3 of 29
3
Tom Clark - Scientific Naturalism and the Illusion of Free Will
Posted: 20 July 2009 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
StephenLawrence - 20 July 2009 02:09 PM

I chose freely, no one had a gun to my head.

As I try to explain in my post above, Stephen, this has nothing to do with the subject of free will.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2009 05:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14
George - 20 July 2009 04:09 PM
dougsmith - 20 July 2009 02:09 PM

The two different ideas of free will are compatibilist and contra-causal.

Right. The problem, IMO, is that the compatibilist free will has actually nothing to do with free will. We, of course, agree on the contra-causal free will. The way I see it, there are two possible problems with compatibilist free will:

1.) If I desire ice cream, and again we agree that I am indeed not free to cause the desire, it matters very little if I’ll actually get to eat the ice cram — as in the case of being prevented by another person to eat it. By “it matters very little” I mean that it has nothing to do with the subject of free will, but rather freedom.

2.) If, however, I am told that another person preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs is relevant to free will, I must object that since the person who is preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs (e.g., eating ice cream) is also acting upon his desires that he was not free to choose. And we are back to contra-causal free will.

I don’t understand. Compatibilist free will has everything to do with free will. It is the only sense of free will that is actually comprehensible—one in which our desires are realized. Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

The fact (in your #2) that the person who prevented you from acting on your desires is also acting upon his desires is clearly irrelevant to the case about whether you are acting in that situation under your own free will. Clearly in that case you are not—you are being coerced.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2009 07:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
dougsmith - 20 July 2009 05:38 PM

Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

Right. And as far as I can tell this is the the free will (or its absence) that has been on the minds of philosophers for millennia, the one that the religious believe exists and the one who’s existence now neuroscience seems to deny. Even my kids know that they are not free to watch TV (acting upon their desires) when they are grounded. But ask them if they think they are free to will to want to watch TV! In my opinion compatibilism only confuses this whole topic.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2009 09:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2008-02-13
dougsmith - 20 July 2009 05:38 PM
George - 20 July 2009 04:09 PM
dougsmith - 20 July 2009 02:09 PM

The two different ideas of free will are compatibilist and contra-causal.

Right. The problem, IMO, is that the compatibilist free will has actually nothing to do with free will. We, of course, agree on the contra-causal free will. The way I see it, there are two possible problems with compatibilist free will:

1.) If I desire ice cream, and again we agree that I am indeed not free to cause the desire, it matters very little if I’ll actually get to eat the ice cram — as in the case of being prevented by another person to eat it. By “it matters very little” I mean that it has nothing to do with the subject of free will, but rather freedom.

2.) If, however, I am told that another person preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs is relevant to free will, I must object that since the person who is preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs (e.g., eating ice cream) is also acting upon his desires that he was not free to choose. And we are back to contra-causal free will.

I don’t understand. Compatibilist free will has everything to do with free will. It is the only sense of free will that is actually comprehensible—one in which our desires are realized. Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

The fact (in your #2) that the person who prevented you from acting on your desires is also acting upon his desires is clearly irrelevant to the case about whether you are acting in that situation under your own free will. Clearly in that case you are not—you are being coerced.

Why isn’t the person with the gun just part of my environment that is determining what my desires are?  If someone points a gun at my head and says that if I have some ice cream, he’ll shoot me, I expect that my desire for ice cream will be quickly curtailed.  How does that differ from my having eaten a quart of ice cream 15 minutes ago?  In both cases, I don’t desire ice cream as a result.

I also don’t think that coercion should be considered such an important factor.  Suppose person A tries to coerce person B to do some act C.  If B does C, then we consider them to be coerced and not have free will.  If B doesn’t do C, then has B exhibited free will?  What if B was going to do C anyway?

Sam

 Signature 

Sam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2009 10:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6100
Joined  2006-12-20

Hi Sam,

I’ll have a go at answering your questions, although I’m no expert on compatibilist free will and I don’t feel this is the thread to get deeply into it on. (we have a free will thread)

The podcast was about the potential benefits of accepting that we don’t have contra causal free will.

sampa - 20 July 2009 09:05 PM

Why isn’t the person with the gun just part of my environment that is determining what my desires are?

He is.

If someone points a gun at my head and says that if I have some ice cream, he’ll shoot me, I expect that my desire for ice cream will be quickly curtailed.  How does that differ from my having eaten a quart of ice cream 15 minutes ago?  In both cases, I don’t desire ice cream as a result.

The difference is between the causes of the result, one is another agents will and the other isn’t.

I also don’t think that coercion should be considered such an important factor.

