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Robert Wilson

Free will

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8 hours ago, joigus said:

It's an illusion, clearly.

It's an illusion, arguably.

Hi joigus,

Didn't other people warn you about viewpoints that deny free will exist, because I am here on the forum? The dreadful free will defender!¬†ūüė≤

To argue, you should have arguments. To have arguments one needs concepts that all agree on their meanings. Without at least this level of understanding it is even impossible to have a meaningful discussion. So the first question (well, at least my first question): what do you mean with 'free will'?

To give a short description of my concept: free will is the capability to act according your own motivations and beliefs. I think that it is a good start, because:

  • it fits to what most people think free will is: to be able to do what you want.
  • it is firmly rooted in our experience. (I want a bottle of beer --> I can walk to the fridge, and take one.) Don't you have this experience?

For explanation you can read my reactions in this thread, and if you search on this forum, you will find much more.

Of¬†course, many people have a lot of other thoughts about what free will is, but most of them we can throw out of the philosophical window, like 'actions uncaused by previous conditions', 'being able to otherwise under exactly the same circumstances', and a lot more. Hope to read soon from you! Feel free to chime in!¬†ūüėČ

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Eise said:

To argue, you should have arguments.

Fair enough. That's why I said 'arguably.' Right now I'm thinking about mass. But I promise I will read carefully your posts and replies on the matter and give you a reply in due time that will meet your high philosophical standards. ;) 

For the time being, I have a feeling that the molecules in my brain are compelling me to think about mass right now as much as the molecules in your brain are compelling you to think about free will. But in order to take the discussion as far from the realm of opinion as possible, there's a simple experiment you can conduct: If you're right, and I'm wrong, which may very well be, and both you and I are 100 % free, why not dropping the topic no matter how much you want to argue about free will? For the likes of you or I that's harder than passing on a beer, isn't it?

It's a pleasure making your acquaintance, Eise.

40 minutes ago, Eise said:

it is firmly rooted in our experience. (I want a bottle of beer --> I can walk to the fridge, and take one.) Don't you have this experience?

I'm going for that beer, I can't help myself. ;)

 

Edited by joigus
"compelling" instead of "conditioning" is more compelling.

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33 minutes ago, joigus said:

If you're right, and I'm wrong, which may very well be, and both you and I are 100 % free

Ah, but I think nobody is 100% free. Wouldn't 50% suffice to say that free will exists?

35 minutes ago, joigus said:

why not dropping the topic no matter how much you want to argue about free will?

Three reasons: 

  • as somebody who studied philosophy, I find it one of the most interesting topics in philosophy.
  • on the other side, I think it is an important topic. I find it important that people take their responsibility, and cannot get away with 'it was my bad youth, my honour'. But on the other side nobody chose to be born under the circumstances (s)he was. E.g. to say that everybody can become a millionaire, even he is a dishwasher now, is heavily overstating the luck (s)he had to be in good circumstances.
  • Fear that as a first step criminals are all seen as psychically ill, and in the next step certain political stances are also interpreted as illness. Soviet psychiatry as terrible example.
45 minutes ago, joigus said:

It's a pleasure making your acquaintance, Eise.

The pleasure is on my side, joigus. But be prepared! ;)

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1 hour ago, Eise said:

Ah, but I think nobody is 100% free. Wouldn't 50% suffice to say that free will exists?

I'd feel more comfortable with 37 % free. Sounds less made up. But for the sake of argument...

I see you quote Daniel Dennet in your profile. (I don't know how to do that yet on my profile, by the way.) It's precisely Daniel Dennet who has made really eloquent arguments about how nor human beings nor anything biologically based can be free. One of the most important arguments kind of answers your next objection:

1 hour ago, Eise said:

on the other side, I think it is an important topic. I find it important that people take their responsibility, and cannot get away with 'it was my bad youth, my honour'.

Yes, I agree, but:

1) Should we accept anything just on the grounds that it's better for us to believe it, that society would work best, or better? (this argument is not new, nor mine, actually.)

2) Daniel Dennet has said, or perhaps suggested, if I'm quoting him correctly, that not having free will is not that bad, once we realize everyone would be willing to behave properly if they want to be respectable members of this society. You may well get away with saying 'it was my bad youth, your honour," but if you want to be able to be trusted, sign contracts, get a job, etc., you'd better abide by the rules. So there is an external pressure, so to speak that always keeps things in order, to an extent. The analogy of "pressure" is not that far-fetched, actually --see below. The very fact that, even in spite of those pressures, there are people who still break the rules, should give you some pause as to whether we're really free.

