Author Topic: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...  (Read 11209 times)

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keeta

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #232 on: January 19, 2013, 02:19:41 PM »
Yeah, i don't think the universe is making my choices for me...it may throw random shit at me, but it's still up to me to make a choice one way or another about everything in my control. i can't control if it's going to rain or shine on a given day...but i have lots of choice and options on what to do with that information. not everything we do is out of our control, this is where people get into trouble thinking they can do what they want and not be responsible for their actions. i don't buy it.

thanks dom for the summary, i feel all caught up now lol all in one post, nice! lol you should do that more often ;)

the universe may have it's definite way of functioning, but so do i.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #233 on: January 19, 2013, 02:34:47 PM »
Are you not a part of the universe?

If not, then what divides you from the universe, such that it is subject to physical laws, and you are not?
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

keeta

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #234 on: January 19, 2013, 03:11:01 PM »
i guess i don't see myself as 'part of' the universe as much as a person 'in the' universe, though i guess i could see the whole shabang lumped together like that, all 'a part' of one thing.

no one said i'm not subject to physical laws, they affect everything 'IN' the universe correct? i am not 'in' another universe, i am in this universe. but maybe i'm seeing it wrong.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #235 on: January 19, 2013, 03:25:31 PM »
The exercise of impulse control  to rein in reaction to immediate emotional responses. That I believe is the only useful definition of free will.
That's a little pretentious, don't you think?  Just like your earlier assertion about why people don't want to apply cause and effect to themselves, even though they apply it to everything else.  What makes you think people consider themselves aloof from causality?  Most of the time when a person talks about free will, what they mean is that other people can't determine their future for them, because that future hasn't happened yet.  Indeed, people will often go to great lengths to prove that other people can't determine their future for them.  You shouldn't assume that a person who's talking about free will somehow means that they're not affected by anything in the universe.

What about a situation when someone has multiple things they want to do, but can't actually do them all?  Being able to make decisions is about more than just reining in emotional impulses.    It's also about choosing between alternatives.  That's part of why I say trying to apply a purely deterministic model to decision-making isn't a very useful one.  Decisions aren't necessarily a duality, "do this thing or that other thing".  In many cases, if not most, there's additional options to be chosen from.  Sure, if you have past behavior to go from, you can get an idea of what they might choose, even calculate probabilities.  But even then, you usually can't predict with certainty what they will do, and furthermore, you can't be sure you have enough of the pertinent information to be sure you didn't miss something.  Those add up, and make attempts to deterministically predict an individual's behavior for any length of time rather useless.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #236 on: January 19, 2013, 03:49:59 PM »
Most of the time when a person talks about free will, what they mean is that other people can't determine their future for them, because that future hasn't happened yet.  Indeed, people will often go to great lengths to prove that other people can't determine their future for them. ...

What you are describing is freedom of person, rather than freedom of will.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #237 on: January 20, 2013, 02:08:05 AM »
What about a situation when someone has multiple things they want to do, but can't actually do them all?  Being able to make decisions is about more than just reining in emotional impulses.    It's also about choosing between alternatives.....Decisions aren't necessarily a duality, "do this thing or that other thing".  In many cases, if not most, there's additional options to be chosen from.

Oh quite.  Decisions can be from multiple potential options, as well as simple yes/nos.  But ultimately, at any one sliver of time, you can only "choose" to do one.  The point where you, the sum of all your thoughts and memories and experiences and life so far, can apparently do anything, unfettered by what came before.

Its the point I really don't get about free will, in the sense I'm addressing.  How a person can be be completely uninfluenced by their current state of mind and being, so unfettered by the physical laws of the universe, that any choice is possible.

Wha's your take on my "jury" question, BTW?

Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline plethora

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #238 on: January 21, 2013, 05:45:48 AM »
Yeah, i don't think the universe is making my choices for me...it may throw random shit at me, but it's still up to me to make a choice one way or another about everything in my control. i can't control if it's going to rain or shine on a given day...but i have lots of choice and options on what to do with that information. not everything we do is out of our control, this is where people get into trouble thinking they can do what they want and not be responsible for their actions. i don't buy it.

