DBT

Contributor
You say that as if we bend the laws of physics on the basis of will.

No no. The last thing in the world we would ever want is for the laws of physics to be bendable. We need the laws of physics to be 100% reliable so that we can predict where the Moon will be, to assure that our rocket lands on the Moon rather than missing it entirely.

In which case we have the Origination argument;

Origination Argument

1. An agent acts with free will only if she is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
2. If determinism is true, then everything any agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside her control.
3. If everything an agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances beyond her control, then the agent is not the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
4. Therefore, if determinism is true, then no agent is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
5. Therefore, if determinism is true, no agent has free will.

1. No one has power over the facts of the past and the laws of nature.
2. No one has power over the fact that the facts of the past and the laws of nature entail every fact of the future (i.e., determinism is true).
3. Therefore, no one has power over the facts of the future.

Every time we make a choice between any two options, like A and B, we have the ability to choose A and we also have the ability to choose B. That is "the ability to do otherwise". And it shows up whenever a choosing operation appears in the causal chain.

''Determinism does not eliminate the ability to do otherwise. It guarantees that the choosing operation will appear in the causal chain. And with the choosing operation comes the ability to do otherwise, free of charge.''

Determinism is defined by events, including brain activity, being fixed as a matter of natural law. There is no ability to have done otherwise in any given circumstance. If you are able to do what you could not do a moment ago, it's because conditions have changed to enable the action. Not merely enable, but necessitate.

Copernicus

...
Quantum Mechanics in a nutshell consists of two laws: the Schroedinger Equation which says how a system changes when it isn't being measured, and the Born Rule which says how it changes when it is being measured. The Copenhagen Interpretation is an exercise in not taking the Schroedinger Equation seriously. The CI says it's an equation describing our knowledge of a system, or an equation describing our ability to predict consequences of interactions with a system, and is stubbornly agnostic about the system itself. (That's why Bohm spent so much of his career trying to get rid of the CI -- the grand champion of quantum determinism philosophically didn't actually give a hoot about randomness.)

Everett's MWI appears to be the Copenhagen Interpretation's evil twin: on its face it looks like an exercise in not taking the Born Rule seriously. Does Carroll's book explain how MWI would result in a typical observer measuring 96 transmitted photons for every 4 reflected by a glass surface? The vast majority of explanations of MWI simply skip over that question as though it had never occurred to their authors to wonder.

I would urge you not to arrive at a conclusion about Sean Carroll's approach to QM from my description of it, since I am not a physicist. Rather, I would direct you to his own publications on the subject and let you draw your conclusions from the source. The book has received both praises and criticisms from people who know far more than I do on the subject. I found the book a fascinating defense of WMI, and I contained some very helpful simple explanations of competing points of view in the field of physics up to 2019. I brought it up here because of what he had to say about determinism. In any case, it is somewhat beside the point that Marvin has been continually making in his several threads. The concept of free will isn't very useful from the perspective of a closed deterministic universe. Nevertheless, entities that operate within that universe do not have the knowledge of an external omniscient observer, and the lack of that knowledge causes them to operate as if the future were not fully determined. And that is where the "freedom" in "free will" resides. It doesn't matter if a godlike being could only see their choices as fully determined, since they aren't godlike beings.

DBT

Contributor
Origination Argument;

1. An agent acts with free will only if she is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
2. If determinism is true, then everything any agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside her control.
3. If everything an agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances beyond her control, then the agent is not the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
4. Therefore, if determinism is true, then no agent is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
5. Therefore, if determinism is true, no agent has free will.
Item 1 is question-begging. It assumes as true the very thing that is under discussion.

No, it's not begging the question.

1- If determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent, as a matter of choice, why call it determinism?
2- If freedom does not require the possibility of realizable options, that the world proceeds along a determined, singular, course of events, why call it freedom?
3- If 'freedom' does not require a means for the selection an option from set of realizable alternatives, what is freedom?

DBT

Contributor
Our limited perspective is determined by a number of elements. One, the wiring of our brains. We have no means with which to access the means of production of our experience of the world and self. There are no means for us, as conscious entities, to access the underlying activity that brings us into being. What we see, hear, feel, think, decide or do is being produced by neural networks that are beyond our perception or control.

Correct. The model, that our brain gives us of ourselves, does not include any perception of what the individual neurons are doing. For example, we do not know when Neuron number 173452 fires and which combination of neurons firing will finally trigger Neuron number 9327488 to unload its charge upon Neuron number 3581334.

Why do you suppose this information is not included in the model? Because to have information about a single neuron would require a thousand additional neurons. And we could not fit our heads through any doorway.

So, the model is a symbolic representation of reality. Rather than seeing the individual atoms in the ball and the bat, we see just two objects, the "ball", and, the "bat". And we learn to "swing" the "bat" to "hit" the "ball" and then to "run" the "bases". And, rather than tracking the individual neurons in our brains, we experience "our" "selves" "performing" "certain" "activities", such as "walking" and "thinking".

Oh, and of course, "freely" "choosing" for "our" "selves" "what" "we" "will" "do" "next". And this activity is called "free will", which is short for a freely chosen will.

We are whatever the brain is currently doing.

Exactly. "We" are whatever the brain is currently doing, including when the brain is freely choosing what it will do next.

Calling this 'free will' is a misnomer.

Calling it "free will" is a short summation of "choosing for ourselves what we will do while free of coercion and undue influence". It is a summary of an empirical event that we perceive through the model. A "coerced will" is a short summary of an empirical event where our choice is imposed upon us against our will by the threat of harm. An "unduly influenced will" is a short summary for any event in which our choice is controlled by someone or something other than our own rational selves.

Except we are not actually choosing for ourselves. Decision making is a process that's being shaped by multiple elements, neural architecture, environment, inputs, etc, etc......which result in a necessitated, inevitable course of action. An action not brought about through will or conscious choice, but the world unfolding deterministically. What we do is shaped and constrained by elements beyond our control;

Pereboom's argument against compatibilism:

• (1) If one agent's decision is manipulated by another agent, then that first agent's action is not freely willed.​
• (2) There is no difference between a manipulation by another agent and causation by a causal factor external to the agent.
• (3) On determinism, all of an agent's actions are determined (causally influenced) by at least some factors beyond that agent's control.
• (4) Therefore, on determinism, no agent can be said to freely will their actions (or be morally responsible for them). (from 1, 2 and 3)

DBT

Contributor
More on the problems with compatibilism and the free will illusion; Quote;

PHILOSOPHICAL COMPATIBILISM IN A NUTSHELL

''As I said, philosophical compatibilists agree that someone could not have, of their own accord, done otherwise, but they don’t define free will in this way. Compatibilist can define free will in a number of different ways, but they all have one thing in common – they are defined in a way that is compatible with the natural universe.

For example, a compatibilist definition might be as simple as defining free will as the “ability to make decisions or choices” or “the ability to deliberate”.

Daniel Dennett calls free will “the power to be active agents, biological devices that respond to our environment with rational, desirable courses of action”. Roy Baumeister similarly calls “the ability to be aware of alternates and make the choice that is best for you evolutionarily” as free will. Most compatibilists have similar semantics or impressions about the term “free will”, basically concluding that certain “decision-making” abilities should be labeled “free will”

They might even suggest that we should move away from those incoherent definitions of free will and into those more coherent ones. Definitions that Dennett calls a “free will worth wanting“.

The AntiChris

Senior Member
Origination Argument;

1. An agent acts with free will only if she is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
2. If determinism is true, then everything any agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside her control.
3. If everything an agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances beyond her control, then the agent is not the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
4. Therefore, if determinism is true, then no agent is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
5. Therefore, if determinism is true, no agent has free will.
Item 1 is question-begging. It assumes as true the very thing that is under discussion.

No, it's not begging the question.

1- If determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent, as a matter of choice, why call it determinism?
I don't understand your response (it doesn't appear to address my criticism).

Marvin has not suggested (or implied) that "determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent".

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
When you make a measurement of any kind you are always measuring the system comprised of the measurement apparatus and what is being measured. Measure a battery voltage with a digital meter and the measured voltage is not exactly the same as the actual open circuit voltage across the battery.

Put a thermometer in a cup of water and you measure water, cup, and thermometer. Put a glass thermometer in a small cup of water and the water temperature changes. The water tends to bring the thermometer and water into thermal equilibrium. With a cup the error can be high.

Put a glass thermometer in the ocean where the mass of the thermometer is much less than the ocean the local temperature of the water does not change significantly.

The problem with quantum scale measurements is the relative energy and mass of measurement and measured. Using a particle to measure a particle

Any measurement involves a transfer of energy. When measuring a battery voltage some of the energy however small from the battery is lost in the meter. The minimum energy is the quanta.

An old question, does an electron really exist or is it a manifestation of the system, measurement plus what is measured?

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Our limited perspective is determined by a number of elements. One, the wiring of our brains. We have no means with which to access the means of production of our experience of the world and self. There are no means for us, as conscious entities, to access the underlying activity that brings us into being. What we see, hear, feel, think, decide or do is being produced by neural networks that are beyond our perception or control.

Correct. The model, that our brain gives us of ourselves, does not include any perception of what the individual neurons are doing. For example, we do not know when Neuron number 173452 fires and which combination of neurons firing will finally trigger Neuron number 9327488 to unload its charge upon Neuron number 3581334.

Why do you suppose this information is not included in the model? Because to have information about a single neuron would require a thousand additional neurons. And we could not fit our heads through any doorway.

So, the model is a symbolic representation of reality. Rather than seeing the individual atoms in the ball and the bat, we see just two objects, the "ball", and, the "bat". And we learn to "swing" the "bat" to "hit" the "ball" and then to "run" the "bases". And, rather than tracking the individual neurons in our brains, we experience "our" "selves" "performing" "certain" "activities", such as "walking" and "thinking".

Oh, and of course, "freely" "choosing" for "our" "selves" "what" "we" "will" "do" "next". And this activity is called "free will", which is short for a freely chosen will.

We are whatever the brain is currently doing.

Exactly. "We" are whatever the brain is currently doing, including when the brain is freely choosing what it will do next.

Calling this 'free will' is a misnomer.

Calling it "free will" is a short summation of "choosing for ourselves what we will do while free of coercion and undue influence". It is a summary of an empirical event that we perceive through the model. A "coerced will" is a short summary of an empirical event where our choice is imposed upon us against our will by the threat of harm. An "unduly influenced will" is a short summary for any event in which our choice is controlled by someone or something other than our own rational selves.

Except we are not actually choosing for ourselves. Decision making is a process that's being shaped by multiple elements, neural architecture, environment, inputs, etc, etc......which result in a necessitated, inevitable course of action. An action not brought about through will or conscious choice, but the world unfolding deterministically. What we do is shaped and constrained by elements beyond our control;

Pereboom's argument against compatibilism:

• (1) If one agent's decision is manipulated by another agent, then that first agent's action is not freely willed.​
• (2) There is no difference between a manipulation by another agent and causation by a causal factor external to the agent.
• (3) On determinism, all of an agent's actions are determined (causally influenced) by at least some factors beyond that agent's control.
• (4) Therefore, on determinism, no agent can be said to freely will their actions (or be morally responsible for them). (from 1, 2 and 3)

We are actually doing the choosing for ourselves. We walk into a restaurant, sit at the table, browses the menu, and places our order. The waiter brings us our meal, and later brings us the bill. Did the restaurant choose the meal? Did the waiter choose the meal? Did the menu choose the meal? Did the table choose the meal? No. We are actually doing the choosing for ourselves.

Only the specific "neural architecture" that is us, our own brain, decided which option on the menu we would choose. The biological drive to satisfy our hunger is also part of who and what we are. So, "who and what we are" also decided to walk into that restaurant at that time of day. Whenever "who and what we are" makes a choice, "we, ourselves" made that choice, because "who and what we are" is identical to "we, ourselves".

