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Everything posted by Eise

  1. I found your reaction in this thread: I agree, but I am wondering why you do not apply the same way of thinking in how you see free will. If I would use the same argumentation scheme as you do with free will, you should have said "Neurons cannot do analysis. the brain is made of neurons. Conclusion we cannot do analysis". 'Free will' only makes sense when they form mental phenomena like intentions, believes, decisions, and actions. As we are able to do analysis, we have these mental phenomena, arising from the complex connections between neurons. Defining 'free will' in terms of these mental phenomena makes sense. Defining in terms of neurons doesn't.
  2. Is a wave function a physical object, that can collapse? I like your description, except this 'split photon'. Photons can't be split. And just imagine how the two half photons find together after the split, carefully avoiding the 'dark zones' on the detection screen...
  3. No philosophy here. Neither science. Just a list of crackpot ideas, completely detached from reality and the discussion in this thread.
  4. Can be: I am not a native English speaker. But in philosophical discussions, 'coercion' is the most used word. Do not use rhetorical questions in philosophical discussions, except when it is perfectly clear that it was meant as such. Some are definitely better than others. Reread my definition: Often we cannot. And as my intentions can be inconsistent (see my reaction to Giordief), and I may not be sure about what I really believe in, so no, it often will not be the case that I can act in such a way that all of my intention and believes are fulfilled. But once I made decision, then it can becomes quite clear: can I act according my decision, or does somebody intentionally block my action?
  5. No. It has no will. It's behaviour is not formed by personal taste, intention, values, etc etc. Why do you start from the beginning? I use a clear definition of free will: We are said to have free will if we can act according our intentions and believes. You may shoot holes in this definition, but I find it useless to start the whole discussion from the beginning. Coercion. The question if somebody acted out of free will or was coerced is a meaningful question. The same question about a falling stone is useless. A stone has no will, because it has no intentions and believes.
  6. Well, if you think only libertarian free will is the correct concept of free will, and we do not have it, sure. But the concept of libertarian free will is incoherent from the outset. Well, if everything is determined, then of course '(actions) are woven in the web of causality'. I never denied that, and even stated it: determinism is a necessary condition for free will to exist. As I said just above what you cited: Sure we can. What our motivations (values, intentions) are, are part of my identity. That question is not quite clear to me. Can you give (counter-) examples?
  7. That would definitely lead to a Gödel-like situation. If I know this listing in advance, I can adapt my behaviour so that I will not do some of the actions on the list. The only way to avoid that, seems to be to account for me knowing the list. But that would change the list, and therefore my actions, and therefore the list... An easier way would be to keep the list secret, and read it the day after. Then I could be astonished about how well Laplace's Demon did his work. But it would have no impact on my actions. And neither on my evaluation of how well my actions were in accordance with my knowledge and intentions. No. It applies to everyone who is able to predict my actions, as long as I am not manipulated by somebody else. Where I do agree that a logical deduction was involved, to do so, and act according to my logical conclusion makes my action free, it is not the logic itself that makes me free. How many people have come to the conclusion that they should stop smoking, on perfectly logical grounds, but do not succeed? That is a good question. And it would take some precise definitions to answer the question. But my short answer is: yes, we are one person, but we have conflicting motivations, and maybe also doubt about facts. That means a person is not a rigorous unity. Oh yes! But nobody promised you a rose garden, is it? And that is exactly why I made my remark. When you pose something, shortly after I posted an opposing view, it would be interesting to know what your arguments against my position are. Exchange of arguments is one of the corner stones of philosophy, and this is the philosophy forum. And also SFN is a discussion platform. It would be a pity when threads are just independent opinions without arguments. Having an opinion is easy, especially in philosophy. To have a well argued opinion is definitively more work.
  8. No, you cannot just say that your taste, as something you acquired because of your biology and upraising, is determined, but your will to be on a diet is not. This would still be libertarian free will. In my view everything is determined, so for me it makes no sense. In compatibilist free will, all we do is determined: but possibly in different ways. There lies the crux: the question of free will is not if we are determined (we are), but along which causal pathways our will was determined. However, you touch an interesting point: is it possible to be more or less free? I think the question is how you formed your will, what you decided, and how well you can keep to your decision. Do you identify with you being on a diet, or does somebody threaten you (e.g. you spouse wanting you to lose weight, threatening to divorce from you if don't do it)?
