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Free will: yes or no?

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Just curious if anyone has pondered the existence, or not, of free will, and its implications for one’s world view.  When you jump off a diving board, you do not have a choice of whether to fall into the pool or not.  But you do seem to have a choice of whether or not to jump off the diving board in the first place.  Is there something “in there” that can make actual choices?  Or are your choices all ultimately determined by physical laws?  Like a single-celled animal changing direction based on a chemical gradient, just way more complicated.

 

The phenomenon of quantum entanglement, where distantly-separated particles seem to remain in some sort of contact, can be resolved if the observers do not have free will.  But a recent experiment seems to have supported it existence:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/photons-quasars-and-the-possibility-of-free-will/

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Every choice we have is limited by circumstance so we can exercise free will within certain parameters.

 

We always do exercise our "free will" in practice. Often our choice is the lesser evil and not our ideal, but we do make that choice. Everything is our own doing, which is the real meaning of "Karma."

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13 hours ago, TEG said:

Just curious if anyone has pondered the existence, or not, of free will, and its implications for one’s world view.  When you jump off a diving board, you do not have a choice of whether to fall into the pool or not.  But you do seem to have a choice of whether or not to jump off the diving board in the first place.  Is there something “in there” that can make actual choices?  Or are your choices all ultimately determined by physical laws?  Like a single-celled animal changing direction based on a chemical gradient, just way more complicated.

 

The phenomenon of quantum entanglement, where distantly-separated particles seem to remain in some sort of contact, can be resolved if the observers do not have free will.  But a recent experiment seems to have supported it existence:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/photons-quasars-and-the-possibility-of-free-will/

 

Pretty ingenious idea using quasars to be the RNG. :)

 

Benjamin Libet's experiment in free will: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjCt-L0Ph5o

 

Have you checked out the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6HLjpj4Nt4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have read about Libet’s experiment; it challenges the nature of consciousness itself, suggesting that it is just an epiphenomenon.  As if the inner workings of the mind were a submarine, and consciousness was a little periscope that the mind puts up to observe and interact with the world.  An outside observer might erroneously think that it was the periscope itself that was thinking and making decisions.

 

I wish I had the patience to follow the delayed choice video, but I think I get the drift.

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The entanglement factor in the delayed reaction experiment is interesting. 

 

This question always seems to hint back to a limited free in a deterministic universe answer. Because so many things are deterministic and free will seems very limited, if it really exists at all. 

 

 

 

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On 8/30/2019 at 8:47 AM, TEG said:

Just curious if anyone has pondered the existence, or not, of free will, and its implications for one’s world view.  When you jump off a diving board, you do not have a choice of whether to fall into the pool or not.  But you do seem to have a choice of whether or not to jump off the diving board in the first place.  Is there something “in there” that can make actual choices?  Or are your choices all ultimately determined by physical laws?  Like a single-celled animal changing direction based on a chemical gradient, just way more complicated.

 

The phenomenon of quantum entanglement, where distantly-separated particles seem to remain in some sort of contact, can be resolved if the observers do not have free will.  But a recent experiment seems to have supported it existence:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/photons-quasars-and-the-possibility-of-free-will/

 

Free Will is an interesting concept for sure. Based upon the old baloney testament, God gave mankind (Adam and Eve) free will, but if God knows in advance what is going to happen, what kind of free will is that?

 

Concerning philosophy and free will: Hard core determinism asserts that free will is an illusion, that every event and action has a cause. Nearly every philosophy and religion in history has something to say about free will.  In determinism, the concepts of free will and related motivation to action are thought to be an illusion and that there are both internal and external causes for human behavior, and that your own mind has little or no choice in it. The existence of free will is denied by most proponents of determinism. According to the famous modern-day philosopher Skinner,  a person who commits a crime had no real choice.

 

In science, quantum mechanics asserts that the quantum world has a lot of real randomness within it. This of course could play out as free will at the larger scales of molecular matter and humans. This comes from there, IMO, misunderstandings and belief that there are no local hidden variables associated with interactions of particles in the sub-atomic realm. However, this could be where free will comes from, local hidden variable in the quantum realm. If such a hidden realm of any type, an aether, such ideas as a background force field, dark energy, dark matter, the zero point field/ energy etc., then there would be almost infinite possible external and external variables that could be involved in a human decision so that it would be impossible to ever predict human behavior 100%.

 

Such an idea would be like flipping a coin to make a decision one way or another. Your initial decision was heads I'll do it or tails I won't, or heads I'll do it one way and tails I'll do it another way. Maybe I'll let someone else or a group make my decision. Is these examples of free will ? :)

 

"Free Will, defined: "the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints."

 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/free-will

 

I think free will is simply a perspective concerning decision making. IMO all should lead their lives, which nearly all do anyway, as if free will existed. Philosophy, after all, does not explain reality, it is simply a perspective of it. And there are countless possible, yet valid perspectives of reality IMO.

 

 

 

 

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On 8/31/2019 at 10:21 AM, pantheory said:

 

Free Will is an interesting concept for sure. Based upon the old baloney testament, God gave mankind (Adam and Eve) free will, but if God knows in advance what is going to happen, what kind of free will is that?

 

Concerning philosophy and free will: Hard core determinism asserts that free will is an illusion, that every event and action has a cause. Nearly every philosophy and religion in history has something to say about free will.  In determinism, the concepts of free will and related motivation to action are thought to be an illusion and that there are both internal and external causes for human behavior, and that your own mind has little or no choice in it. The existence of free will is denied by most proponents of determinism. According to the famous modern-day philosopher Skinner,  a person who commits a crime had no real choice.

 

In science, quantum mechanics asserts that the quantum world has a lot of real randomness within it. This of course could play out as free will at the larger scales of molecular matter and humans. This comes from there, IMO, misunderstandings and belief that there are no local hidden variables associated with interactions of particles in the sub-atomic realm. However, this could be where free will comes from, local hidden variable in the quantum realm. If such a hidden realm of any type, an aether, such ideas as a background force field, dark energy, dark matter, the zero point field/ energy etc., then there would be almost infinite possible external and external variables that could be involved in a human decision so that it would be impossible to ever predict human behavior 100%.

 

 

"Free Will, defined: "the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints."

 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/free-will

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Max Tegmark once remarked. "The main argument against the quantum mind proposition is that quantum states in the brain would decohere before they reached a spatial or temporal scale, at which they could be useful for neural processing."

 

And

 

    "Based on a calculation of neural decoherence rates, we argue that that the degrees of freedom of the human brain that relate to cognitive processes should be thought of as a classical rather than quantum system, i.e., that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the current classical approach to neural network simulations. We find that the decoherence timescales ~10^{-13}-10^{-20} seconds are typically much shorter than the relevant dynamical timescales (~0.001-0.1 seconds), both for regular neuron firing and for kink-like polarization excitations in microtubules. This conclusion disagrees with suggestions by Penrose and others that the brain acts as a quantum computer, and that quantum coherence is related to consciousness in a fundamental way.

source

 

I think free will is simply a perspective concerning decision making. IMO all should lead their lives, which nearly all do anyway, as if free will existed. Philosophy, after all, does not explain reality, it is simply a perspective of it. And there are countless possible, yet valid perspectives of reality IMO.

While there may be countless perspectives of reality, I don't believe one of them can validly support the concept of free will.  As you observe, free will is but an illusion.

 

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Does free will have to be an all or none thingy?

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I think that free will is technically possible.  For instance, there could be an element of chaos and uncertainty that only gets resolved into a specific path after a possibility is selected.

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      I think we really really need to define our terms here. First there is a problem many do not seem to notice at first glance. Free will usually presupposes a "self" or some separate agent. Which in itself is another problem really. 

      Then the problem of what freedom means and what does will actually mean. 

     I only recently saw that even to ask this question one has to beforehand assume a lot of things. 

      So if there is a separate agent, if fredom is first defined as lack of constraint/obligatiin and if will one means the power to choose , which is a lot of ifs and vague assumptions to begin with, I see no possibility of of such thing existing on a deep level. It would be absurd to even conceive it. It would mean someone maked a choice out of nothingness.  If he does a choice in the existing world for existing causes searching existing goals every choice is determined. If a choice is random his choice is determined by randomness and is as such meaningless. If there is no connection between the agent and the object chosen as it would be in a random universe choice is impossible in the first place. There cannot be intention in that case. We cannot even really think in those terms.

     HOWEVER,  in psychological, social and legal terns "free will" can serve a purpose and can be used to describe certain realities. Like were you blackmailed or tortured or imprisoned? Has your negative freedom the freedom from and positive freedom as in freedom to been affected? Were you subjected to hypnosis or trance inducing practices/ substances? 

       So it depends how and why we use this concept. On the "atomic" and macro universe level the notions seems absurd. On the psychological level it defines a known reality and can be used.

       Of the implications I am not totally sure of but it does seem to humble me in a way and has the opposite of the THE SECRET type magical thinking. You do not determine the universe, instead the universe creates and determines you. 

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What if it's something like Schrodinger's Option.  The choice you make is simultaneously pre-destined and free willed; but you don't know which until after you make it.

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I'm a firm "yes" on free will. I've argued for this in detail over here, in the second post on page 3. I don't feel like repeating the entire argument here, but suffice it to say that I argue that we have good reason to believe that we have free will, we cannot operate under the assumption that we don't have free will, and that we have no good reason to think thay we do not have free will. From these premises I conclude that we should firmly believe that we do in fact have free will.

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If we dont have free will then (on the surface)  it seems pointless to provide people here with evidence-based thinking alternatives to woo or religious type thinking. It's not like they can decide to use that information. They may change their thinking or they may not. It's not up to them to decide... 

 

Why consult anyone for help?  Why give any help?

 

If someone's consciousness has been predetermined to do some action then they are going to do it, right? Save your breath trying to talk them out of it. 

 

Without free will you had no choice but to become an Ex-C. Someone else may have no choice but to remain a Christian. And who knows, you may have absolutely zero choice in returning to Christianity in the future, regardless of 'what you know" or "what you want";  if free will is just an illusion. 

 

....

 

I was fascinated with Libet's experiment when I first heard about it (a few years ago). I may read up on the FMRI experimenter (from the video). Libet's study was quite compelling, but... neurological studies only tell a certain story. Human behavior suggests that we do make our own decisions and that new information helps us to make those decisions (sometimes). 

 

I assume that motor functions performing some physical operation prior to the mind becoming aware of it is some kind of evolutionary feature that helps keep us alive. Humans have electrical connections in their extremities that will fire a muscle response to move your hand off a hot stove without needing to send a signal round trip to the brain to consider it and make a decision. Does this negate free will? I dont know. 

 

Is the physical act of signing a new car contract simply the result of the motor part of your brain making a pen in your hand move on a piece of paper 200 milliseconds prior to your 'consciousness' deciding to do it? Or did you really decide to 'do it' an hour prior? Or maybe when you saw the car in the lot?  Or when you saw the car on tv? 

 

Where did the signal come from that produced the motor function, anyway? Seems like if it originated inside my brain then 'I' decided to do it regardless if 'I' wasnt aware of it yet. And maybe the intention experiments science has done has only uncovered a portion of the full picture of what is going on. 

 

What is the difference between 'having' free will or the illusion of having free will? Dont they both amount to the same thing? 

 

 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, midniterider said:

If we dont have free will then (on the surface)  it seems pointless to provide people here with evidence-based thinking alternatives to woo or religious type thinking. It's not like they can decide to use that information. They may change their thinking or they may not. It's not up to them to decide... 

 

Why consult anyone for help?  Why give any help?

 

If someone's consciousness has been predetermined to do some action then they are going to do it, right? Save your breath trying to talk them out of it. 

 

Without free will you had no choice but to become an Ex-C. Someone else may have no choice but to remain a Christian. And who knows, you may have absolutely zero choice in returning to Christianity in the future, regardless of 'what you know" or "what you want";  if free will is just an illusion. 

 

....

 

I was fascinated with Libet's experiment when I first heard about it (a few years ago). I may read up on the FMRI experimenter (from the video). Libet's study was quite compelling, but... neurological studies only tell a certain story. Human behavior suggests that we do make our own decisions and that new information helps us to make those decisions (sometimes). 

 

I assume that motor functions performing some physical operation prior to the mind becoming aware of it is some kind of evolutionary feature that helps keep us alive. Humans have electrical connections in their extremities that will fire a muscle response to move your hand off a hot stove without needing to send a signal round trip to the brain to consider it and make a decision. Does this negate free will? I dont know. 

 

Is the physical act of signing a new car contract simply the result of the motor part of your brain making a pen in your hand move on a piece of paper 200 milliseconds prior to your 'consciousness' deciding to do it? Or did you really decide to 'do it' an hour prior? Or maybe when you saw the car in the lot?  Or when you saw the car on tv? 

 

Where did the signal come from that produced the motor function, anyway? Seems like if it originated inside my brain then 'I' decided to do it regardless if 'I' wasnt aware of it yet. And maybe the intention experiments science has done has only uncovered a portion of the full picture of what is going on. 

 

What is the difference between 'having' free will or the illusion of having free will? Dont they both amount to the same thing? 

 

 

 

 

 

3 hours ago, disillusioned said:

I'm a firm "yes" on free will. I've argued for this in detail over here, in the second post on page 3. I don't feel like repeating the entire argument here, but suffice it to say that I argue that we have good reason to believe that we have free will, we cannot operate under the assumption that we don't have free will, and that we have no good reason to think thay we do not have free will. From these premises I conclude that we should firmly believe that we do in fact have free will.

I read some of it. I think it is deeply flawed. I think you confuse the psychological level with the social level with the physical level alltogether.  Your argument on we cannot operate without free will is the same as the theist claim we cannot operate without belief in God. When you point out you do not, as I do not believe in free will the retort is well you act as if. It is basically setting up an unfalsifiable argument. 

       I will repeat my basic point that it depends on what prior basic assumptions one has.

     But this requires a longer discussion and I am not sure a forum is the place to make it. At least for me. I confesd reading long complex posts for me is very very hard :(. Much much harder than a physical book for sone reason.

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3 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

 

I read some of it. I think it is deeply flawed. I think you confuse the psychological level with the social level with the physical level alltogether. 

 

I'm afraid I don't follow here. Was this addressed to me, or MR, or both? If to me, could you please elaborate?

 

3 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

 

Your argument on we cannot operate without free will is the same as the theist claim we cannot operate without belief in God. When you point out you do not, as I do not believe in free will the retort is well you act as if. It is basically setting up an unfalsifiable argument. 

 

This is a flawed objection, in my estimation. It's true that the argument I make regarding our inability to operate without free will is similar in form to the theist's argument that we can't operate without God. But the problem with the theist's argument isn't the form, its the substance. This is why I was careful to first argue that we have good reason to think that we do have free will, vis-a-vis our experience. Again, theists try to argue along these same lines, but they can obviously be objected to. I don't have the experience of God, so their argument fails. Do you contend that you do not have the experience of acting freely? If you don't contend this, then I'm afraid you'll need to do better than "this argument looks like the arguments theists make!". And if you do contend this, then I'd be interested to know how you get about every day. 

 

3 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

       I will repeat my basic point that it depends on what prior basic assumptions one has.

 

 I'll cede this point. Everything ultimately depends on prior assumptions, in my view.

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5 hours ago, disillusioned said:

 

I'm afraid I don't follow here. Was this addressed to me, or MR, or both? If to me, could you please elaborate?

 

 

This is a flawed objection, in my estimation. It's true that the argument I make regarding our inability to operate without free will is similar in form to the theist's argument that we can't operate without God. But the problem with the theist's argument isn't the form, its the substance. This is why I was careful to first argue that we have good reason to think that we do have free will, vis-a-vis our experience. Again, theists try to argue along these same lines, but they can obviously be objected to. I don't have the experience of God, so their argument fails. Do you contend that you do not have the experience of acting freely? If you don't contend this, then I'm afraid you'll need to do better than "this argument looks like the arguments theists make!". And if you do contend this, then I'd be interested to know how you get about every day. 

 

 I'll cede this point. Everything ultimately depends on prior assumptions, in my view.

Sorry for the confusion about quotes. Your argument looks like theists because you an experience and then choose to call it "free choice". Theists often say that reality, every inch of it is proof of God. Intelligence design goes around those arguments. Paul in Romans makes this argument I think. So they also equate daily reality with "God". This can take many names like God's plan or God's will etc. It seems to me like a language game not an argument. 

       That is why, in the point you ceded, it depends on how you structure your definitions of the operating agent, of freedom, of will and of choice. It may well be that taken your prior assumptions "free will" as you use it exists.

      In my current understanding I would even agree that on a psychological level it feels like it and it can be a useful term. A metaphor is like seeing the sun going around the earth. This our common experience. We use this in our daily lives. However modern scientific investigation has shown that the earth goes around the sun and it only feels like the other way around to us. Yet we still use words like sun rise or sun set and we still run our lives our daily lives upon looking at the position of the sun to think what time of day it is. It is a useful tool at this level, it is our daily experience, we cannot "change" or "operate" under different perceptions yet the deeper reality is totally opposite.           

        When we want to operate on the level of the solar system however, for example sending things into space like new horizons , probe we have operate under that deeper understanding. So I can feel the exp of free will and use it when appropriate and not use it when I am changing levels/viewpoints. For example not using when contemplating deep criminal justice reform where the idea of revenge does more harm than good I think. But I can still feel good when some compliments my cooking. Smth like that. Is that clearer? 

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Perhaps I don't understand everything being discussed here, but I like to boil things down to their simplest explanation.   We make choices/decisions every day.  Therefore we exercise our "will."  But our previous experiences influence these choices, so they don't always come from unbiased objective thinking on our part.  So to my thinking our "free will" comes in different degrees depending on the subject.  It is a play on words. 

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19 minutes ago, Weezer said:

Perhaps I don't understand everything being discussed here, but I like to boil things down to their simplest explanation.   We make choices/decisions every day.  Therefore we exercise our "will."  But our previous experiences influence these choices, so they don't always come from unbiased objective thinking on our part.  So to my thinking our "free will" comes in different degrees depending on the subject.  It is a play on words. 

You presume there is an autonomous self? And will is the ability to make choices?

   Well then case what if any is the diference between you and a virus?  Doesn't it make choices? 

    The christian mindset presupposes a separate self and a God. Most western atheist get rid of the second but unconsciously keep the first and even greatly expand it. A separate self is not the only way to view the world. And especially in highly individualistic rights based democracies like the modern West the ideea of the free individual is the sacred value. So it is very hard to see the water when the water is all you know. Or like the air. We breathe all the time but we hardly reflect on it. The idea of the free individual self is like this air/basic tenet imbued in lots of cultural and legal norms. But is just an assumption which usualkly but not always goes unchecked.

    And your choices, every choice is wholly influenced by previous factors. You eat because you are hungry and have the ability to digest and have bread in your house? 

     Want an even simpler explanation? Everything has a cause. That is hard determinism and the basic assumption of modern science in a nutshell.

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By the way the chapter on Free will in Robert Sapolsky's book Behave seems like an useful read on the topic.

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4 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

Sorry for the confusion about quotes. Your argument looks like theists because you an experience and then choose to call it "free choice". Theists often say that reality, every inch of it is proof of God. Intelligence design goes around those arguments. Paul in Romans makes this argument I think. So they also equate daily reality with "God". This can take many names like God's plan or God's will etc. It seems to me like a language game not an argument. 

 

The bolded would seem to inadvertently support my position :).

 

Again, I grant that there is a formal similarity between my argument and the arguments you mention. But the theistic arguments are flawed for reasons other than form. I do not experience God, and I can go about living my life on the assumption that he does not exist. I definitely do experience free will, and I can't operate under the assumption that it doesn't exist. To do anything is to choose to do it. Even to decline to choose is a choice.

 

And yes, this is a language game. All arguments are.

 

4 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

       That is why, in the point you ceded, it depends on how you structure your definitions of the operating agent, of freedom, of will and of choice. It may well be that taken your prior assumptions "free will" as you use it exists.

 

This is fair enough, and I'll grant that these haven't been properly defined here. By "free will" I roughly mean the ability to choose between alternatives without being forced one way or the other. The definition of "choice" is standard; any dictionary will do. "Operating agent" is not my term, I would prefer to say "self" or "person". Defining the self properly is difficult, but I'd hazard that if you introspect a little you'll realize that you are someone with thoughts, feelings, beliefs, desires, experiences, preferences, and, I daresay, the ability to make choices ("free will"), just as I am. That's the self.

 

4 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

      In my current understanding I would even agree that on a psychological level it feels like it and it can be a useful term. A metaphor is like seeing the sun going around the earth. This our common experience. We use this in our daily lives. However modern scientific investigation has shown that the earth goes around the sun and it only feels like the other way around to us. Yet we still use words like sun rise or sun set and we still run our lives our daily lives upon looking at the position of the sun to think what time of day it is. It is a useful tool at this level, it is our daily experience, we cannot "change" or "operate" under different perceptions yet the deeper reality is totally opposite.           

        When we want to operate on the level of the solar system however, for example sending things into space like new horizons , probe we have operate under that deeper understanding. So I can feel the exp of free will and use it when appropriate and not use it when I am changing levels/viewpoints. For example not using when contemplating deep criminal justice reform where the idea of revenge does more harm than good I think. But I can still feel good when some compliments my cooking. Smth like that. Is that clearer? 

 

Yes it is clearer, thanks. I like your analogy, but I don't think it does the work you think it does.

 

First, I don't think it is the case that we can't operate our daily lives under the assumption that the Earth revolves about the sun. "Sunrise" and "sunset" are words which every educated person understands specifically to mean "the time when the sun appears to rise/set from our perspective". The sun rising is specifically understood to be an illusion. In a very real way, then, we do operate under the assumption that the Earth revolves around the sun, and that its rotation on its axis causes the sun to appear to rise. I am specifically arguing that we have no reason to think that free will is similarly an illusion. I reject hard determinism. It does not hold at the quantum level, and hence it can't be absolutely correct. This is not a quantum theory of mind that I'm advocating for; I have no idea how consciousness actually arises. But the fact of quantum indeterminacy does imply that the objection to free will from determinism fails on the face of it, because determinism isn't correct. This is the essence of the third premise of my argument, that we have no good reason to believe that we do not have free will.

 

Second, in your analogy you make reference to operating under different understandings in different conditions. This is a choice that we make! Since we know that the Earth revolves around the sun, but that it appears on the surface to be the other way around, we can select which model is best suited to what we are tying to do. This is precisely my second point about free will. We simply can't do without it, even in trying to argue against it. You say that you can experience free will and use it where appropriate, but then set it aside when changing your perspective. This is specifically a description of you exercising free will, so it undermines your point in my view.

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 Your definition of "self" is circular and vague. You are someone that ..It is like saying a self is yourself. You describe am unclear conglomerate of different things. If the "self" is not a clear definable thing isn't talking about free will absurd.

       And you conflate choice with free will. They are not the same thing in my mind. Making a choice is not the same thing as having the opportunity to do otherwise. But for the sake of clarity I will use "action" and "act". I define act and action here very broadly from the flowing of a river to the actions inside an atom. Or I may use function. You experience "actions" in my view and the name/concept "free will" comes up naturally in association because of prior causes like cultural upbringing in a mpdern western individualistic democratic culture.

       Again you do not get my point. You do not experience free will. You experience something and that is named "free will". I can say you experience reality therefore you experience God because I name reality "God". So you do experience God you just give it another term. You yourself use this argument when saying that people use sunrise and sun set in different ways.

     Plus the fact that you cannot "imagine" operating without it does not mean anything about its presence. Again similarity with theist argument. They cannot "imagine" creation or morality without God. Your lack of conceptual understanding is irrelevant like my lack of understanding of atomic physics mathematics or thai language for the reality of those fields.

       I also disagree that all arguments are just language games. I defined language here as just swapping words without a clearly coresponding reality behind them. In saussurian linguistic terms like speaking signifiers without the signifieds.

      In order to clarify please answer this question about basic assumptions. Do you think everything has a definite cause ( by this understand a chain and different sets of causes both known or unknown) ? If not, please give an example of a totally uncaused event and how that works in your view.

      

     

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4 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

 Your definition of "self" is circular and vague. You are someone that ..It is like saying a self is yourself. You describe am unclear conglomerate of different things. If the "self" is not a clear definable thing isn't talking about free will absurd.

 

Yes, my definition of the self is vague. All definitions of the self are vague. I think it's an inherently unclear notion. But I don't think it is possible for a serious person to contend that the self does not exist. In the absence of selves, who would be able to make such an argument?

 

Also, no, talking about free will does not need to be absurd just because the definition of the self isn't entirely clear. We still don't know precisely what matter is composed of at the most basic level (or if there even is a most basic level), but we can still talk about atoms, molecules, etcetera. This is just part of what it is to be a human with imperfect understanding.

 

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       And you conflate choice with free will. They are not the same thing in my mind. Making a choice is not the same thing as having the opportunity to do otherwise. But for the sake of clarity I will use "action" and "act". I define act and action here very broadly from the flowing of a river to the actions inside an atom. Or I may use function. You experience "actions" in my view and the name/concept "free will" comes up naturally in association because of prior causes like cultural upbringing in a mpdern western individualistic democratic culture.

 

Yes, I associate choice with free will. I chose to get out of bed this morning. I might have chosen not to. That is me exercising free will.

 

And yes, making a choice is the same thing as having the opportunity to do otherwise. If there is no alternative, there is no choice.

 

Please don't misunderstand me. There are many things, in my view, which are entirely determined by antecedent causes. But not everything. Yes, my genetics and my upbringing have quite a bit to do with where I find myself in my life, but all the same, I chose to get out of bed this morning, and I might have chosen otherwise. I find objections to this to be absurd on the face of it.

 

I'm afraid I don't see a definition of "act" or "action" in your post. By your own standard, it would seem to me that you should be careful to define these terms clearly if you wish to continue to use them.

 

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       Again you do not get my point. You do not experience free will. You experience something and that is named "free will". I can say you experience reality therefore you experience God because I name reality "God". So you do experience God you just give it another term. You yourself use this argument when saying that people use sunrise and sun set in different ways.

 

Yes, I experience something which is called "free will". What else could it possibly mean to experience free will?

 

Also, your argument about "God" and "reality" fails to obtain, because you do not offer an alternative definition of free will. My definition is not abnormal. When people speak of free will, they are generally speaking making choices where they have the ability to choose other than they do. This is standard. "God" being defined as "reality" is not standard. However, if someone were to argue that reality is God, and therefore God exists, I'd admit that on their definition, God does exist. It seems to me that you are contending that free will does not exist. So what definition of free will are contesting if not the standard one?

 

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     Plus the fact that you cannot "imagine" operating without it does not mean anything about its presence. Again similarity with theist argument. They cannot "imagine" creation or morality without God. Your lack of conceptual understanding is irrelevant like my lack of understanding of atomic physics mathematics or thai language for the reality of those fields.

 

My imagination has nothing to do with it. I cannot in fact operate without exercising free will. Again, I woke up this morning. I chose to get out of bed. It would be no good for me to say "I will not choose; whatever happens will happen" because that itself would be a choice to stay in bed. This is an entirely practical point. There is nothing theoretical about it.

 

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       I also disagree that all arguments are just language games. I defined language here as just swapping words without a clearly coresponding reality behind them. In saussurian linguistic terms like speaking signifiers without the signifieds.

 

Insofar as arguments consist of using language to to demonstrate one's point, they are language games. Perhaps we mean different things by this. I don't think it's really central to the discussion.

 

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      In order to clarify please answer this question about basic assumptions. Do you think everything has a definite cause ( by this understand a chain and different sets of causes both known or unknown) ? If not, please give an example of a totally uncaused event and how that works in your view.

 

My answer is no.

 

If I have a sample of 100g uranium 238, I can predict that in 4.468 billion years my sample will only contain 50 grams of uranium 238. The sample undergoes radioactive decay at a predictable rate, and 4.468 billion years is its halflife. However, at any given moment, any given atom may or may not undergo decay. There is nothing in particular which causes one specific atom rather than a different atom to undergo decay at any given point in time. It happens randomly.

 

Similarly, there are many quantum events which happen randomly, with no definite cause.

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I am glad you guys have found something with which to keep yourselves occupied.  

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I will stop here. Because 1. My response would require too much space and I really don't like massive long posts. I mean at this point I would have analyze your argumnent word by word sometimes and sentence by sentence. 2. I don't think I am educated enough to respond in the clearest way possible.

      But thanks for the talk. Still think you are flat out wrong, though, no offense intended. :)

    I will leave the book recommendation again, Derk Pereboom Living without free will. Maybe you have a book detailing your position better you would like to recommend.

     

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