Does Physics disprove the existence of free will?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by M.I.D, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Part the Second...
    Premise 1, but yes.
    Yes.
    I have no issue with that.
    If you want to raise issue with premise 1 then no problem at all.
    If someone has different view then it is a case of (as has been pointed out on many occasions): different notions, different conclusions.
    Yet iceaura has always denied that his notion of "ability to do otherwise" is just based on observation / sensation etc of the entity in question.
    If he accepts that it is then we're all in agreement.
    But he has pushed back on that time and time again.
    The human is just another train on another track, imagining pathways ahead, all but one of which are not actually there, as the exact path was predetermined from the outset of time.
    That we can't see which path is the one already set down is a matter of how things appear to us.
    But again, if someone wants to judge "ability to do otherwise" from this appearance, not an issue.
    Whether conclusions mangle language really isn't a consideration for me, JamesR, as that is an appeal to consequence.
    So you're judging "ability to do otherwise" by how it appears to the person.
    Not a problem.
    These last 40 pages could have been wrapped up so much sooner if only some others are so accepting that that is what they are doing.
    Premise 2 (or whichever one is already in the original formulation).
    Different notions, different conclusions.
    If P1 and P2 are accepted, and the argument considered valid, then if the conclusion is disputed it only leaves P3 as being the disputed area.
     
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  3. TheFrogger Banned Valued Senior Member

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    Free-will IS deterministic. If something, "will" then that is determined by definition.

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  5. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    It is the term for a mental process, usually involving projections of what we imagine are future possible worlds which are included among the inputs to reach an ouput.
    I try to unload the term "choice" of the "ability to do otherwise" by referring to it as a process.
    Whether it gives us the "ability to do otherwise" is what is being debated.
    You ask a question and then provide an answer to it that doesn't actually answer it at all.
    To your answer: a real "choice" - as in one that is a process that is the ability to do otherwise would necessarily have to be in a setting that is not deterministic.
    Whether even such a setting would allow for a real "choice" I can not say, but it is enough at the moment to say that it can't happen in a deterministic universe.
    As to your actual question: what would a "real" choice look like?
    I don't know.
    It may look and feel exactly like the non-real choice that we experience at the moment.
    As to how the interactions go, the mechanism, I don't know.
    It is a philosophical curiosity, yes, and one I only ever really consider when discussing the actual matter at hand.
    Personally I put it down to a necessary aspect of consciousness.
    I wouldn't say anyone is delusional about whatever view they take on the matter.
    No more than we are delusional to see some of the optical illusions that our brain forces us to view in incorrect ways.
    It is just the way we are wired.
    Inferior for what purposes?
    Okay, because you have a different notion of what it means to have "the ability to do otherwise".
    Different notions, different conclusions.
    Whodathunkit.
     
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  7. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, the same way a Tesla in space has degrees of freedom.
    Per the deterministic argument, the choices are not real, but the process is necessary for the predetermined outcome.
    Repeatable?
    Not practically, no, at least not usually so as to be able to demonstrate the true deterministic nature of the decision.
    Although for some the elements considered may be sufficient for such, yes.
    People really do go through the process, yes.
    There has never been a point of contention on that point, JamesR.
    Or at least not on my side.
    Although I presume you are stating it for other readers.
    It's not imprecise.
    Just as a magicians trick is an illusion, is that to say the process of the trick did not transpire?
    Calling it an illusion is simply to say that what appears to be going on is not what actually is going on.
    I'll leave that for those in the relevant fields of study to help us understand.
    I try not to appeal to consequence, JamesR.
    Sensation, feeling, thought, belief... I'm trying to convey it without preloading the description with "the ability to..." etc.
    Forgive me if the terms I use are inadequate for purposes, but I think you get the idea, and that should be sufficient.
    We are discussing how things are, JamesR.
    Regardless of the notion we take, we are discussing how things are.
    And just as we can look at optical illusions and try to understand why our brain makes us think a certain way, we are starting to learn a little more each day about our sense of freewill.
    And with that understanding will undoubtedly come changes - including the way we look at the legal and justice system, even if just changing the wording to reflect what we mean by certain terms.
    Agreed, but that's because I am using "choice" simply as a descriptor of a process, without any presumption of "ability to do otherwise".
    The only other "freedom" currently presented is available in all good Teslas currently on its way past Mars.
    If you want to present a notion of freedom that is more than just judged by appearance, go for it, I'm all ears.
    If all you have is one that is judged by appearance then great: different notions, different conclusions.
    You used the qualifier "if".
    This opens up the very question of whether there was any possibility that it could happen, whether there was anything other than the predeterministic process of "choice" that could only ever result in the outcome there was.
     
