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On the definition of free will!


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#18 sman

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 12:32 PM

No. The engine management system was designed to act in a certain way if certain parameters are met.


My dispassionate decision to post in this thread was the result of information management systems in my brain designed to act in a certain way if certain parameters are met. A neuron is just a switch. I'd like to think that it was me but....there's no evidence that anything like this really exists. IMHO we don't need it anyway.

#19 jedaisoul

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 04:10 PM

I'd like to think that it was me but....there's no evidence that anything like this really exists. IMHO we don't need it anyway.

Don't need what?

Are you saying that there's no evidence that I (me) really exists? That is the only thing we have evidence for.

What are you smoking? Can I have some?

#20 HydrogenBond

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 05:53 PM

Free will is the ability to freely choice between alternatives, without bias. The engine's control system software is biased not to stall. If we mess with the control system to make it more random, then it still doesn't have free will because it can't chose the outcome without the bias of random.

#21 jedaisoul

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 02:14 AM

Free will is the ability to freely choice between alternatives, without bias. The engine's control system software is biased not to stall. If we mess with the control system to make it more random, then it still doesn't have free will because it can't chose the outcome without the bias of random.

I agree that the engine's control system does not exhibit free will, but I question whether free will requires "the ability to freely choice between alternatives, without bias".

In the absence of the intervention of sentient beings, the universe is an orderly place governed by causality. Therefore there is "bias" in everything that happens. Hence, if free will required the absence of bias, it would be impossible. Free will would not exist.

So I would suggest that free will requires the absence of total bias, not the total absence of bias. This may have been what you meant, but I felt that it needed clarifying.

#22 HydrogenBond

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 11:28 AM

Free will means there is no cost/price for making a subjective choice. The choice between alternatives is free. This is different than objective choices and costs.

I can not use free will to fly. This choice has nothing to do with subjectivity, but with the objectivity of the laws of physics. But on the other hand, if someone placed an apple and an orange on the table, free will would mean there is no subjective cost/price for me picking either. There is no objective reason for one or the other. With subjectively, one choice may have a better price (tastes better to me) and the other may have a subjective cost (I hate the color orange). This is not free will, since my choice has a subjective cost or price that choses for me, apart from objectivity. Subjectivity might give me the motivation for willpower, but not free will.

Say I prefer oranges and make that choice all the time. I suppose I could call that will power because I have the urge and will walk to the store just for this. It is not free choice or free will, since I avoid fuzzy fruits and anything with pits.

One of my friends challenges me to eat a peach. To be up for the challenge I need to subjectively make the value of this choice (saving face) higher than the cost of eating the peach (I hate fuzz and pits). Say the cost and the value cancel, so the total cost adds to zero, is this free choice? It may be the precursor. Value and cost add together due to the overlap of events and subjectivity. I may not like my friend as much for doing that, seeing him more objectively. I might not hate the peach as much, since it made me look good to the whole group. One will gain more free will.

#23 jedaisoul

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 11:54 AM

Free will means there is no cost/price for making a subjective choice. The choice between alternatives is free.

Is this intended to be humorous? It seems to be a play on the meaning of the work "free", which, presumably, you were aware of?

I might not hate the peach as much, since it made me look good to the whole group. One will gain more free will.

How does making you look good to a group increase your free will? You are free to act according to the group's wishes, or not. The "cost" of not acting according to the group's wishes is another play on the meaning of the word "free", and has little to do with free will (as far as I can see).

Or if these were serious comments, perhaps you can explain the relevance to free will, because I cannot see it.

#24 AnssiH

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 03:08 PM

You guys are making it sound so complicated! :naughty:

In my opinion, the beliefs that free will is compatible/incompatible with determinism (and eternalism) is based on a different definition of the terms. Hence the protagonists are simply arguing at cross purposes.


That's pretty much it!

What we mean by our free will is that we conceive some choices, and we say that "I made the decision". At any rate, the decision was made according to expectations you have about the situation, aiming for the best outcome (even if you choose to jump down from a cliff to prove me wrong, you did that exactly with the expectation that that action would be the action to make, in order to "prove your point"... oops)

And the fact that you can always view that process of "generating expectations" as a mechanical process, means you can have "so-called" free will, exactly as we experience it, inside deterministic worldview in completely self-coherent manner.

