The free will fallacy
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19-07-2017, 08:21 AM
RE: The free will fallacy
(19-07-2017 08:01 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(19-07-2017 07:08 AM)GenesisNemesis Wrote:  It's unclear to me how exactly it follows that "if our actions are caused there is no reason to punish people".

That was exactly Robvalue's point, yet some determinists argue that way.

And to those people who take issue with the "moral implications" I say: suck it up. If that's how things would be, that is how they would be.

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19-07-2017, 08:55 AM (This post was last modified: 19-07-2017 09:00 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: The free will fallacy
(19-07-2017 08:05 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(19-07-2017 06:48 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I'm not familiar with that terminology, so I'll have to look into it.

I don't know where you would look, since it's nothing I read anywhere.

If a rock falls down a mountain because of an earthquake and kills someone, that's a materially determined cause.

If I pick up a rock and kill someone because I think he did me wrong, that's a symbolically processed cause. This can easily be seen as different when you consider that if I was completely wrong in my assessment, then nothing material caused me to do anything, even second-hand.

This is my take on what you're saying:

This sounds like you're abstractly describing the processes going on in your brain. It's adding another layer of analysis, but it doesn't affect the literal chemical/physical processes that have gone on. You, your brain, and everything else involved, are made out of the same elements as everything else, and as such are subject to the laws of reality (whatever they may be). So I don't see at what point there is anything fundamentally different going on from the rock falling down. Its component parts obey the laws of reality; so do yours. Are those laws deterministic, random, or something else? I don't know, but as far as I'm aware, only the first two have been observed.

We can abstractly group together whatever processes we like and call them something else, but that doesn't make them something else. It just helps us understand them. In your brain, there have been material causes all the way, because there is nothing else to do the causing. And your brain caused your muscles to move, which caused the rock to move. The concept of someone "doing us wrong" is really just configurations in our brains, and is part of material cause and effect like anything else.

This is why our "agency" is so hard to pin down, in my estimation. There seems to be no room for it. The concept of "self" is similarly just a way of us trying to make sense of what is going on. I don't think it really means anything.

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19-07-2017, 09:31 AM (This post was last modified: 19-07-2017 01:50 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: The free will fallacy
Everyone has a different notion of what the term "free-will" means. The concept is ancient, http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/history/
but generally the one I got mostly comes from the Medieval Scholastics and Moral Theology (the Roman Church), in which they assert that for an act to be "sinful", "full knowledge and assent of the (free) "will" is required. We know today that *decisions* are far more complex and have elements that are unconscious, (Libet, and many others) and only a few elements are conscious. So the *old* BS in Moral Theology is certainly nonsense. On the other hand, within some parameters, can I choose to, (for example) set up a long term path to a long term goal, and move towards that, to something I find of value ? Yeah ... and we can quibble forever about "why" that choice gets made, but one *can* do that.

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19-07-2017, 12:57 PM
RE: The free will fallacy
Except, Bucky, that "choice" that you made has been affected by millions of "bits of data" consisting all of matter. Matter upon matter since time began.

That is my concept of determinism, which leaves no true free will, sanctioned by the Church or otherwise.

But...again, if we would like to live within rules set by civilization, then we must act as if we can make choices based on the notion of free will and civilization has an obligation to itself to deter that which acts against it.

If we don't want to or cannot, then we must accept the consequences of our actions, which may be to live outside of civilization or to become subject to punishment when our actions conflict with it.

"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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19-07-2017, 01:47 PM (This post was last modified: 19-07-2017 02:33 PM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: The free will fallacy
(19-07-2017 08:55 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  This sounds like you're abstractly describing the processes going on in your brain. It's adding another layer of analysis, but it doesn't affect the literal chemical/physical processes that have gone on. You, your brain, and everything else involved, are made out of the same elements as everything else, and as such are subject to the laws of reality (whatever they may be). So I don't see at what point there is anything fundamentally different going on from the rock falling down. Its component parts obey the laws of reality; so do yours. Are those laws deterministic, random, or something else? I don't know, but as far as I'm aware, only the first two have been observed.

