• AwazawA
    11
    Currently there hasn't been a great deal of discussion about free will (or lack of free will) and what this means for us as thinking, feeling entities. With this discussion i want to be able to help explore as broad a variety of outlooks on this and possibly explore some of the problems we face when we scratch under the surface of this thought problem.
  • SophistiCat
    840
    Currently there hasn't been a great deal of discussion about free willAwazawA

    Have you tried the search function?
  • AwazawA
    11
    yes but i want to ask about not just the different points of view surrounding free will or lack of free will but how this makes us feel. like if free will is an illusion and if we are basically fleshy predetermined robots how does that make us feel, i don't mean it means me feel sad or dismayed i mean a response like "well, i don't like the idea of being a robot but at the same time it is interesting to wonder how alike we would be to any ai we might create and that there may be something interesting in trying to use that thought process when trying to create artificial intelligence."
  • SophistiCat
    840
    Gotcha. Yes, it's a good question. But I would like to turn it around: What would a real, non-illusory free will be like? In what way would it be different from the one that is supposedly illusory? What would it take to have such a capacity (if that's what it is, a capacity)?
  • AwazawA
    11
    I mean it in the sense that there is the divide in opinion on wether free will is real or not but also in a way similar to how daniel dennet describes in a pseudo free will where if we act as though we have it then surely that is similar to having free will (not the most persuading argument to me hence why I am not in the daniel dennet camp). My view is that free will does not exist and cannot exist and is an illusion because all things are predetermined going back infinitely to before the big bang and going forward infinitely even the creating of this discussion and the answers that will be posted here. What I am after is to see the arguments for and against free will but also the thoughts and feelings surrounding those arguments. Of course I could be wrong and my thoughts and feelings on the matter could change if better explanations are given to show whether or not we have free will and how best to think about it whichever way. But i feel like this would be shedding light on better outlooks regarding the topic of free will or lack of free will. I am in full agreement that I see free will as an illusion and would not be able to give a good example to show a real example of a subject having free will that is not bound by the laws of physics, the genetic makeup and the experiences leading up to that point. as such my response to this would be that i do not like the thought that my actions thoughts and feelings could be predetermined well ahead of time and that i lack an actual choice in my own decisions whether the results are favourable or not.
  • SophistiCat
    840
    You are not answering the question. You don't need to tell me about how you think free will does not exist because I've heard this a thousand times, and so has anyone who has spent any amount of time on a philosophy forum. I am wondering, along with your OP, how you feel about the hypothetical real free will, the one you think we don't have. What would it be like? How would it be different from the one that you call "pseudo free will" and Dennett calls "free will worth having?"
  • AwazawA
    11
    Ah, now I see. Sorry i didn't understand where you were coming from How would I feel about the free will that doesn't exist? I think it would make me happy knowing that I am fully responsible for my actions and that others would be responsible for theirs instead of being victims of circumstance we would be accountable in a similar sense you would be able to blame and be blamed for things but also take complete credit. I suppose the feeling of control is what the best thing about it would be. I suppose with the daniel dennet method it would feel like I was pretending to have control in comparison almost or assuming I was in control while ignoring the evidence that shows i wasn't. I think the best thing about a real free will would be that I could truly be the author of my own thoughts and feelings and actions which makes them feel more real than having it all go according to a fate. i'm not 100% sure how those thought/feelings would feel more real perhaps it would be akin to a puppet suddenly being able to choose how it would behave separated from the strings, like a Pinocchio not having strings that force them to do one thing or another. I hope this is understandable (i feel like I may have gone round in circles a few times. probably a sense of freedom (pretty ironic I know, since it's called free will)
  • SophistiCat
    840
    Sorry I was a little snippy in my response. That free will is undermined by a deterministic universe is an old and perfectly respectable philosophical position.

    How would I feel about the free will that doesn't exist? I think it would make me happy knowing that I am fully responsible for my actions and that others would be responsible for theirs instead of being victims of circumstance we would be accountable in a similar sense you would be able to blame and be blamed for things but also take complete credit. I suppose the feeling of control is what the best thing about it would be.AwazawA

    I think the best thing about a real free will would be that I could truly be the author of my own thoughts and feelings and actions which makes them feel more real than having it all go according to a fate.AwazawA

    But don't you still feel that, when you deliberately do something, it is you acting on your intentions? Don't you still feel in control and responsible for your actions? Don't you still hold others responsible for theirs?

    It is true that, when we learn about all the external factors that influenced or even forced someone's decision, we are apt to feel that they were less in control, that the decision was not fully theirs, and that they are therefore less responsible for it. Likewise, when we contemplate the environment and incidents that formed someone's character, we may blame them less for some offense that they committed, or, in opposite circumstances, tend to take for granted their good deeds. But by and large, that sense of people, ourselves included, being the source of their actions and making choices when there are choices to be made remains strong, no matter what.
  • GodlessGirl
    18
    That's not being free in any interesting sense. Somebody acting on their intentions doesn't make them blameworthy and praiseworthy for their actions.

    Also they aren't making a "choice" if the actions is determined. If it's determined then they couldn't have done otherwise and choice implies their was more than one option.
  • Hanover
    5k
    If it's determined then they couldn't have done otherwise and choice implies their was more than one option.GodlessGirl

    Their choice was either caused by a prior event or it was not. If the former, it was determined and not free. If the latter, it was spontaneous and not free. How can we say that an occurrence that just happens for no reason was freely made?
  • Relativist
    851
    That's not being free in any interesting sense. Somebody acting on their intentions doesn't make them blameworthy and praiseworthy for their actionsGodlessGirl
    Yes it does.

    We act in accordance with our beliefs, feelings, dispositions, desires, whims, etc. An act earns public praise or condemnation based on societal values, values that most of us internalize so that they become beliefs (about what is right/wrong) and dispose us to act accordingly.

    Also they aren't making a "choice" if the actions is determined. If it's determined then they couldn't have done otherwise and choice implies their was more than one option.GodlessGirl
    Specific choices are not predetermined as choices. Rather, a choice is determined by the factors I mentioned (beliefs, feelings, dispositions...). No, you couldn't have chosen different given the set of beliefs, feelings, dispositions you hold. However, you WOULD have chosen differently had those factors differed. If you come to believe in moral nihilism, because "free will" isn't as free as you'd like, this itself will influence your behavior.
  • AwazawA
    11
    It's alright, I realise I can sometimes come across a bit vague.

    In all honesty I feel like I am going through the motions of a well rehearsed play that I dont know the script to, a puppet on strings as it is. With that I feel as though I am unable to go against what could be my fate if thats the correct word, I may believe I can change my fate but in fact even that thought process and where it takes me will end at the same predetermined point. In the same way i'm struggling to find wrongdoers accountable as I once did, of course i still get that flash of anger when there are murderers and rapists etc. but instead now I feel pity more than anything, they are trapped to play out the role of villain and there was no escaping their fate even if they had wished they hadn't been dealt an unfortunate hand. For me it is incredibly difficult to put the rose tinted glasses back on without noticing the frames on said glasses, I laugh at a joke and feel bitter that I had no choice but to find it funny, I find myself angry at a wrongdoer and then a moment later find myself feeling pity for them because they cannot help it same way the person cannot help make the joke I laughed at. At the same with emotions like love, what would be the point in loving another human being if it came in the form of chains, you cannot prevent yourself from seeing them as beautiful or witty, suddenly you feel like some force is making you smile and making you love and the worst thing about it is that it's simply the way things are, it is part of being a self aware entity that comes to realise that free will doesn't or may not exist (you never know, could still be proven wrong). that is why i mentioned daniel dennets version of free will where if we pretend it does exist that we will see actions as though they are the product of a persons will and retain the ability to blame people and hold them accountable for said actions. Unfortunately for I cannot accept this version of a free will because it feels like i'd be burying my head in the sand, I feel uneasy of course about feeling compassion towards those who might harm myself or anyone else but I suppose that is part of the package i'm afraid.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k
    like if free will is an illusion and if we are basically fleshy predetermined robots how does that make us feel,AwazawA

    Like I could choose to ignore it. So what would it really amount to?
  • AwazawA
    11
    So for you it is something easy to brush to the back of your mind is that what you mean?

    And it is part of the big questions in life we ask ourselves, is there any purpose in life? technically you could say there is if such a thing as fate exists, as many of the effects from our existence wouldn't be possible later down the line both good and bad (though good and bad are morally subjective as a concept and a whole other kettle of fish)
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k


    I was partially joking, partially making a serious point.

    Whether strong determinism is true or not, things are just as they are now. As things are now, I can just choose to ignore the idea that strong determinism is true. Part of the joke there is that I'm saying I can choose something, even though if strong determinism is true, then I couldn't really choose anything. But it seems like I can. It sure seems like I can just choose to ignore the idea. So even if strong determinism is true, I can do what seems exactly like choosing to ignore it. So it doesn't really amount to much if it's true. At least not phenomenally.

    On my view, purposes are subjective. They're things we construct for ourselves.
  • AwazawA
    11
    In that case what about the thought that given the culmination of you as a person (the past experiences, environment etc.) led you to "make the choice" to ignore it. regardless of wether you believe you are making the choice if the decisions you make are the result of there predetermined factors then you have no choice but to ignore or not ignore something.

    when I say purpose i mean it in the sense that if we are acting out this play of life all actions that will be performed to make the whole show as it was always going to be could be seen as fate and following fate regardless of wether we try and kick our fates away (which ironically would be exactly as fate would dictate we behave in the same annoying way a friend might always claim to know what you are thinking but this time it is actually inevitable) it could be considered that we are fulfilling a certain purpose or a role in the full picture no matter how minute that role may be in the grand scale of things. Of course this could be my subjective outlook on it in the broadest sense possible, what is the point of me being in existence for example? there doesn't need to be a purpose or reason for us to exist at all if i'm being blunt, however it could be said that just existing itself and the motions we go through throughout our lives is all in accordance with fate and therefore fulfilling part of the greater picture. If you think about it, you were always going to write your response same as myself in kind and this itself is all part of a greater fate that encompasses everything (again like an annoying friend that claims to know what you are about to do/say/think but in all likelihood can and does on a constant basis)
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k
    In that case what about the thought that given the culmination of you as a person (the past experiences, environment etc.) led you to "make the choice" to ignore it. regardless of wether you believe you are making the choice if the decisions you make are the result of there predetermined factors then you have no choice but to ignore or not ignore something.AwazawA

    That's what it would mean for strong determinism to be true.

    What I'm pointing out is that it's irrelevant, because phenomenally, it seems like I can make the choice to ignore the idea. Whether I really can is irrelevant. It seems like I can, and that's what I care about.

    when I say purpose i mean it in the sense that if we are acting out this play of life all actions that will be performed to make the whole show as it was always going to be could be seen as fate and following fate regardless of wether we try and kick our fates away (which ironically would be exactly as fate would dictate we behave in the same annoying way a friend might always claim to know what you are thinking but this time it is actually inevitable) it could be considered that we are fulfilling a certain purpose or a role in the full picture no matter how minute that role may be in the grand scale of things.AwazawA

    Say what? You've got 15-20 prepositional phrases in one run-on sentence. Could you rewrite that?
  • AwazawA
    11
    So that is where your stand point on whether free will exists or not that you belive that the choices you make are your own and therefore do not think about the possibility that it is otherwise too much as you think it to be irrelevant.

    sorry for the vagueness (i'm not the best at putting my ideas across so try use examples where I can.

    I'm trying to say that if hard determinism as you phrase it is true that one of the purpose or "the meaning of life, the universe and everything" is simply that we follow through with our predetermined fates as is the only way things could be. Existence in of itself is the purpose/meaning regardless of how much of a letdown that might be compared to the original answer of 42.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k
    So that is where your stand point on whether free will exists or not that you belive that the choices you make are your own and therefore do not think about the possibility that it is otherwise too much as you think it to be irrelevant.AwazawA

    You asked how I'd feel if strong determinism were true. I told you how I'd feel. I'd feel no differently, because I could just choose to ignore it.

    I'm trying to say that if hard determinism as you phrase it is true that one of the purpose or "the meaning of life, the universe and everything" is simply that we follow through with our predetermined fates as is the only way things could be.AwazawA

    I'm not seeing what you think that would follow from. Why would any fact about the way the world is amount to a purpose?
  • AwazawA
    11
    And thats completely fine, I was only trying to reconfirm things.

    I suppose it doesn't need a purpose,I was trying to say that if humans can be seen as cogs in a machine and that each individual cog moved things forward regardless of how they behaved that simply existing is the purpose of the cog as it still moves things along.
  • Relativist
    851

    Please contemplate how your decision making processes if you actually had free will. If the decision were important, you would try to think of all the consequences, some would be good some would be bad. You might weigh these against one another. You might give greater weight to long term consequences, or perhaps you'd be more inclined to receive a sure short term benefit instead of a possible long term detriment that may or may not occur. All of the factors you would consider would come from you, your mind - your knowledge of the world, your hopes, your dreams, your desires as well as your worries and fears.

    Now suppose determinism is true, and thus your will is not truly free. What would actually be different? The decision still comes from within, it is still produced by deliberation with all the same factors. Your knowledge of the world would not be any differerent; you'd have the same hopes, dreams, desires, worries, and fears. Would you choose differently? Why? All the factors that lead to a choice are there. If truly free will leads to the same decision, then what is the difference? If truly free will were to lead to a DIFFERENT decision - what would be the reason for that decision - since the factors that lead to the decision are identical?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k
    Please contemplate how your decision making processes if you actually had free will. If the decision were important, you would try to think of all the consequences, some would be good some would be bad. You might weigh these against one another. You might give greater weight to long term consequences, or perhaps you'd be more inclined to receive a sure short term benefit instead of a possible long term detriment that may or may not occur. All of the factors you would consider would come from you, your mind - your knowledge of the world, your hopes, your dreams, your desires as well as your worries and fears.Relativist

    Don't you make any decisions that seem random, where you have two or more options you like equally, so you do the mental equivalent of "rolling dice" (where we're assuming that dice-rolling gives us random results)?
  • AwazawA
    11
    if determinism is to be true then what would make up said hopes, dreams etc. would also be the result of previous experiences, the genetic traits and the environment that surrounds me. free will would mean that out of options a) b) c) & d) I would be able to pick c) knowing it was possible for me to pick any other option. free will is the embodiment of wishful thinking in relation to past, present and future, it is like saying I could have chosen differently when the results are that I didn't choose any differently out of the options and everything about me and my environment would lead me to make the same choice again if given the same exact parameters without any knowledge of the future to turn me one way or another. Free will would be the idea that you could even with everything pointing you to choose option c) and without any extra knowledge/experience/change in environment/change in genetic make up you chose differently somehow.
  • AwazawA
    11
    I feel that random is simply us seeing only part of an equation and not seeing nor understanding the rest of the equation. (X2-Y3)3=7 just because we can't work out the answer to this doesn't mean there isn't one. We may never understand what X or Y mean and only see the result of 7 and therefore we assume that 7 is random if 7 is the result. If you roll a dice forces are constantly acting upon in at a rate that would be extremely difficult to track every positioning of every atom, the effect fo gravity, the resistance from the air and a huge amount of other things we might need to take into account in order to predict with 100% accuracy which side the dice will land on, because we can't do the ridiculous math involved to predict the exact result it appears random to us. of course when it comes to determinism i see the equation as stretching infinitely in both directions and is mind boggling beyond comprehension dictating where every atom, electron, neutron and so on will react. Since any "choice" is predetermined by past "choices"/outcomes they too are predetermined infinitely back in time at it would be going forwards.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k


    I was just interested in whether from a phenomenal perspective Relativist doesn't make some choices that seem random rather than always thinking about consequences, weighing them against each other, etc.

    It would seem very weird to me to not make a lot of seemingly random decisions, to go through some rational process for every single decision made (again, simply from a phenomenal perspective).
  • Relativist
    851
    if determinism is to be true then what would make up said hopes, dreams etc. would also be the result of previous experiences, the genetic traits and the environment that surrounds me.AwazawA
    All of that is true REGARDLESS of whether or not we have libertarian free will. What factors lead to a decision BESIDES these things, if libertarian free will is true?

    free will would mean that out of options a) b) c) & d) I would be able to pick c) knowing it was possible for me to pick any other option. free will is the embodiment of wishful thinking in relation to past, present and future, it is like saying I could have chosen differently when the results are that I didn't choose any differently out of the options...
    Even if determinism is true you could have chosen differently - if you knew something more, felt more strongly about something, were more (or less) willing to take risks... There are factors in any decision, even if the decision is based purely on whim.

    Imagine two identical, possible worlds -with identical versions of you in both worlds. In both worlds, you reach a decision point. In both worlds, you have identical genetics, identical experiences up to the decision point, etc. Wouldn't both versions of you make the same decision, even if free will is true? If not, why not? I can think of no reason to think the decision would be different unless there is some randomness to the decision - and adding randomness hardly seems like something to hope is present.
  • Relativist
    851
    Don't you make any decisions that seem random, where you have two or more options you like equally, so you do the mental equivalent of "rolling dice" (where we're assuming that dice-rolling gives us random results)?Terrapin Station
    Rolling dice seems random, but we know the outcome is actually determined by the physical factors involved in the roll. Do you really think that there's some sort of truly random process in our brains (or in our spiritual minds, if you are a dualist)? It may SEEM that way, but there's no way to know if that's the case. But if we do produce randomness, why is that such a wonderful thing to have as part of our decision making?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k
    Rolling dice seems random, but we know the outcome is actually determined by the physical factors involved in the roll. Do you really think that there's some sort of truly random process in our brains (or in our spiritual minds, if you are a dualist)? It may SEEM that way, but there's no way to know if that's the case. But if we do produce randomness, why is that such a wonderful thing to have as part of our decision making?Relativist

    The whole reason that I wrote "seem random" and "where we're assuming that dice-rolling gives us random results" is so that we wouldn't go off on a tangent about whether anything is really or ontologically random. Because I wasn't interested in that. I was interested in whether you don't make any choices that seem random, rather than rationally deliberating every single choice you make. But you didn't answer that.
  • Relativist
    851
    Sorry. Sure, I make seemingly random choices. e.g. I lay in bed for some random number of minutes after the alarm goes off.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k


    Cool. I was just wondering. I know sometimes when Dennett talks about this stuff he also sounds as if he never makes "random" decisions, but that could just be because he's not really interested in discussing those . . . but I think it's misleading to talk about decisions without mentioning them, as if we always go into a rational analysis mode, making lists of pros and cons, etc.
  • Relativist
    851
    I'm fine as long as you're not claiming these seemingly random factors "prove" determinism is false. Whims, impulses, etc are just as consistent with determinism as are dice throws.
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