View Full Version : Why free will is impossible


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litewave
05-20-11, 08:27 AM
Free will as it is usually understood is the ability of an agent to do an intentional action that is at least to some extent independent of influences affecting the agent. This independence is supposed to make the agent the ultimate controller of his actions, which guarantees that the agent is morally responsible for his actions and deserves rewards or punishments for them.

However, an agent that does an intentional action can never be the ultimate controller of this action, because the action is determined by an intention (and possibly also by some influences affecting the agent). For example, if raising of my left arm is my intentional action, then it must be determined by my intention to raise my left arm. But how does the determination of an action by the agent's intention rule out the agent's ultimate control over the action?

To answer that question let us first look at what an intention is. Here we may help ourselves with some definitions in a dictionary, such as the Merriam-Webster dictionary (www.m-w.com). The first definition of the word "intention" in this dictionary is "a determination to act in a certain way", which indicates that an intention is A STATE OF MIND. Another relevant definition of this word is "what one intends to do or bring about", which indicates that an intention is a goal or purpose, AN IDEA one has in mind.

So A STATE OF MIND or AN IDEA determines an intentional action. Then for an agent to be in control of his intentional action it seems that he must determine his state of mind or the idea he has in mind, and through these he can determine the action. However, determining a state of mind or an idea in mind is an action too! It is an action of creating the state of mind or the idea and if THIS action is not intentional then obviously the agent is not in control of it and consequently not in control of the final action determined by the state of mind/idea. On the other hand, if the determining of the state of mind/idea is an intentional action, then it must be determined by an intention to create that state of mind/idea, and this intention is just another state of mind/idea. So we get an infinite regress of states of mind/ideas determining other states of mind/ideas, in which there is no place for an agent's ultimate control of his actions. Or assuming (as we usually do) that the agent's mind has a finite history, we arrive at the first state of the agent's mind or the first idea in his mind, which is not determined by his preceding states of mind/ideas, and therefore it is not intentional, he doesn't have control over it and consequently he doesn't have control of actions determined by it.

And moreover, it seems doubtful that it is possible to even have an intention to form an intention. Just try to imagine it - if you have an intention A to form an intention B, you actually already have the intention B in your mind, so the intention A is a fiction. If we cannot have intentions to form an intention that makes any regress of intentions impossible, and thus all of our intentions emerge unintentionally in our minds. And then they determine our intentional actions.

What happens if we have divergent intentions at the same time (similar to divergent desires)? Isn't this the point where free will could choose one intention over another? Well, this choosing would have to be an intentional action, which would bring us to the problems described above. In general, our intentional action will be determined by the joint influence of all our intentions, and stronger intentions will weigh more heavily in the result than weaker ones.

In conclusion, intentionality is regarded as a necessary component of free will, but at the same time it rules out free will. That's why free will, as it is usually understood, is impossible.

Search & Destroy
05-20-11, 08:52 AM
I think the loops you are getting yourself into are wordplay, and nothing more. The loops are problems of grammar and language. Even if I can't reason my way around it, it sure feels real. I lift my arm, not because someone told me to, but because I want to. It certainly feels like free will.

I wouldn't get too caught up in word play, unless it is for entertainment. As Wittgenstein said, "meaning is use".

litewave
05-20-11, 09:15 AM
It certainly feels like free will.
I know. And when I watch then sun, it feels like it moves around the earth. Free will is an illusion.

Search & Destroy
05-20-11, 10:03 AM
How do you feel about emergence? You know - the sum is greater than the parts. Couldn't it be that free will is not necessarily causally connected to neurons?

Read-Only
05-20-11, 10:13 AM
This idea is just as dumb/stupid as it ever was. Anyone who actually believes that which shirt he chose to wear today was somehow already determined for him before the beginning of time (or whatever remote date you want to use) is suffering from a grand mental delusion. :shrug:

cosmictraveler
05-20-11, 10:16 AM
Definition of FREE WILL

1: voluntary choice or decision <I do this of my own free will>

2: freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention.

litewave
05-20-11, 10:17 AM
How do you feel about emergence? You know - the sum is greater than the parts. Couldn't it be that free will is not necessarily causally connected to neurons?
It is irrelevant whether free will is causally connected to neurons. My argument is purely logical, not biological.

Me-Ki-Gal
05-20-11, 10:44 AM
This idea is just as dumb/stupid as it ever was. Anyone who actually believes that which shirt he chose to wear today was somehow already determined for him before the beginning of time (or whatever remote date you want to use) is suffering from a grand mental delusion. :shrug:

I Like MEntal GRand Delusion better . Yeah it is all about possessions. Wee like to think thoughts are our own . Are They? If someone thought the same thought in the past was it really our own thought . O.K. consider this < information exist whether we think it or not. Micheal Jackson touched on this once . People thought he was wigging out when he did . He was talking about his creativity not being his own . How he would go to this universal pool of information and that was were he got the building blocks to form his songs . It was like a gift from what already exists. O.K. consider this . How do you feel when someone already knows what you are spouting ? Or lets say you are creating something and you have personalized it as your own . You make a big invested in a solution . Your already for market and before your " Idea hits the ground someone beats you to the punch and your " Idea becomes obsolete . Do you feel cheated? Some might even think they were plagiarized and want to sue . This I believe is rooted in hoarding instincts were you think you own your own thoughts. What a joke that is . People there is nothing new under the sun . It is only in your own hoarding mind that this is true. Free will is an illusion as far as I can tell. We strive to have free will but is it really a reachable goal having free will. Here is the little test . Change History . Go back in time and change an out come . Can you ? Now you may think well I will change it the next time the situation comes up , except you already learned from the first time you did the deed and the natural progression is for you to alter the deed for your better out come . So did you have free will ? I think not ? I think you used the stepping stones of existing information to get the new out come. Building blocks of existing information .

Rhaedas
05-20-11, 11:17 AM
I know. And when I watch then sun, it feels like it moves around the earth. Free will is an illusion.

That's because you're not projecting your frame of reference past yourself. So we can play analogies, and I can say that you just feel like you have no free will, but you do.

KilljoyKlown
05-20-11, 11:17 AM
The link below seems very relevant to this thread.

Do You Believe In Free Will? Maybe You Should, Even If You Don't

http://bigthink.com/ideas/38486?utm_source=Strange+Maps+Newsletter+Subscribe rs&utm_campaign=3768e3eeca-Strange_Maps_Newsletter_May_20_2011&utm_medium=email

Read-Only
05-20-11, 12:37 PM
I Like MEntal GRand Delusion better . Yeah it is all about possessions. Wee like to think thoughts are our own . Are They? If someone thought the same thought in the past was it really our own thought . O.K. consider this < information exist whether we think it or not. Micheal Jackson touched on this once . People thought he was wigging out when he did . He was talking about his creativity not being his own . How he would go to this universal pool of information and that was were he got the building blocks to form his songs . It was like a gift from what already exists. O.K. consider this . How do you feel when someone already knows what you are spouting ? Or lets say you are creating something and you have personalized it as your own . You make a big invested in a solution . Your already for market and before your " Idea hits the ground someone beats you to the punch and your " Idea becomes obsolete . Do you feel cheated? Some might even think they were plagiarized and want to sue . This I believe is rooted in hoarding instincts were you think you own your own thoughts. What a joke that is . People there is nothing new under the sun . It is only in your own hoarding mind that this is true. Free will is an illusion as far as I can tell. We strive to have free will but is it really a reachable goal having free will. Here is the little test . Change History . Go back in time and change an out come . Can you ? Now you may think well I will change it the next time the situation comes up , except you already learned from the first time you did the deed and the natural progression is for you to alter the deed for your better out come . So did you have free will ? I think not ? I think you used the stepping stones of existing information to get the new out come. Building blocks of existing information .

Nope, I'm not buying that at all.

Certainly it's true that new things are built upon older foundations - but it's totally absurd to say (or even think) that there's nothing new under the sun. For example, please show me the cellphones that existed in the 18th century.

The thing is, this topic of "no free will" shows up again every few months on Internet forums and wherever and they are all based on the same fallacies as has been pointed out here - people get hung up on words, terms and false logical loops. They appear unable to reach logical, rational conclusions simply because they have *themselves* confused so deeply that they can't get out of the hole they're stuck in.

One category of individuals that hold this silly belief do so as a means to try and make themselves not responsible for their own personal actions. ("I killed that guy (or stole that thing) because I had no choice because I do not have free will.") Only true idiots would accept THAT excuse!!!

dumb dude
05-20-11, 01:11 PM
Exactly my POV. Denying free will is like dodging responsibilities.


One category of individuals that hold this silly belief do so as a means to try and make themselves not responsible for their own personal actions. ("I killed that guy (or stole that thing) because I had no choice because I do not have free will.") Only true idiots would accept THAT excuse!!!

Emil
05-20-11, 01:28 PM
Is anyone that puts into practice the principle "there is no free will"?

litewave
05-20-11, 03:28 PM
The link below seems very relevant to this thread.

Do You Believe In Free Will? Maybe You Should, Even If You Don't

http://bigthink.com/ideas/38486?utm_source=Strange+Maps+Newsletter+Subscribe rs&utm_campaign=3768e3eeca-Strange_Maps_Newsletter_May_20_2011&utm_medium=email
We will have to find a way to act properly even without belief in free will. Like many people have found a way to be moral even without belief in a judging God, or a way to enjoy Christmas even without belief in Santa.

It seems that belief in free will helps one to focus on their goals and make an effort to achieve them because they have a feeling they can achieve them through their actions. While those who don't believe in free will may be more prone to a sense of resignation, helplessness or doubt about achieving their goals, and thus they are less motivated to focus on them and make an effort to achieve them.

But my rationale for disbelief in free will doesn't deny that we can achieve our goals if we want to. Only that our wanting exists without being intentionally chosen. It seems to be an issue of realization that although we are unable to ultimately choose what we have, we are still able to use it to achieve our goals (if they are realistic).

Another problem with disbelief in free will may have to do with lack of feelings of guilt and pride, which may motivate some people to do harmful actions or demotivate them from doing beneficial actions. But maybe we can replace guilt and pride with something that is similarly useful. Namely, with the realization that as beings who want to survive, develop and have a happy and fulfilling life, we need to coexist, cooperate, contribute with what we have and help each other. This realization can also be internalized on an emotional level as a feeling of love. And it is also important to have a social system of laws and norms of conduct that rewards beneficial actions and punishes harmful actions and thus contributes to desirable motivation of people.

Dywyddyr
05-20-11, 03:34 PM
We will have to find a way to act properly even without belief in free will.
:roflmao:
You did intend the irony in that didn't you?


Like many people have found a way to be moral even without belief in a judging God
Pardon?


But my rationale for disbelief in free will doesn't deny that we can achieve our goals if we want to. Only that our wanting exists without being intentionally chosen. It seems to be an issue of realization that although we are unable to ultimately choose what we have, we are still able to use it to achieve our goals (if they are realistic).
I'm not sure what you're using for logic, but you're managing some nice contradictions.

spidergoat
05-20-11, 03:35 PM
Our brains can be free of will even if they are deterministic systems. Chaos theory shows that deterministic systems can have unpredictable results. We have free will, there is no choice about it.

NietzscheHimself
05-20-11, 04:23 PM
Is anyone that puts into practice the principle "there is no free will"?

People who work during the weekends?

Rav
05-20-11, 05:08 PM
Originally Posted by KilljoyKlown
The link below seems very relevant to this thread.

Do You Believe In Free Will? Maybe You Should, Even If You Don't

http://bigthink.com/ideas/38486?utm_source=Strange+Maps+Newsletter+Subscribe rs&utm_campaign=3768e3eeca-Strange_Maps_Newsletter_May_20_2011&utm_medium=email

But my rationale for disbelief in free will doesn't deny that we can achieve our goals if we want to. Only that our wanting exists without being intentionally chosen. It seems to be an issue of realization that although we are unable to ultimately choose what we have, we are still able to use it to achieve our goals (if they are realistic).

From the article KilljoyKlown linked to:


But note the crucial timing here: volitional action is initiated in a preconscious stage, yes, but we do have a window of opportunity (anywhere from 150 to 200ms) when we are already aware of the action but have not yet acted, should we wish to change, stop, or otherwise redirect that action. So, for those who want to take a philosophical interpretation of the physiology, free will might be constrained, but remains alive and well in those 150-200ms.

The subtlety that you might be missing here is the difference between the awareness of an action you took after you took it and the awareness of the action that you are about to take after the pre-conscious motor preparation associated with that action has already occurred. In the latter case you have a small window of opportunity during which you can choose to override the default action.

SciWriter
05-20-11, 05:29 PM
There is No Free Will…

The opposite of ‘determined’ is ‘undetermined’, not ‘free will’, for what is not determined must be random, if there is such a thing, as if we were miniature first causes with nothing prior to draw upon—a blank slate. Random or not doesn’t matter, for that would be a total disaster for human thought, reasoning, and action, and we don’t observe that.

Will is fixed to the instant but we can easily obtain a newer and wider fixed will via learning and experience. If one is or has become immune to learning then one is doomed and is truly the old type of robot who can’t change, or at least one is such in certain areas if learning can still take place in other areas.

What we hope for when one is release from prison is that their will has been deepened; however that all depends on how much the behavior patterns have been grooved in.

Although fixed will may not sound so great, it certainly does when the other shoe of ‘random’ is dropped, for who would want undetermined actions. Of course, some thoughts do seem to come out of the blue, but recall that we are not privy to all that occurs in the subconscious, plus it only all the more shows that we do not will that which does the willing.

What about some random quantum happening disrupting the neuronal voting process? Yes, perhaps, they it switching a lopsided vote all the way around, on rare occasion, but probably usually only the ones that were close anyway, the outcome then hardly mattering as a difference which is really no difference, such as in which white shirt to wear. Yet, this is not at all what is meant by free will in any way.

And even if quantum mechanics is random, how does that help the case for free will? To most people, freedom involves more than performing random actions or responding randomly to stimuli. We want to be able to choose our actions, not simply behave haphazardly. A life completely subject to the whims of quantum chance is just as unattractive as a life governed by predictability.

What about when some simpleton or forbidden thought arises and then gets vetoed? Well, in normal people, this only means that the entire brain and its overall will hasn’t fully checked in yet as to what the simpleton area or reflex came up with, not that there aren’t reactive-type people who can’t even take an instant to come up with a more creative response, as that is what they have become.

What if someone now raises up his hand in the air to show free will? Well, the cause of that is that we’ve just been discussing the subject of free will.

Learn more, and then there will be more options to draw on for wider and more informed ‘choices’.

Emil
05-20-11, 05:37 PM
There is No Free Will…


This is just a statement, or you act according to this principle?

SciWriter
05-20-11, 05:55 PM
This is just a statement, or you act according to this principle?

I act by it when considering why some people are stuck and unchanging, forever crashing into the wall of life, for then comes understanding rather than declaring what they ought to do.

Other times I just let it go, having life flow without any concentration on the no free will impossibility. Besides, learning ever widens my will.

litewave
05-20-11, 06:01 PM
The subtlety that you might be missing here is the difference between the awareness of an action you took after you took it and the awareness of the action that you are about to take after the pre-conscious motor preparation associated with that action has already occurred. In the latter case you have a small window of opportunity during which you can choose to override the default action.
But I suppose that this overriding is an intentional action, and so it suffers from the problems I described in my OP. An agent that does an intentional action cannot be the ultimate controller of this action.

Dywyddyr
05-20-11, 06:03 PM
Besides, learning ever widens my will.
Huh?
If you sincerely subscribe to this:

There is No Free Will…
Then you certainly don't think that "learning widens your will" since you are constrained to "learn" (which boots nothing anyway) and there is no "will" to widen.

To wit:

Will is fixed to the instant but we can easily obtain a newer and wider fixed will via learning and experience.
This is self-defeating nonsense.

SciWriter
05-20-11, 06:14 PM
Then you certainly don't think that "learning widens your will" since you are constrained to "learn" (which boots nothing anyway) and there is no "will" to widen.

Yes, some are fortunate to have learning ability and the desire to learn and so they can then take in more information, thus widening their range of choices and reasons, their new fixed will doing something different today than yesterday.

Those who can't learn just stagnate.

Either way, one goes on as they have become, changing or not.

Uninformed will as a first cause would have nothing to go by.

wellwisher
05-20-11, 06:20 PM
Originally, the free will had to do with humans developing the conscious chocie to act with or apart from instinct. The animal acts using instinct, since this behavior is programmed within the brain, having been optimized by evolution over millions of years. Free will appeared when human were able to modify long term programming via will and choice.

Free will first appears due to the onset of human subjectivity, not objectivity. In other words, instinct is a product of millions of years of optimization. The objective person can see the merit in this test proven programming. Subjectivity, by being out of touch with cause and effect, allows one to chose differently, thinking it is even a better choice without knowing the difference. It only has to feel right.

This original free will, because it was subjective and did not have to be in touch with cause and effect, was like a random idea generator that allowed will power to grow in the form of a widening range of choices.

Further progression within free will become more objective. In other words, of all the possible random subjective free choices, not all are optimized. Objective free will tries to reduce the random possibilities to a narrower set o fchoice that are more optimized. That is still will power and choice.

In the limit, the combination of subjective free will to generate random choices and objective free will, to narrow this set for optimization, should eventually lead to a new version of human instinct.

Dywyddyr
05-20-11, 06:28 PM
Etc
You're still contradicting yourself.
If the will is "fixed to the instant" then we don't have the choice as whether we "learn" or not.

Rav
05-20-11, 06:31 PM
But I suppose that this overriding is an intentional action, and so it suffers from the problems I described in my OP. An agent that does an intentional action cannot be the ultimate controller of this action.

Well, the other way to look at all this is to assume that all choices, even last minute choices that override default actions, are all ultimately unconscious events. This would situate the "self" (along with free-will) squarely in the physical processes that precede conscious awareness. When you really think about it, this doesn't mean that we don't have free-will, only that we become aware of the execution of it after the fact, perhaps simply because conscious awareness is an expensive physical process that introduces latency. But because conscious awareness is also a real physical phenomena, there is a continuous feedback loop between the self and the experience of the self. This is why we tend to be at the mercy of our unconscious minds while dreaming much more so than when we are awake.

Note that I am only speculating here. The Neuroscience of free will (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will) is far from an exact science at this point, at least so far as the correct interpretation of experimental data is concerned.

SciWriter
05-20-11, 06:32 PM
Subjectivity, by being out of touch with cause and effect, allows one to chose differently, thinking it is even a better choice without knowing the difference. It only has to feel right.

What feels good is still subject to what one has become, and there are those who decide by emotion, with little or no reflection, and this is still true to what they have become.

It always gets down to dependence on something within one's self, whether instinct or learnings, associations, and memory.

We can try to claim the real existence of air-heads, but their odd behavior (to us) still has a mechanism, albeit perhaps an impaired one.

SciWriter
05-20-11, 06:38 PM
You're still contradicting yourself.
If the will is "fixed to the instant" then we don't have the choice as whether we "learn" or not.

Of course we don't have a choice whether to be inclined to learning or not, since learning or not is an aspect of the will that represents the self as it has become rather than the will of the self being based on nothing at all.

If will is not based on information in the brain, then of what is it based on?

Dywyddyr
05-20-11, 06:42 PM
In which case whatever learning we do is not based on free will. And whatever we've learned (unfreely), although it leads to more "choices", still doesn't lead to free will since those "options" are still, according to you, constrained by the moment.

There may be more "options" (actually "branches of the possible") but they are not taken freely nor are they constructed freely.
If one subscribes to your view.

arfa brane
05-20-11, 06:43 PM
Is the "illusion" of free will just an artifact of our inability to know everything?

In particular, our inability to trace the effect of "now" to a set of causes "then"?
Since we can't determine every past cause of the event we label as "now", we imagine that we have this "freedom" to choose which of the causes are relevant, you see?

Or not?

SciWriter
05-20-11, 06:49 PM
In which case whatever learning we do is not based on free will. And whatever we've learned (unfreely), although it leads to more "choices", still doesn't lead to free will since those "options" are still, according to you, constrained by the moment.

There may be more "options" (actually "branches of the possible") but they are not taken freely nor are they constructed freely.
If one subscribes to your view.

Right. Nothing can lead to free will. There is only fixed will, whether its repertoire increases its range or not.

SciWriter
05-20-11, 06:54 PM
Is the "illusion" of free will just an artifact of our inability to know everything?

In particular, our inability to trace the effect of "now" to a set of causes "then"?
Since we can't determine every past cause of the event we label as "now", we imagine that we have this "freedom" to choose which of the causes are relevant, you see?

Yes, and as Rav hints, our consciousness is even the last to know of the will. The brain's subconscious analysis takes time, although not a whole lot. Then the result surfaces, and one says "I thought of that", and one did, but it didn't really come out of thin air, as it may seem to.

SciWriter
05-20-11, 07:02 PM
Originally, the free will had to do with humans developing the conscious chocie to act with or apart from instinct. The animal acts using instinct, since this behavior is programmed within the brain, having been optimized by evolution over millions of years. Free will appeared when human were able to modify long term programming via will and choice.

Free will first appears due to the onset of human subjectivity, not objectivity. In other words, instinct is a product of millions of years of optimization. The objective person can see the merit in this test proven programming. Subjectivity, by being out of touch with cause and effect, allows one to chose differently, thinking it is even a better choice without knowing the difference. It only has to feel right.

This original free will, because it was subjective and did not have to be in touch with cause and effect, was like a random idea generator that allowed will power to grow in the form of a widening range of choices.

Further progression within free will become more objective. In other words, of all the possible random subjective free choices, not all are optimized. Objective free will tries to reduce the random possibilities to a narrower set o fchoice that are more optimized. That is still will power and choice.

In the limit, the combination of subjective free will to generate random choices and objective free will, to narrow this set for optimization, should eventually lead to a new version of human instinct.

What is the “secret” of human behavior, one that’s really so much the saving grace that we may even keep it from ourselves rather than very far into it try to delve? What is it that should be so confidential, classified, and undisclosed—its potential kept under wraps, so very contra; informally: hush-hush; formally: sub rosa?

Well, it’s a revelation of splendor, one that’s often good to surrender but is also very well to remember. Is the will free to will one’s actions otherwise? Can antecedent conditions be ignored? Can the self be an unmoved mover? Not really, but… and what of those tendencies of evo’s realm that have been imprinted on one’s genetic film—those of temperament, role preferences, emotions, responses, and even one’s most revered moral choices—those invoices from which one rejoices?

Well, these are not choices at all in of any free will voices. In essence, from the basis of one and from all that one has become from life’s total behavioral reactions, there are probabilities of actions—some patterns that are very likely and some patterns highly unlikely. Is free will a necessary fiction, a kind of a religion? No and yes if it’s to provide an essential berth for one’s morality, meaning, and worth.

Emil
05-20-11, 07:09 PM
Originally, the free will had to do with humans developing the conscious chocie to act with or apart from instinct. The animal acts using instinct, since this behavior is programmed within the brain, having been optimized by evolution over millions of years. Free will appeared when human were able to modify long term programming via will and choice.



If I understand correctly, humans have free will, but not animals?