We can abstractly group together whatever processes we like and call them something else, but that doesn't make them something else. It just helps us understand them. In your brain, there have been material causes all the way, because there is nothing else to do the causing. And your brain caused your muscles to move, which caused the rock to move. The concept of someone "doing us wrong" is really just configurations in our brains, and is part of material cause and effect like anything else.

This is why our "agency" is so hard to pin down, in my estimation. There seems to be no room for it. The concept of "self" is similarly just a way of us trying to make sense of what is going on. I don't think it really means anything.

As I said, I am a emergentist rather than a reductionist. Think of philosopher John Searle's Chinese room thought experiment. The perception of meaning can never be reduced to unintelligent processes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room

Human agency on the level of meaning is an observation science must take into account, not something to explain away simply because we don't have the tools yet. We can choose how we interpret and respond to events, and we can be observed doing so all the time.
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19-07-2017, 01:57 PM
RE: The free will fallacy
(19-07-2017 12:57 PM)Jeanne Wrote:  Except, Bucky, that "choice" that you made has been affected by millions of "bits of data" consisting all of matter. Matter upon matter since time began.

"Affected" or not, it can still be done, within parameters. The data is not necessarily "all of matter". We really can't say anything final at this point, as 95 % of what constitutes the universe is Dark Energy and Dark Matter. The matter we know about follows the properties of Quantum Mechanics, which are probabilistic, not deterministic. So the equation for the "affect" is complex, and many of the variables and coefficients approach zero in their influence.

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19-07-2017, 10:57 PM
RE: The free will fallacy
(19-07-2017 01:47 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(19-07-2017 08:55 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  This sounds like you're abstractly describing the processes going on in your brain. It's adding another layer of analysis, but it doesn't affect the literal chemical/physical processes that have gone on. You, your brain, and everything else involved, are made out of the same elements as everything else, and as such are subject to the laws of reality (whatever they may be). So I don't see at what point there is anything fundamentally different going on from the rock falling down. Its component parts obey the laws of reality; so do yours. Are those laws deterministic, random, or something else? I don't know, but as far as I'm aware, only the first two have been observed.

We can abstractly group together whatever processes we like and call them something else, but that doesn't make them something else. It just helps us understand them. In your brain, there have been material causes all the way, because there is nothing else to do the causing. And your brain caused your muscles to move, which caused the rock to move. The concept of someone "doing us wrong" is really just configurations in our brains, and is part of material cause and effect like anything else.

This is why our "agency" is so hard to pin down, in my estimation. There seems to be no room for it. The concept of "self" is similarly just a way of us trying to make sense of what is going on. I don't think it really means anything.

As I said, I am a emergentist rather than a reductionist. Think of philosopher John Searle's Chinese room thought experiment. The perception of meaning can never be reduced to unintelligent processes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room

Human agency on the level of meaning is an observation science must take into account, not something to explain away simply because we don't have the tools yet. We can choose how we interpret and respond to events, and we can be observed doing so all the time.

Hmm...

I would hold that the burden of proof is on someone claiming that intelligence, brains, minds or any emergent processes are doing anything more than following the rules of reality. For sure, something else may be going on. But it appears to be an argument from ignorance/incredulity to assume that there is some extra component here, and to expect others to prove that there isn't. I can only go by what the evidence currently tells us. I'm not trying to explain anything away.

Consciousness is a baffling phenomena for sure, and it's easy to see how it has led people to the belief in souls and such over the years. I feel that attributing something special to a "mind" (which appears to me to be our abstract representation of emergent processes) is somewhat akin to this. What exactly is special about it? "Understanding" is again an abstract way of explaining what's going on in a brain. Sure, we can try and make judgements about what does and doesn't constitute understanding, but I don't see what impact that has on anything.

