• Welcome to the new Internet Infidels Discussion Board, formerly Talk Freethought.

Compatibilism: What's that About?

Copernicus

Industrial Grade Linguist
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
4,069
Location
Bellevue, WA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist humanist
...The choice of breakfast is a macro event that is not usually very strongly affected by random quantum effects. So in practice, you're 99.9999...% sure to have fish for breakfast tomorrow, even if you don't know it today, and only a very small chance of something else.

Unless you are a physicist who's rigged a machine to observe whether some radioactive isotope that has a roughly 50-50 chance of decaying, will actually decay, and then chooses his breakfast based on the result of the observation. But I would argue that most people are not hypothetical physicists trying to make a point, nor are most our choices by accident so on the fence that they'd be perturbed by quantum mechanical random events.
I'm not a physicist, but I know enough about science to know the difference between results and interpretation of those results. Interpretation is about supporting a causal model that predicts the observed results. The problem with quantum mechanics is that it is so weird that it drives scientists half mad trying to come up with coherent explanations of what is going on. ("Shut up and calculate!") So there are a number of competing interpretations out there that are more or less popular to explain quantum indeterminacy. When you start talking about "random events", you are jumping to the conclusion that they are truly random, as opposed to merely unpredictable. There are actually interpretations that are popular alternatives to the idea that the unpredictable behavior is indeed "random". My layman's reading of Everett's  Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics is that there is no actual wave collapse at all and that quantum "indeterminacy" is actually the wrong interpretation of the results that we see from all of those seemingly random events. I don't pretend to be able to evaluate all of the competing interpretations of QM, but I do believe that there is a considerable difference of opinion on just how to approach the question of determinacy/indeterminacy from a philosophical perspective. What we should try to keep in mind is that all of those competing interpretations are more philosophical than scientific. Sometimes scientists are brilliant at what they do when it comes to experimentation, measurements, and observations, but that doesn't make them brilliant philosophers when trying to explain the results. Sometimes they get the science right and the metaphors wrong.
 
Last edited:

Copernicus

Industrial Grade Linguist
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
4,069
Location
Bellevue, WA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist humanist
"Real future" seems like a contrivance, because it's just as imaginary as all the other futures until it's no longer the future.
Agreed. And it's probably no accident that linguistic expressions of time and tense reference tend to express past and present tense differently from future and other  irrealis moods. For example, English has some present and past tense suffixes on verb forms, but it has no future tense suffix. Instead, it uses a modal auxiliary verb ("will"/"shall"), just as other irrealis moods do. This kind of discrepancy is not just characteristic of English. Future tense expressions tend to be treated in an exceptional manner almost universally across human cultures. In our minds, we keep separate the distinction between what we consider real and what we consider imaginary, and that gets reflected in the grammatical structure of language.
 

Jayjay

Contributor
Joined
Apr 8, 2002
Messages
6,238
Location
Finland
Basic Beliefs
An accurate worldview or philosophy
...The choice of breakfast is a macro event that is not usually very strongly affected by random quantum effects. So in practice, you're 99.9999...% sure to have fish for breakfast tomorrow, even if you don't know it today, and only a very small chance of something else.

Unless you are a physicist who's rigged a machine to observe whether some radioactive isotope that has a roughly 50-50 chance of decaying, will actually decay, and then chooses his breakfast based on the result of the observation. But I would argue that most people are not hypothetical physicists trying to make a point, nor are most our choices by accident so on the fence that they'd be perturbed by quantum mechanical random events.
I'm not a physicist, but I know enough about science to know the difference between results and interpretation of those results. Interpretation is about supporting a causal model that predicts the observed results. The problem with quantum mechanics is that it is so weird that it drives scientists half mad trying to come up with coherent explanations of what is going on. ("Shut up and calculate!") So there are a number of competing interpretations out there that are more or less popular to explain quantum indeterminacy. When you start talking about "random events", you are jumping to the conclusion that they are truly random, as opposed to merely unpredictable. There are actually interpretations that are popular alternatives to the idea that the unpredictable behavior is indeed "random". My layman's reading of Everett's  Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics is that there is no actual wave collapse at all and that quantum "indeterminacy" is actually the wrong interpretation of the results that we see from all of those seemingly random events. I don't pretend to be able to evaluate all of the competing interpretations of QM, but I do believe that there is a considerable difference of opinion on just how to approach the question of determinacy/indeterminacy from a philosophical perspective. What we should try to keep in mind is that all of those competing interpretations are more philosophical than scientific. Sometimes scientists are brilliant at what they do when it comes to experimentation, measurements, and observations, but that doesn't make them brilliant philosophers when trying to explain the results. Sometimes they get the science right and the metaphors wrong.
Indeed, it's about the metaphors that are used. Often in scifi or even popular science, the MWI is illustrated with an example like "in this world you have fish for breakfast, in that world you have bacon". But this is simply misleading, because what you have for breakfast is (typically) not a quantum mechanical event that could go one way or another, but a macro event that is deterministic and classical in nature, albeit chaotic.
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
Messed up the quote system, doubled up posts, multiple quotes, bah.

Hey, nobody's perfect. The message is still quite readable. So, you can respond to it or you can criticize the format. It's entirely up to you.

The 'selection' - how things go within a determined system- is not subject to freely willed regulation. If free will is the point, nothing is actually being freely willed. Desires are formed and acted upon according to the state of the system and the information acting upon it. To label this as 'free will' is absurd.

And, what if you have two conflicting desires, two things you want to do? For example, you can have the steak dinner or you can have the lobster dinner. What do you do then? You choose between them.

You know, "choosing". It's that mental operation that inputs two or more viable options, estimates the likely outcomes of choosing each, and based on that evaluation outputs a single choice, your "I will do this instead of that". Both were viable options. And you could have chosen either one. But given your current goals and reasons, one became the thing that you would do, and the other became the thing that you could have done, but didn't.

Trick Slattery's notion that you only had one viable option is false. The chef was able to fix you the lobster dinner. So, that option was viable. The chef was also able to fix you the steak dinner. So, that option was also viable. One plus one equals two. Two viable options. It is not possible to choose between a single viable option. So Trick's approach produces a logical absurdity.
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
Compatibilist wording is carefully phrased to give an impression of freedom within a determined system.

No. Compatibilists simply point out that free will does not mean "free from causal necessity", but instead means "free from coercion and undue influence". We only use this definition because it is the definition that everyone uses when assessing a person's responsibility for their actions.

No event is ever "free" of reliable cause and effect. So, the notion of "freedom from causal necessity" is an absurdity. It is not something that anyone can, or needs to be free of.

Decision making is an ability enabled by means of a brain. The brain just does what it does based on architecture, environment, inputs.

The most important inputs to that brain's decision making process happen to be our own goals and reasons, our own genetic dispositions and prior life experiences, our own beliefs and values, our own thoughts and feelings, and any other things that make us uniquely who and what we are.

Declaring selfhood or ownership of the cognitive process, like ''My Choices'' - which is true in a sense, we are the sum total of body/brain/mind - which does not involve regulation through the agency of will or freedom of will.

But you've already granted agency to the brain. And that brain exists within a person (you know, that "body/brain/mind" thing that you just mentioned). The brain chooses the specific thing that we will do, from among multiple viable options, and this "deciding what will happen next" is "regulatory control".

Incompatibilists do not claim that determinism ''is controlling our behaviour.''

Well if it isn't determinism controlling my behavior, then it must be me.

It's not as if 'our behaviour' is somehow separate from the world and its objects and events, and our behaviour could have been different if it wasn't for that pesky, meddling thing called determinism. That's not how determinism works.

Right. Determinism performs no work. It has no causal agency. It is not an entity exercising regulatory control over our lives. Determinism simply asserts that whatever happens will be necessitated by a history of prior causes going all the way back to the Big Bang (or further, depending upon your cosmology). Determinism is merely a comment. It is descriptive and not causative.

So, that leaves us with the question of where regulatory control resides. I'm voting for "it resides in us". But let's see where you're going.

Nothing is separate.

That would be the pantheistic view, that it is not me, but rather the whole universe that is controlling what I do. But I would suggest that the whole universe has no interest in whether I have eggs or pancakes for breakfast.

Nothing is being forced against its will.

Well, most of the objects in the universe are inanimate, they have no will. They have no biological drives to survive, thrive, and reproduce. They have no brain to imagine viable options, estimate the likely outcomes, and then choose what they will do.

As an intelligent species, we have regulatory control over what we do.

You may not like the way things go, but that is a matter of perception and desire, the desire for alternatives, that things could be different....if only.

It is always the case that things could have been different. It is never the case that things would have been different. Now, if the incompatibilists can ever manage to make the distinction, between what "can" happen and what "will" happen, then we will have the correct understanding and expression of determinism.

The fact is that regulatory control is found in us, and other intelligent species, and in no other objects within the physical universe. (Well, there's my thermostat, but he only does what I tell him to do).
 

Copernicus

Industrial Grade Linguist
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
4,069
Location
Bellevue, WA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist humanist
...The choice of breakfast is a macro event that is not usually very strongly affected by random quantum effects. So in practice, you're 99.9999...% sure to have fish for breakfast tomorrow, even if you don't know it today, and only a very small chance of something else.

Unless you are a physicist who's rigged a machine to observe whether some radioactive isotope that has a roughly 50-50 chance of decaying, will actually decay, and then chooses his breakfast based on the result of the observation. But I would argue that most people are not hypothetical physicists trying to make a point, nor are most our choices by accident so on the fence that they'd be perturbed by quantum mechanical random events.
I'm not a physicist, but I know enough about science to know the difference between results and interpretation of those results. Interpretation is about supporting a causal model that predicts the observed results. The problem with quantum mechanics is that it is so weird that it drives scientists half mad trying to come up with coherent explanations of what is going on. ("Shut up and calculate!") So there are a number of competing interpretations out there that are more or less popular to explain quantum indeterminacy. When you start talking about "random events", you are jumping to the conclusion that they are truly random, as opposed to merely unpredictable. There are actually interpretations that are popular alternatives to the idea that the unpredictable behavior is indeed "random". My layman's reading of Everett's  Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics is that there is no actual wave collapse at all and that quantum "indeterminacy" is actually the wrong interpretation of the results that we see from all of those seemingly random events. I don't pretend to be able to evaluate all of the competing interpretations of QM, but I do believe that there is a considerable difference of opinion on just how to approach the question of determinacy/indeterminacy from a philosophical perspective. What we should try to keep in mind is that all of those competing interpretations are more philosophical than scientific. Sometimes scientists are brilliant at what they do when it comes to experimentation, measurements, and observations, but that doesn't make them brilliant philosophers when trying to explain the results. Sometimes they get the science right and the metaphors wrong.
Indeed, it's about the metaphors that are used. Often in scifi or even popular science, the MWI is illustrated with an example like "in this world you have fish for breakfast, in that world you have bacon". But this is simply misleading, because what you have for breakfast is (typically) not a quantum mechanical event that could go one way or another, but a macro event that is deterministic and classical in nature, albeit chaotic.
The last book I read on the subject was from Sean M Carroll ( Something Deeply Hidden), in which he advocated for MWI as the most reasonable interpretation of all the competing ones. He saw entanglement as a key to understanding how that particular interpretation would work. If entanglement is a process that spreads at the speed of light from each quantum interaction, then essentially all macro objects would be quantum objects. For example, in the double slit experiments, the measuring device could be considered entangled with the particle it was recording at the moment of detection. Caveat: I'm not really prepared to provide an extensive defense of his approach to QM, but I think it's worth the trouble to read his book and draw one's own conclusions.
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
... We develop aptitudes and capabilities IAC with demands or we cease to exist.