Determinism makes no choices. Determinism is not an entity with a brain. Determinism has no skin in the game. Determinism doesn't care what we order. Determinism is simply the belief that what we order will be reliably caused by "who and what we are", and that "who and what we are at any moment" will be reliably caused by "who and what we were" and our experiences with our external physical and social environments, going back in time to when we were born, and then back through the evolution of our species, and then back to the appearance of life, and then back to the formation of the stars and planets, and then back to the Big Bang, and then back to whatever preceded the Big Bang, and so on, ad infinitum.

But we mustn't forget that we have been active participants in determining who and what we will be from the time we were born.

Okay, so let's deal with Pereboom:
Pereboom's argument against compatibilism:

• (1) If one agent's decision is manipulated by another agent, then that first agent's action is not freely willed.​
• (2) There is no difference between a manipulation by another agent and causation by a causal factor external to the agent.
• (3) On determinism, all of an agent's actions are determined (causally influenced) by at least some factors beyond that agent's control.
• (4) Therefore, on determinism, no agent can be said to freely will their actions (or be morally responsible for them). (from 1, 2 and 3)

Free will is a choice that is free from coercion and undue influence. Reliable causation in itself is neither coercive nor undue. Only specific causes, such as a guy holding a gun to our head, qualify as "coercive". Only specific causes, such as a mental illness that causes us to behave insanely, qualify as extraordinary (undue) influences.

But Pereboom says, "there is no difference between a manipulation by another agent and causation by a causal factor external to the agent." Pereboom falsely suggests that all causes are coercive and that all influences are unduly manipulative. To Pereboom, the restaurant is the same as a guy holding a gun to our head. To Pereboom the menu is a manipulation we cannot resist. To Pereboom, our own thoughts and feelings about which meal might be most satisfying, to us personally, carries no weight. We are victims of the restaurant and the menu.

Pereboom says, "on determinism, all of an agent's actions are determined (causally influenced) by at least some factors beyond that agent's control". Well, our choices in the restaurant are indeed limited to the meals listed on the menu. But the restaurant, in order to attract many customers with different tastes, has purposefully provided us with multiple options to choose from. So, our choices are many, and the reasons for choosing one meal rather than another will be found within us. Do we have dietary goals? That's us. Do we have curiosity about an option we've never tried? That's us. Do we have foods we want to avoid? That's us.

Determinism asserts that our choice will be reliably caused. Free will asserts that it will be reliably caused by us. Both facts are clearly true. So, there in the restaurant, the compatibility of the two concepts, is demonstrably true (and Pereboom is demonstrably mistaken).

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
More on the problems with compatibilism and the free will illusion; Quote;

PHILOSOPHICAL COMPATIBILISM IN A NUTSHELL

''As I said, philosophical compatibilists agree that someone could not have, of their own accord, done otherwise, but they don’t define free will in this way. Compatibilist can define free will in a number of different ways, but they all have one thing in common – they are defined in a way that is compatible with the natural universe.

For example, a compatibilist definition might be as simple as defining free will as the “ability to make decisions or choices” or “the ability to deliberate”.

Daniel Dennett calls free will “the power to be active agents, biological devices that respond to our environment with rational, desirable courses of action”. Roy Baumeister similarly calls “the ability to be aware of alternates and make the choice that is best for you evolutionarily” as free will. Most compatibilists have similar semantics or impressions about the term “free will”, basically concluding that certain “decision-making” abilities should be labeled “free will”

They might even suggest that we should move away from those incoherent definitions of free will and into those more coherent ones. Definitions that Dennett calls a “free will worth wanting“.

Free will is simply a person choosing for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence.
Determinism is the belief (-ism) that every event is reliably caused by prior events.
Compatibilism is the belief that there is nothing incompatible between the notion that a choice is reliably caused (determinism) and the notion that it is reliably caused by us (free will).
Case closed.

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
...
Origination Argument
Seems to me I've heard this song before. But let's take it apart to see what works and what doesn't.
1. An agent acts with free will only if she is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.

It's lunch time, and she feels hungry. She walks into the restaurant, sits down, browses the menu, chooses what she will have for lunch, and places her order: "I will have the chef salad please".

The hunger is her own. The decision to eat at the restaurant was made by her. So, she is the ultimate source of her action of going into the restaurant. Now, she is not the origin of her hunger, that was a product of evolution. Nevertheless, this hunger is an integral part of who and what she is now. Evolution did not decide that she would eat now rather than later. She did that herself. Evolution did not choose the restaurant and evolution did not choose the chef salad. That was all her.

2. If determinism is true, then everything any agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside her control.

No. If determinism is true, then the agent will be the ultimate cause of what the agent does, in response to circumstances inside (her hunger) and circumstances outside (the restaurant and the menu). There is nothing about determinism that excludes her and her choices from being an essential part of the overall scheme of causation.

3. If everything an agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances beyond her control, then the agent is not the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.

As has been pointed out repeatedly, everything the agent does is NOT "ultimately cause by events and circumstance beyond her control". Her own choices ARE her exercising control. We cannot pretend that she is not choosing what she will do. We saw her sit at the table, browse the menu, and place the order. The only things external to her were the restaurant, the menu, and the table. None of these external items chose what she would eat. She did.

4. Therefore, if determinism is true, then no agent is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.

A false conclusion derived from false premises. She is the originator of her decision to enter the restaurant. She is the originator of her choice to have the chef salad. Neither of these events could happen without her.

To be true, determinism cannot selectively pick and choose which causes to include and which causes to hide from. It must include all causes: physical, biological, and rational. It must include the choices of rational agents as one of the significant causes of real world events.

5. Therefore, if determinism is true, no agent has free will.

Nope. That's been repeatedly disproved throughout these discussions. Determinism and free will are not opposites. The opposite of determinism is indeterminism. The opposite of free will is a choice imposed upon someone through coercion or other forms of undue influence.

1. No one has power over the facts of the past and the laws of nature.

It is not necessary to have power over the facts of the past or the laws of nature. We ourselves are one of those facts of the past. We ourselves are a walking, talking package of those laws of nature.

2. No one has power over the fact that the facts of the past and the laws of nature entail every fact of the future (i.e., determinism is true).

Right. But we are part of those facts and an embodiment of those laws.

3. Therefore, no one has power over the facts of the future.

Actually, everyone is a part of those facts, and everyone makes choices that affect their own future, as well as the future of others. Take global warming for example.

In fact, within the domain of human influence, the single inevitable future will be chosen by us from the many possible futures that we imagine. I can have eggs for breakfast or I can have pancakes. Whether my future will be sitting at the table eating eggs, or sitting at the table eating pancakes, is up to me to decide. I have two possible futures, but I will have only one actual future. And that single inevitable future will be chosen by me.

Determinism is defined by events...

Well no. Determinism is defined as "the belief that all events are reliably caused by prior events".

...including brain activity, being fixed as a matter of natural law.

Natural law is not an entity that goes around nailing things down. We do that. The "laws" of nature describe our reliable patterns of behavior as we go about nailing things down. These would mostly be the "principles" of psychology and sociology.

There is no ability to have done otherwise in any given circumstance. If you are able to do what you could not do a moment ago, it's because conditions have changed to enable the action. Not merely enable, but necessitate.

All events are necessitated by prior events. The prior event that necessitates a deliberate act is the act of deliberation, the event of choosing what we will do.

Choosing begins with a state of uncertainty. Will I choose A, or will I choose B? I don't know. That's the uncertainty. To deal with uncertainty about what "will" happen, we imagine what "can" happen, to prepare for what "does" happen. "I can choose A" is a true statement. "I can choose B" is also a true statement. This is the "ability to do otherwise".

After considering my two options, one of them is chosen and the other is not. The one that is chosen becomes the thing that I "will" do. The one that is not chosen becomes the thing that I "could have" done, but did not do.

Therefore, we must conclude that, whenever a choosing operation shows up as an event in the causal chain, "I could have done otherwise" will always be true, and it is only "I would have done otherwise" that will always be false.

Therefore, the claim that "there is no ability to have done otherwise in any given circumstance" is clearly false. And it remains false despite the fact that many "authorities" have mistakenly asserted it to be true.

rousseau

Contributor
... I believe all of this speaks to why religion was so ubiquitous throughout the world before the scientific revolution. In lieu of a material understanding human experience feels immaterial, supernatural, and normalized.
Big category lots of caveats, conditions, presumptions, attached to religion meme. If you want to compare that, whatever it is, to material understanding you need shift to material as objective and to religious as subjective. Otherwise there is no comparison.

Of course much more complicated / nuanced, but the basic point is that an understanding of natural science down to the atomic level is a post-hoc conceptualization of the world. It has no relevance to the conditions that gave rise to our cognitive function and experience, and how that cognitive function exists now. It's basically just a data point, granted a data point that can be disconcerting, but a data point nonetheless.

And when you look at early societies we don't see much perception of materialism, we largely see spirituality across the board. To me this is a good pointer to how most of us actually experience the world. And even today, despite greater material understanding, I'm not sure this has actually changed much.

That's not to say that we have free will by any means, but despite a bit of generalization I think my last few posts answer the why we feel free question.
Whoa. Cause and effect, determinism, were subjective topics back to the Greeks at least. That mankind evolved the ability to disassociate belief from evidence is due to that journey. The beauty of empiricism is that it uses much of what has been thought and considered in it's construction and execution. We now know we are evolved beings who can manipulate material world to our benefit which has been the underlying purpose of our evolution all along. Our view of our story should likewise evolve.

Consequence should be the scale for evaluating the value of particular modes of thought. Through that lens material thought consumes most of what we are today. Fairly spiritual thought will remain forever in our behavior, probably as central to our every day experiences even though that behavior will be driven by clearly material means.

What I was criticizing was characterizing the centrality of religious belief to our individual and social makeup. That will fade over time. We should organize our constructions around that sort of thinking.

You seem to be a nostalgic kind of gee. Being so needn't cloud your perceptions. I'm still partial to the Hardy Boys over Nordic Murders. Not a problem.
I don't know that it's religious belief per se, but the perception that we are more than the sum of our parts. This would make religion predominate in early societies but doesn't make it a necessity in the future.

A small minority of us have always been / are always going to be interested in the mechanics of it all, but I think even they can rarely escape the perception of 'something more', however untrue that perception is.

Today, I think if you asked almost anyone how people work physically you would get a lot of vague and non-sensical answers, minimal talk of freedom or free will, and likely a tendency toward biological and cultural ideas like mating, marriage, love, and the like.

Broad generalizations abound but that's how I roll.

The Sage of Main Street

Member
I have to assume “sage” is talking about “god.” “Quantum quacks” is nicely alliterative, though. I don‘t guess Sage knows that QM explains how his computer works, the device he uses to post on the internet “quantum quacks.”
Noli hypotheses fingere

As usual, New Age conformists aren't logical in their desperate defense of their weirdness religion. Using quantum facts to create things doesn't imply they know how to explain what makes it work. An auto mechanic could know nothing about the physics of internal combustion, etc., but still fix your car.

Bomb#20

Contributor
... For in polishing Glass with Sand, Putty or Tripoly, it is not to be imagined that those substances can by grating and fretting the Glass bring all its least particles to an accurate polish; so that all their surfaces shall be truly plain or truly spherical, and look all the same way, so as together to compose one even surface. The smaller the particles of those substances are, the smaller will be the scratches by which they continually fret and wear away the Glass until it be polished, but be they never so small they can wear away the Glass no otherwise than by grating and scratching it, and breaking the protuberances, and therefore polish it no otherwise than by bringing its roughness to a very fine Grain, so that the scratches and frettings of the surface become too small to be visible. And therefore if Light were reflected by impinging upon the solid parts of the Glass, it would be scattered as much by the most polished Glass as by the roughest. ...​
- Isaac Newton​
Our reflection in a still pond is clear until the surface is disturbed by a tossed pebble and light is reflected out in different directions, rather than in a consistent pattern. The polished glass is like the still pond, after its waves have been settled by polishing.
I think you must not have understood Newton's argument.
Code:
Still pond:
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rough glass:
/\    /\    /\
/  \  /  \  /  \
/    \/    \/    \

Polished glass:
/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The smoothing mechanism of the pond is gravity: the higher up parts fall to the average level under the force of their own weight. Newton is arguing that no matter how much you polish glass its surface will never become flat like a still pond because glass polishing provides no analogous mechanism for eliminating tilt from the surface. The only thing a particle of abrasive used in a polishing operation does is gouge a new scratch into the surface of the glass, albeit a thinner scratch than the ones it's helping polish away. So as the scratches become smaller and smaller, their sides remain sloped the same as ever. If light particles were bouncing off the point on the glass where they hit then they'd still bounce in lots of different directions depending on which microscopic scratches they hit the sides of. The glass surface would never match the pond surface so you'd always get a matte finish no matter how much you polish.

