Do we have free will?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Nobeliefs, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. UFG Registered Member

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    This newbie agrees wholeheartedly, straight to the point.
     
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The labeling seems less than apt in this context. I used cause/effect as a good and relevant example of something we know to be commonly misperceived (an illusion); good because it is illusory in the right way, relevant because people who argue that free will does not exist often take cause/effect as somehow more fundamental than other human conceptions - as "real" in a way that probabilities, randomness, degrees of freedom in the will, etc, are held not.
     
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    A theory (ie. in this case, a hypothesis, actually) with little or no practical application is irrelevant.

    Those who defend such inapplicable "theories" are indirectly defending a hidden benefit they get from doing so - indeed, the aforementioned refusal to take responsibility for one's actions, or the fear or being a person /an individual.
     
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Only if one concludes that there will never be any practical application, and in that case you are free to ignore the theory as such.
    Also if you ignore the stimulation one gets from discussing such matters - whether there is any practical application or not.
    Drivel, and you are quite possibly projecting your own insecurities in stating as much.
    In fact I'm fairly sure if you met anyone on the street who held such an "inapplicable theory" you wouldn't be able to tell them from Adam. It would only be when you ask them their views on the matter directly that you would even have the inkling that they held such ideas.
     
  8. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    No, this is backed by experiment.

    Students who read the passage advocating determinism and against free will “cheated” significantly more often than those who read the passage on consciousness that didn’t mention free will. These students also were significantly more likely to believe in determinism compared to the other group, so it seems likely that this increased belief in determinism led directly to the “cheating” behavior. -http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2008/04/22/changing-belief-in-free-will-c/


    Putting less effort into our actions could lead to a diminished sense of responsibility for those actions, and this depleted sense of responsibility could in turn lead to careless behavior—cheating in life, lack of discipline, even relapse. -http://www.psychologicalscience.org...human/a-sobering-message-about-free-will.html

    Belief effects behavior, and behavior is observable. It is a red herring and a hasty generalization to insist that what we can observe of strangers implies anything of observing others in general. It is trivial that you may not witness a stranger's lack of responsibility, as strangers are typically defined as those of whom we are not familiar.
     
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Certainly looks that way if you're willing to confuse causation with correlation.
    Or perhaps you can prove causation?

    Furthermore, it is questionable whether one can "increase a belief" in such a thing as determinism. Sure, those looking for an excuse may look for any excuse, but it doesn't mean they actually believe it or accept it is true on a practical level, nor does it mean that they fully understand the implications - perhaps only the naive assertion that it absolves them from responsibility. As people say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    So while the study is interesting in how one can effect behaviour, it is also irrelevant to the truth of the issue (whether free will is genuine or illusory etc) unless you wish to appeal to consequence? So I would argue that the study does not show what you think it does... It is certainly not evidence for or against the philosophical position.
    And yet it is a hasty generalisation to say that belief effects behaviour. Not all belief does. Do you believe there is a person in China called Xi Huan? And your belief or lack thereof effects you how?
    And are you saying that of all those you know well, you would know which hold certain philosophical views without actually asking them? You also genuinely believe that those who consider free will to be illusory are somehow acting in a less responsible manner than others? I guess you could show a study that more criminals consider free will to be illusory, perhaps? Or a majority of those that the public consider to be immoral hold such a position? Any such study, perhaps?
     
  10. river

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    Tell me something guys

    First either be on one general thread topic or another

    This same topic on two general topic threads is nonsense

    Second

    This thread can go forever

    Now if this is a intellect challenge for you both and others , fine , but chose one or the other thread to duke it out
     
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    You evidence those hidden benefits yourself, when you say:
    Another one of those hidden (or not so hidden) benefits is simply the pleasure of discussion.

    Some teenage girls are all crazy about Justin Bieber, and some adults are all crazy about discussing fancy philosophical terms. That doesn't automatically mean that the pursuit of such pleasures is wholesome or beneficial, nor that it isn't.


    That's not the point. Externally, I most likely couldn't tell the difference between a highly advanced Buddhist and someone who isn't; even as I would converse with them, I probably couldn't tell anytime soon which one is the real deal and which one just happens to be good with words.

