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What are the benefits of understanding our free will?


dimreepr

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20 minutes ago, studiot said:

I still don't see anyone taking me up on this and explaining why this is not an example of free will.

 

Quote

She may be able to pass that exam at the end of the course, but at the beginning  she can only wish.

It is, but the outcome may not be what she wants. Just because you want something, doesn't mean one will realize it. That doesn't negate the free choice made beforehand.

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22 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

 

It is, but the outcome may not be what she wants. Just because you want something, doesn't mean one will realize it. That doesn't negate the free choice made beforehand.

So where exactly does she not have free will ?

And what exactly is the deterministic process by which I can predict that she will fail ?

 

But thanks for the answer.

Edited by studiot
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13 minutes ago, studiot said:

So where exactly does she not have free will ?

And what exactly is the deterministic process by which I can predict that she will fail ?

 

But thanks for the answer.

Imagine being by a pond with a small toy boat. You pushing the boat is your expression of freewill, but once that boat has left your hands, the deterministic, scientific forces takeover. The notion of having freewill needn't be constant. The way I look at free will: it is the ability to intercept ones mental processes that were founded elsewhere outside of cognition.

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2 hours ago, studiot said:

I still don't see anyone taking me up on this and explaining why this is not an example of free will.

Probably because it has more to do with over confidence and self delusion than it does with free will.

Even if the student had mastered the material beforehand, they’re unable to “choose” to be able to answer every question posed. They’re unable to choose whether they do or don’t know the answer. They’re unable to choose to know what’s on the test. 

The student like all of us is a wet meat robot executing chemo electrical commands in specific sequences and orders. I concluded your question was unrelated to (or at best only marginally and poorly representative of) the discussion taking place and my chemistry led me to ignore it. 

2 hours ago, studiot said:

what exactly is the deterministic process by which I can predict that she will fail ?

Just because our actions are determined doesn’t mean we have access to sufficient information beforehand to accurately PREdetermine them. 

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11 hours ago, StringJunky said:

Imagine being by a pond with a small toy boat. You pushing the boat is your expression of freewill, but once that boat has left your hands, the deterministic, scientific forces takeover. The notion of having freewill needn't be constant. The way I look at free will: it is the ability to intercept ones mental processes that were founded elsewhere outside of cognition.

Yes I agree with your example, with the following caveats.

Initially your free will is employing the materialistic forces of Nature to direct the course of the boat.
At some point your direction ceases and the boat's course is then directed by the forces of Nature alone.

However I would contend that from that point the course is probabilistic, not deterministic.

There must be a scientific term for the situation where I can perform a set of calculations that matches the actual course of the boat.
Further I, or someone else, could perform these same calculations at any time, including before the boat sets sail.
 

I regard this hypothetical situation as a definition of deterministic.

But as I note, to the best of our knowledge fluid mechanics is not totally deterministic, no matter how much data you have about the fluid. The NS equations contain arbitrary terms and solutions. Because of the our best knowledge is probabilistic in characteristic.

9 hours ago, iNow said:

Probably because it has more to do with over confidence and self delusion than it does with free will.

Even if the student had mastered the material beforehand, they’re unable to “choose” to be able to answer every question posed. They’re unable to choose whether they do or don’t know the answer. They’re unable to choose to know what’s on the test. 

The student like all of us is a wet meat robot executing chemo electrical commands in specific sequences and orders. I concluded your question was unrelated to (or at best only marginally and poorly representative of) the discussion taking place and my chemistry led me to ignore it. 

Just because our actions are determined doesn’t mean we have access to sufficient information beforehand to accurately PREdetermine them. 

What a cop out. And just because you seem to have taken a liking to the phrase 'wet meat'.

There is no way that studying nuclear physics is required to earn a living, to join august institutes or simply to comply with any list of required subject in education that I am aware of.

The statistical expectation for an average or slightly above average student, like my example, would be to pass.

But a pass is neither guaranteed nor forced.

So the student is studying from willing choice, not from external influence.

Also, right up to the last few minutes of the exam the student has the possibility to gain the required extra mark to pass.

So I( cannot see any deterministic effect in play until after the final bell has tolled, when the student is one mark short of a pass.

 

 

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18 hours ago, TheVat said:

Omnibus cauliflower poltroon strabismus pecan-prestidigitate recirculator furzen-fenster.  I freely wrote that sentence.

Was it entirely determined as a the result of antecedent conditions crafted in the Big Bang?

No, bc there's an awful lot of correlation involved in being you.

18 hours ago, TheVat said:

Could I have willed to compose some other sentence?  (i.e. if we ran the universe back to the BB, and then let things play out again, would I type the same sentence?)  

If we ran the universe back to the BB, and then let things play out again, there's a bloody good chance you wouldn't be able too...

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12 hours ago, studiot said:

I still don't see anyone taking me up on this and explaining why this is not an example of free will.

