What’s your definition of free will?

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Belinda
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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Belinda » July 22nd, 2016, 8:05 am

Londoner wrote:
On the other hand, the table remains what it is. By calling it 'furniture' I do not make it become soft. To say the table exists is to say that it is not me. I push against it and it resists, whether I want it to or not, that is what I mean when I say it is hard.
This might not be the case. There are uses for soft tables for instance when toddlers are let loose in a play area. There are uses for biodegradable tables too.
But that isn't true of me; I do not sense my own being as if I was an object; I cannot push against my own mind and find a fixed set of properties. I may become aware of a thought, but as soon as I do I have distanced myself from that thought. So I cannot grasp 'myself' in the same way as I grasp the table.

In other words, even if we did say that things like the hardness of tables and everything else was mind dependent, we would still have to allow that our sense of ourselves is mind dependent in a radically different way.
But the mystery of the mind and the sense of self can be explained by an anatomical fact. Brains lack what other body parts have. Body parts incorporate feed-back sensors and nerves which inform the CNS what that body part is doing. Brain/minds lack feed back to themselves, and this is why minds and brains seem to be different from each other.

An objection to the above may be "But I get headaches". Headaches are caused by scalp tensions or by brain blood vessel tissue feed back, not by nerve tissues.
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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Present awareness » July 22nd, 2016, 8:16 am

For me, free will is the freedom to choose. If someone asks me " beer or wine" and I choose beer, I've made a free choice.
There may be many underlying reasons as to why I choose beer, but the fact remains, regardless of why I choose.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Londoner » July 22nd, 2016, 8:39 am

Belinda wrote:Londoner wrote:

This might not be the case. There are uses for soft tables for instance when toddlers are let loose in a play area. There are uses for biodegradable tables too.
Then we are having a discussion about what things should count as 'tables'. What we decide is up to us. I do not see that it matters as long as we can communicate.

Me: But that isn't true of me; I do not sense my own being as if I was an object; I cannot push against my own mind and find a fixed set of properties. I may become aware of a thought, but as soon as I do I have distanced myself from that thought. So I cannot grasp 'myself' in the same way as I grasp the table.

In other words, even if we did say that things like the hardness of tables and everything else was mind dependent, we would still have to allow that our sense of ourselves is mind dependent in a radically different way.

But the mystery of the mind and the sense of self can be explained by an anatomical fact. Brains lack what other body parts have. Body parts incorporate feed-back sensors and nerves which inform the CNS what that body part is doing. Brain/minds lack feed back to themselves, and this is why minds and brains seem to be different from each other.

An objection to the above may be "But I get headaches". Headaches are caused by scalp tensions or by brain blood vessel tissue feed back, not by nerve tissues.
But I do not have 'scalp tensions' or 'brain blood vessel feedback', I experience a headache. Somebody else can observe my brain, but only I have the headache. Just as my own private of experience of having a headache is not evidence in the scientific sense, nor does a scientific description describe my private experience. In other words, I do not see how a cause-and-effect explanation of a subjective experience means that we do not have experiences.

I can view the world objectively; it is a fact I have a headache, perhaps I have a virus. And can view the same thing subjectively; I don't like my headache. I can imagine what it would be not to have a headache - even though that is counterfactual. The headache does not contain its own negation i.e. a headache does not contain its own non-existence. I supply that possibility. And being aware of that possibility, I switch back to an objective view and decide that I will try to cause the headache to no longer exist by taking as aspirin.

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Belinda » July 22nd, 2016, 1:10 pm

Londoner wrote:


Then we are having a discussion about what things should count as 'tables'. What we decide is up to us. I do not see that it matters as long as we can communicate.
I agree. Meaning is social. Wittgenstein's is a social theory of meaning.



But I do not have 'scalp tensions' or 'brain blood vessel feedback', I experience a headache. Somebody else can observe my brain, but only I have the headache. Just as my own private of experience of having a headache is not evidence in the scientific sense, nor does a scientific description describe my private experience. In other words, I do not see how a cause-and-effect explanation of a subjective experience means that we do not have experiences.
I don't deny that experiences are subjective. I am saying that subjective experiences('minds')and simultaneous observations of the brains in question demonstrate two aspects of the same brain/mind event.
I can view the world objectively; it is a fact I have a headache, perhaps I have a virus. And can view the same thing subjectively; I don't like my headache. I can imagine what it would be not to have a headache - even though that is counterfactual. The headache does not contain its own negation i.e. a headache does not contain its own non-existence. I supply that possibility. And being aware of that possibility, I switch back to an objective view and decide that I will try to cause the headache to no longer exist by taking as aspirin.
You can certainly evaluate your subjective experience and you have learned how to improve your subjective experience. If, while the headache effect and the aspirin effect were happening you could also view your brain you could see that there is constant correlation between those subjective mind events and your objectively physiological events such that they are the same event perceived subjectively and objectively.

