Free will

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
Featured Article: Philosophical Analysis of Abortion, The Right to Life, and Murder
User avatar
ALEX PAULO KATTO
New Trial Member
Posts: 1
Joined: February 9th, 2018, 5:16 am

Re: Free will

Post by ALEX PAULO KATTO » February 9th, 2018, 5:31 am

For me freedom means not to go against nature, that is physical nature and rational nature.

User avatar
LuckyR
Moderator
Posts: 2704
Joined: January 18th, 2015, 1:16 am

Re: Free will

Post by LuckyR » February 9th, 2018, 2:39 pm

ALEX PAULO KATTO wrote:
February 9th, 2018, 5:31 am
For me freedom means not to go against nature, that is physical nature and rational nature.
Interesting. Could you define terms and go into greater detail. perhaps with examples?

BTW, this thread was originally created to discuss Free Will as a counterpoint to Predetermination, not necessarily the concept of freedom, per se'
"As usual... it depends."

User avatar
jerlands
Posts: 431
Joined: December 12th, 2017, 10:56 pm

Re: Free will

Post by jerlands » February 9th, 2018, 4:35 pm

Curiouspaul wrote:
August 26th, 2016, 10:43 pm
Isn't it about time as a society that we come up with a definite definition for free will and decide whether it is real or not.

For a long time I have suffered depression and one of the things that really gets me down is regrets, but since I discovered free will my be an illusion I have not dwelled on regrets so much because if free will is an illusion the nmy life was always going to end up where it is now, so there is nothing I could have done to prevent the things that I regret.

So the discussion of free will could be quite important to people suffering from depression.

Also, we send criminals to prison for life or execute them on the belief they chose their crime. But if free will is an illusion then seeking revenge by executing people or sending them to prison for life is just as bad as when people burnt women alive believing them to be witches, because it was a punishment based on a belief, not a fact.

Humanity needs an answer.


Free will is not an illusion, free will is just a matter of choice. That's really all we have. We chose from our environment this or that for reasons that make us individuals. We all however make bad choices but learning from those mistakes is what I believe important. To learn however requires we admit what we did as wrong and take correct action to right the wrong.

Speaking to depression though... I've heard it said depression is not a prozac deficiency and also stuff about the gut brain axis (the gut now being regarded as the second brain.) I'm not a doctor but you might look into how health of the guts microbiome can influence emotion and behavior.

Syamsu
Posts: 2526
Joined: December 9th, 2011, 4:45 pm

Re: Free will

Post by Syamsu » February 10th, 2018, 12:05 am

Free will is not an illusion, don't be absurd. Consider the logic of free will.

An object has alternative futures A and B, A is made the present, meaning A is chosen.
What was it that made the choice turn out A?
The answer is a choice between X and Y, where either answer X or Y is equally correct.

That both X and Y are correct answers is the exact same reasoning why it is equally valid to say a painting is beautiful as to say it is ugly.
It means that all expression of emotion, all subjective opinion, is based on free will. Denial of free will is a sure way to destroy emotional life and get depression.

Ideologies which deny free will, are generally cold-hearted and calculating, due to not providing any room for subjective opinion. Nazism heavily relied on predetermination by race, and predetermination by natural law of struggle for survival. Communism relied on predetermination by laws of societal evolution. Denial of free wil alway comes together with regarding it as a fact what is good and evil, because subjective opinion only operates based on free will.

Judaka
Posts: 223
Joined: May 2nd, 2017, 10:10 am

Re: Free will

Post by Judaka » February 11th, 2018, 1:30 am

Free will as it is defined seems to self-evidently exist but considering the vast and intense biological/social influences on our behaviour, one can hardly consider us to be acting as we do of our own volition. Free will is more like, ultimately you are the CEO and you have the final say but you still need to run your business a certain way. We do have our ability to adjust how we think subconsciously over time through training and so long as you are making a conscious, long-term effort to think or behave in a certain way then I haven't seen anything humans haven't been able to change about themselves within the context of will.