  8. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Okay.
    Okay.
    Okay.
    If the premises to whatever argument you put forth don't exclude the possibility then it is incorrect to make the assumption that it does.
    Bear in mind that the validity of an argument is irrespective of the soundness of the premises.
    The conclusion only has to follow from them.
    And if I say that "Some men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal" then this is invalid, even if I can't give an example of an immortal man.
    As you have shown above, that is the case.
    I understand your position, JamesR.
    I would not be surprised if Sarkus does, too.
    You judge "the ability to do otherwise" by how it appears - the process of imagining what one thinks of as possible futures to aid in the process of decision making.
    And because you can imagine yourself with the ability to imagine more than one such possible future (per the degrees of freedom within the elements of the system etc), all of which you might believe you are able to take, you consider this "the ability to do otherwise".
    I don't, at least not philosophically.
    All of that process, the imagining, the decision process, are all on a single track, irrespective of what we can imagine ahead.
    And the predetermined track takes into account the decision making process, the imaginings that we will have, all of which is predetermined.
    So I think I understand your position.
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, though, at least in the principles rather than just the manner of explanation.
    Depends upon the toughness of the glass, JamesR.

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    Then why mention the universe as a whole if not to suggest that this should be treated separately from elements within?
    You said I am confusing the ability to do otherwise of the universe as a whole with the ability to do otherwise of a person.
    The universe as a whole is deterministic.
    The person is deterministic.
    The lack of ability to do otherwise in one is applicable to the other.
    Unless one is advocating that the person is able to do otherwise, and the universe not: ergo the person is not deterministic.
    Oh, I see, you want to change what "the ability to do otherwise" means.
    No, I don't.
    Why?
    Just so that we can say that we have it, and appeal to consequence?
    I'm not losing sight of anything.
    I'm just not treating the human differently with regards the ability to do otherwise.
    It is as railroaded as the rest of the universe.
    Everything else is just a matter of appearance, and the sooner that is acknowledged the sooner the conversation can move on.
    I learn from the best, JamesR.

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    Besides, if you keep confusing the two, what else am I to ask?
    We run our lives according to the sensation/feeling/belief that we have this ability to do otherwise.
    Whether this is an actual ability (in the not-predetermined sense) or not is (currently) irrelevant to how we run our lives.
    Only what we feel/sense/believe matters practically speaking.
    So no, I don't find it strange at all.
    What people fight for is that continuing sense/feeling/belief of freedom.
     
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Baldeee:

    Oh dear. It looks like things are a little worse than I thought. Maybe we ought to start with this:
    I see. So you're now conflating the issue of whether a human actor has an ability to make a meaningful choice with the issue of whether the choice itself is constrained by determinism. It's hard to tell, exactly, because you flip flop back and forth a few times in the past few posts on the question of whether people actually make choices or not. However, some things are very clear indeed.

    In post #959, above, you set out your revised premises, as follows. It's a pity I overlooked them in my last series of posts, because it would have saved me some time and effort. I ended up addressing a more nuanced argument than yours, because that's the argument I assumed you were making. Your actual argument is much more straightforward:

    P1: deterministic interactions are not free.
    P2: a system built from deterministic interactions is not free.
    P3: the will is such a system.
    C: the will is not free.

    See that, right there in P1? If that's your starting point for considering whether free will is possible in a deterministic universe, then it's a very short argument, isn't it? You assume the answer at the start, by pre-emptively excluding from the discussion any consideration of the possibility that a deterministic interaction could be free in any sense.

    As you say, for this version of the argument it doesn't even matter if the universe as a whole is deterministic, because you assume in P2 and P3 that, regardless of what the rest of the universe is like, the will can't possibly be non-deterministic.

    The upshot of this is that if we accept premise P1, then the only way the will could be free would be if P3 is false and the will is not "built from deterministic interactions" after all. i.e. we can only avoid the conclusion if the will is supernatural, or if it operates according to an entirely hypothetical non-deterministic natural process.

    This, and you've spent most of the thread complaining about iceaura pointing out to you that you assume that only a supernatural will could possibly be free!

    iceaura has been right all along about your argument. I know that you've tried to get some wriggle-room by introducing this idea of a non-deterministic process, even though you can't think of anything that would fit that description. But, leaving that long-shot out, your argument reduces to: free is only possible if we assume it's supernatural.

    The rest is just detail, but I'll get to it in the following posts.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Baldeee:

    I'm going to chop up your last few replies, if you don't mind, so I can address things in a particular order.

    Maybe we should start with logic:
    I don't doubt your ability to construct a valid syllogism, Baldeee. I have nowhere argued that your argument isn't valid in the formal sense of the conclusion following from the premises. But most of us who are acquainted with logic can jam together some premises and deduce the obvious conclusion from them.

    As I said previously, at some point in the exercise, the rubber needs to hit the road. Philosophical debates can sometimes turn on whether the argument is logically valid, but just as often they turn on whether the premises on which the argument rests ought to be accepted as valid. In the current discussion, I take issue only with your premises - and in particular the assumptions embedded in them that are not explicit.

    There's really not much more to be said about the version of the argument I discussed in the post above this one. It's a simple argument, but it doesn't go much beyond setting up some premises tight enough to make sure that no other conclusion is possible other than the one that you wanted in the first place. In that sense, it's uninteresting and we ought to move on from it to discuss the actual question of interest: is free will possible in a deterministic universe? Rather than assuming the answer at the start and front-loading it into a premise, let's discuss it.

    Moving on...
    There's no imagining about it. I don't have any need to imagine that I can choose to switch the train left or right, or choose to stop (or not) when the traffic light turns red. I actually do those kinds of things every day (well, admittedly, not at lot of train switching, but you know).

    iceaura put it this way:
    "Everyone agrees that the driver is able to stop or go depending on the color of the light. You [Baldeee] insist on that - you insist that the color of the light is a key factor. And observation, experiment, etc, verifies that fact.
    ....
    We observe, measure, describe, and verify by experiment the actual, natural, physically determined and deterministic abilities of the driver we have reasoned must exist, for the driver's decision and willed behavior to depend on the future color of the light."
    When I make a decision to act in a particular way, it's not an imaginary decision. It's something that actually happens, that has real, verifiable consequences in the empirical world. Sure, I can also imagine possible futures that never actually come to pass, but my actual decisions have real consequences. What's more, they are my decisions, not somebody else's decisions. Who else's decisions could they be, if not mine? Atoms, for instance, can't decide anything; they aren't conscious. Another way to put it is: atoms don't have willpower. Only conscious beings can will this or that. So the argument that it was my atoms that "made" me decide one way or another is a mistake. The atoms didn't decide anything; I decided. The relevant level at which the act of will occurred is the level of the human being, not his constituent atoms. Therefore, it is at that level that we should look for free will, if it is to be found. Asking about the free will of the atoms, or of the universe as a whole, is a mistake.

    ----
    Next comes the discussion of inputs and outputs in decision-making. You appear to demand that the same inputs must produce different outputs in order for the will to be free, for some reason. But that doesn't make much sense. If, in a repeated experiment with identical conditions (and I mean identical to the atomic level, if you like), I were hypothetically to make two different choices, those choices could only be random, rather than acts of will. (The will to reach a decision would be present in both cases, but there would be no act of will in choosing one thing over the other.) It follows that free will cannot involve having different outputs (choices) for the same inputs. Rather, it involves making different choices depending on the inputs.

    Quoting iceaura again:
    "The decision maker takes inputs over time, and provides outputs accordingly - different outputs for different inputs, as they are put in. That necessarily implies the ability to provide different outputs for whatever different inputs may arrive - the ability to do otherwise."​

    Note that in this quote the term "ability to do otherwise" is used in the same way I used it in my previous series of replies to this thread. It is not equivalent to "ability to break the laws of physics", as you would require for free will in your most recent formulation of your argument.
     
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    More about track switching....

    I think (hope) you're speaking figuratively here, because this sounds bizarre if it is intended as a description of anything real.

    We could run the experiment again, and choose to throw the railway switch the other way next time. The empirically verifiable result would be the train travelling on that other, supposedly imaginary, track.

    Note that its quite beside the point that it was pre-determined by the entire universe (i.e. all the relevant "inputs") that I would choose to throw the switch to the left the first time and to the right the second time. In both instances, my choice was really made and had real consequences. I didn't just imagine making the choice on each occasion; I actually made it. Freely. What happened on each occasion was determined proximally by the choice I made on that occasion.

