What is free will?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by fess, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Then take it up another level. Baby steps.
    It has. In the lab, in the field, measured and recorded.
    The are not "perceived", necessarily. They are recorded by observers, and employed in decision making. They are facts.
    What does the word "genuine" mean, in that context? Engineering concerns itself with degrees of freedom quite explicitly.
    Only if "genuine" means "supernatural", as I believe it does in all your postings.
    Because that's stupidly false. Obviously if the decisionmaker is selecting, the alternative existed in fact. And this has been verified, as if it had to be, by rerunning controlled decision events with different information feeds.
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  3. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Complexity doesn't change the principles involved.
    Until you can get past the principles involved, forever grounded in triviality you will be.
    Then provide the evidence, please.
    Evidence that they are more than mere counterfactual alternatives.
    Sure, counterfactual alternatives are indeed employed in decision making.
    Noone has ever disputed the process, or what is involved in it, yet that is all you roll out as your evidence.
    You need to show that the alternatives are more than counterfactual.
    Until you can do that you remain in the realm of the trivial.
    It means "not counterfactual" or not merely the perception of an alternative, but an actual alternative that could have been the result given the set of inputs.
    You know, the type of alternative that you have previously described as "supernatural" - and which I and others have simply said do not exist.
    And as such that notion, the notion you ascribe to, is trivial.
    No, it means genuine - but if it is concluded that it doesn't exist then we can conclude that the only way it could exist is via supernatural means.
    But then I forgot you don't seem to understand the difference between a conclusion and an assumption.
    I look forward to you providing evidence of that being the case.
    No, the decision is between two percieved futures, only one of which is predetermined and factual, and the others counterfactual.
    That we don't know which is which until after the event is irrelevant.
    That is part and parcel, I think, of why we perceive ourselves to have a genuine choice: lack of conscious information.
    We don't have genuine alternatives.
    We have perceived paths ahead of us.
    One has been predetermined and is thus factual at all times.
    The others that we perceive are therefore counterfactual / non-genuine alternatives.
    We think/believe we select from among genuine alternatives but we don't; we merely select the factul path, the path that was fact (in a deterministic universe) from the dawn of time.
    There is no genuine alternative to that path, only alternatives that we might believe are genuine.
    Different information feeds don't demonstrate genuine alternatives in any way.
    Your continued reversion to this argument simply shows you don't honestly comprehend the position, and that you try to argue against it using different, irrelevant, notions / definitions.
    The experiments you allude to simply demonstrate how a process can result in different outputs from different inputs.
    The way any function y = f(x) might do, the way a computer does, for example.
    To show a genuine alternative you need to show that the same inputs could lead to different outputs.
    You label this as a "supernatural" freedom, whereas I consider it simply a non-existent freedom.
    I.e. a freedom that does not exist.
    So when one asks whether the will is free, I can either say "yes, it is trivially free because if you feed it different inputs it can arrive at a different output... like a complex thermostat" or I can say "no, there is no genuine freedom because everything in a deterministic universe is predetermined, and any sense of freedom to move off the path is illusion."
    As to what that path is, that already takes into account our internal processes (including the will) and the inputs / outputs thereof.

    But this is simply a rehash of a previous thread and it's really not what I want to do, so apologies but I'm now putting you on ignore to stop me wasting my time.
    Consider it like an alcoholic needing to refuse a beer... it's not the fault of the beer manufacturer, or the bar that sells it... etc.
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  5. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    @ Baldeee

    My Concluson so far helps to explain how no supernatural is needed wit compatibilism.!!!

    Even if a deterministic universe is granted for sake of argument… any thang that occurs befor the egg an sperm unite is simply irrelevent.!!!

    Thers no supernatural involved or needed... Baldeee… because human free will begins when individual autonomy begins which is prolly when the egge an sperm unite… an as the autonomy developes over time so does the level of free will until after birth when the autonomy is complete... an from that pont on they have full free will.!!!

    Extreme Example to make my pont:::

    Even a baby born wit a painful inherrited disease has the free choice (autonomy) of whether to cry or not… an the genes of the defective parents has nuthin to do wit the baby havin that free choice.!!!

