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Just a thought I had about free will

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Just a thought I had about free will
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unkerpauliePosts: 44Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:02 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

devilsadvocate wrote:Tim and Tom are in similar situation, say they're contemplating what kind of wine to bring to a dinner party. Can your proposed system explain why they choose different wines without resorting to any kind of causal (deterministic) factors like their personality*?

*This kind of tracks back to the first question, you could say they chose to develop certain personality in the past, but then again.. how did they come to choose certain personality trait to cultivate instead of another?

Tim is a practical joker, goofball, likes to do things out of the ordinary. He makes a list of all the wines he can find in 20 minutes on google, puts each name in a hat, and then picks 16 out of the hat. He pairs them and makes a "wine league" (league of wines sound better). Using 8 coin flips, one wine of each pair is eliminated. The remaining 8 are paired, and 4 rounds of likes-vs-comments (on 4 facebook statuses) brings him dow to the final 4. 2 rounds of rock-paper-scissors with a friend get him his finalists, and then the winner of the boxing match the weekend before the dinner party determines his choice.

Tom is more calculating and takes the matter more seriously. He compiles a list of the 10 top rated wines from weratewines.com. Then he picks 3 that seems to impress him based on quality, and coincides with what he remembers about the particular taste of the party host, but won't kill his wallet. He requests a sample of each at the local wine shop, and after careful consideration as to taste, flavor, age and history, he picks a very classy bottle that he particularly enjoyed. The bottle also reminds him of the one he had on the first date with his deceased wife.

There is at least an infinite number of ways a bottle of wine can be chosen. And either of them could have also said "fuck this" and choose none. But the process is by no means random. And neither men are compelled by their environment or background to apply their selection method. The argument that either randomness or predictable determinism is at work here simply cannot be supported. My argument doesn't logically lead to the conclusion that free-will is at work. The evidence for free-will is what I'm going by
Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:24 am
CommonEnlightenmentUser avatarPosts: 649Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:06 amLocation: Plato Crater Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

Hrm........

Has anyone taken the time to look at some of the "two stage" models presented by the likes of Popper, Poincare, Dennet, and the likes? Can one effectively separate the Free from the Will? Or is it better to talk about Free-Will as opposed to Free Will. Perhaps a little analogy to Space-Time would be applicable for certain circumstances? Or perhaps a better analogy could be a nature vs. nurture type of scenario? I don't know, just tossing some ideas to the wind.

Just thought I would add a little something to perhaps spark an idea.

How does one catch a Drosophila, again?
There is still light in the 'Earthly' darkness. Finding light in the darkness can be more satisfying than merely seeing the glaring light of our sun. It gives us a better understanding of light and a deeper understanding of our universe.
Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:54 am
)O( Hytegia )O(League LegendUser avatarPosts: 3135Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:27 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

I'm going to add onto here that I, myself, just had a LIGHTBULB moment about Free Will -

Recently out of boredom I began doing many alternative hobbies than my usual adrenaline-junkie routines (surfing/cliff diving/parkour) to persue more technique-based disciplines - in this case, Fencing and Performence Magic.

It was during one of my little side shows in Ala Moana Beach that I made a remark that turned out to be more for me than for the couple of people that I was talking to:
"If you'd ask any magician, they'd tell you that there's no such thing as free will."

This, of course, was when I continued my trick.

But, I developed the thought further.

If one were to ask any Magician if free will exists, they'd chuckle. When you're offered a choice by the magician to pick a card or to make a decision, it's arbitrary. It doesn't matter what your choice was, it's all part of that greater illusion. The Magician already knows the outcome of your choice, regardless of what you've chosen.
The fact that you made a choice is just a guise to fool you and those watching into actually thinking that your decision mattered.