I did not react, because it contains such a blatant category mistake, that the answer should be obvious. Both StringJunky and iNow gave in essence the correct reactions:

12 hours ago, StringJunky said:

It is, but the outcome may not be what she wants. Just because you want something, doesn't mean one will realize it. That doesn't negate the free choice made beforehand.

9 hours ago, iNow said:

Probably because it has more to do with over confidence and self delusion than it does with free will.

Even if the student had mastered the material beforehand, they’re unable to “choose” to be able to answer every question posed. They’re unable to choose whether they do or don’t know the answer. They’re unable to choose to know what’s on the test. 

I have nothing to add to this, accept maybe a clarification of how category mistakes can lead our thinking into erroneous thinking. From Wikipedia:

Quote

A category mistake (or category error, categorical mistake, or mistake of category), is a semantic or ontological error in which things belonging to a particular category are presented as if they belong to a different category, or, alternatively, a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property. An example is a person learning that the game of cricket involves team spirit, and after being given a demonstration of each player's role, asking which player performs the "team spirit".

The term "category-mistake" was introduced by Gilbert Ryle in his book The Concept of Mind (1949) to remove what he argued to be a confusion over the nature of mind born from Cartesian metaphysics. Ryle argued that it was a mistake to treat the mind as an object made of an immaterial substance because predications of substance are not meaningful for a collection of dispositions and capacities.

The phrase is introduced in the first chapter. The first example is of a visitor to Oxford. The visitor, upon viewing the colleges and library, reportedly inquired "But where is the University?" The visitor's mistake is presuming that a University is part of the category "units of physical infrastructure" rather than that of an "institution". Ryle's second example is of a child witnessing the march-past of a division of soldiers. After having had battalions, batteries, squadrons, etc. pointed out, the child asks when is the division going to appear. "The march-past was not a parade of battalions, batteries, squadrons and a division; it was a parade of the battalions, batteries and squadrons of a division." (Ryle's italics) His third example is of a foreigner being shown a cricket match. After being pointed out batsmen, bowlers and fielders, the foreigner asks: "who is left to contribute the famous element of team-spirit?" He goes on to argue that the Cartesian dualism of mind and body rests on a category mistake.

 

That was in 1949. One does not find the idea of a category mistake in the works of Plato and Aristotle. Maybe there is at least some progress in philosophy?

Edited by Eise
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24 minutes ago, Eise said:

I did not react, because it contains such a blatant category mistake, that the answer should be obvious. Both StringJunky and iNow gave in essence the correct reactions:

It may be that I have not explained my example very clearly, I certainly do not see the connection between answers and my thinking.

And of course, you have yet to answer at all.

 

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44 minutes ago, Eise said:

I did not react, because it contains such a blatant category mistake, that the answer should be obvious. Both StringJunky and iNow gave in essence the correct reactions:

This is not an answer. It shows no reasoned development of your insulting and bald claim whatsoever.

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2 hours ago, studiot said:

What a cop out. <…> a pass is neither guaranteed nor forced.

So the student is studying from willing choice, not from external influence.

I reject your suggestion that the student made a choice here. That’s been my stance all along. They acted as if propelled by a command that came from their neural chemistry. 

It’s possible all of us that responded are wrong and you’re right. 100% acknowledged, but there’s also a chance we’re correct here and your question / sample use case misses the point and is peripheral to the topic we’re exploring.

 

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14 minutes ago, iNow said:

I reject your suggestion that the student made a choice here.

Depends what you mean by ' here'.  I think the stance of many others (including myself) is that we are making choices all the time. All those choices are subject to  different measures of free will, constraint and forcing.
So my example student was continually making choices. Which one or ones did you mean ?

 

19 minutes ago, iNow said:

They acted as if propelled by a command that came from their neural chemistry. 

Of course they did. Otherwise the implication of what yo uare saying is that free will requires a special sort of thinking cap that we don't possess. The use of the term 'free will' throught history has assumed that is not the case.  Are you proposing this ?

Again you are ignoring probability. The statistics I presented relies on the averaging of an indefinitely large number of such students.

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3 hours ago, studiot said:

Yes I agree with your example, with the following caveats.

Initially your free will is employing the materialistic forces of Nature to direct the course of the boat.
At some point your direction ceases and the boat's course is then directed by the forces of Nature alone.

However I would contend that from that point the course is probabilistic, not deterministic.

Yes, I agree  that there are strong probabilistic elements as well.  When a sodium atom meets a water molecule is probabilistic, but what happens with them when they collide, it is deterministic.

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23 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Yes, I agree  that there are strong probabilistic elements as well.  When a sodium atom meets a water molecule is probabilistic, but what happens with them when they collide, it is deterministic.

Yes well said. +1

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20 hours ago, studiot said:

This is not an answer. It shows no reasoned development of your insulting and bald claim whatsoever.

I could give iNow's and StringJunky's answer in my own words. What would be the difference? And which bald claim? That your question implies a huge category error?