3) Another argument, which is my own or maybe some regurgitation I can't remember the origin of, but came to me inspired by Daniel Dennet's words (as an extrapolation of his thoughts, I must confess,) is:

OK. Suppose I'm right and we're not free. None of us is actually free; we're all acting based on the script that the molecules in our brain (including enormously complicated interactions: personal history, molecular accidents, so on...) are telling us. There are bound to be people out there who do believe everyone is responsible for their acts, so you'd better behave (abide by the rules,) because the idea of free will, no matter how it has emerged, is operative in the world. So no matter what you believe, the world is acting out the role of responsible beings going about their business knowing all the time what they're doing and being able to do differently if they wanted to. Even if that's just an illusion.

The aspect of emergence is very important, I think. And even if society becomes unconceivable scientific and deterministic in their believes (something I think we're very far from, to be honest,) there would still be Dennet's argument that if you want a series of good things in your life, you better behave.

So, even if the world is based on just molecules doing their microscopic business, these molecules manage to produce, as an emergent property, this illusion of free will that works very well as a deterring mechanism for us all by trying to to get us out of trouble.

2 hours ago, Eise said:

The pleasure is on my side, joigus. But be prepared! ;)

Be prepared you too, you don't know who you're messing with, mister.

Just joking, of course. A pleasure.

3 hours ago, Eise said:

what do you mean with 'free will'?

I forgot to answer this. By "free will" making any sense I mean being put in the same situation and being able to do otherwise. I know some people use quantum mechanics to argue about free will, but I'm kind of hoping we won't get into that.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Eise said:

So the first question (well, at least my first question): what do you mean with 'free will'?

 

2 hours ago, joigus said:

I forgot to answer this. By "free will" making any sense I mean being put in the same situation and being able to do otherwise. I know some people use quantum mechanics to argue about free will, but I'm kind of hoping we won't get into that.

Well you two love birds appear to have settled on a more or less common definition of free will.

So here are a couple of questions.

It is a warm day at the seaside so you visit the ice cream parlour.
The bar tender waves his hand over the 45 different flavours you can choose from and says
"One scoop or two?"

So do you have free will as you have a choice ?

What if you decide you want say, liquorice ice cream, which is not in the range of 45?

 

In other words how far does your 'choice' have to be completely and utterly unlimited?

Anything conceivable, possible or not?

The physically possible?

The available range?

or what?

 

Edited by studiot

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, joigus said:

believes

belief. Sorry

26 minutes ago, studiot said:

 

Well you two love birds appear to have settled on a more or less common definition of free will.

So here are a couple of questions.

It is a warm day at the seaside so you visit the ice cream parlour.
The bar tender waves his hand over the 45 different flavours you can choose from and says
"One scoop or two?"

So do you have free will as you have a choice ?

What if you decide you want say, liquorice ice cream, which is not in the range of 45?

 

In other words how far does your 'choice' have to be completely and utterly unlimited?

Anything conceivable, possible or not?

The physically possible?

The available range?

or what?

 

I'm glad that you've brought it up. Some so-called scientists of the human psyche have noted that too many choices lead to agonizing over what to do, rather than making you feel the leeway that you're apparently given. If that's any indication at all about whether we've got free will, I think it goes in the direction of saying that we haven't.

The question of range is important, but even more is the question of concern, I think. What's at stake. The Libet experiment has been claimed to prove the absence of free will. I'm not so sure about that, because as far as I understand, it had to do with decisions that were irrelevant to the person who was making the choice. Quite a different thing would be to test decisions and see if the machine can guess it right beforehand when there is  something really important or valuable at stake for person under scrutiny.

6 minutes ago, joigus said:

The Libet experiment has been claimed to prove the absence of free will.

There are other criticisms to the Libet experiment, as I've just noticed. I'm no expert on that.

Edited by joigus
typo

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, joigus said:

It's precisely Daniel Dennet who has made really eloquent arguments about how nor human beings nor anything biologically based can be free.

Eh? He wrote books like Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting, and Freedom Evolves, in which he definitely defends compatibilist free will. That is exactly the kind of free will I defend that exists.

16 hours ago, joigus said:

Daniel Dennet has said, or perhaps suggested, if I'm quoting him correctly, that not having free will is not that bad, once we realize everyone would be willing to behave properly if they want to be respectable members of this society. You may well get away with saying 'it was my bad youth, your honour," but if you want to be able to be trusted, sign contracts, get a job, etc., you'd better abide by the rules.