    We're usually considering a restricted subset of the universe - often a single human actor - when we're considering the application of an act of will. Sure, the atoms that make up human's mind obey the laws of physics, which for the sake of argument we can assume are deterministic. But the laws of physics, like the atoms, are not conscious. They can't carry out acts of will. Only the human being can do that. If I decide to throw the switch to the left, my decision doesn't break the laws of physics, but that doesn't mean it is the laws of physics making the decision. The decision is an act of will on my part. Could I do otherwise? Yes, if I decided to throw it the other way.

    I think we ought to be suspicious of any line of logic that leads us to a conclusion that makes a mockery of the way we usually use words, unless it can be shown convincingly that the way we usually use words is mistaken in some important way.

    You haven't convinced me that there's anything problematic with saying of the train approaching the switch "It could go left, or it could go right, depending on which way the switch man decides to switch it."

    Your argument is that we should never say this kind of thing, and the best we can do is to say "The switch man will choose to switch it left or right, and it will behave accordingly." But that removes any sense of agency from the switch man. In this formulation, you wouldn't say that he made it go one way or the other. You'd appeal rather to the motions of innumerable atoms pushed around by the laws of physics, or something.

    What I am saying is that your reasoning pushes you to a use of language that is inconsistent with everyday usage, based on experience, so we have every right to be suspicious about your philosophy.
     
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    No. Only the person makes decisions. The universe does not. The person has a will. The universe does not. As a consequence, it's no use talking about whether the universe as a whole has free will. It doesn't have will, so the question of whether it is free or not doesn't come up. The relevant focus of attention is the person, not the universe. Similarly, in considering any individual act of will, the appropriate focus is not the whole spacetime continuum, but the proximate time interval in which the act of will occurs.

    That does not follow. See why?

    Yes, I want to change it away from your definition that demands the supernatural or unknown causes as the only possible avenues for free will. I want to have a discussion where the possibility of free will in a deterministic universe is not ruled out by your veto from the start, but is seriously contemplated. I want a discussion in which the philosophy mirrors the real-world experience of human beings making choices and taking action.

    That description just doesn't mesh with the human experience. Doesn't that hint that there's something wrong with your descriptions or definitions?

    You talk about pragmatism, but your philosophy is not at all pragmatic. It asks us to change the language to suit the philosophy, for starters.

    And that does not suggest to you that we might actually have this ability to do otherwise?

    As I said to Sarkus, earlier, it is actually an important question, because it impacts the idea of moral responsibility. That was one reason why philosophers became interested in the question in the first place. If we're all, in fact, "railroaded" by forces beyond out control, like you claim, then why should anybody be held morally responsible for his actions? His atoms made him do it, you would have it. He (the human cog in the universal wheel) had no real say in the decision-making process.

    Shouldn't that inform our philosophy, too? It can't be irrelevant, can it?

    Because they believe that freedom exists, in principle.

    ----

    P.S. Don't feel that you have to reply to all of this. I know it is long. I think at this stage we both understand where the other is coming from. We each prefer different ideas of what "freedom" means in the context of free will, and with different working definitions we inevitably reach different conclusions. The rest of the discussion would appear to be an argument about values, i.e. which definitions/premises are preferable in this context.
     
  13. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Worse for who, exactly?
    There is no flip-flopping, JamesR.
    If you think there is, point it out, give me some examples of where you think I have been flip-flopping.
    Ultimately it comes down to this: if something is predetermined, whatever it is, is it free?
    I think not.
    And just because we are not aware of the predetermined course of action doesn't change the fact that it is predetermined.
    It sure should be, yet for some reason it's not proving that way, is it.
    But you think there's an issue with P1?
    You don't agree with it?
    I haven't assumed it at all, at least no more than one is assuming Socrates to be mortal by presuming him to be a man.
    P2 is just an extension of P1, and the form of P2, P3 and the Conclusion is exactly the same form as Socrates being mortal.
    So no, I have not assumed the answer at the start.
    I have simply used a notion of "free" consistently, and using that notion of "free" (i.e. "unable to do otherwise", which I find quite acceptable to describe any predetermined course of events) conclude that the will is not thus free.
    Whether we then try to come up with a sense of "free" whereby the will can be considered "free" is then a secondary discussion, and one which the compatabilists do their darndest to come up with something satisfactory.
    But at each step they come unstuck by having to contend with a predetermined course of events, and all they have come up with here (iceaura, and by extension you) are where we judge "free" by appearance.
    This was dismissed as being the case as being what was on offer, yet every subsequent example is simply a further example of just that.
    Do, perchance, have any other example that is not where "free" is judged by the sensation/feeling of being able to do otherwise?
    And all the while, ask yourself if anything that is predetermined can be considered "free".
    Sure, we can say "able to do otherwise" is a kitchen sink and point to a kitchen sink and go "look, there's the ability to do otherwise".
    Again, if you think the will is non-deterministic, argue the case.
    And I left open the latter in the original formulation, as I certainly am not confident enough in what I think I know to exclude the possibility.
    Because I didn't.
    As a conclusion, yes, to a deterministic universe.
    Not an assumption.
    P1: If something is deterministic it is not able to be free
    P2: The universe, and everything within it, is deterministic
    C: The universe, and everything within it, is not able to be free.
    Hubris aside, you claim to know the difference between an assumption and a conclusion... so tell me where in that syllogism is the assumption that being free must be supernatural, if it is to exist?
    It's not in P1, because that is just stating a property of determinism.
    It's not in P2, because that is just stating a property of the universe.
    Oh, look, it's in the conclusion, because it can only be reached via the combination of P1 and P2.

