see that in daily life we always using (1). And this is the basis for all our daily business. He even says so: he still wants to assign people responsibility, as you can read in his later chapters, just without the load of ‘ultimate responsibility’. But stamping on the ground he keeps yelling in a shrieky voice: ‘But we have no free will!’.
  Then an old man that looks like Santa Clause, stands up from the quarrelling, and says ‘The people are right, we don’t need this free will of yours, so we have to change nothing. It is all one big misunderstanding.’ And then, with many ‘uhs’ and ‘ahs’, he describes in how many ways people, and especially philosophers and neurologists, have run astray on the concept of free will, and deconstructs all their fanciful and sometimes highly technical meanderings. Many people get bored. Others (mainly philosophers) still listen fascinated, and discover how deep some of the misconceptions are rooted in our thinking and feeling about life. The deeper understanding reveals that what some people called ‘deep understanding of free will’ was in fact a chimera. There was in fact all the time only a ‘deepity’.

TimB - 08 December 2014 05:18 PM

GdB, I submit that someone can not only want to want something other than what they currently want, but can even, take steps toward, and sometimes, successfully, come to want what they wanted to want.  (I won’t get into examples, unless someone asks.)

However, since the 1st want is a product of factors that go well beyond the individual, having achieved wanting the 2nd want, would still not be a support of LFW, would it?

Right. I would prefer to describe the situation a bit different. A person has several drives, and some might be inconsistent (‘I want to stop smoking, but I want a cigarette now’). If somebody succeeds to stop, one motivation won over the other. But this motivation to stop is definitely just as determined as any other.

BugRib - 08 December 2014 06:04 PM

LFW would require that we can choose to choose to choose to want what we want what we want what we want, “turtles all the way down” to infinity.  That’s why it’s logically incoherent I think.  Neuroscience is just the icing on the cake.

I see the problem that LFW just shifts free will to another metaphysical level (the soul) in which all the problems would just occur again: the soul must be somehow be influenced by what we observe, feel and think. On the other side, our bodies must be influenced by the soul, otherwise we would not be able to act out what we want. So LFW brings nothing.

BugRib - 08 December 2014 06:04 PM

Sam Harris’ book Free Will articulates this problem with LFW very well, and it has the added bonus of being concise, which is why GdB calls it a pamphlet.  Personally, I think concision is a virtue.

Yes, if you formulate it in this way you are right. But his message is not that we have no LFW: he says we have no free will. Instead of just saying (as Dennett does): ‘Hey, this idea of LFW is an illusion!’, he claims that we have no free will at all. But at the same time he asserts that we have responsibility, just not ultimate responsibility. And that is exactly what compatibilists say. He is a compatibilist in disguise. But he just likes to yell ‘We have no free will’ for some ideological reasons.

I think I understand your problems with ‘Consciousness explained’. I see this book in the first place as a book written for fellow philosophers. He does at least two things: present his model of multiple drafts based on neurological, psychological and philosophical insights. Afterwards (the last two or three hundred pages?) he shows how his model dissolves all kinds of philosophical aporias that were brought against the position that a materialist, functionalist approach would not suffice.

BugRib - 08 December 2014 06:04 PM

His whole point was that consciousness does not all “come together” at a single, dimensionless point in the brain.  Not much of a revelation there.

Well, it is a bit more. The Cartesian theatre is not just a place, the actions also occur on definite times. So consciousness of something is also something spread in time, not just through the brain. The consequences of this are overseen by most people who think we have no free will because we are determined. They still think that some entity (‘I’, ‘soul’) is forced by the causal powers of the brain to think, feel and act as it does. However, without the illusion of the Cartesian theatre, one cannot even formulate the idea of having, or not having, LFW. There is nothing the concept of LFW can be applied on, not in the positive, but also not in the negative. To say we have no LFW is just as empty as we have LFW.

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Posted: 09 December 2014 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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GdB - 09 December 2014 03:08 AM
BugRib - 08 December 2014 01:41 PM

Sam Harris’ book Free Will articulates this problem with LFW very well, and it has the added bonus of being concise, which is why GdB calls it a pamphlet.  Personally, I think concision is a virtue.

