Is free will all or nothing?

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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby neuro on March 5th, 2017, 10:43 am 

vivian maxine » January 24th, 2017, 2:45 pm wrote:Belief in free will is linked to happiness.

Probably yes.
It certainly helps in producing resilience, i.e. in making us able to face distressing situations.
One possibility is to feel as if one is the victim of others and the circumstances.
The other is to imagine one may do something....
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Heavy_Water on May 8th, 2017, 6:40 pm 

AbstractNeuron » December 11th, 2016, 7:20 pm wrote: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!



Very few aspects or paradigms in the real world are all or nothing affairs. The vast majority of them are comprised of gradations. Degrees. Levels.

Free will? No exception.

Our wills and our lives are indeed free in the sense that there is no supreme, omniscient, personal, biblical sort of god who controls us. Or had plans for us. Or puts things into our lives or paths. There is no such thing as fate or destiny.

However, a goodly percentage of Psychology and neurology experts claim that since our brains create neural pathways from repetition, they become so ingrained...etched, if I may use a layman's terms...in our minds, that we will be all but forced to act in accordance with the actions and thought, opinions, even, that they allude to. This is why habits and obsessions are formed. And why even the ones that negatively impact our quality of life can be very difficult to overcome.

Because of this..which btw is neurological fact, proven and seen via various medical imagery...when you, say, claim you just decided spontaneously to quit your well paying lawyer job to go paint water color landscapes, you in reality just acted in accordance with what your specific neural pathways dictated when a promoting event arose. So, in this way, even though, yeah, we are free from the whims of a make believe sky god, we are still beholden to very real physiological conditions that at least partially denigrate true free will.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby thehedglin on May 28th, 2017, 6:01 pm 

Most of the debate around these topics seems, to me at least, to be predicated on peoples PERSONAL understandings of these concepts. To ME, the concept of determinism is simple causality, so ANY decision based even partially on past experience or circumstance seems deterministic. I also see free will as a dead concept, which fundamentally argues that a RATIONAL being could randomly make a choice without so much as thinking, which is madness to me.

Others may define these concepts differently, so may have different perspectives.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Dave_Oblad on May 29th, 2017, 3:58 pm 

Hi thehedglin,

Welcome to the Forums.

I agree. To ME, "Freewill" is best exemplified by the fact I can design and shape my future. I can go watch TV right now or take a Nap (both sound good). So I make a decision and follow through on said decision. That's "Freewill".

But.. if I could Rewind Time perfectly for every particle in the Universe to earlier today.. I would find I will make the exact same decisions.. exactly the same.. 100% of the Rewinds. That's "Determinism".

Obviously, I'm a Compatibilist.

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

Postby thehedglin on May 29th, 2017, 6:26 pm 

Dave_Oblad » May 29th, 2017, 2:58 pm wrote:Hi thehedglin,

Welcome to the Forums.

I agree. To ME, "Freewill" is best exemplified by the fact I can design and shape my future. I can go watch TV right now or take a Nap (both sound good). So I make a decision and follow through on said decision. That's "Freewill".

But.. if I could Rewind Time perfectly for every particle in the Universe to earlier today.. I would find I will make the exact same decisions.. exactly the same.. 100% of the Rewinds. That's "Determinism".

Obviously, I'm a Compatibilist.

Regards,
Dave :^)


See, even if I don't agree with your definitions, I definitely see and even agree with your conclusions based on them. Thanks for the warm welcome.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby thinker4life on July 29th, 2017, 7:33 pm 

Dave_Oblad » December 23rd, 2016, 3:14 pm wrote: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 :^)


Hi Dave,

Let me propose an alternate definition of free will, which at first you won't agree with (but read my paper and you may be convinced):
1. Nondeterminism - That multiple potential outcomes are *actually* possible when a person makes a decision (there's not only one potential future possibility)
2. A being’s conscious effort to make one of them more likely has a statistical impact on the likely outcome of which possibility the being experiences. In layman’s terms, if you choose to try to do something, it's more likely to happen.