  9. Your argument is valid only against the concept of libertarian free will, not against the concept of compatibilist free will. It would be nice if in the philosophy forum, arguments are exchanged, not just viewpoints. I gave an argument against the idea that unpredictability is an element of free will. So now I expect an argument for your viewpoint from you. Or an argument why mine is wrong: So why don't you share your thoughts? What are the experiences that convince you we have free will? And what kind of free will? As said above, having an opinion about a philosophical topic is not philosophy. Having well-reasoned arguments, and present them, so others can understand your trains of thought, and evaluate them, that is what makes exchanges of ideas philosophy.
  10. Or for a more objective approach: Peter Millican on free will and responsibility: 7.1. There are three more, alltogether about as long as iNow's podcast. @studiot: may also something for you? Might give a better impression about the progress made in philosophy then giving Plato as an example of modern philosophy... It doesn't need a megaphone to see different concepts of free will, and then choose for the best definition that fits the use daily life best...
  11. Yes, and a mass that is twice another mass falls twice as fast. Aristotle said so, and he was (also) a physicist! No. It is just as irrelevant. Should be clear. Referring, and citing some ancient philosopher, even when it is Plato, has nothing to do with what present day academic philosophy is doing. Your citation comes from Plato's Timaeus, and it is a difficult to understand explanation about proportionality. Why should you give a text of more than 2000 years old, as an example why philosophy is BS, useless or ununderstandable? So I gave an example from physics, showing that it is BS. But doing this with a view of a physicist from 2000 years ago is just as irrelevant as your citation of Timaeus. And why citing Einstein, when at other places he suggests that physicists should also study philosophy, as he himself did, e.g. Spinoza, Ernst Mach or Kant. From wikipedia. I'm sorry, I don't know Kane's ideas, but I know Dennett refers to him a few times. I am inclined to think that entropy and non-linearity are not that relevant. Of course it makes predicting what somebody would do extremely difficult, and there are people who think unpredictability is an essential element of free will. The 'evolutionary' advantage would be that e.g. a predator cannot know in advance what his prey will do, and therefore not able to catch it. But I think predictability has nothing to do with free will. I do not feel that my free will is constrained because my wife knows me pretty well, and can predict (better than others, at least) what I will do. So why would I be disturbed by a neurologist predicting my decisions, choices and/or actions even better, as long as I am able to act according my intentions? Somebody who believes in libertarian free will would definitively be disturbed by it, compatibilists not so much. As you probably know, Dennett has a kind of Darwinian view on what happens in the brain. Several strands of thoughts or feelings develop in parallel, and one of them in the end 'wins', meaning it catches access to motoric neurons, and leads to an action, be it a real bodily movement, or something spoken out. (Therefore he names his model the 'multiple draughts' model of the mind.) Ah, well, I am not in favour of the concept of 'ultimate personal responsibility'. For me that is a chimera piggybacking on libertarian free will (one could describe it as 'absolute' free will, the conceptual companion of 'ultimate personal responsibility'). In compatibilism 'personal responsibility', without the 'ultimate' is more than enough.
  12. Hmmm. That would mean that neurologists would encounter what I called a 'causal hole'? Or would they not be able to map brain states with mental phenomena? Or would they not be able to explain how 'C-fiber translating data packets through superior medial cortical stacks 9 and 43' cause a certain intention? If you mean the latter I agree: the relationship is not causal, but one of supervenience. Just as a book (i.e. a pile of pages with ink blobs on it) does not cause a story.
  13. To add to this: Spinoza said that, if a stone falling to the ground would be conscious, it would think it acted freely. Schopenhauer later added that the stone would be right. In the end, 'free will' is not to be able to want what you want, but to be able to do what you want. Sounds familiar?
