3 of 13
3
Free Will Yes or No, Step Two- So What?
Posted: 11 September 2007 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20
mckenzievmd - 11 September 2007 11:50 AM

2)  So how do we work with the fact that most of us will persist in feeling the “illusion” of free will?

Because we wont! There is no illusion!

What we experience is doing one thing and one thing only and the experience of freely choosing is consistent with that!

My theory is that people are utterly confused by their conditioning. Every time someone is told they should have done something, they get given the impression they could have done, until they believe it and the meme is lodged in their head.

What ever freedom we experience is consistent with never being able to do anything other than what we do.

The idea it isn’t, is a meme not an illusion.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  672
Joined  2007-06-17
mckenzievmd - 10 September 2007 07:52 PM

WattaQuestion,

Narwhol,

I’m mathematically illiterate, so forgive me if this is a stupid question. I read James Gleick’s Chaos years ago and was quite taken with the idea that the theory could explain precisely the kinds of failures of reductionism that we seem to be talking about here. Even though human behavior arises from physical causes and physical laws, do you think it truly is fundamentally unpredictable (a chaotic system, perhaps), or is it simply that we aren’t ourselves capable of identifying and following all the variables with sufficient accuracy to seem the causal chains? If human behavior is ultimately unpredictable, then that might be an argument for applying the concept of free will and the self to the system even if, as I think we agree, it is not strictly true.
Just curious what a mathematically-minded sort thnks, since I get the impression chaos theory isn’t much in vogue these days, but I still like the idea that some things may truly be by nature unpredictable.

I think if we could get all of the variables into a computerised system including the temperature, and the exact arrangement of every particle in the brain, at some starting point, define an extremely large Kohn-Sham orbital from it and perform the mother of all ab-initio calculations in which a set of sesory neurones trigger that brain in that state to undergo a transformation (move one particle at a time and calculate the effect on the rest and then repeat until energy minimised, you would get a model that was very close to what you would observe on an extremely high res cat scan.

However, what you don’t know at this point is, what memories are stored in the connections.  The same set of connections locked into one logic gate loop, could (when an all or nothing current passes through) could for one remembered image in one person’s brain or a totally different one in another’s, depending on what the person had seen and stored there.  Much as the same array of modified operational amplifiers in a computer can store one piece of information or another depending on what triggering array they’re linked to.  So, yes, it would be mathematically possible to model the changes that occur in a person’s mind, but you’d have to do several cat scans at an extremely high res, on the same person as they made each of the two decisions in order to determine what decision the minimisation calculation corresponded to.

So in short, yes, I think it would be calculable but the calculations would take many years for even the simplest choices with the computer processing power we currently have available. So in short, no we are a long way off ever being able to do it.

 Signature 

http://web.mac.com/normsherman/iWeb/Site/Podcast/833F918B-485B-42F4-B18C-4AB1436D9B87.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Stephan,

Now I think you’re being inconsistent, or perhaps illogical. You say that the thing we choose to do is the only thing we could have done. That sounds like strict determiinism. You then argue that the notion of free will, that we could have chosen otherwise than we did, leads us to blame people for things they had no real choice in. But then you turn around and say that because we ultimate only do one thing, and we only experience doing one thing, our sense of freely choosing is consistent with our having done the only thing we could have done! That makes no sense. The options seem to me to be 1)strict determism and we do the only thing we can do, 2) libertarian free will in which our choice is perhaps constrained somewhat but we have a real ability to do any of a number of things and so are responsible for what we select, or 3) strict determinism but with the illusory perception that we are freely choosing.

You say that believeing we are free to choose is why we judge each other inappropriately because we really aren’t free to choose in the sense that we could have done something differently up to the moment we decided to act, but you also say our sense of being free is n ot false. Do you see why this sounds self-contradictory to me?

Narwhol,
Thanks! I’ll keep acting as though it’s impossible then. grin

[ Edited: 11 September 2007 04:20 PM by mckenzievmd ]
 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20
mckenzievmd - 11 September 2007 02:04 PM

You say that believeing we are free to choose is why we judge each other inappropriately because we really aren’t free to choose in the sense that we could have done something differently up to the moment we decided to act, but you also say our sense of being free is n ot false. Do you see why this sounds self-contradictory to me?

No. I understand the confusion but believe that is all it is.

When I make a choice, it feels like I select the one and only option I possibly could do, given my thoughts and feelings about the choice, were as they were. Not only does it feel like this but it is like this! I gave an example of someone posting a letter today, to prove it.

I haven’t the slightest idea whether strict determinism is true or false, I’m curious and am probing the subject with my posts. If something else could happen at the moment what is happening, is happening, who knows?  who cares?  it does not figure in any kind of selection process I experience, or can imagine.

But what I’m sure of, is there is a fourth option, other than the three you gave me.

Strict determinism is true and I freely choose.

Why not? The mother who posted a letter, explained how she chose and she could not do otherwise. she could not select the other option because it was too dangerous. But she freely chose, didn’t she?

That is what freely choosing is like.

Now when you talk about being able to do otherwise up to the moment we do what we do, we could in epistemological terms, if we really could I don’t know. Is there even such a thing as really could?