When discussing "free will", I get this a lot... people seem to think "free will" is the ability to make choices.

I try time and time again to explain that we do have the ability to make choices, but this is not 'free will'.

I refer you to this post I made in another thread where I explain this in detail:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22045.msg491978.html#msg491978


Regarding accountability for one's actions ... understanding that people act the only way they can act given their circumstances does not mean that we shouldn't take action to prevent people from doing things that are harmful to society.

If a person does something that is harmful to others and puts the safety of other individuals at risk and the only way to protect the general public from their actions is to imprison them, then of course I still want them to be imprisoned.

... and if one day could achieve a deep understanding of what traits are undesirable within that person's brain and could remove those 'defects' for the greater good of society, I would rather do that than simply take revenge and punish them for doing the only thing they could have done.
The truth doesn't give a shit about our feelings.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #239 on: January 21, 2013, 11:26:17 AM »
Regarding accountability for one's actions ... understanding that people act the only way they can act given their circumstances does not mean that we shouldn't take action to prevent people from doing things that are harmful to society.

This includes, of course, imposing rules/laws that treat people as though they are responsible for their actions.  Such laws can have positive outcomes, and thus they make sense regardless of free will.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline plethora

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #240 on: January 21, 2013, 11:51:34 AM »
^^^ Indeed.
The truth doesn't give a shit about our feelings.

Offline plethora

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #241 on: January 21, 2013, 12:31:22 PM »
It's funny how these 'free will' discussions, where I see atheists trying to defend their claim that we have 'free will', tend to show many of the same patterns we see when discussing religion and the existence of god with theists.

You get the argument from consequences ...

i.e

"If everyone accepts that we do not have free will then people will just go around doing whatever they want and it's pointless to blame them or punish them."

Sounds a lot like ...

"If nobody believes in god then people will just go around raping and killing without any blame or consequences!"


... and the "free will of the gaps" ...

"We don't know everything there is to know about the brain ... therefore, free will must in there somewhere ... we just can't point to it yet."


It's funny how people will bend over backwards when someone is arguing against something they hold as a very basic, deeply held belief.

The belief that we have free will is very hard to escape from.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 12:35:11 PM by plethora »
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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #242 on: January 23, 2013, 08:30:33 PM »
Okay, I’ve changed my mind about not posting again in this thread. I’ve been thinking about this some more and I think I see the problem with some of the arguments here. I think the deniers of free will are using some inappropriate definition of ‘free’.

I try time and time again to explain that we do have the ability to make choices, but this is not 'free will'.

I refer you to this post I made in another thread where I explain this in detail:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22045.msg491978.html#msg491978

‘Will’ is the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action. It’s our ability to make choices. You say we have the ability to make choices, but in your linked post you say that ability isn’t free. The question is: what do you mean by ‘free’ as it would reasonably apply to our ability to make choices?

Here are a couple of dictionary meanings of ‘free’ as it applies to our ability to make choices.

OED
1 able to act or be done as one wishes; not under the control of another

M-W
2 a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself

Are those meanings of ‘free’ true of our ability to make choices or not? If you think they aren’t true then in what way are they not true? If you aren’t using those meanings or a similar meaning then what meaning of ‘free’ are you using?
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #243 on: January 24, 2013, 03:52:19 AM »
There are a lot of definitions that get used in threads like this, 3sigma.  Some senses of "free will" make sense, and certainly exist - such as the one you've described.

That is sometimes the kind being espoused by the "free-willers" here, but it's not the only one.  Jaime believes that something about emergent complexity in our brains violates causality.  That's not the "free will" you just described, and it's the idea currently under debate in the thread.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #244 on: January 24, 2013, 04:31:06 AM »
(Free will is) able to act or be done as one wishes; not under the control of another

That is sometimes the kind being espoused by the "free-willers" here, but it's not the only one.  Jaime believes that something about emergent complexity in our brains violates causality.  That's not the "free will" you just described, and it's the idea currently under debate in the thread.

3Sigma is saying that if you have a gun pointed at your head, you can't exercise "free will" because of direct outside influences.  I'd agree with him in that definition.

The point I'm making though is that - for EVERY decision - there is a metaphorical gun to our head, which is the accumulated experience of life that has led us to that point.  We are what we are, and in a particular circumstance you will act in a particular way.  It will look and feel as if there was no immediate external influence - no physical guns waving about - but there was nonetheless nothing "free" about it.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #245 on: January 24, 2013, 04:58:16 AM »
Nonetheless, one's genetics are not a something that exercises coersion as a factor that one takes into account in one's decision-making process.  One does not "take into account" these other controlling factors consciously, whereas a gun to one's head is something one takes into account consciously.

Yes, it's all causal.  But not everything comes into play at the same point in the same way.

EDIT:  Used "Factor" too many times in that post.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 05:03:11 AM by Azdgari »
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline plethora

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #246 on: January 24, 2013, 05:12:41 AM »
‘Will’ is the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action. It’s our ability to make choices. You say we have the ability to make choices, but in your linked post you say that ability isn’t free. The question is: what do you mean by ‘free’ as it would reasonably apply to our ability to make choices?

Here are a couple of dictionary meanings of ‘free’ as it applies to our ability to make choices.

OED
1 able to act or be done as one wishes; not under the control of another

M-W
2 a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself

Are those meanings of ‘free’ true of our ability to make choices or not? If you think they aren’t true then in what way are they not true? If you aren’t using those meanings or a similar meaning then what meaning of ‘free’ are you using?

'Will' is not the ability to make choices. It is the sum of all the desires we have. It is the underlying layer that motivates us to take action. Our 'nature', imposed on us by circumstance.

Keep in mind that when you say 'free will', the word 'free' is describing 'will'. In the definitions you provided it seems to be describing an agent and not the agent's 'will'.

So let's apply these definitions to 'free will':

1) Able to act or be done as one wishes

In this context, 'free will' simply means an agent is able to make choices, based upon its underlying desires (will). However, I don't see what value the word 'free' adds to this as it does not escape the fact that the agent has no hand in shaping or changing its 'will' and will act the only way it can based on that 'will'.

2) not under the control of another

If we define 'another' as 'another agent', then 'free will' is simply the ability an agent has to make choices based on its 'will', without being coerced or influences by other agents.

This may be a useful definition in many contexts (i.e. determining legally whether a defendant was coerced into taking action by another person) but it still this does not escape the fact that the agents 'will' is imposed in it by external factors it has no hand in and therefore acts the only way it can.

If we define 'another' as any external factor ... then 'free will' is simply not true as our 'will' is most certainly being influenced and coerced by external factors (i.e. circumstance, physics, external stimuli, etc).

3) not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being

'Free will' in this context becomes a circular definition. The agent acts as per its own nature. Well, duh. However, its nature is imposed on it by circumstance. An agent is subject to its own 'will' and it cannot determine what characteristics this 'will' is going to have.

4) choosing or capable of choosing for itself

Well, yeah but again, the agent is fully dependant on its underlying desires i.e. its 'will'


Adding the word 'free' at best describes situations in which an agent is not being coerced by another agent... but it always assumes the nature of the being, its will, is something that just is what it is.

Adding the word 'free' to exclude any influences beyond the nature of the agent is useful in many contexts. But it does not address the fact that one is completely at the mercy of their nature, their 'will', which was imposed on them in its entirety by circumstance.


« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 05:24:58 AM by plethora »
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Offline dloubet

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #247 on: January 24, 2013, 05:37:05 AM »
I don't see how a person making a decision is any different from a computer making a decision. Both are programmed. The person is programmed by circumstance, and the computer is programmed by a person. (Which of course means that the computer is ultimately programmed by circumstance as well.) In both cases, the source of the programming is beyond the control of the programmed entity.

Since we don't commonly claim that computers have free will, how can we claim that humans have free will?
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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #248 on: January 24, 2013, 07:01:49 AM »
The point I'm making though is that - for EVERY decision - there is a metaphorical gun to our head, which is the accumulated experience of life that has led us to that point.  We are what we are, and in a particular circumstance you will act in a particular way.  It will look and feel as if there was no immediate external influence - no physical guns waving about - but there was nonetheless nothing "free" about it.

