Free Will
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15-01-2013, 06:57 PM
RE: Free Will
I find it interesting that you compare free will with religion while at the same time you argue that humans don't really have any control over what they do. Funny... a lot of children have been killed by their parent's because their parents had no control over what they did. The difference? You credit the machination nature with your decisions and they credit gods.

This is why I say that determinism is an excuse to forgive evil. It may sound fine if you credit the choosing of ice cream flavors to a natural machination of the chemicals and neurons in your brain but it isn't so nice when you credit murder with the same. And you can't have your cake and eat it too. If Christians can't credit god with good and blame themselves for evil then you can't credit determinism with good and scapegoat something else with evil. You're either capable of knowing right from wrong and choosing one or the other or you're not. Take your pick.

Free will might be very difficult to understand and (currently) impossible to explain but that makes it no less plausible than Big Bang theory. That we can't say exactly how it happens doesn't mean we have to make up a story that essentially relegates the seeming magic of human consciousness to a simple, tiny gear in the machine that is the universe writ large.

Determinism is the moral equivalent of nihilism. Taken to its logical conclusion, no one has any liability for any of the evil deeds they do to others. And, like religion, its adherents use it as a mental crutch.

And remember.... if anything I've said upsets or angers you, I had no control over it. It was just this machine in my skull processing inputs without my knowledge. On second thought, how could knowledge even exist in a world where we have no control over our brains??? Huh
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15-01-2013, 07:00 PM
RE: Free Will
We certainly have the appearance of having free will.

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15-01-2013, 09:45 PM (This post was last modified: 15-01-2013 10:36 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Free Will
Vosur and I had a long discussion about this somewhere. Ask him. Whatever thread it's in, has a lot of links to the Neuro-science of choice.
Here. I found it. http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...God?page=4
Page back.

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15-01-2013, 10:53 PM (This post was last modified: 15-01-2013 11:04 PM by Adenosis.)
RE: Free Will
(15-01-2013 06:57 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  I find it interesting that you compare free will with religion while at the same time you argue that humans don't really have any control over what they do. Funny... a lot of children have been killed by their parent's because their parents had no control over what they did. The difference? You credit the machination nature with your decisions and they credit gods.

This is why I say that determinism is an excuse to forgive evil.
[cut]
If Christians can't credit god with good and blame themselves for evil then you can't credit determinism with good and scapegoat something else with evil.
[cut]
Determinism is the moral equivalent of nihilism. Taken to its logical conclusion, no one has any liability for any of the evil deeds they do to others. And, like religion, its adherents use it as a mental crutch.

I get this a lot on this topic. We have evidence the universe follows a set of laws, we have no evidence god exists. People assume that determinism means that we can't or shouldn't punish people that do bad things, this is not correct.
Think of it like this.

If we knew a tornado was going to rip through a town and kill thousands of people, and we had a way to stop it, should we?
Or should we let it go on it's course because the tornado doesn't have free will?
The obvious conclusion is that we stop the tornado, the lack of free will of the tornado doesn't make a difference. People will die.

Similarly if there is an individual that kills people, the obvious thing to do is to lock them away so they don't kill any more people.

(15-01-2013 06:57 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  It may sound fine if you credit the choosing of ice cream flavors to a natural machination of the chemicals and neurons in your brain but it isn't so nice when you credit murder with the same.

What is the difference between eating cake and murder? it is our interpretation of good and bad. We do know right from wrong (most of the time) but how does that mean we have free will? Do we choose what we interpret as right or wrong?

We may change our opinion on something, but is it the result of free will? or the result of an experience?
Experience can be an external event like a murder, or a internal event like thinking murder might be more harmful than beneficial to us.

We don't choose our thoughts, they just appear in consciousness, the only place they can come from that makes sense is the subconscious (Parts of the brain we are not conscious of). I highly recommend anyone that is not aware of this to try Mindfulness Meditation. Our attention can only be focused on things that appear in concsiousness.
The real question in my opinion is... Do we choose what conscious thoughts to focus on, or is the thought we focus on the result of more unconscious processes.

(15-01-2013 06:57 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  You're either capable of knowing right from wrong and choosing one or the other or you're not. Take your pick.

Is the awareness of right and wrong intimitely tied in with free will? I don't see that it is. Someone please expand on this if you think I am wrong.

(15-01-2013 06:57 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  Free will might be very difficult to understand and (currently) impossible to explain but that makes it no less plausible than Big Bang theory. That we can't say exactly how it happens doesn't mean we have to make up a story that essentially relegates the seeming magic of human consciousness to a simple, tiny gear in the machine that is the universe writ large.

Indeed, free will is difficult to understand, much like the universe, but we don't assume there is a god because of it. It seems more magical to me to think that a system in a universe that follows a set of laws can make decisions.

(15-01-2013 06:57 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  And remember.... if anything I've said upsets or angers you, I had no control over it. It was just this machine in my skull processing inputs without my knowledge. On second thought, how could knowledge even exist in a world where we have no control over our brains??? Huh

Nothing you have said angers me, it is your opinion, and this is mine. Although like I said before, the lack of free will doesn't means someone get's away with everything they happen to say or do. I would comment in a appropriate way (as seen by me), with no free will of my own I might add. I appreciate your reply.

