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Free will

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Mark Isaak

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Feb 15, 2024, 3:23:11 PMFeb 15
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Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
anyway.

What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?

--
Mark Isaak
"Wisdom begins when you discover the difference between 'That
doesn't make sense' and 'I don't understand.'" - Mary Doria Russell

Martin Harran

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Feb 15, 2024, 4:43:12 PMFeb 15
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On Thu, 15 Feb 2024 12:19:13 -0800, Mark Isaak
<specime...@curioustaxon.omy.net> wrote:

>Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
>arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
>anyway.
>
>What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?

I posted this earlier today in a response to Burkhard in the
'Masterclass' thread but I think it's worth repeating here. Benjamin
Libet (he of the famous experiments):

"The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a
voluntary act, but rather to control occurrences of the act. We may
view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary actions as "bubbling
up" in the brain. The conscious-will then selects which of these
initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto and
abort, with no act appearing.

This kind of role for free will is actually in accord with religious
and ethical strictures, which commonly advocate that you "control
yourself" Most of the Ten Commandments are "do not" orders."

That hits the spot for me - free will is the ability to decide not to
do something that our instincts want us to do or decide to do
something that our instincts don't want us to do.

The absence of free will would be us just following our instincts.

broger...@gmail.com

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Feb 15, 2024, 4:48:11 PMFeb 15
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On Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 3:23:11 PM UTC-5, Mark Isaak wrote:
> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
> anyway.
>
> What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?

I would say that it is a continuum, not a dichotomy. I'd say that you have free will to the extent that the causes for your actions reside within you rather than outside you.

broger...@gmail.com

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Feb 15, 2024, 4:53:11 PMFeb 15
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So you are free to the extent that you go against your natural inclinations. Is that what you mean?

erik simpson

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Feb 15, 2024, 5:13:11 PMFeb 15
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On 2/15/24 12:19 PM, Mark Isaak wrote:
> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
> anyway.
>
> What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?
>
Not having free will means you never need apologize.

Öö Tiib

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Feb 15, 2024, 9:08:12 PMFeb 15
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But you might occasionally apologize anyway despite there are no point.
If you do it or not is decided by scenario, you have no will to alter it.

DB Cates

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Feb 15, 2024, 9:18:11 PMFeb 15
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You may not *need* to, but never the less, given the appropriate
history, you will do so.
--
--
Don Cates ("he's a cunning rascal" PN)

Mark Isaak

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Feb 15, 2024, 9:23:12 PMFeb 15
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On 2/15/24 1:44 PM, broger...@gmail.com wrote:
> On Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 3:23:11 PM UTC-5, Mark Isaak wrote:
>> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
>> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
>> anyway.
>>
>> What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?
>
> I would say that it is a continuum, not a dichotomy. I'd say that you have free will to the extent that the causes for your actions reside within you rather than outside you.

Even if everything within you came from outside you?

Mark Isaak

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Feb 15, 2024, 9:23:12 PMFeb 15
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On 2/15/24 1:41 PM, Martin Harran wrote:
> On Thu, 15 Feb 2024 12:19:13 -0800, Mark Isaak
> <specime...@curioustaxon.omy.net> wrote:
>
>> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
>> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
>> anyway.
>>
>> What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?
>
> I posted this earlier today in a response to Burkhard in the
> 'Masterclass' thread but I think it's worth repeating here. Benjamin
> Libet (he of the famous experiments):
>
> "The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a
> voluntary act, but rather to control occurrences of the act. We may
> view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary actions as "bubbling
> up" in the brain. The conscious-will then selects which of these
> initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto and
> abort, with no act appearing.
>
> This kind of role for free will is actually in accord with religious
> and ethical strictures, which commonly advocate that you "control
> yourself" Most of the Ten Commandments are "do not" orders."

The whole controversy over Libet's results, though, is that what appears
conscious may not be.

> That hits the spot for me - free will is the ability to decide not to
> do something that our instincts want us to do or decide to do
> something that our instincts don't want us to do.
>
> The absence of free will would be us just following our instincts.

That summary implies that learned behavior and behavior from free will
are the same. But what about someone who learns a habit and then has to
struggle mightily to break that habit?

Or more to the crux of the matter, I just chose to put a comma instead
of a colon before that last "I". How can anyone (myself included) know
that that decision was not ordained ineluctably by the arrangement of my
axons and their various activating potentials?

DB Cates

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Feb 15, 2024, 9:58:11 PMFeb 15
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And how would one determine otherwise? I'm really having difficulty
coming up with any way of distinguishing the free will/no free will
positions. At least the 'no free will' position doesn't screw up physics.

