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durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC)

05-27-2010 , 03:31 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by durkadurka33
This is maybe my 3rd...it's an area of competence, not specialization. I do epistemology (1) and decision theory (2)...metaphysics/free will is a strong area of competence.

Ok, that makes more sense and doesn't put you in a corner.

I think the ideal job candidate would do applied ethics, aesthetics, and ancient or non-western, just because many places want those to fill one or 2 of those slots.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 03:59 PM
I look at the 'jobs for philosophers' and there is a fairly wide range of specializations that people are looking for. Ancient and non-western are definitely not on the top of the list.

But, I don't do ethics for a very good reason: it's way too easy and un-interesting. Seriously, anyone can do ethics well. It's like philosophy-lite.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 05:00 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jb9
Honestly, it strikes me as absurd to argue "we have no free will but since we generally ignore that fact it doesn't matter".

Really sounds more like religion to me at this point.
I'm not sure I follow. As I think this thread (and some of the links therein; e.g. to Strawson's Encyclopedia article) has shown, there are some compelling philosophical arguments in favor of determinism, and/or that expose the logical fallacy of deep moral responsibility and causa sui (self-causation), and/or that suggest it may be unfeasible to articulate a plausible model of how "free will" exists and operates materially and causally.

Go ahead and refute them or aspects of them if you can. But recall that merely saying 'I refute them because I experience myself in everyday life as having free will' does not by itself constitute a counter-argument that takes up, addresses, and then picks apart the actual propositions put forth by the determinist and/or no-freedom pessimistic positions.

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How can anyone *do* anything in a deterministic universe?

If you become a drug addict, you had no choice. It's the big bang's fault. No effort you make matters. What will be will be and what you will do you will do.
But my suggestion is that part of being human and having a self is that you experience things like freely "doing" and "choosing" and "deliberating" and "deciding." Some supra-cosmic deity might be able to trace your actions back to the big bang, and see your entire future too, but you certainly can't. Why not accept that you will perceive your ego or self as playing a controlling role in your life, even if philosophy suggests this is a deep and near-perfect illusion?

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That's sort of the problem with it.

It's like one of those physics theories that seems really beautiful and elegant and then you say "what happens in this scenario" and when you check your equations you have division by zero or some strange infinities.

It doesn't mean that your theory has lost its beauty and elegance; just that it isn't true.
Interesting that you'd bring up physics. Modern physics does actually entail models and pictures of reality that are utterly foreign and seemingly unrelated (maybe even incompatible) with the way we human beings experience everyday reality and perception. But just because quantum mechanics or relativity are counter-intuitive relative to ordinary experience, this alone does not allow us to rationally invalidate them.

I'm saying the same is true of arguments that put forth determinism and/or no-freedom pessimism.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 06:16 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lagdonk
I'm not sure I follow. As I think this thread (and some of the links therein; e.g. to Strawson's Encyclopedia article) has shown, there are some compelling philosophical arguments in favor of determinism, and/or that expose the logical fallacy of deep moral responsibility and causa sui (self-causation), and/or that suggest it may be unfeasible to articulate a plausible model of how "free will" exists and operates materially and causally.

Go ahead and refute them or aspects of them if you can. But recall that merely saying 'I refute them because I experience myself in everyday life as having free will' does not by itself constitute a counter-argument that takes up, addresses, and then picks apart the actual propositions put forth by the determinist and/or no-freedom pessimistic positions.
I don't think there is any burden on me to refute what are essentially incomplete or unprovable arguments.

The basic argument seems to be "I can't think of any mechanism for free will, ergo it doesn't exist".

They latin it up a bit more than that, but that seems to be the essence of it.

Considering the great deal of uncertainty about the mechanisms of cognitive activity in living organisms, I think there is sufficient uncertainty not to accept the determinist arguments even if you can't answer all of their questions.

My opinion hasn't changed much in the last 24 hours:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jb9
My $0.02 -- this is a question that pure logic is going to have trouble answering, because the root of it has to do with the essential characteristics of life and consciousness that logic hasn't explained yet. I think there are some big open questions on those topics, and they likely need to be resolved first.
And to be clear -- I don't think the answers will be found in a thought experiment but more likely in a neuroscience experiment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lagdonk
But my suggestion is that part of being human and having a self is that you experience things like freely "doing" and "choosing" and "deliberating" and "deciding." Some supra-cosmic deity might be able to trace your actions back to the big bang, and see your entire future too, but you certainly can't. Why not accept that you will perceive your ego or self as playing a controlling role in your life, even if philosophy suggests this is a deep and near-perfect illusion?
This is religion imo.