The problem I have with your point is that you are referring to internal influences whereas the meanings of ‘free’ that apply to our ability to choose make reference only to external influences. For example, “not under the control of another” and “not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being”.

A real gun to one’s head is an external influence that overrides one’s ability to choose. Your metaphorical gun to one’s head is not an external influence. It is an internal influence that is part of our decision making process. Our ability to choose is not normally overridden by external influences: it is normally free. I don’t really know what you are arguing against, but it doesn’t match the meaning of free will.
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #249 on: January 24, 2013, 08:11:32 AM »
Our ability to choose is not normally overridden by external influences: it is normally free. I don’t really know what you are arguing against, but it doesn’t match the meaning of free will.

As has been said - we are in complete agreement about the (superficial?) definition of free will - that is, an entity arrives at a conclusion without the direct influence of another external entity.  When you or I are sitting in our chairs at home reading over a contract, we have "free will" to sign or not, with no coercion.  Sure, fine, great, fantastic - we agree on that.

But so what?  What IS that "free will"?  Do we really, actually, have any choice in what we will do, whether we will sign or not?  Absolutely it FEELS that we do, but do we really?  CAN we "choose" one thing over another, or is the "choice" inevitable given our life and experience to that point?

THAT is the definition of "free will" that is the core of this discussion, as has been pointed out several times before.  If you are only interested in coercion vs. non-coercion as the meaning of "free will", then the debate is already finished: I don't believe ANYONE here is arguing that, with a gun to ones head, "free will" (as commonly defined) is lost.

Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #250 on: January 24, 2013, 05:55:27 PM »
'Will' is not the ability to make choices.

The OED defines ‘will’ as the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action. Merriam-Webster defines ‘will’ as mental powers manifested as wishing, choosing, desiring or intending. This strongly suggests that our ability to make choices is encapsulated by the term ‘will’.


Quote
Keep in mind that when you say 'free will', the word 'free' is describing 'will'. In the definitions you provided it seems to be describing an agent and not the agent's 'will'.

the agent has no hand in shaping or changing its 'will' and will act the only way it can based on that 'will'.

An agent is subject to its own 'will' and it cannot determine what characteristics this 'will' is going to have.

the agent is fully dependant on its underlying desires i.e. its 'will'

one is completely at the mercy of their nature, their 'will'

You seem to be reifying our will into some independent entity that controls us. Our will doesn’t make choices. We make choices using our brains. ‘Will’ is just a word for our ability to do so. It is an abstract notion—a faculty or property of the brain—like consciousness, self-awareness or emotions.


Quote
Adding the word 'free' to exclude any influences beyond the nature of the agent is useful in many contexts. But it does not address the fact that one is completely at the mercy of their nature, their 'will', which was imposed on them in its entirety by circumstance.

‘Free’ means not constrained. You seem to think it means not influenced in any way. You haven’t answered my question. What meaning of ‘free’ are you using?
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #251 on: January 24, 2013, 05:56:43 PM »
Since we don't commonly claim that computers have free will, how can we claim that humans have free will?

Since we don’t commonly claim that computers have consciousness, self-awareness, emotions or feelings then how can we claim that humans have those properties? I hope you agree that we do possess those properties so can you see how your programming analogy falls short in determining what properties we may or may not possess?
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #252 on: January 24, 2013, 05:58:15 PM »
When you or I are sitting in our chairs at home reading over a contract, we have "free will" to sign or not, with no coercion.  Sure, fine, great, fantastic - we agree on that.

But so what?  What IS that "free will"?  Do we really, actually, have any choice in what we will do, whether we will sign or not?  Absolutely it FEELS that we do, but do we really?  CAN we "choose" one thing over another, or is the "choice" inevitable given our life and experience to that point?

THAT is the definition of "free will" that is the core of this discussion, as has been pointed out several times before.  If you are only interested in coercion vs. non-coercion as the meaning of "free will", then the debate is already finished: I don't believe ANYONE here is arguing that, with a gun to ones head, "free will" (as commonly defined) is lost.

‘Free’ means not constrained. You also appear to be using ‘free’ to mean not influenced in any way at all.

We both agree that free means not constrained or coerced. We have free will if we aren’t constrained or coerced into a particular choice by some external force. That’s fine because that’s the common usage meaning of ‘free’. It should stop there, but you want to take it further than that. Instead of applying ‘free’ to just the result of the decision making process, you want to apply it to the process itself—all the way down to the quantum level—and you want to redefine ‘free’ to mean not influenced in any way at all. Again, I think that is an extreme and overly pedantic point of view. I also think it is false because I don’t think it is valid to redefine ‘free’ to mean ‘not influenced by’ just so you can claim that if our decisions are influenced by stochastic processes then they aren’t free.
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #253 on: January 25, 2013, 05:31:01 AM »
We both agree that free means not constrained or coerced. We have free will if we aren’t constrained or coerced into a particular choice by some external force. That’s fine because that’s the common usage meaning of ‘free’. It should stop there, but you want to take it further than that. Instead of applying ‘free’ to just the result of the decision making process, you want to apply it to the process itself—all the way down to the quantum level—and you want to redefine ‘free’ to mean not influenced in any way at all. Again, I think that is an extreme and overly pedantic point of view. I also think it is false because I don’t think it is valid to redefine ‘free’ to mean ‘not influenced by’ just so you can claim that if our decisions are influenced by stochastic processes then they aren’t free.

Fine.  Then you have no further need to engage in this debate, because (to the level you wish to take it) we are in agreement. 

But I, and others, want to take it further.  The fact that we appear to be able to make a "choice", that we appear to have some kind of ability to override the electrochemical reactions in our brain and somehow redirect a chain of thought and decision in some non-causal way.....THAT interests me greatly.

It has enormous bearing, at the practical level, on how we should approach the justice system.  If we actually CAN do different things in one specific situation, then we should approach justice in one way.  But if we CAN'T, then an entirely different form of justice is appropriate.

And at the theological level, it is hugely important.  If actual choice is impossible, then any religion that rests upon someone making a genuine choice falls by the wayside.  If the "choices" we make are the inevitable (or random) result of our lives to that point, then there is no justification or justice in salvation based on choices, since we have, quite litereally, NO influence over what we actually do.

That's why I want to take the discussion further.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #254 on: January 25, 2013, 05:36:06 AM »
Since we don't commonly claim that computers have free will, how can we claim that humans have free will?

Since we don’t commonly claim that computers have consciousness, self-awareness, emotions or feelings then how can we claim that humans have those properties? I hope you agree that we do possess those properties so can you see how your programming analogy falls short in determining what properties we may or may not possess?

There's two questions here.

The simpler one: how would you detect if a computer has consciousness, or self-awareness, of emotion?  If your PC - despite having those qualities - is restricted by its programming and/or physical characteristics from expressing them, how could we tell if they had them?

The harder one - and the nub of this debate: a PC, and a human brain, are at the lowest level a series of binary switches.  A PC logic gate will deliver a yes/no output.  A neurone in the brain will likewise deliver a yes/no output.  Both will deliver that output based on the inputs that are received.  So the question is, at what point - and how - does a human gain free will when a computer does not?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline plethora

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #255 on: January 25, 2013, 08:21:51 AM »
@3sigma

Let me approach this differently as this discussion is getting bogged down in semantics and clearly there is more than one interpretation and applications of the term 'free will'.

It seems to me that you're defining free will, based on your dictionary definitions, as follows:

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Free Will : An agent's ability to make choices and take action based on its own nature without influence or coercion by other agents.

Note: the agent must have the following properties: Consciousness, self-awareness, and emotions or feelings.

This definition assumes the nature of the individual is whatever it is.
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If this is the definition you want to go for then fine, I would agree that by this strict definition, we have 'free will'... and so does a cat, a dog, a chimpanzee and a dolphin (to name a few other species).

