Free-will poll

  • #76
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I'm saying it's just as possible that our choices have no free will behind them, just like the rock doesn't.
I essentially agree. I'd just say that rocks are definitively less self-motivated than humans.

We're just sorting out the meaning of the term 'free will'. If our thoughts and actions are determined by antecedent events, then I agree that 'free will' is something of a misnomer. Sometimes our thoughts and actions are more effectively, or more obviously, determined by external events and conditions, and sometimes, apparently anyway, more by internal conditions or principles of action that we call our own.

That we simply experience the process decision-making but don't actually make the decision.
This is saying the same thing I think. Saying that we make decisions doesn't mean that those decisions aren't determined by our internal and external histories.
 
  • #77
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That sounds more like the idea of 'fate' rather than determinism to me, that is, it doesn't much matter what action you take, it all ends the same way.
It's difficult to separate determinism and fatalism, isn't it? I mean, I think determinism implies fatalism.

I don't think fatalism says that the present and future wouldn't be different if the past and present had been different. It just says that, in fact, the past wasn't something different. It was what it was. And the present is what it is. And the future is a function of what was and what is, not what might have been.

Even for a fatalist, our decisions and choices determine the future. However, our decisions and choices are determined by antecedent states (and any underlying dynamics that we can infer from the way states change), so the future is determined -- we just don't know what it's going to be yet because our knowledge of Nature is incomplete.
 
  • #78
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It's difficult to separate determinism and fatalism, isn't it? I mean, I think determinism implies fatalism.
Oedipus is a good example of fate. It pretty much didn't matter how good a person he was, or how good a king. He was fated to kill his father and marry his mother. No matter what he did, he would end up doing that. Outside forces were driving him in a certain direction, like a curse.

So its not determinism in any modern sense, meaning its not about one thing logically following another, its about no matter how illogical or improbable.... this or that, will happen, because its already written.

A very strict kind of determinism has the same result of course, but fatalism implies a foreknowledge of some sort, whereas determinism doesn't. You don't really need to know anything more than what is probable with determinism and in fact it might be impossible to know the outcome given a complex enough determinist system.
 
  • #79
Pythagorean
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I agree they aren't mutually exclusive.

You're taking the 'river' approach to causality then?

Remove or move a drop or two of water and the river doesn't notice, it still ends up in the ocean. That sounds more like the idea of 'fate' rather than determinism to me, that is, it doesn't much matter what action you take, it all ends the same way.
Not necessarily. The only reason we all head towards to the same "fate" is a statistical result of the laws of the universe. Contamination and entropy; our system (of life) is so complex that the whole thing remaining stable forever is an unreasonable request.

So it's the rules in the beginning that came first, the end is just the result.

ThomasT said:
Sometimes our thoughts and actions are more effectively, or more obviously, determined by external events and conditions, and sometimes, apparently anyway, more by internal conditions or principles of action that we call our own.
To me, this is independent of freewill. A cloud has internal forces and external forces in the same way. From my (a materialist's) perspective, in a human, they're the motion and configuration of particles in your brain which is a result of genetic and environmental conditions.

Of course, I don't have the best understanding of what free-will is still. Most of the time it's explained to me, I fail to see how the same definitions don't apply to the weather or the water cycle; why we should have freewill but they shouldn't.
 
  • #80
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That doesn't necessarily make the comparison invalid. What I'm comparing is the amount of freewill involved. You call the process of a human responding to inputs with an output "choice". You call the rock responding to inputs with an output and you call it "physics".

What you seem to implying is that there's some special thing (like a soul?) that sets our more complicated series of physical events apart from those in nonliving things.

I'm saying it's just as possible that our choices have no free will behind them, just like the rock doesn't. That we simply experience the process decision-making but don't actually make the decision.
No, the difference is that the brain (no soul needed) can simulate the likely consequences of our action and act to avoid (="decide"), whereas this is not possible for a rock. Now, because a choice (selection of one alternative) is deterministic, does not make it any less of a choice. The main problem with what you have outlined is that we are not just experiencing the process of decision-making and standing outside like a ghost unable to do anything, the process of decision-making itself is a part of who we are.
 
  • #81
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No, the difference is that the brain (no soul needed) can simulate the likely consequences of our action and act to avoid (="decide"), whereas this is not possible for a rock.
You're still missing the point if you think this argument is a valid. You're not showing me how freewill entered into the decision-making process. How it compares to a rock is that there was no free will involved. You can redefine "decide" all you like, but you still haven't made any argument why free-will should be a part of the decision making process.

Now, because a choice (selection of one alternative) is deterministic, does not make it any less of a choice. The main problem with what you have outlined is that we are not just experiencing the process of decision-making and standing outside like a ghost unable to do anything...
I already know what your conclusion is... I'm looking for a valid argument, not for you to restate your obvious conclusion again.

In other words, prove it.

the process of decision-making itself is a part of who we are.
That I agree with, and I also think we are unique in this way. This, of course, is not an argument for free-will.
 
  • #82
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Hello to all,

This ‘free will’ subject really makes for one very interesting exchange of ideas and thoughts about ourselves and the world around us. Here’s a first draft of some thoughts of mine…

I do believe humans are endowed with a decision making process that transcends the determined, instinctive, conditioned or emotionally driven state of being that are common to all of Earth’s nature and inhabitants.

Everything created on this planet (and everywhere else) is as it should be. Physically, everything is subjected to Universal laws and evolves, always being subjected to these laws.

I also believe that free will is not an emergent phenomenon, that it is not the product of a material object or group of objects like cells or brain, in the same sense as thoughts would be.

Furthermore, a rock doesn’t think like we think… its immaterial component is strictly related to internal and external energy exchanges. It cannot move from A to B on its own and only needs to be, to exist. It ‘lives’ in a determinist world, all of its parts subjected to, and obeying those same Universal laws.

Same goes for our Sun and all the magnificent stars and cosmological bodies we marvel at.

Same goes for the Flora, which has more ‘freedom’ to move about, interacting better with the environment than the mineral realm. Alas, Flora can only strech and keep its sight towards the sun while reaching deeper into the ground, doing its amazing photosynthesis thing, but still cannot go on a trip to visit a distant cousin.

For elementary life, freedom of movement doesn’t bring cognitive reality but it certainly gives the moving entity a lot more possibilities of interacting with its environment, however still being subjected to the Universal laws. While on the go, an amoeba cannot resist its energy replenishment cycle and cannot ‘decide’ what the intake will consist of and when it will take place. Light years away from choosing between steak and pasta, on the happy hour menu.

The closer you get to the ‘higher order’ living beings, the more possibilities are offered to interact with the environment. I strongly believe that, the more complex interaction network something possesses, the more knowledge is gained and the more refined and elaborate the thought process can evolve, transforming itself into a decision making process.

Possibilities are no longer available only naturally, letting the laws apply, but also through a new pathway… being willed.

Now, that remains within the grasp of the deterministic physical world, still no freewill at work here, only being conditioned by acquired knowledge, on the verge of being emotional…

‘nough for now , regards,

VE
 
  • #83
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Pythagorean said:
You're still missing the point if you think this argument is a valid. You're not showing me how freewill entered into the decision-making process. How it compares to a rock is that there was no free will involved. You can redefine "decide" all you like, but you still haven't made any argument why free-will should be a part of the decision making process.
Yes, I have. The problem is that you think that free will means a magical fairy, rather than the ability to act in accordance with your values. Compatibilist freedom (or "free will") like this is a necessary part of decision making by definition.

That I agree with, and I also think we are unique in this way. This, of course, is not an argument for free-will.
It certainly is! Humans make virtual models of reality and anticipate likely outcomes of their actions and determine actions to avoid bad consequences. This is what is meant by free will and this is an accurate description of human decision making.
 
  • #84
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The brain and the body act almost as a vehicle for somthing that is not physical what ever that may be. There is no proof against that somthing.
 
  • #85
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The brain and the body act almost as a vehicle for somthing that is not physical what ever that may be. There is no proof for that somthing.
fixed for accuracy
 
  • #86
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fixed for accuracy
There is no proof against it either, if you can find me something that disproves it, I would love to see it.
 
  • #87
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Yes, I have. The problem is that you think that free will means a magical fairy, rather than the ability to act in accordance with your values. Compatibilist freedom (or "free will") like this is a necessary part of decision making by definition.
Or the problem is that you think free will actually exists. Perhaps it's insulting for some people to be compared to a rock.

How about a photon? Photons make deterministic decisions that appear to be arbitrary choices. Do you think photons have free-will?
 
  • #88
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There is no proof against it either, if you can find me something that disproves it, I would love to see it.
the point is that the burden of proof is on you to show your claim has validity.
 
  • #89
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the point is that the burden of proof is on you to show your claim has validity.
Did you not read my original post? I already stated that I cannot prove that I am correct nor can you prove you are correct. I have stated my opinion, nobody said you must agree with it.
 
  • #90
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Hello Pythagorean.

sorry, not sure i understand what you mean by ' fixed for accuracy '... care to elaborate ?



ragards,

VE
 
  • #91
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Or the problem is that you think free will actually exists. Perhaps it's insulting for some people to be compared to a rock.

How about a photon? Photons make deterministic decisions that appear to be arbitrary choices. Do you think photons have free-will?
Can photons simulate reality and predict the outcome of their actions and act to avoid unpleasant consequences? I have already disproven your rock analogy, by the way, but I noticed you avoided that.
 
  • #92
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but the point against that, is that your decision making ability is physical along with everything else in some peoples minds. Therefore its all just an interaction of matter according to the true laws of the universe giving us the illusion of choice. Thats one side of the spectrum.
 
  • #93
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Can photons simulate reality and predict the outcome of their actions and act to avoid unpleasant consequences? I have already disproven your rock analogy, by the way, but I noticed you avoided that.
You didn't disprove the rock analogy; The only reason I avoided it was so that people wouldn't seek BS arugments simply because of their emotional response to being associated with a rock.

You're not even addressing the comparison, you're comparing different aspects that obviously aren't the same (particularly the process of causality) and then claiming that you've disproved my analogy. There's no way to disprove my analogy because it makes a currently unfalsifiable claim (not to say that improvements in neuroscience won't be able to someday falsify these kinds of claims).

Are you really having that much trouble comprehending my point that our decisions are physically determined and that any human concepts like "me" and freewill are sensations that could easily be byproducts of the physical process of decision-making? Your arrogance is unfounded: you couldn't have disproved my rock analogy given that you don't even understand it. You're still focused on the differences between us and rocks. cam875 seemed to have gotten it in his post (#92) so I don't think it's my half of the communication that's at err here.

We give names to these things you mention: simulating reality, predicting outcomes, avoiding unpleasant outcomes. But these processes, like a rock falling through gravity, require no "free will" on part of the body carrying out the operations. They are happening exactly as they would anytime you put those particular particles in those particular states at that particular time.
 
  • #94
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But these processes, like a rock falling through gravity, require no "free will" on part of the body carrying out the operations. They are happening exactly as they would anytime you put those particular particles in those particular states at that particular time.
I think the problem with this, is your understanding of freewill.

Its true, a rock will fall with gravity. But in fact, even a vaguely similar rock will also fall. Even a rock that looks entirely different, or is made up of a different sort of stone will fall. You would really need to have something very different from a rock before it would not fall.

However, with a person, many things can happen. Two very similar people, even identical twins may react differently given identical circumstances, that is identical external influences. So people are not rocks. The analogy is faulty.

A rock has no internal causality (or none that is relevant to the gravity example). No variable within the rock entity will make it do something other than what the external force acting upon it causes.
A person can react in an autonomous fashion to external stimuli, in a way that is distinct from even very similar people.

A better comparison would be to something like a tornado or hurricane. Both would have a distinctly 'internal set of variables' as well as a distinctly 'external' set.
But what does a person have, if anything, that a hurricane does not?

A person's internal causation includes a modeling system that allows it to simulate and predict the impact of many types of external causal forces.

The ability of this prediction allows the person to 'choose'. Its still entirely deterministic and predictable, given enough information about internal and external states. But in this case the person entity, can react to the external, before the external has an impact on the entity, entirely based on its internal modeling. This gives it the ability to avoid the influence of external causality, at least in a limited fashion. Limited freedom from external causality.

This is not 'freewill' in the sense of complete freedom from causality, but thats an inherently self-contradicting idea that comes from a radically dualist idea of existense.
 
  • #95
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I think the problem with this, is your understanding of freewill.
I'm not surprised

Its true, a rock will fall with gravity. But in fact, even a vaguely similar rock will also fall. Even a rock that looks entirely different, or is made up of a different sort of stone will fall. You would really need to have something very different from a rock before it would not fall.

However, with a person, many things can happen. Two very similar people, even identical twins may react differently given identical circumstances, that is identical external influences. So people are not rocks. The analogy is faulty.
I never said people were rocks. I compared their ability to choose their actions. But your argument isn't without flaw itself. I never even implied that two identical twins will act the same: they have completely different configurations. All that is the same about them is their appearance. Twins still have different brains susceptible to the slightest different initial conditions (after all, neurons can be modeled as a nonlinear system). This is similar to two coupled-harmonic oscillators, which even if they had the same exact parameteres (in terms of mass and size), if they are started with even slightly different initial conditions, they will exhibit completely different behavior with increasing time. Not only do twins have different initial conditions, they're parameters are not exactly the same despite them looking the same to your macroscopic eyes.

Different rocks will have different rotational motions as they fall based on their mass distribution. No rock will ever be the same from another rock in terms of structure or it's exact motion and interaction with air resistance.

A rock has no internal causality (or none that is relevant to the gravity example). No variable within the rock entity will make it do something other than what the external force acting upon it causes.
A person can react in an autonomous fashion to external stimuli, in a way that is distinct from even very similar people.
Falling through gravity was a specific action of the rock. Gravity isn't the only force acting on the rock, it's just the most obvious, typical example of a force on the rock. If you want to get into the internal causalities of rocks, we can go there too. Solid State, thermodynamics, magnetic domains...

A better comparison would be to something like a tornado or hurricane. Both would have a distinctly 'internal set of variables' as well as a distinctly 'external' set.
But what does a person have, if anything, that a hurricane does not?
Tornado and hurricanes are more complex in their physical interactions with the rest of the universe than rocks are, so in that respect they're a lot better example. Still, I don't feel like the rock analogy has failed it's purpose. At least one other poster acknowledged my meaning.

A person's internal causation includes a modeling system that allows it to simulate and predict the impact of many types of external causal forces.
I addressed this. You have internal microprocesses that you call 'predicting' and 'simulating' (that of course, is a product of inputs from the external world in a first place through a long line of genetic coding). Rocks have internal microprocesses like phonons and magnons. Similar to genetic coding, rock cycles would not be the same at all if previous rock cycles didn't exist. There is an element of 'memory' that transcends generations of rocks.

We can find similar comparisons with the weather system.

The ability of this prediction allows the person to 'choose'. Its still entirely deterministic and predictable, given enough information about internal and external states. But in this case the person entity, can react to the external, before the external has an impact on the entity, entirely based on its internal modeling. This gives it the ability to avoid the influence of external causality, at least in a limited fashion. Limited freedom from external causality.
it's not "entirely based on it's internal modeling" as if the internal modeling is the end of the line. That internal modeling is the product of external influences. It's just a very delayed, statistical response to external influences.

Why is this long-term reaction of ours to external stimuli called a "choice"? What's so special about it if it's just as deterministic and predictable as any other event?

This is not 'freewill' in the sense of complete freedom from causality, but thats an inherently self-contradicting idea that comes from a radically dualist idea of existense.
I should hope we're not talking about that kind of freewill. I was actually hoping you'd be able to convince me of the actual 'free will'. The concept that we actually can make choices independent of the external world. But you haven't, so I'm going to go smoke another cigarette, since i don't believe I have the freewill to quit. When I get lung cancer, expect a law suit.
 
  • #96
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I never said people were rocks. I compared their ability to choose their actions. But your argument isn't without flaw itself. I never even implied that two identical twins will act the same: they have completely different configurations.
But thats the point. Two rocks that are similar, to the same degree that twins are, will invariably act the same way. But twins don't have to. Its not just that people aren't rocks, but they have a very specific ability 'to act differently' even given comparable similarity and the same external cause.
Different rocks will have different rotational motions as they fall based on their mass distribution. No rock will ever be the same from another rock in terms of structure or it's exact motion and interaction with air resistance.
Yes, this is true, but the same could be said about two people. The important part is that if I take a random sample, two rocks, and let gravity work on them, then they are more than likely going to act the exact same way. Two persons, even very similar ones, on the other hand, have internal processess that can and often do affect the way external causes effect them.

Now, if one rock is magnetic, and the other is not, it may act differently with the same external force acting on it. So an internal aspect can have an effect on the outcome. But in the case of a person, it is still different, because the magnetism is a static property, a rock either is magnetic or not, there is no process occuring in the rock. (Assuming its not an electromagnet)
it's not "entirely based on it's internal modeling" as if the internal modeling is the end of the line. That internal modeling is the product of external influences. It's just a very delayed, statistical response to external influences.
But this is important. Because it can be delayed, it can interact with current processes or other processes delayed for different amounts of time. The causality, which would normally reside at the edge or even outside the system, now resides inside the system. Causality is internal, even when outside influences are involved. This we call 'the will'.

I can for example remember that rain is wet, and that rain makes me cold. Then instead of getting rained on, I can get shelter when I see a rain cloud. The rock's memory may have certain causal effects, but it doesn't allow for action. The hurricane's internal processes allow for action, but without a modelling system, it doesn't allow for intention.

Turning intention into action is the essense of choice.
Freewill is a compound word after all.
Will is basically just the ability to intend something to happen, based on personal identity, which is wholely deterministic, of course.
Freedom allows for the act to occur, both the ability to take action and the ability to avoid external obstacles to the action.

Rocks can only react to direct stimulus, they can't predict via indirect stimulus and can't then intend action.
Why is this long-term reaction of ours to external stimuli called a "choice"? What's so special about it if it's just as deterministic and predictable as any other event?
Well, its special to us because we can do it, and its useful to us, and we can see that most things in nature can't do it. Whether it has any objective specialness... doesn't seem like a question that is either answerable or of much value, IMO.

When I get lung cancer, expect a law suit.
If you don't fall down an elevator shaft before then, I will.
 

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