  14. No. It is just as irrelevant. I would suggest you read my exposé again. If you still wonder what philosophy is, then just ask. The short reaction is: philosophy does not have the same subject as the sciences, so it definitely is not an alternative method to reach empirical truths. Then please point to passage where you agree with. I know who Rudolf Steiner was, and I agree with your second bullet point. Just as an aside: Steiner is not taught in academia philosophae... Justified. You mean: if no usable definition of free will can be found... Well, yes, philosophers still discuss this again and again. I my my eyes, because there are still too many people (and there are even such kind of philosophers) who still stick to the logically absurd idea of libertarian free will. Where I think we cannot exactly quantify free will ("Sir, he has only a free will of 37 Scoville!"), in our daily life we definitively can recognise how some people are freeer than others. And it is an essential factor in assessing how guilty somebody is in a criminal case. So this is the place to look for, at least trying to, investigate if we can design some scale of 'coerced - completely voluntary' where we can all more or less agree with. Neurology and even worse physics, have nothing to say about free will in daily life. A speculation of mine is that neurology might once be able to: but not because they discover some indetermined process in the brain, but because they are able to map the different states of the brain of people who make free decisions on one side, and people who are coerced to do an action. That is nearly correct. Spinoza defines 'free' as (definition 7): But 'God' as ±'nature', is the only thing not constrained by 'something external to itself', God is the only one from who (what) can be said that it is free.
  15. I hope you also read the rest of my posting...: And, yes, I have put quotes around 'elsewhere'. I wanted to express that from the view of the physicist or neurologist there is no reason to suspect that there is still a causal component missing, i.e. they do not have the full picture: in their view the system is 'physically causally closed'. I do not have time now to fully explain my ideas, but even then, these do not lead me to a definite position if 'downward causation' is the correct concept to describe what happens. So here is just one thought: a system can express free will only when a higher level description in terms of intentionality and actions is valid. To give a negative example (much used in the metaphorical sense, but still leads to confusion sometimes): Objects want to move with constant speed in a straight line, but planets are forced to move in ellipses around the sun by its gravity. Assigning free/forced speech just makes no sense here. But for humans it does. BTW, same holds for 'laws of nature': they do not force objects to behave like they do; they are descriptions of regularities we discover in nature. I might have a problem in this 'irreducible value'. Can you explain? - - - @AIkonoklazt: To be honest, I have no lust discussing with you. For me, you speak too often in a denigrating tone to, and about others. Maybe you should reflect a bit more on yourself, when you have the experience that people react hostile at you, and are even thrown out from other fora, as you wrote yourself: I love exchange of arguments, but not when the question is "who is right". Seeing what the better arguments are, that is interesting. I only have a simple question, but I will only ask it, if you are prepared to down your voice a bit. Maybe you have deeper insight in this stuff then I do. But nobody wants to be treated as if he or she is dumb, or an asshole, or both.
  16. Nah, it slowly gets time to think about the 'downward causation', you mentioned it already several times, and (nearly?) nobody reacted on that. My first assumption is that the universe is physically causally closed. That means that no momentum or energy somehow just leaks away, or arises from nowhere. E.g. the neutrino was proposed as a solution for missing energy in beta-decay. Only after 30 years (or so) it was confirmed that the neutrino really existed. My next assumption is that the brain is also physical, so we will never find physically causal holes in brain processes. That means that we will never find that a soul interacts with the brain: not as input (which would have been a nice gateway for proposing that we have libertarian free will), nor as output (which would have been a nice gateway for epiphenomalism). (And both together for interactionism.) Neither the neurologist, nor the physicist, studying the brain on their respective levels, will ever have to refer to some none-physical causes. So a 'cause' coming from 'elsewhere', (and wouldn't a downward causation be such a cause from 'elsewhere?) does not fit in this picture. So case closed. But to speak with PBS Spacetime's Matt O'Dowd: "not so fast". Take the following computer program: wait 10 minutes; shutdown computer; Such a kind of program can be written for every kind of computer system I know: Linux, Windows; and I am pretty sure Mac too, in short, all kinds of computer systems. Now imagine we give a computer running such a program to a physicist, and ask him to explain why this Linux computer stops after 10 minutes, but we allow him only to explain it on physical level. Theoretically, he can succeed (maybe 10 minutes is a bit short...). Using the physical architecture of the computer, and the laws of quantum mechanics he can causally explain why the computer shuts down. That