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Freewill, Again Options
Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013 8:58:50 AM

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This topic has come up a number of times on the forum but, I have yet to see an argument that establishes any possibility that it exists. In this thread I would like to pursue the issue from a monistic, non-theistic, point of view. There is a thread that pursues it from a dualistic, theistic, point of view, Does God knows our future? and I presented an argument there that, as yet, I do not think has been invalidated. If anyone wants to continue the conversation from that point of view, I would be happy to continue it there.

For the purposes of this thread; however, I would like to keep to a natural science interpretation of reality, in which humankind arose due to natural processes, and that human freewill, if it exists, must be a function of the evolved human brain.

There is another critical distinction I think must be made, choice behavior, does not constitute freewill. Not only can choice behavior be exhibited by artificial intelligence systems, but it is evident in forms of life that I do not think anyone would try to argue for freewill in. Even at the level of human choice behavior, (a conjecture of mine is)if you want to say a choice is a freewill choice, you must be able to establish that the options available from which the choice is made, were generated freely and independently by consciousness.

One of the arguments that I have seen come up, at least twice, maybe thee times, independently, is that because we have a judicial system, therefore freewill must exist. I do not understand how this could possibly be valid, it appears to me to be an "appeal to consequences" fallacy. A justice system is a naturally occurring, co-evolutionarily produced, system for protecting the individuals of a group from aberrant behavior on the part of other individuals.

The reason I'm bringing this up again, is because over the course of the last few years, I have come to the conclusion that the proposition "freewill is a myth", was not one I could legitimately hold as a complete conviction; however, nothing in my current understanding of the human animal allows for it to exist. In other words instead of being a 10, on my authority of information scale, it has been demoted to a 9, and I'm wondering if there is any reason why it should be any lower at this point.

dusty
Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013 9:21:24 PM

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So you are asking for someone to either prove definitively that freewill exists or that it does not exist, without duality, no existence of a God or diety, and in order for you to accept freewill's existence it must be a function of a human brain that evolved, and any decisions made by the brain when parsed down to it's most basic form such as a simple yes or no question/decision doesn't count as exhibiting freewill because the decision was broken down into a choice of options and the reason those choices cannot be freewill is because a computer cannot be programmed to exercise freewill?

I am not sure how something that is not alive effects whether or not a living person has freewill, unless the non-living is iron bars forming a cage around the living. Regardless of whether or not the non-living has freewill or what it is programmed to do.

It does however shed an awful lot of light on the reason behind males needing to believe that earth's gravity can be shed completely and man has traded earth's yoke for the moon's, Albiet just for a short while before they traded it back.

Did you lose a bet because you claimed freewill is programmable?
Dreamy
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 12:04:36 AM

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Garbage in, Garbage out, used to be a maxim to describe the limitations of computers.

Has this changed to the point that now superbrains can know almost everything that can possibly influence almost everything, or is science still limited to observing, measuring, recording and repeating?

Epiphileon, I concede that you do not have freewill to believe any but your own beliefs. Hope that helps.
Ray41
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 4:16:24 AM

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Epi; This is an article on free will and, at the end of the article there are 294 comments.
There are a few reference links in the article, and, the comments seem rational(the ones that I read). They also have the number of readers who, for want of a better word, 'voted' for a particular comment so it extends from the readers who have read the article, the responses, and those who read both but only marked ones they agreed with.Eh?
I think the way that I worded the above is understandable.Anxious
I have posted this not because I agree, or disagree with it, but because of the number of comments,etc. Far more than will probably reply in this thread and it may be of interest to you.

Do You Have Free Will? Yes, It’s the Only Choice

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/science/22tier.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0s
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 4:20:39 AM

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dusty wrote:
Did you lose a bet because you claimed freewill is programmable?


No Dusty I do not think a computer can be programed to exhibit freewill, I do think that even a machine can be programed to exhibit choice behavior though, and that was my point. In previous discussions on this issue there were some indications of confusion between the two, and I was merely trying to set that aside from the gate.
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 4:35:22 AM

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Dreamy wrote:
Garbage in, Garbage out, used to be a maxim to describe the limitations of computers.

Has this changed to the point that now superbrains can know almost everything that can possibly influence almost everything, or is science still limited to observing, measuring, recording and repeating?

Epiphileon, I concede that you do not have freewill to believe any but your own beliefs. Hope that helps.


Dreamy I do not see how you think it does, it does not actually address the issue, and you missed a very key characteristic of science, there is also predicting. Oh and by the way, if anything, the characteristic of a willingness to doubt one's own beliefs, and call them into question, would seem to me, to be more of an argument for freewill. Although this may be some combination of personality and cognitive style, which casts doubt on that conclusion.
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 4:37:10 AM

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Ray41 wrote:
Epi; This is an article on free will
Do You Have Free Will? Yes, It’s the Only Choice

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/science/22tier.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0s


Thanks Ray, I'll check it out.
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 3:41:52 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:

There is another critical distinction I think must be made, choice behavior, does not constitute freewill. Not only can choice behavior be exhibited by artificial intelligence systems, but it is evident in forms of life that I do not think anyone would try to argue for freewill in. Even at the level of human choice behavior, (a conjecture of mine is)if you want to say a choice is a freewill choice, you must be able to establish that the options available from which the choice is made, were generated freely and independently by consciousness.

