Another thread about free will

Author: keithprosser ,

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  • keithprosser
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    Suppose I release a toy balloon in Glagow airport and it end up at Heathrow.
    Compare that to a scheduled flight between those two point.

    At one level - arguably - there is no difference; both are the result of cause and effect.   At least that is what I would suppose what an opponent of free to suggest.

    I see the point of that 'no free will' argument, but it seems to ignore that there is a difference between a toy balloon ending up in Heathrow - prrrtty much at random - and the pilot of a plane who intendeds to go there and could - should he wish to get fired - go somewhere else of his choosing.

    I'd say the 'no free will position' is the result either of over-thinking or under-thinking such differences.   Airline pilots are not the same as toy balloons - I can see no reason not to say the difference is that pilots have free will and balloons don't; and that 'free will' is the difference beteen them.









  • ethang5
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    --> @keithprosser
    Hi Keith, 

    I have to say, this is one of the most succinct and elegant arguments for free will that I've ever seen.

    Which probably explains the shortage of takers.


  • mustardness
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    --> @keithprosser
    The best answer to know free will is the Hesignburg uncertainty argument.

    However, that only means we cannot know speed and location of quantum particle simultaneously. We can know both.

    There is gravitational relationship between all quantum particles of eternally existent, finite, occupied space Universe.

    Gravity can not be discounted at ultra-micro scales of existence. What is discounted is amount of effect of gravity at the atomic and molecular scales of existence.

    There is no evidence of how the two specifically interrelate. 




  • secularmerlin
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    --> @keithprosser
    There is a difference between the balloon and the pilot and the difference is will but having will does not necessitate freewill. The pilot could decide to fly to Bordeaux, or even into a mountain, but why would he? Be careful if there is a reason to do so then it isn't necessarily freewill it is a response to the cited reason and if there is no reason then it is a random act and a random act is not the exercise of freewill it is just rolling dice.
  • TwoMan
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    I think the problem arguing for or against free will is the fact that the words "free" and "will" are not included in the definition. Opponents of free will say that a choice is not "free" due to cause and effect and/or influences, genetics, etc. That becomes irrelevant if one argues based on any of the actual definitions that are available. For example "the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate" or "the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded". "Free will" is just a label to describe the ability to make a choice. If you are going to argue against it, use the definition, not the label.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @TwoMan
    What makes you think anyone can make choices? The descision making process only requires two or more potential courses of action along with cause and effect.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @TwoMan
    A computer can make a descision but a computer does not appear to have freewill.
  • TwoMan
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    --> @secularmerlin
    Are you sure that a computer can make a decision or is it just following the logical conclusion of it's programing?

    Human brains do not work the same way a computer does. Brains are subjective, computers are objective. Cause and effect can only go so far in the thought making process of a subjective human brain. It may prompt that a decision be made but does not force a particular one upon us.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @TwoMan
    Are you sure that a person can make a decision or are they just following the logical conclusion of their programing?

    How have you determined that a brain is anything but a difference detecting machine? What more than cause and effect are you certain is involved in the process?
  • TwoMan
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    What you are suggesting is that subjectivity does not exist. That the quality of being based on personal tastes, feeling, opinions, etc. is not real.

    It is very difficult to have a discussion with someone who does not believe in fundamental things like choices or subjectivity. I really don't know how to proceed at this point if you can't be convinced that those things exist.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @TwoMan
    Did you choose your personal tastes? How about your preferences? Because it sounds like what your saying is "my descisions are based on more than cause and effect, it is also based on other things that I have no control over." If indeed those factors are not fixed by cause and effect.
  • TwoMan
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    --> @secularmerlin
    You are correct, I am saying that choices are based on more than cause and effect. That is what subjectivity is. I don't know how much "control" I have over my emotions, feelings, opinions, preferences, etc. I certainly have at least some. Those things don't force me to choose one course of action over another.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @TwoMan
    All things being equal don't you generally go with your preferences in any given situation? That is don't you generally do whatever brings you the most immediate happiness unless there is a reason not to?
  • TwoMan
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    --> @secularmerlin
    I'm not speaking in general terms as in what happens most of the time. I am saying that, in not all but some situations, the option exists to make a choice by whatever means one happens to make that choice. I grant that influences such as preferences, feelings, opinions, genetics exist and can help sway a choice but that the entire process cannot be traced back to a verifiable cause limiting one to a single effect. There are an unknowable number of causes that influence what information is being processed by the brain. Whether those causes are under our complete control is irrelevant. It is still the brain, after processing that information, that makes a choice. Choice, by definition, means there are at least two courses of action possible. To say that it is impossible to choose course A over course B is not only illogical, it ignores the only existing evidence for or against free will. That being that virtually every human on earth experiences the ability to make a choice.
  • Mopac
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    I think causality is a great deal more complicated than anyone can fathom, and the idea of a truly free will among human beings seems to fly in the face of the fact that there is literally an entire universe of causality pressing down on us to make our experiences possible.

    If you make a choice, besides the moment effecting your choice, your past effects your choice. The things that happened to you 10 years ago effect your choice. Is it really choice, or illusion of choice?

    I must admit that I am inclined to believe in super determinsim. 
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @TwoMan
    I am not even implying that it is impossible to go with A or B equally. I am saying that you prefer one over the other and that in the absence of a reason not to you will go with that preference. You do not control your preferences so going with your preferences is not indicative of freewill and if you have a reason not to then there is a cause (the aforementioned reason) and descisions based on cause and effect are not indicative of freewill.

