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Compatibilism: What's that About?

pood

Junior Member
Oh trust me I skimmed it.
So you are attacking me because I freely admitted that I only skimmed this thread but was attracted to this discussion by Marvin’s posts? I even offered apologies for that. It does not follow that I refused to read this thread, as you claimed. I simply have not had time to do so yet. This, in your mind, precludes me from responding to Marvin and giving my own thoughts which I believe dovetail with his? Don’t bother answering, it is a rhetorical question. Your unjustified attacks on me do not speak well of this forum so far. I hope this is the exception rather than the rule, but we’ll see.
 

pood

Junior Member
Yeah.
Um, so you accidentally did it or was a conscious decision?
Accidentally did what? Never mind, it’s another rhetorical question. As mentioned, from now on I’ll pass over your stuff in silence, unless, unlikely as it may seem, you have some sort of substantive response to what I wrote or will write. Again, I hope, and for the moment trust, that you are not a fair specimen of this board.
 

none

Banned
You made a post.
That much I know, at least some here would agree.
I'm interested in how it got there. If you are not willing to discuss that, fine.
This is the philosophy section, a thread about compatiblism.
There are others on this thread more eloquent than myself, how did that happen?
 
I just signed up and have mostly skimmed this thread, apologies, but I was attracted here by the posts of Marvin Edwards. His thinking seems to comport with mine, a line of thought I find rather underrepresented in the debate on causal determinism and free will.

As he has pointed out, there is a difference between will and must. It is a distinction so important that there is even a fallacy, from modal logic, attached to this confusion, called the modal scope or just modal fallacy.

Suppose today it is true that tomorrow there will be a sea battle. The worry, going back to the ancient Greeks, is that if this is right, tomorrow there must be a sea battle; fatalism obtains, and no one has free will.

The modal fallacy lies in confusing necessity (could not have been otherwise) with contingency (could have been otherwise).

In the case of the sea battle, if today it is true that tomorrow there will be a sea battle, sure enough, tomorrow there will be a sea battle. But it does not follow that there must be a sea battle.

All that follows is that true propositions, and the events that they describe or predict, must match — otherwise the propositions would be false.

If, then, tomorrow there is not a sea battle, then a different prior proposition would have been true — today it is true that tomorrow there will not be a sea battle.

Suppose God exists and knows in advance everything that I will do. If he knows today that tomorrow I will eat eggs for breakfast, then, intuition inclines us to think, tomorrow I must eat eggs for breakfast. But, as with the sea battle example, this is a modal fallacy. It’s true if God knows in advance I will eat eggs for breakfast, then sure enough I will do so. But it doesn’t follow that I must do so. If I have pancakes instead, then God would have had a different propositional foreknowledge, viz., that I will eat pancakes for breakfast tomorrow.

So it is with causal determinism. Given a vast ensemble of antecedent events — stretching all the way to the Big Bang? — tomorrow there will be a sea battle, or tomorrow I will eat eggs. But neither has to be the case. Rather, if there is no sea battle, or I eat pancakes instead of eggs, then a different ensemble of antecedent events would have preceded these choices or events.

As Marvin notes, determinism does not hold sway over us or cause us to do anything. The laws of nature are descriptive and not prescriptive. In fact, the idea that the so-called laws of nature govern the universe seems to be a hangover from theism, in which we have a lawgiver laying down the laws. But with no lawgiver there are no laws, only descriptions of what happens in the world, including our own freely willed acts.

I take a slightly different approach. Unlike Dennett, I have no qualms about using the word "inevitable". Most of the time, when we use the term "inevitable", it means that matters are out of our control, and that there is nothing we can do about it. But in the context of universal causal necessity/inevitability, the inevitability incorporates our control within the overall scheme of causation.

If my choice is inevitable, then it was also inevitable that it would be me, and no other object in the physical universe, that would do the choosing. In other words, my being "that which controls the choice" is also inevitable.

And, it will also be inevitable that, either I will make this choice of my own free will, or, my choice will be coerced or otherwise unduly influenced. So, my making this choice for myself, that is, of my own free will, would have been inevitable.

I don't think I can go along with the assessment of "must". Causal necessity would seem to logically imply a "must". The fact that I would make the choice of my own free will, was something that must happen, but the most meaningful and relevant cause of that choice would be me. The final responsible prior cause of a deliberate act is the act of deliberation that precedes it.

However, we would not normally assert that a sea battle must happen tomorrow, unless we were certain that the battle would take place. And if we were indeed certain, then we would not waste time on philosophy, but would instead busy ourselves making every preparation we could to assure that we would win that battle. Fatalism would prove fatal.

Prediction is not causation. So, even though a man's choice for dinner could theoretically be predicted in advance by an omniscient being (God, Laplace's Daemon, or his wife), it would still be him making that choice, for his own reasons.

I don't think we need to trace the causes of our actions back to the Big Bang. All we really care about are the most meaningful and relevant causes, the causes that efficiently explain why the event happened, and the causes that we can actually do something about.
 

pood

Junior Member
Marvin,

I think we mostly agree here, though perhaps are using slightly different terminology.

I am skeptical of the idea of causal necessity. This is also called physical or nomological necessity, and I don’t believe it exists. Necessity pertains entirely to logic, I think. It is necessarily true that triangles have three sides. It is necessarily true that bachelors are unmarried. It is necessarily true that two plus two equals four, and so on. It is not necessarily true that I will have breakfast tomorrow, even if God foreknows I will or if there is a true prior proposition that I will.