One interesting point is that I see no reason why other things can't have forms of consciousness, too. Maybe a rock "experiences" what is going on through emergent processes, like we do. Maybe it feels in control of what's happening. Maybe it thinks it's understanding. It just has no way of communicating this experience. Why would we assume brains are so special that they are the only way experiences can happen as emergent processes? Of course, I'm not claiming a rock does experience anything, that would also be an argument from ignorance.

I'm not claiming to have all the answers. Consciousness is the most paradoxical of all things to me, as it's the only first hand data I really have, yet it's not first hand. I try to be scientific about what it tells me, but it feels entirely unscientific in of itself. I can barely talk about anything without referring to the concept of self (there I go again), while I claim that it's also a nonsense idea. It's an experience, yet I can't even scientifically define what an experience is.

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20-07-2017, 06:49 AM
RE: The free will fallacy
(19-07-2017 01:57 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(19-07-2017 12:57 PM)Jeanne Wrote:  Except, Bucky, that "choice" that you made has been affected by millions of "bits of data" consisting all of matter. Matter upon matter since time began.

"Affected" or not, it can still be done, within parameters. The data is not necessarily "all of matter". We really can't say anything final at this point, as 95 % of what constitutes the universe is Dark Energy and Dark Matter. The matter we know about follows the properties of Quantum Mechanics, which are probabilistic, not deterministic. So the equation for the "affect" is complex, and many of the variables and coefficients approach zero in their influence.

Of course..."within parameters." Whether or not Dark Matter or Energy affects what we consider free will or choice is unknown, as is any other matter or energy and its effect upon our lives. It is unknown, but much more probable than any deity and certainly more possible.

That which is human matter can act within parameters that are set by all other matter and I will include that, which is not fully understood in dark matter and energy. How is that conducive to true free will? It is as I understand it to be, an illusion set to keep humans sane. Humans set their own parameters of behavior that must be kept if we are to survive as a sentient species and within those parameters, we accept responsibility for making the "right" choices using what free will is available to our senses.

Elementary, I suppose, but thought out it is. I do not think one must be a genius to reason over such issues, nor have all the proper terminology. The effect may be most subtle and of no actual significance, such that it might be measured, but I reason that it is there and affected actions in the far distant past of the beginning.

More obvious would be the effects that we can measure, which have affected recent humans. Geography, weather, religions, disease, etc. What have these done to the hundred of thousands of years of human "choice" and how are humans living today affected in ways that are subtle, but also significant to a concept, such as free will?

What of a star that went supernova? Matter acting upon matter had a supreme amount of influence upon human matter.

"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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20-07-2017, 08:11 AM (This post was last modified: 20-07-2017 08:16 AM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: The free will fallacy
(19-07-2017 10:57 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  I would hold that the burden of proof is on someone claiming that intelligence, brains, minds or any emergent processes are doing anything more than following the rules of reality.

The question of what is reality is exactly what is under dispute. That allows for different opinions.

However, the way I always understood it, the burden of proof lies with the person whose theory violates appearances. The appearance is most certainly that people can make choices on the level of symbolic processing. "Will I eat at Applebee's or Ruby's for lunch? Ruby's is closer, so I will go there."

Nor do I think I am proposing any "extra component," unless you want to call an emergent property something extra.
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20-07-2017, 11:24 PM
RE: The free will fallacy
(20-07-2017 08:11 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(19-07-2017 10:57 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  I would hold that the burden of proof is on someone claiming that intelligence, brains, minds or any emergent processes are doing anything more than following the rules of reality.

The question of what is reality is exactly what is under dispute. That allows for different opinions.

However, the way I always understood it, the burden of proof lies with the person whose theory violates appearances. The appearance is most certainly that people can make choices on the level of symbolic processing. "Will I eat at Applebee's or Ruby's for lunch? Ruby's is closer, so I will go there."

Nor do I think I am proposing any "extra component," unless you want to call an emergent property something extra.

Thanks for the debate, I have enjoyed it Smile I appreciate we're coming at this from different angles, and I don't think I have anything else I can add at the moment. It's a fascinating subject for sure.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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