Not quite, even that I recognise the argument from Dennett. 

16 hours ago, joigus said:

There are bound to be people out there who do believe everyone is responsible for their acts, so you'd better behave (abide by the rules,) because the idea of free will, no matter how it has emerged, is operative in the world.

So a concept emerges, is operative, but does not exist. But in my view, this is the way free will exists. Looking for it in the brain, or even worse, on the level of its chemistry, is looking for it at the wrong place. Free will exists in a (language) community thanks to some capabilities humans have: seeing possible routes for action, and predict the possible outcomes of these actions, and choose the one that fits best to one's wishes.

16 hours ago, joigus said:

So, even if the world is based on just molecules doing their microscopic business, these molecules manage to produce, as an emergent property, this illusion of free will that works very well as a deterring mechanism for us all by trying to to get us out of trouble.

Well, the illusion is that our decisions and actions have no causal antecedents. But to see that sometimes we can act based on our motivations, and sometimes we can't, is exactly the difference between a free and a coerced action.

16 hours ago, joigus said:

None of us is actually free; we're all acting based on the script that the molecules in our brain (including enormously complicated interactions: personal history, molecular accidents, so on...)

But we are these 'enormously complicated interactions: personal history, molecular accidents, so on...'.¬† There is no 'we' separate from our bodily existence. So 'we' cannot be forced by our body or brain. That would be like the Baron von M√ľnchhausen, dragging himself out of the swam by lifting himself with his hair. I.e. there is a rest of dualism in your argument.

16 hours ago, joigus said:

I forgot to answer this. By "free will" making any sense I mean being put in the same situation and being able to do otherwise.

I think it is very bad definition of what free will is, mainly because the phrase 'could have done otherwise' is interpreted literally, and not just contra-factual.

13 hours ago, studiot said:

Well you two love birds appear to have settled on a more or less common definition of free will.

Nope, we did not, as you hopefully see from my reaction to joigus.

13 hours ago, studiot said:

In other words how far does your 'choice' have to be completely and utterly unlimited?

Why should it be 'completely and utterly unlimited'? You cannot jump over the moon, so does that mean you are not free? You are right, you are not 'free' to take liquorice ice cream, simply because it is not there. That is a limitation of your possible actions, but it is never a bad idea to choose actions based on the existing possibilities.

 

13 hours ago, joigus said:

Some so-called scientists of the human psyche have noted that too many choices lead to agonizing over what to do, rather than making you feel the leeway that you're apparently given. If that's any indication at all about whether we've got free will, I think it goes in the direction of saying that we haven't.

No. It is just tiresome to have too many choices, especially when some of the choices are close to each other in terms of a 'pro- and contra' overview.

13 hours ago, joigus said:

 The Libet experiment has been claimed to prove the absence of free will. I'm not so sure about that, because as far as I understand, it had to do with decisions that were irrelevant to the person who was making the choice.

This is one of the shortest, but correct critiques on what Libet's experiments have to say about free will: next to nothing. And as any naturalist should be, I am not astonished at all that even if the action was somehow important, that it has a causal foreplay. And you should not confuse 'free will' with 'unpredictability'. 

13 hours ago, joigus said:

There are other criticisms to the Libet experiment, as I've just noticed.

Oh yes. And one of the greatest critiques comes from Dennett.

Edited by Eise

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8 hours ago, Eise said:

Eh? He wrote books like Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting, and Freedom Evolves, in which he definitely defends compatibilist free will. That is exactly the kind of free will I defend that exists.

I've heard him say it in some lecture. He may well have changed his mind. People change their mind sometimes. But I'm not sure. I'll check more. He certainly speaks of free will in some sense. I do too, as an emergent concept, as I said.

 

8 hours ago, Eise said:

Not quite, even that I recognise the argument from Dennett. 

Again, I heard him say that in a public lecture. But I could be wrong. 

But you still haven't answered my argument that something being undesirable is no good reason for ruling it out as a sufficient reason (now you're going to kick me in my Leibniz, I know.) ;) For example: Darwin's theory must be wrong because a world based on competence for survival is too bleak and unforgiving. Well, you do what you must in order to alleviate the consequences; don't just deny the element of competence for survival and how it partly shapes the evolution of organisms.

8 hours ago, Eise said:

I think it is very bad definition of what free will is, mainly because the phrase 'could have done otherwise' is interpreted literally, and not just contra-factual.

Here I agree. I'm not sure that for the same reasons. But my definition ignores that the question goes deeper and determinism/free will is more involved.