Except for the “universal causal/necessity” part, I agree with you on this:

Most of the time, when we use the term "inevitable", it means that matters are out of our control, and that there is nothing we can do about it. But in the context of universal causal necessity/inevitability, the inevitability incorporates our control within the overall scheme of causation.
[/QUOTE]

For example, there is a hypothesis, due to Minkowski/Einstein but mostly Minkowski, that we live in a block universe in the sense that the past, present and future all exist. If this is true, it would render the future as unchangeable as the past.

But does mean we lack relevant free will? I don’t think so. We don’t complain that we lack free will because the past is fixed. If the future if fixed, why should it be any different?

If past, present and future are indeed fixed, it means, when it comes to us, that they were, are, and will be, fixed by our actions. It may indeed be the case that no one can change the past, present or future. But I would suggest that changing past, present, or future, is not a prerequisite for relevant free will. Rather, our free acts made the past be what it was, make the present be what it is, and will make the future be, what it will be.
 

pood

Junior Member
This should be a clean version:

Marvin,

I think we mostly agree here, though perhaps are using slightly different terminology.


I am skeptical of the idea of causal necessity. This is also called physical or nomological necessity, and I don’t believe it exists. Necessity pertains entirely to logic, I think. It is necessarily true that triangles have three sides. It is necessarily true that bachelors are unmarried. It is necessarily true that two plus two equals four, and so on. It is not necessarily true that I will have breakfast tomorrow, even if God foreknows I will or if there is a true prior proposition that I will.

Except for the “universal causal/necessity” part, I agree with you on this:

Most of the time, when we use the term "inevitable", it means that matters are out of our control, and that there is nothing we can do about it. But in the context of universal causal necessity/inevitability, the inevitability incorporates our control within the overall scheme of causation.

For example, there is a hypothesis, due to Minkowski/Einstein but mostly Minkowski, that we live in a block universe in the sense that the past, present and future all exist. If this is true, it would render the future as unchangeable as the past.

But does mean we lack relevant free will? I don’t think so. We don’t complain that we lack free will because the past is fixed. If the future if fixed, why should it be any different?

If past, present and future are indeed fixed, it means, when it comes to us, that they were, are, and will be, fixed by our actions. It may indeed be the case that no one can change the past, present or future. But I would suggest that changing past, present, or future, is not a prerequisite for relevant free will. Rather, our free acts made the past be what it was, make the present be what it is, and will make the future be, what it will be.

There does not seem to be a preview post function here?
 
This should be a clean version:

Marvin,

I think we mostly agree here, though perhaps are using slightly different terminology.


I am skeptical of the idea of causal necessity. This is also called physical or nomological necessity, and I don’t believe it exists. Necessity pertains entirely to logic, I think. It is necessarily true that triangles have three sides. It is necessarily true that bachelors are unmarried. It is necessarily true that two plus two equals four, and so on. It is not necessarily true that I will have breakfast tomorrow, even if God foreknows I will or if there is a true prior proposition that I will.

Except for the “universal causal/necessity” part, I agree with you on this:

Most of the time, when we use the term "inevitable", it means that matters are out of our control, and that there is nothing we can do about it. But in the context of universal causal necessity/inevitability, the inevitability incorporates our control within the overall scheme of causation.

For example, there is a hypothesis, due to Minkowski/Einstein but mostly Minkowski, that we live in a block universe in the sense that the past, present and future all exist. If this is true, it would render the future as unchangeable as the past.

But does mean we lack relevant free will? I don’t think so. We don’t complain that we lack free will because the past is fixed. If the future if fixed, why should it be any different?

If past, present and future are indeed fixed, it means, when it comes to us, that they were, are, and will be, fixed by our actions. It may indeed be the case that no one can change the past, present or future. But I would suggest that changing past, present, or future, is not a prerequisite for relevant free will. Rather, our free acts made the past be what it was, make the present be what it is, and will make the future be, what it will be.

There does not seem to be a preview post function here?

The Preview button is in the upper right corner. The icon looks like a piece of paper with a magnifying glass. It's a toggle, so clicking it again returns to edit mode.

The block universe is a bit of fiction used to depict a deterministic universe. No such block exists in empirical reality. Time is the distance between events. Events are changes in the structure and location of objects. No object can be in different places at the same time, we simply do not have room for that.

No event is fully caused until its final prior causes have played themselves out. The meaningful causes are usually the most direct causes of the event. As we trace the causes of causes back through the chain, each cause becomes less meaningful and less relevant, and more incidental.

So, nothing in the future is already fixed. Causal necessity only means that future events will be necessitated by prior events. And that seems to be the case when we look around us at what is happening and the most recent history of the prior events leading up to the current events. In fact, we may view history as the proof of causal necessity.

The necessity you were describing is called "logical necessity". And just like it is logically necessary that 2 + 2 = 4, it is also logically necessary that every choosing operation begins with at least two real possibilities, two things that we can choose to do. For example, when choosing between A and B, it is logically necessary that "I can choose A" must be true and equally necessary that "I can choose B" is also true. If either is false, then choosing halts, because it is impossible to choose between a single possibility.

So, "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must both be true statements, by logical necessity. And, at the end of our choosing operation, this guarantees that we end up with one "I will choose X" (A or B) and one "I could have chosen Y" (B or A).

The ability to do otherwise comes built-in, free of charge, with the choosing operation.

If I shift my weight to my left leg, and lift my right leg, then I will necessarily take one step. This is not a logical necessity, but a physical necessity. If I choose to walk to the kitchen, then I will necessarily walk to the kitchen. That is neither a logical nor a physical necessity, but rather a rational necessity, brought about by my reasoned choice to go there.
 

pood

Junior Member
This should be a clean version:

Marvin,

I think we mostly agree here, though perhaps are using slightly different terminology.