Free Will is just an illusion like the rest of the trick.
Some would insinuate that being drunk at 9 in the morning to be signs of serious issues.
Me? I'd insinuate it as signs of no plans and a refrigerator full of Whiskey and Guinness.
Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:12 pm
Master_Ghost_KnightContributorUser avatarPosts: 2750Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:57 pmLocation: Netherlands Gender: Male

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

I think I figured out your problem. You are a making implicitly dualistic arguments and mixing them up with non-dualistic ones.
Let us analyze your discourse.
unkerpaulie wrote:Why would what I want matter?

The implication with this rhetorical question is that it doesn't.
For this to be the case there must exist a "want" outside the physical matter. This "want" could neither be influenced or influence physical reality.

unkerpaulie wrote:We are creating a circular pattern here. You are saying that our "desires" are part of the input and programming, yet in a deterministic model, desires as we understand them do not exist, and just serve to deepen the illusion. Therefore, it wouldn't matter what we desire.

How could it not? You "wants and desires" are brain states that you hold in your head, and those brain states will influence how you move.
As I have stated before "wants and desires" are just another link in the causal chain. You imply (in order to make your conclusion) that there could be "wants and desires" with no physical consequences as if they were separate from physical reality. But you started off with something different.
Just because desires as you understand them do not exist, it doesn't mean that desires don't exist, you still want what you want, you just don't choose what you want.

unkerpaulie wrote:But if that's the case, then we might end up adopting a fatalism attitude, which will get us results we don't want, even though in a deterministic model there is no such thing as want, and fatalism would be an inevitable result of programming and input, if such were the case anyway. So if we want good results (which we can't), the steps we take towards achieving those results are only predictable outputs of input and programming, which would be the case if we didn't want good results, or didn't care either way.

No. A scenario in which you want something is different from a scenario in which you don't want something. Ultimately you may not chose the scenario you will end up in, but it does make a difference in which one you are. The only way your argument could make sense is if the "want" was not a part of the scenario. You seem to laboring under the notion that you are just an outside observer stuck in the perspective of some naked ape instead of acknowledging that you are not a separate entity from that naked ape, you are the naked ape!

unkerpaulie wrote:Doesn't determinism operate under the assumption that the future is determined (hence the name), and that we are conscious but passive observers that do not take part in the action?

The future is determined, but you are not a passive observer. This again is dualistic, that there could be such a thing as a "self" observing reality outside of it.

unkerpaulie wrote:The determinist argues that in a situation where x is chosen instead of y, y could not have been chosen if the exact situation could be replayed (an argument they are fully aware can never be supported).

Actually we can support it, when I invoked the laws of physics and pointed out that we are a physical thing, I have already established this as a consequence.

unkerpaulie wrote:This argument could be extended to one where, if event z happened, such an event was inevitable, not based on the person's choices (which don't exist), but because the chain of causes and effects that led up to that event could never be different if the entire chain were to be replayed. If in hindsight the determinist can make such a statement (and in the deterministic model he would be correct) then the fatalist, by the same token, could argue that the event that will happen at any given time in the future will follow an unchangeable chain of events to an inevitable outcome. And in the determinst model he would also be correct. The only difference is that the determinist makes the exact same argument in hindsight that the fatalist makes in foresight. Whatever event z happens to be, if it was meant to be and inevitable, then it will be meant to be and inevitable. How could it be any other way?