André G. Isaak

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Feb 15, 2024, 10:23:11 PMFeb 15
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On 2024-02-15 19:21, Mark Isaak wrote:
> On 2/15/24 1:44 PM, broger...@gmail.com wrote:
>> On Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 3:23:11 PM UTC-5, Mark Isaak wrote:
>>> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
>>> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
>>> anyway.
>>>
>>> What is the difference between having free will and not having free
>>> will?
>>
>> I would say that it is a continuum, not a dichotomy. I'd say that you
>> have free will to the extent that the causes for your actions reside
>> within you rather than outside you.
>
> Even if everything within you came from outside you?

'Free will' happens when your choices seem to be the result of your
decisions rather than the result of external forces. This is true even
when your choices are the result of purely deterministic external forces.

IOW, it's not a particularly useful concept except when talking about
our specific attitudes towards our decisions.

André

--
To email remove 'invalid' & replace 'gm' with well known Google mail
service.

Bob Casanova

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Feb 16, 2024, 12:28:12 AMFeb 16
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On Thu, 15 Feb 2024 14:10:26 -0800, the following appeared
in talk.origins, posted by erik simpson
<eastsi...@gmail.com>:
Even more, you can never be guilty of anything. The perfect
philosophy for a sociopath! :-(
>
--

Bob C.

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science,
the one that heralds new discoveries, is not
'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'"

- Isaac Asimov

jillery

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Feb 16, 2024, 1:38:11 AMFeb 16
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That would be love, not free will:

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APMHp9sZyME>

--
To know less than we don't know is the nature of most knowledge

*Hemidactylus*

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Feb 16, 2024, 4:38:12 AMFeb 16
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That could be related to procedural memory. It takes great effort to learn
stuff. Over time things that took deliberatively taxing mental effort
become “second nature”. But when circumstances change it then takes effort
to unlearn such automatisms.
>
> Or more to the crux of the matter, I just chose to put a comma instead
> of a colon before that last "I". How can anyone (myself included) know
> that that decision was not ordained ineluctably by the arrangement of my
> axons and their various activating potentials?
>
The art of placing commas, sentence construction(,) or grammar are
typically nonconcious. One can override autopilot and edit what has been
written. Here’s the rub, following the late Daniel Wegner we tend to claim
volitional authorship over actions that are happening outside awareness. We
plagiarize our brain activity. This tendency may be adaptive per Wegner as
it has social utility. We signal intention and take responsibility for
actions stemming from our brain, though being outside the causal chain.

Dennett eschews libertarian free will, which should be the end of the
story, but responsibility is too important to him to throw the volitional
baby out with the spooky libertarian bathwater. He notes how we at some
developmental milestone typically become mature enough to be deemed
responsible adults. This is a Sorites problem so things like age of
majority are arbitrary boundaries. But without deeming social
responsibility how could we recognize and enforce contracts and
oaths/affirmations, the former have notarial language the explicitly
declare freewill exists, and penalize breakers of such documents?

His compatibilism relies on stuff like people being reasons responsive,
persuadable but not naive or manipulable, Machiavellian to the degree of
knowing what to convey vs conceal, be unpredictable, be able to make action
justifications by evaluation of probable outcomes, have well ordered
desires (he seems to channel Harry Frankfurt’s desirability of desires
here), and to have deliberative self-control. The last one is pretty much
what I think “free will” boils down to. Deliberation turns murder into a
capital offense.

Pat Churchland focusses more on the delay of gratification and impulse
control. Also the cancellation of action which seems to be Libet’s free
won’t.

Yet impulse control could be deconstructed as a hierarchy of higher and
lower impulses sorta like Frankfurt did with desires, no? The impulse to do
the right or responsible thing could be a matter of fallible second nature.

All the things that make up “free will” make it a suitcase word as Minksy
(cringe) called consciousness.



*Hemidactylus*

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Feb 16, 2024, 4:58:11 AMFeb 16
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Mark Isaak <specime...@curioustaxon.omy.net> wrote:
> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
> anyway.
>
> What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?
>
Not having the capacity to mull decisions over an extended period of time?
Not solely living in the now or on autopilot?

Martin Harran

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Feb 16, 2024, 5:08:12 AMFeb 16
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On Thu, 15 Feb 2024 13:48:14 -0800 (PST), "broger...@gmail.com"
<broger...@gmail.com> wrote:
I don't like your "to the extent that" qualifier. I think that free
will is one of those things that is difficult if not impossible to
*define* in simple terms but whose characteristics can be *described*.
What I have given above is a description, not a definition; it is one
of many possible descriptions but I think it does capture a key
characteristic.

