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Compatibilism: What's that About?

Marvin Edwards

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Without deliberation, the deliberate act has no prior cause. And, that is illegal in a deterministic system. The deliberation is part of the natural unfolding of events.

All deliberate actions are causally necessitated by a chosen will. You cannot call it determinism if you deliberately ignore prior causes.

Nothing within a determined system, by definition, can be its own cause, nor - by definition - does anything, human or not - have regulative control over its own behaviour.

Dude, nothing is ever its own cause. However, I do not need to cause myself in order to be the meaningful and relevant cause of my own deliberate actions.

It's not logical to select a certain form of human behaviour and declare it to be an instance of free will.

Determinism asserts that every event must have a prior cause. Free will asserts that the prior cause of any deliberate act is the act of deliberation that precedes it. But assertions are true. Thus, determinism and free will are compatible concepts. Free will happens to be just another deterministic event in the chain of causation.

To claim that the brain does no choosing is false. To ignore choosing, as a causal mechanism within the universal scheme of causation, makes your determinism incomplete and false. So, the hard determinist's version of determinism is an illusion. It is a fraudulent determinism.

On the other hand, my presumption is a perfectly deterministic universe, in which all events are reliably caused, by some specific combination of physical, biological, and/or rational causal mechanisms. My determinism is the real thing.

Everything within a determined system has precisely the same status; fixed as a matter of natural law. Will having no privileged status, falsifies compatibilism.

Well, if you're using a false determinism, then you certainly will think that you have falsified compatibilism. So, stop using a false determinism, and end this delusion.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Quote:

''An action’s production by a deterministic process, even when the agent satisfies the conditions on moral responsibility specified by compatibilists, presents no less of a challenge to basic-desert responsibility than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. ''

The challenge to basic-desert responsibility is a question of justice. The notion of "just deserts" is an abbreviation of "what the criminal offender justly deserves". So, what does the criminal offender justly deserve? Since a system of justice is designed to protect everyone's rights, a just penalty would include the following elements: (a) repair the harm to the victim if possible, (b) correct the offender's future behavior if corrigible, (c) secure the offender to protect others until his behavior is corrected, and (d) do no more harm to the offender or his rights than is reasonably required to accomplish (a), (b), and (c).

The role of free will is to distinguish a deliberate act by a rational mind, from a coerced act, or an insane act. This distinction guides our efforts at correction.
1. If the behavior was not deliberate, but was coerced, then removing the threat is sufficient to correct the behavior.
2. If the behavior was due to mental illness, then correcting the behavior will require medical and psychiatric treatment in a secure facility.
3. If the behavior was a deliberate act by a rational mind, then we need to correct the offender's thinking about such choices in the future. This requires rehabilitation programs that include such things as counseling, addiction treatment, education, skills training, post release follow-up, job placement, etc.
 

Copernicus

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Just because you don't agree with Einstein doesn't mean that what he said is stupid. He was pointing out the undeniable consequences of determinism. It is compatibilism that fails to relate to the consequences of determinism, therefore fails as an argument.

Speaking of Einstein, his position on free will is incoherent. Consider this quote from the Saturday Evening Post many years ago:

Albert Einstein said:
"In a sense, we can hold no one responsible. I am a determinist. As such, I do not believe in free will. ... Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed. If I wish to live in a civilized community,I must act as if man is a responsible being."
Page 114 of "The Saturday Evening Post" article "What Life Means to Einstein" "An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" (Oct 26, 1929)

On the one hand, he says that being a determinist means that he does not believe in free will or responsibility, then he turns around and says he must act as if he does believe in them. Even Einstein was taken in by the paradox. So, you're certainly in good company.
Exactly. So the question for those who wish to eliminate "free will" on grounds of determinism: Why would you hold anyone responsible for the crimes they commit? Seriously. I would like to hear some rationale that does not involve you invoking free will or some equivalent concept as part of your argument. Einstein said that he wished to live in a civilized community, but how could he possibly freely choose to live in a civilized community?
 

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Just because you don't agree with Einstein doesn't mean that what he said is stupid. He was pointing out the undeniable consequences of determinism. It is compatibilism that fails to relate to the consequences of determinism, therefore fails as an argument.

Speaking of Einstein, his position on free will is incoherent. Consider this quote from the Saturday Evening Post many years ago:

Albert Einstein said:
"In a sense, we can hold no one responsible. I am a determinist. As such, I do not believe in free will. ... Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed. If I wish to live in a civilized community,I must act as if man is a responsible being."
Page 114 of "The Saturday Evening Post" article "What Life Means to Einstein" "An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" (Oct 26, 1929)

On the one hand, he says that being a determinist means that he does not believe in free will or responsibility, then he turns around and says he must act as if he does believe in them. Even Einstein was taken in by the paradox. So, you're certainly in good company.


That's induction, he said - ''Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed'' - which may be taken mean that the perception of free will is an illusion.... supported by his comment; ''If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all.''

There is no contradiction, only perspective. The illusion of free will/agency where none exists within a determined system.
 

fromderinside

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You chatter.

And you don't??

In a determined world no person decides freely.

Well, they cannot be "free of causal necessity". Nor can they be "free from themselves". But their choosing can most certainly be free from coercion and undue influence.

I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing. One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective. Causation is objective. Subjective isn't up to the task.
 

DBT

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Quote:

''An action’s production by a deterministic process, even when the agent satisfies the conditions on moral responsibility specified by compatibilists, presents no less of a challenge to basic-desert responsibility than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. ''

Quote:

''An action’s production by a deterministic process, even when the agent satisfies the conditions on moral responsibility specified by compatibilists, presents no less of a challenge to basic-desert responsibility than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. ''

The challenge to basic-desert responsibility is a question of justice. The notion of "just deserts" is an abbreviation of "what the criminal offender justly deserves". So, what does the criminal offender justly deserve? Since a system of justice is designed to protect everyone's rights, a just penalty would include the following elements: (a) repair the harm to the victim if possible, (b) correct the offender's future behavior if corrigible, (c) secure the offender to protect others until his behavior is corrected, and (d) do no more harm to the offender or his rights than is reasonably required to accomplish (a), (b), and (c).

The role of free will is to distinguish a deliberate act by a rational mind, from a coerced act, or an insane act. This distinction guides our efforts at correction.
1. If the behavior was not deliberate, but was coerced, then removing the threat is sufficient to correct the behavior.
2. If the behavior was due to mental illness, then correcting the behavior will require medical and psychiatric treatment in a secure facility.
3. If the behavior was a deliberate act by a rational mind, then we need to correct the offender's thinking about such choices in the future. This requires rehabilitation programs that include such things as counseling, addiction treatment, education, skills training, post release follow-up, job placement, etc.


The reality of free will as an agency of change, veto or control must first be established. All types of behaviour within a determined system, be they described as deliberate or coerced are necessitated behaviours.

Therefore: 'an action’s production by a deterministic process presents no less of a challenge to responsibility - or freedom of the will - than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. '

Not from want of trying, there is just no way around this.
 

Copernicus

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...

That's induction, he said - ''Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed'' - which may be taken mean that the perception of free will is an illusion.... supported by his comment; ''If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all.''

There is no contradiction, only perspective. The illusion of free will/agency where none exists within a determined system.

Are you sort of admitting that free will exists from the perspective of actors within the deterministic system? You, like Einstein, seem to be admitting that there is no practical consequence of defining free will as if it meant exactly what Marvin said. It is a fully determined process, and it makes perfect sense from the perspective of all of us sentient automatons interacting with each other. Sounds like that sense of free will is pretty compatible with determinism.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Just because you don't agree with Einstein doesn't mean that what he said is stupid. He was pointing out the undeniable consequences of determinism. It is compatibilism that fails to relate to the consequences of determinism, therefore fails as an argument.

Speaking of Einstein, his position on free will is incoherent. Consider this quote from the Saturday Evening Post many years ago:

Albert Einstein said:
"In a sense, we can hold no one responsible. I am a determinist. As such, I do not believe in free will. ... Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed. If I wish to live in a civilized community,I must act as if man is a responsible being."
Page 114 of "The Saturday Evening Post" article "What Life Means to Einstein" "An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" (Oct 26, 1929)

On the one hand, he says that being a determinist means that he does not believe in free will or responsibility, then he turns around and says he must act as if he does believe in them. Even Einstein was taken in by the paradox. So, you're certainly in good company.


That's induction, he said - ''Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed'' - which may be taken mean that the perception of free will is an illusion.... supported by his comment; ''If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all.''

There is no contradiction, only perspective. The illusion of free will/agency where none exists within a determined system.

Einstein is making up a story with no evidence. If the moon had self-consciousness, it would just as likely perceive itself as a passive entity enjoying the trip. It would not observe itself making choices, because the moon never makes any choices. So it would never have the notion of choosing what it will do next. Without choosing, it would never have the notion that it controls anything. But we can watch ourselves choosing what we will have for breakfast, or choosing which route we will take to work, or choosing all the other things we choose throughout the day. So, Einstein's analogy, like all analogies, is false.
 

Marvin Edwards

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I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing.

Choosing is a deterministic operation that inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice, usually in the form of an "I will X", where X is that which we have decided we will do.

And you're saying this never happens? Come with me to the restaurant. Watch the people walk in, sit at a table, browse the menu, and place their orders. How was the literal menu of options reduced to a single choice, if not by choosing?

If we stick around, we will notice the waiter bringing each person their bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

Like all events, these events were causally necessary from any prior point in the past. Causal necessity does eliminate choosing, it assures it will inevitably happen.

One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective.

Watching people in the restaurant reducing a menu of options into a single "I will have the chef salad, please", is an objective observation, not a subjective impression. That's why I use it. Everyone has seen people actually making choices in the real world.

Causation is objective.

And we just objectively observed choosing actually happening. Cool, huh?

Subjective isn't up to the task.

So, are you suggesting that we, as objective observers, were just imagining that people in the restaurant were making choices? We cannot see inside their heads. But we did see a menu of options going into it, and a single choice coming out of it. Choosing happens. It is a real deterministic event that occurs in the real world.
 

Marvin Edwards

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The reality of free will as an agency of change, veto or control must first be established.

Have you been to a restaurant lately? Choosing is a deterministic event in which two or more options are input, some criteria of comparative evaluation is applied, and a single choice is output.

We watch the people walk in, sit down, browse the menu, and place their order. At the end of the meal the waiter brings them the bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

The waiter brings the bill to the agents of change, the persons who placed the order and ate the meal. He does not bring the bill to the customer's parents. He does not bring the bill to evolution. He does not bring the bill to the laws of nature. He does not bring the bill to the Big Bang.

It is obvious to the waiter who was responsible for ordering the meal and who ate it. It was the customer, and not any other object in the entire universe.

And, if the waiter brings the wrong meal to the customer, the customer will veto that meal and the waiter must find who ordered it, or return it to the kitchen.

All types of behaviour within a determined system, be they described as deliberate or coerced are necessitated behaviours.

Yes! Now you're getting it. All events are equally causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time. Causal necessity makes no distinctions whatever between any two events.