I am skeptical of the idea of causal necessity. This is also called physical or nomological necessity, and I don’t believe it exists. Necessity pertains entirely to logic, I think. It is necessarily true that triangles have three sides. It is necessarily true that bachelors are unmarried. It is necessarily true that two plus two equals four, and so on. It is not necessarily true that I will have breakfast tomorrow, even if God foreknows I will or if there is a true prior proposition that I will.

Except for the “universal causal/necessity” part, I agree with you on this:

Most of the time, when we use the term "inevitable", it means that matters are out of our control, and that there is nothing we can do about it. But in the context of universal causal necessity/inevitability, the inevitability incorporates our control within the overall scheme of causation.

For example, there is a hypothesis, due to Minkowski/Einstein but mostly Minkowski, that we live in a block universe in the sense that the past, present and future all exist. If this is true, it would render the future as unchangeable as the past.

But does mean we lack relevant free will? I don’t think so. We don’t complain that we lack free will because the past is fixed. If the future if fixed, why should it be any different?

If past, present and future are indeed fixed, it means, when it comes to us, that they were, are, and will be, fixed by our actions. It may indeed be the case that no one can change the past, present or future. But I would suggest that changing past, present, or future, is not a prerequisite for relevant free will. Rather, our free acts made the past be what it was, make the present be what it is, and will make the future be, what it will be.

There does not seem to be a preview post function here?

The Preview button is in the upper right corner. The icon looks like a piece of paper with a magnifying glass. It's a toggle, so clicking it again returns to edit mode.

The block universe is a bit of fiction used to depict a deterministic universe. No such block exists in empirical reality. Time is the distance between events. Events are changes in the structure and location of objects. No object can be in different places at the same time, we simply do not have room for that.

No event is fully caused until its final prior causes have played themselves out. The meaningful causes are usually the most direct causes of the event. As we trace the causes of causes back through the chain, each cause becomes less meaningful and less relevant, and more incidental.

So, nothing in the future is already fixed. Causal necessity only means that future events will be necessitated by prior events. And that seems to be the case when we look around us at what is happening and the most recent history of the prior events leading up to the current events. In fact, we may view history as the proof of causal necessity.

The necessity you were describing is called "logical necessity". And just like it is logically necessary that 2 + 2 = 4, it is also logically necessary that every choosing operation begins with at least two real possibilities, two things that we can choose to do. For example, when choosing between A and B, it is logically necessary that "I can choose A" must be true and equally necessary that "I can choose B" is also true. If either is false, then choosing halts, because it is impossible to choose between a single possibility.

So, "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must both be true statements, by logical necessity. And, at the end of our choosing operation, this guarantees that we end up with one "I will choose X" (A or B) and one "I could have chosen Y" (B or A).

The ability to do otherwise comes built-in, free of charge, with the choosing operation.

If I shift my weight to my left leg, and lift my right leg, then I will necessarily take one step. This is not a logical necessity, but a physical necessity. If I choose to walk to the kitchen, then I will necessarily walk to the kitchen. That is neither a logical nor a physical necessity, but rather a rational necessity, brought about by my reasoned choice to go there.
Ah, I see, Mystery Meat navigation! (This is what a prominent designer once used to describe employing enigmatic icons on the web to describe simple functions. My suggestion would be to just have words saying, “Preview Post.”

Anyway, will respond later. Right now I’m dealing with a drunk who wants to know my favorite color. :D I told him yellow, but he is not happy with that response.:(
 

none

Banned
Yep, sure..was in San Anton' you know nice weather that time of year around the river... you know just off downtown and there was a big sign
something to do with Healthcare doctors
And on each table was a bottle of wine
Go figure, drunks
 

pood

Junior Member
Yeah, details.. care to start over?
No. I don’t even know what you are on about. On an up note, the guy who was a bit in the bag and whose favorite color is blue bought one of my blue artworks for 300 bucks, so that is cool. :)
 

DBT

Contributor
Yes, that is the role of will. But unfortunately for those who argue for free will, will itself doesn't run the show. The role that will plays is the prompt, the will to act.

That doesn't make our will free. It's just another cognitive function.

Nothing special in the scheme of things.

The brain chooses what it will do. The chosen intent then motivates and directs the body as it carries out that will.

The "free" part of free will simply means that, during the choosing of the will, we were not coerced or unduly influenced.


The brain acquires and processes information, 'selecting' the only possible action from a set of options in any given moment in time.

The unconscious action of response being determined by information conditions, inputs, architecture, chemical balance, etc, in that moment in time, is not an act of will, certainly not 'free will.'

Having nothing to do with will, be it conscious or not, it is incorrect to label the action of a brain processing information for a determined result, 'free will'

The illusionary nature of cognition;


Quote:
we presented evidence that the brain, when tricked by optical and sensory illusions, can quickly adopt another human form as its own, no matter how different it is. We designed two experiments. In the first one, the researchers fitted the head of a mannequin with two cameras connected to two small screens placed in front of the volunteer's eyes, so that the volunteer could see what the mannequin ''saw.''

When the mannequin's camera eyes and the volunteer's head, complete with the camera goggles, were directed downwards, the volunteer saw the dummy's body where he or she would normally have seen his or her own body. By simultaneously touching the stomachs of both the volunteer and the mannequin, we could create the illusion of body swapping.
 
Yes, that is the role of will. But unfortunately for those who argue for free will, will itself doesn't run the show. The role that will plays is the prompt, the will to act.