You may ask "How do you know?" I don't know. Neuroscience has made and continues to make huge advances into knowledge of brain/minds, and I understand that brain/mind identity is the state of the art at this time.
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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Londoner » July 22nd, 2016, 1:36 pm

Belinda wrote:Londoner wrote:

I don't deny that experiences are subjective. I am saying that subjective experiences('minds')and simultaneous observations of the brains in question demonstrate two aspects of the same brain/mind event.
Absolutely. Nobody could doubt that having experiences depend on having a brain!
You can certainly evaluate your subjective experience and you have learned how to improve your subjective experience. If, while the headache effect and the aspirin effect were happening you could also view your brain you could see that there is constant correlation between those subjective mind events and your objectively physiological events such that they are the same event perceived subjectively and objectively.

You may ask "How do you know?" I don't know. Neuroscience has made and continues to make huge advances into knowledge of brain/minds, and I understand that brain/mind identity is the state of the art at this time.
Although I have no problem agreeing the two are connected, I do not see how they can be called 'the same event'. If we did take that view, then we are back to my criticism of the OP in that this would be saying there are no events at all, of any kind. Since nothing happens that has no connection at all with the rest of the universe, and if we are insisting that any connection makes them the same event, then there are no events - or just one universal event.

To put it another way, we are discussing free will. Would you accept that there is a 'we' at all? Or does our connected-ness with the rest of the universe mean that our brains like the rest of our body cannot be differentiated from any other form of matter? In which case, I can only say that it is a fact that humans can and do distinguish themselves from things that are not us, and a philosophy that denied it would have little to say to humans.

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Belinda » July 22nd, 2016, 2:56 pm

Londoner wrote:

T
o put it another way, we are discussing free will. Would you accept that there is a 'we' at all? Or does our connected-ness with the rest of the universe mean that our brains like the rest of our body cannot be differentiated from any other form of matter? In which case, I can only say that it is a fact that humans can and do distinguish themselves from things that are not us, and a philosophy that denied it would have little to say to humans.
Londoner, this is a difficult question for me to answer. The best I can make of it is that I have the attitude towards myself and other people that we each are separate subjects of experiences, and separate individuals. Humans and many other life forms are quite easy to subject to common criteria of differentiation such as "Can they move from place to place independently ?" or "Has it got its separate digestive system?" Some trees and funguses for instance are either plural or singular according to the criteria we use . It's even moot whether a swarm of bees is one individual or many.

To take an extreme and fictional case, if you and I were to have our separate brain-minds totally linked neurally together then it would be moot whether or not we were the same individual.
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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Atreyu » July 22nd, 2016, 9:03 pm

Londoner wrote: To put it another way, we are discussing free will. Would you accept that there is a 'we' at all? Or does our connected-ness with the rest of the universe mean that our brains like the rest of our body cannot be differentiated from any other form of matter? In which case, I can only say that it is a fact that humans can and do distinguish themselves from things that are not us, and a philosophy that denied it would have little to say to humans.
Well, 'we' are certainly not what 'we' believe ourselves to be. There may be some truth in the idea of a 'we' or 'I' --- there may be some-thing there. But it is certainly not what we imagine to ourselves when we think 'I'....

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Londoner » July 23rd, 2016, 3:15 am

Belinda wrote:Londoner wrote:

Londoner, this is a difficult question for me to answer. The best I can make of it is that I have the attitude towards myself and other people that we each are separate subjects of experiences, and separate individuals. Humans and many other life forms are quite easy to subject to common criteria of differentiation such as "Can they move from place to place independently ?" or "Has it got its separate digestive system?" Some trees and funguses for instance are either plural or singular according to the criteria we use . It's even moot whether a swarm of bees is one individual or many.

To take an extreme and fictional case, if you and I were to have our separate brain-minds totally linked neurally together then it would be moot whether or not we were the same individual.
As I remarked, we are free to classify humans and the world in general in any way we like. We can draw attention to similarities or differences, emphasise or ignore connections, as suits our purpose at the time. There is no right answer.