Emil
05-20-11, 07:16 PM
So you sustain the menu that I choose in a restaurant is not my choice?

litewave
05-20-11, 07:26 PM
Well, the other way to look at all this is to assume that all choices, even last minute choices that override default actions, are all ultimately unconscious events. This would situate the "self" (along with free-will) squarely in the physical processes that precede conscious awareness. When you really think about it, this doesn't mean that we don't have free-will, only that we become aware of the execution of it after the fact,
While I agree that all our choices are ultimately unconscious events, such events are usually not regarded as free will. How can we say that someone is morally responsible for his action and deserves a punishment for it, when this action originates from beyond his consciousness?

SciWriter
05-20-11, 07:31 PM
So you sustain the menu that I choose in a restaurant is not my choice?

It is your fixed choice, ever dependent on your likes and diet and more, whatever is the situation of the moment, which may change from day to day, as every day nor you is exactly the same. You may have something other than you recently had in order to have variety. Others might always order macaroni and cheese (my kid). You probably won't order something you hate, except to try to show something like having free will.

Mine is often to order the first thing I lay my eyes upon, unless I have a favorite there which I never get tired of, or haven't had lately, while my partner must always ask the wait-person what they prefer, even though they may have different taste buds, but I guess she thinks they know what's prepared well and ordered by a lot of people.

There is always something behind the selection.

Dywyddyr
05-20-11, 07:34 PM
How can we say that someone is morally responsible for his action and deserves a punishment for it, when this action originates from beyond his consciousness?
I agree.


Then again, how can we not do that since our actions also originate there.

Catch-22.

Michael
05-20-11, 07:47 PM
an agent that does an intentional action can never be the ultimate controller of this action, because the action is determined by an intention (and possibly also by some influences affecting the agent). For example, if raising of my left arm is my intentional action, then it must be determined by my intention to raise my left arm. But how does the determination of an action by the agent's intention rule out the agent's ultimate control over the action?If you told your right arm to move, the initiation of the movement would occur in the left primary motor cortex. The planning of the movement would take place in your left premotor cortex.

If you are knocked unconscious, your premotor cortex will begin randomly discharging to your motor cortex, thus you start to move. When you move, you get feed back from your environment. This feedback is integrated and sent to your premotor cortex which uses it to better plan the next movement. Soon you are moving in the world and receiving sensory feedback as you would normally. This is when the illusion starts :)

Emil
05-20-11, 07:48 PM
It is your fixed choice, ever dependent on your likes and diet and more, whatever is the situation of the moment, which may change from day to day, as every day nor you is exactly the same. You may have something other than you recently had in order to have variety. Others might always order macaroni and cheese (my kid). You probably won't order something you hate, except to try to show something like having free will.

Mine is often to order the first thing I lay my eyes upon, unless I have a favorite there which I never get tired of, or haven't had lately, while my partner must always ask the wait-person what they prefer, even though they may have different taste buds, but I guess she thinks they know what's prepared well and ordered by a lot of people.

There is always something behind the selection.
Yes, there is always causal.
The question is whether there is also always determinism?


Catch-22.
My favorite one. :D

SciWriter
05-20-11, 07:52 PM

Originally Posted by litewave
How can we say that someone is morally responsible for his action and deserves a punishment for it, when this action originates from beyond his consciousness?


So, then, with this “free will” become, one might then succumb to systematic deception about one’s causal connection to that of nature, a roadblock, a detour that’s neither possible, necessary, nor desirable. The enemies to these “free will” motifs would be the mythical cultural beliefs that explain behaviors and feelings in terms of unknowable forces and beings. But, to protect one’s moral virtues should one still believe oneself’s purview to be as an ultimately responsible agent, lo—a self creation ex nihilo, a god-like, miniature first cause who chooses without it being determined by one’s own muses?

Well, maybe, but, nay, really not, nil, for there is no contra-causal free will. What the good then of this fix we’re in? Such it is then that we can gain a measure of peace rather than the anger of resentment’s crease when someone does or says something ‘bad’, even those close relatives you once had. For the civil-law-breakers and all those ungiving takers we’ll no longer incarcerate for punishment, being so irate at the jail’s bait, but so that society will be protected and that they might emerge corrected from the swill of a prison mill, fulfilled with a new unfree will that points more toward goodness, or at least away from badness. Thus, the action of metaphysical justification for a total retribution then greatly softens, a relief from the stress, so often, for it’s no longer induced from the abuse produced. Really? Truly.

Dywyddyr
05-20-11, 07:53 PM
Nah.

KilljoyKlown
05-20-11, 07:56 PM
While I agree that all our choices are ultimately unconscious events, such events are usually not regarded as free will. How can we say that someone is morally responsible for his action and deserves a punishment for it, when this action originates from beyond his consciousness?

We replace the word 'punishment' with 'society protecting itself'.

As far as free will goes most of what we do is not free will, but responses based on your core values, training and survival. That's not to say you can't consciously plan to respond differently to a given situation. To me that's exercising free will.

litewave
05-20-11, 07:56 PM
I agree.


Then again, how can we not do that since our actions also originate there.

Catch-22.
Realization of the nonexistence of free will may help us. Then again, this realization originates from beyond one's consciousness as well. For example you may realize it from my OP. :D

SciWriter
05-20-11, 08:01 PM
Realization of the nonexistence of free will may help us. Then again, this realization originates from beyond one's consciousness as well. For example you may realize it from my OP. :D

Indeed, we become less self-conscious, more playful, less noxious, more gracious, less callow, and less likely to wallow in the sorrow that is so hollow and shallow in its excessive self-blame, pride, envy, or resentment—now all put aside.

Aren’t we changing the will here as we go? Yes, ever to a new one, yet the fixed will must ever follow what we know. So, then we are learning—the only hope for larger earnings from the will’s then wider yearnings! Yes, overturning.

litewave
05-20-11, 08:09 PM
Indeed, we become less self-conscious, more playful, less noxious, more gracious, less callow, and less likely to wallow in the sorrow that is so hollow and shallow in its excessive self-blame, pride, envy, or resentment—now all put aside.

Aren’t we changing the will here as we go? Yes, ever to a new one, yet the fixed will must ever follow what we know. So, then we are learning—the only hope for larger earnings from the will’s then wider yearnings! Yes, overturning.
Ok :D

SciWriter
05-20-11, 08:13 PM
Ok :D

Our fixed wills have a similar outlook, litewave, yours and mine.


In conclusion:

What if to learning we are averse? What a curse! Might as well call the hearse. So, then, all in all, though a tempt, it is that we humans are not exempt from the laws of physics—a preempt although we’ve been wired to make the attempt—a seeming violation by nature of its own universal law and structure. No, it’s not a violation I would call, for science still did tell us all. It’s all part of the structure; one can never cheat Mother Nature. Hail, then, to the physic.

Well, it’s not so bad, is it? Although we can never will the will, its motives ever our intent to fulfill; it is that we have no free will. True, plus we can expand the will’s horizoning through our broader learning’s wisening. Yes, learn today and by tomorrow, say, the will may have a different sway. I wouldn’t want it any other way, for then I wouldn’t be me—my screenplay. What other ways can we improve the play? Well, we have patience and delay, for we don’t have to act right away—until a more creative solution appears.

Rav
05-20-11, 10:48 PM
While I agree that all our choices are ultimately unconscious events, such events are usually not regarded as free will.

If you situate free-will in the part of the mind that makes a decision instead of the part of the mind that analyzes it immediately afterwards, then there isn't really a problem.

Mind Over Matter
05-21-11, 01:03 AM
Here's the definition I'm using from this link

http://www.catholicreference.net/index.cfm?id=33656

FREE WILL
The power of the will to determine itself and to act of itself, without compulsion from within or coercion from without. It is the faculty of an intelligent being to act or not act, to act this way or another way, and is therefore essentially different from the operations of irrational beings that merely respond to a stimulus and are conditioned be sensory object.s


All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Me-Ki-Gal
05-21-11, 01:14 AM
Nope, I'm not buying that at all.

Certainly it's true that new things are built upon older foundations - but it's totally absurd to say (or even think) that there's nothing new under the sun. For example, please show me the cellphones that existed in the 18th century.

The thing is, this topic of "no free will" shows up again every few months on Internet forums and wherever and they are all based on the same fallacies as has been pointed out here - people get hung up on words, terms and false logical loops. They appear unable to reach logical, rational conclusions simply because they have *themselves* confused so deeply that they can't get out of the hole they're stuck in.

One category of individuals that hold this silly belief do so as a means to try and make themselves not responsible for their own personal actions. ("I killed that guy (or stole that thing) because I had no choice because I do not have free will.") Only true idiots would accept THAT excuse!!!

murderers have more free will than you do. cut your finger off and post it on the net . You cant do it can you ? O.K. try something simple like pop on the hood of your car in broad day light in front of your neighbors. You can't do it can you . You don't have free will tat all . I can tell by your rhetoric you don't. I think maybe someone else is confused. You are a product of your conditioning . O.K. go 3 weeks with out bathing how boat that . You can do that right. So lets see if we can get hung up on actions instead of words .
Don't cut your finger off I was just joking about that . Do the pop thing and get back to me , oh and just for fun eat it

Mind Over Matter
05-21-11, 01:19 AM
Check this out :)

http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/williams-mind.shtml

Me-Ki-Gal
05-21-11, 01:41 AM
Is the "illusion" of free will just an artifact of our inability to know everything?

In particular, our inability to trace the effect of "now" to a set of causes "then"?
Since we can't determine every past cause of the event we label as "now", we imagine that we have this "freedom" to choose which of the causes are relevant, you see?

Or not?

I see and agree, or not

Pandaemoni
05-21-11, 01:46 AM
This idea is just as dumb/stupid as it ever was. Anyone who actually believes that which shirt he chose to wear today was somehow already determined for him before the beginning of time (or whatever remote date you want to use) is suffering from a grand mental delusion. :shrug:

Not from the beginning of time, since there is real randomness in nature (at the quantum level). Still, the reason I wore a red shirt today is, in part, because I wore a blue one yesterday and there is some program in my brain that resists wearing clothes that are too similar from day to day.

The question of free will is not at all stupid because the neuroscience has for several decades been chipping away at the notion that we can spontaneously generate a thought independently from the state of the brain, and that we cannot spontaneously change the state of the brain. There is nothing conclusively demonstrating that free will does not exist, but the more we study the brain, the more it seems to be as mechanistic as any other organ. (There are studies that show that our brain often sets course of action before the relevant signals are processed by the profrontal cortex...yet people report those actions as feeling like they resulted froma free choice as well. So in cases where we feel as though we "chose" an action, no rational deliberation was done until afterwards—unless the control of the executive function is not as dependent on the prefrontal cortex as we believe.)

It could even be that my decision to wear that red shirt was influenced by true randomness that arose while I was considering what to wear. It could be, for example, that somewhere in the synapses quantum mechanical randomness does creep in and that small change in initial conditions leads to a different selection. Even in that case, and even assuming that events prior to this morning had *no* influence on my decision, I still did not control the decision...it was literally the result of a random fluctuation which I had no control over (except the illusion of control).

It does feel like I have free will, but either free will resides in the brain, or it resides somewhere else. Since there is no evidence of a "somewhere else" from which it could come, we expect the brain to be the physical source of free will. So far, though, the more we learn about the brain, the less we see any home for free will in it.

I like to believe that we will solve the problem and figure out a way to explain free will existing, but neither side has a slam dunk argument yet.

James R
05-21-11, 01:58 AM
I can't see how randomness helps make the will free. A random choice is not a willed choice. A random choice has nothing to do with will. Free will is supposed to be about wilfully and freely choosing between available alternative courses of action. If you flip a coin to make a choice, then your choice was determined by the randomness of the coin and not by your will. Same applies if you flip a neuron at random using quantum processes.

chimpkin
05-21-11, 02:35 AM
Mind Over Matter said:
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's

Ok...not gonna do it...not gonna.... DAMMIT! CAN'T HELP MYSELF!!!!

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_JRkgseRT7NY/TCfnHWpFXfI/AAAAAAAACVM/E3hPHLmjouc/s1600/pedophile+priest+chasing+children+warning+sign.jpg

BWAAAAAH! *head explodes*

Rav
05-21-11, 03:18 AM
If you flip a coin to make a choice, then your choice was determined by the randomness of the coin and not by your will. Same applies if you flip a neuron at random using quantum processes.

Looking at it from an evolutionary perspective, one has to wonder why consciousness evolved in the first place. If we don't have free-will, and are just along for the ride, isn't it a little extraneous? Wouldn't a philosophical zombie suffice?

But we are not philosophical zombies, and it is therefore reasonable to conclude that consciousness evolved because it provided a survival advantage. But what possible survival advantage could a conscious entity have over a philosophical zombie? I can't think of a single one.

Unless, of course, consciousness endows an entity with free-will (in the truest sense of the term).

arfa brane
05-21-11, 03:25 AM
Philosophers, and possibly neuroscientists, know that free will is an illusion.

Philosophy tells us that life is a constant stream of events, and all events are connected. So if there is no room left for choice, or freedom to choose, then freedom of choice is what you have when you ignore the philosophical conclusion that you haven't got any.

By ignoring the blindingly obvious--you are compelled by circumstance to choose, which means you have no freedom--you can imagine that the chain of cause and effect has "missing parts", the ones you forget about. . .
Simple really.

Dywyddyr
05-21-11, 03:30 AM
Philosophers, and possibly neuroscientists, know that free will is an illusion.
They know, do they?
Wow. I wonder why they're still talking about it...

Me-Ki-Gal
05-21-11, 03:31 AM
Check this out :)

http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/williams-mind.shtml

That was pretty good . A little repetitive and the angel thing towards the front end was a dead give away it was a god paper. I still believe in determinism after reading it and I couldn't quite rap my brain around my mind , but that might be because I am naturally from the earth . Yet I do think there is something that governs action that is God like. Determinism is my best solution that determines out come . It goes towards the thought that information already exists and it is only there waiting for the day of discovery and by chain of events they are revealed. I think if we could brake open all the silos of information all at once and stuff em tight and snug in our brains ( minds ) then we might have a chance at free will , otherwise we are repeating events that already happened . Let Me give an example . The Herold's day doom thing . Now we know about this crazy Idea from the net ( That is how I did anyway ) It was quite a while back . So I had a reaction to it in the past . Now think of the people that heard about it on the news today for the first time . The majority will react like we did , or to say some will believe it, some won't . Chances are if we would of gathered the information back in the beginning to now the percentage of non belief and belief in the crazy idea would be the same . Maybe not . I think it would as long as the sampling was diverse enough in the first place . O.K. there was a number thing that had to do with adding your birth date to 2011 and the thing is everybody comes up with the same 11 kind of answer . It is something the 11:11ers came up with a long time ago . It is part of the 11;11 folk lore . So it can be explained easy enough why the equation works , but it is a great tool to get people to buy into the 11;11 following . So now hear it comes across my email address in a forward from a friend . The information for me was at the beginning of the information trickle . I was standing in a place that gave Me privilege to the information before my friends that are now reading it in a forward from another friend . I am not being clear . How can I put it ? They are reacting to the same thing lots of us already reacted to. The same trickle of information has now reached the new market yet it is the same information the 11ers invented way back .
Lets see if I can be more clear . This sight right here . The science forum . People have been on this sight for years . The question is when new comers show up are they predictable by the people that have been here for ever? Do the new comes make the same mistakes ( I am sure you old timers get a lot of shits and giggles out of it too) If we are put in a circumstance what are the chances the reactions will be limited in scope . So I ask " where is there free will if there is a predictability in reactions to a given situation? Lets take a T,V, show like candid camera with the practical joke. I would say the reaction by the people involved is similar . It is a rare event that someone will not fall for the trick and not look stupid . It becomes more of what degree you fall for the trick. So were is free will

arfa brane
05-21-11, 03:34 AM
They know, do they?
Wow. I wonder why they're still talking about it... Of course.
They talk about it in order to maintain the illusion, that they're free to discuss the subject.

Dywyddyr
05-21-11, 03:37 AM
Of course.
They talk about it in order to maintain the illusion, that they're free to discuss the subject.
:rolleyes:
Right.

arfa brane
05-21-11, 03:39 AM
I know what you're thinking, sonny, but it's turtles all the way.

James R
05-21-11, 04:10 AM
Rav:


But we are not philosophical zombies, and it is therefore reasonable to conclude that consciousness evolved because it provided a survival advantage.

Since a philosophical zombie acts in exactly the same way as a conscious entity with an actual mind, there's no way natural selection could "choose" between a philosophical zombie and a conscious creature. One will react in exactly the same way as the other to environmental influences.


arfa brane:


Philosophers, and possibly neuroscientists, know that free will is an illusion.

There are philosophers who argue that free will is not an illusion. It would be strange to make that argument if they knew otherwise.

arfa brane
05-21-11, 04:18 AM
There are philosophers who argue that free will is not an illusionSure. But how do they know they aren't compelled to argue that?

How do you know what you posted, or what I'm posting, is a free choice?
Can you prove free will really exists? I think you'll find that there isn't much evidence for it, other than a commonly held belief.

If you knew everything, you would know what's going to happen next, and you would know there is no "random" event, since you would know exactly why any event occurs.

You don't know, in fact you can't know, because you can't know everything about causes and effects.
Your brain is limited, by inefficient senses and by a limited amount of storage. This gives your consciousness an "out", and the sense of freedom to be the cause of an event which would not be caused unless you choose to cause it.

James R
05-21-11, 04:25 AM
Sure. But how do they know they aren't compelled to argue that?

They don't know that. Which was the point I was making. The ones who argue that free will is an illusion also don't know whether they were actually free to make such an argument or not.


How do you know what you posted, or what I'm posting, is a free choice? Can you prove free will really exists? I think you'll find that there isn't much evidence for it, other than a commonly held belief.

I'd have to start by asking you what, exactly, you mean by "free will". What is needed for the will to be free? If you can define "free" for me, precisely, then maybe I can prove that free will exists. Or maybe not. It will depend largely on what you mean by "free".


If you knew everything, you would know what's going to happen next, and you would know there is no "random" event, since you would know exactly why any event occurs.

What about those quantum events that were mentioned earlier? It could well be you can know everything there is to know about a quantum system and yet still not be able to predict how it will behave when a measurement is made.


You don't know, in fact you can't know, because you can't know everything about causes and effects.

So, we agree. Do we?

Rav
05-21-11, 04:37 AM
Since a philosophical zombie acts in exactly the same way as a conscious entity with an actual mind, there's no way natural selection could "choose" between a philosophical zombie and a conscious creature. One will react in exactly the same way as the other to environmental influences.

I initially worked with that definition myself:


But what possible survival advantage could a conscious entity have over a philosophical zombie? I can't think of a single one.

Even so, the analysis called for an eventual abandonment of the idea that a p-zombie was the equivalent of a conscious entity by virtue of the fact that a conscious entity was indeed selected for with what would be a neurologically expensive extraneous feature if it didn't provide a survival advantage.

arfa brane
05-21-11, 04:38 AM
I'd have to start by asking you what, exactly, you mean by "free will". What is needed for the will to be free?
There's the rub.
We're talking about something that doesn't seem to have an exact definition. Everyone understands what having free will means, but they can't really explain what it's supposed to be.

Nobody lives in a completely unhindered "free" state; everybody is tied to something, even if it's just the need to survive. Life isn't really "free" at all.
Our belief in freedom to choose is an advantage, but that's about it.


What about those quantum events that were mentioned earlier? It could well be you can know everything there is to know about a quantum system and yet still not be able to predict how it will behave when a measurement is made.
Predicting a quantum event (in your future) isn't the same thing as knowing why it occurred (in your past). It wouldn't be random because prediction wouldn't come into it.

Random means unpredictable; but you would know the event occurred and why it did, the unpredictability would vanish. IOW you wouldn't have any sense of time, and since you do have a sense of time, you cannot be aware of everything

litewave
05-21-11, 05:26 AM
Here's the definition I'm using from this link

http://www.catholicreference.net/index.cfm?id=33656

FREE WILL
The power of the will to determine itself and to act of itself, without compulsion from within or coercion from without. It is the faculty of an intelligent being to act or not act, to act this way or another way, and is therefore essentially different from the operations of irrational beings that merely respond to a stimulus and are conditioned be sensory object.s


All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
I think the Catholics would agree that free will must be intentional, although they didn't note it in their definition.

litewave
05-21-11, 06:44 AM
Check this out :)

http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/williams-mind.shtml
The argument in the OP is independent of physicalism.

Emil
05-21-11, 08:04 AM
In the morning, when leave the house, you have two options to go left or right.
Q: Where do you go?
A: I go to the right.

Q:Why go to the right?
A:Since this is the way to my job.

Q:But why is this your job?
A:
1. I have this qualification.
2. I read the newspaper announcement.
3. They accepted me after I gave the interview.

Q:
1. Why you have this qualification?
2. Why you read the newspaper announcement?
3. Why they have accepted you?
A:
Because 1.1,1.2 ; 2.1,2.2 ; 3.1,3.2

Q:
Why 1.1,1.2 ; 2.1,2.2 ; 3.1,3.2 ?
A:
Because ....

If in this causal chain is not a random somewhere means that it is a determinism and no free will.
I personally do not find any a random, so my logic leads to no free will.
However I choose there is free will.
Motivation:
-Just I feel so, that's my inspiration.
-At first glance that is obvious.
-And most importantly, I believe that the principles must be reflected in actions. (To me it seems unfair if the principle is not reflected in actions.) Seems to me socially unacceptable, putting into practice the principle there is no free will.

Also, the characterization of free will as an illusion, is an evasive answer to the question "there is free will? Yes or no?".
So I chose "there's a possibility to choose", because I do not have anything else to choose. :o

SciWriter
05-21-11, 11:41 AM
Even so, the analysis called for an eventual abandonment of the idea that a p-zombie was the equivalent of a conscious entity by virtue of the fact that a conscious entity was indeed selected for with what would be a neurologically expensive extraneous feature if it didn't provide a survival advantage.

Consciousness allows the brain to simulate an action without committing to that action, this involving all of the nerve spindles of the body.

It is also useful for learning, it then being used intensely until the actions become more automatic, such as when one learns to drive a car.

Some say it’s greatest use is so we can globally know what we’re doing, thinking, or feeling.

We are just along for the ride, but at least we know about it.

Are there two of us in each person? I suppose, for there is the 'I' of the witness, as well as the overall self of the brain.

Sarkus
05-21-11, 03:43 PM
Consciousness allows the brain to simulate an action without committing to that action...So do (man-made super)computers. ;)

Pandaemoni
05-21-11, 06:03 PM
Random means unpredictable; but you would know the event occurred and why it did, the unpredictability would vanish. IOW you wouldn't have any sense of time, and since you do have a sense of time, you cannot be aware of everything

Random does not mean entirely unpredictable. If I flip a fair coin, it may come up "heads", it may come up "tails," but it won't come up "zebras". There is a probability distribution about which definite statements can be made and predictions definitely formed.

Anything governed by probability means, by definition, that one can make predictions, subject to the probability distribution one is looking at.

If one's brain generated results according to a probabilistic model, then, the results could still be very stable and understandable in everyday terms. There might be only a 20% chance that I will wear jeans to work on Monday, but that probability creeps in does not mean that my apparent "choices" are completely unpredictable. The odds that I will go to work naked from the waist down, for example, are still vanishingly small.

Pandaemoni
05-21-11, 06:08 PM
I can't see how randomness helps make the will free. A random choice is not a willed choice.