I think this distinction needs to be carefully explored, otherwise it may not be possible to express the notion of "Free Will" in a way that is falsifiable.

As it is, I can think of pragmatic arguments for asserting Free Will, but that is not the same thing as a falsifiable hypothesis, and I admit that.

Edited to add:
Believe it or not, I hadn't yet clicked on the link that Ray41 suggested when I wrote the above.
Dancing

Dreamy
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 3:51:00 PM

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Common Ground:
1. We like exploring the concept of freewill.
2. We recognise that choices are influenced by determining factors.
3. We have our own beliefs on the subject.

I believe there is a dimension of freewill possible within the boundaries of human behaviour.
To call this dimension a delusion is, in my view, to ignore the purpose of diversity in nature.

More discussion available if required:
early_apex
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 5:25:30 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
dusty wrote:
Did you lose a bet because you claimed freewill is programmable?


No Dusty I do not think a computer can be programed to exhibit freewill, I do think that even a machine can be programed to exhibit choice behavior though, and that was my point. In previous discussions on this issue there were some indications of confusion between the two, and I was merely trying to set that aside from the gate.


Interesting. Brings to mind a chess-playing computer. The more powerful machine, the more possibilities it can consider before it makes a move. The machine is deciding what move to make, but it has no choice but to play chess, because that is what it is programmed to do.

So we could say there are levels of decision-making.
dusty
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 6:31:21 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
dusty wrote:
Did you lose a bet because you claimed freewill is programmable?


No Dusty I do not think a computer can be programed to exhibit freewill, I do think that even a machine can be programed to exhibit choice behavior though, and that was my point. In previous discussions on this issue there were some indications of confusion between the two, and I was merely trying to set that aside from the gate.


Thank you Epi, that makes more sense and I failed to frame my thoughts with that assertion. So I feel I should apologize if my first reply appeared condescending.

I do believe that a paradox is created when the concept of freewill or free will is not broken down to the hierarchy of it's many forms of existence. While the natural world appears anything but fair, just, and reasonable there is a hierarchy much like terrestrial compared to celestial. And the forces that govern them both are such that while members among the terrestrial realm can ruin their world, they are prohibited from destroying anything in the scale of the celestial. And every tier in the hierarchy has gates that only allow passage through to those who understand why the forces that prevent or allow, are just.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 10:03:34 AM

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oops I meant to post this, this morning after work
Epiphileon wrote:

The reason I'm bringing this up again, is because over the course of the last few years, I have come to the conclusion that the proposition "freewill is a myth", was not one I could legitimately hold as a complete conviction; however, nothing in my current understanding of the human animal allows for it to exist. In other words instead of being a 10, on my authority of information scale, it has been demoted to a 9, and I'm wondering if there is any reason why it should be any lower at this point.


In thinking this over this morning, I realized that I should have said, "One of the reasons I am bringing this up again..." what I said is the most immediate reason; however, there are others but I think they would be a distraction at this point. This is a very tricky subject as there are so many facets of it that can be discussed, what I'm after here is the most fundamental level, I think, and I will try to make what I mean by that more clear.

I also realized that I misstated what my current position actually is. My original position, that freewill is a myth, has been called into question by me, so it currently does not have a rating on my personal "authority of information scale." I think it would have been clearer to say, "If I were asked, do you think freewill exists?" My answer would be, "I don't know, but I do think the arguments against it are very strong.

(I tried to figure out how to state the following clearly, succinctly, and with assurance that what I meant, was exactly what I was saying, but I suppose I'm rustier at this than I had thought, and it was taking too much time. So I'm going to put it out there, as is, and see how it goes.)

Now this is where it starts getting tricky. I think in some of the discussions I've attempted to make my point clear, I failed for lack of specifying what I think qualifies as the most fundamental level at which freewill, if it exists, must originate. Regardless of any social systems, or social interactions, freewill must begin within the mind of the individual. So within the parameters of the OP what we are confronted with is the mind/brain of human beings, a product of billions of years of evolutionary processes. I do not think it is necessary to review all of mind's evolutionary history, just be aware of the constraints that puts on the system.

Also it seems, that in order to have acted truly by freewill, one must be conscious, and consciously involved in every branch of the decision making process that leads to the act considered to be a demonstration of freewill. (I consider this to be a bit tenuous, and may be a backwards argument) The point is that it would seem that freewill, must be an act of consciousness.