And that is why the notion of causal necessity is pretty useless. In order to make productive choices, we must be able to distinguish between events. Having eggs for breakfast is one event. Having pancakes is a different event. Whatever we choose will be causally necessary from any prior point in time. So, the fact of causal necessity tells us nothing that helps us to decide what we should have for breakfast. In fact, it never tells us anything more that "what will be, will be". Useless!

But any number of other facts can help me choose between eggs and pancakes. What are my dietary goals? What did I have for breakfast yesterday? Do I really have time to fix pancakes? Etc. Any or all of these things may play a useful role in making my choice.

But causal necessity is a useless fact. It is a logical fact, derived from my presumption of a deterministic world of reliable cause and effect, but it is neither a meaningful nor a relevant fact, simply because it is always true of every event, without distinction.

Only by knowing the specific causes of specific effects do I get any useful information.

Therefore: 'an action’s production by a deterministic process presents no less of a challenge to responsibility - or freedom of the will - than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. '

I've already solved this problem. Right in front of you.

Not from want of trying, there is just no way around this.

Then, I suggest you do as I did, and go through it.
 

pood

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Yes, “what will be, will be” is useless, but more, the hard determinist conflates “what will be, will be,” which is true but trivial, with, “what will be, must be,” which is untrue.

Look at Einstein’s moon metaphor, raised in the compatibilism thread. If the moon were sentient, it would either perceive itself to be “along for the ride,” or it would perceive itself to have choices. Suppose it decided to stop moving. If it found itself unable to stop moving despite its decision to do so, then that would be evidence that it lacked free will.

Yet when I decide to order either eggs or pancakes for breakfast, I do not find my decision to be thwarted. If I decide to order eggs I get eggs. If I decide to order pancakes I get pancakes. And later if I am walking on the street and decide to stop, I stop without any problem.

If I decided to order eggs but found my mouth forming the word “pancakes” against my will, or if I found myself walking on the sidewalk and decided to stop but found, to my shock, my legs refusing to obey me and continuing to move me forward, those would be evidences of a lack of free will. We never observe these things to happen, obviously, unless some external force like hypnosis or drugs or internal brain injury were to cause such things to happen.

Of course the hard determinist will argue that there is an external force that causes me both to desire to have eggs and successfully mouth the word “eggs.” On his account that force is causal determinism. But causal determinism isn’t a force, a reified entity. It is rather a list of descriptions of what happens in the world. As Norman Swartz noted, we don’t get to choose the charge on an electron or a great many other constants or laws of nature. But we do get to choose the color of the shirt we will wear today.

Schopenhauer said that we can do as we will, we just can’t will what we will. Fine. Even then I would say it’s a stretch to say that our will was determined by antecedent events. I would say it was influenced by them. But whether you wish to use the verb “determined” or “influenced” makes little difference, it seems to me. Obviously our desires are predicated upon the past.

If I decide not to touch a flame it is because I touched one in the past, and got burned, and so learn not to do that again. Or perhaps I refrain from touching it because someone warns me of the consequences of doing so. This is another form of past influence. Or perhaps I begin to touch the flame and feel the heat, which is unpleasant, and swiftly draw back. Again my behavior or desire is influenced or determined by past or present events. But my action is still my choice. Some people override such past influences and put their hand in a flame anyway. G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate infamy comes to mind.
 

Jarhyn

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I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing.

Choosing is a deterministic operation that inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice, usually in the form of an "I will X", where X is that which we have decided we will do.

And you're saying this never happens? Come with me to the restaurant. Watch the people walk in, sit at a table, browse the menu, and place their orders. How was the literal menu of options reduced to a single choice, if not by choosing?

If we stick around, we will notice the waiter bringing each person their bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

Like all events, these events were causally necessary from any prior point in the past. Causal necessity does eliminate choosing, it assures it will inevitably happen.

One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective.

Watching people in the restaurant reducing a menu of options into a single "I will have the chef salad, please", is an objective observation, not a subjective impression. That's why I use it. Everyone has seen people actually making choices in the real world.

Causation is objective.

And we just objectively observed choosing actually happening. Cool, huh?

Subjective isn't up to the task.

So, are you suggesting that we, as objective observers, were just imagining that people in the restaurant were making choices? We cannot see inside their heads. But we did see a menu of options going into it, and a single choice coming out of it. Choosing happens. It is a real deterministic event that occurs in the real world.
And why I choose software as an example. "Choice" as a concept, in fact the more general term "decision", requires no/very little "intelligence" at all, the intelligence of a single gate.

I think where people get lost is that logical structures can be imposed in the physical, and those logical structures may be then modeled, completely ignoring the physical substrate, to perform an act of literal thaumaturgy: to make happen so below, and then follow that determined path above in the other system that performs "the same".

I can see how such ideas got off the rails though... It's a short but fatal leap to where people in ancient times took it, in our modern understanding.

But, Body Rituals of the Nacirema and all that...
 

Copernicus

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Intelligence entails the ability to learn from experience. People use that ability to make better choices in the future under similar circumstances. So they can imagine how they might have made different choices in the past. Although we can program computers to behave in a nondeterministic way when confronted with a novel situation or new obstacle, it is really hard to figure out how to get them to learn from experience. In any case, it is useless to try to understand how free will works without taking into account all of the factors that go into making it work the way it does. The field of Artificial Intelligence is not just about mimicking intelligent behavior. It is also about coming to understand how human brains work by discovering how to mimic that behavior. Programming a robot that has legs for walking tells us a lot about how humans manage to achieve that feat. We learn to watch where we step, but AI programmers have to actually figure out the real choices we make when we watch our steps. Our walking robots don't necessarily do that on their own, but our toddlers do. Maybe someday robots will, too.
 

Marvin Edwards

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I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing.

Choosing is a deterministic operation that inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice, usually in the form of an "I will X", where X is that which we have decided we will do.

And you're saying this never happens? Come with me to the restaurant. Watch the people walk in, sit at a table, browse the menu, and place their orders. How was the literal menu of options reduced to a single choice, if not by choosing?

If we stick around, we will notice the waiter bringing each person their bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

Like all events, these events were causally necessary from any prior point in the past. Causal necessity does eliminate choosing, it assures it will inevitably happen.

One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective.

Watching people in the restaurant reducing a menu of options into a single "I will have the chef salad, please", is an objective observation, not a subjective impression. That's why I use it. Everyone has seen people actually making choices in the real world.

Causation is objective.

And we just objectively observed choosing actually happening. Cool, huh?

Subjective isn't up to the task.

So, are you suggesting that we, as objective observers, were just imagining that people in the restaurant were making choices? We cannot see inside their heads. But we did see a menu of options going into it, and a single choice coming out of it. Choosing happens. It is a real deterministic event that occurs in the real world.
And why I choose software as an example. "Choice" as a concept, in fact the more general term "decision", requires no/very little "intelligence" at all, the intelligence of a single gate.

I think where people get lost is that logical structures can be imposed in the physical, and those logical structures may be then modeled, completely ignoring the physical substrate, to perform an act of literal thaumaturgy: to make happen so below, and then follow that determined path above in the other system that performs "the same".

I can see how such ideas got off the rails though... It's a short but fatal leap to where people in ancient times took it, in our modern understanding.

But, Body Rituals of the Nacirema and all that...

Geez, you're making me look up words like "thaumaturgy", which means working miracles. As a Humanist, I don't believe in miracles.
 

Elixir

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Who else thought this thread was going to be about cannibalism?
 

Marvin Edwards

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Intelligence entails the ability to learn from experience. People use that ability to make better choices in the future under similar circumstances. So they can imagine how they might have made different choices in the past. Although we can program computers to behave in a nondeterministic way when confronted with a novel situation or new obstacle, it is really hard to figure out how to get them to learn from experience. In any case, it is useless to try to understand how free will works without taking into account all of the factors that go into making it work the way it does. The field of Artificial Intelligence is not just about mimicking intelligent behavior. It is also about coming to understand how human brains work by discovering how to mimic that behavior. Programming a robot that has legs for walking tells us a lot about how humans manage to achieve that feat. We learn to watch where we step, but AI programmers have to actually figure out the real choices we make when we watch our steps. Our walking robots don't necessarily do that on their own, but our toddlers do. Maybe someday robots will, too.

I don't know. It seems like these robots are watching their steps:
 

Copernicus

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To be clear, I mean that current versions of walking robots do watch their steps, but they don't necessarily teach themselves how to do that. They simply lack episodic memories and an ability to use those memories the modify future behavior. However, they can be programmed to dance and to navigate obstacle courses via nondeterministic programming methods.
 

Jarhyn

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I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing.

Choosing is a deterministic operation that inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice, usually in the form of an "I will X", where X is that which we have decided we will do.

And you're saying this never happens? Come with me to the restaurant. Watch the people walk in, sit at a table, browse the menu, and place their orders. How was the literal menu of options reduced to a single choice, if not by choosing?

If we stick around, we will notice the waiter bringing each person their bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

Like all events, these events were causally necessary from any prior point in the past. Causal necessity does eliminate choosing, it assures it will inevitably happen.

One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective.

Watching people in the restaurant reducing a menu of options into a single "I will have the chef salad, please", is an objective observation, not a subjective impression. That's why I use it. Everyone has seen people actually making choices in the real world.

Causation is objective.

And we just objectively observed choosing actually happening. Cool, huh?

Subjective isn't up to the task.

So, are you suggesting that we, as objective observers, were just imagining that people in the restaurant were making choices? We cannot see inside their heads. But we did see a menu of options going into it, and a single choice coming out of it. Choosing happens. It is a real deterministic event that occurs in the real world.
And why I choose software as an example. "Choice" as a concept, in fact the more general term "decision", requires no/very little "intelligence" at all, the intelligence of a single gate.

I think where people get lost is that logical structures can be imposed in the physical, and those logical structures may be then modeled, completely ignoring the physical substrate, to perform an act of literal thaumaturgy: to make happen so below, and then follow that determined path above in the other system that performs "the same".

I can see how such ideas got off the rails though... It's a short but fatal leap to where people in ancient times took it, in our modern understanding.

But, Body Rituals of the Nacirema and all that...

Geez, you're making me look up words like "thaumaturgy", which means working miracles. As a Humanist, I don't believe in miracles.
Not particularly? More, "as above, so below". It is a concept of magic, not miracles. In any deeper discussion than the ignorant It's "an act of doing something on a symbolic scale to effect a change on a different scale; to manipulate one image so as to effect change on another."

Modeled action exactly that, doing something at small scale, observing the results, translating that to a course of action, and executing it to get those results on different scale.

I was being arcane and obtuse for silliness purposes.
 

Marvin Edwards

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To be clear, I mean that current versions of walking robots do watch their steps, but they don't necessarily teach themselves how to do that. They simply lack episodic memories and an ability to use those memories the modify future behavior. However, they can be programmed to dance and to navigate obstacle courses via nondeterministic programming methods.
I don't think there are nondeterministic programming methods. There may be choices that are unpredictable, but not causally indeterministic.
 

