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Compatibilism: What's that About?

fromderinside

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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.
Oh, I think they do. At least no one has developed even partial theory of social behavior much further along than that of Kurt Lewin from the early 1900s which is pretty qualitative and iffy. Yet we do know that every one of the mechanisms underlying social interactions are executed by systems made up of molecules and atoms governed by physical forces.

At no time has there ever been a theory attributing top level principle causing physical forces. Is it reasonable to reject reductionism when at at the most fundamental levels we find physical forces attributed to every part of every potential social law?

I never posited reductionist modelling for social laws. For instance, we use such as association and inhibition to describe interactions among sensory neurons in processing specific location and extent of neural response to inputs. Those can be traced to chemical and electrical changes. So I'm aware of limitations of the extent to which we can currently ascribe physical forces to on-going nervous activity theory.

I just used a reductionist approach to find that all behavior ultimately is caused by whatever is the most elemental description of physical forces. There is continuity of forces from bottom to top of whatever we will find to be GUT, if we do find there is such. I'm using reductionism as sort of a tool for finding parsimony among things used to describe behaviors in the world. I'm pretty sure that descriptions for reactions to threats will at every level involve physical forces, whether they be in systems, functions, or even populations of behaviors.
 

bilby

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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.
Oh, I think they do. At least no one has developed even partial theory of social behavior much further along than that of Kurt Lewin from the early 1900s which is pretty qualitative and iffy. Yet we do know that every one of the mechanisms underlying social interactions are executed by systems made up of molecules and atoms governed by physical forces.

At no time has there ever been a theory attributing top level principle causing physical forces. Is it reasonable to reject reductionism when at at the most fundamental levels we find physical forces attributed to every part of every potential social law?

I never posited reductionist modelling for social laws. For instance, we use such as association and inhibition to describe interactions among sensory neurons in processing specific location and extent of neural response to inputs. Those can be traced to chemical and electrical changes. So I'm aware of limitations of the extent to which we can currently ascribe physical forces to on-going nervous activity theory.

I just used a reductionist approach to find that all behavior ultimately is caused by whatever is the most elemental description of physical forces. There is continuity of forces from bottom to top of whatever we will find to be GUT, if we do find there is such. I'm using reductionism as sort of a tool for finding parsimony among things used to describe behaviors in the world. I'm pretty sure that descriptions for reactions to threats will at every level involve physical forces, whether they be in systems, functions, or even populations of behaviors.
Sure. But so what?

How does modelling the approaching car as a collection of atoms help me to avoid being run down?

How is such an approach more parsimonious than simply treating it as an approximately classical object that will obey Newton's very simple, and certainly accurate enough, laws?

Why do I care that my choices are ultimately due to entirely deterministic physics (assuming ad argumentum that the underlying physics is in fact entirely deterministic)?

I am the physical system that chose to leap onto the sidewalk rather than be run down. That a "god's eye view" would see my survival as an inevitable and predetermined consequence of the starting conditions of the universe, is entirely irrelevant to me even if true.

I am in the slightly odd position of believing both that the physical universe is not, fundamentally, deterministic; while simultaneously believing that this makes exactly zero difference to freedom of will, which has nothing to do with whether or not the underlying physics of the universe is deterministic or not.

That our actions would be completely and unavoidably predictable were we to know the exact status of every particle in the universe at some earlier time, is of zero interest, as not only do we not know that exact status for any time, but we are demonstrably incapable of ever knowing this.

We call the condition of finding out what future actions physics imposes on ourselves "choosing". Often it's something of a surprise. And unless coerced, it's always an action taken by ourselves - my self isn't separate from the physical universe, it's a part of it, and it's the part that chooses to do stuff.

Atoms decide. But those atoms are me.
 

fromderinside

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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.
Oh, I think they do. At least no one has developed even partial theory of social behavior much further along than that of Kurt Lewin from the early 1900s which is pretty qualitative and iffy. Yet we do know that every one of the mechanisms underlying social interactions are executed by systems made up of molecules and atoms governed by physical forces.

At no time has there ever been a theory attributing top level principle causing physical forces. Is it reasonable to reject reductionism when at at the most fundamental levels we find physical forces attributed to every part of every potential social law?

I never posited reductionist modelling for social laws. For instance, we use such as association and inhibition to describe interactions among sensory neurons in processing specific location and extent of neural response to inputs. Those can be traced to chemical and electrical changes. So I'm aware of limitations of the extent to which we can currently ascribe physical forces to on-going nervous activity theory.

I just used a reductionist approach to find that all behavior ultimately is caused by whatever is the most elemental description of physical forces. There is continuity of forces from bottom to top of whatever we will find to be GUT, if we do find there is such. I'm using reductionism as sort of a tool for finding parsimony among things used to describe behaviors in the world. I'm pretty sure that descriptions for reactions to threats will at every level involve physical forces, whether they be in systems, functions, or even populations of behaviors.
Sure. But so what?

How does modelling the approaching car as a collection of atoms help me to avoid being run down?

How is such an approach more parsimonious than simply treating it as an approximately classical object that will obey Newton's very simple, and certainly accurate enough, laws?

Why do I care that my choices are ultimately due to entirely deterministic physics (assuming ad argumentum that the underlying physics is in fact entirely deterministic)?

I am the physical system that chose to leap onto the sidewalk rather than be run down. That a "god's eye view" would see my survival as an inevitable and predetermined consequence of the starting conditions of the universe, is entirely irrelevant to me even if true.

I am in the slightly odd position of believing both that the physical universe is not, fundamentally, deterministic; while simultaneously believing that this makes exactly zero difference to freedom of will, which has nothing to do with whether or not the underlying physics of the universe is deterministic or not.

That our actions would be completely and unavoidably predictable were we to know the exact status of every particle in the universe at some earlier time, is of zero interest, as not only do we not know that exact status for any time, but we are demonstrably incapable of ever knowing this.

We call the condition of finding out what future actions physics imposes on ourselves "choosing". Often it's something of a surprise. And unless coerced, it's always an action taken by ourselves - my self isn't separate from the physical universe, it's a part of it, and it's the part that chooses to do stuff.

Atoms decide. But those atoms are me.
That's why this is being discussed on a philosophy forum. The distinction between what we can demonstrate we are doing and what we think we are doing are worlds apart. I just like to sit in a comfortable position of presuming what is 'known' is best source of considerations for what is thought. Others here get all tied up in knots saying one thing when they can't support it beyond the saying. If there are laws of nature for social behavior among humans that can be operationally supported and demonstrated via experiment, I'll gladly consider them. As far as I can tell there are principles involved in social behavior but I'm no where near understanding them nor being able to demonstrate them.

We're still at the point of having to use numerical models to demonstrate how weather and lift works which are actually dozens of connected partial theories cobbled together that seem to reflect what actually happens. I'm not above going to 'root cause' analysis whatever that means to get answers. In fact, when I modeled a outer hair cell neuron I cobbled together about two dozen digibits that gave me the activity I observed in live recordings. Sometimes its the only way to get answers. Carving up another rat or rabbit or cat to demonstrate principles is way too expensive, and in my view, too unethical to justify doing so. So We observe, and cobble.

That was 45 years ago. Methods have radically advanced since. Now I follow latest oxygen up take methods and have more confidence we aren't Martians dropping microphones at Fifth and Broadway in NYC. We may even be pretty close to a metabolic explanation of short term local brain behavior.
 
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Jarhyn

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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.
Oh, I think they do. At least no one has developed even partial theory of social behavior much further along than that of Kurt Lewin from the early 1900s which is pretty qualitative and iffy. Yet we do know that every one of the mechanisms underlying social interactions are executed by systems made up of molecules and atoms governed by physical forces.

At no time has there ever been a theory attributing top level principle causing physical forces. Is it reasonable to reject reductionism when at at the most fundamental levels we find physical forces attributed to every part of every potential social law?

I never posited reductionist modelling for social laws. For instance, we use such as association and inhibition to describe interactions among sensory neurons in processing specific location and extent of neural response to inputs. Those can be traced to chemical and electrical changes. So I'm aware of limitations of the extent to which we can currently ascribe physical forces to on-going nervous activity theory.

I just used a reductionist approach to find that all behavior ultimately is caused by whatever is the most elemental description of physical forces. There is continuity of forces from bottom to top of whatever we will find to be GUT, if we do find there is such. I'm using reductionism as sort of a tool for finding parsimony among things used to describe behaviors in the world. I'm pretty sure that descriptions for reactions to threats will at every level involve physical forces, whether they be in systems, functions, or even populations of behaviors.
Sure. But so what?

How does modelling the approaching car as a collection of atoms help me to avoid being run down?

How is such an approach more parsimonious than simply treating it as an approximately classical object that will obey Newton's very simple, and certainly accurate enough, laws?

Why do I care that my choices are ultimately due to entirely deterministic physics (assuming ad argumentum that the underlying physics is in fact entirely deterministic)?

I am the physical system that chose to leap onto the sidewalk rather than be run down. That a "god's eye view" would see my survival as an inevitable and predetermined consequence of the starting conditions of the universe, is entirely irrelevant to me even if true.

I am in the slightly odd position of believing both that the physical universe is not, fundamentally, deterministic; while simultaneously believing that this makes exactly zero difference to freedom of will, which has nothing to do with whether or not the underlying physics of the universe is deterministic or not.

That our actions would be completely and unavoidably predictable were we to know the exact status of every particle in the universe at some earlier time, is of zero interest, as not only do we not know that exact status for any time, but we are demonstrably incapable of ever knowing this.

We call the condition of finding out what future actions physics imposes on ourselves "choosing". Often it's something of a surprise. And unless coerced, it's always an action taken by ourselves - my self isn't separate from the physical universe, it's a part of it, and it's the part that chooses to do stuff.

Atoms decide. But those atoms are me.
So, modelling the car as a collection of atoms already happens. It is exactly what keeps you from being run down.

It just happens we have a model of nature within each of us capable of modelling atomic behavior on large and broad scales.

It also happens, due to the nature of reality, that we don't need to know exactly what we are modelling to be doing it. Or even that "modelling" is what we are doing.

Treating it as a "Newtonian object" is still doing exactly that thing of 'modeling it as a collection of atoms'. Because Newtonian physics is a fairly decent model, developed specifically to describe large collections of atoms. Without knowing what they were.

Free will does not depend on the universe being deterministic.

Free will depends on the universe having some constraints around which way a probabilistic field will determine.

You could load up a blank universe into a symmetric "boil" of "high potential instructions" that all cancel out, and change an instruction in any way, deterministic or not, and it will spin out into some similar collection of groups as we see happen in what we call "reality".

Generalities will be forced to exist through the common instruction set, and ignorance through the impossibility of prediction within the system will make for local agencies.

Free will will exist. So can indeterminacy.

This means, however, that it is just as possible in a determined system: if you were to randomize the "dice rolls" for every interaction that would happen from the start of time to the end, you would still end up with an expression of finite, but very large size: just by describing the universal architecturally along with it's inputs you have described a determinacy.

You could play these jackoff games until the stars all turn to iron and the last black holes puff their last stale farts of neutrinos and the universe is a cold dead dance. You can't change the fact that processes in determinant systems still have contention to deal with within their contexts. Designing mechanisms back into those selfsame processes to eliminate, resist, or overcome those contentions is the act of maintaining free will.
 

DBT

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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?

Did you consider the rest of my comment? I also added - ''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.''

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.

It is the treatment or therapy applied to the bank robber that modifies his neural networks, which in turn result in lines of thought that were not present before he got caught, even the act of getting caught changes his outlook.

Again, nothing to do with free will, whatever happens acts upon him and alters his thought processes and behaviour, not necessarily for the better.

''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. ''


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.

Whatever we can or can't do is the work of a brain. How the brain functions is not negotiable. Inputs enter the system and act upon it in ways that we as conscious entities being generated by the brain have no access to or control over.

''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. ''

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.

There may be countless possibilities, yet determinism in each and every instance only allows one action to be taken, the determined action.

Where then is the choice? There never was the possibility of any of the possibilities being realized by you in any given instance except the one that was determined.

Where lies the freedom to have done otherwise? It was never there. Hence the wording of the compatibilist definition.

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.

Alternate possibilities are not realizable, just a determined action each and every time there is a fork in the road.
 

DBT

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...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? ;)

Of course there are critics, everyone has a point of view. I have read what Pereboom's critics have to say. Just as there are critics of compatibilism.

What you say about ''advocating the abolition of criminal law on the grounds that people don't actually have free will'' indicates that you don't understand the issue.

Actions that are taken in terms of law, regulation, punishment, are made in response to human behaviour and are meant to modify or prevent undesirable activity, crime, etc.

The knowledge that there are consequences acts as a deterrent for most people, so of course nobody is suggesting abolition of the law.

Some are calling for a review.

Again;

The law
''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.''


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.''
 

Marvin Edwards

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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?
I mean that the molecule of DNA contains the blueprint and the tools needed to create a machine that continues to exist only by successful reproduction. Natural variations in that molecule that enhance successful reproduction in a given environment tend to stick around. The individual atoms have no clue as to what is going on in the molecule. The atoms did not hold a meeting to decide to create such a molecule, and they know nothing about how it works.

Physics is fine for explaining why a cup of water, poured on a slope, trickles downhill. But physics cannot explain why a similar cup of water, heated, and mixed with a little coffee, hops into a car and goes grocery shopping.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Did you consider the rest of my comment? I also added - ''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.''

Yes. You had three statements that happened to correspond to the three levels of nature's laws. I just addressed them separately to demonstrate the limitations of lower level causal mechanisms when explaining free will and responsibility.

It is the treatment or therapy applied to the bank robber that modifies his neural networks, which in turn result in lines of thought that were not present before he got caught, even the act of getting caught changes his outlook.

Exactly.

Again, nothing to do with free will, whatever happens acts upon him and alters his thought processes and behaviour, not necessarily for the better.

Without free will, rehabilitation is impossible. The point of rehabilitation is to release back into the public a person who is safely able to make better choices, on their own, without supervision.

But what will the offender do if we tell him that he was not responsible, because, due to determinism, he had no control over his actions? To be consistent, we would also have to tell him that he likewise will have no control over future actions. And that would make rehabilitation impossible.

''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. ''

I am a bit confused as to why you have posted that quote for a third time. I've explained what "basic-desert" (aka "just-deserts") means, and I'm happy to explain it again (it is an issue of our philosophy of justice, not an issue of free will). But perhaps you're reading something else into that quote that I've missed. Could you explain what you think that quote is saying?

Whatever we can or can't do is the work of a brain. How the brain functions is not negotiable. Inputs enter the system and act upon it in ways that we as conscious entities being generated by the brain have no access to or control over.

I'm pretty sure that conscious awareness will always play a role in any significant decisions we make. You will not find any significant decisions in the Libet-style experiments. A significant decision is one that requires an explanation. Constructing an explanation requires conscious awareness. For example, as I write these words I'm also hearing them, and critiquing them, and often changing them.

But if I'm instructed to squeeze my fist 40 times over 2 minutes, and to do so "randomly" whenever I "felt" like it, then I will be waiting upon some inner sensation to trigger my responses.

Whether conscious awareness is involved upfront, or as an after-effect, is not important. In either case it will still be my own brain that is exercising control, based not just upon external inputs, but more significantly upon its internal inputs. All of those internal inputs are integral parts of who and what I am, and they will control my response to any external inputs. Both the brain itself and all of the internal inputs are me. It is still me making the choices and controlling my own actions.

There may be countless possibilities, yet determinism in each and every instance only allows one action to be taken, the determined action.

Yes. But the causal determinants of my deliberate actions is me. Determinism does not cause anything. It's still me, myself, my own brain, my own thoughts and feelings, my own beliefs and values, that are driving and controlling what the choice will be.

Where then is the choice? There never was the possibility of any of the possibilities being realized by you in any given instance except the one that was determined.

Yes. But it was causally determined by me, choosing it. The fact that who and what I happen to be at the time of that choosing is the reliable result of past events does not contradict the fact that it was me that was actually doing the choosing.

Where lies the freedom to have done otherwise? It was never there. Hence the wording of the compatibilist definition.

The real question here is where is the constraint that you insist I must be free of?

I am doing what I choose to do. So, in what way am I constrained? Why would I ever choose to do differently?

And that's the key to unravelling this paradox. Reliable cause and effect is neither coercive nor undue. It's just how everything works. Without reliable causation, nothing, including us, would work. We, ourselves, are a collaborative collection of reliable causal mechanisms. Reliable causal mechanisms keep our hearts beating and our thoughts flowing. Reliable causal mechanisms enable our brains to control our muscles so we can walk to the kitchen to fix breakfast. Every freedom we have, to do anything at all, requires reliable causation.

So, it would seem better to discard the notion that reliable causation is some kind of monster that robs us of freedom and control. Rather, it is the very means by which we have freedom and exercise control.

Alternate possibilities are not realizable, just a determined action each and every time there is a fork in the road.

But I was going in that direction anyway, so I am not constrained.

I could have taken the other path, and perhaps someday I'll want to explore to see what's down that way. But not today. Even though I did not choose it, it remains a real possibility. It does not become impossible by my not choosing it.
 

fromderinside

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But I was going in that direction anyway, so I am not constrained.

I could have taken the other path, and perhaps someday I'll want to explore to see what's down that way. But not today. Even though I did not choose it, it remains a real possibility. It does not become impossible by my not choosing it.
If you have no choice you have no freedom. It's called Determinism, not "Well if I wanted to,.." or "Well there are options ..."
 
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DBT

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Did you consider the rest of my comment? I also added - ''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.''

Yes. You had three statements that happened to correspond to the three levels of nature's laws. I just addressed them separately to demonstrate the limitations of lower level causal mechanisms when explaining free will and responsibility.

Put them together and add detail to get a more comprehensive description of determinism. It is all of these element and more that shape our being and behaviour. It is the treatment or therapy applied to the bank robber that modifies his neural networks, which in turn result in lines of thought that were not present before he got caught, even the act of getting caught changes his outlook.

Exactly.

Without free will, rehabilitation is impossible. The point of rehabilitation is to release back into the public a person who is safely able to make better choices, on their own, without supervision.

But what will the offender do if we tell him that he was not responsible, because, due to determinism, he had no control over his actions? To be consistent, we would also have to tell him that he likewise will have no control over future actions. And that would make rehabilitation impossible.

''Free will'' is just a term. A term that tells us nothing about our makeup or what drives our behaviour, be they psychological

How we treat the offender acts upon his brain and mind. The treatment the offender gets effects their mind and and behaviour.

Telling someone that they have no 'free will' would most likely not be understood.

Why? Because the common perception of free will is the ability to make decisions. Decision making is taken to be free will.



I am a bit confused as to why you have posted that quote for a third time. I've explained what "basic-desert" (aka "just-deserts") means, and I'm happy to explain it again (it is an issue of our philosophy of justice, not an issue of free will). But perhaps you're reading something else into that quote that I've missed. Could you explain what you think that quote is saying?


I posted it to make sure the point that actions produced by deterministic processes are no less of a challenge to freedom of will than compulsion by external agents is being considered rather than brushed aside.

It's a point that seems to be treated far too lightly.

I'm pretty sure that conscious awareness will always play a role in any significant decisions we make. You will not find any significant decisions in the Libet-style experiments. A significant decision is one that requires an explanation. Constructing an explanation requires conscious awareness. For example, as I write these words I'm also hearing them, and critiquing them, and often changing them.

But if I'm instructed to squeeze my fist 40 times over 2 minutes, and to do so "randomly" whenever I "felt" like it, then I will be waiting upon some inner sensation to trigger my responses.

Whether conscious awareness is involved upfront, or as an after-effect, is not important. In either case it will still be my own brain that is exercising control, based not just upon external inputs, but more significantly upon its internal inputs. All of those internal inputs are integral parts of who and what I am, and they will control my response to any external inputs. Both the brain itself and all of the internal inputs are me. It is still me making the choices and controlling my own actions.

Of course conscious awareness plays a role. An indispensable role. It is our conscious 'map' of the external world and our place in it. But it is not free will.

You do something 'whenever you feel like it' because the brain has already processed the necessary information and sent signals to muscle groups milliseconds before you 'felt like it.'

''When it comes to the human brain, even the simplest of acts can be counter-intuitive and deceptively complicated. For example, try stretching your arm.

Nerves in the limb send messages back to your brain, but the subjective experience you have of stretching isn't due to these signals. The feeling that you willed your arm into motion, and the realization that you moved it at all, are both the result of an area at the back of your brain called the posterior parietal cortex. This region helped to produce the intention to move, and predicted what the movement would feel like, all before you twitched a single muscle.


Yes. But the causal determinants of my deliberate actions is me. Determinism does not cause anything. It's still me, myself, my own brain, my own thoughts and feelings, my own beliefs and values, that are driving and controlling what the choice will be.

But it's not only ''you'' - countless external elements act upon 'your' system, body/mind/brain, in ways that you are not aware of or have control over. Your conscious experience of the world and self has no access to brain activity, we don't know what our neural networks are doing. Consciousness comes after the event, thoughts form because the underlying information processing is generating conscious activity in response to stimuli. You encounter something, read this post, then lines of thought are brought to mind.
 

Marvin Edwards

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But I was going in that direction anyway, so I am not constrained.

I could have taken the other path, and perhaps someday I'll want to explore to see what's down that way. But not today. Even though I did not choose it, it remains a real possibility. It does not become impossible by my not choosing it.
If you have no choice you have no freedom. It's called Determinism, not "Well if I wanted to,.." or "Well there are options ..."
Well, I don't know. How should I respond to this?
Since this reply was causally necessary from any prior point in eternity, it too is called "Determinism".

Confronting an issue that requires choosing is inevitable. Considering my options is inevitable. Each option being a "real" possibility (something that I could make happen if I chose to) is also inevitable. Imagining how each option would play out was inevitable. Finding that one option played out better than the others was inevitable. Thus, all of the events in my choosing were inevitable. And, thus my choice was inevitable. And, finally, it was inevitable that it would be I, myself, and no other object in the physical universe that would be doing the choosing was also inevitable.

Universal causal necessity/inevitability is a logical fact, but not a meaningful nor a relevant fact. The "meaning" that it has within the notion of determinism is a fake.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Put them together and add detail to get a more comprehensive description of determinism.

Correct. We may assume that all three causal mechanisms (physical, biological, and rational) are reliable within their own domain, and thus every event is reliably caused by some specific combination of physical, biological, and rational mechanisms.

It is all of these element and more that shape our being and behaviour.

Well, the only thing we've left out is quantum mechanics, but my presumption is that quantum events are a fourth level of organization (or lack of organization) operating reliably under its own set of rules. But it is not helpful to examine human events under a quantum microscope.

On the other hand, physical events, like floods and drought, are useful to know about. And biological events, like birth and death, are significant. And mental events, like imagination, calculation, and reasoning are very significant as well.

It is the treatment or therapy applied to the bank robber that modifies his neural networks, which in turn result in lines of thought that were not present before he got caught, even the act of getting caught changes his outlook.

Exactly.

''Free will'' is just a term. A term that tells us nothing about our makeup or what drives our behaviour, be they psychological
How we treat the offender acts upon his brain and mind. The treatment the offender gets effects their mind and and behaviour.
Telling someone that they have no 'free will' would most likely not be understood.
Why? Because the common perception of free will is the ability to make decisions. Decision making is taken to be free will.

Yes, decision making is taken to be free will. And, decision making is fully deterministic. A reasonable conclusion would be that free will is a deterministic event, just like every other event that ever happens.

I am a bit confused as to why you have posted that quote for a third time. I've explained what "basic-desert" (aka "just-deserts") means, and I'm happy to explain it again (it is an issue of our philosophy of justice, not an issue of free will). But perhaps you're reading something else into that quote that I've missed. Could you explain what you think that quote is saying?

I posted it to make sure the point that actions produced by deterministic processes are no less of a challenge to freedom of will than compulsion by external agents is being considered rather than brushed aside. It's a point that seems to be treated far too lightly.

Oh. Okay. You know, of course, that free will, being a deterministic event, cannot possibly be defined as "freedom from determinism". Therefore, free will must mean something else. Ordinary people, those who have not been infected with the paradox, usually consider free will to be a choice that a person makes for themselves, while free of coercion and insanity and manipulation and other forms of undue influence.

If we limit our notion of free will to the meaningful and relevant constraints that might prevent someone from rationally choosing for themselves what they will do, then we get a definition that actually works.

I'm pretty sure that conscious awareness will always play a role in any significant decisions we make. You will not find any significant decisions in the Libet-style experiments. A significant decision is one that requires an explanation. Constructing an explanation requires conscious awareness. For example, as I write these words I'm also hearing them, and critiquing them, and often changing them.

But if I'm instructed to squeeze my fist 40 times over 2 minutes, and to do so "randomly" whenever I "felt" like it, then I will be waiting upon some inner sensation to trigger my responses.

Whether conscious awareness is involved upfront, or as an after-effect, is not important. In either case it will still be my own brain that is exercising control, based not just upon external inputs, but more significantly upon its internal inputs. All of those internal inputs are integral parts of who and what I am, and they will control my response to any external inputs. Both the brain itself and all of the internal inputs are me. It is still me making the choices and controlling my own actions.

Of course conscious awareness plays a role. An indispensable role. It is our conscious 'map' of the external world and our place in it. But it is not free will.

Right, "free will" is a label we use to distinguish a certain kind of event, just like "dog" and "cat" are used to distinguish different animals. Free will specifically identifies events where the prior cause of the choice was the person's own deliberation process, as opposed to events where the choice was imposed upon us by someone with a gun, or insanity, etc. All of these events would be equally causally necessary. But we do need to label these events differently to distinguish the nature of the event. We call one a freely chosen "I will". We call another "coercion". We call another "insanity".

You do something 'whenever you feel like it' because the brain has already processed the necessary information and sent signals to muscle groups milliseconds before you 'felt like it.'

Exactly. I believe that is how other neuroscientists interpret Libet's experiments.

''When it comes to the human brain, even the simplest of acts can be counter-intuitive and deceptively complicated. For example, try stretching your arm.

Nerves in the limb send messages back to your brain, but the subjective experience you have of stretching isn't due to these signals. The feeling that you willed your arm into motion, and the realization that you moved it at all, are both the result of an area at the back of your brain called the posterior parietal cortex. This region helped to produce the intention to move, and predicted what the movement would feel like, all before you twitched a single muscle.

I would say that "try stretching your arm" is an instruction that you must be aware of in order to know what to do. It had to be heard and then interpreted and converted to lower level instructions below awareness.