means also, that his explanation is 'physically causally closed'. But now we give him another computer, running with Windows, and ask him again to explain why the computer turns off after 10 minutes. Now he must start all over again, because the hardware is different, and so are the changes because of the different operating systems. Assume he will just as well succeed. But let a programmer look, and she can tell in one glance why the computer stops. Would that count as 'downward causation'? Personally, I am inclined to say 'yes', because at least I have a better feeling of understanding why the computer stops by the programmer's explanation. Let's take a more complicated example: we organise a virtual tournament between two chess computer programs, A and B. A and B both have a red light, which signifies who has won the match. In about 70% of the cases, the light at A burns after a match. So we see the red light mostly flashing up on the A-side, but sometimes on the B-side. We ask the physicist for an explanation why sometimes the light at the A-side burns, and sometimes at the B-side, same conditions as above. Well, assume again he is able to understand what is happening, in a similar way as the simple program above. But did we learn something from his explanation? And do we now have a full understanding why in 70% of the cases the light at A-side flashes up? In the first place, we would understand much more if we knew, at a higher level, the lights depend on games of chess, and signify which program won the match. But in the second place, how correct the explanations of the physicist might be, can we say that he really understands why in 70% of the A wins? Let's ask the system administrator: "no, they are the same programs, both X-Chess". Are you sure? So she looks better, and suddenly she says "Wait! B is version 1.0, A is version 1.1. One moment, I'll look up the release notes". And there it is: Now we understand why the light on the A-side turns on more often! B just can't do certain moves, because they are not implemented in it. What would you say, @TheVat? Is this also an example of downward causation? At least, we need the knowledge that the hardware has implemented two chess programs, and by understanding chess, we understand what physically is happening: A's light burns, or B's. I'll make the arc to my compatibilist understanding of free will. Only on the level of persons mental phenomena, intentions, believes, observations, aesthetical and ethical values, and actions exist. So only on that level, free will can be meaningfully defined: as acting according my intentions, believes, observations, aesthetical and ethical values. Nevertheless, all the mental phenomena 'run on the physical wetware of the brain'. And therefore the physicist and the neurologist will simply not be able to find these on their respective level of explanation. Imprisoned on one side by their detailed view on reality, and mostly by using a meaningless, useless and theological concept of free will, they do not see the wood for the trees.
  17. Yes, it does. You are confusing libertarian free will with libertarianism. Wikipedia: I said: But I know, you have a problematic relation with words.
  18. I once wrote a small exposé about philosophy. I think it is necessary to copy it here completely:
  19. It can't. Philosophy can help by giving a workable definition of free will, only then, theoretically, it possibly could turn into an empirical question. Do not forget: philosophy doesn't answer empirical questions, for that we have the sciences. Philosophy can help to clarify concepts, find possible alternatives, unmask false arguments, reconstruct presuppositions etc. Really? I studied philosophy, and as said above, philosophy can help clarify questions and concepts, and so make one a little bit more rational. But philosophers are at least as biased as scientists are. Even philosophers are still humans... Newton spent his time mainly on alchemy and theology. And he also made a major contribution to natural philosophy. Just as relevant as your remark. With that 'physically possible' you put yourself into trouble. A determinist would say that given the initial conditions and the laws of nature there will be only one thing physically possible. Except if you think that the possibility is given because of quantum physics (which indeed makes the future unpredictable. But are your actions the result of the throwing of a quantum die? You could use the Quantum Decision-Maker, makes life much easier...) +1. A bit of humour is always enlightening You know what is discussed in modern academic philosophy, don't you? No, you don't. I reveal you at least one philosophical secret: philosophers tend to give arguments for their statements. If you thought to refer to the borg... Nope, Swansont's avatar is not a borg. Ah! Those stupid philosophers! Reflecting on thinking (in sciences, about culture, in ethics) they should stick to some dogmas? (sorry, I realise I become cynical, but you should know me by now, and that I already wrote several postings about what (modern) philosophy is. The times they are a'changin, and therefore philosophy too. Yes, and a mass that is twice another mass falls twice as fast. Aristotle said so, and he was (also) a physicist! That would be possible, isn't it? In this case, it is all about definitions. Yup. But if you do not like to dive into the rabbit hole, why do you do as if you know what is in there? For those I did not make angry, I wrote a short overview here: @dimreepr: the examples I gave at the end might interest you.