(15-01-2013 07:00 PM)Chas Wrote:  We certainly have the appearance of having free will.

Indeed we do. I think we can all agree on this.

EDIT: The difference between my position and that of a theist, is that I don't care If I'm proven wrong. If someone can give me a rational reason to accept free will, I will. It is absolutely not a way to throw away responcibility. From what I know thus far, I just don't accept the idea of free will.

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15-01-2013, 11:36 PM
RE: Free Will
"If we knew a tornado was going to rip through a town and kill thousands of people, and we had a way to stop it, should we?

Or should we let it go on it's course because the tornado doesn't have free will?"

We should stop it. Whether or not it has free will is irrelevant to the fact that it has the potential to kill people and do property damage.

"What is the difference between eating cake and murder? it is our
interpretation of good and bad. We do know right from wrong (most of the
time) but how does that mean we have free will? Do we choose what we
interpret as right or wrong?
"

From a determinist's perspective, no. We are simply machines acting on inputs. Thus, if the information happens to be processed properly, then fewer people die. However, if the information happens to be processed incorrectly, sorry folks, you gotta die. This is the fundamental fallacy of determinist thinking. Either you do have the choice or you don't. If you do, that is free will. If you don't, you cannot have moral rules and thus, you cannot have good or evil.

If a rock rolls down a mountain and hits your car, do you call the rock evil? Do you yell at the rock GO LEFT! GO LEFT!? If not, why not?

If a human being is speeding headlong down that same mountain, headed straight for your car, do you yell at the human to go left? If you do, then why?

To argue that everything is fore ordained and then argue that we can choose is to say "I'm headed north and south at the same time". It's illogical and impossible.

"It seems more magical to me to think that a system in a universe that follows a set of laws can make decisions."

The computers you and I are using to debate this topic follow a set of laws and make decisions. And... if they become damaged, they will often make the wrong decisions.

"It is absolutely not a way to throw away responcibility."

Taken to its logical conclusion, determinism necessarily removes responsibility.
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16-01-2013, 12:27 AM
RE: Free Will

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16-01-2013, 01:29 AM
RE: Free Will
"That is my point, even if there is no free will, we still prevent a harmful system from doing damage."

That is my point, even if I'm traveling south, I still arrive at my northern destination. ← That won't work. Free will indicates the ability to choose. Determinism indicates the lack of choice.

"Well not just current inputs but previous inputs that have been stored.
But yeah, evolution tended to weed out the ones that processed
information in a way that got them killed."


The first claim is irrelevant. For the last, are you arguing that an innocent victim of a theater shooting has somehow processed information wrong and thus, evolution did a good thing by getting him/her murdered?

"Again, why does moral rules have anything to do with free will? I don't see it.~

If we have no choice in what we do, we cannot have morals. This is why we don't apply moral rules to animals. A lion has no choice but to kill a deer for food, so it makes no sense to say that a lion is a murderer... even if the deer he kills is your pet. He is simply doing that which he must do to survive. He hasn't the cognitive skills to determine whether or not he is eating your pet or just some wild animal, therefore, he cannot be considered a moral agent. And yes, the human brain is capable of perceiving what is the most beneficial and safest thing in a given situation. That's free will and the lion also has that capability... albeit to a much smaller degree.

"I don't really think we chose though. Maybe what I'm saying isn't coming out right."

Perhaps not. Maybe you should choose a different way of wording it?

"Fair point, but they don't make decisions do they? they blindly obey input based on programming."

Touche. So if the computer in a predator drone is programmed to follow instructions that tell it to drop a bomb on a house where an innocent child iresidess, it will do so. But... a human pilot, upon seeing the young child, can make the choice to disregard his orders/programming. Or he can send the bomb in spite of the knowledge that he is murdering a child.

"Maybe, I haven't spent a lot of time on this aspect of it. Punishments for being harmful would still exist though."

Punishments for what? If there is no choice, there can be no wrong and to apply punishments to someone who has done no wrong would be... well, statism. But that's fodder for another thread. Rolleyes
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16-01-2013, 02:21 PM (This post was last modified: 16-01-2013 02:25 PM by Adenosis.)
RE: Free Will
(16-01-2013 01:29 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  [/i]That is my point, even if I'm traveling south, I still arrive at my northern destination. ← That won't work. Free will indicates the ability to choose. Determinism indicates the lack of choice.

That doesn't relate at all. But if you were to start travelling south you would end up in the north, the earths round Wink
Unless you mean you were always travelling south, then you couldn't move once you reached the pole and so that makes sense.
But this still has nothing to do with what I am saying. When a system causes harm, we remove the system, or at least try to. Whether that system has free will or not is completely irrelevent, and to a conscious system being removed from society (aka being put in jail) is a punishment.

(16-01-2013 01:29 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  
Aspchizo Wrote:"Well not just current inputs but previous inputs that have been stored.
But yeah, evolution tended to weed out the ones that processed
information in a way that got them killed.

