Free Will

on fundamental matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and ethics.

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Re: Free Will

#4641  Postby ughaibu » Jan 08, 2017 3:57 pm

DavidMcC wrote:I stand by my criticism of Sam Harris' interpretation of the Libet experiment, based on the timing of measured neural signals. (BTW, I went into rather more detail way back in this thread.)
The denialist claim is that because Libet's action potential preceded the subject's announcement of their decision, the action had been initiated before the subject was aware of it. Subsequent experiments showed that the action potential occurs even without action, and more recently, that redesigning the experiment eliminates the action potential entirely. In short, Libet's action potential was both misinterpreted and an artifact of poor experimental design.
Anyone who thinks that Libet's result challenges the reality of free will is seriously mistaken.
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Re: Free Will

#4642  Postby archibald » Jan 08, 2017 4:48 pm

The denialist claim is that intercessionary prayer experiments are flawed. Anyone who thinks that the results challenge the reality of god's interventions is seriously mistaken.
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Re: Free Will

#4643  Postby romansh » Jan 10, 2017 5:29 am

Answered on a more appropriate thread.
scott1328 wrote:there is no reason to believe that you would do otherwise if the clock was rewound. Why does that rule out free will? The antecedents have not changed, so the choice should be the same. But this of itself does not mean your choice is forced, or compelled. Your appraisal of the situation has not changed, the prediction of the outcome has not changed. Even in an indeterministic world where a rewind of the clock could have another outcome, does not mean the appraisal process would lead to another choice.

On a technicality ... I have no idea whether we live in an indeterministic world or not.

For me my choice is formed by the antecedent causes ... ultimately these antecedents stretch back to where I have no control over them. But even in the realm of where I think I control them it is chemistry or physics doing its thing. Ultimately it is like saying a meandering river over plain chose its course based on the water flow, topology, geology ... it had free will in choosing its path ... it had no compulsion. The same fundamental forces that apply to the river that apply to us.

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Re: Free Will

#4644  Postby ughaibu » Jan 10, 2017 7:15 am

romansh wrote:even in the realm of where I think I control them it is chemistry or physics doing its thing. Ultimately it is like saying a meandering river over plain chose its course based on the water flow, topology, geology ... it had free will in choosing its path ... it had no compulsion. The same fundamental forces that apply to the river that apply to us.
It's pretty obvious that we don't behave much like rivers, but as we're made very differently, even someone who thinks that their behaviour is just "chemistry or physics doing its thing" should realise that. So, let's consider something that is made the same as we are, dead people. Clearly it would be as idiotic to say "live people are made of the same stuff as dead people are and as dead people don't have free will, neither do live people" as it would be to say "dead people are made of the same stuff as live people are and as live people have free will, so do dead people".

To get an idea of how daft the claim that our behaviour is "chemistry or physics doing its thing" consider three things: 1. physicists and chemists themselves will tell you that they cannot derive human behaviour from these sciences, 2. chess can be played using any physical medium in which the moves can be encoded and in a game of chess there can be a forced move, so, either the rules of chess are some manner of uber-laws of physics and chemistry that apply regardless of the physical medium or activities like playing chess are independent of laws of physics and chemistry, 3. we cannot derive from facts about the world and laws of chemistry and physics where a person will be several weeks from now, but by rolling dice we can find in which of six places, which of six people will be, on which of six days in which of six future weeks and which of six activities they will be conducting. Again, either their actions are independent of laws of chemistry and physics, or we can do what the scientists admit that they can't do, by rolling dice. Notice that following the instructors of who, where, when and what, as indicated by the dice, is equivalent to recording the result of the sequence of dice rolls. In short, it is a requirement, for the conduct of empirical science, that the behaviour of people is not entailed by any empirical science, so it is barking nonsense to hold that our behaviour is "chemistry or physics doing its thing".
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Re: Free Will

#4645  Postby LucidFlight » Jan 10, 2017 9:22 am

Dice obey the laws of physics, whether or not we can currently empirically predict their behaviour.