Okay. I had to lookup IAC in Wikipedia, and scroll through the various uses for that abbreviation until I came across something called "Infrastructure As Code". My impression is that it is a system development methodology that is highly adaptive and easily modified.

We use those aptitudes and capabilities to remain living.

And you're suggesting that IAC is an analogy for the evolved intelligence we possess that allows us to adapt to many environments and their challenges, a human feature that gives us a survival advantage in evolution.

Deciding isn't a thing, it's a conceit.

Okay, that's a bit subtle for me. But deciding is a practical mental operation that can be performed alone or in groups.

We do what we co IAC with demands for getting by. We congregate around systems and beliefs as social means to persist because group processing works better than individual processing most of the time.

Ah, Psych 414 Group Dynamics. Right. A varied group of non-experts can come close to the opinion of an expert. And such a group that includes the expert will have better decisions than the expert alone. So, yes we often form groups to tackle problems.

We are rational only to the extent that we can resist urges such a fight or flight or take or share. Mass impulses sometimes override individual governors putting groups at risk which suggests having more than one group is baked into our genetics as well.

Especially when dealing with would-be oligarchs like Trump.

What we do within in groups or between individuals is mostly driven by ceremony so 'decisions' are devices for moving forward within a pairing or group. They are effects of weighted arbitration among existing options not actions.

Groups are also useful for brainstorming to produce new options. One person's contribution often triggers a new idea from another. After non-judgmental brainstorming you get to prioritizing, evaluating, and choosing which solutions to tackle first.

We may ride a horse because we've developed the capacity to control certain aspects of horse behavior in return for giving the horse certain benefits with regard to shelter, cleaning, and feeding. We don't command the horse. The horse behaves as a horse with rider not as a ridden animal.

And yet horses are "broken in", and dogs are "house broken". So, there is a negotiation for control. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.

Those sensibilities you cite are basically learned social ritual and procedures IAC with the culture and groups in which we function. Most can be worked out IAC stochastic functions. Just arbitration and rationalizing with a social reference component. In your terms its explaining (rationalizing) not deciding. It's certainly constrained by expectations and capabilities.

Yes, it is reasoning and explaining, but only up to the point where the group takes a vote to decide the matter. If nothing is decided, then nothing will be done. The decision sets the groups intentions, and those intentions then motivate and direct their subsequent actions.

All of this is called coercion. It's not done freely.

No. Social cooperation and negotiation is not coercion! Cooperation is mutually beneficial. Coercion is where one side threatens physical harm to force the other side to do as they are told. Terrorism is a form of coercion. It is the opposite of cooperation.
 

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius
Joined
Oct 6, 2008
Messages
15,817
Location
Local group: Solar system: Earth: NA: US: contiguo
Basic Beliefs
optimist
... We develop aptitudes and capabilities IAC with demands or we cease to exist.

Okay. I had to lookup IAC in Wikipedia, and scroll through the various uses for that abbreviation until I came across something called "Infrastructure As Code". My impression is that it is a system development methodology that is highly adaptive and easily modified.

We use those aptitudes and capabilities to remain living.

And you're suggesting that IAC is an analogy for the evolved intelligence we possess that allows us to adapt to many environments and their challenges, a human feature that gives us a survival advantage in evolution.

Deciding isn't a thing, it's a conceit.

Okay, that's a bit subtle for me. But deciding is a practical mental operation that can be performed alone or in groups.

We do what we co IAC with demands for getting by. We congregate around systems and beliefs as social means to persist because group processing works better than individual processing most of the time.

Ah, Psych 414 Group Dynamics. Right. A varied group of non-experts can come close to the opinion of an expert. And such a group that includes the expert will have better decisions than the expert alone. So, yes we often form groups to tackle problems.

We are rational only to the extent that we can resist urges such a fight or flight or take or share. Mass impulses sometimes override individual governors putting groups at risk which suggests having more than one group is baked into our genetics as well.

Especially when dealing with would-be oligarchs like Trump.

What we do within in groups or between individuals is mostly driven by ceremony so 'decisions' are devices for moving forward within a pairing or group. They are effects of weighted arbitration among existing options not actions.

Groups are also useful for brainstorming to produce new options. One person's contribution often triggers a new idea from another. After non-judgmental brainstorming you get to prioritizing, evaluating, and choosing which solutions to tackle first.

We may ride a horse because we've developed the capacity to control certain aspects of horse behavior in return for giving the horse certain benefits with regard to shelter, cleaning, and feeding. We don't command the horse. The horse behaves as a horse with rider not as a ridden animal.

And yet horses are "broken in", and dogs are "house broken". So, there is a negotiation for control. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.

Those sensibilities you cite are basically learned social ritual and procedures IAC with the culture and groups in which we function. Most can be worked out IAC stochastic functions. Just arbitration and rationalizing with a social reference component. In your terms its explaining (rationalizing) not deciding. It's certainly constrained by expectations and capabilities.

Yes, it is reasoning and explaining, but only up to the point where the group takes a vote to decide the matter. If nothing is decided, then nothing will be done. The decision sets the groups intentions, and those intentions then motivate and direct their subsequent actions.

All of this is called coercion. It's not done freely.

No. Social cooperation and negotiation is not coercion! Cooperation is mutually beneficial. Coercion is where one side threatens physical harm to force the other side to do as they are told. Terrorism is a form of coercion. It is the opposite of cooperation.
Those sensibilities you cite are basically learned social ritual and procedures IAW with the culture and groups in which we function. Most can be worked out IAW stochastic functions. Just arbitration and rationalizing with a social reference component. In your terms its explaining (rationalizing) not deciding. It's certainly constrained by expectations and capabilities.

I post the above to put the record straight and correct something I've been misusing for sometime which is "In Accordance with".

One for me and one for you. Social behavior in accordance with demands of the group otherwise known as conditioning is in no way cooperative. Social behavior is never where the group takes a vote. It's where an individual learns to get in line with group preferred behavior. Anything that is out of line with group expectations is called rebellion. You see the meaning in regard to horses but you insist it's a vote when humans conform? Do you feel the bite of the bit now?
 
  • Like
Reactions: DBT

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
Messed up the quote system, doubled up posts, multiple quotes, bah.

Hey, nobody's perfect. The message is still quite readable. So, you can respond to it or you can criticize the format. It's entirely up to you.

The 'selection' - how things go within a determined system- is not subject to freely willed regulation. If free will is the point, nothing is actually being freely willed. Desires are formed and acted upon according to the state of the system and the information acting upon it. To label this as 'free will' is absurd.

And, what if you have two conflicting desires, two things you want to do? For example, you can have the steak dinner or you can have the lobster dinner. What do you do then? You choose between them.
[/QUOTE]

The choice is an illusion, determinism only allows a determined option to be realized. We have the impression of choosing, but in reality the outcome is a matter of necessity, not choice.
You know, "choosing". It's that mental operation that inputs two or more viable options, estimates the likely outcomes of choosing each, and based on that evaluation outputs a single choice, your "I will do this instead of that". Both were viable options. And you could have chosen either one. But given your current goals and reasons, one became the thing that you would do, and the other became the thing that you could have done, but didn't.

Trick Slattery's notion that you only had one viable option is false. The chef was able to fix you the lobster dinner. So, that option was viable. The chef was also able to fix you the steak dinner. So, that option was also viable. One plus one equals two. Two viable options. It is not possible to choose between a single viable option. So Trick's approach produces a logical absurdity.

The mental operation can only go one way in any instance. Whatever happens within neural activity is unconscious and determined by information exchange. There are no alternatives at any point in time. What you can't do in this instance may be done in the next...not because you willed it but because new information acted upon 'your' neural networks.

Abilities and actions not being willed, are not freely willed. Free will - agency, conscious regulatory control - is an illusion formed from limited perspective. We don't have access to the means of production.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
Compatibilist wording is carefully phrased to give an impression of freedom within a determined system.

No. Compatibilists simply point out that free will does not mean "free from causal necessity", but instead means "free from coercion and undue influence". We only use this definition because it is the definition that everyone uses when assessing a person's responsibility for their actions.

No event is ever "free" of reliable cause and effect. So, the notion of "freedom from causal necessity" is an absurdity. It is not something that anyone can, or needs to be free of.

That is exactly why compatibilism, by merely applying a label, does not establish freedom of will. Words are not the thing they refer to, descriptions do not necessarily represent the objects, abilities or events they meant to represent.

Again; ''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. ''
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
... Social behavior in accordance with demands of the group otherwise known as conditioning is in no way cooperative. Social behavior is never where the group takes a vote. It's where an individual learns to get in line with group preferred behavior. Anything that is out of line with group expectations is called rebellion. ...

Sure. There are social norms and expectations that we acquire from our community. We are taught to believe certain things and to act certain ways which may differ from one culture to another. But our parents are seldom as organized and deliberate as B. F. Skinner. A lot of parenting is flying by the seat of our pants. And children tend to have a mind of their own. They test the limits. Some even throw in with subcultures, like street gangs, that run the neighborhood and impose their own expectations, or perhaps a little less dire, college fraternities.

Ironically, the more thorough the gang's control over individual choices, and the more habitual the behavior becomes, the more difficult it may be to correct this behavior through rehabilitation. So, rather than these influences being an excuse for the behavior, it may require taking them off the streets for a longer time.
 

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius
Joined
Oct 6, 2008
Messages
15,817
Location
Local group: Solar system: Earth: NA: US: contiguo
Basic Beliefs
optimist
... Social behavior in accordance with demands of the group otherwise known as conditioning is in no way cooperative. Social behavior is never where the group takes a vote. It's where an individual learns to get in line with group preferred behavior. Anything that is out of line with group expectations is called rebellion. ...

Sure. There are social norms and expectations that we acquire from our community. We are taught to believe certain things and to act certain ways which may differ from one culture to another. But our parents are seldom as organized and deliberate as B. F. Skinner. A lot of parenting is flying by the seat of our pants. And children tend to have a mind of their own. They test the limits. Some even throw in with subcultures, like street gangs, that run the neighborhood and impose their own expectations, or perhaps a little less dire, college fraternities.

Ironically, the more thorough the gang's control over individual choices, and the more habitual the behavior becomes, the more difficult it may be to correct this behavior through rehabilitation. So, rather than these influences being an excuse for the behavior, it may require taking them off the streets for a longer time.
So why choose Skinner rather than Bridgman as operational example. is it because I specifically pointed out he was not correct on Operationalism, or are you just pulling my leg.

A mind of their own. From what galaxy far away did that come? Not from Dr.  William Shockley I hope. There was a person who about physics was so smart he attributed behavior directly to genes. Why use time or a reason to explain behavioral patterns when one's got flawed genetics and statistics to wave about. It must have been his being immaculately conceived over the course of three years before his history begins in CA. After all he was co-inventor of the transistor..
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
The choice is an illusion, determinism only allows a determined option to be realized. We have the impression of choosing, but in reality the outcome is a matter of necessity, not choice.

The notion that "determinism only allows" is an illusion. Determinism is not an entity that exists in the real world.