Yes, if you formulate it in this way you are right. But his message is not that we have no LFW: he says we have no free will. Instead of just saying (as Dennett does): ‘Hey, this idea of LFW is an illusion!’, he claims that we have no free will at all. But at the same time he asserts that we have responsibility, just not ultimate responsibility. And that is exactly what compatibilists say. He is a compatibilist in disguise. But he just likes to yell ‘We have no free will’ for some ideological reasons.

That’s just not true.  He makes it very clear he’s talking about LFW.  But he argues that CFW is a misleading redefinition of what virtually every person without a philosophy degree calls “free will” (which it is), and so usually refers to LFW as just “free will”.  He denies that we have Free Will, but he doesn’t deny that we can “act of our own free will”—two forms of the term which compatibilists are conflating, knowing that the general public won’t realize they’re doing it—a textbook equivocation fallacy IMHO.

CFW could just as well stand for “conversational free will”, while LFW could stand for “literally, free will”.  Yeah?

GdB - 09 December 2014 03:08 AM

I think I understand your problems with ‘Consciousness explained’. I see this book in the first place as a book written for fellow philosophers. He does at least two things: present his model of multiple drafts based on neurological, psychological and philosophical insights. Afterwards (the last two or three hundred pages?) he shows how his model dissolves all kinds of philosophical aporias that were brought against the position that a materialist, functionalist approach would not suffice.

Admittedly, it could also be that I’m just not smart enough (or too ADD) to understand his point.  However, I’m not aware of anyone in academia who has been impressed enough with his “new approach” to utilize it in the study of consciousness.

GdB - 09 December 2014 03:08 AM
BugRib - 08 December 2014 06:04 PM

His whole point was that consciousness does not all “come together” at a single, dimensionless point in the brain.  Not much of a revelation there.

Well, it is a bit more. The Cartesian theatre is not just a place, the actions also occur on definite times. So consciousness of something is also something spread in time, not just through the brain. The consequences of this are overseen by most people who think we have no free will because we are determined. They still think that some entity (‘I’, ‘soul’) is forced by the causal powers of the brain to think, feel and act as it does. However, without the illusion of the Cartesian theatre, one cannot even formulate the idea of having, or not having, LFW. There is nothing the concept of LFW can be applied on, not in the positive, but also not in the negative.

I got all of that from the book long before Dennett spent 200 pages repeating it over and over again.  In fact, I think I got that from Harris’ book by page twenty.  And quite honestly, I think I understood that before I ever read any books about free will.  I do think Dennett’s coining of the term “Cartesian theatre” has been valuable in disabusing some otherwise brilliant scientists of their intuitions about consciousness.  The Cartesian theatre is such a strong illusion that even atheists who don’t believe in spirits or souls can get confused by it.

I remember in one of my first college psychology classes, the professor was talking about how thoughts and moods change the state of the brain.  I remember I raised my hand in amazement and asked, “You mean thoughts lead to actual physical changes in the brain?!!”  What the hell else could I, a soulless atheist have thought?  What other kinds of changes are there, ultimately, other than physical?  Yet I was misled by the power of the Cartesian theatre delusion.

GdB - 09 December 2014 03:08 AM

To say we have no LFW is just as empty as we have LFW.

Kind of like wondering whether square circles exist or not.  Except, they don’t.  Not in this universe, nor in any other.  And neither does LFW (or what 99.9% of the population refers to as “free will”).  But, yeah, saying something that is logically incoherent doesn’t exist is kind of empty.  Or at least redundant.

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Posted: 09 December 2014 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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GdB, I wanted to mention that I just checked out your profile and noticed that one of your heroes is Susan Blackmore.  I recently read her book Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction (an abridged version of her much longer textbook Consciousness: An Introduction) and found it a really fun, quick, clearly written read.