User avatar
Present awareness
Posts: 1213
Joined: February 3rd, 2014, 7:02 pm

Re: Free will

Post by Present awareness » February 12th, 2018, 6:24 pm

Do humans have free will? I would say yes. Is it possible to prove free will? I would say yes. Look no further then the breath. We breath in and out throughout the day and night, mostly unconsciously. However, I may choose, of my own free will, to hold my breath for a minute or two. If it is not by my own free will, that I choose to hold my breath, then what is it that compels me to do so?
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

User avatar
Hereandnow
Posts: 1663
Joined: July 11th, 2012, 9:16 pm
Favorite Philosopher: the moon and the stars

Re: Free will

Post by Hereandnow » February 13th, 2018, 7:52 pm

Syamsu:
The concept of free will can only function if the agency of a decision, is regarded as a subjective issue. If agency is regarded as a factual issue, then the concept becomes rigid, and does not allow for freedom in choosing anymore. Then the choice can only turn out in accordance with the fact of what the agency consists of, and cannot turn out any other way.
Trouble is, people want it both ways: to have their freedom and deny it, too. If you consider the apodicticity of causality, then freedom is a bust, a miracle, that is, to have a causeless action (as if the agency of action is not herself caused). But look at this phenomemologically: a person is not a tree or a stone. These latter do not have possibilities, we do. A tree does not stand before an unwritten future and behold what is possible; but a person can withdraw from what compels, what motivates, and review these, select one over others. This is what freedom is. It is not to be held withing the grasp of a rational/natural law. The act of choosing among possibilities is to be described as it appears, and this sets a person off significantly from the "things" of the world.
Now, you can reduce a person to a law of reason (causality), and consider possibilities as causal possibilities, much as a stream may go one way or another, and here, choice is simply an elaborate causality, but it needs to be understood that streams do not choose a path, but are coerced by natural (or cognitive, if you are a Kantian) law. Are we willing to deconstruct choice down to coercion? I think not: for in the act of second guessing what we will do, the inquiry overcomes the causality at every turn, for it stops action, inquiry does, and choice only arises where there is first inquiry. Choice therefore is destructive of causal streams only. After the choice is made, things move along in a "natural" way, but only until choice reasserts itself.

User avatar
Big Boss
New Trial Member
Posts: 15
Joined: November 13th, 2016, 2:48 am

Re: Free will

Post by Big Boss » March 4th, 2018, 11:09 pm

I did a paper last year on Metaphysics at university (yes, still an undergrad so don't be too mean to my half baked ideas) and found, funnily enough, Derek Parfit's methodology on personal identity the biggest influence on free will. I haven't given Parfit's actual take on free will a go so I don't know if and how this methodology carries over, but essentially Parfit, when it came to personal identity said something like "if we can know all of the physical facts, why does it matter if we say person A is identical to person B?"

How this translates into free will is that we can know the physical facts of our decisions, how our brains work, etc. Why does it matter if this is called free will or not? The more important thing is how things actually occur. The problem of free will, at least how I see it, is that we are constantly trying to place this abstract concept onto the natural facts and it doesn't always fit.

I think there is an emotional attachment to the idea of free will. We want to know that we have it. It is the meaning that we attach to it. If we just understand how our brains work physically then that is really all we need to know.

User avatar
jerlands
Posts: 431
Joined: December 12th, 2017, 10:56 pm

Re: Free will

Post by jerlands » March 5th, 2018, 9:40 pm

Big Boss wrote:
March 4th, 2018, 11:09 pm
I think there is an emotional attachment to the idea of free will. We want to know that we have it. It is the meaning that we attach to it. If we just understand how our brains work physically then that is really all we need to know.
How is that? You equate everything to the brain as one might equate the processor as being the computer. The computer involves many aspects such as a program, memory, routing, storage.. a whole shabang other than just the processor. The human body is similar.. the brain is simply one organ of a system that has many more.
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

User avatar
Big Boss
New Trial Member
Posts: 15
Joined: November 13th, 2016, 2:48 am