Hard determinists have "the impression of" determinism as a causal agent, "but in reality" the choosing operation itself is what causally necessitates the specific choice.

That the choosing operation occurs when and where it does, is causally necessary. But it is not necessitated by "causal necessity". It is necessitated by its own actual prior causes. For example, it's morning and I'm hungry, so I must decide what I will have for breakfast.

Every event is reliably caused by prior events. Our having to make choices, and actually making those choices ourselves, is as causally necessary as any other event. In the real world, without illusions, it is really us, and we are really doing the choosing ourselves.

The mental operation can only go one way in any instance.

The mental operation of choosing will only go one way in any instance. Determinism is not about what "can" happen. Determinism is about what certainly "will" happen.

Whatever happens within neural activity is unconscious and determined by information exchange.

Conscious experience is included within our neural activity. Conscious intent motivates and directs subsequent neural activity. For example, the subjects in the Libet experiments each chose to volunteer. That deliberate choice motivated them to listen to and follow the researcher's instructions and to do their best to carry them out.

There are no alternatives at any point in time.

A possibility exists solely within the imagination. We cannot drive a car across the possibility of a bridge. But we must first imagine a possible bridge before we can build an actual bridge. Possibilities are "real" only in that they are real mental events. And multiple possibilities will show up during mental operations like choosing. A real possibility is something that "can" happen if we choose to make it happen. But being a real possibility never implies that it actually "will" happen.

There are always at least two alternatives/options/possibilities at the beginning of every choosing operation. Choosing is a mental process carried out by the brain which inputs at least two options, applies some comparative criteria for evaluation, and based upon that evaluation outputs a single choice.

Each of these multiple, real, alternatives is a course of action that can be carried out in the physical world if we choose to do it. But none of them must happen in order to be real possibilities. The fact that a possibility never happens does not make it impossible. It only makes it something that could have happened if we chose to make it happen.

What you can't do in this instance may be done in the next...not because you willed it but because new information acted upon 'your' neural networks.
Choosing happens. It happens on the neural networks of our brains. We choose our intention to do something specific. That intent then motivates and directs our subsequent mental and physical actions until we've accomplished that intent.

When this choosing is free of coercion and other undue influences, it is literally a freely chosen "I will", and it is called "free will".

Abilities and actions not being willed, are not freely willed. Free will - agency, conscious regulatory control - is an illusion formed from limited perspective. We don't have access to the means of production.

An ability is a specific power to do something, like walk, or eat, or brush your teeth, or choose to walk, or choose to eat, or choose to brush your teeth. We observe ourselves and others doing these things. So, there is no illusion. "Did you go for a walk?" "What will you have for dinner?" "Did you brush your teeth?" All of these questions assume these abilities to be real, and not illusions.

And most people these days make these assumptions with the knowledge that their own brain and body are the source of these abilities.
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
So why choose Skinner rather than Bridgman as operational example. is it because I specifically pointed out he was not correct on Operationalism, or are you just pulling my leg.

I've never heard of Bridgman. And I was too involved in student government in college to get even a bachelor degree in Psych.

Fortunately, resolving the free will "versus" determinism paradox does not require an academic background. I had settled the matter in my own head around the age of 15 after spending time browsing the philosophy section in the public library. I've read a lot since then, of course.
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
Again; ''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. ''

Responsibility is assigned to the most meaningful and relevant causes of an event. For example, a drunk driver proceeds through a stop sign and injures a pedestrian. What caused the accident? Who is responsible for the pedestrian's injuries? As a community, we are responsible for creating laws that prevent pedestrians from getting injured by cars. To prevent drunk drivers from repeatedly causing harm, we hold individuals responsible when they break these laws, and we are entitled to take steps to correct their future behavior in order to prevent future harm.

Do we ever hold determinism or causal necessity responsible? Of course not. There is nothing we can do about reliable cause and effect, other than to be, ourselves, the specific cause of our own specific effects. We pass laws against drunk driving. We enforce these laws by arresting the offender, holding a trial, and imposing a penalty.

So, what does the offender "basically deserve" for his crime? The victim deserves to have her medical bills paid. The offender deserves an opportunity for rehabilitation, to cure his alcohol addiction, and to restore his ability to refuse to drink and drive. Until his behavior is corrected, society deserves to be safe from his behavior, either by removing his license to drive or by securing him in prison.

The offender is never penalized for having free will. He is not penalized for having the ability to make choices. He is penalized because his deliberate choices have caused harm to someone else. It is the harm that justifies the penalty, not free will.

One of the problems in the free will debate has been the confusion over what causes the harm. Causal necessity doesn't actually cause anything. It simply reminds us that each cause has its own causes. When looking to correct harmful behavior we should look at contributing factors, such as a community that is plagued by unemployment, racism, failing schools, and poverty, and the community's social norms, such as a toleration for drunk driving. These are political issues, that require people to choose to do something about them. They are not issues that the judge can address from the bench.

Anyway, that's how responsibility and what people basically deserve works.

Questions?
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
28,232
Location
The Sunshine State: The one with Crocs, not Gators
Gender
He/Him
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
At a previous job, we had a safety training course, where a detailed scenario that resulted in an injury was presented to the class, who then had to answer questions about ways to prevent that injury.

The first question was "What two things do you believe were significant causes of this incident?"

I was bored, so I suggested "The laws of physics, and the initial starting conditions of the universe".

If you can see why that's just a joke, then you are on the way to seeing the problem with the "determinism means no freedom of will" school of thought.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
The choice is an illusion, determinism only allows a determined option to be realized. We have the impression of choosing, but in reality the outcome is a matter of necessity, not choice.

The notion that "determinism only allows" is an illusion. Determinism is not an entity that exists in the real world.

It's just a matter of wording. I didn't intend to suggest that determinism is a separate entity or factor that acts upon the world. I was referring, as usual, to the given definition of determinism as 'natural law' - this being the properties of matter/energy.

That the properties of matter/energy determine how things go, fixed as a matter of natural law.

Determinism:
''The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law''

That's all.

A possibility exists solely within the imagination. We cannot drive a car across the possibility of a bridge. But we must first imagine a possible bridge before we can build an actual bridge. Possibilities are "real" only in that they are real mental events. And multiple possibilities will show up during mental operations like choosing. A real possibility is something that "can" happen if we choose to make it happen. But being a real possibility never implies that it actually "will" happen.

There are always at least two alternatives/options/possibilities at the beginning of every choosing operation. Choosing is a mental process carried out by the brain which inputs at least two options, applies some comparative criteria for evaluation, and based upon that evaluation outputs a single choice.

Each of these multiple, real, alternatives is a course of action that can be carried out in the physical world if we choose to do it. But none of them must happen in order to be real possibilities. The fact that a possibility never happens does not make it impossible. It only makes it something that could have happened if we chose to make it happen.

Countless possibilities exist in the world at any given instance in time, but only one possibility at a time is open to an individual, the determined option in that instance in time, which being determined, is not so much an option as a necessity.

What is determined must necessarily happen, therefore what happens in any given instance in time is not a 'free will choice.' Nor is it an act of will, but a necessitated action.

Which, as pointed out, reduces compatibilism to label status.

A label is applied to select, shallow conditions and declared that this is free will, that free will is compatible with determinism.

Thereby the compatibilist argument as a mere label fails to establish freedom of will.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
Again; ''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. ''

Responsibility is assigned to the most meaningful and relevant causes of an event. For example, a drunk driver proceeds through a stop sign and injures a pedestrian. What caused the accident? Who is responsible for the pedestrian's injuries? As a community, we are responsible for creating laws that prevent pedestrians from getting injured by cars. To prevent drunk drivers from repeatedly causing harm, we hold individuals responsible when they break these laws, and we are entitled to take steps to correct their future behavior in order to prevent future harm.

Do we ever hold determinism or causal necessity responsible? Of course not. There is nothing we can do about reliable cause and effect, other than to be, ourselves, the specific cause of our own specific effects. We pass laws against drunk driving. We enforce these laws by arresting the offender, holding a trial, and imposing a penalty.

So, what does the offender "basically deserve" for his crime? The victim deserves to have her medical bills paid. The offender deserves an opportunity for rehabilitation, to cure his alcohol addiction, and to restore his ability to refuse to drink and drive. Until his behavior is corrected, society deserves to be safe from his behavior, either by removing his license to drive or by securing him in prison.

The offender is never penalized for having free will. He is not penalized for having the ability to make choices. He is penalized because his deliberate choices have caused harm to someone else. It is the harm that justifies the penalty, not free will.

One of the problems in the free will debate has been the confusion over what causes the harm. Causal necessity doesn't actually cause anything. It simply reminds us that each cause has its own causes. When looking to correct harmful behavior we should look at contributing factors, such as a community that is plagued by unemployment, racism, failing schools, and poverty, and the community's social norms, such as a toleration for drunk driving. These are political issues, that require people to choose to do something about them. They are not issues that the judge can address from the bench.

Anyway, that's how responsibility and what people basically deserve works.

Questions?


It's not a matter of 'free will.'

If determinism is true, the conditions of the world cause (necessitation) some people to act in maladaptive or destructive ways. Who as a child plan to be a murderer, a thief, a rapist? Who as a child, looking for lifestyle, decides to end up in prison for life or death row? Offenders are punished because consequences act as a deterrent and may modify the behaviour of some but not all offenders.

Once again;

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.''

Quote;
''Because most behavior is driven by brain networks we do not consciously control, the legal system will eventually be forced to shift its emphasis from retribution to a forward-looking analysis of future behavior. In the light of modern neuroscience, it no longer makes sense to ask "was it his fault, or his biology's fault, or the fault of his background?", because these issues can never be disentangled. Instead, the only sensible question can be "what do we do from here?" -- in terms of customized sentencing, tailored rehabilition, and refined incentive structuring.''

''Goldberg brings his description of frontal dysfunction to life with insightful accounts of clinical cases. These provide a good description of some of the consequences of damage to frontal areas and the disruption and confusion of behavior that often results. Vladimir, for example, is a patient whose frontal lobes were surgically resectioned after a train accident. As a result, he is unable to form a plan, displays an extreme lack of drive and mental rigidity and is unaware of his disorder. In another account, Toby, a highly intelligent man who suffers from attention deficits and possibly a bipolar disorder, displays many of the behavioral features of impaired frontal lobe function including immaturity, poor foresight and impulsive behavior''
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
The choice is an illusion, determinism only allows a determined option to be realized. We have the impression of choosing, but in reality the outcome is a matter of necessity, not choice.

The notion that "determinism only allows" is an illusion. Determinism is not an entity that exists in the real world.

It's just a matter of wording. I didn't intend to suggest that determinism is a separate entity or factor that acts upon the world. I was referring, as usual, to the given definition of determinism as 'natural law' - this being the properties of matter/energy.

That the properties of matter/energy determine how things go, fixed as a matter of natural law.

Determinism: ''The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law''

That's all.

And in that case it is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's wording. Choosing those words is precisely what causes the problem, as I outlined here:

Error, By Tradition

“Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.” [5] (SEP)

In this formal definition from the SEP article, we now have determinism anthropomorphically appearing as an actor in the real world. And not just any actor, but one with the power to “govern” everything that happens. Even less attractive is the suggestion that it might also be viewed as a Svengali, holding everything “under its sway”.