 

8 hours ago, Eise said:

No. It is just tiresome to have too many choices, especially when some of the choices are close to each other in terms of a 'pro- and contra' overview.

It's tiresome to have too many choices, so constriction of choice (less freedom) actually nurtures a subjective feeling of acting more freely, when really what is happening is that your "internal determinations" act with less "internal friction" so to speak, being more like a weight falling on free space rather than turbulence and friction (agony of inability to decide.) And yet, your subjective impression is that you're doing exactly what you want. You see? Exactly what you want!!! You you can't change it. If constriction of choice leads you to believe that you're acting freer, something's fishy at the core of your instinctive notion of freedom.

And... dualistic? I'm nothing that ends with -istic!!!

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9 hours ago, joigus said:

I've heard him say it in some lecture. He may well have changed his mind. People change their mind sometimes. But I'm not sure. I'll check more. He certainly speaks of free will in some sense. I do too, as an emergent concept, as I said.

No, 100% sure, he did not change his mind. I heard more of these rumours, but in my view it is a complete misunderstanding of something he might have said. If you find any sources for this, I would appreciate it very much.

About emergency: to say it is an emergent concept is a category error. Emergent phenomena exist, and can even have causal impact. The orbit of a planet, traffic jams, clouds, 'the wave', marriage are all emergent phenomena. But they really exist. Not in the way that electrons and tables exist, but to deny their existence simply makes no sense. I fully agree that free will is an emergent property, but that does not mean it does not exist. You made that more or less clear yourself, by your explanation that the concept of free will is operative in the world.

10 hours ago, joigus said:

But you still haven't answered my argument that something being undesirable is no good reason for ruling it out as a sufficient reason

Seems I have missed that. Sure, one shouldn't wag the dog. But I brought this in only to describe my interest in the matter. It is not even necessary reason.

10 hours ago, joigus said:

Here I agree. I'm not sure that for the same reasons. But my definition ignores that the question goes deeper and determinism/free will is more involved.

I do not understand this. Could you expand a little on this?

11 hours ago, joigus said:

It's tiresome to have too many choices, so constriction of choice (less freedom) actually nurtures a subjective feeling of acting more freely, when really what is happening is that your "internal determinations" act with less "internal friction" so to speak, being more like a weight falling on free space rather than turbulence and friction (agony of inability to decide.) And yet, your subjective impression is that you're doing exactly what you want. You see? Exactly what you want!!! You you can't change it. If constriction of choice leads you to believe that you're acting freer, something's fishy at the core of your instinctive notion of freedom.

I think this is a confusion between 'ease of decision' and 'free will'. Free will is also a burden, as existentialists were not tired to emphasise. But this has to do with seriously trying to make the right choice. I a 'small environment' this is easier than in a complex environment, with many possible choices, and maybe also a lot of unknowns.

11 hours ago, joigus said:

And... dualistic? I'm nothing that ends with -istic!!!

I only said:

20 hours ago, Eise said:

there is a rest of dualism in your argument

The 'rest' lies in the idea that we are forced by our own determined brain or bodily processes. Enforcement presupposes always 2 entities: the enforcer and the enforced. But in a naturalistic world view there is only one entity: (to speak in iNow's words) the bag of water, conventionally known as 'you'.

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5 hours ago, Eise said:

Enforcement presupposes always 2 entities: the enforcer and the enforced. But in a naturalistic world view there is only one entity: (to speak in iNow's words) the bag of water, conventionally known as 'you'.

Bag of mostly water and chemicals following standard chemical processes, interactions,¬†and the physics of electrical propagation. ‚úĆÔłŹ

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You guys remind me of the 'architect' in The Matrix: Reloaded.

He explains to Neo how they constructed a perfect version of the Matrix, but humans refused to accept it.
It was only by the introduction of the anomaly, where humans are given the impression that they have choice, that the imperfect version of the Matrix was accepted.

Yeah, I get all my Philosophy from movies...

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Gentlemen: I am new to this forum, am enjoying your discussion, and felt compelled to participate.  


@Joigus

"…so constriction of choice (less freedom)"

In any realistic view, wouldn‚Äôt the relationship quickly become inversely proportional? It would only make sense given the finite information, energy, and time involved in making a choice‚ÄĒultimately a shrinking interval always further constricts the number of choices that can be assessed.

"And yet, your subjective impression is that you're doing exactly what you want. You see? Exactly what you want!!!" 

