Poll

Well, do we?

No, its an entirely deterministic
9 (33.3%)
mostly deterministic
5 (18.5%)
Our actions are mostly the response we can have to a given stimulus
9 (33.3%)
Mostly free
2 (7.4%)
Yes, we actually have complete control over our actions
2 (7.4%)

Total Members Voted: 27

Author Topic: Do we have free will  (Read 31113 times)

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Offline John Albert

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #135 on: September 11, 2018, 04:45:03 PM »
It was probably a silly move to invoke QM in my argument, but I still think my point stands.

Offline Redamare

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #136 on: September 11, 2018, 06:11:12 PM »
Quote from: John Albert
...I seem to be mentally incapable of dispelling the illusion that I'm personally responsible for making and acting on my own decisions...

Try mindfulness meditation. Even if you only keep at it a week or two, that's plenty of time to observe that even the illusion is an illusion. You can see that "you" are made up of thoughts which are almost never consciously summoned. Even on the rare occasion when you do explicitly set out to recall an event or consider an idea, the decision to do so is ultimately rooted in a chain of associations over which you have no control.
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Offline morgantj

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #137 on: October 04, 2018, 07:38:08 PM »
I've participated in debates on this subject for years and have yet to see a convincing argument for free-will. People that believe they have free-will often only attempt to argue against determinism but they never actually make a case for free-will. Sometime's people will bring up QM as means to throw randomness into the mix as though that somehow enables free-will which it doesn't. Whether events are strictly determined or even if there are elements of randomness, neither determinism or randomness supports the idea of free-will. The compatibilists simply change the definition of free-will into something else entirely misdirecting the entire debate into arguments over definition where when they are confronted with contra-causal free-will they admit that they do not have it but feel they leave a door open with, "you cannot create a test with the exact same conditions so you can't test it" so... they stick to the comfort of their redefined "free-will." Then there are those that don't even argue about it truth value but rather resort to appeals to consequence, feelings, utility, responsibility, etc... on whether it is beneficial to believe or not which of course doesn't even address the actual question of do we have it. You also have those that will give examples of them willing some behavior like, brushing their teeth, or making what they feel like is a "choice" between "options" of ice-cream flavors that doesn't demonstrate free-will, but rather just action, not the cause of the action. Then there is always the one that says that knowing it can release us from it, can set us free, etc... the list goes on. But primarily just people not being able to imagine they don't have free-will. The thought of not having it threatens their very core, their identity, and they are not sure how to feel about themselves not being autonomous after years of being conditioned by language and laws developed around the idea of free-will. Ultimately, at the end of the day, there is still not one decent argument FOR free-will.
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Offline Awatsjr

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #138 on: October 04, 2018, 09:13:05 PM »
No, but that's how it feels so does it matter?

Offline Redamare

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #139 on: October 04, 2018, 09:22:13 PM »
Except it's not really how it feels when people put serious energy into interrogating thier own thoughts.
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Offline morgantj

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #140 on: October 05, 2018, 11:24:38 AM »
Except it's not really how it feels when people put serious energy into interrogating thier own thoughts.

That's right. People cherry-pick when to acknowledge they don't have free-will. Something they feel is an achievement they want to take credit for, however, when things don't go their way or they fail at something or they are trying to make somebody feel better about something that is "out of their control" they acknowledge it. Or we hear people talk about all the things the "caused" them to behave a certain way.  Anytime somebody ask "why" this or that, they answer "be-cause..." listing all the causes that determined an event.
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Offline morgantj

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #141 on: October 05, 2018, 11:32:41 AM »
No, but that's how it feels so does it matter?

It does matter because currently society is operated around the idea that we do have it. The idea that we do have it informs all these other ideas of responsibility, accountability, justice, identity, etc... that shapes how we treat and understand each other and ourselves.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #142 on: October 05, 2018, 01:39:52 PM »
So how, exactly, are we defining "free will"?

Offline morgantj

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #143 on: October 05, 2018, 03:16:15 PM »
So how, exactly, are we defining "free will"?

Looks like you have participated in the discussion for the last 3 pages so I imagine you must have defined it in some way to be able to talk about it meaningfully. I think your first comment was

Determinism logically excludes the possibility of free will.

so you must have defined it in some form for you to express that it has qualities inconsistent with determinism.

Typically, I feel that what people are referring to is an ability to do otherwise (willfully) under the exact same conditions, aka contra-causal free will. 
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #144 on: October 05, 2018, 03:30:46 PM »
I've participated in debates on this subject for years and have yet to see a convincing argument for free-will. People that believe they have free-will often only attempt to argue against determinism but they never actually make a case for free-will. Sometime's people will bring up QM as means to throw randomness into the mix as though that somehow enables free-will which it doesn't. Whether events are strictly determined or even if there are elements of randomness, neither determinism or randomness supports the idea of free-will. The compatibilists simply change the definition of free-will into something else entirely misdirecting the entire debate into arguments over definition where when they are confronted with contra-causal free-will they admit that they do not have it but feel they leave a door open with, "you cannot create a test with the exact same conditions so you can't test it" so... they stick to the comfort of their redefined "free-will." Then there are those that don't even argue about it truth value but rather resort to appeals to consequence, feelings, utility, responsibility, etc... on whether it is beneficial to believe or not which of course doesn't even address the actual question of do we have it. You also have those that will give examples of them willing some behavior like, brushing their teeth, or making what they feel like is a "choice" between "options" of ice-cream flavors that doesn't demonstrate free-will, but rather just action, not the cause of the action. Then there is always the one that says that knowing it can release us from it, can set us free, etc... the list goes on. But primarily just people not being able to imagine they don't have free-will. The thought of not having it threatens their very core, their identity, and they are not sure how to feel about themselves not being autonomous after years of being conditioned by language and laws developed around the idea of free-will. Ultimately, at the end of the day, there is still not one decent argument FOR free-will.