Why not believe that some flying spaghetti monster that I can't see or know is the controlling force behind all of my actions but he doesn't want me to worry about it so I should pretend I exercise some control?
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 08:08 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jb9
How can anyone *do* anything in a deterministic universe?

If you become a drug addict, you had no choice. It's the big bang's fault. No effort you make matters. What will be will be and what you will do you will do.
You are confusing effort with free will. And also decision making with free will.

Free will is the belief that the past, including your personal past, including things that you have learned, past successes and failures, etc. as well as present conditions do not determine your action. Nothing more.

I happen to believe that if I work smart and hard, I will get ahead in the world.* This CAUSES me to work hard and at least occasionally smart. It doesn't bother me that there is a cause to my work ethic.

I also really enjoy tomatoes. This CAUSES me to buy them when they are in season. Tomatoes taste nasty out of season. This CAUSES me to not buy them when they are out of season. It also causes me to be sad and cranky when they are out of season. It also CAUSES me grow them each year.

In both cases, I am the proximate cause. I am the one making the decisions. However, my reasons for making these decisions are beCAUSE of things that have happened in the past as well as what is happening right now.

By me being the proximate cause, I am acting as if I have free will, in a sense.

"In a sense" is the important part of that sentence. I am not acting as if I believe I have free will at all.

This does not imply anything about "if things were different, then I would have done x instead." Could I be a drug addict if things were different? Of course I could. However, things are not different than they are.** I have really good reasons to not be a drug addict. Can I see myself acting differently in the future? Of course I can. If I lost my son, I could see me potentially being a drug addict.

This is the essence of why I should still give a flying ****, despite having no free will. For instance, if I were a drug addict, it would hurt my son, myself and those around me. I don't want that, so I am not a drug addict.

*I have reasons for believing this. Namely, being a lazy bastard led me to not doing well, random crap that I learned as a child/teenager/young adult, watching others who have done well, and doing well myself in the past. There are also, "who I am" factors, such as personality, energy level, etc. These all CAUSE me to work hard.

**Nothing better than a good tautology.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 08:13 PM
Jb9 is right, Brian you're wrong.

Your "sense" of having free will merely by being a proximal cause is the category mistake that compatibilists (and soft determinists) always make.

If you're a domino in a long chain and you can't affect the path you were already determined to make, then you don't "in a sense" have any free will.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 09:20 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jb9
I don't think there is any burden on me to refute what are essentially incomplete or unprovable arguments.
Can you at least indicate where or how they're incomplete? And in what sense they're unprovable?

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The basic argument seems to be "I can't think of any mechanism for free will, ergo it doesn't exist".
This is an uncharitable and deficient summary of the arguments put forth in, for example, Strawson's Encyclopedia article, not to mention the various views outlined by posters in this thread.

Also, it's not exactly the mere absence of a plausible mechanism for free will that is a problem. It's that a physics-based and/or causal understanding of the universe ends up pretty much requiring that all material entities therein fit such an understanding in basic ways.

Quote:
Considering the great deal of uncertainty about the mechanisms of cognitive activity in living organisms, I think there is sufficient uncertainty not to accept the determinist arguments even if you can't answer all of their questions.
You seem to be investing a fair amount of hope or expectation that neuroscience will extract from the study of human consciousness some 'cognitive activity' that will somehow embody a kind of free will. I can't directly criticize this, but it's difficult for me to imagine what kind of thing neuroscience might find that will not count as subject to causation and determination by previous states of the universe.

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This is religion imo.

Why not believe that some flying spaghetti monster that I can't see or know is the controlling force behind all of my actions but he doesn't want me to worry about it so I should pretend I exercise some control?
Because logical and reasonably-based arguments have been presented to justify the possibility that determinism is plausible?
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 09:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by durkadurka33
Jb9 is right, Brian you're wrong.

Your "sense" of having free will merely by being a proximal cause is the category mistake that compatibilists (and soft determinists) always make.