Yes. But the causal determinants of my deliberate actions is me. Determinism does not cause anything. It's still me, myself, my own brain, my own thoughts and feelings, my own beliefs and values, that are driving and controlling what the choice will be.

But it's not only ''you'' - countless external elements act upon 'your' system, body/mind/brain, in ways that you are not aware of or have control over. Your conscious experience of the world and self has no access to brain activity, we don't know what our neural networks are doing. Consciousness comes after the event, thoughts form because the underlying information processing is generating conscious activity in response to stimuli. You encounter something, read this post, then lines of thought are brought to mind.

I disagree with the word "external" here. The vast majority of the elements that are controlling my brain's activity are internal, mostly from within the brain itself. If my brain controls the choice, and then informs my consciousness of that choice, then it still qualifies as a deliberate choice, one actually made by my own brain, to serve my own goals and reasons. And one that I experience as a choice that I have made for myself.

This experience is not an "illusion", but rather a meaningful model of what just happened in physical reality.
 

fromderinside

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But I was going in that direction anyway, so I am not constrained.

I could have taken the other path, and perhaps someday I'll want to explore to see what's down that way. But not today. Even though I did not choose it, it remains a real possibility. It does not become impossible by my not choosing it.
If you have no choice you have no freedom. It's called Determinism, not "Well if I wanted to,.." or "Well there are options ..."
Well, I don't know. How should I respond to this?
Since this reply was causally necessary from any prior point in eternity, it too is called "Determinism".

Confronting an issue that requires choosing is inevitable. Considering my options is inevitable. Each option being a "real" possibility (something that I could make happen if I chose to) is also inevitable. Imagining how each option would play out was inevitable. Finding that one option played out better than the others was inevitable. Thus, all of the events in my choosing were inevitable. And, thus my choice was inevitable. And, finally, it was inevitable that it would be I, myself, and no other object in the physical universe that would be doing the choosing was also inevitable.

Universal causal necessity/inevitability is a logical fact, but not a meaningful nor a relevant fact. The "meaning" that it has within the notion of determinism is a fake.

What is.one confronting? What one does is determined so it can't be that. One needs revert to what one believes need be confronted or considered since all is already realized, already determined. That leaves consciousness, humans sub vocalizations by one, as the only thing in need of being confronted.

OK. I'll buy that. Responding to what one is thinking isn't free, nor, other than an imperfect replay of what is determined. IOW one is deceiving oneself into believing what one is thinking is what is going on.

You are trying to repeat what one thinks is what makes one be. Nope. It's pure imagination that something one does justifies one's belief in an imagined reality.

"He/She doesn't exist," said the professor, "it's all in one's head."
 
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DBT

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Oh. Okay. You know, of course, that free will, being a deterministic event, cannot possibly be defined as "freedom from determinism". Therefore, free will must mean something else. Ordinary people, those who have not been infected with the paradox, usually consider free will to be a choice that a person makes for themselves, while free of coercion and insanity and manipulation and other forms of undue influence.

If we limit our notion of free will to the meaningful and relevant constraints that might prevent someone from rationally choosing for themselves what they will do, then we get a definition that actually works.

If we have a determined world, there is neither freedom from determinism or freedom of will, just necessitated actions performed without interference because that is the only possible action in that instance.


I'm pretty sure that conscious awareness will always play a role in any significant decisions we make.
As I said, consciousness plays an indispensable role as our subjective representation of the external world and self. It's just not a freely willed role. The brain just plays its evolutionary role.

Right, "free will" is a label we use to distinguish a certain kind of event, just like "dog" and "cat" are used to distinguish different animals. Free will specifically identifies events where the prior cause of the choice was the person's own deliberation process, as opposed to events where the choice was imposed upon us by someone with a gun, or insanity, etc. All of these events would be equally causally necessary. But we do need to label these events differently to distinguish the nature of the event. We call one a freely chosen "I will". We call another "coercion". We call another "insanity".

Some do apply the free will label, others disagree....hence two opposing views; compatibilism and incompatibilism.

I would say that "try stretching your arm" is an instruction that you must be aware of in order to know what to do. It had to be heard and then interpreted and converted to lower level instructions below awareness.

No, impulses to muscle groups happen before awareness, I have posted several sources.


Quote;
''When it comes to the human brain, even the simplest of acts can be counter-intuitive and deceptively complicated. For example, try stretching your arm.

Nerves in the limb send messages back to your brain, but the subjective experience you have of stretching isn't due to these signals. The feeling that you willed your arm into motion, and the realisation that you moved it at all, are both the result of an area at the back of your brain called the posterior parietal cortex. This region helped to produce the intention to move, and predicted what the movement would feel like, all before you twitched a single muscle.''


I disagree with the word "external" here. The vast majority of the elements that are controlling my brain's activity are internal, mostly from within the brain itself. If my brain controls the choice, and then informs my consciousness of that choice, then it still qualifies as a deliberate choice, one actually made by my own brain, to serve my own goals and reasons. And one that I experience as a choice that I have made for myself.


This experience is not an "illusion", but rather a meaningful model of what just happened in physical reality.

Internal neural mechanisms responds to external inputs, neural architecture and its activity is not subject to will or wish as it produces our experience of the world and our response to it in the form of perception, thought and action.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Oh. Okay. You know, of course, that free will, being a deterministic event, cannot possibly be defined as "freedom from determinism". Therefore, free will must mean something else. Ordinary people, those who have not been infected with the paradox, usually consider free will to be a choice that a person makes for themselves, while free of coercion and insanity and manipulation and other forms of undue influence.

If we limit our notion of free will to the meaningful and relevant constraints that might prevent someone from rationally choosing for themselves what they will do, then we get a definition that actually works.

If we have a determined world, there is neither freedom from determinism or freedom of will, just necessitated actions performed without interference because that is the only possible action in that instance.

Well, we do not have a "determined world", we have a "deterministic world". There is no causal agent that has laid out a plan in advance for how things will turn out. There is no causal agent that is now unfolding that plan event by event. Such notions are superstitious nonsense. Wouldn't you agree?

We know for certain that there will be a single actual future, because we have only a single actual past to put it in. And this single future will come about through reliable interactions between the objects and forces that make up the physical universe. These reliable interactions are called "causes" and "effects". The effects of these causes become the causes of new effects, such that all events are the reliable result of prior events.

And this is what is meant when we say that we live in a "deterministic universe". It is AS IF some supernatural causal agent had laid out a plan for the future. But, of course, no such agent exists and no such plan exist. It all comes down to the actual interactions of the objects and forces themselves. Only the actual objects and forces can be said to cause events. To avoid superstitious beliefs, and faulty conclusions, we need to keep this fact clear in our heads.

Oh, and of course, we happen to be one of those objects that goes about exerting force upon other objects, and causing new events. For example, I broke open three eggs, scrambled them, cooked them in the microwave, and ate them. That was one object, me, exerting force upon three other objects, the eggs, becoming the prior cause of the resulting event "me, eating the eggs".

Determinism did not break the eggs, scramble them, or eat them. That was me, I did that.

As I said, consciousness plays an indispensable role as our subjective representation of the external world and self. It's just not a freely willed role. The brain just plays its evolutionary role.

Well, almost. To get it right is to realize that one of the evolved roles of the brain is to decide what the body will do. For example, will my body fix pancakes for breakfast, or will my body fix eggs? "Hey, brain! Wake up! I need to know what I will fix for breakfast. Get up and do your job."

Right, "free will" is a label we use to distinguish a certain kind of event, just like "dog" and "cat" are used to distinguish different animals. Free will specifically identifies events where the prior cause of the choice was the person's own deliberation process, as opposed to events where the choice was imposed upon us by someone with a gun, or insanity, etc. All of these events would be equally causally necessary. But we do need to label these events differently to distinguish the nature of the event. We call one a freely chosen "I will". We call another "coercion". We call another "insanity".

Some do apply the free will label, others disagree....hence two opposing views; compatibilism and incompatibilism.

Then, by what label do you distinguish the deliberate choice from the coerced choice or the insane choice or, for that matter, from an accident? What do you wish to call the deliberate choice that you made for yourself?

I would say that "try stretching your arm" is an instruction that you must be aware of in order to know what to do. It had to be heard and then interpreted and converted to lower level instructions below awareness.

No, impulses to muscle groups happen before awareness, I have posted several sources.

Quote;
''When it comes to the human brain, even the simplest of acts can be counter-intuitive and deceptively complicated. For example, try stretching your arm. Nerves in the limb send messages back to your brain, but the subjective experience you have of stretching isn't due to these signals. The feeling that you willed your arm into motion, and the realisation that you moved it at all, are both the result of an area at the back of your brain called the posterior parietal cortex. This region helped to produce the intention to move, and predicted what the movement would feel like, all before you twitched a single muscle.''

So, are you saying that, for no reason at all, I stretched out my arm? And that the author's instruction to "try stretching out your arm" was merely a coincidence? That is highly improbable.

I disagree with the word "external" here. The vast majority of the elements that are controlling my brain's activity are internal, mostly from within the brain itself. If my brain controls the choice, and then informs my consciousness of that choice, then it still qualifies as a deliberate choice, one actually made by my own brain, to serve my own goals and reasons. And one that I experience as a choice that I have made for myself.

This experience is not an "illusion", but rather a meaningful model of what just happened in physical reality.

Internal neural mechanisms responds to external inputs, neural architecture and its activity is not subject to will or wish as it produces our experience of the world and our response to it in the form of perception, thought and action.

I can only agree with the "perception, thought, and action" if we acknowledge that the words "try stretching out your arm" were perceived, then thought about to the point where I chose to follow that instruction, and then action. Otherwise you're missing a step, because, normally, I would not follow that instruction, I would simply read about it. So, if the events described were to actually take place, I would have to first deliberately choose to stretch out my arm. Wouldn't you? I mean, as you read that paragraph, did your arm suddenly stretch out of its own accord?
 

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Oh. Okay. You know, of course, that free will, being a deterministic event, cannot possibly be defined as "freedom from determinism". Therefore, free will must mean something else. Ordinary people, those who have not been infected with the paradox, usually consider free will to be a choice that a person makes for themselves, while free of coercion and insanity and manipulation and other forms of undue influence.

If we limit our notion of free will to the meaningful and relevant constraints that might prevent someone from rationally choosing for themselves what they will do, then we get a definition that actually works.

If we have a determined world, there is neither freedom from determinism or freedom of will, just necessitated actions performed without interference because that is the only possible action in that instance.

Well, we do not have a "determined world", we have a "deterministic world". There is no causal agent that has laid out a plan in advance for how things will turn out. There is no causal agent that is now unfolding that plan event by event. Such notions are superstitious nonsense. Wouldn't you agree?

Seems like moot point. A deterministic world has determined outcomes. If the distinction of 'deterministic' allows chance to enter, this still doesn't help compatibilism because the claim is that free will is compatible with determinism.

Nor does a deterministic (or determined) world entail a privileged causal agent or some sort of higher plan, moving the world in a different direction, etc.

We know for certain that there will be a single actual future, because we have only a single actual past to put it in. And this single future will come about through reliable interactions between the objects and forces that make up the physical universe. These reliable interactions are called "causes" and "effects". The effects of these causes become the causes of new effects, such that all events are the reliable result of prior events.

And this is what is meant when we say that we live in a "deterministic universe". It is AS IF some supernatural causal agent had laid out a plan for the future. But, of course, no such agent exists and no such plan exist. It all comes down to the actual interactions of the objects and forces themselves. Only the actual objects and forces can be said to cause events. To avoid superstitious beliefs, and faulty conclusions, we need to keep this fact clear in our heads.

Sure, not much to disagree with. Faulty conclusions based on limited perspective can be a problem, like freedom being compatible with determinism (freedom presumably requires regulative control and the possibility to do otherwise).


Oh, and of course, we happen to be one of those objects that goes about exerting force upon other objects, and causing new events. For example, I broke open three eggs, scrambled them, cooked them in the microwave, and ate them. That was one object, me, exerting force upon three other objects, the eggs, becoming the prior cause of the resulting event "me, eating the eggs".

Determinism did not break the eggs, scramble them, or eat them. That was me, I did that.

Whatever you do is done because countless elements (mostly unconscious) determine what you are and who you are, physically and mentally, language, culture, needs and wants driving thoughts and actions enabled by a brain capable of processing information and responding to it; an intelligent responsive system driven not by free will, not even by will, but by an interaction of biology and environment forming the drive or the will to act.


Well, almost. To get it right is to realize that one of the evolved roles of the brain is to decide what the body will do. For example, will my body fix pancakes for breakfast, or will my body fix eggs? "Hey, brain! Wake up! I need to know what I will fix for breakfast. Get up and do your job."

Doesn't quite work like that, you are not separate from your brain. It is the brain that constructs you, a conscious self in order interact with the world, puts it to sleep at night and reactivates it to face a new day in the morning, generating thoughts and impulses, hunger, thirst, make breakfast, go to work....

Then, by what label do you distinguish the deliberate choice from the coerced choice or the insane choice or, for that matter, from an accident? What do you wish to call the deliberate choice that you made for yourself?

Labels tend to be inadequate. We act out of our own volition, ie, the cognitive process. Instead of saying 'he acted of own free will' it would be more accurate to say 'he acted according to his own will'

We have will, but will is not free. Will is not the driver.