There is just one problem; you can never know what is going to happen to you in foresight, this is impossible.
Imagine that you predict that you are going to die run over by a car once you get out of the house, but because you don't want to die you don't get out your house and so you won't die. Did you then really predicted your future? The answer is no because the prediction does not match reality. But why did it fail? Ultimately because whatever method you used to predict it failed to account for every actor that influences the events that lead into the future, namely yourself trying to predict the future.
Let us imagine another scenario where there is a computer that runs the laws of physics in a particular section of space in order to predict the future events of that region of space. In theory if this computer was running on a parallel universe or in a sufficiently distant place as to be causally disconnected from the region of space it is analyzing, and if it was either more complex than the region of space being simulated or its time run faster than the time of the region of space it is trying to predict, there wouldn't be any problem for this computer to predict the future of that region in space. But the moment this computer interacts with the region of space of whose future it is trying to predict it stops being able to predict the future. Because to successfully be able to predict the future it must account for every actors, but now sense the computer interacted with what it is trying to predict it must now account for himself. This is a problem because no machine can simulate a machine as complex as it self faster than itself runs (this is a computational limit), so it could never simulate an event faster than the actual physical event (therefore no prediction could be made before the event happens). If this wasn't enough it must simulate himself which in turn is simulating himself, and eventually it will have to simulate himself simulating himself simulating himself simulating himself"¦"¦ and so on. For this cycle to ever end it must know the outcome before it knows the outcome.
Q.E.D. Nothing could ever know exactly its own future.
The only way you could know exactly something in foresight is if you are causally disconnected from what you have predicted, this means that in your argument you implicitly assumed that your mind cannot be part of physical reality (i.e. dualist).
Your concept of determinism is mangled with fatalism, (i.e. that there is a fate much like astrology that you can contemplate and despise, but the reality conspires by one way or another to materialize that fate even if you have taken action for such not to happen). This is not the view of determinism that I defending.

Even in a dualistic world view, by what laws of physics is it governed so as to grant you choice that is neither random or deterministic?

unkerpaulie wrote:There is at least an infinite number of ways a bottle of wine can be chosen. And either of them could have also said "fuck this" and choose none. But the process is by no means random. And neither men are compelled by their environment or background to apply their selection method.

First you recognize that neither of the choice methods are by no mean random, that the outcome in both are determined. On the very next sentence you say that they were not compelled to apply either method. But to "apply a method of choice" is a choice in itself qualitatively no different than the deterministic wine choice. This is like being on M. C. Escher staircase, you are not really going anywhere, and you never will.
"I have an irrefutable argument for the existence of...." NO, STOP! You are already wrong!
Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:19 pm
unkerpauliePosts: 44Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:02 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

Master_Ghost_Knight wrote:How could it not? You "wants and desires" are brain states that you hold in your head, and those brain states will influence how you move.
As I have stated before "wants and desires" are just another link in the causal chain. You imply (in order to make your conclusion) that there could be "wants and desires" with no physical consequences as if they were separate from physical reality. But you started off with something different.
Just because desires as you understand them do not exist, it doesn't mean that desires don't exist, you still want what you want, you just don't choose what you want.

The term is a bit confusing. One cannot want something in the "classical" sense, a want can occur. You can find yourself wanting something, but you cannot want it, if that makes any sense. If a want is something that results as simply another predictable output, then suggesting that somebody should want something makes no sense, along with all suggestions. In a deterministic universe, wants and desires are also illusions, and we cannot control their occurence. So it wouldn't matter what you "want" in the classical sense.

No. A scenario in which you want something is different from a scenario in which you don't want something. Ultimately you may not chose the scenario you will end up in, but it does make a difference in which one you are. The only way your argument could make sense is if the "want" was not a part of the scenario. You seem to laboring under the notion that you are just an outside observer stuck in the perspective of some naked ape instead of acknowledging that you are not a separate entity from that naked ape, you are the naked ape!

But, as I said above, you cannot want (the active verb) something, the thing you think is your desire is nothing more than a piece of output spit out from the software. You don't do any wanting or desring, the wants and desires appear in your mind without your approval or effort. You do nothing excpet act as a physical conduit for the inevitable and predictable outputs of the software. You, oh naked ape, have no say in the matter, only the input is what makes everything happen.

The future is determined, but you are not a passive observer. This again is dualistic, that there could be such a thing as a "self" observing reality outside of it.

You are passively observing yourself go through the motions of acting under the impulses of software output. You do not control anything. You are the puppet observing and feeling the effects being moved around by strings coming from a software program that he is, yet cannot control.

There is just one problem; you can never know what is going to happen to you in foresight, this is impossible.

Your concept of determinism is mangled with fatalism, (i.e. that there is a fate much like astrology that you can contemplate and despise, but the reality conspires by one way or another to materialize that fate even if you have taken action for such not to happen). This is not the view of determinism that I defending.

