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Determinism, not free will

Started by josephpalazzo, December 09, 2013, 10:02:30 AM

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Solomon Zorn

Who am I? I am an emergent synergy that transcends the inanimate. A functioning super-complexity that has become aware of the rest of the universe. Don't underestimate my significance based on the small amount of matter and energy that I consist of. I may be only a speck of dust, but I have the ability not only to record, but to direct some small changes in the universe. That is one of my defining characteristics. It makes me different from an inanimate object. Although I am shaped by deterministic forces, I try to choose my own path as well: and trying to choose is choosing. The words don't appear on the screen at random. I select from my internal library and make new patterns from old ones. Not just a witness to the conversation, but an active participant.
If God Exists, Why Does He Pretend Not to Exist?
Poetry and Proverbs of the Uneducated Hick


Free ? random.

The entire argument between determinism and free will strikes me as a large excluded-middle fallacy, because it discounts nuanced thought and in particular, judgement.

Many human actions are based upon our judgements of others and those judgements can be wrong. Those judgements can be colored by happenstance events which are themselves not necessarily in the cards.
<insert witty aphorism here>

Insult to Rocks

This argument has always bugged me, as it seems pointless. The concept of free will is no one making choices for you, not that choices are completely independent from stimuli. Yes, the brain is the one that makes the choice, but different brains make different logical conclusions. If your brain makes the decisions, it's still you making the decisions, right?
"We must respect the other fellow\'s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
-- H. L. Mencken

Hakurei Reimu

The incompatibilist debate —which takes it as a postulate that free will and determinism cannot both exist— has never impressed me because nobody has been able to articulate what a 'metaphysically free will' means, how to detect if we have it, nor why having such a thing is desirable. As such, the two sides are quite literally arguing over nothing, and will never produce any conclusion of value.

This is why I am a compatibilist. Until someone can put forward a better definition of free will than 'obeying the law of one's own nature', then I definitely have the only meaningful free will to be had.
Warning: Don't Tease The Miko!
(she bites!)
Spinny Miko Avatar shamelessly ripped off from Iosys' Neko Miko Reimu


Solomon Zorn

Quote from: "Hakurei Reimu"... then I definitely have the only meaningful free will to be had.

Till someone kicks you in the nuts for no apparent reason. Then suddenly their free will becomes meaningful as well. :wink:
If God Exists, Why Does He Pretend Not to Exist?
Poetry and Proverbs of the Uneducated Hick


Quote from: "josephpalazzo"Hakurei Reimu wins this thread.

And his responses determined you to say that from your will power.  :shock:  :lol:  Solitary
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.


Quote from: "Solitary"
Quote from: "josephpalazzo"Hakurei Reimu wins this thread.

And his responses determined you to say that from your will power.  :shock:  :lol:  Solitary

Doesn't matter how you cut it, determinism made me do it.


I guess it helps if you view the brain as a very complex computer, because that's what it fundamentally is. All the neurons operate by transmitting and receiving electrical impulses and the whole system is based on the movement of electric potentials. You are merely an observer, just like a display connected to a computer. You do what the brain says, and the brain is deterministic, because it is made of particles. You do not choose the movement of particles, the motion is based on Newtonian laws and it might have some degree of randomness in it.


I think we have an illusion of free will. Mainly because we only have a limited experience of the inner workings of our brains. We don't think of a neuron firing from introspection, we never experience this. We have a provisional experience of our own brains thinking, the manifested "I".

I've yet to see an internally consistent definition of free will that doesn't violate the way brains work, even with our limited knowledge.

It isn't a far stretch of the imagination that since our brains are physical entities that, as far as we know, follow the same "laws of physics", then we are equally bound by these same laws.

Without making a Fallacy of Composition, I think unless someone demonstrates the ability to exercise free will, as a part and parcel of the brain, then I don't see how we can know either way.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" --- Richard P. Feynman


I think the problem is that we think the thing we call us is an illusion ( A very persistent one, just like reality is, as Einstein pointed out.) and the "we" are consciousness itself with a physical body and brain that make us conscious and deceives us into thinking we are more than just a physical being. As always just my opinion and true, or not.  :shock:  :-k  Solitary
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Solomon Zorn

Subjective evidence is relevant to this topic, because it is a discussion of subjective experience itself.

I think that objective analysis would only describe the calculator, when we are talking about the act of pushing the buttons.

