Free Will vs Determinism

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Belinda
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Belinda » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:02 pm

davidm wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:06 pm
I should say -- and this not directed at I Can or anyone in particular -- that if people want to discuss free will and determinism, they've really got to be clear on what their definitions of these things are. The thread title itself, "free will vs. determinism" already sets up a necessary conflict between the two, which is denied by compatibilists. So are people talking about hard determinism? Soft determinism? Superdeterminism? Are they talking about compatibilist free will? Libertarian free will? Some other conception? If you are an incompatibilist, are you a hard incompatibilist? If all this stuff isn't clarified the conversation will inevitably descend into a hopeless muddle.
It would be really helpful if there were diagrams to illustrate all of those. I imagine some sort of flow chart diagram.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:22 pm

davidm wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:54 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:30 pm
And from inside the cosmos itself, as a creature of it, I don't know of any indisputable way to show exactly which way "the same way" actually means.
Which I took to mean that you don't have any way of knowing whether the universe is the same way -- either free will or no free will -- whether God exists or not. This implies at least that you must be agnostic on the question of free will in a materialist universe, even if you believe it doesn't exist.
Oh, I see...that's what you were thinking. Maybe I should have been clearer. I'll explain.

There is a difference between saying, "I don't know how to prove X conclusively," and saying, "I have no reason to think X is true."

Let X be the free will hypothesis, then.

So to say "I don't know any indisputable way to disprove not-X" does not mean that not-X is even very plausible, and certainly not to say that it's more more probable than X. It's only to say that not-X is (in extremis) not falsifiable in the way it's being framed. It is not to say that not-X is as good, or a better hypothesis than X is. It may, in fact, not even come close.

All empirical knowledge is probabilistic. However, I regard the probability of free will as considerably and impressively higher than that of Determinism.

All that being said, Determinism is the kind of theory which can always be retooled by its proponents to cover every objection you can raise. If you say, "Well, I feel like I have free will," then they can always say, "Your feeling is deceptive, and is a product of prior forces." If you say, "People live and act like free will exists," they can always come back with, "That's only because people were Predetermined by material forces not to be aware of the material forces that Predetermine them," and so on. The game can go in infinitely.

I think the problem, though, is really in the Determinist hypothesis itself. It's the kind of hypothesis that is such a chameleon that it's actually not falsifiable in any absolute way. And being neither verifiable nor falsifiable, it's not a very good hypothesis, from a scientific perspective.

However, there's a great deal to suggest that free will MAY be genuine, and I would set the probabilities of it very high...especially if one already grants a credible Theism.
I would like to know how "the right kind" of God gives us free will, in a universe where you think determinism reins, and which determinism you think rules out free will.
Two questions, then.

In short, a personal, relational and moral God would be necessary if free will is to be posited. (There are probably other characteristics, but these three seem obvious to me immediately.)

Secondly, Determinism rules out free will. SM Determinism does, QM Determinism does, Compatibilistic Determinism does too -- as you've already pointed out. Ultracalvinist Determinism certainly does, and so does Calvinism pur laine. And in the non-sectarian category, Fatalism rules out free will too.

Basically, there are only two options: either free will exists, or it does not (Aristotle's Laws of Excluded Middle and Non-Contradiction).

After that question is settled, it's possible to talk about "kinds" of Determinism or free will. But belief in free will does not logically entail that ALL decisions must be made on a free will basis, nor that prior circumstances can have NO impact on choices. All it entails is that SOME component of SOME decisions can be said genuinely to be made by human will.

In that regard, the two positions are different: Determinism in all its forms rules out ALL free will, and has to; the free will position does not have to deny the existence of SOME predetermined elements in some human decision-making, but only has to insist that some contribution comes from human volition.

Did I cover everything you cared about there?

davidm
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by davidm » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:28 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:02 pm
davidm wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:06 pm
I should say -- and this not directed at I Can or anyone in particular -- that if people want to discuss free will and determinism, they've really got to be clear on what their definitions of these things are. The thread title itself, "free will vs. determinism" already sets up a necessary conflict between the two, which is denied by compatibilists. So are people talking about hard determinism? Soft determinism? Superdeterminism? Are they talking about compatibilist free will? Libertarian free will? Some other conception? If you are an incompatibilist, are you a hard incompatibilist? If all this stuff isn't clarified the conversation will inevitably descend into a hopeless muddle.
It would be really helpful if there were diagrams to illustrate all of those. I imagine some sort of flow chart diagram.
A taxonomy of free will/determinism positions, with diagram at top

