Topic Actions

Topic Search

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 9 guests

Free Will

For anyone who might want to have a side conversation...you're welcome here!
Re: Free Will
Post by ZVar   » Tue Sep 28, 2021 8:40 pm

ZVar
Lieutenant Commander

Posts: 114
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:45 pm

Another issue of free will I chuckle at....

Even ignoring all the environmental issues.
We already don't have 100% free will. After all I can't jump in the ocean and swim in the Mariana trench or fly up in the clouds.
So since we have limits what's another simple limit built in that simply "Do no harm," Or the robotic three laws. Or whatever.
Top
Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Thu Nov 09, 2023 8:28 pm

tlb
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3833
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:34 am

The question of Free Will is simpler than the question of "why bad things happen to good people" or the converse of "why good things happen to bad people" and does not really encompass overcoming impossible physical restraints (such as the inability to fly up in the clouds without assistance). The question is not necessarily a religious problem, although its implications can be.

The heart of the question is that when life offers me a choice between several physically possible alternatives; am I really free to make a choice from more than one? Strict determinism says that I am constrained by the past to make the choice that fate dictates. Free Will may say that my past has assigned a probability to each choice, however I am not constrained to pick the most probable; I can consciously pick another.

The physics of the world might work the same, whether choice and chance work at the sub-atomic level or else all is predetermined. But Free Will has a moral dimension; if our choices are predetermined, then we cannot be said to sin in a meaningful way. Only if we can freely choose between good or bad, can we really become good or bad.

On Youtube there is a video of two people meeting on a crosswalk: one is a healthy young man and the other is a small girl on crutches. As he passes her, he kicks a crutch and she falls down. Could he have chosen to not cause her distress or was he fated from the dawn of time to behave as he did? That is the basic question of Free Will.
Top
Re: Free Will
Post by dscott8   » Thu Nov 16, 2023 2:19 pm

dscott8
Commodore

Posts: 791
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:17 am

As has been mentioned, the original post depends on the assumption of a deity's existence. I question the validity of that assumption.

I also question whether there's any point in debating whether we have free will. As an atheist, I see no reasonable alternative to free will. I choose my actions and take responsibility for the consequences, and it seems to me that claiming we don't have free will is an attempt to dodge responsibility.
Top
Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Thu Nov 16, 2023 7:55 pm

tlb
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3833
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:34 am

dscott8 wrote:As has been mentioned, the original post depends on the assumption of a deity's existence. I question the validity of that assumption.

I also question whether there's any point in debating whether we have free will. As an atheist, I see no reasonable alternative to free will. I choose my actions and take responsibility for the consequences, and it seems to me that claiming we don't have free will is an attempt to dodge responsibility.

Whether or not we have free will does not necessarily depend on the existence of a deity.

I agree that there is no real point to the debate, since we might find out only after death (if we ever find out at all). The fun part of the debate is that it could continue whether or not we have free will. Particularly if is predestined that we have the debate. One might wonder whether having the debate means that it does not exist.
Top
Re: Free Will
Post by Joat42   » Fri Nov 17, 2023 12:54 pm

Joat42
Admiral

Posts: 2138
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:01 am
Location: Sweden

tlb wrote:Whether or not we have free will does not necessarily depend on the existence of a deity.

The minimum requirement for free will to exist is that the universe isn't deterministic. If there is a deity or not doesn't actually matter because such an entity would also be bound by the first requirement.

Of course, someone can argue that the universe isn't deterministic but the deity determines our fate. But that only means from our POV the universe is deterministic. The opposite can also be argued, that the universe is deterministic but a deity gives us free will which of course means the universe isn't deterministic.

And the above means that for all intents and purposes, whether a deity exists or not in this context, it doesn't matter one bit.

---
Jack of all trades and destructive tinkerer.


Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
Top
Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Fri Nov 17, 2023 5:58 pm

tlb
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3833
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:34 am

Joat42 wrote:The minimum requirement for free will to exist is that the universe isn't deterministic. If there is a deity or not doesn't actually matter because such an entity would also be bound by the first requirement.