*Hemidactylus*

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Feb 16, 2024, 5:13:11 AMFeb 16
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Libet’s experiment is taking things down to a very tight time scale
(milliseconds) and to a very mundane nature (watching a clock) to help the
notion of free will much. Plus more advanced brainscanning places the
neural causal chain even further back per preceding brain activity.

Free will involves deliberation over longer time scales about meaningful or
impactful decisions. Say you want to buy a car. You could impulse buy the
first one you see, which still takes longer than the timeframe of Libet. Or
you could jot down multiple candidate cars and read Consumer Reports and
game out your longer term financial prospects and then eventually come to a
decision. Maybe you narrow it down to two cars and become Buridan’s ass
leaving it to some intangible subjective impulse to break the tie. You trot
into the dealership and note some notarizable documents allude to your
signing of your own free will. That’s part of what will make you
accountable in the future to hold up to your end of the deal. Free will is
more or less a legally binding social construction for enforcing contracts.
In reality it breaks down to whether you were instead acting out of
coercion, whether you could be duped into a bad decision, or if you
exercised due diligence from your POV in terms of self-interest. Outside of
the acknowledgment language in the contract “freewill” may have no
ontological standing in itself. As more became known about how we think
about what to do, there are perhaps more grounded terms we could use that
capture aspects of what is a problematic libertarian ( philosophical not
political sense) term.

Martin Harran

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Feb 16, 2024, 5:33:11 AMFeb 16
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On Thu, 15 Feb 2024 20:54:05 -0600, DB Cates <cate...@hotmail.com>
wrote:
There is a whiff of scientism about that final remark!

Martin Harran

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Feb 16, 2024, 5:33:11 AMFeb 16
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On Thu, 15 Feb 2024 18:19:51 -0800, Mark Isaak
<specime...@curioustaxon.omy.net> wrote:

>On 2/15/24 1:41 PM, Martin Harran wrote:
>> On Thu, 15 Feb 2024 12:19:13 -0800, Mark Isaak
>> <specime...@curioustaxon.omy.net> wrote:
>>
>>> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
>>> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
>>> anyway.
>>>
>>> What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?
>>
>> I posted this earlier today in a response to Burkhard in the
>> 'Masterclass' thread but I think it's worth repeating here. Benjamin
>> Libet (he of the famous experiments):
>>
>> "The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a
>> voluntary act, but rather to control occurrences of the act. We may
>> view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary actions as "bubbling
>> up" in the brain. The conscious-will then selects which of these
>> initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto and
>> abort, with no act appearing.
>>
>> This kind of role for free will is actually in accord with religious
>> and ethical strictures, which commonly advocate that you "control
>> yourself" Most of the Ten Commandments are "do not" orders."
>
>The whole controversy over Libet's results, though, is that what appears
>conscious may not be.

The controversy reminds me somewhat of Ron Dean taking some of Gould
and Eldredge's results and using them to argue a conclusion that is
the opposite of what G&E themselves concluded about the impact on the
ToE.

>
>> That hits the spot for me - free will is the ability to decide not to
>> do something that our instincts want us to do or decide to do
>> something that our instincts don't want us to do.
>>
>> The absence of free will would be us just following our instincts.
>
>That summary implies that learned behavior and behavior from free will
>are the same.

Not quite sure how you get to that.

>But what about someone who learns a habit and then has to
>struggle mightily to break that habit?

I can't see your issue with that. A habit is our body in control of
what we do; deciding to break the habit is an exercise of free will.
For example, I started smoking when I was 16 - that was a free will
decision, nobody or nothing forced me. Nicotine then took charge and
my body demanded a regular supply for the next forty years. After
those 40 years, I made a decision to quit. My body didn't like that
decision at all and there was an ensuing battle for quite some time
between my mind and my body. Seventeen years later, that battle has
still not entirely abated, I still get the occasional yearning for a
cigarette or cigar.

There are, of course, external *influences* - my decision about
smoking was made lying in coronary care awaiting a by-pass which
thankfully was avoided with multiple stents. I don't believe, however,
that external influences are deterministic. To take another example,
my Catholic faith originated in being born to committed Catholic
parents, in a strongly Catholic community and education in Catholic
schools. Many - probably most - of my peers (including siblings) who
came through the same religious/cultural and education background have
long discarded their religious beliefs; my decision to stay with them
was a personal decision, made after considerable study and reflection,
but still a decision made by myself.

By coincidence, I have just started reading 'Determined A Science of
Life without Free Will' by Robert M. Sapolskyby; I'm only a couple of
chapters into it so too early to draw conclusions but he seems to base
his argument largely on these external influences being deterministic.


