What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
29-09-2013, 10:10 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(28-09-2013 04:52 AM)Chas Wrote:  You have also introduced the strawman of "absolute" free will.

How so? I don't think I was making a strawman. I tried to make it rather clear that I was primarily arguing against 'freewill' as typically used by theists as an escape strategy for the Problem of Evil and the justification of Hell. In addition to opposing that version of 'freewill' I've also found Squirrel's definition to be silly. Even if we accepted his arbitrary definition of freewill, it would still not be the 'freewill' required by theists to make their arguments; and so part of why I continue to go after it is for it's potential to be misconstrued. This is why I've tried to differentiate them by using terms like 'absolute freewill' or 'theistic freewill', the sort of freewill that would be needed to (according to theists) vindicated the existence of evil.


(27-09-2013 09:50 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(27-09-2013 09:46 AM)guitar_nut Wrote:  ...How is it fair that I don't have those urges, a killer does, and we both are judged by the same standard? Again, I'm talking from a theist viewpoint.

That right there is one of the core of the issue I've been trying to get at, presented very succinctly. Thumbsup


(23-09-2013 08:41 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(23-09-2013 12:13 PM)black_squirrel Wrote:  With free will, we do not mean COMPLETE control. I do not claim that I can make my neurons do whatever I want. But I do control them to a large extent. If I think of a tree, I force my neurons to act consistently with the thought of a tree.

Then we have different ideas of what constitutes freewill...


I acknowledged that his position is different from the 'absolute/theistic freewill', and yet I still find his reasoning inadequate and uncompelling. How is that a strawman?

[Image: E3WvRwZ.gif]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
30-09-2013, 10:34 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(29-09-2013 10:10 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(28-09-2013 04:52 AM)Chas Wrote:  You have also introduced the strawman of "absolute" free will.

How so? I don't think I was making a strawman. I tried to make it rather clear that I was primarily arguing against 'freewill' as typically used by theists as an escape strategy for the Problem of Evil and the justification of Hell. In addition to opposing that version of 'freewill' I've also found Squirrel's definition to be silly. Even if we accepted his arbitrary definition of freewill, it would still not be the 'freewill' required by theists to make their arguments; and so part of why I continue to go after it is for it's potential to be misconstrued. This is why I've tried to differentiate them by using terms like 'absolute freewill' or 'theistic freewill', the sort of freewill that would be needed to (according to theists) vindicated the existence of evil.


(27-09-2013 09:50 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  That right there is one of the core of the issue I've been trying to get at, presented very succinctly. Thumbsup


(23-09-2013 08:41 PM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Then we have different ideas of what constitutes freewill...


I acknowledged that his position is different from the 'absolute/theistic freewill', and yet I still find his reasoning inadequate and uncompelling. How is that a strawman?

There are many different notions of "free will". So I do not see why we should use a theistic notion of free will by default, in an atheist forum.

My viewpoint is more existentialist. So my notion of free will would be more like Jean-Paul Sartre would use it. Like Sartre, I think free will is essential, and I reject determinism.

We use the idea of free will all the time. Even the people who reject the idea of free will use it, they just won't admit it, or they just won't call it that.

I am always looking for definitions that are both practical, and close to how these terms are being used in the world. So here is an attempt to define free will:

Our free will is the totality of all the decisions we make, that are not provable determined by other causes.

Now you are probably not going to like this definition. It still may need some fine tuning but I like it.

In practice, people are assumed to have free will, until proven otherwise.
If you deliberately kill someone, you go to jail, unless you can give a reason
that you had no choice (self defense, insanity etc.)
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
30-09-2013, 10:54 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(27-09-2013 09:29 PM)black_squirrel Wrote:  It is a brave attempt to explain quantum mechanics in 1 post, but I am not sure if people will get it.

Take a qubit in superposition and measure it, et voila, the end of the deterministic universe. It is just unfortunate that the people who do not want to go against neuroscience, have no qualms about going against quantum physics. I believe someone utter something about hidden variables in an earlier post.
It was Einstein who said that God does not play dice (and he did not mean that God does not exist). Of course, Einstein was proven wrong,
and quantum mechanics cannot be explained with deterministic hidden variables.

I'm not sure what you're getting at there.

It's still deterministic in a "proceeding predictably from knowable initial conditions" sense. Randomness - true randomness - is not volition; probabilistic evolution admits of differing options but it doesn't account for the existence of a choice between them.

Whether we act as though we've got free will is not directly relevant.

... this is my signature!
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
30-09-2013, 11:04 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(30-09-2013 10:54 AM)cjlr Wrote:  
(27-09-2013 09:29 PM)black_squirrel Wrote:  It is a brave attempt to explain quantum mechanics in 1 post, but I am not sure if people will get it.

Take a qubit in superposition and measure it, et voila, the end of the deterministic universe. It is just unfortunate that the people who do not want to go against neuroscience, have no qualms about going against quantum physics. I believe someone utter something about hidden variables in an earlier post.
It was Einstein who said that God does not play dice (and he did not mean that God does not exist). Of course, Einstein was proven wrong,
and quantum mechanics cannot be explained with deterministic hidden variables.

I'm not sure what you're getting at there.

It's still deterministic in a "proceeding predictably from knowable initial conditions" sense. Randomness - true randomness - is not volition; probabilistic evolution admits of differing options but it doesn't account for the existence of a choice between them.

Whether we act as though we've got free will is not directly relevant.