But what is a matter of fact, is that if we make a choice, then it means that, when we do what we do, we couldn’t do otherwise, given the preceding selection process was as it was.

If we could do otherwise, given the preceding selection process was as it was, we wouldn’t feel free, it would be scary as hell, can’t you see? and it would not be a choice at all.

When we blame someone, we don’t blame them because they could have done otherwise, up to the moment they did what they did, we blame them because we think they could have done otherwise, at the moment they did what they did!

So if you find yourself with a knife in somebody elses chest, unless you could do otherwise at that moment ,you could not help it. If you could do, up to that moment, if it might not have been going to happen, is interesting but irrelevant.

If a butterfly could do otherwise up to the moment it does what it does, who knows?

We wouldn’t dream up the idea that if it could, that would make it responsible for selecting that option.

This free will business is only something we dreamt up, that’s what I’m trying to say and there are no contradictions, I’m sure.

Stephen

[ Edited: 11 September 2007 04:20 PM by StephenLawrence ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  672
Joined  2007-06-17

I’m sure some of the tenses used in the above post are entirely new and have never been used before in any language.

 Signature 

http://web.mac.com/normsherman/iWeb/Site/Podcast/833F918B-485B-42F4-B18C-4AB1436D9B87.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20

Narwhol,

narwhol - 11 September 2007 04:02 PM

I’m sure some of the tenses used in the above post are entirely new and have never been used before in any language.

I’ll edit this post and be more constructive. I think what you are saying is important.

Can you pull the sentences out, so that we can have a look at them please?

Stephen

[ Edited: 11 September 2007 04:28 PM by StephenLawrence ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  672
Joined  2007-06-17

No, no, leave it in -  you should see the grammar I used on the free to choose post.  Even George bush would have blushed.

Hey, has anyone else noticed that Stephen and I have two separate very strong strands on our side, and you others only have one?

 Signature 

http://web.mac.com/normsherman/iWeb/Site/Podcast/833F918B-485B-42F4-B18C-4AB1436D9B87.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Stephan,

So as I understand it, you are saying that we can do any of the things we choose from before we make the choice. But after we choose, we could not have done anything other than what we did. So we have free choice before the fact and our actions are stricly predetermined after the fact.  Makes no sense to me, sorry. I still think strict determinism and free will/free choice are potentially incompatible in theory but certainly compatible in practice because of the indirectness and complexity involved in the predetermining causes, which makes it impossible to know what we our anyone else will choose or if they could have chosen otherwise.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20

Hi Brennan,

I still think strict determinism and free will/free choice are potentially incompatible in theory

OK, I think the way to proceed is to test this and see if it is true.

Can you give a real life example of when you freely made a choice and explain how your freedom would have been restricted, if everything that happened, during the choice making process, was the one and only thing that could happen.

I really think this might help give us a break through.

Stephen

[ Edited: 11 September 2007 05:20 PM by StephenLawrence ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Stephen,
I guess we should take this back to one of the free will threads, because again we’re not talking about the consequences of accepting or rejecting free will, but what think free will is and whether it exists. It is hard to find an example since I think the question contains a logical contradiction. If the one and only thing I could have done was what I did, there was no choice. The word “choice” means there are multiple possible options and you select one. If there is only one thing that could happen, there is no choice. There may be the illusion of choice, but no actual choice because what you do is predetermined. That’s what determinism means. So if I chose nonfat milk in my coffee instead of 2% this morning because the arrangements of subatomic particles in my brain lead to that inevitably as the only outcome, there is no choice, only the playing out of causal chains. I suspect that’s likely true, but I just don’t think it matters to how we actually live, since we feel as if we have free choice and the causal chains are impossible to elucidate so no one can prove we don’t.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  672
Joined  2007-06-17

Let’s just use the word “currently” there, mister.  The causal chains are currently impossible to elucidate…

 Signature 

http://web.mac.com/normsherman/iWeb/Site/Podcast/833F918B-485B-42F4-B18C-4AB1436D9B87.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 06:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20
mckenzievmd - 11 September 2007 06:02 PM

Stephen,
I think the question contains a logical contradiction. If the one and only thing I could have done was what I did, there was no choice. The word “choice” means there are multiple possible options and you select one. If there is only one thing that could happen, there is no choice.

Well this is the crux of the matter, I think the reason you believe there is a problem, is because you think there is a logical contradiction.

In what way do the other options have to be possible, if at all?

So if we take the posting a letter case. How was it possible for the Mum in question to select a different option?

and are you of the opinion that computers don’t make choices?

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 07:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Narwhol,

I’ll buy “currently,” with the caveat that I leave open the possibility that there may be some ultimate reason they can’t ever be completely elucidated (though I can’t think of one). In addition to “currently,” I’d add “practically,” meaning even if it could be done in the lab, I’m not convinced it would have any practical influence on how we think about ourselves and our choices.

Stephen,

In what way do the other options have to be possible, if at all?

Substitue the word “possibilities” for “options” and don’t you see a logical contradiction too? For it to be an option, it has to be possible. If it’s not possible it’s not an option. If there’s only one choice, there’s no choice. I wonder if we’re speaking the same language here. How could she have made a different choice? By choosing something else. There are reasons why she chose to do what she did, what I don’t agree with is that they constrain her ultimately to only one choice. In retrospect, you can say she could not have made any other choice, but I think the literature on how we justify our choices post hoc with inaccurate reasoning that has nothing to do with how we actually made our choice is pretty compelling.

As for computers, I think their resemblence in structure and function to human brains is too poor currently for them to be a really useful model or analogy. I don’t believe my laptop makes choices in thesame way I do. I think it might be possible to make artifical devices that did, but I don’t believe talking about the devices we currently have is an accurate way to model the problem we’re considering.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2007 09:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
Jr. Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  69
Joined  2007-09-05
StephenLawrence - 11 September 2007 06:52 AM
WattaQuestion - 10 September 2007 04:44 PM

What I get from discussions with the “there is no free will” crowd is that believing in free will causes people to support capital punishment.

I’m over-simplfying a little, but most of the time this is usually the idea that comes up when consequences come up.

The consequences are far more wide reaching than this. The belief alters, our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, pretty much all the time when we are interacting with each other.

It leads to our emotions being inappropriate, it leads to a reduction in sympathy inability to empathise and increase in anger and hatred an increase in blame, shame, guilt, pride and much more.

People just can’t see this. It’s like not being able to see what would happen, if we took gravity away. I don’t understand it, sigh.

If peoples emotions weren’t so inappropriate and dysfunctional, due to belief in free will, I think we’d hardly have need for a justice system at all.

On the death penalty the link with free will is this:

Although it is natural to want to retaliate or want revenge, what belief in free will does, is lengthens the duration and strength of these desires. If we felt the murderer was as much an innocent victim, as the victim,  the feelings would soon fade, as say if a shark killed a child, desire to pay the shark back would not last long.

Well with the extra empathy and compassion we would have for the offender,  it would be a much tougher decision to harm them. We’d have to overide our feelings to do it, let our heads rule our heart. Is that a good idea? Isn’t it better to live in a world where our hightened empathy leads to less harm? Isn’t this the best aim? I think so.

Apart from that, whether we have the death penalty depends on what people feel. People won’t vote for it, if they don’t feel the person deserves it. So as always with me, it is not what I think we should do but what I think we would do if we didn’t believe in free will.

If we didn’t believe in free will unless we became cold and callous ( a scary thought) we wouldn’t use it.

Still we would want to prevent murders so what would happen is we would try harder to prevent them, using other means than threats and harsh deterrents.

This would be a very regretable last resort, once we accept that the person who pays the price does not deserve to.

If we lived in a society where everybody accepted nobody deserved their fortune good or bad, we would naturally be more helpful and more willing to alter circumstances that tend to lead to bad outcomes

I think two other things would happen 1. We’d have a very different sense of perspective, terrible things happen to 100’s of thousands of people every day. Our priorities over these things are warped by belief in free will, so if we feel there is someone to blame we go totally nuts about the significance of an incident and blow it completely out of proportion, in relation to our general problems.

The second thing is that we would stop considering somebody to be a murderer for all their lives if they have committed one in their past. They may go on to lead a good productive life, if nothing is done to them at all (not saying we should do nothing)

In the case of most “murderers” the chance of them commiting another murder next week, is probably no greater than you or I committing one next week.

And the chance of anyone becoming a murderer at all would be much reduced if they didn’t have a level of hatred for another human being required to cause them to kill. This level of hatred is often caused by belief in free will.

Stephen

You just make shit up out of the blue, don’t you? Sorry. I’m not going to be civil. This is the biggest pile of horseshit I’ve read in a long time.

Now - Forgive me for telling you you’re full of shit. Since there is no free will, I had no choice but to call you on your bull-crap post. But, by your own reasoning, you cannot feel anger against me.

Go back and try again, but before you do, take a look at the part of the law where sentencing is dependent on how likely the person (or animal) is to commit the act again if they are released into the general populace and such likelihood has to be demonstrated very well by the prosecutor. Look also at all the people, like me, who believe in free will and want capital punishment ended.

There is nothing I hate worse in a discussion than someone who purports to know what is going on in someone else’s head. Your post above is almost identical to a fundy theist’s rant that the source of all evil in the world is secualr humanism. You’ve blown it, now you need to go back to the drawing board and start over:

Show an actual link between belief in free will and belief in capital punsihment, not one you just pulled out of your ass.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 September 2007 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20
WattaQuestion - 11 September 2007 09:22 PM

You just make shit up out of the blue, don’t you? Sorry. I’m not going to be civil. This is the biggest pile of horseshit I’ve read in a long time.

Now - Forgive me for telling you you’re full of shit. Since there is no free will, I had no choice but to call you on your bull-crap post. But, by your own reasoning, you cannot feel anger against me.

 

Well if you believe that, then your view is that if we didn’t believe in free will, we couldn’t get angry with each other. 

My view is that our anger would merely be reduced to appropriate levels.

If only I could share your optimism!

Stephen

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 13
3
 
‹‹ Weird Relativism      brain is mind ››