What, Exactly, is "Free Will?"
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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?

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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.)
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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.

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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.)
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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.

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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.
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