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*sigh* The illusion of free will
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:55 am    Post subject: *sigh* The illusion of free will Reply with quote

The *sigh* is for: Really? Free Will again?? Yup. Sorry. Laughing. But I've been thinking about it a whole lot, and I think I've reversed my position.

I've always said we have free will, because I have direct experience with it every waking moment. And I've never heard anyone say they do not feel it. Even people who argue against it say the feeling is an illusion; they don't say they don't feel it. Something that I feel so obviously and that is felt universally must be real. No reason to think it's a universally felt illusion. And it doesn't make more sense for a universally felt illusion of free will to have evolved than for free will to have evolved.

But I couldn't just declare "Yes, there is free will!", and pretend any victory. I couldn't even fool myself into thinking I was on sure ground. I needed to understand what I was talking about. I needed specifics. So I tried to figure out exactly where free will could be found.

I've often pointed out things where I do not have free will. I took piano lessons for many years as a kid, and in college, where I got my BA in Music History. Mozart was the most common composer I was taught on the piano. It was not until college that I was given my first Bach piece to play, in the same semester I started learning about the Baroque era in a music history class. I was shaken to the core! Mozart had always been pleasant, and technically challenging. But it never moved me. Bach made me feel things I never imagined. I didn't choose to feel this way. Other people have the opposite opinion, and they didn't choose it, either. I had no idea who Bach was, and wasn't expecting to learn that his music could be so very different than Mozart's. Whatever it is in me responds to/resonates with Bach.

I did not choose to not believe in any creator/god/God. I grew up going to Presbyterian Sunday School and church, assuming it was all fact, because that's how it was presented to me. I had not conceived of the notion that there was another kind of belief. Then, one day, when I was maybe ten or eleven, I heard about atheism. It occurred to me that I knew the stories and lessons, but I didn't feel them. Nothing in me said it was true. Over the decades since, I've been mystified at many things in the universe, and wondered how it could possibly have come about accidentally, on its own. I've even made some threads here about these things. Sometimes thinking there must be a creator, because logic told me there must; sometimes just taking that position. But I still never felt anything that told me there was a God, or anything supernatural whatsoever. I can't choose to believe, despite what some here have said. It is not a part of me.

I'm not a heterosexual by choice. The thought that I could choose to be a homosexual is laughable.

I also didn't choose to prefer chocolate desserts to strawberry, by about a thousand times. I didn't choose blue as my favorite color; it just seems perfect, and I usually think of it as a separate category. There's blue, and then there's all the other colors.

So there are some really important, and some less important, areas where I don't have free will. Kind of funny, I think. If I don't get to make a decision about these kinds of things, where do I have free will?? It must be in regards to smaller things. We were celebrating with some of my wife's family last night, and went to a restaurant. There were at least three excellent choices on the dessert tray. After a few minutes, I chose. But why??? Why did I choose the chocolate lava-filled cookie instead of the candy bar cake? Here are the two possibilities that I can see:

1) Various, many many various, factors go into the decision. We probably won't ever be able to figure out what all the factors are, much less calculate the choice ahead of time. How long has it been since I had the opportunity to eat this kind of thing? Have I been on a kick lately, eating as much of this kind of thing as I can get my hands on? (And what caused such kicks? Salted caramel things have been SOOOOO enticing lately!) Am I more predisposed to some aspect of it than I am to another? Did something seemingly meaningless, like the color of the walls or someone's perfume, make one option seem better or worse than another? Etc etc etc. How many variables? How strong is each variable? Which variable usually pulls me stronger than the others? Etc etc etc.

The thing is, if these variables are why I chose what I chose, then it is not free will. It is cause & effect.

2) The variables don't make the decision. These variables certainly exist. But maybe there are so many that there's no way for one thing to come out on top. So it's not cause & effect. Meaning the choice is random. A flip of a coin. And a flip of a coin is not free will, either.

Fact is, I can't come up with a description of what free will is. How does it work? What's the mechanism? If there is a mechanism, how is it not cause & effect? If there is no mechanism, how is it not a random choice?