‚ÄúExactly‚ÄĚ implies that there are no limits. I don‚Äôt think Dennett (or anyone here) is suggesting ‚Äúfreedom‚ÄĚ as in: infinite degrees of‚ÄĒor degrees that would perfectly satisfy us. ¬†

‚ÄúYou‚Ķcan't change it.‚ÄĚ

No I can‚Äôt change it. Based on the knowledge of the circumstances and the opportunity to assess them, it‚Äôs the best I could do. I don‚Äôt have some bird‚Äôs eye view with infinite computability and processing speed; it seems we are back to jumping over the moon. When you say, ‚ÄúI can‚Äôt change it‚ÄĚ (could not have chosen otherwise), you are right! But that ignores the entire process that took place while the choice was being made; as though it were of no relevance. To lump beneath the same umbrella the process that leads to each and every determined outcome is to ignore important qualitative differences. It is through an examination of those differences where you find the compatibilist version that lurks amid the four big ‚Äúf‚ÄĚs of evolution (fight, flight, food, and reproduction), plus the added language, culture etc‚ÄĒthe nuanced landscape in which the bag ‚Äúof mostly water and chemicals‚Ķ‚ÄĚ navigates.¬†

@ Eise. 

I share your compatibilist view, but I still have a nagging suspicion that Joigus is right! That there are zero degrees of freedom (or at least that is what I think he is saying!). Do you sometimes have this doubt? If so, why?
 

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Eise said:

 

The 'rest' lies in the idea that we are forced by our own determined brain or bodily processes. Enforcement presupposes always 2 entities: the enforcer and the enforced. But in a naturalistic world view there is only one entity: (to speak in iNow's words) the bag of water, conventionally known as 'you'.

Or you, the entity, + environment. In this case I would see the 'enforcer' as an environmental factor

 

On 5/25/2020 at 9:20 PM, Eise said:

 

 Free will exists in a (language) community thanks to some capabilities humans have: seeing possible routes for action, and predict the possible outcomes of these actions, and choose the one that fits best to one's wishes.

Why should it be 'completely and utterly unlimited'? You cannot jump over the moon, so does that mean you are not free? You are right, you are not 'free' to take liquorice ice cream, simply because it is not there. That is a limitation of your possible actions, but it is never a bad idea to choose actions based on the existing possibilities.

This definition to me is = to our biological capabilities for recognition of,  and response to,  environment. Responsibility.

We can choose to recognise  (familiarise and understand to the best our abilities) the environment we have.... in order to affect the environment we might have.

Free will seems to me to be a choice of response- ability- or not.

In that case free will would be limited by environmental conditions, increased with recognition and familiarity.

 

19 hours ago, Eise said:

 

 

Edited by naitche

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Eise said:

No, 100% sure, he did not change his mind. I heard more of these rumours, but in my view it is a complete misunderstanding of something he might have said. If you find any sources for this, I would appreciate it very much.

[...]

Eise, I'm sorry to have abridged you so disrespectfully. I'm starting to value you greatly, among other things because you admire Daniel Dennett at least as much as I do, plus you have many important points to make about free will and other fascinating topics. And you are much better read than I am, and know much that I don't. I promise to take due consideration of your points ASAP. Maybe you can walk me through some of it.

But (and it's my big but talking, that so much has annoyed people to no end throughout the years) there would be a very simple way to prove (to me at least) that you're a free agent. Consider it an experiment:

You write in big words the following (I'm pretty sure you don't want to write it):

Joigus is right, I was wrong: There is no free will!!!

It won't mean anything. It's just an experiment. Everybody will know it's just an experiment. If you can't do it, I've made my point, and we will have saved many hours of discussion.

Then go out on the street, and as soon as you find some stranger, stand on one feet for 10 seconds and say: I have discovered a way to make an elephant from ants!!!

Do this with a smile on your face and one shoe on your head, and then return safely home. Even write a paper about it, explaining how you've found a way to prove the existence of free will. I don't think that will have any undesirable consequences for you. You would have proved your point that you're free and you can do whatever you fancy. Just fancy that. If you find my proposal disgusting, find some other equivalent way of doing something bizarre and harmless to you and others. It will be pointless in its own premises --actually premiseless--, but very purposeful in the sense of proving a point.

If you can't, I've made my point. There are many things I won't do, as there are many things you won't do. It's not because you or I can't in the sense that our muscles or nervous system not being equipped to do it, it's because something in our respective brains compels us not to.

You think you're driving your molecules, but it's they that are driving you. And there must be a reason why the verb "diswant" doesn't exist.

