Free will, is it just an illusion?

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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby chang50 on Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:12 am

betiko wrote:Well if you watched the video harris is clearly saying that our conscience is driven by our subconscience, which i think is untrue and it s the foundation of his theory.


I have watched it carefully and he talks a lot about consciousness but I didn't notice any reference to the human conscience,which is not,I would say,the same thing.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby crispybits on Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:43 am

Haggis_McMutton wrote:To the "no free will" people, I ask this: Is a universe where free will exists(according to your definition) even possible? What are the main characteristics of this universe? What empirical test could we do to distinguish between our universe and this hypothetical universe. If you can't imagine a universe where free will might exist, then I say your definition of free will is meaningless. If you can't think of an empirical test to distinguish between the 2 universes then I say that "a difference that makes no difference is no difference" and would conclude the two are the same.


This is not my proper answer either because I just woke up and still a bit bleary but I would say that this universe would have to be dualistic, and the empirical test would be to find a region of our brain that acts in a way that cannot be explained either by deterministic causality or quantum probability. I'm not a neuroscience expert so I don't know enough about how the brain works to say exactly how that test could be done as we're talking about things like "the good experience you had 7 years ago has a causal effect on the decision you make today" but the fundamental theory is that this would be the test.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby betiko on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:09 am

crispybits wrote:
Haggis_McMutton wrote:To the "no free will" people, I ask this: Is a universe where free will exists(according to your definition) even possible? What are the main characteristics of this universe? What empirical test could we do to distinguish between our universe and this hypothetical universe. If you can't imagine a universe where free will might exist, then I say your definition of free will is meaningless. If you can't think of an empirical test to distinguish between the 2 universes then I say that "a difference that makes no difference is no difference" and would conclude the two are the same.


This is not my proper answer either because I just woke up and still a bit bleary but I would say that this universe would have to be dualistic, and the empirical test would be to find a region of our brain that acts in a way that cannot be explained either by deterministic causality or quantum probability. I'm not a neuroscience expert so I don't know enough about how the brain works to say exactly how that test could be done as we're talking about things like "the good experience you had 7 years ago has a causal effect on the decision you make today" but the fundamental theory is that this would be the test.


I don t think that test could be done cause we would have to use our brain either way and therefore taint whatever experiment we re up to. I think we could imagine such universe but don t see how it could not be just theorical
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby crispybits on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:17 am

Not necessarily, the subject would have to be unaware that they are being observed, or at least observed about this, you could stick them into an MRI and tell them you're looking at something like long term memory so that they don't believe their "decisions" are being evaluated. We'd also need a lot more knowledge and better technology before we attempt it, but in theory there's nothing to stop the experiement being able to be conducted...
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby chang50 on Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:12 am

An interesting part of the Harris presentation was when he described how some people react to his thesis.I have to confess this is totally beyond my comprehension.Ideas are only ideas,the concept of people feeling threatened by them seems absurd.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby Gillipig on Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:13 pm

Okay, defining free will. I think when most people talk about free will, they mean a "non random, conscious agent influencing our choices". It can't be random, because even though randomness isn't deterministic, neither is it something we can control, and if we can't control our free will, well then we are not talking about free will at all. It must also be concious, or else you can't take credit for whatever it is doing. i.e, "you don't choose to make red blood cells, yet your body does." If free will is subconcious, we have as much control over it as we have of our digestive system or reflexes. Which isn't much at all.

I don't think I've ever heard anyone deny the influence our environment has on our decision making, it's fairly obvious and easy to test that what you expose a person to influences their thoughts and actions ( environment in this case refers to other humans, animals, trees, the wind, the sun, etc. i.e everything that in one way or another interacts with you), the question seems to be is this along with your genetic code everything that influence what you think and do, or is there also some other agent, independent of causality, an agent we like to call "free will"? Free will can't be governed by causality, as causality means that one thing leads to another, i.e it is in theory possible (with enough information) to predict what will happen next by looking at what happened in the past. Free will can't be operating this way or else, again, it isn't "free". If I can determine what your free will will do next, by looking at what has happened in the past, then it doesn't exist, then it is just, as Sam Harris says, an illusion.