    There is plenty of evidence that cause and effect shape our descisions but no evidence that we have freewill. I cannot be certain that there is no such thing as freewill because one cannot prove a negative but I am unable to maintain a belief in the absence of evidence.

    Now let's say you do manage to do something for litteraly no reason. You don't prefer one outcome or course of action over another and niether will help you avoid negative consequences or emotions (whatever you consider to be negative) no one is telling you what to do and you aren't trying to prove anything. That would be a random descision and random events are not indicative of freewill either.
  • mustardness
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    --> @TwoMan
    Choice, by definition, means there are at least two courses of action possible.
    All occupied space existence is deterministic, cause, effect and resultant{s}. The thought process is  based on cause, effect and resultants. Yes? No?

    Uncertainty principle says we cant know  both speed and location of particle A or B simultaneously, only that we can know one, or the other, in that specific moment of observation. The next moment of observation we can know the other part of that two part set. Yes? No?

    We know that we can know both parts, given two seperate observations.

    Uncertainty principle says, we humans cannot know if particle A, when observed, will be up or down, left or right etc, however, we do know that what ever particle  A or  B  is observed to be, its entangled other half will  be the opposite. Yes? No?

    So entanglement  means there exists a cause and effect relationship between particle A and B. Yes? No?

    So entanglement exists, without us humans being able to see the these seemingly hidden relationship and that is similar to any relationships involving gravity { mass-attraction }, that, also we do not observe the relatioships we know must exist. Yes? No?










  • TwoMan
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    --> @secularmerlin
    If you say that is is not impossible to choose either course A or B then you have just given a textbook example of free will as it is defined. Going with your preferences does not negate a choice or make the choice an illusion. It just means you chose to go with a particular preference and could have chosen another.

    Consider the following thought - that free will as it is defined exists but it is fundamentally meaningless.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @TwoMan

    That more than one course of action is possible does not mean that freewill is being exercised. As an example picture a computer that makes descisions based on the decay of sub atomic particles. Let us assume there is a fifty percent chance that any given particle will decay within ten minutes and a fifty percent chance that any given particle will take more than ten minutes to decay. The computer would be capable of doing either A or B depending on the decay of sub atomic particles. If what you say is true then not only the computer but the particles have freewill because both may react in different ways in similar situations.
  • TwoMan
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    --> @secularmerlin
    Well I was hoping to find some common ground here but we can't even agree on basic definitions so I respectfully bow out of this conversation.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @TwoMan
    I'm sorry is your definition not the ability to act differently in similar circumstances? I am willing to refine my understanding of what you mean.
  • mustardness
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    We know that we can know both { two } parts of entanglement via only one observation.

    Entanglement requires a line-of-relationship between the two parts A { O } and B { O }

    We most often think of this line-of-relationship as O-------O.

    So we say visible light travels from observed A { O } -----> and observed by B { O } ergo O---->O.

    I believe there is way another way to see this line-of-relationship that is geodesic and wave-linear.

    (O)( )( )( )( )( O) i.e. there exists an ultra-micro gravitational  --if not also dark energy--- surface geodesic associated with all particles { O }.

    There was a dude Russel in early 20's who thought there was two lines-of-relationship ongoing at same time, and it makes sense, to have a geodesic wave-linear set that is traveling both directions between A { O } and B { O }.

    A mass { O } and B mass { O } and between we have two wave-linear geodesic sets of Mass-Atrraction. (O)( )( )( )( )( O)

    (O)( )( )( )( )( O) or as (O)>( )( )( )( )<(O)
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    All occupied space existence is deterministic, cause, effect and resultant{s}. The thought process is  based on cause, effect and resultants. Yes? No?

    Uncertainty principle says we cant know  both speed and location of particle A or B simultaneously, only that we can know one, or the other, in that specific moment of observation. The next moment of observation we can know the other part of that two part set. Yes? No?


    Uncertainty principle says, we humans cannot know if particle A, when observed, will be up or down, left or right etc, however, we do know that what ever particle  A or  B  is observed to be, its entangled other half will  be the opposite. Yes? No?

    So entanglement  means there exists a cause and effect relationship between particle A and B. Yes? No?

    So entanglement exists, without us humans being able to see the these seemingly hidden relationship and that is similar to any relationships involving gravity { mass-attraction }, that, also we do not observe the relatioships we know must exist. Yes? No?

  • keithprosser
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    --> @secularmerlin
    Another version of the analpgy is to imagine building a robot.   You have two choices - one is to allow it to move by 'browinian motion', pushed hither and thither by the wind.   The other option is to give it the power to decide where to go and to do what is required to get there.

    if free will does not exist there is nothing extra to code in the second version of the robot!  Whatever free will is, it is certainly something!
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @keithprosser
    How is the second robot making descisions? How does it differentiate between different directions?
  • keithprosser
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    The same way you and I do of course.... by exercising  its free will!

    But if 'free will does not exist' there there would be no behavoural difference between a decision making making robot and a Browninan motion robot.

    There are entities without free will - (toy balloons for example) and entities with free will (airline pilots).   With that perpective free will comes out aas a complex and interesting phenomenon.