9 hours ago, MigL said:

You guys remind me of the 'architect' in The Matrix: Reloaded.

I must watch that movie again. Some sci-fi movies make fascinating philosophical points.

2 hours ago, vexspits said:

In any realistic view, wouldn‚Äôt the relationship quickly become inversely proportional? It would only make sense given the finite information, energy, and time involved in making a choice‚ÄĒultimately a shrinking interval always further constricts the number of choices that can be assessed.

Hi, Vexspits. I'd rather not talk about free will or constriction of choice in terms other than qualitative. I can't assign a measure to the number of choices, to be honest. It reminds me an old add for a cosmetic product that said "your eyes will look a 92.3 % more dazzling" (or something like that.)

2 hours ago, vexspits said:

the four big ‚Äúf‚ÄĚs of evolution (fight, flight, food, and reproduction),

:) LOL.

I strive to understand your subtle philosophical points, but I'm far less sophisticated. I like to phrase the problem of freedom with one of Yogi Berra's famous quotes:

When you get to a fork in the road, take it!

That's as far as my philosophical knowledge reaches. Really. I think you and Eise are overestimating my philosophical skills.

 

Edited by joigus
mistyped

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6 hours ago, vexspits said:

‚ÄúExactly‚ÄĚ implies that there are no limits. I don‚Äôt think Dennett (or anyone here) is suggesting ‚Äúfreedom‚ÄĚ as in: infinite degrees of‚ÄĒor degrees that would perfectly satisfy us. ¬†

Exactly. ^_^

6 hours ago, vexspits said:

I share your compatibilist view, but I still have a nagging suspicion that Joigus is right! That there are zero degrees of freedom (or at least that is what I think he is saying!). Do you sometimes have this doubt? If so, why?

Yes. That is, also for me it sometimes is not easy to get rid of the wrong ideas, because they are 'implemented' so deeply. The culture one grows up in, the ideas you get fed by one's parents, etc etc take root very early in life, and these deep imprints are the most difficult to get rid of. I am not an exception. A rational reconstruction of how I developed since then:

  1. Believe that free will is a given: we definitely feel that we can do what we want. I think as a child I believed in something like a soul. (One could say I had a light christian upbringing.)
  2. My interest in astronomy and physics was also pretty early, and so I slowly moved to a more materialistic world view.
  3. Of course, with that the idea of the soul had to go. But the 'Cartesian Spell' is very strong: I still feels as if 'I' am locked in somewhere in my head' with the senses as windows to the outside world, and a body over which I have a certain level of command: move, walk, drink, etc. But this only means that one has replaced the soul with 'the command centre in the brain', where a homunculus decides which muscles to move based on the information of the 3-D TV set and stereo audio system.
  4. Dennett weaking up these concepts, calling it the 'Cartesian Theatre', making very plausible that asking for the place and time where and when in the brain 'everything comes together' is still Cartesian.
  5. Realising that there is nobody in the brain: thus to speak of neurons or neural processes that forces me to do something makes no sense either.
  6. Realising that determinism has two sides: I am determined by previous events, but I determine on my part followup events via my action.
  7. Realising that in that lies our free will: when I can act according to what I want. Not totally, not always, but I would say that at least part of my actions are free.

People who defend that we have no free will therefore still lie under the Cartesian Spell: that there is something (soul, homunculus, the place and time where 'consciousness' occurs) which is not itself (neurons, brains). It also has to do with the idea that laws of nature force things to happen. But that is wrong of course: they are our descriptions of how nature behaves. The laws of nature are 'forced upon us' by our observations of nature, not the other way round. There is no causality between the laws of nature at one side, and nature itself on the other. Exactly the same with us: there is no causality between our brain and us, so there can be no enforcement of the brain on us. We 'are our brains'. It is a conceptual  relationship, not a causal one.

Sorry for the long exposé, I made it to the story of how I slowly got more and more rid of Cartesian ideas. But it is not easy not just to think like that, but also experience life this way. That is one important reason I started (Zen) meditation. In Buddhism one finds many of these kind of ideas ('No independent Self').

OK, more later, I spent already a lot of my boss' time writing this. I should care for 'my databases'...

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6 hours ago, joigus said:

It reminds me an old add for a cosmetic product

ad.

Always in a hurry. Always mistyping.

2 hours ago, Eise said:

OK, more later, I spent already a lot of my boss' time writing this. I should care for 'my databases'...

I'm reading you more and more in successive layers and I think we may disagree less than I thought. I would like to take more time to review Dennett, review you, review myself, and let it all sink in.