Have I set up a false dichotomy? Is there a definition I'm not seeing? Help me out, folks!
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think people talk themselves out of believing the obvious--that we have freewill--because they expect too much from it. It doesn't mean that we don't have innate desires and aversions. Of course we do. At the basic level, we can't help that we like pleasure and dislike pain. And most of the time, we seek pleasure and avoid pain. But the fact that we can choose otherwise makes it pretty obvious to me that we do have freewill.

Sure, someone might say that in those instances in which we choose to avoid pleasure and seek pain (for some "higher" goal, like not cheating on our wives or enduring a workout) we are "helpless" to do otherwise, because some other brain function is "making" us do it. But I think the burden of proof lies with them. Can you prove that I had no other choice? I don't think so. Sometimes people do actually cheat on their wives, and quite often people skip their workout. If every single act you do is claimed to have been determined (after the fact, without even the pretense of predicting it) no matter what you choose, then this can never be falsified. It's not really a scientific hypothesis, it's just dogma (the dogma of materialistic reductionism).

This is the important question: what is the difference between someone forcing you to do something, and you doing it on your own? Well, the difference is huge, obviously! Even if there is always some base drive that you are following when you act, as long as there is a difference between you choosing and someone else forcing, then it is meaningful to speak of "freewill." You are free to be yourself. You are self-directed. Now, if this means sometimes you blindly, unreflectively follow your innate preferences, so what? Freewill isn't the freedom to be other than yourself. That's expecting too much from it, because it's literally and logically impossible.

But the fact that we can rise above our base drives and act self-reflectively is the proof of freewill. The fact that there is not only a difference between someone else forcing you but also a difference between you "forcing" yourself (against the desires of your base drives) means that--at the very least--there is a spectrum of freedom available to you ... both more and less. You can operate on "autopilot" or you can take control. If we have no freewill, then this distinction is meaningless, and we're always on autopilot. There would be no way to distinguish self-reflective action.

Thomas Nagel has a good example in his book MIND AND COSMOS. When we act in a way that is motivated by a value judgment, this is not merely a euphemism to describe a more basic operation of matter (atoms, molecules, neurons, brain states, etc.). For instance, when I give you aspirin because you have a headache, I'm doing this precisely because I judge pain to be bad. That is a value judgment. There are no laws of physics or any other branch of science that accounts for value judgments. The universe itself doesn't consider pain to be bad. No equation can be constructed from which you could derive this fact. But it IS a fact. Humans experience pain. Humans think pain is bad. When I'm motivated to alleviate your pain, I'm a collection of atoms responding to a situation whose parameters cannot be reduced to the laws that govern the motions of atoms! Nor am I a biological creature following my own base drives (e.g. my own pain) ... rather, I'm making a value judgment.

As Nagel says:
Quote:

... it involves a conscious control of action that cannot be analyzed as physical causation with an epiphenomenal conscious accompaniment, and that it includes some form of free will--though it is, as always, very obscure what sense to give to that notion. I respond consciously to value when I decide to give you aspirin because I learn that you have a headache and I know that aspirin will make it better. Of course I want your headache to go away, but that too is the result of my recognition that headaches are bad. The explanation of my action refers to these facts about headaches and aspirin in their status as reasons--as counting for and against doing certain things. It is through being recognized as reasons by a value-sensitive agent that they affect behavior.

.. the explanation of action by such motives is a basic form of explanation, not reducible to something of another form, either psychological or physical.


Of course, this position requires the stance of value realism, which subjectivists might reject. However, I'm starting to come around to the belief that value might actually be objective (as physicist David Deutsche argues in THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY, which we've discussed elsewhere). If that's the case, this is another reason why Darwinian evolution--and its grounding ontology of materialism--must be incomplete. We apprehend and respond to facts that are in no way physical.

