ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Tags free will

Reply
Old 23rd September 2017, 11:56 AM   #1
barehl
Master Poster
 
barehl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2,585
Is there a workable defintion of free will?

I've seen a number of arguments against free will but they seem to all include a definition that is self-contradictory. I don't really have a background in philosophy so perhaps there is a definition that does work that I haven't heard of yet.

Even Harris' arguments seem to have an obvious flaw, or at least it seems obvious to me. If I were having a conversation with Harris about his book and his views on free will, I guess I would ask what the Michelson-Morley experiment would be. They tested a hypothesis about ether wind and failed to detect it. This failed experiment showed that ether wind didn't exist. A similar experiment would be the attempt to detect proton decay. Harris didn't describe such a test in his book.

So, what would the equivalent be for free will? What is it that a person who has free will could do, but someone without free will could not do? If this can be stated then presumably the experiment could be performed and the issue could be settled. On the other hand, if such an experiment cannot be described then perhaps the definition is the problem.
barehl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd September 2017, 12:17 PM   #2
Aridas
Crazy Little Green Dragon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,738
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
I've seen a number of arguments against free will but they seem to all include a definition that is self-contradictory. I don't really have a background in philosophy so perhaps there is a definition that does work that I haven't heard of yet.

Even Harris' arguments seem to have an obvious flaw, or at least it seems obvious to me. If I were having a conversation with Harris about his book and his views on free will, I guess I would ask what the Michelson-Morley experiment would be. They tested a hypothesis about ether wind and failed to detect it. This failed experiment showed that ether wind didn't exist. A similar experiment would be the attempt to detect proton decay. Harris didn't describe such a test in his book.

So, what would the equivalent be for free will? What is it that a person who has free will could do, but someone without free will could not do? If this can be stated then presumably the experiment could be performed and the issue could be settled. On the other hand, if such an experiment cannot be described then perhaps the definition is the problem.
Well... honestly, the first thing that comes to mind after reading the title is "Yes, but which version of free will are you actually interested in?" Once that's answered, you should be most of the way to making a "workable" definition. There are multiple notably different things that free will's been used to describe and address, with a number of people accidentally or intentionally conflating them invalidly. As for testing... it's going to be effectively impossible to actually seriously test just about any of them, more because of the level of uncertainty required to be meaningfully addressed for it than anything else. Get a proper working Theory of Everything, and we can work with that to give a reasonable, though still probably uncertain, answer for the more abstract forms. Add to that a completely accurate mechanistic description of how consciousness works and that might remove much more of the remaining uncertainty. Much less is only of somewhat unreliable value. The closest thing to a current feasible test for any of them would probably be using a lie detector test to ask if an action was done under duress and also against one's desire, for some of the most socially relevant forms, and the accuracy of memory and lie detecting tests has been shown to be... far less than perfect, though still far better than nothing.
__________________
So sayeth the crazy little dragon.

Last edited by Aridas; 23rd September 2017 at 12:39 PM.
Aridas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd September 2017, 12:43 PM   #3
The_Animus
Master Poster
 
The_Animus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 2,602
If all the actions people take are the result of an extremely complex equation based upon a series of variables (genetics, environment, past experiences, brain chemistry, etc).

Then free will would be the ability, somehow, for a person to take an action contrary to the result of that equation.

As for testing, I don't think we're currently capable. Accurately calculating the result of such an equation is basically impossible for us for the foreseeable future, and how would we even know for sure if we were calculating it correctly?

If we could calculate the equation and find the expected action, and then the person did a contrary action, how would we be able to determine if it was really free will or if the original expected action was faulty because we aren't able to calculate it correctly?

I'm not sure this is a question that can ever actually be solved
__________________
Straw Man, Ad Hominem, Moving the Goalposts, and a massive post count are all good indicators that a poster is intellectually dishonest and not interested in real discussion.

Feeding trolls only makes them stronger, yet it is so hard to refrain.
The_Animus is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd September 2017, 02:13 PM   #4
surreptitious57
Thinker
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 237
The definition of free will is the freedom to choose between freely realisable alternatives though it would be hard to test for
Because the definition includes choices which might be rejected for moral reasons. Now that raises the interesting question
of whether or not free will includes choices that are entirely possible but morally unacceptable. And I would say that it does
as free will is not limited to just choices one agrees with even though they are the only ones that one would ideally consider
__________________
A MIND IS LIKE A PARACHUTE : IT DOES NOT WORK UNLESS IT IS OPEN
surreptitious57 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd September 2017, 03:28 PM   #5
Delphic Oracle
Graduate Poster
 
Delphic Oracle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 1,994
Originally Posted by surreptitious57 View Post
The definition of free will is the freedom to choose between freely realisable alternatives though it would be hard to test for
Because the definition includes choices which might be rejected for moral reasons. Now that raises the interesting question
of whether or not free will includes choices that are entirely possible but morally unacceptable. And I would say that it does
as free will is not limited to just choices one agrees with even though they are the only ones that one would ideally consider
I've tended to call that encumbered free will.