So that brings us to, two of the biggest obstacles to freewill,
1) Intelligence, the prime decision maker, as well as personality and emotions, both known to have a large influence on decisions, are much older, and faster processes of the brain than is consciousness. Do we have conscious access to any of these areas, at the how they work level? No. so how are we to assume that we have effected them?

2) Consciousness is a perception, one can not perceive things that have not happened yet, so does this not make all decisions pre-conscious? You may indeed be conscious of what aspects of a problem that lead to the solution, but why are you conscious of those particular aspects? What determined that those were the appropriate aspects? And how exactly did you manipulate those aspects to squeeze out the solution? Go ahead try it, you'll find you don't really have the answers to those questions.

Remember we are seeking a monistic answer, if you must call on any extra-physical processes for an answer, it does not satisfy the parameters of the OP.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 10:31:25 AM

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leonAzul wrote:
Epiphileon wrote:

There is another critical distinction I think must be made, choice behavior, does not constitute freewill. Not only can choice behavior be exhibited by artificial intelligence systems, but it is evident in forms of life that I do not think anyone would try to argue for freewill in. Even at the level of human choice behavior, (a conjecture of mine is)if you want to say a choice is a freewill choice, you must be able to establish that the options available from which the choice is made, were generated freely and independently by consciousness.

I think this distinction needs to be carefully explored, otherwise it may not be possible to express the notion of "Free Will" in a way that is falsifiable.

Yes I agree, and I think I added even more to this with the above post. There are some foggy area's I'm having trouble elucidating.

As it is, I can think of pragmatic arguments for asserting Free Will, but that is not the same thing as a falsifiable hypothesis, and I admit that.
Oh there most certainly are; however, if it is the case that freewill does not exist, we must figure this out, for in the long run it is hyper critical.

Edited to add:
Believe it or not, I hadn't yet clicked on the link that Ray41 suggested when I wrote the above.
Dancing
Wouldn't doubt it.

Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 10:41:46 AM

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Dreamy wrote:
Common Ground:
1. We like exploring the concept of freewill.
2. We recognise that choices are influenced by determining factors.
3. We have our own beliefs on the subject.

I believe there is a dimension of freewill possible within the boundaries of human behaviour.
To call this dimension a delusion is, in my view, to ignore the purpose of diversity in nature.

More discussion available if required:

I agree we have some common ground on this issue, and I have enjoyed discussing it with you. You may have missed my post to you in the "Does God Know our Future" thread, where I asked what you meant by this "dimension of freewill" term. I would be glad to continue that discussion there.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 10:44:10 AM

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early_apex wrote:
So we could say there are levels of decision-making.

Definitely and this is an area that I allude to in my last general post above but, do not address in detail as yet.
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 11:48:07 AM

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Epiphileon,

I’ve been absent for a bit, and I’m coming late to the topic, but reading what has been written, I wonder if we do not need a definition of “free will”?

A cursory thought on the subject tells me that no decision can ever be completely free, as we always have an underlying motive for our decisions, and therefore our will is always influenced by those motivations.

If by “free” you mean simply that we are the ones doing the choosing, and not being influenced by outside agency, then “free” might apply in that sense, and is an idea with which I agree.

However, since you are seeking a monistic source, it seems to me that the first principle of pain/pleasure is always going to be the motivating factor influencing our decision-making processes, and is free only to the degree to which our desires inspire us, which is to say, not truly free at all.

In this sense, we all possess free will, and are all free to choose, influenced by our own personal desires, but do not possess free will if it is defined by no influence at all.


dusty
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:35:40 PM

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maybe the best example of free will's existence and the human being's ability to exercise it occurs when someone attempts to influence or program a decision, and yet no matter what they do, the human resists.

that even using anti-programming or reverse psychology fails to make the human's decisions controllable
Dreamy
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 4:15:28 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:

I agree we have some common ground on this issue, and I have enjoyed discussing it with you. You may have missed my post to you in the "Does God Know our Future" thread, where I asked what you meant by this "dimension of freewill" term. I would be glad to continue that discussion there.


Dreamy (Does God Knows[sic wrote:
Our Future)]I've got no choice but to respond to your reasoning and logic, which is beautiful and to be enjoyed in the reading thereof, but because I see a marriage of Freewill and Predestination, and a merging of these with a third party known as Foreknowledge, the divine marriage celebrant perhaps, there is to my mind, a three dimensional aspect to be considered.

While all three have different roles they work very closely together.

I completely understand the position where "everything that happens to us, everything we decide to do, every thought we process, everything we know, everything we don't know, etc., is the result of determining factors and existing dynamics", BUT because these very factors and dynamics allow me to interact with them in a supposed voluntary fashion I believe they in fact create a dimension of freewill that rather satisfies the thirst for it.


You substituted illusion for dimension in your reply, Epiphileon.

To my mind, comparing the 3 dimensions of space with these 3 dimensions of sentience, is an agreeable proposition.

Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 4:55:17 PM

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Dreamy wrote:
[color=blue]
To my mind, comparing the 3 dimensions of space with these 3 dimensions of sentience, is an agreeable proposition.