(Not sure why I typed that, but there it is.)

ETA

Side point: if the universe is a simulation (albeit a super-complex one beyond our comprehension), perhaps in some higher-dimensional form, the activities of said people in the future could very well be known, at least with some statistical certainty, depending on the stochastic nature of fundamental events.
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Re: Free Will

#4646  Postby ughaibu » Jan 10, 2017 9:41 am

LucidFlight wrote:Dice obey the laws of physics, whether or not we can currently empirically predict their behaviour.
Let's be quite clear about this. According to the "[all my behaviour] is chemistry or physics doing its thing" view, there are laws of chemistry and physics that entail things like "at 9:20 Ughaibu will open a can of Kinmugi", this is supposedly a fact about the world. If I write down some times and map them to faces of a die, 1-9:10, 2-9:20, 3-9:30, 4-9:40, 5-9:50, 6-10:00, are you contending that if I roll the dice, the fact that the laws of chemistry and physics entail that I'm going to open the beer at 9:20 also entail that the dice will land with the 2-face up? If so, why don't chemists and physicists use this method to solve problems? They could just write down the possible solutions, which of course they could make up as they like, then roll dice to find which is correct.

Surely you people must have gone well past the point where free will denial commits you to things so fantastically daft that you can see for yourselves how ridiculous the position is.
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Re: Free Will

#4647  Postby LucidFlight » Jan 10, 2017 9:46 am

Yes, I get your point. See my edit above. Many thanks for your input :)

ETA (sorry about all the ETAs, I'm dancing between work and forum threads here, and my brain is all over the place)

Computationally, I imagine it would be quite intensive to collect and calculate all the data required to find out if my mate, Bob, is headed to the pub at 8:30 pm this evening. This might have something to do with why physicists don't indulge in such empirical activities. Measuring the spin of all those electrons must be a daunting task, let alone the problems inherent in measuring anything to do with quantum mechanics.
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Re: Free Will

#4648  Postby Pebble » Jan 10, 2017 10:21 pm

ughaibu wrote:
romansh wrote:even in the realm of where I think I control them it is chemistry or physics doing its thing. Ultimately it is like saying a meandering river over plain chose its course based on the water flow, topology, geology ... it had free will in choosing its path ... it had no compulsion. The same fundamental forces that apply to the river that apply to us.
It's pretty obvious that we don't behave much like rivers, but as we're made very differently, even someone who thinks that their behaviour is just "chemistry or physics doing its thing" should realise that. So, let's consider something that is made the same as we are, dead people. Clearly it would be as idiotic to say "live people are made of the same stuff as dead people are and as dead people don't have free will, neither do live people" as it would be to say "dead people are made of the same stuff as live people are and as live people have free will, so do dead people".

To get an idea of how daft the claim that our behaviour is "chemistry or physics doing its thing" consider three things: 1. physicists and chemists themselves will tell you that they cannot derive human behaviour from these sciences, 2. chess can be played using any physical medium in which the moves can be encoded and in a game of chess there can be a forced move, so, either the rules of chess are some manner of uber-laws of physics and chemistry that apply regardless of the physical medium or activities like playing chess are independent of laws of physics and chemistry, 3. we cannot derive from facts about the world and laws of chemistry and physics where a person will be several weeks from now, but by rolling dice we can find in which of six places, which of six people will be, on which of six days in which of six future weeks and which of six activities they will be conducting. Again, either their actions are independent of laws of chemistry and physics, or we can do what the scientists admit that they can't do, by rolling dice. Notice that following the instructors of who, where, when and what, as indicated by the dice, is equivalent to recording the result of the sequence of dice rolls. In short, it is a requirement, for the conduct of empirical science, that the behaviour of people is not entailed by any empirical science, so it is barking nonsense to hold that our behaviour is "chemistry or physics doing its thing".