''Prior events have caused the person’s current desire to do X. Wanting to do X is fully determined by these prior causes. 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.''
 

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If we have a determined world, there is neither freedom from determinism or freedom of will, just necessitated actions performed without interference because that is the only possible action in that instance.

Well, we do not have a "determined world", we have a "deterministic world". There is no causal agent that has laid out a plan in advance for how things will turn out. There is no causal agent that is now unfolding that plan event by event. Such notions are superstitious nonsense. Wouldn't you agree?
Seems like moot point. A deterministic world has determined outcomes. If the distinction of 'deterministic' allows chance to enter, this still doesn't help compatibilism because the claim is that free will is compatible with determinism.

Nor does a deterministic (or determined) world entail a privileged causal agent or some sort of higher plan, moving the world in a different direction, etc.

Well, I wouldn't call it a special "privilege", but the quarterback causally determines which receiver to throw the football to, and the receiver then causally determines his route through the defense, and that route causally determines the directions of the defenders as they attempt to tackle the receiver.

Each event and each choice is causally necessary from any prior point in eternity, but causal necessity itself is never the agent of causation. The quarterback, the runner, and the tacklers are the causal agents. Causal necessity simply describes how each event, although uniquely caused, was reliably caused by prior events.

We enter the world of illusion when we ascribe causal agency to causal necessity.

We know for certain that there will be a single actual future, because we have only a single actual past to put it in. And this single future will come about through reliable interactions between the objects and forces that make up the physical universe. These reliable interactions are called "causes" and "effects". The effects of these causes become the causes of new effects, such that all events are the reliable result of prior events.

And this is what is meant when we say that we live in a "deterministic universe". It is AS IF some supernatural causal agent had laid out a plan for the future. But, of course, no such agent exists and no such plan exist. It all comes down to the actual interactions of the objects and forces themselves. Only the actual objects and forces can be said to cause events. To avoid superstitious beliefs, and faulty conclusions, we need to keep this fact clear in our heads.

Sure, not much to disagree with. Faulty conclusions based on limited perspective can be a problem, like freedom being compatible with determinism (freedom presumably requires regulative control and the possibility to do otherwise).

Well, yes, "faulty conclusions based upon a limited perspective" can be a problem, especially when we mistakenly assume that, since every event is causally necessary, the quarterback, the receiver, and the defenders have no significant role in determining what takes place on the football field.

A second faulty conclusion is that causal necessity implies the absence of all freedom. There is only one freedom that is absent due to causal necessity, and that would be "freedom from causal necessity". All other freedoms would still be relevant and meaningful. The bird can still be set free from its cage even though it is not free from causal necessity. We can still enjoy freedom of speech even though we are not free of causal necessity. The ice cream store can still offer us free samples, even though their offering and our acceptance of the offer would be causally necessary. And, we are free to decide for ourselves whether we wish to participate in Libet's experiment, even though the experiment and our choice to volunteer (or not) were causally necessary from any prior point in time.

Oh, and of course, we happen to be one of those objects that goes about exerting force upon other objects, and causing new events. For example, I broke open three eggs, scrambled them, cooked them in the microwave, and ate them. That was one object, me, exerting force upon three other objects, the eggs, becoming the prior cause of the resulting event "me, eating the eggs".

Determinism did not break the eggs, scramble them, or eat them. That was me, I did that.

Whatever you do is done because countless elements (mostly unconscious) determine what you are and who you are, physically and mentally, language, culture, needs and wants driving thoughts and actions enabled by a brain capable of processing information and responding to it; an intelligent responsive system driven not by free will, not even by will, but by an interaction of biology and environment forming the drive or the will to act.

One is exactly identical to the other. The countless factors that have determined "who and what I am" are now me. All of their influences and effects that are relevant to what I choose to do right now, are effects that exist solely within me at this moment. For example, I am alone in a room, sitting at a table with a bowl of apples on it. I'm hungry, and dinner won't be ready for a while, so I decide I will have an apple now.

If we look around, where do we find the prior causes of me, that made me "who and what I am" at this moment of decision? The hunger is me. The choosing to eat an apple rather than waiting for dinner, was performed by me. None of the others who may have influenced my dietary choices are in the room. Whatever influences they may have had are only present within me. There's just me and the apple. And in a few moments, the apple will also be part of me.

None of the prior causes of me get to participate in my choice without first becoming an integral part of who and what I am. So, it really is me, and no other object or force in the entire universe that is causally determining that I will eat that apple right now.

Well, almost. To get it right is to realize that one of the evolved roles of the brain is to decide what the body will do. For example, will my body fix pancakes for breakfast, or will my body fix eggs? "Hey, brain! Wake up! I need to know what I will fix for breakfast. Get up and do your job."

Doesn't quite work like that, you are not separate from your brain. It is the brain that constructs you, a conscious self in order interact with the world, puts it to sleep at night and reactivates it to face a new day in the morning, generating thoughts and impulses, hunger, thirst, make breakfast, go to work....

One is exactly identical to the other. What my brain has decided that I will do, I have decided that I will do. Even the unconscious functions, are included in the model of who and what I am. For example, if my brain has a tumor, then I have a tumor in my brain. If my heart has a dysrhythmia, then I have a dysrhythmia in my heart. If my toe is broken, then I have a broken toe.

The notion that my brain is somehow separate from me, and that I exist as an entity separate from my brain, is called "dualism". And that's where the notion of a "soul" comes from.

It might help to clarify things if we point out that it is the brain itself, and not a separate "soul", that is both producing and experiencing the thoughts and impulses you described.

Then, by what label do you distinguish the deliberate choice from the coerced choice or the insane choice or, for that matter, from an accident? What do you wish to call the deliberate choice that you made for yourself?

Labels tend to be inadequate.
Yet, labels are necessary to make meaningful distinctions, like identifying whether the animal is a "dog" or a "cat". Or, whether the controlling cause of a person's behavior was their own "deliberate choosing" or a "choice imposed upon them by a man with a gun".

We act out of our own volition, ie, the cognitive process. Instead of saying 'he acted of own free will' it would be more accurate to say 'he acted according to his own will'

That would work assuming "our own will" implies that we were free to choose for ourselves what we would do, rather than being compelled by someone else.

We have will, but will is not free.

Right. But "free will" never implies that the will is free, but only that it was freely chosen.

Will is not the driver.

I strongly disagree with that. Will is the mind's intent to do something, and that intent drives the doing. But other than driving the behavior it does not drive anything else. For example, deliberate will does not choose itself. It is the choosing that drives the will.

''Prior events have caused the person’s current desire to do X. Wanting to do X is fully determined by these prior causes. 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.''

Technically correct. But the source of the person's current desire is within the person. The desire does not exist outside of the person, and it is formed within the person. It can be influenced by external stimuli, like a television ad that is designed to form such a desire within the person. But it is still up to the person to decide what to do about that desire, to assess that desire in terms of other desires, and to choose for themselves which desires they will attempt to satisfy.
 

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When you say the qb causally determines which receiver gets that ball it again comes down to how the brain works along with the experience and conditioning leading up to a specific pass.

You end up with an infinite regression back in time before the formation of the solar system. Did how the Sun developed one particle at a time predetermine what the qb did?

Was it Preder mined at the BB event that the particles in qb's brain that selected a receiver?

Is here a ransmess in the brain. Given the exact same conditions will the qb always do the same thing?
 

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When you say the qb causally determines which receiver gets that ball it again comes down to how the brain works along with the experience and conditioning leading up to a specific pass.

Yes. When we refer to the "quarterback", we are including his brain, his legs and his arms, his skills and his knowledge, and all that other stuff that makes the quarterback who and what he is. Each of these things has its own chain of reliable causes leading back to any prior point in eternity. But, that's quite a mouthful, so most people just refer to the quarterback as Mr. Armstrong (UVa Cavaliers).

You end up with an infinite regression back in time before the formation of the solar system. Did how the Sun developed one particle at a time predetermine what the qb did?

Well, nothing really "pre" determines anything. Everything is determined (finalized) when its last prior causes have all played themselves out. Nothing can actually happen before it happens. And as we trace prior causes backward from the event, they each become a little less meaningful, less relevant, and more coincidental.

So, the Sun was a necessary event for there being a livable planet called Earth. And the formation of the Sun would show up in the causal chain of all subsequent events happening on Earth, but the Sun's formation could hardly be called the cause of any event on Earth. So, the most meaningful and relevant causes of the quarterback's behavior are all located within the quarterback at the time he selects a receiver for his pass.

Was it Preder mined (ME: predetermined) at the BB event that the particles in qb's brain that selected a receiver?

Same with the Big Bang. The events during the Big Bang play no meaningful or relevant roles in the quarterback's decision to pass, who to pass it to, and, had there been no receivers available, which direction to run the ball. Those decisions are all based upon the current conditions on the field, not the conditions of the Big Bang.

Is here a ransmess (ME: randomness) in the brain. Given the exact same conditions will the qb always do the same thing?

If the physical, biological, and rational conditions were all the same, then the quarterback would always do the same thing at that point in time. Why would he do anything different, other than decide what to do based upon the conditions on the field?

On the other hand, he could have done many other things. What he could have done is not limited by what he actually did.

The notions of "can" and "will" are distinct, and must not be conflated or confused. What we "will" do is constrained by what we "can" do. But what we "can" do is only constrained by our imagination.
 

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That is where your thinking breaks down, IMO.

Our brains are composed of particles that in the Standard Model trace their genesis to the BB.

The functions of our mind are based in interactions of atoms and subatomic particles.

If not, you are left with arguing mind as separate from physical reality. Mind body duality. The attoms in the bran have no causl effect on thinking? What about genes?

Without the Erath which traces to the BB there are no humans to begin with,

Are we having fun yet?
 

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That is where your thinking breaks down, IMO.
Our brains are composed of particles that in the Standard Model trace their genesis to the BB.
The functions of our mind are based in interactions of atoms and subatomic particles.
If not, you are left with arguing mind as separate from physical reality. Mind body duality. The attoms in the bran have no causl effect on thinking? What about genes?
Without the Erath which traces to the BB there are no humans to begin with,
Are we having fun yet?

Well, you seem to be having fun, but I'm currently sobering up.

Physical matter behaves differently according to how it is organized. The atoms of Hydrogen and the atoms of Oxygen are gaseous until you drop their temperature to several hundred degrees below zero. But when you combine two atoms of Hydrogen with one atom of Oxygen you get water, a liquid at room temperature and something we can skate on in winter.

Combine the appropriate atoms into a molecule of DNA and you get a blueprint and the tools for building a living organism. Given an appropriate environment where other essential molecules are nearby, and it will build you a tree, or a worm, or a butterfly, or a human being.

And if you provide an environment in which these living organisms can survive, thrive, and reproduce, they will produce new variations of their species. Eventually, some of these these variations will evolve a new machine, a brain, that can imagine, evaluate, and choose for itself what its body will do.

But the water molecule on its own will not attempt to survive, thrive, and reproduce. That's not something that most molecules do. You need a special machine to do that, a machine that the DNA molecule builds, a living organism.

A living organism behaves differently than inanimate matter. Place a bowling ball on a slope and it will always roll downhill, its behavior governed by the force of gravity. But place a squirrel on that same slope, and he may go up, down, or any other direction where he hopes to find his next acorn. While the squirrel is affected by gravity, he is not governed by it. Instead he is governed by biological drives to survive, thrive, and reproduce.

So, to get special behavior, you need a special machine, one built to perform that behavior. The individual atoms that make up a squirrel have little control over what the squirrel does. But another machine within the squirrel, called a brain, can deliberately choose what the squirrel will do, and the squirrel will damn well do it.

The mind is a physical process running upon the neural architecture of the brain. Turn off the brain's processes, and the brain reverts to an inert lump of matter.
 

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Well, I daresay one thing is most determined: that there ARE things out there planning our future step by step, decision by decision, if badly, and those things are US, and when there are conflicts between those plans they are conflicts of "free will" as relates to our local indeterminabilities..
 

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Well, I daresay one thing is most determined: that there ARE things out there planning our future step by step, decision by decision, if badly, and those things are US, and when there are conflicts between those plans they are conflicts of "free will" as relates to our local indeterminabilities..
Not just the US. Ethiopia is breaking down into utter chaos and violence, widespread starvation. All over aa choice of a contest of wills over a compromise.
 

steve_bank

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That is where your thinking breaks down, IMO.
Our brains are composed of particles that in the Standard Model trace their genesis to the BB.
The functions of our mind are based in interactions of atoms and subatomic particles.
If not, you are left with arguing mind as separate from physical reality. Mind body duality. The attoms in the bran have no causl effect on thinking? What about genes?
Without the Erath which traces to the BB there are no humans to begin with,
Are we having fun yet?

Well, you seem to be having fun, but I'm currently sobering up.

Physical matter behaves differently according to how it is organized. The atoms of Hydrogen and the atoms of Oxygen are gaseous until you drop their temperature to several hundred degrees below zero. But when you combine two atoms of Hydrogen with one atom of Oxygen you get water, a liquid at room temperature and something we can skate on in winter.

Combine the appropriate atoms into a molecule of DNA and you get a blueprint and the tools for building a living organism. Given an appropriate environment where other essential molecules are nearby, and it will build you a tree, or a worm, or a butterfly, or a human being.

And if you provide an environment in which these living organisms can survive, thrive, and reproduce, they will produce new variations of their species. Eventually, some of these these variations will evolve a new machine, a brain, that can imagine, evaluate, and choose for itself what its body will do.