As The_Animus pointed out, there's a lot of variables weighing down our actions and preempting some flights of fancy. Some of these are physical reality limitations, some are psycho-social. They are all a result of observations (or relayed observations). We engage in acts of encumbered free will without even thinking about it. The big free will decisions are when we defy the base programming, when we have no rational basis for leaning the way we feel like leaning (and know we don't) and yet...persist.

Now, the problem is a lot of times we think we're engaging in an act of free will and it's simply an unknown (but "rational") basis.
Delphic Oracle is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd September 2017, 05:54 PM   #6
Loss Leader
Would Be Ringing (if a bell)
Moderator
 
Loss Leader's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Florida
Posts: 23,896
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
So, what would the equivalent be for free will? What is it that a person who has free will could do, but someone without free will could not do? .

Even if someone had perfect free-will, his/her own bodies would betray them. One cannot will the heart not to beat or the eye not to blink. A person can't choose to walk on water or fly unaided.

I don't see any test that could be done.


ETA: Just read The Animus' post again. That's what I meant.
__________________
I have the honor to be
Your Obdt. St

L. Leader

Last edited by Loss Leader; 23rd September 2017 at 05:55 PM.
Loss Leader is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd September 2017, 06:25 PM   #7
Dr.Sid
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic
Posts: 1,277
Anyway .. I understand free will in kinda practical sense .. free of obvious obstruction. Drug addict won't have entirely free will. Normal person will have it. When you go deeper, the term will quickly loose any practicality. Determinism of the universe is non-testable, and so is determinism of will.

Sometimes, when you can't define something, it will show up you didn't really need the term at all ..
Dr.Sid is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 06:22 AM   #8
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 301
Is there a workable definition of free will?

Originally Posted by barehl View Post
I've seen a number of arguments against free will but they seem to all include a definition that is self-contradictory. I don't really have a background in philosophy so perhaps there is a definition that does work that I haven't heard of yet.

Even Harris' arguments seem to have an obvious flaw, or at least it seems obvious to me. If I were having a conversation with Harris about his book and his views on free will, I guess I would ask what the Michelson-Morley experiment would be. They tested a hypothesis about ether wind and failed to detect it. This failed experiment showed that ether wind didn't exist. A similar experiment would be the attempt to detect proton decay. Harris didn't describe such a test in his book.

So, what would the equivalent be for free will? What is it that a person who has free will could do, but someone without free will could not do? If this can be stated then presumably the experiment could be performed and the issue could be settled. On the other hand, if such an experiment cannot be described then perhaps the definition is the problem.

Our ability to have acted differently than we actually did at some point, all other factors remaining the same.

But sorry, can't be tested. In theory perhaps, but not in practice.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 06:27 AM   #9
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 301
Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Even if someone had perfect free-will, his/her own bodies would betray them. One cannot will the heart not to beat or the eye not to blink. A person can't choose to walk on water or fly unaided.

I'm no expert, but I don't think the limits our bodies place on us, or the limits that gravity places on us, I don't think they have anything to do with free will?
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 08:20 AM   #10
barehl
Master Poster
 
barehl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2,585
Others are pointing to your post so let's address that.

Originally Posted by The_Animus View Post
If all the actions people take are the result of an extremely complex equation based upon a series of variables (genetics, environment, past experiences, brain chemistry, etc).

Then free will would be the ability, somehow, for a person to take an action contrary to the result of that equation.
This seems to be a prime example of a silly, self-contradictory definition. You do understand that you've just given an argument of:

If A is true then free will is valid if A is false.
barehl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 08:25 AM   #11
Ray Brady
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,114
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
This seems to be a prime example of a silly, self-contradictory definition. You do understand that you've just given an argument of:

If A is true then free will is valid if A is false.
Not at all. The Animus' argument makes perfect sense. If I were to paraphrase it, I would say that free will is the ability to act contrary to ones own desires, instincts and inclinations.
Ray Brady is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 08:46 AM   #12
Loss Leader
Would Be Ringing (if a bell)
Moderator
 
Loss Leader's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Florida
Posts: 23,896
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I'm no expert, but I don't think the limits our bodies place on us, or the limits that gravity places on us, I don't think they have anything to do with free will?

Why not? They limit our ability to do whatever we want. They're no less real than brain chemistry or social/moral pressures. I can't fly, I can't be attracted to men, and I (personally) can't murder someone. I don't see a difference.
__________________
I have the honor to be
Your Obdt. St

L. Leader
Loss Leader is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 09:40 AM   #13
JoeBentley
Self Employed
Remittance Man
 
JoeBentley's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 8,169
There is absolutely zero way to keep this from just turning into the "The Soul" argument again. Nothing will happen but people arguing around each other, obviously using the term to mean very different things.

Scientifically speaking no, free will does not exist. Causality cannot be self generating, something has to cause (outside of some weird quirks I'll address in a moment) something so if a neuron fires in your brain to make a thought something caused it.

On a practical day to day level, of course we do in the sense that we have personal volition that we can be held accountable for and are in control of. Exactly as with solipsism the debate can be ended by throwing a rock at your head.

As with most philosophical nonsense this nothing but a manufactured "How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg" question. Word the question in the most obtuse, self contradictory way and pat yourself on the back for coming up with convoluted answer.
__________________
"Ernest Hemingway once wrote that the world is a fine place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part." - Detective Sommerset, Se7en

"Hating a bad thing does not make you good." - David Wong

Last edited by JoeBentley; 24th September 2017 at 10:10 AM.
JoeBentley is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 10:06 AM   #14
Aridas
Crazy Little Green Dragon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,738
Originally Posted by Ray Brady View Post
Not at all. The Animus' argument makes perfect sense. If I were to paraphrase it, I would say that free will is the ability to act contrary to ones own desires, instincts and inclinations.
Which, while it is one of the versions of free will that float around, is fundamentally strange in multiple ways, especially in summing up the former, where there's acknowledgement of the complexities actually involved that mean that one generally wouldn't actually be actually be acting contrary to one's own desires, instincts, and inclinations even if they chose something else, just favoring one favored course of action over other favored courses of actions. Fundamentally, the underlying concept of free will is about having a choice in the first place, in some relevant way, after all, not about acting contrary to one's desires or nature.

Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Why not? They limit our ability to do whatever we want. They're no less real than brain chemistry or social/moral pressures. I can't fly, I can't be attracted to men, and I (personally) can't murder someone. I don't see a difference.
That sounds like an obvious attempt at conflation, given how qualitatively different the listed limitations are. With that said, though, while I do accept that totally unrestricted choice is one version of free will that gets floated around, it's a kind that generally gets immediately dismissed from anything close to serious discussion outside of a small subset of idealists, as far as I've seen, given its overall lack of relevance to addressing any remotely meaningful or even interesting questions.
__________________
So sayeth the crazy little dragon.

Last edited by Aridas; 24th September 2017 at 10:13 AM.
Aridas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 11:07 AM   #15
barehl
Master Poster
 
barehl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2,585
Originally Posted by Ray Brady View Post
Not at all. The Animus' argument makes perfect sense. If I were to paraphrase it, I would say that free will is the ability to act contrary to ones own desires, instincts and inclinations.
How much hand-holding is required here?

If all the actions people take are the result of an extremely complex equation
If A

Then free will would be the ability, somehow,
Then free will is

for a person to take an action contrary to the result of that equation.
NOT A
barehl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 11:27 AM   #16
barehl
Master Poster
 
barehl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2,585
Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
There is absolutely zero way to keep this from just turning into the "The Soul" argument again.
I haven't mentioned a soul, have no belief whatsoever in a soul, and can prove that souls don't exist. So, I'm unlikely to entertain any argument that includes a soul.

Quote:
Scientifically speaking no, free will does not exist. Causality cannot be self generating, something has to cause something
If this belief has been common among AI researchers, it could explain why there has been so little progress in 60 years.

Quote:
Word the question in the most obtuse, self contradictory way and pat yourself on the back for coming up with convoluted answer.
I have no interest in obtuse, self-contradictory, or convoluted answers. At least for me, this relates to hard science.

Last edited by barehl; 24th September 2017 at 12:51 PM.
barehl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 12:36 PM   #17
Aridas
Crazy Little Green Dragon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,738
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
How much hand-holding is required here?

If all the actions people take are the result of an extremely complex equation
If A

Then free will would be the ability, somehow,
Then free will is

for a person to take an action contrary to the result of that equation.
NOT A
If one modified the last part to be something like "to consciously and intentionally alter the equation to produce a different result than would have been reached originally," that might well be one of the paths to changing that formulation into something workable.
__________________
So sayeth the crazy little dragon.
Aridas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 12:38 PM   #18
BobTheCoward
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 9,817
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
How much hand-holding is required here?

If all the actions people take are the result of an extremely complex equation
If A

Then free will would be the ability, somehow,
Then free will is

for a person to take an action contrary to the result of that equation.
NOT A
But that is true. Free will would have to contradict everything we have learned about how decision making works for it to exist.
BobTheCoward is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 12:50 PM   #19
Ray Brady
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,114
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
How much hand-holding is required here?

If all the actions people take are the result of an extremely complex equation
If A

Then free will would be the ability, somehow,
Then free will is

for a person to take an action contrary to the result of that equation.
NOT A
Which is neither silly nor self-contradictory.
Ray Brady is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 12:57 PM   #20
barehl
Master Poster
 
barehl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2,585
Originally Posted by Aridas View Post
If one modified the last part to be something like "to consciously and intentionally alter the equation to produce a different result than would have been reached originally," that might well be one of the paths to changing that formulation into something workable.
You are seriously suggesting that you are going to use the control algorithm to alter the control algorithm?
barehl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 01:08 PM   #21
Aridas
Crazy Little Green Dragon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,738
Originally Posted by Ray Brady View Post
Which is neither silly nor self-contradictory.
It is, however, "If A, than free will is not A," which you had denied. If we're dealing with it like formal logic, then the biggest immediate concern in the formulation would be that it simply rules out free will from the start on questionable grounds. Simply assuming one's answer generally doesn't make a particularly trustworthy argument, after all. Going a bit further, there's still the very real question of "What questions and/or concerns would this version of free will actually be relevant to address?" like there is for all of them. What would you propose that the questions and concerns that this actually dealt with would be?
__________________
So sayeth the crazy little dragon.
Aridas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 01:08 PM   #22
BobTheCoward
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 9,817
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
You are seriously suggesting that you are going to use the control algorithm to alter the control algorithm?
Well, you are clearly bright enough to understand the gist of strict determinism based on physics. Instead of saying why his explanation is a contradiction, write one that isn't.
BobTheCoward is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 01:29 PM   #23
Aridas
Crazy Little Green Dragon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,738
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
You are seriously suggesting that you are going to use the control algorithm to alter the control algorithm?
Not quite. The algorithm isn't actually altering itself, after all. Rather, one could state it as invoking the concept of a different algorithm that has the ability to modify the actual decision-making algorithm. Conscious evaluation and editing of an effectively subconscious decision-making process, at last check, is well within the current scientific possibilities for the practical applications of consciousness. Such a version would work at the level of brain chemistry/"programming" (i.e. uses closer to the socially relevant area that free will can address), and not work as well at the abstract level where determinism would become relevant in the first place.

It's worth remembering that determinism only conflicts with some versions and uses of free will, after all.
__________________
So sayeth the crazy little dragon.

Last edited by Aridas; 24th September 2017 at 01:35 PM.
Aridas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 01:34 PM   #24
Thor 2
Master Poster
 
Thor 2's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brisbane, Aust.
Posts: 2,959
Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
There is absolutely zero way to keep this from just turning into the "The Soul" argument again. Nothing will happen but people arguing around each other, obviously using the term to mean very different things.

I agree with you about the soul argument I think. That is if it goes like this:

We are 100% physical beings and our actions are determined by our physical makeup. Part of our actions are influenced by our memories, and our memories are contained in our physical brains. Every voluntary action is determined by what we know, which is mostly as a result of memory. Hence it is predetermined.

To assume we are capable of doing something contrary to the directions of our brains, must assume the influence of an outside, independent, entity ...... the soul.
__________________
There are billions of gods. One or more in the mind of every theist.
Thor 2 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 02:54 PM   #25
Dr.Sid
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic
Posts: 1,277
Well I think the process can have some quantum noise in it .. nothing in this universe is strictly deterministic .. and brain seems to contain actions small enough for it to have some effect. And even if brain contained strong anti-noise measures, the way our digital computers do, you still have noise at the inputs ..
Anyway .. people can behave quite logically, if they want to, so I guess there is not that much noise .. and obviously, noise isn't free will. Set of cog wheels is not free will, and occasional throw of dice won't improve it a bit.
The noise however plays role in things like creativity imho. Some people say the 'cog wheel' model does not allow for any creativity. I think creativity is basically noise viewed through our experience.
Dr.Sid is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 02:59 PM   #26
BobTheCoward
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 9,817
Originally Posted by Dr.Sid View Post
Well I think the process can have some quantum noise in it .. nothing in this universe is strictly deterministic .. and brain seems to contain actions small enough for it to have some effect. And even if brain contained strong anti-noise measures, the way our digital computers do, you still have noise at the inputs ..
Anyway .. people can behave quite logically, if they want to, so I guess there is not that much noise .. and obviously, noise isn't free will. Set of cog wheels is not free will, and occasional throw of dice won't improve it a bit.
The noise however plays role in things like creativity imho. Some people say the 'cog wheel' model does not allow for any creativity. I think creativity is basically noise viewed through our experience.
Highly speculative. We would have to identify how many neurons involved in a single thought, how much randomness occurs, and if that is sufficient to alter a deterministic thought into a non deterministic one.
BobTheCoward is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 03:30 PM   #27
Aridas
Crazy Little Green Dragon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 3,738
Originally Posted by Dr.Sid View Post
Well I think the process can have some quantum noise in it .. nothing in this universe is strictly deterministic ..
Possibly. It's also possible that even quantum noise is actually caused in fundamentally deterministic ways, but that we haven't actually figured it out yet, for lack of sufficient relevant information and tools to do so.
__________________
So sayeth the crazy little dragon.
Aridas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 03:31 PM   #28
Loss Leader
Would Be Ringing (if a bell)
Moderator
 
Loss Leader's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Florida
Posts: 23,896
Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
On a practical day to day level, of course we do in the sense that we have personal volition that we can be held accountable for and are in control of.

In Criminal Law, we discussed the difference between walking onto someone else's property and being thrown there. The difference is how much your own desire played in you ending up on someone else's lawn.
__________________
I have the honor to be
Your Obdt. St

L. Leader
Loss Leader is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 04:04 PM   #29
BobTheCoward
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 9,817
Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
In Criminal Law, we discussed the difference between walking onto someone else's property and being thrown there. The difference is how much your own desire played in you ending up on someone else's lawn.
But how much of that is dependent on the reality of a physics based deterministic outcome?
BobTheCoward is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 04:39 PM   #30
Myriad
Hyperthetical
 
Myriad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 13,153
From an adaptation standpoint, it occurs to me that true arbitrary free will, separate from thought processes such as the weighing of risks and benefits, would be an extraordinarily dangerous (and disadvantageous) trait.

Hundreds of times of day, I face situations where it would take only a few seconds of simple voluntary action to do myself in. There are balconies and stairs I could fling myself off of, poisons I could ingest, simple turns of the steering wheel that would quickly result in a fiery crash. And that's just one extreme. It would take me little time or effort to commit a foolish crime for which I'd quickly be caught, take actions at work that would get me immediately fired, or act so as to ruin my marriage, lose all my money, or burn down my home.

On those occasions when someone actually does something like that, we don't say, "Wow, that guy who smashed a jewelry store window in broad daylight with a cop standing right nearby must have had unusually strong (or unusually free) will." Quite the opposite. We speak of the "uncontrollable impulses" of a mental disorder.

It might be helpful to attempt an operational understanding of cognition related to the internal narrative of free will. What kinds of decisions and behaviors do we most associate with exhibiting or acting upon free will? How are those decisions and behaviors advantageous relative to alternative automatic, habitual, routine, or rote behaviors that would seem to involve less cognitive effort? What cognitive mechanisms are necessary to reliably result in the more advantageous behavior more of the time?
__________________
A zÝmbie once bit my sister...

Last edited by Myriad; 24th September 2017 at 04:43 PM.
Myriad is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 05:48 PM   #31
Dr.Sid
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic
Posts: 1,277
Originally Posted by Aridas View Post
Possibly. It's also possible that even quantum noise is actually caused in fundamentally deterministic ways, but that we haven't actually figured it out yet, for lack of sufficient relevant information and tools to do so.
I doubt it. Quantum noise is random. Perfectly, uniformly random. It's not affected by anything we know. If there is some mechanism in play, it's mechanism to achieve perfect randomness. IMHO it's important part of our universe .. just wanted to point out, that you can't look for free will there either. Some people do ..
Dr.Sid is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 06:17 PM   #32
Ozzie
New Blood
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: District of Columbia (USA)
Posts: 8
Not necessarily.

It sounds like what you have there is Id, Ego, and Superego all over again. This doesn't need to mean a soul, though. It just means that we evolved Reason and Judgment.
Ozzie is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 07:16 PM   #33
Elwin Garland
New Blood
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 4
460 days until 2,300 days - Daniel 8:14

The absolute definition of free will belongs to our Creator alone, but through Christ Jesus we are blessed with our Creator's longing to share that absolute with us.

The best way to conceptualize human free will is to look at some one who is alive and some one who is dead.

This basic concept is presented in the Creation story of man in the Holy Bible.

Although mans shape and form are complete, he doesn't become a living soul until our Creator breathes into his nostrils the breath of life; in essence his free will before being alive is hypothetical, dormant, only potential.

That is why death is but a sleep to the Lord, the real sanctity in free will is our interaction with Him.
Elwin Garland is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 07:22 PM   #34
barehl
Master Poster
 
barehl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2,585
Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Well, you are clearly bright enough to understand the gist of strict determinism based on physics. Instead of saying why his explanation is a contradiction, write one that isn't.
So instead of me asking questions you want me to explain. I see.

Several have suggested that volition is algorithmic. This seems like a reasonable hypothesis within computational theory. However, if this were true then volition would work without consciousness. Since consciousness does exist and clearly evolved from non-conscious organisms this is something of a problem for the claim. Computational theory itself has no basis for consciousness, so the assumption that this somehow emerges from a particular algorithm not only uses special pleading but also resorts to the same magical explanation that people use when they talk about a soul.

This is the first problem.
barehl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 07:31 PM   #35
BobTheCoward
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 9,817
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
So instead of me asking questions you want me to explain. I see
Well, if you have an explanation, no reason to bother with the questions.
BobTheCoward is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 07:45 PM   #36
jrhowell
Critical Thinker
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 268
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
Computational theory itself has no basis for consciousness,
Are you saying that because we do not now know an algorithm for consciousness that it is in principle impossible for there to be one? That the brain performs activities that cannot be explained by materialism?

Last edited by jrhowell; 24th September 2017 at 07:47 PM.
jrhowell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 07:51 PM   #37
JoeBentley
Self Employed
Remittance Man
 
JoeBentley's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 8,169
"Science can't explain (insert perfectly explainable neurological process here)"

Yeah this is totally different from the soul argument. All this thread needs is some Bayesian Statistics.
__________________
"Ernest Hemingway once wrote that the world is a fine place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part." - Detective Sommerset, Se7en

"Hating a bad thing does not make you good." - David Wong
JoeBentley is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 08:18 PM   #38
jrhowell
Critical Thinker
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 268
Originally Posted by barehl View Post
if this were true then volition would work without consciousness.
Here is a thought experiment. It isnít doable with todayís technology, but if neural activity is produced by materialistic processes then it should be possible to map out the neurons in a brain and replicate their firing in a computer simulation. If I ask you if you are conscious you would say yes and would be telling the truth. If I ask the simulation the same question it would replicate the neural activity of your brain and give the same answer.

Would the simulation be telling the truth or lying?

If you have consciousness and the simulation does not then what difference does having consciousness make if exactly the same behavior (volition) results without it?

Is the proposed experiment impossible because neural activity is subject to non-materialistic influences?

Something else?
jrhowell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 08:27 PM   #39
barehl
Master Poster
 
barehl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2,585
Originally Posted by jrhowell View Post
Are you saying that because we do not now know an algorithm for consciousness that it is in principle impossible for there to be one?
We don't know of an algorithm.
Such an algorithm is not theoretically possible.
There is a disproof that consciousness can be created computationally.

Quote:
That the brain performs activities that cannot be explained by materialism?
You've lost me here. The brain is completely mechanistic. We know that the brain functions based on neuronal activity. Neurons are not particularly mystical or supernatural (unless you are part of the Chalmers cult).
barehl is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th September 2017, 08:35 PM   #40
JoeBentley
Self Employed
Remittance Man
 
JoeBentley's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 8,169
Okay you're all over the map here. The brain is completely materialistic but consciousness is not "computational."
__________________
"Ernest Hemingway once wrote that the world is a fine place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part." - Detective Sommerset, Se7en

"Hating a bad thing does not make you good." - David Wong
JoeBentley is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:29 AM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© 2014, TribeTech AB. All Rights Reserved.
This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.