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Free Will Revisted (Compatible with God?)

Sententia

Well-Known Member
Regarding the rat-in-a-maze situation, I would say that the rat definitely has free will. Our circumstances manipulate all of our choices. What "free will" means at a gut level is that one can foresee options, calculate the effects of choosing each option, and then choose the option that we judge to be "best". Even when someone holds a gun to your head, you can choose to disobey. It's just that you must calculate the risks of disobedience. The rat can choose to take the path available to it, to go back the way it came, or to remain in place. If it chooses to go forward, that is the exercise of free will.

Perhaps this is where I begin to question free will. You say you can choose to disobey.

But did you choose?

Are you not just considering current values and your past experiences and processing them on your genetic cpu and then taking some action. After having taking the action or deciding the action you think you chose something but is that just an illusion to justify what you are already going to do or would already do?
 

Copernicus

Industrial Strength Linguist
Perhaps this is where I begin to question free will. You say you can choose to disobey.

But did you choose?

That really depends on what you mean by "free", but bear in mind that we can program machines to make choices. Choice is just a selection among alternatives that is based on a set of priorities. People tend to jump to the conclusion that there is some undetermined component to choice, but the only reasonable alternative to determinism is randomness. And our choices tend to be anything but random. We cannot predict behavior with absolute certainty, but we can often predict it with reasonable certainty. We have an understanding of what motivates people.

Are you not just considering current values and your past experiences and processing them on your genetic cpu and then taking some action. After having taking the action or deciding the action you think you chose something but is that just an illusion to justify what you are already going to do or would already do?

There is no incompatibility between free choice and determinism. You do what you really choose to do, and that is fully determined by the set of ever-shifting priorities in your head. What causes you highest priority is a culmination of the chaotic, but determined, activity in your brain.
 

Sententia

Well-Known Member
There is no incompatibility between free choice and determinism. You do what you really choose to do, and that is fully determined by the set of ever-shifting priorities in your head. What causes you highest priority is a culmination of the chaotic, but determined, activity in your brain.

Odd it sounds like we agree but you seem to believe in free will... Hmmm...

Ok... So lets say you choose to respond to this post but not because you choose to but because you were forced too. (Pick some scenario) Now... would you argue that even when forced to do it you still had free will and chose to do it because you still could have refused and accepted the consequences?
 

kmkemp

Active Member
Odd it sounds like we agree but you seem to believe in free will... Hmmm...

Ok... So lets say you choose to respond to this post but not because you choose to but because you were forced too. (Pick some scenario) Now... would you argue that even when forced to do it you still had free will and chose to do it because you still could have refused and accepted the consequences?

Surely. Whatever "force" causing you to post is just another variable in the algorithm used to make your "choice".
 

Copernicus

Industrial Strength Linguist
Odd it sounds like we agree but you seem to believe in free will... Hmmm...

That's correct. I am a compatibilist. But, as I've been saying already, there is more than one way to think of what "free will" means.

Ok... So lets say you choose to respond to this post but not because you choose to but because you were forced too. (Pick some scenario) Now... would you argue that even when forced to do it you still had free will and chose to do it because you still could have refused and accepted the consequences?

Yes. We are all constrained by circumstances, but we think ourselves as deprived of free will when our circumstances seem artificially constricted, e.g. the proverbial gun to the head.
 

BucephalusBB

ABACABB
but bear in mind that we can program machines to make choices. Choice is just a selection among alternatives that is based on a set of priorities.
Everything programmed with 0 and 1's and formula's can never be random.

Once it is based upon priorities as you say, the outcome, when using the same imput, will always generate the same output. It might be choice, but not free will.. or even close..
 

BucephalusBB

ABACABB
Yes. We are all constrained by circumstances, but we think ourselves as deprived of free will when our circumstances seem artificially constricted, e.g. the proverbial gun to the head.

This is where a part is missing. You focus on the gun. It's not the gun, or whatever push towards a decision, but it is every imput possible that counts. You don't get one imput, you get all of them..
 

Copernicus

Industrial Strength Linguist
Everything programmed with 0 and 1's and formula's can never be random.

I'm guessing that you do not write programs for a living. That is one of the things I do for a living. :p But I understand what you are trying to say. You incorrectly inferred that I think choice is random. I do not, and I have said that quite clearly in my previous posts.

Once it is based upon priorities as you say, the outcome, when using the same imput, will always generate the same output. It might be choice, but not free will.. or even close..

This argument presupposes a meaning for the expression "free will" that you do not specify. I don't think you understood what I was saying.

You can write a program to calculate choices that are contingent on circumstances. When the circumstances involve a very large number of features--i.e. the circumstances are complex--a program designed to make decisions would not yield predictable results to an observer. Programmers might talk about nondeterministic algorithms or techniques. Such techniques can solve problems by taking several different paths, and the programmer doesn't really care which method achieves the result. In a sense, this makes the program appear to make choices freely.

This is where a part is missing. You focus on the gun. It's not the gun, or whatever push towards a decision, but it is every imput possible that counts. You don't get one imput, you get all of them..

Yes? And? What does this tell you about free will other than that decision-making in the real world is a very complex problem to solve? We can program robots to handle some level of complexity. How can you tell that we are not just very, very complex robots?
 

Falvlun

Earthbending Lemur
Premium Member
Regarding the rat-in-a-maze situation, I would say that the rat definitely has free will. Our circumstances manipulate all of our choices. What "free will" means at a gut level is that one can foresee options, calculate the effects of choosing each option, and then choose the option that we judge to be "best". Even when someone holds a gun to your head, you can choose to disobey. It's just that you must calculate the risks of disobedience. The rat can choose to take the path available to it, to go back the way it came, or to remain in place. If it chooses to go forward, that is the exercise of free will.

I see what you are saying, Copernicus. I will have to think whether I agree or not... I have been living for a while with the idea that true free will doesn't exist due to the fairly deterministic nature of the universe.

In defense of my analogy, however, it was meant merely to show the strangeness in the idea that a belief in a thing makes it true regardless of what reality holds.

Willamena said:
I will! Yes, the rat in the maze analogy demonstrates free will as it choose at each turn, at each moment, the direction of its path. Every moment of existence is an opportunity to exercise free will. Regardless that someone opens and closes doors before you, you still determine your own path.

Thanks! Ok, this is like what Copernicus was saying. I can certainly see the point. I think my objection falls under the lines of something like: An omnipotent Being could manipulate you directly in order to bring about the choices it wants. You would still retain the illusion of free-will, but you wouldn't have it. Or perhaps, this being just messes with you indirectly, like my rat-maze directer. It knows you intimately, so it knows what sort of circumstances to bring about to make you choose a certain way. Hypothetically, you could choose a different option, but realistically, you never could.

Willamena said:
Yes, Santa exists to those who believe in him, simply because we believe in those things we regard to be true. If a thing isn't seen as true, then belief doesn't occur. Similarly, if a thing becomes no longer seen as true, belief is abandoned.
I just can't agree. What makes a delusional person's beliefs less valid then? I just don't see how Santa, or unicorns, or flat earth's were ever real.

Willamena said:
It still is! Just look around you, what do you see? Is what you see true, or a lie? Now that imaginary objective observer world see a different picture... And what he sees is the "truly" true picture, but then he has a whole new perspective for us that he didn't have for them, so even for him then it was "truly" true.
Appearences can be deceiving. Does the magician ever actually cut the beautiful lady in half? A flat earth is simply a faulty belief begat from limited knowledge. The belief itself never changed the actuality of the shape of the Earth. If this were so, then shouldn't have all those sailors who believed in a flat Earth have fallen over the edge somewhere? Or, shouldn't have Columbus actually landed in India as he believed, rather than a whole new set of continents?

Willamena said:
There is a perspective from which everything in the world is appearances. The world is as it appears to be. Free will, whether seen as illusion or not, is as it appears to be (illusion, or not).

That is true only according to your perspective. According to my perspective, free-will exists or does not exist irregardless of my beliefs. Both beliefs are incompatible, and thus one must be true and the other false... which is an idea incompatible with your beliefs. Relativism just creates confusion and paradox. :(

Hey! What happened to that Truth thread... 'cause it would make more sense for this to go in there. This is another area I find fascinating and just can't seem to wrap my mind around it.
 

Willamena

Just me
Premium Member
Hypothetically, you could choose a different option, but realistically, you never could.
That's the great thing about free will: barring the figurative, there's never not an option.

What makes a delusional person's beliefs less valid then?
Perhaps that those beliefs are not useful to the judge of what's to qualify as delusion (you)?

Appearences can be deceiving.
Deceit is as it appears to be.
 

Copernicus

Industrial Strength Linguist
What makes a delusional person's beliefs less valid then?

Perhaps that those beliefs are not useful to the judge of what's to qualify as delusion (you)?

Willamena, while I agree with most of the things you say, I have had the same problem as Flavlun with your approach to truth. Or maybe the reaction is more to the way you describe your approach. It seems to conflate one's mental model of reality with what is actually real. General semanticists (whom I don't actually agree with on quite a few issues) will tell you that this is confusing the map with the territory. Truth is what is real, and reality exists independently of our selves. Alternative positions seem to lead ultimately to solipsism. I don't think that you are advocating solipsism, so I'm not really sure what it is that you are trying to say, or how you understand it to be the case that people can be wrong about what they believe to be true.
 

Sententia

Well-Known Member
Yes. We are all constrained by circumstances, but we think ourselves as deprived of free will when our circumstances seem artificially constricted, e.g. the proverbial gun to the head.

Aye. But would you argue that even when forced to do it you still had free will and chose to do it because you still could have refused and accepted the consequences?
 

Sententia

Well-Known Member
Is "in one's mind" unreal?

There is not really a good way to answer this. It is real to them and possibly for others but it is not likely that its true or real in any sense except to our limited perception.

But it is very subjective. If I say a triangle has 3 sides and in my mind it has 3 sides and to most people it has 3 sides its not say you dont see it in your mind as four sides. Its real to you.
 
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