Hi Dreamy I replied in the "Does God Know Our Future" thread as this argument is definitely set within a dualistic interpretation of reality.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 5:21:14 PM

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FounDit wrote:
Epiphileon,

I’ve been absent for a bit, and I’m coming late to the topic, but reading what has been written, I wonder if we do not need a definition of “free will”?

A cursory thought on the subject tells me that no decision can ever be completely free, as we always have an underlying motive for our decisions, and therefore our will is always influenced by those motivations.

If by “free” you mean simply that we are the ones doing the choosing, and not being influenced by outside agency, then “free” might apply in that sense, and is an idea with which I agree.

However, since you are seeking a monistic source, it seems to me that the first principle of pain/pleasure is always going to be the motivating factor influencing our decision-making processes, and is free only to the degree to which our desires inspire us, which is to say, not truly free at all.

In this sense, we all possess free will, and are all free to choose, influenced by our own personal desires, but do not possess free will if it is defined by no influence at all.


Hi FounDit glad to see you're back, I was actually going to PM you to see what was up, as I realized right after posting my last general post to this thread, that I hadn't seen you in a while.

anyway, yea I recognized that there is a definition problem and floated the following as a proposition...

Quote:
Now this is where it starts getting tricky. I think in some of the discussions I've attempted to make my point clear, I failed for lack of specifying what I think qualifies as the most fundamental level at which freewill, if it exists, must originate. Regardless of any social systems, or social interactions, freewill must begin within the mind of the individual. So within the parameters of the OP what we are confronted with is the mind/brain of human beings, a product of billions of years of evolutionary processes. I do not think it is necessary to review all of mind's evolutionary history, just be aware of the constraints that puts on the system.

Also it seems, that in order to have acted truly by freewill, one must be conscious, and consciously involved in every branch of the decision making process that leads to the act considered to be a demonstration of freewill. (I consider this to be a bit tenuous, and may be a backwards argument) The point is that it would seem that freewill, must be an act of consciousness.


Also I've been using "monism" to specify both non-theistic, and as opposed to Cartesian dualism.

early_apex
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 5:50:18 PM

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I am thinking that the only way we can know that we are exercising free will is to consciously choose an action that is counter to whatever action is reflexive or directed by evolutionary "programming".

My wife laughs when I make the cats chase around the room with a laser pointer. It's not that they think they can capture it, but rather that their brains are "hard-wired" to track any moving object, particularly if it is smaller than they are. I feel bad for them that they are captive to this impulse, but they need the exercise, anyway.

I would not say that it constitutes free will on the cats' part when they lacerate the furniture; it is a choice but also a predictable behavior for any cat with claws.

So if we choose an action (measurable) counter to some rote behavior by making a conscious choice to go against an impulse, we should be aware of it, right?
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 6:09:26 PM

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Epiphileon,

I’ve got a lot going on at the moment, so haven’t been able to visit as I’d like, but had some free time today.

At any rate, I had assumed monism referenced the single principle or motivation for decision-making, thus my response which prompted the pleasure/pain principle as that motivation. Of course, there would first be a need for a mind that could comprehend itself, its place in an environment, the likely causes and effects of choices made – conscious awareness.

My proposition is that once there is a conscious mind to make choices, the motivating factor would be an evaluation of what choice would bring results that are most in line with that which brings pleasure to the individual, and avoids the unpleasantness that the opposite would incur.

It seems to me that as we create scenarios within our mind (and we can hardly exercise our will without doing so), we are always influenced by past experiences and desires. After all, I think we are nothing if not the accumulation of all our past experiences and desires.

It is difficult for me to see any other way to think about it. To have absolute free will, it seems to me we would have to be divorced from our reactions to accumulated lifetime events, our unique personality traits, and any belief systems we might have adopted along the way.

All life forms seek the avoidance of pain in all its forms. We are no different. It is just that we can experience pain in our imagination as well as reality. (ETA: This provides us with an additional layer of motivation other creatures do not possess). Therefore, even the imagined can and will influence us in our decision-making.

From this perspective, it really makes no difference whether one assumes Cartesian duality or not. In either case, the same principle would be at work. Those who believe in a spiritual world also seek to avoid pain, and experience the pleasure they believe await them for obedience.
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 6:21:51 PM

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early_apex wrote:
I am thinking that the only way we can know that we are exercising free will is to consciously choose an action that is counter to whatever action is reflexive or directed by evolutionary "programming".
I'm not sure that is possible. If an action is a reflex or an impulse, the action takes place before you can evaluate it and make a different decision.

My wife laughs when I make the cats chase around the room with a laser pointer. It's not that they think they can capture it, but rather that their brains are "hard-wired" to track any moving object, particularly if it is smaller than they are. I feel bad for them that they are captive to this impulse, but they need the exercise, anyway.

I would not say that it constitutes free will on the cats' part when they lacerate the furniture; it is a choice but also a predictable behavior for any cat with claws.