Of course, someone can argue that the universe isn't deterministic but the deity determines our fate. But that only means from our POV the universe is deterministic. The opposite can also be argued, that the universe is deterministic but a deity gives us free will which of course means the universe isn't deterministic.

And the above means that for all intents and purposes, whether a deity exists or not in this context, it doesn't matter one bit.

However Free Will has implications about that deity; it is hard to imagine that FW can exist if the deity is all-knowing, provided that includes knowing what will happen. Also if the Deity is outside the universe and created it in all its extents, including time and space (which is another way of getting to all-knowing).
Top
Re: Free Will
Post by Joat42   » Fri Nov 17, 2023 7:19 pm

Joat42
Admiral

Posts: 2138
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:01 am
Location: Sweden

tlb wrote:However Free Will has implications about that deity

Sure, but from our perspective it doesn't matter one bit because either there is free will or there isn't.

If there's a deity and he made the universe deterministic, we are just puppets in the "simulation" while having scripted debates about free will.

If on the other hand, the universe is non-deterministic we still have no way to prove it unless the deity tells us about it. And if the deity actually tell us if we have free will, how can we be sure that's the truth?

In the end, since we can't prove if exists or not it doesn't actually matter, but it makes for an interesting philosophical topic that hasn't a definite conclusion.

---
Jack of all trades and destructive tinkerer.


Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
Top
Re: Free Will
Post by tlb   » Tue Nov 21, 2023 1:08 pm

tlb
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3833
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:34 am

Joat42 wrote:In the end, since we can't prove if exists or not it doesn't actually matter, but it makes for an interesting philosophical topic that hasn't a definite conclusion.

I am not going to argue, since I agree with you. I note that there is a book that came out last month claiming that we will all be better off once we realize there is no Free Will:
Determined: A Science of Life without Free Will
by Robert M. Sapolsky
One of our great behavioral scientists, the bestselling author of Behave, plumbs the depths of the science and philosophy of decision-making to mount a devastating case against free will, an argument with profound consequences.

Robert Sapolsky’s Behave, his now classic account of why humans do good and why they do bad, pointed toward an unsettling conclusion: We may not grasp the precise marriage of nature and nurture that creates the physics and chemistry at the base of human behavior, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Now, in Determined, Sapolsky takes his argument all the way, mounting a brilliant (and in his inimitable way, delightful) full-frontal assault on the pleasant fantasy that there is some separate self telling our biology what to do.

Determined offers a marvelous synthesis of what we know about how consciousness works—the tight weave between reason and emotion and between stimulus and response in the moment and over a life. One by one, Sapolsky tackles all the major arguments for free will and takes them out, cutting a path through the thickets of chaos and complexity science and quantum physics, as well as touching ground on some of the wilder shores of philosophy. He shows us that the history of medicine is in no small part the history of learning that fewer and fewer things are somebody’s “fault”; for example, for centuries we thought seizures were a sign of demonic possession. Yet, as he acknowledges, it’s very hard, and at times impossible, to uncouple from our zeal to judge others and to judge ourselves. Sapolsky applies the new understanding of life beyond free will to some of our most essential questions around punishment, morality, and living well together. By the end, Sapolsky argues that while living our daily lives recognizing that we have no free will is going to be monumentally difficult, doing so is not going to result in anarchy, pointlessness, and existential malaise. Instead, it will make for a much more humane world.
Whether or not there is FW, no textbook is going to stand up against anarchy nor advance humanity; what advances humanity is the learned response that society will punish lawlessness and reward civility.