Marvin Edwards

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I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing.

Choosing is a deterministic operation that inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice, usually in the form of an "I will X", where X is that which we have decided we will do.

And you're saying this never happens? Come with me to the restaurant. Watch the people walk in, sit at a table, browse the menu, and place their orders. How was the literal menu of options reduced to a single choice, if not by choosing?

If we stick around, we will notice the waiter bringing each person their bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

Like all events, these events were causally necessary from any prior point in the past. Causal necessity does eliminate choosing, it assures it will inevitably happen.

One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective.

Watching people in the restaurant reducing a menu of options into a single "I will have the chef salad, please", is an objective observation, not a subjective impression. That's why I use it. Everyone has seen people actually making choices in the real world.

Causation is objective.

And we just objectively observed choosing actually happening. Cool, huh?

Subjective isn't up to the task.

So, are you suggesting that we, as objective observers, were just imagining that people in the restaurant were making choices? We cannot see inside their heads. But we did see a menu of options going into it, and a single choice coming out of it. Choosing happens. It is a real deterministic event that occurs in the real world.
And why I choose software as an example. "Choice" as a concept, in fact the more general term "decision", requires no/very little "intelligence" at all, the intelligence of a single gate.

I think where people get lost is that logical structures can be imposed in the physical, and those logical structures may be then modeled, completely ignoring the physical substrate, to perform an act of literal thaumaturgy: to make happen so below, and then follow that determined path above in the other system that performs "the same".

I can see how such ideas got off the rails though... It's a short but fatal leap to where people in ancient times took it, in our modern understanding.

But, Body Rituals of the Nacirema and all that...

Geez, you're making me look up words like "thaumaturgy", which means working miracles. As a Humanist, I don't believe in miracles.
Not particularly? More, "as above, so below". It is a concept of magic, not miracles. In any deeper discussion than the ignorant It's "an act of doing something on a symbolic scale to effect a change on a different scale; to manipulate one image so as to effect change on another."

Modeled action exactly that, doing something at small scale, observing the results, translating that to a course of action, and executing it to get those results on different scale.

I was being arcane and obtuse for silliness purposes.
And, you were successful.
 

Copernicus

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To be clear, I mean that current versions of walking robots do watch their steps, but they don't necessarily teach themselves how to do that. They simply lack episodic memories and an ability to use those memories the modify future behavior. However, they can be programmed to dance and to navigate obstacle courses via nondeterministic programming methods.
I don't think there are nondeterministic programming methods. There may be choices that are unpredictable, but not causally indeterministic.

 Nondeterministic programming is a real, well-established method of programming, but the term "nondeterministic" here has a technical meaning that relates to programming flow in a running program. It is not really about determinism in free will debates. :) What it means is that a program only calculates decisions at choice points during runtime. It makes different decisions that depend on circumstances at choice points that are external to the program flow. That is what allows a robot to figure out how to navigate an obstacle course that it has never seen before. It might decide whether it needs to climb over, crawl under, or walk around an obstacle in its path.
 

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To be clear, I mean that current versions of walking robots do watch their steps, but they don't necessarily teach themselves how to do that. They simply lack episodic memories and an ability to use those memories the modify future behavior. However, they can be programmed to dance and to navigate obstacle courses via nondeterministic programming methods.
I don't think there are nondeterministic programming methods. There may be choices that are unpredictable, but not causally indeterministic.

 Nondeterministic programming is a real, well-established method of programming, but the term "nondeterministic" here has a technical meaning that relates to programming flow in a running program. It is not really about determinism in free will debates. :) What it means is that a program only calculates decisions at choice points during runtime. It makes different decisions that depend on circumstances at choice points that are external to the program flow. That is what allows a robot to figure out how to navigate an obstacle course that it has never seen before. It might decide whether it needs to climb over, crawl under, or walk around an obstacle in its path.
Back-tracking sounds like simply unwinding the stack, which would still seem deterministic to me.
 

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Yes, “what will be, will be” is useless, but more, the hard determinist conflates “what will be, will be,” which is true but trivial, with, “what will be, must be,” which is untrue.

Look at Einstein’s moon metaphor, raised in the compatibilism thread. If the moon were sentient, it would either perceive itself to be “along for the ride,” or it would perceive itself to have choices. Suppose it decided to stop moving. If it found itself unable to stop moving despite its decision to do so, then that would be evidence that it lacked free will.

Yet when I decide to order either eggs or pancakes for breakfast, I do not find my decision to be thwarted. If I decide to order eggs I get eggs. If I decide to order pancakes I get pancakes. And later if I am walking on the street and decide to stop, I stop without any problem.

If I decided to order eggs but found my mouth forming the word “pancakes” against my will, or if I found myself walking on the sidewalk and decided to stop but found, to my shock, my legs refusing to obey me and continuing to move me forward, those would be evidences of a lack of free will. We never observe these things to happen, obviously, unless some external force like hypnosis or drugs or internal brain injury were to cause such things to happen.

Of course the hard determinist will argue that there is an external force that causes me both to desire to have eggs and successfully mouth the word “eggs.” On his account that force is causal determinism. But causal determinism isn’t a force, a reified entity. It is rather a list of descriptions of what happens in the world. As Norman Swartz noted, we don’t get to choose the charge on an electron or a great many other constants or laws of nature. But we do get to choose the color of the shirt we will wear today.

Schopenhauer said that we can do as we will, we just can’t will what we will. Fine. Even then I would say it’s a stretch to say that our will was determined by antecedent events. I would say it was influenced by them. But whether you wish to use the verb “determined” or “influenced” makes little difference, it seems to me. Obviously our desires are predicated upon the past.

If I decide not to touch a flame it is because I touched one in the past, and got burned, and so learn not to do that again. Or perhaps I refrain from touching it because someone warns me of the consequences of doing so. This is another form of past influence. Or perhaps I begin to touch the flame and feel the heat, which is unpleasant, and swiftly draw back. Again my behavior or desire is influenced or determined by past or present events. But my action is still my choice. Some people override such past influences and put their hand in a flame anyway. G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate infamy comes to mind.
Very good points. We believe we are in control because we witness ourselves controlling things. Einstein's "Conscious Moon", having never witnessed itself exercising any control, would never imagine itself in control of its path. So, Einstein's comment that if the moon had consciousness it would think it was in control is a bit of silly nonsense.

Schopenhauer comes up short by missing the fact that we often have several wants or desires, and we must choose what we will do. For example, I may want to finish this comment, but I may also want to eat, and I may also want to pee. It is up to me to decide what I will do. So, even though we may not control what we want or need to do, we most certainly do have control over our will. And choosing is the causal mechanism by which we exercise that control.

Cool reference to Liddy. I remember the story of him holding his hand over a flame to impress someone. Geez. We're getting old, ain't we.
 

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Yes, Marvin we are getting old! :( But sometimes age brings wisdom.;)
 

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The reality of free will as an agency of change, veto or control must first be established.

Have you been to a restaurant lately? Choosing is a deterministic event in which two or more options are input, some criteria of comparative evaluation is applied, and a single choice is output.

We watch the people walk in, sit down, browse the menu, and place their order. At the end of the meal the waiter brings them the bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

The waiter brings the bill to the agents of change, the persons who placed the order and ate the meal. He does not bring the bill to the customer's parents. He does not bring the bill to evolution. He does not bring the bill to the laws of nature. He does not bring the bill to the Big Bang.

It is obvious to the waiter who was responsible for ordering the meal and who ate it. It was the customer, and not any other object in the entire universe.

And, if the waiter brings the wrong meal to the customer, the customer will veto that meal and the waiter must find who ordered it, or return it to the kitchen.

Yes, but that is where compatibilism goes wrong, in regard to a determined system we are not talking about ''help me decide'' - the cause/effect actions of the world determine outcomes, determine where you sit, determine the food you select (developed preferences, menu, information processing/output). These are not aids, they fix your decisions and actions as a matter of brain activity/natural law/determinism.

Determinism is not our aid in making decisions, it necessitates/fixes all ctions and outcomes.

All types of behaviour within a determined system, be they described as deliberate or coerced are necessitated behaviours.

Yes! Now you're getting it. All events are equally causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time. Causal necessity makes no distinctions whatever between any two events.

Which is why defining non coerced actions as instances of free will is the point at which compatibilism goes wrong.

''An action’s production by a deterministic process, even when the agent satisfies the conditions on moral responsibility specified by compatibilists, presents no less of a challenge to basic-desert responsibility than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. ''
 

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Yes, “what will be, will be” is useless, but more, the hard determinist conflates “what will be, will be,” which is true but trivial, with, “what will be, must be,” which is untrue.

Look at Einstein’s moon metaphor, raised in the compatibilism thread. If the moon were sentient, it would either perceive itself to be “along for the ride,” or it would perceive itself to have choices. Suppose it decided to stop moving. If it found itself unable to stop moving despite its decision to do so, then that would be evidence that it lacked free will.

Yet when I decide to order either eggs or pancakes for breakfast, I do not find my decision to be thwarted. If I decide to order eggs I get eggs. If I decide to order pancakes I get pancakes. And later if I am walking on the street and decide to stop, I stop without any problem.

If I decided to order eggs but found my mouth forming the word “pancakes” against my will, or if I found myself walking on the sidewalk and decided to stop but found, to my shock, my legs refusing to obey me and continuing to move me forward, those would be evidences of a lack of free will. We never observe these things to happen, obviously, unless some external force like hypnosis or drugs or internal brain injury were to cause such things to happen.

Of course the hard determinist will argue that there is an external force that causes me both to desire to have eggs and successfully mouth the word “eggs.” On his account that force is causal determinism. But causal determinism isn’t a force, a reified entity. It is rather a list of descriptions of what happens in the world. As Norman Swartz noted, we don’t get to choose the charge on an electron or a great many other constants or laws of nature. But we do get to choose the color of the shirt we will wear today.

Schopenhauer said that we can do as we will, we just can’t will what we will. Fine. Even then I would say it’s a stretch to say that our will was determined by antecedent events. I would say it was influenced by them. But whether you wish to use the verb “determined” or “influenced” makes little difference, it seems to me. Obviously our desires are predicated upon the past.

If I decide not to touch a flame it is because I touched one in the past, and got burned, and so learn not to do that again. Or perhaps I refrain from touching it because someone warns me of the consequences of doing so. This is another form of past influence. Or perhaps I begin to touch the flame and feel the heat, which is unpleasant, and swiftly draw back. Again my behavior or desire is influenced or determined by past or present events. But my action is still my choice. Some people override such past influences and put their hand in a flame anyway. G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate infamy comes to mind.


Within a determined system, your decisions are not thwarted, the opposite is true, they are determined, necessitated, fixed. Actions Proceed, unfold, causal webs are also 'effect webs.' Being determined, nothing prevents your actions, they proceed without impediment. Nothing impedes the moon from orbiting the earth, nothing impedes the determined events of the world. Determinism means that what happens, happens necessarily. By definition, it can be no other way.
 

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That's induction, he said - ''Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed'' - which may be taken mean that the perception of free will is an illusion.... supported by his comment; ''If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all.''

There is no contradiction, only perspective. The illusion of free will/agency where none exists within a determined system.

Are you sort of admitting that free will exists from the perspective of actors within the deterministic system? You, like Einstein, seem to be admitting that there is no practical consequence of defining free will as if it meant exactly what Marvin said. It is a fully determined process, and it makes perfect sense from the perspective of all of us sentient automatons interacting with each other. Sounds like that sense of free will is pretty compatible with determinism.

I thought I had made it clear, I'm saying that limited perspective may give the actor the impression of free will - if the actor believes free will to mean that they have regulative control, that they are freely selecting an option from a set of alternatives, that they could have chosen otherwise....which determinism, of course, does not allow. Which means, not free will, but the illusion of free will.
 

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Just because you don't agree with Einstein doesn't mean that what he said is stupid. He was pointing out the undeniable consequences of determinism. It is compatibilism that fails to relate to the consequences of determinism, therefore fails as an argument.

Speaking of Einstein, his position on free will is incoherent. Consider this quote from the Saturday Evening Post many years ago:

Albert Einstein said:
"In a sense, we can hold no one responsible. I am a determinist. As such, I do not believe in free will. ... Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed. If I wish to live in a civilized community,I must act as if man is a responsible being."
Page 114 of "The Saturday Evening Post" article "What Life Means to Einstein" "An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" (Oct 26, 1929)

On the one hand, he says that being a determinist means that he does not believe in free will or responsibility, then he turns around and says he must act as if he does believe in them. Even Einstein was taken in by the paradox. So, you're certainly in good company.


That's induction, he said - ''Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed'' - which may be taken mean that the perception of free will is an illusion.... supported by his comment; ''If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all.''

There is no contradiction, only perspective. The illusion of free will/agency where none exists within a determined system.

Einstein is making up a story with no evidence. If the moon had self-consciousness, it would just as likely perceive itself as a passive entity enjoying the trip. It would not observe itself making choices, because the moon never makes any choices. So it would never have the notion of choosing what it will do next. Without choosing, it would never have the notion that it controls anything. But we can watch ourselves choosing what we will have for breakfast, or choosing which route we will take to work, or choosing all the other things we choose throughout the day. So, Einstein's analogy, like all analogies, is false.


Einstein was describing the inevitable, inescapable consequences of determinism. The moon does not make decisions. But, as with everything else within the system its actions are determined/fixed as a matter of natural law.

Complexity cannot alter, bypass or circumvent determinism. Yes, the activity of a brain is infinitely more complex than the orbit of the moon, but no less determined.

Complexity should not be confused with freedom of the will.

Again, the stumbling point of compatibilism:

''An action’s production by a deterministic process, even when the agent satisfies the conditions on moral responsibility specified by compatibilists, presents no less of a challenge to basic-desert responsibility than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. ''
 

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...

That's induction, he said - ''Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed'' - which may be taken mean that the perception of free will is an illusion.... supported by his comment; ''If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all.''

There is no contradiction, only perspective. The illusion of free will/agency where none exists within a determined system.

Are you sort of admitting that free will exists from the perspective of actors within the deterministic system? You, like Einstein, seem to be admitting that there is no practical consequence of defining free will as if it meant exactly what Marvin said. It is a fully determined process, and it makes perfect sense from the perspective of all of us sentient automatons interacting with each other. Sounds like that sense of free will is pretty compatible with determinism.

I thought I had made it clear, I'm saying that limited perspective may give the actor the impression of free will - if the actor believes free will to mean that they have regulative control, that they are freely selecting an option from a set of alternatives, that they could have chosen otherwise....which determinism, of course, does not allow. Which means, not free will, but the illusion of free will.
Yes, you made it clear that perspective my give the actor the impression of free will, but you just don't want to admit that the subjective impression of free will is what us actors are talking about when we use the expression "free will". We aren't talking about freedom from causal necessity in a deterministic reality. So your attempt to dismiss free will as an illusion is ultimately a self-refuting argument. You end up admitting that we are compelled to accept the reality of being responsible for our actions, even if we cannot step outside of the deterministic chaos that compels us to make the choices that we do. You aren't arguing that we should open up the jails and let everyone out on the grounds that none of the inmates could help themselves when they committed their crimes. Supposedly, we are compelled to keep them locked up. What does any of your argument buy us except intellectual bankruptcy?
 

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I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing.

Choosing is a deterministic operation that inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice, usually in the form of an "I will X", where X is that which we have decided we will do.

And you're saying this never happens? Come with me to the restaurant. Watch the people walk in, sit at a table, browse the menu, and place their orders. How was the literal menu of options reduced to a single choice, if not by choosing?

If we stick around, we will notice the waiter bringing each person their bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

Like all events, these events were causally necessary from any prior point in the past. Causal necessity does eliminate choosing, it assures it will inevitably happen.

One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective.

Watching people in the restaurant reducing a menu of options into a single "I will have the chef salad, please", is an objective observation, not a subjective impression. That's why I use it. Everyone has seen people actually making choices in the real world.

Causation is objective.

And we just objectively observed choosing actually happening. Cool, huh?

Subjective isn't up to the task.

So, are you suggesting that we, as objective observers, were just imagining that people in the restaurant were making choices? We cannot see inside their heads. But we did see a menu of options going into it, and a single choice coming out of it. Choosing happens. It is a real deterministic event that occurs in the real world.
And why I choose software as an example. "Choice" as a concept, in fact the more general term "decision", requires no/very little "intelligence" at all, the intelligence of a single gate.

I think where people get lost is that logical structures can be imposed in the physical, and those logical structures may be then modeled, completely ignoring the physical substrate, to perform an act of literal thaumaturgy: to make happen so below, and then follow that determined path above in the other system that performs "the same".

I can see how such ideas got off the rails though... It's a short but fatal leap to where people in ancient times took it, in our modern understanding.

But, Body Rituals of the Nacirema and all that...

Geez, you're making me look up words like "thaumaturgy", which means working miracles. As a Humanist, I don't believe in miracles.
However it seems you do believe in ethics can be materially defined. Care to try?

See: https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/definition-of-humanism/

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good. Whether you’re doing research, exploring a personal philosophy, or are simply curious about humanism, the resources here are a great place to start: […]*

* I've highlighted a few terms beyond humanism for which I'd like to see objective constructions.
 

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If you invoke other spatial dimensions you then have to derive an experiment that can bear that out.
Flatline Should Not Have Been Flat-Lined

Displacement without motion is impossible unless the particle goes into another dimension. A leap in your acceptable universe, going from A to B without traveling on the line AB, is explained by motion through the third dimension of height. So the quantum leap is itself the experiment that proves there must be another dimension. Your objection is no more valid than, "Prove that what just happened did happen."
Your answer illustrates the point that all empirical evidence is theory laden. In "the quantum leap", first we observe a particle at A and no particle at B, and then we observe a particle at B and no particle at A, and we can find no evidence of the particle being at an intermediate location. The reason you regard this as proof that there must be another dimension is because you take for granted that the particle observed at B is the same particle as the particle earlier observed at A. But "the same" is not an observable property of particles; it's a metaphysical labeling people choose to impose on their observations, or choose not to impose on them. If a particle at A ceases to exist, and a brand new particle forms at B, in accordance with quantum mechanical creation and annihilation operators, then there's no reason to postulate another dimension for the particle to have passed through. As Laplace said of God, "Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis."
 

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The reality of free will as an agency of change, veto or control must first be established.

Have you been to a restaurant lately? Choosing is a deterministic event in which two or more options are input, some criteria of comparative evaluation is applied, and a single choice is output.

We watch the people walk in, sit down, browse the menu, and place their order. At the end of the meal the waiter brings them the bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

The waiter brings the bill to the agents of change, the persons who placed the order and ate the meal. He does not bring the bill to the customer's parents. He does not bring the bill to evolution. He does not bring the bill to the laws of nature. He does not bring the bill to the Big Bang.

It is obvious to the waiter who was responsible for ordering the meal and who ate it. It was the customer, and not any other object in the entire universe.

And, if the waiter brings the wrong meal to the customer, the customer will veto that meal and the waiter must find who ordered it, or return it to the kitchen.

Yes, but that is where compatibilism goes wrong, in regard to a determined system we are not talking about ''help me decide'' - the cause/effect actions of the world determine outcomes, determine where you sit, determine the food you select (developed preferences, menu, information processing/output). These are not aids, they fix your decisions and actions as a matter of brain activity/natural law/determinism.

Determinism is not our aid in making decisions, it necessitates/fixes all ctions and outcomes.

All types of behaviour within a determined system, be they described as deliberate or coerced are necessitated behaviours.

Yes! Now you're getting it. All events are equally causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time. Causal necessity makes no distinctions whatever between any two events.

Which is why defining non coerced actions as instances of free will is the point at which compatibilism goes wrong.

''An action’s production by a deterministic process, even when the agent satisfies the conditions on moral responsibility specified by compatibilists, presents no less of a challenge to basic-desert responsibility than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. ''

The fact that both a deliberate action and a coerced action are causally necessary does not change the fact that one action is deliberate and the other is coerced! We are held responsible, or not, based on whether our action was deliberate or coerced.

Causal necessity makes no meaningful distinctions, because it is always true of every event without distinction. It is a logical fact, but not a meaningful fact.

The only meaningful facts are our knowledge of the specific causes of specific effects. This knowledge, as to whether a person decided to rob the bank for their own profit, versus, whether they decided to rob the bank because their family was being held hostage and would be murdered if they didn't rob the bank, is a meaningful distinction!

Hard determinism would erase all meaningful distinctions! And that just wouldn't do.
 

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... Determinism means that what happens, happens necessarily. By definition, it can be no other way.

Fortunately, it need not be any other way. My choice is causally necessary, which means that my choosing it was also causally necessary.

It was causally necessary that I would be the only object in the physical universe that would be making that specific choice at that specific time.

And, it was also causally necessary that I would be making that choice according to my own goals and for my own reasons. Thus, it was causally necessary that I would be making that choice of my own free will.

Causal necessity changes nothing. Everything is necessarily just as it is and everything happens just the way it does.

To suggest that causal necessity is an entity that is making our choices for us creates a delusion.
 

Marvin Edwards

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The reality of free will as an agency of change, veto or control must first be established.

Have you been to a restaurant lately? Choosing is a deterministic event in which two or more options are input, some criteria of comparative evaluation is applied, and a single choice is output.

We watch the people walk in, sit down, browse the menu, and place their order. At the end of the meal the waiter brings them the bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

The waiter brings the bill to the agents of change, the persons who placed the order and ate the meal. He does not bring the bill to the customer's parents. He does not bring the bill to evolution. He does not bring the bill to the laws of nature. He does not bring the bill to the Big Bang.

It is obvious to the waiter who was responsible for ordering the meal and who ate it. It was the customer, and not any other object in the entire universe.

And, if the waiter brings the wrong meal to the customer, the customer will veto that meal and the waiter must find who ordered it, or return it to the kitchen.

Yes, but that is where compatibilism goes wrong, in regard to a determined system we are not talking about ''help me decide'' - the cause/effect actions of the world determine outcomes, determine where you sit, determine the food you select (developed preferences, menu, information processing/output). These are not aids, they fix your decisions and actions as a matter of brain activity/natural law/determinism.

Determinism is not our aid in making decisions, it necessitates/fixes all ctions and outcomes.

What your narrative leaves out is that people happen to be one of those causes, and their actions have effects in that restaurant. Their own choosing determines where they will sit, what food they will order, and what will show up on the bill that the waiter brings them.

Hard determinists keep pretending that determinism is an entity that is doing these things for them. It is not the customer choosing where to sit, but rather determinism is choosing where they will sit. It is not the customer choosing what they will eat, but rather determinism is choosing what they will eat.

So, how come the waiter brings the bill to the customer? Shouldn't determinism pay the bill? Oh, and where exactly is this guy determinism, and how did he get out of the restaurant without paying his bill?

There is a flaw in the hard determinist's argument. Do you see it yet?
 

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Just because you don't agree with Einstein doesn't mean that what he said is stupid. He was pointing out the undeniable consequences of determinism. It is compatibilism that fails to relate to the consequences of determinism, therefore fails as an argument.

Speaking of Einstein, his position on free will is incoherent. Consider this quote from the Saturday Evening Post many years ago:

Albert Einstein said:
"In a sense, we can hold no one responsible. I am a determinist. As such, I do not believe in free will. ... Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed. If I wish to live in a civilized community,I must act as if man is a responsible being."
Page 114 of "The Saturday Evening Post" article "What Life Means to Einstein" "An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" (Oct 26, 1929)

On the one hand, he says that being a determinist means that he does not believe in free will or responsibility, then he turns around and says he must act as if he does believe in them. Even Einstein was taken in by the paradox. So, you're certainly in good company.


That's induction, he said - ''Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed'' - which may be taken mean that the perception of free will is an illusion.... supported by his comment; ''If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all.''

There is no contradiction, only perspective. The illusion of free will/agency where none exists within a determined system.

Einstein is making up a story with no evidence. If the moon had self-consciousness, it would just as likely perceive itself as a passive entity enjoying the trip. It would not observe itself making choices, because the moon never makes any choices. So it would never have the notion of choosing what it will do next. Without choosing, it would never have the notion that it controls anything. But we can watch ourselves choosing what we will have for breakfast, or choosing which route we will take to work, or choosing all the other things we choose throughout the day. So, Einstein's analogy, like all analogies, is false.


Einstein was describing the inevitable, inescapable consequences of determinism. The moon does not make decisions. But, as with everything else within the system its actions are determined/fixed as a matter of natural law.

Einstein was drowning in his own metaphors. The moon does not make decisions because it has no brain nor any mechanism for carrying out its intentions.

Complexity cannot alter, bypass or circumvent determinism. Yes, the activity of a brain is infinitely more complex than the orbit of the moon, but no less determined.

Correct. Every event, including each thought and feeling we experience, is causally necessary from any prior point in time. But the most meaningful and relevant prior causes of our thoughts and feelings are located right here inside us. They are already a part who and what we are. And the choices that they cause are in fact our own choices.

Complexity should not be confused with freedom of the will.

Correct. Free will is not complex. It is the simple empirical case where a person decides for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Reliable cause and effect, in itself, is not coercive and certainly not undue. It's an ordinary fact of life. And causal necessity is nothing more than a chain of prior events causing subsequent events. Nothing coercive or undue there either.

Only specific causes, like a guy holding a gun demanding our wallet, are coercive and extraordinary enough to force us to act against our own will.

Again, the stumbling point of compatibilism:
''An action’s production by a deterministic process, even when the agent satisfies the conditions on moral responsibility specified by compatibilists, presents no less of a challenge to basic-desert responsibility than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. ''

Since the compatibilist believes that all actions are equally a product of deterministic processes, nothing changes in regard to responsibility. If one uses the fact of causal necessity to excuse one thing, then it must excuse everything. If it excuses the pickpocket who stole your wallet, then it also excuses the judge who cuts off his hand.

"Responsibility" for a moral or criminal harm is assigned to the most meaningful and relevant cause of the harm. The pickpocket will be arrested for stealing your wallet. The judge will be arrested for inflicting "cruel and unusual punishment".

Causal necessity is never arrested for anything. The waiter in the restaurant gives the bill to the customer, not to causal necessity.

The hard determinist is confused about these matters, and leaves us with no one being held responsible for anything, and no cause that can actually be corrected.
 

Marvin Edwards

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I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing.

Choosing is a deterministic operation that inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice, usually in the form of an "I will X", where X is that which we have decided we will do.

And you're saying this never happens? Come with me to the restaurant. Watch the people walk in, sit at a table, browse the menu, and place their orders. How was the literal menu of options reduced to a single choice, if not by choosing?

If we stick around, we will notice the waiter bringing each person their bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

Like all events, these events were causally necessary from any prior point in the past. Causal necessity does eliminate choosing, it assures it will inevitably happen.

One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective.

Watching people in the restaurant reducing a menu of options into a single "I will have the chef salad, please", is an objective observation, not a subjective impression. That's why I use it. Everyone has seen people actually making choices in the real world.

Causation is objective.

And we just objectively observed choosing actually happening. Cool, huh?

Subjective isn't up to the task.

So, are you suggesting that we, as objective observers, were just imagining that people in the restaurant were making choices? We cannot see inside their heads. But we did see a menu of options going into it, and a single choice coming out of it. Choosing happens. It is a real deterministic event that occurs in the real world.
And why I choose software as an example. "Choice" as a concept, in fact the more general term "decision", requires no/very little "intelligence" at all, the intelligence of a single gate.

I think where people get lost is that logical structures can be imposed in the physical, and those logical structures may be then modeled, completely ignoring the physical substrate, to perform an act of literal thaumaturgy: to make happen so below, and then follow that determined path above in the other system that performs "the same".

I can see how such ideas got off the rails though... It's a short but fatal leap to where people in ancient times took it, in our modern understanding.

But, Body Rituals of the Nacirema and all that...

Geez, you're making me look up words like "thaumaturgy", which means working miracles. As a Humanist, I don't believe in miracles.
However it seems you do believe in ethics can be materially defined. Care to try?

See: https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/definition-of-humanism/

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good. Whether you’re doing research, exploring a personal philosophy, or are simply curious about humanism, the resources here are a great place to start: […]*

* I've highlighted a few terms beyond humanism for which I'd like to see objective constructions.

Hey! Thanks for sharing with everyone the link to the AHA.

You also ask whether ethics can be "materially" defined. Yes:

Ethics are a system of rules that guide behavior. The goal of ethics is to achieve a set of rules that provides the best good and the least harm for everyone. Which rules will best accomplish this are often a matter of debate, because the long term consequences of a given rule are often uncertain. So, groups, such as legislatures, research data and hear expert witnesses to inform their decisions. And they often argue over which rule will have the best results. After gathering information and discussion, they vote to establish a working rule that they implement. After it is implemented, we become better informed as to its actual consequences, and may modify, replace, or delete it.

But note that we have just stepped out of this thread and into this one: https://iidb.org/index.php?threads/morality-and-ethics.24777/
 

Jarhyn

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The reality of free will as an agency of change, veto or control must first be established.

Have you been to a restaurant lately? Choosing is a deterministic event in which two or more options are input, some criteria of comparative evaluation is applied, and a single choice is output.

We watch the people walk in, sit down, browse the menu, and place their order. At the end of the meal the waiter brings them the bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

The waiter brings the bill to the agents of change, the persons who placed the order and ate the meal. He does not bring the bill to the customer's parents. He does not bring the bill to evolution. He does not bring the bill to the laws of nature. He does not bring the bill to the Big Bang.

It is obvious to the waiter who was responsible for ordering the meal and who ate it. It was the customer, and not any other object in the entire universe.

And, if the waiter brings the wrong meal to the customer, the customer will veto that meal and the waiter must find who ordered it, or return it to the kitchen.

Yes, but that is where compatibilism goes wrong, in regard to a determined system we are not talking about ''help me decide'' - the cause/effect actions of the world determine outcomes, determine where you sit, determine the food you select (developed preferences, menu, information processing/output). These are not aids, they fix your decisions and actions as a matter of brain activity/natural law/determinism.

Determinism is not our aid in making decisions, it necessitates/fixes all ctions and outcomes.

What your narrative leaves out is that people happen to be one of those causes, and their actions have effects in that restaurant. Their own choosing determines where they will sit, what food they will order, and what will show up on the bill that the waiter brings them.

Hard determinists keep pretending that determinism is an entity that is doing these things for them. It is not the customer choosing where to sit, but rather determinism is choosing where they will sit. It is not the customer choosing what they will eat, but rather determinism is choosing what they will eat.

So, how come the waiter brings the bill to the customer? Shouldn't determinism pay the bill? Oh, and where exactly is this guy determinism, and how did he get out of the restaurant without paying his bill?

There is a flaw in the hard determinist's argument. Do you see it yet?
If you want to swap out the word "determinism" for "god", then I suppose then god does pay his own bill with his own hand and it's all a bunch of wank?

But that ignores the images operating among the objects.
 

DBT

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The reality of free will as an agency of change, veto or control must first be established.

Have you been to a restaurant lately? Choosing is a deterministic event in which two or more options are input, some criteria of comparative evaluation is applied, and a single choice is output.

We watch the people walk in, sit down, browse the menu, and place their order. At the end of the meal the waiter brings them the bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

The waiter brings the bill to the agents of change, the persons who placed the order and ate the meal. He does not bring the bill to the customer's parents. He does not bring the bill to evolution. He does not bring the bill to the laws of nature. He does not bring the bill to the Big Bang.

It is obvious to the waiter who was responsible for ordering the meal and who ate it. It was the customer, and not any other object in the entire universe.

And, if the waiter brings the wrong meal to the customer, the customer will veto that meal and the waiter must find who ordered it, or return it to the kitchen.

Yes, but that is where compatibilism goes wrong, in regard to a determined system we are not talking about ''help me decide'' - the cause/effect actions of the world determine outcomes, determine where you sit, determine the food you select (developed preferences, menu, information processing/output). These are not aids, they fix your decisions and actions as a matter of brain activity/natural law/determinism.

Determinism is not our aid in making decisions, it necessitates/fixes all ctions and outcomes.

What your narrative leaves out is that people happen to be one of those causes, and their actions have effects in that restaurant. Their own choosing determines where they will sit, what food they will order, and what will show up on the bill that the waiter brings them.

Hard determinists keep pretending that determinism is an entity that is doing these things for them. It is not the customer choosing where to sit, but rather determinism is choosing where they will sit. It is not the customer choosing what they will eat, but rather determinism is choosing what they will eat.

So, how come the waiter brings the bill to the customer? Shouldn't determinism pay the bill? Oh, and where exactly is this guy determinism, and how did he get out of the restaurant without paying his bill?

There is a flaw in the hard determinist's argument. Do you see it yet?
If you want to swap out the word "determinism" for "god", then I suppose then god does pay his own bill with his own hand and it's all a bunch of wank?

But that ignores the images operating among the objects.

... Determinism means that what happens, happens necessarily. By definition, it can be no other way.

Fortunately, it need not be any other way. My choice is causally necessary, which means that my choosing it was also causally necessary.

It was causally necessary that I would be the only object in the physical universe that would be making that specific choice at that specific time.

And, it was also causally necessary that I would be making that choice according to my own goals and for my own reasons. Thus, it was causally necessary that I would be making that choice of my own free will.

Causal necessity changes nothing. Everything is necessarily just as it is and everything happens just the way it does.

To suggest that causal necessity is an entity that is making our choices for us creates a delusion.

Not so, the very definition of freedom means having alternatives and freedom/agency to choose, to have done otherwise.

Determinism allowing no possible way except what is determined, no freedom of choice, decisions fixed at each moment of time, an agent having no realizable alternatives does precisely what is determined.

Will is determined.

Determinism is not free will.

Free; a. Not affected or restricted by a given condition or circumstance
b. Not subject to a given condition; exempt: income that is free of all taxes.
5. Not subject to external restraint: Unconstrained; unconfined:
*free; unrestrained; having a scope not restricted by qualification <a free variable>
7 a: not obstructed, restricted, or impeded.



If you accept regulative control as a necessary part of free will, it seems impossible either way:
1. Free will requires that given an act A, the agent could have acted otherwise
2. Indeterminate actions happens randomly and without intent or control
3. Therefore indeterminism and free will are incompatible
4. Determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable
5. Therefore determinism is incompatible with free will
 

DBT

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...

That's induction, he said - ''Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed'' - which may be taken mean that the perception of free will is an illusion.... supported by his comment; ''If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all.''

There is no contradiction, only perspective. The illusion of free will/agency where none exists within a determined system.

Are you sort of admitting that free will exists from the perspective of actors within the deterministic system? You, like Einstein, seem to be admitting that there is no practical consequence of defining free will as if it meant exactly what Marvin said. It is a fully determined process, and it makes perfect sense from the perspective of all of us sentient automatons interacting with each other. Sounds like that sense of free will is pretty compatible with determinism.

I thought I had made it clear, I'm saying that limited perspective may give the actor the impression of free will - if the actor believes free will to mean that they have regulative control, that they are freely selecting an option from a set of alternatives, that they could have chosen otherwise....which determinism, of course, does not allow. Which means, not free will, but the illusion of free will.
Yes, you made it clear that perspective my give the actor the impression of free will, but you just don't want to admit that the subjective impression of free will is what us actors are talking about when we use the expression "free will". We aren't talking about freedom from causal necessity in a deterministic reality. So your attempt to dismiss free will as an illusion is ultimately a self-refuting argument. You end up admitting that we are compelled to accept the reality of being responsible for our actions, even if we cannot step outside of the deterministic chaos that compels us to make the choices that we do. You aren't arguing that we should open up the jails and let everyone out on the grounds that none of the inmates could help themselves when they committed their crimes. Supposedly, we are compelled to keep them locked up. What does any of your argument buy us except intellectual bankruptcy?


Are you saying that those who believe in free will, compatibilists, etc, accept that their concept of free will is an illusion? That free will as an illusion is not real? That free will is a false impression, an illusion of the mind? That the term is merely a verbal construct?
 

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Einstein was describing the inevitable, inescapable consequences of determinism. The moon does not make decisions. But, as with everything else within the system its actions are determined/fixed as a matter of natural law.

Einstein was drowning in his own metaphors. The moon does not make decisions because it has no brain nor any mechanism for carrying out its intentions.

Determined behaviour has nothing to do with that. Everything being determined, it matters not whether something is conscious or not. Consciousness doesn't alter anything. Brain information processing is largely unconscious. Consciousness itself is determined.
Complexity cannot alter, bypass or circumvent determinism. Yes, the activity of a brain is infinitely more complex than the orbit of the moon, but no less determined.

Correct. Every event, including each thought and feeling we experience, is causally necessary from any prior point in time. But the most meaningful and relevant prior causes of our thoughts and feelings are located right here inside us. They are already a part who and what we are. And the choices that they cause are in fact our own choices.

That is true of all organisms. True of species that have no concept of morality or capacity for higher reasoning. It has nothing to do with freedom or will, just enablement through complex neural mechanisms.

Complexity should not be confused with freedom of the will.

Correct. Free will is not complex. It is the simple empirical case where a person decides for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Reliable cause and effect, in itself, is not coercive and certainly not undue. It's an ordinary fact of life. And causal necessity is nothing more than a chain of prior events causing subsequent events. Nothing coercive or undue there either.

Only specific causes, like a guy holding a gun demanding our wallet, are coercive and extraordinary enough to force us to act against our own will.

Again, the stumbling point of compatibilism:
''An action’s production by a deterministic process, even when the agent satisfies the conditions on moral responsibility specified by compatibilists, presents no less of a challenge to basic-desert responsibility than does deterministic manipulation by other agents. ''

Since the compatibilist believes that all actions are equally a product of deterministic processes, nothing changes in regard to responsibility. If one uses the fact of causal necessity to excuse one thing, then it must excuse everything. If it excuses the pickpocket who stole your wallet, then it also excuses the judge who cuts off his hand.

"Responsibility" for a moral or criminal harm is assigned to the most meaningful and relevant cause of the harm. The pickpocket will be arrested for stealing your wallet. The judge will be arrested for inflicting "cruel and unusual punishment".

Causal necessity is never arrested for anything. The waiter in the restaurant gives the bill to the customer, not to causal necessity.

The hard determinist is confused about these matters, and leaves us with no one being held responsible for anything, and no cause that can actually be corrected.

The justice system works through sending the message, if you break this law there are consequences, jail time, fines, etc, consequences that modify behaviour and act as a deterrent. Mostly effective, but there are exceptions:

On the neurology of morals
''Patients with medial prefrontal lesions often display irresponsible behavior, despite being intellectually unimpaired. But similar lesions occurring in early childhood can also prevent the acquisition of factual knowledge about accepted standards of moral behavior.''


Prefrontal Cortex damage:
1 - 'The 20-year-old female subject studied by Damasio et al. was intelligent and academically competent, but she stole from her family and other children, abused other people both verbally and physically, lied frequently, and was sexually promiscuous and completely lacking in empathy toward her illegitimate child. In addition, the researchers say, "She never expressed guilt or remorse for her misbehavior'' ''Both of the subjects performed well on measures of intellectual ability, but, like people with adult-onset prefrontal cortex damage, they were socially impaired, failed to consider future consequences when making decisions, and failed to respond normally to punishment or behavioral interventions. "Unlike adult-onset patients, however," the researchers say, "the two patients had defective social and moral reasoning, suggesting that the acquisition of complex social conventions and moral rules had been impaired." While adult-onset patients possess factual knowledge about social and moral rules (even though they often cannot follow these rules in real life), Damasio et al.'s childhood-onset subjects appeared unable to learn these rules at all. This may explain, the researchers say, why their childhood-onset subjects were much more antisocial, and showed less guilt and remorse, than subjects who suffered similar damage in adulthood.''
 

fromderinside

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I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing.

Choosing is a deterministic operation that inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice, usually in the form of an "I will X", where X is that which we have decided we will do.

And you're saying this never happens? Come with me to the restaurant. Watch the people walk in, sit at a table, browse the menu, and place their orders. How was the literal menu of options reduced to a single choice, if not by choosing?

If we stick around, we will notice the waiter bringing each person their bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

Like all events, these events were causally necessary from any prior point in the past. Causal necessity does eliminate choosing, it assures it will inevitably happen.

One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective.

Watching people in the restaurant reducing a menu of options into a single "I will have the chef salad, please", is an objective observation, not a subjective impression. That's why I use it. Everyone has seen people actually making choices in the real world.

Causation is objective.

And we just objectively observed choosing actually happening. Cool, huh?

Subjective isn't up to the task.

So, are you suggesting that we, as objective observers, were just imagining that people in the restaurant were making choices? We cannot see inside their heads. But we did see a menu of options going into it, and a single choice coming out of it. Choosing happens. It is a real deterministic event that occurs in the real world.
And why I choose software as an example. "Choice" as a concept, in fact the more general term "decision", requires no/very little "intelligence" at all, the intelligence of a single gate.

I think where people get lost is that logical structures can be imposed in the physical, and those logical structures may be then modeled, completely ignoring the physical substrate, to perform an act of literal thaumaturgy: to make happen so below, and then follow that determined path above in the other system that performs "the same".

I can see how such ideas got off the rails though... It's a short but fatal leap to where people in ancient times took it, in our modern understanding.

But, Body Rituals of the Nacirema and all that...

Geez, you're making me look up words like "thaumaturgy", which means working miracles. As a Humanist, I don't believe in miracles.
However it seems you do believe in ethics can be materially defined. Care to try?

See: https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/definition-of-humanism/

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good. Whether you’re doing research, exploring a personal philosophy, or are simply curious about humanism, the resources here are a great place to start: […]*

* I've highlighted a few terms beyond humanism for which I'd like to see objective constructions.

Hey! Thanks for sharing with everyone the link to the AHA.

You also ask whether ethics can be "materially" defined. Yes:

Ethics are a system of rules that guide behavior. The goal of ethics is to achieve a set of rules that provides the best good and the least harm for everyone. Which rules will best accomplish this are often a matter of debate, because the long term consequences of a given rule are often uncertain. So, groups, such as legislatures, research data and hear expert witnesses to inform their decisions. And they often argue over which rule will have the best results. After gathering information and discussion, they vote to establish a working rule that they implement. After it is implemented, we become better informed as to its actual consequences, and may modify, replace, or delete it.

But note that we have just stepped out of this thread and into this one: https://iidb.org/index.php?threads/morality-and-ethics.24777/
Yes is not a very satisfying answer to request for materiality of "ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good."

So I'm repeating the request as deterministic question about empirical rather than the washy washy material evidence. Here's a definition of material evidence: indicating the difference between the two.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309922961_Empirical_and_Non-Empirical_Methods

Abstract:
he dividing line between empirical and non-empirical methods is marked by scholars’ approach to knowledge
gain (i.e., epistemology). Empirical methods typically involve systematic collection and analysis of data (i.e.,
observation and evidence). They are used primarily in quantitative research involving original collection of data,
but also in secondary analyses and increasingly in qualitative research. Scholars using non-empirical methods
consider that reflection, personal observation and authority/experience are just as valuable for knowledge
acquisition as empirical data. In communication studies, scholars are likely to have a clear preference for either
empirical or non-empirical methods. Yet, their scholarship may well include both.

Why the two aren't equally valuable is obvious to even the uncurious. Before advent of scientific method the morality and governance advanced from understanding or material progress from debtor warehouse hovels to racial warehouse hovels. In the about 600 years since Galileo governments are still using rationalism to grapple with truth, justice, and whatever way since Plato.