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9 hours ago, joigus said:

I would like to take more time to review Dennett, review you, review myself, and let it all sink in.

Down the rabbit hole you go... 

"You're entirely bonkers, but I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are."

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2 hours ago, iNow said:

Down the rabbit hole you go... 

"You're entirely bonkers, but I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are."

What's wrong with the rabbit hole? I used to like a girl named Alice. She didn't want me, but it was a pleasure going down the hole.

Thank you.

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dc1608071.jpg

I think this goes to the crux of the matter. Dilbert wants to have his cake and eat it too. That's the problem.

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Dilbert’s always good for a laugh, but here IMO the cartoon conflates two distinct topics:

1) Are we free to choose as we see fit or are we instead meat robots (walking/talking bags of mostly water) controlled by chemistry? 

...and the other: 

2) How should society address behaviors that fall outside of locally accepted norms and how best shall we ostracize others who put their neighbors at risk, especially if the person committing the act lacked choice?

The second attempts to use an off-topic but related situation in an attempt to highlight logical hypocrisy, the first reminds us that none of these discussions will lead anywhere if we can’t start with and remain aligned on shared definitions of terms.

On what is ‚Äúme‚ÄĚ and what is ‚Äúfree‚ÄĚ we must all first agree.¬†

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, iNow said:

[...] here IMO the cartoon conflates two distinct topics:

1) Are we free to choose as we see fit or [...]

2) How should society address behaviors [...]

The second attempts to [...], the first reminds us that [...]

Agreed. That's kind of what I meant by,

8 hours ago, joigus said:

Dilbert wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Dilbert is experiencing the same conflict as everyone who thinks deeply about this matter but doesn't want to throw away everything good that the concepts of free will and responsibility achieve.

6 hours ago, iNow said:

On what is ‚Äúme‚ÄĚ and what is ‚Äúfree‚ÄĚ we must all first agree.¬†

Probably. Anything but easy though.The question is better addressed, I think, by means of complex self-organizing systems and emergent properties ==> biology.

I think I want to say more about this, but maybe later.

Edited by joigus
addition

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9 hours ago, joigus said:

I think this goes to the crux of the matter. Dilbert wants to have his cake and eat it too. That's the problem.

It just shows that Dilbert still thinks in dualistic terms, also that he is looking for free will at the wrong place. Looking 'physically' into the brain will never find a place where 'free will' resides or originates.

In fact Dogbert's question already implies this metaphysical stance: "Do you think the chemistry of the brain controls what people do?" What would you answer on a question like "Does the speed of running control if an athlete wins a race?" Is 'winning' caused by  'coming over the finish line first'? Or are that just two different descriptions of the same event?

10 hours ago, iNow said:

1) Are we free to choose as we see fit or are we instead meat robots (walking/talking bags of mostly water) controlled by chemistry? 

False opposition.

10 hours ago, iNow said:

2) How should society address behaviors that fall outside of locally accepted norms and how best shall we ostracize others who put their neighbors at risk, especially if the person committing the act lacked choice?

Now I have to ask: don't we all lack choice, according to you?

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4 hours ago, Eise said:

False opposition.

Agreed. I had originally typed "some would say both of these things are true at once," but something about my chemistry led me to delete it prior to submitting the post.

4 hours ago, Eise said:

don't we all lack choice, according to you?

Depends on what you mean by "we" and "choice."

I'm trying to avoid implicitly suggesting the existing of a soul or homunculus that is separate, so am seeking caution in my approach.

As in our previous communications, and as you allude to with your question: Where I get really hung up is on calling it "freedom" or "choice" when the chemistry suggests it's determined. I'm okay with calling it "me" but I'm not okay calling the choice free... even though I'm acting according to my own... whatever stuff you say it is.

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Posted (edited)

I think we should start from completely different discipline.. (discussion about psychology, psychiatry and philosophy are so so much waste of time anyway)

I have a question: if we have virtual world, simulation, or game, with A.I. walking in it, do these A.I. entities have free will.. or they don't have free will.. ?

Typical 3D modern game stores location of A.I. bots, players, and items, using 3x floats or 3x doubles, which have (2^32)^3 possible values for float and (2^64)^3 = ~6.28*10^57 possible values for double precision. (similar with other properties i.e. rotation and movement of parts of body, even more greatly increasing the amount of possibilities).