That doesn't make our will free. It's just another cognitive function.

Nothing special in the scheme of things.

The brain chooses what it will do. The chosen intent then motivates and directs the body as it carries out that will.

The "free" part of free will simply means that, during the choosing of the will, we were not coerced or unduly influenced.


The brain acquires and processes information, 'selecting' the only possible action from a set of options in any given moment in time.

The unconscious action of response being determined by information conditions, inputs, architecture, chemical balance, etc, in that moment in time, is not an act of will, certainly not 'free will.'

Having nothing to do with will, be it conscious or not, it is incorrect to label the action of a brain processing information for a determined result, 'free will'

The illusionary nature of cognition;


Quote:
we presented evidence that the brain, when tricked by optical and sensory illusions, can quickly adopt another human form as its own, no matter how different it is. We designed two experiments. In the first one, the researchers fitted the head of a mannequin with two cameras connected to two small screens placed in front of the volunteer's eyes, so that the volunteer could see what the mannequin ''saw.''

When the mannequin's camera eyes and the volunteer's head, complete with the camera goggles, were directed downwards, the volunteer saw the dummy's body where he or she would normally have seen his or her own body. By simultaneously touching the stomachs of both the volunteer and the mannequin, we could create the illusion of body swapping.

In the experiment, the only point where choosing happens is before the experiment begins, when the subject chooses to participate. Assuming the subject volunteered, and was not coerced or unduly influenced to participate, that choice was of their own free will (that is, they chose for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and undue influence).

Your quoted experiment is an example of an induced illusion, in which "the brain, when tricked by optical and sensory illusions" reaches some odd conclusions. This is similar to the Phantom Limb effect.

The brain organizes sensory data into a model of reality. When the model is accurate enough to be useful, as when we navigate our body through a doorway, then this is called "reality", because the model is our only access to reality. But when the model is inaccurate enough to cause problems, as when we walk into a glass door, thinking it was open. Then that is called an "illusion".

To say that cognition is always an illusion, suggests that the brain is unable to produce an accurate model of reality. If that were the case, then we'd be unable to walk through a doorway, because we would be unable to perceive ourselves as ourselves, and to perceive the doorway as a doorway. So, the correct thing to say is that cognition is always a model, not that it is always an illusion.
 
did you choose to be born?
Nope. But I've made a lot of choices since then, choices that would not have been made without me. From the moment we're born, we become active participants in our environment. We change the environment and the environment changes us. Consider the parents awakened at 2AM by their newborn's cries for food. From the beginning of us, we are negotiating for control with our physical (the crib) and social (the parents) environments.
 

none

Banned
did you choose to be born?
Nope. But I've made a lot of choices since then, choices that would not have been made without me. From the moment we're born, we become active participants in our environment. We change the environment and the environment changes us. Consider the parents awakened at 2AM by their newborn's cries for food. From the beginning of us, we are negotiating for control with our physical (the crib) and social (the parents) environments.
and proto life?
 
did you choose to be born?
Nope. But I've made a lot of choices since then, choices that would not have been made without me. From the moment we're born, we become active participants in our environment. We change the environment and the environment changes us. Consider the parents awakened at 2AM by their newborn's cries for food. From the beginning of us, we are negotiating for control with our physical (the crib) and social (the parents) environments.
and proto life?

Non-intelligent living organisms are biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce. They too interact with their environment, changing that environment in some ways, and being changed by that environment in return. However, they cannot act deliberately, because they lack the neurological infrastructure required to imagine, evaluate, choose, etc. They are, however, goal-directed. Their behavior is "purposeful", and the purpose is to survive and reproduce. But they are not aware of this purpose, even though they act upon it.
 

DBT

Contributor
Yes, that is the role of will. But unfortunately for those who argue for free will, will itself doesn't run the show. The role that will plays is the prompt, the will to act.

That doesn't make our will free. It's just another cognitive function.

Nothing special in the scheme of things.

The brain chooses what it will do. The chosen intent then motivates and directs the body as it carries out that will.

The "free" part of free will simply means that, during the choosing of the will, we were not coerced or unduly influenced.


The brain acquires and processes information, 'selecting' the only possible action from a set of options in any given moment in time.

The unconscious action of response being determined by information conditions, inputs, architecture, chemical balance, etc, in that moment in time, is not an act of will, certainly not 'free will.'

Having nothing to do with will, be it conscious or not, it is incorrect to label the action of a brain processing information for a determined result, 'free will'

The illusionary nature of cognition;


Quote:
we presented evidence that the brain, when tricked by optical and sensory illusions, can quickly adopt another human form as its own, no matter how different it is. We designed two experiments. In the first one, the researchers fitted the head of a mannequin with two cameras connected to two small screens placed in front of the volunteer's eyes, so that the volunteer could see what the mannequin ''saw.''

When the mannequin's camera eyes and the volunteer's head, complete with the camera goggles, were directed downwards, the volunteer saw the dummy's body where he or she would normally have seen his or her own body. By simultaneously touching the stomachs of both the volunteer and the mannequin, we could create the illusion of body swapping.

In the experiment, the only point where choosing happens is before the experiment begins, when the subject chooses to participate. Assuming the subject volunteered, and was not coerced or unduly influenced to participate, that choice was of their own free will (that is, they chose for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and undue influence).

Your quoted experiment is an example of an induced illusion, in which "the brain, when tricked by optical and sensory illusions" reaches some odd conclusions. This is similar to the Phantom Limb effect.

