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Free Will (Merged)
Posted: 26 July 2010 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2221 ]
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GdB - 26 July 2010 02:54 AM

And further I am still very curious to know from you what the scientific concept of free will is. None of you gave me one till now. I personally stick to the most simple definition that works: you are free if you can do what you want.

That is the definition of freedom, not free will. The only thing I’ll say about free will here, is that I see it as a by-product of consciousness. Now, I have some speculations as to why and how we acquired consciousness and the illusion of fee will, but I am not yet ready to discuss those.

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Posted: 26 July 2010 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2222 ]
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George - 26 July 2010 06:44 AM

That is the definition of freedom, not free will. The only thing I’ll say about free will here, is that I see it as a by-product of consciousness. Now, I have some speculations as to why and how we acquired consciousness and the illusion of fee will, but I am not yet ready to discuss those.

So you do not say what free will is then? That is a pity… I hope you will be ready soon.

But here you suggested you know what free will is:

George - 22 July 2010 01:17 PM
StephenLawrence - 22 July 2010 01:07 PM

But what version of free will are you talking about?

The only version there is, of course.

And your reaction:

George - 22 July 2010 01:23 PM
StephenLawrence - 22 July 2010 01:21 PM

Define it.

No. Everyone knows what is meant by “free will.”

Everybody knows, but you don’t? And you are not ready to discuss this, but you already used it in the discussion?

VYAZMA said there is a scientific definition:

VYAZMA - 24 July 2010 10:05 AM

Or in re-defining free-will against its classical, relevant, and scientific meaning.

My I hear it,  please?

The only thing you are correct about is that free will really has something to do with consciousness. But that I was saying also all the time.

I think my definition is also free will, but you are right if you would say it encompasses freedom too. But it is more. For example, some people feel not free in exactly the same kind of circumstances, where somebody else feels free. What could the difference be? Somebody who is addicted wants to get rid of his daily shot, but he does not succeed. Somebody who wants break free from his marriage, but fears to really do it. Somebody who is not able to plan his actions, and so he gets in circumstances he never wanted to be. And don’t forget the example I once gave:

Two men are sitting in their respective houses. They live in a country with a terror regime. Both are against the regime, both have done some ‘illegal’ activities. Now man(1) is afraid to be arrested on the street because he might be recognised, and does not dare to go outside. Man(2) has no fear for that, he thinks he was hardly seen, and leaves his home for shopping. Who is more free?
But now man(2) goes out, and at the shopping centre he is recognised, and arrested. On the other side, the secret service agents that saw man(1) were just help troups that are stationed in another city, and they went back to this city. So the chance that man(1) is arrested is null. But he stays inside, for nothing.

So what do we see: it is the options that one sees, that make one free or not. Man(1) and man(2) both had 2 options (go outside or not), and these are determined by their beliefs, true or not.

This also means that the free will is not ‘out there’: man(2) is arrested, man(1) could never have been arrested.

GdB

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Posted: 26 July 2010 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2223 ]
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GdB - 26 July 2010 03:04 AM

‘he could have done otherwise, if he had other desires or believes’. If that is not enough for you, then it is a pity.

GdB

It is enough for me GdB grin  But it’s also essential, without it there is no bases for praise and blame.

Stephen

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Posted: 26 July 2010 08:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2224 ]
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GdB, my idea of the definition of free-will is basically what Steve said: The ability to do otherwise. Otherwise than what we are determined to do. It’s that simple.
Like I said if you want pizza, you’re not going to eat hamburgers. That example/ analogy can be superimposed over every possible situation a human encounters.
This would include automatic actions, even actions we supposedly ponder over. After the pondering is finished the determined action will result. All of the pondering was “experienced” by your consciousness, but the result was determined already weighing environment, learned experience, genes etc.
Really if we go by your definition of free-will it makes this entire thread ridiculous. After all, we all know we are free to move about the world picking and choosing, deciding, judging, rewarding etc. Right?
Every last person in this forum knows we “choose”. That we have freedom. That we are conscious of choices, that we are conscious of consequences.
So why are we nitpicking over all this?
Because we want to discuss what “desires and beliefs” really are. In regards to causal determinism, if we really accept that our minds are part of the physical world, and that we are part of a larger species organism, that our minds are just prime directors for the continuation of DNA, then what do we have?
Why do you keep throwing duality on my side of the argument? The duality is in thinking we are piloting our brains. That we are flying above our bodies watching it and guiding it through life.
Are we on the same page? Seriously? Duality has been one of my main points in this thread forever.
GdB-“The ability to do otherwise.” That’s the definition! To really do otherwise than what has been causally determined. We all know we do otherwise all the time- on a surface level, on a dualistic level.
Either you believe determinism ends at the beginning of our minds, or you have just been wasting time discussing the obvious notion that we all “feel like” we are choosing things.