>
>Or more to the crux of the matter, I just chose to put a comma instead
>of a colon before that last "I". How can anyone (myself included) know
>that that decision was not ordained ineluctably by the arrangement of my
>axons and their various activating potentials?

I have a pin here, would you care to count the angels on its head?

*Hemidactylus*

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Feb 16, 2024, 5:43:12 AMFeb 16
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I think he means more along the lines of impulse control, to not be a
brute. But there are habits (second nature), and social idols. Philosophize
with a hammer. Belief in free will is a socially constrained ideology. So
we may act against our instincts yet act in accord with social stricture.
Whether one believes in free will or not is a matter of birth as is one’s
religion. Strict Calvinism seems a matter of the elect being preordained so
personal choice is irrelevant. Some forms of Islam hold to the tablet in
heaven or scroll of life concept. And beyond whether belief in free will is
a matter of upbringing, other behavior influencing beliefs are social
constructs and not brute facts. There is social determination. The Ten
Commandments are socially constructed influencers of actions. There are
some 613 influencers of actions down to allowable clothing fabric. Abiding
by such stricture becomes second nature.

broger...@gmail.com

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Feb 16, 2024, 5:53:11 AMFeb 16
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On Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 9:23:12 PM UTC-5, Mark Isaak wrote:
> On 2/15/24 1:44 PM, broger...@gmail.com wrote:
> > On Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 3:23:11 PM UTC-5, Mark Isaak wrote:
> >> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
> >> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
> >> anyway.
> >>
> >> What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?
> >
> > I would say that it is a continuum, not a dichotomy. I'd say that you have free will to the extent that the causes for your actions reside within you rather than outside you.
> Even if everything within you came from outside you?

Not sure exactly what you are getting at. Of course every atom that composes you came from outside you at some point, but I don't see that as a problem. You could reasonably say that if someone slipped you a mind-altering drug that that cause of some of your actions resided outside you, even though the psychoactive molecules were inside your brain at the time of interest. Still, I think my formulation is generally pretty reasonable.

broger...@gmail.com

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Feb 16, 2024, 6:33:13 AMFeb 16
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I'm not sure your example here is very clear cut. When you were addicted to nicotine, you followed a very natural inclination to avoid discomfort - low blood nicotine levels made you uncomfortable and you raised them. When you quit, you also followed a natural inclination to avoid discomfort, whether the discomfort was the thought of death by COPD or lung cancer or heart attack (as you say below), or social ostracism (depending on how out of favor smoking was around you at the time). Eventually the impulse to avoid the smoking associated discomfort became stronger than the impulse to avoid the low-blood-nicotine discomfort. You quit smoking. You weighed conflicting inclinations and the stronger one won - for me that's a free decision, regardless of whether you clearly articulated the reasons in your internal monologue (assuming you have one) or whether you just did it.
>
> There are, of course, external *influences* - my decision about
> smoking was made lying in coronary care awaiting a by-pass which
> thankfully was avoided with multiple stents. I don't believe, however,
> that external influences are deterministic. To take another example,
> my Catholic faith originated in being born to committed Catholic
> parents, in a strongly Catholic community and education in Catholic
> schools. Many - probably most - of my peers (including siblings) who
> came through the same religious/cultural and education background have
> long discarded their religious beliefs; my decision to stay with them
> was a personal decision, made after considerable study and reflection,
> but still a decision made by myself.

I agree with you that external influences are not deterministic. The reasons for your decision are a combination of factors within and outside of yourself. Nobody threatened to burn you at the stake if you became an apostate. You decided on your own to stick with it.
>
> By coincidence, I have just started reading 'Determined A Science of
> Life without Free Will' by Robert M. Sapolskyby; I'm only a couple of
> chapters into it so too early to draw conclusions but he seems to base
> his argument largely on these external influences being deterministic.

If you imagine yourself as an immaterial homunculus housed in the pineal gland, almost everything can be made external to "you" and therefore the deterministic nature of the external factors will be a threat to free will. If you identify yourself with your whole body and brain, your free will remains intact.

Martin Harran

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Feb 16, 2024, 7:03:12 AMFeb 16
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On Fri, 16 Feb 2024 03:32:17 -0800 (PST), "broger...@gmail.com"
<broger...@gmail.com> wrote:
FWIW, my decision was made on account of my wife and children. They
were very worried about me and my health - I hadn't actually had a
heart attack but 5 of my brothers had had at least one. I figured that
I had always said that I would do anything to protect my family from
harm but if I continued to smoke, I would actually be causing them
harm. There obviously was a lot of pressure on me to make the decision
but ultimately it was my own decision, made freely by myself. Just as
comparison, one of my brothers who suffered a heart attack, a few
years later required a stent and a couple of years after that had
prostate cancer (fully recovered) but despite family pressures, he
continues to smoke. He was under the same pressures and influences as
me but he made his own decision, different from mine. We shouldn't
draw conclusions from one example but I think the fact that we are
siblings making different decisions in similar circumstances points to
free will being an individual thing.

