2 of 11
2
Free Will in theodicy
Posted: 02 October 2007 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7613
Joined  2007-03-02

See what I mean, Truth?  What is Free Will?  Just a means to get off the hook for one’s actions, apparently.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
Mriana - 02 October 2007 03:00 PM

What is Free Will?

Imagine that 15 billon years ago god was very bored and decided to shoot pool. He broke the cluster of the balls and they have been moving since then. Now, if you believe you have free will, you should be able to change the direction of the balls.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7613
Joined  2007-03-02

It still doesn’t make sense, George.  :(  I guess I’m dense or something.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6191
Joined  2006-12-20
Mriana - 02 October 2007 02:40 PM

I know I sound like a broken record, but what is Free Will?  Yes, I’ve heard the religious talk about this, but I have no clue, because we ourselves decide our own actions (unless we have some sort of illness that prevents us from doing so) and WE are responsible for our actions.  There is no theocracy or theodicy to it.  Now religious dogma, IMHO, takes this freedom of action/choice/belief from us.  There is no longer freedom of anything when one subscribes/submits to a religious group, creed, dogma, and/or doctrine.  So what is Free Will?

Well Mriana I’m sure you sound like less of a broken record than I do, so don’t worry wink

Free will is the thing which we invented to make us responsible for our actions. As you’ve said, we are responsible for our actions, assuming you mean what almost everybody means by that, then you believe in free will. In fact having discussed this with you before, I’m pretty sure that you do.

Free will is not simply the idea we act upon our beliefs and desires, it’s the idea that either we could be responsible for having those beliefs and desires, or that it could somehow be our fault that we act upon them.

So if you are offered the choice of eating chocolate cake, going for a stroll or commiting a murder tonight, it’s the idea that you are ultimately responsible for attaching the value that you do to each of these options.

So if your brain happened to be in the physical state in which murder was preferable, it’s the belief that somehow it is ultimately your fault that your brain is in that state.

This thing you believe in is the very theology you would usually dismiss.

Firstly, I think from previous discussions I think I’m right in saying you believe you could do otherwise in the circumstances at the time and secondly you believe that could make us responsible for our actions.

That is the belief which incompatibilist or theological or libertarian or contra causal free will is, in a nutshell.


Stephen

[ Edited: 02 October 2007 03:39 PM by StephenLawrence ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6191
Joined  2006-12-20
Mriana - 02 October 2007 03:00 PM

See what I mean, Truth?  What is Free Will?  Just a means to get off the hook for one’s actions, apparently.

No, it is the thing which falsly puts us on the hook in the first place!

http://www.believermag.com/issues/200303/?read=interview_strawson

If you get a chance to read through this, I think it may help.

A way Galen Strawson puts it, in another peice I think, is that luck swallows everything.

The cards you are dealt and the way you play them, are both ultimately a matter of chance, as far as you are concerned.

Belief in the type of free will commonly believed in, requires this not to be so.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
Mriana - 02 October 2007 03:08 PM

It still doesn’t make sense, George.  :(  I guess I’m dense or something.

Good! I thought I was the only one. confused

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15433
Joined  2006-02-14
George - 02 October 2007 03:07 PM

Now, if you believe you have free will, you should be able to change the direction of the balls.

No, that’s only if you believe in libertarian free will.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6191
Joined  2006-12-20
dougsmith - 02 October 2007 04:18 PM
George - 02 October 2007 03:07 PM

Now, if you believe you have free will, you should be able to change the direction of the balls.

No, that’s only if you believe in libertarian free will.

Yes Doug but surely you realise that libertarian free will is what just about everybody considers to actually be free will.

On this forum alone it is what Mriana appears to believe in and George, Brennan and Narwhol.

Of course George, Brennan and Narwhol accept this is probably an illusion but it is what they believe free will is.

Now we are talking amongst polite philosophical types, get out in the “real word” and watch people vitriolically spitting hatred for someone because they blame them for something and have no doubt whatsoever that they are not compatibilists!

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 04:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
dougsmith - 02 October 2007 04:18 PM
George - 02 October 2007 03:07 PM

Now, if you believe you have free will, you should be able to change the direction of the balls.

No, that’s only if you believe in libertarian free will.

Doug,

I know you’re probably tired of this by now, but do you think you could give it one more try (please!) and explain compatibilism to me? Use my pool analogy. And pretend you’re talking to your grandmother (who is undoubtedly smarter than me).

So, I am an orange ball #5, I am conscious of my being and my actions, and I see I am about to miss the hole. Will I miss it? Can I change the direction of my path?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15433
Joined  2006-02-14
George - 02 October 2007 04:51 PM

I know you’re probably tired of this by now, but do you think you could give it one more try (please!) and explain compatibilism to me? Use my pool analogy. And pretend you’re talking to your grandmother (who is undoubtedly smarter than me).

So, I am an orange ball #5, I am conscious of my being and my actions, and I see I am about to miss the hole. Will I miss it? Can I change the direction of my path?

You’re getting confused by the whole libertarian free-will mindset, that thinks of actions like little miracles. They aren’t. Think of the balls as bouncing around in your head. When the right “belief” ball and the right “desire” ball both bang together, out shoots the action to get a soda from the vending machine. (Of course, these beliefs and desires are actually instantiated in the complex physical computer of your brain).

The only way you would not have gone to the vending machine is if you hadn’t had the “desire” ball knock you in the right direction, or if you hadn’t had the “belief” ball, or the “perception” ball ... one or another of the balls would have to have knocked you a different way.

Your having a free action is just constituted by having these belief and desire (etc.) balls bang around in your head.

I can’t stress the following enough: it is no part of free will to be able to do differently assuming you had exactly the same beliefs, desires and other mental states! To think it is is just to be seduced by the whole absurd notion that “free action” is miraculous. It’s to think we’re like little Gods. We aren’t.

It is perhaps simplest to get your mind around what free action really is by thinking of yourself doing something freely. What makes you free to do what you do? It’s because you are following the dictates of your beliefs and desires. If you hadn’t been able to do so (if you had been constrained) then you would have been unfree.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4108
Joined  2006-11-28

I can’t help feeling there must be a middle ground between libertarian free will (which essentially means we have to have souls because our actions are entirely free of constraint by biology, environment, etc) and absolute determinism (which means we are essentially b illiard balls with no more volition). I see compatibilism as something like that ground, though it is ultimately not very far from determinism. Stephen is wrong in saying I believe in free will even though I think it is probably an illusion. I find both stances inadequate to entirely account for the experience of choosing and acting.

For me, libertarian free will can make no sense without the supernatural, and since I don’t believe in that I have to reject this kind of free will. I can accept theoretically that all our choices and actions are ultimately pre-determined by the mechanistic processes happening in our brains. It makes sense.  But I find it hard to use that paradigm to account for the degree of plasticity in behavior. Deliberate choices to alter one’s own behavior work in measurable ways. It’s hard to make sense of this without having something like a “will,” and it is hard to reconcile this fact with Stephen’s contention that we only every do the things we do as the result of physical processes over which we have no control. If I habitually make a certain type of error in my work, and I choose to retrain myself to avoid that error, and I succeed, how have the billard balls in my head done that?

So I settle on the provisional acceptance of determinism, but I insert the caveats that 1) the model of meaningful choices and the possibility of being responsible for what we do because we could have done something else is a useful descriptor and predictor and shouldn’t be jettisoned and 2) determinism hasn’t successfully explained everything so there’s some work to do there yet.