    That is how determinism an free will work together.!!!

    A person can beleive they dont have free will but most people beleive that they do have free will… an a good thang to… cause if we didnt feel responsible for our actions the jails woud prolly have more people in 'em than not.!!!
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  7. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    You are not asking about free will per see you are asking about how free will can exist in a theoretically deterministic universe premised on an incomplete scientific understanding.

    If free will can be demonstrated then the theory of determinism needs to be reconsidered.
    This is surprisingly easy to do IMO and I only need to show one single instance to do it.
    Do you wish to consider that instance and support the claim of determinism?
    If you are serious about the issue I will post it for your assessment and show how the results can possibly be predetermined.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  8. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    As a starting point, yes.
    If one can rule out free will in a deterministic universe then the question moves on to whether it can exist in a probabilistic universe - one governed by randomness at the level of probability function.
    Good luck.
    Remember, the issue I'm interested in is not the trivial freedom that computers operate under, or any merely complex version of that concept, but in genuine alternatives.
    Go ahead.
  9. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    You’re an instrument being played by the universe, more specifically your corner of it. Your nature and the music that results is determined by the universe, of which you are a very minor part of.
    Determined by your universally determined nature. Decision represents only the action of the determined calculation as it’s being expressed.
    Your perception of pushing your own buttons is analogous to programming a calculator to replay its calculations. Look Ma, I’m a player piano.
    Or we can more accurately define decider as calculator, and decision as calculation. In which a determined input to the calculator results in a determined calculation and output. Just like our button filled plastic analog.
    The environment is the present evolutionary state of the universe, which includes the local stetting of the traffic light and the calculator in the car. There can only be one such state at any moment in that evolution, therefore there is no alternative state.
    Nature is the determined properties of a given set of elements. Decision would represent the determined action and result of the entire set of universal elements. In other words the Universe is a giant calculator that deterministically pushes its own buttons.
  10. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    No it's not.
    Anything that can possibly interact with the person is part of the system, and that can be something that started its journey billions of years ago.
    For example, a star 100 light years ago goes supernova, and in 100 years time the light from that explosion hits a child's eyes as they're looking through a telescope, resulting in the child being inspired to go into astronomy.
    You're not talking about the same notion of "free", though.
    Your notion of free will is the trivial kind.
    I have no issue with that notion existing and being demonstrable.
    But it is trivial in comparison.
    No, babies have very little choice in what they do.
    They're not even self aware for the first 15 months or so.
    If we define the will as a particular process that offers different outputs for different inputs, and consider it free if it has no obstacles to its usual workings, then yeah, free will and determinism work very well together.
    Sure, they believe they have free will because it is an illusion that we are all captured by.
    And outside of philosophical discussions I would concur, because we're only concerned on a practical level with the trivial notion.
  11. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    ok... let us determine the situation with the following:

    Step 1
    we have 4 persons in isolation from each other
    • separate rooms
    • unaware of the other persons and remain so during the experiment.
    Each person is led to a table with a 1 m square white piece of paper .

    they are just standing as requested near one edge of the table (paper)

    ok .....with me so far...

    Fully determined by those in control of the experiment so far.
    Any thing to add? We assume that there is a certain amount of individual conditioning present regarding how they stand , exactly where they stand and so on and can still be argued at this point as being a part of the deterministic picture.
  12. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    You are setting up the example, QQ, not me.
    At the moment there is nothing to agree to.
    If you are saying the people are fully determined by those in control then that is the scenario you are setting up.
    I'll wait until you provide the actual example of free will within the scenario, as in there being a genuine alternative.
  13. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member


    Before I do can we agree that freewill advocates are just as entitled to rely upon Reductio-ad-Absurdum as those advocating determinism?
  14. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    thread graffiti thoughts...
    what use is free will to the world you live in when you have no self control...
    err-go should all laws be devoid of morality.
    err-go how can a law have no attachment to a moral ideology...
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  15. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Posting a defence of your example before the example itself??
    Just post your example, QQ, and let's take it from there.
  16. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Step 2.