>>
>> There are, of course, external *influences* - my decision about
>> smoking was made lying in coronary care awaiting a by-pass which
>> thankfully was avoided with multiple stents. I don't believe, however,
>> that external influences are deterministic. To take another example,
>> my Catholic faith originated in being born to committed Catholic
>> parents, in a strongly Catholic community and education in Catholic
>> schools. Many - probably most - of my peers (including siblings) who
>> came through the same religious/cultural and education background have
>> long discarded their religious beliefs; my decision to stay with them
>> was a personal decision, made after considerable study and reflection,
>> but still a decision made by myself.
>
>I agree with you that external influences are not deterministic. The reasons for your decision are a combination of factors within and outside of yourself. Nobody threatened to burn you at the stake if you became an apostate. You decided on your own to stick with it.

I think we are close to violent agreement here - not a bad thing in
your final days on TO :)

broger...@gmail.com

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Feb 16, 2024, 7:13:12 AMFeb 16
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He was in a similar situation - conflicting impulses to avoid different sorts of discomfort and in his case the impulse to avoid the discomfort of nicotine withdrawal was stronger. SImilar, but not identical individuals in similar but not identical situations make different decisions.
> >>
> >> There are, of course, external *influences* - my decision about
> >> smoking was made lying in coronary care awaiting a by-pass which
> >> thankfully was avoided with multiple stents. I don't believe, however,
> >> that external influences are deterministic. To take another example,
> >> my Catholic faith originated in being born to committed Catholic
> >> parents, in a strongly Catholic community and education in Catholic
> >> schools. Many - probably most - of my peers (including siblings) who
> >> came through the same religious/cultural and education background have
> >> long discarded their religious beliefs; my decision to stay with them
> >> was a personal decision, made after considerable study and reflection,
> >> but still a decision made by myself.
> >
> >I agree with you that external influences are not deterministic. The reasons for your decision are a combination of factors within and outside of yourself. Nobody threatened to burn you at the stake if you became an apostate. You decided on your own to stick with it.
> I think we are close to violent agreement here - not a bad thing in
> your final days on TO :)

Yes, we seem to be in agreement. Although that may be because I've been emphasizing the free will part of my "free will is compatible with determinism" compatibilism. I certainly agree that we make our own free choices and are responsible for them - even though I'd hold that under exactly identical circumstances we (also assuming we are exactly identical to who we are) could only make the choice that we actually made (leaving aside any hypothetical effects of quantum randomness which, in any case, would not add anything to our freedom). For us to have made a different choice either we, or the circumstances, would have to be at least slightly different.

*Hemidactylus*

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Feb 16, 2024, 8:13:11 AMFeb 16
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Determinism need not rule out free will, I just think the various things
Dennett puts forward in response to Sapolsky should merely be kept as those
things and maybe jettison an archaic problematic concept.

Dennett v Sapolsky:
https://youtu.be/aYzFH8xqhns?si=c2yVc04ntmCfMYif
>
>>
>> Or more to the crux of the matter, I just chose to put a comma instead
>> of a colon before that last "I". How can anyone (myself included) know
>> that that decision was not ordained ineluctably by the arrangement of my
>> axons and their various activating potentials?
>
> I have a pin here, would you care to count the angels on its head?
>
Not close to the same thing.



Lawyer Daggett

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Feb 16, 2024, 9:18:12 AMFeb 16
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On Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 3:23:11 PM UTC-5, Mark Isaak wrote:
> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
> anyway.
>
> What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?

Philosophically, it involves a desire to eat brains. I learned that from popular
TV and movies.

Otherwise, from what I've read so far, nobody has a good answer.
Rather, they tend to rationalize some suite of definitions to apply in order
to achieve a somewhat comforting conceptual abstraction.

To go further, it's nearly universal that we develop desires to control ourselves
within our surroundings. If we look at more simple model organisms with
nervous systems, there are some rather simple neurochemical feedback
systems that provide what amount to awards for various levels of success in
effecting control. There is a hierarchy from basic control of movement up to
discovering realities to crafting plans. I'm unaware of any truly meaningful
discontinuity in that progression of control, meaningful in the way that it is
biologically achieved.