Are you sure? Weather is physics and chemistry doing its thing. In terms of predicting the future the best we can do is having 50 models computing available data, and average the results. So this tells you about the inadequacy of our current models, not that physics and chemistry are inappropriate tools.
WHen it comes to human behaviour, we have nothing like the starting dataset we presently have for weather, and even if we did have, the required dataset for predictions is probably a lot more complicated. So it is reasonable to postulate that we are presently so far from an understanding of the inputs/interactions/modifying factors involved that we could not even begin to construct a reliable predictive model.
Yet it is clear that at a basic neuronal level that is the only viable model, so scaling up is the only reasonable hypothesis in the market.
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Re: Free Will

#4649  Postby romansh » Jan 11, 2017 2:46 am

ughaibu wrote: 1. physicists and chemists themselves will tell you that they cannot derive human behaviour from these sciences,

I don't recall claiming they did. I don't recall claiming anything about chemists and physicists, at least not recently. I would agree with these scientists that deriving models from chemistry and physics first principles would be nonsense, should they claim that. But the question you could have asked is, is the chemistry and physics going on in our brains the immediate cause of any behaviours we might have?

ughaibu wrote:2. chess can be played using any physical medium in which the moves can be encoded and in a game of chess there can be a forced move, so, either the rules of chess are some manner of uber-laws of physics and chemistry that apply regardless of the physical medium or activities like playing chess are independent of laws of physics and chemistry,

You made a mistake ughaibu, I have not claimed we or chess pieces are governed by the laws chemistry and physics. Only that these laws are descriptions of the chemistry and physics we observe. The movement of chess pieces by and larger are described by rules of chess. Except when they are being put away in a box. Here physics might be a better descriptor.

ughaibu wrote:3. we cannot derive from facts about the world and laws of chemistry and physics where a person will be several weeks from now,

Yes the universe appears to be chaotic. I would agree cannot derive facts ... we are more likely to observe them or define them into existence. But the fact that our brain chemistry (and physics) appears be determined by probabilistic phenomena in no way allows me to have a sense of free will.
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Re: Free Will

#4650  Postby ughaibu » Jan 11, 2017 4:00 am

romansh wrote:the fact that our brain chemistry (and physics) appears be determined by probabilistic phenomena in no way allows me to have a sense of free will.
ughaibu wrote:Notice that following the instructors of who, where, when and what, as indicated by the dice, is equivalent to recording the result of the sequence of dice rolls. In short, it is a requirement, for the conduct of empirical science, that the behaviour of people is not entailed by any empirical science, so it is barking nonsense to hold that our behaviour is "chemistry or physics doing its thing".
But as I demonstrated, the probability that all human behaviour is "chemistry and physics doing its thing" is infinitely small, and the probability of this human behaviour being a matter of chance is also infinitely small. And as this is a requirement for the human behaviour that we call "empirical science", to claim that it is in conflict with any empirical science entails a contradiction.
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Re: Free Will

#4651  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 11, 2017 7:27 am

ughaibu wrote:But as I demonstrated, the probability that all human behaviour is "chemistry and physics doing its thing" is infinitely small, and the probability of this human behaviour being a matter of chance is also infinitely small. And as this is a requirement for the human behaviour that we call "empirical science", to claim that it is in conflict with any empirical science entails a contradiction.


Did you think you could actually convince somebody to take one viewpoint or the other simply by asserting it aggressively out of your rear end? Because, as pointed out elsewhere, you seem not willing to let the matter rest.

If it's not my choice to accept or dismiss free will, which after all is philosophy and not science, why should I make special exceptions for the choices that are left me? If I don't accept free will, then I'll go on regarding my choices in retrospect as having been necessary. But that sure saves time and energy in the regrets department. I half think that you go on wanking your free will thesis because you like the ideas of regret and guilt better than you like the idea of choosing freely.

the probability that all human behaviour is "chemistry and physics doing its thing" is infinitely small