    All four persons are instructed to imagine that the paper in front of them represents an infinite volume and are instructed to indicate where they wish the center of that infinite volume to be.
    They have an infinite number of alternatives to choose from.
    All four persons place a mark on the paper indicating their decision.
    They know that any where on the paper would have sufficed.
    So they arbitrarily chose ( with their OWN authority thus self determined)

    The only aspect that was predetermined was the need to choose, but not the actual choice.
    As each person was freely able to mark any point on the paper, their freedom to choose anywhere, is clearly demonstrated.

    How would a determinist consider that the result they offered was predetermined?
    What mechanism or process would have pre-determined the positioning of their mark?

    As an interesting aside:

    All four would have to agree that all marks placed would have to be correct regardless of the difference in position on the papers when compared later.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  17. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    In a deterministic universe literally everything is predetermined.
    In a probabilistic universe the only deviation from strict determinism is in the randomness.
    So while the probability function is determined, the actual outcome is random within that.

    So if you're referring to the former, your contention is wrong by definition.
    If you're referring to the latter then you still need to show that there are genuine alternatives.
    If no genuine alternatives then no free will, other than in the trivial sense.
    Yes, freedom in the trivial sense.
    As explained, I am not concerned with the trivial notion.
    Because in a strictly deterministic universe the result is predetermined as a logical conclusion of what it means to be deterministic.
    I.e. strict determinism equates to predetermination.
    In a deterministic universe, that would be the laws that govern the universe.
    If one could know everything about the state of the universe at one moment, and the laws that govern the relationship between one state and the next, then one can predict the next moment perfectly.
    And then the next.
    And the next.
    And so on.
    Everything predetermined.
    Nothing can escape it, no genuine alternative.
    Thus no freedom.

    But if you're only interested in the trivial matter of different inputs to a system leading to different outputs then let me know, 'cos I'm not interested, as explained earlier.
  18. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    ... and that is your answer... citing what a theoretical strictly deterministic universe is?

    Do you consider the arbitrary decisions of the candidates as random?
    So you keep saying over and over again..
    I am asking how the experiments results can be supported by a strictly deterministic universe with out simply calling to authority as you appear to be doing.
    Of course, in a strictly deterministic universe you can simply say that every thing must be predetermined, but we already know this...
    I have provided an example that appears to contradict the notion of pre-determinism and also the notion of randomness and probability function.

    The chosen location of the center of the infinite volume is 100% certain regardless of where it is located. No probability involved as such.

    I have, I believe, shown how the candidates have determined for them selves what choice to make. ( self determination - aka freewill)
    You agreed to provide an assessment of how a strictly deterministic universe could include scenario I have posted. All you are doing is simply calling to authority.
    If you or others can not then the theory of determinism and all it's derivatives, by your own absolute reckoning of it is obviously flawed.

    The test subjects had an infinite number of genuine alternatives to choose from... do you disagree? If so why?

    The thread title asks:
    What is freewill?

