Is free will all or nothing?

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Is free will all or nothing?

Postby AbstractNeuron on December 11th, 2016, 8:20 pm 

Do you think free will is something you have or you don't have or that there are varying degrees of free will? And why if ideas are available!
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby DragonFly on December 11th, 2016, 9:40 pm 

Either the will is fixed to what it does (at the time) or it is free of itself (is this even an option? How about disruptions to the will such as random and/or chemical/electrical/computational mistakes and/or low amounts of neurotransmitter?). Maybe disruptions don't really count, for they are still the state at the time of choice. It's only that then the choices might have been different if there could be a rerun. Overall, though, disruptions harm and don't help, beyond introducing variety perhaps.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby BadgerJelly on December 12th, 2016, 5:04 am 

It depends on where you are coming from. Ethically the answer should be obvious, and causally we tend to assume one more than the other because that is how causality appears in a physical sense.

Ethically we are better off assuming we have free will (rationally the only option).

When dealing with experimnetation we tend to lok for determined patterns in order to create theories.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby wolfhnd on December 12th, 2016, 5:17 pm 

Daniel Dennett Google him.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby BadgerJelly on December 12th, 2016, 6:06 pm 

Better answer ... All or nothing? Its 50/50! Haha

Dennett is a cockend imo
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby wolfhnd on December 12th, 2016, 10:43 pm 

BadgerJelly » Mon Dec 12, 2016 9:04 am wrote:It depends on where you are coming from. Ethically the answer should be obvious, and causally we tend to assume one more than the other because that is how causality appears in a physical sense.

Ethically we are better off assuming we have free will (rationally the only option).

When dealing with experimnetation we tend to lok for determined patterns in order to create theories.


Tell that to Sam Harris
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby NoShips on December 12th, 2016, 10:49 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 12th, 2016, 6:04 pm wrote:It depends on where you are coming from. Ethically the answer should be obvious, and causally we tend to assume one more than the other because that is how causality appears in a physical sense.

Ethically we are better off assuming we have free will (rationally the only option).

When dealing with experimnetation we tend to lok for determined patterns in order to create theories.



Not at all obvious to me, pal (*hiccup*)

And stop blaming people. They can't help it. (except Oliver North)
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby ronjanec on December 13th, 2016, 12:03 am 

I believe I have the "free will" to at least attempt to do almost anything I want to.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Dave_Oblad on December 13th, 2016, 5:24 pm 

Hi all,

Oh NOoooooo.... not another Freewill Thread...lol.

I have Freewill in the sense that I can design my future to be what I want, with some limits. But this future I choose is determined by my history and surroundings, so it is still completely causal.

To be truly Free, Will must be Random.. and that doesn't work.

(I'm a compatibilist)

Regards,
Dave :^)
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby mitchellmckain on December 14th, 2016, 2:44 pm 

I am an incompatibilist and random is only how free will is forced to look when you insist on looking at things in terms of time-ordered causality.

No, free will is not all or nothing. It is a basic feature of the life process and highly quantitative just as life is, varying a great deal between different species and individuals. Furthermore free will is fragile and the degree and scope of it is demonstrably affected by numerous external as well as internal factors. It can be damaged, limited, or destroyed by simple lack of awareness, bad habits, chemicals or physical damage. But this doesn't necessarily mean that the diminished free will removes all responsibility because most of the time these conditions are a result of previous free will choices. However, this is not always the case and judgment is often ill-advised.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Dave_Oblad on December 14th, 2016, 9:14 pm 

Hi mutchellmckain,

Name one single instance when your Will is Random.

When it's not random then it is causal, and if it's always causal, then many factors determine your will, therefore your will is always determined by something(s).

The problem is a semantics issue with the word Free. None of you decisions are free.. they are weighted. And when the weights are balanced, you will rather flip a coin than make a random choice, especially if the consequences will be significant. We far prefer to make weighted choices and all weighted choices are causal.

Regards,
Dave :^)
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby DragonFly on December 14th, 2016, 11:27 pm 

Random or not is moot, for it doesn't follow the will.

I am not a compatiblist, for, all so-called coercions, from humans to weather to anything effectively forcing, were going to happen anyway.

The last thing a fixed will needs to be is to be free of itself; what the will processes has a fair chance of leading to a future for the organism.

That the will is able to operate is trivial; lots of things can operate.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby mitchellmckain on December 15th, 2016, 3:14 pm 

Dave_Oblad » December 14th, 2016, 8:14 pm wrote:Hi mutchellmckain,

Name one single instance when your Will is Random.

It is not random at all. That is NOT what I said. I said, random is what free will is forced to look like when you insist on looking at things in terms of time-ordered causality. But just because you insist on such a way of looking at human existence does not mean that others have to.

Free will is a matter of choosing both what we will do and why we do it. The cause and effect originate in the same event which defies time-ordered causality - we become the cause of what we do by our own choice. Does a person steal because they are a thief or are they a thief because they steal? Both at the same time. A person becomes a thief by his choice to steal, adopting the nature of a thief by his own choice.

Dave_Oblad » December 14th, 2016, 8:14 pm wrote:When it's not random then it is causal, and if it's always causal, then many factors determine your will, therefore your will is always determined by something(s).

It is not random but it is also not determined by pre-existing conditions. Yes, restricting yourself to time-ordered causality excludes this. But I reject your restrictions and thus your exclusions. Causality is not restricted to causes which precede effects because time itself is not absolute or necessary but both relative and contingent. The time we experience is a part of the physical geometry of the universe which came into existence around 13.7 billion years ago. Thus causality is demonstrably NOT confined to this temporal ordering. There is no reason why there cannot be not only other causality apart from the temporal ordering of the space-time of this universe but other temporal orderings quite apart from the one we experience.

Dave_Oblad » December 14th, 2016, 8:14 pm wrote:The problem is a semantics issue with the word Free. None of you decisions are free.. they are weighted. And when the weights are balanced, you will rather flip a coin than make a random choice, especially if the consequences will be significant. We far prefer to make weighted choices and all weighted choices are causal.

Incorrect. You can speak for yourself only. I will take your word about yourself that none of YOUR decisions are free. But that does not mean none of my decisions are free. If you believe you are nothing but a soft wet computer then I have no reason to doubt your assessment. But your assessment of yourself does not necessarily have any validity for others.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby vivian maxine on December 18th, 2016, 10:51 am 

To copy ( swipe?) from Wolfhnd: Michael Gazzaniga - Google him. ("Who's in Charge?)
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby neuro on December 21st, 2016, 7:23 am 

I have the impression that considering free will as a graded property would be particularly inappropriate from a certain point of view and particularly useful from another point of view.

I think that - in principle - either something is free or it is not.
However, such a crisp distinction just has the effect of calling Dave_O around, who will say "free means non determined, therefore random", which is - I believe - of quite limited usefulness for a philosophical discussion.

So, it might be interesting to dwell a little bit on the concept of "free", and in particular whether freedom itself is an all-or-none quality.
I imagine most of us would agree that it is not. When we say "free" we mean not forced or determined by some specific factor. I believe even physicists, who are quite careful in their use of words, would say "free fall" to indicate the movement of a body in a gravitational field with no restraints or brakes. And I imagine Dave_O would not come about yelling: "what the hell are you saying, if it is free it is random! instead, the fall is perfectly deterministic".

So, I would pray everybody not to start a new thread on free-will (does it exist, does it not? is it free, is it not? we have had quite too many already), and rather to discuss about the kind and extent of freedom that characterizes what we call will.

In what sense is our will free, and to what extent.
Apart from claiming that a metaphysical soul, not constrained by physical laws, may play a causal role in physical events (which is only a matter of faith) ...
or that randomness does or does not exist (I do not really get what would be the advantage or relevance of being guided by chance rather than by physical causes in our "choices!) ...
There is little doubt that our abstractly re-elaborated personal history influences our "will" and behavior more than many momentary physical factors:
could we discuss whether or not this fact that has any relevance in generating a dimension of freedom (with no need of being random or contradicting determinism)?
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Dave_Oblad on December 21st, 2016, 7:33 am 

Hi neuro,

What the hell are you saying, if it is free.. it is random!
(sorry.. I couldn't resist)

I accept the idea that I am free to design my future (even if my future is already fated).

But I'll keep out of this thread here on. Too philosophical for this dumb-dumb ;^P

Best regards,
Dave :^)
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby vivian maxine on December 21st, 2016, 8:54 am 

Dave_Oblad » December 21st, 2016, 6:33 am wrote:Hi neuro,

What the hell are you saying, if it is free.. it is random!
(sorry.. I couldn't resist)

I accept the idea that I am free to design my future (even if my future is already fated).