Fist and Faith wrote:
Bach made me feel things I never imagined. I didn't choose to feel this way. Other people have the opposite opinion, and they didn't choose it, either. I had no idea who Bach was, and wasn't expecting to learn that his music could be so very different than Mozart's. Whatever it is in me responds to/resonates with Bach.
Is it possible that there is something inherently, objectively valuable about Bach (or music in general, for those who prefer other composers), and this is the reason you "can't help but" recognize it? Perhaps it's just a fact, like not being able to help recognizing that the sky is blue. That doesn't mean you're not free, it's just that facts aren't decided subjectively. After all, if we're creatures of evolution (and I assume that we are), how could liking Bach possibly be explained in terms of evolution? Forget the skill of composing music, just the bare appreciation of it makes no sense, because there was no music in existence when nature "selected" us. How could we possibly have a built-in value detector for phenomena (e.g. music) that didn't exist at the time when we evolved to apprehend value?? Why would it make sense to say that--as creatures of evolution--we can't help but like music, when there's no possibly way that evolution could have shaped us to like things that didn't exist?
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:57 pm    Post subject: Re: *sigh* The illusion of free will Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Why did I choose the chocolate lava-filled cookie instead of the candy bar cake?

You seek what caused you to make that choice. But assuming a cause locks into a deterministic worldview, and you cannot find free will there. Think instead: I was free to choose the one I preferred; how sweet!

You can shred determinism as easily as you can shred free will. People can say an A causes a B, but the cause of causality is utterly a mystery, one which everyone routinely ignores. If you attack determinism with the same diligence, you will find yourself believing that free will is the only rational conclusion.

Free will exists in a matrix of cause and effect. Waves exist on the sea, despite our inability to designate any specific water molecules which comprise it.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
Why did I choose the chocolate lava-filled cookie instead of the candy bar cake?

You seek what caused you to make that choice. But assuming a cause locks into a deterministic worldview, and you cannot find free will there. Think instead: I was free to choose the one I preferred; how sweet!
But if I prefer one, it's not really a choice. Whether it's a choice between something I like and something I hate, or something I like and something I like slightly less.

And if it is a choice between two things I like equally, how is the choice made? Is it a coin toss?


wayfriend wrote:
You can shred determinism as easily as you can shred free will. People can say an A causes a B, but the cause of causality is utterly a mystery, one which everyone routinely ignores. If you attack determinism with the same diligence, you will find yourself believing that free will is the only rational conclusion.
I would appreciate you demonstrating this!

wayfriend wrote:
Free will exists in a matrix of cause and effect. Waves exist on the sea, despite our inability to designate any specific water molecules which comprise it.
This is what I'm questioning. I'm not seeing free will as being anything more than randomly choosing. Which may be all there is to it, but sure isn't anything like what I expected to find. Disappointing, really.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought this was the Loresraat, not the Close. *shrug*

I have Free Will but none of the rest of you do. You won't like me saying that but you won't like it because I am telling you that you won't like it.

If Free Will is disappointing you, FF, then imagine what your like would be like without it. You wouldn't make any choices for yourself; instead, you would only be going through the motions while external forces dictated your actions and responses for you without any input from you whatsoever. That would be a disappointing reality.

Now reiterate my earlier point that none of you have Free Will, I am hereby commanding you to respond to my post, even if your response is "I am not going to respond to you". At this point, even if you don't reply you still did exactly what you were told, thus no Free Will. See how easy that is?

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
wayfriend wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
Why did I choose the chocolate lava-filled cookie instead of the candy bar cake?

You seek what caused you to make that choice. But assuming a cause locks into a deterministic worldview, and you cannot find free will there. Think instead: I was free to choose the one I preferred; how sweet!
But if I prefer one, it's not really a choice. Whether it's a choice between something I like and something I hate, or something I like and something I like slightly less.
Why is it not a choice just because you prefer one? What good would it be to have freewill if you can't do what you *want?* Choosing what you like doesn't invalidate freewill, it backs it up.

Quote:

And if it is a choice between two things I like equally, how is the choice made? Is it a coin toss?
Did you toss a coin? If not, then no. Do you really like two things equally? How do you measure that? Just because the choice is hard and the criteria are nebulous doesn't mean the choice is random. Maybe you can't put it into words, but you probably liked one (in that moment) better than the other, for some ineffable reason.