His conclusion was that the reflection of a light particle is a collective effect of a great many glass particles packed into a spread-out area. Consequently there can be no question of some of the light particles simply missing the atoms that would otherwise have reflected them.

The Sage of Main Street

Member
Internet Indeterminacy

Apparent random uncorrelated posts with unknown causalities. Do posts s come from nothing? Are posts real?
Sheepskins Impress the Sheep

Netwits tell what they've been told, imagining that makes them share in the prestige. But the prestige of designated experts is itself imaginary.

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
... For in polishing Glass with Sand, Putty or Tripoly, it is not to be imagined that those substances can by grating and fretting the Glass bring all its least particles to an accurate polish; so that all their surfaces shall be truly plain or truly spherical, and look all the same way, so as together to compose one even surface. The smaller the particles of those substances are, the smaller will be the scratches by which they continually fret and wear away the Glass until it be polished, but be they never so small they can wear away the Glass no otherwise than by grating and scratching it, and breaking the protuberances, and therefore polish it no otherwise than by bringing its roughness to a very fine Grain, so that the scratches and frettings of the surface become too small to be visible. And therefore if Light were reflected by impinging upon the solid parts of the Glass, it would be scattered as much by the most polished Glass as by the roughest. ...​
- Isaac Newton​
Our reflection in a still pond is clear until the surface is disturbed by a tossed pebble and light is reflected out in different directions, rather than in a consistent pattern. The polished glass is like the still pond, after its waves have been settled by polishing.
I think you must not have understood Newton's argument.
Code:
Still pond:
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rough glass:
/\    /\    /\
/  \  /  \  /  \
/    \/    \/    \

Polished glass:
/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

The smoothing mechanism of the pond is gravity: the higher up parts fall to the average level under the force of their own weight. Newton is arguing that no matter how much you polish glass its surface will never become flat like a still pond because glass polishing provides no analogous mechanism for eliminating tilt from the surface. The only thing a particle of abrasive used in a polishing operation does is gouge a new scratch into the surface of the glass, albeit a thinner scratch than the ones it's helping polish away. So as the scratches become smaller and smaller, their sides remain sloped the same as ever. If light particles were bouncing off the point on the glass where they hit then they'd still bounce in lots of different directions depending on which microscopic scratches they hit the sides of. The glass surface would never match the pond surface so you'd always get a matte finish no matter how much you polish.

His conclusion was that the reflection of a light particle is a collective effect of a great many glass particles packed into a spread-out area. Consequently there can be no question of some of the light particles simply missing the atoms that would otherwise have reflected them.
Feynman talks about the behaviour of diffraction gratings to make much the same point in his book 'QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter'.

If you remove parts of a mirror, you can cause it to reflect photons at an angle that depends on their frequency. That can't be explained by a classical model of the interaction between photons and the material from which the mirror is made.

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Internet Indeterminacy

Apparent random uncorrelated posts with unknown causalities. Do posts s come from nothing? Are posts real?
Sheepskins Impress the Sheep

Netwits tell what they've been told, imagining that makes them share in the prestige. But the prestige of designated experts is itself imaginary.
Sheepdip impresses me not. Apparently the context of my post was above your head.

Statistical uncertainty appears in our macro scale Earth surface reality as it does at the quantum scale.

Sit in front of a store door and record when someone leaves and enters. A statistical model can be be developed to estimate a probability of occurrence without understanding the causality of why someone enters or leaves the store.

We assume people do not come from or go to nothing when entering or leaving the store, we assume causality of some king. We assume an unknown causality when a partcale is emitted form a radioactive material.

Markov chains and queuing theory.

Bomb#20

Contributor
Feynman talks about the behaviour of diffraction gratings to make much the same point in his book 'QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter'.

If you remove parts of a mirror, you can cause it to reflect photons at an angle that depends on their frequency. That can't be explained by a classical model of the interaction between photons and the material from which the mirror is made.
Yes, exactly. There are all sorts of optical phenomena that are very hard to account for with a deterministic theory of what's happening at a microscopic scale. For instance, the rule that 4 out of 100 photons are reflected at the front of the glass has a partner rule: another 4 are reflected at the back surface of the glass, so a window will reflect 8 out of 100 -- the pale reflection you see is actually two reflections slightly offset from each other. If partial reflection were a matter of light slipping between the molecules, then it would be slipping between molecules of glass when it passes through the front surface, but slipping between molecules of air when it passes through the back surface. There's no reason to expect air molecules and glass molecules to affect light in the same way; we know in general that they don't. So the fact that the reflection percentage is the same for entering the glass and leaving the glass would just be a remarkable inexplicable coincidence. But the theory that partial reflection results from an interference pattern in the probability waves predicts that the same amount of light must be diverted whether it's entering or leaving, on account of symmetrical geometry.

Quantum mechanics is weird, so people have come up with all manner of reasonable-sounding intuitively sensible explanations for specific quantum effects in order to banish the weirdness and restore their confidence in a reasonable universe; the trouble is that when you plug in numbers and work out the consequences, these explanations always end up implying results that turn out to be different from observation. Physicists don't accept quantum craziness because it's emotionally appealing to their Kierkegaard-reading mushheaded hippy minds; they accept it because they've been dragged kicking and screaming to the asylum bed and strapped down by the crazy results of a lot of very carefully performed experiments.

DBT

Contributor
...
Origination Argument
Seems to me I've heard this song before. But let's take it apart to see what works and what doesn't.

I'm sure you have. It has yet to be refuted.
1. An agent acts with free will only if she is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.

It's lunch time, and she feels hungry. She walks into the restaurant, sits down, browses the menu, chooses what she will have for lunch, and places her order: "I will have the chef salad please".

The hunger is her own. The decision to eat at the restaurant was made by her. So, she is the ultimate source of her action of going into the restaurant. Now, she is not the origin of her hunger, that was a product of evolution. Nevertheless, this hunger is an integral part of who and what she is now. Evolution did not decide that she would eat now rather than later. She did that herself. Evolution did not choose the restaurant and evolution did not choose the chef salad. That was all her.

Nobody denies that the hunger is her own, everything has properties, a lamppost has its own changing state, rust due to rain, warping due heat and cold....everything that has a brain has sets of drives and their related actions, all their own. What determinism does is make her hunger and her related actions inevitable, inevitable as in necessitated.
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None of what is her own, or our own - hunger, thirst, pain thoughts, emotions - is willed or subject to change, because all states, conditions and actions are Fixed as a matter of natural law.
2. If determinism is true, then everything any agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside her control.

No. If determinism is true, then the agent will be the ultimate cause of what the agent does, in response to circumstances inside (her hunger) and circumstances outside (the restaurant and the menu). There is nothing about determinism that excludes her and her choices from being an essential part of the overall scheme of causation.

3. If everything an agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances beyond her control, then the agent is not the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.

As has been pointed out repeatedly, everything the agent does is NOT "ultimately cause by events and circumstance beyond her control". Her own choices ARE her exercising control. We cannot pretend that she is not choosing what she will do. We saw her sit at the table, browse the menu, and place the order. The only things external to her were the restaurant, the menu, and the table. None of these external items chose what she would eat. She did.

And it has been repeatedly pointed out that is chosen was determined unconsciously through the actions of neural networks that within a determined system are necessitated therefore not subject to will;

Free Will and Determinism / Structure and Agency

The metaphysical problem of free will and determinism arises from the difficulty of reconciling two seemingly unavoidable, but mutually contradictory, core beliefs about ourselves as human beings and the wider world of which we are a part. The first is that it is free will that distinguishes human beings from all others; the second is that human beings are wholly natural creatures, embedded in the ongoing causal order of the universe. - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0048393118814952

DBT

Contributor
Origination Argument;

1. An agent acts with free will only if she is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
2. If determinism is true, then everything any agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside her control.
3. If everything an agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances beyond her control, then the agent is not the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
4. Therefore, if determinism is true, then no agent is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
5. Therefore, if determinism is true, no agent has free will.
Item 1 is question-begging. It assumes as true the very thing that is under discussion.

No, it's not begging the question.

1- If determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent, as a matter of choice, why call it determinism?
I don't understand your response (it doesn't appear to address my criticism).

Marvin has not suggested (or implied) that "determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent".

Marvin is expressing philosophical compatibilism. I am arguing for incompatibility. Giving the reasons why compatibilism fails. It fails because it tries to define free will into reality by ignoring the implications of determinism, that simply calling something free will does not make will free, which makes it a word game.

DBT

Contributor
More on the problems with compatibilism and the free will illusion; Quote;

PHILOSOPHICAL COMPATIBILISM IN A NUTSHELL

''As I said, philosophical compatibilists agree that someone could not have, of their own accord, done otherwise, but they don’t define free will in this way. Compatibilist can define free will in a number of different ways, but they all have one thing in common – they are defined in a way that is compatible with the natural universe.

For example, a compatibilist definition might be as simple as defining free will as the “ability to make decisions or choices” or “the ability to deliberate”.

Daniel Dennett calls free will “the power to be active agents, biological devices that respond to our environment with rational, desirable courses of action”. Roy Baumeister similarly calls “the ability to be aware of alternates and make the choice that is best for you evolutionarily” as free will. Most compatibilists have similar semantics or impressions about the term “free will”, basically concluding that certain “decision-making” abilities should be labeled “free will”

They might even suggest that we should move away from those incoherent definitions of free will and into those more coherent ones. Definitions that Dennett calls a “free will worth wanting“.

Free will is simply a person choosing for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence.
Determinism is the belief (-ism) that every event is reliably caused by prior events.
Compatibilism is the belief that there is nothing incompatible between the notion that a choice is reliably caused (determinism) and the notion that it is reliably caused by us (free will).
Case closed.

A person is choosing for themselves? True as a trivial observation but does not account for the means of decision making or the elements that necessitate it. The world acts upon the brain, that within a determined system produces an inevitable result, a result that was neither consciously decided or freely willed. The brain is constrained by its own architecture and the information that acts upon it.

''Of course, the sun isn’t an illusion, but geocentrism is. Our native sense that the sun revolves around a stationary Earth is simply mistaken. And any “project of sympathetic reconstruction” (your compatibilism) with regard to this illusion would be just a failure to speak plainly about the facts.'' - Sam Harris.

Bomb#20

Contributor
Exactly. But what we observe to happen reliably is not an event -- it's a statistical correlation between two or more events. If X happens on this side of the lab then there's an elevated probability of Y happening on that side of the lab. So the statement of probabilities qualifies as a common law of physics. But X and Y individually are unreliable.

This poses a big problem to anybody trying to come up with a deterministic model of the phenomenon. If we assume there's some prior event W that's a cause of X, then W becomes a potential point for intervention by the experimenter. If she can do something to make W happen or not happen, that will change the odds of X happening. But there's a reliable correlation between X and Y, so changing the odds of X will change the odds of Y. And when the odds of Y happening are changed, that will be observable on that side of the lab, simply by measuring the frequency of Y. So an observer on that side of the lab can tell whether the experimenter on this side of the lab is making W happen. I.e., if there's some prior event W that's a cause of X, then it seems this will make it possible to send a message from this side of the lab to that side of the lab, faster than the speed of light. But according to Relativity, you can't send a message any faster than light. This is why it's so difficult mathematically to reconcile Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and Determinism. "Pick any two."
Well, if it turns out that pushing X moves Y, then that is the law of nature. "Pushing X causes Y to move". We don't know why pushing X causes Y to move, we just know that it does. The same applies to gravity. We do not know why the masses are attracted to each other, we just know that they are. And, we can calculate the amount of acceleration toward each other using the "law of gravity". But we do not really know why such an attraction exists, we only know that it does. The same would apply to the entanglement of particles at a distance. I assume physics has calculated this effect, but does not know why it works as it does.

The determinism is in the reliability of the cause and the effect. Moving X causes Y to move. That's the cause and that's the effect. The behavior is deterministic.
But you're not describing entanglement. I didn't say pushing X moves Y. We have no evidence that pushing X moves Y; what we've observed is that when we don't push X, and X just goes this way or that on its own for no reason we can see, and we also don't push Y and Y just goes this way or that on its own for no reason we can see, in that situation what X and Y do are somewhat synchronized. But if we try to use this synchronization to send a message, by pushing X, we fail because the synchronization goes away -- the two particles' movements are correlated only when we refrain from pushing on them. If we choose to think of this phenomenon in terms of one particle moving the other, we have no evidence as to whether it's X moving Y or it's Y moving X. Which one moves first doesn't tell us which movement is cause and which is effect -- the correlation remains even when the time difference is so little that which one moves first depends on the frame of reference of the observer. And if we assume that this is just a matter of our ignorance, and cause and effect took place, and there is a fact of the matter that one particle moved the other, then that would imply that for observers moving at some speeds relative to the laboratory, the effect happened before the cause.

... For philosophizing about determinism, you use it to mean "metaphysical certainty". But for testing your hypothesis, you're using it to mean "able to be relied on". But we rely on uncertain things all the time. ... Whether the 0.01% chance of falling results from true randomness or merely chaotic cause and effect makes no difference to our ability to rely on our feet.
A random event is one where the behavior is difficult to predict due to incomplete information, and a chaotic event is one where the behavior is difficult to predict because the behavior begins to vary soon after the initial conditions, so it is difficult to reset those conditions accurately enough to get the same result a second time.
An event that's difficult to predict due to there not yet being any state information in the universe that determines whether the event will happen is also a random event. The state information that implies P will happen and Q will not happen starts to exist at some specific time, regardless of whether determinism or indeterminism is correct -- it's just a matter of when. According to determinism, all of that random information started to exist in one Noah's-Flood-like catastrophe which set the initial conditions of the universe. According to indeterminism, that same state information started to exist one bit at a time in an ongoing Uniformitarian process. It's not clear why an unobservable moment of wholesale arbitrary true-random selection from an infinite space of unrealized possibilities, amplified by eons of pseudo-random chaos, is supposed to be so much more "rational" than eons of observable retail arbitrary true-random selection from finite spaces of unrealized possibilities, likewise amplified by pseudo-random chaos.

We cannot "determine" (as in "to know") whether the coin will land heads up or tails. But we know the vectors involved, so that we could, with sufficient measurement of those vectors, theoretically predict how the coin would land with 100% accuracy.
You keep saying that; but you don't have a theory that implies it. First construct a deterministic theory that explains entanglement, then tell us what we could theoretically do.

Oh, and I do not know how "metaphysical" certainty differs from plain ol' certainty. If you're going to use that adjective, it would be nice to see what its semantic content is (I am skeptical, and currently believe it has no true meaning).
Sorry, "metaphysical certainty" is a term of art; it's used to distinguish what we're talking about from "psychological certainty". People tend to be certain of lots of things they have no good reason to be certain of. "Metaphysical certainty" refers to events that are in fact 100% probable, irrespective of whether anyone knows or believes they are.

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
I'm sure you have. It has yet to be refuted.

Actually, I've refuted it multiple times now, right in front of you. Universal causal necessity/inevitability is certainly a logical fact, but it is not a meaningful nor a relevant fact. It has none of the implications that the incompatibilists claim.

In order for them to claim that it contradicts free will, they create a strawman version of free will, a version that is paradoxical. And, like Zeno's paradoxes, this paradox is a self-induced hoax, one created by a series of false, but believable, suggestions. I go into the paradox in some detail here: https://marvinedwards.me/2019/03/08/free-will-whats-wrong-and-how-to-fix-it/

We've covered much of it already in this discussion. I like to think that my explanations to you have been fairly clear and simple. I do not see the paradox, of determinism "versus" free will, to be especially complex.

When I ran into the problem reading philosophy in the public library, I was at first worried by the notion that everything I did was inevitable. So, I came up with a plan to defeat inevitability. The next time I had a decision to make, and felt myself leaning heavily toward option A, I would select option B instead. I patted myself on the back for having escaped inevitability. But then I realized that my own desire to escape inevitability had simply made option B inevitable! So, to defeat inevitability, I would have to switch back to option A. But now that line of thought had simply made option A inevitable again. Arrgh! No matter which option I chose, the reasons for my choice would make that option inevitable!

Then it hit me. The only thing making my choice inevitable was my own reasoning process. Inevitability was not some external entity controlling me, but rather the result of my own thinking. And, I imagined that, if inevitability were such an entity, that it would be sitting there in the library laughing at me, for all the disturbance it had caused, simply by me thinking about it.

So, my choice, of my own free will, was the inevitable result of my own reasoning. Free will was a deterministic event, an event controlled by my own line of thinking. My choices would always be both inevitable, and my own. So, inevitability ceased to be a problem for me.

Universal causal necessity/inevitability is a logical fact, but it is not a meaningful nor a relevant fact. None of the implications that have been assigned to it can be supported, without distorting the meaning of "causal necessity" or the meaning of "free will". So, I've been attempting to clean up all the delusional ideas that have arisen from this silly paradox.

It's lunch time, and she feels hungry. She walks into the restaurant, sits down, browses the menu, chooses what she will have for lunch, and places her order: "I will have the chef salad please".

The hunger is her own. The decision to eat at the restaurant was made by her. So, she is the ultimate source of her action of going into the restaurant. Now, she is not the origin of her hunger, that was a product of evolution. Nevertheless, this hunger is an integral part of who and what she is now. Evolution did not decide that she would eat now rather than later. She did that herself. Evolution did not choose the restaurant and evolution did not choose the chef salad. That was all her.

Nobody denies that the hunger is her own, everything has properties, a lamppost has its own changing state, rust due to rain, warping due heat and cold....everything that has a brain has sets of drives and their related actions, all their own. What determinism does is make her hunger and her related actions inevitable, inevitable as in necessitated.
.
None of what is her own, or our own - hunger, thirst, pain thoughts, emotions - is willed or subject to change, because all states, conditions and actions are Fixed as a matter of natural law.

Walking into the restaurant was willed. Sitting at the table was willed. Browsing the menu was will. Ordering the chef salad was willed. Each of these events was causally necessary/inevitable from the beginning of time. But, guess what else was causally necessary and inevitable: the fact that they would be willed, and the fact that they would be willed by no other object in the physical universe than the woman herself.

(Oh, and by the way, she says she doesn't like being compared to a lamppost.)

Even if universal causal necessity/inevitability is true (and I presume it is), the woman will be the ultimate cause of what she choose to do, in response to circumstances inside (her hunger) and circumstances outside (the restaurant and the menu). There is nothing about determinism that excludes her and her choices from being an essential part of the overall scheme of causation.

And it has been repeatedly pointed out that is chosen was determined unconsciously through the actions of neural networks that within a determined system are necessitated therefore not subject to will;

The unconscious neural activity need not be subject to will in order to produce will. However, I would find the claim that the woman was unconscious as she was walking into the restaurant, sitting at the table, reading the menu, or placing her order, unbelievable.

Free Will and Determinism / Structure and Agency
The metaphysical problem of free will and determinism arises from the difficulty of reconciling two seemingly unavoidable, but mutually contradictory, core beliefs about ourselves as human beings and the wider world of which we are a part. The first is that it is free will that distinguishes human beings from all others; the second is that human beings are wholly natural creatures, embedded in the ongoing causal order of the universe. - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0048393118814952

There are no "metaphysical" problems. If it is purely metaphysical, then it is probably not a real problem. The first chapter in A. J. Ayers' "Language, Truth, and Logic" is titled: "The Elimination of Metaphysics". So, I'm skeptical of anyone swinging that word around as if it meant something.

The real world problem is the attack upon the moral notions of free will and responsibility, and the fatalism that arises from being told repeatedly by the hard determinist that we have no control.

After all, our control over our actions is causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time.

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Marvin is expressing philosophical compatibilism. I am arguing for incompatibility. Giving the reasons why compatibilism fails. It fails because it tries to define free will into reality by ignoring the implications of determinism, that simply calling something free will does not make will free, which makes it a word game.

Frankly, I did not discover compatibilism by reading philosophy. Back when I was about 15 or so, when I first saw through the problem, I don't think "compatibilism" was even a word. What I realized back then was that free will was a causally necessary/inevitable event, just like every other event. And it remains my own reasoning that produces my choices. Necessity is not an entity that exercises any control, and it is a delusion to imagine that it is.

But I have since studied the philosophical notion of compatibilism. And I find it wanting. I posted a critical review of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy here: https://marvinedwards.me/2018/10/20/compatibilism-whats-wrong-and-how-to-fix-it/

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Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
A person is choosing for themselves? True as a trivial observation but does not account for the means of decision making or the elements that necessitate it. The world acts upon the brain, that within a determined system produces an inevitable result, a result that was neither consciously decided or freely willed. The brain is constrained by its own architecture and the information that acts upon it.

Ironically, it is causal necessity that turns out to be the triviality. It is always true of every event. What I will inevitably do is exactly identical to me just being me, choosing what I choose, and doing what I do. And that is not a meaningful constraint. It is not something that anyone can, or needs to be, free of.

As to the "means of decision making or the elements that necessitate it", that turns out to be me. My brain is the means of my decision making. My own thoughts and feelings, beliefs and values, and all those other things that make me who and what I am, are "the elements that necessitate" my choice. So, however you slice it up, the causal determinant remains "me" all the way down.

As to my brain being "constrained by its own architecture", well, that's a very perverse and delusional way of looking at it. Isn't it rather the case that my brain's architecture is not that which "constrains", but rather that which "enables" my imagination, my evaluation, my choosing, and all of my deliberate actions?

Copernicus

It seems to me that the endless struggle over free will in this thread has been over how to frame the concept of "free will". If you frame it from the perspective of a deterministic system, then there appears to be no freedom of choice. If you frame it from the perspective of partially deterministic environment that human beings interact with, then there is considerable freedom of choice. Compatibilism is just the position that both perspectives are valid, depending on the discourse context. For example, it doesn't make any sense to talk about free will in the context of an omniscient observer--a godlike being--because there is never any doubt as to outcomes in what it is observing. So the characters or "agents" in a novel don't have free will except in an imagined storyline where they don't know their future. One can shift back and forth between the perspective of the author and the imaginary characters with no trouble at all. We can read that novel knowing that the characters don't really have free will but still imagine them to have it. This is about the perspective we use to frame the argument, and both perspectives can be useful ones under different circumstances. The "godlike" author has to keep shifting perspectives in order to write the novel. The reader has to keep shifting in order to remain interested in the storyline while not losing touch with the reality in which he or she is reading a novel.

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
It seems to me that the endless struggle over free will in this thread has been over how to frame the concept of "free will". If you frame it from the perspective of a deterministic system, then there appears to be no freedom of choice. If you frame it from the perspective of partially deterministic environment that human beings interact with, then there is considerable freedom of choice. Compatibilism is just the position that both perspectives are valid, depending on the discourse context. For example, it doesn't make any sense to talk about free will in the context of an omniscient observer--a godlike being--because there is never any doubt as to outcomes in what it is observing. So the characters or "agents" in a novel don't have free will except in an imagined storyline where they don't know their future. One can shift back and forth between the perspective of the author and the imaginary characters with no trouble at all. We can read that novel knowing that the characters don't really have free will but still imagine them to have it. This is about the perspective we use to frame the argument, and both perspectives can be useful ones under different circumstances. The "godlike" author has to keep shifting perspectives in order to write the novel. The reader has to keep shifting in order to remain interested in the storyline while not losing touch with the reality in which he or she is reading a novel.