The way quantum mechanics is usually formulated, it is fundamentally non-deterministic. If I know the initial state of a qubit, say in superposition
(|0>+|1>)/sqrt(2), and I measure it, it will be in the state |0> or in the state |1>,
each with probability 1/2. So although I did know the initial state, the state after measurement was completely unpredictible.

free will is not the same as non-determinism. Possibly, the world is nondeterministic, yet we do not have free will. (And some believe that the universe is deterministic, but we do have free will.)
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
30-09-2013, 11:25 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(30-09-2013 11:04 AM)black_squirrel Wrote:  The way quantum mechanics is usually formulated, it is fundamentally non-deterministic. If I know the initial state of a qubit, say in superposition
(|0>+|1>)/sqrt(2), and I measure it, it will be in the state |0> or in the state |1>,
each with probability 1/2. So although I did know the initial state, the state after measurement was completely unpredictible.

free will is not the same as non-determinism. Possibly, the world is nondeterministic, yet we do not have free will. (And some believe that the universe is deterministic, but we do have free will.)

OK, I see what you meant.

I do object to your characterisation, though: the state after measurement is not "completely unpredictible". It's entirely predictible! That's what it means to know the initial state.

As to the word 'determinism' itself; I think it's worthwhile to make the distinction between deterministic as in "sufficient knowledge allows exact knowledge of final outcome" and "sufficient knowledge allows exact knowledge of the probabilities of possible outcomes". But that's just reiterating that knowing exact possibilities, while not predicting a single outcome, is still an exact prediction of possible outcomes.

... this is my signature!
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
30-09-2013, 12:49 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(30-09-2013 11:25 AM)cjlr Wrote:  
(30-09-2013 11:04 AM)black_squirrel Wrote:  The way quantum mechanics is usually formulated, it is fundamentally non-deterministic. If I know the initial state of a qubit, say in superposition
(|0>+|1>)/sqrt(2), and I measure it, it will be in the state |0> or in the state |1>,
each with probability 1/2. So although I did know the initial state, the state after measurement was completely unpredictible.

free will is not the same as non-determinism. Possibly, the world is nondeterministic, yet we do not have free will. (And some believe that the universe is deterministic, but we do have free will.)

OK, I see what you meant.

I do object to your characterisation, though: the state after measurement is not "completely unpredictible". It's entirely predictible! That's what it means to know the initial state.

As to the word 'determinism' itself; I think it's worthwhile to make the distinction between deterministic as in "sufficient knowledge allows exact knowledge of final outcome" and "sufficient knowledge allows exact knowledge of the probabilities of possible outcomes". But that's just reiterating that knowing exact possibilities, while not predicting a single outcome, is still an exact prediction of possible outcomes.

From knowing the initial state (the superposition state) we cannot predict
what the outcome is before we do the measurement. So I think it is fair to say that the outcome of the measurement, whether it is going to be |0> or |1> is not predictable. But we do know exactly what the probabilities are for each outcome.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
19-11-2014, 05:59 AM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
(18-09-2013 11:20 AM)guitar_nut Wrote:  There's been a lot of chat about free will lately. Free will is often used in debates to absolve a god of any responsibility for its creations.

Rapists? Simply exercising free will. God will not interfere.
Murderers? Simply exercising free will. God will not interfere.

I'm wondering how, exactly, a theist defines free will, since it's such an important component of their worldview. I think that the value and power of free will often gets exaggerated in order to strengthen an argument. For example, what I want to do is not always an option. I'm stuck with having to accept what I can do. In that case, my 'will' is not free, but is instead a compromise between what I want and what I can realistically do.

I personally define free will as the following:
The ability to perform an action based on your available options and personal abilities.

I give it the following limitations:
1. Free will can be taken away by the strong;
2. Free will is not equal among individuals;
3. Free will does not mean unlimited choices;

I always struggled with the following:
1. God allows the free will of the strong to take precedence over the free will of the weak;
2. God determines the limitations of your free will (for example, children cannot overpower an adult attacker);
3. Preventing an attacker from harming someone else would be an infringement on the free will of the attacker;
4. Giving a victim the temporary superhuman ability to escape an attacker would also an infringement on the free will of the attacker;
5. To quote Hitchens (I think): Free will cannot be 'given,' or else it's not actually free will;

Is free will really that great? If free will is simply the option to chose between available options (which you have no control over), why is it such a favorite argument for theists?

This all, of course, ignores neuroscience suggesting we have no free will at all!

Theists use it as an argument but they fail to define it. As you said, we have no control over which options are available. This is why our will is not free from things outside of our control. This includes our nature and nurture. Obviously we don't choose our DNA or what we are taught since birth.

For a lot of info on the subject of Free Will, I suggest this website:
http://causalconsciousness.com/

My current project is explaining why many things in this world are irrelevant to me.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
19-11-2014, 04:55 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
I tend to think that we do have some degree of limited free will in a chaotic universe.

Having problems with your computer? Visit our Free Tech Support thread for help!
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
19-11-2014, 10:26 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
As a mind that willfully controls my body, I automatically have free will.
No one can remove my free will, but it can be blocked, as the case of any drug or situation that paralyzes me or puts me in a coma or sings me sleepy songs putting me to sleep.

A god cannot grant me something that I already naturally possess. A gods free will is not any greater than my own. Its merely a question of power.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
19-11-2014, 11:44 PM
RE: What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
Free will is nothing more then our brains ability to make choices which we do not have a choice as to whether or not we have it or not.

Free will essentially is nothing more than our ability to interact with our enviornment. Every living thing that floats around and can make a conscious choice which is pretty much anything that has a brain, has free will.

That's it.


My Youtube channel if anyone is interested.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEkRdbq...rLEz-0jEHQ
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: