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Compatibilism: What's that About?

Copernicus

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With no possible alternative in the instance of information processing/decision making, it remains true that the decision, regarding what we will do, may be coerced by someone outside pointing a gun at the brain, and, it remains true that the decision may be unduly influenced by the brain's own disorders, like suffering hallucination, or a crippled ability to think through a decision, or by an irresistible impulse. Or the decision process may be free from such coercion and such undue influences.

When the decision process is free of coercion and undue influence, it is literally a freely chosen will, or simply free will.

Explaining how the brain works during a case of coercion does not eliminate the influence of coercion upon the decision process.
Explaining how the brain works under an extraordinary influence, such as a significant mental illness, does not eliminate the influence of that illness.
Explaining how the brain works during a case where it is left free of coercion and undue influence, does not eliminate free will.

Explaining how things work does not "explain them away", it only explains how they work.

Well, that has been the subject of much debate between philosophers. What DBT and some others here have been arguing for is "free will eliminatavism", which is a type of Eliminative Materialism.

Eliminative materialism (or eliminativism) is the radical claim that our ordinary, common-sense understanding of the mind is deeply wrong and that some or all of the mental states posited by common-sense do not actually exist and have no role to play in a mature science of the mind. Descartes famously challenged much of what we take for granted, but he insisted that, for the most part, we can be confident about the content of our own minds. Eliminative materialists go further than Descartes on this point, since they challenge the existence of various mental states that Descartes took for granted.

Ordinary common sense psychology is also called  Folk Psychology in the philosophical literature.

In philosophy of mind and cognitive science, folk psychology, or commonsense psychology, is a human capacity to explain and predict the behavior and mental state of other people. Processes and items encountered in daily life such as pain, pleasure, excitement, and anxiety use common linguistic terms as opposed to technical or scientific jargon.

Traditionally, the study of folk psychology has focused on how everyday people—those without formal training in the various academic fields of science—go about attributing mental states. This domain has primarily been centred on intentional states reflective of an individual's beliefs and desires; each described in terms of everyday language and concepts such as "beliefs", "desires", "fear", and "hope".

Eliminative materialism is the claim that folk psychology is false and should be discarded (or "eliminated").

What we've been engaged in throughout the thread is a debate that essentially declares both sides of the philosophical argument compatible. They just represent different levels of description of the same underlying physical substrate.
 

fromderinside

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The only way for the game to be consistent with t = 0 natural law statement is for the game to permit both forward and backward reference for all time. Stacking deck is not an example of determinism statement. Provide a game that works both ways and I'll bet my assertion works.

Conway's life game isn't an example of anything relevant to determinism discussion.
Possibly; but we don't actually know that the natural laws of the universe work both ways. We tend to assume they do because the equations of Newtonian mechanics and the "Standard Model" of quantum mechanics are time-symmetric. But there are anomalies in kaon decay experiments that suggest the Standard Model may be in need of some modification; and let's not forget gravity. General Relativity isn't time-symmetric. If you drop one black hole into another, according to Einstein's equations they merge to form a bigger black hole; and this is irreversible. There's no process by which a black hole can spontaneously split in two. So any philosophizing about time symmetry is premature -- as with many other questions about the universe, we really need to suspend judgment until somebody comes up with a working theory of quantum gravity.

I'll give you woulda coulda shoulda land. Of course most anyone would call whatever physicists are doing on the problem of information and decay of black holes could be labelled whaddat. Still there are papers papers popping up all the time.

To wit:

Entropy bounds on effective field theory from rotating dyonic black holes https://journals.aps.org/prd/pdf/10.1103/PhysRevD.100.046003

We derive new bounds on higher-dimension operator coefficients in four-dimensional Einstein-Maxwell theory. Positivity of classically generated corrections to the Wald entropy of thermodynamically stable, rotating dyonic black holes implies a multiparameter family of field basis invariant inequalities that exhibit electromagnetic duality and are satisfied by examples from field and string theory. These bounds imply that effective operators modify the extremality condition of large black holes so as to permit their decay to smaller ones, thus satisfying the weak gravity conjecture.

Apparently satisfying the second law of thermodynamics still has staying power in models.
 

DBT

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It's what Michael Gazzaniga calls the "interpreter", and if it doesn't know the real reason, yet feels it must have one, then it confabulates. But there's no reason to assume that the description is inaccurate under normal conditions.

Hypnosis would be an "undue influence", preventing the person from deciding for themselves what they will do. So, the behavior would not be freely chosen by the subject (a freely chosen "I will", or simply "free will"), but instead the behavior is chosen by the hypnotist.

Some insignificant behaviors, like those in the Libet experiments, can apparently be decided unconsciously and then presented to conscious awareness. But most significant decisions are going to involve a longer interplay between conscious and unconscious brain activity. But, if we asked the subject whether he participated in the experiment of his own free will, everyone would know what we were talking about.

If our unconscious brains decided to rob a bank, and left consciousness unaware, then the we would end up in jail without knowing how we got there. It would be like sleep walking. And that would be very rare if ever.

Narrator function and being aware doesn't alter unconscious information processing being the agency of both.

An interaction of information within the brain, inputs, architecture, chemistry, memory, produced the action, the will and the awareness of thought and action.

With no possible alternative in the instance of information processing/decision actualized (Determinism), there is no freedom of will (incompatibilism).

With no possible alternative in the instance of information processing/decision making, it remains true that the decision, regarding what we will do, may be coerced by someone outside pointing a gun at the brain, and, it remains true that the decision may be unduly influenced by the brain's own disorders, like suffering hallucination, or a crippled ability to think through a decision, or by an irresistible impulse. Or the decision process may be free from such coercion and such undue influences.

When the decision process is free of coercion and undue influence, it is literally a freely chosen will, or simply free will.

Explaining how the brain works during a case of coercion does not eliminate the influence of coercion upon the decision process.
Explaining how the brain works under an extraordinary influence, such as a significant mental illness, does not eliminate the influence of that illness.
Explaining how the brain works during a case where it is left free of coercion and undue influence, does not eliminate free will.

Explaining how things work does not "explain them away", it only explains how they work.


Neither uncoerced or coerced behaviour offers a possible alternative within a determined system. Compatibilism simply asserts that uncoerced behaviour is free will regardless that what is being done is not willed.

We appear to consciously will our actions, but as shown by experiments in neuroscience, that is an illusion. What we experience is a conscious narrator - ''this is what I shall do - after the motor action messages to the muscles has been sent unconsciously. The brain generating motor action followed by report.


''Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity'' - Einstein.



Abstract:
Recent findings: Voluntary, willed behaviours preferentially implicate specific regions of the frontal cortex in humans. Recent studies have demonstrated constraints on cognition, which manifest as variation in frontal lobe function and emergent behaviour (specifically intrinsic genetic and cognitive limitations, supervening psychological and neurochemical disturbances), and temporal constraints on subjective awareness and reporting. Although healthy persons generally experience themselves as 'free' and the originators of their actions, electroencephalographic data continue to suggest that 'freedom' is exercised before awareness.



*free; unrestrained; having a scope not restricted by qualification <a free variable>
7 a: not obstructed, restricted, or impeded <free to leave> b: not being used or occupied <waved with his free hand> c: not hampered or restricted in its normal operation
8 a: not fastened <the free end of the rope> b: not confined to a particular position or place
 

Marvin Edwards

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Neither uncoerced or coerced behaviour offers a possible alternative within a determined system.

Coercion is a difference in the inputs to the brain's deterministic system. If the brain's inputs include the fact that someone is pointing a gun at us, then the decision will be different than it would if coercion were absent.

A significant mental illness configures the brain's deterministic operation differently than it is normally configured, again producing a different result than we would expect without the mental illness.

So, both coercion and undue influence produce different decisions than we would get in their absence. That is why coercion and undue influence are taken into account when assessing a person's moral or legal responsibility for their actions.

Both impair the normal ability of a person to decide for themselves what they will do. The fact that this process of deciding is perfectly deterministic does not change the fact that coercion and undue influence are factors that will produce a different decision than when we are free of them.


Compatibilism simply asserts that uncoerced behaviour is free will regardless that what is being done is not willed.

The brain, deterministically producing its decision, will either be influenced by coercion and undue influence or it will not. Free will refers to the instances where the brain is free of these extraordinary influences, while deterministically rendering its decision.


We appear to consciously will our actions, but as shown by experiments in neuroscience, that is an illusion. What we experience is a conscious narrator - ''this is what I shall do - after the motor action messages to the muscles has been sent unconsciously. The brain generating motor action followed by report.

Whether consciousness of our will appears before or after our unconscious brain causally determines our will, it remains true that this specific brain is what deterministically causes that will, and that will is what deterministically caused our action. Thus, having caused that action with our own brain, we are held responsible for the consequences of that action.

'
'Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity'' - Einstein.

That inner necessity is integral to who and what we are. Just like there is no such thing as "freedom from causal necessity", there is also no such thing as "freedom from ourselves". But there is freedom from coercion, and freedom from other undue influences. And that's the only freedom required by free will.

Abstract:
Recent findings: Voluntary, willed behaviours preferentially implicate specific regions of the frontal cortex in humans. Recent studies have demonstrated constraints on cognition, which manifest as variation in frontal lobe function and emergent behaviour (specifically intrinsic genetic and cognitive limitations, supervening psychological and neurochemical disturbances), and temporal constraints on subjective awareness and reporting. Although healthy persons generally experience themselves as 'free' and the originators of their actions, electroencephalographic data continue to suggest that 'freedom' is exercised before awareness.

Before awareness or after awareness, it is still our own brain that is deciding what we will do. And that decision can be coerced or unduly influenced, or it can be free of coercion and undue influence. Free will refers to the cases where the brain is free of coercion and undue influence. It is a simple empirical distinction between two different conditions. Either we will be held responsible, or the guy pointing a gun at us will be held responsible, or the mental illness will be held responsible.

In order to treat these cases differently, we must first make the empirical distinction between them. Causal necessity makes no empirical distinctions. All events are equally causally necessary.

*free; unrestrained; having a scope not restricted by qualification <a free variable>
7 a: not obstructed, restricted, or impeded <free to leave> b: not being used or occupied <waved with his free hand> c: not hampered or restricted in its normal operation
8 a: not fastened <the free end of the rope> b: not confined to a particular position or place

Right. To be meaningful, any use of the term "free" must reference some meaningful constraint (restraint, qualification, obstruction, restriction, impedance, fastening, confinement, etc.).

Causal necessity is not a meaningful constraint. What we will inevitably do is exactly identical to us just being us, choosing what we choose, and doing what we do. That is not a meaningful constraint.

Who and what we are is not a meaningful constraint. If we were free from ourselves we would be someone else. So, freedom from "inner necessity", our own purposes and reasons, our own genetic dispositions and prior experiences, our own thoughts and feelings, our own beliefs and values, and all the other things that make us who and what we are, is impossible.

Because "freedom from causal necessity" and "freedom from ourselves" are absurdities, the notion of free will can never be assumed to imply either one.

Fortunately, free will does not imply either one. Free will means our choice was free from coercion and other forms of undue influence. Nothing more, and nothing less. Once we get that straight, the war between determinism and free will ends.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Well, that has been the subject of much debate between philosophers. What DBT and some others here have been arguing for is "free will eliminatavism", which is a type of Eliminative Materialism.



Ordinary common sense psychology is also called  Folk Psychology in the philosophical literature.

In philosophy of mind and cognitive science, folk psychology, or commonsense psychology, is a human capacity to explain and predict the behavior and mental state of other people. Processes and items encountered in daily life such as pain, pleasure, excitement, and anxiety use common linguistic terms as opposed to technical or scientific jargon.

Traditionally, the study of folk psychology has focused on how everyday people—those without formal training in the various academic fields of science—go about attributing mental states. This domain has primarily been centred on intentional states reflective of an individual's beliefs and desires; each described in terms of everyday language and concepts such as "beliefs", "desires", "fear", and "hope".

Eliminative materialism is the claim that folk psychology is false and should be discarded (or "eliminated").

What we've been engaged in throughout the thread is a debate that essentially declares both sides of the philosophical argument compatible. They just represent different levels of description of the same underlying physical substrate.

Geez, I had no idea that someone had given a name to it! "Eliminative materialism", holy cow.
 

Marvin Edwards

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The words random and determined refer to conditions in the world: how the world works, how it's objects and events interact.

Compatibilism selects a slice of how the world works deterministically and declares this slice of determined behaviour to be an example of free will.