I'm not saying that one can predict the future. Only a supercomputer that can capture all the data in the world and simulate the reactions of everybody in the same way their predictable programmed brains do can possibly predict exactly what will happen at any given time (and under a deterministic framework this should be possible). But that wasn't my point. I'm not saying that the fatalist can predict the future. I'm saying that in a deterministic framework, any given event would have been the inevitable outcome of inputs we neither control nor detect, and are caused by actions we cannot control, even if those actions are our own. If what you ate for lunch yesterday was an inevitable deterined outcome, and what you ate for lunch the day before that was an inevitable determined outcome, then what you will eat for lunch next Tuesday will be an inevitable determined outcome. Do you disagree?

First you recognize that neither of the choice methods are by no mean random, that the outcome in both are determined. On the very next sentence you say that they were not compelled to apply either method. But to "apply a method of choice" is a choice in itself qualitatively no different than the deterministic wine choice. This is like being on M. C. Escher staircase, you are not really going anywhere, and you never will.

I never said that because the choices are not random that implies they are determined. You are the one with the dualistic worldview. There are dozens of wines to choose from, and endless methods to go about choosing them. I do not see how either the bottle choice, or the method of choosing, implies determinism.
Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:05 am
Master_Ghost_KnightContributorUser avatarPosts: 2750Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:57 pmLocation: Netherlands Gender: Male

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

unkerpaulie wrote:In a deterministic universe, wants and desires are also illusions, and we cannot control their occurence. So it wouldn't matter what you "want" in the classical sense.

In theory it is possible to shove electrodes into your brain and change your wants, they are no more illusions than sight. Your sight maybe subject to illusions, but you are definitively experiencing sight, likewise you are definitively experiencing wants. No choosing your wants is a different matter.
And for "classical wants" not to matter, there must first exist such a thing as "classical want" for it not to matter. And I'm afraid that there are no such things as a "classical wants". However my form of want (brain state) does exist and does matter (in the sense that it makes a difference).
We must also not forget when you analyze from a deterministic perspective what things like "want" and "matter" mean. And with let's rephrase your sentence so you can understand what I see.
"In a deterministic universe, brain states are also illusions, and we cannot control their occurence. So it wouldn't make a difference what your brains states are in the classical sense."

"In a deterministic universe, brain states are also illusions, and we cannot control their occurence. So all else being equal the outcome will be the same no matter your brains states are in the classical sense."

Can you see why I have a problem with that?

unkerpaulie wrote:You, oh naked ape, have no say in the matter, only the input is what makes everything happen.

This assumes that there is a you separate from yourself to have a different say than yourself.
If instead what you mean with "have no say in the matter" is just another way of saying that you don't have free-will, then I would agree, but it would also be redundant and I hardly think this is the point you were trying to make.
unkerpaulie wrote:You are passively observing yourself go through the motions of acting under the impulses of software output.

What do you mean by "passively"?
Does it mean that you do not act upon your observations as opposed to an active observer? That the action "you take" is not really you and you cannot hope but observe yourself doing the things you do as if it was some kind of movie?
If either then No. No such self exists.
The outcome is determined, but you are in no way passive.

unkerpaulie wrote:You do not control anything. You are the puppet observing and feeling the effects being moved around by strings coming from a software program that he is, yet cannot control.

What does control mean in a deterministic world?
What does observe mean?
What does "being moved around like a puppet" mean?
Answering things like this are important to understand your objections, and your objections simply do not apply.

unkerpaulie wrote:I'm not saying that the fatalist can predict the future. I'm saying that in a deterministic framework, any given event would have been the inevitable outcome of inputs we neither control nor detect, and are caused by actions we cannot control, even if those actions are our own. If what you ate for lunch yesterday was an inevitable deterined outcome, and what you ate for lunch the day before that was an inevitable determined outcome, then what you will eat for lunch next Tuesday will be an inevitable determined outcome. Do you disagree?

But predicting the future is what you would need for a fatalist to contemplate his inevitable faith in foresight.
People have wants (brain states about outcomes that they want to materialize), even though our actions do not necessarily result in the outcomes we desire we do know that certain actions causes a chain of events that more often than not materialize our desires, and we will chose those outcomes. From the moment before you think to the moment your desired outcome materializes there is an uninterruptable causal link, the environment pressures you, those pressures are translated into brain states, those brain states are processed and trigger actions, those actions will trigger other actions that will materialize your desires. The outcome was already established before you played any part, but you are not passive, you did played a part. Everything else being equal, had you not been under environment pressures certain brain states would not have formed, had those brain states not formed you couldn't process them, had you not process them you would not translated into actions and the outcome would have been different.
You could object by saying, "But if it is determined anyway, couldn't someone adopt a fatalistic position anyways?" Well yes, but this isn't an objection about determinism. Just because you adopt a fatalistic attitude in no way shape or form disproves that the world is deterministic.
I have also tried to argue that:
1. Most people wouldn't adopt a fatalistic position
2. You shouldn't adopt a fatalistic position
But this is only for the sake of people's sanity; if I fail to convince you of that it wouldn't disprove determinism.

unkerpaulie wrote:I never said that because the choices are not random that implies they are determined. You are the one with the dualistic worldview. There are dozens of wines to choose from, and endless methods to go about choosing them. I do not see how either the bottle choice, or the method of choosing, implies determinism.

But they are determined either you realize it or not.
On the first case the 20 wines that you find on Google is a function of other peoples preferences and what they have put on the internet, the order in which you put the names in the hat is determined by the hits on Google, the position of the wine names in the hat is determined by mass and geometry of the pieces of paper you used (which itself is a function of the paper you had at your disposal) and the forces involved in the mixing of the paper that are determined by your biological condition, the sorting from the hat is a function of the position of the pieces of paper and the position of your hand as you dip for the hat (which is determined by your biology), the wine league is dependent of what was sorted from the hat, the coin flips are determined by the mass and inertia momentum of the coin as well as the force you use to flip them (the laws of physics takes care of the rest), the result of the comments-vs-likes is determined by the preferences of the friends you have and the friends that your friends have, the result of rock paper scissors is dependent on object each was thinking at the time they were taking the shots and finally the boxing match was determined by the physical fitness of the competitors.
I can do the same for the other case but I will skip it. The point is, it is a very complex process that in our limitation we can hardly grasp the chain of causal events, but they are all there and they are by no means random.
If you are to object that there could be certain randomness in the event, then that is not a case for free-will either. It may be a case against determinism, but you still have to establish a free-will agent, and you cannot choose the outcome of a random event. Even if you could chose, how did you made that choice, was it determined or was it random? This is a merry-go-round.
There just doesn't exist a working concept of free-will, free-will is just an illusion, it has absolutely no meaning.
"I have an irrefutable argument for the existence of...." NO, STOP! You are already wrong!
Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:44 pm
unkerpauliePosts: 44Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:02 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

I think at this point we've established the cyclic nature of this discussion and there's rea;ly nowhere else to go. To you, free-will makes no sense because you can only see all the evidence for free-will as an illusion. Yet you acknowledge that the deception must continue. I see free-will as the real mechanism and conclude that the believing in the existence of something in the face of contradicting evidence and with no supporting empirical evidence is akin to a leap of faith I'd rather not take. And for all intents and purposes, even if somehow I were to be convinced that determinism is the mechanism by which our actions are controlled, I'd still have to act as if we have free-will (paraphasing you) which would make this entire exercise pointless anyway. So feel free to keep your idea about the theory that causes us to do what we do, I'll keep mine. But it was a cool discussion anyway.
Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:42 am
CosmicJoghurtPodcasterUser avatarPosts: 809Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:59 pm Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

unkerpaulie wrote:I think at this point we've established the cyclic nature of this discussion and there's rea;ly nowhere else to go. To you, free-will makes no sense because you can only see all the evidence for free-will as an illusion. Yet you acknowledge that the deception must continue. I see free-will as the real mechanism and conclude that the believing in the existence of something in the face of contradicting evidence and with no supporting empirical evidence is akin to a leap of faith I'd rather not take. And for all intents and purposes, even if somehow I were to be convinced that determinism is the mechanism by which our actions are controlled, I'd still have to act as if we have free-will (paraphasing you) which would make this entire exercise pointless anyway. So feel free to keep your idea about the theory that causes us to do what we do, I'll keep mine. But it was a cool discussion anyway.