But the water molecule on its own will not attempt to survive, thrive, and reproduce. That's not something that most molecules do. You need a special machine to do that, a machine that the DNA molecule builds, a living organism.

A living organism behaves differently than inanimate matter. Place a bowling ball on a slope and it will always roll downhill, its behavior governed by the force of gravity. But place a squirrel on that same slope, and he may go up, down, or any other direction where he hopes to find his next acorn. While the squirrel is affected by gravity, he is not governed by it. Instead he is governed by biological drives to survive, thrive, and reproduce.

So, to get special behavior, you need a special machine, one built to perform that behavior. The individual atoms that make up a squirrel have little control over what the squirrel does. But another machine within the squirrel, called a brain, can deliberately choose what the squirrel will do, and the squirrel will damn well do it.

The mind is a physical process running upon the neural architecture of the brain. Turn off the brain's processes, and the brain reverts to an inert lump of matter.
A rock is organized matter. Your entire body and thinking are based on reactions at the atomic scale. Just like a computer is based on atomic scale actions in the circuits.

Our brains are hard wired by genetics and evolution with the capacity to learn and adapt. A philosophical case can be made that our thoughts are predetermined before we are born.



I don't know what fun is, I am deadly serious all the time and these are most serious questions ... .I do enjoy watching a cat trying to catch a string dangled in front of it.
 

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Well, I daresay one thing is most determined: that there ARE things out there planning our future step by step, decision by decision, if badly, and those things are US, and when there are conflicts between those plans they are conflicts of "free will" as relates to our local indeterminabilities..
Not just the US. Ethiopia is breaking down into utter chaos and violence, widespread starvation. All over aa choice of a contest of wills over a compromise.
No, I mean, us, the things as translate forces on units of "person", and also on scales of "executive bodies" and also "corporate bodies" and also other forms of organization, some religious and some not.

Edit: sometimes, the deterministic aspects of the universe do not just give us leverage within our idea space to point our vector towards our goals.

Also, it is sometimes the case that they disabuse us of our models through whatever learning model applies to what we are, and we have to adjust those models.

We learn, adapt, and grow.
 

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A rock is organized matter.

And the behavior of the rock is fully governed by physical forces, like gravity, inertia, etc.

Your entire body and thinking are based on reactions at the atomic scale.

Everything is running on atoms, but atoms are not running anything.

Just like a computer is based on atomic scale actions in the circuits.

The computer is running on electricity, which is a transfer of electrons from one end of a circuit to another. But those electrons have no clue as to what's going on. Nor do any of the atoms. The only ones that know what's happening are the engineers and programmers, you know, the guys who built the machines and programmed them to serve us humans.

Our brains are hard wired by genetics and evolution with the capacity to learn and adapt.

And that ability to adapt enables us to modify our brains. A coed is invited to a party, but she remembers she has a chemistry test in the morning. So, she decides it would be better to stay home and study tonight. As she reviews her textbook and lecture notes, she is reinforcing the neural pathways related to that data, so that when she sees the question on the test, the answer will pop into her consciousness. She is, by her deliberate choice, modifying her own brain.

A philosophical case can be made that our thoughts are predetermined before we are born.

Sure. But the critical question is, "So what?" Causal necessity is a logical fact. But it is not a meaningful fact. And it is not a relevant fact to any human problem, question, or issue. So, why bring it up? The intelligent mind simply acknowledges it, and then ignores it.
 

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Well, I wouldn't call it a special "privilege", but the quarterback causally determines which receiver to throw the football to, and the receiver then causally determines his route through the defense, and that route causally determines the directions of the defenders as they attempt to tackle the receiver.
Each event and each choice is causally necessary from any prior point in eternity, but causal necessity itself is never the agent of causation. The quarterback, the runner, and the tacklers are the causal agents. Causal necessity simply describes how each event, although uniquely caused, was reliably caused by prior events.


We enter the world of illusion when we ascribe causal agency to causal necessity.

By 'privileged' I meant autonomous mental access to the means of production, neural activity/information processing, with the ability to modify deterministic activity, thereby endowing oneself with an ability to do otherwise, which is to have free will.

But of course, nobody can do that. Which means that free will is an illusion, a figure of speech; she acted of her own free will, meaning - she acted of her own accord, she acted according to her own will.

A second faulty conclusion is that causal necessity implies the absence of all freedom. There is only one freedom that is absent due to causal necessity, and that would be "freedom from causal necessity". All other freedoms would still be relevant and meaningful. The bird can still be set free from its cage even though it is not free from causal necessity. We can still enjoy freedom of speech even though we are not free of causal necessity. The ice cream store can still offer us free samples, even though their offering and our acceptance of the offer would be causally necessary. And, we are free to decide for ourselves whether we wish to participate in Libet's experiment, even though the experiment and our choice to volunteer (or not) were causally necessary from any prior point in time.

Causal necessity allows no alternate action. Actions are necessitated/determined. Without alternate actions possible, where is the freedom to have done otherwise? Where is the freedom of choice or will - it is an illusion.

Freedom refers to necessitated actions which are necessarily performed without impediment or constraint; 'Prior events have caused the person’s current desire to do X. Wanting to do X is fully determined by these prior causes. 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.'

A certain kind of freedom, no doubt, just not freedom of will.

Whether or not we decide to participate in Libet type experiments doesn't come out of the blue....what we do depends on our underlying drivers, our motives and interests.

Somebody may believe in free will, they see an opportunity to prove their power of veto, to make a point, so they are eager to participate. There are any number of factors that drives behaviour, desire, fear, pleasure...



Technically correct. But the source of the person's current desire is within the person. The desire does not exist outside of the person, and it is formed within the person. It can be influenced by external stimuli, like a television ad that is designed to form such a desire within the person. But it is still up to the person to decide what to do about that desire, to assess that desire in terms of other desires, and to choose for themselves which desires they will attempt to satisfy.

Well, yes, whatever information is within a person is acted upon by external stimuli. But what we have isnot only acted upon, everything that we see, hear, believe, know, think, do, is information that has been acquired by the brain from the external world. We are being shaped and formed by the world even as we respond to it.
 

steve_bank

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Both rocks and bodies are determined by physical laws.

Your nervous system is electrical. Does a neuron know anything? Your sense of self is the sum of a number of discrete states at any given time. Analogous to digital video. It looks like continuous motion, in reality it is a sequence of still images changing faster than the persistence of the eye.

Your brain is a biological computer, just not of the Turing Machine form of a PC processor. Your neural net has logic functions at the neuron level. You would need to understand Boolean Algebra, digital logic, and state machines to see it.

John Lily went off the deep end a bit combining LSD with salt water isolation tanks as in the movie Altered States, but it is a good read. He staed by doing research on live dolphin brans until he concluded they were aware thinking creatures with a language.

Amazon product
 

Marvin Edwards

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Both rocks and bodies are determined by physical laws.

Your nervous system is electrical. Does a neuron know anything? Your sense of self is the sum of a number of discrete states at any given time. Analogous to digital video. It looks like continuous motion, in reality it is a sequence of still images changing faster than the persistence of the eye.

Your brain is a biological computer, just not of the Turing Machine form of a PC processor. Your neural net has logic functions at the neuron level. You would need to understand Boolean Algebra, digital logic, and state machines to see it.

John Lily went off the deep end a bit combining LSD with salt water isolation tanks as in the movie Altered States, but it is a good read. He staed by doing research on live dolphin brans until he concluded they were aware thinking creatures with a language.

Amazon product


Did you ever catch the "Fringe" tv series? The guy had a tank in his lab and used it in the first episode. (Great series by the way, John Noble's character was amazing...in both universes).
 

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By 'privileged' I meant autonomous mental access to the means of production, neural activity/information processing, with the ability to modify deterministic activity ...

All activity is deterministic, and there is nothing anyone can do to alter that logical fact.

... thereby endowing oneself with an ability to do otherwise

The "ability to do otherwise" is part of the choosing operation, which operates entirely deterministically. The notion of an "ability" serves as a logical token for something that we "can" do if we choose to. An "ability to do otherwise" is part of the choosing operation.

These notions of things that "we may or may not choose to do" are part of a larger category of "matters of uncertainty". These are summed up as follows: When we do not know what "will" happen, we imagine what "can" happen, to better prepare for what "does" happen.

What "will" happen in a choosing operation is unknown. "Will I choose A, or, will I choose B? I don't know yet." So, we replace the "will" with a "can" to help us remember that what we "will" do is as yet unknown. The "can" stands in for the "will" until we are no longer uncertain as to what we "will" do.

At the beginning of the choosing operation, "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must both be true, by logical necessity. Causal necessity, which guarantees that we will perform a choosing operation at this point, causally necessitates that it will be logically necessary at this point that "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" will in fact be true.

Continuing with the choosing operation, we evaluate option A, then evaluate option B, compare their results, and choose the one that seems best to us.

, which is to have free will. But of course, nobody can do that. ...

I just did it. Right there in front of you. Did you want to check my sleeves?

Which means that free will is an illusion, a figure of speech; she acted of her own free will, meaning - she acted of her own accord, she acted according to her own will.

The only illusion here is that determinism is a causal agent that makes our decisions for us. If she decided for herself what she would do, then she is the causal agent. And that is empirical reality.

Determinism has no interest in the outcome. But she had skin in the game, an interest in seeing the best outcome for herself and perhaps others.

Pretending that some other object was controlling her for its own interests is a delusion created by the false suggestions that build the "determinism versus free will" paradox.

A paradox is created by false, but believable, suggestions. Take, Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise. Achilles, the fastest runner in the world, confidently gives the tortoise a huge head start. Then Achilles runs to where the tortoise is. But, when he gets there, the tortoise, even going very slowly, has advanced further ahead. So, Achilles runs to where the tortoise is now. But, just as before, the tortoise is now a little farther down the road. So, it is impossible for Achilles to ever catch the tortoise. Right?
 

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A paradox is created by false, but believable, suggestions. Take, Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise. Achilles, the fastest runner in the world, confidently gives the tortoise a huge head start. Then Achilles runs to where the tortoise is. But, when he gets there, the tortoise, even going very slowly, has advanced further ahead. So, Achilles runs to where the tortoise is now. But, just as before, the tortoise is now a little farther down the road. So, it is impossible for Achilles to ever catch the tortoise. Right?
What are you trying to say? False premises are interesting? In the material world it is obviously false that giving a lead does not change laws of physics. In your little gem you are exchanging laws of physics with human presumption, to what end? To make a false point or to trap another in to using your flawed reasoning? If this constitutes the sum and substance of your argument to this point you have lost the argument. Take your F. Moveon.org.
 
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DBT

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By 'privileged' I meant autonomous mental access to the means of production, neural activity/information processing, with the ability to modify deterministic activity ...

All activity is deterministic, and there is nothing anyone can do to alter that logical fact.

Exactly, which is why the critical point of regulative control, doing otherwise, is impossible within a determined system, effectively eliminating the possibility of freedom of will. Which in turn compels compatibilists to define free will as 'acting without coercion or according to one's will.'

Which of course is inevitable because once one's will has been formed/determined and action is called for, action must necessarily follow, and it can't be otherwise because there is no otherwise in a determined system.


The only illusion here is that determinism is a causal agent that makes our decisions for us. If she decided for herself what she would do, then she is the causal agent. And that is empirical reality.

But that's not the whole picture, the causal agent (the brain) is being acted upon by information from the external world and the action that is taken is determined by how that information input effects her neural network....''she'' has no say in what goes on in 'her' brain, her thoughts and ruminations emerge in her conscious mind fully formed in response to the information that is being processed unconsciously, her conscious mind is being fed information on what to do even after signals to muscle groups are sent.

An intelligent system, but not a matter of 'free will.'


How Can There Be Voluntary Movement Without Free Will?

''Humans do not appear to be purely reflexive organisms, simple automatons. A vast array of different movements are generated in a variety of settings. Is there an alternative to free will? Movement, in the final analysis, comes only from muscle contraction.

Muscle contraction is under the complete control of the alpha motoneurons in the spinal cord. When the alpha motoneurons are active, there will be movement.

Activity of the alpha motoneurons is a product of the different synaptic events on their dendrites and cell bodies. There is a complex summation of EPSPs and IPSPs, and when the threshold for an action potential is crossed, the cell fires. There are a large number of important inputs, and one of the most important is from the corticospinal tract which conveys a large part of the cortical control.

Such a situation likely holds also for the motor cortex and the cells of origin of the corticospinal tract. Their firing depends on their synaptic inputs. And, a similar situation must hold for all the principal regions giving input to the motor cortex. For any cortical region, its activity will depend on its synaptic inputs. Some motor cortical inputs come via only a few synapses from sensory cortices, and such influences on motor output are clear.

Some inputs will come from regions, such as the limbic areas, many synapses away from both primary sensory and motor cortices. At any one time, the activity of the motor cortex, and its commands to the spinal cord, will reflect virtually all the activity in the entire brain.

Is it necessary that there be anything else?''


Determinism has no interest in the outcome. But she had skin in the game, an interest in seeing the best outcome for herself and perhaps others.

Pretending that some other object was controlling her for its own interests is a delusion created by the false suggestions that build the "determinism versus free will" paradox.

A paradox is created by false, but believable, suggestions. Take, Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise. Achilles, the fastest runner in the world, confidently gives the tortoise a huge head start. Then Achilles runs to where the tortoise is. But, when he gets there, the tortoise, even going very slowly, has advanced further ahead. So, Achilles runs to where the tortoise is now. But, just as before, the tortoise is now a little farther down the road. So, it is impossible for Achilles to ever catch the tortoise. Right?


But it's about function, not control. The brain has evolved to acquire and process information, the information that is acquired by the brain in turn effects the system according to the response that is called for, ie, there is food on the table, it is dinner time, the cook has prepared your favorite dishes, you are hungry........an interaction of information, environment and neural architecture, input, output.

Intelligent, interactive but not freely willed.
 

Marvin Edwards

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A paradox is created by false, but believable, suggestions. Take, Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise. Achilles, the fastest runner in the world, confidently gives the tortoise a huge head start. Then Achilles runs to where the tortoise is. But, when he gets there, the tortoise, even going very slowly, has advanced further ahead. So, Achilles runs to where the tortoise is now. But, just as before, the tortoise is now a little farther down the road. So, it is impossible for Achilles to ever catch the tortoise. Right?
What are you trying to say? False premises are interesting? In the material world it is obviously false that giving a lead does not change laws of physics. In your little gem you are exchanging laws of physics with human presumption, to what end? To make a false point or to trap another in to using your flawed reasoning? If this constitutes the sum and substance of your argument to this point you have lost the argument. Take your F. Moveon.org.

I'm saying that the notion that "reliable cause and effect is something that one must be free of" is a false suggestion. If a person buys into it they get trapped in a self-induced hoax. And then they begin saying a lot of absurd things that contradict empirical reality. For example, they say that we have no control over what we do, that we have no freedom to choose for ourselves what we will do, they say that it is not really us, when really, it is us. They tell us that it was the Big Bang that decided what we would have for breakfast. You know, it just becomes a big pile up of absurdities. But they are wedded to these absurdities, because it seems so convincing to them that one must be free of reliable causation in order to be "truly" free.

But every freedom we have, to do anything at all, requires reliable cause and effect. Reliable causation is as much us, and what we do, as it is anything else. It is not a separate entity, some external being that takes over our lives. It is us, living, and doing, and choosing.

The determinism "versus" free will paradox is created by the false suggestion that reliable cause and effect is something that constrains us, when actually it is something that enables every freedom that we have. We, ourselves, are a collaborative collection of reliable causal mechanisms that keep our hearts beating and our thoughts flowing.

Oh, and the false suggestion in the Zeno's "Achilles versus the Tortoise" paradox is the notion that Achilles runs to the where the turtle was. Achilles would run to where the turtle will be when he gets there (or a few steps further to win a race).

So, if we're looking for reliable causation, or the laws of nature, we have only to look in a mirror. They are not our enemy, they are us.
 

fromderinside

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optimist

A paradox is created by false, but believable, suggestions. Take, Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise. Achilles, the fastest runner in the world, confidently gives the tortoise a huge head start. Then Achilles runs to where the tortoise is. But, when he gets there, the tortoise, even going very slowly, has advanced further ahead. So, Achilles runs to where the tortoise is now. But, just as before, the tortoise is now a little farther down the road. So, it is impossible for Achilles to ever catch the tortoise. Right?
What are you trying to say? False premises are interesting? In the material world it is obviously false that giving a lead does not change laws of physics. In your little gem you are exchanging laws of physics with human presumption, to what end? To make a false point or to trap another in to using your flawed reasoning? If this constitutes the sum and substance of your argument to this point you have lost the argument. Take your F. Moveon.org.

I'm saying that the notion that "reliable cause and effect is something that one must be free of" is a false suggestion. If a person buys into it they get trapped in a self-induced hoax. And then they begin saying a lot of absurd things that contradict empirical reality. For example, they say that we have no control over what we do, that we have no freedom to choose for ourselves what we will do, they say that it is not really us, when really, it is us. They tell us that it was the Big Bang that decided what we would have for breakfast. You know, it just becomes a big pile up of absurdities. But they are wedded to these absurdities, because it seems so convincing to them that one must be free of reliable causation in order to be "truly" free.

But every freedom we have, to do anything at all, requires reliable cause and effect. Reliable causation is as much us, and what we do, as it is anything else. It is not a separate entity, some external being that takes over our lives. It is us, living, and doing, and choosing.

The determinism "versus" free will paradox is created by the false suggestion that reliable cause and effect is something that constrains us, when actually it is something that enables every freedom that we have. We, ourselves, are a collaborative collection of reliable causal mechanisms that keep our hearts beating and our thoughts flowing.

Oh, and the false suggestion in the Zeno's "Achilles versus the Tortoise" paradox is the notion that Achilles runs to the where the turtle was. Achilles would run to where the turtle will be when he gets there (or a few steps further to win a race).

So, if we're looking for reliable causation, or the laws of nature, we have only to look in a mirror. They are not our enemy, they are us.
Do we decide or do we answer to what we think? I'm fully in the camp that we are ones that answer to what e ware thinking. We're pretty bright has little to do with whether we decide. If what we are doing is answering our subvocal utterances we aren't deciding. we are reporting near time behavior.
 

Marvin Edwards

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All activity is deterministic, and there is nothing anyone can do to alter that logical fact.

Exactly, which is why the critical point of regulative control, doing otherwise, is impossible within a determined system, effectively eliminating the possibility of freedom of will.

Within a "deterministic" system, every event is causally necessitated by prior events. This includes the choosing event. Choosing necessarily happens. It is unavoidable. And it necessarily happens precisely when, where, and how it happens. This includes every step within the choosing operation, every physical, biological, and mental event.

Among these necessary mental events are the cognition of our options, as two or more things that we "can" choose to do, such as A and B. Once we know our options, we imagine what is likely to happen if we choose A. Then we imagine what is likely to happen if we choose B. If A looks better than B, then A become the thing that "we will do", and B becomes the thing that "we could have done".

Determinism cannot claim that we "could not have chosen B", because "we can choose B" was true at the beginning. When determinists claim that "we could not have chosen B", they create cognitive dissonance, because if "we can choose B" was ever true in the past, then "we could have chosen B" will also be true, forever, in the future.

Determinism can only safely assert that we "would not have chosen B". And, most people would find that to be true. If they had good reasons for choosing A instead of B, then why would they want to choose B? They wouldn't.

Which in turn compels compatibilists to define free will as 'acting without coercion or according to one's will.'

Well, we define "free will" as a choice we make that is "free of coercion and other forms of undue influence" because (a) everyone understands and correctly uses that definition, (b) it makes a meaningful distinction between deliberate acts versus coerced acts versus insane acts, etc., and (c) because this distinction is actually used whenever people assign moral or legal responsibility for a person's actions.

On the other hand, defining "free will" as a choice we make that is "free from causal necessity" creates a paradox, because every freedom we have, to do anything at all, requires reliable cause and effect. So, the philosophical definition is self-contradictory, and cannot reasonably serve as the definition of anything.

Which of course is inevitable because once one's will has been formed/determined and action is called for, action must necessarily follow, and it can't be otherwise because there is no otherwise in a determined system.

Within a deterministic system, each "otherwise" is causally necessary and inevitably must happen. If you encounter an "otherwise" within a deterministic system, then you know that it was unavoidable and had to be there.

It is a simple matter of keeping our event containers straight.
(The Single Deterministic system contains:
(Intelligent species behavior contains:
(Choosing events contain:
(Otherwise's) ) ) ).


The only illusion here is that determinism is a causal agent that makes our decisions for us. If she decided for herself what she would do, then she is the causal agent. And that is empirical reality.

But that's not the whole picture, the causal agent (the brain) is being acted upon by information from the external world and the action that is taken is determined by how that information input effects her neural network....''she'' has no say in what goes on in 'her' brain, her thoughts and ruminations emerge in her conscious mind fully formed in response to the information that is being processed unconsciously, her conscious mind is being fed information on what to do even after signals to muscle groups are sent.

You keep trying to build a wall between her and her brain. If her brain has decided that she will order the chef salad for lunch, and she tells the waiter, "I will have the chef salad, please", then, after the meal, does the waiter bring the bill to her brain, or does he bring the bill to her?

We can spend a lifetime studying the neurological details of how all this works. But in the real world, there is no free lunch, and some person must be held responsible to pay for the salad.

An intelligent system, but not a matter of 'free will.'

Free will is when the customer decides for herself, according to her own goals and reasons, what she will order for lunch. And the waiter will bring her the bill, holding her responsible for her deliberate act.

How Can There Be Voluntary Movement Without Free Will?
''Humans do not appear to be purely reflexive organisms, simple automatons. A vast array of different movements are generated in a variety of settings. Is there an alternative to free will? Movement, in the final analysis, comes only from muscle contraction.

Muscle contraction is under the complete control of the alpha motoneurons in the spinal cord. When the alpha motoneurons are active, there will be movement. ...

Sorry, but the notion that the alpha motoneurons are deciding what she will have for lunch is a bit absurd, don't you think?


But it's about function, not control.

That which performs the function of deciding what will happen next is in control.

The brain has evolved to acquire and process information, the information that is acquired by the brain in turn effects the system according to the response that is called for, ie, there is food on the table, it is dinner time, the cook has prepared your favorite dishes, you are hungry........an interaction of information, environment and neural architecture, input, output.

It is dinner time, yes, but this is a restaurant. There is no food on the table (unless you want to eat the ketchup, salt, and pepper). There is just a menu. And, unless you choose what you will have for dinner, and tell the waiter what you will have for dinner, there will be no dinner for you.

You must choose what you will have for dinner. But, that's why you came to a restaurant, to have choices. You can choose the steak. You can choose the lobster. You can choose to keep it simple and have the chef salad. It is totally up to you.

And, it was causally necessary, and inevitable, from any prior point in eternity, that it would be totally up to you, and no other object in the whole physical universe, to make this choice.

So, what will you have for dinner?
 

Marvin Edwards

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Do we decide or do we answer to what we think? I'm fully in the camp that we are ones that answer to what e ware thinking. We're pretty bright has little to do with whether we decide. If what we are doing is answering our subvocal utterances we aren't deciding. we are reporting near time behavior.

Ironically, as you have pointed out, we're talking to ourselves. Words are going out subvocally and coming back in, apparently so that we can review what we are saying and make corrections. I would guess a similar thing is happening as we type out words and read them back to ourselves. Might as well get everyone involved, eh?

Deciding is a formal operation. Choosing inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice. The choice is usually in the form of an "I will" do something. Choosing sets our intention and that intent marshals the body into action carrying out that intent.

A rat in a maze is choosing, and learning from each choice, until he knows exactly which path to take to get to the cheese. And, of course, people in a restaurant, already having found the path with Google Maps, must now choose from the menu what item they will have for dinner.

Even if there were no speaking to oneself, there would still be choosing going on. And it would be our own brains, acting on our behalf, making the decision, consciously or not.

We don't need to look inside the brain to find choosing. We look at the many possibilities on the menu. Then we look at the single specific item that was ordered. And we know from these two facts that choosing happened.
 

fromderinside

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Do we decide or do we answer to what we think? I'm fully in the camp that we are ones that answer to what e ware thinking. We're pretty bright has little to do with whether we decide. If what we are doing is answering our subvocal utterances we aren't deciding. we are reporting near time behavior.

Ironically, as you have pointed out, we're talking to ourselves. Words are going out subvocally and coming back in, apparently so that we can review what we are saying and make corrections. I would guess a similar thing is happening as we type out words and read them back to ourselves. Might as well get everyone involved, eh?

Deciding is a formal operation. Choosing inputs two or more options, applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and outputs a single choice. The choice is usually in the form of an "I will" do something. Choosing sets our intention and that intent marshals the body into action carrying out that intent.

A rat in a maze is choosing, and learning from each choice, until he knows exactly which path to take to get to the cheese. And, of course, people in a restaurant, already having found the path with Google Maps, must now choose from the menu what item they will have for dinner.

Even if there were no speaking to oneself, there would still be choosing going on. And it would be our own brains, acting on our behalf, making the decision, consciously or not.

We don't need to look inside the brain to find choosing. We look at the many possibilities on the menu. Then we look at the single specific item that was ordered. And we know from these two facts that choosing happened.
During my entire time at university I never participated in a rat study or any animal study that involved scent unless sensing was the objective of the study. Learning studies are designed to attain a particular change in behavior using rewards usually in something like a puzzle box or a Skinner box or a test tank all including a manipulandum. We limit the options to as few as possible usually one. Animals that learn make a choice over trials, almost never in one trial. So its a bit difficult to see that choices are made. We seldom give pretests since doing so would fall into the nature nurture trap.

Uh, the ears require a certain amount of pressure change to hear. So we may not be actually talking to ourselves when we subvocalize. Instead there is feedback from minute variations in muscles produced as information is transferred from speech centers through vocal chords that is sensed by neurons monitoring the vocal chords and fed back to cortex generating confirmation of what was sent from language cortex to vocal apparatus. generating sense of consciousness.

Occasionally we do hear what we subvocalize which produces other outcomes and we ae confused when external speech is also present in the system at the same time.

Your arguments are just logical presumptions based on your model of how we process information, produce consciousness.

If the ear heard what was said it would need another system to separate that from received external speech.

Good luck finding that. remember speech perceptions does discriminate between external sources already. There should be quite a build up in latency of processing if these systems also had to distinguish self-generated speech from externally generated speech.