If you're a domino in a long chain and you can't affect the path you were already determined to make, then you don't "in a sense" have any free will.
I worded that awkwardly. Rereading it, actually horribly awkwardly. In my head, I was clear. Obviously I was wrong, and I appreciate you calling me out on it.

Rewrite:

By me being the proximate cause, I am acting as though I believe I have free will, but this is only because I do have will, and it doesn't make any difference to me whether it is free or not.

I do not worry that if I had perfect knowledge of the past and perfect knowledge of the laws of nature, I would know what I will do. I don't have either, so it doesn't concern me.

What I do have, is a decision to make. With buying tomatoes, it is relatively easy. With more complex decisions it can be harder. Still, my action and the thoughts that lead to it are based on the past (including what events that have made me who I am at the present), present situation and the laws of nature.

In other words, I act as if I believed my will were free.*

*sad because this would have been a better place for my free willy silliness.

Last edited by BrianTheMick; 05-27-2010 at 09:23 PM. Reason: Not sure how much clearer this is...
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 09:27 PM
By the way, not to presume too much, but I think many us in this epic thread are getting a little winded at this point. It's about time durkadurka hands out some grades.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 09:40 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lagdonk
By the way, not to presume too much, but I think many us in this epic thread are getting a little winded at this point. It's about time durkadurka hands out some grades.
I get points for being old.

I get points for participation, but lose points for being dragged out of class drunk several times.

I lose points for annoying durka.

I lose points for trying to use plain English (despite my understanding for using precise terms)

I lose points for not agreeing with durka's philosophy, but not more than one or two.

I get points for willingness to respond to counterarguments, but lose for not being convincing (overall, no net gain or loss).

I lose lots of points for not having general knowledge, but gain a few back due to learning something or other, and lose those few back for not actually changing my mind on anything major.

Grades depend on the university. I choose to be graded on the "junior college for ****ed up athletes" scale. A+++

Last edited by BrianTheMick; 05-27-2010 at 09:41 PM. Reason: random footnotes should count for something
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 10:46 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jb9
The basic argument seems to be "I can't think of any mechanism for free will, ergo it doesn't exist"...

I can't think of a mechanism for free will, and can't find any footprints of it leads us to the IPU argument. Ergo, it is unlikely, but impossible to disprove.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 11:11 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lagdonk
By the way, not to presume too much, but I think many us in this epic thread are getting a little winded at this point. It's about time durkadurka hands out some grades.
You really wouldn't want this to happen...
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 11:12 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTheMick
I get points for being old.

I get points for participation, but lose points for being dragged out of class drunk several times.

I lose points for annoying durka.

I lose points for trying to use plain English (despite my understanding for using precise terms)

I lose points for not agreeing with durka's philosophy, but not more than one or two.

I get points for willingness to respond to counterarguments, but lose for not being convincing (overall, no net gain or loss).

I lose lots of points for not having general knowledge, but gain a few back due to learning something or other, and lose those few back for not actually changing my mind on anything major.

Grades depend on the university. I choose to be graded on the "junior college for ****ed up athletes" scale. A+++
No one loses points JUST because they disagree w/ me...they lose points for disagreeing for bad reasons
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 11:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by durkadurka33
You really wouldn't want this to happen...
It might be worth it if you hit all the major players ITT with grades and I got to witness the potential fallout

(Or is that precisely what you're seeking to avoid?)
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 11:51 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by durkadurka33
I look at the 'jobs for philosophers' and there is a fairly wide range of specializations that people are looking for. Ancient and non-western are definitely not on the top of the list.

But, I don't do ethics for a very good reason: it's way too easy and un-interesting. Seriously, anyone can do ethics well. It's like philosophy-lite.
This is Bad news for Taoists or neo-Confucian philosophers who have a family to support.

On the ethics front, I sort of agree but for different reason. If anyone tells me they are an ethicist, I reach for my revolver; to paraphrase and old German playwright. They are only worth the time it takes to shoot and burn the remains in a trash bin The same thing for futurists or bio-ethicist and other such ilk. They are usually just a pedantic cadre of platitude spewing sycophants that feed off the credulous mob with their feel-good quackeries. They can't even lie well with any verve. And their sense of wit and humor is non-existent. Just like their freewill. Pathetic.

You may now return to the regular scheduled programming.