No it wouldn't. What's the problem of discovering things just for the sake of knowing more about the universe? Even if it has no implications in the way we'll live afterwards, I'm interested in knowing stuff just for the sake of knowing stuff. If you don't share this principle, it's alright, but that doesn't make the discussion "pointless".
Perception of reality results in interpretation of reality which results in a deformation of reality.
Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:51 pm
unkerpauliePosts: 44Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:02 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

CosmicJoghurt wrote:No it wouldn't. What's the problem of discovering things just for the sake of knowing more about the universe? Even if it has no implications in the way we'll live afterwards, I'm interested in knowing stuff just for the sake of knowing stuff. If you don't share this principle, it's alright, but that doesn't make the discussion "pointless".

I didn't say that the discussion was pointless. MasterGhostKnight and I as well as everybody else had a very civil and well presented debate that in many ways benefited all of us. I'm not saying that I don't accept determinism because there's no point in learning truth just for learning sake. I don't accept determinism because I have not seen any convincing argument that supports its validity. The arguments amount to the idea that if everything is a cause and effect chain, and the human brain should not be treated as a special case that violates this law. Yet the argument itself provides no actual evidence. In fact, the evidence to the contrary is waved away as "just an illusion", which apparently is also a function of determinism itself. The conclusion is only infered from taking a phenomenon that applies to inanimate physical matter and trying to apply it to the human mind, which, in the argument, is something we admittedly don't understand. I'm not saying that determinism is wrong and I am right, I'm saying that I don't see a basis on which to believe that it is true.
Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:44 pm
Master_Ghost_KnightContributorUser avatarPosts: 2750Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:57 pmLocation: Netherlands Gender: Male

Post Re: Just a thought I had about free will

unkerpaulie wrote:I didn't say that the discussion was pointless. MasterGhostKnight and I as well as everybody else had a very civil and well presented debate that in many ways benefited all of us. I'm not saying that I don't accept determinism because there's no point in learning truth just for learning sake. I don't accept determinism because I have not seen any convincing argument that supports its validity. The arguments amount to the idea that if everything is a cause and effect chain, and the human brain should not be treated as a special case that violates this law. Yet the argument itself provides no actual evidence. In fact, the evidence to the contrary is waved away as "just an illusion", which apparently is also a function of determinism itself. The conclusion is only infered from taking a phenomenon that applies to inanimate physical matter and trying to apply it to the human mind, which, in the argument, is something we admittedly don't understand. I'm not saying that determinism is wrong and I am right, I'm saying that I don't see a basis on which to believe that it is true.


I can totally understand that, nobody said that things wouldn't be counter intuitive, my notion of determinism is not one that is shared buy allot of people. It may make sense to me because I had allot of time to think about it, analyse it, workout the problems and refine it. There are allot of assumptions that people tend to emidiatly take when they hear about determinism (maybe because of historical deterministic positions or misleading experience from reality) that i simply don't make. The problem itself has many nuances, there are details that I haven't mentioned, there might be details that I should have mention that I simply don't know that I should and there are things that I can't even explain to you. Questioning the very nature of the reality we live in will take us to very bizzarre places that our common every day experience mind simple proptests, it was simply not build to grasp that. Perhaps in time after you have tought about it for a long time and familiarize yourself with this concepts maybe your opinions may change. Maybe my opinions may change.
"I have an irrefutable argument for the existence of...." NO, STOP! You are already wrong!
Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:08 am
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