    The situation I have described helps to address that question. Simply claiming that it is impossible to be free to self determine is not sufficient especially when it has been agreed that you would dig a bit deeper than that....
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  19. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    You have issue with determinism logically leading to predeterminism?
    Inherently (within a probabilistic universe, at any rate... Within a deterministic universe there is no randomness), albeit within a narrow band of probability, that band being the result of the systems of their thought processes, which in turn are the result of a myriad internal and external factors.
    And to call the decisions "arbitrary" is to beg the question on your part.
    And still you aren't showing any genuine alternative, other than in the trivial sense that I'm not interested in discussing.
    There's no calling to authority.
    There's alluding to the vast number of explanations of why predeterminism follows from determinism that have been provided in other threads on this matter, that you have been part of.
    It should therefore be sufficient, or at least I though it would be, to simply remind you that determinism implies predeterminism.
    Good, so what's your issue?
    How does it appear to?
    In what way does the output of the people's thought processes that you have offered as an example in any way appear to contradict the notion of predeterminism?
    If the state of the universe, or even just the smaller system involved in the decision-making, can be known then it logically means that every moment subsequently can be known.
    Aka predetermination.
    Please explain how your example appears to contradict that?
    Similarly please explain how it appears to contradict the notion of randomness, if we're talking non-deterministic universe?
    The randomness, in a month-probabilistic universe, would be in the location they chose, not in the mathematical notion that any location selected would be the centre.
    If the universe is considered to be deterministic then I fully agree, no randomness, just predetermined.
    No, you have shown how they have followed a process, and that the inputs to that process led to outputs.
    Where is the evidence in this example that those inputs could have led to another output - i.e. a genuine alternative?
    Just because we label a process the "will", and just because different inputs to that process lead to different outputs, does not mean that you have examples genuine alternatives.
    In a deterministic universe those inputs to the system were predetermined at the dawn of time.
    The system (the will) is deterministic thus the specific inputs can only lead to a specific output.
    Thus the output is predetermined.
    Where is the genuine alternative?
    All you are in fact doing is example get the trivial notion of a free will that I am not concerned with, the same conceptual notion that is exhibited to a less complex degree in a thermostat.
    This has been explained ad nauseam in the previous threads, QQ.
    But, to humour you:
    Everything that you have explained can be broken down into systems, processes.
    These processes, in a deterministic universe, are deterministic.
    This is not appealing to authority but appealing to definition.
    Calling a spade a spade is not an appeal to authority, I'm sure you'd agree?
    Being deterministic systems, the inputs at the start of the process can lead to only a single output.
    That is what it means to be deterministic.
    If you know the initial conditions, and the laws that govern the system, you can know the output.
    It is predetermined by the inputs and the governing laws.
    Those outputs are the input to the next system (cause / effect), and thus the entire causal chain is predetermined: if you know the state of the system at any moment then because the system is deterministic you can know the state of the next moment, and the next, and the next.

    In your example you have people making decisions, but these decisions are simply the output of a decision-making system, and the system is deterministic by definition, whether it involves elements internal or external to the person.
    No appeal to authority here.
    Just the logic of what it means to be deterministic.
    They had alternatives the way a thermostat can be either on or off.
    They are not genuine alternatives, in that a thermostat has no genuine alternative but to be off, or on, when appropriately determined by the temperature.
    What you are describing is merely the number of different outputs there might be if the inputs had been different.
    As such they are all counterfactual other than the one that was outputted.
    Not genuine alternatives, but counterfactual (the "what if..." type of alternative that leads to what I see as the trivial notion of free will)
    Your situation describes merely the notion of free will that trivially exists, the same way thermostats choose when to switch on or off.
    Add a touch of complexity and sure, you can cloudy the view of what is going on sufficiently to think that our actions (in a deterministic universe) are not predetermined.
    But that is all significant complexity does: cloudy the view.
    It does not alter the specifics of what is going on.
    And those specifics, in a deterministic universe, result in a predetermined course of events.
    No ability to deviate.
    No genuine alternative to those events.
  20. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    YOU claim predetermination yet offer no rational for it other than it just is..... very disappointing Baldeee, you are smart person who could do a lot better....
  21. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    You mean other than the explanation in my previous post???

    To simplify it even further:
    Input A ---> deterministic system ---> output B
    Input B ---> deterministic system ---> output C
    Input C ---> deterministic system ---> output D...
    ... and so on.

    Thus by knowing A, and knowing the rules/laws of the deterministic system, one knows not only what will be the immediate output but every output thereafter.
    Output D, E, F etc are all thus predetermined from input A.
    Every step is predetermined, fixed, unchanging.
    No genuine alternative.
    So if we assume a causally deterministic universe then we are logically assuming a predetermined one, where every future event is already set out, and the path impossible to escape from.

    This has been explained many times to you and others in previous threads.
    I really shouldn't have to explain it to you yet again.
  22. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    OMG! You really had to write it all again.... hee hee
    This thread is about "What is free will?" Not about your desire to promote an obviously flawed theory.
  23. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Im simply here to discuss the issue, QQ, and you said you had an example of free will that was more than just the trivial version.
    You have offered an example, yes, but it is of the trivial notion, and not one that offers genuine alternatives.
    You now state I am here to promote an "obviously flawed" theory... yet you seem unable and/or unwilling to show how it is flawed, let alone obviously so.
    For a moment I thought you had something of interest to share here.
    But now I stand corrected.
    You don't.

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