Consequential to the development of control are fairly parallel systems of
development to do so. Don't be distracted by systems that control without
any level of "conscious" awareness. Having hearts beat without thinking about
each beat turns out to be simple enough that it doesn't need more adaptive
networks of neurons.

A further consequence of these 'control systems' is the development of an
awareness layer within the neurological systems. Just as that layer develops
models of self that include modeling how big one is, where the various parts
are so that you can know to pull your arm away from a hazard, organisms
can develop models of self that get feedback from systems that control
movement, or how we model our environment, or plan for future events.
Neurological systems can create these sorts of feedback structures in ways
that are readily understandable.

So to the punchline: the same schemes for rewarding a sense of control of
movement and reward a sense of control for planning or learning. This results
in an organism that feels better (get neurochemical rewards) when its internal
models tell it that it is in control. I would call that control free will.

So free will is the model we develop within our larger model of self. It is pre-primed
to make us feel good when the model feeds back to us to tell us that we are
making our own choices --- are in control. In most people, those models tend to
elevate an abstracted entity of self which we endow with powers of convenience
in the model development rather than some wholesale reductionist awareness
of all of the involved input states.

This last is a matter of efficiency. I simply reference the whole 'think fast, think slow'
discussion for why we craft models of self with semi-mystical attributes. It's
quicker and sufficient, and doesn't need to reflect a fully accurate organic reality.


Richmond

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Feb 16, 2024, 9:38:12 AMFeb 16
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According to Peter Hitchens, we have free will, and therefore addiction
doesn't exist.

https://twitter.com/ClarkeMicah/status/1712073940208627818

"That is the whole point of the 'addiction' claim, robbing us of free
will, and also robbing us of the [choice] to stop. Far form helping drug
abusers, it pesuades them they are powerless against their habit."

He also says there is no objective scientific verifyable evidence for
addiction.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/oct/21/peter-hitchens-addiction-drugs-war

"Hitchens doesn't believe in addiction, because it cannot be objectively
proven by any scientific test. For the same reason, he refuses to
recognise other "modern" medical conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia,
which he dismisses as "disreputable, unscientific rubbish"

But can free will be proven by any scientific test?

I think there may be some bias as free will is necessary for
Christianity.

But here is St Paul apparently restling with it:

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but
what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that
the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it
is sin living in me."

He recognises as Jung did, that he is not always himself, he has a
shadow side.

Lawyer Daggett

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Feb 16, 2024, 10:23:12 AMFeb 16
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On Friday, February 16, 2024 at 9:38:12 AM UTC-5, Richmond wrote:
> According to Peter Hitchens, we have free will, and therefore addiction
> doesn't exist.
>
> https://twitter.com/ClarkeMicah/status/1712073940208627818
>
> "That is the whole point of the 'addiction' claim, robbing us of free
> will, and also robbing us of the [choice] to stop. Far form helping drug
> abusers, it pesuades them they are powerless against their habit."
>
> He also says there is no objective scientific verifyable evidence for
> addiction.
>
> https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/oct/21/peter-hitchens-addiction-drugs-war

There is clear evidence that chemical addiction exists. It is measurable as
physiological responses to the withholding of a chemical stimulus. It is quite
simply undeniable that our systems (and those of other animals) can become
acclimatized to drugs, ranging from caffeine, to alcohol, to opioids.

In the context of "free will" one might debate the association between the painful
physiological response of withdrawal to a compunction to renew self-administration
of the drug in question. That question is more complex, certainly not as simple
as dichotomous choices between full control and no control.

All that said, a therapeutic approach that promotes the belief that one has full
control, one just needs to exercise it, can undeniably benefit some while the
excuse that one has no control can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Thus in a
therapeutic context, the underlying reality may not be especially useful.

> "Hitchens doesn't believe in addiction, because it cannot be objectively
> proven by any scientific test. For the same reason, he refuses to
> recognise other "modern" medical conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia,
> which he dismisses as "disreputable, unscientific rubbish"

Perhaps he can't help himself from lying like that.

Richmond

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Feb 16, 2024, 10:33:12 AMFeb 16
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Lawyer Daggett <j.nobel...@gmail.com> writes:


>> "Hitchens doesn't believe in addiction, because it cannot be objectively
>> proven by any scientific test. For the same reason, he refuses to
>> recognise other "modern" medical conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia,
>> which he dismisses as "disreputable, unscientific rubbish"
>
> Perhaps he can't help himself from lying like that.
>

I don't think he is lying, I think he is not talking about chemical
addiction, but psychological. He mentions that people who say they are
addicts have been clean for years, and therefore (he says) cannot be
addicts.

And there are also people who lapse, i.e. they are clean for years, and
then go back to it. So in this case they cannot presumably be suffering
withdrawal.

