Free Will

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Re: Free Will

#61  Postby Audley Strange » Mar 19, 2010 1:33 pm

Teuton wrote:
Well, in my view...


That's fine.

Teuton wrote: a concept is what is expressed by a set of intra- and interlinguistically synonymous predicates and what represents one or many properties. Not all concepts represent real, existent properties. (Some philosophers think that properties can exist even if nothing exists that has them, but I deny this.) For example, the concept <unicorn> is expressed by the predicate "is a unicorn" and it represents the property of being a unicorn. But since no unicorns exist, the property of being a unicorn doesn't exist either. But this certainly doesn't mean that the corresponding concept and predicate(s) are nonexistent too.


No the concept of the unicorn exists but the concept is meaningless since it cannot be defined only described. There is absolutely no reason to talk about it, let alone discuss its migratory habits.

Edit.

So there are no such things as unicorns thus they cannot be defined. Sure one can describe an imagined construct, but it is meaningless. Which takes me way back to my original points about free will and evil.
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Re: Free Will

#62  Postby Nocterro » Mar 19, 2010 2:03 pm

Comte de St.-Germain wrote:

You have to love inept authors. In their attempts of a definition, they invoke so much many concepts they know nothing about the definition crumbles before it is completed. 'Rational agents'? What's a 'rational agent' and has anyone ever met one?


Inept? Let's go through the author's Curriculum Vitae, shall we? (http://php.indiana.edu/~toconnor/)

-PhD from Cornell University. (Dissertation: "Some Puzzles About Free Agency," xviii + 303 pp.)
-Eight academic positions.
-Ten research fellowships.
-Three teaching awards.
-Six book publications.
-Thirty-six peer-reviewed articles.
-Ninteen college-level courses taught (Seven of which are at the graduate level, including "Free Will" and "Skepticism")
-PhD thesis director nine times

Comte, if this were biology, Tim O'Connor would be Richard Dawkins, and you would be Kent Hovind.
"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -Siddhārtha Gautama
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Re: Free Will

#63  Postby HughMcB » Mar 19, 2010 2:19 pm

...
"So we're just done with phrasing?"
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Re: Free Will

#64  Postby Nocterro » Mar 19, 2010 4:34 pm

HughMcB wrote:...


Good point?
"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -Siddhārtha Gautama
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Re: Free Will

#65  Postby HughMcB » Mar 19, 2010 5:21 pm

Nocterro wrote:
HughMcB wrote:...


Good point?

Bookmarking :grin:
"So we're just done with phrasing?"
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Re: Free Will

#66  Postby Teuton » Mar 19, 2010 6:48 pm

Audley Strange wrote:
No the concept of the unicorn exists but the concept is meaningless since it cannot be defined only described. There is absolutely no reason to talk about it, let alone discuss its migratory habits.
So there are no such things as unicorns thus they cannot be defined. Sure one can describe an imagined construct, but it is meaningless.


Concepts/predicates are describers; they describe objects—both real and imaginary, fictional ones.
By using meaningful, i.e. well-defined, concepts/predicates we can meaningfully talk about all kinds of fictional objects such as unicorns. Meaning is independent of reference!
"Perception does not exhaust our contact with reality; we can think too." – Timothy Williamson
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Re: Free Will

#67  Postby Comte de St.-Germain » Mar 19, 2010 6:57 pm

Nocterro wrote:
Comte de St.-Germain wrote:

You have to love inept authors. In their attempts of a definition, they invoke so much many concepts they know nothing about the definition crumbles before it is completed. 'Rational agents'? What's a 'rational agent' and has anyone ever met one?


Inept? Let's go through the author's Curriculum Vitae, shall we? (http://php.indiana.edu/~toconnor/)

-PhD from Cornell University. (Dissertation: "Some Puzzles About Free Agency," xviii + 303 pp.)
-Eight academic positions.
-Ten research fellowships.
-Three teaching awards.
-Six book publications.
-Thirty-six peer-reviewed articles.
-Ninteen college-level courses taught (Seven of which are at the graduate level, including "Free Will" and "Skepticism")
-PhD thesis director nine times

Comte, if this were biology, Tim O'Connor would be Richard Dawkins, and you would be Kent Hovind.


Richard Dawkins is hardly a player in biology. He may be influential and important as a science writer, but he's not very important within biology. His idea of memetics - which was later clarified more lucidly as an 'idea' not a research proposition or scientific concept - is although innovative highly problematic.
More importantly, although name-dropping is well accepted in science, in philosophy it is a whole different matter. You didn't respond to my point about his definition.

