Free Will

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Re: Free Will

#8941  Postby zoon » Aug 23, 2017 8:27 am

GrahamH wrote:
scott1328 wrote:Why are you puzzled. I have posted several times that free will is predicated upon predictability of outcome, and weighing of consequences, without which an agent cannot be said to have made a free choice. The agent's own impression of the situation notwithstanding.


Perhaps because free will is about the capacity to be unpredictable to others, to not slavishly follow the rules and 'do the right thing'
If humans are too predictable it erodes the concept, but we could have significant chaos and still believe in free will as long as people do what they think or say they will do.

For practical purposes of the law and in ordinary usage, free will is only ascribed to people where they are neither entirely predictable (as in falling), or entirely unpredictable, as in some forms of mental illness. I think it’s where people are trusted to stay in line with the local moral rules most of the time, but not enough is known about brain mechanisms to predict them with deadly accuracy (which might happen eventually if neuroscience continues at its present rate).

scott1328 wrote:An agent has free will if that agent has the capacity to evaluate and predict the outcome of its choices and identify and weigh foreseeable outcomes. An agent has made use of its free will if it is able to apply its prediction and evaluation capabilities when choosing a course of action.

Choices are caused as is everything else in the universe. Because choices are caused one agent can predict the choices another agent will make. That some agent might be able to predict what another agent might do, does not take away that other agent's free will.


There would be a grey area, where someone is predicted but still acts without coercion. My feeling is that if people were predicted accurately as a matter of course by tracking brain mechanisms, then we would also be influencing/controlling each other in detail, and social life in general would be extremely different in many ways, there would be far less sense of individual identity.

Moral thinking is about using rewards and punishments to influence people; this is a somewhat indirect method of social control, and would be likely to become irrelevant if brain mechanisms were understood in detail and could be predicted and manipulated directly. At that point, free will would also be irrelevant.

?
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Re: Free Will

#8942  Postby GrahamH » Aug 23, 2017 8:57 am

zoon wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
scott1328 wrote:Why are you puzzled. I have posted several times that free will is predicated upon predictability of outcome, and weighing of consequences, without which an agent cannot be said to have made a free choice. The agent's own impression of the situation notwithstanding.


Perhaps because free will is about the capacity to be unpredictable to others, to not slavishly follow the rules and 'do the right thing'
If humans are too predictable it erodes the concept, but we could have significant chaos and still believe in free will as long as people do what they think or say they will do.

For practical purposes of the law and in ordinary usage, free will is only ascribed to people where they are neither entirely predictable (as in falling), or entirely unpredictable, as in some forms of mental illness. I think it’s where people are trusted to stay in line with the local moral rules most of the time, but not enough is known about brain mechanisms to predict them with deadly accuracy (which might happen eventually if neuroscience continues at its present rate).
?


In fact the issue arises when people act in ways that are not expected. We can't accurately predict crime and when agents act in those ways that were not predicted there is a presumption that they did so by their free will. People obeying the rules might be doing so by free will, but the question doesn't arise, does it? They are doing what they are told to do, what they are coerced to do (crime will be punished), what they are trained to do. They behave just as an zombie without free will would behave.
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Re: Free Will

#8943  Postby scott1328 » Aug 23, 2017 11:25 am

Where in my formulation did I say that the agent makes the right choice, or that it even considers the right choice?
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Re: Free Will

#8944  Postby zoon » Aug 23, 2017 12:55 pm

scott1328 wrote:Where in my formulation did I say that the agent makes the right choice, or that it even considers the right choice?

Is this question addressed to me?
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Re: Free Will

#8945  Postby zoon » Aug 23, 2017 1:02 pm

GrahamH wrote:
zoon wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
scott1328 wrote:Why are you puzzled. I have posted several times that free will is predicated upon predictability of outcome, and weighing of consequences, without which an agent cannot be said to have made a free choice. The agent's own impression of the situation notwithstanding.


Perhaps because free will is about the capacity to be unpredictable to others, to not slavishly follow the rules and 'do the right thing'
If humans are too predictable it erodes the concept, but we could have significant chaos and still believe in free will as long as people do what they think or say they will do.

For practical purposes of the law and in ordinary usage, free will is only ascribed to people where they are neither entirely predictable (as in falling), or entirely unpredictable, as in some forms of mental illness. I think it’s where people are trusted to stay in line with the local moral rules most of the time, but not enough is known about brain mechanisms to predict them with deadly accuracy (which might happen eventually if neuroscience continues at its present rate).
?