The brain organizes sensory data into a model of reality. When the model is accurate enough to be useful, as when we navigate our body through a doorway, then this is called "reality", because the model is our only access to reality. But when the model is inaccurate enough to cause problems, as when we walk into a glass door, thinking it was open. Then that is called an "illusion".

To say that cognition is always an illusion, suggests that the brain is unable to produce an accurate model of reality. If that were the case, then we'd be unable to walk through a doorway, because we would be unable to perceive ourselves as ourselves, and to perceive the doorway as a doorway. So, the correct thing to say is that cognition is always a model, not that it is always an illusion.


It's not exactly a matter of 'choosing.'

Within a determined system, all actions are fixed as a matter of natural law. If determinism is true, the brain follows its determined path to whatever end with no possibility of divergence. The brain necessarily produces a determined outcome.

(1) P(A.B) > P(A).P(B)
(2) P(A.B|C) = P(A|C).P(B|C)

1- If determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent, as a matter of choice, why call it determinism?

2- If freedom does not require the possibility of realizable options, that the world proceeds along a determined, singular, course of events, why call it freedom?

3- If 'freedom' does not require a means for the selection an option from set of realizable alternatives, what is freedom?

4 - Without regulative control or realizable options, why call it free will?

''The argument is exceedingly familiar, and runs as follows. Either determinism is true or it is not. If it is true, then all our chosen actions are uniquely necessitated by prior states of the world, just like every other event. But then it cannot be the case that we could have acted otherwise, since this would require a possibility determinism rules out. Once the initial conditions are set and the laws fixed, causality excludes genuine freedom.'' - Colin McGinn is an Anglo-American Analytic (AAA) philosopher who presented the standard argument against free will.
 
It's not exactly a matter of 'choosing.'

Within a determined system, all actions are fixed as a matter of natural law. If determinism is true, the brain follows its determined path to whatever end with no possibility of divergence. The brain necessarily produces a determined outcome.

(1) P(A.B) > P(A).P(B)
(2) P(A.B|C) = P(A|C).P(B|C)

1- If determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent, as a matter of choice, why call it determinism?

2- If freedom does not require the possibility of realizable options, that the world proceeds along a determined, singular, course of events, why call it freedom?

3- If 'freedom' does not require a means for the selection an option from set of realizable alternatives, what is freedom?

4 - Without regulative control or realizable options, why call it free will?

''The argument is exceedingly familiar, and runs as follows. Either determinism is true or it is not. If it is true, then all our chosen actions are uniquely necessitated by prior states of the world, just like every other event. But then it cannot be the case that we could have acted otherwise, since this would require a possibility determinism rules out. Once the initial conditions are set and the laws fixed, causality excludes genuine freedom.'' - Colin McGinn is an Anglo-American Analytic (AAA) philosopher who presented the standard argument against free will.

There are a lot of figurative assumptions there. The first is the assumption that since the choice was causally necessary, "it is AS IF choosing did not happen". Thus, the false suggestion, "It's not exactly a matter of 'choosing.' "

What "exactly" is choosing? Choosing is an operation that (1) inputs two or more options, (2) applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and (3) outputs a single choice, typically in the form of an "I will X", where X is what we will do. This series of events is called "choosing". When we observe this series of events, it is "exactly a matter of 'choosing' ".

For example, we can walk into any restaurant and observe people browsing the menu and then placing their order. At the end of their meal, the waiter brings them the bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate actions (choosing has consequences). In the restaurant a person is (1) presented with a literal menu of options, (2) they weigh these options by their own goals, which may include dietary, taste, satisfaction, price, etc., and (3) based upon this evaluation they tell the waiter, "I will have the Chef Salad, please". Each event is the reliable result of the prior events.

Choosing is a real event in the real world. Choosing is deterministic.

Within a determined system, all actions are fixed as a matter of natural law.

Actually, the laws of nature are descriptive, not causative. Only the actual objects and forces that make up the physical universe can be said to "cause" events. Objects, such as the Moon and the Earth, are attracted to each other by the force of gravity. The Moon's current orbit around the Earth is caused by the Moon's original trajectory plus the gravitational attraction of its mass to the mass of the Earth. Neither the Earth, nor the Moon, consults any legal text to see what they should do next. The only behavior that is actually governed by the laws of nature, is the behavior of the astrophysicist who must calculate where these objects will be, so that, for example, the rocket and the Moon will show up at the same place at the same time.

So, the laws of nature are not some entity that goes about in the world causing things to happen. The Moon and the Earth are the actual entities, and the force of gravity between them is an actual force. The "laws" are metaphors for the "reliability" of the behavior they describe. The laws have no causal force, only gravity has causal force.

This distinction between real objects and forces, versus metaphorical "laws", clarifies what is doing the "fixing" of events. And this distinction is important to us, because we happen to be one of those actual objects, that go about in the world, causing things to happen, and doing so for our own goals, our own reasons, and our own interests.

"If determinism is true, the brain follows its determined path to whatever end with no possibility of divergence."

Some neural pathways, like those involved in our reflexes (jerking our hand away from a hot stove) and our autonomic functions (keeping our hearts beating), are fixed in advance. But the neural pathways involved in imagination, evaluation, and choosing, will be formed and fixed by our interactions with our internal and external environments. There is an evolutionary advantage to have this ability to adapt creatively to the challenges we encounter.

Choosing what we will do, is one of those processes that uses and shapes these neural pathways.

Determinism is neither an object nor a force. It is not an entity that acts upon us. Determinism does not control or constrain what we do. It simply asserts that all events, including our mental events, are always reliably caused by prior events.