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Noax
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Noax » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:37 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:03 pm
Not talking about human comprehension,...
Good. Then lets avoid such anthropomorphisms.
Quite the opposite. I'm using machine terms to describe a human, not human terms to describe a machine.
your immediate behavior is still pretty much determined by prior state. But your view has the body with no will of its own,
The bolded statements above are all statements with which I would not agree. Hence, the problem is not that I am evading the question: it's that the question presupposes the wrong things about my position.
Very good. But you don't take that answer from me, instead telling me what I must believe.
If your mind has a will and the body has one as well, are they in conflict? Just in charge of different things? That's why I asked what the function of the body is in contrast to the function of the mind. Am I misrepresenting again? It seems you say you have two wills.
Simplify. I'll answer.
In effect, I'm asking what you expect to take with you into the afterlife, and what gets lost/replaced in the afterlife.
How did we get from free will to afterlife? :shock:
Not an answer. It's relevant.
Decline. You'd interpret it your way.
Now who's "evading" the question? :wink:
OK, the answer is literally unbelievable, so I don't believe it. That doesn't make the conclusion unsound. Yes, I'm evading.

Belinda
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Belinda » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:57 pm

davidm wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:28 pm
Belinda wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:02 pm
davidm wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:06 pm
I should say -- and this not directed at I Can or anyone in particular -- that if people want to discuss free will and determinism, they've really got to be clear on what their definitions of these things are. The thread title itself, "free will vs. determinism" already sets up a necessary conflict between the two, which is denied by compatibilists. So are people talking about hard determinism? Soft determinism? Superdeterminism? Are they talking about compatibilist free will? Libertarian free will? Some other conception? If you are an incompatibilist, are you a hard incompatibilist? If all this stuff isn't clarified the conversation will inevitably descend into a hopeless muddle.
It would be really helpful if there were diagrams to illustrate all of those. I imagine some sort of flow chart diagram.
A taxonomy of free will/determinism positions, with diagram at top
Thank you. What a useful source!

On the website you recommended I have a question:

"Hard" and "soft" determinism are terms invented by William James, who lamented the fact that some determinists were co-opting the term freedom for themselves. He called them "soft" determinists, because, abhoring harsh words like fatality, necessity, and even predetermination, they say determinism’s "real name is freedom; for freedom is only necessity understood, and bondage to the highest is identical with true freedom."

Would you please tell me what James means by "bondage to the highest"?

davidm
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by davidm » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:19 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:57 pm
davidm wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:28 pm
Belinda wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:02 pm


It would be really helpful if there were diagrams to illustrate all of those. I imagine some sort of flow chart diagram.
A taxonomy of free will/determinism positions, with diagram at top
Thank you. What a useful source!

On the website you recommended I have a question:

"Hard" and "soft" determinism are terms invented by William James, who lamented the fact that some determinists were co-opting the term freedom for themselves. He called them "soft" determinists, because, abhoring harsh words like fatality, necessity, and even predetermination, they say determinism’s "real name is freedom; for freedom is only necessity understood, and bondage to the highest is identical with true freedom."

Would you please tell me what James means by "bondage to the highest"?
Here is the quote in full context:
Old-fashioned determinism was what we may call hard determinism. It did not shrink from such words as fatality, bondage of the will, necessitation, and the like. Nowadays, we have a soft determinism which abhors harsh words, and, repudiating fatality, necessity, and even predetermination, says that its real name is freedom; for freedom is only necessity understood, and bondage to the highest is identical with true freedom.
I’m not exactly sure what he meant by “highest” but it seems in context he intended it as the metaphorical opposite of “bondage of the will.” James believed we had free will.

Interestingly, he introduced the notion of indeterminism before the discovery of quantum physics:
"The stronghold of the determinist argument is the antipathy to the idea of chance. As soon as we begin to talk indeterminism to our friends, we find a number of them shaking their heads. This notion of alternative possibility, they say, this admission that any one of several things may come to pass is, after all, only a roundabout name for chance; and chance is something the notion of which no sane mind can for an instant tolerate in the world. What is it, they ask, but barefaced crazy unreason, the negation of intelligibility and law? And if the slightest particle of it exists anywhere, what is to prevent the whole fabric from falling together, the stars from going out, and chaos from recommencing her topsy-turvy reign?"
He believed that chance (random alternatives) followed by choice was constitutive of free will.

Causal determinism is the thesis that events antecedent to the present, in conjunction with the fixity of the laws of nature, entail all future events, including all our choices, which may then be held to be illusory by some.