So if we choose an action (measurable) counter to some rote behavior by making a conscious choice to go against an impulse, we should be aware of it, right?

How did it become rote behavior except by consciously repeating it until it became so. This is habit, and it is not difficult to take an action contrary to habit. Doing so would constitute a conscious choice as I see it, but the choice is still motivated by a desire to please self, and you would be aware of it.

So is your decision truly "free" or are you acting according to a desire which means your decision was not made freely?
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 7:40:30 PM

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FounDit wrote:

I’ve been absent for a bit, and I’m coming late to the topic, but reading what has been written, I wonder if we do not need a definition of “free will”?

A cursory thought on the subject tells me that no decision can ever be completely free, as we always have an underlying motive for our decisions, and therefore our will is always influenced by those motivations.

If by “free” you mean simply that we are the ones doing the choosing, and not being influenced by outside agency, then “free” might apply in that sense, and is an idea with which I agree.

However, since you are seeking a monistic source, it seems to me that the first principle of pain/pleasure is always going to be the motivating factor influencing our decision-making processes, and is free only to the degree to which our desires inspire us, which is to say, not truly free at all.

In this sense, we all possess free will, and are all free to choose, influenced by our own personal desires, but do not possess free will if it is defined by no influence at all.

Welcome back. I hope it has been a good sort of busy for you.

Epiphileon wrote:

Also it seems, that in order to have acted truly by freewill, one must be conscious, and consciously involved in every branch of the decision making process that leads to the act considered to be a demonstration of freewill. (I consider this to be a bit tenuous, and may be a backwards argument) The point is that it would seem that freewill, must be an act of consciousness.


It occurs to me that there might be another element to this that could tie these together.

Is it possible that freewill is what is left after the constraints of knowledge and habit are considered? In other words, an unconscious entity is incapable of making the distinction between a constraining context and a determined decision. We need not claim that each and every step in the process is unconstrained in order to define freewill, nor even that it is unpredictable. It only needs one instance of indeterminacy to falsify the lack of freewill.
Ray41
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 8:08:17 PM

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Epi wrote;
I also realized that I misstated what my current position actually is. My original position, that freewill is a myth, has been called into question by me, so it currently does not have a rating on my personal "authority of information scale." I think it would have been clearer to say, "If I were asked, do you think freewill exists?" My answer would be, "I don't know, but I do think the arguments against it are very strong.

Would not the fact that you are in a position to challenge whether or not freewill exists, in itself, prove that we have freewill?

Why does this have to be confined to modern man and/or part of an evolutionary process?

Has freewill evolved, or, has it never existed?

If we do not have freewill, then it has never been any part of evolution, therefore it cannot exist????

Animals exercise freewill all the time as there is no higher intellectual influence that clouds their thought process.

Where do you draw the line between instinct(the way an animal will hunt even if raised in a domestic environment) and acquired behaviour, (if the animal was raised by its natural parents and shown the process of how to fend for itself)?
There seems to be an untold number of decisions made instantaneously by a lion hunting, as there is when a man is hunting, as the situation is evolving at an unknown and rapid rate.
It doesn't make sense if you say that there are no choices, that lion and man are following some preplanned scenario.
Both can decide to terminate the hunt,or, continue to hunt after weighing up the odds of success.
Freewill is a matter of making choices. It is a decision making process which encompasses too many variables to write here.
Do you believe in fairies? No! Some people do, the same as people choose to believe in other superstitions, beliefs, etc.
If we had no freewill, would that make us all clones in our thinking?
Maybe my idea of freewill is too simple. I will make the choice to post this now, exercise my freewill, even though what I have written is most likely way left field.Anxious
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 8:38:57 PM

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leonAzul wrote:


It occurs to me that there might be another element to this that could tie these together.

Is it possible that freewill is what is left after the constraints of knowledge and habit are considered? In other words, an unconscious entity is incapable of making the distinction between a constraining context and a determined decision. We need not claim that each and every step in the process is unconstrained in order to define freewill, nor even that it is unpredictable. It only needs one instance of indeterminacy to falsify the lack of freewill.


Hang on to your primary concept here Leon, please, it is definitely an important element; however, you have touched on another one of the elements of the problem that I've been wrestling with, and it seems I just can't hold on to the whole problem by myself. i.e.
Does a lack of freewill necessarily imply determinism. I seem to be thinking that could legitimately not be the case. Oh and it was an eye widener for me when I saw an echo of this element in the article Ray linked. I had problems with how they stated it and it is not exactly the same concept in any case.
I guess a question would have to be, what constitutes determinacy? What if as the analytical subsystems of the brain that are responsible for a particular decision have come up with two options, and at the last instant it was a chaotic event that passes one instead of the other? As long as it is not an act of consciousness that makes the choice, then it's not freewill.
I suppose this could still be a result of micro determinism, but every version of determinism I've ever heard deals with much more macro events as causative factors.
What are your thoughts on that? Then I'd very much like to pursue your original point here.
(posting in a hurry, past my bedtime.)
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 10:31:25 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:

Does a lack of freewill necessarily imply determinism.

No, but universal determinism does imply a lack of freewill, therefore the existence of freewill implies a lack of universal determinism. In other words, this does not "prove" freewill, it only refutes attempts to disprove freewill, and demonstrates that freewill is still at least potentially falsifiable.

Epiphileon wrote:

I guess a question would have to be, what constitutes determinacy? What if as the analytical subsystems of the brain that are responsible for a particular decision have come up with two options, and at the last instant it was a chaotic event that passes one instead of the other?

Good point, let's keep picking at it.

Epiphileon wrote:

As long as it is not an act of consciousness that makes the choice, then it's not freewill.

I think it's a bit too early in the game to make that assertion, but for other reasons I think that consciousness is an important constraint on the preliminary definition. For one thing, there is considerable evidence of a measurable lag between the time a brain has already come to a decision and a person's awareness of the process. As we get further along I'll propose why I still don't think this is a valid argument against the existence of freewill.

Epiphileon wrote:

I suppose this could still be a result of micro determinism, but every version of determinism I've ever heard deals with much more macro events as causative factors.
What are your thoughts on that? Then I'd very much like to pursue your original point here.

What I originally had in mind was something along the lines of predestination at the macro level, and something like strict causality at the micro level. This is still rather nebulous and I certainly want to hear more critiques on it.
Dreamy
Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 5:47:19 AM

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Can anyone completely scientifically prove the conception that there is one causal factor in history?

Can anyone completely scientifically demonstrate the notion of a single element as primary determinant of behavior, social action, or institutional relations?

Having spent time and energy researching Philosophical, Psychological, Anthropological, Sociological, Economical & Theological principles I am not convinced that academia can hit the bull's eye and explain exactly what the single determinant of all known behaviour is.

What I see is a conflict, a polarity of all things. If there is to be existence, there will also be non-existence. If there are to be laws, then there will also be the absence of laws. If there is to be control of systems, there will also be the opposite of this.

I also see within this conflict and polarity, the exertion, or otherwise, of forces.

That political and economic forces direct our lives is well established, but history tells us there are other forces at work,
some creative, some destructive, some natural, some supernatural.

Belief is a force. Perhaps those who believe they are free in fact really are, whether their belief is religious in origin, or instinctive by design.

"Iron bars do not a prison make", my mother used to tell me.



Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:27:44 AM

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[quote=Ray41Would not the fact that you are in a position to challenge whether or not freewill exists, in itself, prove that we have freewill?
No Ray I don't think so, but please look, again at what I said I think would be necessary at a fundamental level in order to establish freewill. Personally if I were to rely solely on personal experience, I would say I have been driven to ask these types of questions, for as long as i can remember.This characteristic could be purely a result of curiosity, personality, and intellectual style.
Why does this have to be confined to modern man and/or part of an evolutionary process?
Well technically it doesn't but, we still haven't much success with talking with dolphins, and whales, which in my opinion are the only other species on the planet, with potentially sufficient mental characteristics/capacity to be thinking about such things. I do think that many other life forms on the planet have a base form of consciousness, but I think we are the only land animals that have the "I of mind" level of consciousness.
Why does this have to be part of an evolutionary process?
If one is asking the question from a the perspective specified in the OP, how else could it have gotten here?*
Has freewill evolved, or, has it never existed?
Like I said, if it exists, it arrived by some evolutionary process, whether strictly biological, or co-evolutionary processes.

Animals exercise freewill all the time as there is no higher intellectual influence that clouds their thought process.
Where do you draw the line between instinct(the way an animal will hunt even if raised in a domestic environment) and acquired behaviour, (if the animal was raised by its natural parents and shown the process of how to fend for itself)?
There seems to be an untold number of decisions made instantaneously by a lion hunting, as there is when a man is hunting, as the situation is evolving at an unknown and rapid rate.
It doesn't make sense if you say that there are no choices, that lion and man are following some preplanned scenario.
You're right that would not make sense, I have not said there are no choices, there could not possibly be "preplanned" repertoires to deal with a constantly changing environment, but what does exist are innate strategies of behavior, that are supplemented by an individuals experiential/learning history that build variable decision trees in the brain that can account for the vast variability displayed in the type of example you're citing.
Both can decide to terminate the hunt,or, continue to hunt after weighing up the odds of success.
Freewill is a matter of making choices. It is a decision making process which encompasses too many variables to write here.
Choice behavior does not constitute freewill, but if freewill exists, then it acts upon choice behavior.
Do you believe in fairies? No! Some people do, the same as people choose to believe in other superstitions, beliefs, etc.
If we had no freewill, would that make us all clones in our thinking?
No absolutely not, the number of neurons, the number of possible different connections, and the immense variety of experienced stimuli, combine to make what I am fairly sure is an infinitely complex, and individually variable, decision making system.
Maybe my idea of freewill is too simple. (Please be sure to read the entire next sentence so as not to be offended)
Yes Ray it no doubt is, but then so is mine, and anyone else's, not only when they first take up this issue, but even if they have been wrestling with it for years. It is only relatively recently, and across a very wide range of fields of investigation, that sufficient knowledge has been developed, to have any hope, of making only the very first inroads, towards any approximation of the beginning of a scientific investigation into the issue.