Re: Free will

Post by Big Boss » March 11th, 2018, 4:37 pm

jerlands wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 9:40 pm
Big Boss wrote:
March 4th, 2018, 11:09 pm
I think there is an emotional attachment to the idea of free will. We want to know that we have it. It is the meaning that we attach to it. If we just understand how our brains work physically then that is really all we need to know.
How is that? You equate everything to the brain as one might equate the processor as being the computer. The computer involves many aspects such as a program, memory, routing, storage.. a whole shabang other than just the processor. The human body is similar.. the brain is simply one organ of a system that has many more.
I'm sorry, but I'm not sure how that critique is overly relevant. The reason I used the brain is that people generally believe that is the place that does all the decision making and controls the body. Unless you believe is a soul or are an Aristotelian about biology then this is the case. Okay though, I will rephrase "if we just understand how our bodies work physically then that is really all we need to know".

My issue of the problem of free will is that it often comes down to an argument about definitions for those who are determinists. I read an article someone posted on the Partially Examined Life Facebook page yesterday which pretty much described my issues with the problem of free will. To put it simply: Sam Harris believes in determinism and so free will is impossible for him but Daniel Dennett believes in determinism and free will fits with this. They both believe in the same physical facts. They think the same things happen when a decision is made, but under Harris' definition of free will we can't have it but with Dennett's revised definition we do.

This seems absurd to me that there is this definitional argument. We just need to know how these processes work and that is it. Who cares what we call it?

It may be that someone has a need for us to have free will for some moral theory so maybe they are a determinist and choose Dennett's definition. This seems backwards though. If your moral theory requires someone have free will to be punished and so you sneak in the definition then you have gone wrong. You should start with the physical facts and move to morality from there.

User avatar
jerlands
Posts: 431
Joined: December 12th, 2017, 10:56 pm

Re: Free will

Post by jerlands » March 11th, 2018, 5:26 pm

Big Boss wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 4:37 pm
You should start with the physical facts and move to morality from there.
Well, here's a few things you might find of interest as aid in your quest to understand the physical facts.


The Fourth Phase of Water: Dr. Gerald Pollack at TEDx




What is the Self?

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

User avatar
Big Boss
New Trial Member
Posts: 15
Joined: November 13th, 2016, 2:48 am

Re: Free will

Post by Big Boss » March 11th, 2018, 5:37 pm

jerlands wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 5:26 pm
Big Boss wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 4:37 pm
You should start with the physical facts and move to morality from there.
Well, here's a few things you might find of interest as aid in your quest to understand the physical facts.


The Fourth Phase of Water: Dr. Gerald Pollack at TEDx




What is the Self?

Thanks. Looks interesting. I will have a watch today or tomorrow. I'm doing a cheeky post from work at the moment.

User avatar
Frost
Posts: 510
Joined: January 20th, 2018, 2:44 pm

Re: Free will

Post by Frost » March 11th, 2018, 5:37 pm

Big Boss wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 4:37 pm
My issue of the problem of free will is that it often comes down to an argument about definitions for those who are determinists. I read an article someone posted on the Partially Examined Life Facebook page yesterday which pretty much described my issues with the problem of free will. To put it simply: Sam Harris believes in determinism and so free will is impossible for him but Daniel Dennett believes in determinism and free will fits with this. They both believe in the same physical facts. They think the same things happen when a decision is made, but under Harris' definition of free will we can't have it but with Dennett's revised definition we do.
That is because Dennett is very confused on this issue. Free will can be framed in the sense of asking if there are antecedent causally sufficient conditions for action. The famous block universe the results from the Rhiemannian solutions to the field equations of General Relativity makes the absurdity of compatibilism clear. There is absolutely no sense to say that anyone could have done otherwise, and there are clearly antecedent causally sufficient conditions for action (notwithstanding the difficulty in the conception of a process of causation in a block universe). Dennett would be forced to say that if he had chosen to do otherwise he would have done otherwise, but this is a tautology and irrelevant to the question. Just imagine watching a movie and saying that the actor on the screen has free will because if he would have chosen to do otherwise he would have done otherwise! When dealt with in physical terms, the answer is clear. If the universe is deterministic then free will is clearly impossible. Harris is wrong, but he is at least consistent :)