Free will is an event, just like any other event. And it is deterministic, just like any other event. The "free" in free will has nothing to do with "freedom from causal necessity". It simply means the choosing event was free from coercion and other forms of undue influence.

Causal necessity is not a meaningful or relevant constraint. It is not meaningful because what I will inevitably do is exactly identical to me just being me, choosing what I choose, and doing what I do. And it is not a relevant constraint, because there's nothing we can do about it.

Basically, causal necessity is just a background constant that always appears on both sides of every equation, and it can be subtracted from both sides without affecting the result. It literally makes no difference.

Behaviour that happens without coercion is an event, being an event generated by numerous factors, conscious will playing very little part, declaring it to be 'free will' is false labelling. We are able to act out of our own volition. Volition is not willed, volition is not free will.

But volition is chosen. "Will I have the salad or the cheeseburger?" Pause for consideration of the benefits and deficits of each choice. "I had the salad yesterday, so I will treat myself to a cheeseburger today". A freely chosen volition is appropriately called "free will".

"Hand over your wallet or I'll put a bullet in you!". "I don't want to lose my wallet, but, then again I really don't want to lose my life, so okay, I will give my wallet to the guy with the gun." A choice forced upon us against our will is called "coercion".

Coercion is about manipulating the choosing, specifically to force someone to submit their will to the guy holding the gun.

Now, if the choice is made unconsciously, rather than consciously, then the dialog might not be expressed in words, but rather in whatever internal symbols are used by the unconscious brain to carry out the calculation. Either way, the dialog reflects the calculation.
 
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steve_bank

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Philosophizing without a knowledge of math and science. Math and scince exist in te brain as thoughts and concepts. That does not men tere is no semnatc difference between terms.

Random has a specific definition in proximity. The occurrence of one event does not affect the occurrence of the next evet, there is no correlation between random variables.

I did this stuff waaaayyy back when going through statistics. Just flip a coin or toss a die 100 times and write down the results.

It's hard to control the flip of a coin, but a professional knife thrower controls the number of revolutions sufficiently to assure that the point rather than the hilt hits the target.

The result of the coin toss will be reliably caused by the position of the thumb under the coin and the force applied. Then the inertia of the coin versus the air resistance. Then how it bounces on the surface where it lands. If you control all of these factors, perhaps by building a machine that flips the coin under controlled conditions, then the result of the coin toss cannot only be reliably predicted, but it can be reliably controlled. Oh, and the math and physics would be used to describe and calculate the effects at each stage.

Controlling the behavior of a quark is likely to be much more challenging. But, we may as well assume reliable causation even though we do not yet understand the rules that the quark is following.

Throwing a knife in a carnival at a human is not a random event. It is not a 'flip of the coin'.

Cup your hands and shake a coin, then open your hands and let it fall. Over 100 trials it will be close tp 50/50. Try it.

10 red balls and 90 blue balls are in a bucket. Pullo ne, put it back, shake the bucket and draw again. On the average the red balls will be picked 10% of the time and blue 90% of the time. This is called random sampling. Which color is pecked next is not predictable.

As to choosing salad or beef for dinner being a free choice, how are you conditioned by experience to make
that choice?

When you buy a car or shoes your 'free' choice is conditioned by advertising. Your choice is free in that it is not restricted, but I doubt any choice is made in a vacuum uncontained by experience. There is a subconscious aspect to all choices.

We are not disembodied consciousness unencumbered by experience and feelings, IOW we are not god.

I do not think free choice exists in any absolute sense. We are always limited by our brain biology.
 

Jarhyn

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There was something about this thread that had been bothering me greatly, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it until earlier today.

I'm a software engineer. Ostensibly, everything in software, assuming a well engineered system, is deterministic to the input pattern.

So, here we have a "deterministic system in a bottle" that mirrors, as perfectly as it needs to, the determinism of the universe-at-large.

Now, while I think the utter ridiculousness of it is not confined to only our example of "deterministic universe in a jar", it would, in fact, be utterly ridiculous to say "conditional statements are not real". This is, when translated to the universe-at-large the same as saying "there is no 'choice'" as compatibilism uses the term. Of course there are conditional events in the universe! The question is "what agency set up the condition upon which the conditional events occur?"

Not only is there choice, the choice only exists when the system is deterministic.
 

Copernicus

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There was something about this thread that had been bothering me greatly, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it until earlier today.

I'm a software engineer. Ostensibly, everything in software, assuming a well engineered system, is deterministic to the input pattern.

So, here we have a "deterministic system in a bottle" that mirrors, as perfectly as it needs to, the determinism of the universe-at-large.

Now, while I think the utter ridiculousness of it is not confined to only our example of "deterministic universe in a jar", it would, in fact, be utterly ridiculous to say "conditional statements are not real". This is, when translated to the universe-at-large the same as saying "there is no 'choice'" as compatibilism uses the term. Of course there are conditional events in the universe! The question is "what agency set up the condition upon which the conditional events occur?"

Not only is there choice, the choice only exists when the system is deterministic.

And it is worth noting that there is a programming technique called "nondeterministic" that is fully distinct from mere branching conditionals that are deterministic. The key distinguisher is the fact that a programmer cannot predict in advance which branches will succeed when the program is running. The program is meant to handle uncertainty in a changing environment and must render judgments in runtime. "Free will" is not relevant to robotics right now only because robots cannot be held blameworthy or accountable for the actions they take. You can scold them and slap them around all you want, but they aren't going to change until you rewrite their programs.

The ultimate issue concerning free will is responsibility. If an agent has no choice other than to follow a script, then how can it be held responsible for its actions? How does it make sense to reward or punish it? That is why mental illness is such a fraught issue in courtrooms. Free will is all about human responsibility, because rewards and punishments influence future behavior. The eliminativists miss the entire point of the term, because it isn't applicable or relevant in a framework where all outcomes are predictable. Human beings make choices about future behavior, where outcomes are yet to be determined. Free will isn't a useful concept when one takes on the perspective of omniscience, and that is why the whole debate started with theists trying to figure out how to make God sound like a plausible entity.
 

Marvin Edwards

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There was something about this thread that had been bothering me greatly, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it until earlier today.

I'm a software engineer. Ostensibly, everything in software, assuming a well engineered system, is deterministic to the input pattern.

So, here we have a "deterministic system in a bottle" that mirrors, as perfectly as it needs to, the determinism of the universe-at-large.

Now, while I think the utter ridiculousness of it is not confined to only our example of "deterministic universe in a jar", it would, in fact, be utterly ridiculous to say "conditional statements are not real". This is, when translated to the universe-at-large the same as saying "there is no 'choice'" as compatibilism uses the term. Of course there are conditional events in the universe! The question is "what agency set up the condition upon which the conditional events occur?"

Not only is there choice, the choice only exists when the system is deterministic.

Yes, choosing what we will do is a deterministic operation. However, determinism never actually determines anything. Only the objects and forces that make up the universe can cause events. Determinism is simply the belief that the objects and the forces behave reliably as they do so.

We happen to be one of those objects that go around causing things to happen. And we cause events that suit our own purposes, our own reasons, and to satisfy our own human needs and interests. Determinism rightly suggests that our behavior is reliably caused by those purposes, reasons, and interests. They make us who and what we are. So, whatever they decide, we have decided.

The notions of causation and determinism are basically about us and what we do, well, also about all the other physical objects and forces and what they do, as well. But causation never causes anything and determinism never determines anything. These concepts are descriptive, not causative. Only the actual objects and forces that make up the universe can cause events and determine what will happen next.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Philosophizing without a knowledge of math and science. Math and scince exist in te brain as thoughts and concepts. That does not men tere is no semnatc difference between terms.

Random has a specific definition in proximity. The occurrence of one event does not affect the occurrence of the next evet, there is no correlation between random variables.

I did this stuff waaaayyy back when going through statistics. Just flip a coin or toss a die 100 times and write down the results.

It's hard to control the flip of a coin, but a professional knife thrower controls the number of revolutions sufficiently to assure that the point rather than the hilt hits the target.

The result of the coin toss will be reliably caused by the position of the thumb under the coin and the force applied. Then the inertia of the coin versus the air resistance. Then how it bounces on the surface where it lands. If you control all of these factors, perhaps by building a machine that flips the coin under controlled conditions, then the result of the coin toss cannot only be reliably predicted, but it can be reliably controlled. Oh, and the math and physics would be used to describe and calculate the effects at each stage.

Controlling the behavior of a quark is likely to be much more challenging. But, we may as well assume reliable causation even though we do not yet understand the rules that the quark is following.

Throwing a knife in a carnival at a human is not a random event. It is not a 'flip of the coin'.

Cup your hands and shake a coin, then open your hands and let it fall. Over 100 trials it will be close tp 50/50. Try it.

10 red balls and 90 blue balls are in a bucket. Pullo ne, put it back, shake the bucket and draw again. On the average the red balls will be picked 10% of the time and blue 90% of the time. This is called random sampling. Which color is pecked next is not predictable.

As to choosing salad or beef for dinner being a free choice, how are you conditioned by experience to make
that choice?

When you buy a car or shoes your 'free' choice is conditioned by advertising. Your choice is free in that it is not restricted, but I doubt any choice is made in a vacuum uncontained by experience. There is a subconscious aspect to all choices.

We are not disembodied consciousness unencumbered by experience and feelings, IOW we are not god.

I do not think free choice exists in any absolute sense. We are always limited by our brain biology.

Right, there is no such thing as absolute freedom.
 

fromderinside

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Interesting when you add objects to forces as causal when objects are the things determined by forces (laws of nature).

Obviously you can't make a legitimate argument ever. Always twisting always making up so what you want becomes in your mind what is.

It's not.

Your twisting of language only adds noise which is easily detected and corrected.

Please stop. Your doing so is making these threads worthless as instruments through which valuable useable information is revealed and codified.
 
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DBT

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Yes, choosing what we will do is a deterministic operation. However, determinism never actually determines anything. Only the objects and forces that make up the universe can cause events. Determinism is simply the belief that the objects and the forces behave reliably as they do so.

Not ''choosing'' what we do, but what we do. What we do not being a matter of possible alternatives or choice (what is possible for someone else is not necessarily possible for you). Choice implies the ability to do otherwise in any instance. No such possibility exists within a determined system. The objects and events of a determined system is the system. Nothing gets to act differently.
 

DBT

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Who and what we are is not a meaningful constraint. If we were free from ourselves we would be someone else. So, freedom from "inner necessity", our own purposes and reasons, our own genetic dispositions and prior experiences, our own thoughts and feelings, our own beliefs and values, and all the other things that make us who and what we are, is impossible.

Because "freedom from causal necessity" and "freedom from ourselves" are absurdities, the notion of free will can never be assumed to imply either one.

Fortunately, free will does not imply either one. Free will means our choice was free from coercion and other forms of undue influence. Nothing more, and nothing less. Once we get that straight, the war between determinism and free will ends.

Who and what we are is shaped and formed by elements outside of our control. We have no say about our genetic makeup, who our parents are, the culture we were born into, our mental and physical attributes, etc, etc. They are our inescapable constraints. Being exposed to other cultures other languages, beliefs, expands who we are. Information acting upon our makeup changes us constantly, the you of a moment ago not being identical to the you now or the you in the moment to come.

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

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

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

Marvin Edwards

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Word twisting an argument does not make.

Much worse when such is being done in the name of philosophy.

Not funny.

Grotesques obviously.

Obviously you actually mean it when you say words are make ideas.

Not sure what you mean here. Could you give an example?
 

Marvin Edwards

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Interesting when you add objects to forces as causal when objects are the things determined by forces (laws of nature).

Obviously you can't make a legitimate argument ever. Always twisting always making up so what you want becomes in your mind what is.

It's not.

Your twisting of language only adds noise which is easily detected and corrected.

Please stop. Your doing so is making these threads worthless as instruments through which valuable useable information is revealed and codified.

The laws of nature are not actually forces. They are formulas used to describe forces. For example, gravity is a force. The law of gravity is not a force, it simply describes how to calculate the effect of gravity upon other objects. Carl Hoefer describes it this way:

In the physical sciences, the assumption that there are fundamental, exceptionless laws of nature, and that they have some strong sort of modal force, usually goes unquestioned. Indeed, talk of laws “governing” and so on is so commonplace that it takes an effort of will to see it as metaphorical. We can characterize the usual assumptions about laws in this way: the laws of nature are assumed to be pushy explainers. They make things happen in certain ways , and by having this power, their existence lets us explain why things happen in certain ways. -- https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/#:~:text=In the physical,in certain ways.
(Highlights mine.)

