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Robert Wilson

Free will

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Just now, Robert Wilson said:

What do you think about free will?

That it’s a post-dictave illusion, a narrative we apply to understand preconscious neural activity largely beyond our control... An outdated relic of religious and philosophical wanderings which took place before we had modern knowledge of neurobiology. 

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1 minute ago, iNow said:

That it’s a post-dictave illusion, a narrative we apply to understand preconscious neural activity largely beyond our control... An outdated relic of religious and philosophical wanderings which took place before we had modern knowledge of neurobiology. 

Exactly.

 

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While strictly speaking we don't have free will, as far as I'm concerned it changes nothing. The notion that that means we can't be held accountable for our actions certainly does not follow. 

If a stray dog kills my child, it's easy to see that it doesn't have the ability to rationalise it's actions. It's not it's fault that it's a stray. It's probably had a hard violent life, just surviving. I still want it put down. I don't care if there is a facility available that could care for it and ensure that it never hurt another being. I still want it put down. 

The same applies to people. We are just more advanced dogs. I wouldn't have people put down, but only because of the possible doubt, and peoples lives mean more to me than dogs. 

Most people regard the concept of free will as having a choice, and having the intellect to make a choice. And that's good enough reason to hold people accountable for me. You pay for the choices you made. What made you the person you were, when you made that choice, is a very minor factor that could be used as a slight mitigating factor. 

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On 11/16/2019 at 3:49 PM, Robert Wilson said:

What do you think about free will?

That we are thinking in the wrong way about it. We are still living with the religious concept of free will, meaning that humans can act completely independent of their (neural) physiology, which of course is pertinent nonsense. This concept was needed in Christian theology to make humans ultimate responsible for their actions. The problem was that otherwise God would be responsible, because He is almighty, all-knowing, and just. Now sure, this kind of free will does not exist. But it is also irrelevant in modern days. 

The modern concept of free will is different: a short version of it is 'being able to act according your own wishes and beliefs'. This definition is fully compatible with determinism, event stronger, without determinism free will would be impossible. It would break the connection between what you are and want on one side, and your actions on the other. Also, if you are striving for something, you'd better know the causality involved to get this something done. Without strict causality we would not be able to anticipate possible futures dependent on our actions, because we would simply not know what the consequences of our actions would be: without causality it could be anything.

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3 hours ago, Eise said:

without causality it could be anything.

also with it...

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On 11/16/2019 at 9:49 AM, Robert Wilson said:

What do you think about free will?

Free will

 

I don’t know I consciously chose to call  911 about 4 days after having an internal debate questioning why anyone would want to live eternally with the world being the way it is.  I was questioning buddhism assuming an atheist point of view. Why want to go through it all again for the sake of a possible improvement?

 Now I’m wondering did I exercise free will by calling 911? Yes I believe I did, but didn’t  I also answer to a basic animal instinct to live? Three stents later my heart still beats. Now, I’ve made a conscious decision to wear a box designed to shock the hell out of me should it become necessary. The box itself scares me. I had to be talked into wearing it . So is wearing it an act of free will, or is it once again animal instinct? I have become somewhat opinionated and short tempered. I would think that if These are signs of animal instinct than perhaps I was exercising free will before the heart attack and maybe the surest sign of free will presents as animal instinct. I think that if a person chooses to attach the choice of free will as a gift from a supreme being then a person shouldn’t be surprised that the animal instinct to survive  might present as an act of free will even if it is entirely human trait to consider eternal life an option readily accessible through free will and a benevolent supreme being. Now I question. When before I simply wanted to know and was willing to accept reality at face value when told I was wrong  I still wonder why anyone would want to live forever but I suspect should I wake up soon on an operating table, or in a recovery room that I will instinctively yield to all their poking a prodding accepting that I have absolutely no free will to build upon if it can’t coexist as animal instinct. Otherwise I don’t know what to think about free will.

Edited by jajrussel

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OK, I am a bit bored, so I looked at the video. Same kind of errors over and over again.

At 2:15:

'The least controversial definition I could come up with: Free will is the capability to have acted differently'. 

Obviously he is unaware of the many pages of philosophical articles that are already written about this definition. There are (at least) two ways of understanding this:

  • The strict metaphysical reading: in a determined universe everything is fixed, so every event happens, or happened exactly as it follows of causal conditions before. In this sense there is no way of 'acting differently'
  • The modal (sometimes called 'iffy') sense, meaning that if the circumstances would have been slightly different, something else would have happened. One of these slight differences is our will.

To give an example of the second reading: one day I go to a vegetarian restaurant, and the next day to a 'normal' restaurant. Is the sentence 'I could have ordered a beefsteak' true or false? Obviously there is no beefsteak on the menu of the vegetarian restaurant, so in this case the sentence is false. But for the 'normal' restaurant it is true: it was on the menu card. However, I took a vegetarian dish in the 'normal' restaurant. So the sentence is non-trivial true, even if I ordered something else. It was my will that decided differently. So really, in this sense, I could have ordered beefsteak. And it has next to nothing to do with determinism.

Nearly all non-compatibilist determinists take the metaphysical meaning.

At 2:30:

The idea is that you are in complete control of your actions, and any decisions you make are determined only by your conscious self.

First, he does not define what this 'conscious self' is. Is it a soul that can only observe and is completely powerless? And what is complete control? Does it mean control without determined history? That is nonsense too: a thermostat controls the temperature, but it is a completely determined system. There is no contradiction between being in control, and being determined.

At 4:15

Can you choose not to want something?

Another nonsense definition. Free will is at most being able to act according your own wishes and beliefs. 'Free will' does not mean 'free from influences': it means that a person can choose his actions,  that she is 'free to act', not who or what she is.

So, @Robert Wilson: why did you post the link? What do you think?

 

PS. You should look at this: Free Will, Determinism and Choice, and its followups.

Edited by Eise

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48 minutes ago, Eise said:

PS. You should look at this: Free Will, Determinism and Choice, and its followups.

it seems that what ever we choose, its both and neither: so I choose to be content with neither and both.

 

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I didn’t understand the video, sounded to me like he was talking about intent rather than free will. He starts the video stating his intent then sums up that through his presentation  that he had achieved what he had set out to do.

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In the end, free will will always be a grey area, of judgement and definition. And it affects almost everyone in some way or other.

Two billion Christians would almost certainly tell you that they follow their religion through their own free choice. And another billion Hindus would say the same. And a billion Muslims would probably be quite sure that they remain Muslim through their own free will. 

But it's perfectly obvious that that choice was made for them by their parents, who also had the same experience. 

Lots of other things are being decided for us, by a constant drip drip of indoctrination by the media. You can argue, like the two billion Christians, that they are "free" to choose something else at any time. But an indoctrinated mind is not "free". It's been deliberately shaped to think certain things. 

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39 minutes ago, mistermack said:

Two billion Christians would almost certainly tell you that they follow their religion through their own free choice. And another billion Hindus would say the same. And a billion Muslims would probably be quite sure that they remain Muslim through their own free will. 

But it's perfectly obvious that that choice was made for them by their parents, who also had the same experience. 

You are using as definition of free will 'the freedom to be who you are' instead of 'the freedom to act according your own wishes and beliefs'. No, doubt, who we are is heavily influenced by our genetic heritage, and our biological, cultural and personal history. So what we want and what we believe is strongly determined by these factors. How could it be differently? But that is not what free will is about.

45 minutes ago, mistermack said:

But an indoctrinated mind is not "free".

I would reserve the word 'indoctrinated' for willful indoctrination. Just growing up in a culture with a certain set of beliefs and values I would not count as indoctrination, otherwise we all are. I also hardly see reading newspapers as indoctrination. 

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On 11/16/2019 at 2:49 AM, Robert Wilson said:

What do you think about free will?

Free will

 

There is no free will... humans will kill each other in no time, even in stone age the were a rules in a clan or group of tribes, that is how humanity works at best.

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24 minutes ago, Arnold Ungab said:

There is no free will... humans will kill each other in no time, even in stone age the were a rules in a clan or group of tribes, that is how humanity works at best.

So free will according to you means being allowed to do everything, without anyone blaming you for bad behaviour? Why do you think such rules exist? Why would such rules be necessary if nobody has free will?

