Author Topic: Episode #697  (Read 3539 times)

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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #105 on: November 30, 2018, 01:40:21 PM »
Yes, I understand the compatibility arguments. The problem is not that I don't understand what Dennett or you mean by free will; it's that I disagree that the type of free will you describe is capable of justifying, among other things, holding individuals personally responsible for their actions. In other words, I disagree that such will is actually free. That's not a scientific question, but a normative one.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #106 on: November 30, 2018, 02:02:28 PM »
Yes, I understand the compatibility arguments. The problem is not that I don't understand what Dennett or you mean by free will; it's that I disagree that the type of free will you describe is capable of justifying, among other things, holding individuals personally responsible for their actions. In other words, I disagree that such will is actually free. That's not a scientific question, but a normative one.

Fair enough!  Hard determinism is a viable position, and Sam Harris is a big proponent of it, so you do have some company.  This complaint about compatibilism, that we are "not really describing free will," is a common one.  Even Kant called Hume's compatibilism a "wretched subterfuge," though I doubt either one of us would put much stock in Kant's philosophy. 

Certainly, the free will I'm describing is not of the PAP-type, and this is why I often use the phrase "self-control" in my thesis instead, to avoid loaded terminology that makes some people balk from the outset.  I still maintain, for the reasons I've already touched on, that the hard-determinist is only right in one sense, (no PAP), and importantly wrong in others (our experienced efforts and deliberations are firmly "in the loop," causally, and there are a variety of more salient considerations when considering freedom and responsibility than physics-based ones.)
« Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 03:28:43 PM by Devin Bray »

Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #107 on: November 30, 2018, 08:44:19 PM »
Thanks to Devin for posting his master's thesis. I haven't made it through the whole thing, but I really appreciate being able to read it. That is the SGU forum at its best: a great medium for the exchange of ideas. I'm glad that Devin, Carb Shark, The Latinist, and everyone else here has continued the conversation. I keep learning more. I am pretty naive about philosophy, so I have a lot to learn from you all.

My skeptical alarm bells go off whenever chaos theory is cited in relation to philosophy. It's in the running with quantum mechanics as the most abused areas of science.

Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #108 on: December 01, 2018, 12:23:19 AM »
Thanks to Devin for posting his master's thesis. I haven't made it through the whole thing, but I really appreciate being able to read it. That is the SGU forum at its best: a great medium for the exchange of ideas. I'm glad that Devin, Carb Shark, The Latinist, and everyone else here has continued the conversation. I keep learning more. I am pretty naive about philosophy, so I have a lot to learn from you all.

My skeptical alarm bells go off whenever chaos theory is cited in relation to philosophy. It's in the running with quantum mechanics as the most abused areas of science.

I think the general lesson I'm trying to bring out here is rather uncontroversial.  Activity in the nervous system is likely to be deterministic, but also to involve so many elements in feedback with each other that, like the weather, predicting its behavior into the future with a high degree of accuracy is likely to be an unattainable goal.  I'm still, however, quite receptive to the possibility that some of the bolder claims in my thesis are misguided or overambitious.  They're certainly in need of much more fleshing out, at the very least.  I would hate to think that my masters thesis represented the apotheosis of my philosophical career.  Good philosophers, like good scientists, are always sensitive to the possibility that their views are going to need revising, even radically so.  I don't see myself embracing hard determinism any time in the near future, but exactly to what extent concepts like strange attractors can be usefully applied to the nervous system remains to be seen.

Has anyone hear read and enjoyed any work by Douglas Hofstadter, another influence of mine....?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_a_Strange_Loop
« Last Edit: December 01, 2018, 12:25:22 AM by Devin Bray »

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #109 on: December 01, 2018, 09:10:04 AM »
I still maintain, for the reasons I've already touched on, that the hard-determinist is only right in one sense, (no PAP), and importantly wrong in others (our experienced efforts and deliberations are firmly "in the loop," causally, and there are a variety of more salient considerations when considering freedom and responsibility than physics-based ones.)

I do not disagree that our "experienced efforts and deliberations are firmly 'in the loop,' causally."  Where I imagine I differ from you is about the salience of the other considerations you mention to the question of responsibility. Could you elaborate on what those considerations are? Perhaps if we discuss them without trying to call them 'free will' we can avoid the pitfalls we have hitherto experienced in this discussion. I am unlikely to believe that they can justify, for instance, retribution in the absence of contra-causal free will, which I consider a sine qua non, but I am interested all the same in what they are.