  20. I've been ill the last 2 weeks, still not quite healthy. I would like to give just a short overview of different positions in the free will debate, independent of the whole contents of this thread, just in the hope to clarify a little. Conceptually, there are 2 main view points: compatibilism and incompatibilism. Incompatibilism states that determinism and free will do not go together, so one of them is, at least partially, false. Dependent on what is supposed to be false, there are 2 main positions: Determinism is false: this is mainly libertarian free will. What we choose or decide to do, i.e. how we act, is at least partially, independent on previous causes. The mind has some kind of independence from the physical world Free will does not exist at all, it is an illusion played on us by the brain. The extremes of both are dualism (the soul has causal influence on the physical world) in the first case, and what is sometimes called 'hard determinism' (we are 'slaves' of the causal processes in the brain) in the second. Compatibilism of course says that free will and determinism are compatible. It is important to see that compatibilism does not say that (a little bit of) free will is possible in a determined world. It is not some vague compromise between determinism and free will. I think that most compatibilists go even so far that they say that determinism is a necessary condition for free will (I belong to this 'camp'). If, e.g. it turns out that quantum processes play an essential role in brain process, this would be a disturbing factor in our expression of free will, not an opening for free will in an otherwise determined world. It is also necessary to say that these or not just positions, but that for all these positions arguments are given: they are reasoned, grounded positions. So here my first point: Somebody who says 'yes, we have free will!', or just the opposite, has still said nothing. She (or he) must say in which sense. Second point: Next to certain (scientific) facts that all camps must accept, it means that the discussion is about which interpretation is the best one. The question what means 'best' of course opens a complete new can of worms. Third point, not that easy: People come to very different practical conclusions based on their conception of free will, but the rational connections can be loose. Examples: None compatibilist determinists thinking that we should not punish criminals, but therapise them, because without free will they are not responsible None compatibilist determinists saying that for our daily life it makes no difference at all: in the end, society and its judges are just as determined as the criminal Libertarians defending that every individual is completely responsible for his life: if people are poor, then they made the wrong choices in their lives, no need to help them, independent of the country or culture they come from People who think their their lives have no meaning if they have no free will (eh.. which concept of free will?) Compatibilists taking as default position that people have free will, but there are people whose circumstances are so extreme that they cannot be held responsible; or they miss one of the necessary capabilities for free will, e.g. to rationally evaluate their options for actions (maybe Down syndrome as an example?) None compatibilist determinists who say that their position leads to more tolerance to others, and lift the heavy burden of absolute responsibility, like that concept of responsibility that can be found by especially the French existentialists. I have known people falling more or less in a depression because of those views. In the hope that this helps a little to get rid of the sharp tone of the debate in this thread.
  21. But I answered it! Here the complete citation, not just the first part: But they are! But again you are using a vague word, 'responsible'. (you used 'driven' before, also vague). What is this 'responsible'-relationship? You say it is causation, I say it is supervenience. So my answer to your question is simple: there are no other variables. But there are different ways we can look: from the low levels like atoms, molecules, and neurons; or at the higher level of persons, (true) beliefs, actions, motivations, (free) will etc. The latter we are using in day-to-day life, the former by neurologists, biologists etc. And to epiphenomalism: In the fist place, I highlighted the important word: 'cause'. In the second place you left out what more is written there, immediately after your citation: So what is this: mental phenomena are caused by physical processes, but they miss the other half of what causality is: that events, mental events in this case, are caused, but cannot cause other events themselves? And isn't this just evading: I actually haven't. I've said "it depends on how you define it." If not causation, what is it? Or what is then the applicable concept of causation, according to you? I agree with your second sentence. But you have found another word to describe the relation between physical processes, which is again more vague, 'rooted'. I was more specific: it is a relation of supervenience. And everything you wrote about your views on the matter, show for me that you mean causality. And if you want it or not, this stance is called 'epiphenomanilism', with all its problems. From the same Wikipedia article:
  22. Just as a side note: Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting is also the title of a book by Daniel Dennett, in which he defends his compatibilist view on free will. He later wrote another book about it: Freedom Evolves.
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