    If iceaura had understood the difference, as I hope you now do, then quite a large chunk of the past 40 pages or so might not have been needed.
    As you allude to, the logic is pretty straight forward.
    Is this where I decry you for ignoring the content of my posts?

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  14. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Given that both you and iceaura are struggling with recognising assumptions and conclusions...
    I didn't want any in particular.
    I started with a fairly obvious (to me, at least) notion that a deterministic interaction is one that can not to otherwise.
    I.e. the outcome is predetermined based upon the input.
    I expanded this to a system built from deterministic interactions and presume that this, too, is deterministic (stop me if you disagree with anything).
    And from there, presuming the will is such a system, I conclude it can not do otherwise.
    If we want to call "free" something else, by all means have that discussion, but you'll have to go a fair way to showing how predetermined events can be considered free.
    Oh, right, degrees of freedom, right there in the boot of the Mars-bound Tesla.
    That is equally as uninteresting.
    First you admit you require the conclusion to be that free will (as in being more than just the process) is possible, and work back from there until we can pat ourselves on the head for a job well done, all the while avoiding how to call anything "free" that follows a predetermined path.
    That, to me, is the interesting part, the apparent illusion between what we sense and the fact that in a deterministic universe it is a predetermined path that we tread.
    First it requires acceptance of the just what the deterministic nature of the universe implies: predetermination.

    Sure, we go through the process, but you're begging the question that you have any actual ability to do other than what you did.
    I'm sorry that you can't see that.
    We go through the process.
    Noone disputes that.
    You're simply begging the question that it is an ability to do otherwise, because of how you are judging it to exist.
    How many times do I have to say that the process of decision making occurs, is real, can be verified and has consequences?
    That has never been disputed.
    Indeed, predetermined consequences.
    So what?
    They are yours.
    Is anyone disputing that?
    Just like the actions of my computer are its actions.
    The decision of my thermostat is its decision to switch on or off.
    And noone is doing that.
    So enough of this red-herring, it is simply tedious.
    The decision is made within the black box called our mind, or will, or whatever you want to call it.
    But that doesn't change that it, along with the rest of the universe, is predetermined.
    All you're pointing to is where the process is located, not the nature of the process.
    It is the only way to avoid predetermination, and I don't see anything that is predetermined as ultimately being free.
    No randomness in a deterministic universe.
    But the process of reaching difference choices depending on the different inputs is one that a thermostat makes.
    Queue rebuttal via handwaving about logical levels and complexity.
    I.e. the complexity makes no difference, the logical levels make no difference: the system is as predetermined as any other.
    We're just not aware of it.
    Each decision is a separate event.
    For each event in isolation - could you have done something different?
    No.
    Noone is disputing the "ability to provide different outputs for different inputs" - a thermostat does that pretty well.
    But that is not an ability to do otherwise; that is an ability to do exactly what you must just for different inputs.
     