In either case, we are given the impression that our destiny is no longer chosen by us, but is controlled by some power that is external to us. And that viewpoint is functionally equivalent to this:

“Fatalism is the thesis that all events (or in some versions, at least some events) are destined to occur no matter what we do. The source of the guarantee that those events will happen is located in the will of the gods, or their divine foreknowledge, or some intrinsic teleological aspect of the universe…” [6] (SEP)

The SEP article attempts to draw a distinction between determinism and fatalism, by attributing the external control in determinism to “natural law” rather than “the will of the gods”. But as long as the cause remains a force that is external to us, it is only “a distinction without a difference”.

A possibility exists solely within the imagination. We cannot drive a car across the possibility of a bridge. But we must first imagine a possible bridge before we can build an actual bridge. Possibilities are "real" only in that they are real mental events. And multiple possibilities will show up during mental operations like choosing. A real possibility is something that "can" happen if we choose to make it happen. But being a real possibility never implies that it actually "will" happen.

There are always at least two alternatives/options/possibilities at the beginning of every choosing operation. Choosing is a mental process carried out by the brain which inputs at least two options, applies some comparative criteria for evaluation, and based upon that evaluation outputs a single choice.

Each of these multiple, real, alternatives is a course of action that can be carried out in the physical world if we choose to do it. But none of them must happen in order to be real possibilities. The fact that a possibility never happens does not make it impossible. It only makes it something that could have happened if we chose to make it happen.

Countless possibilities exist in the world at any given instance in time, but only one possibility at a time is open to an individual, the determined option in that instance in time, which being determined, is not so much an option as a necessity.

Two things wrong there. First, possibilities do not exist "outside" in the world. Possibilities exist solely within our imagination. We cannot drive a car across the possibility of a bridge. We can only drive across an actual bridge. On the other hand, we cannot build an actual bridge without first imagining a possible bridge. So, a "real" possibility is a mental plan for something that we could actually do, if we choose to do it.

Second, determining the possibility that we will actualize is performed by us, within our own brains. It is our own thoughts that imagine the possibility, and that create a plan of action to actualize it, and that motivates and directs our body to carry out that plan. There is nothing else around that will do this for us. For example, if I'm an adult, then it will be up to me to decide what I will have for breakfast, whether it will be eggs or pancakes, and it will be up to me to prepare the meal, eat it, and clean up after.

What is determined must necessarily happen, ...

Correct. But it will be necessitated by my own thoughts and my own actions at that moment. This fact is not changed by the other fact that prior causes, including my own prior thoughts and actions, resulted in me being who I was at that moment, such that I had those specific thoughts and performed those specific actions. "That which determined what I would do" was all within me at the time.

No prior cause of me could participate in this choosing operation without first becoming an integral part of who and what I was at that moment.

... therefore what happens in any given instance in time is not a 'free will choice.' Nor is it an act of will, but a necessitated action.

Incorrect. A "free will choice" is the specific operation within my own brain that causally determines (necessitates) my will, and it is my will that in turn causally determines my actions.

Which, as pointed out, reduces compatibilism to label status. ...

Incorrect. What I've just laid out for you is not a matter of manipulating labels, but simply a better description of what is actually happening in the real world than what you have been describing. But it's not your fault. The notion of causation and determinism and the laws of nature, as external entities exerting force upon us, creates that illusion.
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
28,232
Location
The Sunshine State: The one with Crocs, not Gators
Gender
He/Him
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
It appears that one of the best contenders for rescuing determinism from quantum theory has now been falsified, as 'pilot wave theory' fails to correctly predict experimental results.

A century of increasingly complex hypotheses has so far failed to produce a deterministic model of reality that conforms with experimental observations.

https://bigthink.com/starts-with-a-bang/quantum-spookiness/

Interestingly, one of the experimental teams that demonstrated this is led by Tomas Bohr, who is the grandson of the famous Niels, and is currently a Professor of Fluid Physics at the Technical University of Denmark.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/famo...ve-alternative-to-quantum-weirdness-20181011/
 

pood

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2021
Messages
1,051
Basic Beliefs
agnostic
There are still MWI and superdeterminism, both of which agree with observed QM but reproduce a fully deterministic universe.
 

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
10,451
Location
seattle
Basic Beliefs
secular-skeptic
QM is a set of equations that are used to accomplish useful tasks in science and engineering.

You can fit any kind of interpterion philosophically that does not appear to conflict with the equations, that does not give any validity to a speculation.

People have used QM to validate ghosts and the paranormal.

Someone on the forum a ways back argued that an infinite mathematical number line inferred an infinite disembodied existence after death.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
The choice is an illusion, determinism only allows a determined option to be realized. We have the impression of choosing, but in reality the outcome is a matter of necessity, not choice.

The notion that "determinism only allows" is an illusion. Determinism is not an entity that exists in the real world.

It's just a matter of wording. I didn't intend to suggest that determinism is a separate entity or factor that acts upon the world. I was referring, as usual, to the given definition of determinism as 'natural law' - this being the properties of matter/energy.

That the properties of matter/energy determine how things go, fixed as a matter of natural law.

Determinism: ''The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law''

That's all.

And in that case it is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's wording. Choosing those words is precisely what causes the problem, as I outlined here:

Error, By Tradition

“Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.” [5] (SEP)

In this formal definition from the SEP article, we now have determinism anthropomorphically appearing as an actor in the real world. And not just any actor, but one with the power to “govern” everything that happens. Even less attractive is the suggestion that it might also be viewed as a Svengali, holding everything “under its sway”.

In either case, we are given the impression that our destiny is no longer chosen by us, but is controlled by some power that is external to us. And that viewpoint is functionally equivalent to this:

“Fatalism is the thesis that all events (or in some versions, at least some events) are destined to occur no matter what we do. The source of the guarantee that those events will happen is located in the will of the gods, or their divine foreknowledge, or some intrinsic teleological aspect of the universe…” [6] (SEP)

The SEP article attempts to draw a distinction between determinism and fatalism, by attributing the external control in determinism to “natural law” rather than “the will of the gods”. But as long as the cause remains a force that is external to us, it is only “a distinction without a difference”.

A possibility exists solely within the imagination. We cannot drive a car across the possibility of a bridge. But we must first imagine a possible bridge before we can build an actual bridge. Possibilities are "real" only in that they are real mental events. And multiple possibilities will show up during mental operations like choosing. A real possibility is something that "can" happen if we choose to make it happen. But being a real possibility never implies that it actually "will" happen.

There are always at least two alternatives/options/possibilities at the beginning of every choosing operation. Choosing is a mental process carried out by the brain which inputs at least two options, applies some comparative criteria for evaluation, and based upon that evaluation outputs a single choice.

Each of these multiple, real, alternatives is a course of action that can be carried out in the physical world if we choose to do it. But none of them must happen in order to be real possibilities. The fact that a possibility never happens does not make it impossible. It only makes it something that could have happened if we chose to make it happen.

Countless possibilities exist in the world at any given instance in time, but only one possibility at a time is open to an individual, the determined option in that instance in time, which being determined, is not so much an option as a necessity.

Two things wrong there. First, possibilities do not exist "outside" in the world. Possibilities exist solely within our imagination. We cannot drive a car across the possibility of a bridge. We can only drive across an actual bridge. On the other hand, we cannot build an actual bridge without first imagining a possible bridge. So, a "real" possibility is a mental plan for something that we could actually do, if we choose to do it.

Second, determining the possibility that we will actualize is performed by us, within our own brains. It is our own thoughts that imagine the possibility, and that create a plan of action to actualize it, and that motivates and directs our body to carry out that plan. There is nothing else around that will do this for us. For example, if I'm an adult, then it will be up to me to decide what I will have for breakfast, whether it will be eggs or pancakes, and it will be up to me to prepare the meal, eat it, and clean up after.

What is determined must necessarily happen, ...

Correct. But it will be necessitated by my own thoughts and my own actions at that moment. This fact is not changed by the other fact that prior causes, including my own prior thoughts and actions, resulted in me being who I was at that moment, such that I had those specific thoughts and performed those specific actions. "That which determined what I would do" was all within me at the time.

No prior cause of me could participate in this choosing operation without first becoming an integral part of who and what I was at that moment.

... therefore what happens in any given instance in time is not a 'free will choice.' Nor is it an act of will, but a necessitated action.

Incorrect. A "free will choice" is the specific operation within my own brain that causally determines (necessitates) my will, and it is my will that in turn causally determines my actions.

Which, as pointed out, reduces compatibilism to label status. ...

Incorrect. What I've just laid out for you is not a matter of manipulating labels, but simply a better description of what is actually happening in the real world than what you have been describing. But it's not your fault. The notion of causation and determinism and the laws of nature, as external entities exerting force upon us, creates that illusion.

Please, at no point in time have I said that the laws of nature and determinism are external entities exerting force upon us.

I said as much in my last post.

Determinism is a matter of the properties of matter/energy, which we call the laws of nature, which entails matter energy events/information behaving deterministically rather than randomly.

The given definition of determinism does not entail external entities acting upon matter/energy.

Which is why our references to freedom must necessarily be conditional, and will, having no agency in relation to behaviour or choice cannot be free.
 

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
10,451
Location
seattle
Basic Beliefs
secular-skeptic
Rebel without a 'cause? '.. .could not pass up the opening.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
The label is not the thing. Labels are sometimes applied to imaginary or fictional entities, God, gods, angels, demons, lady luck, free will, etc, because some folk find these things appealing, therefore meaningful: God is a creator, creation exists therefore God exists. We are able to act without impediment, to act without impediment is freedom, therefore free will. Labels supported by nothing more than semantics while ignoring that all determined actions proceed unimpeded through necessity, not freedom of will.
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
Please, at no point in time have I said that the laws of nature and determinism are external entities exerting force upon us.
I said as much in my last post.

Okay, let's see if that actually plays out:

Determinism is a matter of the properties of matter/energy, which we call the laws of nature, which entails matter energy events/information behaving deterministically rather than randomly.

We wake up in the morning as a physical object having all of the "properties of matter/energy", and we use that energy to break a couple of eggs to fix breakfast. As living organisms, we also embody the laws of nature. Biological drives to survive provide us with the goal of satisfying our hunger. As members of an intelligent species, we are equipped with a brain that allows us to make plans and choices. We take a grocery list to remind us to buy eggs so that we'll have them when we wake up hungry in the morning.

We are separate physical objects, separate packages of the laws of nature, and separate individuals within our species. While I am fixing eggs for breakfast, you may be fixing pancakes. Each of us makes our own choices, for our own reasons.

So, executive control is localized within each of us.

Executive control is not localized in determinism. Executive control is not localized in causal necessity. Executive control resides only in the objects that can choose what happens next.

Whenever you suggest that determinism does this or does that, or that necessity does this or does that, you are creating the delusion that executive control is external to us.


... our references to freedom must necessarily be conditional, and will, having no agency in relation to behaviour or choice cannot be free.

FREE OF WHAT?! Free of reliable cause and effect? Free from ourselves? Do you genuinely believe such freedoms are possible? And if you do not believe such freedoms are possible, why offer them up as a straw man for free will? The position is disingenuous.
 

Copernicus

Industrial Grade Linguist
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
4,069
Location
Bellevue, WA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist humanist
The label is not the thing. Labels are sometimes applied to imaginary or fictional entities, God, gods, angels, demons, lady luck, free will, etc, because some folk find these things appealing, therefore meaningful: God is a creator, creation exists therefore God exists. We are able to act without impediment, to act without impediment is freedom, therefore free will. Labels supported by nothing more than semantics while ignoring that all determined actions proceed unimpeded through necessity, not freedom of will.