even though what I have written is most likely way left field.Anxious

No actually most of what you said is not, some of those questions are extremely relevant, and believe it or not, pretty satisfactorily answerable, from a number of different fields of investigation including, comparative animal behavior, behavioral genetics, and socio-biology.
[/quote]



*There is one caveat to that, but I definitely do not want to pursue this point in this thread, it could be, that is to say, there is some chance that the type of consciousness necessary for the possibility of freewill, is not directly coded for in the DNA, but that the structure that has been selected for, makes this type of consciousness, nearly inevitable. Then however it would still be a product of evolution having allowed for it. Separate topic though.
leonAzul
Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:57:31 AM

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Dreamy wrote:
Can anyone completely scientifically prove the conception that there is one causal factor in history?

No, no one can, and no one here asserts that.

Dreamy wrote:

Can anyone completely scientifically demonstrate the notion of a single element as primary determinant of behavior, social action, or institutional relations?

No, no one can, and no one here asserts that.

What's your point with respect to the topic?
leonAzul
Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 11:10:39 AM

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Epiphileon wrote:

*There is one caveat to that, but I definitely do not want to pursue this point in this thread, it could be, that is to say, there is some chance that the type of consciousness necessary for the possibility of freewill, is not directly coded for in the DNA, but that the structure that has been selected for, makes this type of consciousness, nearly inevitable. Then however it would still be a product of evolution having allowed for it. Separate topic though.

I agree. The question of emergence of freewill, as interesting as that might be, would be outside the scope of this discussion, and rather premature if the existence of freewill had not been established.

I also hope that when you write "foundational" and "fundamental" that you refer to a substrate sufficient to support the notion, and not a desire to pursue this to the sub-atomic level. Brick wall

In my opinion it will be sufficient to establish the scope of the inquiry, establish a substrate, and establish a working meta-framework to talk about the matter, else it's turtles all the way down, and firmaments all the way up.
Think
Dreamy
Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 3:10:17 PM

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Location: Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand
leonAzul wrote:
Dreamy wrote:
Can anyone completely scientifically prove the conception that there is one causal factor in history?

No, no one can, and no one here asserts that.

Dreamy wrote:

Can anyone completely scientifically demonstrate the notion of a single element as primary determinant of behavior, social action, or institutional relations?

No, no one can, and no one here asserts that.

What's your point with respect to the topic?


My point is that Epiphileon is asking to discuss freewill from a monistic point of view. By definition I expected this to referrence metaphysics rather than confine to the limits of science:

Epiphileon OP wrote:
In this thread I would like to pursue the issue from a monistic, non-theistic, point of view.


Definition:
Quote:
mo·nism (mnzm, mnzm)
n. Philosophy
1. The view in metaphysics that reality is a unified whole and that all existing things can be ascribed to or described by a single concept or system.
2. The doctrine that mind and matter are formed from, or reducible to, the same ultimate substance or principle of being.



monist n.
mo·nistic (m-nstk, m-) adj.
mo·nisti·cal·ly adv.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


I like to imagine Epi on a quest to find truth, and being told by a sage, "You must free your own will of its bondage before you can free others from theirs, Epiphileon". (I know he's not a grasshopper.)
dusty
Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 4:26:25 PM

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edited for typos inability not ability and to forewarn of my insults to those in the IT industry, I meant it in jest, and you know better than I do you deserved it
--edited 1/24/2013@13:43
Epiphileon wrote:

Why does this have to be confined to modern man and/or part of an evolutionary process?

Well technically it doesn't but, we still haven't much success with talking with dolphins, and whales, which in my opinion are the only other species on the planet, with potentially sufficient mental characteristics/capacity to be thinking about such things. I do think that many other life forms on the planet have a base form of consciousness, but I think we are the only land animals that have the "I of mind" level of consciousness.


What about computer scientists and electrical engineers? I can't say that watching me without my explicitly expressed permission during my "private" experiences online necessarily means they have no conscience nor scruples, and contrary to the impression often given, I would say they pretty much prove no conscience does not mean a complete lack of consciousness.

Ray asked and Epi said wrote:
Why does this have to be part of an evolutionary process?
If one is asking the question from a the perspective specified in the OP, how else could it have gotten here?*
Has freewill evolved, or, has it never existed?
Like I said, if it exists, it arrived by some evolutionary process, whether strictly biological, or co-evolutionary processes.