  15. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Of course figuratively, because I, for one, am not a train.
    No, we couldn't.
    There is no switch, only the appearance of a switch.
    The track is predetermined.
    The train just doesn't know it.
    Nope.
    The only time it could do that is as an imagined possibility, or at a different time with different inputs.
    And I'm not concerned with whether a process can offer different outputs for different inputs: that is trivial in the extreme.
    I am concerned with whether, for a given decision, for a given set of inputs, there is an ability to do otherwise.
    If not, no actual freedom, only a sense of being able to choose between the same set of inputs.
    Noone is disputing that you went through the process of choosing each time, but you're begging the question that it was freely made.
    And how can it be beside the point that it was pre-determined?
    But you couldn't have done otherwise at the time you made the decision.
    And at every point before then, and every point after then, you can only do what you must, even if that is going through the process of "choice" about a matter.
    I disagree.
    Appeals to consequence get you nowhere.
    Set out your terms, your premises at the outset, and follow wherever it goes.
    And in this case it doesn't highlight a mistake, merely a different perspective of the term "free", as I think Sarkus argued strongly from the outset.
    The incompatabilist sees nothing free in something that is predetermined, whatever it is.
    The compatabilist sees it based on the feeling or sense of it that our consciousness offers.
    And never the twain shall meet.
    As said, it's only in the rarefied atmosphere of philosophy I would disagree with you.
    The "it could go left, or it could go right" are merely imaginings of what you think are possible futures.
    There is only one future, predetermined from long before you even asked the question.
    The rest is just describing processes, nothing need be free about them.
    One could say the same about a pseudo-random generator on a computer.
    Where have I said that we should never say this kind of thing?
    I have stated that the only time I wouldn't say it is in the octagon of philosophical discussion, and usually only when discussing this exact topic.
    Not really.
    The man still has agency in the sense that he contains within him unique deterministic processes that convert inputs to outputs.
    Ultimately, yes, but the bulk of the inputs to the decision would be the result of feedback loops within the processes of the brain.
    But those would still be deterministic, and predetermined.
    When language is formed through how we experience things, it is always going to be difficult to express philosophies that run counter to that, no matter how true they might actually be.
    It is no different than trying to talk in a language that has no expression of time, for example, should one be looking to express the philosophy that time does not exist.
    If we discounted them on that basis then we are guilty of selective bias toward those philosophies that support our existing thinking.
     
  16. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, only the person makes a decision.
    I've never talked about whether the universe a a whole has a free will.
    I am merely talking about what is free or not.
    And both the will and the universe are deterministic systems.
    If I consider the universe to not be free on the basis that it is deterministic then why would I not consider the will to be similarly lacking for the same reason?
    It does follow if one is consistent about the terminology of what it means to be free.
    Why?
    You want to be able to say that you have free will?
    I don't like the assumption that I'm not contemplating things seriously, JamesR.
    I didn't veto it from the start.
    I concluded it by the end of the syllogism, using the terms I did.
    One can only claim that the terms exclude the possibility of a will that is free in the conclusion of that.
    It is not an assumption, not a veto, from the outset.
    So on the question of free will you want to ignore the debate between compatibilism and incompatibilism, and go straight to an assumption of compatabilism (if we're talking about a deterministic universe)?
    No problem.
    Then I suggest you don't respond to the posts regarding the In/Compatibilist debate.
    It would make things that much easier, don't you think?
    Maybe even set up another thread just for it - or would you end up merging that thread as well?

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    Nope, it hints at a mystery, and what I consider to be quite an interesting one, as to why we experience things the way we do when we are, per the argument, railroaded.
    I talk about pragmatism only in the sense of acknowledging that not every scenario is a philosophical discussion.
    Maybe "practically" would have been a better choice of words?
    Sure it does.
    Which is why it is interesting when the argument suggests that we might not.
    It would need a bit of tweaking, but otherwise I don't see much issue.
    The human cog is still where the decision making process resides, and it can still be said to be in our control if it is the result of those processes within us, railroaded or otherwise.
    Some would say that the truth is the truth irrespective of the consequences.
    I try not to appeal to consequence.
    Also, I don't see this as a philosophy to live by, only by which to understand things; it is an intellectual position and not a practical one, because one's practical life relies on the belief/sense of having free will, irrespective of whether it is railroaded or not.
    Of course.
    I would imagine we all do other than in the context of philosophical discussion.
    Great, now you tell me!