As for likening me to Kent Hovind, that's rather silly and doesn't do your argument much good. I'm very much competent to speak on free will, psychological determinism, scientific research on that question and other topics - I doubt anyone serious will contest that here.

katja z. Not exactly the references I was thinking of, but they are more useful in this context, I suppose. Thanks FBM!
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Re: Free Will

#68  Postby shh » Mar 19, 2010 8:38 pm

Comte de saint Germain wrote:His idea of memetics - which was later clarified more lucidly as an 'idea' not a research proposition or scientific concept - is although innovative highly problematic.
Isn't a meme just a myth with some sciencey sounding mythology attached? :scratch:
wiki wrote: despite the fact that chocolate is not a fruit[citation needed]
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Re: Free Will

#69  Postby Comte de St.-Germain » Mar 19, 2010 11:28 pm

shh wrote:
Comte de saint Germain wrote:His idea of memetics - which was later clarified more lucidly as an 'idea' not a research proposition or scientific concept - is although innovative highly problematic.
Isn't a meme just a myth with some sciencey sounding mythology attached? :scratch:


Well, yes, but it was new.
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Re: Free Will

#70  Postby FBM » Mar 20, 2010 7:06 am

katja z wrote:
FBM wrote:
katja z wrote:
Comte de St.-Germain wrote:
Anyway, Libet offered the idea of the veto himself. It has been rather solidly rebuked in an experimental setting as well.

Do you have any links? I'd be interested in reading up on this.


http://www.consciousentities.com/libet.htm

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/m-udi041408.php

Thanks FBM! :cheers:


Cheers! It's interesting stuff, eh?
"A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there. A theologian is the man who finds it." ~ H. L. Mencken
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Re: Free Will

#71  Postby Loren Michael » Mar 20, 2010 8:47 am

Teuton wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:I have never met a definition of free will that made any sense whatsoever.


"'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. Which sort is the free will sort is what all the fuss is about. (And what a fuss it has been: philosophers have debated this question for over two millenia, and just about every major philosopher has had something to say about it.)"

(http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill)

"'Free will' is the conventional name of a topic that is best discussed without reference to the will. Its central questions are 'What is it to act (or choose) freely?', and 'What is it to be morally responsible for one's actions (or choices)?' These two questions are closely connected, for freedom of action is necessary for moral responsibility, even if it is not sufficient."

("Free Will," by Galen Strawson. In The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig, 286-294. London: Routledge, 2005. p. 286)


Uh. Thanks for the examples?
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Re: Free Will

#72  Postby Audley Strange » Mar 20, 2010 2:00 pm

Teuton wrote:
Audley Strange wrote:
No the concept of the unicorn exists but the concept is meaningless since it cannot be defined only described. There is absolutely no reason to talk about it, let alone discuss its migratory habits.
So there are no such things as unicorns thus they cannot be defined. Sure one can describe an imagined construct, but it is meaningless.


Concepts/predicates are describers; they describe objects—both real and imaginary, fictional ones.
By using meaningful, i.e. well-defined, concepts/predicates we can meaningfully talk about all kinds of fictional objects such as unicorns. Meaning is independent of reference!



A description is NOT a definition.

Anyway I disagree. You certainly can make noises about fictional concepts but that is all you are doing, you can claim meaning if you wish but thats just making noises about noises. I consider that nonsensical at best, a form of intellectual masturbation at worst.

Your last statement, in bold no less, says it all. Making up up shit and convincing oneself and others that such shit is valid without a reference to anything other than the imagination of those who fall for it is why much of philosophy is akin to a bad joke.
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Re: Free Will

#73  Postby susu.exp » Mar 21, 2010 11:35 pm

I´d be interested in Audley laying out an epistemological approach to figuring out what is "real". It´s a term that´s been thrown around without proper definition. Crucially it can be subjected to the very same objections Audley has brought up about other concepts like "evil", "good", etc. Following AS reasoning "real" doesn´t refer to something "real" either. It´s a short path to solipsism.

On the subject of free will, a lot of muddled thinking exists. IMHO it does exist, simply because decisions of organisms are unpredictable and principally so. Yes, we can show in the lab that humans make decision before they become aware of them. Yet, they make these decisions. There are some things worth noting here:
a) Violations of the Bell inequality point towards a non-deterministic universe. This means that there are truly unpredictable events in nature (though the probabilities with which they occur can be predicted).
b) Neural networks in living organisms are built on thermodynamics, and thus are stochastic systems. It is easy to make them less reliable by reducing the concentrations of neurotransmitters.
c) Unpredictability is a survival-ading strategy. For a very simple case, let´s consider a mouse chased by a cat. I could turn left, it could turn right. If there was a deterministic mechanism for the mouses movement, cats would have evolved an optimal response - evolution can pick up effects that are very small and near indetectable. The optimal strategy for the mouse is to turn either way with a 50% probability. That way the cat has only a 50% of making the right choice. Because it is so easy to make neural networks unreliable and a certain amount of unreliability is beneficial it´d be highly unlikely not to have free will in this sense.
d) Orgasms feel good. The reason they do is because it increases the rate of replication of a gene making orgasms feel good, if the carrier has more sex than a carrier of an alternative. If the carrier does not make choices, then there´s no reason for orgasms to feel good. And while I tend to consider non-adaptionist options, the number of things that feel good (orgasms, love, a good nights sleep) is an argument against them being neutral.
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Re: Free Will