But if we wish to carry that metaphor forward, then we must not leave ourselves out of the picture. We would each be unique packages of those laws of nature, going about in the world causing events, for our own purposes and reasons. And when we act, we are forces of nature.

For example, the Earth's orbit around the Sun is caused by the Earth's trajectory and mass and the Sun's mass. Planets do not consult the laws of nature before acting. They simply do what they do, and the laws of nature are our notes and comments upon what we observe them doing.

If you are having issues with specific words or statements, please provide examples, describe the issue the example demonstrates, and we can discuss them.
 

Jarhyn

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Well, I'm just going to keep on the computer not-even-metaphor.

Computers, functionally, can act as universes. In a very real way they ARE universes, or... Well, we really don't have a term for "universe, but not, because it has available but constrained I/O".

We use computers in such a way as to produce small universes which we can test against parity with our own universe.

When we cut it off from outside, it is a universe in truth. It has an independent identity, a deterministic line.

But the most interesting thing is that we are in the process of reverse engineering the algorithms of the process. We are like... The memory. The stuff that is at the addresses.

Determinism discusses "code interaction with processor".

Free Will is a game theoretic tool that describes not "what does the scoreboard and goal do to count the tick and time and quarters and the passing of objects through places and what rules shall be enforced by enigmatic and unspecified means" but "how do I get the ball trough the big metal loop sticking out of the ground without a a ref tackling me?"

One relates to the other, but they are different.
 

steve_bank

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Word twisting an argument does not make.

Much worse when such is being done in the name of philosophy.

Not funny.

Grotesques obviously.

Obviously you actually mean it when you say words are make ideas.

Not sure what you mean here. Could you give an example?

You are using words that have specific meaning to fromderinside and myself as philosophical ideas which they are not.
 

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Behaviour that happens without coercion is an event, being an event generated by numerous factors, conscious will playing very little part, declaring it to be 'free will' is false labelling. We are able to act out of our own volition. Volition is not willed, volition is not free will.

But volition is chosen. "Will I have the salad or the cheeseburger?" Pause for consideration of the benefits and deficits of each choice. "I had the salad yesterday, so I will treat myself to a cheeseburger today". A freely chosen volition is appropriately called "free will".

"Hand over your wallet or I'll put a bullet in you!". "I don't want to lose my wallet, but, then again I really don't want to lose my life, so okay, I will give my wallet to the guy with the gun." A choice forced upon us against our will is called "coercion".

Coercion is about manipulating the choosing, specifically to force someone to submit their will to the guy holding the gun.

Now, if the choice is made unconsciously, rather than consciously, then the dialog might not be expressed in words, but rather in whatever internal symbols are used by the unconscious brain to carry out the calculation. Either way, the dialog reflects the calculation.

Volition, the process by which actions are performed is unconscious. The brain responds to its inputs in each and every circumstance. Selecting circumstances that don't involve compulsion from external forces doesn't make it free will. It's simply will. We have will. We act according to our makeup and environment.
 

DBT

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Word twisting an argument does not make.

Much worse when such is being done in the name of philosophy.

Not funny.

Grotesques obviously.

Obviously you actually mean it when you say words are make ideas.

Not sure what you mean here. Could you give an example?

You are using words that have specific meaning to fromderinside and myself as philosophical ideas which they are not.

Compatibalism appears to be a word game.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Yes, choosing what we will do is a deterministic operation. However, determinism never actually determines anything. Only the objects and forces that make up the universe can cause events. Determinism is simply the belief that the objects and the forces behave reliably as they do so.

Not ''choosing'' what we do, but what we do. What we do not being a matter of possible alternatives or choice (what is possible for someone else is not necessarily possible for you). Choice implies the ability to do otherwise in any instance. No such possibility exists within a determined system. The objects and events of a determined system is the system. Nothing gets to act differently.

Let's try a thought experiment. You are driving down the road and see a red traffic light up ahead. But you don't know whether it will still be red when you get there, or whether it will turn green by the time you arrive. As you get nearer, the light is still red, so you slow down. But just as you're slowing down, the light turns green. So, you speed up again and proceed through the light.

Your hard determinist friend, in the passenger seat, says, "Why did you slow down?"

You reply, "Because the light could have remained red."

"No, it couldn't", your friend replies, "because it was predetermined from the Big Bang that this light would turn green before you reached it. Thus, it was always impossible that it would be red. It could only be green."

"So, why did you slow down?", he asks again.

So, why did you slow down?
 
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rousseau

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The 'Quantitative' Argument for a Non-Contradictory Acceptance of Agency

This argument starts with a challenge to the fundamental axiom of determinism - that existence is in fact deterministic. To be deterministic, we must have a system in which for any given input or set of inputs, there is exactly and only one possible result. It is best represented as a mathematical formula that falls into the cluster of "n to 1" formulae.

I submit that existence is NOT deterministic, but is rather stochastic. I posit that for any set of inputs, it is possible for more than one result to occur, with each result having a different likelihood.

The premise for a deterministic existence inherently assumes that as long as we have all of the information, we can perfectly predict the outcome of any path of events. This then, requires that it is possible to acquire all information, which subsequently implies that all information is knowable in the first place. And we know that the last clause is false. Not all things are knowable. Some things are unknowable. At a very base minimum, we have quantum effects where it is impossible to simultaneously know a particle's position and velocity at the same time.

I think that unknowability extends to things much larger than quantum particles though. Let's take a simple example: how many leaves did my tree have on it last week? While we might know that an answer exists from a mathematical and philosophical perspective, we cannot actually know that answer. The number of leaves on my tree is obviously a countable number less than infinity. It's a finite number. But what is that number? Nobody knows. And nobody *can* know. Nobody counted the leaves on my tree last week. And even if someone were to have begun counting the number of leaves on my tree last week, within the time span that it would take for them to count the leaves, some leaves would have fallen or some new leaves would have budded. By the time they finished counting, their count would be inaccurate.

We could, however, make a very good estimate of the number of leaves on my tree last week. We would need to know the average number of leaves in a given volume, and whether there were temperature changes that would have caused more or fewer leaves a week ago, and the rough volume of the leaf-bearing structures on the tree. With that, we can get to an estimate that is probably good enough for most purposes.

But it wouldn't be exact. There would still remain an error bound around that estimate. We might estimate 10,000 leaves... but we would have to acknowledge that it might be anywhere between 7,000 and 13,000 for example.

I must conclude that existence is not deterministic, it is stochastic. The set of inputs to any given operation is always incomplete, and is frequently massively incomplete. It is not possible to know every single thing required in order to guarantee and exact singular outcome as the only possibility.

"Okay" you might say, "But that's just randomness, that still doesn't endorse agency". Well, let's move on to that next.

As I said in my prior post, agency is then the ability to apply a pattern to externalities, make a prediction about the likely outcome, and then react to that prediction in order to influence events. Let's walk through the components of this definition.

The ability to find a pattern is inherently dependent on the ability to take in and store external information. In order to have agency of any level, the object must first have a means of perception, a way of observing and interacting with the world around it. What do we mean by perception? Perception requires that the object be able to process and react to external stimuli. The security light at my front door can do that - it senses movement and turns on when certain conditions are met. It processes the external stimuli of movement and reacts by flipping a switch to on. A rock cannot do any of that, it cannot process external stimuli, and it cannot react to that stimuli. There is no coding in a rock that allows it to sort and respond to conditional stimuli, thus a rock cannot have agency.

Being able to perceive externalities is not, however, sufficient by itself. The object must also be able to store salient elements of those perceptions, it must have a memory of at least some capacity. That storage capacity is integral to the ability to determine a pattern. In order to find a pattern, the object must be able to compare the elements of one event to the elements of another event and find commonalities. If there is no means of storage, then no pattern can be found. My porch light doesn't have any storage. All if can do is react, which it does quite nicely. I could attach it to some recording software, which would allow it to record what set it off. But alas, my security light would still not qualify as an agent: it has no means to compare independent recordings against one another to determine a pattern.

The pattern recognition element is necessary in order to make a prediction. And with some of our more advanced technologies, we're getting quite good with pattern recognition. Marketing certainly has done its fair share of pattern recognition. Every time you get a recommendation based on your past Netflix viewing habits, that is pattern recognition in action. Every time Amazon says "other customers also bought this... " they're employing pattern recognition. Amazon also has the means to perceive and store external information; the software observes the purchases that you make as well as other items that you browsed before purchase, and it stores metadata about your purchasing history. That's how it identifies patterns in the first place.

Does Amazon make predictions about whether or not you'll purchase what they suggest? This is where things get fuzzy, and I don't really know for certain. I'm sure that Amazon calculates probabilities with respect to related purchases, and applies those probabilities to prioritize what to suggest. I'm not sure whether they do that in an aggregate fashion or in an individual fashion with probabilities curated for each individual. I think we have a lot of technology that is right at this edge, identifying patterns and making some level of prediction.

There is some gray area between finding a pattern, employing a pattern predictively, and proactively taking action to influence an outcome. There are some solid arguments that could be made that curated advertising has agency - especially if it's dynamic and based on a learning algorithm.

There's a difference between agency and intelligence, which I won't go into here. I think a good argument could be made that many things have agency to varying degrees: Ad software might have very limited agency, as the number of criteria used to determine a pattern, and the number of actions available to make suggestions to influence behavior are necessarily very limited.

On the other hand, I would say that by my argument, my cat certainly has agency, and a decent bit of it as well. Agency is necessary for training, and the more complex the conditioning the more agency is required. Sometimes that training isn't even intentional. For example, my cat like freeze dried salmon treats. They are her favorite, and given the chance she will (and has) gutted the bag and eaten an entire 6 oz of them. For freeze died food, 6 oz is a lot, I still don't know how her stomach didn't explode. Anyway, we play with her when we give her treats. Sometimes we toss them down the hall and she runs after them and chases them. Sometimes she sits at the end of the hall and plays "goalie" with them. Sometimes we give them to her outside in the courtyard. Sometimes we hold them in our hand and she eats them there with her fuzzy little muzzle tickling our fingers. Sometimes we hold them above her so she has to stand on her hind legs like a meerkat in order to get them.

That's all very cute, but lets bring this back around to agency. My cat has learned that these behaviors are associated with treats. She perceived the smell and taste of treats, and she perceived the times of day and the order of routines involved. She knows that after I get up in the morning, there will be treats. Furthermore, she knows that the treats will be given after I have filled her food and water bowl, and after I have filled the coffee pot, and while the coffee is brewing. She anticipates the treats: when I fill the coffee pot and she hears it start, she stands up, because she has identified the pattern than almost always results in treats. Sometimes she's wrong - sometimes I don't have coffee, I have tea. Sometimes she doesn't get treats if she's been constipated recently. But she predicts when those treats will occur.

And beyond that, she engages in proactive behavior to influence the game for treats each day. Sometimes she will go to the door and quite clearly ask to have her treats outside. Sometimes she will run to the end of the hall and indicate that I should toss the treats to her. Sometimes she sits and the front of the hall and looks at me over her shoulder so I know she wants me to throw them so she can chase. Sometimes she meerkats for them without me prompting her at all. She has the agency to indicate what she wants and uses that agency to influence my behavior toward her desired outcome.

That's a lot about agency in here. But what, you may ask, does it have to do with a stochastic existence?

Well, here it is in a nutshell. Given that existence is stochastic, any predictions are probabilistic in nature. Sometimes the probability of a specific outcome is so close to 1.0 as to be guaranteed. Sometimes it's a true coin flip. Most of the time, the number of possible outcomes are bounded; bounded by physical constraints, bounded by time or resources, or in the case of agency, bounded by what the agent can imagine as outcomes. The agent taking action will also be bounded by their perceptive capacity, memory capacity, facility with pattern recognition, and their extrapolative intelligence.

The set of inputs is necessarily limited. Some of the information that may affect an outcome is unknowable. The processes available to an agent are limited. And within all of that there does exist at least some element of pure randomness. As a result, while the outcome may in many cases be highly predictable, it is NOT deterministically knowable.

Sufficiently complex processes have agency, and given a set of inputs that is incomplete and contains some unknowable unknowns, the result of any given decision cannot be perfectly predicted.

If we look up the definition of 'agent' we get: something that produces or is capable of producing an effect

Linguistically, it sounds like the term is a short-hand to say: this [object/thing/being] should be given real consideration because it could have an effect on our own well-being. But beyond that it's really a generalization and not a binary; there is no clear delineation, or sharp boundary on when something does or does not have agency. Point being (throwing back to my earlier post) that the phrase agency is just a convenient linguistic construct, and doesn't actually tell us anything specific about what we're describing.

IMO, this is important because discussing ipso facto agency doesn't really get us closer to the definition, meaning, or objective reality of a human life. But, on the other hand, you've already described a number of other properties of human beings: pattern recognition, memory, stochastic existence etc. To me it's actually knowing these qualities which is important to understanding human life and experience. It doesn't really matter whether they imply free will or agency, or anything else, because these properties describe what we actually are objectively. Ultimately, they can't prove that we have free will or agency because these two terms are just linguistic constructs with no concrete definition. We're free to call people agents if we want to, but that doesn't really tell us anything meaningful about their lived experience. So again, being stochastic, having pattern recognition etc is what's actually important to understanding our lived experience, rather than obsessing over whether we are/are not free, or are/are not agents.

Further, if we're looking at the concept of freedom I think it's also crucial to include the environment in which we live and survive. To me one of the very tangible constraints on our freedom isn't how we function, but how we can't escape our own culture, biological needs, and moral law. In a very real way we aren't free not because of the implications of physical law, but because culture and biology limits the range of our behaviour in a very real way.

I've been thinking about my last few posts little more, and I think I can distill them down a bit. For the most part I'm suggesting that the obsession over freedom is irrelevant; we are material beings with objective qualities, and it is those knowable, and definable qualities that are relevant to understanding ourselves.

We are composed of atoms whose behaviour can be described (stochastic), but animals aren't atoms. Likely the stochastic quality does emerge in our behaviour, but in practice we are an unfathomably complex system of atoms whose behaviour and existence needs a more complex and refined explanation. An explanation that likely emerges as we move through physics -> chemistry -> biology -> sociology. Physical explanations have to underlie how we function, but they don't, and can't really tell the full story of human existence and experience. And at the same time I think if you were to draw out the principles of chemistry/biology/sociology the lack of freedom within a logical, and material system would still be present.

One anecdote I keep thinking about lately that points out the absurdity and irrelevance of the determinism/unfree argument is the experience I have with my 17 month old son. I can accept that I live in a materialistic world full-stop with no sense of dissonance, and yet I love my kid. I love when I get to pick him up at daycare every day, I love playing with him, I love caring for him. He brings genuine joy, meaning, and purpose to my existence. So in a situation like that - what, if anything, does determinism tell us? Am I supposed to feel like my relationship with my family is meaningless because it's out of my control? Is the joy and love I feel an illusion? Obviously that conclusion is missing something.

So on one hand we have the laws of physics that describe the universe, and on the other hand we have living things that have evolved over billions of years. It may be apt to understand ourselves in the context of physics, but I don't think raw physical laws can really explain or encapsulate human experience or our objective existence. Because in truth, while we are material, we have unique qualities of our own that are being completely overlooked while we obsess over how atoms behave, and how we can't will otherwise.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Who and what we are is not a meaningful constraint. If we were free from ourselves we would be someone else. So, freedom from "inner necessity", our own purposes and reasons, our own genetic dispositions and prior experiences, our own thoughts and feelings, our own beliefs and values, and all the other things that make us who and what we are, is impossible.

Because "freedom from causal necessity" and "freedom from ourselves" are absurdities, the notion of free will can never be assumed to imply either one.

Fortunately, free will does not imply either one. Free will means our choice was free from coercion and other forms of undue influence. Nothing more, and nothing less. Once we get that straight, the war between determinism and free will ends.

Who and what we are is shaped and formed by elements outside of our control.

Partially, but not totally. From the moment we're born, we are active participants in the social shaping of our lives, negotiating for control with our physical environment (the crib) and our social environment (our parents). Any father or mother who is awakened by their newborn for the 2AM feeding knows that their lives have been radically changed by the needs and demands of their child.


We have no say about our genetic makeup, who our parents are, the culture we were born into, our mental and physical attributes, etc, etc.

Correct. But, as I just noted, we do immediately impact our parents, and later we impact even our culture. Lifeforms showing up in an environment both shape that environment as well as being shaped by that environment.

They are our inescapable constraints. Being exposed to other cultures other languages, beliefs, expands who we are. Information acting upon our makeup changes us constantly, the you of a moment ago not being identical to the you now or the you in the moment to come.

"Inescapable constraints"? Why not inescapable enablers? Don't our genes provide us with bodies and brains that empower us? Doesn't exposure to our own culture enable us to operate successfully within our society? And, as you point out, our abilities and our intelligence are expanded even further by exposure to other cultures, new information, and other points of view.

Yes, we are constantly changing. But we also get to choose which social influences and ideas will become part of our evolving identity, and which we will discard as inconsistent with who and what we believe we are, and who we believe we should be.

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

Yes, indeed. We do have feelings, and we do think, and we do take actions. And every experience is happening within the brain, as it deals with the external facts of the real world outside us.

But one of these real world experiences is when we encounter a problem or issue that requires us to make a decision. And it is within this same brain that we decide for ourselves what we will do. We call this "choosing what we will do". And when this choosing is free of coercion and undue influence, we call this "free will", which is literally a freely chosen "I will".

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

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

Well, it is interesting to know how sight works. But that's not really the topic of this thread. The notion of free will is more about the brain's process of choosing what the person will do next.
 

Marvin Edwards

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This:

DBT writes:
I do not think free choice exists in any absolute sense. We are always limited by our brain biology.

Marvin Edwards replies:
Right, there is no such thing as absolute freedom.

Same words yet the latter is not a proper reply to the former.

Okay. Let me clarify:
A. There is no choosing that is absolutely free of every kind of constraint. So, there is no such thing as absolute freedom.
B. But there is choosing that is absolutely free of coercion and undue influence. So, there is such a thing as free will.

1. Free will never implies a choice that is absolutely free of every kind of constraint. There are plenty of natural constraints that apply to our choosing. It is constrained by our imagination, by our intelligence, by the information available to us, etc.

2. Free will never implies a choice that is free of causal necessity. Every choice we make, whether the choice is right or wrong, or well-reasoned or fallaciously reasoned, is always reliably caused by our purpose and reasoning, our thoughts and feelings, our genetic dispositions and prior life experiences, our beliefs and values, and all the other things that make us who and what we are. When that which is us is also that which does the choosing, then the choice is reliably caused (deterministic), and also reliably caused by us (free will).

3. Free will never implies a choice that is free from who and what we are. The only way to be free from who and what we are is to be someone else, and it would be their will, not ours, that was freely chosen.

Free will simply implies a choice free of coercion and other forms of undue influence. This is the meaning of free will that is actually used when assessing a person's moral or legal responsibility for their actions. The choice is reliably caused, and thus deterministic, causally necessary from any prior point in time. The choice is reliably caused by us. Our act of deliberation is the final responsible cause of our deliberate action. We are the most meaningful and relevant cause, unless...

Unless we're not! If the most meaningful and relevant cause was a guy holding a gun to our head, then he will be held responsible for our actions. If the most meaningful and relevant cause was a mental illness, then that illness will be held responsible for our actions.

Questions?
 

DBT

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Free will is being used as a kind of A Priori label. A label that doesn't represent brain function, which does not work on the principle of free will. Function is not willed. It is function, not Will, that determines output.
 
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DBT

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Yes, choosing what we will do is a deterministic operation. However, determinism never actually determines anything. Only the objects and forces that make up the universe can cause events. Determinism is simply the belief that the objects and the forces behave reliably as they do so.

Not ''choosing'' what we do, but what we do. What we do not being a matter of possible alternatives or choice (what is possible for someone else is not necessarily possible for you). Choice implies the ability to do otherwise in any instance. No such possibility exists within a determined system. The objects and events of a determined system is the system. Nothing gets to act differently.

Let's try a thought experiment. You are driving down the road and see a red traffic light up ahead. But you don't know whether it will still be red when you get there, or whether it will turn green by the time you arrive. As you get nearer, the light is still red, so you slow down. But just as you're slowing down, the light turns green. So, you speed up again and proceed through the light.

Your hard determinist friend, in the passenger seat, says, "Why did you slow down?"

You reply, "Because the light could have remained red."

"No, it couldn't", your friend replies, "because it was predetermined from the Big Bang that this light would turn green before you reached it. Thus, it was always impossible that it would be red. It could only be green."

"So, why did you slow down?", he asks again.

So, why did you slow down?

The brain is constantly acquiring information and responding to it, as an intelligent information processor the brain is able to respond to changing conditions as the information is acquired. Adjusting to conditions milliseconds after they occur. Re, your example, the brain estimates probability based on past experience, how long a light stays green, travel speed, etc, which determines whether you must stop or there is sufficient time to cross before the light turns amber or red.

What happens on any occasion is determined by an interaction of multiple elements, speed, distance, light cycle times, urgency, mood, etc, which come together as an action performed: on this occasion you stop as the light turns amber.


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.''

''Huettel et al. point out that their study identifies the role various regions of prefrontal cortex play in moment-to-moment processing of mental events in order to make predictions about future events. Thus implicit predictive models are formed which need to be continuously updated, the disruption of sequence would indicate that the PFC is engaged in a novelty response to pattern changes. As a third possible explanation, Ivry and Knight propose that activation of the prefrontal cortex may reflect the generation of hypotheses, since the formulation of an hypothesis is an essential feature of higher-level cognition.
A monitoring of participants awareness during pattern recognition could provide a test of the PFC’s ability to formulate hypotheses concerning future outcomes.''


A parietal-premotor network for movement intention and motor awareness
''It is commonly assumed that we are conscious of our movements mainly because we can sense ourselves moving as ongoing peripheral information coming from our muscles and retina reaches the brain. Recent evidence, however, suggests that, contrary to common beliefs, conscious intention to move is independent of movement execution per se. We propose that during movement execution it is our initial intentions that we are mainly aware of. Furthermore, the experience of moving as a conscious act is associated with increased activity in a specific brain region: the posterior parietal cortex. We speculate that movement intention and awareness are generated and monitored in this region. We put forward a general framework of the cognitive and neural processes involved in movement intention and motor awareness.''
 

fromderinside

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This:

DBT writes:

Marvin Edwards replies:

Same words yet the latter is not a proper reply to the former.



Questions?
No. Just a comment. DBT wrote one thing you answered with something else as if it were response to DBT's comment. Your response to me amplified your previous input but offered nothing to link it with DBT's comment.

IOW you were unresponsive. Being wordy about what you wrote doesn't improve your credibility.

DBT added to his comment. IOW he clarified his free will statement clearly putting it in to subjective grounds. Try again to link your response to what has been made clear.
 

fromderinside

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The 'Quantitative' Argument for a Non-Contradictory Acceptance of Agency

This argument starts with a challenge to the fundamental axiom of determinism - that existence is in fact deterministic. To be deterministic, we must have a system in which for any given input or set of inputs, there is exactly and only one possible result. It is best represented as a mathematical formula that falls into the cluster of "n to 1" formulae.

I submit that existence is NOT deterministic, but is rather stochastic. I posit that for any set of inputs, it is possible for more than one result to occur, with each result having a different likelihood.

The premise for a deterministic existence inherently assumes that as long as we have all of the information, we can perfectly predict the outcome of any path of events. This then, requires that it is possible to acquire all information, which subsequently implies that all information is knowable in the first place. And we know that the last clause is false. Not all things are knowable. Some things are unknowable. At a very base minimum, we have quantum effects where it is impossible to simultaneously know a particle's position and velocity at the same time.

I think that unknowability extends to things much larger than quantum particles though. Let's take a simple example: how many leaves did my tree have on it last week? While we might know that an answer exists from a mathematical and philosophical perspective, we cannot actually know that answer. The number of leaves on my tree is obviously a countable number less than infinity. It's a finite number. But what is that number? Nobody knows. And nobody *can* know. Nobody counted the leaves on my tree last week. And even if someone were to have begun counting the number of leaves on my tree last week, within the time span that it would take for them to count the leaves, some leaves would have fallen or some new leaves would have budded. By the time they finished counting, their count would be inaccurate.

We could, however, make a very good estimate of the number of leaves on my tree last week. We would need to know the average number of leaves in a given volume, and whether there were temperature changes that would have caused more or fewer leaves a week ago, and the rough volume of the leaf-bearing structures on the tree. With that, we can get to an estimate that is probably good enough for most purposes.