But I'll keep out of this thread here on. Too philosophical for this dumb-dumb ;^P

Best regards,
Dave :^)


And I shall hang around to see where this is going compared to where Michael Gazzaniga is going in "Who's in Charge?" I've not gotten far enough to declare any knowledge but I've a feeling he is making the will of physical causes.

Of course I am wrong. So, end of my comments, I promise -- for now. :-)
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Braininvat on December 21st, 2016, 10:36 am 

AbstractNeuron,

you posted the OP here, and that is your only post at SPCF. If you start a thread, it is expected that you participate and also thank other members for their contributions.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby neuro on December 21st, 2016, 5:48 pm 

vivian maxine » December 21st, 2016, 1:54 pm wrote:
And I shall hang around to see where this is going compared to where Michael Gazzaniga is going in "Who's in Charge?" I've not gotten far enough to declare any knowledge but I've a feeling he is making the will of physical causes.

Of course I am wrong. So, end of my comments, I promise -- for now. :-)


Why should you be wrong?
Actually, I am not very clear about what you mean by "he is making the will of physical causes"...

But I think the physical causes you are referring to are giving rise to the quite complex system of psychological processes that constitute the functioning of the brain, and that (physical as it may be) is what we usually refer to as "us" (ME: I am the functioning of my brain).

So who's in charge is a bunch of physics that is no more and no less than "ME".
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby vivian maxine on December 21st, 2016, 6:15 pm 

All right. The heavy traffic will not let me post. Let's see if copy/paste creations work at Science Forum.

I know I am wrong because I know what Gazzaniga's philosophy is. "We are responsible for our own decisions and actions. Make a bad one and we may end up at the court house.

So far, he is still putting the brain together with all the things it can do but I'm sure this will eventually get sorted out to where our free will shows up. I just haven't reached that yet. What I am thinking is that the will cannot be free if it comes totally from neuron and synapse "actions".

Does that make sense?

P.S. I did a reverse copy/paste with your post so I could read it without the page bouncing around. May tomorrow be better!

Your post has me wondering if I'm in for a surprise. If not, I may have to change my whole philosophy of why I am me. :-(

I await the verdict.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby neuro on December 21st, 2016, 6:29 pm 

vivian maxine » December 21st, 2016, 11:15 pm wrote: What I am thinking is that the will cannot be free if it comes totally from neuron and synapse "actions".

Does that make sense?

It surely does.
But if those neurons and synapse make up what you call YOU, and preserve your full experience and history, and produce your emotions desires and dreams, then their "actions" are YOUR actions, aren't they?

And if their actions are influenced to a greater extent by your experience, history, emotions, desires and dreams (which make up what you call YOU) than they are by external physical causes, then your actions may not be free in an all-or-none sense, because in principle you may be able to track back the deterministic cause of every neuronal event, but they do possess quite an extent of freedom (in a quantitative, non all-or-none sense) from external causes (momentary ones in particular).

I like this idea of discussing this topic in non absolute terms.
Fuzzy logics (no, somewhat, possibly so, quite so, very likely, yes, as opposed to true/false crisp logics) has produced a revolution in many fields. Possibly, it may be worth considering also in philosophy and in discussing free-will in particular...
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby vivian maxine on December 22nd, 2016, 6:09 am 

Neuro, that is exactly what my thoughts are coming to and, as I read further last night, I began to think that is where Gazzaniga is going. The review that I had read didn't seem to say that but could be I mis-read.

Gazzaniga says that a huge amount of what gets done happens in our unconsciousness. A lot of ideas are sorted out there. Then the consciousness picks up on the most likely ones to make decisions. It seems to me that, if this is true - that the unconsciousness is sorting and deleting most possible decisions before the consciousness "sees"/"knows" anything, then there is a question of how much free will is really free.

Isn't this what you are saying? "If actions are influenced by our experience, history, emotions, desires and dreams", ......then our actions may not be free in an all-or-none sense". ( quotes are yours).

I see this and yet I, personally, think there is more. There 'has to be' more but what and how to explain it is a problem.