That's not quite theology, yet, ughaibu, because you haven't mentioned god or karma, but it's fucking close. You either dismiss supernatural agency or you don't. What you can't do with chemistry and physics is predict human behavior to a T, using quantum mechanics, because it's simply fucking inappropriate to try. Trying everything else has proved inappropriate so far, as well, so we're cast upon thge semantics of 'infinitely small" for a probability you cannot evaluate. You apparently regard the failure of quantitative methods as an excuse to blow assertions out of your arse, just like everybody else does who feels he has to have a say about it.
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Re: Free Will

#4652  Postby GrahamH » Jan 11, 2017 3:34 pm

ughaibu wrote:
LucidFlight wrote:Dice obey the laws of physics, whether or not we can currently empirically predict their behaviour.
Let's be quite clear about this. According to the "[all my behaviour] is chemistry or physics doing its thing" view, there are laws of chemistry and physics that entail things like "at 9:20 Ughaibu will open a can of Kinmugi", this is supposedly a fact about the world. If I write down some times and map them to faces of a die, 1-9:10, 2-9:20, 3-9:30, 4-9:40, 5-9:50, 6-10:00, are you contending that if I roll the dice, the fact that the laws of chemistry and physics entail that I'm going to open the beer at 9:20 also entail that the dice will land with the 2-face up? If so, why don't chemists and physicists use this method to solve problems? They could just write down the possible solutions, which of course they could make up as they like, then roll dice to find which is correct.

Surely you people must have gone well past the point where free will denial commits you to things so fantastically daft that you can see for yourselves how ridiculous the position is.


Well done, you have opened 2017 with one of the stupidest posts I've seen on a philosophy forum. It's gibberish made of straw. Maybe you've had a few too many beers.
Why do you think that?
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Re: Free Will

#4653  Postby ughaibu » Jan 13, 2017 2:20 pm

Pebble wrote:
ughaibu wrote:it is barking nonsense to hold that our behaviour is "chemistry or physics doing its thing".
Are you sure?
Yes. As explained above, if all human behaviour is "chemistry and physics doing its thing", then in principle, it would be possible to derive, from laws of chemistry or physics, all behaviour of human beings. But this cannot be done, even in principle, because chemistry and physics are examples of empirical sciences and no empirical science can entail all human behaviour.
Empirical science cannot be conducted unless researchers can accurately and consistently record their observations according to arbitrarily defined conventions. For example, if a researcher defines the observed value of a specified phenomenon to be "-1", they will not be able to conduct their science if upon observing the indicated phenomenon they write "+1". Now, imagine a researcher who has access to the set of laws of some empirical science that entails all human behaviour, and a sufficient description of the universe of interest, sufficient computing power, etc. That researcher would be able to stick the required input into a computer and get an answer to the question "after observing the result of the computation, which will I write earliest "-1" or "+1"?" But the researcher can set as their recording procedure the following: if the computation predicts "-1", record this by immediately writing "+1", and if the computation predicts "+1", record this by immediately writing "-1".
So, the only way to have an empirical science with laws that entail all human behaviour is to lose the ability to conduct empirical science. In short, no empirical science can have laws that entail all human behaviour.
Pebble wrote:Yet it is clear that at a basic neuronal level that is the only viable model, so scaling up is the only reasonable hypothesis in the market.
Chemistry and physics are concerned only with those phenomena that can form the subject of an experiment in the sciences of chemistry or physics. There is no reason to think that they are any more relevant to the free will debate than anthropology, psychology or sociology are. In all cases we are talking about human activities that include the assumption that their practitioners have free will. Accordingly, no empirical science could ever consistently show that there is no free will, but neither could any ever show that there is free will. Basically, science is irrelevant to the discussion, but none of this should be a surprise because determinism, the thesis most relevant to the debate, is a stance apropos mooted laws of nature, and these are emphatically not laws of science.
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Re: Free Will

#4654  Postby Sendraks » Jan 13, 2017 2:37 pm

ughaibu wrote:Yes. As explained above, if all human behaviour is "chemistry and physics doing its thing", then in principle, it would be possible to derive, from laws of chemistry or physics, all behaviour of human beings. But this cannot be done, even in principle, because chemistry and physics are examples of empirical sciences and no empirical science can entail all human behaviour.


