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Free Will?


NIN
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I use 'will' and 'ntent' interchangably.

 

what was it that paul said? something about what he willed to do he didnt do. what he willed not to do he practiced.

 

maybe you always do exactly what you will to do but us mortals dont.

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i'm afraid i am just as mortal and as flawed as anyone else. and forgive me if you mistook me for being however it was you took me as being. i was sincere in my question and still am. input from good people as yourself tends to expand my thinking so that i might see points of reference i myself may not have considered. i am currently of the opinion that free will is more metaphorical than an actuality. and that it is determined by many sources of influence in each individuals respective life. i am searching however for a theory by someone that would indicate free will in its purest sense can be reached by mere mortals. or, do we simply need the concept for the sake of our individualities sake. are we possibly in some mass denial that we are all, in the greatest sense of the word, a collective organism, as a species, whereby, the individual is inherently in need of the many for his preservation in its totallity. as for st. paul, noone can deny him his contribution to his fellow man and the god he chose to serve. he was indeed a prophet if ever there was one.

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the difference between freewill and will? interesting. i suppose it could be asserted that freewill is of an individuals own bidding without coersion or influence. where-as, " will " might be subject to any number of considerations that prompt an individuals action or activity.

 

I think you should ponder further your definition of "free will." What does "without coersion or influence" mean? Does it simply mean, for example, that there is no reason you couldn't of made any other choice? But what does that mean? If there's no reason you make one choice over another, then the choices you make are just random. And if there is a reason, then you're bound on a predetermined path.

 

So from an absolute, objective standpoint, then I have to say that I strongly believe that not only is there no free will, but that even the term "free will" has no meaning.

 

But from an objective standpoint is not how I think about free will. I view it as a subjective phenomenon. From your own perspective, you are free to make your own choices. In your mind, you weigh options, and choose one course of action from among many possibilities. That this exists subjectively, in my opinion, is as indisputable as the non-existence of objective free will. You don't need to prove the existence of an experience. The experience is the proof of itself.

 

Despite how self-evident these things seem to me, I've studied enough and talked to enough very smart people that I know there's literally nothing with no grounds for doubt, so I don't force my views. However, it's been my experience most people who insist on "free will" do not do so on philosophical grounds but rather on a refusal to understand, which seems largely based on an emotional attachment to the poorly defined notion called "free will." This, I think, is born out misunderstanding. People don't want to be "confined," first of all, and second, they want a way to hold themselves and others responsible for their actions. Neither of these is a logical objection, but rather they are emotional motives for desiring a certain outcome, regardless of logic.

 

I have found that it's often helpful in convincing these people to attack these sources of emotion rather than the issue itself. For the former, I just talk about the subjective experience of free will. There is no confinement if you choose not to view it as such. And for the latter, I talk about personal responsibility from a utilitarian standpoint. Regardless of the status of free will, if we hold ourselves and others responsible for our actions, then we all behave better. The only times this isn't the case are the times when we truly shouldn't hold beings "personally" responsible for their actions. Calling a rock evil for falling when you let it go will never stop a single rock from falling. Similarly with demanding those who are "mentally ill" live up to the standards of civilization. But for most of us, the very notion of responsibility is enough, and it is those people who we call "in their right minds," or "freely acting."

 

[/lecture over]

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well said, sisyphus. in regard to my remark pertaining to " coersion ", i did not mean coersion of the sort we might obviously expect when we hear the word said. and, so, i see i should have used a better word choice. what i meant when using the word was more a coersion of self interest rather than of being overtly made to act against one's personal choice. that said, i have come to the conclusion from the post i have read that free will is not possible for a human being. perhaps, when we are able to create a machine with a brain absent of the social more's we all born into will such a thing exist. the reason i broached this subject to begin with is that when we are able to create a centient being capable of thinking as we, we will have to decide if that creation's thinking processes will include a social contract, ( morales ) or if it will think and react only to the fact at hand.

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to be free one must have no social mores?

 

I like social mores. I want social mores. it is my will to follow social mores. If I was unable to folow social mores then I would feel a loss of freedom not a gain. I dont consider social mores to be confining at all.

 

by social mores perhaps you really mean something different. something like feeling oof shame or guilt that society sometimes causes some people to feel. that would be bad. perhaps you should clarify what you mean.

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by social mores perhaps you really mean something different. something like feeling oof shame or guilt that society sometimes causes some people to feel. that would be bad.
The right amount of shame is extremely important. Too much and we're not self-confident. Too little and we're grandiose. We need just enough shame to keep us in line with our societies needs.
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I think you should ponder further your definition of "free will." What does "without coersion or influence" mean? Does it simply mean, for example, that there is no reason you couldn't of made any other choice? But what does that mean? If there's no reason you make one choice over another, then the choices you make are just random. And if there is a reason, then you're bound on a predetermined path.

 

So from an absolute, objective standpoint, then I have to say that I strongly believe that not only is there no free will, but that even the term "free will" has no meaning.

 

But from an objective standpoint is not how I think about free will. I view it as a subjective phenomenon. From your own perspective, you are free to make your own choices. In your mind, you weigh options, and choose one course of action from among many possibilities. That this exists subjectively, in my opinion, is as indisputable as the non-existence of objective free will. You don't need to prove the existence of an experience. The experience is the proof of itself.

 

Despite how self-evident these things seem to me, I've studied enough and talked to enough very smart people that I know there's literally nothing with no grounds for doubt, so I don't force my views. However, it's been my experience most people who insist on "free will" do not do so on philosophical grounds but rather on a refusal to understand, which seems largely based on an emotional attachment to the poorly defined notion called "free will." This, I think, is born out misunderstanding. People don't want to be "confined," first of all, and second, they want a way to hold themselves and others responsible for their actions. Neither of these is a logical objection, but rather they are emotional motives for desiring a certain outcome, regardless of logic.

 

I have found that it's often helpful in convincing these people to attack these sources of emotion rather than the issue itself. For the former, I just talk about the subjective experience of free will. There is no confinement if you choose not to view it as such. And for the latter, I talk about personal responsibility from a utilitarian standpoint. Regardless of the status of free will, if we hold ourselves and others responsible for our actions, then we all behave better. The only times this isn't the case are the times when we truly shouldn't hold beings "personally" responsible for their actions. Calling a rock evil for falling when you let it go will never stop a single rock from falling. Similarly with demanding those who are "mentally ill" live up to the standards of civilization. But for most of us, the very notion of responsibility is enough, and it is those people who we call "in their right minds," or "freely acting."

 

[/lecture over]

 

Very nice post. I'll be thinking this one over for a while.

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yes grandpa, no morales. morality is defined by the individual. as you have likely seen, in this life what is moral to one individual is not to another. we live in a society where some believe it is imoral for a woman to wear pants, uncover her head, etc. and where it is totally okay for others that public nudity be allowed. where some believe in capital punnishment and others are disgusted by it. so as a species we choose the groups that agree we our moral code. it could also be argued that one man's morality in freeing him enslaves another. the point i am making is, can logic and not opinion or preference dictate us as a species. you mentioned shame and i understand what you mean but, you must admit that shame is something inflicted upon another by someone who either has the power or majority support of his position and does not necessarilly make the person shamed wrong only silenced. in the past such institutions as the church used this tactic well to further what it thought should be the correct conduct of society. freewill should be that... free and not come at a price. if it does..in anyway, it is not freewill but, rather, submission or adherence to the least constraining social incumberence to the individual and the most constraining being tirany.

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rueberry, I don't see what artificial intelligence has to do with it. The same dichotomy between determinism and randomness applies to any being, artificial or not.

 

Also, logic and reason alone can't determine action. Reason is a tool used to reach some desired end, but there still needs to be desire to determine that end. Any being which acts of its own accord thus needs some notion of "good" or "bad" (even if it doesn't consciously consider them as such) otherwise there would be no reason to act. Having an ultrarational being help us out is all well and good, but what would it help us do?

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sisyphus

 

I disagree with your assertion that: ( Any being which acts of its own accord thus needs some notion of "good" or "bad" (even if it doesn't consciously consider them as such) otherwise there would be no reason to act.) However, my point when trying to ascertain whether freewill can act as a function of any sentient being, artificial or otherwise, absent those constraints of morality and bias, was to querry the possibillity. For the sake of arguement, let us reject randomness as a workable option. To be sentient as a being is contrary to the notion of a random existance. At least, for this discussion. Let us further presume that this being the case determinism is the likely motivator of a sentient being. Where then does the concept of good and bad play a controlling interest? Could not logic and reason be just as likely motivators as good and bad considering that logic would conclude that because I am therefore I must act and reason would conclude that because I must act I must do so as to preserve myself or that I must do so to my detriment in relation to whatever delima is presented assuming that a logical and reason based being would have the abillity to select an outcome based solely on its merit and not a particular morality. Does not the concept of good and bad only come into play when a directive of self preservation is inacted? I understand that if we follow this through then at some point there will be a diversion from this path having other considerations to ponder. Still, that diversion need not presuppose self preservation nor good and bad. Your input?

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You pretty much hit on it yourself: why self-preservation? If I don't have some notion that existence is inherently good, I won't act to preserve it. If I don't have some notion that anything is inherently good, I won't act at all. That's not to say that it would always be appropriate to call these things "morality." You could say that they are judgements that one circumstance is preferable to another. (Morality might be described as a generalization of this preference to a general or consistent good over a personal or momentary one.) That is something that logic alone can't provide. Logic can only yield conditional statements. "If I don't eat, I'll die." It can tell you how to achieve a goal, but it can't provide the goal itself.

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