Well, I was hoping to have overcome that problem, by demonstrating that free will is just another deterministic event. That becomes a simple matter if we presume universal causal necessity. But it gets befuddled if we allow indeterminism to creep in. You see, if we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, then causal necessity becomes an irrelevant triviality. But with indeterminism, it once again becomes a relevant constraint, because it can be present or it can be absent. But if it is always present, then it becomes an irrelevant background constant. So, my argument is never helped by the introduction of indeterministic events.

Free will and freedom of choice are both present in a deterministic system. We can look right at them, and they cannot be denied, because choosing is an event that actually occurs within our deterministic universe.

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
I understand 'free' will is part of the Biden spending bill.

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
I understand 'free' will is part of the Biden spending bill.
But he can't get Manchin to vote for it.

DBT

Contributor
I'm sure you have. It has yet to be refuted.

Actually, I've refuted it multiple times now, right in front of you. Universal causal necessity/inevitability is certainly a logical fact, but it is not a meaningful nor a relevant fact. It has none of the implications that the incompatibilists claim.

You believe that you have refuted it multiple times. Simply believing something is true doesn't make it true.

If you you really could refute incompatibilism and establish free will as reality, the debate would over. Harris, Pereboom, Hallet, et al, would concede and nobody would argue anymore.

But, however much you'd like to think so, no such thing has happened.

The debate goes on because compatibilists stubbornly cling to their semantic construct of free will, declaring that humans have free will when they can act unrestrained according to their own nature....never mind that nobody has control of their own nature or that within a determined system all things are fixed as a matter of law and all things happen according to their own makeup and nature.

''For compatibilism, “freedom” most often addresses a condition of action rather than an agent’s will itself. In fact, even some compatibilists think that “freedom of the will” should be abandoned for “freedom of action” (though they’d remove the “freedom of the will” term in doing so – which incorrectly assumes there is no need to address the will’s constraints). For the compatibilist “freedom” often means the “unencumbered freedom for one to do what they want”.

Of course this type of freedom has various shortcomings and is only “unencumbered” in a very limited sense. For example, someone with a constraining mental illness could be seen as having such “freedom” to do what they want, yet not be seen as having “free will”. By not focusing on the constraint of the will itself, the term freedom becomes loose and able to refer to things we wouldn’t grant free will for – such as someone with a brain tumor pressing on a part of their brain making them desire and have a compulsive drive to do something, to a person who is brainwashed to want or desire to do something, to someone with a mental illness in which they want to do something due to a “non-normal” brain function, to a brain microchip interacting with the brain in a way that makes them want or desire to do something. These types of configurations, per many compatibilist definitions, would equally have the same types of “freedoms to act in a way the person wants”.

DBT

Contributor
Marvin is expressing philosophical compatibilism. I am arguing for incompatibility. Giving the reasons why compatibilism fails. It fails because it tries to define free will into reality by ignoring the implications of determinism, that simply calling something free will does not make will free, which makes it a word game.

Frankly, I did not discover compatibilism by reading philosophy. Back when I was about 15 or so, when I first saw through the problem, I don't think "compatibilism" was even a word. What I realized back then was that free will was a causally necessary/inevitable event, just like every other event. And it remains my own reasoning that produces my choices. Necessity is not an entity that exercises any control, and it is a delusion to imagine that it is.

But I have since studied the philosophical notion of compatibilism. And I find it wanting. I posted a critical review of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy here: https://marvinedwards.me/2018/10/20/compatibilism-whats-wrong-and-how-to-fix-it/

You thought you saw through the problem.You believe that you see through the problem. Other people disagree. Who is right depends not on who thinks they have seen through the problem but how well their model is supported by evidence.

Unfortunately evidence from neuroscience shows that unconscious brain processing precedes conscious experience and forms it on the basis of information processing. Will playing no part until readiness potential and conscious report.

And that just declaring 'acting uncoerced, according to one's own nature' to be free will does not establish the reality of free will.

DBT

Contributor
A person is choosing for themselves? True as a trivial observation but does not account for the means of decision making or the elements that necessitate it. The world acts upon the brain, that within a determined system produces an inevitable result, a result that was neither consciously decided or freely willed. The brain is constrained by its own architecture and the information that acts upon it.

Ironically, it is causal necessity that turns out to be the triviality. It is always true of every event. What I will inevitably do is exactly identical to me just being me, choosing what I choose, and doing what I do. And that is not a meaningful constraint. It is not something that anyone can, or needs to be, free of.

As to the "means of decision making or the elements that necessitate it", that turns out to be me. My brain is the means of my decision making. My own thoughts and feelings, beliefs and values, and all those other things that make me who and what I am, are "the elements that necessitate" my choice. So, however you slice it up, the causal determinant remains "me" all the way down.

As to my brain being "constrained by its own architecture", well, that's a very perverse and delusional way of looking at it. Isn't it rather the case that my brain's architecture is not that which "constrains", but rather that which "enables" my imagination, my evaluation, my choosing, and all of my deliberate actions?

Your conscious self has no access to the means of production and has no control over what neural networks are doing. You are shaped and formed by elements beyond your conscious control. You are whatever a brain is doing. You think and do whatever the brain produces in any given moment in time. You can't do otherwise. Without the ability to do otherwise, you have no freedom of will, and simply declaring that you act according to your nature is not sufficient to establish freedom of will.

''For compatibilism, “freedom” most often addresses a condition of action rather than an agent’s will itself. In fact, even some compatibilists think that “freedom of the will” should be abandoned for “freedom of action” (though they’d remove the “freedom of the will” term in doing so – which incorrectly assumes there is no need to address the will’s constraints). For the compatibilist “freedom” often means the “unencumbered freedom for one to do what they want”.

Of course this type of freedom has various shortcomings and is only “unencumbered” in a very limited sense. For example, someone with a constraining mental illness could be seen as having such “freedom” to do what they want, yet not be seen as having “free will”. By not focusing on the constraint of the will itself, the term freedom becomes loose and able to refer to things we wouldn’t grant free will for – such as someone with a brain tumor pressing on a part of their brain making them desire and have a compulsive drive to do something, to a person who is brainwashed to want or desire to do something, to someone with a mental illness in which they want to do something due to a “non-normal” brain function, to a brain microchip interacting with the brain in a way that makes them want or desire to do something. These types of configurations, per many compatibilist definitions, would equally have the same types of “freedoms to act in a way the person wants”.

This forces the compatibilist to create arbitrary criteria for such “freedom to do what one wants” such as the “wanting” needing to be “entirely biological (no artificial processes such as a chip), with no physical ailments such as a tumor, with no mental illness, and no brain washing” – but after all of those criteria are met “free to do what one wants”. This, of course, just ignores the fact that any normally functioning brain configuration at any given time is equally constrained (not free) based on that configuration.''

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius
... I believe all of this speaks to why religion was so ubiquitous throughout the world before the scientific revolution. In lieu of a material understanding human experience feels immaterial, supernatural, and normalized.
Big category lots of caveats, conditions, presumptions, attached to religion meme. If you want to compare that, whatever it is, to material understanding you need shift to material as objective and to religious as subjective. Otherwise there is no comparison.

Of course much more complicated / nuanced, but the basic point is that an understanding of natural science down to the atomic level is a post-hoc conceptualization of the world. It has no relevance to the conditions that gave rise to our cognitive function and experience, and how that cognitive function exists now. It's basically just a data point, granted a data point that can be disconcerting, but a data point nonetheless.

And when you look at early societies we don't see much perception of materialism, we largely see spirituality across the board. To me this is a good pointer to how most of us actually experience the world. And even today, despite greater material understanding, I'm not sure this has actually changed much.

That's not to say that we have free will by any means, but despite a bit of generalization I think my last few posts answer the why we feel free question.
Whoa. Cause and effect, determinism, were subjective topics back to the Greeks at least. That mankind evolved the ability to disassociate belief from evidence is due to that journey. The beauty of empiricism is that it uses much of what has been thought and considered in it's construction and execution. We now know we are evolved beings who can manipulate material world to our benefit which has been the underlying purpose of our evolution all along. Our view of our story should likewise evolve.

Consequence should be the scale for evaluating the value of particular modes of thought. Through that lens material thought consumes most of what we are today. Fairly spiritual thought will remain forever in our behavior, probably as central to our every day experiences even though that behavior will be driven by clearly material means.

What I was criticizing was characterizing the centrality of religious belief to our individual and social makeup. That will fade over time. We should organize our constructions around that sort of thinking.

You seem to be a nostalgic kind of gee. Being so needn't cloud your perceptions. I'm still partial to the Hardy Boys over Nordic Murders. Not a problem.
I don't know that it's religious belief per se, but the perception that we are more than the sum of our parts. This would make religion predominate in early societies but doesn't make it a necessity in the future.

A small minority of us have always been / are always going to be interested in the mechanics of it all, but I think even they can rarely escape the perception of 'something more', however untrue that perception is.

Today, I think if you asked almost anyone how people work physically you would get a lot of vague and non-sensical answers, minimal talk of freedom or free will, and likely a tendency toward biological and cultural ideas like mating, marriage, love, and the like.

Broad generalizations abound but that's how I roll.
OK. You've expressed your 'self' oriented belief. Does "If wishes were horses beggars might ride" ring any bells. My view is you are rolling in the sandbox with Dorothy. She's got a shovel and she wants the bucket with which you are playing. Who's going to run home to mommy with a gash in the scalp bleeding profusely - From lessons learned by FDI at age four in the book of life chapter one "the value of belief in the game of life."

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Marvin is expressing philosophical compatibilism. I am arguing for incompatibility. Giving the reasons why compatibilism fails. It fails because it tries to define free will into reality by ignoring the implications of determinism, that simply calling something free will does not make will free, which makes it a word game.

Frankly, I did not discover compatibilism by reading philosophy. Back when I was about 15 or so, when I first saw through the problem, I don't think "compatibilism" was even a word. What I realized back then was that free will was a causally necessary/inevitable event, just like every other event. And it remains my own reasoning that produces my choices. Necessity is not an entity that exercises any control, and it is a delusion to imagine that it is.

But I have since studied the philosophical notion of compatibilism. And I find it wanting. I posted a critical review of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy here: https://marvinedwards.me/2018/10/20/compatibilism-whats-wrong-and-how-to-fix-it/

You thought you saw through the problem.You believe that you see through the problem. Other people disagree. Who is right depends not on who thinks they have seen through the problem but how well their model is supported by evidence.

Unfortunately evidence from neuroscience shows that unconscious brain processing precedes conscious experience and forms it on the basis of information processing. Will playing no part until readiness potential and conscious report.

And that just declaring 'acting uncoerced, according to one's own nature' to be free will does not establish the reality of free will.
On the other hand, the incompatibilists think they see a problem where none exists. They imagine the brain to be something separate from themselves, something that forces them to do things against your will. Some "neuroscientists" support that illusion, but neuroscience does not.

Whatever parts of your brain are "making your decisions for you", they are the same thing as "you, making decisions". Neuroscience is helping us to understand which parts of the brain are involved in decision making, and their respective roles in the process. But it always remains the case that it is our own brain, and our own brain that is making a decision.

Free will is not "freedom from one's own brain". Free will is simply freedom from coercion and undue influence, nothing more, nothing less.

But incompatibilists demand impossible freedoms, like "freedom from oneself" or "freedom from cause and effect" or "absolute freedom from everything" in their definitions of free will. And on this basis they claim that simple, ordinary, everyday free will must not exist. These attacks are invalid because they rest upon false assumptions as to the nature of free will.

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Your conscious self has no access to the means of production and has no control over what neural networks are doing.

Correct. Exercising conscious control over the individual firing of neurons is not what the brain was evolved to do.

But among the hundreds of different functions, that the brain was evolved to handle, is to organize sensory data into a model of reality. With that model we get imagination, evaluation, prediction, reasoning, calculation, identification, etc. Oh, and we also get choosing.

Choosing is a function that causally determines what we will do whenever we have two or more options.

You are shaped and formed by elements beyond your conscious control.

Conscious awareness is part of the control process. If the pitcher throws a baseball at your head, then you'd better be aware of the ball before the ball renders you unconscious.