Blind, counterfactual, assertion. Nothing more than appeal to incredulity and god of gaps.

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Re: Free Will

#4655  Postby archibald » Jan 13, 2017 2:45 pm

ughaibu wrote: Now, imagine a researcher who has access to the set of laws of some empirical science that entails all human behaviour, and a sufficient description of the universe of interest, sufficient computing power, etc. That researcher would be able to stick the required input into a computer and get an answer to the question "after observing the result of the computation, which will I write earliest "-1" or "+1"?" But the researcher can set as their recording procedure the following: if the computation predicts "-1", record this by immediately writing "+1", and if the computation predicts "+1", record this by immediately writing "-1".


If the researcher didn't include his recording procedure in the input, that would make the input incomplete?
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Re: Free Will

#4656  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 13, 2017 2:48 pm

ughaibu wrote:As explained above, if all human behaviour is "chemistry and physics doing its thing", then in principle, it would be possible to derive, from laws of chemistry or physics, all behaviour of human beings.


You're hedging, there, with the words 'in principle'. It's a computationally-intractable problem, and we don't have to assume anything more than chemistry and physics. Not because there's hidden woo, but because of combinatorial complexity. Surely you understand enough about 'derivation' to know that combinatorial complexity prevents you from deriving it before the heat death of the universe. Unless, of course, you mean "in principle, with magic computations involving magic beans" or "magic computation that extends beyond the heat death of the universe". If you think there's an 'in principle' that allows that, let's hear the principle.
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Re: Free Will

#4657  Postby archibald » Jan 13, 2017 2:51 pm

ughaibu wrote:.... if all human behaviour is "chemistry and physics doing its thing", then in principle, it would be possible to derive, from laws of chemistry or physics, all behaviour of human beings. But this cannot be done, even in principle, because chemistry and physics are examples of empirical sciences and no empirical science can entail all human behaviour.


As Sendraks said, we do not yet know the limits of what science can achieve.

But even if it turned out to be the case that human behaviour was too complex to predict, that would not call for anything other than physics/chemistry. It would just mean that it is unpredictable. See: stochastic and random.
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Re: Free Will

#4658  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 13, 2017 2:53 pm

archibald wrote:
ughaibu wrote:.... if all human behaviour is "chemistry and physics doing its thing", then in principle, it would be possible to derive, from laws of chemistry or physics, all behaviour of human beings. But this cannot be done, even in principle, because chemistry and physics are examples of empirical sciences and no empirical science can entail all human behaviour.


As Sendraks said, we do not yet know the limits of what science can achieve.

But even if it turned out to be the case that human behaviour was too complex to predict, that would not call for anything other than physics/chemistry. It would just mean that it is unpredictable. See: stochastic and random.


We do know what computationally-intractable problems are, and having a bunch of beardy guys sit around cogitating about human behavior is not likely to have more success than trying to compute it. You've seen what the beardy guys have come up with so far. You never know, though. Maybe there's still some magic left in pure cogitation.
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Re: Free Will

#4659  Postby archibald » Jan 13, 2017 3:00 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:We do know what computationally-intractable problems are, and having a bunch of beardy guys sit around cogitating about human behavior is not likely to have more success than trying to compute it. You've seen what the beardy guys have come up with so far. You never know, though. Maybe there's still some magic left in pure cogitation.


Is this a prelude to another song track?
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Re: Free Will

#4660  Postby archibald » Jan 13, 2017 3:03 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:We do know what computationally-intractable problems are, and having a bunch of beardy guys sit around cogitating about human behavior is not likely to have more success than trying to compute it.


I didn't know this. But I now see the following:

"...consider a program that makes 2n operations before halting. For small n, say 100, and assuming for the sake of example that the computer does 1012 operations each second, the program would run for about 4 × 1010 years, which is the same order of magnitude as the age of the universe.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computati ... actability
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