In fact the issue arises when people act in ways that are not expected. We can't accurately predict crime and when agents act in those ways that were not predicted there is a presumption that they did so by their free will. People obeying the rules might be doing so by free will, but the question doesn't arise, does it? They are doing what they are told to do, what they are coerced to do (crime will be punished), what they are trained to do. They behave just as an zombie without free will would behave.

People are sometimes praised or rewarded for morally approved behaviour, which does imply free will as much as blaming and punishment, but it's not usually such a contentious issue. As you say, it's likely to happen where there's a likelihood that they or others will not behave so well, it's an attempt to influence future actions either of the agent or of onlookers.
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Re: Free Will

#8946  Postby GrahamH » Aug 23, 2017 1:29 pm

zoon wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
zoon wrote:
People are sometimes praised or rewarded for morally approved behaviour, which does imply free will as much as blaming and punishment, but it's not usually such a contentious issue. As you say, it's likely to happen where there's a likelihood that they or others will not behave so well, it's an attempt to influence future actions either of the agent or of onlookers.

You are right, and those cases that stand out are where the agent does something we did not predict. It's when we don't predict that free will figures.
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Re: Free Will

#8947  Postby scott1328 » Aug 23, 2017 1:49 pm

zoon wrote:
scott1328 wrote:Where in my formulation did I say that the agent makes the right choice, or that it even considers the right choice?

Is this question addressed to me?


no.
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Re: Free Will

#8948  Postby scott1328 » Aug 23, 2017 2:11 pm

GrahamH wrote:
zoon wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
zoon wrote:
People are sometimes praised or rewarded for morally approved behaviour, which does imply free will as much as blaming and punishment, but it's not usually such a contentious issue. As you say, it's likely to happen where there's a likelihood that they or others will not behave so well, it's an attempt to influence future actions either of the agent or of onlookers.

You are right, and those cases that stand out are where the agent does something we did not predict. It's when we don't predict that free will figures.

This doesn't even make any sense

Suppose psychologists are performing an experiment. To test an algorithmn that purports to predict whether test subjects will choose to eat a chocolate donut or a stick of celery. The test has gone amazingly well and predicts with 99% accuracy what a test subject will choose. The test works like this: a computer has the answers to the test subject's lengthy questionaire and also has the result of numerous physical tests such as: sex, height, weight, age, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels. The computer also has a hidden video camera on the subject who is alone in a room with no windows or one-way mirrors. The computer makes a prediction and then the subject is asked to pick either the donut or celery. The subject may refuse, may eat the donut, may eat the celery, or may eat both. In any case the computer's prediction was made before the subject was asked to choose.

Did those test subjects have free will?
What about those test subjects that the computer predicted incorrectly? Did only they have free will?

Suppose that a bug in the algorithm, only failed when the test subject refused, it just happens that 99% of people don't refuse? Is it that only the refusers have free will?

Suppose, that as part of the control, that the subjects are asked to make choices, but the computer algorithm is not run in advance. Did those subjects have free will. Suppose the subjects chose first and then the computer algorith was run, did those subjects have free will?
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Re: Free Will

#8949  Postby GrahamH » Aug 23, 2017 2:36 pm

scott1328 wrote:
Did those test subjects have free will?


It's not possible to measure free will, but my point is that predictability is not indicative of free will. Unpredictability is suggestive of it.
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Re: Free Will

#8950  Postby GrahamH » Aug 23, 2017 2:38 pm

dup
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Re: Free Will

#8951  Postby Matthew Shute » Aug 23, 2017 3:08 pm

GrahamH wrote:predictability is not indicative of free will. Unpredictability is suggestive.


I agree with the former but not the latter. Unpredictability could just suggest that we can't account for all the variables and mechanisms and failure of mechanisms that may be at work. Or that there are so many of these, and so many complicated and open-ended interactions between them, that we can't practically and reliably calculate a result, no matter how much processing power we're able to throw at it. It's suggestive that humans aren't simple bots.

As you say,

It's not possible to measure free will,


in part precisely because the degree of predictability doesn't tell us anything about it.

Hypothesis 1: person A has free will, but she freely chooses act according to an extremely predictable pattern.

Hypothesis 2: person B has no free will, but his behaviour is totally erratic and unpredictable.

The claim (that either person has/has no free will) is unfalsifiable, no? There's nothing to measure.
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Re: Free Will

#8952  Postby GrahamH » Aug 23, 2017 3:32 pm

Matthew Shute wrote:
GrahamH wrote:predictability is not indicative of free will. Unpredictability is suggestive.