    The point is how a particular person applies their theories/hypotheses in their own life. This is something that one can assess only oneself, and perhaps a few other people who know one really really well.


    One can certainly increase the number of actions performed with a deterministic outlook. That, in turn, can strengthen in one the conviction that determinism is true.


    It is in line with your impersonal* outlook that an appeal to consequence is fallacious.
    Generally, to people, consequences are rather important, and appeal to them valid.

    *(Impersonal in that you deem personhood to be illusory.)


    What use can a philosophical position have in and of itself?

    What matters are people, and what they do.


    If Xi Huan owed you lots of money, believing there is a Xi Huan in China is rather important. Even more so if you owed Xi Huan lots of money.


    As with all self-report psychological studies, we must always also consider the possibility that people's answers are actually a reflection of their particular psychological defense mechanisms (eg. they may answer in ways they think they should, not what they actually believe).

    But even without such studies, we can discuss the matter on principle - which, as the philosophically inclined, we are apt to do anyway.


    On principle, yes.

    However, this doesn't mean that simply the belief in free will will make a person act morally / legally. A person can believe in free will, and commit a crime, precisely because they believe they have the free will to do it. The particular choice of action (eg. such as whether to drink beer or water; or eg. whether to cheat on a tax report or not) depends on a person's system of values and beliefs; free will is merely the means with which this choice is exercised.
     
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    I think Sarkus' view in some ways strikingly resembles the view of the Ajivikas. Here a passage from a predecessor to their view from a Buddhist soruce (from DN 2):

    /.../there are these seven substances — unmade, irreducible, uncreated, without a creator, barren, stable as a mountain-peak, standing firm like a pillar — that do not alter, do not change, do not interfere with one another, are incapable of causing one another pleasure, pain, or both pleasure and pain. Which seven? The earth-substance, the liquid-substance, the fire-substance, the wind-substance, pleasure, pain, and the soul as the seventh. These are the seven substances — unmade, irreducible, uncreated, without a creator, barren, stable as a mountain-peak, standing firm like a pillar — that do not alter, do not change, do not interfere with one another, and are incapable of causing one another pleasure, pain, or both pleasure and pain.

    "'And among them there is no killer nor one who causes killing, no hearer nor one who causes hearing, no cognizer nor one who causes cognition. When one cuts off [another person's] head, there is no one taking anyone's life. It is simply between the seven substances that the sword passes.'/.../


    The seven substances mentioned here are not the same as Sarkus' physicalism, but they seem close enough, especially in how the interaction and the impersonal nature of them are described.
     
  13. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    My apologies if the following article has already been posted. I thought it might be of interest to this thread.

    http://io9.com/5975778/scientific-evidence-that-you-probably-dont-have-free-will?tag=daily-explainer
     
  14. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    I am sure you do not realize, but "confuse causation with correlation" means that the causation was actual. But admittedly, that is neither here nor there. Both my nitpicking and this little quibble of yours (as you will see below).

    Can you provide a single better explanation for the results of these experiments?

    These questionnaires were based on a previously developed research instrument called the Free Will and Determinism Scale. The workers were asked how strongly they agreed with statements like “Strength of mind can always overcome the body’s desires” or “People can overcome any obstacles if they truly want to” or “People do not choose to be in the situations they end up in — it just happens.”

    The psychologists also measured other factors, including the workers’ general satisfaction with their lives, how energetic they felt, how strongly they endorsed an ethic of hard work. None of these factors was a reliable predictor of their actual performance on the job, as rated by their supervisors. But the higher the workers scored on the scale of belief in free will, the better their ratings on the job.
    -http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/science/22tier.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    Any more unsupported doubts about these experiments from you?

    The above empirical results to the contrary. Apparently the "little knowledge" here is what you employ to confirm your bias. I do not know how "dangerous" that is, as it certainly seems to quell your cognitive dissonance well.

    So after dismissing the only variable, you can still admit that there is an effect on behavior? What is the cause of that effect? You have yet to offer any, and science does not abandon the only explanation without a viable alternative. And it is a straw man that any of this was in any way meant to address your little fantasy about illusion. This was only in direct response to your ignorant notion that belief does not effect behavior.