I agree. A random choice wouldn't be any more free than a non-random one. It would allow us to face similar situations and take very different actions in the face of them, but so would a completely deterministic system (especially if the system were (mathematically) chaotic).

arfa brane
05-21-11, 10:27 PM
Random does not mean entirely unpredictable. If I flip a fair coin, it may come up "heads", it may come up "tails," but it won't come up "zebras".

"Come up heads or tails", is possible because you aren't aware of which side is "up" while the coin is spinning. If you were aware of this, you wouldn't need to "predict" it, in fact, that notion would be meaningless.

Pandaemoni
05-21-11, 10:49 PM
"Come up heads or tails", is possible because you aren't aware of which side is "up" while the coin is spinning. If you were aware of this, you wouldn't need to "predict" it, in fact, that notion would be meaningless.

My point is that it is not quite correct to say that random things are unpredictable. Quantum processes, like firing a photon through the double slit experiment, will yield very predictable pattern for the photon distribution. The location at any photon will strike the detector is "random", without question, but the distribution of photons obeys very uniform stochastic mechanics. So it is possible that thought could contain random elements or that the impetus for a given thought could be random, that would nonetheless lead to predictable and non-arbitrary behavior in a human being.

Search & Destroy
05-21-11, 11:34 PM
Philosophers, and possibly neuroscientists, know that free will is an illusion.

Philosophy tells us that life is a constant stream of events, and all events are connected. So if there is no room left for choice, or freedom to choose, then freedom of choice is what you have when you ignore the philosophical conclusion that you haven't got any.

By ignoring the blindingly obvious--you are compelled by circumstance to choose, which means you have no freedom--you can imagine that the chain of cause and effect has "missing parts", the ones you forget about. . .
Simple really.

This is in violation of the appeal to authority logical fallacy in that you have not identified the authority.

Rav
05-22-11, 02:36 AM
We are just along for the ride, but at least we know about it.

An interesting article/interview about/with Daniel Dennett and his 2003 book "Freedom Evolves" can be found here: http://reason.com/archives/2003/05/01/pulling-our-own-strings

It seems that there are quite a few people around who are very willing to jump to the conclusion that free-will is nothing more than an illusion, almost as if it were the preferred state of affairs. I've always found that rather perplexing.

In any case, drawing any definite conclusions at this point in time is beyond premature, since there's still so much about the brain and consciousness that we don't understand.

Gustav
05-22-11, 02:46 AM
It seems that there are quite a few people around who are very willing to jump to the conclusion that free-will is nothing more than an illusion, almost as if it were the preferred state of affairs. I've always found that rather perplexing.


zombies are not people
thanks

Dywyddyr
05-22-11, 02:50 AM
I know what you're thinking
Evidently not.


sonny
:confused:

Er, okay dad...

Sarkus
05-22-11, 04:48 AM
This question rather hinges on what one considers to be free-will.

If one takes it to be the ability of an agent to select one outcome from a multiple possible outcomes, with that selection free from influence on the selecting agent... then I can't see how this is possible.

If one takes free-will to be a pattern of activity that gives the appearance of self-determination, then this exists and is evident.

But this latter is illusory with regard genuine self-determination, and is merely the appearance of it, in the same way that a mirage is an illusion of an object (e.g. water) yet still actually exists (as a pattern of refracted light etc).


My view is that "genuine free-will" - as in a selection being in any way not driven 100% by the chain of cause and effect (or randomness) - is not possible... not at the micro-scopic level and thus not at the macro-level.

To be possible it would logically require an uncaused and non-random interaction.

So we are left with this sense of free-will with which we operate... an illusion of genuine free-will yet real in its own right.


So it depends on what we are talking about.

litewave
05-22-11, 05:57 AM
My view is that "genuine free-will" - as in a selection being in any way not driven 100% by the chain of cause and effect (or randomness) - is not possible... not at the micro-scopic level and thus not at the macro-level.

To be possible it would logically require an uncaused and non-random interaction.
Uncaused events (selections) seem possible on the subatomic level. However, uncaused events are not intentional (if they were intentional they would have a cause, namely an intention), so they don't satisfy the requirements of free will.

Dywyddyr
05-22-11, 07:09 AM
However, uncaused events are not intentional (if they were intentional they would have a cause, namely an intention), so they don't satisfy the requirements of free will.
Huh?
Cause != intention.
You're conflating (or misconflating) two separate phenomena.

litewave
05-22-11, 11:43 AM
Huh?
Cause != intention.
You're conflating (or misconflating) two separate phenomena.
Yes, intention determines intentional action, so intention is a cause.

Pandaemoni
05-22-11, 02:22 PM
I think part of what people think of as "free will" is that our intentions to act can arise uncaused. In reality it's hard to even think of an intention that I form that is not causally linked to other events, but we like to think there is a possibility of uncaused intentions forming in our minds.

John99
05-22-11, 02:31 PM
I think part of what people think of as "free will" is that our intentions to act can arise uncaused. In reality it's hard to even think of an intention that I form that is not causally linked to other events, but we like to think there is a possibility of uncaused intentions forming in our minds.

You cant have free will.

You eat three boxes of cookies and you throw them back up. Free Will? Dont think so.

Dywyddyr
05-22-11, 03:27 PM
You cant have free will.
Well that's your unsupported opinion.


You eat three boxes of cookies and you throw them back up. Free Will? Dont think so.
And this illustrates... what exactly?
That there are consequences? That some things aren't a matter of "choice"?

Dywyddyr
05-22-11, 03:30 PM
Yes, intention determines intentional action, so intention is a cause.
Yes, but, one more time, cause != intention. And you've simplified it: not all intentions are causes - they have to be acted upon.

If a snow storm makes the road slippery and the car slides off the road where was the "intent"?
The cause was a slippery surface. Did the snow intend to make it slippery? Or did the slippery surface intend to make the car skid?

litewave
05-22-11, 05:50 PM
Yes, but, one more time, cause != intention.
I don't know what this notation "!=" represents.


And you've simplified it: not all intentions are causes - they have to be acted upon.
If you have an intention to act and you don't act it means there are also other causes that prevent the intended action. The intention is one of the causes in the situation but the result depends on the joint influence of all causes present in the situation. If a building doesn't collapse under its own weight it doesn't mean that gravity does not have a causal effect. Gravity is just one of the causes in the situation.


If a snow storm makes the road slippery and the car slides off the road where was the "intent"?
The cause was a slippery surface. Did the snow intend to make it slippery? Or did the slippery surface intend to make the car skid?
What's the point in this? Not all causes are intentions. (But all intentions are causes.)

Dywyddyr
05-22-11, 05:57 PM
I don't know what this notation "!=" represents.
"does not equal".


If you have an intention to act and you don't act it means there are also other causes that prevent the intended action.
Were those causes intended?
And you're missing the point. Intention alone is not a cause.


What's the point in this? Not all causes are intentions.
Exactly. But that's not what you implied earlier.

Originally Posted by litewave
However, uncaused events are not intentional (if they were intentional they would have a cause, namely an intention)


(But all intentions are causes.)
Um, no. As explained above.

litewave
05-22-11, 06:15 PM
Were those causes intended?
Some of the other causes might be intentions too, others not.


And you're missing the point. Intention alone is not a cause.
Why not?


Exactly. But that's not what you implied earlier.

Originally Posted by litewave
However, uncaused events are not intentional (if they were intentional they would have a cause, namely an intention)
This doesn't imply that all causes are intentions. It just means that intentional events have a cause, and since uncaused events don't have a cause they can't be intentional.

Dywyddyr
05-22-11, 06:29 PM
This doesn't imply that all causes are intentions. It just means that intentional events have a cause, and since uncaused events don't have a cause they can't be intentional.
Yeah. Blah blah blah. All you're doing is confusing the issue.
What causes the intention?


Why not?
:rolleyes:

Originally Posted by Dywyddyr
And you've simplified it: not all intentions are causes - they have to be acted upon.

Rav
05-22-11, 07:29 PM
More from Daniel Dennett, this time a lecture entitled "Is science showing that we don't have free will?" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKLAbWFCh1E&feature=player_detailpage#t=207s)

(the above link skips to the beginning of the lecture as the introduction, given by the principle of Edinburgh University, was boring and useless)

litewave
05-23-11, 05:50 AM
Yeah. Blah blah blah. All you're doing is confusing the issue.
What causes the intention?
Some cause. Or maybe it can also emerge uncaused, like some quantum event.


Originally Posted by Dywyddyr
And you've simplified it: not all intentions are causes - they have to be acted upon.
The action can be prevented by other causes, as I explained.

murdoch
05-23-11, 08:30 AM
In the present society free will scope has been determined by the environment of each individual. It can be limited by society, legal authority or by goon etc. in any stance.

Cyperium
06-01-11, 06:45 AM
Some cause. Or maybe it can also emerge uncaused, like some quantum event.


The action can be prevented by other causes, as I explained.Hi, litewave. Like Dywyddyr said; intention isn't a cause itself as it isn't a action itself. Intention is a way for you to build up potential for the action, also intention prepares the action (probably in more ways than we are conscious of).

Intention isn't necessarily the cause of the action but rather what you intend with the action. You can have the intention to cause something that won't be satisfied by the action that comes next but may need more actions.

Either way, none of this proves or disproves free will. In one way or another you are participant of the action you take. In a very real way. If you weren't then that action couldn't have taken place. The feeling that you are participant in your actions is what I think is 'free will' and I firmly believe that you couldn't do the action if you weren't participant in it.

litewave
06-01-11, 01:19 PM
Hi, litewave. Like Dywyddyr said; intention isn't a cause itself as it isn't a action itself. Intention is a way for you to build up potential for the action, also intention prepares the action (probably in more ways than we are conscious of).
So intention causes a potential for action, which then causes the action?


Intention isn't necessarily the cause of the action but rather what you intend with the action. You can have the intention to cause something that won't be satisfied by the action that comes next but may need more actions.
But you also intend to do the action, in order to achieve your intended goal.

Me-Ki-Gal
06-01-11, 01:28 PM
Hi, litewave. Like Dywyddyr said; intention isn't a cause itself as it isn't a action itself. Intention is a way for you to build up potential for the action, also intention prepares the action (probably in more ways than we are conscious of).

Intention isn't necessarily the cause of the action but rather what you intend with the action. You can have the intention to cause something that won't be satisfied by the action that comes next but may need more actions.

Either way, none of this proves or disproves free will. In one way or another you are participant of the action you take. In a very real way. If you weren't then that action couldn't have taken place. The feeling that you are participant in your actions is what I think is 'free will' and I firmly believe that you couldn't do the action if you weren't participant in it.
You got a pretty good post here . Were as the intent has to be nurtured. It is about the same as goal setting . You set the goal and it becomes the root motivator , but if procrastination gets in the way the goal has a piss pour chance at being realized . Yet was it free will that causes procrastination ?
I wish you all could be me for a day . You could see how events unfold better. Think about it the next time you play pool . Dice ! Think about it the next time you roll dice . Is there randomness when you roll the dice ? Is the out common dependent on factors ? Hypnotic suggestions go a long way towards changing your motivations . You would be surprised how just a passing comment by someone walking by not even talking to you has an impact . Or a license plate . Maybe it is just Me ? Na I seen to many peoples actions altered by peripheral interference . O.K. here is what happened to me . I was having bouts of vertigo beyond my normal vertigo . I was think F--ck why am I so dizzy . I was even considering going against my principle of not going to doctors . Yes The Great Mekigal was thinking of going to a doctor so they could tell Me something was wrong. God Forbid . I already knew I was subject to out side influence by suggestion. So I though Maybe I better examine my environment more, or to say pay attention to my daily rut and see if anything was causing my extra dizziness . F--ck 2 blocks from my house on my daily rout was a car parked . The plate said Dizzy . After I realized I was passing the car with out another thought about it and now was Consciously aware of the car that said dizzy on the vanity plate . Instantly my vertigo was gone . I had to consciously acknowledge the plate from that day forward . Well I don't know if I had to , but I did and the vertigo stayed at bay . Was it ritual activity ? Maybe . You would not think so if you were me for a day , but then I am just as delusional as any body , so who does know for sure . I think I do , I think I do I think I do . I think I can I think I can

Me-Ki-Gal
06-01-11, 01:51 PM
O.K. My Father was in the air force in the 50s . That is how I ended up being born in Alaska . So he told me long ago about an experiment the Air Force did . It was at a movie theater . What was done was a picture of a piece of popcorn was flashed on the screen in a single frame. Something like 90% of the audience got up at intermission and bought popcorn . They would do the test with out the popcorn and a very low percentage got up and bought popcorn . So from this a law was made to not allow this practice in advertising. There was a limit on how long an image had to be on the screen/T.V. / theater / What have you . So if this is true which I tend to believe my Dad told the truth , If this effect happens in this scenario why would it not in daily activity? The things in the shadows that affect daily decision making? People say the damnedest things out of the blue . Why ? People will even say " I don't know why I said that"

KilljoyKlown
06-01-11, 02:37 PM
O.K. My Father was in the air force in the 50s . That is how I ended up being born in Alaska . So he told me long ago about an experiment the Air Force did . It was at a movie theater . What was done was a picture of a piece of popcorn was flashed on the screen in a single frame. Something like 90% of the audience got up at intermission and bought popcorn . They would do the test with out the popcorn and a very low percentage got up and bought popcorn . So from this a law was made to not allow this practice in advertising. There was a limit on how long an image had to be on the screen/T.V. / theater / What have you . So if this is true which I tend to believe my Dad told the truth , If this effect happens in this scenario why would it not in daily activity? The things in the shadows that affect daily decision making? People say the damnedest things out of the blue . Why ? People will even say " I don't know why I said that"

You make some very good points. Did you ever see that program that talked about experiments with subliminal pictures being flashed during a regular movie. The flashed pictures were to fast to be seen by the conscious mind, but were noticed by the sub conscious mind and did have an impact. I don't think the impact was as much as a longer look that was seen by the conscious mind. But for someone watching a lot of TV, subliminals being used over months or years could make a big difference to influencing what would appear to be freewill.

Me-Ki-Gal
06-01-11, 02:57 PM
You make some very good points. Did you ever see that program that talked about experiments with subliminal pictures being flashed during a regular movie. The flashed pictures were to fast to be seen by the conscious mind, but were noticed by the sub conscious mind and did have an impact. I don't think the impact was as much as a longer look that was seen by the conscious mind. But for someone watching a lot of TV, subliminals being used over months or years could make a big difference to influencing what would appear to be freewill.

No I just know about it from my dad telling Me when I was young . Sales was his life after the air-force and I wondered if the way he latched onto that bit of knowledge from all the knowledge he gained from navigation and officer training if that had something to do with him going into sales. The things we remember and the things we don't . I tend to believe we remember every thing on a subliminal level and we call up the memories on an as need to know bases . I think this in its self helps provide the illusion of free will . If you could remember every thing from your beginnings you might realize why you do those things you think you do out of perceived free will . So instead of someone saying " I don't know why I said that they would say F--ck I know why I said that . It was based on this experience I had when I was 6

KilljoyKlown
06-01-11, 03:20 PM
No I just know about it from my dad telling Me when I was young . Sales was his life after the air-force and I wondered if the way he latched onto that bit of knowledge from all the knowledge he gained from navigation and officer training if that had something to do with him going into sales. The things we remember and the things we don't . I tend to believe we remember every thing on a subliminal level and we call up the memories on an as need to know bases . I think this in its self helps provide the illusion of free will . If you could remember every thing from your beginnings you might realize why you do those things you think you do out of perceived free will . So instead of someone saying " I don't know why I said that they would say F--ck I know why I said that . It was based on this experience I had when I was 6

That is very perceptive of you and it also sounds right to me. So a bad memory is when your need to know is not being satisfied by your subconscious mind. That puts a whole new light on having a bad memory.

For the record I think there may actually be some free will, just very little of it and it does a very good job of hiding behind the illusion free will. All animals have instincts including humans and instincts are what we call animals acting within their nature, humans included. Is there anything in acting within our nature that sounds like freewill?

Me-Ki-Gal
06-01-11, 03:39 PM
That is very perceptive of you and it also sounds right to me. So a bad memory is when your need to know is not being satisfied by your subconscious mind. That puts a whole new light on having a bad memory.

For the record I think there may actually be some free will, just very little of it and it does a very good job of hiding behind the illusion free will. All animals have instincts including humans and instincts are what we call animals acting within their nature, humans included. Is there anything in acting within our nature that sounds like freewill?
I don't know Killjoy . I have been working at being free for God knows how long . Just when I think I have done something I thought was free will I discover it was already predicted. It f--cken drives me to insanity . My best conclusion is free will is something to strive for . That thing that is just out of reach , but we are driven to the idea of having free will . I think American values are based in this . If we keep shooting for the Ideal of free will maybe it is a reachable goal . I will tell you if you can become aware enough of your surroundings and see the clicking of events it is a first step at having free will . It will f--ck you up pretty good . When I first saw the language of human instinct for the first time with out any of my own veils clouding interpretation I fucking freaked big time and could not come out of my house for about 8 hours and I had places to go that were very important . To Freaked . I had to put the veil back on . Fuck it was strange. Every click finger movement groan wiggle had interpretations in enter action . I could see disappointment, agree ability , contempt , content long before verbalization occurred. It was like vocabulary was secondary . Like watching Elk in the rut . Freaked me out .

Me-Ki-Gal
06-01-11, 04:06 PM
I tell you what ? If more people can see what I saw there would be a paradigm shift in human consciousness. We would realize the dependency we have on each other . It blows my f--cking mind ! It travels too. THe smallest of actions can grow like a little breeze that turns into a hurricane. The thought now is you say something or do something and it drops to the floor dead. It don't drop dead . That act can magnify into world wide events . Resonance is kind of creepy that way . To think a small movement in something can have big impacts makes me reevaluate my personal motivations , I try not to get up tight about it for if there is no free will I can only do what I do . My main goal is awareness and to help others be aware . Your pretty sharp for a Kill joy ass clown . You have a tendency to want to wake people up to the possibility of gaining free will . I like you for that if I didn't tell you . I respect your posts even if you are a killjoy . You know safety consciousness is a good thing. It keeps carpenters from cutting there all there fingers off . Only kill joys can understand that

KilljoyKlown
06-01-11, 05:10 PM
I don't know Killjoy . I have been working at being free for God knows how long . Just when I think I have done something I thought was free will I discover it was already predicted. It f--cken drives me to insanity . My best conclusion is free will is something to strive for . That thing that is just out of reach , but we are driven to the idea of having free will . I think American values are based in this . If we keep shooting for the Ideal of free will maybe it is a reachable goal . I will tell you if you can become aware enough of your surroundings and see the clicking of events it is a first step at having free will . It will f--ck you up pretty good . When I first saw the language of human instinct for the first time with out any of my own veils clouding interpretation I fucking freaked big time and could not come out of my house for about 8 hours and I had places to go that were very important . To Freaked . I had to put the veil back on . Fuck it was strange. Every click finger movement groan wiggle had interpretations in enter action . I could see disappointment, agree ability , contempt , content long before verbalization occurred. It was like vocabulary was secondary . Like watching Elk in the rut . Freaked me out .

Simply make it okay that the illusion of freewill is enough and maybe some day you will be pleasantly surprised, but if you never are, then being freaked out won't be a problem again.

Next problem I have is someday in the not to far off future some robot or computer will become sentient. When that happens will it have freewill?

Cyperium
06-05-11, 01:38 PM
Me-Ki-Gal; I do understand you.


I have a very strong personal opinion, that for free will to work we have to "let the ghost take over", it may sound weird, but your knowledge of the factors of free will make you less free, when you have determined the factors you will be less free if you try to oppose them. Not going with the flow is inhibitant of free will.


As I see it free will is above the rules, but only if you let it. If you analyse it then you force it to abide by the rules (cause it is by the rules that you try to determine it). Free will is like the rats that dances on the table while the owner is out. Don't try to listen and you can hear the trees whisper.

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 10:42 AM
Free will is a type of will. Free will is choosing what facts and factors you will be influenced by. Deliberation. Analysis. Reflection. Understanding.

Free will is not having no influences/no cause at all. That is randomness. Randomness is not freedom, it is a total lack of control. You are not free if you are impulsive and entirely unhinged from your desires and character.

I love my mother with all my heart, so one day I suddenly kick her down the stairs for now reason. Is that the freedom you seek?

The free will/determinism debate is a trick. It presumes if you have influences or causes for your actions that you didn't get to choose that action. That is a misunderstanding of choice.

There are free choices and compelled choices (they can be compelled by internal shortcomings or by external duress). They aren't all one or the other. That is simply a misuse of the concepts based on redefining them improperly as "free will" needing to occur outside a causal nexus.

Would it be fair to put someone in prison for a random act he had no control over? No. That's why we demand mes rea, the evil intent.

KilljoyKlown
06-08-11, 11:19 AM
Would it be fair to put someone in prison for a random act he had no control over? No. That's why we demand mes rea, the evil intent.

You are of course implying that evil intent in and of itself is free will without regard to it's source. But suppose that person had a very bad childhood that predisposed him to think in a way we would call evil intent? Suggesting not free will but a response based on past experience.

When it comes to removing criminals from society I don't much care whether they have free will or not, if you know what I mean?

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 12:15 PM
You are of course implying that evil intent in and of itself is free will without regard to it's source.

Not really. See below.


But suppose that person had a very bad childhood that predisposed him to think in a way we would call evil intent? Suggesting not free will but a response based on past experience.

Predisposed doesn't have to be the same thing as predetermined. People who reflect and strive to improve can change. They can take charge and fight their urges. That, in and of itself, is freedom. Not the randomness of having no causes for the urge to improve. You can always find a cause, the question at hand is whether that causal chain reflects the type of deliberative process we think of as freedom or if it is compelled by whatever (external influences or internal whatevers-habits, compulsions, pathology etc.)


When it comes to removing criminals from society I don't much care whether they have free will or not, if you know what I mean?

I am totally with you on that.:bravo: I think we punish both the deliberate evil genius and the guy who is so self-indulgent/unreflective/lazy/sick or whatever that he just does evil impulsively and for no reason at all. He isn't free in the extreme sense (it's a continuum) but he sure wasn't externally compelled, so he's free enough to be convicted. :D

KilljoyKlown
06-08-11, 12:49 PM
Predisposed doesn't have to be the same thing as predetermined. People who reflect and strive to improve can change. They can take charge and fight their urges. That, in and of itself, is freedom. Not the randomness of having no causes for the urge to improve. You can always find a cause, the question at hand is whether that causal chain reflects the type of deliberative process we think of as freedom or if it is compelled by whatever (external influences or internal whatevers-habits, compulsions, pathology etc.)

When I say predisposed, it could mean a form of limited free will, by limited I mean a small subset of choices which are available to anyone for any given decision based on a combination of genetics and learned behavior from family and environment.

The question then to be answered is how you would classify limited free will? Is it considered free will or not. I think I would have to vote “not”.

Rav
06-08-11, 01:56 PM
The question then to be answered is how you would classify limited free will? Is it considered free will or not. I think I would have to vote “not”.

Absolute unbridled unrestrained freedom doesn't exist. I would even go so far as to say that it can't exist. I'm not just talking about free-will either, but everything in the entire universe. So I think we need to work with a more reasonable definition of freedom. One that is not so absolute.

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 03:01 PM
When I say predisposed, it could mean a form of limited free will, by limited I mean a small subset of choices which are available to anyone for any given decision based on a combination of genetics and learned behavior from family and environment.

The question then to be answered is how you would classify limited free will? Is it considered free will or not. I think I would have to vote “not”.

Is it possible that you are still thinking that because a decision making procedure is in space/time and is therefore part of a non-random causal nexus, and can be predicted, then it can't be "free"?

Meaning "free" requires some sort of escape from the causal chain? I think that would make it random, and as above, that is probably the last thing you want want to be. Unable to control your own actions. Unable to predict your own actions. If the causal nexus has gaps, no matter how small, miracles will happen. And if its really random, they won't always be what you want.

Isn't freedom really being able to do what you want? (Napoleon Dynamite)

I think it's easy to get so good at thinking "determinism" is true that the causal nexus is seen as eliminating freedom, when freedom actually requires the predictability of the causal nexus.

Just because I can predict that a person I know well will do the virtuous thing in a situation, doesn't mean that he didn't freely chose to do that thing, or that he didn't freely choose to mold himself into a virtuous person, or that he didn't freely choose to examine the influences in his life and decide which role models he wanted to emulate. Sure it's all caused. That doesn't mean that he didn't really study and analyze and consider and research and observe and consult and come to the most rational and thoughtful decision he could. That is what exercising maximum freedom is all about. The less of that you do, the more you just go by reflexes, or instincts or unreflective feelings the less freedom you are exercising.

Two more cents. :)

KilljoyKlown
06-08-11, 03:15 PM
Just because I can predict that a person I know well will do the virtuous thing in a situation, doesn't mean that he didn't freely chose to do that thing, or that he didn't freely choose to mold himself into a virtuous person, or that he didn't freely choose to examine the influences in his life and decide which role models he wanted to emulate. Sure it's all caused. That doesn't mean that he didn't really study and analyze and consider and research and observe and consult and come to the most rational and thoughtful decision he could. That is what exercising maximum freedom is all about. The less of that you do, the more you just go by reflexes, or instincts or unreflective feelings the less freedom you are exercising.

Two more cents. :)

I'm sure most God fearing religious people feel that way too. Sorry I don't buy it.

wellwisher
06-08-11, 03:23 PM
There are other aspects to free will. Free will is the ability to freely choose between alternatives. If you put an apple and orange on the table, and you prefer the apple, you lack free will, since an unconscious bias has made that choice for you. It would only be free choice/free will, if neither or either made any difference. Someone without free will, can still chose the alternative, but there may be a price to pay (not as satisfied). Free will and free choice has no price difference between alternatives. You don't lose or gain anything by going in any particular direction; free.

If you are a liberal or a conservative, an atheist or religious, etc., by definition you lack free will, since your inherent bias has chosen for you. To go the other way, there will be a price to pay, that makes that choice not free. You are still a slave to unconscious processes, whether they be personal or social, which take the place of free will.

In the case of different political or spiritual orientations, free will would need to stand in the middle and would not gravitate left or right. The symbol of Christ on the cross between the two thieves (both steal free will), is a symbol of free will. Free will takes training and is not part of natural instinct, since natural instinct has a bias built into it. For the trainng, one needs chose to be in a state of suspension, between left and right, until one can chose either. both. Then there is free will.

SciWriter
06-08-11, 03:28 PM
We are not as free as we think but still it would not work any other way. Our mirror neurons even automatically bring actions and others into us… to some degree of saturation (or not)…

Why do we not eat all the scarce food, feeling the other’s hunger? Why are moods contagious? Why do we feel the wish to dance when we see another doing so? Why do I feel your pain when you cut your finger? Why might I get an itch when you scratch yours? How are you “out there” felt “in here”? How do your acts become mine, and my acts become yours? Mirror neurons!

Using very thin electrodes, experimenters measured the activity of a single neuron of the premotor cortex in a monkey grasping a peanut. Amazingly, a bit later, an experimenter grasped a peanut—and the same monkey neuron activated merely by watching. This was the beginning of explaining vicarious feelings—the mirroring of others’ behaviors. It seems that free will is not so impregnable; each time I witness your movements, you permeate my stronghold.

It extends to sounds, sensations, and emotions, as well, and so we can feel all of those inside of us, as if we were in another’s shoes. These brain circuits blur the bright line between your experiences and mine. Without these mirror neurons there could have been no learning; but, it goes beyond that and onto intuitive altruism. In many places in the world, people tend to share the wealth. Of course, sometimes, our desire for benefits might outweigh our empathy.

In the military, the general is at a distance that separates him or her from the suffering that their armies cause. The same for weapons that kill at a distance—empathy can then be bypassed in the service of efficiency. Otherwise, it is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

Each time we see an action, our mirror neurons mimic and transform this sight into the motor commands necessary to replicate the action; however, a neural gate blocks the immediate output of our motor areas. Behind this gate, we can covertly share the actions of people around us. We feel them, and they thus become a part of our extended self. The brain is ethical by design. It was advantageous to know anothers needs.

KilljoyKlown
06-08-11, 04:07 PM
There are other aspects to free will. Free will is the ability to freely choose between alternatives. If you put an apple and orange on the table, and you prefer the apple, you lack free will, since an unconscious bias has made that choice for you. It would only be free choice/free will, if neither or either made any difference. Someone without free will, can still chose the alternative, but there may be a price to pay (not as satisfied). Free will and free choice has no price difference between alternatives. You don't lose or gain anything by going in any particular direction; free.

If you are a liberal or a conservative, an atheist or religious, etc., by definition you lack free will, since your inherent bias has chosen for you. To go the other way, there will be a price to pay, that makes that choice not free. You are still a slave to unconscious processes, whether they be personal or social, which take the place of free will.

In the case of different political or spiritual orientations, free will would need to stand in the middle and would not gravitate left or right. The symbol of Christ on the cross between the two thieves (both steal free will), is a symbol of free will. Free will takes training and is not part of natural instinct, since natural instinct has a bias built into it. For the trainng, one needs chose to be in a state of suspension, between left and right, until one can chose either. both. Then there is free will.

Both you and SciWriter have made some good points. What I think on this subject is only my opinion. But however much I want there to be free will, I'm not very convinced there is any. But if there is, I am sure it only surfaces at key decisions in ones life and remains a rare occurrence. Again if there is some free will that takes place as Wellwisher says training might make a big difference in some people having more than others who don't work at it.

Read-Only
06-08-11, 04:27 PM
Both you and SciWriter have made some good points. What I think on this subject is only my opinion. But however much I want there to be free will, I'm not very convinced there is any. But if there is, I am sure it only surfaces at key decisions in ones life and remains a rare occurrence. Again if there is some free will that takes place as Wellwisher says training might make a big difference in some people having more than others who don't work at it.

Forget it !! The whole premise of this thread is pure BS. If there is no free will then there is NO individual responsibility AT ALL. And the only people who fully subscribe to such nonsense are those who are trying to duck responsibility for their personal actions.:bugeye:

KilljoyKlown
06-08-11, 04:51 PM
Forget it !! The whole premise of this thread is pure BS. If there is no free will then there is NO individual responsibility AT ALL. And the only people who fully subscribe to such nonsense are those who are trying to duck responsibility for their personal actions.:bugeye:

I'm sorry, but what does a legal issue have to do with the reality of the situation.

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 05:17 PM
I'm sure most God fearing religious people feel that way too. Sorry I don't buy it.

So are you saying to feel completely compelled to do everything you do, and you have no control over it? No real choices? Never? Eternal and complete helplessness to exercise any freedom to do anything?

Just kidding but: There is medicine for that. :D

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 05:23 PM
There are other aspects to free will. Free will is the ability to freely choose between alternatives. If you put an apple and orange on the table, and you prefer the apple, you lack free will, since an unconscious bias has made that choice for you. It would only be free choice/free will, if neither or either made any difference. Someone without free will, can still chose the alternative, but there may be a price to pay (not as satisfied). Free will and free choice has no price difference between alternatives. You don't lose or gain anything by going in any particular direction; free.

That would mean that when I choose to do something valiant or selfless out of honor, that I have been compelled. Isn't there a difference between making a choice and being compelled? If not, then I'm getting defined out of the game. If my deliberative process is merely another compulsion, then what isn't a compulsion? There is none. Cause can't be the same as compulsion. Compulsion is a much narrower concept.

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 05:34 PM
If you are a liberal or a conservative, an atheist or religious, etc., by definition you lack free will, since your inherent bias has chosen for you. To go the other way, there will be a price to pay, that makes that choice not free. You are still a slave to unconscious processes, whether they be personal or social, which take the place of free will.

Wouldn't that mean that it would be impossible to make a choice adverse to one of your own biases? We know we can do that. So will your response be that another bias was stronger than the first? So that makes every cause a bias?
Again, defined out of the game. No such thing as a free choice only compelled choices. No uncompelled choices. That really means no "real" choices. So the all the choices we make aren't really choices?

Your theory is that I'm only free when the choice is arbitrary? That's not the way we usually limit our concept of freedom. Hard choices are still choices, and usually they are the most important ones.

KilljoyKlown
06-08-11, 05:35 PM
So are you saying to feel completely compelled to do everything you do, and you have no control over it? No real choices? Never? Eternal and complete helplessness to exercise any freedom to do anything?

No I'm not saying that, I do believe in limited free will and for the most part, it feels like the real thing, and I'm okay with that.

Read-Only
06-08-11, 05:35 PM
I'm sorry, but what does a legal issue have to do with the reality of the situation.

I never mentioned legal issue at all. There's MUCH more to the concept of personal responsibility than just legality - FAR, FAR more.

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 05:47 PM
We are not as free as we think but still it would not work any other way. Our mirror neurons even automatically bring actions and others into us… to some degree of saturation (or not)…

Why do we not eat all the scarce food, feeling the other’s hunger? Why are moods contagious? Why do we feel the wish to dance when we see another doing so? Why do I feel your pain when you cut your finger? Why might I get an itch when you scratch yours? How are you “out there” felt “in here”? How do your acts become mine, and my acts become yours? Mirror neurons!

Using very thin electrodes, experimenters measured the activity of a single neuron of the premotor cortex in a monkey grasping a peanut. Amazingly, a bit later, an experimenter grasped a peanut—and the same monkey neuron activated merely by watching. This was the beginning of explaining vicarious feelings—the mirroring of others’ behaviors. It seems that free will is not so impregnable; each time I witness your movements, you permeate my stronghold.

It extends to sounds, sensations, and emotions, as well, and so we can feel all of those inside of us, as if we were in another’s shoes. These brain circuits blur the bright line between your experiences and mine. Without these mirror neurons there could have been no learning; but, it goes beyond that and onto intuitive altruism. In many places in the world, people tend to share the wealth. Of course, sometimes, our desire for benefits might outweigh our empathy.

In the military, the general is at a distance that separates him or her from the suffering that their armies cause. The same for weapons that kill at a distance—empathy can then be bypassed in the service of efficiency. Otherwise, it is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

Each time we see an action, our mirror neurons mimic and transform this sight into the motor commands necessary to replicate the action; however, a neural gate blocks the immediate output of our motor areas. Behind this gate, we can covertly share the actions of people around us. We feel them, and they thus become a part of our extended self. The brain is ethical by design. It was advantageous to know anothers needs.

Cool. Now I know the structural mechanism for empathy.

What can you tell us about self-reflection, and prioritizing our impulses and motivations, and selection of our short and long term goals?

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 05:49 PM
No I'm not saying that, I do believe in limited free will and for the most part, it feels like the real thing, and I'm okay with that.

What allows "limited free will'?

Read-Only
06-08-11, 06:32 PM
What allows "limited free will'?

This silly topic springs up here at least once every year or so - and it's never any different.

You know what I find so highly amusing about it? :D Some young little punk thinks he's discovered something that nobody knows and others join in with their irrational thoughts in support of it. Thing is, they *ALL* THINK they are showing off their deep insight and knowledge - while all they are *really* doing is displaying (to the whole world!) their total ignorance and inability to think logically. They've no idea of the consequences of what they're supporting. It's just SO funny to watch them grasp at imaginary straws and contentiously trip over obstacles that they themselves have created without even being aware that they made them. :D

KilljoyKlown
06-08-11, 07:08 PM
I never mentioned legal issue at all. There's MUCH more to the concept of personal responsibility than just legality - FAR, FAR more.

So are you saying that being responsible is the exercise of free will? I say at some point in your life you made a choice to be responsible or not. Was that choice free will? I say it was a predisposed choice based on many factors concerning how you were raised, what genes you inherited and the environment you grew up in. Is that free will? I will admit it sure feels like free will at the time. But I say that feeling is mostly illusion. Once you decide how you are going to live your life, every choice after that is predisposed only to options that fall within those parameters. You are only making limited choices. Sure they feel like free will. Do Asimov's robots have free will under the three laws of robotics that they have to operate within?

Read-Only
06-08-11, 07:20 PM
So are you saying that being responsible is the exercise of free will? I say at some point in your life you made a choice to be responsible or not. Was that choice free will? I say it was a predisposed choice based on many factors concerning how you were raised, what genes you inherited and the environment you grew up in. Is that free will? I will admit it sure feels like free will at the time. But I say that feeling is mostly illusion. Once you decide how you are going to live your life, every choice after that is predisposed only to options that fall within those parameters. You are only making limited choices. Sure they feel like free will. Do Asimov's robots have free will under the three laws of robotics that they have to operate within?

We are not robots. And no, you are only considering things to limited by self-limiting your thinking.

While there ARE some things that limit our choices - like being unable to go to college because you were born in Somalia - even those can be overcome if you are determined enough to do them. In the example I just gave, you can work toward leaving the country.

Along those same lines, may kids *insist* they cannot afford to go to college. Yet others in the same financial circumstances manage to make it every day. How? Be being so determined that they attend part-time (if necessary) and work to pay for it and/or take student loans.

As I already explained, those who claim they cannot may fall back on the lie that they were destined not to go to college. It's really a simple and easy cop-out.

For another: You may have been born without legs or somehow lost the use of them. Some would say that keeps them from participating in sports. That's just another excuse because MANY play basketball in a wheelchair and join in marathon races with others like themselves. The ONLY difference is wanting to badly enough.

SciWriter
06-08-11, 08:16 PM
Cool. Now I know the structural mechanism for empathy.

What can you tell us about self-reflection, and prioritizing our impulses and motivations, and selection of our short and long term goals?

Self-reflection, if meaning thoughts about one’s thoughts, presumably in a higher and better way as a kind of disassociated spectator, as much as possible, can be useful for discarding impulses and “bad” or selfish motivations, although this taking pause (or counting to ten) to achieve a more creative solution is but a modicum of free will, if that, since that is probably what one has become in general, anyway. One might arrive at what is best for all, even if that choice is not the first one that came to mind.

It is at least a higher degree of accessing a fuller spectrum of information. We all know certain people who ever react rather instantly, leaving no time at all for any rumination.

At any rate, it is not always so easy to disregard one’s own thoughts. We easily do it when we don’t follow through to “kill that bad driver who cut us off” but how many less obvious cases slip through?

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 08:20 PM
This silly topic springs up here at least once every year or so - and it's never any different.

You know what I find so highly amusing about it? :D Some young little punk thinks he's discovered something that nobody knows and others join in with their irrational thoughts in support of it. Thing is, they *ALL* THINK they are showing off their deep insight and knowledge - while all they are *really* doing is displaying (to the whole world!) their total ignorance and inability to think logically. They've no idea of the consequences of what they're supporting. It's just SO funny to watch them grasp at imaginary straws and contentiously trip over obstacles that they themselves have created without even being aware that they made them. :D

Man I wish I was the only guy who had the 2,000 year old puzzle of Free will vs. Determinism figured out.

Oh, wait... I AM. :D

Regular0ldguy
06-08-11, 08:22 PM
This silly topic springs up here at least once every year or so - and it's never any different.

And that's why the poor philosophy profs who have to teach it about 3 times a year to a whole new group smoke so much rope. :D

KilljoyKlown
06-08-11, 09:25 PM
We are not robots.

Your sure of that are you? What if I could say we have been programed by evolution and we live within the constraints of our programming? How do you define what is a robot?


While there ARE some things that limit our choices - like being unable to go to college because you were born in Somalia - even those can be overcome if you are determined enough to do them. In the example I just gave, you can work toward leaving the country.

Along those same lines, may kids *insist* they cannot afford to go to college. Yet others in the same financial circumstances manage to make it every day. How? Be being so determined that they attend part-time (if necessary) and work to pay for it and/or take student loans.

As I already explained, those who claim they cannot may fall back on the lie that they were destined not to go to college. It's really a simple and easy cop-out.

For another: You may have been born without legs or somehow lost the use of them. Some would say that keeps them from participating in sports. That's just another excuse because MANY play basketball in a wheelchair and join in marathon races with others like themselves. The ONLY difference is wanting to badly enough.

Are you trying to imply that anything you just said constitutes free will. Again I say predisposed personality easily accounts for everything you just said.

Read-Only
06-08-11, 09:34 PM
Your sure of that are you? What if I could say we have been programed by evolution and we live within the constraints of our programming? How do you define what is a robot?



Are you trying to imply that anything you just said constitutes free will. Again I say predisposed personality easily accounts for everything you just said.

Sorry, but all I can tell you is that you're either being bull-headed or foolish. There's no middle ground. If you want to think that ALL your choices are already made in advance for you, then I would clearly vote for the latter.

But take your own pick. IF you think you have a choice, that is.

Read-Only
06-08-11, 09:36 PM
Man I wish I was the only guy who had the 2,000 year old puzzle of Free will vs. Determinism figured out.

Oh, wait... I AM. :D

There's nothing to figure out. Just a bunch of young jerks trying to ACT intelligent - without even knowing what "intelligent" means. :shrug:

NietzscheHimself
06-08-11, 09:58 PM
There is always a middle ground. The words themselves (free will, determinism) may constitute actions that have a particular consequence, but in the sphere of psychology they mean different things to different individuals corresponding to the particular level of intelligence and "experience" of the author. Some actions constitute a cause effect relationship in which instance they are determined. As far as free will goes we will always be connected by our physical and natural abilities. Nothing at all prevents the freedom of choices from occurring. To think so is to side against yourself.

Read-Only
06-08-11, 10:00 PM
There is always a middle ground. The words themselves (free will, determinism) may constitute actions that have a particular consequence, but in the sphere of psychology they mean different things to different individuals corresponding to the particular level of intelligence and "experience" of the author. Some actions constitute a cause effect relationship in which instance they are determined. As far as free will goes we will always be connected by our physical and natural abilities. Nothing at all prevents the freedom of choices from occurring. To think so is to side against yourself.

That's not the middle ground I was talking about - however, the rest of that post is accurate and true.

NietzscheHimself
06-08-11, 10:09 PM
Much appreciated. Glad to see not all of my vigorous typing is absolutely useless. Not many people stop to compliment.

KilljoyKlown
06-08-11, 10:38 PM
Sorry, but all I can tell you is that you're either being bull-headed or foolish. There's no middle ground. If you want to think that ALL your choices are already made in advance for you, then I would clearly vote for the latter.

But take your own pick. IF you think you have a choice, that is.

I think our differences are probably mostly in how we are defining free will. I do think we have a limited free will within ranges of predisposition. The basic programing of all life is to stay alive and procreate. To stay alive we need to eat, breath and drink water and stay within a temperature range, not get eaten by other animals or killed by fellow humans, ...etc. To procreate we need to attract a mate we can have sex with.

From these basic needs, you throw in all the genetic possibilities, the personalities, education and skills of the parents and region of the world where you were born. The local neighborhood you grow up in. All of these things shape the ranges of predisposition you will be able to exercise your limited free will in.

Read-Only
06-08-11, 10:40 PM
Much appreciated. Glad to see not all of my vigorous typing is absolutely useless. Not many people stop to compliment.

You're very welcome. In fact, I find it rewarding when someone enters a discussion like this one and injects some intelligence - it's rare and refreshing! ;)

Read-Only
06-08-11, 10:53 PM
I think our differences are probably mostly in how we are defining free will. I do think we have a limited free will within ranges of predisposition. The basic programing of all life is to stay alive and procreate. To stay alive we need to eat, breath and drink water and stay within a temperature range, not get eaten by other animals or killed by fellow humans, ...etc. To procreate we need to attract a mate we can have sex with.

From these basic needs, you throw in all the genetic possibilities, the personalities, education and skills of the parents and region of the world where you were born. The local neighborhood you grow up in. All of these things shape the ranges of predisposition you will be able to exercise your limited free will in.

But my main point in corresponding with you is to point out that you are not BOUND by those things at all. You have it within you - if you chose to exercise it - the ability and freedom to completely break free from ALL those things.

In plainer words, you ARE limited by those things ONLY if you don't change them. And you ARE free to change them if you really want to. As proof of what I'm saying, I'm certain that you have (as have I) known people who were the exact OPPOSITE of their parents. People who moved from the ghetto to a better neighborhood and did well as a result. And people who came from a poor family, didn't get a first-rate education YET were successful enough to live a very comfortable life.

Do you know what the MAJOR problem is with people today? Themselves! They will blame their troubles on everyone around them - and even "fate" - rather than try to improve their lives. You could call it laziness, if you choose, but the point is that they THEMSELVES are responsible for their own inaction. Not their parents. Not their friends. And certainly not that mythical thing called "fate."

KilljoyKlown
06-09-11, 10:36 PM
But my main point in corresponding with you is to point out that you are not BOUND by those things at all. You have it within you - if you chose to exercise it - the ability and freedom to completely break free from ALL those things.

In plainer words, you ARE limited by those things ONLY if you don't change them. And you ARE free to change them if you really want to. As proof of what I'm saying, I'm certain that you have (as have I) known people who were the exact OPPOSITE of their parents. People who moved from the ghetto to a better neighborhood and did well as a result. And people who came from a poor family, didn't get a first-rate education YET were successful enough to live a very comfortable life.

Do you know what the MAJOR problem is with people today? Themselves! They will blame their troubles on everyone around them - and even "fate" - rather than try to improve their lives. You could call it laziness, if you choose, but the point is that they THEMSELVES are responsible for their own inaction. Not their parents. Not their friends. And certainly not that mythical thing called "fate."

I don't really disagree with that, somewhere back in this thread I believe I said that free will could take place at a few key points in ones life. However I don't think our day to day living involves free will. I think free will is a rare thing and takes a great deal of work and effort. Once a free will decision is made the effort drops off and it may be years before you need to do it again if at all. Most people will fight to stay in their comfort zone (very little if any free will takes place there). People that make a habit stepping beyond their comfort zone will exercise free will more than the rest of us.

Read-Only
06-10-11, 12:26 AM
I don't really disagree with that, somewhere back in this thread I believe I said that free will could take place at a few key points in ones life. However I don't think our day to day living involves free will. I think free will is a rare thing and takes a great deal of work and effort. Once a free will decision is made the effort drops off and it may be years before you need to do it again if at all. Most people will fight to stay in their comfort zone (very little if any free will takes place there). People that make a habit stepping beyond their comfort zone will exercise free will more than the rest of us.

Glad to see you are coming around a bit. :) But the real truth is that we all exercise free will each and every day.

One thing you may not be getting is the difference between "predisposition" and "predetermination". It's that last one (which is just a myth) that would do away with free will, not the first. Predisposition is something common to people - I might have a predisposition for blue shirts or white shirts - and that would certainly affect (and probably to some degree, restrict) my choice of clothing. But by no means does it prevent me from deciding to wear a red shirt one day.

I might also have a predisposition for corn flakes for breakfast. But that doesn't prevent me from having bacon & eggs or a different cereal whenever I decide I want something different for a change.

Sure, we ALL have things that fit within our comfort zone and that's exactly what predisposed means - at some point in life while choosing different things, we decided on certain ones. And then we use those choices we made over and over - often times daily.

But just because I'm most comfortable right here at home, I'm in no way prevented from jumping up (as I did one day) and driving a few hundred miles to Key West in the middle of a freezing winter here in the mountains.

So I think that once you get a good grip on the HUGE difference between being predisposed and things being predetermined FOR you, you'll finally set yourself (will and all) ;) free.

Sarkus
06-10-11, 03:28 AM
Sorry, but all I can tell you is that you're either being bull-headed or foolish. There's no middle ground. If you want to think that ALL your choices are already made in advance for you, then I would clearly vote for the latter.Again, this all boils down to what you consider "free-will" to actually be.
Furthermore, determinism is not the only alternative to free-will... randomness is also there.

QM has more or less debunked pure determinism, and has done so through the identfication of randomness at that level... randomness within a probability function for a given interaction... i.e. whereas determinism equates to "same inputs = same outputs", QM suggests "same inputs = random output within a probability function".

What all this randomness does, at QM level, is then filtered through the macro-level world to give a world that behaves at the macro-level very much free of free-will. Simply put, we are the sum of the micro-level interactions. We can no more influence the randomness of QM than we can decide to turn off the Earth's gravity.
And that is what "free-will" requires... us (our consciousness) to somehow affect the randomness.

Now, if we define "free-will" as "a pattern of activity that gives the appearance of self-determination" then this exists... but it is merely "an appearance of..." - i.e. an illusion. Just as a mirage exists, it is still an illusion of what it appears to be.

And I don't think our conscious selves can ever break through the illusion... I tend to think (although no proof, no supporting links etc) that one can not be conscious without the illusion, and the illusion only holds for conscious people, that they (consciousness and free-will) are part and parcel of the same.


So if you think free-will exists... let's first be sure what you actually mean by the term.

Regular0ldguy
06-10-11, 07:51 AM
Your sure of that are you? What if I could say we have been programed by evolution and we live within the constraints of our programming? How do you define what is a robot?

As I have stated in other words above "determinism" (a complete and predictable causal nexus) is necessary for us to have either free or compelled decisions. To be uncaused certainly can't work, as that disconnects my desires from my actions. Thus or "programing" can be either mechanistic/knee jerk actions or the type of higher level, reflective, feed-back process which allows us to see where we have been and how our decisions have worked out in the past as well as to see where we are going and deciding if that's really where we want to go, given the priorities we actually value and the particular needs and desires we choose to follow, as opposed to those influences we decide we should ignore. That ability to use that type of "mechanism" within a reliably predictable causal nexus is why we can be free (if we chose to act that way) and the wasp (who brings his food to the edge of his hole and checks his hole before taking the food into the hole each and every time until he dies) does not.




Are you trying to imply that anything you just said constitutes free will. Again I say predisposed personality easily accounts for everything you just said.

But isn't it possible to fight your predispositions? "Predisposed" doesn't explain every choice. Sometime we indulge ourselves and mechanisticly do what we are predisposed to do, but other times, not.

phlogistician
06-10-11, 07:53 AM
But my main point in corresponding with you is to point out that you are not BOUND by those things at all. You have it within you - if you chose to exercise it - the ability and freedom to completely break free from ALL those things.

If that were true, surely all a proponent of 'Free Will' has to do, is to choose to not believe in Free Will, to prove their point?

Regular0ldguy
06-10-11, 07:59 AM
I don't really disagree with that, somewhere back in this thread I believe I said that free will could take place at a few key points in ones life. However I don't think our day to day living involves free will. I think free will is a rare thing and takes a great deal of work and effort. Once a free will decision is made the effort drops off and it may be years before you need to do it again if at all. Most people will fight to stay in their comfort zone (very little if any free will takes place there). People that make a habit stepping beyond their comfort zone will exercise free will more than the rest of us.

I think this really means we pretty much agree. If there is "any" freedom then you are the classical "determinist" who thinks that because you can explain everything that caused a particular decision, that freedom doesn't exist. That fallacy is equating "caused" with "compelled" or "predetermined" or "unfree".

Regular0ldguy
06-10-11, 08:14 AM
QM has more or less debunked pure determinism, and has done so through the identfication of randomness at that level... randomness within a probability function for a given interaction... i.e. whereas determinism equates to "same inputs = same outputs", QM suggests "same inputs = random output within a probability function".

What all this randomness does, at QM level, is then filtered through the macro-level world to give a world that behaves at the macro-level very much free of free-will. Simply put, we are the sum of the micro-level interactions. We can no more influence the randomness of QM than we can decide to turn off the Earth's gravity.
And that is what "free-will" requires... us (our consciousness) to somehow affect the randomness.

I have a prejudice here. If there really is true "randomness" built into the structure of the world, those are miracles, i.e. uncaused and therefore unpredictable events. I'm wondering therefore, if that is true, why don't all those little miracles combine to reveal themselves in some larger miracles, If it is random, it would seem that every once in a while all the "stuff" would fall the same way one day and do something really huge and really odd. And that would keep happening, occasionally and regularly everywhere in every thing. To me that is a reductio ad absurdum of the randomness theory. If you say they are all always too small and spread too evenly to ever have a macro effect, that sounds a little like an unverifiable hypotheses. What a happy coincidence, no connection between cause and effect but it acts like there is. Wouldn't Occam's razor make it easier to believe that the micro "randomness" might be merely a observational anomaly? Perhaps something we can't do, or get around or understand quite yet?

And as above, I don't see how miracles result in freedom, but rather just the opposite, I'm going to be "compelled" by pure chance. I can't control my own behavior. Talk about unfree! :)

Regular0ldguy
06-10-11, 08:20 AM
If that were true, surely all a proponent of 'Free Will' has to do, is to choose to not believe in Free Will, to prove their point?

That sounds like Descartes trying to suddenly disbelieve everything. You can't do that. You have too much evidence to the contrary. If you want to change a belief, you need to do some homework so that you can reevaluate your position, you may end up going the other way, but you may not. Beliefs aren't like socks.

phlogistician
06-10-11, 09:56 AM
If you want to change a belief, you need to do some homework so that you can reevaluate your position, you may end up going the other way, but you may not. Beliefs aren't like socks.

What you describe sounds more like reprogramming yourself, than having a 'Free' choice.

Sarkus
06-10-11, 02:28 PM
I have a prejudice here. If there really is true "randomness" built into the structure of the world, those are miracles, i.e. uncaused and therefore unpredictable events.Randomness does not necessarily imply uncaused or unpredictable.
A die, when rolled, will land on a number between 1 and 6. It is predictable in this regard.
The randomness is in which output will arise from the probability function, and the die roll was caused.

And miracles... well, that term alone is rather loaded, so I'd rather avoid it as we all have our own understanding of the term. Mine would be something that defies the laws of the universe, so clearly "randomness" would not be it.


I'm wondering therefore, if that is true, why don't all those little miracles combine to reveal themselves in some larger miracles, If it is random, it would seem that every once in a while all the "stuff" would fall the same way one day and do something really huge and really odd.The larger (i.e. the more interactions involved), the less likely anything "miraculous" will occur... basic math.

And that would keep happening, occasionally and regularly everywhere in every thing. To me that is a reductio ad absurdum of the randomness theory.Indeed it would be if that is what you expect to happen. But as it is mathematically not to be expected... :shrug:

If you say they are all always too small and spread too evenly to ever have a macro effect, that sounds a little like an unverifiable hypotheses. What a happy coincidence, no connection between cause and effect but it acts like there is.Again, not sure where this understanding comes from that there would be no connection between cause and effect... randomness does not imply it (see example above).


Wouldn't Occam's razor make it easier to believe that the micro "randomness" might be merely a observational anomaly? Perhaps something we can't do, or get around or understand quite yet?It might well be, but that does not alter the position: either we understand the "randomness" (i.e. and can fully predict it) which would disprove free-will, or we have genuine "randomness" which again leaves no room for free-will.

E=mc rectangled
06-10-11, 10:45 PM
Alright, im about to solve the whole problem here. There is free will and I can reason it out for you. Human life is purely decissions. Let's make this easy and pretend that all decissions only have simply outcomes. If I choose one then i have used my personal experience combined with my personality as a whole to decide which to pick. While, this may seem like all free will is gone from this, the problem simple is science. What has happened in my life my seem to affect it but the free will comes in when it comes to how my brain processes that experience. The start of this is not a voluntary action and thus is free from "intention". The initial response my brain has is then stored, creating my personality. My personality is then shaped by my free will to accept or reject the processed information. This shaping CANNOT be at all influenced by the outside world or other information because it is all done at nearly the speed of light in the minds subconscious. This choice is the only free will there is in the brain but it leads to every single choice made otherwise. The fact is that free will is so far from what we usually consider our choice that it may seem non-existant, but our subconscious makes choices for us that are every bit voluntary and every bit deserving of consequences.

Regular0ldguy
06-10-11, 11:46 PM
What you describe sounds more like reprogramming yourself, than having a 'Free' choice.

So if you are free to reprogram yourself as you wish to be, how is that not a measure of freedom? Pretty darned free. If you were both a computer and your own programmer, that sounds pretty free.

Regular0ldguy
06-10-11, 11:52 PM
Alright, im about to solve the whole problem here. There is free will and I can reason it out for you. Human life is purely decissions. Let's make this easy and pretend that all decissions only have simply outcomes. If I choose one then i have used my personal experience combined with my personality as a whole to decide which to pick. While, this may seem like all free will is gone from this, the problem simple is science. What has happened in my life my seem to affect it but the free will comes in when it comes to how my brain processes that experience. The start of this is not a voluntary action and thus is free from "intention". The initial response my brain has is then stored, creating my personality. My personality is then shaped by my free will to accept or reject the processed information. This shaping CANNOT be at all influenced by the outside world or other information because it is all done at nearly the speed of light in the minds subconscious. This choice is the only free will there is in the brain but it leads to every single choice made otherwise. The fact is that free will is so far from what we usually consider our choice that it may seem non-existant, but our subconscious makes choices for us that are every bit voluntary and every bit deserving of consequences.
:m: I might have to read this a few more times. :D

Regular0ldguy
06-10-11, 11:55 PM
: either we understand the "randomness" (i.e. and can fully predict it) which would disprove free-will, or we have genuine "randomness" which again leaves no room for free-will.

So a predictable causal nexus makes free will impossible and an unpredictable causal nexus makes free will impossible.

So what do you think free will is? That's pretty critical since it can't exist under either A or not A.

Sarkus
06-11-11, 04:25 AM
So a predictable causal nexus makes free will impossible and an unpredictable causal nexus makes free will impossible.

So what do you think free will is? That's pretty critical since it can't exist under either A or not A.Who says it has to exist?? ;)

As I have previously said, it depends on one's definition of free-will:

If you define free-will as actual self-determination then I say it does not exist - for the reasons I have given... if it does not exist under either A or not-A then logically it does not exist.

However, if you define it along the lines of: "a pattern of activity that gives the appearance of self-determination" then it DOES exist - but is mere illusory with regard actual self-determination... hence merely the appearance of.
Much like a mirage exists, but is illusory with regard the appearance.

I think free-will (the illusion of self-determination) is an integral part of consciousness: they are both of the same category of phenomena, and one without the other is meaningless.

phlogistician
06-11-11, 04:48 AM
So if you are free to reprogram yourself as you wish to be, how is that not a measure of freedom? Pretty darned free. If you were both a computer and your own programmer, that sounds pretty free.

I'm afraid not, that only implies the possibility of reprogramming, and that the existing program can choose another.

Events are either determined, or random. I can't reconcile this with 'Free' will myself.

Regular0ldguy
06-12-11, 03:53 PM
Who says it has to exist?? ;)

As I have previously said, it depends on one's definition of free-will:

If you define free-will as actual self-determination then I say it does not exist - for the reasons I have given... if it does not exist under either A or not-A then logically it does not exist.

However, if you define it along the lines of: "a pattern of activity that gives the appearance of self-determination" then it DOES exist - but is mere illusory with regard actual self-determination... hence merely the appearance of.
Much like a mirage exists, but is illusory with regard the appearance.

I think free-will (the illusion of self-determination) is an integral part of consciousness: they are both of the same category of phenomena, and one without the other is meaningless.

So I think we are moving from one definitional failure to another. What exactly is "actual self-determination"?

Creating your self in the literal sense like a god would? (Bootsraps - which is internally inconsistent and even logically impossible). Severing all ties to your training, influences, intelligence, emotions, goals, priorities, values, instincts, knowledge etc. etc.?

This is the exact same mistake in terminology about a new phrase.

You apparently think "actual self-determination" means no influences at all. So how is that different than "uncaused" and how is that different than no causal nexus, and how is that different than an unconnected string of miracles?

Same problem, new phrase.

Regular0ldguy
06-12-11, 03:59 PM
Events are either determined, or random. I can't reconcile this with 'Free' will myself.

That's because you really aren't talking about comparing what we all normally think of as free behavior with what we know is compelled behavior.

Both are caused, we are just identifying one type of process (making free decisions without compulsion) with unfree decisions (internally, or externally forced to do something though you would rather do something else if you were free to choose).

Determinists have let a very slick verbal maneuver make them accepts a concept of "free" which can't exist (neither caused or uncaused), so they say nothing is free and freedom doesn't exist.

arfa brane
06-12-11, 06:17 PM
A definiton of freedom of choice seems to require that we understand what we mean by freedom on the one hand, and choice on the other.

We already know that a coin has two choices, and "freedom" is what a coin has when it's spinning (ok, that's more of a heuristic). So does our own sense of freedom have a corresponding "spin":: neural activity that leads to a choice is like a random process, which somehow converges into a recognisable pattern?

We also believe that we make unconscious decisions. So what determines them?
Another problem is our tendency to believe that when an outcome is good for us, it was because of a choice we made (to join an organisation, accept a job offer, buy a lottery ticket), but when an outcome isn't good, it was because of circumstances beyond our control, in which we had no freedom to choose.

This tends to make me think that the "freedom" is just a convenient illusion (I have an idea I'm not alone in this thinking).

And again, we think there is choice because we don't know all the details, we don't because we can't. This gives us a sense that some things are "freely caused", or that our limited knowledge of chains of causality gives the appearance of freedom (as in when a coin is spinning in the air, we have limited knowledge of its orientation).

So freedom is the illusion left when parts of the causal chain are "broken" by the limitation of knowledge about it. Choice can be about whether you think you acted freely, or had no choice (e.g. your house catches fire, a meteorite crashes through your roof, your car is struck by lightning, etc), Choice is "given", and we're free to choose, but only because we don't know any better.

NMSquirrel
06-12-11, 06:40 PM
the computer/programmer analogy is flawed in the respect that it can only reprogram itself with the knowledge/code it already has, we would not be able to reprogram ourselves if we didn't have any knowledge of other ways to program ourselves,

same applies to humanity, we cannot 'change our ways' if we know of no other ways to change, we are limited by our experiences and our expected experiences,(what each of us can know or what each of us has the ability to know)

to say we have a lack of free will because of our conditioning (by parents/society/peers/etc) encourages such conditioning, a self fulfilling statement, as conditioning is not free will, it is learned behavior.

and we know there are ppl out there who rebel at conditioning Instinctively,they may not even be aware of it, criminals come to mind..

does free will exist?
i think the question is more of 'is free will becoming extinct?'
(i think the word 'becoming' is superfluous)

Regular0ldguy
06-12-11, 10:26 PM
We also believe that we make unconscious decisions. So what determines them?

I'm not even sure we need to call those actions decisions, as no deciding was involved. They are more akin to a reflex. Auto-pilot. No deliberation, and no choice. And I don't think that means it wasn't free. We weren't "compelled" in any meaningful way. It wasn't unfree in any meaningful sense. Just non-deliberative action.


Another problem is our tendency to believe that when an outcome is good for us, it was because of a choice we made (to join an organisation, accept a job offer, buy a lottery ticket), but when an outcome isn't good, it was because of circumstances beyond our control, in which we had no freedom to choose.

I don't think that's a universal pattern. That's just a defense mechanism. I can freely admit that I have put a ton of thought and consideration into many decisions which I make freely that turned out to be lousy decisions.


And again, we think there is choice because we don't know all the details, we don't because we can't. This gives us a sense that some things are "freely caused", or that our limited knowledge of chains of causality gives the appearance of freedom (as in when a coin is spinning in the air, we have limited knowledge of its orientation).

I don't think the amount of info we have makes any difference. If I knew ALL the details I would certainly have a great foundation for making a decision, and if no one had a gun to my head and if I wasn't OCD or debilitatingly impulsive, I could take all that info into account and do whatever I wanted. Knowing all of the things that were going to influence me might make it much more likely that I would objectively evaluate the situation and decide whether the best thing to do was follow my inclination or to go against type. What part of that self-control process is illusory? What you must be thinking is that there is no such thing as "self" control, only control by what? -- chemicals, subatomic particles, personality traits, instincts. It seems to me if I can identify and evaluate the influences on me, I'm not being compelled by my make-up, I'm just freely using it to its greatest benefit.


So freedom is the illusion left when parts of the causal chain are "broken" by the limitation of knowledge about it. Choice can be about whether you think you acted freely, or had no choice (e.g. your house catches fire, a meteorite crashes through your roof, your car is struck by lightning, etc), Choice is "given", and we're free to choose, but only because we don't know any better.

Why would you assume that more knowledge would always make you certain you made the wrong decision? This is all about the nature of reflection. Self-awareness. Reappraisal. We are free because we can operate that type of feedback mechanism. We can judge ourselves and choose based on the knowledge we have. If anything, having more knowledge would make us act even more freely.

Regular0ldguy
06-12-11, 10:30 PM
the computer/programmer analogy is flawed in the respect that it can only reprogram itself with the knowledge/code it already has, we would not be able to reprogram ourselves if we didn't have any knowledge of other ways to program ourselves,

same applies to humanity, we cannot 'change our ways' if we know of no other ways to change, we are limited by our experiences and our expected experiences,(what each of us can know or what each of us has the ability to know)

We have the unique ability to recognize that we may have limited knowledge and the ability to seek greater knowledge. That feedback mechanism is the key to our freedom. Being self aware and reflective.

arfa brane
06-12-11, 10:30 PM
I don't think the amount of info we have makes any difference. If I knew ALL the details I would certainly have a great foundation for making a decisionI think you might misunderstand my point.
If you knew all the details, then "making a decision" would be moot, it wouldn't be necessary to make one.

The feedback mechanism you mention is that which appraises what is known, and what isn't. Both are fundamental to making a decision. If you know nothing, there's no decision to make, and likewise if you know everything. So the natural limitation of knowledge means we have decisions to make, because we simply can't know everything.

Regular0ldguy
06-12-11, 10:49 PM
You know what you can never know? What you are going to do in the future. You can't know that for sure because you haven't been faced with the situation. So the act of finding "everything" out has to happen before the decision, and that affects the decision. The piece of knowledge that is left out of knowing everything at T1 is what I am going to think about it at T2 and do about it at T3.

arfa brane
06-12-11, 11:02 PM
You know what you can never know? I don't think that makes sense.

So the act of finding "everything" out has to happen before the decision, and that affects the decision. I guess. But since you can't find "everything" out, how much does that affect a decision?

Regular0ldguy
06-12-11, 11:09 PM
I don't think that makes sense.
I guess. But since you can't find "everything" out, how much does that affect a decision?

Sorry. I was speaking casually. "Do you know what you can never know?" was the question and the answer was "You can never know what you are going to do in the future."

And to answer your question, I thought we were talking about "everything" really being just those things that would influence or control your decision, and not all knowledge of all things. And I would thing that sometimes getting some last bit of knowledge might make a difference, and sometimes it might not. It would depend on how important that particular bit of knowledge was to your decision. But the fact that it CAN affect your decision, tells me that "knowing everything" doesn't compel me or prevent me from being free in any meaningful way. I mean really, how pissed off would you be if others couldn't predict your behavior. Don't you want them to rely on your honesty and fairness and all your other great qualities? Isn't being solid and reliable how you want to be perceived? We call that having character. And we want to have that. And we try hard to develop a solid character to improve ourselves. And we do that freely. Of course, some of us don't. They like to be jerks. And some of them do that freely, though some just do it without thinking. You can choose freely or not. Even that is really up to you. Are you so self-indulgent and lazy that you like being an impulsive punk? That might be a free choice though I expect most people like that just deteriorate into that character. I can't imagine many deliberately choose to be that way. That's mostly in the movies, I hope.

KilljoyKlown
06-12-11, 11:12 PM
How about this example; You are a gunfighter in the old west. When you choose the practice the quick draw, you are exercising your free will so you won't have to when it really counts.

Regular0ldguy
06-12-11, 11:41 PM
How about this example; You are a gunfighter in the old west. When you choose the practice the quick draw, you are exercising your free will so you won't have to when it really counts.

I like that. THAT is building CHARACTER. :D

Sarkus
06-13-11, 03:21 AM
So I think we are moving from one definitional failure to another. What exactly is "actual self-determination"?
...
You apparently think "actual self-determination" means no influences at all. ...
Same problem, new phrase.Actual self-determination, as opposed to the illusion thereof, is exactly "no influences at all".
Which, as I repeatedly have said, I consider impossible.

It's not a mistake in terminology nor a definitional failure... it is a definition that some use for free-will, and one that I consider to be a practical and logical impossibility.
However, a square-circle can be defined as a shape with all the characteristics of a square and of a circle... and it is also logically impossible. No mistake in terminology nor definition: it just doesn't exist.

So I fail to see your argument here.
If you want free-will to exist then, as far as I am concerned, you can not use a definition that does not allow it to exist.

That is all I am showing here.


So how is that different than "uncaused" and how is that different than no causal nexus, and how is that different than an unconnected string of miracles?"Uncaused" remains an option - but these are then random and thus do not allow for free-will.

Such a definition of free-will (no influences at all) requires an event that is both uncaused AND non-random.

An alternative remaining is that the "free-will" we all seem to exhibit is merely an illusion of actual self-determination, an illusion created by our lack of full understanding (at both micro- and macro- level) of the cause-effect chain that leads to a choice.


As to how it is different to "an unconnected string of miracles?" - I fail to understand your meaning... as a miracle (to me) is something that defies the laws of the universe. Are you suggesting that free-will is "a miracle"?

Regular0ldguy
06-13-11, 06:11 AM
Nope. I agree with everything you said (as I have said it many times) except for that one thing. You seem to have selected the deterministic argument that if a decision has causes, then it can't be free, and only feels free and is an illusion. I would think the the reductio ad absurdum you lay out above would make you call that into question. Caused means caused and free means something else, and not "uncaused." Your argument requires me to believe that when we describe freedom we have never really had a concept that is consistent with causation. I'm saying we do know what we are talking about when we make a distinction between free acts and unfree acts that we both see in others and experience in ourselves. Whatever we think freedom is when we actually use the concept, it isn't what the Determinists think it is (which is something uncaused).

I am absolutely a materialist who thinks that causation is complete and without gaps, but I also believe that free will can only function in that system, so it requires a causal nexus, it just is a particular type or character of caused behavior (of the higher order, intentionally reflective version). A determinist is also a materialist but he has concluded that this makes free choices impossible. Which I say is because he fell for the oldest philosophical puzzle on the planet.

Regular0ldguy
06-13-11, 06:22 AM
Clarence Darrow tried to convince the jury of determinism in the Leopold and Loeb trial. The jury didn't buy it. They knew these guys, even if they were spoiled and abused or whatever, should (and could) have still evaluated their goals and decided to obey the law, but they thought they were geniuses who were above the law and entitled to murder.

Sure they are people that in some circumstances do not exercise free will, but all actions are not either free or unfree, they vary. That is the mistake the guy who set up the puzzle got us (philosophers) all to make in our initial "Problems in Philosophy" class.

Sarkus
06-13-11, 06:40 AM
You seem to have selected the deterministic argument that if a decision has causes, then it can't be free, and only feels free and is an illusion.I am only holding to that position for that type of definition of "free-will".

As said, if you define free-will along the lines of being a pattern of activity that gives the appearance of self-determination... appearance even to the one making the "choice"... then this clearly exists, and would be in line with your view.

My entire position is that the question of free-will depends on the definition used... so I am not using one or another throughout, but showing how the answer is dependent upon definition.


I am absolutely a materialist who thinks that causation is complete and without gaps, but I also believe that free will can only function in that system, so it requires a causal nexus, it just is a particular type or character of caused behavior (of the higher order, intentionally reflective version). A determinist is also a materialist but he has concluded that this makes free choices impossible. Which I say is because he fell for the oldest philosophical puzzle on the planet.I would say it is because he is using a different definition of free-will. What you call "free-will" he will call "the illusion of free-will" - both are exactly the same in terms of operation - they are just different perspectives... one would say it is an emergent property, and thus exists... the other would say that the emergent property is illusory with regard what it portrays... like the mirage: the mirage exists but is illusory with regard the image it seems to portray.
If you ask someone if the mirage exists or is an illusion... it depends what you define as the mirage: what it appears to be or the actual motion of molecules etc.

Regular0ldguy
06-13-11, 09:48 AM
My entire position is that the question of free-will depends on the definition used... so I am not using one or another throughout, but showing how the answer is dependent upon definition.

That's a little unsatisfying, don't you think. I mean, it is safe, but does it explain why this "Problem of Free Will and Determinism" has been active and alive, with solutions being sought for at least a couple of thousand years?

I don't get much comfort in saying "some folks use the word to mean one thing and others use it to mean another". That's kind of like saying we can't speak English. I think the solution to a philosophical "problem" needs to show the man behind the curtain. What causes the puzzle? What are the underlying assumptions that have caused us to go so far off track for so long?

At least that is what I have been trying to do. I really don't think it comes down to a labeling error. There is something wrong with some of the concepts used to set up the dilemma.

Sarkus
06-13-11, 11:25 AM
That's a little unsatisfying, don't you think. I mean, it is safe, but does it explain why this "Problem of Free Will and Determinism" has been active and alive, with solutions being sought for at least a couple of thousand years?Unsatisfying to who?

A deterministic universe, by definition, makes free-will impossible.
However, the universe has been shown to be NOT deterministic (at least at the quantum level).

And as for solutions - surely one can only do that when one has adequate definitions to work with. I have put forward my views on two such definitions.


I don't get much comfort in saying "some folks use the word to mean one thing and others use it to mean another". That's kind of like saying we can't speak English. Not like that at all.

Given that people DO define free-will differently, in terms of what is required for there to be free-will, isn't it therefore necessary to take a look at all definitions put forward, and see where they lead?
Solutions are meaningless unless there is a consistency of definition.


I think the solution to a philosophical "problem" needs to show the man behind the curtain.What more of a solution from me are you looking for beyond me giving my view that: If you define it as X then it can not exist; if you define it as Y then it can and does.
Certainly the latter is not a complete solution - but it is, to me, the path that remains open... into realms such as emergent properties, for example.


What causes the puzzle? What are the underlying assumptions that have caused us to go so far off track for so long?As science gives us insights and views into the micro, it starts to rule out certain views of the macro... at least without a total rethink of their relationship.

At least that is what I have been trying to do. I really don't think it comes down to a labeling error. There is something wrong with some of the concepts used to set up the dilemma.It's NOT a labelling error. I merely have not insisted on a single understanding / definition of free-will.

wellwisher
06-13-11, 03:27 PM
The difference between will and free will is the cost. Something is free if there is no price to pay. Free will is the ability to freely choice between alternative without any price to pay; free.

I might have the will to jump off a bridge, but the price I might pay is fear. This would be will but not free will.Free will implies whether I jump or not i will feel the same; no cost. People who take sides in Politics or atheism vs religion, may have will, but lack free will in these areas. They might be able to defend the opposite, but the price will be discomfort.

Christ between the two thieves is a symbol of the process of developing free will; love your enemy makes switching sides free. Any one-sided POV that polarized people is a thief that steals your free will since there is a price for change, which for some is too high. Objectivity helps with free will since it can eliminate the emotional cost for subjective choices.

arfa brane
06-13-11, 04:03 PM
Free will is the ability to freely choice between alternative without any price to pay; free.
In the context of a choice being made, there is no cost other than the energy expended by you, in forming "thoughts".

Acting on the decision is not free, because there is risk involved in every action.
You are free to choose to jump off a bridge (the choice itself involves minimal effort), and if you act on the choice you are necessarily risking something. You could surmise that any decision involves risk--even deciding to think about one thing rather than another must have a risk factor.

Free will is scary shit. No wonder I dropped out of philosophy 101.

Dominic
06-13-11, 07:01 PM
TFor the trainng, one needs chose to be in a state of suspension, between left and right, until one can chose either. both. Then there is free will.

How about if I choose not to choose?

NMSquirrel
06-13-11, 07:02 PM
How about if I choose not to choose?

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

madanthonywayne
06-13-11, 08:28 PM
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You should give credit when quoting someone:

Rush: Free Will


There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance
A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance

A planet of play things
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
'The stars aren't aligned
Or the gods are malign...'
Blame is better to give than receive

[Chorus:]
You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill

There are those who think
That they were dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them
They weren't born in Lotusland

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You can't pray for a place
In heaven's unearthly estate

[Chorus]

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet

[Chorus]
And here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpCASVFyQoE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

NietzscheHimself
06-13-11, 08:44 PM
Why free will is impossible- I can not do all the great and wonderful things I dream of.

Me-Ki-Gal
06-13-11, 10:34 PM
I'm not even sure we need to call those actions decisions, as no deciding was involved. They are more akin to a reflex. Auto-pilot. No deliberation, and no choice. And I don't think that means it wasn't free. We weren't "compelled" in any meaningful way. It wasn't unfree in any meaningful sense. Just non-deliberative action.



I don't think that's a universal pattern. That's just a defense mechanism. I can freely admit that I have put a ton of thought and consideration into many decisions which I make freely that turned out to be lousy decisions.



I don't think the amount of info we have makes any difference. If I knew ALL the details I would certainly have a great foundation for making a decision, and if no one had a gun to my head and if I wasn't OCD or debilitatingly impulsive, I could take all that info into account and do whatever I wanted. Knowing all of the things that were going to influence me might make it much more likely that I would objectively evaluate the situation and decide whether the best thing to do was follow my inclination or to go against type. What part of that self-control process is illusory? What you must be thinking is that there is no such thing as "self" control, only control by what? -- chemicals, subatomic particles, personality traits, instincts. It seems to me if I can identify and evaluate the influences on me, I'm not being compelled by my make-up, I'm just freely using it to its greatest benefit.



Why would you assume that more knowledge would always make you certain you made the wrong decision? This is all about the nature of reflection. Self-awareness. Reappraisal. We are free because we can operate that type of feedback mechanism. We can judge ourselves and choose based on the knowledge we have. If anything, having more knowledge would make us act even more freely.

Your kind of missing thew point Arf is getting at . If you know everything then there is one choice . Optimization is that choice . Course idiots might not make that choice and that would tell Me they didn't know everything , So in that free will don't exist , only the lack of knowledge gives you the illusion of choice, because your hindsight tells you you had another choice. I go at it about this all the time with my wife for she is a " What If Person " I try like hell to convince her there is no "what if's" there is now and what follows now. You can now optimize based on what you now know and that is it

Regular0ldguy
06-14-11, 12:10 AM
You guys really are committed to the belief that if there is causation, there can't be free will, because free means unpredictable. You have bought into the deterministic trap hook, line and sinker. They have made you redefine your words. But that's what usually happens. That's why this topic is in all the intro courses. it's great for debate.

Before you took your philosophy class, you knew the difference between freedom and the lack of it. Do you really think you were just uneducated. Didn't the problem seem a little contrived?

SciWriter
06-14-11, 01:25 AM
Don't forget that the fixed will can change, for it depends on one's competency increasing (or decreasing).

Me-Ki-Gal
06-14-11, 01:54 AM
You guys really are committed to the belief that if there is causation, there can't be free will, because free means unpredictable. You have bought into the deterministic trap hook, line and sinker. They have made you redefine your words. But that's what usually happens. That's why this topic is in all the intro courses. it's great for debate.

Before you took your philosophy class, you knew the difference between freedom and the lack of it. Do you really think you were just uneducated. Didn't the problem seem a little contrived?
I am uneducated so I was not indoctrinated. I can't escape my own human conditioning is why I believe I have no free will . Plus people for the last 5000 years have been predicting how I was going to live my life . Them Shit holes are to blame big time for my lack of free will. It is called " The Pharaohs wish . You probably don't know anything about that though so probably sounds like gibberish to you . Don't feel bad cause lots of people think I am delusional . I wish I was then I might have a chance at free will or at least feel like I have free will . It is the shits when your life has already been mapped out . You been saying your a Genius sense you were 17 and I still don't know what you mean. Reached for the secret to soon . I know gibberish . Be Me for a day and you might change your mind . Try it for a month then see how you feel . Change your name to Me for a month . Listen to all things related to the word Me like someone is calling your name . See how that changes you ? I tell you those Sumerians were real smart asses when they came up with that bull of heaven

Me-Ki-Gal
06-14-11, 02:02 AM
Don't forget that the fixed will can change, for it depends on one's competency increasing (or decreasing).

See this is brilliant! 1 The key point is Fixed Will . Not Free Will .

Sarkus
06-14-11, 02:56 AM
You guys really are committed to the belief that if there is causation, there can't be free will, because free means unpredictable. You have bought into the deterministic trap hook, line and sinker. They have made you redefine your words. But that's what usually happens. That's why this topic is in all the intro courses. it's great for debate.Are you perchance confusing causation with determinism?
And are you confusing freedom with random?

Before you took your philosophy class, you knew the difference between freedom and the lack of it. Do you really think you were just uneducated. Didn't the problem seem a little contrived?What intro course? What philosophy class? :shrug:

And do people really know what freedom is in this regard? Do you?
Most people think they know because they don't examine it in any detail whatsoever.

As for redefining words... if people do not fully understand the nuances of the words they use, and then when they think about it they have different ideas and definitions, why are you surprised when some redefine it, if not to help achieve a consistent understanding?

Regular0ldguy
06-14-11, 08:31 AM
Are you perchance confusing causation with determinism?
And are you confusing freedom with random?

No I'm telling you that those mistakes are what I see you and others making and that is what this classical philosophical problem was designed to do. And it is tremendously effective.


What intro course? What philosophy class? :shrug:

Now I'm bummed.


And do people really know what freedom is in this regard? Do you?
Most people think they know because they don't examine it in any detail whatsoever.

That clearly isn't my problem. I'm analyzing the puzzle and discovering why it works so well.


As for redefining words... if people do not fully understand the nuances of the words they use, and then when they think about it they have different ideas and definitions, why are you surprised when some redefine it, if not to help achieve a consistent understanding?

I guess you are really talking about concepts. (not the noises we used to trigger them). The problem with "redefining" a word is that usually just adds a level of confusion because we pretty much already have verbal triggers for every concept you want to refer to. I mean, that's what 1984 was all about. The problem remains, with new labels.

NMSquirrel
06-14-11, 08:33 AM
You should give credit when quoting someone:

Rush: Free Will


i thought someone would catch that.:D

Regular0ldguy
06-14-11, 11:00 AM
Just for some light reading: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/

NietzscheHimself
06-14-11, 04:33 PM
Freedom of will comes from awareness of will, experience of will, insight into what we would consider free will to look like. It can come from having experiences in reality showcasing the core most beliefs passed in the millennia of man's existence. And it can also come from believing yourself to hold all the apparent "truths" of reality. Freedom of will can lead you off a building when you assume to have built a bridge.


The most ridiculous of ideas are those carried out in large groups.

Sarkus
06-14-11, 06:45 PM
No I'm telling you that those mistakes are what I see you and others making and that is what this classical philosophical problem was designed to do. And it is tremendously effective.If you think that is what you see me doing then I suggest you reread the posts as I can only conclude from your statement that you have selective vision.

Now I'm bummed.Why, exactly? Do you require us to wave some certificate around?

That clearly isn't my problem. I'm analyzing the puzzle and discovering why it works so well.Why the puzzle works or why free-will works? And if the latter then which concept of free-will are you referring to?

I guess you are really talking about concepts. (not the noises we used to trigger them). The problem with "redefining" a word is that usually just adds a level of confusion because we pretty much already have verbal triggers for every concept you want to refer to. I mean, that's what 1984 was all about. The problem remains, with new labels.When there already exist many concepts of "free-will" and what it entails, if you wish to discuss one, or another, you do generally need to make it known which you are referring to: for example one concept requires an action to be free from influence, another perhaps merely from conscious influence, and another might allow for all and any influence on the basis that consciousness can override them, thus making the choice "free".

If you insist on one view, then while you may not be redefining the term, you are effectively requiring everyone else to.

So, going back to the thread title: Certain definitions of free-will are impossible. Others are not. It therefore depends on the definition.

Regular0ldguy
06-14-11, 09:08 PM
Why the puzzle works.

Regular0ldguy
06-15-11, 01:25 AM
So, going back to the thread title: Certain definitions of free-will are impossible. Others are not. It therefore depends on the definition.

Classically, that's not what the puzzle/problem is about. It's the ontological question of how can there be real choices in a predictable causal nexus. Determinists conclude that there can't be based on predictability (total predetermination), so the question is how to get out of that trap.

Do does your menu of definitions get us out of that trap? Is everything predetermined in concrete (and forget the quantum leaps stuff) or can we change things as we go along?

Short version, does perfect causation imply complete predetermination?

arfa brane
06-15-11, 01:33 AM
It's the ontological question of how can there be real choices in a predictable causal nexus.The question has a simple answer. We can't predict everything, so that gives us 'real' choice, except it isn't real.

We aren't in any trap because we can predict outcomes. We can do this because we think there are 'gaps' between events.

I can't understand why you keep missing this fairly obvious explanation. That's about the 4th time I've mentioned that we are incapable of complete knowledge, of anything, so we think we have the freedom to choose.

Choice is necessarily made in the face of incomplete knowledge; with complete knowledge there is no choice to be made. Can't you understand the argument?

Pandaemoni
06-15-11, 01:58 AM
The funny thing is that I've always found that compatibilists merely play games with the definition of "free will" to make it consistent with determinism. Like Schopenhauer's belief that we are "free" to act on our will but that what we will is exogenously caused by other factors outside of our control. It's rather like saying that, if I fire a rocket into space, it's "free" to follow a parabolic trajectory back to the Earth. It's true from a certain point of view (the factors that went into setting its initial velocity are not beyond anyone's control and its trajectory set), but I don't find it intuitively satisfying. I may believe an act is immoral, but because I have no control over my will, I still will myself to commit the act.

It's like blaming that missile if the missile happens to kill someone when it crashes back into the Earth. The only difference is, really, that the missile couldn't form a belief regarding the moral implications of the trajectory it was on.

That tends to push me back into incompatibilism (which, in my unscientific survey) is where most of the modern philosophers I've known seem to be. Given that I can't reject a certain weak form of determinism (by which I mean a universe that obeys determinism on a large scale, but is subject to truly random indeterminacy at the quantum level), and given that I've never seen a compatibilist argument that seemed correct, it's hard for me to defend free will.

Sarkus
06-15-11, 03:36 AM
Classically, that's not what the puzzle/problem is about. It's the ontological question of how can there be real choices in a predictable causal nexus. Determinists conclude that there can't be based on predictability (total predetermination), so the question is how to get out of that trap. What trap?
If the universe is perfectly determined (same input leads to same input) then logically there is no free-will. There is no trap here, just the need to adjust one's mindset regarding what we perceive as free-will.

The "trap" in this scenario only exists if you feel it necessary to conclude that free-will exists, regardless of how the universe works.
If free-will is incompatible with a perfectly determined universe, then either free-will does not exist or the universe is not perfectly determined.
However, there is always the option that the universe is not perfectly determined and free-will still does not exist.

However, since the universe has been shown to be not perfectly determined (i.e. same inputs do not lead to same outputs... but seemingly to a random output that follows a probability function, as well as their being random uncaused events), the "determinism vs freewill" debate is somewhat redundant.


Do does your menu of definitions get us out of that trap? Is everything predetermined in concrete (and forget the quantum leaps stuff) or can we change things as we go along?What trap?? I see no trap.
Are you paranoid? ;)

And yes, the "menu of definitions" includes free-will as being "a pattern of activity that gives the appearance of self-determination"... i.e. free-will being an action at a perceived level that, due to the lack of conscious understanding of (or inability to understand) the totality of causation and the involvement of randomness that leads to a result, gives the appearance that we have made a choice... but this is just a trick of our consciousness in the absence of all that information at the conscious level.
The conscious action and subsconscious is almost like a marriage: The husband (consciousness) can choose to do whatever it wants, as long as it does what the wife (subconscious) does. The wife allows the husband to think it made the choice, but it was always going to do what the wife wanted.
Because we (the conscious) are not aware of the subconscious (else it would be the conscious) we are left with the perception of there being a choice / free-will.

Voila.

Would you care for a dessert? ;)


Short version, does perfect causation imply complete predetermination?If by perfect causation you mean that everything is caused (i.e. nothing uncaused), then no, one does not imply the other.

Determination (as I understand it) is "same input = same output".
Causation allows for "same input = random output within a probability function".

E.g. roll a die (cause).
Assuming the roll was repeated under exactly the same starting conditions, then determination would have it always landing on the same number.
However, QM suggests that it would land on different numbers, depending on the probability functions of the interactions and the chaos within the system.

So no, perfect causation (if my understanding of your phrase is correct) does not imply complete predetermination.

Pandaemoni
06-15-11, 09:42 AM
Determination (as I understand it) is "same input = same output".
Causation allows for "same input = random output within a probability function".


Quantum mechanics, depending on one's preferred interpretation of it, does allow for "uncaused" events to occur. A radioactive atom, for example, will decay at a random time, but there is no internal structure or process that that causes that decay. Similarly, in a vacuum, virtual particle pairs will be created from nothing at random intervals. (So far as we know, at least....)

One way around this is to assume that wave functions are objective and real and that there is an objective universal wave function, in which case the universe can be said to be deterministic and governed by that classical and deterministic wave function.

Regular0ldguy
06-15-11, 10:06 AM
The question has a simple answer. We can't predict everything, so that gives us 'real' choice, except it isn't real.

We aren't in any trap because we can predict outcomes. We can do this because we think there are 'gaps' between events.

I can't understand why you keep missing this fairly obvious explanation. That's about the 4th time I've mentioned that we are incapable of complete knowledge, of anything, so we think we have the freedom to choose.

Choice is necessarily made in the face of incomplete knowledge; with complete knowledge there is no choice to be made. Can't you understand the argument?

I understand it completely. "Freedom is an illusion we feel only because we can't predict very well."

Whether we are good at predicting has nothing whatsoever to do with whether we are predetermined automatons. The question is whether or not the future is REALLY fixed, and not whether it SEEMS fixed.

Regular0ldguy
06-15-11, 10:13 AM
Folks always use Quantum Mechanics' postulation of true randomness to "escape" the causal chain. But we've seen above, over and over, that randomness doesn't support freedom in any way. Unpredictable because the past doesn't cause the future won't allow the choice you make to control the action you take.

And sliding "probability functions" over to redefine them as complete causation is another word game.

Regular0ldguy
06-15-11, 10:17 AM
The question is DOES COMPLETE, PERFECT (NON PROBABILISTIC) CAUSATION CAUSE COMPLETE PREDETERMINATION AND MAKE THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE WE ALL KNOW WE HAVE IMPOSSIBLE?

And it is a trap BECAUSE we know we aren't automatons. We know we make real choices. And the puzzle is how in the hell did we talk ourselves into an intellectual position that makes us think it isn't possible?

Sarkus
06-15-11, 11:24 AM
Folks always use Quantum Mechanics' postulation of true randomness to "escape" the causal chain. Noone here has done any such thing: you're just creating a strawman.

And sliding "probability functions" over to redefine them as complete causation is another word game.If you dress up everything you seem to fail (or don't want) to understand as merely a word game then you'd probably be better off doing crosswords.

The question is DOES COMPLETE, PERFECT (NON PROBABILISTIC) CAUSATION CAUSE COMPLETE PREDETERMINATION AND MAKE THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE WE ALL KNOW WE HAVE IMPOSSIBLE?Where in the thread title or OP is that question raised? The thread title is "Why free will is impossible". And I see nothing in the OP about "perfect (non probabilistic) causation" etc.

If you wish to raise the question, perhaps you should do so without seeming to shout or throw your toys out of the pram. :shrug:

And to answer your question: Does complete, perfect causation cause complete predetermination? Yes, I would say it does.

Does predetermination make freedom of choice impossible? If you think of "freedom of choice" as to be something not predetermined, then yes, it is a logical conclusion of predetermination that freedom of choice is impossible - almost by definition.
If you think of "freedom of choice" being merely the conscious perception of a certain pattern of activity, then no, this is not impossible.


And it is a trap BECAUSE we know we aren't automatons. Do we? How do we know? Define "automaton" in this regard.

We know we make real choices.We do? Define "choice" in this regard.

The issue here is that you are using words ("choice" etc) that are merely patterns of activity (all we can perceive are patterns of activity) and you are stating as fact that the appearance = the underlying reality.
How do you know?
How do you know that the "choice" you perceive you are making is not predetermined?

It is not a trap, as whether or not the pattern of activity (of choice) is predetermined has zero bearing on our conscious perception of that activity as being "free".

If being trapped is to perceive that you are doing what you want with no external party to know and inform you to the contrary...


And the puzzle is how in the hell did we talk ourselves into an intellectual position that makes us think it isn't possible? It's not a puzzle: it would be a logical and rational conclusion given the starting premise.
Does it change anything? No. It would merely alter what we understand free-will to be: an illusion created by our consciousness. But it is an illusion we are all caught by and can not help but follow.

Hence why some peoples' definition of free-will is the same in every respect, right down to the practical implications, to some other peoples' definition of "the illusion of free-will". One look at just the conscious perception of what is going on (i.e. the appearance of choice, of self-determination), the others try to marry it to the underlying interactions of cause/effect.