And, you do not need to be conscious of your neurons in order to be conscious of the ball.

You are whatever a brain is doing.

Exactly! So, when my brain is making a decision, I am making a decision.

You think and do whatever the brain produces in any given moment in time.

Right! As David Eagleman once pointed out, "Your brain is you". There is no dualism.

You can't do otherwise.

Why would I want to do otherwise than what I have decided I will do!? You suggest a meaningless constraint, an "illusion" of a constraint.

Without the ability to do otherwise, you have no freedom of will...

If my choice is free of coercion and undue influence, then it is a choice of my own free will.

And, of course, during any choosing I will always have at least two options. Whenever I have two or more options, I also have "the ability to do otherwise".

... simply declaring that you act according to your nature is not sufficient to establish freedom of will.

"Freedom of will" is the ability to decide for myself what I will do. This freedom is not constrained by my brain, it is enabled by my brain.

Trick Slattery said:
''For compatibilism, “freedom” most often addresses a condition of action rather than an agent’s will itself. In fact, even some compatibilists think that “freedom of the will” should be abandoned for “freedom of action” (though they’d remove the “freedom of the will” term in doing so – which incorrectly assumes there is no need to address the will’s constraints). For the compatibilist “freedom” often means the “unencumbered freedom for one to do what they want”.

Nice to see Trick Slattery in the game. He and I had many on-line discussions years ago. But, once you've written a book, you're kind of tied into a viewpoint, despite the evidence that refutes it.

There is no such thing as "absolute" freedom. Nor is there such a thing as "freedom from one's own brain". Nor is there such a thing as "freedom from cause and effect".

Fortunately, free will requires no such nonsense. It simply requires freedom from coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Trick Slattery said:
Of course this type of freedom has various shortcomings and is only “unencumbered” in a very limited sense. For example, someone with a constraining mental illness could be seen as having such “freedom” to do what they want, yet not be seen as having “free will”.

Fortunately, free will does not imply any absolute freedom. It is simply the freedom to decide for yourself what you will do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence (such as a constraining mental illness).
Trick Slattery said:
By not focusing on the constraint of the will itself, the term freedom becomes loose and able to refer to things we wouldn’t grant free will for – such as someone with a brain tumor pressing on a part of their brain making them desire and have a compulsive drive to do something, to a person who is brainwashed to want or desire to do something, to someone with a mental illness in which they want to do something due to a “non-normal” brain function, to a brain microchip interacting with the brain in a way that makes them want or desire to do something. These types of configurations, per many compatibilist definitions, would equally have the same types of “freedoms to act in a way the person wants”.

And free will would consider each of those examples of mental illness or microchip manipulation to be forms of undue influence!

Fee will is a choice we make for ourselves that is free of coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Trick Slattery said:
This forces the compatibilist to create arbitrary criteria for such “freedom to do what one wants” such as the “wanting” needing to be “entirely biological (no artificial processes such as a chip), with no physical ailments such as a tumor, with no mental illness, and no brain washing” – but after all of those criteria are met “free to do what one wants”. This, of course, just ignores the fact that any normally functioning brain configuration at any given time is equally constrained (not free) based on that configuration.''

And there is the false equivalency, the suggestion that a brain being manipulated by a microchip, or subject to significant mental illness, is essentially operating the same as a normal brain without such influences. Slattery's suggestion that there is no distinction is precisely why we need the notion of free will, which actually makes the necessary distinctions.

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
...

If you you really could refute incompatibilism and establish free will as reality, the debate would over. Harris, Pereboom, Hallet, et al, would concede and nobody would argue anymore.

Don't be silly. They will not agree until they can see through their own delusion. They will grasp that illusion because they reinforce it among themselves. The notion that a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect changes things is an illusion, because we've always been in that world, and the world is exactly as it is.

The debate goes on because compatibilists stubbornly cling to their semantic construct of free will, declaring that humans have free will when they can act unrestrained according to their own nature

No (yawn), free will is a choice unrestrained by coercion and undue influence. Short and sweet.

....never mind that nobody has control of their own nature or that within a determined system all things are fixed as a matter of law and all things happen according to their own makeup and nature.

Exactly. Never mind that stuff. It is all taken for granted. And if you're going to repeatedly claim that the laws of nature are going around "fixing" or "nailing down" things, then you must complete your metaphor by viewing us as embodiments of those laws. Are we not?

Trick Slattery said:
''For compatibilism, “freedom” most often addresses a condition of action rather than an agent’s will itself. In fact, even some compatibilists think that “freedom of the will” should be abandoned for “freedom of action” (though they’d remove the “freedom of the will” term in doing so – which incorrectly assumes there is no need to address the will’s constraints). For the compatibilist “freedom” often means the “unencumbered freedom for one to do what they want”.

The "action" relevant to free will is called "choosing what I will do".

Trick Slattery said:
Of course this type of freedom has various shortcomings and is only “unencumbered” in a very limited sense. For example, someone with a constraining mental illness could be seen as having such “freedom” to do what they want, yet not be seen as having “free will”. By not focusing on the constraint of the will itself, the term freedom becomes loose and able to refer to things we wouldn’t grant free will for – such as someone with a brain tumor pressing on a part of their brain making them desire and have a compulsive drive to do something, to a person who is brainwashed to want or desire to do something, to someone with a mental illness in which they want to do something due to a “non-normal” brain function, to a brain microchip interacting with the brain in a way that makes them want or desire to do something. These types of configurations, per many compatibilist definitions, would equally have the same types of “freedoms to act in a way the person wants”.

As noted in the other thread, Mr. Slattery is suggesting that the normal brain is no different than an insane brain. Each of the items that Trick has listed would fall under the category of an "undue influence" upon the decision making process, and would negate the free will that a normal brain would exercise.

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
If I read him right I am with Marvin on causality. It can't be experimentally proven, but the alternative is something from and to nothing.

Something can move without a force being applied.

Infinite causality extending back in time in an infinite universe is a logical conclusion, IMO. That of course then begs the question of us humans being individually predetermined. Can we make decisions that alter the future which is not predetermined? Are decisions predetermined?

Are endless lengthy threads on free will and predomination predetermined?

Bomb#20

Contributor
If I read him right I am with Marvin on causality. It can't be experimentally proven, but the alternative is something from and to nothing.
That's not an alternative -- determinism has exactly the same amount of something from nothing as indeterminism. Determinism just postulates that all of it shows up in one massive dose in the initial conditions instead of constantly coming in in a trickle.

Something can move without a force being applied.
Indeterminism says nothing of the sort -- it says that sometimes it's random whether or not a force is applied. If a photon randomly passes through a window no net force is applied. But if a photon is randomly reflected back then the window exerts a force on it, and vice versa, and the window recoils from the reflection. Momentum is always conserved; for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction; and an object at rest remains at rest unless acted on by an external force.

Infinite causality extending back in time in an infinite universe is a logical conclusion, IMO.
In your opinion. Logic has no opinion on this one. Logic is agnostic.

The Sage of Main Street

Member
Exactly. But what we observe to happen reliably is not an event -- it's a statistical correlation between two or more events. If X happens on this side of the lab then there's an elevated probability of Y happening on that side of the lab. So the statement of probabilities qualifies as a common law of physics. But X and Y individually are unreliable.

This poses a big problem to anybody trying to come up with a deterministic model of the phenomenon. If we assume there's some prior event W that's a cause of X, then W becomes a potential point for intervention by the experimenter. If she can do something to make W happen or not happen, that will change the odds of X happening. But there's a reliable correlation between X and Y, so changing the odds of X will change the odds of Y. And when the odds of Y happening are changed, that will be observable on that side of the lab, simply by measuring the frequency of Y. So an observer on that side of the lab can tell whether the experimenter on this side of the lab is making W happen. I.e., if there's some prior event W that's a cause of X, then it seems this will make it possible to send a message from this side of the lab to that side of the lab, faster than the speed of light. But according to Relativity, you can't send a message any faster than light. This is why it's so difficult mathematically to reconcile Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and Determinism. "Pick any two."
Well, if it turns out that pushing X moves Y, then that is the law of nature. "Pushing X causes Y to move". We don't know why pushing X causes Y to move, we just know that it does. The same applies to gravity. We do not know why the masses are attracted to each other, we just know that they are. And, we can calculate the amount of acceleration toward each other using the "law of gravity". But we do not really know why such an attraction exists, we only know that it does. The same would apply to the entanglement of particles at a distance. I assume physics has calculated this effect, but does not know why it works as it does.

The determinism is in the reliability of the cause and the effect. Moving X causes Y to move. That's the cause and that's the effect. The behavior is deterministic.
But you're not describing entanglement. I didn't say pushing X moves Y. We have no evidence that pushing X moves Y; what we've observed is that when we don't push X, and X just goes this way or that on its own for no reason we can see, and we also don't push Y and Y just goes this way or that on its own for no reason we can see, in that situation what X and Y do are somewhat synchronized. But if we try to use this synchronization to send a message, by pushing X, we fail because the synchronization goes away -- the two particles' movements are correlated only when we refrain from pushing on them. If we choose to think of this phenomenon in terms of one particle moving the other, we have no evidence as to whether it's X moving Y or it's Y moving X. Which one moves first doesn't tell us which movement is cause and which is effect -- the correlation remains even when the time difference is so little that which one moves first depends on the frame of reference of the observer. And if we assume that this is just a matter of our ignorance, and cause and effect took place, and there is a fact of the matter that one particle moved the other, then that would imply that for observers moving at some speeds relative to the laboratory, the effect happened before the cause.

... For philosophizing about determinism, you use it to mean "metaphysical certainty". But for testing your hypothesis, you're using it to mean "able to be relied on". But we rely on uncertain things all the time. ... Whether the 0.01% chance of falling results from true randomness or merely chaotic cause and effect makes no difference to our ability to rely on our feet.
A random event is one where the behavior is difficult to predict due to incomplete information, and a chaotic event is one where the behavior is difficult to predict because the behavior begins to vary soon after the initial conditions, so it is difficult to reset those conditions accurately enough to get the same result a second time.
An event that's difficult to predict due to there not yet being any state information in the universe that determines whether the event will happen is also a random event. The state information that implies P will happen and Q will not happen starts to exist at some specific time, regardless of whether determinism or indeterminism is correct -- it's just a matter of when. According to determinism, all of that random information started to exist in one Noah's-Flood-like catastrophe which set the initial conditions of the universe. According to indeterminism, that same state information started to exist one bit at a time in an ongoing Uniformitarian process. It's not clear why an unobservable moment of wholesale arbitrary true-random selection from an infinite space of unrealized possibilities, amplified by eons of pseudo-random chaos, is supposed to be so much more "rational" than eons of observable retail arbitrary true-random selection from finite spaces of unrealized possibilities, likewise amplified by pseudo-random chaos.

We cannot "determine" (as in "to know") whether the coin will land heads up or tails. But we know the vectors involved, so that we could, with sufficient measurement of those vectors, theoretically predict how the coin would land with 100% accuracy.
You keep saying that; but you don't have a theory that implies it. First construct a deterministic theory that explains entanglement, then tell us what we could theoretically do.

Oh, and I do not know how "metaphysical" certainty differs from plain ol' certainty. If you're going to use that adjective, it would be nice to see what its semantic content is (I am skeptical, and currently believe it has no true meaning).
Sorry, "metaphysical certainty" is a term of art; it's used to distinguish what we're talking about from "psychological certainty". People tend to be certain of lots of things they have no good reason to be certain of. "Metaphysical certainty" refers to events that are in fact 100% probable, irrespective of whether anyone knows or believes they are.
"Spooky Science" Should Be Restricted to Halloween-Party Magicians

Entanglement is not two separate particles receiving the same effect far apart and being in two different conditions. It is the same particle going back and forth through the fourth spatial dimension at the square of the speed of light.

For example, if someone in the Sahara desert freezing irrationally, but apparently because his twin brother is a the North Pole, that is the impossible orthodox version of Entanglement. The logical version is that there is only one person, and he is traveling back and forth so fast that he can still be shivering in the Sahara.