Sorry for the absence of a poll Andy but I seriously still don't know how to request stuff like that, it's a well kept secret among the elitists here at conquerclub. I also happen to feel that polls can be detrimental to discussion as people can just check a box to express their opinion. As it is here, when there is no poll, if you want to express your opinion you have to type something, and that is how discussion comes about, not by checking boxes. You lazy monkey ;)
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby Metsfanmax on Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:37 pm

BigBallinStalin wrote:
Metsfanmax wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:Suppose the speaker of the video wished to be a woman, but couldn't afford the operation and years of speech therapy.

Does this mean he/she doesn't have free will?

Or are financial/physical constraints distinct from free will?

If financial, physical, mental, etc. constraints are distinct from free will, then people have free will. Everyone is limited in some way when it comes to some imagined alternative life we can have (different job, banging scarlett johanson, not 100% control over one's brain/consciousness, etc.), but that's how the world is.

It's not deterministic, in that you could never bang scarlett johanson. If that was your goal, some people are capable of taking that opportunity through much planning and difficult work (other people might not have to face such a high barrier). This doesn't mean they we have 'different' free wills.

Free will is about making choices. The opposite--in my opinion--is the denial of choice. For example, the government attempts to prohibit you from exercising your choice when it comes to illegal drugs, settling outside of court with criminals, etc.


If free will is about making choices, then it doesn't matter what the range of possible choices is, as long as a person is capable of making a choice. I may be physically restrained in a state prison cell, but they can't stop me from making choices. If I believe I have free will even though I do not have a rocket with which I can go the moon and so I am stuck on the prison that is planet Earth, similarly I would believe that I have free will even though I am stuck in the prison that is Sing Sing. The debate about free will is really a question about whether we make choices at all, or whether everything we think and say is the inevitable result of our environment.

RE: un-underlined, or rather "derlined," as it were.
There's natural constraints (can't jump 20 feet), and then there's externally imposed constraints by other humans. I'm worried about the latter in matters of "free will."


That's not what most people mean by free will. You can be talking about rights, or political freedoms, but whether or not you can make real choices isn't affected by whether the constraints are imposed by chance of nature or by intention of other humans. What is the meaningful difference?

If everything was the result of our environment (i.e. exogenous), then why do the decisions "those who make no choices" influence the environment, which then influences others? It's not unidirectional; it's reciprocal. It's endogenous, so I can't side with those think similar to the underlined.


If we accept the deterministic theory, and there are no real choices, then everything is indeed affected by everything else but that doesn't mean any human is really doing anything. They are just collections of atoms and molecules, as rocks. It is not even meaningful to ascribe a 'decision' to a human in this case.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:50 pm

So, you didn't really choose to respond? Then what did you just do--or rather, how did you do it? (remember not to choose your words as you type your next response).

I like Haggis' focus on the POV--i.e. within the system v. outside of the system. And still, the process is endogenous, so the unidirectional claim about environment influencing us is false.


That's not what most people mean by free will. You can be talking about rights, or political freedoms, but whether or not you can make real choices isn't affected by whether the constraints are imposed by chance of nature or by intention of other humans. What is the meaningful difference?


Because people conflate the two at times, thus mixing up the responsibility or the obligation demanded upon others.

How is this related to free will v. determinism? Well, it's in response to the "not having 100% consciousness = no free will" argument. Simply because we face natural constraints, it doesn't follow that we lack free will.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby crispybits on Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:53 pm

Even if those natural constraints are such that we never have any option but to do whatever we think we're "choosing" to do? That's like saying "here's a menu for your dinner, I'm giving you a lot of choice" and the menu only has one dish on it.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby AndyDufresne on Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:56 pm

In response to this topic, I've started charging for my will. Lets discuss the economics of free vs a will that you charge for.


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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby Metsfanmax on Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:05 pm

BigBallinStalin wrote:So, you didn't really choose to respond? Then what did you just do--or rather, how did you do it? (remember not to choose your words as you type your next response).

I like Haggis' focus on the POV--i.e. within the system v. outside of the system. And still, the process is endogenous, so the unidirectional claim about environment influencing us is false.


You are operating under the assumption that actions can meaningfully be attributed to a person in the fully deterministic model. I contend that they cannot. To speak about something a person is "doing" in a world where they don't make any choices is farcical, because the person is no longer outside the system. You can only be outside of the system if you have free will.

Also, I'm starting to get tired of your arrogant and rude responses. The next time you do that, I'm probably just going to foe you again, and leave it there this time.