The first claim is irrelevant. For the last, are you arguing that an innocent victim of a theater shooting has somehow processed information wrong and thus, evolution did a good thing by getting him/her murdered?

It's not irrelivant and I'l get to that in the part where you compare a human pilot to a predator drone.

Nope it is the fault of the person that did the murdering, and since it's at a theater he's pretty much guaranteed to go to jail. In the past he may have just been killed. No one said the whole system was perfect, a lot of people that function properly still die.

(16-01-2013 01:29 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  
Aspchizo Wrote:Again, why does moral rules have anything to do with free will? I don't see it.

[/i]If we have no choice in what we do, we cannot have morals. This is why we don't apply moral rules to animals. A lion has no choice but to kill a deer for food, so it makes no sense to say that a lion is a murderer... even if the deer he kills is your pet. He is simply doing that which he must do to survive. He hasn't the cognitive skills to determine whether or not he is eating your pet or just some wild animal, therefore, he cannot be considered a moral agent. And yes, the human brain is capable of perceiving what is the most beneficial and safest thing in a given situation. That's free will and the lion also has that capability... albeit to a much smaller degree.

A computer 'knows' what to do because of it's programming, if that computer was self aware but unable to manipulate the programming then would you think it has free will? The analogy is not perfect, it's impossible to come up with a perfect analogy because the output of the brain is dependant upon many more variables than a computer.

This is how I think of the brain. Self awareness that is so tied in with he programming of the brain that it gives the illusion of free will.

Well Lions use to eat us when we lived in Africa, and will still attack if we make them uncomfortable with our presence, but some people like this are totally accepted into their pride. This isn't much different than us having an pet, they don't kill him. Of course developed enough so we know not to kill someone elses pet (most of us). But it would be interesting to put a different lion in this cage with them to see what happened.

Would they protect their human comrade or would they let the other lion kill him? Maybe the other lion would get the hint and stay away from the human and nothing would die, much like we see in human society today.


(16-01-2013 01:29 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  
Aspchizo Wrote:I don't really think we chose though. Maybe what I'm saying isn't coming out right.

Perhaps not. Maybe you should choose a different way of wording it?

Lol, good one. No what I mean is that we respond to input(situations) based on past inputs(experience) and being aware of some of this activity gives the illusion of a decision.


(16-01-2013 01:29 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  Touche. So if the computer in a predator drone is programmed to follow instructions that tell it to drop a bomb on a house where an innocent child iresidess, it will do so. But... a human pilot, upon seeing the young child, can make the choice to disregard his orders/programming. Or he can send the bomb in spite of the knowledge that he is murdering a child.

It has to do with the complexity of the system in question and the amount of variables that determine the ouput of the system. The predator drone has few variables. Thrust, direction and bombing destination (basically). So it is not a complex enough system to abort an order, but the human brain is. We relate to the child because of our past experience, we were once a child, and/or have children of our own or just know children. The predator drone doesn't add past experience in to the equation. The human brain does include past experience into the equation, this is why previous input is completely relevant. The experiences of a individual determine the way they will respond to future input.

On a side note, bombs have been dropped by human pilots that killed many innocent children, even an atomic bomb - Paul Tibbets in Hiroshima. We didn't see him refuse the order.

(16-01-2013 01:29 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  [/i]Punishments for what? If there is no choice, there can be no wrong and to apply punishments to someone who has done no wrong would be... well, statism. But that's fodder for another thread. Rolleyes

Punishment for killing someone, it doesn't have to be something you did by use of free will. If the brain that individuals consciousness resides in kills people, that being is punished by being put in jail. Whether or not there is free will, the brain takes that in as an experience, and once out of jail, will be more inclined not to kill again for fear of the consequence.

There can be right and wrong because the person has still commited a wrong doing, just like the tornado, having free will doesn't make a difference. If we could lock tornadoes up we would Tongue

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16-01-2013, 02:44 PM
RE: Free Will
(15-01-2013 09:45 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Vosur and I had a long discussion about this somewhere. Ask him. Whatever thread it's in, has a lot of links to the Neuro-science of choice.
Here. I found it. http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...God?page=4
Page back.


The neuroscience is fascinating and more study will certainly yield more data. What we have so far makes a case against a simple model of 'free will', but does not yet appear to disprove some kind of free will, albeit one that is less conscious than has been thought.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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16-01-2013, 02:56 PM
RE: Free Will
(16-01-2013 02:44 PM)Chas Wrote:  The neuroscience is fascinating and more study will certainly yield more data. What we have so far makes a case against a simple model of 'free will', but does not yet appear to disprove some kind of free will, albeit one that is less conscious than has been thought.
Indeed, it would be interesting if there was free will. But if there is, I highly suspect it is seated in the unconscious mind than in the conscious mind.

I just find it funny that for most people the default position is belief in free will. I don't think either free will or determinism are default positions. I feel that information needs to be presented in favour of either one for one to be taken seriously. As of now there isn't anything I can think of that proves the existence of free will, or the illusion of free will. Subjectively, they both appear the exact same.

However when I am writing, words and strands of words really just appear, I know I am not consciously choosing them.

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