So I say again, it depends on one's definition/understanding of "freedom of choice".

NMSquirrel
06-15-11, 03:16 PM
How do you know?
How do you know that the "choice" you perceive you are making is not predetermined?
this is where the argument applies to both sides of the issue.(any issue?)

gmilam
06-15-11, 03:53 PM
Damn it! I wanted a Dr Pepper. I put my money in the machine and then watched my finger push the Coke button. This is not the first time it's happened.

Could the universe be trying to tell me something?

NMSquirrel
06-15-11, 03:55 PM
Damn it! I wanted a Dr Pepper. I put my money in the machine and then watched my finger push the Coke button. This is not the first time it's happened.

Could the universe be trying to tell me something?

are you saying you quit doing Coke?

Pandaemoni
06-15-11, 05:59 PM
Folks always use Quantum Mechanics' postulation of true randomness to "escape" the causal chain. But we've seen above, over and over, that randomness doesn't support freedom in any way.

I agree. Quantum randomness does nothing for free will because you still have no real choice if the action was randomly generated. It does undercut determinism and causality in the strict sense (subject to belief in a deterministic wave function), which is all that I was saying.

Regular0ldguy
06-15-11, 06:34 PM
I agree. Quantum randomness does nothing for free will because you still have no real choice if the action was randomly generated. It does undercut determinism and causality in the strict sense (subject to belief in a deterministic wave function), which is all that I was saying.

And I find ANOTHER sane and solid mind. Thank you for being alive.

Sarkus
06-15-11, 06:45 PM
this is where the argument applies to both sides of the issue.(any issue?)Sure - and when someone states something as factual, I ask the question. Especially when they claim to know my mind.
But note that it is not to a particular side of the issue that I am applying it to but to the nature/wording of the arguments being raised.

Sarkus
06-15-11, 06:51 PM
Quantum randomness does nothing for free will because you still have no real choice if the action was randomly generated.I think this has been stated in one way or another on many occasions in this thread, and I can't recall anyone disagreeing with it. Not quite sure why ROG is clinging to it so tightly. :shrug:

Regular0ldguy
06-15-11, 09:09 PM
I think this has been stated in one way or another on many occasions in this thread, and I can't recall anyone disagreeing with it. Not quite sure why ROG is clinging to it so tightly. :shrug:

I'm not sure I understand what it is you think I am clinging to. Help me out.

KilljoyKlown
06-15-11, 10:09 PM
For you interested parties, please view the video at the link below.

Why Quantum Physics Ends the Free Will Debate
Michio Kaku on April 13, 2011, 12:00 PM

http://bigthink.com/ideas/37871

Pandaemoni
06-15-11, 11:34 PM
For you interested parties, please view the video at the link below.

Why Quantum Physics Ends the Free Will Debate
Michio Kaku on April 13, 2011, 12:00 PM

http://bigthink.com/ideas/37871

He's making a mistake. "Free will" is not the same thing as unavoidable uncertainty about what the future will be.

QM says that certain events will occur with a certain probability. It is true that a murderer's actions 10 years from now may not be strictly determined by the state of the universe today, but that doesn't mean that a potential murderer has a "choice" in what they will be, any more than a 6-sided die can choose what number it will randomly land on. Roughly speaking,/* chance determines that. If a robot flips a coin and is programmed to murder someone on heads and let them go on tails, that is not really free will, even if there is an element of chance involved.

----
/* Obviously a die roll is not *truly* random, but deterministic and incredibly sensitive to its initial conditions. For this post, though, I am ignoring that pesky detail and pretending that such things are actually stochastic.

KilljoyKlown
06-16-11, 12:08 AM
He's making a mistake. "Free will" is not the same thing as unavoidable uncertainty about what the future will be.

QM says that certain events will occur with a certain probability. It is true that a murderer's actions 10 years from now may not be strictly determined by the state of the universe today, but that doesn't mean that a potential murderer has a "choice" in what they will be, any more than a 6-sided die can choose what number it will randomly land on. Roughly speaking,/* chance determines that. If a robot flips a coin and is programmed to murder someone on heads and let them go on tails, that is not really free will, even if there is an element of chance involved.

----
/* Obviously a die roll is not *truly* random, but deterministic and incredibly sensitive to its initial conditions. For this post, though, I am ignoring that pesky detail and pretending that such things are actually stochastic.

Sorry you can't argue with Michio Kaku, I just found this article and it seemed relevant to this thread. I personally see aspects of both sides of this topic that I like. Go figure.

Regular0ldguy
06-16-11, 01:11 AM
I agree MK is making a mistake. I thought he was smarter than that. I don't see how randomness (however slight or probable) gives us the causation that allows us to control our actions with our choices.

I think this is the way out of the box, as simply as I can say it. Then I'm done.

The difference between us and a clock (I don't buy the inherently random universe thing either-I think that is an artifact caused by the interference of our methods of perception) is that a clock can't look at its own mechanism and accurately predict its future and alter its mechanism to avoid possible future events it doesn't "want" and seek out and plan for future events that it wants. The feedback is the key. We can see what's coming, reevaluate whether its a good thing for us and fix it.

The classical determinist will always say "but that was predictable too, so it's all determined" and the response is "only if you are a clock with no reflective ability or intention."

Of course everything is completely caused, the difference is "by what"? I'm not compelled by causation, I use it, depend on it and benefit from it. Without causation I don't get to make those predictions and get the future to be like I want it to be through my choices.

Again, you say "but that is all predictable" and I say no. Because as soon as I know the past, which can include predictions too, I am not bound by the prediction. I can prove to you that I'm not a clock by frustrating any prediction, but 99.9999% of the time (except for iconoclasts who are highly motivated by the desire to be different) I want to do what I have chosen to do and I am not one bit less free because you understand my character. I wanted to do what I did, because of who and what I want to be, not because who I have to be. I don't have to be any particular way. As soon as I spot any tendency that I don't desire the outcome of, I can change it.

I'm not a clock, and I'm not even an extraordinarily complicated clock. I'm an entity who has the ability to self evaluate and regulate myself based on my plans. A thermostat (simpler feedback/self regulating mechanism) can't completely reconfigure its mechanism, much less its nonexistent goals and plans based on its experiences, desires, needs, knowledge of the future and the effects of the future on it. I need a deterministic world to exercise the capabilities that I have which make me capable of choice, and of the freedom to unshackle myself from what would otherwise be a clock.

Sarkus
06-16-11, 03:59 AM
The difference between us and a clock (I don't buy the inherently random universe thing either-I think that is an artifact caused by the interference of our methods of perception) is that a clock can't look at its own mechanism and accurately predict its future and alter its mechanism to avoid possible future events it doesn't "want" and seek out and plan for future events that it wants. The feedback is the key. We can see what's coming, reevaluate whether its a good thing for us and fix it.

The classical determinist will always say "but that was predictable too, so it's all determined" and the response is "only if you are a clock with no reflective ability or intention." And the response would be wrong. :shrug:
In a deterministic world, the ability to be reflective, to have vastly complex feedback, does not alter the deterministic world.
And by definition a deterministic world is devoid of freedom... from the very outset the path has been set and can not be changed.
Any "reflective ability or intention" is all part and parcel of the deterministic world and, by definition, determined.

Yet within this you still want free-will, freedom of choice, and you want it to be something more than just an illusion?

You are in a logical mess - wanting your square cirlce.


Of course everything is completely caused, the difference is "by what"? I'm not compelled by causation, I use it, depend on it and benefit from it. Without causation I don't get to make those predictions and get the future to be like I want it to be through my choices. You're not compelled by causation???
So what made you do what you did?
You only think you have choice (hence the illusion) because your conscious self depends on the illusion. It fools us... all the time... convincing us that we make choices to do what we could not avoid doing. At least in a purely classical determined universe.


Again, you say "but that is all predictable" and I say no.Square circle again. Classical determinism = unavoidable path / no choice / no freedom.
If you want free-will within this, and you genuinely understand what determinism is, then you need to redefine what you consider free-will to be.


Because as soon as I know the past, which can include predictions too, I am not bound by the prediction. I can prove to you that I'm not a clock by frustrating any prediction, but 99.9999% of the time (except for iconoclasts who are highly motivated by the desire to be different) I want to do what I have chosen to do and I am not one bit less free because you understand my character.And here you are merely looking at one's conscious perception of events. A consciousness can never know everything about a moment. It is precisely because our consciousness is unaware of all the causes leading up to a moment that it offers us the illusion of choice. Consciousness does not know why it chose Heads over Tails... it genuinely considers it to be an exercise in "free-will"... yet the deterministic world (if that is the world in which you hold to) DOES know. It knew from the outset that this moment would come, and that you would choose Heads.

You seem to have convinced yourself that, in a deterministic world - that by definition is devoid of freedom - you can still be free in a sense that is anything other than illusory.

And you think others are trapped!!


I wanted to do what I did, because of who and what I want to be, not because who I have to be.In a deterministic world, "what you want to be" is determined... there is no choice/freedom.

I don't have to be any particular way."You" - as in the conscious self - certainly convinces itself of that. But the deterministic world certainly determined that you are that way. And did so from the outset.


As soon as I spot any tendency that I don't desire the outcome of, I can change it.Only in a way that was similarly predetermined from the outset. The deterministic world would know that you would "spot any tendency" and would act to change it. Your conscious self just convinces itself that it is in control.

I'm not a clock, and I'm not even an extraordinarily complicated clock. I'm an entity who has the ability to self evaluate and regulate myself based on my plans. A thermostat (simpler feedback/self regulating mechanism) can't completely reconfigure its mechanism, much less its nonexistent goals and plans based on its experiences, desires, needs, knowledge of the future and the effects of the future on it.Yes, we are different to a clock. We have developed consciousness, but there is no difference between us at the micro-level... we are all just the basic building blocks of the universe interacting in a determined way (using your assumption that the universe is determined).

I need a deterministic world to exercise the capabilities that I have which make me capable of choice, and of the freedom to unshackle myself from what would otherwise be a clock.You are arguing for the existence a square circle. :shrug:

"I want choice in a world that, by definition, does not allow it".

But, as I have stated, you can get around your apparent logical contradiction by a definition of free-will along the lines of "a pattern of activity that gives the appearance of self-determination"... i.e. that choice, free-will, is merely a conscious perception of what is going on, and makes irrelevant the fundamental nature of the deterministic world in which you have placed matters.


As the saying goes: I believe in free-will because I can not choose to do otherwise.

Pandaemoni
06-16-11, 04:07 AM
I can prove to you that I'm not a clock by frustrating any prediction, but 99.9999% of the time (except for iconoclasts who are highly motivated by the desire to be different) I want to do what I have chosen to do and I am not one bit less free because you understand my character.

But the system can be complex enough to account for these sorts of effects. Let's say you choose to order pizza for dinner and I say, "Aha! I predicted that you would do that!" You may cancel the order, or you may still eat the pizza.

Obviously you feel as though you've chosen your new action, but did you? First take the simple model--that of the contrarian--he may well *always* cancel the order when confronted with the statement, "Aha! I predicted that you would do that!" Obviously, if he always cancels the order, every time he is confronted with such a prediction, that is not good evidence of free will because the response is too mechanical. There is a new cause (gaining knowledge of the prediction) and it leads to pat response.

One can also imagine a more complex program, though, which either incorporates a random element or is sensitive to initial conditions. In this program, say we can predict that when confronted by the existence of the prediction, the response is "stick with pizza" 99.9999% of the time, and "cancel the order" the rest of the time. Such a program wouldn't be terribly hard to write.

That you reevaluate a decision when confronted with a new fact (even a new fact about someone else's predictions of your future actions) is therefore not evidence of free will, it's just evidence that there the addition of a new stimulus causes the new response of reevaluation. That you would usually stick with the original decision, and only rarely change your mind is also not evidence of free will since a relatively simply, unfree, algorithm could be used to explain it.

A real person is far more complex than this one algorithm. There would, for example, need to be an algorithm that caused it to select pizza for dinner in the first instance, before news of the prediction was shared with the subject. (In fact, assuming there were no free will, there would need to be an algorithm that nonetheless convinced us we made real choices.) A real person is so complicated, in fact, that we often don't even know our own minds fully That a program gets to be so complex that we can't guess its output of course doesn't mean it has free will. It could, but the ability to reconsider something in light of new information isn't a clear sign.

It is also true that sometimes there is no new input. You order pizza and, five minutes later, regret the decision and so cancel it. The question is whether than is the result of an act of free will, or a byproduct of our often poor ability to analyze problems. We could have conflicting algorithms and goals (like an "order pizza" impulse and a "don't get fat" impulse) and we are not always great at prioritizing which impulse to obey at any given time. We feel like we choose to give in to one over the other, but that feeling may be an inaccurate byproduct of the struggle between those two conflicting impulses. The brain may make the final decision about which to follow based on any number of "tie-breaking" rules, some of which may be quite arbitrary, random, or chaotic and which may not operate at the rational, conscious level. The feeling of choice (as some neuropsychology suggests) may be a gloss placed on a reaction after the unconscious parts of the brain has resolved the conflict in a particular way that is very much unrelated to the actual way in which we arrived at that final decision.

Deep down, I do believe we have free will. Intuition aside, mostly I believe it because I do not clearly see why we would have evolved such a complex mechanism for post hoc rationalization and self-deception. Still, the more about the brain I read, the less room there seems to be in it for free will. So I am not completely sold on the ideas that we do have free will.

If the question were easy, though, we wouldn't still be debating it after two millennia.

Regular0ldguy
06-16-11, 10:52 AM
Free will is the way the decision is made, not an escape from causation. Think of a gopher, sticking his head up and looking backwards and forward in the causal chain, he gets a choice and a free choice, as he gets to do what he wants and he gets to do as much homework and research as he want to make that decision, he doesn't get free of the causal chain.

Your assumption is still that caused equals unfree. Apples and oranges. Free choice is a type of causal process. And when the world was just a clock with no organisms in it complicated enough to see how cause and effect worked, it was totally determined. But as soon as you can see the causal chain and want to do something about it, free will can be exercised. The WILL is free from inevitability, it is free to see what would otherwise be inevitable and change it. Could a perfect entity predict every one of my actions? Only if he didn't become part of my information base. In the interaction between the perfect predictor vs the perfect deliberator , where the deliberator knows what the predictor predicts, the deliberator can prove the predictor can't predict him. It is a regressive spiral because every time the predictor says, "I knew you were going to do that so you weren't free", the deliberator says "and when you told me, I decided that was OK so I did it anyway because that is what I intended to happen, so my WILL was free." Free from compulsion, and even free from any influences he identifies and reacts to. The more introspective and reflective, the more freedom he has. Free from causation is the concept that is confused. "Free from causation" means uncaused and that is not freedom at all. Freedom is a way of making decisions, not the opposite of caused. It is not an illusion. It is a capability that higher order organism can exercise to one extent or another.

Causation is not a constraint on freedom, it is the water we swim in. Causation doesn't "make" me do anything as if it was some outside force. Freedom is a capability we can have if we exercise the skill, and it is a matter of degree, depending on our insight and effort. And I can, and sometime do, determine which causes I want to come into existence and what causes I want to prevent. To say it's all caused takes nothing away from that. To say it's compelled by causation is not understanding that the exercise of a free choice is not the opposite of or eliminated by "caused". "All choices are caused" does not equal "all choices are compelled." The illusion is believing that a free choice is eliminated by occurring in the causal chain. It's just a particular type of caused event. The kind where you get to evaluate the chain itself and decide whether and in what way you want to change it. We all know we can and do do that. (Ha, I said "do do"). :D

Sarkus
06-16-11, 11:34 AM
We all know we can and do do that.And yet there is nothing "free" in it... as it is predetermined by the previous moment... which is predetermined by the moment before that.
ANY reflective action is PREDETERMINED.
It is built into the causal chain - and is inescapable... IF you hold to the deterministic world view.

You are merely arguing for the existence of a square circle.
You have said the world is determined... i.e. every moment is determined by the moment before.
This logically results in the universe being utterly predetermined... from the get-go.

And into this you want to place something that is part of the predetermined universe yet not itself predetermined.

:shrug:
The search for a square circle if ever I saw one.

Me-Ki-Gal
06-16-11, 12:22 PM
The question is DOES COMPLETE, PERFECT (NON PROBABILISTIC) CAUSATION CAUSE COMPLETE PREDETERMINATION AND MAKE THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE WE ALL KNOW WE HAVE IMPOSSIBLE?

And it is a trap BECAUSE we know we aren't automatons. We know we make real choices. And the puzzle is how in the hell did we talk ourselves into an intellectual position that makes us think it isn't possible?
How can you know for sure you have a choice ? Prove to me you have a choice. It is deceptive to think you have a choice . The perfect rhythm exists . How to explain . It is in the information . The acts already exist . O.K. start with your name . That is one of the controlling factor . The congruences go way deeper than your name, but it is a good starting point . Now you got to wake up and stop living in denial as to what makes you tick . What do you do when you hear your name called to action ? Now pay attention in your daily activities and listen with awareness of your surrounding . You could even use a note pad to document what you think you hear as it relates and sounds like your name . This will be a first step when you connect you involuntary action to the whisper of your personal name. You might even begin to understand why Jesus committed suicide.

O.K. do you want to know the latest and greatest in sales gimmicks ? The marketers have already figured out people with the same names have similar exposure to information. In other words they will think in similar patterning. The Marketers have determined they can create emotional response purchasing by utilizing name grouping by the similarities of group experiences based on name recognition . Marketers are the ones doing the research in this field ? Why ? Cause it works and profit margins are increased . They spend the money to develop exactly what I am telling you . Now Me I learned on my own from life long quest of trying why I perceive the world calling my name relentlessly. Funny thing is it was predicted someone with a name like Mine would move a step closer to being free of out side influence . Except there is the catch . It was already predicted, so were is freedom really at . I use to think it was just Me , but it not . I can see it in everyone . I can see people living true to there given name as the word calls them to action . I know you got a hard time with this as many many people say bull shit . Dude I am a musician . I have spent my life listening to rudiments of sound by my gift of being a musician having a trained ear . This is how I know it is true . I hear the perfect language that is not discernible by an untrained ear. You know I probably would not hear it except for the world screaming my name to action . Fuck I spent most of my life in a nervous frenzy because of it . Like I can't quite do enough going 90 miles an hour . People named Mike will understand this . Just my the nature of being named Mike and the expectation of the definition of Mike makes it plain and clear why Mike's feel that way . Go check for your self the percentage of Mikes that are Preachers or Priest . I think you might find there is a disproportionate number of Mikes following the profession' Now you take a name like Lori7 . She sees her self as the Mother Mary of the world . You might be thinking , well her name is not Mary , so why would she think the powers that be tell her she is the Mother . It does and I hear it Plain in clear . In fact it was my research on the name Lauren that lead Me to the conclusion . It is what I call the Laredo effect . Our Lady of Laredo . The Mother Mary morphed into Laredo. So you know if you listen to the back drop noise you can hear it calling what I call the La, Lu , Lar , Li, Lo, Lor, Le sounds . It calls the people that Identify with the rudiments to specific actions. So I use to think it was the red car phenomena, Were if you buy a red car then you see more red cars . Then I thought it could not be that for it was all to specific to the rudiments . Now I think it is the red car phenomena, yet in the phenomena the actions are controlled in specificity. Do the egg come first or the chicken I don't know that yet . That part is still confusing as can be to some degree . If the dream was created long ago by the usage of the word is the dream in a constant evolving state . Dependent on the trickle effect of information silo vaults collapsing . Repeats of the past with new twist from the availability of new information gathering .

Believe
06-16-11, 02:57 PM
I have free will and I'm proving it by CHOOSING to post here. Just because you cannot rise above your circumstances doesn't mean the rest of us can't.

Pandaemoni
06-16-11, 08:01 PM
Free will is the way the decision is made, not an escape from causation. Think of a gopher, sticking his head up and looking backwards and forward in the causal chain, he gets a choice and a free choice, as he gets to do what he wants and he gets to do as much homework and research as he want to make that decision, he doesn't get free of the causal chain.

Your assumption is still that caused equals unfree.

Actually I disagree. I am not assuming that caused equals unfree, and am asserting that caused *may* equal unfree. We don't "know" that we make real choices, we believe it and it feels like we do, but there is no way to rewind the clock and prove that it was possible to choose the other path thst was previously forsaken.

Free will may be a veneer we place on our actions after the fact, even though the actions themselves are determined according to a complex decision making algorithm that we cannot influence or alter. It's pretty clear for example that we do not control our fight or flight instinct, yet when asked why they fought or why they ran many people do suffer from the illusion that their choice was the result of some rational process and not automatically generated by the amygdala, even though the amygdala sends command signals out before the sensory data even gets to the cortex (without which, we could not possibly have "thought" about the issues consciously).

The problem is that it is possible (and there are plenty of neuroscientists who think this is the case) that brain has mechanisms for reconciling competing goals and that the reconciliation is complex, but mechanical and outside our influence, and our belief that we "choose" which goals to favor and choose an action is just a post hoc rationalization that we overlay onto the complex way in which the brain sorts out these signals.

Free will, in that view is no more real than the illusion of time slowing down that people often experience (on a post-hoc basis) before a major accident or trauma.

I don't endorse that theory, and I don't dismiss it. As I said, it feels like I have free will, but the neuroscience that exists thus far strongly suggests that I don't, and I can't point to any specific flaw in the theory that the feeling a real fundamental choice is just illusory. In short, my position is: I don't know, but I am aware there are good arguments on both sides.

Deep down, I do believe there is free will, though if true that means that either much of neuroscience is flawed or that, perhaps, the mind is not completely generated by the brain and the faculty of free will exists only in the mind and outside of the brain.

river
06-16-11, 09:18 PM
the lack of free-will is acting by instinct alone

free-will is the pondering , questioning and thereby , changing the act and/or thinking

Me-Ki-Gal
06-16-11, 10:25 PM
the lack of free-will is acting by instinct alone

free-will is the pondering , questioning and thereby , changing the act and/or thinking

pondering , questioning is part of the human instinct . All things hUmans do is part of the human instinct

river
06-16-11, 10:38 PM
pondering , questioning is part of the human instinct . All things hUmans do is part of the human instinct

true

but instinct on its own , in this case , animal instinct , the survival instinct , doesn't lead to pondering nor questioning

it can't because thats not instincts Nature

NietzscheHimself
06-16-11, 11:53 PM
free-will is the pondering , questioning and thereby , changing the act and/or thinking

No... that is free thought. What you should be thinking of is a more dreamlike state. Where thought escapes your previous knowledge and you are lead to a choice decision wholly uncommon to all of man's previous knowledge. To fly, or not to fly; To die, or not to die; To weep, or not to weep. To sleep, or not to sleep. To be deep, or to be.

river
06-17-11, 12:25 AM
“ Originally Posted by river
free-will is the pondering , questioning and thereby , changing the act and/or thinking ”



No... that is free thought. What you should be thinking of is a more dreamlike state. Where thought escapes your previous knowledge and you are lead to a choice decision wholly uncommon to all of man's previous knowledge. To fly, or not to fly; To die, or not to die; To weep, or not to weep. To sleep, or not to sleep. To be deep, or to be.

hmm...

agreed but you limit the WILL to a " decision " towards the self

whereas I expand the WILL to thought or thinking , beyonds man's previous knowledge of the without

Me-Ki-Gal
06-17-11, 12:31 AM
hmm...

agreed but you limit the WILL to a " decision " towards the self

whereas I expand the WILL to thought or thinking , beyonds man's previous knowledge

Give me an example of thought or thinking beyond previous knowledge . Display one of these thoughts you are are thinking ?

river
06-17-11, 12:40 AM
Give me an example of thought or thinking beyond previous knowledge . Display one of these thoughts you are are thinking ?

energy is matter , not , matter is energy

Me-Ki-Gal
06-17-11, 01:21 AM
energy is matter , not , matter is energy

what ? conversion my dear . energy is all about conversion . Both are true . Gas = energy Electrical power passed threw water creates Hydrogen and oxygen. Conversion goes both ways , anyway that is not the point . You got to speak a new language to not have influence . Matter and energy are past concepts and even if your statement was true it is built upon someone else work . I call it past dependent . We are the past . We live in the past . The closest to the future you can get is your self and as some one already showed even looking at your self in the mirror is looking at the past .
O.K. give me another one this time with gusto . Something totally independent of anyone's concepts

NietzscheHimself
06-17-11, 09:32 AM
but you limit the WILL to a " decision " towards the self I limited it to you interpersonally.


whereas I expand the WILL to thought or thinking , beyonds man's previous knowledge of the without

Thoughts will only get you so far. You need material to stand upon and declare your will.