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  17. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,077
    OK here goes

    Have been working on this for sometime and still not settled on the second half

    So here is the first bit

    I take it as a given that no person in this thread thinks the laws of physics have been broken no matter what situation is proposed which requires choice

    As I understand the determanstic part, everything which is happening NOW has been determined already from the moment of the Big Bang

    The Butterfly Effect writ large

    I call BS on butterflies and their wing beats causing tornadoes

    It is possible that the reverse MIGHT happen

    For a wing beat to spread the moment of the atoms of air would need to gain energy until tornadoe strength is reached

    Far more so the tornado would push out air with great force, which decreases the further away it gets, until it reaches a butterfly and ruffles a wing

    The reverse, wing flap to tornado, requires energy input

    So I reject the idea that my current situation can be traced back to Fred Flintstone trimming Dino's toenails

    To many interruptions, the butterfly wing flappings would die out very early hence have no effect on the future

    And the Universe is full of butterfly wing flappings

    So without breaking the laws of physics a determanstic Universe has a uncertain future (undetermined)

    There are problems, of course, going downward, how low, energy wise, a wing flap goes before disappearing (I'm thinking something at about Planck length but me talking about Planck is like a virus talking Albert)

    Going upward, same

    Radioactive decay same. What causes that atom to decay and not the one next to it? True religion, or a cause undetectable by us? And the cause of the cause?

    End first part

    Hopefully second part (free will) soon unless the above gets ripped apart

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    Breakfast time
    A delay of about 3 hours from start to finish. Started 4am and due to flat phone battery close to end (put on power bank) finished 7am, my get up time

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  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    19,981
    I believe the example just identifies a possible (not probable) domino effect beginning with the butterfly flapping its wings. This does not mean the power of the flapping wings are sufficient to create a tornado, but are sufficient to set in motion a hierarchy of subsequent events each feeding the intensity, until halfway around the world a tornado develops.

    It is a theoretical posit, with very little chance of becoming actual reality, ever.
     
  19. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,077
    Yes I understand that

    Part of my thinking around the situation of tornadoes was along the lines of how do they gain energy?

    I have seen various explanations which do a good job explaining the mechanics but miss the details of the source of the energy

    I suspect that Earth rotation as well as the interaction of sections of the environment (air / mountains / temperature) play a large part. I also think that as a tornado sucks up energy the Earth slows, to small to be noticeable for a single tornado but cumulative

    Anyway back to the second part

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  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    30,994
    No more than any other physical fact. If you want to dismiss the observed universe of physical facts as illusion, no one can stop you - but you are discarding much more than the ability of a human being to make a decision and act on it.
    You have talked of nothing else. Your entire argument consists of extrapolating from the universe's lack of freedom to a human decision maker's lack of freedom.
    See the explanations of degrees of freedom, in multiple posts throughout this thread.
    That isn't possible. It doesn't follow from your "syllogism".
    And later on - recently - you acknowledged that by explicitly including the necessary assumption in your premises.
    They don't. That claim requires further assumption, as has been explained to you several times now.
    We experience things pretty much as they are described, physically, by instruments and intersubjectively verified measurement and so forth, at the time they are experienced. We actually do make decisions based on criteria, for example. That's a physical event: it happens at a time and place, involves expenditure of energy and reconformation of material entities, and so forth.
    If the argument leads to conclusions we observe to be false - such as denying the ability of a driver to decide whether to stop or go based on the color of a traffic light - it is a reductio ad absurdum argument against its premises.
     
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    30,994
    Yes. By definition of "decision", for one thing - but the observation holds with or without the vocabulary.
    The process involves the real decision. You are attempting to deny the existence of part of the process.
    You've been warned about obscuring the situation - confusing yourself - with misleading similes based in naive bottom up determinism. These bricks and thermostats and Teslas are blocking your view. ( Apparently you still regard logical levels as "handwaving" - which will flunk you out of college level stats, logic, or computer science. )
     
  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
    39,286
    I'd like to throw another idea into the mix.

    Baldeee has been arguing that free will requires "the ability to do otherwise". There's been a lot of talk back and forth about how the atoms and the laws of physics remove the possibility of a human being doing otherwise, and the implication is that if the human has no possibility of doing otherwise, then he has no true agency. He's more like a sort of puppet, driven by forces beyond his control, and is therefore not "free".

    I'd like to borrow an example from philosopher Harry Frankfurt (from an influential 1969 paper). Rather than using abstract laws of physics and atomic-level interactions, he gives a human-level example, as follows.

    ----
    Fred is going to the voting centre to vote. Fred intends to vote Democrat in this election. However, another person, Dr Brain, is worried that Fred might change his mind and vote Republican instead. By sheer brilliance, Dr Brain invents a mind-control device that can allow Dr Brain to take complete control of Fred's mind to make him vote the way Dr Brain orders him to vote. Moreover, Dr Brain also has scanning software that enables him to monitor Fred's state of mind.