Classical compatibilism is the thesis that while our motives are determined, just so long as we are free to act upon those determined motives (are not blocked or thwarted by some external condition, such as someone holding a gun to our heads) then we have adequate free will. Schopenhauer defined this as, roughly, “we can choose what we will; we just cannot will what we will.” Kant called it “a wretched subterfuge” of free will.

The Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) holds that at any given moment, we are genuinely free to choose among alternatives, even if determinism is true.

The classical compatibilist agrees that we have this freedom, but one must carefully attend to what they generally mean by this. What they mean is that this is a counterfactual sort of freedom; i.e., I could/would have done differently, but only in a different possible (though non-actual) world -- one where past antecedent events were slightly different, and/or the laws of nature were slightly different. Many people don’t find this to be adequate grounds for saying that classical compatibilism is consistent with the PAP.

But James mooted this thought experiment:
Imagine that I first walk through Divinity Avenue, and then imagine that the powers governing the universe annihilate ten minutes of time with all that it contained, and set me back at the door of this hall just as I was before the choice was made. Imagine then that, everything else being the same, I now make a different choice and traverse Oxford Street. You, as passive spectators, look on and see the two alternative universes,--one of them with me walking through Divinity Avenue in it, the other with the same me walking through Oxford Street. Now, if you are determinists you believe one of these universes to have been from eternity impossible: you believe it to have been impossible because of the intrinsic irrationality or accidentality somewhere involved in it. But looking outwardly at these universes, can you say which is the impossible and accidental one, and which the rational and necessary one? I doubt if the most ironclad determinist among you could have the slightest glimmer of light on this point. In other words, either universe after the fact and once there would, to our means of observation and understanding, appear just as rational as the other.
Whether the PAP is intelligible under compatibilism, and whether under compatibilism desert holds (we truly deserve blame or praise for our actions) are key questions in philosophy. And all of this does not even take into account the other main doctrine of free will, libertarianism (contra-causal free will.)

Now my fingers are tired, :( so more later as I have time.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:30 pm

Noax wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:37 pm
Very good. But you don't take that answer from me, instead telling me what I must believe.
Hmmm...I'm starting to think you don't know the difference between someone tell you:

a) what you DO believe (which no one can really do), and

b) someone telling you what the rational and logical outcomes are, of some belief you've already declared yourself to hold (which any rational person can do).

I have no interest in doing a). But b) is what philosophers always do. You won't find yourself very happy on a philosophy site if you find b) offensive.

If your mind has a will and the body has one as well, are they in conflict? Just in charge of different things? That's why I asked what the function of the body is in contrast to the function of the mind. Am I misrepresenting again? It seems you say you have two wills...In effect, I'm asking what you expect to take with you into the afterlife, and what gets lost/replaced in the afterlife.
Simplify. I'll answer.
In effect, I'm asking what you expect to take with you into the afterlife, and what gets lost/replaced in the afterlife.
How did we get from free will to afterlife? :shock:
Not an answer. It's relevant.
In the paragraph in your message that preceded this response there are four question marks, every one of them after a slightly different question. Then there are two possible rhetorical questions, assuming the two statements are intended to be explained in some way.

That's six questions. Please pick where you want me to start. Use only one principle clause, followed by one question mark. And I'll be happy to help you out. But if you don't even say which of the six is REALLY on your mind, then how am I to know?
Decline. You'd interpret it your way.
Now who's "evading" the question? :wink:
OK, the answer is literally unbelievable, so I don't believe it. That doesn't make the conclusion unsound. Yes, I'm evading.
Then don't.

There's no reason, since my question was sincere. I'd really like to know. You said Materialism has "comforts," and you said it in a way that seemed to imply, "of course, everybody knows what they are." But everybody doesn't.

After all, unless you say what they are, there's no real reason to suppose anybody does...

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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by davidm » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:31 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:22 pm

Secondly, Determinism rules out free will. SM Determinism does, QM Determinism does, Compatibilistic Determinism does too -- as you've already pointed out.
Before moving on to the rest of your post, I must point out that I never said compatibilism rules out free will -- compatibilism just means free will is compatible with determinism. What I did say is that you should not assume that I am a compatibilist, though I probably should have been clearer and written that you should not assume I'm a classical compatibilist -- there are different variants of compatibilism on offer.