Determinist will say "I chose to do X because of Y", and by that they mean "whatever natural process exists behind my idea of "self", generated the reasons to do "X", and there was a subjective experience of that process".

A person who doesn't believe in deterministic world will say the exact same thing, but by "I" they just mean something partially or totally unexplainable. (If they were to explain I with smaller parts and definable behaviour, they would be determinists by definition)

So I don't really mind if by some definitions, someone chooses to see the automatic behaviour of carburator as an instance of a very similar circumstance/process as what is usually called "free will", or if someone wants to define a difference between those circumstances.

One meaningful difference one could make is that the carburator does not produce expectations based on an artificial world model; rather it is our world model that sees the situation as a "carburator doing things". From the point of view of the carburator, there can't really be said to exist a world conception that defines "self" and has ideas called "making decisions".

And then that argument can be easily dismissed by pointing out that it is not "really" a case of "producing expectations based on an artificial world model"; that's just a way of seeing the situation and in fact the expectations can be seen as arising from a mechanical process, of which there exists a subjective experience as if the expectations were based on the world model etc, yada yada, merry go round and so on.

Oops, sorry if I made it sound overly complicated myself :D

-Anssi

#25 DFINITLYDISTRUBD

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 04:28 PM

Originally Posted by HydrogenBond View Post
Free will means there is no cost/price for making a subjective choice. The choice between alternatives is free.

As simple as defining freewill gets:)
For the feller above having issues with said definition...an example.... I'm hungry will it be pizza or burgers...I love both... both are a rare treat these days but I can easily afford either.....I choose burgers I can always have pizza next Saturday (or if I choose Chinese or burgers) so it's no loss either way...and I still get a full belly.

#26 Boerseun

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 12:29 AM

The entire question of Free Will as opposed to Determinism is as old as the first Philosopher who bumped his toe against a rock and decided that it was supposed to happen - or was it?

The thing is, both sides of the story is equally true (or untrue), using the very same logic.

...which brings us to the inescapable conclusion that if Free Will works for you, and you want to believe it, good on ya, mate. Go for it. And, if Determinism works for you and floats your particular boat, then an equally big magnanimous "Good on ya".

The thing is that the entire debate is more of a non-question than anything else. Although these sides are mutually exclusive, they are as mutually exclusive as heads and tails are to a coin. They cannot exist on the same side of the coin. Yet they are the two faces of the same coin. Even though they cannot exist together, the coin will not be a coin if either of them are absent. Okay - that's a silly analogy. But please - believe in either of these mutually exclusive states if you will. But know that both can be proven logically with 100% certainty to the complete denial of the other state. It's exclusive - the world cannot be 20% Free Willed and 80% Determined. It's 100% Free Willed OR 100% Determined. And both are equally valid from a logical point of view.

So, as you were, ladies and gentlemen - please continue. But be warned: This particular topic will not and logically can not reach a satisfying conclusion. Ever. There is not enough hard drive space in the universe for any server to host all possible arguments pro and con this particular topic.

So go at it, and have fun. Just keep the above in mind.

#27 Doctordick

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Posted 31 January 2016 - 02:05 AM

After some six years I read this entire topic again. As far as I can tell, no one has proposed a definition of "free will". My only conclusion is that no one here has any solid concept capable of determining when free will is a relevant underlying component of ones actions. 

 

In essence the question has not been answered. I think this pretty well excuses my inability to answer the issue.


Edited by Doctordick, 31 January 2016 - 02:06 AM.


#28 Rade

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 08:56 PM

How quickly six years can pass.    Let me offer a definition of the free will concept that meets the above post requirement as "a relevant underlying component of ones actions".  

 

Free will is an action were one can do x, one knows that it can do x, and one decides to do x, rather than not-x.  

 

 

 

 



#29 Farming guy

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 03:52 PM

How can one be certain that any decision hasn't somehow been programmed by nature, or by a malfunction within our brains?  It could be that we only think we are making a choice.  In general human nature is quite predictable, and right now, I can't remember the last time I was surprised by anything anyone has done.



#30 CraigD

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 12:27 PM

After some six years I read this entire topic again. As far as I can tell, no one has proposed a definition of "free will".

Somehow, despite having made lots of posts on the subject, I just now chiming in in on this thread.