Le Misanthrope
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-27-2010 , 11:55 PM
It's not fair to put bioethicists in the same ballpark as futurists. Bioethicists do VERY important work...I just think that it's not very challenging for me.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-28-2010 , 12:49 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by durkadurka33
It's not fair to put bioethicists in the same ballpark as futurists.
I agree; my mistake. Still, the jist of the post stands.

But this is a digress, please continue on the free will path.

-Zeno
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-28-2010 , 02:28 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by durkadurka33
It's not fair to put bioethicists in the same ballpark as futurists. Bioethicists do VERY important work...I just think that it's not very challenging for me.
Very important work like putting out the umpteenth iteration of the slippery slope argument or constantly referencing one of the most overrated novels of the 20th century (Brave New World)?

Wait... a violinist with renal failure is at my doorstep, I hope I'm not abducted to serve as his living dialysis machine!
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-28-2010 , 03:03 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by durkadurka33
If determinism is true and it's learned, then if there's a change (and there may be) it would have been determined to happen well before the acquisition of the knowledge and no policy changes could have been implemented to avoid this (other than ones already done or determined to happen, of course).
I think you're slightly talking past my scenario. If people generally think that free will exists but it doesn't and indeterminism of the random kind is true, then a random event could occur someday that would cause people to think that free will is false. If that random event occurs and people come to think that free will is false, I'm suggesting there would be significant perspectival changes in individuals and in society. These perspectival changes could then determine/influence policy changes with whatever degree of determinism that's true of the universe. Obviously I'm a pessimist, so I'm not suggesting this process jives with any kind of moral responsibility.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-28-2010 , 08:08 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by smrk
I think you're slightly talking past my scenario. If people generally think that free will exists but it doesn't and indeterminism of the random kind is true, then a random event could occur someday that would cause people to think that free will is false. If that random event occurs and people come to think that free will is false, I'm suggesting there would be significant perspectival changes in individuals and in society. These perspectival changes could then determine/influence policy changes with whatever degree of determinism that's true of the universe. Obviously I'm a pessimist, so I'm not suggesting this process jives with any kind of moral responsibility.
I'm not talking past it at all...I granted that such a change could happen and have 'significant' impacts on behaviour and outcomes...but so what? It was either bound to happen or nothing could have been done to prevent it...so, so what?
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-28-2010 , 10:15 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lagdonk
Can you at least indicate where or how they're incomplete? And in what sense they're unprovable?
Because proving something doesn't exist is hard (although clearly that fact does not serve as evidence that it does exist).

Quote:
Originally Posted by lagdonk
You seem to be investing a fair amount of hope or expectation that neuroscience will extract from the study of human consciousness some 'cognitive activity' that will somehow embody a kind of free will.
It's not hope or expectation. Just interest. If the question does not get answered, I can accept that it is not answered.

I'm obviously not well versed enough in this topic to discuss it at the level this thread is carrying it at. And since I do not now have the time to do the background reading to say much more than what I've said, I think I should drop out of the discussion.

Interesting stuff though.

Maybe when life is quieter I'll catch up on the topics of consciousness and free will (the former being somewhat more interesting to me than the latter) and come back and admit I was wrong but that it isn't my fault because I have no free will.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-28-2010 , 10:20 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by smrk
one of the most overrated novels of the 20th century (Brave New World)
Hard to overrate that one. Doesn't have the grit of 1984 but is a more enjoyable read and has held up better over time.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-28-2010 , 10:37 AM
I Brave New World as well as 1984. 1984 was obviously a richer novel, but the simplicity of Brave New World is one of its strengths.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-28-2010 , 05:49 PM
Weird that I see mentions of Brave New World in two wildly different threads.

BNW is the harder read because it is the subtler of the two.

For this thread I would have thought that Borges would have been more apropos. Especially, his Theme of th Traitor and the Hero.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote
05-28-2010 , 07:00 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by durkadurka33
I'm not talking past it at all...I granted that such a change could happen and have 'significant' impacts on behaviour and outcomes...but so what? It was either bound to happen or nothing could have been done to prevent it...so, so what?
So what? Do you mean, "why not just give in and stop making effort?"

Because what happens in the future is important to me and will effect me.

There is a difference between hard determinism and defeatism.
durkadurka, you only believe in free will because....(LC) Quote

      
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