Quote:
I'm not seeing free will as being anything more than randomly choosing. Which may be all there is to it, but sure isn't anything like what I expected to find. Disappointing, really.
Maybe freewill is easier to see in more important choices. Did you randomly choose your career? Your home? Your beliefs?

Choices made by rational criteria are not random. Nor are they determined by physiology. Reason isn't physical. Logic isn't physical. When you make rational, logical choices, your criteria exist on a separate level of reality than the atoms which create the consciousness in which reason is being contemplated. Rationality itself can be a reason for a choice, completely aside from the physical constituency of the organism employing reason. Reason is not physical, and yet it can be a *cause* of action. Your freedom--from your physiology and the Darwinian impulses you've been given by natural selection--lies in your choice to evaluate your options rationally.

This is probably the most overlooked question we must ask ourselves in evaluating the question of freewill: freedom from what? From compulsion? From our impulses? From our evolved tendencies? What do we mean?
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
I would appreciate you demonstrating this!

The [very] short answer is that causality is the will of God made manifest, and if there is a God with a will then it is a free will, and we (of course) share in that.

Maybe at some point I can find references to scholarly works along these lines but this is right in Wosbold's wheelhouse, maybe he'll feel free to chime in.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bringing God into the discussion to settle the issue of whether we have freewill only multiplies the mystery needlessly (since god is infinitely more mysterious and unprovable). If we have freewill, we ought to have direct access to it, since we're talking about a feature of our own being. We shouldn't have to refer to anything outside ourselves, much less outside of this universe. The evidence ought to be right in front of us--and if it's not, then no amount of referring to something else could ever bring it to bear.

How we infer causality might be problematic to explain (e.g. the problem of induction, etc.), but that's an epistemological problem, i.e. the grounds of validity for our judgments of causality, rather than an ontological problem of the existence of causality itself. I'm not sure you'd need a causal explanation of causality any more than you'd need a physical explanation for physics. Physics is itself the explanation for physical processes (at a certain level), just as causality is the explanation for certain facts that appear to have a cause-effect relationship. The reality of causality rests in how well it explains the world, not in how well we can explain it. Every explanation might eventually bottom out as "that's just the way things are," but that doesn't mean that these facts are problematic or that their existence is in doubt (such as the question of freewill). It would just mean that's the way existence *is.* The alternative is that explanation goes on infinitely, necessitating explanations for every explanation, and so on. But this wouldn't necessarily be a problem, either, if the universe is infinitely complex.

Disproving determinism wouldn't mean you've proven freewill. Freewill could still be just as much an illusion as causation. Indeed, the idea that "freewill is an illusion" is founded on the idea that my choices actually causing effects is itself an illusion. Will would just be an epiphenomenon, on that interpretation. If there is no causation, then my will can't cause anything, which is the same as saying I have no will--the impression that it's an effective agent would be an illusion.

In other words, if you get rid of determinism, and everything is random, you haven't answered Fist and Faith's question of whether his choices are entirely random.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
wayfriend wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
Why did I choose the chocolate lava-filled cookie instead of the candy bar cake?

You seek what caused you to make that choice. But assuming a cause locks into a deterministic worldview, and you cannot find free will there. Think instead: I was free to choose the one I preferred; how sweet!
But if I prefer one, it's not really a choice. Whether it's a choice between something I like and something I hate, or something I like and something I like slightly less.
Why is it not a choice just because you prefer one? What good would it be to have freewill if you can't do what you *want?* Choosing what you like doesn't invalidate freewill, it backs it up.
But how do I know I had a choice at all? Can I choose strawberry ice cream over chocolate? One would think so. But I'm not going to. Why would I choose what I know I will regret having chosen? I won't. I'm not wired to do that kind of thing. Not even to prove that I can.