These issues are much more complicated than you think. All words have meaning (i.e. "semantics"), even if they don't refer to entities that actually exist. We all know what unicorns are, but they are not real animals. Reference is different from meaning, although there used to be referential theories of meaning that people took seriously back in the heyday of logical positivism. Labels are words, which have at least three very distinct properties--reference, meaning, and form. Conventional usage determines what the meaning is, but people make up new words and word senses all the time. The problem is convincing other people to buy into the proposed new usage.

People have pointed out to you quite frequently (and to no avail) that "free will" can have more than one meaning, but the most common meaning is the one that Marvin's definitions have pointed to. There is a secondary meaning that is associated with freedom from causal necessity in these debates on free will, and that is the one that you have insisted that everyone use. It isn't a very useful sense of the word, since nobody seriously thinks that free will is independent of causal necessity outside of these never-ending arguments over whether "free will" ought to be somehow eliminated, because some people want to define it as somehow being independent of causal necessity. And those aren't just eliminative materialists. There are also theologians who weigh in on the subject. Calvin comes to mind. Frankly, eliminative materialists sometimes come off to me as sort of "secular Calvinists", except that they don't carry around all of that God baggage.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
The label is not the thing. Labels are sometimes applied to imaginary or fictional entities, God, gods, angels, demons, lady luck, free will, etc, because some folk find these things appealing, therefore meaningful: God is a creator, creation exists therefore God exists. We are able to act without impediment, to act without impediment is freedom, therefore free will. Labels supported by nothing more than semantics while ignoring that all determined actions proceed unimpeded through necessity, not freedom of will.

These issues are much more complicated than you think. All words have meaning (i.e. "semantics"), even if they don't refer to entities that actually exist. We all know what unicorns are, but they are not real animals. Reference is different from meaning, although there used to be referential theories of meaning that people took seriously back in the heyday of logical positivism. Labels are words, which have at least three very distinct properties--reference, meaning, and form. Conventional usage determines what the meaning is, but people make up new words and word senses all the time. The problem is convincing other people to buy into the proposed new usage.

People have pointed out to you quite frequently (and to no avail) that "free will" can have more than one meaning, but the most common meaning is the one that Marvin's definitions have pointed to. There is a secondary meaning that is associated with freedom from causal necessity in these debates on free will, and that is the one that you have insisted that everyone use. It isn't a very useful sense of the word, since nobody seriously thinks that free will is independent of causal necessity outside of these never-ending arguments over whether "free will" ought to be somehow eliminated, because some people want to define it as somehow being independent of causal necessity. And those aren't just eliminative materialists. There are also theologians who weigh in on the subject. Calvin comes to mind. Frankly, eliminative materialists sometimes come off to me as sort of "secular Calvinists", except that they don't carry around all of that God baggage.

The world is complicated. I doubt that anyone denies it. Yes, words have meanings, but this does not mean that what we use words in reference to is necessarily factual: God, gods, angels demons.....do they exist because we define and talk about them?

I know exactly what people have pointed out to me, which was nothing new to me then or now.... I in turn have pointed out that mere definitions do not establish the thing they seek to define.

There are two sides to this debate, compatibilism and incompatibilism.

In case you haven't noticed, not everyone is a compatibilist.

As pointed out numerous times - to no avail - defining free will semantically no more establishes the reality of free will that defining God, the given definition may be logically sound, but still does not mean that a God exists just because of the way it is being defined.

Compatibilism is simply word play, essentially, non-coerced actions defined/declared as free will regardless of the problems;

Essentially:

''Wanting to do X is fully determined by these prior causes (and perhaps a dash of true chance). Now that the desire to do X is being felt, there are no other constraints that keep the person from doing what he wants, namely X. At this point, we should ascribe free will to all animals capable of experiencing desires (e.g., to eat, sleep, or mate). Yet, we don’t; and we tend not to judge non-human animals in moral terms.''

''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. ''
 

Copernicus

Industrial Grade Linguist
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
4,069
Location
Bellevue, WA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist humanist
DBT, definitions are not meanings. They are concise heuristic statements that point readers to a major cluster of associations that form the meaning. You can do anything you want with words, but you don't determine common usage. The expression "free will" exists all over common usage, and that does establish it as conceptually useful to English speakers. Compatibilists are not actually defining its meaning. They are merely pointing out how people use the expression in everyday conversation. When you ask "Does free will exist?", most people will naturally think that you are referring to the everyday term, not one that you have gone out of your way to define in such a completely counterintuitive way that dismissing the term in that usage becomes trivial. So we can all violently agree that it doesn't exist in the meaning that you seem to want to impose on it (i.e. freedom from causal necessity). But the other sense of the term in its everyday usage continues to exist. People who do bad things of their own free will can still be held accountable for their actions. I don't see you calling for everyone to be let out of prisons because they never committed any crimes of their own free will. Hence, your entire argument reduces to an absurdity. Determinism is irrelevant to that sense of the expression. IOW, compatibilism makes sense. Attempts to eliminate it from the English language are nothing short of absurd.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
Please, at no point in time have I said that the laws of nature and determinism are external entities exerting force upon us.
I said as much in my last post.

Okay, let's see if that actually plays out:

Determinism is a matter of the properties of matter/energy, which we call the laws of nature, which entails matter energy events/information behaving deterministically rather than randomly.

We wake up in the morning as a physical object having all of the "properties of matter/energy", and we use that energy to break a couple of eggs to fix breakfast. As living organisms, we also embody the laws of nature. Biological drives to survive provide us with the goal of satisfying our hunger. As members of an intelligent species, we are equipped with a brain that allows us to make plans and choices. We take a grocery list to remind us to buy eggs so that we'll have them when we wake up hungry in the morning.

We are separate physical objects, separate packages of the laws of nature, and separate individuals within our species. While I am fixing eggs for breakfast, you may be fixing pancakes. Each of us makes our own choices, for our own reasons.

So, executive control is localized within each of us.

Executive control is not localized in determinism. Executive control is not localized in causal necessity. Executive control resides only in the objects that can choose what happens next.

Whenever you suggest that determinism does this or does that, or that necessity does this or does that, you are creating the delusion that executive control is external to us.

Executive control implies that you have the ability to have done otherwise in any given instance in time. Which is compatibilism but Libertarian free will.

The brain processes information, producing thoughts, feeling and actions on the basis of its architecture, inputs and memory function, each moment of decision making representing the information condition in that instance in time, with no possibility of an alternate action in that moment in time. Consciousness being updated/refreshed by new information from moment to moment, allowing interaction with the external world.

Information and architecture, not will, not free will, being the agency of interaction.

And yes, nothing is separate within the intricate web of events of a determined system.





... our references to freedom must necessarily be conditional, and will, having no agency in relation to behaviour or choice cannot be free.

FREE OF WHAT?! Free of reliable cause and effect? Free from ourselves? Do you genuinely believe such freedoms are possible? And if you do not believe such freedoms are possible, why offer them up as a straw man for free will? The position is disingenuous.

Reliable cause and effect being an intricate necessitated web of events that are not willed or chosen.

Again: ''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. ''

Necessitated actions - being determined - are by definition are not chosen, negotiable or alterable, these are events that form, proceed and unfold deterministically according to antecedent conditions and the laws of nature.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
DBT, definitions are not meanings. They are concise heuristic statements that point readers to a major cluster of associations that form the meaning. You can do anything you want with words, but you don't determine common usage. The expression "free will" exists all over common usage, and that does establish it as conceptually useful to English speakers. Compatibilists are not actually defining its meaning. They are merely pointing out how people use the expression in everyday conversation. When you ask "Does free will exist?", most people will naturally think that you are referring to the everyday term, not one that you have gone out of your way to define in such a completely counterintuitive way that dismissing the term in that usage becomes trivial. So we can all violently agree that it doesn't exist in the meaning that you seem to want to impose on it. But the other sense of the term in its everyday usage continues to exist. People who do bad things of their own free will can still be held accountable for their actions. I don't see you calling for everyone to be let out of prisons because they never committed any crimes of their own free will. Hence, your entire argument reduces to an absurdity. Determinism is irrelevant to that sense of the expression. IOW, compatibilism makes sense. Attempts to eliminate it from the English language are nothing short of absurd.

Define;
  1. state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.
    "the contract will seek to define the client's obligations"
    synonyms:
    explain · expound · interpret · elucidate · explicate · describe · clarify · give the meaning of · state precisely · spell out · put into words · express in words
    • give the meaning of (a word or phrase), especially in a dictionary.
      "the dictionary defines it as ‘a type of pasture’"
    • make up or establish the character or essence of.
      "for some, the football club defines their identity"
  2. mark out the boundary or limits of. "the river defines the park's boundary"


    Compatibilism;
    ''Hobbes offers an exemplary expression of classical compatibilism when he claims that a person’s freedom consists in his finding “no stop, in doing what he has the will, desire, or inclination to do''


 

Copernicus

Industrial Grade Linguist
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
4,069
Location
Bellevue, WA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist humanist
DBT, definitions are not meanings. They are concise heuristic statements that point readers to a major cluster of associations that form the meaning. You can do anything you want with words, but you don't determine common usage. The expression "free will" exists all over common usage, and that does establish it as conceptually useful to English speakers. Compatibilists are not actually defining its meaning. They are merely pointing out how people use the expression in everyday conversation. When you ask "Does free will exist?", most people will naturally think that you are referring to the everyday term, not one that you have gone out of your way to define in such a completely counterintuitive way that dismissing the term in that usage becomes trivial. So we can all violently agree that it doesn't exist in the meaning that you seem to want to impose on it. But the other sense of the term in its everyday usage continues to exist. People who do bad things of their own free will can still be held accountable for their actions. I don't see you calling for everyone to be let out of prisons because they never committed any crimes of their own free will. Hence, your entire argument reduces to an absurdity. Determinism is irrelevant to that sense of the expression. IOW, compatibilism makes sense. Attempts to eliminate it from the English language are nothing short of absurd.

Define;
  1. state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.
    "the contract will seek to define the client's obligations"
    synonyms:
    explain · expound · interpret · elucidate · explicate · describe · clarify · give the meaning of · state precisely · spell out · put into words · express in words
    • give the meaning of (a word or phrase), especially in a dictionary.
      "the dictionary defines it as ‘a type of pasture’"
    • make up or establish the character or essence of.
      "for some, the football club defines their identity"
  2. mark out the boundary or limits of. "the river defines the park's boundary"


    Compatibilism;
    ''Hobbes offers an exemplary expression of classical compatibilism when he claims that a person’s freedom consists in his finding “no stop, in doing what he has the will, desire, or inclination to do''
That's a pretty awful definition for "define", but you did cut and paste from an online dictionary. The definition conflates some very different senses of the word with those bulleted items in the first entry, so most lexicographers would hold their noses the moment they saw that. (Of course, lexicographers tend to be brutal critics of the dictionaries that they help to compile. :))

In any case, you need to think about what "give the meaning of" really means. What is a meaning? (Hint: I have defined it as a cluster of associations, but such clusters can be incredibly complex.) If you want to really know the difference between definitions and meanings, you need to consult a lexicologist or lexical semanticist. (I am actually a qualified lexicologist and have worked on dictionaries in the past.) Looking in a dictionary can point you in a lot of directions, but they aren't the proper place to get a sense of the difference. What I have told you is essentially what any competent lexicologist would tell you. Dictionary entries do not exhaustively describe meanings. They are meant to be as concise as possible, and it is something of an art to produce a good dictionary entry. Encyclopedias get deeper into the meanings of their entries.
 