    Straw man, as I never said a thing about "all belief" effecting behavior, so the hasty generalization is once again your own.

    Predict philosophical views that have empirically been shown to relate to observable behavior? Certainly. The evidence clearly shows that belief in free will has a positive correlation to responsible behavior, and if you have ever actually known any criminals, especially career criminals, it would be obvious that they are very busy assigning blame to anything but themselves for their own behavior.

    And I have no time to look for any further studies, as you have proven yourself too intellectually dishonest to even accept empirical results when they run counter to your personal beliefs.
     
  15. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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  16. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    Machines are not conscious but have to follow what they have been programmed to do; determinism. If a machine suddenly stepped outside its programming and did something it was not programmed to do, this would show consciousness and will. All unnatural behavior is willful since it is not programmed genetically. However, it might still be programmed at a cultural level. The person who starts the unnatural trend deviates from both natural and cultural determinism and has at least one example of free will.

    The bias of this discussion is due to the fact science does not approach this problem from inside. Rather they rather try to address the problem from outside themselves. You can't read software of the brain, by looking at hardware or by limiting yourself to only output effects. You need to look at the code, which the external method cannot see.

    The philosophy of science was instituted to factor out human subjectivity. This is done by running experiments that can be repeatable by others, so the final result is objective to all. To define consciousness and free will you need those very things that the scientific methods filters out, since these subjectivities give us those unique POV from which free will emanates. Anyone with an opinion, that deviates from the herd, has free will apart from the herd. No free is what you teach if you want to condition everyone into determined conformity. If people want free will you cannot control them as easy.

    The scientific method actually prevents the real science of consciousness. As an example, say you had a dream. There is no way to verify the detailed contents of this dream from the outside. Even if you objectively record the dream it will be called subjective; from outside. Nor can you reproduce this exact dream on command. It does follow the philosophy of science.

    If you look at consciousness from the outside, using the scientific method of verification, you need to erase this data since it does not play by the rules of the method; called soft science. This cheating gives you a deterministic or biased data curve.
     
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Self-reports are possibly biased and strategic; I don't think self-reports can automatically be taken as evidence of the person's actual reasoning. Especially when it comes to people who have a history of illegal or otherwise problematic behavior.

    The fact is that blaming others can bring about a desired result (esp. exoneration, or at least the status quo). The principle of the preemptive strike can be very effective: blame others first before they blame you, and you have better chances for winning. This is simply a strategy for winning, not necessarily a real admission of one's belief that others are responsible for one's own actions.
     
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Not refuted at all, merely another study, as was the first, which to consider. If the brain was as simple as a switch that we could observe then things would be rather easier, but it is a rather complex beast, and understanding what is actually going on is not going to be quite so easy.
    Libet, and subsequent studies performed along the same lines, may have misunderstood quite what was going on, but so might Jeff Miller et al - their assumptions of what to expect, and thus their conclusions drawn, may be erroneous.
    Refuted? Far from it - just more experiences to interpret and understand.
     
  19. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Given that you seemed to be suggesting the study showed causation... how so? Or do you think that when you say "confuse A and B" you are meaning that A is actual??
    Why does there need to be a single explanation? But yes - that people with a propensity to cheat will look for any excuse.
    Nope - all my doubts are supported, but thanks for the loaded question.
    The only variable?
    The cause of the effect is possibly the playing to the part of person's psyche that is looking for an excuse to cheat, irrespective of actual beliefs. And the study, through the use of the questionnaire, certainly doesn't even attempt to understand the nature of person's understanding of any philosophical position that the person might hold - whether the people had even thought actively about matters of free-will etc in any great detail. Did the questionnaire actually ask them if they believe in free-will, for example?
    I argued that not all belief effects behaviour - and it is not an ignorant notion as I explained. I did not argue that belief never effects behaviour, only that it doesn't have to.
    And by showing that it doesn't prove one philosophical position over the over, it also clarifies that you are confusing causation with correlation - or do you want me to say that you are confusing correlation with causation? Simply put, the study does not show that belief effects behaviour - only that there is correlation.
    It's actually simple English, actually: if you fail to qualify a noun then it is implicit that you mean the entire set.
    If you meant something else then you should have qualified the quantity of "beliefs" you were referring to.
    Wow - so now you're moving the discussion onto whether belief effects behaviour rather than any issue of the nature of free-will. Way to derail.
    Yep - and how many of them truly believe that their free-will is illusory? Simply looking for excuses does not equate to that, or are you that naive?
    You have provided nothing but evidence of correlation. And it is empirical evidence of a rather subjective-based study.
    And they don't run counter to my "personal beliefs" at all - but are fully expected.
    Or are you now trying to suggest you are using that study as somehow being evidence against my philosophical position? Sorry - my little fantasy about illusion?
     