#74  Postby Loren Michael » Mar 21, 2010 11:54 pm

susu.exp wrote:I´d be interested in Audley laying out an epistemological approach to figuring out what is "real". It´s a term that´s been thrown around without proper definition. Crucially it can be subjected to the very same objections Audley has brought up about other concepts like "evil", "good", etc. Following AS reasoning "real" doesn´t refer to something "real" either. It´s a short path to solipsism.

On the subject of free will, a lot of muddled thinking exists. IMHO it does exist, simply because decisions of organisms are unpredictable and principally so. Yes, we can show in the lab that humans make decision before they become aware of them. Yet, they make these decisions. There are some things worth noting here:
a) Violations of the Bell inequality point towards a non-deterministic universe. This means that there are truly unpredictable events in nature (though the probabilities with which they occur can be predicted).
b) Neural networks in living organisms are built on thermodynamics, and thus are stochastic systems. It is easy to make them less reliable by reducing the concentrations of neurotransmitters.
c) Unpredictability is a survival-ading strategy. For a very simple case, let´s consider a mouse chased by a cat. I could turn left, it could turn right. If there was a deterministic mechanism for the mouses movement, cats would have evolved an optimal response - evolution can pick up effects that are very small and near indetectable. The optimal strategy for the mouse is to turn either way with a 50% probability. That way the cat has only a 50% of making the right choice. Because it is so easy to make neural networks unreliable and a certain amount of unreliability is beneficial it´d be highly unlikely not to have free will in this sense.
d) Orgasms feel good. The reason they do is because it increases the rate of replication of a gene making orgasms feel good, if the carrier has more sex than a carrier of an alternative. If the carrier does not make choices, then there´s no reason for orgasms to feel good. And while I tend to consider non-adaptionist options, the number of things that feel good (orgasms, love, a good nights sleep) is an argument against them being neutral.


How is any of that not simply acting randomly? Or are you defining free will as acting randomly?
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Re: Free Will

#75  Postby susu.exp » Mar 22, 2010 12:15 am

Loren Michael wrote:How is any of that not simply acting randomly? Or are you defining free will as acting randomly?


Define "random" (it´s something you can open big cans of worms about). But yes, not being predictable is precisely what free will boils down to and the argument laid out by shows that the universe allows unpredictability and that evolution is very likely to produce organisms that employ the unpredictability of some natural processes particularly on a subatomic scale to be unpredictabie on a macroscopic scale.

The "big" issues surrounding free will tend to come about by half-assed approaches, generally assuming both monism and dualism or assuming free will and no free will. Questions like "Should we punish a muderer if his brain actually did it?" are nonsensical because they assume contradictory positions to begin with (in this case that the murder had no free will, but we do when we decide whether to punish or not).
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Re: Free Will

#76  Postby Mr.Samsa » Mar 22, 2010 12:23 am

susu.exp wrote:
On the subject of free will, a lot of muddled thinking exists. IMHO it does exist, simply because decisions of organisms are unpredictable and principally so. Yes, we can show in the lab that humans make decision before they become aware of them. Yet, they make these decisions. There are some things worth noting here:
a) Violations of the Bell inequality point towards a non-deterministic universe. This means that there are truly unpredictable events in nature (though the probabilities with which they occur can be predicted).
b) Neural networks in living organisms are built on thermodynamics, and thus are stochastic systems. It is easy to make them less reliable by reducing the concentrations of neurotransmitters.
c) Unpredictability is a survival-ading strategy. For a very simple case, let´s consider a mouse chased by a cat. I could turn left, it could turn right. If there was a deterministic mechanism for the mouses movement, cats would have evolved an optimal response - evolution can pick up effects that are very small and near indetectable. The optimal strategy for the mouse is to turn either way with a 50% probability. That way the cat has only a 50% of making the right choice. Because it is so easy to make neural networks unreliable and a certain amount of unreliability is beneficial it´d be highly unlikely not to have free will in this sense.
d) Orgasms feel good. The reason they do is because it increases the rate of replication of a gene making orgasms feel good, if the carrier has more sex than a carrier of an alternative. If the carrier does not make choices, then there´s no reason for orgasms to feel good. And while I tend to consider non-adaptionist options, the number of things that feel good (orgasms, love, a good nights sleep) is an argument against them being neutral.