Regular0ldguy
06-18-11, 07:33 AM
Choosing freely is not an illusion, because I am there where I actually go through the process of choosing. I have to put effort into it. For a while, during deliberation, I haven't yet made the choice. It takes an act of will to get that done. It's free only if it is caused by my unfettered intentions. Guess how I can prove I could have done the opposite? I can undo what I did. Every try to pick a paint color?

And if anyone says all choices are a result of __________, causation or instinct or whatever, that will be a vacuous statement in every case. Sure causation exists. Sure every event is caused. But is it caused by a free action or a compelled action? These are qualitatively different processes.

To say every action is the result of instinct is to just not know what an instinct is. Clearly you have broadened it to include non-instinctual actions. Survival instinct? Suicide. Eating instinct? Dieting/fasting. Social instinct? Homicide. We can act against our instincts. And we do a lot.

Regular0ldguy
06-18-11, 07:43 AM
If you drop down a level of complexity and start saying it's all chemical or biological or physics that's really causing it, then you are missing the consequences of structure. That's like saying pushing on the gas doesn't move the car, it's really the fuel, injection, spark, explosion, piston movement, crankshaft turning, differential spinning, axle turning, tire spinning, tire friction. Yes, there is a process, what triggered it? What put it in motion? What caused and allowed the structure to proceed? In input into the system that "causes" it to work. Sure, every component and part of the chain causes it to work, but in an importantly different way. If you look at the entire system from the highest meta-level, that's the only way you really understand the cause that explains it all. Otherwise you are just looking and the trees and not noticing its a frick'n forest.

Regular0ldguy
06-18-11, 07:49 AM
And yet there is nothing "free" in it... as it is predetermined by the previous moment... which is predetermined by the moment before that.
ANY reflective action is PREDETERMINED.

It was predetermined if no one saw where they came from and where they were going and made a choice as to direction. That's the difference between determined and predetermined.

If the "previous moment" is exercise of a deliberative process which wants to bend the future to its will, the pre- in predetermined goes out the window.

Regular0ldguy
06-18-11, 07:54 AM
The problem is that it is possible (and there are plenty of neuroscientists who think this is the case) that brain has mechanisms for reconciling competing goals and that the reconciliation is complex, but mechanical and outside our influence, and our belief that we "choose" which goals to favor and choose an action is just a post hoc rationalization that we overlay onto the complex way in which the brain sorts out these signals.

This is akin to saying because my table is make of mostly of empty space that a hard surface is an illusion. Really, well try to run through it with your forehead.

Yup, it's hard. And flat. And Solid. The level of explanation, the gross result very often is the most operative and explanatory feature of a think. The micro levels explain in a very different way. One that leaves out the major point in a lot of cases.

Sarkus
06-18-11, 09:19 AM
If you drop down a level of complexity and start saying it's all chemical or biological or physics that's really causing it, then you are missing the consequences of structure.To not consider the lower levels is to fail to grasp the non-conscious reality - and leave "free-will" as merely a perception of a pattern of activity.
Yet you have issue with this understanding of free-will, and try to make free-will more than just how our consciousness perceives things.


That's like saying pushing on the gas doesn't move the car, it's really the fuel, injection, spark, explosion, piston movement, crankshaft turning, differential spinning, axle turning, tire spinning, tire friction. Yes, there is a process, what triggered it? What put it in motion? What caused and allowed the structure to proceed? In input into the system that "causes" it to work.Yet you firstly fail to see that the input is itself part of a determined chain - yet you still seem to want to consider the world determined.
Your flaw here is that you are assuming the chain starts with a "free" action... the pressing of the accelerator... yet missing that this is just a link in the same chain.

Sure, every component and part of the chain causes it to work, but in an importantly different way. If you look at the entire system from the highest meta-level, that's the only way you really understand the cause that explains it all. Otherwise you are just looking and the trees and not noticing its a frick'n forest.Sure - and as such you need to define free-will as a pattern of activity that gives the (conscious) appearance of choice / self-determination etc.
Otherwise you are still searching for your square circle in a universe you have already stated can't accommodate it.


It was predetermined if no one saw where they came from and where they were going and made a choice as to direction. That's the difference between determined and predetermined.If everything is determined - i.e. acts according to cause and effect, and that chain is unbroken from time zero - then everything is predetermined. There is no logical escape. But you want to put consciousness outside of predetermination, yet still bound by determination and still bound by the unbroken chain of cause and effect?


If the "previous moment" is exercise of a deliberative process which wants to bend the future to its will, the pre- in predetermined goes out the window. Not at all - as the "deliberative process" is all part and parcel of the same predetermined flow.
Or do you somehow consider consciousness to break the causal chain that, in such a determined universe, began with the origin of the universe?

Square circle... that's all you're looking for.

Regular0ldguy
06-18-11, 03:17 PM
Just can't see that the type of cause matters, can you.

Caused is predetermined. Self-conscious control can't change the future. Talk about absurd. Sheesh.

Trying to make us ignore all the conscious choices we make all day long and call it illusion. Ridiculous. Talk about defining yourself into a corner due to a conceptual mistake.

arfa brane
06-18-11, 05:17 PM
Just can't see that the type of cause matters, can you.
I can't see what "type" has to do with "cause", can you? What does "the type of cause" even mean?

A cause is a sufficient "reason" that some event occurs. Gravity, for example, is the cause of "falling" for objects with mass.
The rub is that we are not, and cannot be, aware of every proximate cause. This is one reason we believe in "freely acting" causes. Logically there is no such thing, but we still believe in freedom of action.

Because you can "make" a conscious choice, you are in fact stuck with the same causal "paradox".
The illusion is of spontaneity, you think that things "occur" to you and this gives you and your thoughts some kind of freedom (i.e. independence) from causality, but this doesn't really stand up to analysis.

Regular0ldguy
06-18-11, 10:39 PM
Treading water.

"Type of cause." I'll again give you two examples. Mechanistic automatons like a clock or the balls banging around on a pool table. All caused. No will involved. That isn't a human being. The pool ball can't look up, see where he's going and decide whether he wants to go there. That is a different type of cause than the mechanistic cause. That is exercising forsight and will. If there isn't a gun to your head or a psychosis that creates a compulsion, the will is free to do what it wants.

If you say doing what "you" want isn't free, then what is? Doing what someone else wants? That's not free.

Saying it is all caused is freedom neutral. Sure it's all caused, but the question is how is it caused? Deliberation and choice or compulsion.

Caused does not equal compulsion. Some of us have compulsions and some of us don't But cause is always present. And caused does not mean no choice was made. Some causes are choices and some are just stuff that happens. Believing either of those is true creates your false paradox.

If you don't think you have the power to change the future, you are denying that every choice you make could have gone either way, depending on how you wanted it to go. You change the future a lot. The pool ball doesn't, but he can't see what's coming and sidestep it intentionally. You can. You do it all day every day. Describing an action as caused tells us nothing about whether it was an free and intentional act or a compelled, or reflexive or autonomic act. The type of mechanism that determines which action is taken determines whether it was a free act or not.

arfa brane
06-19-11, 12:36 AM
Mechanistic automatons like a clock or the balls banging around on a pool table. All caused. No will involved. That isn't a human being. The pool ball can't look up, see where he's going and decide whether he wants to go there. That is a different type of cause than the mechanistic cause.
How does a clock or pool balls in motion avoid a human being the cause of a mechanism having motion in the first place?

If you don't think you have the power to change the future, you are denying that every choice you make could have gone either way, depending on how you wanted it to go. You change the future a lot. That's irrelevant since it's unprovable. You can change your future in small increments, like maybe a few tens of minutes of "predictability" driving a car (because you have free will), but can you really change what will happen next year?

Sarkus
06-19-11, 04:08 AM
Trying to make us ignore all the conscious choices we make all day long and call it illusion. Ridiculous. Talk about defining yourself into a corner due to a conceptual mistake.You are arguing from personal incredulity without actually countering the points made.

Furthermore, noone is trying to make you ignore conscious choices at all. Merely that, if we're holding to the perfect causation universe that you asked about, some of us accept that "choice" and "free-will" are conscious perceptions of pre-determined activity.


"Type of cause." I'll again give you two examples. Mechanistic automatons like a clock or the balls banging around on a pool table. All caused. No will involved. That isn't a human being. The pool ball can't look up, see where he's going and decide whether he wants to go there. That is a different type of cause than the mechanistic cause. That is exercising forsight and will. If there isn't a gun to your head or a psychosis that creates a compulsion, the will is free to do what it wants.The will is perceived to be free, and we perceive ourselves as exercising foresight and will.

Using the pool-ball example, your "free-will" would require the pool-ball to alter direction with an uncaused and non-random interaction. Yet you accept that everything is caused.
The hunt for the square circle goes on, it seems.

But you will think that the will is the cause, perhaps? Sure - so what caused the will? The "will" and foresight may simulate possible futures, but something must cause it to choose between possible futures, right?
And that cause is non-random, as your question required.
The will could thus do nothing else but simulate those futures, and do nothing else but select the one it did.


If you say doing what "you" want isn't free, then what is? Doing what someone else wants? That's not free.In the universe you have set up with your question - nothing is free.
"Free" is a perception of our consciousness, which it possibly requires to operate.


Saying it is all caused is freedom neutral. Sure it's all caused, but the question is how is it caused? Deliberation and choice or compulsion.It is caused by whatever caused it. And those causes are caused by whatever caused them.


Caused does not equal compulsion. Some of us have compulsions and some of us don't But cause is always present. And caused does not mean no choice was made. Some causes are choices and some are just stuff that happens. Believing either of those is true creates your false paradox.If you want "choice" in a universe where everything is caused then the only way is to accept "choice" as a perception rather than a reality.
A "choice" that is anything more than this illusion logically requires an uncaused and non-random element... yet you have set up the universe where everything is caused.
Hence your square circle.


If you don't think you have the power to change the future, you are denying that every choice you make could have gone either way, depending on how you wanted it to go. You change the future a lot.Do we change the future?? Can you prove this? No.
When we exercise foresight, all our consciousness does is simulate what it thinks the future will be, and builds this into the numerous causes to the "choice".
But in the determined universe, with everything caused, the real future already knows this. It already knows the choices being made, how they were reached.


The pool ball doesn't, but he can't see what's coming and sidestep it intentionally. You can. You do it all day every day.No we don't. We only sidestep perceptions of the future that our consciousness builds up. We are utterly compelled to do what we do. We can not do anything else. But our consciousness makes it appear as real choice. And we have no option but to accept it.

I believe I have free-will because I can not choose otherwise.


Describing an action as caused tells us nothing about whether it was an free and intentional act or a compelled, or reflexive or autonomic act. The type of mechanism that determines which action is taken determines whether it was a free act or not. And these descriptions are of conscious perceptions of the action: the labels we use describe patterns of activity, but the patterns are ALL the same with regard being predetermined - at least within the "perfect causation" universe of your question.

Pandaemoni
06-19-11, 06:49 AM
This is akin to saying because my table is make of mostly of empty space that a hard surface is an illusion. Really, well try to run through it with your forehead.

Hard is not really the same thing as "not consisting mostly of empty space", but it does show the nature of illusion. Everything we see day to say is the result of interactions between electrons and photons. The "solid" surfaces we see and physically nothing like what our senses perceive. That we cannot put our hand through a table is because the electrons in our hand are repelled by those in the table, mediated through the exchange of photons between them...but what we miss is that the table really is made up mostly of empty space.

You can't simply reduce the argument to "well of course my choices are free" without simply begging the question. The reason the question has persisted for millennia is that no one has found an adequate answer to it, though. It's certainly not just a question used to introduce philosophy to undergrads, before moving on to real questions. I think most if not all of the philosophers I have ever read has delved into the question at some point...and so far there's no consensus on an right answer.

In recent years though, it seems to me that the trend had been towards denying that we have free will among philosophers and scientists.

Cyperium
06-19-11, 08:12 AM
I think that since you feel that you have free will then that's what you actually believe that you have. Be honest to yourself, you don't believe you have free will?

Someone earlier in the thread said something true, how did we manage to talk ourseleves out of the idea of having free will? Did we? If there isn't a logical chain from where we stand at the start to the notion that free will doesn't exist then why should we have a opinion that doesn't come natural to us? It's a observed fact by us.


Free will is just as unlikely as we are aware. You can't prove that either but no one would say that awareness is nothing but a illusion, that we actually aren't aware.

cosmictraveler
06-19-11, 09:59 AM
When you get up in the morning do you have to go to work, not really, you have a choice.

When you work, is your job already picked out for you, not really, you choose.

What religion or not is also your choice.

Who you marry is your choice.

What car you buy is your choice. What philosophy you want to follow or not is your choice.

Who your friends are , you choose them.


There are so many examples of free will that it would seem so easy to say that we do have free will as opposed to not being able to do what we want and go where we choose.

Pandaemoni
06-20-11, 01:56 AM
When you get up in the morning do you have to go to work, not really, you have a choice.

When you work, is your job already picked out for you, not really, you choose.

What religion or not is also your choice.

Who you marry is your choice.

What car you buy is your choice. What philosophy you want to follow or not is your choice.

Who your friends are , you choose them.


There are so many examples of free will that it would seem so easy to say that we do have free will as opposed to not being able to do what we want and go where we choose.

But what does it mean to choose? The brain is physical and thoughts (and desires) form on the basis of the movement of electrons. Can you "control" where the electrons go? Clearly not. We're not even conscious of the electrical impulses that generate thought. So if we cannot control and direct those flows, how do we know that we can control our thoughts and desires and, by extension, our choices?

Suppose, hypothetically, that our brains worked on the basis of algorithms, like a computer chess program. What would that feel like from the inside? A set of chess algorithms is a way of taking all the information at hand (including information about possible future moves) and using it arriving at a particular move to make next. It narrows the field from all the possible moves one might take to just one outcome one will actually take, based on what's happening, what has happened in the past and what may yet happen.

I've never heard anyone claim that Deep Blue has "free will," but that is a lot like the way in which we make choices...save that our options are so much more complex than Deep Blue's. Again, our sense that we could have made another "choice" may be an illusion that arises from the fact that the algorithms we use internally were analyzing alternatives (i.e. we were considering doing something different, just as a chess computer considers alternate moves it might make).

I think if Deep Blue were conscious, it might well feel as though it has free will too, at least when it comes to chess moves...because it had other possible options it was considering as choices.

That argument doesn't convince me that there is no free will, and my subjective intuition is that free will is real, but I can definitely see the other side, and know that my belief in free will is an act of faith, not something compelled by the evidence or by logic.

Sarkus
06-20-11, 03:42 AM
I've never heard anyone claim that Deep Blue has "free will," but that is a lot like the way in which we make choices...IBM's WATSON - which demolished the human champions on Jeopardy - is another example of a computer basically "choosing" the correct answer from the wealth of information at its disposal.
It had to interpret the question and then select the right answer. If that is not "choice" then what is?

Regular0ldguy
06-20-11, 05:05 AM
OK, guys, how about this?

Set aside for a moment that perfect knowledge can predict a behavior (unless the actor knows of the prediction and wants to prove he can confound you). Let's assume a causal nexus means total predetermination. The question now becomes "How significant is that for our will?"

Are we a clock now without choices? Does it matter what choices we make? Does it matter what we do? Is my life some completely planned out and fixed now that what I do doesn't make any difference to how it will turn out? Am I "free" to just coast now, since it's all set up for me? Am I now going to be fine or starve, one or the other regardless of what I do?

Test the importance of predetermination tomorrow. You know what you normal day is going to be like. You know what your responsibilities are. Don't worry, it's all predetermined, you are going to turn out however you were going to turn out from the beginning of time (another impossible concept) so what are the consequences of this for you? Stay in bed. Blow off work. Skip class. Don't eat. Relax, it's all predetermined. What you do can't change anything. It's fixed. Immutable. The future is going to be the same NO MATTER WHAT.

This is obviously false. It apparently DOES matter what. What we do. Being "predetermined" apparently doesn't control anything about our lives. The outcome of our life depends on our will. We are "free" to make it better or screw it up royally. The fact that it is caused or fixed or predetermined actually holds no sway whatsoever. The one thing that really doesn't matter in the least is that it is caused or predetermined from time immemorial. Apparently being predetermined doesn't keep me from doing a single thing, nor does it cause me to do a single thing. So Mr. Definition, does "predetermined" have any true import?

Regular0ldguy
06-20-11, 05:17 AM
IBM's WATSON - which demolished the human champions on Jeopardy - is another example of a computer basically "choosing" the correct answer from the wealth of information at its disposal.
It had to interpret the question and then select the right answer. If that is not "choice" then what is?

This is a new problem. What is the nature of identity? When does a clock (no matter how complex) become "self-aware" (Terminator 2).

Confronted by input, and mechanism can have different outputs. Especially a complex mechanism (cock roach). But what mechanism allows it to perceive itself as a thing that is different than any other thing, examine it's own history of decisions and influences, understand itself (to some extent at least, perhaps deeply, though probably not perfectly), so as to become able to predict how it's actions will change the future, and determine which of those future events it wants to happen. So you need desires, understanding of mechanisms and personalities (your own and that of others), and the ability to predict how the present will affect the future, and the ability to take action to effectuate your desires/needs. Anything else?

So I think this is the minimum requirement for "intelligent" choice vs. a mere complex response to stimulus by a complex mechanism.

Sarkus
06-20-11, 06:01 AM
Set aside for a moment that perfect knowledge can predict a behavior (unless the actor knows of the prediction and wants to prove he can confound you).There is no "unless". The "unless" is your square circle... a logical impossibility in the universe you have assumed.


Let's assume a causal nexus means total predetermination. The question now becomes "How significant is that for our will?"It's not.
The key is in "our" will... i.e. in how the consciousness perceives it... and the consciousness perceives it as free, as though we have genuine choice. We can intellectually understand that it is not free... but practically we are trapped within the illusion.


Are we a clock now without choices? Does it matter what choices we make? Does it matter what we do?Again, as soon as you start talking about "we", "I", or any conscious entity then the key is what the "we" or "I" perceives, not what the underlying nature of reality may be.
So in answer to your questions - no, yes, yes - assuming that you consider "choice" to be a perception of certain activity. Whether that activity is predetermined or not, our consciousness acts on what it perceives.


Is my life some completely planned out and fixed now that what I do doesn't make any difference to how it will turn out?Assuming no element of random (as I believe your scenario does not allow for it) then yes, your life is completely planned out, but the plan can not be consciously perceived. At a practical level you continue with the perception of choice, of free-will etc.

Am I "free" to just coast now, since it's all set up for me? Am I now going to be fine or starve, one or the other regardless of what I do?You will do what you will do.
That is as far as you or anyone can say about the predetermined plan.


Test the importance of predetermination tomorrow. You know what you normal day is going to be like. You know what your responsibilities are. Don't worry, it's all predetermined, you are going to turn out however you were going to turn out from the beginning of time (another impossible concept) so what are the consequences of this for you? Stay in bed. Blow off work. Skip class. Don't eat. Relax, it's all predetermined. What you do can't change anything. It's fixed. Immutable. The future is going to be the same NO MATTER WHAT.You misunderstand the difference between perception and the possible underlying nature.


This is obviously false.Argument from personal incredulity.

It apparently DOES matter what. What we do.You are continuing to argue using consciousness as the root... "we" do this, "we" do that... rather than the underlying nature of cause/effect and determination.

I.e. you set up a universe, and then argue from a base that is already papering over the fine detail.


Being "predetermined" apparently doesn't control anything about our lives. The outcome of our life depends on our will. We are "free" to make it better or screw it up royally. The fact that it is caused or fixed or predetermined actually holds no sway whatsoever. The one thing that really doesn't matter is that it is caused or predetermined from time immemorial. Apparently being predetermined doesn't keep me from doing a single thing, nor does it cause me to do a single thing.Why would it?
What do you understand "predetermined" to mean?
The future is not a cause.
The causes and compulsions are whatever they are.
But there is only one outcome (given the assumptions you have set).
The causes for a given moment (M0) is the moment before (M-1), and the new moment (M0) is the cause for the next moment (M1). Determination is that the outcome (M1) is singular for a given input (M0)

So if you start with M0 as the "Big Bang" - or whatever happened to provide t=0, then M1 is a singular output (a result of determination).
M2 is then a singular output of M1... which means that M2 is ultimately based on M0... all the way up to the current moment which again is ultimately based on M0 - via a single pathway.

This is what your universe of determination and perfect causation leads to.

What you see as "choice" suggests that M8 looks at M9 and then M10, doesn't like it so alters things to arrive at a new/different M9 (M9a) and thus a different M10 (M10a) etc.

But you fail to comprehend that M8 ALREADY includes that "foresight"... that simulation / estimation of future events... and thus M9 (as estimated at M8) never actually existed... never would have existed... and M9, when it comes, IS M9a.
The flaw is thinking that the estimated M9 IS the future, IS what was predetermined.


So Mr. Definition, does "predetermine" have any true import?Should it? That has never been the question.
Predetermination at best gives us an intellectual understanding of the underlying nature, and shows us how some of our perceptions are illusory - but it does not give us the means to break that illusion.

As said, I consider this illusion to be part and parcel of our consciousness... and if we somehow manage to break through the illusion then we will become at best p-zombies, or at worse comatose.

And a definition of choice / free-will along the lines of "a pattern of activity that our consciousness perceives as choice / free-will etc" allows for the distinction between the underlying nature and how our consciousness perceives that nature.

NMSquirrel
06-20-11, 08:01 PM
ask Watson how he feels..

Sarkus
06-21-11, 02:48 AM
ask Watson how he feels..:shrug:
Irrelevant.
Whether one makes a "choice" is utterly different from whether one "feels".

If you wish to create a thread about how close or not we are to having computers mimic various aspects of the human condition then do so - but this thread is about free-will (and currently specifically about what is "choice")... not emotion.

So please, no strawmen.

Unless of course you can somehow link how choice is necessarily linked to the need to have emotion rather than just emotion maybe being an input into the choice-making mechanisms? :shrug: