Free will does not exist (Beware)

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by JamesOfSeattle »

Eduk wrote: November 9th, 2018, 1:29 pm
It is well known in meteorology that the inability to predict the weather with certainty goes BEYOND merely not knowing enough variable
Can you provide a link please.
The only thing I can think of is the uncertainty principle whereby it is conceptually impossible to have the perfect knowledge (presumably) needed to model the weather with 100% accuracy..
FWIW, Stephen Wolfram has shown that there are determined systems (he uses cellular automata) where all of the rules and starting conditions are known, and yet there is no way to predict the outcome after a certain number of steps without using more resources than the system itself uses. That is to say, the most efficient way to determine the outcome is just to let the system run and see what happens. It seems likely that what a person does may be determined, but to be able to predict what they will do would take more resources than are available in the universe.

*
[sorry I don’t have a specific link, but you should be able to find something with creative googling]
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Burning ghost
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Burning ghost »

Tosen -

Shame. Thought you’d have been willing to stick around and consider a different way to approach the problem. I cannot argue against what say if I find it too vague.

Dreaming is s conscious state, a state of awareness. Your protest against that shows a misconception of the terminology. That was likely one of the bigger confusions alongside the idea of “mind” being something “other” than your conscious state?

I’m not going to pretend it isn’t a confusing topic and that every single utterance of “consciousness” by neuroscientists is identical (they do at least make an effort to define what it is they are talking about and the context given; taking care not to use the same word in seversl different ways.)
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Burning ghost
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

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I would add/repeat (specifically in relation to Harris) that “thought” doesn’t necessarily mean “verbal thought.” Meaning we don’t need a running commentary for eveyrthing we do, we think about going somewhere and go there, we feel pain, angered, scared, etc., and then explicate this to someone else (ofrn badly) or make an inner articulation of the feeling.

This is why I like to say that “language” is the eulogy of thought.
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Eduk
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk »

Thanks for the example James. That would seem to support materialism though? Or perhaps more accurately not contradict materialism.
Unknown means unknown.
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chewybrian
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by chewybrian »

Tosen wrote: November 10th, 2018, 3:41 pm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-Xp7mvOcVM There is evidence right here my friend. Sam harris provides a phenomenoloical example (Through our Subjective experience) and then cites various experiments that prove it.Deny it or accept it at will. Most of you haven't read the EMPIRICAL DATA that I offered in this forum. Come back and then critique it.
I watched the video with all the open mind I could muster, but I see nothing remotely approaching proof there. He is simply asserting opinion in a factish tone, and attacking a straw man version of free will in which higher consciousness makes and executes every decision. We all know we have unconscious processes going on under the surface all the time, and subconscious ideas of which we may be unaware, or barely aware.

So what?

The fact that a muscle twitches in anticipation of a signal from the brain does not mean that there is no consciousness directing the action, or that consciousness is fully disconnected from unconscious or subconscious activity. If I am having difficulty breathing, I will become fully aware of it in short order. If not, I am probably fully unaware unless I decide to focus on breathing. I can switch to manual control and take over most minor decisions at my discretion, just as the owner of a business can man the cash register or take over any other spot in the corporate structure. Tasks may move up and down the ladder of consciousness based on my perception of the urgency of their resolution. I may consider issues in my subconscious, at the direction of my higher consciousness, and then become aware of the resolution when my subconscious is done working on the problem. How often do you try to recall some memory and fail, only to have it pop back in your head hours later? Your subconscious went to work on it while you went on to something else. People can even learn while they are asleep!

I imagine that higher consciousness, free will, the 'soul' is part of a cohesive system, in which it acts like the CEO of the corporation. Other elements may act at its discretion, like the marketing director pursuing directives given to her. Some elements act while the CEO is fully unaware of them, as the janitor mopping the floor at some remote branch of the company. Such multitasking seems essential to survival (or at least it was). Nothing Harris said made a dent in this model. We know WHAT it is doing (freely making decisions), but we don't know HOW. The timing of the signals to the body or the 'rising up' of ideas is not inconsistent with free will. We may, sometimes unknown to us, have asked for the idea to be considered. Or, if not, we still must consider its worth and whether to act on it and how to act if we do.

We don't have to have complete or correct information about our environment or complete control over our body or even our minds to act freely. We need only be free enough to choose between two or more alternative actions of which we are aware. Since Harris is trying to prove a negative, it only requires one instance in which this happened for him to be proven wrong. I am satisfied that I have made decisions every day of my life, as are most people. So, he is wrong.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk »

The problem I have with Sam Harris is the same problem I have with those who insist on religious or mystical solutions. Namely that the proof of an unknown doesn't qualify as proof of a known. Sam can't prove we don't have choice by explaining all the ways in which he can't understand how we could.
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LuckyR
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by LuckyR »

Eduk wrote: November 9th, 2018, 1:29 pm
It is well known in meteorology that the inability to predict the weather with certainty goes BEYOND merely not knowing enough variable
Can you provide a link please.
The only thing I can think of is the uncertainty principle whereby it is conceptually impossible to have the perfect knowledge (presumably) needed to model the weather with 100% accuracy.
But the uncertainty principle doesn't disprove determinism.
If all "decisions" are actually not decisions at all and are pre-determined, likely by the way that sub-atomic particles happened to stream out from the Big Bang, then just like the behavior of billiard balls on a slate table and planets in orbit, all human behavior/decision making would be predictable.
Not necessarily. It could be determined and unpredictable, see the uncertainty principle for an example.
In your mind, do you see a difference between determination and pre-determination?
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Burning ghost
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

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It might be helpfuo to listen to this in order to dig into the distinctions a little further:

http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/71-free-will-d ... and-choice
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chewybrian
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by chewybrian »

Burning ghost wrote: November 12th, 2018, 2:41 am It might be helpfuo to listen to this in order to dig into the distinctions a little further:

http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/71-free-will-d ... and-choice
Compatibilism seems even more ridiculous coming from this source than seeing someone here try to explain it. Free will is a slippery issue, but the idea of determinism and free will existing together is a clear and simple contradiction. By definition they do not go together, and the arguments he presents are tortured nonsense.

Why do people even try to put these two things together? I can only assume that they see that free will is self-evident. They know subjectively, intuitively, that their own actions are neither random nor fully determined. Yet do not want to let go of determinism, because it applies perfectly to inanimate things. Are they so desperate to have both that they are willing to say these ideas represent reality?

"I am free to choose the one and only thing the universe has determined me to choose."

"I was free to choose the other option which I would have been prevented from choosing."

If I am free to choose, there must be two or more alternative paths which I may choose in the same exact circumstance. In some small way, my choice will determine the reality of the future. No other scenario represents free will, no matter how hard someone tries to spin it. It is rational and fair to believe I have that choice, or to believe my action is determined, but not to believe both.

However, in such a case where it is fair to consider either option, I fail to see why anyone would want to fall on the side that removes meaning from their life. Perhaps most ridiculous is the idea that someone says they believe 100% in determinism, yet concedes it is 'necessary' or 'useful' to carry on as if they had free will. If you buy determinism, you should own it. Why bother arguing about it if you don't believe any choice you ever make could affect the future? Why bother worrying about anything?
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk »

In your mind, do you see a difference between determination and pre-determination?
Kind of depends how you define the terms? Predetermined usually refers to supernatural manipulations of fate and the like.
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Burning ghost
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Burning ghost »

Chewy -

It isn’t ridicuilous at all. The issue is understanding probabilty and how we view the world in a causally deterministic way. If we refused to believe i determinism (in some sense) then we couldn’t place one foot in front of another, understand how probable something may be with any accuracy, or understand a “choice” as a set of limited (not limitless) options.

The terminology in any philosophical investigation ends up conflating ideas where it didn’t mean to and necessarily posing absolutr conditions in order to highlight the problems within the lexical context it is established within.

It is also ridiculous to say “moral nihilism” because it seems contrary. The same goes for “compatibilism” if you frame it as being between two absolutisms (an all or nothing perspective.) It is certainly easy enough to chase your tail when it comes to this subject.
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chewybrian
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by chewybrian »

Burning ghost wrote: November 12th, 2018, 10:59 am Chewy -

It isn’t ridicuilous at all. The issue is understanding probabilty and how we view the world in a causally deterministic way. If we refused to believe i determinism (in some sense) then we couldn’t place one foot in front of another, understand how probable something may be with any accuracy, or understand a “choice” as a set of limited (not limitless) options.

The terminology in any philosophical investigation ends up conflating ideas where it didn’t mean to and necessarily posing absolutr conditions in order to highlight the problems within the lexical context it is established within.

It is also ridiculous to say “moral nihilism” because it seems contrary. The same goes for “compatibilism” if you frame it as being between two absolutisms (an all or nothing perspective.) It is certainly easy enough to chase your tail when it comes to this subject.
I'm not trying to build a straw man, but...

What you seem to be describing are influences, not determining factors. I can be starving and still choose not to eat.

We're not disputing the effect of influences on choices, but whether actions are choices at all or simply reactions to prior events. It's not my cherry picked idea of what determinism might be; that's what it is. Morality is right out the window if I have no chance to choose between right and wrong. You are not a bad person because you get the hiccups, nor a good person because you have red hair. Morality requires real choice.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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LuckyR
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by LuckyR »

Eduk wrote: November 12th, 2018, 6:42 am
In your mind, do you see a difference between determination and pre-determination?
Kind of depends how you define the terms? Predetermined usually refers to supernatural manipulations of fate and the like.
Not in my way of thinking. To me they are identical. For example, let's say that determinism is proven to be true. Well if a current thing is 100% caused by a certain set of events. One can use the same set of "proofs" to find their causes etc etc etc backward ad infinitum to the Big Bang. Well at that point everything, for example the reason I am hitting the keys on my keyboard right now are not my decision to do so, it was caused (ultimately) by the way that subatomic particles happened to stream out of the Big Bang. Thus every event in the history of the universe was predetermined by the minute details during it's creation, so determination leads logically to predetermination.
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Eduk »

Lucky, now we are just back to exactly what a choice actually is.
I refuse to take a whole bunch of unknowns and then create a binary option.
Let us just say I believe we choose and I believe in cause in effect. I don't simply except that these terms are mutually exclusive based off of my own ignorance.
Unknown means unknown.
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Burning ghost
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Re: Free will does not exist (Beware)

Post by Burning ghost »

People often say you shouldn’t talk about politics and religion socially. I often think it a good rule in philosophical discourse not to talk about free will or consciousness! Haha!
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