Now Stephan worries that 1 above means we blame people unfairly for doing the only thing they could have done. I see his point, but I think there are other ways around it than treating us all as billiard balls. And I see the billiard ball approach as having just as great a danger in that it convinces people they cannot alter their own behavior by deliberate effort, while I am convinced they can even if I can’t explain how it works in what I accept is probably a strictly determinist environment.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet Blog
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15433
Joined  2006-02-14

Well, just to be totally clear, actually determinism is false ... Quantum mechanics is non-deterministic, it is probabilistic. That’s why I sort of shy away from any overtly deterministic worldview.

The problem for free action is that this is a difference that doesn’t make a difference. Random, probabilistic occurrences are not actions. (And, of course, the probabilistic elements of QM are only noticeable at the quantum level anyhow).

The point of compatibilism is to take seriously our everyday concept of when we say we did something freely and when we say we were constrained. It’s to look at the content of those concepts and to try to tease out the causal structures behind each sort of occurrence.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4108
Joined  2006-11-28

Thanks Doug for the clarification. I am probably using “deterministic” in a sloppy way, but I agree with your point that probabilistic or strictly deterministic models amount to the same thing when freedom of action is considered.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet Blog
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 07:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
dougsmith - 02 October 2007 05:08 PM
George - 02 October 2007 04:51 PM

I know you’re probably tired of this by now, but do you think you could give it one more try (please!) and explain compatibilism to me? Use my pool analogy. And pretend you’re talking to your grandmother (who is undoubtedly smarter than me).

So, I am an orange ball #5, I am conscious of my being and my actions, and I see I am about to miss the hole. Will I miss it? Can I change the direction of my path?

You’re getting confused by the whole libertarian free-will mindset, that thinks of actions like little miracles. They aren’t. Think of the balls as bouncing around in your head. When the right “belief” ball and the right “desire” ball both bang together, out shoots the action to get a soda from the vending machine. (Of course, these beliefs and desires are actually instantiated in the complex physical computer of your brain).

The only way you would not have gone to the vending machine is if you hadn’t had the “desire” ball knock you in the right direction, or if you hadn’t had the “belief” ball, or the “perception” ball ... one or another of the balls would have to have knocked you a different way.

Your having a free action is just constituted by having these belief and desire (etc.) balls bang around in your head.

I can’t stress the following enough: it is no part of free will to be able to do differently assuming you had exactly the same beliefs, desires and other mental states! To think it is is just to be seduced by the whole absurd notion that “free action” is miraculous. It’s to think we’re like little Gods. We aren’t.

It is perhaps simplest to get your mind around what free action really is by thinking of yourself doing something freely. What makes you free to do what you do? It’s because you are following the dictates of your beliefs and desires. If you hadn’t been able to do so (if you had been constrained) then you would have been unfree.

¡Ay dios mío! Call me a crazy but this sounds like determinism to me. I am still going to imagine being the ball and being on the path to sink in the hole. I didn’t choose to move in this direction — no, I don’t believe we are like little gods — but it just happens that at the time I am approaching the hole “desire” and “belief” light up in my brain. I am happy, I feel I am free because I desired this path. Now, another ball comes in front of me and prevents me from accomplishing from what I had thought I desired. I don’t feel free anymore. But, THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT THIS. How is this different from determinism?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2007 07:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7613
Joined  2007-03-02
StephenLawrence - 02 October 2007 04:44 PM

On this forum alone it is what Mriana appears to believe in and George, Brennan and Narwhol.

I believe we are in control of our actions (barring some illness like Schizophrenia) and we are responsible for those actions.  If that is libertarian free will…  Now there are times in which things are out of our control.  Like company lay offs, putting in several job apps., family obligations, etc etc.  I can’t be at work or in class and at the same time keep my 16 y.o. from doing something he shouldn’t at school, in which the school calls me to come in and talk to them about it, ASAP.  One can’t keep a company from laying people off nor can they make one of the employers hire them.  We just have to keep trying to reach our goal- like convincing our child to behave at school, putting our best foot forward, and alike.  I’m not so sure that is libertarianism though.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 11
2