The Sage of Main Street

Member
... Antecedent events no doubt influence our behavior. But I do not see how they cause or determine our behavior.

No prior-cause-of-me can participate in my choices without first becoming an integral part of who and what I am. My prior causes cannot bypass me and bring about events themselves without my knowledge and consent. And, once they become part of me, it is once again actually me, and not my prior causes, that is doing the choosing.

The final prior cause of a deliberate act is the act of deliberation that precedes it.

If You Don't at Least Look for an Exit, You Are Self-Imprisoned

People have similar backgrounds but react differently. They are under the same pressure to cave in, but their will or their character is different. So the worth of the individual determines the outcome.

Copernicus

It seems to me that the endless struggle over free will in this thread has been over how to frame the concept of "free will". If you frame it from the perspective of a deterministic system, then there appears to be no freedom of choice. If you frame it from the perspective of partially deterministic environment that human beings interact with, then there is considerable freedom of choice. Compatibilism is just the position that both perspectives are valid, depending on the discourse context. For example, it doesn't make any sense to talk about free will in the context of an omniscient observer--a godlike being--because there is never any doubt as to outcomes in what it is observing. So the characters or "agents" in a novel don't have free will except in an imagined storyline where they don't know their future. One can shift back and forth between the perspective of the author and the imaginary characters with no trouble at all. We can read that novel knowing that the characters don't really have free will but still imagine them to have it. This is about the perspective we use to frame the argument, and both perspectives can be useful ones under different circumstances. The "godlike" author has to keep shifting perspectives in order to write the novel. The reader has to keep shifting in order to remain interested in the storyline while not losing touch with the reality in which he or she is reading a novel.

Well, I was hoping to have overcome that problem, by demonstrating that free will is just another deterministic event. That becomes a simple matter if we presume universal causal necessity. But it gets befuddled if we allow indeterminism to creep in. You see, if we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, then causal necessity becomes an irrelevant triviality. But with indeterminism, it once again becomes a relevant constraint, because it can be present or it can be absent. But if it is always present, then it becomes an irrelevant background constant. So, my argument is never helped by the introduction of indeterministic events.

But that was my reason for bringing up MWI. It restores universal causal necessity, because there is only an appearance of quantum level indeterminism in one of the worlds. But, even if one doesn't buy that particular interpretation or any of the others that preserve determinism, we still have the problem that indeterminism is really about how we calculate events probabilistically, not necessarily the philosophical debate over free will. It is dressed up as a philosophical interpretation, but that may be a misunderstanding of the concept. At least, that is the point being made by Dr. Mark Hadley in this online post:

Indeterminism: the false free will supposition

Free will and freedom of choice are both present in a deterministic system. We can look right at them, and they cannot be denied, because choosing is an event that actually occurs within our deterministic universe.

That's true, but my position is that it all depends on how you frame the deterministic system. If you frame it from the perspective of someone who knows all future outcomes in the deterministic universe, then there is no free will. It is an illusion that disappears from that perspective, and that is the perspective that eliminativists like DBT and others insist on taking. If you frame it from the perspective of an actor in the system, who is ignorant of future outcomes, then free will makes perfect sense, since the future (not the past or present) is indeterminate. The whole point of having an imagination is that it is necessary to the survival of an actor in a chaotic deterministic reality. That's why brains with the capability of imagination have evolved in our deterministic reality. Animals need to be able to imagine the future in order to navigate safely. The fact that some quantum level past events appear to have no discernable cause doesn't really change the need for freedom of choice in animals like us. That's just how we have to operate. And more importantly, the concept of responsibility for one's actions is paramount in making our social systems work properly, and that is why the concept of free will is best defined in the way that you have framed it.

DBT

Contributor
...

If you you really could refute incompatibilism and establish free will as reality, the debate would over. Harris, Pereboom, Hallet, et al, would concede and nobody would argue anymore.

Don't be silly. They will not agree until they can see through their own delusion. They will grasp that illusion because they reinforce it among themselves. The notion that a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect changes things is an illusion, because we've always been in that world, and the world is exactly as it is.

Accusing those who disagree with you of delusion does not prove your proposition as a compatibilist. I wouldn't say that anyone is deluded, just that someone has to be wrong.

Who is wrong depends on which argument accounts for the nature of determinism, the nature of decision making and human behaviour.

Compatibility fails because determinism does not allow deviation or free choice, nobody can do otherwise in any circumstance, how things go, how the brain functions and responds being fixed as a matter of natural law, neither unconscious or conscious will playing part in decision making. The consequences being that without alternatives, there is no freedom of will. We have will, our brain processes information and produces behaviour according to information exchange.

Therefore declaring that acting without coercion is an instance of free will does not take all of these elements in account and does not prove the proposition.

DBT

Contributor
Your conscious self has no access to the means of production and has no control over what neural networks are doing.

Correct. Exercising conscious control over the individual firing of neurons is not what the brain was evolved to do.

But among the hundreds of different functions, that the brain was evolved to handle, is to organize sensory data into a model of reality. With that model we get imagination, evaluation, prediction, reasoning, calculation, identification, etc. Oh, and we also get choosing.

Choosing is a function that causally determines what we will do whenever we have two or more options.

Correct. Which means that there is no reason to label what the brain does as being 'free will.' Why? because nothing is being 'freely willed.'
You are shaped and formed by elements beyond your conscious control.

Conscious awareness is part of the control process. If the pitcher throws a baseball at your head, then you'd better be aware of the ball before the ball renders you unconscious.

And, you do not need to be conscious of your neurons in order to be conscious of the ball.

Neurons produce conscious experience. This is not willed.

You are whatever a brain is doing.

Exactly! So, when my brain is making a decision, I am making a decision.

Whatever happens is not subject to will. Nor do you have an alternative option in any given instance of information exchange, readiness potential or conscious report. The brain just does what is evolved to do.
You think and do whatever the brain produces in any given moment in time.

Right! As David Eagleman once pointed out, "Your brain is you". There is no dualism.

Nor does will change outcomes.
You can't do otherwise.

Why would I want to do otherwise than what I have decided I will do!? You suggest a meaningless constraint, an "illusion" of a constraint.

Without the ability to do otherwise, you have no freedom of will...

If my choice is free of coercion and undue influence, then it is a choice of my own free will.

And, of course, during any choosing I will always have at least two options. Whenever I have two or more options, I also have "the ability to do otherwise".

Will plays no part in what happens.
... simply declaring that you act according to your nature is not sufficient to establish freedom of will.

"Freedom of will" is the ability to decide for myself what I will do. This freedom is not constrained by my brain, it is enabled by my brain.

Trick Slattery said:
''For compatibilism, “freedom” most often addresses a condition of action rather than an agent’s will itself. In fact, even some compatibilists think that “freedom of the will” should be abandoned for “freedom of action” (though they’d remove the “freedom of the will” term in doing so – which incorrectly assumes there is no need to address the will’s constraints). For the compatibilist “freedom” often means the “unencumbered freedom for one to do what they want”.

Nice to see Trick Slattery in the game. He and I had many on-line discussions years ago. But, once you've written a book, you're kind of tied into a viewpoint, despite the evidence that refutes it.

There is no such thing as "absolute" freedom. Nor is there such a thing as "freedom from one's own brain". Nor is there such a thing as "freedom from cause and effect".

Fortunately, free will requires no such nonsense. It simply requires freedom from coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Having written a book has no bearing on the arguments he presents. They stand or fall on their own merit.

What he says is basically the standard argument against compatibilism.

I quote because it saves me time and effort.

The standard argument against compatibility does not belong to anyone, it just points out the problems. Compatibilism fails because it is a semantic construct that doesn't account for the nature of determinism, the brain, decision making or the drivers of human behaviour....

And there is the false equivalency, the suggestion that a brain being manipulated by a microchip, or subject to significant mental illness, is essentially operating the same as a normal brain without such influences. Slattery's suggestion that there is no distinction is precisely why we need the notion of free will, which actually makes the necessary distinctions.

It's not false equivalency, in each and every instance it is the information state of the brain - not will - that determines response, be it under pressure, the absence or presence of duress, relaxed, tense, happy, sad, it matter not. One response is no more a matter of free will than any other, it is all brain activity.

''The term “free will” already contains some ambiguity, but there is a more common intuition that exists about the “free will” ability people feel they possess. As soon as we move too far away from it, such only, as Harris puts it, causes a “failure to speak plainly about the facts”.

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Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Accusing those who disagree with you of delusion does not prove your proposition as a compatibilist. I wouldn't say that anyone is deluded, just that someone has to be wrong.

No no. I do not go around calling people who disagree with me "delusional". My point is that viewing causal necessity as an entity that is controlling us against our will is a true delusion. And, of course, viewing our own brain as some external force acting upon us against our will is also a delusion.

It is because of these delusions that the hard determinist repeatedly insists that ordinary people, choosing for themselves what they will do, are experiencing an "illusion" of free will.

Who is wrong depends on which argument accounts for the nature of determinism, the nature of decision making and human behaviour.

Exactly. The questions at hand for the argument are these:
(A) Is causal necessity an entity that wrests control of our choices from us, leaving us with only an illusion of control, while the actual control is vested in causal necessity, or not?
(B) Where is the control of our choices located? Is it within us or external to us?
(C) Who has located it correctly, the hard determinist or the compatibilist?
(D) And who is having the illusion, the hard determinist or the compatibilist?

Compatibility fails because determinism does not allow deviation or free choice, nobody can do otherwise in any circumstance...

There is no deviation. Free choice is just as causally necessary as any other event. Your view of causal necessity is incomplete without the rational causal mechanism (people deciding what they will do). Plug the rational causal mechanism into causal necessity where it rightfully belongs, and there is free choice staring you in the face.

Free choice does not mean "free from causal necessity". Free choice is only free from coercion and undue influence. And that is the definition that is used when assessing moral and legal responsibility for ones actions.

"Freedom from causal necessity" is an oxymoron, a self-contradiction, because a freely chosen will requires reliable causation in order to carry out its intent. To suggest that we must somehow be free of that which freedom requires creates an obvious paradox. So, this definition of free will is bogus.

, how things go, how the brain functions and responds

Nothing about how the brain functions contradicts free will. The brain's own choosing function, however it is performed, is an actual choosing operation. It is an operation carried out in the real world inside our own real brains. Neuroscience hopes to explain how the brain goes about doing this, but neuroscience cannot attribute this operation to any other object or any other location. It is really us, and we are actually doing it.

... being fixed as a matter of natural law, neither unconscious or conscious will playing part in decision making.

(1) We have located both the unconscious and conscious parts of the choosing operation within our own brains, demonstrating that it is indeed we, ourselves, that are doing the choosing.

(2) Where shall we locate these natural laws? I would suggest that these laws are used to describe the processes going on inside our own brains. And it is actually these natural laws that the neuroscientists are trying to discover and document as they examine the brain and its functions.

Do you disagree with either point?

The consequences being that without alternatives, there is no freedom of will. We have will, our brain processes information and produces behaviour according to information exchange.

The choosing process is most definitely an operation performed by our own brain, and, neuroscience is welcome to explain how it works at the neural level.

However, the brain reports this processing to us in this fashion:
1. I must decide what I will have for breakfast. Will I have eggs, or, will I have pancakes?
2. Do I have eggs in the fridge? Yes, so having eggs is a real possibility.
3. Do I have pancake mix in the cupboard? Yes, so having pancakes is also a real possibility.
4. I now have two real possibilities to choose from. "I can choose eggs" is true, and, "I can choose pancakes" is also true. This is "the ability to do otherwise". And it will always show up whenever we have a choosing operation in the chain of causally necessitated events.
5. I had pancakes for the last three mornings, so, "I will have pancakes" is true, and, "I could have had eggs" is also true.

Do you have any problem with these causally necessary events?

Therefore declaring that acting without coercion is an instance of free will does not take all of these elements in account and does not prove the proposition.