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Posted: 27 July 2010 12:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2225 ]
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VYAZMA - 26 July 2010 08:15 PM

So why are we nitpicking over all this?

I think there are two reasons.

1) Is to do with moral responsibility, people think that if we don’t have free will we cannot be morally responsible.

2) Is people contrast free will with fatalism, so they think if they don’t have free will then fatalism is true.

Stephen

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Posted: 27 July 2010 12:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2226 ]
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GdB - 26 July 2010 10:16 AM
George - 26 July 2010 06:44 AM

That is the definition of freedom, not free will. The only thing I’ll say about free will here, is that I see it as a by-product of consciousness. Now, I have some speculations as to why and how we acquired consciousness and the illusion of fee will, but I am not yet ready to discuss those.

So you do not say what free will is then? That is a pity… I hope you will be ready soon.

What we know about what George thinks is that because we don’t have free will we can’t be morally responsible.

So free will is the thing we have to have to make us morally responsible.

We also know he talks about determinism and about the consequences of it being possible in principle to predict what will happen. These consequences are our inability to avoid.

So I think we can say free will from George’s point of view is something like: An ability to avoid doing what we do by doing something else instead, that would make us morally responsible for doing it.

I hope you didn’t mind me having a stab at what I think I know you think George.

Perhaps you’ll confirm or correct me.

Stephen

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Posted: 27 July 2010 01:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2227 ]
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Hi VYAZMA,

But did your read carefully what Stephen agreed with: that free will is that he could have done otherwise, if he had other desires or believes. When however all atoms, molecules and neurons in the world are in the same state, then he has the same desires and believes, and he will do exactly the same.

But you leave out consistently the first party view, i.e. how you are conscious of yourself. You are pondering what to do: I can do A but then… Of course I prefer B, it would be the best for me, but then later… etc. You suggest (maybe you don’t mean to) that the pondering is no use, because everything is already determined. That is of course not true. The action that comes out at the end necessarily goes via the pondering. The hard core determinist in the restaurant cannot avoid to choose just because he is a determinist. He cannot simply wait until he says which meal he wants, with the idea that everything is determined,  so it will come out eventually. He must go through the choosing, otherwise he will starve in the restaurant. This means his ordering is essentially dependent on his pondering. And this is the experience we always have: what happens next depends on my choice, and my choice only. Nobody, nothing forces me to take the meal I want, and that is what exactly what free will is. I have options, they are on the menu card, and what I want from these options is my free choice. Are they real options? From my perspective, the first party view, yes, and I have no other perspective on this situation. I have no access to my brain states, which would make a third party view on my brain. So for the determinist himself it makes no difference if we are determined or not.

So this an argument against fatalism (Stephen’s 2)

From the third party view, assuming somebody has all the neurological knowledge needed, it looks differently of course. He sees the whole determination from the beginning to the end. But then we don’t see the person as person anymore. That is my personal reason to go into so much detail, and putting so much energy in this discussion. Seeing the other as person is something different than seeing him as research object, or substance to be worked on. Both views have their values in their respective places: with other persons I talk, make them responsible for their actions; with humans as substance to work on I remove brain tumours, release metabolism faults etc. So it is not that one is wrong and the other correct. Everything in its proper place. And here neurologists cross the border when they say humans are determined, and therefore we cannot make them responsible. Making people responsible is the glue of our society, and makes us to persons. How would you feel if you get a brain surgery because you parked your car at the wrong place? Or as next step: when your political ideology does not fit those in power?

Remember what I said before: free will is a presupposition of doing experiments. I can freely adjust the input parameters of my experiment, and so find out according to which natural laws my study object develops. The same with the application of the natural laws I found in the form of technology: I change some input parameters in the substance I work on, and according to the natural laws I know by now, the substance changes in a way that I want. So again free will is the presupposition. But what I myself want as researcher or as one using the technology, I only know from the first order perspective. So I have to ponder again what is correct to do. There is no way out! Free will is always there! It might exist in the first party view only, but I won’t ever get rid of it: at least the last omnipotent dictator will have free will.

As long as I am able to a first party view, which means I am conscious of myself, my desires, my believes etc, I am choosing, and I am free. Not in some absolute sense, which would lead to the absurd libertarian free will concept, but in the simple meaning of ‘being able to do what I want’, with options that really exist in the first party view. If you deny that these really exist, then you must deny consciousness, which I think is pretty absurd.

And why I am coming back on dualism again and again? Because it lies hidden in the standpoint you are attacking. That I should be independent of all pre conditions in order to be really free. How can one think this without seeing ‘me’ as something different from my brain? So your attack on ‘free will’ is based on a dualistic viewpoint. Only from this dualistic viewpoint free will is an absurdity. But if you act according to your inherent necessity, this problem does not even arise. As long as there is a first party view, in which we are aware of my desires, beliefs and pondering, free will exists. That is enough, and it is makes no sense to deny that we are aware of these. The dualism is resolved in the different views I can take to myself and my fellow humans.

With that I think I have underpinned Stephen’s 1). We will ponder about our actions, and one of the necessary dimensions of this pondering is the moral dimension. I am made responsible by my fellow humans, based on that I could have done otherwise (if I had had other desires and believes). For a third party sociological view one can take Gnostikosis’ standpoint: that I learn in this way which desires and believes are acceptable for society and which are not. Or would you prefer a society where everybody who does something wrong according to society’s morality is treated instead of punished? When I am treated, I have no chance to say, ‘but I was right’. I lost my human dignity.

GdB

[ Edited: 27 July 2010 01:59 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 27 July 2010 07:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2228 ]
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StephenLawrence - 27 July 2010 12:44 AM

So I think we can say free will from George’s point of view is something like: An ability to avoid doing what we do by doing something else instead, that would make us morally responsible for doing it.

Stephen, I am not interested to speculate about the absence of free will on the level of psychology or even biology. For me this whole thing gets interesting when we look at free will through physics. I have asked this question many times in this thread, but I am really interested to think what would happen if I could calculate the future (flower pot falling on my head tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.), or what would happen if I travelled back in time (“deciding” A at one time, and “deciding” B at the same time when traveling back in time).

The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to believe that the absence of free will tells us that time travel (or calculating the future) will never be possible. And that leads me to other interesting questions which obviously don’t belong in this thread. But no, I really don’t care if we are morally responsible for our actions. Of curse we are not, and of course we will always feel that we are. This is to me very boring.

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Posted: 27 July 2010 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2229 ]
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George - 27 July 2010 07:08 AM

Stephen, I am not interested to speculate about the absence of free will on the level of psychology or even biology. For me this whole thing gets interesting when we look at free will through physics. I have asked this question many times in this thread, but I am really interested to think what would happen if I could calculate the future (flower pot falling on my head tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.), or what would happen if I travelled back in time (“deciding” A at one time, and “deciding” B at the same time when traveling back in time).

And I answered it already here.

If you predict the future, your (true) belief will change: now you know that if you go there, you will be killed. Now according to my description of free will ‘able to act according to your beliefs and desires’ we get ‘I believe I will be killed tomorrow at 2:25 p.m by this exact from this exact balcony’, and my desire to survive, I will avoid to be close to this balcony. Your prediction caused a change in your (true) belief, and this in its turn, will cause you to act differently. So it is not your wishes, it is your belief that changes.

And you did not react.

You will not find free will through physics. You even will not find physics through physics, because these are all spots of ink on paper. Only when humans know the meaning of these ink spots they see it is physics.

GdB

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Posted: 27 July 2010 08:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2230 ]
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I didn’t react because your answer didn’t (and still doesn’t) make sense to me.