Zarathustra wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
And if it is a choice between two things I like equally, how is the choice made? Is it a coin toss?
Did you toss a coin? If not, then no. Do you really like two things equally? How do you measure that? Just because the choice is hard and the criteria are nebulous doesn't mean the choice is random. Maybe you can't put it into words, but you probably liked one (in that moment) better than the other, for some ineffable reason.
Exactly my point. If the choice is made because of many variables, which, when plugged into the decision-making calculator, come up with the answer, then it's cause & effect. Not free will.
-Chocolate is a 10
-Salted Caramel gets a 9
-Desire for either flavor is proportional to the time since I last had it
-Pie gets a 10
-Crisp cookies get a 2
-Soft, chewy cookies get a 7

Let's try some:
-Chocolate pie vs crisp salted caramel cookies.
-Soft chewy salted caramel cookies when I haven't had caramel in weeks vs chocolate pie just like the one I had yesterday

You can tell me which I will "choose". It's obvious. So how do I call it free will? Many more variables in actual situations. Is either fresh out of the oven? Do I do better with one or the other when I'm full? Did I see a commercial earlier in the day that put me in the mood for one or the other? Too many to name. But the algorithm takes all the input, and spits out the answer.

And in situations where there is no calculable winner? (Because maybe all things are not calculable?) How did I choose? Was it a (metaphorical) coin toss? What else could it be but random choosing? Which is a meaningless choice. Free will is meaningless.



Zarathustra wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
I'm not seeing free will as being anything more than randomly choosing. Which may be all there is to it, but sure isn't anything like what I expected to find. Disappointing, really.
Maybe freewill is easier to see in more important choices. Did you randomly choose your career? Your home? Your beliefs?
My beliefs - my unbelief - is part of my wiring. My home is what we could afford in the general area we wanted to be (because of where my children live). My career is the best I could do with the least effort. I am almost entirely without ambition. Honestly, I wish I had some. Alas.


Zarathustra wrote:
Choices made by rational criteria are not random. Nor are they determined by physiology. Reason isn't physical. Logic isn't physical. When you make rational, logical choices, your criteria exist on a separate level of reality than the atoms which create the consciousness in which reason is being contemplated. Rationality itself can be a reason for a choice, completely aside from the physical constituency of the organism employing reason. Reason is not physical, and yet it can be a *cause* of action. Your freedom--from your physiology and the Darwinian impulses you've been given by natural selection--lies in your choice to evaluate your options rationally.

This is probably the most overlooked question we must ask ourselves in evaluating the question of freewill: freedom from what? From compulsion? From our impulses? From our evolved tendencies? What do we mean?
This is the crux of the matter. The penultimate sentence of my op.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FYI, the Contingency Argument shows that God logically follows from causality. It is not an "extra" that is brought in, as the response above dismissively but ignorantly states. [link]
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A favorite motto of mine states "If you can't tell the difference what difference does it make?"

If you believe you have free will you do.

Whether that is actually the case or not is irrelevant since you can't tell the difference.

Every action and decision you take and make may be preordained but you have no way of knowing because you would perceive it exactly as if it were free will.

It is of course interesting to talk about it but in the end it doesn't matter.

Nuff said.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may be right, Tom. But you may be wrong. I'm hoping to explore it here, and see if we can figure anything out. (Despite the fact that nobody else in the last X thousand years has been able to.). That's why I put it here instead of the Close. I'm not looking at it as an unanswerable riddle, koan, paradox, or whatever. I'm hoping for any sort of understanding of any aspect of it.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tend to agree with that more than I don't, aTOMiC, but then again, every legal system in the world is predicated on the existence of free will, so there are reasons why it matters from time to time.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
I tend to agree with that more than I don't, aTOMiC, but then again, every legal system in the world is predicated on the existence of free will, so there are reasons why it matters from time to time.



Oh, I think free will matters.

Imagine living as a prisoner and you get why free will is important.

Its the opposing notions of personal free will and predestination that I'm describing. There is simply no way to personally perceive the difference between the two unless you have a verifiable frame of reference to make a comparison and there is none.

Unless of course one of you Watchers are in fact the Supreme Puppet Master of the Universe in which case you are holding out on the rest of us.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
You may be right, Tom. But you may be wrong.


I have absolutely no problem with this statement.

I also have no problem with discussing the subject.
Which, by the way, is fascinating.