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius
Joined
Oct 6, 2008
Messages
15,817
Location
Local group: Solar system: Earth: NA: US: contiguo
Basic Beliefs
optimist
My definitions re Determinism

The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of Natural Scientific law.

Scientific laws or laws of science are statements, based on repeated experiments or observations, that describe or predict a range of natural phenomena. The term law has diverse usage in many cases (approximate, accurate, broad, or narrow) across all fields of natural science (physics, chemistry, astronomy, geoscience, biology). Laws are developed from data and can be further developed through mathematics; in all cases
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
DBT, definitions are not meanings. They are concise heuristic statements that point readers to a major cluster of associations that form the meaning. You can do anything you want with words, but you don't determine common usage. The expression "free will" exists all over common usage, and that does establish it as conceptually useful to English speakers. Compatibilists are not actually defining its meaning. They are merely pointing out how people use the expression in everyday conversation. When you ask "Does free will exist?", most people will naturally think that you are referring to the everyday term, not one that you have gone out of your way to define in such a completely counterintuitive way that dismissing the term in that usage becomes trivial. So we can all violently agree that it doesn't exist in the meaning that you seem to want to impose on it. But the other sense of the term in its everyday usage continues to exist. People who do bad things of their own free will can still be held accountable for their actions. I don't see you calling for everyone to be let out of prisons because they never committed any crimes of their own free will. Hence, your entire argument reduces to an absurdity. Determinism is irrelevant to that sense of the expression. IOW, compatibilism makes sense. Attempts to eliminate it from the English language are nothing short of absurd.

Define;
  1. state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.
    "the contract will seek to define the client's obligations"
    synonyms:
    explain · expound · interpret · elucidate · explicate · describe · clarify · give the meaning of · state precisely · spell out · put into words · express in words
    • give the meaning of (a word or phrase), especially in a dictionary.
      "the dictionary defines it as ‘a type of pasture’"
    • make up or establish the character or essence of.
      "for some, the football club defines their identity"
  2. mark out the boundary or limits of. "the river defines the park's boundary"


    Compatibilism;
    ''Hobbes offers an exemplary expression of classical compatibilism when he claims that a person’s freedom consists in his finding “no stop, in doing what he has the will, desire, or inclination to do''
That's a pretty awful definition for "define", but you did cut and paste from an online dictionary. The definition conflates some very different senses of the word with those bulleted items in the first entry, so most lexicographers would hold their noses the moment they saw that. (Of course, lexicographers tend to be brutal critics of the dictionaries that they help to compile. :))

In any case, you need to think about what "give the meaning of" really means. What is a meaning? (Hint: I have defined it as a cluster of associations, but such clusters can be incredibly complex.) If you want to really know the difference between definitions and meanings, you need to consult a lexicologist or lexical semanticist. (I am actually a qualified lexicologist and have worked on dictionaries in the past.) Looking in a dictionary can point you in a lot of directions, but they aren't the proper place to get a sense of the difference. What I have told you is essentially what any competent lexicologist would tell you. Dictionary entries do not exhaustively describe meanings. They are meant to be as concise as possible, and it is something of an art to produce a good dictionary entry. Encyclopedias get deeper into the meanings of their entries.

The meaning of the word "define" is not hard to grasp. The dictionary quote I posted more than adequately explains its meaning.

Your objections miss the point. You ignore flaws in the compatibilist definition, only to focus on trivialities.

I guess that's the only option available for those engaged in the futile defense of a failed argument that is based on word play.
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
Executive control implies that you have the ability to have done otherwise in any given instance in time. ...

To have done something that we didn't do is a logical absurdity. If we must choose between A and B, and we choose A, then it will always be the case that we will not have chosen B. And, given determinism, every time the same person is in the same circumstances with the same options, they once again will not choose B. So, it will always be the case that they would not have done otherwise.

But that's not our question. The question is whether or not the statement "we could have chosen B" is true or false. Common usage suggests to us that "I chose A, but I could have chosen B" is true, in both its parts. "I chose A" is true, and, "I could have chosen B" is also true.

This follows logically from the fact that, at the beginning of the choosing operation, both "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must be true statements. If they were not both true, then choosing could not proceed. If both were false, then we would have no options to choose from. If "I can choose A" were false, or, if "I can choose B" were false, then we would only have a single option, and choosing requires at least two options. So, both "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must be true statements at the beginning of the choosing operation.

And this logical requirement, that "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must both be true, embodies the notion of "the ability to do otherwise" right up front, at the beginning of every choosing operation. Because, if at any time "I can choose B" was true, then at any subsequent time, "I could have chosen B" will also be a true statement, because "I could have" is merely the past tense of "I can".

Therefore, whenever a choosing operation takes place, "I could have done otherwise" will always be true, even though "I would have done otherwise" will always be false. This is because the notion of "can" and "will" are distinct, and they must not be conflated or confused with each other.

The brain processes information, producing thoughts, feeling and actions on the basis of its architecture, inputs and memory function, each moment of decision making representing the information condition in that instance in time, with no possibility of an alternate action in that moment in time.

Yes. But here's the kicker: Among those causally necessary mental events, events that must take place with no possibility of an alternate event in that moment of time, will be the notion of A as a possibility and the notion of B as an alternate possibility.

The notion of "A as a real possibility" will appear in the brain and be stored as one option, something that I can choose. Then
the notion of "B as a real possibility" will appear in the brain and be stored as a second option, something that I also can choose.

These mental events are guaranteed by causal necessity, with no possibility of any alternate mental event displacing them from their place in the causal chain.

... Information and architecture, not will, not free will, being the agency of interaction. And yes, nothing is separate within the intricate web of events of a determined system

The information and architecture determines our will, usually through a choosing operation, where we have two different things that we can do, and must decide which of them we will do.

And the information that the architecture uses will include whether or not a man is holding a gun to our head and telling us what we must do. When the architecture is not threatened, then it is free to decide for itself what it will do. But when there is such a threat, then the architecture will allow the man holding the gun to control what we do, subjugating our architecture to his architecture.

Reliable cause and effect being an intricate necessitated web of events that are not willed or chosen. ...

Yes, except that this intricate necessitated web of events includes people encountering issues that require them to choose what they will do!

Necessitated actions - being determined - are by definition are not chosen, ...

NO! Choosing is a necessitated action! And choosing necessitates subsequent actions! And causal necessity guarantees that there is no possibility of something other than choosing happening at that moment in time!
 

pood

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2021
Messages
1,051
Basic Beliefs
agnostic
Back to the crux of the matter: the hard determinist’s refusal to distinguish between “can” and “will,” a confusion known as the modal fallacy, which I have described.,
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,604
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
It appears that one of the best contenders for rescuing determinism from quantum theory has now been falsified, as 'pilot wave theory' fails to correctly predict experimental results.

A century of increasingly complex hypotheses has so far failed to produce a deterministic model of reality that conforms with experimental observations.

https://bigthink.com/starts-with-a-bang/quantum-spookiness/

Interestingly, one of the experimental teams that demonstrated this is led by Tomas Bohr, who is the grandson of the famous Niels, and is currently a Professor of Fluid Physics at the Technical University of Denmark.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/famo...ve-alternative-to-quantum-weirdness-20181011/
:facepalm: Science "journalists".

No, pilot wave theory has not been falsified by these experiments. Where to start?

(1) You can't falsify a quantum theory with a classical experiment -- all a failure does is prove your classical system isn't an accurate model of whatever quantum system it was proposed as analogous to. Which in this case we already knew: about the only thing this journalist got right was "the particle itself doesn’t affect the wavefunction in any way". Obviously the oil droplet affects the waves of oil guiding it, since they're classical objects and for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. So obviously the equation of motion in the oil drop experiment is not the same equation as Bohmian mechanics.

(2) "Its only distinct prediction was just falsified." is bosh. Bohmian mechanics makes no prediction distinct from conventional QM. It's an interpretation, not a competing theory. It was derived from the Schroedinger equation by algebra. It's an alternate way of thinking about the same calculations.

(3) Pilot wave theory in its existing form was already falsified by quantum experiments: it's false for the same reason the Schroedinger equation itself is false: because it ignores relativity. Any experiment involving near-light speeds or antimatter annihilation falsifies basic quantum mechanics and requires you to use "Quantum Field Theory" to get the right answer. There is no complete pilot wave version of quantum field theory. Bohm spent forty-odd years trying to create one but was only ever able to get it to work on bosons (integer-spin particles like photons and gluons.) Fermions (half-integer-spin particles like electrons and protons) were still a work in progress when Bohm died. So to talk of falsifying pilot wave theory at this point means one of two things: either you prove it's mathematically impossible to construct a version of it that handles both relativity and fermions, or else you succeed where Bohm failed, you make a full-blown pilot-wave version of QFT, you derive a prediction from it about antimatter or relativistic speeds that's different from what standard QFT predicts, and then you carry out that undoubtedly highly sophisticated QFT experiment. A vanilla double-slit experiment is not even in the ballpark -- you don't need QFT for double slits.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
Executive control implies that you have the ability to have done otherwise in any given instance in time. ...

To have done something that we didn't do is a logical absurdity. If we must choose between A and B, and we choose A, then it will always be the case that we will not have chosen B. And, given determinism, every time the same person is in the same circumstances with the same options, they once again will not choose B. So, it will always be the case that they would not have done otherwise.

Whatever we do, if the world is determined, is determined. If option A is determined, option B doesn't exist for you and was never an option or a realizable choice in that moment in time.

But that's not our question. The question is whether or not the statement "we could have chosen B" is true or false. Common usage suggests to us that "I chose A, but I could have chosen B" is true, in both its parts. "I chose A" is true, and, "I could have chosen B" is also true.

This follows logically from the fact that, at the beginning of the choosing operation, both "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must be true statements. If they were not both true, then choosing could not proceed. If both were false, then we would have no options to choose from. If "I can choose A" were false, or, if "I can choose B" were false, then we would only have a single option, and choosing requires at least two options. So, both "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must be true statements at the beginning of the choosing operation.

And this logical requirement, that "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must both be true, embodies the notion of "the ability to do otherwise" right up front, at the beginning of every choosing operation. Because, if at any time "I can choose B" was true, then at any subsequent time, "I could have chosen B" will also be a true statement, because "I could have" is merely the past tense of "I can".

Therefore, whenever a choosing operation takes place, "I could have done otherwise" will always be true, even though "I would have done otherwise" will always be false. This is because the notion of "can" and "will" are distinct, and they must not be conflated or confused with each other.

We have the false impression of ''I could have chosen B'' - false because choosing B was never a possibility if action A is determined.

The brain processes information, producing thoughts, feeling and actions on the basis of its architecture, inputs and memory function, each moment of decision making representing the information condition in that instance in time, with no possibility of an alternate action in that moment in time.

Yes. But here's the kicker: Among those causally necessary mental events, events that must take place with no possibility of an alternate event in that moment of time, will be the notion of A as a possibility and the notion of B as an alternate possibility.