User avatar
VictorianoOchoa
New Trial Member
Posts: 10
Joined: April 23rd, 2018, 9:52 pm

Re: Free will

Post by VictorianoOchoa » April 23rd, 2018, 11:45 pm

Frost wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 5:37 pm
Big Boss wrote:
March 11th, 2018, 4:37 pm
My issue of the problem of free will is that it often comes down to an argument about definitions for those who are determinists. I read an article someone posted on the Partially Examined Life Facebook page yesterday which pretty much described my issues with the problem of free will. To put it simply: Sam Harris believes in determinism and so free will is impossible for him but Daniel Dennett believes in determinism and free will fits with this. They both believe in the same physical facts. They think the same things happen when a decision is made, but under Harris' definition of free will we can't have it but with Dennett's revised definition we do.
That is because Dennett is very confused on this issue. Free will can be framed in the sense of asking if there are antecedent causally sufficient conditions for action. The famous block universe the results from the Rhiemannian solutions to the field equations of General Relativity makes the absurdity of compatibilism clear. There is absolutely no sense to say that anyone could have done otherwise, and there are clearly antecedent causally sufficient conditions for action (notwithstanding the difficulty in the conception of a process of causation in a block universe). Dennett would be forced to say that if he had chosen to do otherwise he would have done otherwise, but this is a tautology and irrelevant to the question. Just imagine watching a movie and saying that the actor on the screen has free will because if he would have chosen to do otherwise he would have done otherwise! When dealt with in physical terms, the answer is clear. If the universe is deterministic then free will is clearly impossible. Harris is wrong, but he is at least consistent :)
Yes, Dennett confused the antecedent and the consequent of free will. His logical argument relies on a modus ponens causal link that does not actually exist; causality occurs in temporal linearity.

In fact, I would argue that no argument for free will, thus far, has been convincing, given the consequence argument, which relies on the causality of all physical things, given materialist premises. I would venture to state that no argument of free will is sufficient unless it argues for supra-causality, the ability to supersede the causal laws of nature, which may necessarily incur an argument for an ideal mind (under idealist premises) or an emergent mind, which may thus have emergent causal powers, that can grant free will (under materialist premises).

Londoner
Posts: 1783
Joined: March 8th, 2013, 12:46 pm

Re: Free will

Post by Londoner » April 24th, 2018, 5:10 am

VictorianoOchoa wrote:
April 23rd, 2018, 11:45 pm

In fact, I would argue that no argument for free will, thus far, has been convincing, given the consequence argument, which relies on the causality of all physical things, given materialist premises. I would venture to state that no argument of free will is sufficient unless it argues for supra-causality, the ability to supersede the causal laws of nature, which may necessarily incur an argument for an ideal mind (under idealist premises) or an emergent mind, which may thus have emergent causal powers, that can grant free will (under materialist premises).
Isn't a person a physical thing? Then why shouldn't that person have an effect on other physical things? It would be odd to describe the entire
universe in terms of the causal laws of nature - with the sole exception of people. Certainly we can describe the universe in such a way that it excludes humans as a 'cause', but we can do that for anything. That would be an argument against all notions of causality.

But assuming we do think of the universe in terms of particular things, including people, that have an effect on other things, 'free will' has got to be somebody's free will. (I assume we are not saying 'Free Will' is some sort of disembodied force in its own right.)

I would suggest that the problem is with the 'free' bit in 'free will', which is vaguely understood to mean something like 'cause-less' or 'for no reason'. But then it makes no sense to couple it with 'will' because 'that I will something' is a cause and a reason. It is saying that a decision to make a cup of coffee cannot be an exercise of free will - because I wanted the cup of coffee so it wasn't 'free'. In that case, in order to be 'free', an act would have to be independent of will, something like a nervous twitch.

So where is the problem? I find myself in the world. I am aware that things can be other than they are, that there are alternative futures. I try to make things go the way I want. I can only create a problem out of that if I deny my own existence as a subject that stands in relation to the world. But since this situation is prior to everything else, then to reject my own existence is to reject everything.

Post Reply