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Posted: 27 July 2010 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2231 ]
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George - 27 July 2010 08:59 AM

I didn’t react because your answer didn’t (and still doesn’t) make sense to me.

question

It is not that difficult: if you know that the flower pot will fall from the balcony, you will not go there. ‘Knowing’ is ‘having a true belief’. That is also the case in a determinist system. Your knowledge ‘a flower pot will fall’, combined with your desire to survive will cause you not to be there at exact the time when the pot falls.

I’ll can go one step further: imagine a perfect prediction machine. It is a giant computer, fed with all natural laws and initial parameters of all particles in the universe. Now you ask the machine when and how you will die, and the computer says: ‘Tomorrow at 1:30 PM you will be killed by a flower pot falling from the balcony’. Now you know this, the state of the universe changes, and the machine must start to make a new prediction: your brain is different as it was before. Given that you don’t want to die tomorrow for such a stupid reason, the machine knows you will not go there, and it must start its prediction calculation again…

And now imagine you are such a perfect prediction machine yourself: You see that it is impossible to predict the future, because every prediction you make, will immediately change the universe and you must predict again. This is a very formal reason to see that predictability is lost even in a deterministic universe. Don’t mix up predictability with determinism.

GdB

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Posted: 27 July 2010 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2232 ]
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GdB - 27 July 2010 10:26 AM
George - 27 July 2010 08:59 AM

I didn’t react because your answer didn’t (and still doesn’t) make sense to me.

question

It is not that difficult: if you know that the flower pot will fall from the balcony, you will not go there. ‘Knowing’ is ‘having a true belief’. That is also the case in a determinist system. Your knowledge ‘a flower pot will fall’, combined with your desire to survive will cause you not to be there at exact the time when the pot falls.

If the prediction was made based on determinism and sufficient knowledge of the state of the universe then the knowledge of the flower pot falling will not foil the prediction.  GdB’s solution is no solution.  It is a dodge that is unavailable to the determinist.

I’ll can go one step further: imagine a perfect prediction machine. It is a giant computer, fed with all natural laws and initial parameters of all particles in the universe. Now you ask the machine when and how you will die, and the computer says: ‘Tomorrow at 1:30 PM you will be killed by a flower pot falling from the balcony’. Now you know this, the state of the universe changes, and the machine must start to make a new prediction: your brain is different as it was before. Given that you don’t want to die tomorrow for such a stupid reason, the machine knows you will not go there, and it must start its prediction calculation again…

Apparently GdB somehow fails to realize that his description of the scenario contradicts itself.  A perfect prediction machine would take into account the way the state of the universe determined that it would be asked how a person would die as well as how that information was used in the future.

And now imagine you are such a perfect prediction machine yourself: You see that it is impossible to predict the future, because every prediction you make, will immediately change the universe and you must predict again. This is a very formal reason to see that predictability is lost even in a deterministic universe. Don’t mix up predictability with determinism.

Physician, heal thyself.

Determinism entails predictability in principle.  If a prediction is based on complete knowledge of the state of the universe than it follows that the state of the universe makes predictable even particular knowledge of future events.  And such knowledge likewise is taken into account wrt to predictions about the future.  It is nonsense, in a deterministic scenario, to speak of knowledge changing the future.  There’s only one future and it is either known or not known, period.  What we have is a “perfect” prediction machine that somehow was unable to predict that it would be asked about the future.  <sarcasm on>Well, that’s just perfect.</sarcasm off>

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Posted: 27 July 2010 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2233 ]
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George - 27 July 2010 07:08 AM

But no, I really don’t care if we are morally responsible for our actions. Of curse we are not, and of course we will always feel that we are. This is to me very boring.

Ok. I’d just say you couldn’t be more wrong. Getting a belief like this wrong must be having tremendous influence and must be causing tremendous suffering.

It’s absolutely crucial that we come to realise that.

Stephen

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Posted: 27 July 2010 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2234 ]
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Bryan,

Your machine stands outside the universe, made of soul- or god-substance.

GdB

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Posted: 27 July 2010 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2235 ]
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GdB - 27 July 2010 10:59 AM

Bryan,

Your machine stands outside the universe, made of soul- or god-substance.

GdB

It’s your machine, and we should expect that it occurs outside the universe because your description was self-contradictory.

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