My favorite definition remains the one I gave in this 29 Jul 2006 post:

My personal conception of free will is a pragmatic one – even if our behavior is completely deterministic, we practically have free will if no other entity can predict our behavior with sufficiently accuracy to gain advantage. If no one can know what you’ll do next, your choice of what you do next can’t reasonably be attributed to anyone but you.


A key consequence of this definition is that free will is not an innate quality of an actor (the “you” in the definition), but situational. You may have it at one moment – say, choosing the path to follow on a walk – but not at another – say, locked in an escape-proof prison cell.
 

My only conclusion is that no one here has any solid concept capable of determining when free will is a relevant underlying component of ones actions.

I believe that the idea of free will can be very relevant to the thought processes that lead people to make decisions. In particular, people may use a strongly believe that free will doesn’t exist, and their actions are completely predetermined, to justify actions they would otherwise consider wrong and refrain from, such as hurting others. Independently of its ontological status, free will is, I think, an important moral concept.

#31 Rade

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 12:42 PM

How can one be certain that any decision hasn't somehow been programmed by nature, or by a malfunction within our brains?  It could be that we only think we are making a choice.  In general human nature is quite predictable, and right now, I can't remember the last time I was surprised by anything anyone has done.

The decision making process has been programmed by nature (via genetics), and because of this, malfunctions to that genetic program are expected, thus the reason we see so many examples of free will choices made by humans that result in malfunction of behavior, such as serial killers, rapist, etc.  

 

However, just because thinking (to know) as a process is genetically programmed, this does not mean that specific actions of thought do not involve free will, they must, by my definition.    

 

And yes, it is true that we only "think" we are making a choice.  Thinking is a fundamental attribute of any entity (human or robot) claiming to have free will, what I posted above as:  

 

one knows that it can do

 

(to know is to think)

 

I agree that human behavior is very predictable, this is expected because our behavior in general is genetically programmed.  



#32 Farming guy

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 05:59 PM

Free will lies within the realm of ignorance.  If you know the consequences of an action, and you care about the consequences of that action, your options will be narrowed to one action.

 

Example:  Last month high winds ripped off a piece of roofing on one of the barns.  I suffer from a terrible fear of heights, and had other things I wanted to do.  Snow was forecast for the next day.  Money is in short supply. It was a nice, calm day, and If the roof was not fixed that day, It could be  months before conditions permitted repair.  Knowing all of my options, and knowing the damage that would likely result in delay, I was left with the only logical option of facing my fear of heights and fixing the roof myself.  No free will was used.



#33 CraigD

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 09:57 PM

The decision making process has been programmed by nature (via genetics), and because of this, malfunctions to that genetic program are expected, thus the reason we see so many examples of free will choices made by humans that result in malfunction of behavior, such as serial killers, rapist, etc.

Though off the topic of free will, I have to raise some objections to this.

While I agree that genes predispose people to criminal and other socially condemned behavior, I wouldn’t consider such behaviors to be “malfunctions” in an evolutionary biological sense, because they don’t prevent people from reproducing.

The fact that genes that predispose people for violent behavior, including serial murder and rape, are present in the human population, demonstrates that these genes are evolutionarily advantageous. Genes that predispose people to be able to kill others in genocidal fashion are arguably very advantageous, because people with them are more likely to reproduce than are their victims.

#34 Rade

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 03:38 PM

To CraigD...

 

I used the word 'malfunction' because this was the term used in the post I replied to by FarmingGuy.

 

I would argue that what you term 'criminal and socially condemned behaviors' are malfunctions in an evolutionary sense because if one commits such behaviors, one goes to jail for a long period of time, which results in a significant constraint on reproductive potential of that individual. 

 

It is not true that the fact that genes that predispose people for violent behavior are present in the human populations demonstrates that these genes are evolutionarily advantageous for the human species.  Such genes are present in humans due to our primate ancestry where such behaviors did have a long term adaptive value in primate species with which we share a common ancestry.  Human history records that social movements based on genocide have always failed over time because those humans that are not victims view such behavior as not adaptive for the continued survival of the human species.   

 

To FarmingGuy...

 

You made a free will decision to risk your life to repair your roof with x amount of damage quickly, rather than repair your roof with increased damage latter.   We assume you value your life more than you value the roof.   Read again my definition of free will, you chose to risk your life to do x, rather than not-x, and you knew it.  


Edited by Rade, 16 February 2016 - 03:40 PM.