But it wouldn't be exact. There would still remain an error bound around that estimate. We might estimate 10,000 leaves... but we would have to acknowledge that it might be anywhere between 7,000 and 13,000 for example.

I must conclude that existence is not deterministic, it is stochastic. The set of inputs to any given operation is always incomplete, and is frequently massively incomplete. It is not possible to know every single thing required in order to guarantee and exact singular outcome as the only possibility.

"Okay" you might say, "But that's just randomness, that still doesn't endorse agency". Well, let's move on to that next.

As I said in my prior post, agency is then the ability to apply a pattern to externalities, make a prediction about the likely outcome, and then react to that prediction in order to influence events. Let's walk through the components of this definition.

The ability to find a pattern is inherently dependent on the ability to take in and store external information. In order to have agency of any level, the object must first have a means of perception, a way of observing and interacting with the world around it. What do we mean by perception? Perception requires that the object be able to process and react to external stimuli. The security light at my front door can do that - it senses movement and turns on when certain conditions are met. It processes the external stimuli of movement and reacts by flipping a switch to on. A rock cannot do any of that, it cannot process external stimuli, and it cannot react to that stimuli. There is no coding in a rock that allows it to sort and respond to conditional stimuli, thus a rock cannot have agency.

Being able to perceive externalities is not, however, sufficient by itself. The object must also be able to store salient elements of those perceptions, it must have a memory of at least some capacity. That storage capacity is integral to the ability to determine a pattern. In order to find a pattern, the object must be able to compare the elements of one event to the elements of another event and find commonalities. If there is no means of storage, then no pattern can be found. My porch light doesn't have any storage. All if can do is react, which it does quite nicely. I could attach it to some recording software, which would allow it to record what set it off. But alas, my security light would still not qualify as an agent: it has no means to compare independent recordings against one another to determine a pattern.

The pattern recognition element is necessary in order to make a prediction. And with some of our more advanced technologies, we're getting quite good with pattern recognition. Marketing certainly has done its fair share of pattern recognition. Every time you get a recommendation based on your past Netflix viewing habits, that is pattern recognition in action. Every time Amazon says "other customers also bought this... " they're employing pattern recognition. Amazon also has the means to perceive and store external information; the software observes the purchases that you make as well as other items that you browsed before purchase, and it stores metadata about your purchasing history. That's how it identifies patterns in the first place.

Does Amazon make predictions about whether or not you'll purchase what they suggest? This is where things get fuzzy, and I don't really know for certain. I'm sure that Amazon calculates probabilities with respect to related purchases, and applies those probabilities to prioritize what to suggest. I'm not sure whether they do that in an aggregate fashion or in an individual fashion with probabilities curated for each individual. I think we have a lot of technology that is right at this edge, identifying patterns and making some level of prediction.

There is some gray area between finding a pattern, employing a pattern predictively, and proactively taking action to influence an outcome. There are some solid arguments that could be made that curated advertising has agency - especially if it's dynamic and based on a learning algorithm.

There's a difference between agency and intelligence, which I won't go into here. I think a good argument could be made that many things have agency to varying degrees: Ad software might have very limited agency, as the number of criteria used to determine a pattern, and the number of actions available to make suggestions to influence behavior are necessarily very limited.

On the other hand, I would say that by my argument, my cat certainly has agency, and a decent bit of it as well. Agency is necessary for training, and the more complex the conditioning the more agency is required. Sometimes that training isn't even intentional. For example, my cat like freeze dried salmon treats. They are her favorite, and given the chance she will (and has) gutted the bag and eaten an entire 6 oz of them. For freeze died food, 6 oz is a lot, I still don't know how her stomach didn't explode. Anyway, we play with her when we give her treats. Sometimes we toss them down the hall and she runs after them and chases them. Sometimes she sits at the end of the hall and plays "goalie" with them. Sometimes we give them to her outside in the courtyard. Sometimes we hold them in our hand and she eats them there with her fuzzy little muzzle tickling our fingers. Sometimes we hold them above her so she has to stand on her hind legs like a meerkat in order to get them.

That's all very cute, but lets bring this back around to agency. My cat has learned that these behaviors are associated with treats. She perceived the smell and taste of treats, and she perceived the times of day and the order of routines involved. She knows that after I get up in the morning, there will be treats. Furthermore, she knows that the treats will be given after I have filled her food and water bowl, and after I have filled the coffee pot, and while the coffee is brewing. She anticipates the treats: when I fill the coffee pot and she hears it start, she stands up, because she has identified the pattern than almost always results in treats. Sometimes she's wrong - sometimes I don't have coffee, I have tea. Sometimes she doesn't get treats if she's been constipated recently. But she predicts when those treats will occur.

And beyond that, she engages in proactive behavior to influence the game for treats each day. Sometimes she will go to the door and quite clearly ask to have her treats outside. Sometimes she will run to the end of the hall and indicate that I should toss the treats to her. Sometimes she sits and the front of the hall and looks at me over her shoulder so I know she wants me to throw them so she can chase. Sometimes she meerkats for them without me prompting her at all. She has the agency to indicate what she wants and uses that agency to influence my behavior toward her desired outcome.

That's a lot about agency in here. But what, you may ask, does it have to do with a stochastic existence?

Well, here it is in a nutshell. Given that existence is stochastic, any predictions are probabilistic in nature. Sometimes the probability of a specific outcome is so close to 1.0 as to be guaranteed. Sometimes it's a true coin flip. Most of the time, the number of possible outcomes are bounded; bounded by physical constraints, bounded by time or resources, or in the case of agency, bounded by what the agent can imagine as outcomes. The agent taking action will also be bounded by their perceptive capacity, memory capacity, facility with pattern recognition, and their extrapolative intelligence.

The set of inputs is necessarily limited. Some of the information that may affect an outcome is unknowable. The processes available to an agent are limited. And within all of that there does exist at least some element of pure randomness. As a result, while the outcome may in many cases be highly predictable, it is NOT deterministically knowable.

Sufficiently complex processes have agency, and given a set of inputs that is incomplete and contains some unknowable unknowns, the result of any given decision cannot be perfectly predicted.

If we look up the definition of 'agent' we get: something that produces or is capable of producing an effect

Linguistically, it sounds like the term is a short-hand to say: this [object/thing/being] should be given real consideration because it could have an effect on our own well-being. But beyond that it's really a generalization and not a binary; there is no clear delineation, or sharp boundary on when something does or does not have agency. Point being (throwing back to my earlier post) that the phrase agency is just a convenient linguistic construct, and doesn't actually tell us anything specific about what we're describing.

IMO, this is important because discussing ipso facto agency doesn't really get us closer to the definition, meaning, or objective reality of a human life. But, on the other hand, you've already described a number of other properties of human beings: pattern recognition, memory, stochastic existence etc. To me it's actually knowing these qualities which is important to understanding human life and experience. It doesn't really matter whether they imply free will or agency, or anything else, because these properties describe what we actually are objectively. Ultimately, they can't prove that we have free will or agency because these two terms are just linguistic constructs with no concrete definition. We're free to call people agents if we want to, but that doesn't really tell us anything meaningful about their lived experience. So again, being stochastic, having pattern recognition etc is what's actually important to understanding our lived experience, rather than obsessing over whether we are/are not free, or are/are not agents.

Further, if we're looking at the concept of freedom I think it's also crucial to include the environment in which we live and survive. To me one of the very tangible constraints on our freedom isn't how we function, but how we can't escape our own culture, biological needs, and moral law. In a very real way we aren't free not because of the implications of physical law, but because culture and biology limits the range of our behaviour in a very real way.

I've been thinking about my last few posts little more, and I think I can distill them down a bit. For the most part I'm suggesting that the obsession over freedom is irrelevant; we are material beings with objective qualities, and it is those knowable, and definable qualities that are relevant to understanding ourselves.

We are composed of atoms whose behaviour can be described (stochastic), but animals aren't atoms. Likely the stochastic quality does emerge in our behaviour, but in practice we are an unfathomably complex system of atoms whose behaviour and existence needs a more complex and refined explanation. An explanation that likely emerges as we move through physics -> chemistry -> biology -> sociology. Physical explanations have to underlie how we function, but they don't, and can't really tell the full story of human existence and experience. And at the same time I think if you were to draw out the principles of chemistry/biology/sociology the lack of freedom within a logical, and material system would still be present.

One anecdote I keep thinking about lately that points out the absurdity and irrelevance of the determinism/unfree argument is the experience I have with my 17 month old son. I can accept that I live in a materialistic world full-stop with no sense of dissonance, and yet I love my kid. I love when I get to pick him up at daycare every day, I love playing with him, I love caring for him. He brings genuine joy, meaning, and purpose to my existence. So in a situation like that - what, if anything, does determinism tell us? Am I supposed to feel like my relationship with my family is meaningless because it's out of my control? Is the joy and love I feel an illusion? Obviously that conclusion is missing something.

So on one hand we have the laws of physics that describe the universe, and on the other hand we have living things that have evolved over billions of years. It may be apt to understand ourselves in the context of physics, but I don't think raw physical laws can really explain or encapsulate human experience or our objective existence. Because in truth, while we are material, we have unique qualities of our own that are being completely overlooked while we obsess over how atoms behave, and how we can't will otherwise.

Interpreting or rationalizing what to make of the results of our squirts and underlying evolved equipment connecting to various viscera can not be done by the one's' 'experiencing' it just because it it what they are experiencing. It's that self reporting bottleneck between what is real and what we feel. Our systems are at roads end on that sort of thing.

Rousseau what you wrote is a clear statement for why Wundt's methodology cannot succeed. And at a more relevant level explanation for why Emily Lake's position cannot stand. There is no way to bring something self invented AND self reported into the world of objective data.
 

Jarhyn

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The crazy part about this is that there is nobody on this earth who understands computers well who is not a compatibilist.

Note how ridiculous it would be if I said "Computers are deterministic, there is no such thing as an alternative path of flow nor free execution."

The thing was specifically developed to be a decision engine! To then claim it doesn't pay to discuss flow control, whether a program is in contention over a resource, whether a mutex is necessary, or whether to discuss priority levels... That would be nonsensical.

Free will happens in a different level of abstraction than "the material determinism". "Flow control", "choice" etc are all discussions of "what happens to the system when X vs Y? Is (distance to goal) larger in X? Push Y!".

This is because the identity operating and instantiated within the system of deterministic action is not wholely a unique product of the system, but had its own identity within the implementation but the identity is not a property of the system, but rather a property "of math".

This allows you to understand, even as a deterministic machine, how that identity behaves in different settings, as an integral rather than a derivative.

Imagine a mathematical function which takes the value of a function, calculates it's integral, finds the derivative of that integral that intersects a line, and then outputs a delta to the original function that will move the inflection point such that when applied shifts the function to that place.

Free will is the ability of the function to complete execution without being interrupted, pounced, or overridden.

Edit:
Free will is not the discussion of the rules. Free Will is the discussion of the META!
 
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steve_bank

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If there is compatibilism does it follow here is incompatibalism?

Compatibilism sounds like a convoluted way way of saying everything we observe fist together.

How can reality be anything than what it is?
 

Jarhyn

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If there is compatibilism does it follow here is incompatibalism?

Compatibilism sounds like a convoluted way way of saying everything we observe fist together.

How can reality be anything than what it is?

By being what it is not or what it may become on the basis of known or modeled cause and effect.

Cause and effect in the absence of omniscience imply a need exactly to understand what reality is not, and what is not unique to reality.

Compatibilism says incompatibilism is a belief in a nonsense that robs us of our own ability to think in the useful and complete abstraction of physical principles across the randomness and the chaos of the system which elude predictions.

The shape of that belief is exactly that determinism implies there is no "free will" or anything like it possible.
 

Bomb#20

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Compatibalism appears to be a word game.
To the religious, atheism appears to be a faith.

At a company I used to work for we had a technical writer with no engineering background who wrote manuals for products that involved concepts not yet adequately explained to him. Not yet knowing the right words to express those concepts, he called them "blerk" as a stand-in. Once he and the engineers figured out appropriate wording, he'd go back into his half-written manual and search-and-replace "blerk".

For centuries a subset of determinists have been debating futilely with so-called libertarians about some ineffable unexplainable allegedly possible property of wills. I'm sure that's good clean fun, but from time to time the participants in the interminable blerk-will debate pull their eyes out of each other's navels and tell outsiders their respective arguments have implications for broader philosophy -- typically implications for ethical or meta-ethical questions. This makes the audience wake up and try to follow the debate well enough to make sense of those alleged implications.