The position I am defending is that the choices the agent actually makes and actions it actually takes are the only ones it can given the circumstances, which it has no hand in, and that it could not do otherwise.

People who argue that we have 'free will' generally reject this and tend to claim that agents are somehow free to choose their choices, so to speak.

This is where the agent's 'nature' comes in. The agent's nature (brain structure/state/configuration, past experiences, external stimuli not caused by other agents, circumstances, etc) is something it has absolutely no control over or any hand in shaping.

It acts according to its own nature, which it did not choose. It acts upon its desires, which it did not choose. Given this, the agent acts the only way it can and could not have acted differently.

This is the where the core of the argument lies.

Those who claim that the agent could have somehow acted differently than it actually did need to explain to me exactly how that's even possible.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 08:26:57 AM by plethora »
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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #256 on: January 25, 2013, 06:04:40 PM »
The harder one - and the nub of this debate: a PC, and a human brain, are at the lowest level a series of binary switches.  A PC logic gate will deliver a yes/no output.  A neurone in the brain will likewise deliver a yes/no output.  Both will deliver that output based on the inputs that are received.  So the question is, at what point - and how - does a human gain free will when a computer does not?

Those who claim that the agent could have somehow acted differently than it actually did need to explain to me exactly how that's even possible.

To my mind, ‘will’ is the decision-making process and the question of whether it is free ends with whether or not each of us, as a self-contained entity, is constrained or coerced by external forces.

However, if you want to extend the definition of ‘free’ down to the root of the decision-making process then the question of how we could make a decision other than the one we made has already been answered in this thread. The presence of quantum indeterminacy in the decision-making process means that if we rewound time to the beginning of the process and replayed it, the resulting decision could have been different. The decision is not constrained by purely deterministic causes. It is free to be different each time the decision is made.

So there is an explanation of how it is theoretically possible for us to have acted differently from how we actually did. In reality, however, that is always masked by the fact that we never encounter exactly the same situation. Our decisions are the result of a combination of millions or billions of neurons firing in various patterns. Those patterns are constantly changing due to the absence or presence and strength of various internal and external stimuli from our environment, our emotions, our memories, our hormones, etc.

The OP in this thread claimed that there is no randomness in nature and, if we had perfect information about all those internal and external stimuli and the structure of an individual’s brain then we would be able to predict the outcome of every decision and hence our will is not free. Disregarding the sheer improbability of ever having all that information, quantum indeterminacy still guarantees that the outcome of the decision-making process is not predictable and hence our will is free.
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #257 on: January 25, 2013, 07:16:35 PM »
Disregarding the sheer improbability of ever having all that information, quantum indeterminacy still guarantees that the outcome of the decision-making process is not predictable and hence our will is free.

Except for this point, your post is fine.  This, however, is utter bullshit, and you should know it.  This isn't freedom of will, 3sigma.  Randomness is not freedom.  A tree has free will in precisely the same way that our brains do, by this standard.  You're clearly just trying to salvage the term, like when a theist claims that "God" is really just love, or the big bang, or whatever.
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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #258 on: January 25, 2013, 09:32:19 PM »
This isn't freedom of will, 3sigma.  Randomness is not freedom.

I think freedom of will means that my will is not under the control of another will. I think the applicable meaning of freedom is the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants or, more specifically, the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity. You and your fellow protagonists apparently have a very different idea of freedom of will. Perhaps you could give me the meaning of freedom you are using when you say we don’t have freedom of will.
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #259 on: January 25, 2013, 10:12:08 PM »
I think freedom of will means that my will is not under the control of another will.

Agreed.  And this is utterly unrelated to what you were talking about regarding quantum randomness being "free".

It's hard to address any point of yours when you refuse to keep the same train of thought for more than a post at a time.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #260 on: January 25, 2013, 10:13:53 PM »
Here, I'll highlight the bullshit by swapping a few terms around...

Disregarding the sheer improbability of ever having all that information, quantum indeterminacy still guarantees that the outcome of the computer's decision-making process is not predictable and hence its will is free.

This is just as accurate as your own quote.  Still stand by it?
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.