If you approach the topic from a flawed angle, you will likely never find an answer that satisfies you. Freewill does not depend on evolution nor does machines not having freewill obliterate the existence of freewill. It is the same principle as a bucket full of smart shrimp who have freewill being dumped into the ocean. If every last one of them climbs back into the bucket or chooses not to exercise their freewill it does not mean that they do not have freewill. Having freewill by definition allows for it's rejection. However in the realm of the ocean, the shrimp are given a very legitimate freewill, albiet one that is confined to the ocean and that is the only place it is possible for them to travel within.

Having said that, if the shrimp got together and conspired a hoax to fool the other shrimp into believing they have built a vessel that takes them completely out of the water and lands on lands and conducts "scientific" experiments, they are free to do so, and the same as any other consequences to their choices such as being free to crawl over a deep sea vent, they can choose to do this but they do not have a choice to not get burned.

There are consequences for knowingly effecting the framework of the other freeshrimp, which can easily be done by convincing the freeshrimp to believe lies. The shrimp that lied may have had good intentions with their tom foolery, or thought it to be absolutely benign, however nearly 100% of all circumstances where a shrimp chooses to alter another shrimps reality by communicating false witness rather than setting appropriate boundary, the mere act of risking so a long tangled web of connectedness and always increasing responsibility that cannot be separated from freedom, works like a mathematical proof that is indicative of said shrimps inability to comprehend the level of responsibility that is associated with ever step that is an exercise of freewill.

Innocent and innocence does occur, yet their is also absolvition absolvement absolution to be had that is absolved by the affected shrimp


Epi wrote:
What if as the analytical subsystems of the brain that are responsible for a particular decision have come up with two options, and at the last instant it was a chaotic event that passes one instead of the other? As long as it is not an act of consciousness that makes the choice, then it's not freewill.


well this is an ironic statement of sorts. I am not sure you are aware of the process you described. I won't tell you it is not how the process of making a decision happens, but I do not subscribe. It could however pass for a general description of the mechanisms and events that take place during gestation of animal bodies in the womb and if one could observe the mechanisms for biological processes during life at the cellular level, it would appear to be a true general statement, as many cell mediated processes that can be thought of in laymens terms, switches.

and what determines whether or not these switches fall to the open or closed position (on or off) is the outcome of a race taking place in a closed environment within a cell. That race is between protein synthesizers, to imagine a picture, two companies competing in production of product. The first one to produce one hundred tons of product, wins and if the red team wins that one switch is closed (on) and if the blue team wins that one switch is opened (off)

if you were to observe this race you would quickly notice that in terms of a horse race, it would need to have the photo finish reviewed to fairly award the switch position to the truthful winner.

the races are that close

now imagine that switch being off or on as representing either a zero or a one as data in a binary computer system.

For all of you who are not computer scientists engineers it takes an awful a lot of those ones and zeros to write even extremely simple programs

if the results of those photo finish races directly determine whether each bit is one or zero, it is theoretically impossible for a programmer to write a workable coding to convert temperature degrees from C to F.

It is not that it can't be done, but if every bit in the program is is decided by a truly random 50:50 event hell even a 95:5 ratio of probability, you will never ever be able to answer correctly how degrees 36 centigrade is in F degrees.

and if your were able to write a code that got the conversion right just one time, it would either be a God Damned miracle , or else absolutely nothing random about who wins the photo finish.

it takes an awful lot of miracles to to fire up machines so that they run with life.

So much so, that machines can only be built by members living life. Machines, even cellular, do not assemble themselves, and even if they could the engines do not turn over, and even if they did, they would not start, and will not run. I guarantee you if you ever see an engine of any kind, it was the work of the living
leonAzul
Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 4:56:42 PM

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Dreamy wrote:

My point is that Epiphileon is asking to discuss freewill from a monistic point of view. By definition I expected this to referrence metaphysics rather than confine to the limits of science:

So if there is only one reality, and the supernatural is not materialistic by definition, which part of materialistic monism don't you understand?
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 5:00:04 PM

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DAmn! I'd think I should know by now to by more careful with terminology. especially with a term that has such a wide ranging possible variety of meanings. If you really want to exercise you comprehensive abilities, go check out Stanford's Encyclopedia of Philosophy's page on monism.

Quote:
For the purposes of this thread; however, I would like to keep to a natural science interpretation of reality, in which humankind arose due to natural processes, and that human freewill, if it exists, must be a function of the evolved human brain.


Quote:
Also I've been using "monism" to specify both non-theistic, and as opposed to Cartesian dualism.


What I'd hoped to be understood by the above statements was that this discussion would be from the point of view that the universe and everything in it is attributable to one kind of stuff, physical stuff, matter/energy, and that nothing is attributable to supernatural forces.

My use of monism regarding the operation of the human living mind/brain, is meant to identify that system as one thing, mind is the result of the functioning of the brain, nothing else, there is no kind of homunculus, soul, or spirit, observing the operation of the sensory system and determining behavior. It is entirely and only a natural phenomenon.

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