By dismissing the compatibilist argument you are setting up a strawman, in which you only want to debate YOUR definition of "free will," which is apparently some kind of "magic" Yes/No switch in the brain.

If you start with the proposition that the brain is a "probability evaluator" (the Dennett definition) and the most evolved one of which we are aware at that, then seeing the perception of "free will" as a self-observation of my "learned probabilities" makes a lot of sense. There is something about a major league baseball batter that is more in control of his own swing than I am of mine, and even that is probabilistic. Being able to "learn" how to improve one's probability of "success" in hitting from one-in-four to one-in-three might be worth millions of dollars per year. But that batter had to somehow have the motivation to learn, and much more than I did.

Determinism might suggest that the "random number generator" seeding that batter's actions is really "pseudo-random" and predetermined, but it doesn't need to be.

I think the same applies to any "skill" that we might possess." In my day I was a very good coder, with a higher probability of writing successful code than many of my peers, but even then it was probabilistic. The "free will," in my view, is not in the coding, but rather in the "learning to code." Determinism does not not explain why some "learn" more than others. For a period I "lived" learning coding on crude computers an obsessive 16 hours a day.

I realize that this is re-defining "free will" from many definitions, but just because there is no "magic switch" does not mean there is no "free will." We don't need a "switch." We just need a "learning nudge," a biological desire to be a better baseball batter or a computer coder. That's where you find the "free will."
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Offline morgantj

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #145 on: October 05, 2018, 03:56:34 PM »
By dismissing the compatibilist argument you are setting up a strawman, in which you only want to debate YOUR definition of "free will," which is apparently some kind of "magic" Yes/No switch in the brain.

If you start with the proposition that the brain is a "probability evaluator" (the Dennett definition) and the most evolved one of which we are aware at that, then seeing the perception of "free will" as a self-observation of my "learned probabilities" makes a lot of sense. There is something about a major league baseball batter that is more in control of his own swing than I am of mine, and even that is probabilistic. Being able to "learn" how to improve one's probability of "success" in hitting from one-in-four to one-in-three might be worth millions of dollars per year. But that batter had to somehow have the motivation to learn, and much more than I did.

Determinism might suggest that the "random number generator" seeding that batter's actions is really "pseudo-random" and predetermined, but it doesn't need to be.

I think the same applies to any "skill" that we might possess." In my day I was a very good coder, with a higher probability of writing successful code than many of my peers, but even then it was probabilistic. The "free will," in my view, is not in the coding, but rather in the "learning to code." Determinism does not not explain why some "learn" more than others. For a period I "lived" learning coding on crude computers an obsessive 16 hours a day.

I realize that this is re-defining "free will" from many definitions, but just because there is no "magic switch" does not mean there is no "free will." We don't need a "switch." We just need a "learning nudge," a biological desire to be a better baseball batter or a computer coder. That's where you find the "free will."

This kind of "magic" free-will is exactly the kind of free-will people are talking about when they reference it. It is not my definition. It's only "magical" because yea, it doesn't make sense or fit into the natural world. Which is why there is an argument against it. Compatibilists redefine it to save it, like it needs saving. It doesn't need to be saved.

Some people are more skilled than others because there were different conditions that shaped them that way. Different conditions that caused them to learn differently, faster, slower, etc... Redefining free-will as some kind of elusive "learning nudge" is just another unnecessary attempt to save the idea of free-will when it doesn't need to be saved. You've demonstrated exactly what I am talking about that compatibilists do.
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Offline Redamare

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #146 on: October 05, 2018, 10:21:03 PM »
That's right.

Compatibilism is not a "more mature and nuanced" position that "deserves" to be the face of Free Will. It's an attempt to take the conversation out of a realm where it is powerfully relevant to our moral universe, and place it in a space of useless navel gazing.

This is a real fight over actual things that are at work in society. And those forces have nothing to do with some BS "steelman" version of Free Will.

Would you interrupt a hearing about marriage equality to insist that the pro-equality side drop what they're doing to go debate some learned old Jesuit who isn't opposed to secular marriage equality?
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #147 on: October 07, 2018, 09:57:09 PM »
So how, exactly, are we defining "free will"?

Looks like you have participated in the discussion for the last 3 pages so I imagine you must have defined it in some way to be able to talk about it meaningfully.

Indeed, I did.


I think your first comment was

Determinism logically excludes the possibility of free will.

so you must have defined it in some form for you to express that it has qualities inconsistent with determinism.

Typically, I feel that what people are referring to is an ability to do otherwise (willfully) under the exact same conditions, aka contra-causal free will.

I was operating on the assumption that "free will" is the ability to make choices free from the imposition of outside constraints or predestination.

Operating on that definition, the universe imposes innumerable physical constraints that hinder our ability to make free choices. Factors like personal experience and education cause physical changes in our brains, forming neural pathways that determine the mechanics of how we process information and make decisions.

If I'm facing an important choice but have only limited awareness of the potential options at my disposal, does that impact my free will to make a decision?
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 06:05:05 PM by John Albert »

 

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