My point was about the form of the argument (in the OP) that says we do not have free will. It classifies the universe in such a way that excludes free will, but does not apply that classification consistently. It is not just an argument 'people do not have free will' it is also an argument that the word 'people' does not describe anything. A parallel would be like me saying 'there are no such thing as apples because all life is a dream'. If that was the argument, then it would not just apply to apples but to everything else. In fact 'all life is a dream' would be meaningless too, because if everything is a dream (there is no such thing as 'being awake') then the word 'dream does not describe anything. In other words, the definition of free will presented in the OP is self-contradictory.

I would suggest it makes more sense to address free will in the same way we address everything else, by looking at experience. I think it exists in our ability to imagine things being otherwise to how they are. Does anyone doubt we can do this?

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Belinda » July 23rd, 2016, 10:06 am

Londoner wrote:
I would suggest it makes more sense to address free will in the same way we address everything else, by looking at experience. I think it exists in our ability to imagine things being otherwise to how they are. Does anyone doubt we can do this?
Scientists do learn from experience as all modern science is empirical although mathematics is used to corroborate experimental results.

Many choices are indeed voluntary although other choices are involuntary to a greater or lesser degree. A woman in labour might well imagine things to be other than they are but has little alternative other than to give birth unless her obstetrician chooses to give her caesarean.

If we could not imagine things to be other than they are I agree with you, Londoner, that we could have no notion of "Free Will", or indeed of freedom. Not many animals can imagine something that is not concretely present and requiring to be dealt with.
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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Platos stepchild » November 15th, 2016, 3:59 am

Am I free because I say that it's so; or, do I say it's so because that's what I am? In other words, does freedom reside in our language, or in our actions? Since language, as well as actions can both be empty, there's no simple answer to this question. So for example, if freedom resides in language, then clearly it's language plus something else.

We've all heard inspiring words, moving us deep within their simple meanings, and pricking our cheeks with their electricity. And in that hallowed moment, when words are more powerful than fists, we're lifted to a higher place. We don't know why we're lifted, we just know, balls-to-bones that words like We-The-People will echo throughout eternity, even if the "People' are often fractured.

But, if freedom resides in our actions, then clearly it's our actions plus something else. A prisoner can pace in the footprints of a free man. And looking at the ground, it may be impossible to tell which is which. This simple action isn't enough to make the free man free. Nor is it enough to imprison the prisoner.

There's clearly something more, making the free man, free. And I don't mean something as simple as the lack of barbed wire and cell blocks. Both the free, and the imprisoned sweat, but for very different reasons. A free man's sweat is a badge of his freedom. A prisoner's sweat is his shame. And yet, there's no way to tell the one from the other.

A free man can be duped into believing he's not. And a man whose mind is in shackles can be deluded into believing he's free. Just believing isn't enough, though because there's a false believing, which is every bit as alluring and assuring as the truth. The thing which guarantees whether a man is truly free, and marks his actions is that freedom doesn't need to brag.

The actions of a free man, and those of a man whose been duped into believing he's free can be virtually identical. But, the free man isn't frenzied, and he's not fanatical. The moment he is, is the moment he's no longer free. The demeanor of a free man can't be faked; it's the real-deal.

So, the "something" which allows freedom to reside in a free man's language pricks him and lifts him up. He tingles as though he were drenched in a bath of electricity. The "something" which allows freedom to reside in a free man's actions is his demeanor. It's the calm assurance of being authentic. What, then is the connection between these two "somethings"? That's the real question, and it's one I can't answer.

-- Updated November 15th, 2016, 2:59 am to add the following --

Am I free because I say that it's so; or, do I say it's so because that's what I am? In other words, does freedom reside in our language, or in our actions? Since language, as well as actions can both be empty, there's no simple answer to this question. So for example, if freedom resides in language, then clearly it's language plus something else.

We've all heard inspiring words, moving us deep within their simple meanings, and pricking our cheeks with their electricity. And in that hallowed moment, when words are more powerful than fists, we're lifted to a higher place. We don't know why we're lifted, we just know, balls-to-bones that words like We-The-People will echo throughout eternity, even if the "People' are often fractured.

But, if freedom resides in our actions, then clearly it's our actions plus something else. A prisoner can pace in the footprints of a free man. And looking at the ground, it may be impossible to tell which is which. This simple action isn't enough to make the free man free. Nor is it enough to imprison the prisoner.

There's clearly something more, making the free man, free. And I don't mean something as simple as the lack of barbed wire and cell blocks. Both the free, and the imprisoned sweat, but for very different reasons. A free man's sweat is a badge of his freedom. A prisoner's sweat is his shame. And yet, there's no way to tell the one from the other.

A free man can be duped into believing he's not. And a man whose mind is in shackles can be deluded into believing he's free. Just believing isn't enough, though because there's a false believing, which is every bit as alluring and assuring as the truth. The thing which guarantees whether a man is truly free, and marks his actions is that freedom doesn't need to brag.

The actions of a free man, and those of a man whose been duped into believing he's free can be virtually identical. But, the free man isn't frenzied, and he's not fanatical. The moment he is, is the moment he's no longer free. The demeanor of a free man can't be faked; it's the real-deal.

So, the "something" which allows freedom to reside in a free man's language pricks him and lifts him up. He tingles as though he were drenched in a bath of electricity. The "something" which allows freedom to reside in a free man's actions is his demeanor. It's the calm assurance of being authentic. What, then is the connection between these two "somethings"? That's the real question, and it's one I can't answer.

-- Updated November 19th, 2016, 2:45 am to add the following --

I don't believe in free will because, in my opinion it violates the conservation laws of nature. Nevertheless, the internal logic of free will is fascinating in it's own right. If I freely choose a course of action, then I've stepped outside of time and have a God's-eye-view of the causal-matrix governing all of my relevant choices. That's not to say that such a view yields perfect information. But, it must yield enough information because our choices aren't made in complete ignorance.

The causal-matrix is made up of what Gottfried Leibniz called The Principle-of-Sufficient-Reason. Simply put: nothing happens without a rational explanation. So, if I choose to zig rather than to zag, then I've clearly understood what it takes for both possibilities to happen. Therefore, to understand our choices, both actual and potential we need to understand what it means for them to cause a desired effect.

Aristotle believed there are four types of causation, or that-without-which there would be no desired effect. The material, or stuff of which the effect is made is one type of cause. The material cause of a house, for example is the lumber, and bricks and mortar of which it's made. The form of the house, which distinguishes it from something which isn't a house is another way of causing it to exist. Formal causation is like a blueprint, without which there would be no houses.

The efficient cause of a house are the builders who actually construct it. Without them, the raw material along with the blueprints are inert. Even though science disavows Aristotle's fourth cause, without it we lack sufficient information to understand our choices. There isn't sufficient, sufficient-reason if we don't understand the purpose behind why we build houses in the first place.

If we choose to built a house, instead of, let's say a boat then we must understand the difference between the materials used to build the house, instead of the boat. We would hire different workmen for the one, instead of the other. We wouldn't want to confuse the schematics, or blueprints of a boat with those of a house. And finally, we'd need to understand how the purposes of a house differ from those of a boat.

We, essentially step-outside-of-time and compare the building of our house, with the unwanted boat. We also compare the reasons why we want the one instead of the other. Without a sufficient reason for each type of cause, we'd be unable to freely make our choice. To me, even though I don't believe free will is possible, what makes it fascinating is that, although causation is firmly embedded in time free will isn't. This means there is no sufficient-reason for being able to freely make choices.

Unlike everything else in the world, if free will existed it wouldn't be rational. Transcending time means free will also transcends reason. Note that I'm not saying it's irrational or unreasonable; the implication is far more subtle than that. Freely choosing to zig, rather than to zag catches the universe by surprise. There's no way to anticipate zigging, except by dumb luck. We're not talking, here about Quantum Weirdness: that, in itself would be a kind of explanation. Free will is anarchy, pure and simple. Personally, I think that's fascinating, if not unsettling.

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Scruffy Nerf Herder » November 29th, 2016, 5:48 am

PhiloJ wrote:When discussing about concepts like free will, i find that people have different definitions of free will, so I want to see how many different definitions of free will there are.

I will start with my own definition of free will; free will is not restricted, and formed by any kind of force.

I will now explain why free will cannot exist whit this definition.

In a world where everything is predetermined, your will would have been chosen by fate, so free will cannot exist here.

In a world where everything is random, your will would be chosen randomly, so free will cannot exist here.

In a world where everything is chosen by chance, your will will depend on chance, so free will cannot exist here.
To my mind, any conception of freedom or free will is meaningless without the understanding that anything is free only so long as it represents a range of possibilities within a set of outcomes. Compatibilism thus fails to present anything that can reasonably be defined as free, and Molinism and Calvinistic arguments for middle knowledge then are moot because there is no range of possibilities; instead of influence and response a mechanistic understanding of philosophy of mind, divine sovereignty, etc. is necessary and renders any claim to "free" will meaningless.

How then could the will be free? Well, that can only be so if it is true in philosophy of mind that we possess the liberty of indifference as well as the liberty of spontaneity. The liberty of indifference means that we can hypothetically have chosen otherwise in any given situation, and the liberty of spontaneity means that the capacity with which we choose is centered around some essential quality, or inherent property that we possess, either in our being or as an object, respectively. So, is it ontologically true of me that I am free, do I possess such a faculty that is observable in the essence of me as a being? Or do I coincidentally possess a property, rather than a quality, that is to do with my existence not only as a being but an object, an element of my manifestation that affords me the liberty of spontaneity?

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Platos stepchild » November 29th, 2016, 11:12 am

I believe that free will is an illusion. But, the good question then becomes what purpose such an illusion serves. We could "reverse engineer" freewill and speculate that it aids survival by facilitating socialization. Maybe without it, social contracts between mere "zombies" would just fall apart.

Of course, social insects don't need free will in order to be "social"(that is, so far as we can tell). Furthermore, by imputing free will to ourselves, we implicitly impute it to virtually every other primate, as well. But, even if free will is illusory, it must be experienced as though it's real. We have no reason to suppose that chimpanzees see themselves as free-moral-agents.

Maybe the better question is why we, as human beings need such an illusion if other social animals don't. If I say that free will and self-awareness go hand-in-hand, then doesn't that mean self-awareness is also an illusion? If too much is seen as illusory, then reality loses all meaning.

I don't believe in free will because I believe it violates the conservation laws of physics. But, it's hard to simply dismiss free will out-of-hand just because of the unsavory consequences. Things are either supposed to be, or else not to be the case. This ambiguity makes a mockery of logic. I know what not to believe, I just don't know what I should believe.

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Mgrinder » November 29th, 2016, 3:20 pm

PhiloJ wrote:When discussing about concepts like free will, i find that people have different definitions of free will, so I want to see how many different definitions of free will there are.

I will start with my own definition of free will; free will is not restricted, and formed by any kind of force.

I will now explain why free will cannot exist whit this definition.

In a world where everything is predetermined, your will would have been chosen by fate, so free will cannot exist here.

In a world where everything is random, your will would be chosen randomly, so free will cannot exist here.

In a world where everything is chosen by chance, your will will depend on chance, so free will cannot exist here.
"The will" is that which causes us to pursue what we perceive we value. We find that we value some things over others, and we have a need to purse them. The "will" then comes into play, translating these thoughts into actions designed to get what we perceive we value. For instance, I think about an orange, have a strong urge to eat one, and my hands reach out and grab an orange. The will is that thing in reality which translated my urge into arm movements. Who knows what this thing is? perhaps it is a set of physical laws? Who knows?

If this is a proper definition, now the question "is the will free?" can perhaps be addressed. First, does the will exist? It certainly seems to exist, thoughts are translated into action all the time, so there must be something (god knows what) in reality doing this.

Is it "free"? What does this mean? If it exists, and translates thoughts into action, then it is "free" in sort of elementary sense of the word "free", as it causes things to happen, and there is not something else causing things to happen. By virtue of being an existing cause, it seems it is "free" (there is not something else actually doing what it does). Further, if you find something else that is translating thoughts into action, does it not automatically become "the will"?

Is this thing that translates thoughts into action a part of "us"? Who knows what that question means, but it seems like the answer is yes. Part of our identity is surely our thoughts, and the local things connected to our local thoughts which translates our local thoughts into action can also be thought of as part of our identity. So our "will" is a part of us, and it is "free" in some sense.

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Felix » November 30th, 2016, 5:24 am

Platos stepchild: I don't believe in free will because I believe it violates the conservation laws of physics.

It is no more a violation of physical law than is the act of thinking. The will, being immaterial, is not a physical event (like, say, the actions of our senses are), and it is therefore outside the domain of phenomena studied by science.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: What’s your definition of free will?

Post by Platos stepchild » November 30th, 2016, 9:54 am

Felix wrote:Platos stepchild: I don't believe in free will because I believe it violates the conservation laws of physics.

It is no more a violation of physical law than is the act of thinking. The will, being immaterial, is not a physical event (like, say, the actions of our senses are), and it is therefore outside the domain of phenomena studied by science.
The reason why I said free will violates the conservation laws of physics is because we "freely" alter physical states of reality. Even if I grant you that free will is immaterial, and therefore "outside the domain...of...
science", it's effects aren't. Besides, by definition, free will alters the physical states of reality without antecedent causality. That definition implicitly assumes that at least some of the conservation laws must be violated.

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