• Pantagruel
    150

    "This is patently false.

    If you believe you have free will, but you don't, you were caused to believe that you have free will.

    There is no magic about it."

    That is straight up Descartes. He concludes, and I agree, this is the one thing about which you cannot be deceived.
  • god must be atheist
    583


    Well, then, Pantargruel, if you believe in free will, then you can do that only if you throw away the entire set of cause-effect relationships, and also reason and logic, and off you go.

    We already agreed to not argue with each other on this topic, on a different thread.
  • PoeticUniverse
    603
    'Free will' sounds like a good thing to have, yet references to it without definition are meaningless.

    One, trivial, but common definition is that the will is free/able to operate normally in the absence of. coercion. Let us move past this, unto the big fuss, which is more about that we don't like being automatons/robots, albeit that the resultant consistency aiding our survival is also desired. This stance creates conflict! But then comes the big thud of the other shoes dropping (the alternatives) that horrify us even more..

    Time to gather information rather than just stating things out of thin air and starting more threads.

    More later.

    Notes:
    The more range/inputs (information) in the will, the better its output.
    Positing additional inputs to the brain is fine, such as others brain waves, but they're just another input.
    Brain analysis and its result takes time, and thus precedes consciousness.
    'Random' happenings don't help the will; they harm it.
    Consistency of the will is useful for survival, in the good sense.
    The will cannot be free of the will.
    There is no law that says that life has to be meaningful and so the will cannot be fixed to the instant.
    The will is dynamic. Through learning and experience, new, better, fixed wills can arrive.
  • PoeticUniverse
    603
    FREE WILL

    Given that I cannot choose to consciously exist in this situation:

    I choose to be aware
    I choose to connect
    I choose to collaborate
    Possibility

    OK, moving onto the OP, let us take the list as assertions, ignoring that it was said, that "Given that I cannot choose to consciously exist in this situation:", which meant that there was no choosing of what's in the list.

    Awareness is inherent in the brain/will, a part of its nature. The will may or may not attend much further to what it is aware of, although it is difficult not to; we see an apple and then think what to do with a bit.

    I have to guess at 'connect', but preclude it being with people since that is covered in the next item. Consciousness connects in unity the result of the will/brain doings, and also connects it seamlessly to what it had previously. This would seem to be automatic.

    'Collaborate' seems optional, but again I have nothing further to go on about its meaning here.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    I am sure the opposite happens all the time. (Your changing your mind on the conviction whether there is free will or not.)god must be atheist

    I'm having trouble understanding how 'changing your mind' is reconcilable with 'determinism'. If you are able to change your mind, then how is that not a free choice? I suppose you could say 'I have no choice but to accept....' but even so, 'acceptance' seems to me a willing act.
  • khaled
    1k
    I'm having trouble understanding how 'changing your mind' is reconcilable with 'determinism'Wayfarer

    I'm having trouble understanding what they have to do with each other. what does changing one's mind have to do with whether or not that change of mind came about due to the voodoo magic called freewill or cause and effect like everything else
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    Because one changes one’s mind for a reason. Physical causality operates at a different level - actually a lower level, because without reason, we couldn’t even identity causal relations. So if someone joins and says he doesn’t believe there is free will, the response is: did you sign up here and create this post voluntarily? Or did something compel you to do that. If the answer is that you were compelled to do it, then how could a rational argument persuade you otherwise? You would only accept it if you were compelled by something other than reasoned argument. But if I persuade you, then you voluntarily accept that such and such must be the case - your choice being determined by nothing other than reason.

    Which is why the idea of there being no free will is basically irrational.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    the voodoo magic called freewillkhaled

    This also supports my view that the main reason people disavow free will is because it’s scary. Freedom entails responsibility, and a lot of people can’t deal with it. Easier to think you’re a machine.
  • khaled
    1k

    Because one changes one’s mind for a reason.Wayfarer

    That reason can be reduced to physical causality if the laws of cause and effect are true. Changing certain brain chemicals should do it

    Or did something compel you to do that. If the answer is that you were compelled to do it, then how could a rational argument persuade you otherwise?Wayfarer

    I was compelled by a rational argument. Think of it like this: I say or write "I believe in free will". That is the result of the movement of certain muscles and your ears/eyes detecting the results. That movement must have been caused by other movements following strict laws of physics. Ergo free will would require some voodoo magic to MOVE this electron that way or this way such that it results in you saying "I do not believe in free will" or any other opinion
  • khaled
    1k

    This also supports my view that the main reason people disavow free will is because it’s scary. Freedom entails responsibility, and a lot of people can’t deal with it. Easier to think you’re a machine.Wayfarer

    This is Ad Hominem and doesn't deserve a reply. Please explain to me how exactly free will operates. If I type "free will exists" what caused that typing other than a physical cause and what caused that other than another physical cause. Where does free will fit in? Did free will physically move a muscle. So are you proposing a new force other than the Strong nuclear, Weak nuclear, Gravitational or Electromagnetic? If so I'd love to hear about this "free will force" you speak of. Please send a peer reviewed paper talking about your revolutionary finding.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    That reason can be reduced to physical causality if the laws of cause and effect are true. Changing certain brain chemicals should do itkhaled

    We don't know that; it is the operative delusion of materialism. In any case, if I write something that annoys you, like I just did, that changes the chemicals, rather than visca versa - your adrenal glands go off, if it's annoying enough your hands will shake and your pulse increase. That is 'top-down causation' right there; no matter has been transmitted, only ideas. (Whereas if I physically strike a person, then there is a material cause.)

    That is the result of the movement of certain muscles and your ears/eyes detecting the results. That movement must have been caused by other movements following strict laws of physics.khaled

    That is the operative delusion of materialism. The laws of physics account for only a certain range of phenomena within the very domain in which they're applicable; they have nothing whatever to say about what you decide to write. The main way in which the laws of physics applies to persons is that you will fall at the same rate as an inanimate object!

    This is Ad Hominemkhaled

    No it's not, because it applies to a type of argument, not you as a person. Although you might react like that because it 'pushes buttons'.

    So are you proposing a new force other than the Strong nuclear, Weak nuclear, Gravitational or Electromagnetic? If so I'd love to hear about this "free will force" you speak of. Please send a peer reviewed paper talking about your revolutionary finding.khaled

    At the moment, the 'known laws of physics' account for 4% of the universe. And science is involved in possibly irresolvable arguments about the fundamental nature of matter. I see no way in which any of this should apply to a conversation about free will.

    MOVE this electron that way or this waykhaled

    There is no electron until it is measured. The 'uncertainty principle' torpedoed any idea of universal determinism.

    Everything you're doing here, you're deciding to do. You're weighing things up, trying to persuade, coming up with counter-examples. As it happens, I don't agree with them, but I still say every argument you make, you're making freely.
  • khaled
    1k

    In any case, if I write something that annoys you, like I just did, that changes the chemicalsWayfarer

    And you would have needed a chemical change to think of and write those things in the first place, or else you wouldn't have been able to move a muscle as that is a chemical interaction

    We don't know that; it is the operative delusion of materialism.Wayfarer

    We don't know it's not that either. And I'm going with it IS that. Please tell me the metaphysics you're employing so we're on the same page.

    There is no electron until it is measured. The 'uncertainty principle' torpedoed any idea of universal determinism.Wayfarer

    I understand but no determinism =/= free will either. Random quantum fluctuations aren't a choice.

    That is the operative delusion of materialism. The laws of physics account for only a certain range of phenomena within the very domain in which they're applicable; they have nothing whatever to say about what you decide to write. The main way in which the laws of physics applies to persons is that you will fall at the same rate as an inanimate object!Wayfarer

    I do not see a viable alternative to materialism (or matter-waveism I guess if you account for quantum mechanics) please enlighten me on what metaphysics you're employing

    That is 'top-down causation' right there; no matter has been transmitted, only ideasWayfarer

    Matter hasn't been transmitted but that isn't the only physical reaction possible. You type, my eyes detect the words. They send electrical signals to my brain. The electrical signals act in deterministic (or random) ways in my brain. The result is that it makes me type something else. Maybe you missed my entire point but my point was that this "transmittion of ideas" can only happen through physical means. And to influence those physical means you'd need a physical cause. Free will is not a physical cause as we have yet to find a free will force. If you find it please tell me

    No it's not, because it applies to a type of argumentWayfarer

    It applies to a group of people not an argument. And I thought you included me in that group of people seeing as the reply was directed at me. But I don't care if it's ad hominem or not at any case it's not an argument. Why most people disavow free will is not an argument as to whether or not they're right.
  • Possibility
    494
    Well, you can't retroactively make a choice, so if you are saying that all choice moves forward in time, ok. I'm not sure how that is relevant.Pantagruel

    I hear that. The first statement was for the benefit of those who continue to insist that we didn’t consent to existence, and therefore are hard done by, but also those who point to circumstances as constraints to the will.

    There are constraints on our current existence which affect what we have been aware of up to this point, and therefore our connections to the universe and how we’ve been able to work together. But they do not constrain our capacity to be aware from this point onwards. You can say ‘I didn’t know she was under-age!’, but the truth is more likely that the thought had crossed your mind, but you chose to not be aware of the truth.
  • Filipe
    26
    All types of "Freedom" can be considered infinite paradoxes.
    Can you choose to not have freedom? Because if you can you will not have freedom after all and if you cant you already don't have it.

    But If you talking about the Christian concept of the Divine provided Free will than that brings it to a whole new discussion about how a God that knows what choices you will make can give you options that he knows that you will not pick.
  • god must be atheist
    583
    I'm having trouble understanding how 'changing your mind' is reconcilable with 'determinism'. If you are able to change your mind, then how is that not a free choice? I suppose you could say 'I have no choice but to accept....' but even so, 'acceptance' seems to me a willing act.Wayfarer

    I am afraid I can't tell you what you want to hear. I could tell you how things in the environment change, which cause you (or me or anyone else) to change their minds. Things are in flux, affecting each other.

    But I can't explain that to you, because you don't want to hear that, and when you hear that, then you will not understand something else, and when that is explained to you, you will go back to your rejection of everything being caused and everything causing something else.

    You are having trouble understanding how things change when they are caused to change. Well, well.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    They send electrical signals to my brainkhaled

    You're simply throwing out dumb materialism, it's not worth discussing.

    You are having trouble understanding how things change.god must be atheist

    I think it's more the case that you're having trouble saying anything coherent.
  • khaled
    1k
    You're just throwing around dumb unexplained emotional reactions. It's not worth discussing. Don't start discussing a topic if you're going to end by calling the other guy an idiot. That's pointless
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    Don't start discussing a topic if you're going to end by calling the other guy an idiot.khaled

    Hey it's just marks on a screen, right? Means nothing anyway.
  • khaled
    1k
    Depends on what you mean by means. My brain interprets those marks in a certain way. So if you mean some transcendental greater "meaning" to the words you're writing then no it means nothing. But it does mean what it literally means when I read it.

    But other than that, I would appreciate it if you let me make a case in the first place because I like people who seem very sure of their way of thinking because it helps me better mine. Of course I don't know which way your neurons will fall (if you'll reply or not) but my argument against free will would go like this:

    P1: All subjectively understood information must be transmitted through a physical means. Be it words on a screen or on paper or sound waves. I cannot "will" an idea into your mind directly, you have to see it/ read it/ etc. One cannot think without those physical means because there would be nothing to think about. I'm basically saying you need a physical brain to think or that you need a brain (or some other processing unit) for a mind. Even mathematics requires a physical brain even though it is not describing anything physical. In order to understand what a line is you need a sense of space which doesn't come without a body and a brain. In order to understand numbers you need to know what counting is or what a "thing" is or what sets are which doesn't come without the ability to distinguish objects, which doesn't come without the physical senses

    P2: The production of these physical means requires a physical cause. I cannot "will" ink onto a paper, I need to physically move my arm.

    P3: The outcome of a physical interaction is not determined by a subject. It is determined by the laws of physics or by chance. This is not to say the laws of physics we have currently are correct, but that there is SOME sort of combination of laws and random chance that determines the outcomes of physical interactions.

    C: Since a subject cannot influence a physical interactions and since physical interactions can only be caused by other physical interactions, the subject cannot influence any course of events unless the subject itself is a physical entity, isolatable and testable.

    You could not have read what I wrote without light waves being incident on your eyes, which then changes the chemical formula of retinol in your eyes which causes it to irritate certain neurons etc etc until it reaches your brain. How that reaching your brain bit results in your subjective understanding I do not know but what I do know is HOWEVER YOU REPLY must ultimately be caused by physical effects. If you reply by typing something must have moved your fingers and that something must have been physical all the way back to your brain. When you formulated what you were about to type, there had to have been a physical interaction that culminated in you typing it. I don't know how you formulated what you were about to type subjectively but ultimately, the chain of causailty ending with you typing must have started with a physical cause because typing is physical. That's why I believe if such a thing as free will exists then we could literally find a force or field in the brain which directly causes certain chemical/physical interactions. There has to be a "free will force" whose results you can predict and control beforehand with sheer will and it has to be controllable. That's the only way I can conceive of free will existing. Or else how does it interact with the physical world?

    Your ideas didn't cause the words I'm seeing, ultimately your fingers did and something physical must have caused those fingers to move. That's why I believe free will is either a physical force explanable by some formulation of the laws of physics or it is literally voodoo magic because I cannot think of a way something non physical can PUSH something physical.
  • Pantagruel
    150
    Information is non-physical. The exact same information can be embedded in completely different physical forms. But information is the sense or meaning that we extract from those physical forms. And information is precisely what has shaped the evolution of human culture and the human mind. So something non-physical is evidently influencing the physical.

    Probably there is a superordinate framework that encompasses the apparent mind-matter dualism.
  • god must be atheist
    583
    I'm having trouble understanding how 'changing your mind' is reconcilable with 'determinism'.Wayfarer

    You are having trouble understanding how things change.
    — god must be atheist

    I think it's more the case that you're having trouble saying anything coherent.
    Wayfarer

    I beg to differ. I think you have a mental block accepting the causality in the universe. That's a big hindrance in intelligent conversation, when the topics all require the participants to follow a path of cause-effect and hence, reason.

    You can't follow reason. You explain your inability to understand with other's inability to express themselves. In my own opinion you are not capable of recognizing your own incapacity to follow arguments that employ logic and reason.
  • Arne
    416
    Either you have free will or you do not. Discussing the issue is not going to decide the issue. If you believe you have free will and you do not, you could not have believed otherwise. If you believe you do not have free will and you do, then you have missed your opportunity to live your life according to your will. There is no in between. There is no way out. Arguing about it will make no difference. Think about it.
  • Pantagruel
    150

    Agree with this 100% This is an excellent pragmatic approach, and I am fundamentally a pragmatist.

    Ultimately, if I act with epistemic irresponsibility and allow myself to believe something just because I want it to be the case, the consequences can only be bad for me.
  • PoeticUniverse
    603
    Either you have free will or you do notArne

    I'll try to zero in on what 'free will' is free to do or what it is free of, since many don't define it, leaving it as some stand-alone phrase not anchored.

    For some, it is the ability for the will to operate normally when not forced, this meaning when the will is not coerced. Determinism is not addressed. The depth of coercion, such as (usually) having to stay out of lightning storms and heat waves isn't addressed. That's the end of that one, and so to be clear and not misunderstood, they could declare something like "The uncoerced will is able to operate and thus express itself completely."

    I don't think anyone will claim that there is no will or that it can't operate normally when not forced. So, no big revelation here, but just a statement of the obvious that is so trivial that it seems to bee not what is sought by many.

    The compatibilists say the same except that they admit determinism. More on that later.

    The libertarians, also admitting determinism, mostly, have it that since such as QM shows 'randomness', which mostly cancels out, that some of the 'randomness' might make it into the will's decision-making process, disrupting it, causing an outcome which wouldn't normally happen. However, this harms the will and so it's tough to see how it helps 'free will', for then some decisions might be as 'air-headed', this being not really any help, although they say it can promote variety. Their consolation is that they may have showed that events could have been different if the universe were to be rerun.

    We can't rerun the universe. What it already did on its actual run is what it did, this actuality seeming to trump the 'what if' of some fantasy world game situation situation such as 'What if Hitler had developed the A-bomb'.

    The 'free' of 'free will' to some might mean that the will is not determined, that determinism in not inherent in its analysis for decisions, that it is somehow undetermined, which doesn't sound useful, but they would have to show something non-libertarian to have a 'free will' that is not a 'fixed will' that still grants us consistency to act as ourselves as we have come to be up to that moment.

    If there is another definition of 'free-will', the advocates would have to define it so that we could better size it up.

    Of course, we do research first, if luckily it is one of the qualities of our will to seek information and be able to better analyze from both sides. Then our wills gain a wider range and can choose better, even choosing differently later on, changing one's mind. The will usually doesn't freeze into one state, but I appreciate that it may well get stuck for some, with a general, not mental, learning disability, which I leave for cognitive behavioralists to figure out.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    The libertarians, also admitting determinism, mostly, have it that since such as QM shows 'randomness', which mostly cancels out, that some of the 'randomness' might make it into the will's decision-making process, disrupting it, causing an outcome which wouldn't normally happen. However, this harms the will and so it's tough to see how it helps 'free will', for then some decisions might be as 'air-headed', this being not really any help, although they say it can promote variety. Their consolation is that they may have showed that events could have been different if the universe were to be rerun.PoeticUniverse

    This isn’t libertarian free will.

    The 'free' of 'free will' to some might mean that the will is not determined, that determinism in not inherent in its analysis for decisions, that it is somehow undetermined, which doesn't sound useful, but they would have to show something non-libertarian to have a 'free will' that is not a 'fixed will' that still grants us consistency to act as ourselves as we have come to be up to that moment.PoeticUniverse

    This is libertarian free will.

    As I see it, free will is just when one is not being coerced. There are strong wills, moderately strong wills, moderately weak wills, and weak wills. This can change within a person from situation to situation, but there is a general average for each person.

    I generally have a moderately weak will. I lack conviction and I am apathetic a lot of the time, so I rarely impose my will on the world. Sometimes I do, however, given the situation.
  • Possibility
    494
    'Free will' sounds like a good thing to have, yet references to it without definition are meaningless.

    One, trivial, but common definition is that the will is free/able to operate normally in the absence of. coercion.
    PoeticUniverse

    As I see it, the will - the ‘faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action’ - consists of these three assertions, and as such, is naturally unconstrained.Possibility

    Free = unconstrained

    I think we make more of ‘the will’ than it needs to be. We like to think that our will is this complicated process of taking all available information into account and then making an informed decision on what to do, but the initial decision to initiate action, that leads to each step in the process itself, is much simpler. It’s a yes or no to these three assertions. If we say no, then we constrain our own action in that respect, and whatever we do subsequently in relation to thought, words or actions will be constrained by that limitation.
  • Possibility
    494
    Awareness is inherent in the brain/will, a part of its nature. The will may or may not attend much further to what it is aware of, although it is difficult not to; we see an apple and then think what to do with a bit.

    I have to guess at 'connect', but preclude it being with people since that is covered in the next item. Consciousness connects in unity the result of the will/brain doings, and also connects it seamlessly to what it had previously. This would seem to be automatic.

    'Collaborate' seems optional, but again I have nothing further to go on about its meaning here.
    PoeticUniverse

    Awareness is a decision that is made before we ‘see an apple’. A decision is made to be aware of sense data - to seek information from our senses - and then to connect that sense data to related information in the brain that we find points to there being ‘an apple’ in that sense data. The collaboration occurs when another decision is made to integrate these related sources of information into the thought of ‘seeing an apple’.

    This may sound ridiculously trivial and ‘automatic’ in relation to seeing an apple, but consider the same process with a different example.

    Let’s say that someone is blindfolded as part of a game, but when they open their eyes they can see a little bit below the bottom of that blindfold. The sensory system is geared to ‘automatically’ be aware of visual sense data - we’ve given that decision over to subconscious operations - but because of the nature of the game, this person becomes conscious of (paying attention to) the fact that they can still see, and that this not supposed to happen in the game. That person must decide to continue to be aware of this sense data or not. They could adjust the blindfold so that they can no longer see; they could close their eyes beneath the blindfold; they could warn someone in the game that they can still see; or they could choose to stay silent and be aware of this visual sense data as well as their other senses, at any time they feel it’s ‘necessary’.

    While they wrestle with this decision, they’ve nevertheless ‘automatically’ become aware of certain visual sense data. They then have to decide whether or not to dismiss that data (because that’s the rules of the game), or to connect it to related information in the brain which helps them determine what it could be. Now, they may have a curious nature or be particularly reliant on visual data, and so be unwilling to dismiss such data - even though it’s against the rules of the game - without first connecting it to information in the brain, just in case. They may rationalise that it’s not their fault the blindfold wasn’t on properly to start with, or any number of rationalisation that might give them moral permission to connect the data they ‘inadvertently’ have.

    So they’ve decided to make the connections, and determine that they see a familiar plant in the garden. If they decide to collaborate at this point, to integrate this information with the rest of the information they have from listening to their surroundings, feeling the breeze on their face, etc. then they will be more informed than if they had chosen not to collaborate.
  • Possibility
    494
    Matter hasn't been transmitted but that isn't the only physical reaction possible. You type, my eyes detect the words. They send electrical signals to my brain. The electrical signals act in deterministic (or random) ways in my brain. The result is that it makes me type something else. Maybe you missed my entire point but my point was that this "transmittion of ideas" can only happen through physical means. And to influence those physical means you'd need a physical cause. Free will is not a physical cause as we have yet to find a free will force. If you find it please tell mekhaled

    This is what I’ve spent some time trying to reach: what it is about our will that is unconstrained, when every movement by law must be determined by a physical cause? I don’t believe it is something supernatural or externally ‘gifted’ to humans, but neither am I willing to dismiss awareness of it just because I have insufficient information to answer the questions through scientific means.

    My theory is that the will - the basic faculty by which any action is decidedly initiated - is fundamental to all matter, and that the diversity of the universe is determined as much by these three ‘decisions’ made at the point of each interaction across spacetime as by ‘randomness’.

    Of course, it’s all speculation at this point (and my own ability to integrate information is limited), but I find that much of current theorising across physics, biochemistry, neuroscience, philosophy and even theology - particularly in areas we admit we don’t fully understand (eg. dark matter, abiogenesis, consciousness, altruism, etc) - suggests to me that this theory is worthwhile pursuing.

    I may be entirely or at least partly misguided, but I’m willing to find out either way, and make adjustments.
  • khaled
    1k
    My theory is that the will - the basic faculty by which any action is decidedly initiated - is fundamental to all matter,Possibility

    This implies a lot. Does it mean all matter is conscious (a notion I actually like personally)? Also what would explain the regularity we see in matter. Throw the same rock the same way a 100 times and it'll do the same thing. It might have will but that doesn't seem too free to me. What you're describing is basically "energy" not "free will". A definition of energy is capacity to do work. But if you're running real fast, sure you can do more work (move things) but I wouldn't say you have more free will. What I think is needed for free will is literally a FORCE. A literal tiny force in your brain you can push up or down so if in an experiment it is isolated the experiment can ask you "move your free will up" and you'll be able to 100% of the time. The behavior of this force must also be completely uninfluenced EXCEPT by you. It has to be proven that no matter how external conditions change this force still remains and still cannot be influenced by any other physical force or effect. And through all of this it must be completely predictable by YOU. I have no idea how this can be tested
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