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Tom Clark - Scientific Naturalism and the Illusion of Free Will
Posted: 10 May 2010 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 421 ]
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Bryan, while it’s true that natural selection is a blind process it nevertheless better adapts individuals to things like resource scarcity, etc.  Individuals possessing a sense of “free will” (randomly generated, genetic basis) might have been better able to deal with their environment and thus provided the necessary feedback to maintain and expand its frequency among humans.

Mark

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Posted: 10 May 2010 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 422 ]
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mnadler - 10 May 2010 10:01 AM

Bryan, while it’s true that natural selection is a blind process it nevertheless better adapts individuals to things like resource scarcity, etc.  Individuals possessing a sense of “free will” (randomly generated, genetic basis) might have been better able to deal with their environment and thus provided the necessary feedback to maintain and expand its frequency among humans.

Mark

I think this could only be true if the sense of free will were something more than just a mere “sense.” In other words, if our “decisions” are made on the unconsciousness level, as some neurological studies seem to indicate, then it is this mechanism, this very source of the cause that shapes our future behaviour, that may be detectable by natural selection. The “sense of free will” (the “illusion” of free will) appears to me more like a by-product of something else.

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Posted: 10 May 2010 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 423 ]
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Mark,

Just to explain further why I think the sense of free will can not be an adaptation: Imagine a billiard game where ball #5 hits ball #7 and makes it sink. Ball #7 is selected and so is ball #5, which is basically the cause of why ball #7 was selected. Now, let’s say ball #7 is conscious but unaware of the hit coming from ball #5 just like we are unaware (once again, according to the neuroscientists) of the causes for our actions. The conscious thought of the ball #7 approaching the hole is completely irrelevant here and therefore blind to natural selection.

[ Edited: 10 May 2010 12:30 PM by George ]
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Posted: 10 May 2010 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 424 ]
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I agree with George.

Virtually any set of behaviors is just as easily explained via causal determinism as by libertarian free will.  But the impression of free will is better explained by the reality of free will than by the illusion of free will simply because, as George points out, the illusion of free will ultimately has no utility.

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Posted: 12 July 2011 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 425 ]
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Excellent article. I also believe that free will is nothing more than illusion. I see no way to overcome what seems to be the true, namely, that the electrical and chemical actions at the synapses of our brains are the cause of our thoughts and ideas, there is simply no way to “control” those thoughts, without turning the concept of an idea into magic.

Karl (similar article)
http://questions4christians.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/beings-with-freewill-or-player-pianos/

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Posted: 12 July 2011 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 426 ]
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I don’t believe in the illusion of free will, I usually know what is preventing me from doing otherwise.

I take the same view as Sam Harris on this point.

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/free-will-why-you-still-dont-have-it/

It is not that free will is simply an illusion: our experience is not merely delivering a distorted view of reality; rather, we are mistaken about the character of our experience. We do not feel as free as we think we do. Our sense of our own freedom results from our not paying close attention to what it is like to be ourselves in the world. The moment we do pay attention, we begin to see that free will is nowhere to be found, and our subjectivity is perfectly compatible with this truth. Thoughts and intentions simply arise in the mind. What else could they do?  The truth about us is stranger than many suppose: the illusion of free will is itself an illusion.

Stephen

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Posted: 12 July 2011 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 427 ]
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Stephen,

I’m open. can you give me an explanation then of how “free will” works. In other words…if thoughts are the result of synaptic activity…and you cannot have a thought without synaptic activity…then how can you “decide” in other words how can you generate a thought, outside of, and apart from the electrical activity of your brain, which we obviously can’t control?

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Posted: 12 July 2011 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 428 ]
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kkemerait - 12 July 2011 12:40 PM

Stephen,

I’m open. can you give me an explanation then of how “free will” works. In other words…if thoughts are the result of synaptic activity…and you cannot have a thought without synaptic activity…then how can you “decide” in other words how can you generate a thought, outside of, and apart from the electrical activity of your brain, which we obviously can’t control?

We can’t.

I just don’t accept that we experience the illusion that we can. I take the same view as Sam Harris, which is if we pay attention to the experience we don’t appear to have (incompatibilist) free will.

Stephen

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Posted: 15 July 2011 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 429 ]
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kkemerait - 12 July 2011 12:40 PM

Stephen,

I’m open. can you give me an explanation then of how “free will” works. In other words…if thoughts are the result of synaptic activity…and you cannot have a thought without synaptic activity…then how can you “decide” in other words how can you generate a thought, outside of, and apart from the electrical activity of your brain, which we obviously can’t control?

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/10024/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/10609/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/474/
http://www.sfu.ca/~swartz/freewill1.htm

Do tell us when you you are ready reading and have evaluated the different concepts of free will and their their pro and contra arguments.

To add: as a newcomer I think it is a nice idea to look first what is already written about the subject in these fora.

Thank you.

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GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

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