In that same interval because of of Galileo used making his discoveries by observation and manipulating material things by empirical methods we have placed the earth as orbiting around the sun, space travel, the bomb, and broad band communication from a world of firmament and heavens, ox carts, spears, and town criers.

It's not too much to ask. Use empirical methods to refine definitions of the three terms I highlighted. You might even learn something about why  Operationalism can be such a powerful tool. Caveat, as a psychologist I warn against using Skinner's approach to Bridgman's philosophy. Simply put Skinner was a fool.
 
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Marvin Edwards

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Not so, the very definition of freedom means having alternatives and freedom/agency to choose, to have done otherwise.

Yes. And we have that. Would you like pancakes or waffles? I can fix either one, so you have two real possibilities, two options, two alternatives in the real world. And you can choose either one.

Determinism allowing no possible way except what is determined, no freedom of choice, decisions fixed at each moment of time, an agent having no realizable alternatives does precisely what is determined.

That's okay. You see, it was causally necessary from any prior point in time that I would offer you two alternatives, pancakes and waffles. And it was causally necessary from any prior point in time that you would be faced with choosing between these two possibilities. Now, we're just waiting upon you to see whether it was causally necessary that you would choose pancakes or whether it was causally necessary that you would choose waffles. ... I'm waiting.

Will is determined.

Indeed it is! So, "will" you have pancakes? Or, "will" you have waffles? ... I'm waiting.

Determinism is not free will.

Correct. But whether you "will" have pancakes or you "will" have waffles is entirely up to you. You are free to decide this for yourself, because no one is forcing you to choose waffles and no one is forcing you to choose pancakes.

Determinism will not make this choice for you. So, if you're waiting to see what determinism does, you will have no breakfast at all, because determinism never actually does anything. Determinism simply means that whatever YOU choose will have been causally necessary from any prior point in time.

Free; a. Not affected or restricted by a given condition or circumstance
b. Not subject to a given condition; exempt: income that is free of all taxes.
5. Not subject to external restraint: Unconstrained; unconfined:
*free; unrestrained; having a scope not restricted by qualification <a free variable>
7 a: not obstructed, restricted, or impeded.

Let's take a look at that list of definitions to see how they apply to the "free" in "free will":
a. Coercion and undue influence are the "given conditions or circumstances" that affect free will.
b. Just like income can either be taxed or free of taxation, your choice can either be coerced or unduly influenced or your choice can be free of coercion and undue influence.
5. & 7. Your choices will always be restricted by something. For example, I'm fixing breakfast for you this morning, and all that I am offering to fix you is either pancakes or waffles. But it is entirely up to you which one of these real possibilities you will choose. As you should know, there is no such thing as "absolute freedom", nor is there such a thing as "freedom from causal necessity", nor is there such a thing as "freedom from oneself". But there IS such a thing as "freedom from coercion and undue influence".

If you accept regulative control as a necessary part of free will, it seems impossible either way:
1. Free will requires that given an act A, the agent could have acted otherwise
2. Indeterminate actions happens randomly and without intent or control
3. Therefore indeterminism and free will are incompatible
4. Determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable
5. Therefore determinism is incompatible with free will

The nice thing about philosophy is that just about anyone can do it. You can do it. I can do it. It's just a matter of applying common sense, and understanding the actual meaning of words. But one of the problems with philosophy, is that thinking sometimes leads to the wrong conclusions. And academic philosophy ends up as a historical collection of both the good ideas and the bad ones. So, sometimes we just have to figure things out for ourselves.

So, let's go through that list:
"1. Free will requires that given an act A, the agent could have acted otherwise" - Well, that certainly sounds reasonable. For example, you're given a choice, "will you have pancakes or will you have waffles". You "can" choose either one. But which one "will" you choose? We don't know yet, it's up to you to decide. Suppose you choose waffles. You declare, "I will have waffles, thank you". Could you have chosen otherwise? "Yes, I could have chosen pancakes, but I didn't". And you will find this to be true whenever you have to make a choice between two or more things that you "can" do.

The logical flow of the choosing operation insures guarantees that at the beginning (1) there will always be at least two distinct things that you can do and that at the end (2) there will always be at least one thing that you could have done, but didn't do, and (3) there will be the single thing that you will do.

So, the choosing operation insures that "I could have done otherwise" will always be true. It is only "I would have done otherwise" that will always be false.

And we must conclude that any philosopher who suggests that "I could have done otherwise" will be false, is mistaken. They have conflated what "can" happen with what "will" happen. And this is a logical error.

"2. Indeterminate actions happens randomly and without intent or control"
"3. Therefore indeterminism and free will are incompatible"

I think it should be obvious that both premises at, 2. and 3., are irrelevant to the conclusion at 5. So, this is just a sloppy argument construct. But, like I said earlier, just about anyone can be a philosopher.

"4. Determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable" - This would seem obviously true, because if an event has been causally determined, then it has already been caused and all of its prior causes have played themselves out, and it is now an event of the past. We can't change the past.

"5. Therefore determinism is incompatible with free will" - Apparently not. The prior causes of a choice always includes a choosing operation. The choosing operation guarantees that "I could have done otherwise" will always be true. And free will is simply those cases where we made the choice for ourselves, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Determinism never actually does anything. It simply points out that our choice was reliably caused by our choosing. Our choosing was reliably caused by who and what we were at that moment. Who and what we were at that moment was caused by our nature and our nurture. Prior events leading up to who and what we were included our birth, our parents, the evolution of our species, the appearance of living organisms on the planet, the formation of the stars and planets, the Big Bang, and whatever conditions reliably led up to the Big Bang.

Most of those prior events were incidental in the chain of causation, and neither meaningful nor relevant to our choice between pancakes or waffles for breakfast.

So, we only really care about the most meaningful and relevant causes of our choices. And those causes are found within us. That's why I'm asking you, and not determinism, "What will you have for breakfast, pancakes or waffles?"
 

Marvin Edwards

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I'll be more specific. In a determined world there is no choosing.

Choosing is a deterministic operation that inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice, usually in the form of an "I will X", where X is that which we have decided we will do.

And you're saying this never happens? Come with me to the restaurant. Watch the people walk in, sit at a table, browse the menu, and place their orders. How was the literal menu of options reduced to a single choice, if not by choosing?

If we stick around, we will notice the waiter bringing each person their bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate act.

Like all events, these events were causally necessary from any prior point in the past. Causal necessity does eliminate choosing, it assures it will inevitably happen.

One's own impression of what one is doing, or of what others are doing, is subjective.

Watching people in the restaurant reducing a menu of options into a single "I will have the chef salad, please", is an objective observation, not a subjective impression. That's why I use it. Everyone has seen people actually making choices in the real world.

Causation is objective.

And we just objectively observed choosing actually happening. Cool, huh?

Subjective isn't up to the task.

So, are you suggesting that we, as objective observers, were just imagining that people in the restaurant were making choices? We cannot see inside their heads. But we did see a menu of options going into it, and a single choice coming out of it. Choosing happens. It is a real deterministic event that occurs in the real world.
And why I choose software as an example. "Choice" as a concept, in fact the more general term "decision", requires no/very little "intelligence" at all, the intelligence of a single gate.

I think where people get lost is that logical structures can be imposed in the physical, and those logical structures may be then modeled, completely ignoring the physical substrate, to perform an act of literal thaumaturgy: to make happen so below, and then follow that determined path above in the other system that performs "the same".

I can see how such ideas got off the rails though... It's a short but fatal leap to where people in ancient times took it, in our modern understanding.

But, Body Rituals of the Nacirema and all that...

Geez, you're making me look up words like "thaumaturgy", which means working miracles. As a Humanist, I don't believe in miracles.
However it seems you do believe in ethics can be materially defined. Care to try?

See: https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/definition-of-humanism/

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good. Whether you’re doing research, exploring a personal philosophy, or are simply curious about humanism, the resources here are a great place to start: […]*

* I've highlighted a few terms beyond humanism for which I'd like to see objective constructions.

Hey! Thanks for sharing with everyone the link to the AHA.

You also ask whether ethics can be "materially" defined. Yes:

Ethics are a system of rules that guide behavior. The goal of ethics is to achieve a set of rules that provides the best good and the least harm for everyone. Which rules will best accomplish this are often a matter of debate, because the long term consequences of a given rule are often uncertain. So, groups, such as legislatures, research data and hear expert witnesses to inform their decisions. And they often argue over which rule will have the best results. After gathering information and discussion, they vote to establish a working rule that they implement. After it is implemented, we become better informed as to its actual consequences, and may modify, replace, or delete it.

But note that we have just stepped out of this thread and into this one: https://iidb.org/index.php?threads/morality-and-ethics.24777/
Yes is not a very satisfying answer to request for materiality of "ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good."

So I'm repeating the request as deterministic question about empirical rather than the washy washy material evidence. Here's a definition of material evidence: indicating the difference between the two.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309922961_Empirical_and_Non-Empirical_Methods

Abstract:
he dividing line between empirical and non-empirical methods is marked by scholars’ approach to knowledge
gain (i.e., epistemology). Empirical methods typically involve systematic collection and analysis of data (i.e.,
observation and evidence). They are used primarily in quantitative research involving original collection of data,
but also in secondary analyses and increasingly in qualitative research. Scholars using non-empirical methods
consider that reflection, personal observation and authority/experience are just as valuable for knowledge
acquisition as empirical data. In communication studies, scholars are likely to have a clear preference for either
empirical or non-empirical methods. Yet, their scholarship may well include both.

Why the two aren't equally valuable is obvious to even the uncurious. Before advent of scientific method the morality and governance advanced from understanding or material progress from debtor warehouse hovels to racial warehouse hovels. In the about 600 years since Galileo governments are still using rationalism to grapple with truth, justice, and whatever way since Plato.

In that same interval because of of Galileo used making his discoveries by observation and manipulating material things by empirical methods we have placed the earth as orbiting around the sun, space travel, the bomb, and broad band communication from a world of firmament and heavens, ox carts, spears, and town criers.

It's not too much to ask. Use empirical methods to refine definitions of the three terms I highlighted. You might even learn something about why  Operationalism can be such a powerful tool. Caveat, as a psychologist I warn against using Skinner's approach to Bridgman's philosophy. Simply put Skinner was a fool.
Cool. I always like to think that I can provide an operational definition for any term I use. So, you've chosen three specific terms from the Humanist web site, and would like to see how they are operationally defined. Here goes:

Ethical Lives are simply lives that are consistent with a specific set of rules. You empirically compare specific acts within that life against the set of ethical rules that are assumed to apply to that individual. Acts consistent with the rules are ethical. Acts inconsistent with the rule are unethical. You make a list, check it twice, to see who has been naughty or nice. (Or so Santa says).

Personal Fulfillment refers to a person's goals for their lives and whether or not they have been achieved or at least behavior exhibited which is consistent with achieving them.

Aspire to the Greater Good refers to their motivation to achieve the best good and the least harm for everyone. You can empirically measure the strength of that motivation by observing behaviors that either contribute to or impede achieving that goal.