    Dr Brain decides to act as follows: when Fred goes to fill in his ballot, Dr Brain will scan Fred's mind to see if he intends to vote Republican. If so, Dr Brain will use the mind-control device to force Fred to vote Democrat instead.

    As it turns out, when Fred comes to vote, he decides to vote Democrat for his own reasons. Dr Brain doesn't have to use his mind-control device.
    ----

    In this scenario, did Fred possess the "ability to do otherwise" when he cast his vote? We know he did not, because if he did not vote Democrat for his own reasons, then he would have voted Democrat due to Dr Brain's mind control. There was never a possibility that Fred would vote Republican.

    Now the crucial question: did Fred act of his own free will when he voted Democrat?

    Fred's vote was, in the end, entirely due to Fred's choice. Dr Brain did not actually influence his vote in any way. Nevertheless, we can rightly say that it was pre-determined that Fred would vote Democrat.

    Who should we hold responsible for the vote in this example? Should we hold Dr Brain responsible? Obviously not, because he did nothing to influence Fred's choice. It appears, therefore, that Fred is responsible, despite the fact that he actually had no "ability to do otherwise".

    This example shows "free agency" or "free choice" in an environment where the "ability to do otherwise" is absent. In other words, what it shows is that lack of "ability to do otherwise" is not a sufficient condition to preclude the "free" exercise of the will.

    In our discussions up to this point, it has not been Dr Brain removing the "ability to do otherwise" from the guy choosing to stop at the light, or from the train switcher choosing one track or the other. Instead, it has been the "deterministic universe". But that would appear to make no difference to the given scenario.

    To be specific: suppose the laws of physics and so on had ordained that Fred was always going to vote Democrat. Fred, of course, voted Democrat because he decided to do that. He had no "ability to do otherwise", because if he had "tried" to do otherwise the laws of physics in the deterministic universe would have compelled him to vote Democrat anyway. Nonetheless, Fred's choice of who to vote for was determined by Fred.
     
  23. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,224
    I am dismissing nothing.
    I am merely understanding it for what it is.
    Or maybe next time you come out of a magician's show you'll be telling me how you believe they can actually make things disappear.
    Or maybe you can look at optical illusions (e.g. Those previously provided by Write4U) and know from that experience that what you're looking at is not as it seems.
    No, to rely on experience as the arbiter as to what is really going on, as you are suggesting, is poor indeed.
    And If you want to appeal to consequence to aid your argument then you best take it elsewhere, as I'm simply not interested in such.
    No, it extrapolates from the lack of freedom of a deterministic interaction.
    You claim to have read that formulation, so why continue to misrepresent it?
    It is simply dishonest on your part.
    I know what degrees of freedom are.
    The Mars-bound Tesla has some.
    It does, quite clearly so.
    I have changed nothing, just confirmed that "do other than it must" is synonymous with "ability to do otherwise" and "free".
    Is this what you've been reduced to, iceaura?
    Making spurious allegations that have no basis in fact?
    And your explanation, as has been quite clearly shown, is flawed.
    I'm not going to repeat it ad nauseam just because you can't follow it.
    Until you stop merely repeating the irrelevancy that the existence of the processes can be verified, there's little more to discuss.
    No one has yet concluded that the driver does not go through the process of decision making.
    Please cease the strawman.
    Try to be relevant.
    That the process is followed, yes.
    Please now try to be relevant.
    No I'm not, unless you think the process is somehow not predetermined?
    I see a predetermined process (not that we have any way of scientifically confirming directly that it is predetermined) that operates as expected when observed.
    I just don't see it as being free, philosophically speaking.
    I am obscuring nothing.
    And I am not basing anything on naive bottom-up determinism.
    You simply waving your hands and crying foul that I am is simply not going to get you anywhere.
    The bricks and thermostats and Teslas accurately portray the issue you have in trying to explain how a predetermined course of events can be considered free. by simply utilising any version, extrapolated or otherwise, from such degrees of freedom that they have.
    Every time I have used those examples is because you have handwaved, with no explanation whatsoever, using terms that do not actually say anything.
    Case in point:
    Simply referring to logical levels, complexity, and degrees of freedom is like explaining how to build a house by simply waving your hands and shouting out "bricks" and "glass".
    You have an argument to make as to how a predetermined course of actions can be considered free, and it will take more than your current irrelevancies and, yes, handwaving to keep me interested in what you have to say.
     

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