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Sir-Sister-of-Suck
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:39 pm

Noax wrote:No, the theorem acts more as a rebuttal to deterministic arguments. "If determinism, the future is, in priniciple at least, computable." Gödel showed that it is not possible even in principle.
It's not possible due to a logical constraint, and it's not to say that the universe isn't actually pre-set. Just because we can't obtain the information doesn't mean it's not there. I don't think the deterministic universe that most philosophers speak of require absolute prediction. I would say most would admit that will never be possible, maybe not usually for the same reason. They mostly just talk about a sort of pre-precedented universe.

I'm mostly just playing devil's advocate here.
Noax wrote:I could effortlessly build a trivial device that does exactly that, one with really simple algorithm that is trivial to predict.
Well I mean, sure another supercomputer could change it's variables to the presentation of other variables, but that would also be something we've built as entities who can already do it. Can you name something in nature, besides living organisms, which do this?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:51 pm

davidm wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:31 pm
Before moving on to the rest of your post, I must point out that I never said compatibilism rules out free will -- compatibilism just means free will is compatible with determinism.
Oh. When I said that Compatibilism is just Determinism by another name, you said "congratulations." I must admit, I was surprised you went that way.

I'll put it more strongly: Compatibilism is what Determinists advocate when they're afraid to live with Determinism but have no logical reason for getting away from Determinism's unsavoury consequences. That's what I'd say about it. In other words, I don't believe it's a rational option at all. Rationally, it doesn't rescue the idea of free will from destruction...It just affirms it gratuitously rather than admitting the logical consequences.

I looked at the chart, of course. I would say it's needlessly complex, since many of the "systems" it includes (like the whole Compatibilism strand) are rationally obligated to go one way or the other anyway. The colour coding of the chart itself pretty much gives away that fact. But then, what's the point of so many variations, unless the primary question has been settled first? That's why its first dichotomy at the top is the only one that matters right now.

It's really just Determinism versus what it calls "Libertarianism" that we need to consider. The rest is detail or distraction, until after we've settled that. Much of that chart isn't worth any time. We can cut off at least half of it once the main question is answered.

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Harbal
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Harbal » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:57 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:51 pm
Compatibilism is what Determinists advocate when they're afraid to live with Determinism but have no logical reason for getting away from Determinism's unsavoury consequences.
If only, when faced with an unsavoury consequence, we could just make it's source magically disappear.

davidm
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by davidm » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:03 pm

Sir-Sister-of-Suck wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:39 pm
Noax wrote:No, the theorem acts more as a rebuttal to deterministic arguments. "If determinism, the future is, in priniciple at least, computable." Gödel showed that it is not possible even in principle.
It's not possible due to a logical constraint, and it's not to say that the universe isn't actually pre-set. Just because we can't obtain the information doesn't mean it's not there.
The information isn't there because of quantum mechanics -- unless one wants to hold that past, present and future all exist (thesis of eternalism) In that case the information is all there, qm and all. But even in that case, for us entities stuck inside of the universe, no computer even in principle could predict the future; it could only assess probabilities of such and such happening.

davidm
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by davidm » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:05 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:51 pm
davidm wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:31 pm
Before moving on to the rest of your post, I must point out that I never said compatibilism rules out free will -- compatibilism just means free will is compatible with determinism.
Oh. When I said that Compatibilism is just Determinism by another name, you said "congratulations." I must admit, I was surprised you went that way.
You must be mixing me up with someone else. Can you go find that post?

davidm
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by davidm » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:11 pm

On a search, I can't find anything remotely resembling my saying this, or anyone else saying it ... :?

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Sir-Sister-of-Suck
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Re: Free Will vs Determinism

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:15 pm

davidm wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:03 pm
Sir-Sister-of-Suck wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:39 pm
Noax wrote:No, the theorem acts more as a rebuttal to deterministic arguments. "If determinism, the future is, in priniciple at least, computable." Gödel showed that it is not possible even in principle.
It's not possible due to a logical constraint, and it's not to say that the universe isn't actually pre-set. Just because we can't obtain the information doesn't mean it's not there.
The information isn't there because of quantum mechanics -- unless one wants to hold that past, present and future all exist (thesis of eternalism) In that case the information is all there, qm and all. But even in that case, for us entities stuck inside of the universe, no computer even in principle could predict the future; it could only assess probabilities of such and such happening.
Well yeah, but the quantum field producing (seemingly) random energy is another point entirely; Inability to access information doesn't mean the information doesn't exist. It's logically impossible to predict your own future, but that doesn't mean it's logically impossible to predict your own future specifically because the future isn't pre-set.

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