"The brain necessarily produces a determined outcome."

The brain, when choosing, necessarily produces an outcome that is consistent with our own goals, our own reasons, our own beliefs and values, our own genetic dispositions and prior life experiences, and any other of those things that make us who and what we are. Choosing is a deterministic operation, in which the choice is the reliable result of who and what we are at the moment of choosing.

(1) P(A.B) > P(A).P(B)
(2) P(A.B|C) = P(A|C).P(B|C)

I'm pretty sure that determinism works more simply, just like this: A->B->C->...

For example, (A) We encounter a problem or issue that requires us to make a choice between two or more real possibilities. (B) We consider each option and estimate the likely outcome of choosing each. (C) Based on that evaluation, we decide what we will do.

1- If determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent, as a matter of choice, why call it determinism?

Choosing allows multiple realizable options to be considered by an agent, but only one is actually realized. Choosing is deterministic because the option that is chosen is reliably determined by the process of consideration.

2- If freedom does not require the possibility of realizable options, that the world proceeds along a determined, singular, course of events, why call it freedom?

Every option on the restaurant menu is realizable, the chef is able to prepare any item you select. But only one of them will be realized. A "possibility" is something that "can" happen, but it is not something that "must" happen or that "will" happen.

The terms "free" and "freedom" are only meaningful when they explicitly or implicitly references some meaningful and relevant constraint. For example, in the case of "free will", the constraint is "coercion or other undue influence".

Universal causal necessity/inevitability is neither a meaningful nor a relevant constraint. What you will inevitably do is exactly identical to you just being you, choosing what you choose, and doing what you do. And that is not a meaningful constraint. It is not something that you can, or need to be, free of. To view it as a constraint is an illusion.

3- If 'freedom' does not require a means for the selection an option from set of realizable alternatives, what is freedom?

Freedom is the ability to do what we want. Freedom is the absence of some meaningful and relevant constraint. The specific freedom depends upon the specific constraint.

Choosing is the means of selecting an option from a set of realizable alternatives. An alternative is still realizable even if it is never realized. At the end of the choosing operation, there will be precisely one thing that we "will" do, plus any number of things that we did not do, but could have done if we had chose to.

"4 - Without regulative control or realizable options, why call it free will?"

"Free will" is short for "a freely chosen will". The choosing is free if it is not constrained by coercion or other extraordinary influences.
Our "will" is our specific intent for the immediate or distant future. It motivates and directs our actions.
Choosing is regulative control. It causally determines what we will do next.

''The argument is exceedingly familiar, and runs as follows. Either determinism is true or it is not. If it is true, then all our chosen actions are uniquely necessitated by prior states of the world, just like every other event. But then it cannot be the case that we could have acted otherwise, since this would require a possibility determinism rules out. Once the initial conditions are set and the laws fixed, causality excludes genuine freedom.'' - Colin McGinn is an Anglo-American Analytic (AAA) philosopher who presented the standard argument against free will.

Let me take that apart for you:
Either determinism is true or it is not

Determinism is true in that every event is the reliable result of prior events.

If it is true, then all our chosen actions are uniquely necessitated by prior states of the world, just like every other event.

Our chosen actions are uniquely necessitated by our own choosing process. It is rather silly to suggest that we need to know the "prior states of the world" in order to understand why we made our choice.

But then it cannot be the case that we could have acted otherwise, since this would require a possibility determinism rules out.

What "can" happen is not the same as what "will" happen. Choosing between A and B requires that "I can choose A" is true and also that "I can choose B" is true. Both are true by logical necessity, because they are required by the operation. At the end of the operation, we are left with the one thing that I "will" do, and the other thing that I "could have done" but didn't do.

Determinism does not rule out any possibilities. In fact, it guarantees that multiple possibilities will show up as mental events in every choosing operation. Determinism only rules out multiple actualities.

Whenever a choosing operation appears in a causal chain, "I could have done otherwise" will always be true. It is only "I would have done otherwise" that will always be false.

Like many before him, Colin McGinn is conflating what "can" happen with what "will" happen. What "can" happen constrains what "will" happen. But what "can" happen is only constrained by the imagination.

Once the initial conditions are set and the laws fixed, causality excludes genuine freedom.

Actually, reliable causation is a requirement of every freedom. Without reliable cause and effect, I could never reliably cause any effect, and would thus have no freedom to do anything at all. So, the notion of freedom logically implies the notion of reliable causation.

And that is why the philosophical definition of free will, as a choice "free of causal necessity", creates a paradox. One cannot be free of that which freedom requires. It is a self-contradiction. The philosophical definition is hopelessly flawed, and must be discarded.
 

pood

Junior Member
It should be noted perhaps that the above-mentioned Colin McGinn presented the standard argument against free will but then rejected it. Not that appeals to authority should matter much.
 

DBT

Contributor
It should be noted perhaps that the above-mentioned Colin McGinn presented the standard argument against free will but then rejected it. Not that appeals to authority should matter much.

It's not the authority that matters, or that he rejected it, but the argument. The argument is sound for the given reasons.
 

DBT

Contributor
It's not exactly a matter of 'choosing.'

Within a determined system, all actions are fixed as a matter of natural law. If determinism is true, the brain follows its determined path to whatever end with no possibility of divergence. The brain necessarily produces a determined outcome.

(1) P(A.B) > P(A).P(B)
(2) P(A.B|C) = P(A|C).P(B|C)

1- If determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent, as a matter of choice, why call it determinism?

2- If freedom does not require the possibility of realizable options, that the world proceeds along a determined, singular, course of events, why call it freedom?