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Indeed, these are some of the problems with such studies. Although keep in mind that you are the one who requested references to them in the first place.


    Because those studies are so problematic, I prefer that the issue be addressed as philosophically as possible.
     
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    The problem is that your view that free will is illusory, when followed through to its logical conclusions, leads to a pernicious outlook.

    For example, as sketched out in the already mentioned DN 2:

    /.../King Ajatasattu: "Purana Kassapa said to me, 'Great king, in acting or getting others to act, in mutilating or getting others to mutilate, in torturing or getting others to torture, in inflicting sorrow or in getting others to inflict sorrow, in tormenting or getting others to torment, in intimidating or getting others to intimidate, in taking life, taking what is not given, breaking into houses, plundering wealth, committing burglary, ambushing highways, committing adultery, speaking lies — one does no evil. If with a razor-edged disk one were to turn all the living beings on this earth to a single heap of flesh, a single pile of flesh, there would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the right bank of the Ganges, killing and getting others to kill, mutilating and getting others to mutilate, torturing and getting others to torture, there would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the left bank of the Ganges, killing and getting others to kill, mutilating and getting others to mutilate, torturing and getting others to torture, there would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Through generosity, self-control, restraint, and truthful speech there is no merit from that cause, no coming of merit'...

    "Ajita Kesakambalin said to me, 'Great king, there is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves. A person is a composite of four primary elements. At death, the earth (in the body) returns to and merges with the (external) earth-substance. The fire returns to and merges with the external fire-substance. The liquid returns to and merges with the external liquid-substance. The wind returns to and merges with the external wind-substance. The sense-faculties scatter into space. Four men, with the bier as the fifth, carry the corpse. Its eulogies are sounded only as far as the charnel ground. The bones turn pigeon-colored. The offerings end in ashes. Generosity is taught by idiots. The words of those who speak of existence after death are false, empty chatter. With the break-up of the body, the wise and the foolish alike are annihilated, destroyed. They do not exist after death'...

    "Pakudha Kaccayana said to me, 'Great king, there are these seven substances — unmade, irreducible, uncreated, without a creator, barren, stable as a mountain-peak, standing firm like a pillar — that do not alter, do not change, do not interfere with one another, are incapable of causing one another pleasure, pain, or both pleasure and pain. Which seven? The earth-substance, the liquid-substance, the fire-substance, the wind-substance, pleasure, pain, and the soul as the seventh. These are the seven substances... And among them there is no killer nor one who causes killing, no hearer nor one who causes hearing, no cognizer nor one who causes cognition. When one cuts off [another person's] head, there is no one taking anyone's life. It is simply between the seven substances that the sword passes.'"/.../
     
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I don't agree - as you seem to assume that such a view removes importance of those things considered illusory. This is false. Illusions are no less important, they are merely different than as perceived - hence illusory.
    Furthermore, anything that happens within the illusion, and which is absolutely bound by the illusion, acts according to its perception within the illusion. Our perception is that free-will is genuine, regardless of whether it is or not. Our entire make-up is predicated upon the existence of such things, not on the nature of that existence.

    So no, I don't see the logical conclusion leading to such an outlook.
    And even if I did, how does the outlook in any way provide support one way or the other for the conclusion?
     
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I did? I made a comment to which Syne trolled out those references as if they were adequate scientific evidence to the contrary. But I may be mistaken, and I may have requested some satisfactory evidence - and if so then these clearly aren't it, and it is right to highlight the issues with the evidence presented.
    Sure - but as others have reminded, this is actually the science sub-forum rather than the philosophy one. I almost wish a mod would move it.
     

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