I just happen to believe that humans are simply not equipped to discover this kind of truth because is begs to be viewed from an outside point of view.

Kind of like the change in perception one has when viewing the Earth from orbit. There are truths that can only be appreciated from that vantage.

In the end I believe that you cannot prove that you don't have free will as we all seem to make hundreds of choices a day. If there is more to it I am happy to accept it since I appear to have been accepting of it from birth.

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If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
If the choice is made because of many variables, which, when plugged into the decision-making calculator, come up with the answer, then it's cause & effect. Not free will.
Maybe you're right for things like food (though I don't really think so). Let's move away from our biological urges to higher functions, such as reason and ethics. The problem for freewill isn't cause and effect, but instead the nature of the causes for our actions. We don't need to escape cause and effect altogether to be free, we just need to be able to choose our own causes, causes that are not already given to us by our biology.

When the decision-making calculator is dealing with variables that are not physical qualities (e.g. the taste and texture of food, varieties which evolution has "programmed" us to prefer) but instead are things like rational reasons, then the cause & effect chain is no longer reducible to properties of matter. Why is this important? Because of the question I asked above: freedom from what? If we accept that we are biological creatures produced by evolution, the answer to this question is: freedom from biological urges and psychological dispositions that are "programmed" into our genes through a process of natural selection. If we can escape that heritage, then we are free from the physical determinism of materialistic reductionism. The laws of science would no longer determine our behavior. When we move into the realm of rational criteria for our choices, we're talking about set of mathematical and/or logical criteria--abstract formals systems, not the physical laws of nature.

This makes all the difference, because it means you are no longer making choices by the urging of psychological attitudes or physiological urges. When you make your choice dependent upon the outcome of a logical process, you do not know which option you'll choose. It can't be predicted based on who you are (physically or psychologically), but instead based on the formal properties of the way reason/logic works. It doesn't matter what your psychological attitude is regarding the outcome. In fact, your attitude might run counter to the outcome (e.g. when we change our minds on deeply held personal beliefs due to encountering a good counter-argument).

And we can choose to follow reason or not (so that even the decision to be led by reason is a choice). Humans are clearly irrational, emotional creatures. It is not a Darwinian imperative to follow reason ... especially logical systems that were not invented until well after we evolved into this form. It takes an effort to move away from our natural tendencies and submit our choice to a logical outcome. When we do choose to follow reason, we're not doing so based on who we are--except only in so far as we are the type of beings who can recognize the validity of reason itself.

Thus, the cause of our choice lies in something abstract and nonphysical. This is why the emergence of reasoning, rational creatures in the history of this planet is a problem for evolution to explain (e.g. "how does natural selection favor beings who can understand things that are in no way part of their environment?"). But it's also evidence of us having a will that is not constrained by biology.

While we do at times operate on "autopilot" and even random choice, we can also take control and rise above both determinism and chaos. We can be authentic, willful, mindful, self-reflective beings.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aTOMiC wrote:
Its the opposing notions of personal free will and predestination that I'm describing. There is simply no way to personally perceive the difference between the two unless you have a verifiable frame of reference to make a comparison and there is none.

Actually, your post has put me in mind of a solution to FnF's original issue.

Fist and Faith wrote:
But I couldn't just declare "Yes, there is free will!", and pretend any victory. I couldn't even fool myself into thinking I was on sure ground. I needed to understand what I was talking about. I needed specifics. So I tried to figure out exactly where free will could be found.

I submit to you, Fist, that you imagine yourself as the prosecutor in a murder trial. The defendant claims he killed a man, but he had no choice, it was all predetermined, and therefore he should not be charged with any crime.

I should hope that you would not agree with that defense. But can you articulate why? Perhaps there're legal reasons for denying a "determinism defense", but that's not the point ... imagine you had to argue the case as a philosopher, not as a lawyer.

I think that, if you undertake such a mental exercise, you would reverse a lot of your reversal (if you will). You would come to get a sense as to how free will still matters in a deterministic world - what it implies, and what it doesn't imply. For instance, that making a choice is still making a choice, even when deterministic forces are at play.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aTOMiC wrote:
Its the opposing notions of personal free will and predestination that I'm describing. There is simply no way to personally perceive the difference between the two unless you have a verifiable frame of reference to make a comparison and there is none.
Predestination isn't the only alternative or counter argument to freewill. Robots don't have freewill, but neither is their programming necessarily a case of predestination (not unless our programming robots in just this way was predestined--an unnecessary consideration in terms of proving this point).

We're considering things like which dessert to eat. If there is a God, I don't think he really cares which dessert we have, enough to have decided this question for us before we even existed. Predestination might be of interest to people discussing religion, but nothing in the OP makes religion or god part of this discussion. While freewill does arise as a problematic issue when confronting the paradoxical nature of the god concept--i.e. his alleged omniscience--this is only a problem because we have already assumed freewill to exist in the first place, and God's alleged omniscience would seem to undermine this assumption. It's an entirely different problem to explain freewill in that context, one that entirely disappears if you happen to start from the point that there is no god or omniscience ... which, for the sake of this discussion, we have. In the perspective of this Loresraat thread, the problem of freewill vs predestination is a false problem, a nonissue.

A more serious problem of freewill arises in a separate, scientific context due to the metaphysics underlying naturalistic science: materialistic reductionism. I say this is a more serious problem because we have centuries' worth of evidence that science works, that it reaches into reality in a meaningful/useful/demonstrable way. If we are biological creatures produced purely by the physical laws of science, then how can we possibly have freewill--as we seem to have, upon reflection--if we're just a collection of atoms whose motions are dictated by physical laws? If everything in our mind reduces to things in our brains, then every mental state has a physical explanation in terms of neurons causing actions, rather than decisions and freewill causing actions.

In this case, since we're talking about a scientific theory and not a miracle or the mind of god, we can conceivably answer the question. And if we can answer the question, the question would most certainly make a difference. Your quandary--what difference does it make if we can't tell the difference--would also disappear by showing that it starts from a false premise.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:27 am    Post subject: Re: *sigh* The illusion of free will Reply with quote

Cause and effect doesn't invalidate free will. Free will is what you get when a cause has multiple possible effects and you go with one of them.

You might be predisposed (due to those wants and desires) to make a certain choice. Free will is your ability to over-ride that and make a different one.

You might prefer a certain type of cookie for a whole lot of inter-connected reasons. But you can still have a different one if you want.


wayfriend wrote:
Free will exists in a matrix of cause and effect.


I like that.

--A
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:56 am    Post subject: Re: *sigh* The illusion of free will Reply with quote

My own thread, and I have nothing close to time the last couple days to respond to it! Z, this response to Av contains a lot of my response to you.

Avatar wrote:
Cause and effect doesn't invalidate free will. Free will is what you get when a cause has multiple possible effects and you go with one of them.

You might be predisposed (due to those wants and desires) to make a certain choice. Free will is your ability to over-ride that and make a different one.

You might prefer a certain type of cookie for a whole lot of inter-connected reasons. But you can still have a different one if you want.
Why would you not pick the one you want the most? Why/how do you over-ride the option that the algorithm calculated to be the one you want? Even if you choose rationally, it might be because your hardwiring predisposes you to override your biological urges and psychological dispositions with logic in various types of situations. Why else would you choose against what you really want? People do it all the time, but there is a reason for it. Fear of what someone will say if you choose X instead of Y. A long-term goal that X will help you achieve, but Y won't. Whatever the reason, it is just another part of the equation.

If that's not how it works, if you can choose against the option that the algorithm spits out... Why? How? What is it that's acting against all the forces within you that, when tallied up, chose something else? Is free will nothing more than randomly flipping the switch, and having you choose another option? And it must be random. Even spite or stubbornness are part of your hardwiring, and the reason you acted out of spite or stubbornness went into the equation. Your biological urges say to do X, but your psychological need to prove someone wrong is stronger than your biological urges when making certain types of choices. But even after all that is taken into account, you say free will has you make a different choice?
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