I've taken the brain into account. And I've presumed that all of the events within the brain are causally necessary from any prior point in time. So, what is it that you think is missing? There is no claim here that free will means "freedom from my own brain". There is no claim here that free will means "freedom from the laws of nature" (after all, I am one of the embodiments of those laws, I am a collaborative collection of reliable causal mechanisms). There is no claim here that free will is "free from causal necessity".

Free will is when we decide for ourselves what we will do, while free of coercion and undue influence. That is all that it is. And that is all that is required when assessing a person's responsibility for their actions.

DBT

Contributor
Accusing those who disagree with you of delusion does not prove your proposition as a compatibilist. I wouldn't say that anyone is deluded, just that someone has to be wrong.

No no. I do not go around calling people who disagree with me "delusional". My point is that viewing causal necessity as an entity that is controlling us against our will is a true delusion.

Causal necessity creates everything, us, our will, shape, form, function and expression. Will has no say in the matter. That is determinism in action.

As far as I know, nobody has said or suggested that determinism ''controls'' us against our will. That's not how determinism works.

To say that to act freely, without coercion or force applies to all events within a determined system. Actions are performed freely, but there is no could have done otherwise.

Bomb#20

Contributor
Entanglement is not two separate particles receiving the same effect far apart and being in two different conditions. It is the same particle going back and forth through the fourth spatial dimension at the square of the speed of light.
"The same particle going back and forth through the fourth spatial dimension" is an intriguing speculation; maybe somebody could work that up into a theory and get a quantitative prediction out of it.
"At the square of the speed of light" is empty-headed gibberish; you might as well say the particle is going back and forth at 37 kilograms per volt.

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Which means that there is no reason to label what the brain does as being 'free will.' Why? because nothing is being 'freely willed.'

Consider the simple case where, among all the information that our brain is processing, there is the fact that a man is pointing a gun at us, and telling us to give him our wallet. The brain, and its neural architecture, continue to perform information processing as usual. This is not an issue of how the brain goes about doing its work.

But this particular piece of information alters the location of control. The brain must now assure that we continue to exist when faced with the guy who threatens to kill us. So, we are not free to go about our business as we see fit, but are forced to submit our will to his. Our will is not free, but is subjugated by his threat to kill us. The control is no longer in our brain, but is now located in his brain.

Neurons produce conscious experience. This is not willed.

And that conscious experience now includes awareness of the guy holding the gun, and telling us to hand over our wallet.

Whatever happens is not subject to will.

What I will do when facing the mugger is chosen by my own brain, you know, all that neural activity that produces the conscious experience of the guy pointing a gun at me. But my options are limited to what the guy with the gun tells me I must do to survive. I am no longer free to decide for myself what I will do, I must surrender that control to the robber, or die.

Nor do you have an alternative option in any given instance of information exchange, readiness potential or conscious report. The brain just does what is evolved to do.

Well, in some of these discussions, it has been suggested that a person could choose to die, rather than hand over his wallet. But the brain has been evolved specifically to help us survive, thrive, and reproduce. And dying on the spot is not something that any normal brain would choose to do.

Nor does will change outcomes.

Will is the intention that motivates and directs our actions. So, it is that which marshals our body's energies to perform some task.

Without the ability to do otherwise, you have no freedom of will...

If my choice is free of coercion and undue influence, then it is a choice of my own free will.

And, of course, during any choosing I will always have at least two options. Whenever I have two or more options, I have "the ability to do otherwise".

Having written a book has no bearing on the arguments he presents. They stand or fall on their own merit.

Yes, and they appear to be falling.
What he says is basically the standard argument against compatibilism.

I welcome any argument, but, being the compatibilist, I get to define what compatibilism is and what it is not.

The standard argument against compatibility does not belong to anyone, it just points out the problems. Compatibilism fails because it is a semantic construct that doesn't account for the nature of determinism, the brain, decision making or the drivers of human behaviour....

Neither you nor Slattery have yet provided any problems for compatibilism.

It's not false equivalency, in each and every instance it is the information state of the brain - not will - that determines response, be it under pressure, the absence or presence of duress, relaxed, tense, happy, sad, it matter not. One response is no more a matter of free will than any other, it is all brain activity.

Yes. In every case it is the information state of the brain that determines the response (what the body will do). But when that information contains the fact of the guy pointing a gun, that brain is coerced into doing something that it would not have otherwise done. And when the brain is ill or injured to the point where it can no longer operate normally, it is not the same as a normal brain.

But pretending there is no difference between what a normal brain decides and what an insane brain decides is a simple denial of reality. It is a false equivalency.

''The term “free will” already contains some ambiguity, but there is a more common intuition that exists about the “free will” ability people feel they possess. As soon as we move too far away from it, such only, as Harris puts it, causes a “failure to speak plainly about the facts”.

It is nice to see Slattery bringing in the Nahmias study: "Surveying Freedom: Folk Intuitions about Free Will and Moral Responsibility". It demonstrates how ordinary people understand and use "free will". It demonstrates that most people view free will in the normal sense, a deliberate choice that someone makes for themselves. What Slattery makes of this study is suspect, of course, due to his personal beliefs. But you can read it for yourself.

The ability to do otherwise, as I've explained, comes with every choosing operation. Both "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must be true statements at the beginning of the operation in order for the operation to proceed. They are true by logical necessity. The person making the choice ends up with one thing that they "will" do, and at least one other thing that they "could have done, but didn't do". The result is that "I could have done otherwise" will always be true, but "I would have done otherwise" will always be false. This is not a supernatural belief, it is the natural flow of the language and the meanings of the words being used. What I "can" do is not the same as what I "will" do.

Two other studies I'm aware of also explore people's normal intuitions of free will:

"It’s OK if ‘my brain made me do it’: People’s intuitions about free will and neuroscientific prediction" which demonstrates their assessment that predicting what someone will do does not eliminate free will, but using neural manipulation to control their choice does eliminate free will.

"From Uncaused Will to Conscious Choice: The Need to Study, Not Speculate About People’s Folk Concept of Free Will" which simply asked people to define "free will" in a few sentences! They concluded: "No evidence was found for metaphysical assumptions about dualism or indeterminism".

Jarhyn

Wizard
Origination Argument;

1. An agent acts with free will only if she is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
2. If determinism is true, then everything any agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside her control.
3. If everything an agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances beyond her control, then the agent is not the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
4. Therefore, if determinism is true, then no agent is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
5. Therefore, if determinism is true, no agent has free will.
Item 1 is question-begging. It assumes as true the very thing that is under discussion.

No, it's not begging the question.

1- If determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent, as a matter of choice, why call it determinism?
I don't understand your response (it doesn't appear to address my criticism).

Marvin has not suggested (or implied) that "determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent".

Marvin is expressing philosophical compatibilism. I am arguing for incompatibility. Giving the reasons why compatibilism fails. It fails because it tries to define free will into reality by ignoring the implications of determinism, that simply calling something free will does not make will free, which makes it a word game.
And I am pointing out as a software engineer that your efforts to use physical determinism to attempt to hand-wave concepts of contention over executiveness which arise over the activity of disparate reference frames with incomplete information of the state of outside frames.

You are engaging in just as much of a word game, ignoring that there are abstract systems of order that arise within ANY deterministic system of sufficient complexity.

you have not answered in any sufficient manner my explanations of the concept from the perspective of software engineering: a system being deterministic does not change the truth of priority levels nor of contention

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius
Origination Argument;

1. An agent acts with free will only if she is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
2. If determinism is true, then everything any agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside her control.
3. If everything an agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances beyond her control, then the agent is not the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
4. Therefore, if determinism is true, then no agent is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
5. Therefore, if determinism is true, no agent has free will.
Item 1 is question-begging. It assumes as true the very thing that is under discussion.

No, it's not begging the question.

1- If determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent, as a matter of choice, why call it determinism?
I don't understand your response (it doesn't appear to address my criticism).

Marvin has not suggested (or implied) that "determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent".

Marvin is expressing philosophical compatibilism. I am arguing for incompatibility. Giving the reasons why compatibilism fails. It fails because it tries to define free will into reality by ignoring the implications of determinism, that simply calling something free will does not make will free, which makes it a word game.
And I am pointing out as a software engineer that your efforts to use physical determinism to attempt to hand-wave concepts of contention over executiveness which arise over the activity of disparate reference frames with incomplete information of the state of outside frames.

You are engaging in just as much of a word game, ignoring that there are abstract systems of order that arise within ANY deterministic system of sufficient complexity.

you have not answered in any sufficient manner my explanations of the concept from the perspective of software engineering: a system being deterministic does not change the truth of priority levels nor of con
Take it easy SW gee. Bring out your gun? Saw no evidence he was armed.

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Causal necessity creates everything, us, our will, shape, form, function and expression. Will has no say in the matter. That is determinism in action.

That is called a "reification fallacy". Causal necessity is not an entity that goes about in the world creating things. Causation itself never causes anything. Determinism itself never determines anything. Yet you have transferred our control to these imaginary entities.

The fact is that our own brain evaluates our circumstances and, if a decision is required, our own brain chooses what we will do. That chosen intent then motivates and directs our subsequent actions, so, choosing what we will do has the actual control.

As far as I know, nobody has said or suggested that determinism ''controls'' us against our will. That's not how determinism works.

And yet that is precisely what you just said. You have "determinism in action". You have causal necessity "creating everything". Basically, you've turned these abstract concepts into gods.

To say that to act freely, without coercion or force applies to all events within a determined system. Actions are performed freely, but there is no could have done otherwise.

Again you ignore the evidence. You're driving down the road and you see a red traffic light up ahead. Will it remain red, forcing you to stop? Or, will it turn green just as you arrive, allowing you to continue through the intersection? Not knowing what "will" happen, you imagine what "can" happen, to prepare for what actually "does" happen. As you get closer you slow down, but then the light changes to green, so you drive on through. If it were true that the light "could not" have remained red, then why did you slow down? The meaning of "could have" exists only in the context of uncertainty. "Could have" refers to something that may happen, but then again it may never happen. This is very different from something that "will" happen. Something that will happen certainly will happen.

Hard determinists have unfortunately conflated what "can" happen with what "will" happen. They insist that there is only one possibility, AS IF a possibility were the same thing as an actuality. But they are not the same. All possibilities exist solely within our imagination. We cannot drive a car across the possibility of a bridge. We can only drive across an actual bridge. However, we cannot build an actual bridge without first imagining a possible bridge.

Are you getting any of this?

pood

Veteran Member
It is head-spinning to know where to respond, because the indeterminism and compatibilism threads keep going over the same ground.

I think Martin has the correct argument. It seems to me the two key points are these: first, causal determinism does not cause, determine, force, compel or make you do anything. The laws of nature are not actually laws, because they are not prescriptive. They are descriptive. They describe events that happen in the real world. Some descriptions are of events that happen without exception, like bodies falling toward each other in accord with Newton’s “laws” later modified by Einstein. Other events are statistical, like half-life decay or thermodynamics. Others are of fundamentally indeterministic events, descriptions found in quantum physics.

Second, the hard determinist argument repeatedly and wrongly conflates “cannot do otherwise” with “will not do otherwise.” This, as I noted in my first post some time back, actually constitutes a fallacy of modal logic, confusing necessity (must be) with contingency (does not have to be).

For those interested, you might wish to google up Norman Swartz, emeritus professor of philosophy at Simon Fraser U, who has written extensively on the relation between causal determinism (and other forms of determinism) and free will.

We are our brains. The hard determinist argument seems to be saying that in order to vindicate free will, we ought somehow to be free of our brains. If I choose to do x, I have thus chosen because my brain has processed all the relevant inputs and has made what seems to be the most desirable choice among two or more options. But to say my brain has processed these inputs is just to say that I have processed them, and then I (my brain) chooses.

To say we ought to be free of our brains then is just to say we ought to be free of ourselves. It makes no sense to me.

If I choose x, it’s simply not true that I could not have chosen y. What seems to be true — though obviously this is not an experiment we can ever run — is that if we rewound the tape of history so that all antecedent events were identical up to my choice of either x or y, then I would again choose x, for why in the world would I choose differently? But it simply does not follow as a matter of logic that I could not have chosen otherwise, just that I would not.