And I also wanted to mention that I actually do really like Daniel Dennett.  He and I just mad at each other right now and aren’t talking. wink

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Posted: 11 December 2014 03:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

That’s just not true.  He makes it very clear he’s talking about LFW.  But he argues that CFW is a misleading redefinition of what virtually every person without a philosophy degree calls “free will” (which it is), and so usually refers to LFW as just “free will”.  He denies that we have Free Will, but he doesn’t deny that we can “act of our own free will”—two forms of the term which compatibilists are conflating, knowing that the general public won’t realize they’re doing it—a textbook equivocation fallacy IMHO.

Let’s see what Harris says in his last chapter ‘Moral Responsibility’:

If we view people as neuronal weather patterns, how can we coherently speak about right and wrong or good and evil? These notions seem to depend upon people being able to freely choose how to think and act. And if we remain committed to seeing people as people, we must find some notion of personal responsibility that fits the facts.
  Happily, we can.
(...)
To say that I was responsible for my behavior is simply to say that what I did was sufficiently in keeping with my thoughts, intentions, beliefs, and desires to be considered an extension of them.
(...)
Judgments of responsibility depend upon the overall complexion of one’s mind, not on the metaphysics of mental cause and effect.
(...)
  Why is the conscious decision to do another person harm particularly blameworthy? Because what we do subsequent to conscious planning tends to most fully reflect the global properties of our minds—our beliefs, desires, goals, prejudices, etc. If, after weeks of deliberation, library research, and debate with your friends, you still decide to kill the king—well, then killing the king reflects the sort of person you really are. The point is not that you are the ultimate and independent cause of your actions; the point is that, for whatever reason, you have the mind of a regicide.

This fits exactly to the concept of CFW. Harris just refuses to call it so. The point to call it ‘free will’ is that it is just what Harris describes: it lies at the basis of our daily use of the concept of free will, which is the only meaning that makes sense. Maybe it helps to see at which exactly Harris’ arrows are pointed: at those who believe in ultimate responsibility that is thought to be based on LFW. It is ultimate responsibility that leads to ultimate punishments, to harshness against people’s fate etc. I share that worry. But you should not throw the baby with the bathwater away. CFW is what you call ‘free will’.

BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

CFW could just as well stand for “conversational free will”, while LFW could stand for “literally, free will”.  Yeah?

NO. How can you call an empty concept ‘literally, free will’. It is also not ‘deep Free Will’. It is a shallow, unreflected and empty concept. The work of CFW proposals is to show that this ‘conversational free will’ is all there is, and that it is enough to base our ideas about morality and responsibility on.

BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

However, I’m not aware of anyone in academia who has been impressed enough with his “new approach” to utilize it in the study of consciousness.

Then have a look at the philosophy department.

BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

I got all of that from the book long before Dennett spent 200 pages repeating it over and over again.  In fact, I think I got that from Harris’ book by page twenty.  And quite honestly, I think I understood that before I ever read any books about free will. 

Somehow, I do not believe you. I don’t think you were able to give a correct interpretation of some of the extreme examples that Dennet is giving, like blindsight, the timing of a stimulus on a hand and directly in the brain, split brain patients etc.

BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

I do think Dennett’s coining of the term “Cartesian theatre” has been valuable in disabusing some otherwise brilliant scientists of their intuitions about consciousness.  The Cartesian theatre is such a strong illusion that even atheists who don’t believe in spirits or souls can get confused by it.

Yep, exactly. Saying we have no free will is one of these illusions based on the Cartesian Theatre: if there is ‘nobody there’ in the brain where everything comes together and decisions are made how to react, how can this ‘homunculus’ be coerced by causal forces?

BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

Kind of like wondering whether square circles exist or not.  Except, they don’t.  Not in this universe, nor in any other.  And neither does LFW (or what 99.9% of the population refers to as “free will”).  But, yeah, saying something that is logically incoherent doesn’t exist is kind of empty.  Or at least redundant.

Yep. So why not stick to the only meaningful concept of free will, and get people away from their illusions?