3- If 'freedom' does not require a means for the selection an option from set of realizable alternatives, what is freedom?

4 - Without regulative control or realizable options, why call it free will?

''The argument is exceedingly familiar, and runs as follows. Either determinism is true or it is not. If it is true, then all our chosen actions are uniquely necessitated by prior states of the world, just like every other event. But then it cannot be the case that we could have acted otherwise, since this would require a possibility determinism rules out. Once the initial conditions are set and the laws fixed, causality excludes genuine freedom.'' - Colin McGinn is an Anglo-American Analytic (AAA) philosopher who presented the standard argument against free will.

There are a lot of figurative assumptions there. The first is the assumption that since the choice was causally necessary, "it is AS IF choosing did not happen". Thus, the false suggestion, "It's not exactly a matter of 'choosing.' "


My comment ''not exactly a matter of choosing'' specifically refers to there being no alternative possible within a determined system...which does not allow you to have chosen otherwise in any given instance in time.


What "exactly" is choosing? Choosing is an operation that (1) inputs two or more options, (2) applies some criteria of comparative evaluation, and (3) outputs a single choice, typically in the form of an "I will X", where X is what we will do. This series of events is called "choosing". When we observe this series of events, it is "exactly a matter of 'choosing' ".

For example, we can walk into any restaurant and observe people browsing the menu and then placing their order. At the end of their meal, the waiter brings them the bill, holding them responsible for their deliberate actions (choosing has consequences). In the restaurant a person is (1) presented with a literal menu of options, (2) they weigh these options by their own goals, which may include dietary, taste, satisfaction, price, etc., and (3) based upon this evaluation they tell the waiter, "I will have the Chef Salad, please". Each event is the reliable result of the prior events.

Choosing is a real event in the real world. Choosing is deterministic.

Again, no alternatives exists within a determined system, whatever happens is necessitated by antecedents and fixed as a matter of natural law.

The choice in your examples is an illusion of limited perspective.

If you had a Gods eye view of a determined world, the world, it objects and events would appear fixed like the the actions on a film.



I'm pretty sure that determinism works more simply, just like this: A->B->C->...

Events are not matter of linear causation. There are multiple elements at work in every action/reaction. A web rather than a chain of 'causality.' And of course, every cause being an effect.


That's all I have time for. Posts have a tendency to grow.
 

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius
... I believe all of this speaks to why religion was so ubiquitous throughout the world before the scientific revolution. In lieu of a material understanding human experience feels immaterial, supernatural, and normalized.
Big category lots of caveats, conditions, presumptions, attached to religion meme. If you want to compare that, whatever it is, to material understanding you need shift to material as objective and to religious as subjective. Otherwise there is no comparison.
 
My comment ''not exactly a matter of choosing'' specifically refers to there being no alternative possible within a determined system...which does not allow you to have chosen otherwise in any given instance in time.

Again, no alternatives exists within a determined system, whatever happens is necessitated by antecedents and fixed as a matter of natural law.

The choice in your examples is an illusion of limited perspective.

If you had a Gods eye view of a determined world, the world, it objects and events would appear fixed like the the actions on a film.

Events are not matter of linear causation. There are multiple elements at work in every action/reaction. A web rather than a chain of 'causality.' And of course, every cause being an effect.

That's all I have time for. Posts have a tendency to grow.

The "limited perspective" is on the hard determinist side. It is limited by a highly abstract view of causation. It's kind of the opposite of "not seeing the forest for the trees", but rather not seeing the trees for the forest. Instead of the specific causes of specific effects, the hard determinist only sees universal causal necessity/inevitability. And that viewpoint ignores all of the meaningful and relevant information, like the people who actually make the choices that determine what happens next.

The people are replaced by causal necessity. Causal necessity is promoted to "an entity with causal powers", and all control and all responsibility are vested in this non-entity, rather than in the people who decide for themselves what they will do, the people who actually exercise control over their actions, actions that causally determine what happens next. This abstraction of individual people into causal necessity is the real illusion.

Within the domain of human influence (things we can make happen if we choose to), the single inevitable future is chosen by us from among the many possible futures we imagine. That is how the single inevitable future comes about.
 

rousseau

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

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

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

That's not to say that we have free will by any means, but despite a bit of generalization I think my last few posts answer the why we feel free question.
 

DBT

Contributor
My comment ''not exactly a matter of choosing'' specifically refers to there being no alternative possible within a determined system...which does not allow you to have chosen otherwise in any given instance in time.

Again, no alternatives exists within a determined system, whatever happens is necessitated by antecedents and fixed as a matter of natural law.

The choice in your examples is an illusion of limited perspective.

If you had a Gods eye view of a determined world, the world, it objects and events would appear fixed like the the actions on a film.

Events are not matter of linear causation. There are multiple elements at work in every action/reaction. A web rather than a chain of 'causality.' And of course, every cause being an effect.

That's all I have time for. Posts have a tendency to grow.

The "limited perspective" is on the hard determinist side. It is limited by a highly abstract view of causation. It's kind of the opposite of "not seeing the forest for the trees", but rather not seeing the trees for the forest. Instead of the specific causes of specific effects, the hard determinist only sees universal causal necessity/inevitability. And that viewpoint ignores all of the meaningful and relevant information, like the people who actually make the choices that determine what happens next.

The people are replaced by causal necessity. Causal necessity is promoted to "an entity with causal powers", and all control and all responsibility are vested in this non-entity, rather than in the people who decide for themselves what they will do, the people who actually exercise control over their actions, actions that causally determine what happens next. This abstraction of individual people into causal necessity is the real illusion.