DB Cates

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Feb 16, 2024, 10:48:12 AMFeb 16
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How does "having the capacity to mull decisions over an extended period
of time" and/or "Not solely living in the now" preclude being on autopilot?

DB Cates

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Feb 16, 2024, 10:58:12 AMFeb 16
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Can you come up with a definition of 'instinctive reaction' that can't
be applied to whatever action you actually do?

DB Cates

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Feb 16, 2024, 11:03:12 AMFeb 16
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Being a hidebound materialist I plead guilty. Let me rephrase that last
sentence.
At least the 'no free will' position doesn't have the potential to screw

Robert Carnegie

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Feb 16, 2024, 11:18:12 AMFeb 16
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On 15/02/2024 21:48, broger...@gmail.com wrote:
> On Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 4:43:12 PM UTC-5, Martin Harran wrote:
>> On Thu, 15 Feb 2024 12:19:13 -0800, Mark Isaak
>> <specime...@curioustaxon.omy.net> wrote:
>>
>>> Lacking any creationism subjects to argue about, I bring up something
>>> arguably off topic, but on a topic which comes up here plenty of times
>>> anyway.
>>>
>>> What is the difference between having free will and not having free will?
>> I posted this earlier today in a response to Burkhard in the
>> 'Masterclass' thread but I think it's worth repeating here. Benjamin
>> Libet (he of the famous experiments):
>>
>> "The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a
>> voluntary act, but rather to control occurrences of the act. We may
>> view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary actions as "bubbling
>> up" in the brain. The conscious-will then selects which of these
>> initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto and
>> abort, with no act appearing.
>>
>> This kind of role for free will is actually in accord with religious
>> and ethical strictures, which commonly advocate that you "control
>> yourself" Most of the Ten Commandments are "do not" orders."
>>
>> That hits the spot for me - free will is the ability to decide not to
>> do something that our instincts want us to do or decide to do
>> something that our instincts don't want us to do.
>>
>> The absence of free will would be us just following our instincts.
> So you are free to the extent that you go against your natural inclinations. Is that what you mean?

For me, on the original question, a name
does not mean that a thing exists, and I
tend to see "free will" as that, unless we
agree on a meaningful definition of it.
"consciousness" more so, except perhaps
in the sense of "to possess knowledge"
and of course "to be awake". Mostly,
"consciousness" is a word to mean that
"human beings are entities of particular
merit because they have consciousness".
So don't say it, prove it. I suspect
many philosophers are freeloaders.

With that said, I find it useful to relate
"free will" to personal moral and legal
responsibility - although that may just
push the difficult parts elsewhere.

If you fall from a high building, then
beginning the fall may be your responsibility,
if not exclusively so. Continuing to fall
is outside your control. If you land on
somebody and hurt them, these points are
relevant.

The current version of Tesla "self driving
car" is relevant, because it isn't self
driving really. When used correctly, an
attentive human driver has their hands on
the car's controls and they can govern
the car's action at any moment. But the
car also directs itself most of the time.
Nevertheless, the driver is controlling it.
The driver is held responsible for the driving.
That can be seen as a state of free will,
throughout.

As for "consciousness" - I don't think that
my mind and my self contain only what I can
recognise and express verbally. "Unconscious"
thought also belongs to me - even when I drive
home and I forget that I intended to stop to
buy groceries. I did it. I own my unconscious
!processes, and driving becomes as unconscious
as is the connection between a desire to raise
my hand and scratch at the back of my neck,
and the hand moving as I have willed - probably
without thinking verbally "I will scratch
my neck."

Lawyer Daggett

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Feb 16, 2024, 11:23:12 AMFeb 16
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On Friday, February 16, 2024 at 10:58:12 AM UTC-5, DB Cates wrote:
...
> Can you come up with a definition of 'instinctive reaction' that can't
> be applied to whatever action you actually do?

Butting in, instinctive reactions include those that are 'mostly' hardwired
responses to well defined stimuli. The point of this definition is to draw
a distinction from reactions that are based upon pathways whose nature
is significantly the result of development from prior experiences.

mostly, and significantly are of course weasel words. More fully, the
distinction would attempt to capture a reaction to duck when the eyes
detect fast movement of something towards where one currently thinks
their head is, and the more deliberative choice to crouch down in a slow
moving canoe that is about to pass under a low hanging branch.

The former is close to hardwired while the latter is more of a learned
behavior that incorporates a more complex situational analysis that
appears to have layers of processing that are more plastic in adapting
to more complex situations.