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Posted: 11 December 2014 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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GdB - 11 December 2014 03:58 AM
BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

That’s just not true.  He makes it very clear he’s talking about LFW.  But he argues that CFW is a misleading redefinition of what virtually every person without a philosophy degree calls “free will” (which it is), and so usually refers to LFW as just “free will”.  He denies that we have Free Will, but he doesn’t deny that we can “act of our own free will”—two forms of the term which compatibilists are conflating, knowing that the general public won’t realize they’re doing it—a textbook equivocation fallacy IMHO.

Let’s see what Harris says in his last chapter ‘Moral Responsibility’:

If we view people as neuronal weather patterns, how can we coherently speak about right and wrong or good and evil? These notions seem to depend upon people being able to freely choose how to think and act. And if we remain committed to seeing people as people, we must find some notion of personal responsibility that fits the facts.
  Happily, we can.
(...)
To say that I was responsible for my behavior is simply to say that what I did was sufficiently in keeping with my thoughts, intentions, beliefs, and desires to be considered an extension of them.
(...)
Judgments of responsibility depend upon the overall complexion of one’s mind, not on the metaphysics of mental cause and effect.
(...)
  Why is the conscious decision to do another person harm particularly blameworthy? Because what we do subsequent to conscious planning tends to most fully reflect the global properties of our minds—our beliefs, desires, goals, prejudices, etc. If, after weeks of deliberation, library research, and debate with your friends, you still decide to kill the king—well, then killing the king reflects the sort of person you really are. The point is not that you are the ultimate and independent cause of your actions; the point is that, for whatever reason, you have the mind of a regicide.

This fits exactly to the concept of CFW. Harris just refuses to call it so. The point to call it ‘free will’ is that it is just what Harris describes: it lies at the basis of our daily use of the concept of free will, which is the only meaning that makes sense. Maybe it helps to see at which exactly Harris’ arrows are pointed: at those who believe in ultimate responsibility that is thought to be based on LFW. It is ultimate responsibility that leads to ultimate punishments, to harshness against people’s fate etc. I share that worry. But you should not throw the baby with the bathwater away. CFW is what you call ‘free will’.

First of all, I don’t see how anything you quoted is at odds with how I’ve characterized Harris’ argument.

I’ve tried to explain this many times, but let’s try it another way: If you ask someone what it means to “act of their own free will”, they will usually say that it means they acted without being coerced by some kind of threat.  They might add that it also means the person was not insane—they knew what they were doing.

Now, ask someone if they believe they have free will and what they mean by that, and you you will likely get an entirely different set of answers.  They will say free will comes from God, or that they have souls and are not just acting in a clockwork manner.  In other words, they’ll describe LFW.

When compatibilists say free will exists, it’s misleading because all they’re saying is that people can “act of their own free will”, but they’re framing it as if they’re saying people have free will.  They’re taking a word that has a very different meaning in one context, and then equivocating by using it in another context.  There’s a huge difference between “acting of your own free will” and “having free will”.  Please tell me you can see how that’s going to be misleading to the vast majority of people who told that most philosophers now believe in free will.

That’s why Harris is opposed to the compatibilist project.  His opposition has little if anything to do with neuroscience (though it’s a nice plus, and Harris does discuss it in his book), it has to do with misusing a word in a certain context in a way that misleads people.

To act “of _____ own free will” is the only context where the word is used that way.  Free Will (LFW) is what almost everyone means when they use the word in every other context.  To act “of _____ own free will” is a unique special case in the use of that term.  The whole compatibilist project is nothing but one big Equivocation Fallacy.

GdB - 11 December 2014 03:58 AM
BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

CFW could just as well stand for “conversational free will”, while LFW could stand for “literally, free will”.  Yeah?

NO. How can you call an empty concept ‘literally, free will’. It is also not ‘deep Free Will’. It is a shallow, unreflected and empty concept. The work of CFW proposals is to show that this ‘conversational free will’ is all there is, and that it is enough to base our ideas about morality and responsibility on.

“NO. How can you call an empty concept ‘literally, free will’.”  Because that’s how the vast majority of the population defines it.  Yes, it’s an incoherent definition, but that doesn’t make it not its definition.

“The work of CFW proposals is to show that this ‘conversational free will’ is all there is, and that it is enough to base our ideas about morality and responsibility on.”  That’s actually Sam Harris’ proposal as well, because, you see, there’s no substantive difference in their positions about LFW.  But he’s arguing that conflating the ability to act “of _____ own free will” with actually having free will (two very different concepts to the vast majority of the population) is confusing, misleading, and intellectually dishonest.  It’s a semantic argument, but what the compatibilists are doing is practically a textbook equivocation fallacy—substituting one meaning of a word for another in order to make an argument appear sound.

GdB - 11 December 2014 03:58 AM
BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

However, I’m not aware of anyone in academia who has been impressed enough with his “new approach” to utilize it in the study of consciousness.

Then have a look at the philosophy department.

Philosophers are researching consciousness?  What is their method of study?  If it’s the scientific method, wouldn’t scientist—say, neuroscientists—be better qualified to study it?  Can you name any contributions to our body of empirical knowledge about how the brain produces consciousness that were made by philosophy departments?  Can you name any philosophical contributions to the scientific study of consciousness at all?

My point was that Dennett’s book has had no impact on the scientific study of consciousness, and it would have if it had actually been novel and useful.  I can’t conceive of a purely philosophical “study” of consciousness.  How would this “study” be conducted?  People in a room talking about it?  Dan Dennett thinking really hard about it?

GdB - 11 December 2014 03:58 AM
BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

I got all of that from the book long before Dennett spent 200 pages repeating it over and over again.  In fact, I think I got that from Harris’ book by page twenty.  And quite honestly, I think I understood that before I ever read any books about free will. 

Somehow, I do not believe you. I don’t think you were able to give a correct interpretation of some of the extreme examples that Dennet is giving, like blindsight, the timing of a stimulus on a hand and directly in the brain, split brain patients etc.

I didn’t say I got all that.  I was responding to this from you:

The Cartesian theatre is not just a place, the actions also occur on definite times. So consciousness of something is also something spread in time, not just through the brain. The consequences of this are overseen by most people who think we have no free will because we are determined. They still think that some entity (‘I’, ‘soul’) is forced by the causal powers of the brain to think, feel and act as it does. However, without the illusion of the Cartesian theatre, one cannot even formulate the idea of having, or not having, LFW. There is nothing the concept of LFW can be applied on, not in the positive, but also not in the negative.

So, yes.  Consciousness does not come together at a single, dimensionless point in the brain, there’s no homonculus, and there’s no soul that’s running things.  I think got all that, more or less, by page twenty of Free Will, but I’d have to reread it to be sure.  Maybe it didn’t come up until page 40.  I don’t know…

GdB - 11 December 2014 03:58 AM
BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

I do think Dennett’s coining of the term “Cartesian theatre” has been valuable in disabusing some otherwise brilliant scientists of their intuitions about consciousness.  The Cartesian theatre is such a strong illusion that even atheists who don’t believe in spirits or souls can get confused by it.

Yep, exactly. Saying we have no free will is one of these illusions based on the Cartesian Theatre: if there is ‘nobody there’ in the brain where everything comes together and decisions are made how to react, how can this ‘homunculus’ be coerced by causal forces?

Well, if somehow there was a homonculus, it would still be bound by causal forces, and LFW still wouldn’t make sense.

GdB - 11 December 2014 03:58 AM
BugRib - 09 December 2014 01:18 PM

Kind of like wondering whether square circles exist or not.  Except, they don’t.  Not in this universe, nor in any other.  And neither does LFW (or what 99.9% of the population refers to as “free will”).  But, yeah, saying something that is logically incoherent doesn’t exist is kind of empty.  Or at least redundant.

Yep. So why not stick to the only meaningful concept of free will, and get people away from their illusions?

Should we also redefine the term “square circle”, or should we just admit that it’s incoherent.  Should we rescue the word “God” by redefining it as “The Universe” and then declare that philosophers now believe God exists.  Why is “free will” different?  That’s what I’m trying to understand.