The active participants in the blerk-will debate will have grounds to accuse compatibilism of being a word game when, but not before, they are able to produce a coherent justification for why they spell the word blerk "f r e e".
 

steve_bank

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If there is compatibilism does it follow here is incompatibalism?

Compatibilism sounds like a convoluted way way of saying everything we observe fist together.

How can reality be anything than what it is?

By being what it is not or what it may become on the basis of known or modeled cause and effect.

Cause and effect in the absence of omniscience imply a need exactly to understand what reality is not, and what is not unique to reality.

Compatibilism says incompatibilism is a belief in a nonsense that robs us of our own ability to think in the useful and complete abstraction of physical principles across the randomness and the chaos of the system which elude predictions.

The shape of that belief is exactly that determinism implies there is no "free will" or anything like it possible.

That sounds like the obvious but then I am conditioned by my engineering experience to view reality in a certain way. In a conversation on creation with a Christian engineer I said I don't question reality, I am paid to deal with it. That was odd to him.

When it comes to actually accomplishing something whether us humans are predetermined in our actions and thoughts is irrelevant to ,e. All I can do is choose based on knowledge and experience. There is also the emotional content of ur decisons as well, we do not always choose logically. Those pesky hormones.

If causality is true mening something from nothing and something to nothing are preceded, then the state of our brain has a causal trail going back to the formation of the Sun and further back.

But then randomness comes in. For a chemical reaction there is a probability of success.

Radiate particle emission is statistical, but it occurs. Are mutations deterministic or random? meaning uncorrelated.


I think you can make a case for determinism or not based on how you intepret observation. And it dends on emtional bias from experience.

It is a toss up and a good exercise, with is probably why we have debating it for thousands of years.

The TV show Law And Order touched on the issue of crime and determinism a few times. If somebody or all of us are predetermined by genetics or whatever to be criminals or not then the criminal justice system falls apart. No choice no crime.
 

Jarhyn

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If there is compatibilism does it follow here is incompatibalism?

Compatibilism sounds like a convoluted way way of saying everything we observe fist together.

How can reality be anything than what it is?

By being what it is not or what it may become on the basis of known or modeled cause and effect.

Cause and effect in the absence of omniscience imply a need exactly to understand what reality is not, and what is not unique to reality.

Compatibilism says incompatibilism is a belief in a nonsense that robs us of our own ability to think in the useful and complete abstraction of physical principles across the randomness and the chaos of the system which elude predictions.

The shape of that belief is exactly that determinism implies there is no "free will" or anything like it possible.

That sounds like the obvious but then I am conditioned by my engineering experience to view reality in a certain way. In a conversation on creation with a Christian engineer I said I don't question reality, I am paid to deal with it. That was odd to him.

When it comes to actually accomplishing something whether us humans are predetermined in our actions and thoughts is irrelevant to ,e. All I can do is choose based on knowledge and experience. There is also the emotional content of ur decisons as well, we do not always choose logically. Those pesky hormones.

If causality is true mening something from nothing and something to nothing are preceded, then the state of our brain has a causal trail going back to the formation of the Sun and further back.

But then randomness comes in. For a chemical reaction there is a probability of success.

Radiate particle emission is statistical, but it occurs. Are mutations deterministic or random? meaning uncorrelated.


I think you can make a case for determinism or not based on how you intepret observation. And it dends on emtional bias from experience.

It is a toss up and a good exercise, with is probably why we have debating it for thousands of years.

The TV show Law And Order touched on the issue of crime and determinism a few times. If somebody or all of us are predetermined by genetics or whatever to be criminals or not then the criminal justice system falls apart. No choice no crime.

Except it does not mean that at all. Because the criminal justice system when imagined in a functional compatibilist manner says "let us design a relationship which expresses forces by which the deleterious to society are reconfigured through certain means constrained by other forces and structures within this 'idea space' to no longer be deleterious to the seeking of the most general set of compatible goals."

No choice with regards to determinism but (if can make (not) across set of (probable) after (yes) or (almost) then (execute that)) still prescribes a criminal justice system of some manner.
 

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Let's try a thought experiment. You are driving down the road and see a red traffic light up ahead. But you don't know whether it will still be red when you get there, or whether it will turn green by the time you arrive. As you get nearer, the light is still red, so you slow down. But just as you're slowing down, the light turns green. So, you speed up again and proceed through the light.

Your hard determinist friend, in the passenger seat, says, "Why did you slow down?"

You reply, "Because the light could have remained red."

"No, it couldn't", your friend replies, "because it was predetermined from the Big Bang that this light would turn green before you reached it. Thus, it was always impossible that it would be red. It could only be green."

"So, why did you slow down?", he asks again.

So, why did you slow down?

The brain is constantly acquiring information and responding to it, as an intelligent information processor the brain is able to respond to changing conditions as the information is acquired. Adjusting to conditions milliseconds after they occur. Re, your example, the brain estimates probability based on past experience, how long a light stays green, travel speed, etc, which determines whether you must stop or there is sufficient time to cross before the light turns amber or red.

What happens on any occasion is determined by an interaction of multiple elements, speed, distance, light cycle times, urgency, mood, etc, which come together as an action performed: on this occasion you stop as the light turns amber.

Just to clarify, in the example the light was already red, so you slowed down, even though it actually did change to green at the last minute. Your determinist passenger asked "Why you slow down?" and you said that the light could have remained red, even though it did not remain red, but instead it change to green as you arrived. But the determinist argues that it was impossible for it to remain red, because it was destined to be green since the Big Bang. So he asks again, "Why did you slow down?"

If I'm reading your response correctly, you are pointing out that the brain is a complex organ that "is constantly acquiring information and responding to it, as an intelligent information processor".

And that, "the brain estimates probability based on past experience". So, you knew that the light could have remained red even though it actually did turn green just as you arrived at the traffic light. Despite the fact that it would not remain red, it still could have remained red.

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.''

Exactly. We had seen both patterns in the past. We had seen the pattern where the our prediction of the future state of the traffic light was true. We had also seen the pattern where our prediction of the future state of the traffic light was false.

We knew from prior experience that there were two real possibilities: (1) our red light could remain red when we arrived and (2) our red light could change to green as we arrived. Despite that fact that there would only be one actual future, there were two possible futures: one future in which the light remained red and the other future in which the light would be green.

Whenever we are uncertain what will happen, we consider what can happen, to better prepare for what does happen.


''Huettel et al. point out that their study identifies the role various regions of prefrontal cortex play in moment-to-moment processing of mental events in order to make predictions about future events. Thus implicit predictive models are formed which need to be continuously updated, the disruption of sequence would indicate that the PFC is engaged in a novelty response to pattern changes. As a third possible explanation, Ivry and Knight propose that activation of the prefrontal cortex may reflect the generation of hypotheses, since the formulation of an hypothesis is an essential feature of higher-level cognition.
A monitoring of participants awareness during pattern recognition could provide a test of the PFC’s ability to formulate hypotheses concerning future outcomes.''

Exactly. One of the functions of prefrontal cortex is not only "to make predictions about future events", but also to take into account when the prediction is wrong: "the disruption of sequence would indicate that the PFC is engaged in a novelty response to pattern changes".

A parietal-premotor network for movement intention and motor awareness
''It is commonly assumed that we are conscious of our movements mainly because we can sense ourselves moving as ongoing peripheral information coming from our muscles and retina reaches the brain. Recent evidence, however, suggests that, contrary to common beliefs, conscious intention to move is independent of movement execution per se. We propose that during movement execution it is our initial intentions that we are mainly aware of. Furthermore, the experience of moving as a conscious act is associated with increased activity in a specific brain region: the posterior parietal cortex. We speculate that movement intention and awareness are generated and monitored in this region. We put forward a general framework of the cognitive and neural processes involved in movement intention and motor awareness.''

Well, that's very interesting. When the movement is voluntary, our sense that it is voluntary can arise from a simple recall of the earlier intention: "We propose that during movement execution it is our initial intentions that we are mainly aware of." That sounds like they are suggesting Libet's simple movement experiments may be misinterpreted.

A proper consideration of the Libet experiment, as it relates to free will, should start, in my opinion, before the experiment begins. "Were the subjects required to participate in the experiments, or did they choose to do so of their own free will?" Everyone knows precisely what free will means in that sentence. And next we should consider that before the experiment began, the researchers had to explain the apparatus to the subject and what the subject was expected to do. We assume that the subjects were paying conscious attention to the instructions. It was only after the conscious decision to participate and the conscious awareness of the instructions, that the experiment could begin. Just sayin'.
 

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Compatibalism appears to be a word game.
To the religious, atheism appears to be a faith.

At a company I used to work for we had a technical writer with no engineering background who wrote manuals for products that involved concepts not yet adequately explained to him. Not yet knowing the right words to express those concepts, he called them "blerk" as a stand-in. Once he and the engineers figured out appropriate wording, he'd go back into his half-written manual and search-and-replace "blerk".

For centuries a subset of determinists have been debating futilely with so-called libertarians about some ineffable unexplainable allegedly possible property of wills. I'm sure that's good clean fun, but from time to time the participants in the interminable blerk-will debate pull their eyes out of each other's navels and tell outsiders their respective arguments have implications for broader philosophy -- typically implications for ethical or meta-ethical questions. This makes the audience wake up and try to follow the debate well enough to make sense of those alleged implications.

The active participants in the blerk-will debate will have grounds to accuse compatibilism of being a word game when, but not before, they are able to produce a coherent justification for why they spell the word blerk "f r e e".

I was trying to be kind.

Compatibalism has been demonstrated to be a word game. The reasons why free will is not compatible with determinism and compatibilism is a word game have been given.

Which, of course doesn't stop those who are attracted to the compatibilist faith from believing and trying to justify their position with word play. ;)
 

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Free will is being used as a kind of A Priori label. A label that doesn't represent brain function, which does not work on the principle of free will. Function is not willed. It is function, not Will, that determines output.

Choosing, what we will do, is a brain function. The choosing function causally determines our will when there are competing needs or desires, and we have to choose which we will pursue.

Free will distinguishes whether that choosing was was unduly affected by coercion or mental illness, or hypnosis, etc., or whether that choosing was free of these undue influences.

The brain's choosing function is affected by the information it inputs. When part of the information it is processing happens to be a guy holding a gun to our head, then the choice will be affected by that information.

By "a priori label" I assume you mean what we happen to call something. For example, a small animal with whiskers that purrs when we pet it is call a "cat". And when we choose for ourselves what we will do, while free of coercion and undue influence, it is called "free will".
 
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Marvin Edwards

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This:

DBT writes:

Marvin Edwards replies:

Same words yet the latter is not a proper reply to the former.



Questions?
No. Just a comment. DBT wrote one thing you answered with something else as if it were response to DBT's comment. Your response to me amplified your previous input but offered nothing to link it with DBT's comment.

IOW you were unresponsive. Being wordy about what you wrote doesn't improve your credibility.

DBT added to his comment. IOW he clarified his free will statement clearly putting it in to subjective grounds. Try again to link your response to what has been made clear.

It is often the case that I believe I have answered the question, but it's possible that I haven't given sufficient clues as to how the answer relates specifically to the question. That's why I ask for details when someone makes a comment suggesting I haven't responded specifically to the comment. Often, the answer has already been provided but I need to repeat it because it has not yet been heard, or acknowledged yet.

The process here is not perfect. And if you can provide useful information to make the process better, then please do. But it may be simpler to just ignore the process issues and redirect attention to the content, so we don't get stuck in the mud.
 

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Free will is being used as a kind of A Priori label. A label that doesn't represent brain function, which does not work on the principle of free will. Function is not willed. It is function, not Will, that determines output.

Choosing, what we will do, is a brain function. The choosing function causally determines our will when there are competing needs or desires, and we have to choose which we will pursue.

Free will distinguishes whether that choosing was was unduly affected by coercion or mental illness, or hypnosis, etc., or whether that choosing was free of these undue influences.

The brain's choosing function is affected by the information it inputs. When part of the information it is processing happens to be a guy holding a gun to our head, then the choice will be affected by that information.

By "a priori label" I assume you mean what we happen to call something. For example, a small animal with whiskers that purrs when we pet it is call a "cat". And when we choose for ourselves what we will do, while free of coercion and undue influence, it is called "free will".