There is an argument presented that often decisions are made before conscious thought takes place and that can happen at a basic level. Life in the tall grass of the prairie or in the trees of the forest could demand that instant action to run, or fight, was needed for survival. Even today hockey goalies and martial artists can train their reflexes and "muscle memory" to respond incredibly fast. But has it been proved that the initial response presented, when an automatic response is not needed, is actually the response that is taken? In the extra time couldn't more thought be expended to amend, refine and revise what was finally performed?
Top
Re: Free Will
Post by The E   » Tue Nov 28, 2023 11:13 am

The E
Admiral

Posts: 2683
Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 1:28 pm
Location: Meerbusch, Germany

tlb wrote:There is an argument presented that often decisions are made before conscious thought takes place and that can happen at a basic level. Life in the tall grass of the prairie or in the trees of the forest could demand that instant action to run, or fight, was needed for survival. Even today hockey goalies and martial artists can train their reflexes and "muscle memory" to respond incredibly fast. But has it been proved that the initial response presented, when an automatic response is not needed, is actually the response that is taken? In the extra time couldn't more thought be expended to amend, refine and revise what was finally performed?


There's a paper out there that argues that there is a clear delineation between what they term "arbitrary" decisions (that is, decisions that have little to no weight to them) and more deliberate ones (like "which car am I buying") - while arbitrary decisions are taken with little to no conscious input, deliberate ones are definitely activating higher brain functions.

Way I see it, for every decision presented to you, you're going to have an instinctive and a reasoned option - these may or may not overlap - but if you go the instinctive route, your brain will construct a deliberate explanation for why you chose what you chose. This is what's happening when we move our bodies, for example - we have neurological evidence that the commands to start moving muscle groups are travelling down the body before the conscious command is given, indicating that there are processes at play that back-date things to preserve an illusion of control (this happens all the time, by the way. Without such mechanisms, human vision couldn't work - the bandwidth between our eyes and the brain isn't high enough, so a lot of what we think we see is actually backfilled by preconscious processes that interpolate data).
Top
Re: Free Will
Post by Daryl   » Wed Nov 29, 2023 3:39 am

Daryl
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3482
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:57 am
Location: Queensland Australia

Interesting topic. The topic of delayed gratification comes up here, as does rationalisation and defence of decisions.
We do tend to buy vehicles that are more expensive than required. Most people nowadays live in tamed suburbia, so a one litre hatchback car would suffice, but we see these huge SUVs and pickups around the suburbs. People will rationalise that they need them to pick up hardware, or to go camping, but most rarely do.
On the topic of vehicles, many of the more expensive brands are unreliable compared to the cheaper ones, but people find the most ridiculous excuses for buying them.
Drugs are another topic. Sixty years ago I took up smoking to be cool, although my defence was that there was very little information about the damage. Now there is so much info, yet people vape, take ice, cocaine and such, even though it is obvious that long term it is a dumb decision.


.
The E wrote:
tlb wrote:There is an argument presented that often decisions are made before conscious thought takes place and that can happen at a basic level. Life in the tall grass of the prairie or in the trees of the forest could demand that instant action to run, or fight, was needed for survival. Even today hockey goalies and martial artists can train their reflexes and "muscle memory" to respond incredibly fast. But has it been proved that the initial response presented, when an automatic response is not needed, is actually the response that is taken? In the extra time couldn't more thought be expended to amend, refine and revise what was finally performed?


There's a paper out there that argues that there is a clear delineation between what they term "arbitrary" decisions (that is, decisions that have little to no weight to them) and more deliberate ones (like "which car am I buying") - while arbitrary decisions are taken with little to no conscious input, deliberate ones are definitely activating higher brain functions.

Way I see it, for every decision presented to you, you're going to have an instinctive and a reasoned option - these may or may not overlap - but if you go the instinctive route, your brain will construct a deliberate explanation for why you chose what you chose. This is what's happening when we move our bodies, for example - we have neurological evidence that the commands to start moving muscle groups are travelling down the body before the conscious command is given, indicating that there are processes at play that back-date things to preserve an illusion of control (this happens all the time, by the way. Without such mechanisms, human vision couldn't work - the bandwidth between our eyes and the brain isn't high enough, so a lot of what we think we see is actually backfilled by preconscious processes that interpolate data).
Top

Return to Free-Range Topics...