I will warn you, though, that I do not have the time to read an entire masters thesis or even lengthy article, so I would appreciate if you could summarize your ideas here rather than linking to them.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #110 on: December 01, 2018, 04:29:18 PM »
Thanks to Devin for posting his master's thesis. I haven't made it through the whole thing, but I really appreciate being able to read it. That is the SGU forum at its best: a great medium for the exchange of ideas. I'm glad that Devin, Carb Shark, The Latinist, and everyone else here has continued the conversation. I keep learning more. I am pretty naive about philosophy, so I have a lot to learn from you all.

My skeptical alarm bells go off whenever chaos theory is cited in relation to philosophy. It's in the running with quantum mechanics as the most abused areas of science.

I think the general lesson I'm trying to bring out here is rather uncontroversial.  Activity in the nervous system is likely to be deterministic, but also to involve so many elements in feedback with each other that, like the weather, predicting its behavior into the future with a high degree of accuracy is likely to be an unattainable goal.  I'm still, however, quite receptive to the possibility that some of the bolder claims in my thesis are misguided or overambitious.  They're certainly in need of much more fleshing out, at the very least.  I would hate to think that my masters thesis represented the apotheosis of my philosophical career.  Good philosophers, like good scientists, are always sensitive to the possibility that their views are going to need revising, even radically so.  I don't see myself embracing hard determinism any time in the near future, but exactly to what extent concepts like strange attractors can be usefully applied to the nervous system remains to be seen.

You should be very proud of this thesis! I'm sure your work will continue to develop and advance over time, but your thesis seems like a great foundation. I've learned a lot from it.
My only critique is the use of physics and math. I think that your philosophical arguments are actually stronger without them. If you are simply interested in bringing in the "stochastic vs. deterministic but super-complicated" argument, you can do that as a general and ancient philosophical question, without making it sound like cutting-edge science.

I'd also abide by the rule of thumb that one shouldn't cite/quote papers unless one fully understands them.

Overall, though, I find your ideas extremely interesting and compelling!

Offline werecow

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #111 on: December 05, 2018, 10:39:50 PM »
I'm a little late to this party, but I didn't really hear any quantum woo. What I heard was more along the lines of emergence and complexity theory.

Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #112 on: December 08, 2018, 04:36:59 PM »
I still maintain, for the reasons I've already touched on, that the hard-determinist is only right in one sense, (no PAP), and importantly wrong in others (our experienced efforts and deliberations are firmly "in the loop," causally, and there are a variety of more salient considerations when considering freedom and responsibility than physics-based ones.)

I do not disagree that our "experienced efforts and deliberations are firmly 'in the loop,' causally."  Where I imagine I differ from you is about the salience of the other considerations you mention to the question of responsibility. Could you elaborate on what those considerations are? Perhaps if we discuss them without trying to call them 'free will' we can avoid the pitfalls we have hitherto experienced in this discussion. I am unlikely to believe that they can justify, for instance, retribution in the absence of contra-causal free will, which I consider a sine qua non, but I am interested all the same in what they are.

I will warn you, though, that I do not have the time to read an entire masters thesis or even lengthy article, so I would appreciate if you could summarize your ideas here rather than linking to them.

I'm not a retributivist, because I don't believe in "ultimate responsibility" for many of the same reasons you don't.  I just don't think PAP or "ultimate responsibility" are really what we have in mind when we think about someone being responsible for their actions, or having "acted freely" in a given instance.

To lay out the standard compatibilist arguments here would take longer than simply watching one of the Dennett lectures I've recommended, or even reading through the relevant section in Hume's Enquiries.  That you bring up retributive punishment suggests to me you're not as familiar with traditional and contemporary compatibilist arguments as you claimed earlier in the discussion.  If you don't have time to watch an hour lecture to think about this quite complex topic, our ability to argue about it productively will be seriously impaired.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 04:39:28 PM by Devin Bray »

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #113 on: December 09, 2018, 08:15:18 PM »
Has anyone hear read and enjoyed any work by Douglas Hofstadter, another influence of mine....?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_a_Strange_Loop

I'm a big fan. It's safe to say that there are certain chapters in Metamagical Themas that changed my life.

Self-described nerd

 

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