This is supported by the rather ubiquitous Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which starts its definition of free will (here: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/) as:
"“Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives" (hopefully we can agree my definition is consistent with this definition, but I have more clearly stated mine to say that I'm disproving determinism in addition to proving free will).

If the world is deterministic, your 'free' will is simply an illusion of free will, not what most people normally think of as free will. Definitions of "free will" in a deterministic world seem like a contradiction of the general impression of what constitutes free will... because if all our decisions are truly solely causal, free will simply can't exist as its generally defined.

I'll make the bold claim that I've not only logically disproved determinism, but given very good logical support for true free will, as I defined it above (which to me is a very precise and meaningful definition). And Dave I invite you in particular to come up with some reason I'm wrong... I'm open to there being one, as I used to be a determinist like you before I learned about Godel's incompleteness theorem, but nobody has been able to find a good flaw in my argument yet so let's see what you can do to punch holes in it.

Here's the proof, feel free to add comments with questions, positive, or constructive criticism:
goo.gl/VnSTRN

Kind regards,
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby Sivad on July 30th, 2017, 11:17 am 

Is free will all or nothing?

I don't see why there couldn't be degrees of freedom where we're able to overcome some inclinations but are overpowered by others. Willpower would be the deciding factor there. Some claim that we have no control over what we will or the strength of our will, but people do deliberately change their thoughts and desires all the time. We also consciously undertake training and discipline to increase willpower, develop self-control, and build character, so maybe that implies some agency beyond or over the will?

I do think that regardless of whether we have that kind of libertarian freedom or not we are capable of both strengthening and purifying our will through discipline and focus, so maybe a will liberated from weakness and corruption is all the freedom we need?
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby neuro on August 7th, 2017, 11:49 am 

thinker4life » July 30th, 2017, 12:33 am wrote:Let me propose an alternate definition of free will, which at first you won't agree with (but read my paper and you may be convinced):
1. Nondeterminism - That multiple potential outcomes are *actually* possible when a person makes a decision (there's not only one potential future possibility)
2. A being’s conscious effort to make one of them more likely has a statistical impact on the likely outcome of which possibility the being experiences. In layman’s terms, if you choose to try to do something, it's more likely to happen.

Hi.
I am afraid that you do not hit the crucial issue here.
A full determinist would argue that the making of a decision is itself a deterministic event, and if you "chooss" to try and do something, thereby changing the probabilities of future developments, you make this moved by deterministic relations in your brain.

I am not particularly fond of such a view.
But I propose to turn the whole issue upside-down:
If I choose to do something, and that turns out to be a deterministic result of all the forces that act on me and of how my genes and the events of my life have moulded my brain, then that is how I actually choose, because what you call "a deterministic result of all the forces that act on me and of how my genes and the events of my life have moulded my brain" exactly is me.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby thinker4life on August 14th, 2017, 7:58 pm 

neuro » August 7th, 2017, 10:49 am wrote:
thinker4life » July 30th, 2017, 12:33 am wrote:Let me propose an alternate definition of free will, which at first you won't agree with (but read my paper and you may be convinced):
1. Nondeterminism - That multiple potential outcomes are *actually* possible when a person makes a decision (there's not only one potential future possibility)
2. A being’s conscious effort to make one of them more likely has a statistical impact on the likely outcome of which possibility the being experiences. In layman’s terms, if you choose to try to do something, it's more likely to happen.

Hi.
I am afraid that you do not hit the crucial issue here.
A full determinist would argue that the making of a decision is itself a deterministic event, and if you "chooss" to try and do something, thereby changing the probabilities of future developments, you make this moved by deterministic relations in your brain.

I am not particularly fond of such a view.
But I propose to turn the whole issue upside-down:
If I choose to do something, and that turns out to be a deterministic result of all the forces that act on me and of how my genes and the events of my life have moulded my brain, then that is how I actually choose, because what you call "a deterministic result of all the forces that act on me and of how my genes and the events of my life have moulded my brain" exactly is me.


Hi Neuro,

I don't think I missed the point at all, I think you didn't read my paper.

A full determinist would say that your "choosing" is in fact a deterministic algorithm based on nature and nurture. A product of the laws of physics. This assumption is what I have very clearly disproved... that the future of the universe is not deterministic, leaving open the possibility for free will and/or randomness to determine the future.

Let me know if this makes sense. If you understand/agree with what I'm saying, you may be curious enough to read the actual proof which substantiates what I'm saying... If you do you may be one of the first to read a proof that ends a debate that has raged for thousands of years.

Unfortunately for the determinists, this may require them to take accountability for their decisions for a change.

Kind regards,
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby RJG on August 15th, 2017, 10:14 am 

thinker4life wrote:…the universe is not deterministic, leaving open the possibility for free will and/or randomness to determine the future.

How can ANYTHING in a “non-deterministic” universe “determine” anything?

The "randomness" in a "non-deterministic" universe kills any possibility of free-will. Free-will cannot ‘will’ (or determine) anything in a "non-deterministic" universe. If I choose X, but Y happens, then where is the free-will? ...what is it that I am determining (or 'willing')?

Free-will cannot exist in a deterministic universe, nor a non-deterministic universe. Therefore free-will does not exist. It is nothing.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby mitchellmckain on August 15th, 2017, 1:27 pm 

RJG » August 15th, 2017, 9:14 am wrote:
thinker4life wrote:…the universe is not deterministic, leaving open the possibility for free will and/or randomness to determine the future.

How can ANYTHING in a “non-deterministic” universe “determine” anything?

The "randomness" in a "non-deterministic" universe kills any possibility of free-will. Free-will cannot ‘will’ (or determine) anything in a "non-deterministic" universe. If I choose X, but Y happens, then where is the free-will? ...what is it that I am determining (or 'willing')?

Free-will cannot exist in a deterministic universe, nor a non-deterministic universe. Therefore free-will does not exist. It is nothing.


Correction.
Free-will cannot exist in a universe in which causation is restricted to the time-ordered variety. Therefore since we experience free-will, the premise of time-ordered causality must be rejected. Randomness is only how free will looks when you insist on adhering to the premise of time-ordered causality. But free will is entirely logical outside that premise as a process by which we become the cause of our free will choices and thus both cause and effect originate in the same causal event. There is nothing terribly revolutionary in this idea for since the very beginnings of the idea of causation in philosophy, the idea was not restricted to the time-ordered variety. Aristotle considered to be only one of four different types of causation (the one he called efficient causality).

With the Bell inequality experiments, physical determinism is quite dead. Those adhering to the scientific method have accepted that the system of physical causality is not a closed system. That leaves you with three choices with regards to determinism which cannot be answered by the objective evidence.
1. Reject determinism and simply accept that not all events are determined by pre-existing conditions.
2. Imagine causes outside the premises of the scientific worldview (i.e. nonphyscial causes) in order to close the system of causality in order to save determinism.
3. Accept the possibility or even likelihood of non-physical causes but still see no reason to insist on determinism anyway.

It should be noted that once you look outside the scientific worldview of causation then you have no reason to accept its assumption that causality is limited the time-ordered variety. Even science teaches that time in the physical universe is hardly a universal absolute measure and something that only came into existence with the universe in the big bang 13.7 billion years ago.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby mitchellmckain on August 15th, 2017, 8:52 pm 

Aristotle's 4 causes.

Efficient cause: This is the usual time-ordered idea of causality from interaction with something often referred to a causal agent.

Material cause: This is the causality coming from that which a thing is composed of. In modern terminology, efficient and material causality combined could be referred to as local causality which is a fundamental premise of modern science today.

Formal cause: This is the causality coming from the form of a thing. It was probably somewhat related to Plato's idealism philosophy. But I think you could relate to two more modern ideas of causality.
1. Emergent properties: The idea is that not everything is simply due to the properties of the composing parts or material substance. Not only can interactions create unexpected behaviors in the whole system, but through phenomenon like spontaneous symmetry breaking and chaotic bifurcation you can actually have behaviors emerge which are not determined by the composing parts.
2. Non-local effects: We know from quantum mechanics that systems have have properties as a whole which transcend the limitations of local causality.

Final causality: This is mostly seen in the intentional actions of living organisms working towards an end. In this, the purpose of the organism seems to become one of the causes of what happens. This idea of causality seems to directly oppose the limitations of time-ordered causality. This the one of Aristotle's four causes which has the least regard in modern science. It rather brings to mind such notions as "intelligent design" which sound more like theology than science.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby thinker4life on August 15th, 2017, 9:07 pm 

RJG » August 15th, 2017, 9:14 am wrote:
thinker4life wrote:…the universe is not deterministic, leaving open the possibility for free will and/or randomness to determine the future.

How can ANYTHING in a “non-deterministic” universe “determine” anything?

The "randomness" in a "non-deterministic" universe kills any possibility of free-will. Free-will cannot ‘will’ (or determine) anything in a "non-deterministic" universe. If I choose X, but Y happens, then where is the free-will? ...what is it that I am determining (or 'willing')?

Free-will cannot exist in a deterministic universe, nor a non-deterministic universe. Therefore free-will does not exist. It is nothing.


The presence of cause and effect does not necessitate that cause and effect are deterministic. A non-deterministic world is not a world without cause and effect... There very much is still cause and effect in this world. The difference between non-determinism and determinism is that determinism says that all causes are pre-calculable. This is what I have clearly disproved. Even the ultimate incarnation of the laws of physics themselves as the ultimate knowledge base of the universe can't deterministically calculate the future at the next moment in time t + delta t. I recommend reading my paper on free will and learning about Godel's incompleteness theorem. It will give you a more comprehensive view of the limitations of the laws of physics and knowledge bases in general (of which the laws of physics are one, as shown by my proof).

You seem to be suffering from some sort of frustration or confusion at the introduction of a concept that occurs very naturally for most people, and which I have logically proven quite convincingly. If you want to try to disprove free will, try disproving part of my paper which outlines the reasons for its existence quite clearly, rather than just stating your right in caps, which is not very convincing.

Also if you were to understand the paper, you would understand that randomness and free will are both possible explanations for the non-deterministic universe we live in. Free will is a much better explanation for the "decisions" we make. Randomness could very well be part of the equation, but I haven't proven anything about its existence. Maybe I will some day, but I haven't yet. My suspicion is it plays some role in the universe as well.

As for "if I choose x, by Y happens, where is free will," I recommend you read my definition of free will. Nobody on earth claims that if you choose x by free will, therefore x happens. Free will is the concept that what you will to happen becomes *probabalistically more likely*. For example, you could try to punch me for saying free will exists... but I could just as easily block your punch and punch you back. Just because you were not successful in punching me doesn't mean you don't have free will -- you used your free will to try to punch me and I used my free will to block it and punch you back. Free will only impacts probabalistically likely outcomes. Nature and nurture determine the probability clouds within which we all must make choices. But free will does exist, and is influential, and can change much more than you seem to believe is possible.

We may be quibbling on the definition of determinism... My point in calling the world non-deterministic is to say that given the state of the universe at time t, the laws of physics alone (without free will being considered) can't determine the state of the universe at the next moment in time. I call this non-determinism. By the strict definition of determinism in the dictionary, which is "the doctrine that all events, including human choices and decisions, have sufficient causes." one could say people have free will and the world is deterministic. But I think that violates the normal way people think about determinism. If you want to use the strict definition of determinism, you're right, there are sufficient causes for everything. Its just that some of those causes are the result of sentient being's independent decisions and are the result of their decisions, which are completely unpredictable by anything, including absolute knowledge of (or even the actual operation of) the laws of physics themselves. Nothing can predict what I will do next.

We may be able to predict what you do next, because you don't believe in free will, if you do whatever comes most naturally to you and we calculate your highest probability outcome in any situation, but you can never predict what I will do next.

If we're quibbling over the definition of determinism, let's move past that, and focus on the definition of free will that I laid out, I think its more interesting.
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Re: Is free will all or nothing?

Postby thinker4life on August 15th, 2017, 9:08 pm 

RJG » August 15th, 2017, 9:14 am wrote:
thinker4life wrote:…the universe is not deterministic, leaving open the possibility for free will and/or randomness to determine the future.

How can ANYTHING in a “non-deterministic” universe “determine” anything?

The "randomness" in a "non-deterministic" universe kills any possibility of free-will. Free-will cannot ‘will’ (or determine) anything in a "non-deterministic" universe. If I choose X, but Y happens, then where is the free-will? ...what is it that I am determining (or 'willing')?

Free-will cannot exist in a deterministic universe, nor a non-deterministic universe. Therefore free-will does not exist. It is nothing.


The presence of cause and effect does not necessitate that cause and effect are deterministic. A non-deterministic world is not a world without cause and effect... There very much is still cause and effect in this world. The difference between non-determinism and determinism is that determinism says that all causes are pre-calculable. This is what I have clearly disproved. Even the ultimate incarnation of the laws of physics themselves as the ultimate knowledge base of the universe can't deterministically calculate the future at the next moment in time t + delta t. I recommend reading my paper on free will and learning about Godel's incompleteness theorem. It will give you a more comprehensive view of the limitations of the laws of physics and knowledge bases in general (of which the laws of physics are one, as shown by my proof).

You seem to be suffering from some sort of frustration or confusion at the introduction of a concept that occurs very naturally for most people, and which I have logically proven quite convincingly. If you want to try to disprove free will, try disproving part of my paper which outlines the reasons for its existence quite clearly, rather than just stating your right in caps, which is not very convincing.

Also if you were to understand the paper, you would understand that randomness and free will are both possible explanations for the non-deterministic universe we live in. Free will is a much better explanation for the "decisions" we make. Randomness could very well be part of the equation, but I haven't proven anything about its existence. Maybe I will some day, but I haven't yet. My suspicion is it plays some role in the universe as well.

As for "if I choose x, by Y happens, where is free will," I recommend you read my definition of free will. Nobody on earth claims that if you choose x by free will, therefore x happens. Free will is the concept that what you will to happen becomes *probabalistically more likely*. For example, you could try to punch me for saying free will exists... but I could just as easily block your punch and punch you back. Just because you were not successful in punching me doesn't mean you don't have free will -- you used your free will to try to punch me and I used my free will to block it and punch you back. Free will only impacts probabalistically likely outcomes. Nature and nurture determine the probability clouds within which we all must make choices. But free will does exist, and is influential, and can change much more than you seem to believe is possible.

We may be quibbling on the definition of determinism... My point in calling the world non-deterministic is to say that given the state of the universe at time t, the laws of physics alone (without free will being considered) can't determine the state of the universe at the next moment in time. I call this non-determinism. By the strict definition of determinism in the dictionary, which is "the doctrine that all events, including human choices and decisions, have sufficient causes." one could say people have free will and the world is deterministic. But I think that violates the normal way people think about determinism. If you want to use the strict definition of determinism, you're right, there are sufficient causes for everything. Its just that some of those causes are the result of sentient being's independent decisions and are the result of their decisions, which are completely unpredictable by anything, including absolute knowledge of (or even the actual operation of) the laws of physics themselves. Nothing can predict what I will do next.

We may be able to predict what you do next, because you don't believe in free will, if you do whatever comes most naturally to you and we calculate your highest probability outcome in any situation, but you can never predict what I will do next.

If we're quibbling over the definition of determinism, let's move past that, and focus on the definition of free will that I laid out, I think its more interesting.
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