It is intuitively overwhelming to try to deny free-will. For this reason, I believe the calculator-within-me is alerting me that determinism is likely false. So I keep going back to the subjective evidence of a lifetime of making choices, that makes me have to step back and laugh at such an extreme position. Most of the universe is dead, random, inanimate, non-goal-oriented. But something of a higher mathematical order is taking place here. Something necessary for you to argue the point in the first place. That's why I think it must be axiomatic that free will exists.
If God Exists, Why Does He Pretend Not to Exist?
Poetry and Proverbs of the Uneducated Hick


Choice is an illusion. In the exact same circumstances you would make exactly the same choice. It is pre-determined by neuron junctions which you do not control. You can make a "choice" only in the same way that a computer can make a "choice". Neither you, nor the computer has the power to will what you will. You can act on your motives, and that is one of the definitions of freedom (possibly free will as well for some people), but you can not choose you motives. They are pre-determined by your genetics and the environment.


You know, I used to argue all the time in favor of determinism and how free will is an idea that has no sense. I used to until I saw I was wrong. Hell, until I saw that most that discuss this entire topic are wrong.

The reason this entire debate has missed the mark is because since the beginning we have done nothing but mix categories of language. What do I mean? Well, for one we have a very scientific category of language. It is structural, seemingly objective, and unemotional.

The the other side we have a human lens. Which tend to be based on experience, emotions, and life.

So when it comes to the question of determinism and free will, I think this is where we go wrong. Determinism belongs to the physical world. What I mean is it explains the fabric of existence and the continuation of time. Yes, determinism exists. On the grand scheme of things, EVERYTHING is determined. I do not deny that. But let's not take it where it does not have to go.

IF when we speak of free will we mean some sort of mechanical framework that just allows things to happen with no reason, I think we've either lost sight of what free will is or we just never understood it. Free will is not mechanical. It never has been.

Free Will belongs to experience. It does and always has. Our lives, from what we choose to eat, choose to say, and whether we wash or hair or bodies first, ALL OF IT, is experienced as free. It is. You cannot deny this. No determinist, hard as s/he may try, can. We experience every waking moment of our lives as free. That is not to say that all we do is not determined. I am not saying that. I am saying that though determined, our experience of it is free.

The problem we run into then is people saying, "Well, Free Will is an illusion." This is nonsense. How could you call the very lens you live life through an illusion? That makes no sense to me. I understand the desire to say this, but here we mix language and do no justice to the experience of life. What makes us human.

I liken it to the question, "What is love? (Baby, don't hurt me!). If I ask two people this question, imagine these answers.

Person A: Love is when chemical X and Chemical Y are released on give you feeling Z"
Person B: Love is when I saw my baby for the first time. I never knew I could be born again, and I was the moment I had my first kid. Love is those random times I hold hands with my significant other just because. Love is hanging out with my friends and laughing at the stupid things that we laugh about.

Here we have two definitions of love. Person A gave us a mechanical definition of love. Person B gave us an account that was derived through the experience of living and seeing love. Who is correct? Well, I would say they both are. One person gave us how love is created and what it is, the other gave us what we experience as love. Neither is false. One isn't an illusion.

So what I am saying here is we must do justice to what it means to be human. Our lives may be determined, but our experience of what is has always been free.

The movement of my hand may be determined, but I damn well made it move. ;)

Poster formerly known as Sky;Walker.

His life rushes onward in such torrential rhythm that only angels and devils can catch the tempo of it.


Quote from: Biodome on December 10, 2013, 02:55:23 PM
Yes, electron movement is random. However, their random movement in the subatomic world does not correlate with the movement in the macroscopic world (i.e. our thoughts and actions). Saying that "Electron movement is random, therefore, everything is random" is a non sequitur.

The world is deterministic in nature - you are right. We cannot predict what will happen, since there are too many variables. However, that is compatible with free will if it is defined as a lack of external constraints to act on one's own motivation. We cannot choose between different options, since our choice is pre-determined. However, we can make that choice, which makes us free.

Free will as it is defined in the compatibilist view exists and does not interfere with determinism.

I didn't read past this (so likely someone already addressed this) but I wanted to say something, because every time I read this definition of the compatibilist definition, I think how meaningless it is.  It just means exactly the same thing as determinism (which they even partly admit because of the whole "it doesn't interfere with determinism" bit).

Why bother to even have this definition of free will?  It doesn't include any meaningful use of the words choice or free, it only depends o the word will.  I wanted it, therefore it happened, even though it was determined to happen and I didn't have another choice, only the one I made.

It is simply redefining terms very narrowly so you can still maintain a (very flimsy at this point) illusion.  I don't understand the point of it.

"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.  LLAP"
Leonard Nimoy