Say someone points a gun at your head and says steal that car. Who does it make sense to hold responsible for the theft? Holding each other responsible functions to influence our choices. There is no need to influence your choice in this case because you are doing nothing morally wrong if you steal the car.


Suppose person A tries to coerce person B to do some act C.  If B does C, then we consider them to be coerced and not have free will.

It might be that they still share responsibility, it depends, compatibilist freedom is not an all or nothing thing, it’s on a sliding scale.

If B doesn’t do C, then has B exhibited free will?

Not sure, I guess so?

  What if B was going to do C anyway?

If B was going to do C anyway then the attempted coersion was not the cause of B’s will.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2009 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6100
Joined  2006-12-20
George - 20 July 2009 07:34 PM
dougsmith - 20 July 2009 05:38 PM

Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

Right. And as far as I can tell this is the the free will (or its absence) that has been on the minds of philosophers for millennia, the one that the religious believe exists and the one who’s existence now neuroscience seems to deny.

Well we hardly needed to wait for neuroscience, I mean it just looks like nonsense doesn’t it?

It’s not just the religious who believe in it, anybody who believe someone can deserve to be harmed for what they have done believes in this magical freedom.

And that’s the vast majority of atheists and agnostics as well as theists!

Stephen

[ Edited: 20 July 2009 11:12 PM by StephenLawrence ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2009 11:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6100
Joined  2006-12-20
George - 20 July 2009 04:20 PM
StephenLawrence - 20 July 2009 02:09 PM

I chose freely, no one had a gun to my head.

As I try to explain in my post above, Stephen, this has nothing to do with the subject of free will.

Well ok then we obviously don’t have free will and that’s that.

I think there is an incorrect incoherent version of could have done otherwise.

And there is the counterfactual sense which we use to establish causes.

It seems that somewhere along the line we have got awfully muddled about this but what we are interested in when dividing up moral responsibility is the counterfactual sense.

So I think that it does make sense to naturalise could have done otherwise or in other words naturalise free will.

It’s just very important to bear in mind that the naturalised version leads to responsibility, blame etc, as functional in the societies of social animals, rather than deeply deserved, ultimate responsibility, ultimate blame etc.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2009 11:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  174
Joined  2007-02-21

@ Doug:

Just FYI, there was no “pruning of the interview,” nor did I “edit out a few back-and-forths.”  But I agree that D.J.‘s questions did jump around, I think he was trying to cover a lot of ground.

For what its worth, this kind of argument weighs heavily on me, and I think is making me lean toward going into public defense as a lawyer.

Cheers,
Thomas

[ Edited: 20 July 2009 11:21 PM by Thomas Donnelly ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 July 2009 11:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRank
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2009-06-03
StephenLawrence - 20 July 2009 10:49 PM

It’s not just the religious who believe in it, anybody who believe someone can deserve to be harmed for what they have done believes in this magical freedom.

And that’s the vast majority of atheists and agnostics as well as theists!

Stephen

Where this idea comes from? To me you seem to confuse certain philosophy and real world as it is.

I do not believe in that ethical stance. I do not believe in magical freedom of any kind. Your philosophical thinking does not change that because real world is not a logical deduction. To me this whole idea is similar to ideas like there can not be morality without a God. Real world exists without philosophical and logical modeling of it. It is futile to try to explain who deserves and what because it is and always will be a matter of personal opinion. 

And isn’t it a simple fact that we really can never know if a person is free to choose because there is no way of going back to any moment in time. It will always remain a matter of speculation because there can not be any kind of experimental way to verify the claim.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 July 2009 12:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6100
Joined  2006-12-20
Eero T. Eloranta - 20 July 2009 11:38 PM
StephenLawrence - 20 July 2009 10:49 PM

It’s not just the religious who believe in it, anybody who believe someone can deserve to be harmed for what they have done believes in this magical freedom.

And that’s the vast majority of atheists and agnostics as well as theists!

Stephen

Where this idea comes from? To me you seem to confuse certain philosophy and real world as it is.

I do not believe in that ethical stance. I do not believe in magical freedom of any kind. Your philosophical thinking does not change that because real world is not a logical deduction. To me this whole idea is similar to ideas like there can not be morality without a God. Real world exists without philosophical and logical modeling of it. It is futile to try to explain who deserves and what because it is and always will be a matter of personal opinion. 

It seems to me you believe in an unverifiable kind of freedom that can make us deserving of being harmed, which is what I meant by magical freedom.

And isn’t it a simple fact that we really can never know if a person is free to choose because there is no way of going back to any moment in time. It will always remain a matter of speculation because there can not be any kind of experimental way to verify the claim.

But this is this kind of freedom: “In some sense totally free will that operates without any causality” which we agree ” can not ever be. It’s a ridiculous idea.”

I don’t see how you can think it’s ridiculous and a matter of speculation and believe in it, as you believe in “just deserts”, all at the same time.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 July 2009 04:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14
George - 20 July 2009 07:34 PM
dougsmith - 20 July 2009 05:38 PM

Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

Right. And as far as I can tell this is the the free will (or its absence) that has been on the minds of philosophers for millennia, the one that the religious believe exists and the one who’s existence now neuroscience seems to deny. Even my kids know that they are not free to watch TV (acting upon their desires) when they are grounded. But ask them if they think they are free to will to want to watch TV! In my opinion compatibilism only confuses this whole topic.

Well, it’s the free will that’s been on the minds of some philosophers for millennia, but other philosophers have denied it. So too, some religious people have accepted it, others denied it. (Those who believe in strong predestination deny it). And the naturalist philosophers have been denying it since long before contemporary neuroscience. So none of this is particularly new, except for the sophistication.

And of course your children are free to will to want to watch TV. If you tell them otherwise you are mistaken.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 July 2009 04:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15368
Joined  2006-02-14
Thomas Donnelly - 20 July 2009 11:19 PM

@ Doug:

Just FYI, there was no “pruning of the interview,” nor did I “edit out a few back-and-forths.”  But I agree that D.J.‘s questions did jump around, I think he was trying to cover a lot of ground.

For what its worth, this kind of argument weighs heavily on me, and I think is making me lean toward going into public defense as a lawyer.

Thanks, Thomas. No worries. Yes, he was trying to cover a lot of ground. It’s a complex and enormous topic to try to fit into a 30 minute interview.

Good for you for considering public defense law. It’s a tough row to hoe ...

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 July 2009 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14
StephenLawrence - 20 July 2009 10:49 PM
George - 20 July 2009 07:34 PM
dougsmith - 20 July 2009 05:38 PM

Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

Right. And as far as I can tell this is the the free will (or its absence) that has been on the minds of philosophers for millennia, the one that the religious believe exists and the one who’s existence now neuroscience seems to deny.

Well we hardly needed to wait for neuroscience, I mean it just looks like nonsense doesn’t it?

It’s not just the religious who believe in it, anybody who believe someone can deserve to be harmed for what they have done believes in this magical freedom.

And that’s the vast majority of atheists and agnostics as well as theists!

Stephen

If you think the human behavioral tendency to strike back if hit, or a tribes tendency to root out an outcast from the village, for say disease, or heinous activity is magic, then I don’t know what you are talking about.
You are “viewing” it as a Freedom. You are viewing it as magical. You use the word “Deserve”!! You’re trying to frame the concept of Human Behavioral Violence, or revenge, as unnatural. You are free to subjectively interpret “Deserve” all you want. That is outside of the scope. The scope is all of these actions are basic human behavioral responses.
Many people don’t believe in any “Magical Freedoms”. Yet they still adhere to social group behavioral mechanics.
If your only case here is to try and prove that violence and “Judgement” is an outmoded human “Magic” that can be curbed or changed, you are in the clouds. I could be wrong in interpreting your views here- if so sorry.

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 July 2009 05:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14

It’s just very important to bear in mind that the naturalised version leads to responsibility, blame etc, as functional in the societies of social animals, rather than deeply deserved, ultimate responsibility, ultimate blame etc.

Stephen

Ok, right. It leads to ultimate responsibility, it leads to chaos too. Blame is subjective, but it is still an important functioning gear in our social behavior.
Let’s not try to co-mingle philosophical absolutes with Human behavior. There is a Concrete Objectivity that anyone can use, when viewing the apparent subjective randomness of human behavior. The ends NATURALLY justify the means in many(all?) cases.
This may seem, unfair, or illogical to “astute philosphical” viewers, but it is part of the game.

[ Edited: 21 July 2009 05:29 AM by VYAZMA ]
 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 July 2009 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14

There is no difference between “ultimate” responsibilty or just “regular” responsibilty. This is where some folks have mentioned the muddled road of semantics. Some can view things with immediate blame, others can “drill deep”(I got that from Doug) and find “Ultimate responsibility”. There is no difference. And if someones conclusions reach the basis for blame or responsibilty on GOD, that is just as natural as anything else. It is objectively- from a natural standpoint no more or less natural than Harvard Law school, or Socrates, or Charles Mansons Take on responsibilty or Blame.

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 29
3