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Posted: 13 December 2014 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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BugRib - 08 December 2014 05:47 PM

Compatibilists, IMHO, are equivocating when they conflate free will with Free Will.  Yes, of course they know the difference, but I think they also know that the vast majority of the population isn’t going to realize what they’ve done.  Heck, when I first heard about CFW, I thought they believed that somehow Free Will in the deep philosophical sense could somehow coexist with determinism (mixed with a bit of quantum randomness).  I thought they would make some kind of esoteric argument of how this could be based on the 500 page tracts of people like Dennett.  When I learned that they were just substituting Free Will with free will, it felt to me like a bit of a swindle.

The problem is, the vast majority of people who intuitively believe in LFW aren’t going to read any of the books about CFW and are simply going to assume that the compatiblists support their notions, determinism or not, souls or not.  This is why I feel like CFW will is a dishonest, misguided project that only creates more confusion.

I don’t think there’s a whole lot more to say about this.  I respect your opinion, I just don’t agree with it.  Agree to disagree.

There is a lot of truth to this. We see time and time again that people are mislead by compatibilist free will. I accept compatibilist free will and even think we need the concept, so agree with compatibilists to that extent. But if someone asks “do we have free will” the correct answer is “no” or at the very least “it depends what you mean by free will”.

Clearly if you answer “yes” you’re either answering “yes we have libertarian free will” or changing the question before answering which is obviously deceptive.

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Posted: 13 December 2014 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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GdB - 09 December 2014 03:08 AM

Yeah, right. That’s fine, I am fully aware of these meanings. But is it not interestingly, that the example for 2 is that of a philosophical discussion, and not of how the concept is used in daily life?

2 is a concept used in daily life. When people blame they generally blame as if a person could have done otherwise in the actual situation. Not could have if they’d been lucky enough to have been in a different situation.

That’s the problem with belief in LFW. When we reflect that someone would have had to have been in different circumstances to have done what they should have done, our feelings change, or at least a number of us report that happening and that’s because we intuitively believe in LFW. Also when we reflect that if we had been in different circumstances we would have done what they did, our feelings change too.

[ Edited: 13 December 2014 11:30 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 14 December 2014 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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TimB - 08 December 2014 05:18 PM

I’ll try submitting just one point instead of two.

GdB, I submit that someone can not only want to want something other than what they currently want, but can even, take steps toward, and sometimes, successfully, come to want what they wanted to want.  (I won’t get into examples, unless someone asks.)

However, since the 1st want is a product of factors that go well beyond the individual, having achieved wanting the 2nd want, would still not be a support of LFW, would it?

That’s correct. The whole point of the idea of wanting the want in LFW is to try and stop it just being a matter of luck what want we get. What you’re suggesting doesn’t work because it just shifts the problem back the the first want as you realise.

Galen Strawson goes into this: http://www.believermag.com/issues/200303/?read=interview_strawson

Actually, though, there’s a way in which it’s not quite true. If you want to acquire some want or preference you haven’t got, you can sometimes do so. You can cultivate it. Perhaps you’re lazy and unfit and you want to acquire a love of exercise. Well, you can force yourself to do it every day and hope you come to like it. And you just might; you might even get addicted. Maybe you can do the same if you dislike olives.

BLVR: But then where did that desire come from—the desire to acquire the love of exercise…or olives?

GS: Right—now the deeper point cuts in. For suppose you do want to acquire a want you haven’t got. The question is, where did the first want—the want for a want—come from? It seems it was just there, just a given, not something you chose or engineered. It was just there, like most of your preferences in food, music, footwear, sex, interior lighting and so on.

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Posted: 15 December 2014 10:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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BugRib - 03 December 2014 04:55 PM

Also not a fan of Dennett, I’m guessing?

And your signature line confuses me…

Yeah, it probably needs some work.  Basically, it is a call to routinely examine our personal beliefs, as these are (unlike other more overtly observable physical phenomenon) primarily products of our own subjective perceptions, experiential history, and thought processes, and thus more susceptible to being erroneous.

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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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