If we went to all the evolution of generating a homunculus why isn't there more communication between that and speech processing auditory cortex if it were needed to differentiate inner from outer hearing.
 
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DBT

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That which performs the function of deciding what will happen next is in control.

Brain function, how we think and what we do is related to architecture and interaction of information, inputs, memory, etc, rather than 'control.'

Information acquired by the senses acts upon the system. The brain doesn't control what the senses acquire, it responds according to its architecture and memory function.

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.''




It is dinner time, yes, but this is a restaurant. There is no food on the table (unless you want to eat the ketchup, salt, and pepper). There is just a menu. And, unless you choose what you will have for dinner, and tell the waiter what you will have for dinner, there will be no dinner for you.

You must choose what you will have for dinner. But, that's why you came to a restaurant, to have choices. You can choose the steak. You can choose the lobster. You can choose to keep it simple and have the chef salad. It is totally up to you.

And, it was causally necessary, and inevitable, from any prior point in eternity, that it would be totally up to you, and no other object in the whole physical universe, to make this choice.

So, what will you have for dinner?

What you select comes to mind in response to what you see on the menu and the tastes or aversions that have developed over your lifetime.

You may have had a good idea of what to order before you arrived at the restaurant, which was probably chosen because its menu happens to appeal to your taste.

Or feel adventurous, let someone make the choice for you - ''try this'' - come what may.

Regardless, it's all information processing carried out by the brain and brought to conscious mind as events progress. Input, processing, response.


Pattern Recognition;
''Neuroscientists have repeatedly pointed out that pattern recognition represents the key to understanding cognition in humans. Pattern recognition also forms the very basis by which we predict future events, i e. we are literally forced to make assumptions concerning outcomes,and we do so by relying on sequences of events experienced in the past.''
 

Marvin Edwards

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Brain function, how we think and what we do is related to architecture and interaction of information, inputs, memory, etc, rather than 'control.'

No. The whole point of the brain is to exercise control. The infant acquires the skill of crawling and the toddler the skill of walking to control where he goes. Later, he learns to control an automobile. Control is what the brain is all about.

Control is why we care about causation. We control viral diseases like Polio and Measles by knowing that they are caused by a virus and that our bodies can be primed to fight a virus through vaccination.

Freedom is why we care about causation. These diseases used to affect thousands of children every year. But now we are free of their harmful effects.

Information acquired by the senses acts upon the system. The brain doesn't control what the senses acquire, it responds according to its architecture and memory function.

No, not that either. Where we decide to go, and what we decide to do, controls what we experience. What we choose to hear and what we choose to ignore controls the information that enters.

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.''

The quote from Goldberg supports what I am saying. When he reports that a patient whose frontal lobe injuries prevent him from forming a plan and causing a lack of drive, he is reminding us that a normal brain forms plans and has such drive. "Drive" also goes by the name "will". And another patient Goldberg recalls, with attention deficits and bipolar disorder displays "immaturity, poor foresight and impulsive behavior". This also indicates that the normal brain is capable of deliberate conscious attention, foresight, and mature control of their behavior.

The point of the brain is to enable us to exercise some control, of ourselves and of our environment. Mental illness and brain injuries can compromise this normal ability to exercise responsible control. That is why a significant mental illness can constitute an undue influence that calls for medical and psychiatric treatment, rather than normal rehabilitation in a correctional facility.

What you select comes to mind in response to what you see on the menu and the tastes or aversions that have developed over your lifetime. You may have had a good idea of what to order before you arrived at the restaurant, which was probably chosen because its menu happens to appeal to your taste. Or feel adventurous, let someone make the choice for you - ''try this'' - come what may. Regardless, it's all information processing carried out by the brain and brought to conscious mind as events progress. Input, processing, response.

The process you're referring to is called "choosing". And, it is we ourselves, via our brains, that perform this choosing. And, as you mentioned, our choice will in all cases be reliably caused. Whether what we order in the restaurant is an old favorite, or whether we "feel adventurous" and want something new, or simply following the advice of a friend, it is still up to us to decide.

"Input, processing, response"? Yes. The menu is our input, the processing is us applying an evaluation of our options based upon any number of factors, but mostly our own interests, and finally the response, "I will have the steak dinner, please", the freely chosen "I will" that controls what happens next. The waiter brings us the meal, we eat it, and the waiter brings us the bill, holding us responsible for our deliberate act of placing the order.

Pattern Recognition;
''Neuroscientists have repeatedly pointed out that pattern recognition represents the key to understanding cognition in humans. Pattern recognition also forms the very basis by which we predict future events, i e. we are literally forced to make assumptions concerning outcomes,and we do so by relying on sequences of events experienced in the past.''

Right. Prediction is the first reason we care about causation. Without reliable cause and effect we cannot predict the outcome of our actions. Without the ability to predict the result of our action we will have no control of the outcome. And, without the ability to control what happens next, we have no freedom.

Reliable cause and effect gives us our ability to predict. The ability to predict gives us control. The ability to control what happens next gives us our freedom to do what we want to do.

And that is why "freedom from reliable cause and effect (causal necessity)" is an irrational notion. Without reliable causation there is no freedom to do anything at all. Freedom requires a deterministic universe. Every freedom we have, to do anything at all, is enabled by reliable cause and effect.

The hard determinist's interpretation of reliable causation, as a monster that strips us of our control and our freedom, is spreading a false view of reliable cause and effect. The fact that we ourselves have prior causes does not change the fact that we ourselves are the true prior causes of new events.
 

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Free will is an illusion based on an incomplete understanding of the underlying deterministic processes. Compatibilism ignores this and attempts to define free will into existence through semantics.
I only got this far in the thread before I realized it had been locked, because I tried to respond and couldn't. The staff unlocked it. Thanks guys.

Full disclosure: I'm not well versed in philosophy.

I never understood "compatibilism". But reading this, it sounds like me. I see "free will" as an illusion, created by our inability to recognize our own motivations. We humans aren't really all that smart or perceptive. Illusions are an extremely important part of the human experience. That's just how we are.

From horizons to literature to randomness to ideologies to mathematics, the human experience is dominated by abstractions. Things that have no objective existence. But we don't define them into existence.

I see free will the same way. It is abstract, but very real.

What I find aggravatingly dishonest is theists insisting that free will has objective existence. Because otherwise their omnimax benevolent God becomes utterly incoherent and internally inconsistent. That's the whole point to much of Genesis. Claiming that God is Almighty. The reason He appears to be a bumbling sky king, with superpowers, is because we humans have free will and are therefore responsible for all the suffering.

Eve tied God's Hands.

Tom
 

Marvin Edwards

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Free will is an illusion based on an incomplete understanding of the underlying deterministic processes. Compatibilism ignores this and attempts to define free will into existence through semantics.
I only got this far in the thread before I realized it had been locked, because I tried to respond and couldn't. The staff unlocked it. Thanks guys.

Full disclosure: I'm not well versed in philosophy.

I never understood "compatibilism". But reading this, it sounds like me. I see "free will" as an illusion, created by our inability to recognize our own motivations. We humans aren't really all that smart or perceptive. Illusions are an extremely important part of the human experience. That's just how we are.

From horizons to literature to randomness to ideologies to mathematics, the human experience is dominated by abstractions. Things that have no objective existence. But we don't define them into existence.

I see free will the same way. It is abstract, but very real.

What I find aggravatingly dishonest is theists insisting that free will has objective existence. Because otherwise their omnimax benevolent God becomes utterly incoherent and internally inconsistent. That's the whole point to much of Genesis. Claiming that God is Almighty. The reason He appears to be a bumbling sky king, with superpowers, is because we humans have free will and are therefore responsible for all the suffering.

Eve tied God's Hands.

Tom
When I first ran into the determinism "versus" free will paradox, I don't think the word "compatibilism" was in use. I was a teenager in the public library who had just read something by Spinoza that suggested free will did not exist due to every event being reliably caused by prior events. This bothered me, so I tried to come up with someway to escape inevitability. I decided this would be easy to do. The next time I had a choice between any two things, say A and B, and I found myself leaning heavily toward A, I would simply choose B instead. So easy. But then it occurred to me that my desire to thwart inevitability had just made B the inevitable choice. So, to escape inevitability, I had to choose A.

Hmm. It was an infinite loop. No matter what I chose, there would always be a reason that caused my choice to be inevitable! That's when it dawned on me. The only reason for my choice changes was to escape inevitability. But the only person in the room was me. I had imagined inevitability as something that I had to escape. But inevitability wasn't there. Only I was. And it occurred to me that, if inevitability actually were such an entity, it would be sitting in the corner laughing at me, for having caused me such distress just by thinking about it.

Once I realized that what I would inevitably do was exactly identical to me just being me, doing whatever I chose to do, inevitability ceased to be a problem. It was not a real constraint. It was precisely what I would have done anyway.

So, from my perspective, causal necessity is not a threat to free will. Free will is nothing more or less than what we choose to do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence. Free will was never free from reliable causation. And it needn't be, because reliable cause and effect is not a meaningful or relevant constraint.

The initial illusion, is that reliable cause and effect (causal necessity) is some kind of causal agent exercising control over us (hard determinism). That illusion creates the second illusion, that we must be free of reliable cause and effect in order to have free will (libertarian free will). Both are illusions.

As you point out, it is a matter of abstractions. Causal necessity is an abstraction that consolidates all of the simple cause and effect events into one notion.

But reliable cause and effect is instantiated daily, as we reliably cause events, like fixing breakfast, driving to work, etc. And free will is instantiated daily as people decide for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and undue influence.

As to God's problem, if an entity is omniscient and omnipotent, then it is also omni-responsible. Free will provides no "get out of jail free" card for God.
 

fromderinside

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The hard determinist's interpretation of reliable causation, as a monster that strips us of our control and our freedom, is spreading a false view of reliable cause and effect. The fact that we ourselves have prior causes does not change the fact that we ourselves are the true prior causes of new events.
We only behave in response to change, What exits us is only compensates to the extent we have been impacted. Our output is based on what is sensed. What exits us is cause to only the thing or event to which we are responding. We don't cause.

Our reaction doesn't become cause. That does not make us causal. Whatever exits from us is effect from external cause. Yes we are external to what we react. That doesn't make us causal since we are reacting. It's a lame claim to say our response is cause since we are generally reactive beings. Think of things this way :whatever we do is effect." We convert food to usable energy but that is purely mechanical, er, biological. We are thermodynamic middlemen. No intent formed. No information in no response. Information in to what we react is a effect of our position relative to our situation which is keeping things the way they are.

We may deceive ourselves that we intend something when all we do is react.

It's turtles all the way down.
 
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DBT

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No. The whole point of the brain is to exercise control. The infant acquires the skill of crawling and the toddler the skill of walking to control where he goes. Later, he learns to control an automobile. Control is what the brain is all about.


Control of muscle groups and motor actions, balance, coordination,etc, is not the same as 'control' in the form of 'able to choose otherwise' - which of course is impossible within a determined system.

Obviously, given the subject matter, I was not talking about developing physical skills. This is about freedom of will and the nature of decision making, not body function.

The issue is the ability to otherwise under precisely the same circumstances.

Control is why we care about causation. We control viral diseases like Polio and Measles by knowing that they are caused by a virus and that our bodies can be primed to fight a virus through vaccination.

Freedom is why we care about causation. These diseases used to affect thousands of children every year. But now we are free of their harmful effects.

Yeah, still unrelated to the issue of free will, the ability to have done otherwise.

The necessity of regulative control, which is absent within a determined system

Quote;

If you accept regulative control as a necessary part of free will, it seems impossible either way:

1. Free will requires that given an act A, the agent could have acted otherwise

2. Indeterminate actions happens randomly and without intent or control

3. Therefore indeterminism and free will are incompatible

4. Determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable

5. Therefore determinism is incompatible with free will

The quote from Goldberg supports what I am saying. When he reports that a patient whose frontal lobe injuries prevent him from forming a plan and causing a lack of drive, he is reminding us that a normal brain forms plans and has such drive. "Drive" also goes by the name "will". And another patient Goldberg recalls, with attention deficits and bipolar disorder displays "immaturity, poor foresight and impulsive behavior". This also indicates that the normal brain is capable of deliberate conscious attention, foresight, and mature control of their behavior.

The normal brain simple functions according to its condition, which is what damaged brains do, which is what happens with chemical imbalances, lesions, trauma, etc, etc....each brains output according to its condition producing adaptive or maladaptive behaviour based on non chosen condition.


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


The point of the brain is to enable us to exercise some control, of ourselves and of our environment. Mental illness and brain injuries can compromise this normal ability to exercise responsible control. That is why a significant mental illness can constitute an undue influence that calls for medical and psychiatric treatment, rather than normal rehabilitation in a correctional facility.

Control within a deterministic system? A system that doesn't entail the ability to do otherwise, determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable.

Right. Prediction is the first reason we care about causation. Without reliable cause and effect we cannot predict the outcome of our actions. Without the ability to predict the result of our action we will have no control of the outcome. And, without the ability to control what happens next, we have no freedom.

Reliable cause and effect gives us our ability to predict. The ability to predict gives us control. The ability to control what happens next gives us our freedom to do what we want to do.

And that is why "freedom from reliable cause and effect (causal necessity)" is an irrational notion. Without reliable causation there is no freedom to do anything at all. Freedom requires a deterministic universe. Every freedom we have, to do anything at all, is enabled by reliable cause and effect.

