• Vera Mont
    3.8k

    Consider him considered. Plus Paul the fake apostle. That's two, I suppose you can add Socrates and Darrell Standing - still not a universal condition.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    It's funny how the same circumstances can breed opposite results. One self-made man who raised himself up from poverty believes "anyone can do it" because he did and is critical of social welfare. Another dedicates himself to philanthropy. It is all about how one chooses to interpret something, which is really about how one chooses to live one's life, I suppose. Poverty motivates some, while it surpasses others. Freedom might be like that. If you deny freedom, then you excuse yourself from responsibility for everything that freedom implies, but also forgo whatever benefits it confers.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    "Do I really have free will?"

    Doesn't asking the question itself imply that you do? It is like asking "Am I conscious now?"

    i.e. it is the difference between Cogito ergo sum being a declaration and a question. If you can't be certain of that, then there can be no certainty.
  • Tarskian
    301
    There is nothing to understand. You are writing gibberish about free will and Gödel.Lionino

    The following paper makes the same connection between free will and Gödel:

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1401.1800

    Gödel, Tarski, Turing and the conundrum of free will

    Free will exists relative to a base theory if there is freedom to deviate from the deterministic or indeterministic dynamics in the theory ...

    For free will to be possible in a particular universe, it is necessary that not all facts in the universe can be predicted by the universe's theory. Otherwise, free will is simply not possible.

    If Gödel's incompleteness theorem is provable from the theory, then we have exactly that situation required for free will: the existence of facts that are unpredictable from the theory.

    Hence, the connection between Gödel and free will.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    If you deny freedom, then you excuse yourself from responsibility for everything that freedom implies, but also forgo whatever benefits it confers.Pantagruel
    Denial or acceptance doesn't change anything. If you believe in free will, you can rationalize and justify your actions; if you don't, you can excuse yourself on those grounds. The benefits are either available or not; they're neither gained nor lost through belief.
  • NOS4A2
    8.6k


    By the fact your conscious awareness, which is only in the top 10% of the brain, doesn't know all the processes that lead to a decision, only the final result. Yes, it's 'you' deciding, but you can't have decided differently.
    It doesn't matter. We feel as if, think as if and act as if we were making original, independent decisions, so we may as well believe it.

    I too think we should believe it. Nothing else in the universe is making these decisions, so in fact they are original and independent. Given this, we can conclude we could have acted differently for the simple reason we are not limited to only one act.

    Rather, it appears that “conscious awareness” is the illusion.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    Given this, we can conclude we could have acted differently for the simple reason we are not limited to only one act.NOS4A2

    In any given situation, you are, quite literally limited to only one act. Thinking you 'could have' acted differently is natural: if the act turned out to be incorrect, you can regret it and wish you could back and choose a different path. But you can't. If it turns out to be right, you can congratulate yourself. No harm in that.
    It simply doesn't matter.
  • LuckyR
    438


    Exactly. Determinism basically is a self fulfilling prophecy in the sense that you can never "go back" and do a "do over" and make a different choice (thus disproving Determinism). Though there are numerous examples of making choices in ALMOST identical situations, yet come up with different choices, where it makes an unbiased observer wonder just how different those brain-states really are.
  • NOS4A2
    8.6k


    You aren’t limited to one act. At each moment there are an unfathomable series of acts being committed.

    And it does matter. In one case the basic biology and metaphysics is dead wrong. Nothing else determines one’s actions. So why believe something else does?
  • LuckyR
    438


    Right. No doubt about it, one's past experiences alters one's brain-state which at least influences decision making moving forward.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    Addendum to

    Do I have free will?kindred
    To the degree you (we) are not coerced by other agents or constrained by either internal and/or external conditions, you (we) "have" free actions.

    Could you have done otherwise? Yes in principle, but only if the sum of all the enabling constraints on your past actions (outside of your awareness or control) had been otherwise than it was.

    Can you choose to do A rather than B? Yes hypothetically, but only if the sum of all the enabling constraints on your present actions (outside of your awareness or control) do not, in effect, deselect some or all of the options presently available to you.

    Existentially, that's how embodied volition (re: compatibilism) seems to cash out.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    You aren’t limited to one act. At each moment there are an unfathomable series of acts being committed.NOS4A2
    How many of those have you committed in the past second? Each of your reasoned decisions can only result in one action.
    In one case the basic biology and metaphysics is dead wrong. Nothing else determines one’s actions.NOS4A2
    Prove it. We simply cannot know from internal experience what confluence of factors caused all the previous experiences.
    You believe one version of events, I believe another. No winners or losers - it just is.
  • praxis
    6.2k
    @Vera Mont

    Have you read Sapolsky’s book? Pretty convincing.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k
    I feel like this is perhaps the area of philosophy most rife with confusion. How exactly would "undetermined" actions be free? If a choice is "determined by nothing" then it is essentially arbitrary and random and in no sense would such a choice be "ours."

    Yet when we talk about freedom we tend to think that we are speaking of our ability to make choices based on what we believe, what we feel, or "the type of person we are." We would like to think things like: "I married my spouse because I love them, and I love them because of who they are." Yet for this to be true it has to be the case that our spouse, and "who they are," conditioned our actions.

    At the same time, indeterminism throws up another threat to freedom on the other side of the equation as well. If our actions didn't have determinant effects, if when we chose to do something we could have no clear idea what the outcome of that action would be, then we would lack the freedom to actualize any plan we had for our lives. For example, if putting my infant son into his crib might as likely cause him to burst into flames as to let him sleep then I am not really free to "be a good parent."

    Thus, some form of determinism would seem to be a prerequisite for our actions to be "ours" and for our actions to embody our will (i.e. producing consequences we want to produce).

    So when people talk about freedom in terms of "science" what they really seem to be asking about is not so much determinism but the principle of causal closure. The question can be reframed as: "do my intentions and feelings play a causal role in my behavior? Does my self-conscious decision making process affect my choices? Do people have sex because it 'feels good' or is all feeling a mere 'epiphenomena' with no causal efficacy?"

    Note that being "self-consciously self-determining" seems like it should be a matter of degree, not a binary state. No one creates themselves ex nihilo, but it seems like it might be possible for the behavior of any physical system to be more or less determined by what is external to it. If that system is conscious and thinks through decisions, it seems possible that this plays a role in that system's behavior. And since we can change our enviornment and shape it in ways that accord with our will (e.g. writing a post-it note to remind us to get milk) it's also unclear if we can simply throw up some sort of naive "body versus enviornment " dichotomy here to help determine what is "self-conscious self-determination," and what isn't.


    Now under causal closure there is no freedom in this sense because the mental can never, upon violation of the principle, cause anything to happen. But there are lots of good reasons to think causal closure is an inaccurate picture of the world. For one, if it is true, then sex can never feel good and food can never taste good "because" it motivates us to engage in certain behaviors. All the evidence for how natural selection shapes our preferences suddenly becomes very hard to explain. If the mental NEVER has causal efficacy then it can never affect behavior and so natural selection can never select on the contents of phenomenal awareness. At the same time, "mental phenomena," would apparently be the lone, totally sui generis thing in our universe that exists but is causally insignificant.

    Yet there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary here, not to mention that causal closure also brings with it a host of deep epistemic problems. At the same time, the resurrected 2,400 year old view that our world can be naively explained as "balls of stuff" bouncing around in a void is also a view that has some significant problems. Yet it's generally the desire to buy into this view that motivates advocates of causal closure in the first place.



    I started reading it, but it basically seemed like a rehash of 1940s style atomism → determinism with causal closure → no free will arguments. Skimming ahead didn't make me want to keep going (neither did reviews, which sort of confirmed my suspicions). I was not impressed. Just from my notes:

    "show me a neuron (or brain) whose generation of a behavior is independent of the sum of its biological past”

    I mean, the idea that things are just "what they are made of," is a pretty bold metaphysical assumption, and I don't even know how well it holds up with majority opinion in physics/philosophy of physics these days (certainly there are lots of views that go against this sort of "building block" view). But aside from that, the argument seems to be that if there isn't magical uncaused action going on "in the brain" then freewill is impossible. This is at worst a strawman and at best a dramatic misunderstanding of how free will is generally discussed in contemporary philosophy.

    But, like many eliminitivist texts, it seems to mistake complexity for good argument, and a deluge of empirical facts seems to do little more than muddy the waters.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    I feel like this is perhaps the area of philosophy most rife with confusion. How exactly would "undetermined" actions be free? If a choice is "determined by nothing" then it is essentially arbitrary and random and in no sense would such a choice be "ours."Count Timothy von Icarus

    Couldn't agree more
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k

    No, I haven't. I'll put it on the list.
  • Joshs
    5.4k


    Given this, we can conclude we could have acted differently for the simple reason we are not limited to only one act.
    — NOS4A2

    In any given situation, you are, quite literally limited to only one act.
    Vera Mont

    What distinguishes reductive determinisms from those that allow for the evolution of freedom is whether an effect is determined by a cause in a unidirectional manner, or whether the nature of the cause reshaped by the effect. This is how complex dynamical systems operate. Put differently, in complex systems the past is changed by the present that it functions in.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    Put differently, in complex systems the past is changed by the present that it functions in.Joshs
    Sure events are rewritten in partisan histories, time travel stories and human memories. I've never seen it in a chemical reaction; thus remain unswayed.
  • Joshs
    5.4k
    Sure events are rewritten in partisan histories, time travel stories and human memories. I've never seen it in a chemical reaction; thus remain unswayed.Vera Mont

    Looking at the level of detail of a chemical reaction will only reveal a chain of linear causality. Looking at the level of global self-organizing processes of a living system will reveal a non-linear reciprocal causality that moves between the global and the elemental.

    As Alicia Juarrero explains:

    The bottom-up causality of nonlinear far from equilibrium dynamics is thus truly creative; it produces qualitatively different wholes that are not reducible to sums, com­pounds, or aggregates. Once self-organized, furthermore, these emergent global structures of process actively and dynamically influence the go of their compo­nents, but not qua other. In contradiction to the received views on causality, that is, the whole also actively exerts causal power on itself top down. Self-organization, in short, strongly counsels for a wider denotation for the
    term cause, one reconceptualized in terms of “context-sensitive constraints” to include those causal powers that incorporate circular causality, context-sensitive
    embeddedness, and temporality. On this interpretation deterministic, mechanistic efficient causes become the limit of context-sensitive constraints.
  • Fire Ologist
    493
    Determinism says every present effect follows a prior cause / that’s the only mechanism of physical interaction among agents.

    But Hume and Kant showed there is no cause and effect - they are just constructions that might have nothing to do with the world in itself.

    So free will is defeated by a world utterly determined by the cause/effect mechanism, and the cause/defect mechanism is defeated by a critical understanding of how the mind inserts cause and effect for its own categorical purposes.

    But how would the defeat of physical cause and effect by a mind so detached from the world it knew nothing in itself, set one free in the physical world?

    Huge conundrum.

    My mind is made up. I am completely free to accept that I am not as free as I thought I was. Recognizing one’s limitations sets one free.

    Freedom is a possibility.

    My mind is made up, until something changes it, for me to claim it as mine again.
  • Joshs
    5.4k

    But how would the defeat of physical cause and effect by a mind so detached from the world it knew nothing in itself, set one free in the physical world?Fire Ologist

    You don’t need a mind detached from reality to defeat physical cause and effect. You can get to the same goal by looking at the non-linear dynamics of self-organization in living systems. Efficient cause doesn’t apply here.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    Looking at the level of global self-organizing processes of a living system will reveal a non-linear reciprocal causality that moves between the global and the elemental.Joshs

    Aha. It also oscillates backward and forward in time. Well, why not?
    Of course, I don't know what self-organizing means in any global context, nor how Kant or Hume could have demonstrated that events in the world are uncaused. But that's okay; I'm not wedded to any philosophers, only to a physicist.
  • Joshs
    5.4k


    If the mental NEVER has causal efficacy then it can never affect behavior and so natural selection can never select on the contents of phenomenal awareness. At the same time, "mental phenomena," would apparently be the lone, totally sui generis thing in our universe that exists but is causally insignificant.Count Timothy von Icarus

    What is it you are envisioning as the structure of the mental? Does it have parts, elements, sub-components?
    Are you defining it in terms of a neuro-cognitive organization? If so, then question comes down to whether the global neural organization can have top down effects on its components, and the answer is yes. Not because of any special status allotted to the mental, but because of the non-linear properties of living systems.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    But Hume and Kant showed there is no cause and effect - they are just constructions that might have nothing to do with the world in itself.

    I mean, they claim to show these things. I think Hume is mostly engaged in elaborate question begging on this topic, and Kant's critical philosophy itself rests on dogmatic assumptions. But TBH, I find very little to like in early modern metaphysics in general. I take Hume mostly to be pointing out how his time's conceptions of causation and "natural laws," is flawed, but not much more than that.

    Kant meanwhile I seen as hopelessly hung up on the weird early modern fascination with knowledge of "things-in-themselves," as the paradigmatic gold standard of knowledge, rather than what it actually is, irrelevant and epistemicaly inaccessible—a comedy of errors leading back through Locke and on to Bacon. But that's just me; there is other good stuff in there outside the metaphysics anyhow.



    I'm not really sure what sort of difference this sort of theorizing is supposed to make. This is an area of inquiry where there is a great amount of disagreement—an area that seems to be getting less, not more unified each decade. I think it's enough to point out that it's implausible to say that people never eat the food they choose to eat because it tastes good, don't have sex because it feels good, or that their self-conscious reflections never affect how they act.

    Causal closure itself isn't based on any deep theory of how physics works. It's based on a few presuppositions (probably bad ones) about how thing's properties must inhere in what they are composed of. It's enough to show that accepting it leads to serious explanatory problems vis-á-vis psychophysical harmony and serious epistemic issues.

    Maybe these problems can be worked out. As it stands though, there is no good reason to "assume it's true until proven otherwise." The same is true of smallism in general. But it's commonly asserted that smallism and causal closure is "how science says the world is," with the assertion being precisely that it should be assumed true until proven otherwise, nevermind that the basics of chemistry still haven't been reduced to physics over a century on, etc.
  • frank
    14.9k
    A better question is: have you been able to shape your world so that it's a paradise you roam in? Or is it a hell you constantly fight against?
  • Joshs
    5.4k


    I was hoping you’d say a bit more about what the mental
    means to you , taken as a cause. I agree there’s a lot of disagreement within psychology about the nature of the mental ( the subjective , consciousness, the feeling of what it’s like, etc). Yet I dont agree with your claim that “this is an area of inquiry where there is a great amount of disagreement—an area that seems to be getting less, not more unified each decade. On the contrary, I suggest there is emerging a general consensus among active inference and 4EA researchers in cognitive neuroscience concerning the embodied , embedded and non-representational nature of consciousness and affectivity. I wonder how your thinking about the mental as cause relates to or differs from this consensus, which also integrates important facets of phenomenonological philosophy.
  • Janus
    15.9k
    A better question is: have you been able to shape your world so that it's a paradise you roam in? Or is it a hell you constantly fight against?frank

    Can it ever be exclusively and continuously one or the other?
  • javra
    2.5k
    A better question is: have you been able to shape your world so that it's a paradise you roam in? Or is it a hell you constantly fight against?frank

    This where Nietzsche's aphorism of, to paraphrase, "my heaven/paradise is in the shadow of my [two sided] sword [which cuts/effects me just as it cuts/effects the other, if not the astral/abstract/above]" might be seen to come into play, depending on its interpretation. At any rate, all life shapes the world in part, be this in line with consciously willed intentions or not.
  • ENOAH
    731
    Seems to me I can control what I can or can’t do or decide to do or not do in the future. For example I did not shoplift todaykindred

    I can see that as our source of attachment to free will; but here's what I wonder/currently believe.

    What about situations where you think or say something without having willed it? As in something followed by the thought, "why did I say that?" Or a sudden unplanned desire? A recurring image or song? Or impulsive action? Are these pathological exceptions? Or are they instances where the always decentralized and autonomous processes mistaken for so called "will" become manifest because, for instance, they were "allowed" to surface, projected, without the usual mechanism of the Subject?

    As for not shoplifting, is there not an underlying self-congratulatory tone, as in you didnt shoplift against an otherwise desire to do so (if not in the particula, then in general)? Don't you imply that you "know" it is wrong to shoplift. Thus, isn't that "knowledge" a force acting upon your behavior. Sure, not the only force, giving you tge illusion that among the "forces", or in the end, is free choice. But the moral force is just one among thousands determining the final choice. There is no free agent actually deciding.
  • ENOAH
    731
    suggest there is emerging a general consensus among active inference and 4EA researchers in cognitive neuroscience concerning the embodied , embedded and non-representational nature of consciousness and affectivityJoshs

    Do you agree that this nonrepresentational, non dual consciousness cannot be the one in mind when we think of free will in philosophical terms? Because, among other things, such cognition is necessarily nonconceptual. Choice is even in practice, conceptual in that it requires difference. Whereas embedded consciousness would involve sensations, drives, feelings and organic reactions which only appear to conceptual thinking as choice.

    If so, and barring actual mind/body dualism, "free will" as we conventionally think about it, is an "illusion" as is the Ego it is necessarily tied to.
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