I have to agree with Loren's comments above - you seem to be defining free will as 'unpredictability'. Whilst it's true that free will necessarily entails an element of unpredictability, it's not necessarily true that unpredictability entails free will.

I have to disagree with your statements about humans and animals being unpredictable though (in the sense that they are entirely unpredictable). If you simply mean that there will always be some error variance in an otherwise highly predictable system, then I'd agree but you don't seem to be suggesting this. This part in particular is wrong:

c) Unpredictability is a survival-ading strategy. For a very simple case, let´s consider a mouse chased by a cat. I could turn left, it could turn right. If there was a deterministic mechanism for the mouses movement, cats would have evolved an optimal response - evolution can pick up effects that are very small and near indetectable. The optimal strategy for the mouse is to turn either way with a 50% probability. That way the cat has only a 50% of making the right choice. Because it is so easy to make neural networks unreliable and a certain amount of unreliability is beneficial it´d be highly unlikely not to have free will in this sense.


Mice don't turn either way with a 50% probability - the probability of the direction they choose is determined partially by genetic factors but also environmental history. That's why when we put mice in a T-maze we can reliably predict their movements between 95-100% of the time as we can control the variables that determine their choices (the same applies to humans in similar situations as well). You'll also finds that cats (and all animals) are able to predict the behavior of other animals quite successfully, the only limiting factor is the amount of experience they have with that individual animal and that particular situation.

So the question is not whether animals/humans are unpredictable or predictable, the only question is whether the slight error variance we get in behavioral experiments is enough to warrant positing a model of free will to explain it or whether should we assume this is a result of confounding/unknown variables until evidence for free will appears.
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Re: Free Will

#77  Postby Loren Michael » Mar 22, 2010 1:09 am

"Free will" suffers from a massive definitional problem. Let's step back a bit: what is "will" and what is it free from? I don't think "randomness" is a very suitable answer to either of these. "Free from predictability" doesn't seem like it's even worth mentioning. The universe is complex enough that even if it were strictly, classically deterministic it would still be impossible to make accurate predictions beyond extremely narrow confines.
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Re: Free Will

#78  Postby Comte de St.-Germain » Mar 22, 2010 1:20 am

Mr Samsa,

What you have described is why I - in my few comments about Free Will - have always maintained a 'psychological determinism'. This immediately cuts off the nonsense about quantum mechanics, because determinism is emergent at higher levels.

An example I like to use is an ocean and a raft. At open sea, the water behaves quite erratic and to humans, unpredictable. And yet, a raft or boat or ship, we can walk across the deck with little effort. The stability of the deck, the predictability of its stability is emergent.
An imperfect analogy, of course, but I think it makes the point.

The argument then goes on to make the same points you do, and the consequence - quite clearly - is a demolition of the idea of free will. We don't need Libet or subsequent authors, and in fact, I never really liked Libet because he seemed quite anxious to believe in this sort of nonsense.
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Re: Free Will

#79  Postby Mr.Samsa » Mar 22, 2010 1:30 am

Good points, Comte. :nod:

And I definitely agree with your comments on Libet. His desperate concept of "free won't" makes me cringe every time I hear it.
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Re: Free Will

#80  Postby mizvekov » Mar 22, 2010 3:39 am

Comte de St.-Germain wrote:Mr Samsa,

What you have described is why I - in my few comments about Free Will - have always maintained a 'psychological determinism'. This immediately cuts off the nonsense about quantum mechanics, because determinism is emergent at higher levels.

Just because you say it exists, doesn't make it so.
Where is the evidence for this 'psychological determinism' ?????
Is there such a thing as a deterministic model in the field of psychology that makes a prediction about anything at all, better than any other stochastic model?

Comte de St.-Germain wrote:
An example I like to use is an ocean and a raft. At open sea, the water behaves quite erratic and to humans, unpredictable. And yet, a raft or boat or ship, we can walk across the deck with little effort. The stability of the deck, the predictability of its stability is emergent.
An imperfect analogy, of course, but I think it makes the point.

Well bad analogy, and it serves to illustrate the opposite point that at any time waves can add up constructively, like in the case of rogue waves, and they can be big enough to tip the boat over.
If we take it that the waves are random, then the position of the boat is also random, however unlikely it is that it would go kaput.

So, where is the deterministic model, or do I take that this position of yours is not founded on science at all?

Comte de St.-Germain wrote:
The argument then goes on to make the same points you do, and the consequence - quite clearly - is a demolition of the idea of free will. We don't need Libet or subsequent authors, and in fact, I never really liked Libet because he seemed quite anxious to believe in this sort of nonsense.


Well, on the topic of free will itself, I guess it depends on how one defines it. Susu's definition as deterministic is the only one I can think of that makes any sense.
What is the alternative?
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