 

If in one version of game/simulation A.I. went one way from point A to B, and in second version, it went completely different way, does it count as free will to choose the path.. ? A.I. typically take the most optimal i.e. the shortest or the quickest path between point A and B. (Human and living organisms, in the most of cases, as well, to conserve energy)

 

If in the real world, somebody went one path, and car (or whatever else) accident happened, it cancelled plans and potentially changed everything further in that person life (including end of life).

If somebody would went the other path, or has been delayed by seconds or milliseconds, nothing would happen.

The moment of getting out of home, pressing gas pedal, taking that not other path, etc., is under free will of human?

 

If A.i. plays chess, it goes through the all possible to be taken moves, regardless their senselessness, either his/her/its own and opponent moves, and judges them. It is repeated in a loop. And A.I. picks up the most optimal branch of movements, in the given by human/creator time (difficulty level). The most optimal sequence of movements is leading to winning (or has the highest probability of winning) the game i.e. there is used the smallest energy / effort needed to do it. Player of chess predicts movements of opponent and his/her reactions for them. The all variables are on the table (unlike typical world).

Do A.I. playing chess have free will.. ?

Similarly, living organisms try to do the most optimal actions i.e. the most energetically favorable. If a dog walks down the street and finds meat, catches it and eats. Free meal. No big deal. But if a human would walk the street and found wallet full of money. The most energetic favorable action is taking the money (working to be paid requires spending more energy). In the time of gatherers, prehistoric and ancient times, whatever you found was yours and nobody would object that you 'stole'.. Caveman giving up on free meal that he or she found would be considered fool or crazy. Modern "caveman" taking wallet full of money is considered thief.. ("opportunity makes a thief")

 

Somebody here, or in similar free will thread, showed article where computer was foreseeing what person will do with great precision. A.I. or computer algorithm just analyzed gathered data about a person (or general human behaviors), and output the most energetically favorable actions.

 

I am analyzing you and telling that the most of you would quit the job the next day after winning the lottery with multi-millions award.. ;) Do you have free will in this action?

Foreseeing the most energetically favorable actions is easy.

Some even divorced prior getting cash from lottery to not have to split award.. LOL! What a "great" example of optimization of energy/greediness.

 

Edited by Sensei

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Eise said:

It just shows that Dilbert still thinks in dualistic terms, also that he is looking for free will at the wrong place. Looking 'physically' into the brain will never find a place where 'free will' resides or originates.

I agree that Dilbert is confused, although his is not my stance. I wouldn't say that Dogbert has also fallen victim to the dualistic fallacy, or however we may call it, though. I would say that he's being quite simplistic in the sense that he doesn't bother to analyse why it is that we experience that illusion and society structures itself according to it.

But I don't need to identify a place or homunculus. I talked about emergent properties before. One remarkable attribute of emergent properties is that they don't generally have a place. There isn't a definite placement for temperature or pressure. How much more complex will that not be for a human brain, which is so much more intricate than an ideal gas. The chemistry of the brain is no simple sophomore-level equilibrium chemistry either. Nor are the correlations given by Nernst law, or the like. We're talking metabolic cycles, chemical cascades, very complex polarity-inversion signals going on at several places at the same time, and correlating at several rates with several delays, feedback and what have you. We're talking inhibitions and excitations, and correlations between them. Non-linearity is another very important factor. And non-linearity has been argued to simulate or mimic, or maybe remind, in some sense the action of a system on itself. The foreshadowing, if you will, of self-regulation, and one of the basis, if I remember correctly, of Norbert Wiener's Cybernetics.

The point about the athletes:

9 hours ago, Eise said:

What would you answer on a question like "Does the speed of running control if an athlete wins a race?" Is 'winning' caused by  'coming over the finish line first'? Or are that just two different descriptions of the same event?

I think simple examples like this cannot capture the difficult features of how brains function. And I don't pretend that I do. Neither do simple pictures based on classical mechanics cut much ice in this terrain. Add non-linearity, huge number of degrees of freedom, statistical mechanics of open systems (incoming and outgoing fluxes of energy and matter) and you will have enough elements of complexity there to have a plausible basis to explain why a cast of characters taken from the periodic table can result in creatures that think they're deciding something. Physics offers us many examples of paradoxical behaviours that are real enough. Why not this one? What's so superfragilistic expialidocious about free will that requires to be separated as an independent principle of the natural world, not to be governed by the lowly laws of physics and biochemistry?

2 hours ago, Sensei said:

I think we should start from completely different discipline.. (discussion about psychology, psychiatry and philosophy are so so much waste of time anyway)

I basically agree with this.

I tried to say something similar but made much more of a mess.

Edited by joigus
went nuts with the diacritics

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