I agree with the former but not the latter. Unpredictability could just suggest that we can't account for all the variables and mechanisms and failure of mechanisms that may be at work. Or that there are so many of these, and so many complicated and open-ended interactions between them, that we can't practically and reliably calculate a result, no matter how much processing power we're able to throw at it. It's suggestive that humans aren't simple bots.

As you say,

It's not possible to measure free will,


in part precisely because the degree of predictability doesn't tell us anything about it.

Hypothesis 1: person A has free will, but she freely chooses act according to an extremely predictable pattern.

Hypothesis 2: person B has no free will, but his behaviour is totally erratic and unpredictable.

The claim (that either person has/has no free will) is unfalsifiable, no? There's nothing to measure.


I agree with most of that. Predictability doesn't say anything about free will.

I don't suggest that being predictable shows a lack of free will, just that it doesn't provide any evidence for it.
As you say, there is nothing to measure.
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Re: Free Will

#8953  Postby GrahamH » Aug 23, 2017 4:14 pm

scott1328 wrote:
Did those test subjects have free will?


The test can't tell you that. All I'm saying is that being predictable like that doesn't demonstrate they have free will. It doesn't mean they don't have it. All you have is some predictive correlates for one option or the other. If you can force the subjects to chose one or the other by controlling their blood sugar levels that would show a some lack of free will in those specific conditions of the test. The tester would be covertly coercing the choice which is surely the opposite of free will.
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Re: Free Will

#8954  Postby felltoearth » Aug 23, 2017 4:35 pm

I still think the best place to test free will is within Evolution by Natural Selection. If Free Will exists it likely has an evolutionary advantage. I can't see it that way though as evolution depends on a natural order and rules.
We would have to agree on what Free Will is exactly, though.
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Re: Free Will

#8955  Postby archibald » Aug 24, 2017 8:12 am

felltoearth wrote:We would have to agree on what Free Will is exactly, though.


At last we're getting somerwhere. It's taken nearly 9000 posts in this thread alone, but it's finally been worth it.
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Re: Free Will

#8956  Postby Matthew Shute » Aug 24, 2017 9:59 am

archibald wrote:
felltoearth wrote:We would have to agree on what Free Will is exactly, though.


At last we're getting somerwhere. It's taken nearly 9000 posts in this thread alone, but it's finally been worth it.


I've only made variations on this point 50 times or so already. Maybe more, maybe fewer. It's a long thread.
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Re: Free Will

#8957  Postby felltoearth » Aug 25, 2017 2:05 am

archibald wrote:
felltoearth wrote:We would have to agree on what Free Will is exactly, though.


At last we're getting somerwhere. It's taken nearly 9000 posts in this thread alone, but it's finally been worth it.

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Re: Free Will

#8958  Postby romansh » Aug 26, 2017 1:13 am

scott1328 wrote: To me it is about prediction, oppurtunities, evaluation of oppurtunities, and consequences. To me, free will cannot exist unless cuase and effect are in full operation. Otherwise prediction of likely outcomes and consequences are impossible.

What degree of unpredictability does one need to exhibit for free will to seem a reasonable proposition?
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Re: Free Will

#8959  Postby scott1328 » Aug 26, 2017 5:58 am

You are quoting the wrong guy. Graham is the one that says that agent unpredictability is indicative of free will. I think whether or not an agent acts predictably is irrelevant.
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Re: Free Will

#8960  Postby GrahamH » Aug 26, 2017 9:33 am

romansh wrote:
scott1328 wrote: To me it is about prediction, oppurtunities, evaluation of oppurtunities, and consequences. To me, free will cannot exist unless cuase and effect are in full operation. Otherwise prediction of likely outcomes and consequences are impossible.

What degree of unpredictability does one need to exhibit for free will to seem a reasonable proposition?


You should ask scott about how predictable people need to be to be candidates for free will agents.

It seems to me predictability could be almost anything and make no difference to ideas of free will as long as what agents notice about what they think they will do correlates more strongly with their actions than chance. That gives the impression that intentional thought is itself a cause of actions, which is the core idea of [free] will.

I don't have an answer except to say that the more predictable from prior conditions an agent is the less free they are. I think you will agree that is people are 100% predictable from prior conditions they are fully coerced in their actions and can be said to have no free will in the usual sense.

We can make a special case where some of those conditions are in the brains of the agents and say that that is part of the agent making a choice, but that's a bit arbitrary.

I don't
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