The notion of "A as a real possibility" will appear in the brain and be stored as one option, something that I can choose. Then
the notion of "B as a real possibility" will appear in the brain and be stored as a second option, something that I also can choose.

These mental events are guaranteed by causal necessity, with no possibility of any alternate mental event displacing them from their place in the causal chain.

The brain as an information processor is able to recognize multiple possible paths, but can only take the action that its information state enables. Information state is not willed.



NO! Choosing is a necessitated action! And choosing necessitates subsequent actions! And causal necessity guarantees that there is no possibility of something other than choosing happening at that moment in time!

As choosing is indeed a necessitated action within a determined system, there is no ''choosing.'' Nothing is chosen because to choose implies the real possibility of 'could have done otherwise,' but of course there is no 'could have done otherwise' within a determined system. Actions proceed deterministically without the possibility of real choice (to have done otherwise). A determined system is a tightly woven web of events that don't allow alternate possibilities (except Many worlds/string theory).
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
Back to the crux of the matter: the hard determinist’s refusal to distinguish between “can” and “will,” a confusion known as the modal fallacy, which I have described.,


The issue is freedom within a determined system. Freedom means the possibility of doing otherwise. Determinism allows no 'could have done otherwise.'


''Wanting to do X is fully determined by these prior causes (and perhaps a dash of true chance). Now that the desire to do X is being felt, there are no other constraints that keep the person from doing what he wants, namely X. At this point, we should ascribe free will to all animals capable of experiencing desires (e.g., to eat, sleep, or mate). Yet, we don’t; and we tend not to judge non-human animals in moral terms.''

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

Compatibilists insist - regardless - that non coerced actions are free will actions.


Compatibilism;
''Hobbes offers an exemplary expression of classical compatibilism when he claims that a person’s freedom consists in his finding “no stop, in doing what he has the will, desire, or inclination to do''
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
Whatever we do, if the world is determined, is determined.

Determined, yes, but determined by what? Determinism is not an entity with causal force. Only the actual objects and forces that make up the physical universe can be said to cause events. Determinism is neither an object nor a force.

A baseball is an object.
A living organism is an object with internal causal force. For example, a tree will send roots into the ground, disturbing other objects they encounter.
An intelligent species is a living organism that can deliberately choose what it will cause to happen.

Determinism is none of these things. The notion that determinism is an entity that goes about determining things is a delusion.

If option A is determined, option B doesn't exist for you and was never an option or a realizable choice in that moment in time.

That is a figurative statement. Like all figurative statements, it is literally false. For example, we have ice cream. You may have chocolate (option A) or vanilla (option B). Here is the chocolate ice cream in a bowl on the table. Here is the vanilla ice cream in another bowl.

You cannot claim that the vanilla ice cream "doesn't exist for you", when it is right there on the table in front of you.
Nor can you claim it was "never an option", because it was in fact offered to you.
Nor can you claim it was not a "realizable choice", because, had you chosen vanilla, you would be eating it right now.

These claims arise from figurative thinking. We can easily convert them to their correct figurative form by adding the missing "AS IF's". For example, you claim that, since you would inevitably choose chocolate, it was AS IF the vanilla didn't exist for you, and it was AS IF vanilla was never an option, and it was AS IF vanilla was not a realizable option.

But, in fact, the vanilla did exist for you, it was an option, and it was realizable to you had you chosen it.

We have the false impression of ''I could have chosen B'' - false because choosing B was never a possibility if action A is determined.

Again, figurative speech, literally false. Vanilla was a realizable possibility, even though it was not realized. The fact that we inevitably would not choose vanilla does not logically imply that we could not choose vanilla. You are suggesting that, because we would not choose vanilla, it is AS IF we could not choose vanilla.

Among those causally necessary mental events, events that must take place with no possibility of an alternate event in that moment of time, will be the notion of A as a possibility and the notion of B as an alternate possibility.

As choosing is indeed a necessitated action within a determined system, there is no ''choosing.''

No. You are suggesting falsely that, since all the events in a choosing operation are causally necessary, it is AS IF there is no "choosing". The problem is, that if choosing is necessitated, and all its mental events are necessitated, then there certainly will be choosing!

Nothing is chosen because to choose implies the real possibility of 'could have done otherwise,' but of course there is no 'could have done otherwise' within a determined system.

And yet there was the vanilla, the "otherwise", sitting right there on the table beside the chocolate, right there in the middle of a determined system. Not only was the otherwise possible, but it was causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in eternity.

Actions proceed deterministically without the possibility of real choice (to have done otherwise).

Ironically, "real" often flags figurative statements. There was a real choice, between chocolate and vanilla, and you made that choice for yourself, of your own free will (without coercion or undue influence), just like the rest of us.

You are suggesting that our choosing is not really choosing, because it seems like choosing isn't actually happening. But, choosing is actually happening. Really. And the fact that all of the events in the choosing process, just like all events everywhere, was causally necessary from any prior point in time, does not change the fact that choosing did indeed happen in the actual world, and that we each did that choosing.

A determined system is a tightly woven web of events that don't allow alternate possibilities (except Many worlds/string theory).

You mean, it is AS IF it didn't allow alternate possibilities. But the fact is that each of those alternate possibilities was causally necessary from any prior point in history.

The key insight here, if you're able to see it, is that universal causal necessity doesn't actually change anything.
 

Copernicus

Industrial Grade Linguist
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
4,069
Location
Bellevue, WA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist humanist
...The meaning of the word "define" is not hard to grasp. The dictionary quote I posted more than adequately explains its meaning.

Your objections miss the point. You ignore flaws in the compatibilist definition, only to focus on trivialities.

I guess that's the only option available for those engaged in the futile defense of a failed argument that is based on word play.

My explanation of the difference between a meaning and a definition is not hard to grasp either, nor is my explanation of what was wrong with your cut-and-pasted definition. Yet you made no substantive reply other than to simply dig your heels in and keep repeating what you had said earlier. Your last sentence was ironic, since the entire substance of your argument has been simply to insist that everyone adhere to your opinion that the meaning of "free will" should not be based on actual usage, but on your view of causal necessity as obliterating anyone's ability to make choices. Oh, well. I honestly expected nothing less from you.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
Whatever we do, if the world is determined, is determined.

Determined, yes, but determined by what? Determinism is not an entity with causal force. Only the actual objects and forces that make up the physical universe can be said to cause events. Determinism is neither an object nor a force.

A baseball is an object.
A living organism is an object with internal causal force. For example, a tree will send roots into the ground, disturbing other objects they encounter.
An intelligent species is a living organism that can deliberately choose what it will cause to happen.

Determinism is none of these things. The notion that determinism is an entity that goes about determining things is a delusion.

Determined by the laws or principles of physics, the attributes and behaviour of matter/energy. Determined by genetic makeup, the nature of life, how life and environment interact. Determined by social conditions, language, culture, personal circumstances, family, friends, education, health, developed tastes and aversions, needs and wants;

The CNS;
''Every moment of the day your nervous system is active. It exchanges millions of signals corresponding with feeling, thoughts and actions. A simple example of how important the nervous system is in your behavior is meeting a friend.
First, the visual information of your eyes is sent to your brain by nervous cells. There the information is interpreted and translated into a signal to take action. Finally the brain sends a command to your voice or to another action system like muscles or glands. For example, you may start walking towards him.
Your nervous system enables this rapid recognition and action. ''

Well lets take just one of our senses, vision. Light enters through the cornea, reaches the retina and is converted to nerve impulses by complex chemical reactions (rod,cones, etc) and conveyed by the optic nerve to the visual cortex, from there it is propogated throughout the brain, gathering memory and infomation before the signals return to the visual cortex and a representation of that information is formed, a conscious image of what we see.

The visual information is interpreted by the various systems of the brain and translated into a signals to take action (visual,auditory,tactile reflexes) and on to the prefrontal cortex region which deal with complex responses, one's social values, cultural expectations, ethics, etc - the seat of one's personality and sense of self. Finally the brain forms conscious thoughts a deliberation and sends a commands to its motor neurons, muscle groups, glands... and the action is undertaken.

Despite the complexity of the process, this is quite rapid in recognition and action. 160 to 215 milliseconds for auditory and visual response, and 500 milliseconds for higher order decision making.''




If option A is determined, option B doesn't exist for you and was never an option or a realizable choice in that moment in time.

That is a figurative statement. Like all figurative statements, it is literally false. For example, we have ice cream. You may have chocolate (option A) or vanilla (option B). Here is the chocolate ice cream in a bowl on the table. Here is the vanilla ice cream in another bowl.

You cannot claim that the vanilla ice cream "doesn't exist for you", when it is right there on the table in front of you.
Nor can you claim it was "never an option", because it was in fact offered to you.
Nor can you claim it was not a "realizable choice", because, had you chosen vanilla, you would be eating it right now.

These claims arise from figurative thinking. We can easily convert them to their correct figurative form by adding the missing "AS IF's". For example, you claim that, since you would inevitably choose chocolate, it was AS IF the vanilla didn't exist for you, and it was AS IF vanilla was never an option, and it was AS IF vanilla was not a realizable option.

But, in fact, the vanilla did exist for you, it was an option, and it was realizable to you had you chosen it.

I'm not saying that Vanilla ice cream or anything else doesn't exist for you, only that it is your condition rather than your 'freedom of will' that determines what action is taken at any given moment.

Seeing that I don't like vanilla, that chocolate is the only flavour I like, choosing vanilla is never going to happen. Unless I am challenged or coerced to eat vanilla....then of course it doesn't relate to compatibilist free will.

No. You are suggesting falsely that, since all the events in a choosing operation are causally necessary, it is AS IF there is no "choosing". The problem is, that if choosing is necessitated, and all its mental events are necessitated, then there certainly will be choosing!

Yes, but with determinism there was never the possibility of an alternate choice. Without the option of being able to 'do otherwise' where exactly is this freedom of choice? Which is not a part of compatibilism anyway.



You mean, it is AS IF it didn't allow alternate possibilities. But the fact is that each of those alternate possibilities was causally necessary from any prior point in history.

Not for everyone, what is a possibility for you may not be a possibility for me. And given that what happens is determined, ''possibility'' only exist as a concept, what happens is a necessity
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,415
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
...The meaning of the word "define" is not hard to grasp. The dictionary quote I posted more than adequately explains its meaning.

Your objections miss the point. You ignore flaws in the compatibilist definition, only to focus on trivialities.

I guess that's the only option available for those engaged in the futile defense of a failed argument that is based on word play.

My explanation of the difference between a meaning and a definition is not hard to grasp either, nor is my explanation of what was wrong with your cut-and-pasted definition. Yet you made no substantive reply other than to simply dig your heels in and keep repeating what you had said earlier. Your last sentence was ironic, since the entire substance of your argument has been simply to insist that everyone adhere to your opinion that the meaning of "free will" should not be based on actual usage, but on your view of causal necessity as obliterating anyone's ability to make choices. Oh, well. I honestly expected nothing less from you.


Again, to 'define is not a hard concept to grasp. It's not complicated. Compatibilists, Libertarians, etc, give their definition of free will and in-compatibilists deal with the given definitions, Hobbs, Dennett, etc, describe their idea of free will, ''that a person’s freedom consists in his finding “no stop, in doing what he has the will, desire, or inclination to do, etc, etc''

Nor is it a matter of me 'digging in my heels.'

In case you haven't noticed, there are two sides to this argument, compatibilism and incompatibilism. The reasons why compatibilism is inadequate to prove the proposition of free will have been explained and supported by quotes and references.

Which essentially comes down to;

''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. ''
 

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
Determined by the laws or principles of physics, the attributes and behaviour of matter/energy.

So, we arrest the bank robber. Now, how do we go about changing his behavior using only the laws of physics? How do we rearrange the configuration of his matter/energy such that he no longer robs banks?

The Laws of Nature come in three Volumes.
Volume 1: The Laws of Inanimate Objects, whose behavior is governed by physical forces.
Volume 2: The Laws of Living Organisms, whose behavior is affected by physical forces but is governed by biological drives.
Volume 3: The Laws of Intelligent Species, whose behavior is affected by physical forces and biological drives, but is governed by deliberate choosing.

The physical laws only govern the behavior of inanimate objects. So Volume 1, The Laws of Inanimate Objects, is not going to help us to modify the behavior of the bank robber.

Determined by genetic makeup, the nature of life, how life and environment interact.

Now we're in Volume 2, the Life Sciences. This is better, but is still insufficient to deal with the bank robber, because there is little we can do to change his genetic makeup. On the other hand, I understand that the Y chromosome is the highest correlate to criminal behavior, so if we eliminated males ...

Determined by social conditions, language, culture, personal circumstances, family, friends, education, health, developed tastes and aversions, needs and wants;

That brings us to Volume 3, the Social Sciences. And here we finally get the tools for altering the bank robber's behavior, psychology and sociology. We also get a whole system of justice and the rule of social laws. Oh, and we also get the distinction between deliberate acts, versus accidental acts, versus coerced acts, versus other unduly influenced acts.


The CNS;
''Every moment of the day your nervous system is active. It exchanges millions of signals corresponding with feeling, thoughts and actions. A simple example of how important the nervous system is in your behavior is meeting a friend.
First, the visual information of your eyes is sent to your brain by nervous cells. There the information is interpreted and translated into a signal to take action. Finally the brain sends a command to your voice or to another action system like muscles or glands. For example, you may start walking towards him.
Your nervous system enables this rapid recognition and action. ''

Unfortunately, one of the things our nervous system fails to provide for us, is a way to describe events in terms of neural activity.

Fortunately, our nervous system does provide us with a way to describe our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions. For example, we may ask the bank robber, "What were you thinking when you robbed that bank?" And then, by counseling, education, addiction treatment, job training, and other rehabilitation programs we may get the robber to make better deliberate choices in the future.

Seeing that I don't like vanilla, that chocolate is the only flavour I like, choosing vanilla is never going to happen. Unless I am challenged or coerced to eat vanilla....then of course it doesn't relate to compatibilist free will.

Compatibilist free will is the distinction between you choosing to eat the vanilla ice cream versus you being coerced to eat it against your will. Do you think that this distinction does not matter?

In either case, whether you chose the vanilla of your own free will, or whether someone put a gun to your head and said, "Eat the vanilla", it will be causally necessary from any prior point in time that you will eat the vanilla ice cream. Causal necessity makes no distinctions between any two events.

The question is simply this: is it useful to distinguish between the nature of these two very events? Does it matter to you whether you are forced to do something that you don't want to do?

And in matters of social justice, is it useful to distinguish between the bank teller forced at gun point to turn over the money to the bank robber, versus the bank teller who conspired with the bank robber and plans to split the money with him later.

Yes, but with determinism there was never the possibility of an alternate choice. Without the option of being able to 'do otherwise' where exactly is this freedom of choice?

By definition, choosing requires at least two alternate possibilities. If you use the word "choice" then you are asserting that choosing happened, and you are agreeing that there were at least two alternate possibilities. Determinism cannot change the definition of choosing. All that determinism can logically assert is that, whatever we choose, it will have been causally necessary from any prior point in time. All that determinism can assert is that all of the mental events within the choosing operation were equally necessary from any prior point in time, including the events where it occurred to us that "we could do A" and that "we could do B instead". Alternate possibilities will necessarily show up in every choosing operation.

Which is not a part of compatibilism anyway.

A given theory of compatibilism is judged by how well it demonstrates that determinism and free will are in fact compatible. For example, I've just demonstrated that alternate possibilities are causally necessary.
 

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius
Joined
Oct 6, 2008
Messages
15,817
Location
Local group: Solar system: Earth: NA: US: contiguo
Basic Beliefs
optimist
The Laws of Nature come in three Volumes.
Volume 1: The Laws of Inanimate Objects, whose behavior is governed by physical forces.
Volume 2: The Laws of Living Organisms, whose behavior is affected by physical forces but is governed by biological drives.
Volume 3: The Laws of Intelligent Species, whose behavior is affected by physical forces and biological drives, but is governed by deliberate choosing.

The physical laws only govern the behavior of inanimate objects. So Volume 1, The Laws of Inanimate Objects, is not going to help us to modify the behavior of the bank robber.
Now for an a lesson in reductionism.

Book two reduces to book one, book three reduces to book one. Why? Because, as your titles explicitly demonstrate all behavior is governed by physical forces. All biological drive reduces to physical forces. All choosing reduces being governed by physical forces. The same set of laws cover all behavior.
 
Last edited:

Marvin Edwards

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
1,222
Location
Virginia
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
The Laws of Nature come in three Volumes.
Volume 1: The Laws of Inanimate Objects, whose behavior is governed by physical forces.
Volume 2: The Laws of Living Organisms, whose behavior is affected by physical forces but is governed by biological drives.
Volume 3: The Laws of Intelligent Species, whose behavior is affected by physical forces and biological drives, but is governed by deliberate choosing.

The physical laws only govern the behavior of inanimate objects. So Volume 1, The Laws of Inanimate Objects, is not going to help us to modify the behavior of the bank robber.
Now for an a lesson in reductionism.

Book two reduces to book one, book three reduces to book one. Why? Because, as your titles explicitly demonstrate all behavior is governed by physical forces. All biological drive reduces to physical forces. All choosing reduces being governed by physical forces. The same set of laws cover all behavior.
Yes, that is a good lesson in how reductionism fails. The fact is that biological drives were a new causal mechanism that did not exist in the physical universe until inanimate matter managed to organize itself into a living organism. And imagination did not show up in the physical universe until living organisms evolved intelligence. When matter is organized differently, it behaves differently. That's why we do not cook a turkey in our car or drive an oven to work.
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
28,232
Location
The Sunshine State: The one with Crocs, not Gators
Gender
He/Him
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
The Laws of Nature come in three Volumes.
Volume 1: The Laws of Inanimate Objects, whose behavior is governed by physical forces.
Volume 2: The Laws of Living Organisms, whose behavior is affected by physical forces but is governed by biological drives.
Volume 3: The Laws of Intelligent Species, whose behavior is affected by physical forces and biological drives, but is governed by deliberate choosing.

The physical laws only govern the behavior of inanimate objects. So Volume 1, The Laws of Inanimate Objects, is not going to help us to modify the behavior of the bank robber.
Now for an a lesson in reductionism.

Book two reduces to book one, book three reduces to book one. Why? Because, as your titles explicitly demonstrate all behavior is governed by physical forces. All biological drive reduces to physical forces. All choosing reduces being governed by physical forces. The same set of laws cover all behavior.
Not so. The laws governing social interactions do not cover the interactions between electrons, even though the laws governing electrons may cover (in excruciating detail), social interactions.

There's a hypothetical set of laws that "cover all behaviour", which physicists call a "Grand Unified Theory" (GUT), but if these laws exist, we don't yet know them.

Which would, if the foundational laws were the only path to an understanding of more complex systems built from them, be a huge problem. Because the absence of a GUT would then imply the impossibility of our understanding or predicting anything.

Fortunately, the reductionist approach is far from the only option. Newton was able to derive classical mechanics from his observations of reality, despite being completely oblivious to the quantum mechanics that underlies it all, and despite being unaware of the relevance of reference frames in the calculation of relative motions between objects. He didn't even know that light travels at the same speed regardless of the motion of the observer, and yet he was able to produce a set of rules that very accurately described large parts of reality.

Of course, they didn't perfectly describe reality; But they didn't need to. Classical mechanics works. And, importantly, it's easy. You can determine whether your artillery shell will hit the target, without having to calculate the quantum states of every particle in the universe.

Similarly, you can observe human behaviour and say that it's less likely that they will rob banks, if they are threatened with long jail sentences for doing so; That you could, hypothetically, make the exact same prediction by applying quantum field theory to every particle and force involved (and it turns out the whole universe is involved) is possibly true, but certainly useless, as it would take at least billions of years, and likely trillions, to do those calculations.

Reductionism is a useful way to grasp how high level rules are ultimately an expression of lower level rules; But it's completely useless and stupid as an actual approach to understanding complex, high level, systems.

I don't need to think about atoms, much less subatomic particles, in order to jump out of the way of a speeding car. That the car is more accurately described in terms of the atoms, and their electrons, hadrons, etc., than as an aggregate macroscopic object obeying Newton's Laws, is true; but completely irrelevant.
 

Copernicus

Industrial Grade Linguist
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
4,069
Location
Bellevue, WA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist humanist
...Nor is it a matter of me 'digging in my heels.'

In case you haven't noticed, there are two sides to this argument, compatibilism and incompatibilism. The reasons why compatibilism is inadequate to prove the proposition of free will have been explained and supported by quotes and references...

You simply prove my point in your reply. Nobody is denying that there are two sides to the argument, and your quote is nothing more than a reference to Pereboom's convoluted "manipulation argument", which has lots of critics and supporters in the literature. Like you, I don't see Pereboom seriously advocating the abolition of criminal law on the grounds that people don't actually have free will. It is really hard to argue for a conclusion that one does not take seriously, so I think that Pereboom deserves some credit for being really good at defending an absurd conclusion. Would you like references to some of his critics, or can you handle the Google search on your own? ;)
 

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius
Joined
Oct 6, 2008
Messages
15,817
Location
Local group: Solar system: Earth: NA: US: contiguo
Basic Beliefs
optimist
The Laws of Nature come in three Volumes.
Volume 1: The Laws of Inanimate Objects, whose behavior is governed by physical forces.
Volume 2: The Laws of Living Organisms, whose behavior is affected by physical forces but is governed by biological drives.
Volume 3: The Laws of Intelligent Species, whose behavior is affected by physical forces and biological drives, but is governed by deliberate choosing.

The physical laws only govern the behavior of inanimate objects. So Volume 1, The Laws of Inanimate Objects, is not going to help us to modify the behavior of the bank robber.
Now for an a lesson in reductionism.

Book two reduces to book one, book three reduces to book one. Why? Because, as your titles explicitly demonstrate all behavior is governed by physical forces. All biological drive reduces to physical forces. All choosing reduces being governed by physical forces. The same set of laws cover all behavior.
Yes, that is a good lesson in how reductionism fails. The fact is that biological drives were a new causal mechanism that did not exist in the physical universe until inanimate matter managed to organize itself into a living organism. And imagination did not show up in the physical universe until living organisms evolved intelligence. When matter is organized differently, it behaves differently. That's why we do not cook a turkey in our car or drive an oven to work.
Biological drives? Do you mean circuits and squirts evolved over eons through development of neurosecretory, glandular, autonomic and central nervous systems all composed of atoms and molecules governed by physical forces?
 
Top Bottom