Most of what happens within a determined system happens without being effected by external coercion, ie, forced to do something else.
Will produced by a brain that is not under pressure is no more free than a that of a damaged brain or one under pressure, a brain simply responds according to its own condition and inputs in all circumstances.

We can say that someone is being forced to act against their wishes or will.

We have will.

But because will is shaped and formed through unconscious processes, with no possibility of doing otherwise in any given instance in time, will cannot be described as being "Free Will."

A butterfly can act according to its own inner urges and impulses, its own will, but is incapable of higher reasoning or moral understanding.
 

Marvin Edwards

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Free will is being used as a kind of A Priori label. A label that doesn't represent brain function, which does not work on the principle of free will. Function is not willed. It is function, not Will, that determines output.

Choosing, what we will do, is a brain function. The choosing function causally determines our will when there are competing needs or desires, and we have to choose which we will pursue.

Free will distinguishes whether that choosing was was unduly affected by coercion or mental illness, or hypnosis, etc., or whether that choosing was free of these undue influences.

The brain's choosing function is affected by the information it inputs. When part of the information it is processing happens to be a guy holding a gun to our head, then the choice will be affected by that information.

By "a priori label" I assume you mean what we happen to call something. For example, a small animal with whiskers that purrs when we pet it is call a "cat". And when we choose for ourselves what we will do, while free of coercion and undue influence, it is called "free will".

Most of what happens within a determined system happens without being effected by external coercion. Will produced by a brain that is not under pressure is no more free than a that of a damaged brain or one under pressure, the brain simply responds according to its condition and inputs in all circumstances.

We can say that someone is being forced to act against their wishes or will.

We have will. But because will is shaped and formed through unconscious processes, with no possibility of doing otherwise in any given instance in time, will cannot be described as being "Free Will."

A butterfly can act according to its own inner urges and impulses, its own will, but is incapable of higher reasoning or moral understanding.

But it sounds like you are saying that the brain cannot take the guy with the gun into account when "responding to its condition and inputs". And if, as you suggest, "will is shaped and formed through unconscious processes", then how is it that the body's behavior is very different when it is threatened by a gun? The bank teller does not ordinarily give away the bank's money. But when threatened by the robber, she hands him the money.

The robber does not set the gun down, and begin moving her arms for her against her will. The threat is assessed by her brain, and her brain chooses to do what the robber says, because it calculates that things will turn out better for her if she acquiesces to do his will, instead of her own.

How this calculation is performed unconsciously would perhaps be a matter for further study. But the conscious interpretation of this event is commonly understood and fairly clear: When threatened by a gun, she chooses her life over the bank's money. (And the bank will have trained her to do so, to avoid being sued by her for a workplace hazard.)

Will produced by a brain that is not under pressure is no more free than a that of a damaged brain or one under pressure, the brain simply responds according to its condition and inputs in all circumstances.

Of course. But the will produced by a brain that is under pressure of coercion, or that is damaged, will be significantly different from the will produced by a brain that is free of these specific conditions. That is why these special conditions are meaningful and relevant.

To say that the brain will always behave according to reliable cause and effect (deterministically) is certainly true. But we all take this logical fact for granted, because it is always true all the time of all events. So, while it is a logical fact, it is neither a meaningful nor a relevant fact.

All of the utility of the concept of reliable cause and effect comes from knowing the specific causes of specific effects.

Universal causal necessity/inevitability, while it is a logical fact, is neither a meaningful nor a relevant fact. All of the utility of reliable causation comes from knowing the specifics.
 

Bomb#20

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In that case the ion would be one of the specific reliable causes determining the coin flip. Which leads us to wonder, "What quantum event caused the ion to be released at precisely that moment?" The question itself implies the expectation of a reliable cause, even if we never discover what it is.
Sure -- most people expect there to be a reliable cause. But that's a fact of human psychology, not a fact of physics. It probably happened because one monkey reacted to an unexpected noise by looking around for a potential saber-toothed tiger and one didn't, and we all know which of those monkeys the human race is descended from.

The mind raising the question, is evidence that we all believe that every event has its specific causes, that reliably bring it about.
It's evidence that we all have an instinctive predisposition to believe it. An awful lot of physicists do not in fact believe what you say we all believe. "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above." - Katharine Hepburn :)

Concepts cannot knock over pencils. "Quantum uncertainty" is a notion, not a causal agent.
[Note to self: always go the extra mile in precision when talking to Marvin.] The pencil has a vanishingly small probability of staying up longer than about five seconds, even if no external horizontal forces act on it other than the table's reaction to the horizontal component of the force exerted by the pencil on the table due to compression of the pencil along its axis due to the earth's gravitational attraction of the pencil and the table's electrical repulsion of the pencil, because the pencil's finite momentum guarantees it has nonzero uncertainty in the positions of its upper and lower ends, which in turn guarantees that the horizontal component of the compression vector along its length cannot be exactly zero. :)

On the other hand, if I'm hammering a nail, I'd prefer to reliably hit the nail, rather than randomly hit my hand. Reliable causation is our friend. (Well, after we become skilled enough to stop hitting our thumb).
Whether Bob is our friend or enemy isn't evidence of whether the person behind us is Bob. (And for what it's worth, in the deterministic theory that preceded quantum mechanics, electrons in atoms had unstable orbits and spiraled into nuclei, killing us all. Sometimes random quantum fluctuation is our friend. And nations have no permanent allies, only permanent interests. :) )

Well, if we're going to keep smashing protons into stuff, then we should hope that the consequences are contained.
True; but hope is a poor excuse for belief. (And if proton collider energies were sufficient to destroy the earth then the earth would have already been destroyed by cosmic rays.)

Quantum mechanics is 95 years old, and a lot of the smartest people in the world have spent years of their professional lives trying to come up with a deterministic theory that matches experimental results, and so far they've all* failed. Doesn't that shake your confidence that reliably caused quark behavior is more likely?

Not at all. The inability to discover the cause does not mean there is no cause.
This goes beyond not discovering a cause. We haven't even been able to come up with a fantasy guess at any hypothetical something that could possibly cause it if that something were real -- never mind whether we can discover evidence for that something actually existing and actually causing quantum events.

The analogy with Relativity is instructive. Since the early 1900s, there has been a viable alternative to Einstein's theory of Relativity all along. It's called "Lorentz Ether Theory". It says the Luminiferous Ether that Einstein is generally considered to have refuted really does exist after all and light really is a wave in the Ether; the Ether just has such-and-such peculiar properties; light behaves so strangely because Ether is waving just a little bit differently from the way 19th-century physicists believed it waved; and their experiments attempting to detect it all failed because of those such-and-such properties I mentioned. Modern physicists nearly all reject this theory in favor of Relativity, not because of any observational evidence against it, but simply because of philosophical considerations like Occam's Razor, parsimony, and predictive power. But if somebody finds Relativity emotionally or philosophically problematic because we all believe that every event has an absolute time when it happens, and therefore he rejects Relativity, at least he has a comprehensible answer when somebody says "How can you reject Relativity? Look at all the evidence for it! Your GPS wouldn't work if time didn't slow down!". He just says, "My GPS would still work, same as always. Time slowing down is just an illusion due to our movement in the Lorentz Ether." And then he can run the numbers and show the LET calculations and prove his GPS still works.

The point is, for Relativity we have a Lorentz Ether we've never discovered but which is at least possible; but we haven't got anything like that for quantum mechanics. And it's not for lack of trying.



Quantum systems show an effect called "entanglement" in which events on this side of the lab appear to make a difference to what happens on that side of the lab, faster than the speed of light. Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance". It's mathematically very difficult to reconcile that with Relativity in a theory with reliable causation.

Actually, gravity and electromagnetism could also be called "spooky action at a distance". The only reason it is not spooky is because we see it so often that we take it for granted. So, entanglement might eventually become so common as to be ordinary as well.
No, that's not why gravity and electromagnetism aren't spooky. They aren't spooky because they're "fields". In an electric or gravitational field there's a quantitative strength and direction to the field at every point in space and time, and a differential equation that describes how that strength and direction changes and what causes it to change, and all those changes are "local", meaning the only thing that affects the strength or direction is physical events at that location or infinitesimally close to it. I.e., the force of the earth on the moon is propagated from the one to the other -- it's mediated by physical events we can describe and quantify taking place at every point between the two.

If we had an explanation like that for quantum entanglement then physicists wouldn't find it spooky.

The means by which the number is produced makes it predictable in theory, if not in practice.

Predictable in which theory? The situation would be different if we had an unpredictable theory that works and a predictable theory that works; then philosophizing about how the number is predictable in theory would carry some weight. But as it is, in 2021, all we have is an unpredictable theory that works and a bunch of predictable theories that don't work.

The theory of predictability is that every effect is reliably caused. It's that ordinary notion of reliable "cause and effect".
That's not a theory. For it to be a theory you'd have to be able to get a testable prediction out of it.
 

DBT

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Most of what happens within a determined system happens without being effected by external coercion. Will produced by a brain that is not under pressure is no more free than a that of a damaged brain or one under pressure, the brain simply responds according to its condition and inputs in all circumstances.

We can say that someone is being forced to act against their wishes or will.

We have will. But because will is shaped and formed through unconscious processes, with no possibility of doing otherwise in any given instance in time, will cannot be described as being "Free Will."

A butterfly can act according to its own inner urges and impulses, its own will, but is incapable of higher reasoning or moral understanding.

But it sounds like you are saying that the brain cannot take the guy with the gun into account when "responding to its condition and inputs". And if, as you suggest, "will is shaped and formed through unconscious processes", then how is it that the body's behavior is very different when it is threatened by a gun? The bank teller does not ordinarily give away the bank's money. But when threatened by the robber, she hands him the money.

That's not what I'm saying. The brain takes the situation, the man with the gun, his attitude, nervous, twitchy, etc, into account, weighs cost to benefit according to the circumstances and responds accordingly, signals are sent, muscle groups put into action, you hand your wallet over, the risk of injury or death is not worth the cost of a few dollars....

That is decision making in action, governed by the state of your brain, fear, anxiety, rational thought interacting with the elements of the situation, a desperate character with a gun which generates an outcome which effects your behaviour into the future.

This has nothing to do with will. The only part that will plays being the prompts or urges to act, to reach for your wallet, to say ''Here, I don't want any trouble.''





The robber does not set the gun down, and begin moving her arms for her against her will. The threat is assessed by her brain, and her brain chooses to do what the robber says, because it calculates that things will turn out better for her if she acquiesces to do his will, instead of her own.

The robber acts according to their own will, will that's shaped and driven by their own needs and proclivities. Just as you act according to your own will when faced with the threat of violence; the will to avoid getting injured.

Your will is shaped by the circumstances you are in. You respond according to your situation. Sometimes our circumstances relate to our wishes, mor often they don't. The brain responds regardless.

Decision-Making

''Decision-making is such a seamless brain process that we’re usually unaware of it — until our choice results in unexpected consequences. Then we may look back and wonder, “Why did I choose that option?” In recent years, neuroscientists have begun to decode the decision-making process. What they’re learning is shedding light not only on how the healthy brain performs complex mental functions, but also on how disorders, such as stroke or drug abuse, affect the process.''

''Researchers can study decision-making in animals. As monkeys decide which direction a moving target is headed, researchers record the activity in brain cells called neurons. These studies have helped to reveal the basis for how animals and humans make everyday decisions.''

Thanks to advances in technology, researchers are beginning to unravel the mysterious processes by which humans make decisions. New research is helping scientists develop:

A deeper understanding of how the human brain reasons, plans, and solves problems.
Greater insight into how sleep deprivation, drug abuse, neurological disorders, and other factors affect the decision-making process, suggesting new behavioral and therapeutic approaches to improve health.
Our brains appear wired in ways that enable us, often unconsciously, to make the best decisions possible with the information we’re given. In simplest terms, the process is organized like a court trial. Sights, sounds, and other sensory evidence are entered and registered in sensory circuits in the brain. Other brain cells act as the brain’s “jury,” compiling and weighing each piece of evidence. When the accumulated evidence reaches a critical threshold, a judgment — a decision — is made.''
 

Marvin Edwards

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Sure -- most people expect there to be a reliable cause. But that's a fact of human psychology, not a fact of physics.

On the other hand, physics is also a fact of human psychology. And it presumes a reliable cause in everything it describes. It has no facility for describing uncaused events, as they would be irrational.

It probably happened because one monkey reacted to an unexpected noise by looking around for a potential saber-toothed tiger and one didn't, and we all know which of those monkeys the human race is descended from.

Thank goodness.