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1 hour ago, Eise said:

You are using as definition of free will 'the freedom to be who you are' instead of 'the freedom to act according your own wishes and beliefs'.

When your wishes and beliefs are designed for you, and fed to you in drip drip fashion throughout your life, then that is taking away your freedom. Of course, you have the theoretical freedom to change your beliefs. But is that real? I can't change what I believe. I believe America exists. No matter how hard I try, sitting here and really trying, I can't believe otherwise. You can't choose your wishes, or your beliefs. But you can choose what your children will grow up wishing and believing. The facts speak for themselves.

Your idea seems to be that if it happens gradually, it's not happening at all. The results prove you wrong, in their billions. About six billion people on the planet have adopted the religion of their parents. It's not a coincidence. It's more than just the environment rubbing off on them. 

If you look at which religions are growing, and which are shrinking, the trends follow the intensity of indoctrination. Islam has a very high intensity indoctrination culture, and it's doing well. Christianity in the UK is generally quite laid back, and it's shrinking fast. The difference is in the level of indoctrination.

1 hour ago, Eise said:

Just growing up in a culture with a certain set of beliefs and values I would not count as indoctrination, otherwise we all are. I also hardly see reading newspapers as indoctrination.

Yes, we all ARE. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad, just that it's there. 

As far as the media goes, why do you think people pay so much to control the news media? It's rarely a money-spinner. Why do governments want control of the news media? Because they know that people are easily told what to think and what to want, if you can get good control of the media.

Why do the TV stations in the UK run regular stories, about some minor royal supporting this or that charity? It's not news, but they make it so. The message is, "Royal Family Good" and it's tirelessly repeated. They will run unfavourable stories occasionally, but only because if they didn't, it would give the game away. 

Why do commercials constantly show mixed-race couples? When mixed race couples are such a low proportion of the total? Same reason, to get the message over, "integration normal, integration good". I don't mind that one, I'm not saying it's all bad, just that it is subtle indoctrination. 

Hell, if it didn't work, we wouldn't have such a gigantic advertising industry. We are amazingly easy to manipulate, for creatures of "free will".

Edited by mistermack

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1 minute ago, mistermack said:

When your wishes and beliefs are designed for you, and fed to you in drip drip fashion throughout your life, then that is taking away your freedom. Of course, you have the theoretical freedom to change your beliefs. But is that real? I can't change what I believe... etc

Read carefully again: nothing what you write here applies to what I wrote. Try again.

3 minutes ago, mistermack said:

Yes, we all ARE. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad, just that it's there. 

I think that deprives the word 'indoctrination' of its contents. It would e.g. mean that if you are well informed about scientific results, you are indoctrinated by science. No, there I stick to my previous remark about indoctrination, i.e. that it must be willfully done by (an) external agent(s).

And yes, there are grounds (sufficient or not, that is another discussion), to call advertising indoctrination. But it fits to my remark: it is intentionally done by others.

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4 minutes ago, Eise said:

Read carefully again: nothing what you write here applies to what I wrote. Try again.

It does but you didn't get it. You said "freedom to act according to your own wishes and beliefs"

That is making the erroneous assumption that your wishes and beliefs ARE your own. I've shown that they didn't just rub off from your environment, they were instilled into you, mostly in a deliberate fashion, as in religion, politics and advertising. 

We are all generally tolerant of homosexual people now in this country. Which is quite right, I'm glad it's that way. But it didn't happen without deliberate indoctrination. Sixty years ago, it was hugely different. We've had sixty years of drip drip indoctrination, to get to where we are now. 

Sixty years ago, the attitude was the opposite, because the indoctrination we had up to then been the other way around. The official message was "gay bad" . A bit like some of the more backward countries today. We've switched the direction of the indoctrination, and switched the overall public attitude.  It's taken a while, but it works. 

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13 minutes ago, mistermack said:

You said "freedom to act according to your own wishes and beliefs"

Yes, I did. I also said this:

1 hour ago, Eise said:

You are using as definition of free will 'the freedom to be who you are' instead of 'the freedom to act according your own wishes and beliefs'. No, doubt, who we are is heavily influenced by our genetic heritage, and our biological, cultural and personal history. So what we want and what we believe is strongly determined by these factors. How could it be differently? But that is not what free will is about.

And then you tell me in how many different ways we are determined by our genetic heritage, and our biological, cultural and personal history. So my best answer would be: 'so what?'.

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56 minutes ago, mistermack said:

When your wishes and beliefs are designed for you, and fed to you in drip drip fashion throughout your life, then that is taking away your freedom.

Its you that doesn't get it, ever heard of a rebellion?

Edited by dimreepr

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It is difficult to discuss Free Will without preconceptions and preconditions.

Here is my proposal for an objective (ie without such encumberances) question that is as near to free will as I can get.

You need to solve a difficult equation by numerical methods, since there are no known analytical ones.

One characteristic of numerical methods is that they require an intitial guess as a seed the method can refine progressively.

What will your initial guess be?

You can choose from any number whatsoever.

 

 

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We seem always to get hung up on some basic definitions in these discussions. Eise has very well crafted definitions and is well read on the topic as evidenced by our several past exchanges on this topic, but I personally find them a bit unsatisfying.

What is “you” and what is the source of “desires and wishes,” and what is “freedom?” These words don’t have one single meaning, so it’s no wonder we struggle to arrive together at one single consensus.

We are indoctrinated. We are affected by things in our environment... our fatigue, our hunger, our immune system challenges... the colonies of bacteria in our bellies, our hydration levels, and our access to sunlight and fresh air. We are meat bags of mostly water and chemicals.

Its hard for me to call us free when so few of those things are within our control and we so often behave like programmed robots in a simulation. I suspect part of this comes from my own remedial and unnuanced definition of free will.

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3 minutes ago, studiot said:

It is difficult to discuss Free Will without preconceptions and preconditions.

Here is my proposal for an objective (ie without such encumberances) question that is as near to free will as I can get.

You need to solve a difficult equation by numerical methods, since there are no known analytical ones.

One characteristic of numerical methods is that they require an intitial guess as a seed the method can refine progressively.

What will your initial guess be?You can choose from any number whatsoever.

thank you Sheldon. :-)

4 minutes ago, iNow said:

Its hard for me to call us free when so few of those things are within our control

the free bit seems to be, when the outcome matches our expectations

47 minutes ago, Eise said:

So what?

that seems to cover it.

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1 hour ago, iNow said:

What is “you”

Well, that meat bag of mostly water and chemicals of yours. But the whole of it, not any part. 'You' is not some part of this meat bag. But it is true that the brain seems the most important part, but that is because it is the most important 'control centre' in the body. The 'you' emerges from the process as a whole. (No magic meant here: a traffic jam emerges from any individual cars.)

1 hour ago, iNow said:

what is the source of “desires and wishes,”

Depends a little of what you mean: 'source' in the historical sense, or in the functional sense:

  • historically the factors I already mentioned: genetic inheritance, biological history, culture and upbringing
  • functional sense: somewhere in the meat bag.

For discussing free will more nuances are not necessary. In daily life you (mostly) know what your wishes and beliefs are, and often you know how to act to achieve your goals.

1 hour ago, iNow said:

We are indoctrinated. We are affected by things in our environment... our fatigue, our hunger, our immune system challenges... the colonies of bacteria in our bellies, our hydration levels, and our access to sunlight and fresh air. We are meat bags of mostly water and chemicals.

Exactly. And none of them, taken on its own, is 'you'. Trying to apply the idea of free will on the physical parts of the body is simply a category error.

1 hour ago, iNow said:

Its hard for me to call us free when so few of those things are within our control

We do not need that kind of control. Important is that 'you' has control, and because you are the working whole, and not one of the things in your body, there is no way that 'you' can be forced to do something 'you' does not want. 'You' e.g. control your car when driving. When you loose control you get in an accident.

1 hour ago, iNow said:

we so often behave like programmed robots in a simulation

Yes, we are (biological) robots, but nearly unimaginably advanced. E.g. we can reflect on our inner states ('I am hungry', 'I think Trump should be impeached'), and can anticipate on the possible (not actual!) consequences of actions I could do.

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