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16 hours ago, iNow said:

I’m not, but there’s a 100% chance that I don’t feel like arguing with you about this right now. 

 

1 hour ago, Eise said:

I could give iNow's and StringJunky's answer in my own words. What would be the difference? And which bald claim? That your question implies a huge category error?

 

We now have a situation where the term 'free will' is important, if not crucial, in sevaral threads at once.
It is difficult switching back and fore.

 

I have not actually tried to propose a definition of free will, just analysed some of the consequences and implications.
I have yet to see a convincingly comprehensive definition as a result of the tensions within the coupling and In one of these threads I posted a detailed analysis of this tension coupling.

I do not actually have a definition but I note that others are trying to enforce theirs. So long as I know what each person is using I am comfortable to answer in those terms, but I reserve the right to point out consequent difficulties and omissions arising from the use of any particular definition.

 

Coercion has been introduced. Coercion implies the existence of and introduces a second will which may or may not be free itself. Inherent also is the ability to predict. Coercion is usually associated with threats. All of this runs counter to at least one proposed definition of free will.

 

If you want to introduce the subject of category errors then surely you should have the good grace to state what exact quote is involved. What category it is alleged to belong to and what category you think it should belong to instead.
That would allow discussion to proceed.

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53 minutes ago, studiot said:

We now have a situation where the term 'free will' is important, if not crucial, in sevaral threads at once.
It is difficult switching back and fore.

 

I have not actually tried to propose a definition of free will, just analysed some of the consequences and implications.
I have yet to see a convincingly comprehensive definition as a result of the tensions within the coupling and In one of these threads I posted a detailed analysis of this tension coupling.

I do not actually have a definition but I note that others are trying to enforce theirs. So long as I know what each person is using I am comfortable to answer in those terms, but I reserve the right to point out consequent difficulties and omissions arising from the use of any particular definition.

In this thread the assumption is that we already have an agreed definition, the question here is what next?

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On 11/9/2023 at 2:35 PM, dimreepr said:

This thought struck me while reading the recent traffic on the subject, so instead of dragging that one off topic, here we are in my default forum (if anyone can think of a better place, feel free to let rip 😉)

I mean that philosophically, it seems little more than a semantic exercise; but if we pulled it off politically, then it could liberate millions of prisoner's because we'd understand just how culpable they were and society would be satisfied with a far lower bar, as regards justice.

But what could it mean scientifically other than just knowing?

  

 

52 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

In this thread the assumption is that we already have an agreed definition, the question here is what next?

 

So, OP, what is your definition because I couldn't find one in your opening post.

So somewhere along the line I did agree that it would be a good idea to understand it.

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On 11/29/2023 at 1:01 PM, studiot said:

Wouldn't a counter example to this definition be someone at the beginning of a nuclear physics course saying

I have free will to pass my exam ?

You can decide to do your utterly best to pass an exam. That can be an example of free will. But if you succeed, is another thing. Gilbert Ryle gave another simple example of this kind of category error: Say an athlete runs 100m in 8 seconds, and with such a fabulous time he wins the run. But he did not do two things: running so fast and also win. They are different kinds of descriptions of the same event.

To extend this idea: the same holds for free will. Applying concepts like free will, and its companions, intentions, believes and actions at the neurological level is also an category mistake.

 

Edited by Eise
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40 minutes ago, Eise said:

You can decide to do your utterly best to pass an exam. That can be an example of free will. But if you succeed, is another thing. Gilbert Ryle gave another simple example of this kind of category error: Say an athlete runs 100m in 8 seconds, and with such a fabulous time he wins the run. But he did not do two things: running so fast and also win. They are different kinds of descriptions of the same event.

To extend this idea: the same holds for free will. Applying concepts like free will, and its companions, intentions, believes and actions at the neurological level is also an category mistake.

 

I am not a fan of Ryle.

His cricket match example, for instance, suggests to me that neither Ryle nor the author of his Wikipedia article has ever played cricket in their lives.

As regards you runner, yes I would contend that the runner did 'do' two things, which are different.

It may not have been necessary to break to world record in order to win.

Equally 8 seconds may not have been a winning time as another may have run faster.

 

As regards the exam, the candidate can obviously decide (free will) to fail the exam.

Conversely the candidate can decide not to fail the exam (but to try hard)
 

Connected to this, and just like the runner, is another event. Pass or fail.

 

I do agree that limiting causes to neurological impulses microseconds before an action is a very sever restriction of what constitutes free will.

 

What about my comments on coercion and external constraints ?

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30 minutes ago, iNow said:

Implicitly though you have, by suggesting a “choice to fail the test” is an example of free will. 

That is not a definition, that is one example that would satisfy (i expect) most definitions.

But obviously there would be many examples that would satisfy one definition whilst not satisfying another.

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1 hour ago, studiot said:

So, OP, what is your definition because I couldn't find one in your opening post.

So somewhere along the line I did agree that it would be a good idea to understand it.

I agree a clear definition of free will by the OP is vital for the discussion.

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