The hard determinist's interpretation of reliable causation, as a monster that strips us of our control and our freedom, is spreading a false view of reliable cause and effect. The fact that we ourselves have prior causes does not change the fact that we ourselves are the true prior causes of new events.

But determinism is more than 'reliable cause and effect' and prediction. Determinism fixes outcomes as a matter of natural law.....and fixed outcomes - no possible alternative - are not freely chosen outcomes. They are determined outcome. Determined by elements beyond our control; brain condition, be it healthy or damaged.

Freely chosen outcomes, by definition, require regulative control, entailing possible alternatives in any given instance, to have done otherwise.




''It is unimportant whether one's resolutions and preferences occur because an ''ingenious physiologist'' has tampered with one's brain, whether they result from narcotics addiction, from ''hereditory factor, or indeed from nothing at all.'' Ultimately the agent has no control over his cognative states.

So even if the agent has strength, skill, endurance, opportunty, implements, and knowledge enough to engage in a variety of enterprises, still he lacks mastery over his basic attitudes and the decisions they produce. After all, we do not have occasion to choose our dominant proclivities.'' - Prof. Richard Taylor -Metaphysics.
 
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Marvin Edwards

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The hard determinist's interpretation of reliable causation, as a monster that strips us of our control and our freedom, is spreading a false view of reliable cause and effect. The fact that we ourselves have prior causes does not change the fact that we ourselves are the true prior causes of new events.

... What exits us is cause to only the thing or event to which we are responding. We don't cause.

I don't think one can say on the one hand that our reactions cause effects, and then claim that we don't do any causing. Even if every action were a reaction, we would still be doing a heck of a lot of causing.

Our reaction doesn't become cause. That does not make us causal. Whatever exits from us is effect from external cause. Yes we are external to what we react. That doesn't make us causal since we are reacting.

No, that's still not making sense to me. Let's try an example. The Covid-19 virus reacts to its external environment by invading living cells and using that cell's material to reproduce itself. Do we, or do we not, consider the virus to be the "cause" of a disease?

Every living organism is biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce. Each species is the cause of changes in its own environment, whether it be trees growing into a forest or the bees pollenating them. No living organism is merely an effect. Every effect is itself a cause.

To claim otherwise would deny the fundamental meaning of causal necessity!

It's a lame claim to say our response is cause since we are generally reactive beings. Think of things this way :whatever we do is effect."

A lame claim? It's a simple observation of nature. And if "whatever we do is effect", then why wouldn't this be true of our each of our prior causes as well? If we must pass that test then so must those prior causes. You would no longer have "causal necessity", because you would no longer have any "causes".

We convert food to usable energy but that is purely mechanical, er, biological.

And where did we get the food? Well, we got the food from the grocery store, but the food was caused by the farmers. The farmers caused the food to grow by causing the land to be tilled, causing the seeds to be planted, causing the ground to be fertilized and watered, causing the wheat and corn to be harvested.

We are thermodynamic middlemen. No intent formed. No information in no response. Information in to what we react is a effect of our position relative to our situation which is keeping things the way they are.

I'm pretty sure that the truckers and the packagers and the salesmen are the middlemen between us and the farmer.

We may deceive ourselves that we intend something when all we do is react.

Actually, taking your viewpoint seriously would be a self-deception. Humans have evolved words and concepts that help us to describe a real world rich in its variety and functions. The hard determinists seem intent upon removing these tools of our survival one by one. First goes "free will", then goes "responsibility", then goes "self", and now even "causation" exits stage right until nothing is left. All of our meaningful distinctions disappear one by one until:

It's turtles all the way down.

Well, let's hope that one of those turtles can drive a tractor...
 

Marvin Edwards

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... The issue is the ability to otherwise under precisely the same circumstances. ...
... Yeah, still unrelated to the issue of free will, the ability to have done otherwise. ...
... Control within a deterministic system? A system that doesn't entail the ability to do otherwise, determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable. ...
...and fixed outcomes - no possible alternative ...
...entailing possible alternatives in any given instance, to have done otherwise. ...

So, where does the notion of "an ability to have done otherwise" come from? It comes from the context of uncertainty. The best way to keep things straight is to consider this simple reminder: "When we are uncertain what will happen, we imagine what can happen, to be better prepared for what does happen".

For example, we're driving down the road and we see a traffic light up ahead. The light is currently red. But will it remain red, or, will it turn green by the time we get there? We don't know. Our context is uncertainty. We cannot say for certain what will happen.

But we can say for certain what can happen. The light can remain red and the light can turn to green. Both of these are real possibilities. However, only one of them will be the single actuality. We just don't know yet which one that will be. So, just to be safe, as we get closer to the traffic light, we slow down, in case it remains red. But then, as we arrive, it turns green. So, we resume our speed and drive through the light.

If someone were to ask us, "Why did you slow down?", our answer would be "Because the light could have remained red". This "could have" refers to the fact that "the light can remain red" was true earlier, and "could have" is simply the past tense of "can". If "this can happen" was ever true in the past, then "this could have happened" will forever be true in the future.

Now, if our passenger in the car is a hard determinist, he may insist that, "There was never a real possibility that the light could have remained red, because it was causally necessary, from the time of the Big Bang, that the light would be green." And he asks again, "So, why did you slow down?" How are we to answer? The only way to answer is to explain to him, repeatedly and in excruciating detail, the difference between something that "can" happen versus something that "will" happen.

Something that "will" happen will certainly happen. But something that "can" happen may happen, or, it may never happen. And when we say that something "could have" happened, we are always logically implying that it definitely did not happen. And that reflects the truth of the situation with the traffic light. When we say it "could have" remained red, we are confirming that it definitely did not remain red. So, our use of "could have" remains a truthful and accurate depiction of what actually did and did not happened.

So, how does this apply to free will? Well, free will is when we decide for ourselves what we will do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence (significant mental illness, hypnosis, manipulation, authoritative command, etc.). Free will is simply a freely chosen "I will". What

Every decision happens in a context of uncertainty. "Will I choose A or will I choose B? I don't know yet, I'm still uncertain". All I know for certain is that "I can choose A" is true and that "I can choose B" is also true. Either of these can happen, but I don't know yet which one will happen. So, let me think about it. I imagine the likely outcome of choosing A. And then I imagine the likely outcome of choosing B. At this point it seems to me that A is the better choice. So, I will choose A, even though I could have chosen B.

Both "I will choose A" and "I could have chosen B" are true statements of fact. One implies that "I did choose A" and the other implies that "I did not choose B".

So, that's how these two separate notions, "will" and "can" actually work in the real world. We cannot conflate or confuse them without screwing things up.

Now, what are the implications of this distinction to the definition of determinism? Well, it turns out that the traditional saying that "determinism means that you could not have done otherwise" is actually false. What the definition should say instead is that "determinism means that you would not have done otherwise".

If it is necessary that "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must be true in order to actually begin to make a decision, then there will always be an "I will choose A" and an "I could have chosen B" whenever a choosing event appears in the causal chain. Both are guaranteed by causal necessity and logical necessity.

To wrap up, this actually makes a lot of sense: People naturally object when told that they "could not have chosen otherwise", because they saw the "I can choose B" happen right in front of them, and thus conclude logically that "I could have chosen B" must also be true. And they are not having an illusion. They are simply using the words correctly.

But people would be less likely to object if told that they "would not have have chosen otherwise" under the same circumstances. After all, if they had good reasons for choosing A, then why would they choose B? Something would have to change, perhaps new information, before they would choose B instead of A.


Prof. Richard Taylor -Metaphysics said:
''It is unimportant whether one's resolutions and preferences occur because an ''ingenious physiologist'' has tampered with one's brain, whether they result from narcotics addiction, from ''hereditory factor, or indeed from nothing at all.'' Ultimately the agent has no control over his cognative states. So even if the agent has strength, skill, endurance, opportunty, implements, and knowledge enough to engage in a variety of enterprises, still he lacks mastery over his basic attitudes and the decisions they produce. After all, we do not have occasion to choose our dominant proclivities.'' - Prof. Richard Taylor -Metaphysics.

No, professor Taylor. It is very very important to distinguish between cases where someone is tampering with a person's brain versus a person's own choice without such manipulation. You are destroying a meaningful distinction with a meaningless abstraction. So, knock it off, prof. You really should know better.
 

pood

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Let’s consider the argument mooted above by DBT:

1. Free will requires that given an act A, the agent could have acted otherwise

2. Indeterminate actions happens randomly and without intent or control

3. Therefore indeterminism and free will are incompatible

4. Determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable

5. Therefore determinism is incompatible with free will

The above argument is invalid because 5., the conclusion, simply does not follow from 1-4.

The argument runs aground on P. 4, not because P. 4 is false, but because it simply fails to do the work it is advertised to do. I take it P. 4 is intended to refute P. 1. Since that must be the case, an additional premise is required, viz., 5. Because determinate actions are are fixed and unchangeable, an agent could not have acted otherwise.

Add that necessary premise, and the argument is now valid, but it’s unsound! That is, the newly inserted premise is false.

And hence collapses the entire hard deterministic enterprise. Their main argument is either invalid or it is valid but unsound.

I’ll try to show the precise problem a bit later — why the premise is false — but I wanted to get this out there because I keep seeing this silly argument. Marvin is doing such a marvelous job he needs no help, I’ll say that. And he ought to be teaching a college course in this and dispelling Pereboom and Taylor and all the others. Not only is his argument correct in my view, he is articulating it with a verve and clarity that few academic philosophers can match.
 

pood

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From 4: determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable. From this we are meant to infer, it seems, that no one could have done, other that what they did, because determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable.

Except this does not follow. Because a determinate action is fixed and unchangeable, it does not follow that said action could not have been otherwise.

Today it’s true that a few days ago, I had turkey for Thanksgiving. That is a fixed and unchangeable fact of history. But — obviously! — it doesn’t follow from this that I had to have turkey — I could quite easily have had something else, and had I done so, that “something else” would have been “fixed and unchangeable.”

I suspect what the hard determinist is gesturing at, though, is that the future is fixed and unchangeable, because of antecedent events combined with the so-called laws of nature. If the future is fixed and unchangeable, the argument goes, I have no free will, because I cannot change the future (do other than what I am determined to do).

The argument still doesn’t go through. Free will does not require the ability to change the past, present, or future. It only requires the ability to help, in some small measure, make the past, present, and future, be, what they were, are, and will be. To change the future would be to violate the law of noncontradiction, to both do and not do something at the same time, and no account of free will requires this.

If it is true today that next Thanksgiving, I will also have turkey just as I did this past Thanksgiving, then sure enough, I will have turkey next Thanksgiving. But it doesn’t follow that I MUST have turkey. I could easily do otherwise, and if I do, then today a different proposition about what I eat next Thanksgiving would be true.
 

DBT

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From 4: determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable. From this we are meant to infer, it seems, that no one could have done, other that what they did, because determinate actions are fixed and unchangeable.

Except this does not follow. Because a determinate action is fixed and unchangeable, it does not follow that said action could not have been otherwise.

Today it’s true that a few days ago, I had turkey for Thanksgiving. That is a fixed and unchangeable fact of history. But — obviously! — it doesn’t follow from this that I had to have turkey — I could quite easily have had something else, and had I done so, that “something else” would have been “fixed and unchangeable.”

I suspect what the hard determinist is gesturing at, though, is that the future is fixed and unchangeable, because of antecedent events combined with the so-called laws of nature. If the future is fixed and unchangeable, the argument goes, I have no free will, because I cannot change the future (do other than what I am determined to do).

The argument still doesn’t go through. Free will does not require the ability to change the past, present, or future. It only requires the ability to help, in some small measure, make the past, present, and future, be, what they were, are, and will be. To change the future would be to violate the law of noncontradiction, to both do and not do something at the same time, and no account of free will requires this.

If it is true today that next Thanksgiving, I will also have turkey just as I did this past Thanksgiving, then sure enough, I will have turkey next Thanksgiving. But it doesn’t follow that I MUST have turkey. I could easily do otherwise, and if I do, then today a different proposition about what I eat next Thanksgiving would be true.

What you do now is fixed by the information condition of your brain in this instance in time. Consequently what you do now is is the only realizable option available to you in this instance in time. That is the nature of determinism.

If any old thing is possible for you in any moment in time, it's not determinism.
 

steve_bank

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Both rocks and bodies are determined by physical laws.

Your nervous system is electrical. Does a neuron know anything? Your sense of self is the sum of a number of discrete states at any given time. Analogous to digital video. It looks like continuous motion, in reality it is a sequence of still images changing faster than the persistence of the eye.

Your brain is a biological computer, just not of the Turing Machine form of a PC processor. Your neural net has logic functions at the neuron level. You would need to understand Boolean Algebra, digital logic, and state machines to see it.

John Lily went off the deep end a bit combining LSD with salt water isolation tanks as in the movie Altered States, but it is a good read. He staed by doing research on live dolphin brans until he concluded they were aware thinking creatures with a language.

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Did you ever catch the "Fringe" tv series? The guy had a tank in his lab and used it in the first episode. (Great series by the way, John Noble's character was amazing...in both universes).

No, I grew out of that stuff in the 70s. In the Center of The Cyclone Lilly described vivid hallucinations in the tank with LSD, like having a conversation with Moses. He drifted into woo paranormal.
 
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