Ernest Major

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Feb 16, 2024, 11:38:11 AMFeb 16
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On 16/02/2024 14:34, Richmond wrote:
> I think there may be some bias as free will is necessary for
> Christianity.

Libertarian free will seems to be contradicted by large swathes of
Christianity.

Divine omniscience is a problem - freely choosing to do what God knew
you were going to do doesn't seem to me to qualify as libertarian free will.

Then there is occasionalism - the position that everything happens by
God's will. While I have the impression that it is more prevalent in
Islam when I performed a web search to remind myself of the word I was
presented with Christian sites espousing that position.

--
alias Ernest Major

DB Cates

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Feb 16, 2024, 11:43:12 AMFeb 16
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I agree completely. Unfortunately it does not really address the
connection to the 'free will' controversy.

Richmond

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Feb 16, 2024, 11:53:12 AMFeb 16
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I don't know how there would be sin without free will.

"Catechism of the Catholic Church

https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P5M.HTM

Article 3

MAN'S FREEDOM

1730 God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of
a person who can initiate and control his own actions. "God willed that
man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of
his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed
perfection by cleaving to him."26

Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and
is master over his acts.27 "

Lawyer Daggett

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Feb 16, 2024, 12:13:12 PMFeb 16
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Perhaps. I think that many who claim that we have free will (by some ambiguous
definition of free will) admit that instinctive actions are not the result of this
free will. And while they admit therefore that some actions people take are not
the result of free will, they assert that this thing called free will arises from
reactions that involve these other networks that produce reactions. We even
elevate these reactions with the label "choice" but it isn't ever clear to me what
that elevation entails at the level of brain chemistry, neuronal pathways, or any
materialistic mechanism. It's a bit like that science cartoon with the box that
says "and then a miracle occurs".

So we get a situation where some simpler reaction pathways don't include
free will but those that involve a more complex set of inputs and dependencies
are anointed as "choices" which involve some unspecified miracle. Or so it
seems to me.

*Hemidactylus*

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Feb 16, 2024, 12:53:12 PMFeb 16
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Autopilot is walking and chewing gum at the same time. Fretting about how
to budget for the next week isn’t so much.

Kerr-Mudd, John

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Feb 16, 2024, 4:13:12 PMFeb 16
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On Fri, 16 Feb 2024 11:59:30 +0000
Martin Harran <martin...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, 16 Feb 2024 03:32:17 -0800 (PST), "broger...@gmail.com"
> <broger...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
[]
>
> I think we are close to violent agreement here - not a bad thing in
> your final days on TO :)
>
[]

The End Days are with us! Repent! (iff you have the free will to do so).


If a GGuser wills it enough they don't have to give up usenet.

--
Bah, and indeed Humbug.

erik simpson

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Feb 16, 2024, 5:33:12 PMFeb 16
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The will to continue is only free if you choose a free news reader.
Otherwise (like giganews) it's not free will.

*Hemidactylus*

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Feb 16, 2024, 7:08:12 PMFeb 16
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Nice pun. Libre vs gratis may not quite cover free will.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratis_versus_libre

With freedom there is freedom from and freedom to. I think that maps to
negative and positive freedom but that distinction seems wholly social
and/or political and not neural.

But there is the gratis consideration per cost given ATP is physiological
currency. Free or not in some sense of that vague adjective, will costs
energy. I would point to ego depletion and glucose research but that seems
to have belly flopped in the replication crisis???

DB Cates

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Feb 16, 2024, 10:33:12 PMFeb 16
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Yes, I realize that is the claim, but what, precisely, is the
difference? Time? does the final outcome of an autopilot's processing
have to be immediate? If 'fretting' is due to a pattern of physical
processes in the brain, then the autopilot is in play.

*Hemidactylus*

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Feb 16, 2024, 10:43:12 PMFeb 16
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Autopilot is second nature? A professional beancounter may be expected to
know how to budget without fretting, but maybe they are paying off student
debt via an OnlyFans account.

DB Cates

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Feb 16, 2024, 11:08:12 PMFeb 16
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Yes, whenever I have taken (wasted?) time examining the 'free will'
question, eventually 'MAGIC' raises its (ugly?) head. And pondering that
magic leads to the whole thing exploding into meaninglessness (anything
could be true)

I've also considered one argument, not so much for free will but against
no free will, that should some entity commit act X then if there is no
free will involved then that entity should not attract any praise or
condemnation or anything in between from anyone else since they were not
'responsible' for X. But the huge long mesh of incidents leading to X
happening also led to the existence of that entity. So even though I
free will to be an illusion, I have no moral qualms about judging that
entity based on X. (Of course, I would have done so anyway without this
examination... hmmmm, or would I?)