That's not what most people mean by free will. You can be talking about rights, or political freedoms, but whether or not you can make real choices isn't affected by whether the constraints are imposed by chance of nature or by intention of other humans. What is the meaningful difference?


Because people conflate the two at times, thus mixing up the responsibility or the obligation demanded upon others.

How is this related to free will v. determinism? Well, it's in response to the "not having 100% consciousness = no free will" argument. Simply because we face natural constraints, it doesn't follow that we lack free will.[/quote]

You seemed to make an argument that human constraints matter for free will whereas natural constraints do not. I asked why there is any meaningful difference between the two, that is, to justify your assertion.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:08 pm

crispybits wrote:Even if those natural constraints are such that we never have any option but to do whatever we think we're "choosing" to do? That's like saying "here's a menu for your dinner, I'm giving you a lot of choice" and the menu only has one dish on it.


So, when do you never have any option but one? And in such a circumstance, why do you have no alternatives?

__________________________________________

I disagree with your analogy because it's not that simple. Not all choices hinge on someone handing you a set of choices to make. Many times, there isn't a person actually handing you choices. Now, your choices at this time are currently limited by the path which you've followed for x-amount of years (i.e. path-dependency). For example, some people think they can't quit their job, simply because they've been in it for so long; however, they perceive that their chances of finding another equivalent job are nil. Are such people correct in their perception? Do they define their own choices? Does "the environment" actually constrain them?*

    It' starting to appear that this conversation on free will v. determinism is suffering from a language problem. It looks like a subjective phenomenon defined by each person's understanding of their role in their own reality. Recall Mr Changsha and I's conversation somewhere about two kinds of people. There are (1) those who place responsibility on themselves and shape their environment (internal locus of control), compared to (2) those who perceive themselves frequently as victims of "the environment/system" and who do frequently blame others for their own faults (external locus of control). In my opinion, those who exercise an external locus of control are much more likely to adhere to determinism/something non-free will-ish, in order to compensate for their own failings, which they refuse to think about and refuse to or cannot address. Note: this is a non-normative observation.

So, your future path and your current options can be constrained by your own perception, as well as by the fundamental constraints (you might not be a mathematical genius, or have Y-colored skin, or whatever). Because of these given variables, does this mean you have no free will? Are we missing out other variables? Have we explained the process of decision-making and outcomes correctly?

And what of unplanned outcomes from human coordination (spontaneous order)? How is this placed within our free will v. determinism framework?
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby crispybits on Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:20 pm

The analogy was throwaway, the point is that you're assuming that such a thing as a "choice" exists. Can you give me an example of how we could separate an event (the choice) from the causal chain which precedes it, without just diving into random chance and percentage probabilities? If we can't, and the choice is entirely causal and/or random rather than self-directed then it is not a choice at all. Theoretically you can assume far advanced technology and increased knowledge of neuroscience, etc. It doesn't have to be realistic with current tech/knowledge.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:39 pm

Metsfanmax wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:So, you didn't really choose to respond? Then what did you just do--or rather, how did you do it? (remember not to choose your words as you type your next response).

I like Haggis' focus on the POV--i.e. within the system v. outside of the system. And still, the process is endogenous, so the unidirectional claim about environment influencing us is false.


You are operating under the assumption that actions can meaningfully be attributed to a person in the fully deterministic model. I contend that they cannot. To speak about something a person is "doing" in a world where they don't make any choices is farcical, because the person is no longer outside the system. You can only be outside of the system if you have free will.

Also, I'm starting to get tired of your arrogant and rude responses. The next time you do that, I'm probably just going to foe you again, and leave it there this time.


It's rude of me to say that your unidirectional claim is false? You haven't demonstrated otherwise, so hopefully you'll deal with it maturely.

Is it rude of me to ask you in a tongue-and-cheek manner to contradict yourself? You still are, so then what? You're angry at me because you've cornered yourself into your own contradiction? People got pissed at Socrates for asking questions, so please don't act like them.

Recently, you've sidestepped with a "oh, language doesn't matter in the deterministic model" and "assume fully deterministic model is true; therefore, your contention is false." The latter position is as false as all theological arguments which start with, 'assume God exists', so let's move on. Language does matter (i.e. subjectively defining oneself, human action, and the environment within which we operate), and this goes back to Haggis' distinction between "within the system" and "outside of the system." You're focused on a philosophical problem which has no bearing within our actual world--other than the meaning which you attribute to your deterministic model within this world (even language--i.e. the fundamental means through which your actions become meaningfully attributed to your person--make your model seemingly relevant to this world). In other words, "within the system" you use such means--within the system--to imagine something "outside of the system," but still it's not there. There is no "outside of the system." It's a language muddle, as Wittgenstein puts it.

You imagine something "outside of the system," and then deny that which happens through a process which contradicts your position (i.e. through language, or rather "meaningfully attributing actions to a person." We do this all the time by the way). It's weird--which is why I asked you, "So, you didn't really choose to respond? Then what did you just do--or rather, how did you do it? (remember not to choose your words as you type your next response)." That's me asking you to be practical; the fully deterministic model is not and is contradictory. It simply doesn't apply to the actual world--except in your head, as you project your meaning onto your defined reality (i.e. you're choosing to apply the fully deterministic model). If you understand this, then you'll see why the fully deterministic model "seems" so plausible, but it isn't. Anyone can imagine anything beyond our ability to verify, and this is what you're doing, but it isn't useful/practical in this case.


You seemed to make an argument that human constraints matter for free will whereas natural constraints do not. I asked why there is any meaningful difference between the two, that is, to justify your assertion.


Hm? I've already gave you the distinction--whether or not you wish to apply your meaning to it, it doesn't matter. Anyway, can you explain where you're going with this?
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:52 pm

crispybits wrote:The analogy was throwaway, the point is that you're assuming that such a thing as a "choice" exists. Can you give me an example of how we could separate an event (the choice) from the causal chain which precedes it, without just diving into random chance and percentage probabilities? If we can't, and the choice is entirely causal and/or random rather than self-directed then it is not a choice at all. Theoretically you can assume far advanced technology and increased knowledge of neuroscience, etc. It doesn't have to be realistic with current tech/knowledge.


Well, wait a minute. Can you answer the questions, so I can understand where you're going with this?


So, when do you never have any option but one? And in such a circumstance, why do you have no alternatives?
    (if there's no answer to this, then your previous contention can be discarded).
    (Is your answer, "well there are no choices," which is similar to saying, "these aren't the droids you're looking for"? It doesn't work, but we'll go down that road if you like, but it depends on how you answer the following questions).

(recall, the person thinking about leaving their job)
Are such people correct in the perception of their set of options?
Do they define their own choices?
Does "the environment" actually constrain them, or do they constrain themselves?*


    *recall tidbit on locus of control.


approach/methodology
So, your future path and your current options can be constrained by your own perception, as well as by the fundamental constraints (you might not be a mathematical genius, or have Y-colored skin, or whatever).
Because of these given variables, does this mean you have no free will?
Are we missing out other variables?
Have we explained the process of decision-making and outcomes correctly?

    (I ask these questions because I have no idea what you're looking for. How do you determine if our system is free will or deterministic? How do you know that "choice" does not exist? What's your criteria for knowing/demonstrating? Etc. etc. etc.)


Causality and self-directed actions aren't exclusive, so the underlined doesn't make sense. What are you asking for? I can give theories which explain processes, but I need context from you, so that I can best apply its relevance to our conversation.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby Metsfanmax on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:02 pm

BigBallinStalin wrote:
Metsfanmax wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:So, you didn't really choose to respond? Then what did you just do--or rather, how did you do it? (remember not to choose your words as you type your next response).

I like Haggis' focus on the POV--i.e. within the system v. outside of the system. And still, the process is endogenous, so the unidirectional claim about environment influencing us is false.


You are operating under the assumption that actions can meaningfully be attributed to a person in the fully deterministic model. I contend that they cannot. To speak about something a person is "doing" in a world where they don't make any choices is farcical, because the person is no longer outside the system. You can only be outside of the system if you have free will.

Also, I'm starting to get tired of your arrogant and rude responses. The next time you do that, I'm probably just going to foe you again, and leave it there this time.


It's rude of me to say that your unidirectional claim is false? You haven't demonstrated otherwise, so hopefully you'll deal with it maturely.

Is it rude of me to ask you in a tongue-and-cheek manner to contradict yourself? You still are, so then what? You're angry at me because you've cornered yourself into your own contradiction? People got pissed at Socrates for asking questions, so please don't act like them.


No, it is rude to suggest that I did not think about what I was saying before I said it.

Recently, you've sidestepped with a "oh, language doesn't matter in the deterministic model" and "assume fully deterministic model is true; therefore, your contention is false." The latter position is as false as all theological arguments which start with, 'assume God exists', so let's move on. Language does matter (i.e. subjectively defining oneself, human action, and the environment within which we operate), and this goes back to Haggis' distinction between "within the system" and "outside of the system." You're focused on a philosophical problem which has no bearing within our actual world--other than the meaning which you attribute to your deterministic model within this world (even language--i.e. the fundamental means through which your actions become meaningfully attributed to your person--make your model seemingly relevant to this world). In other words, "within the system" you use such means--within the system--to imagine something "outside of the system," but still it's not there. There is no "outside of the system." It's a language muddle, as Wittgenstein puts it.


You have misunderstood my position. I was not arguing about whether the deterministic model was true, I had not taken a stance on that yet. I was simply making some statements about what would be the case if the deterministic model were true. Whether or not my conclusions about this are true, is independent of whether the deterministic model is correct.

You have also misunderstood my position about the nature of "being in the system." I was agreeing that there is no "outside of the system," but I contend that people who believe in free will (e.g. you, evidently) do in fact believe in that -- because it suggests that the mind does not exist in the same realm as the physical laws that govern the activity of the brain (I don't believe the emergence argument disproves this).

Finally, I don't really know what you mean to imply by saying I'm focused on a philosophical problem. The entire discussion of free will is a purely abstract philosophical discussion, because regardless of whatever else is true, I feel like I make actual choices, even if I know rationally that this is not the case.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby Woodruff on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:12 pm

Metsfanmax wrote:Finally, I don't really know what you mean to imply by saying I'm focused on a philosophical problem. The entire discussion of free will is a purely abstract philosophical discussion, because regardless of whatever else is true, I feel like I make actual choices, even if I know rationally that this is not the case.


While I agree with you regarding it being a primarily philosophical discussion (which I enjoy), I don't understand how you could actually know that's not the case.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby crispybits on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:28 pm

BigBallinStalin wrote:
crispybits wrote:The analogy was throwaway, the point is that you're assuming that such a thing as a "choice" exists. Can you give me an example of how we could separate an event (the choice) from the causal chain which precedes it, without just diving into random chance and percentage probabilities? If we can't, and the choice is entirely causal and/or random rather than self-directed then it is not a choice at all. Theoretically you can assume far advanced technology and increased knowledge of neuroscience, etc. It doesn't have to be realistic with current tech/knowledge.


Well, wait a minute. Can you answer the questions, so I can understand where you're going with this?


So, when do you never have any option but one? And in such a circumstance, why do you have no alternatives?
    (if there's no answer to this, then your previous contention can be discarded).
    (Is your answer, "well there are no choices," which is similar to saying, "these aren't the droids you're looking for"? It doesn't work, but we'll go down that road if you like, but it depends on how you answer the following questions).

(recall, the person thinking about leaving their job)
Are such people correct in the perception of their set of options?
Do they define their own choices?
Does "the environment" actually constrain them, or do they constrain themselves?*


    *recall tidbit on locus of control.


approach/methodology
So, your future path and your current options can be constrained by your own perception, as well as by the fundamental constraints (you might not be a mathematical genius, or have Y-colored skin, or whatever).
Because of these given variables, does this mean you have no free will?
Are we missing out other variables?
Have we explained the process of decision-making and outcomes correctly?

    (I ask these questions because I have no idea what you're looking for. How do you determine if our system is free will or deterministic? How do you know that "choice" does not exist? What's your criteria for knowing/demonstrating? Etc. etc. etc.)


Causality and self-directed actions aren't exclusive, so the underlined doesn't make sense. What are you asking for? I can give theories which explain processes, but I need context from you, so that I can best apply its relevance to our conversation.


You never have any option except one. That's kinda the point. Our consciousness creates an illusion of choice when in reality the laws of physics make the choice for us, and then we just catch up and convince ourselves we've done it.

Lets try a different analogy (and remember these aren't meant to be taken 100% literally, they're figurative):

Assume:
x = 1034
y = 2142
z = 523

Calculate 469xy + 342xz + 610yz using only a pen and paper and long multiplication - no calculators or other artifical aids.

Now the answer to that question is always going to be 1,907,064,036. It's the answer even before you start conciously working it out. But your brain doesn't have the knowledge of the answer, so it has to work it's way through it and get to the answer at the end.

It's sort of the same with choices. Causality/quantum has already determined what the decision you will make to a particular set of apparent options is at any given point in time. You can no more change that decision than you can change the answer of the maths problem during the process of working it out. Studies have shown that the brain makes this decision away from the concious thought processes, and the concious thought processes then catch up some time afterwards.

Given that you have no concious control over which option you will decide, the fact that you can convince yourself that you do is irrelevant. I could convince myself that I'm really good at beer pong, but that act of self-persuasion has no bearing on whether I am objectively any good at beer pong.

So to get to the answers for your questions:

Are such people correct in their perception of their set of options? They are correct in the way that they can perceive a set of possibilities, however these are not options, they are simply things that it would be possible for this to happen. Just like it is possible that I could get up from my computer right now, go into the shop downstairs and beat up the shop assistant. That doesn't mean that they have a choice between those options, simply that this is a list of things that are viable possibilities that could conceivably happen.

Do they define their own choices? They define what they think are decisions they are making. They are incorrect in classifying them as choices, because whatever they think about the decisions they think they are making, actually their decision was made at the start of the causal chain (however far you want to trace that back), and it was not a concious choice but merely a natural event governed by the laws of physics.

Does the environment constrain them? Reality constrains them. Reality constrains itself. They can never do anything other than what the causal chain leads them to do, even if they believe they are self-directed actors making their own decisions.

As I said, can you give me an example where the act of making a decision is not based on the causal chain that ends in the firing of certain neurons in the brain, and sometime after that by the illusion that we have conciously chosen one option over another?
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby Gillipig on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:38 pm

The challenge for anyone in defence of free will is to postulate a line of reasoning that explains why it is more reasonable to assume that something we don't have any positive evidence for, exists, rather than not exist. He who makes the extrodinary claim shall also provide the extrodinary explanation. And it is an extrodinary claim to say that something, independent of causality, non random, unlike anything else, "probably only found in humans", exists. (I assume the latter is most pro-free will'ers viewpoint) It is not an extrodinary claim, contrast to popular opinion, to say that we don't have free will. Free will is an unneccesary add on, we don't really need it to explain anything. If we don't have free will then we live in very a determinstic world (which in many ways we already know we do), where only some form of randomness could potentially upset the link of causality. Some may not find that a world that suits their liking but it's not a world view that is extrodinary or difficult to explain.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby puppydog85 on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:44 pm

Definition of "Free Will": That man's actions or choices are voluntary, under his control, and such that he has the outward ability to do other than what he actually chose to do. It can also be called "metaphysically free will"; the person's choices are self-determined, rather than forced or compelled.

And I would say yes, he has it and that it is not an illusion.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby Metsfanmax on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:47 pm

Woodruff wrote:
Metsfanmax wrote:Finally, I don't really know what you mean to imply by saying I'm focused on a philosophical problem. The entire discussion of free will is a purely abstract philosophical discussion, because regardless of whatever else is true, I feel like I make actual choices, even if I know rationally that this is not the case.


While I agree with you regarding it being a primarily philosophical discussion (which I enjoy), I don't understand how you could actually know that's not the case.


I don't know that it will always be the case, I just do not believe that we don't have any evidence to the contrary at the present, so I wouldn't describe any current discussions on the subject as existing in the realm of the practical.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:48 pm

Metsfanmax wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:
Metsfanmax wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:So, you didn't really choose to respond? Then what did you just do--or rather, how did you do it? (remember not to choose your words as you type your next response).

I like Haggis' focus on the POV--i.e. within the system v. outside of the system. And still, the process is endogenous, so the unidirectional claim about environment influencing us is false.


You are operating under the assumption that actions can meaningfully be attributed to a person in the fully deterministic model. I contend that they cannot. To speak about something a person is "doing" in a world where they don't make any choices is farcical, because the person is no longer outside the system. You can only be outside of the system if you have free will.

Also, I'm starting to get tired of your arrogant and rude responses. The next time you do that, I'm probably just going to foe you again, and leave it there this time.


It's rude of me to say that your unidirectional claim is false? You haven't demonstrated otherwise, so hopefully you'll deal with it maturely.

Is it rude of me to ask you in a tongue-and-cheek manner to contradict yourself? You still are, so then what? You're angry at me because you've cornered yourself into your own contradiction? People got pissed at Socrates for asking questions, so please don't act like them.


No, it is rude to suggest that I did not think about what I was saying before I said it.

Recently, you've sidestepped with a "oh, language doesn't matter in the deterministic model" and "assume fully deterministic model is true; therefore, your contention is false." The latter position is as false as all theological arguments which start with, 'assume God exists', so let's move on. Language does matter (i.e. subjectively defining oneself, human action, and the environment within which we operate), and this goes back to Haggis' distinction between "within the system" and "outside of the system." You're focused on a philosophical problem which has no bearing within our actual world--other than the meaning which you attribute to your deterministic model within this world (even language--i.e. the fundamental means through which your actions become meaningfully attributed to your person--make your model seemingly relevant to this world). In other words, "within the system" you use such means--within the system--to imagine something "outside of the system," but still it's not there. There is no "outside of the system." It's a language muddle, as Wittgenstein puts it.


You have misunderstood my position. I was not arguing about whether the deterministic model was true, I had not taken a stance on that yet. I was simply making some statements about what would be the case if the deterministic model were true. Whether or not my conclusions about this are true, is independent of whether the deterministic model is correct.

You have also misunderstood my position about the nature of "being in the system." I was agreeing that there is no "outside of the system," but I contend that people who believe in free will (e.g. you, evidently) do in fact believe in that -- because it suggests that the mind does not exist in the same realm as the physical laws that govern the activity of the brain (I don't believe the emergence argument disproves this).

Finally, I don't really know what you mean to imply by saying I'm focused on a philosophical problem. The entire discussion of free will is a purely abstract philosophical discussion, because regardless of whatever else is true, I feel like I make actual choices, even if I know rationally that this is not the case.


Then what position would you like to argue in favor for?

re: underlined, How do you know?
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby Metsfanmax on Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:53 pm

BigBallinStalin wrote:Then what position would you like to argue in favor for?


None. I haven't the slightest inkling of what the mind is. I am baffled every day by the fact that "I" exist, and that "I" have thoughts. I am literally unable to wrap my mind around what my mind is. So I don't really think I have any justification for trying to go and make statements about how it works. I am just evaluating the consequences of the hypotheses that were proposed here.
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:44 pm

Metsfanmax wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:Then what position would you like to argue in favor for?


None. I haven't the slightest inkling of what the mind is. I am baffled every day by the fact that "I" exist, and that "I" have thoughts. I am literally unable to wrap my mind around what my mind is. So I don't really think I have any justification for trying to go and make statements about how it works. I am just evaluating the consequences of the hypotheses that were proposed here.


We're just about to get into that with crispybits. For nearly all scenarios, I just roll with the assumption that "I" = my brain and body, and then we can separate the parts from the whole and examine each in turn. The "mind" is similar to the "I," but I don't find the word to be useful since it fails to clarify anything. That word seems to only create language problems, for which there are no answers---but it does allow those philosophers to chase their tails like dogs, which they get paid well enough to do so.

If it helps, I'd suggest reading Wittgenstein* and Thich Nhat Hanh**. They put a lot of my philosophical worries at ease.

    *His Blue Book serves as a good intro, but it's early Wittgenstein, so it's not 100% representative of his body of work. His more complicated--but fun--work is Philosophical Investigations.

    **See: The Art of Mindfulness and The Miracle of Mindfulness. D.T. Suzuki on Zen Buddhism is a good alternative from the roads of "western" thinking which is composed great thinkers who in some scenarios have led nearly all of us to no useful answers and questions.

Anyway, as a rehash, which hypothesis do you find to be the most convincing and why?
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Re: Free will, is it just an illusion?

Postby Metsfanmax on Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:48 pm

BigBallinStalin wrote:Anyway, as a rehash, which hypothesis do you find to be the most convincing and why?


Everything that scientists have learned so far points to the idea that the rules of nature can be expressed in a form that humans can understand, and that the form is completely deterministic. So the most convincing argument, to me, is that everything humans do could in principle be calculated, given the state of the universe before the action at sufficient precision, and sufficient computing power.
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