Questions? Comments?

But again, this seems to be more in line with the Morals & Principles category rather than in this thread on Compatibilism.
 

Marvin Edwards

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... Everything being determined, it matters not whether something is conscious or not. Consciousness doesn't alter anything. Brain information processing is largely unconscious. Consciousness itself is determined.

The problem is that "every event is always determined by prior events" has no practical implications. But what the brain does and does not do has huge practical implications. The brain makes choices. And it involves consciousness in the process of deliberation. The involvement of consciousness is how we are able to explain our deliberate behavior to ourselves and others.

The justice system works through sending the message, if you break this law there are consequences, jail time, fines, etc, consequences that modify behaviour and act as a deterrent.

But that message about consequences comes into the brain via words that we become consciously aware of as we see or hear them.

Mostly effective, but there are exceptions:

On the neurology of morals
''Patients with medial prefrontal lesions often display irresponsible behavior, despite being intellectually unimpaired. But similar lesions occurring in early childhood can also prevent the acquisition of factual knowledge about accepted standards of moral behavior.''


Prefrontal Cortex damage:
1 - 'The 20-year-old female subject studied by Damasio et al. was intelligent and academically competent, but she stole from her family and other children, abused other people both verbally and physically, lied frequently, and was sexually promiscuous and completely lacking in empathy toward her illegitimate child. In addition, the researchers say, "She never expressed guilt or remorse for her misbehavior'' ''Both of the subjects performed well on measures of intellectual ability, but, like people with adult-onset prefrontal cortex damage, they were socially impaired, failed to consider future consequences when making decisions, and failed to respond normally to punishment or behavioral interventions. "Unlike adult-onset patients, however," the researchers say, "the two patients had defective social and moral reasoning, suggesting that the acquisition of complex social conventions and moral rules had been impaired." While adult-onset patients possess factual knowledge about social and moral rules (even though they often cannot follow these rules in real life), Damasio et al.'s childhood-onset subjects appeared unable to learn these rules at all. This may explain, the researchers say, why their childhood-onset subjects were much more antisocial, and showed less guilt and remorse, than subjects who suffered similar damage in adulthood.''

Free will is presumed to be compromised by significant mental illness that is severe enough to remove a person's control over their own behavior. This falls under the category of an "undue influence".
 

none

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somebody posted this and I don't think it was poop.
anywho...
from stanford.edu about indeterminism... it leads with...
...
Incompatibilists hold that free will and determinism are mutually exclusive and, consequently, that we act freely (i.e., with free will) only if determinism is false. However, they disagree amongst themselves about what else, besides indeterminism, is required for free will. One question that divides them concerns which type of indeterminism—uncaused events, nondeterministically caused events, or agent caused events—is required. Another concerns where in the processes leading to action indeterminism must be located in order for an action to be free. Different answers to these questions yield different incompatibilist theories of free will.
...
so basically you can read read think think think and guess what, it is a beLIEf... get over it.
 

Copernicus

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DBT thinks of all choices as essentially a  Hobson's Choice. That is, they aren't real choices, because the result is always predetermined. However, Hobson's choice was even more real--the customer could have any horse in the stable as long as it was the one closest to the door. That genuine alternative was to have no horse at all. In the end, the argument comes down to sophistry, because nobody but a hard determinist defines "free choice" in such a way that it would be of no practical use to anyone, and we would just have to invent a new word for the kind of "choice" that we experience throughout our lives. Or we could just keep using "choice" the way we always have an ignore the hard determinist. It's a pity that they aren't free to invent their own vocabulary, but that's the path they've chosen to tread.
 

Copernicus

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Yes, you made it clear that perspective my give the actor the impression of free will, but you just don't want to admit that the subjective impression of free will is what us actors are talking about when we use the expression "free will". We aren't talking about freedom from causal necessity in a deterministic reality. So your attempt to dismiss free will as an illusion is ultimately a self-refuting argument. You end up admitting that we are compelled to accept the reality of being responsible for our actions, even if we cannot step outside of the deterministic chaos that compels us to make the choices that we do. You aren't arguing that we should open up the jails and let everyone out on the grounds that none of the inmates could help themselves when they committed their crimes. Supposedly, we are compelled to keep them locked up. What does any of your argument buy us except intellectual bankruptcy?

Are you saying that those who believe in free will, compatibilists, etc, accept that their concept of free will is an illusion? That free will as an illusion is not real? That free will is a false impression, an illusion of the mind? That the term is merely a verbal construct?

Just FYI, all terms are verbal constructs. All have significance in their own right, or they wouldn't have been used in the first place.

What I am saying is that "free will" is only an illusion if you frame it as the result of a causal necessity, where the entire antecedent chain is known. That is, it is an illusion from the perspective of an all-knowing outside observer, not the actor making the choice. People who use the term almost never use it with that sort of perspective in mind. You can ask people to tell you what made them make a choice that they did, but they never try to answer by exhaustively detailing every possible past event that led up to the choice. That is just background noise from the perspective of the chooser. They simply name the factor that they recollect as the most salient one when they made their choice. If you want to treat free will as just an illusion because of your obsession with causal chaining, you are free to do so. The rest of us will carry on as we have in the past, using the term to apply to choices that we feel are not coerced or unduly influenced by the circumstances that led to them. Causal necessity remains intact and can do what it must do.
 

none

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Yes, you made it clear that perspective my give the actor the impression of free will, but you just don't want to admit that the subjective impression of free will is what us actors are talking about when we use the expression "free will". We aren't talking about freedom from causal necessity in a deterministic reality. So your attempt to dismiss free will as an illusion is ultimately a self-refuting argument. You end up admitting that we are compelled to accept the reality of being responsible for our actions, even if we cannot step outside of the deterministic chaos that compels us to make the choices that we do. You aren't arguing that we should open up the jails and let everyone out on the grounds that none of the inmates could help themselves when they committed their crimes. Supposedly, we are compelled to keep them locked up. What does any of your argument buy us except intellectual bankruptcy?

Are you saying that those who believe in free will, compatibilists, etc, accept that their concept of free will is an illusion? That free will as an illusion is not real? That free will is a false impression, an illusion of the mind? That the term is merely a verbal construct?

Just FYI, all terms are verbal constructs. All have significance in their own right, or they wouldn't have been used in the first place.

What I am saying is that "free will" is only an illusion if you frame it as the result of a causal necessity, where the entire antecedent chain is known. That is, it is an illusion from the perspective of an all-knowing outside observer, not the actor making the choice. People who use the term almost never use it with that sort of perspective in mind. You can ask people to tell you what made them make a choice that they did, but they never try to answer by exhaustively detailing every possible past event that led up to the choice. That is just background noise from the perspective of the chooser. They simply name the factor that they recollect as the most salient one when they made their choice. If you want to treat free will as just an illusion because of your obsession with causal chaining, you are free to do so. The rest of us will carry on as we have in the past, using the term to apply to choices that we feel are not coerced or unduly influenced by the circumstances that led to them. Causal necessity remains intact and can do what it must do.

feelings... nothing more than feelings....:ROFLMAO:
 

DBT

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...
Yes, you made it clear that perspective my give the actor the impression of free will, but you just don't want to admit that the subjective impression of free will is what us actors are talking about when we use the expression "free will". We aren't talking about freedom from causal necessity in a deterministic reality. So your attempt to dismiss free will as an illusion is ultimately a self-refuting argument. You end up admitting that we are compelled to accept the reality of being responsible for our actions, even if we cannot step outside of the deterministic chaos that compels us to make the choices that we do. You aren't arguing that we should open up the jails and let everyone out on the grounds that none of the inmates could help themselves when they committed their crimes. Supposedly, we are compelled to keep them locked up. What does any of your argument buy us except intellectual bankruptcy?

Are you saying that those who believe in free will, compatibilists, etc, accept that their concept of free will is an illusion? That free will as an illusion is not real? That free will is a false impression, an illusion of the mind? That the term is merely a verbal construct?

Just FYI, all terms are verbal constructs. All have significance in their own right, or they wouldn't have been used in the first place.

What I am saying is that "free will" is only an illusion if you frame it as the result of a causal necessity, where the entire antecedent chain is known. That is, it is an illusion from the perspective of an all-knowing outside observer, not the actor making the choice. People who use the term almost never use it with that sort of perspective in mind. You can ask people to tell you what made them make a choice that they did, but they never try to answer by exhaustively detailing every possible past event that led up to the choice. That is just background noise from the perspective of the chooser. They simply name the factor that they recollect as the most salient one when they made their choice. If you want to treat free will as just an illusion because of your obsession with causal chaining, you are free to do so. The rest of us will carry on as we have in the past, using the term to apply to choices that we feel are not coerced or unduly influenced by the circumstances that led to them. Causal necessity remains intact and can do what it must do.

The question is not that all terms are verbal constructs, which they obviously are, but: is it a reference to something that exists independently of our terms.

The words "demons" and "people,'' for instance, are verbal constructs, but which of the two demonstrably exist independently of our terms?

The issue with free will is the reference, what exactly does the term refer to? The compatibilist gives their description of free will, and the incompatibilist points out the reason why it fails in terms of determinism and the physical processes of behaviour, which do not allow freedom of the will, only determined actions which proceed unimpeded as determined.
 

Marvin Edwards

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The question is not that all terms are verbal constructs, which they obviously are, but: is it a reference to something that exists independently of our terms.

The words "demons" and "people,'' for instance, are verbal constructs, but which of the two demonstrably exist independently of our terms?

Lovely demonstration. The words "determinism" and "people", are verbal constructs, but which of the two demonstrably exists independently of our terms?

The issue with free will is the reference, what exactly does the term refer to?

What exactly does the term "free will" refer to? Free will is literally a freely chosen "I will". That is exactly what the term refers to. And what is the choosing free of? It is free of coercion and undue influence.

The compatibilist gives their description of free will, and the incompatibilist points out the reason why it fails in terms of determinism and the physical processes of behaviour, which do not allow freedom of the will, only determined actions which proceed unimpeded as determined.

Free will is consistent with both (a) determinism and (b) the physical processes of behavior! Choosing is a deterministic operation, in which multiple options are input, some criteria of comparative evaluation is applied, and a single choice is output. And the choosing operation is always performed by the physical processes within the person's own brain.

The criteria for selection are part of the person, exactly as they are at the time of choosing. The criteria typically include the person's own goals, their own reasons, their own genetic dispositions, their own prior experiences, their own beliefs and values, and so on. Which criteria play the most important roles in a given choice will depend upon the nature of the issue to be decided. But the criteria will reliably determine the choice. The choice is fully deterministic.

Under extraordinary circumstances, the choosing operation may be encumbered by coercion and other forms of undue influence. In any case, whether it be a case of free will, or a case of coercion, or a case of some other undue influence, the process is always consistent with determinism and the mental process is always carried out using the physical processes running upon the brain's neural infrastructure.

So, as you can see, once more, there is no inconsistency between the notions of free will, determinism, and neuroscience. They are all compatible with each other.
 
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