Within the domain of human influence (things we can make happen if we choose to), the single inevitable future is chosen by us from among the many possible futures we imagine. That is how the single inevitable future comes about.

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



Origination Argument;

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

fromderinside

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

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

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

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

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

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

You seem to be a nostalgic kind of gee. Being so needn't cloud your perceptions. I'm still partial to the Hardy Boys over Nordic Murders. Not a problem.
 
Origination Argument;

1. An agent acts with free will only if she is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
2. If determinism is true, then everything any agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside her control.
3. If everything an agent does is ultimately caused by events and circumstances beyond her control, then the agent is not the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
4. Therefore, if determinism is true, then no agent is the originator (or ultimate source) of her actions.
5. Therefore, if determinism is true, no agent has free will.
Item 1 is question-begging. It assumes as true the very thing that is under discussion.
 
Our limited perspective is determined by a number of elements. One, the wiring of our brains. We have no means with which to access the means of production of our experience of the world and self. There are no means for us, as conscious entities, to access the underlying activity that brings us into being. What we see, hear, feel, think, decide or do is being produced by neural networks that are beyond our perception or control.

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

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

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

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

We are whatever the brain is currently doing.

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

Calling this 'free will' is a misnomer.

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

Origination Argument;

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

1. In most cases, we are the most meaningful and relevant cause of our choices. It is our own evaluation of our current conditions that lead us to conclude that we must make a choice before we can continue whatever we are doing. It is our own purpose and our own reasons that are the prior causes of our own choices. Every piece of information that goes into that choosing is found in our own thoughts, our own feelings, our own desires, our own beliefs, our own values, etc. The choosing operation itself is carried out within our own brains. So, normally, it is empirically accurate to consider ourselves the ultimate source of our own choices.

However, there are also other other cases, where a person may be coerced by the threat of force, or affected by a significant mental illness, or commanded by an authority, or otherwise unduly influenced beyond their control, where that coercion or undue influence is considered the ultimate source of the person's choice.

2. If determinism is true, then nothing changes. We simply add causal necessity to each of our existing facts. Simply add the phrase, "It will be causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time that...". For example:
(a) "It will be causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time that..." we will be the most meaningful and relevant cause of our choice.
(b) "It will be causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time that..." our own evaluation of our current conditions will lead us to conclude that we must make a decision before we can continue whatever we are doing.
(c) "It will be causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time that..." it will be our own purpose and our own reasons that will be the prior causes of our own choices.
(d) "It will be causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time that..." every piece of information of information that goes into that choosing will be found in our own thoughts, our own feelings, our own desires, our own beliefs, our own values, etc.
(e) "It will be causally necessary/inevitable from any prior point in time that..." the choosing operation itself will be carried out within our own brains.

As we all can see, universal causal necessity/inevitability is a background constant that always applies to every event. It never actually changes anything. Like a constant that appears on both sides of every equation, it can be subtracted from both sides without affecting the result. And it cannot excuse one thing without excusing everything. If it excuses the guy who stole your wallet, then it also excuses the judge who cuts off his hand.

3. Only a few choices are caused by events and circumstances beyond our control, these would include coercion and undue influence. When the coercion or the undue influence is controlling the choice, then the person is not the originator (or ultimate source) of their own actions. The person doing the coercion or otherwise unduly influencing the choice is held responsible for the person's actions.

4. If determinism is true, and properly understood, then we discover that it is not an actor in the real world. It simply asserts that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where every event is the reliable result of specific prior events. And, if we're curious, we could theoretically trace those prior events back from the current event, all the way back to the Big Bang (and whatever caused that). But no one would take the trouble to do that, because most of the causes we care about are the most recent causes, the causes we can learn from, and the causes we might need to correct if the event is harmful.

5. Therefore, if determinism is true, everything continues to operate exactly as it always has. There are no meaningful implications to be drawn from the logical fact of universal causal necessity/inevitability. It is a logical fact, but it is not a meaningful or relevant fact. It makes no distinctions between any events. And we need to make meaningful distinctions to continue to control our lives and our destiny. For example, we need to distinguish a behavior that was freely chosen from a behavior that was forced upon someone against their will.
 

DBT

Contributor
Origination Argument;

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

No, it's not begging the question.

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

DBT

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

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

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

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

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

We are whatever the brain is currently doing.

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

Calling this 'free will' is a misnomer.

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

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

Pereboom's argument against compatibilism:

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



 

DBT

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


PHILOSOPHICAL COMPATIBILISM IN A NUTSHELL


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


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


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


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

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

No, it's not begging the question.

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

Marvin has not suggested (or implied) that "determinism allows multiple options to be realized by an agent".
 
Our limited perspective is determined by a number of elements. One, the wiring of our brains. We have no means with which to access the means of production of our experience of the world and self. There are no means for us, as conscious entities, to access the underlying activity that brings us into being. What we see, hear, feel, think, decide or do is being produced by neural networks that are beyond our perception or control.

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

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

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

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

We are whatever the brain is currently doing.

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

Calling this 'free will' is a misnomer.

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

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

Pereboom's argument against compatibilism:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PHILOSOPHICAL COMPATIBILISM IN A NUTSHELL


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


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


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


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

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

rousseau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Broad generalizations abound but that's how I roll.
 

DBT

Contributor
Origination Argument;

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

No, it's not begging the question.

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

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

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

DBT

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


PHILOSOPHICAL COMPATIBILISM IN A NUTSHELL


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


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


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


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

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


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

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