To be continued.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby vivian maxine on December 23rd, 2016, 12:36 pm 

An added thought for some opinions: Richard Feynman said in a lecture: "Yes, Physics has given up. We do not know what would happen in a given circumstance.....". This was in references to the idea of determinism. Not everything in the universe fits into a deterministic frame. Some things cannot be predicted. e.g.: the weather. Michael Gazzaniga wrote: "So in some part because of chaos theory and perhaps more so because of quantum mechanics and emergence, physicists are sneaking out the determinism back door ....."

All very clear. Then I had an idea. Not a scientific idea but it is fact that we often make public decisions based on private opinions (especially true in politics). I wondered if there wasn't also another reason the scientists were not only willing but perhaps even glad to see determinism ousted. The reason would be that they had seen where this idea of "we are not responsible for our actions" was going to lead us. Not a very promising future for society.

Just wondering.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Braininvat on December 23rd, 2016, 1:11 pm 

Of course, even if hard determinism were the state of affairs, we would still have laws and ethical standards and still hold people responsible...because it was inevitable that we would do so. (wink wink)
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby vivian maxine on December 23rd, 2016, 1:47 pm 

Braininvat » December 23rd, 2016, 12:11 pm wrote:Of course, even if hard determinism were the state of affairs, we would still have laws and ethical standards and still hold people responsible...because it was inevitable that we would do so. (wink wink)


But could you enforce it? More than one psychologist has gotten an accused declared innocent due to a problem with the accused's brain or mind. "He could not help it. He had an abusive childhood." Or, with determinism: "His brain made him do it. His subconscious had already decided he would do it." Do you remember the Twinkie story - the man who shot the mayor of San Francisco when he was "high" on Twinkies? I'll bet grocers were hopping to stock up on Twinkies after that.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby neuro on December 23rd, 2016, 1:57 pm 

vivian maxine » December 23rd, 2016, 6:47 pm wrote:
Braininvat » December 23rd, 2016, 12:11 pm wrote:Of course, even if hard determinism were the state of affairs, we would still have laws and ethical standards and still hold people responsible...because it was inevitable that we would do so. (wink wink)


But could you enforce it? More than one psychologist has gotten an accused declared innocent due to a problem with the accused's brain or mind. "He could not help it. He had an abusive childhood." Or, with determinism: "His brain made him do it. His subconscious had already decided he would do it." Do you remember the Twinkie story - the man who shot the mayor of San Francisco when he was "high" on Twinkies? I'll bet grocers were hopping to stock up on Twinkies after that.


Well, that's because "hard determinism" is not (yet) "the state of affairs". If it were, we would not care about blaming anybody - declaring them guilty or innocent - but simply punish them, because they violated social rules (be that their own fault, or their parents', or Society's)
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby vivian maxine on December 23rd, 2016, 2:38 pm 

On the assumption that they were taught better? They are responsible for learning the rules?
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby SciameriKen on December 23rd, 2016, 2:44 pm 

From my perspective I have total and complete free will - now I'll just happily go to work because I want to!
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Old Rasputin on December 23rd, 2016, 3:58 pm 

SciameriKen » December 23rd, 2016, 2:44 pm wrote:From my perspective I have total and complete free will - now I'll just happily go to work because I want to!

Damned “wants”! ...they control everything we do, ...grrrr. Now if we could only choose our wants, then we really would have free-will!!! :-)

...but wait, I must first "want" what I want to choose before I can do this choosing, ...arrgh, the damned "want" is still controlling me! ...there is no escaping its control over my actions!!!

:-D
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Dave_Oblad on December 23rd, 2016, 4:14 pm 

Hi All,

Sorry.. I said I wouldn't come back again, but there is an extremely valuable point that gets overlooked in these: Compatibilism.

This is Free Will mixed with Hard Determinism.

Best expressed as:
You are Free to design your future for your best interests and happiness.
Caveat:
If you could rewind Time "perfectly" for the whole Universe, say 1000's of years back.
It would play out exactly the same, every single time, after a rewind.

That's all Hard Determinism does.

It doesn't interfere with your ability to do what you want, when you want, or remove any responsibility from your actions.

Think of it like a Movie. You can watch a Movie and witness all the characters using their Free Will to form the plot of the Movie. But no matter how many times you replay the Movie, it always plays the same. That's Compatibilism for you.

So, I don't get what all the fuss is about. I'm free to design my future.. that's all that is important. It doesn't matter if my future is fated.. it is the one I wanted and designed for myself.. anyway I cut it.

Best regards all,
Dave :^)
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