It's evidence that we all have an instinctive predisposition to believe it. An awful lot of physicists do not in fact believe what you say we all believe. "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above." - Katharine Hepburn :)

I'm guessing that must be from the movie where she heads a research bureau that is about to be replaced by a computer.

Concepts cannot knock over pencils. "Quantum uncertainty" is a notion, not a causal agent.

[Note to self: always go the extra mile in precision when talking to Marvin.]

Damn straight.

The pencil has a vanishingly small probability ...

Likewise, probabilities cannot knock over pencils.

... of staying up longer than about five seconds, even if no external horizontal forces act on it other than the table's reaction to the horizontal component of the force exerted by the pencil on the table due to compression of the pencil along its axis due to the earth's gravitational attraction of the pencil and the table's electrical repulsion of the pencil, because the pencil's finite momentum guarantees it has nonzero uncertainty in the positions of its upper and lower ends, which in turn guarantees that the horizontal component of the compression vector along its length cannot be exactly zero. :)

Well, that was a quick turnabout from "even if no external horizontal forces act on it" to "other than" a list of forces acting upon it.

And, of course, "the pencil's finite momentum guarantees it has nonzero uncertainty" reminds us that uncertainty is a matter of missing knowledge, and not a matter of unreliable causation.

On the other hand, if I'm hammering a nail, I'd prefer to reliably hit the nail, rather than randomly hit my hand. Reliable causation is our friend. (Well, after we become skilled enough to stop hitting our thumb).
Whether Bob is our friend or enemy isn't evidence of whether the person behind us is Bob. (And for what it's worth, in the deterministic theory that preceded quantum mechanics, electrons in atoms had unstable orbits and spiraled into nuclei, killing us all. Sometimes random quantum fluctuation is our friend. And nations have no permanent allies, only permanent interests. :) )

Random fluctuations are only our friends when unpredictability is desirable, like when we flip the coin to see who goes first.

Well, if we're going to keep smashing protons into stuff, then we should hope that the consequences are contained.
True; but hope is a poor excuse for belief. (And if proton collider energies were sufficient to destroy the earth then the earth would have already been destroyed by cosmic rays.)


Quantum mechanics is 95 years old, and a lot of the smartest people in the world have spent years of their professional lives trying to come up with a deterministic theory that matches experimental results, and so far they've all* failed. Doesn't that shake your confidence that reliably caused quark behavior is more likely?

Not at all. The inability to discover the cause does not mean there is no cause.

This goes beyond not discovering a cause. We haven't even been able to come up with a fantasy guess at any hypothetical something that could possibly cause it if that something were real -- never mind whether we can discover evidence for that something actually existing and actually causing quantum events.

Well, there is always the "God of the gaps".

The analogy with Relativity is instructive. Since the early 1900s, there has been a viable alternative to Einstein's theory of Relativity all along. It's called "Lorentz Ether Theory". It says the Luminiferous Ether that Einstein is generally considered to have refuted really does exist after all and light really is a wave in the Ether; the Ether just has such-and-such peculiar properties; light behaves so strangely because Ether is waving just a little bit differently from the way 19th-century physicists believed it waved; and their experiments attempting to detect it all failed because of those such-and-such properties I mentioned. Modern physicists nearly all reject this theory in favor of Relativity, not because of any observational evidence against it, but simply because of philosophical considerations like Occam's Razor, parsimony, and predictive power. But if somebody finds Relativity emotionally or philosophically problematic because we all believe that every event has an absolute time when it happens, and therefore he rejects Relativity, at least he has a comprehensible answer when somebody says "How can you reject Relativity? Look at all the evidence for it! Your GPS wouldn't work if time didn't slow down!". He just says, "My GPS would still work, same as always. Time slowing down is just an illusion due to our movement in the Lorentz Ether." And then he can run the numbers and show the LET calculations and prove his GPS still works.

The point is, for Relativity we have a Lorentz Ether we've never discovered but which is at least possible; but we haven't got anything like that for quantum mechanics. And it's not for lack of trying.

Oh. So the Lorentz Ether was the "God of the gaps". Cool.



Quantum systems show an effect called "entanglement" in which events on this side of the lab appear to make a difference to what happens on that side of the lab, faster than the speed of light. Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance". It's mathematically very difficult to reconcile that with Relativity in a theory with reliable causation.

Actually, gravity and electromagnetism could also be called "spooky action at a distance". The only reason it is not spooky is because we see it so often that we take it for granted. So, entanglement might eventually become so common as to be ordinary as well.

No, that's not why gravity and electromagnetism aren't spooky. They aren't spooky because they're "fields". In an electric or gravitational field there's a quantitative strength and direction to the field at every point in space and time, and a differential equation that describes how that strength and direction changes and what causes it to change, and all those changes are "local", meaning the only thing that affects the strength or direction is physical events at that location or infinitesimally close to it. I.e., the force of the earth on the moon is propagated from the one to the other -- it's mediated by physical events we can describe and quantify taking place at every point between the two.

So, if we had an explanation like that for quantum entanglement then physicists would no longer find it spooky. Actually, an explanation as to why it happens is unnecessary. It is sufficient that it reliably happens in order for it to qualify as a common law of physics.

There are many things (perhaps all things) where the unanswerable question is "Why does it happen this way, and some other way?" For example, "Why is there something instead of nothing?" The answer to this type of a question truncates at "Because that's just the way things are". However, when it comes to causes of real events, there will be real causes.


The means by which the number is produced makes it predictable in theory, if not in practice.

Predictable in which theory? The situation would be different if we had an unpredictable theory that works and a predictable theory that works; then philosophizing about how the number is predictable in theory would carry some weight. But as it is, in 2021, all we have is an unpredictable theory that works and a bunch of predictable theories that don't work.

The theory of predictability is that every effect is reliably caused. It's that ordinary notion of reliable "cause and effect".
That's not a theory. For it to be a theory you'd have to be able to get a testable prediction out of it.

But reliable cause and effect is very testable. We all test it every day and in everything we do. We move one foot forward and shift our weight and walk to the kitchen and back. That's reliable causation in every step.

It is the opposing theory, that some events are uncaused, that has yet to be demonstrated with experimental evidence.
 

Marvin Edwards

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That's not what I'm saying. The brain takes the situation, the man with the gun, his attitude, nervous, twitchy, etc, into account, weighs cost to benefit according to the circumstances and responds accordingly, signals are sent, muscle groups put into action, you hand your wallet over, the risk of injury or death is not worth the cost of a few dollars....

That is decision making in action, governed by the state of your brain, fear, anxiety, rational thought interacting with the elements of the situation, a desperate character with a gun which generates an outcome which effects your behaviour into the future.

This has nothing to do with will. The only part that will plays being the prompts or urges to act, to reach for your wallet, to say ''Here, I don't want any trouble.''

It sounds like we're saying the same thing. The brain considers the alternatives and decides to hand over the wallet rather than being shot. It does have to do with will precisely as you said, the 'part that will plays being the prompts or urges to act, to reach for your wallet, to say ''Here, I don't want any trouble.'' '

Because you were coerced into handing over your wallet, no one will hold you responsible for losing the money. They will hold the robber responsible for your loss. The specific "will", your brain came up with under coercion, was "I will hand over my wallet".

The robber does not set the gun down, and begin moving her arms for her against her will. The threat is assessed by her brain, and her brain chooses to do what the robber says, because it calculates that things will turn out better for her if she acquiesces to do his will, instead of her own.

The robber acts according to their own will, will that's shaped and driven by their own needs and proclivities. Just as you act according to your own will when faced with the threat of violence; the will to avoid getting injured. Your will is shaped by the circumstances you are in. You respond according to your situation. Sometimes our circumstances relate to our wishes, mor often they don't. The brain responds regardless.

Of course. But again, you hide the significant distinction between a coerced choice and one that is free from coercion. In one case you are free to decide for yourself what you will do. In the other case you are forced to submit your will to the will of the guy with the gun. This fact makes all the difference when judging who is responsible for this event, and whose behavior requires correction.

Decision-Making

''Decision-making is such a seamless brain process that we’re usually unaware of it — until our choice results in unexpected consequences. Then we may look back and wonder, “Why did I choose that option?” In recent years, neuroscientists have begun to decode the decision-making process. What they’re learning is shedding light not only on how the healthy brain performs complex mental functions, but also on how disorders, such as stroke or drug abuse, affect the process.''

''Researchers can study decision-making in animals. As monkeys decide which direction a moving target is headed, researchers record the activity in brain cells called neurons. These studies have helped to reveal the basis for how animals and humans make everyday decisions.''

Thanks to advances in technology, researchers are beginning to unravel the mysterious processes by which humans make decisions. New research is helping scientists develop:

A deeper understanding of how the human brain reasons, plans, and solves problems.
Greater insight into how sleep deprivation, drug abuse, neurological disorders, and other factors affect the decision-making process, suggesting new behavioral and therapeutic approaches to improve health.
Our brains appear wired in ways that enable us, often unconsciously, to make the best decisions possible with the information we’re given. In simplest terms, the process is organized like a court trial. Sights, sounds, and other sensory evidence are entered and registered in sensory circuits in the brain. Other brain cells act as the brain’s “jury,” compiling and weighing each piece of evidence. When the accumulated evidence reaches a critical threshold, a judgment — a decision — is made.''

And there's the metaphor that clinches my case:
"Other brain cells act as the brain’s “jury,” compiling and weighing each piece of evidence. When the accumulated evidence reaches a critical threshold, a judgment — a decision — is made."
 

fromderinside

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A proper consideration of the Libet experiment, as it relates to free will, should start, in my opinion, before the experiment begins. "Were the subjects required to participate in the experiments, or did they choose to do so of their own free will?" Everyone knows precisely what free will means in that sentence. And next we should consider that before the experiment began, the researchers had to explain the apparatus to the subject and what the subject was expected to do. We assume that the subjects were paying conscious attention to the instructions. It was only after the conscious decision to participate and the conscious awareness of the instructions, that the experiment could begin. Just sayin'.

Well if they are FSU science majors it is pretty clear official coercion is applied.

https://www.bio.fsu.edu/undergrad/research.php

Doing research as an undergraduate will enrich your experience at FSU by connecting you to your field and to the faculty and graduate students in the department. Undergraduate research experience will also improve your chances for admission into graduate schools and medical, dental and veterinary schools. Undergraduates can become involved in research in several ways. The UROP program allows students to begin doing research in their freshman and sophomore years. Or, you can do Directed Independent Study (DIS) doing research with a faculty member and get credits toward your Biological Science major. And finally, there is Honors in the Major, which is similar to DIS work but involves writing and defending a thesis at the end of your project.

Eyup. Some coercion was applied. Nothing is free in this world even when you describe it. I bolded one sentence. But it is clear that free isn't operative in any sentence in that description. Cost/benefit all the way to turtles.

Go ahead. Climb up the decision tree. You'll find one isn't at any level freely making anything.
 

DBT

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It sounds like we're saying the same thing. The brain considers the alternatives and decides to hand over the wallet rather than being shot. It does have to do with will precisely as you said, the 'part that will plays being the prompts or urges to act, to reach for your wallet, to say ''Here, I don't want any trouble.'' '

Because you were coerced into handing over your wallet, no one will hold you responsible for losing the money. They will hold the robber responsible for your loss. The specific "will", your brain came up with under coercion, was "I will hand over my wallet".

Responsibility depends on brain condition and the ability to reason rationally, not will. Will is the result of the brains functionality and ability to reason, not its driver.

Someone may be intelligent, able to reason, but is constantly making bad decisions.

A computer is able to make rational decisions/selections based on sets of criteria, therefore able to choose what is considered good and moral. It is the system, not its impulses or its will that selects the only option it has available to it in any given instance in time (determinism). We are judged on the basis of our decision making ability (being of sound mind or not), not our will.

The perception of decision making.
''Recognizing that consciousness is awareness does change the way we can look at the fundamental problem of free will. Free will is more correctly defined as “the perception that we choose to make movements.” Looking at it in this way produces at least two possibilities. The first is that there is a process of free will, an aspect of consciousness, that does choose to make a specific movement. The second is that the brain’s motor system produces a movement as a product of its different inputs, consciousness is informed of this movement, and it is perceived as being freely chosen


Necessity:
''Necessity is the idea that everything that has ever happened and ever will happen is necessary, and can not be otherwise. Necessity is often opposed to chance and contingency. In a necessary world there is no chance. Everything that happens is necessitated.''
 
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