3
   

Absolute determinism and the illusion of free will.

 
 
shakeer
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Dec, 2003 09:41 pm
lolo
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Dec, 2003 10:02 pm
welcome to ak2 jonat and shakeer. what's so funny?

that's pretty insightful of you. freewill can't exist without some element of randomness to the universe. and i'm not convinced this is the case.
0 Replies
 
jonat3
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Dec, 2003 10:10 pm
Hehe, glad to be here. I came over from the ign boards. While that board has the most activity i've ever encountered, i require some intellectual exercise. :wink:
0 Replies
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2003 10:06 am
Centroles, computers always get 4 when they add 2 and 2. We both have basically the same hardware, and presumably similar minds which feed us much the same data on personal awareness. Granted we have had different experiences, education, and religious indoctrination, but I would still expect us to come to the same conclusion about the existence of free will IF we were nothing more than machines.

I agree that consciousness and self-awareness stem entirely from brain hardware modified by sensory input and information stored in memory. (A very good book on the subject is "The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness" by Antonio Damasio). But if they are illusions, exactly who or what is experiencing the illusion, and for what purpose?

I have no doubt that we can design a computer that can respond to stimuli and predict future behavior, but I do not think computers will ever have consciousness or be able to empathize with other beings.

We do not just respond to stimuli, we think about our response. The brain generates some thing that can take all of the data available to it and decide between courses of action, sometimes not the best course because emotion and gut feelings overrule logic. Although we could build circuits that would respond "as if" they experienced emotion, my guess is that machines will never actually "feel" the emotions of fear, anger or joy. They will never worry, never cry, but they won't ever know they are loved either.

A machine could analyze a chocolate bar and produce a ream of data about chemical composition, sweetness, creaminess, and numbers of aromatic molecules, but it could never actually experience the taste of chocolate. Free will allows us to make the choice between temptation and concern about health.
0 Replies
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2003 10:07 am
Jonat3, Why do we need a god for good and evil to exist? IMO, evil is deliberately causing unnecessary pain to another being. Good is choosing to override self-interest for the benefit of others. No deity is involved, just empathy and a sense of ethics.
0 Replies
 
jonat3
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Dec, 2003 10:22 am
Terry, we are the same species, but we definately have not the same hardware. Slight changes in DNA can have tremendous effects on how a person develops.

And also, a computer may not be able to feel emotions, however, emotions can be considered the control programs of the human mind. They in part can dictate our actions. What you refer as being self conscious may be an illusion.
For free will to exist, there must be randomness in physics. Otherwise all our actions could be explained down to subatomic level.

Quote:
Jonat3, Why do we need a god for good and evil to exist? IMO, evil is deliberately causing unnecessary pain to another being. Good is choosing to override self-interest for the benefit of others. No deity is involved, just empathy and a sense of ethics.


Actually, i have a nice argument about this in this thread
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 03:05 am
brilliant observation jonat, i'm impressed.

Terry, i guess it really boils down to what you define to be god. i think an arguement could be made that if freewill or randomness does indeed exist in the universe, that people have an innate ability to overcome the external and internal force influencing them and act in a manner contrary to these forces, this in itself is god. And if such were the case, then god is certainly neccesary for good and evil to exist.

after all, how can an act be evil if was merely the inevitable byproduct of basic laws of physics and chemistry? if a man loses his footing and then is pulled down by the law of gravity and killed as a result? is gravity at fault here, is what it did evil. most would say it's not because gravity is an inherent unescapable universal force.

similarly, if the actions people take are merely the byproduct of reactions governed entirely by inherent laws of physics and chemistry, then they certainly can't be blamed for what they have no control over. in fact, without free will, there is no distinction between living and nonliving organisms. killing a human being is no different than breaking a rock in half. in essence, all that you are doing is rearranging molecules.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 11:21 am
Centroles wrote:
And I believe that our brain is no more than an incredibly complex and powerful computer. It's based upon our genes, which we have no control over, it's programmed based on the inputs we recieve, which we also have no control over. And using these two, our brain spits out an output based on these inputs. There is nothing else at work here (I challenge any of you to find evidence that we are influenced by anything other than these two mechanisms).

I accept your challenge, Centroles.

I contend that we are influenced by our thoughts, which are neither external "inputs" nor genetic. As evidence for this contention, I offer the fact that I had an idea to respond to your post, and was motivated by that thought to type this response.
0 Replies
 
perception
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 12:22 pm
The most obvious refutation to the argument that "free will is only an illusion" is this. If we do not have free will then we could never hold criminals responsible for their actions therefore we should immediately empty our prisons. That may not constitute the scientific evidence you seek however it points to the absurdity of your foolish notion. There is much more at play here than simplistic statements that genes and sensory inputs are the only determining factors. I would agree with Joe that we are controlled/influenced by our thoughts which are produced randomly depending on our sensory input which is second by second and our memory which is constantly being updated. Your analogy of the brain being nothing but a computer is false-----a computer can't originate thoughts or create ideas.

The scientific evidence we all seek may never come to light-----in the meantime we must be governed by pragmatic planning just to be safe. I for one do not relish the idea of releasing all criminals.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 12:26 pm
Centroles

A personal question, if I may:

Did you take EST -- or any other consciousness expansion program?
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 01:17 pm
Perception

Your argument about emptying prisons is fallacious because "responsible" or not, we may seek to protect the majority from the minority.

In general I agree that "significant" aspects of the concept of "free will" are illusiary, but not from a reductionist/deterministic point of view but from a "social self" point of view. By "significant" I mean that the issue is only raised with respect to "culpability" or "social transgressions" - never about choosing a pair of pants! Given particular circumstances I believe we could all end up as "murderers", or "heros", but that such labels are functional and relative to our interactions within society.
0 Replies
 
perception
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 02:02 pm
fresco wrote:
Perception

Your argument about emptying prisons is fallacious because "responsible" or not, we may seek to protect the majority from the minority.

In general I agree that "significant" aspects of the concept of "free will" are illusiary, but not from a reductionist/deterministic point of view but from a "social self" point of view. By "significant" I mean that the issue is only raised with respect to "culpability" or "social transgressions" - never about choosing a pair of pants! Given particular circumstances I believe we could all end up as "murderers", or "heros", but that such labels are functional and relative to our interactions within society.


Fresco

Did I use the bit about emptying prisons as an argument? Seems to me I used it as an explanation for protecting the majority from the minority just as you suggested.

I agree with your assessment that "labels" are relative only to our actions within society but other wise I must have missed you point.
0 Replies
 
Centroles
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 02:20 pm
and joe, i contend that thoughts are indeed nothing more than nuerochemicals diffusing across neurons. i offer up as evidence that there is absolutely no indication of any other source from which to explain our thoughts. and as a staunt believer in the scientific process, i believe that facing no evidence to the contrary, no other possible explanation, we have no choice but to acknowledge that neurons (acting out of basic biological reactions influenced by external stimuli) are the likely source of our thoughts.

perception, your statement that this means that prisoners should be released is both faulty and in no way disproves the argument. you can't reject a theory simply because it being true has poor implications for society as a whole. if that were true, no one should claim that there probably isn't a heaven since there is no evidence of one because it would mean that people would be worse off if heaven didn't exist.

and your statement is also false in assuming that just because people aren't responsible for their actions doesn't mean that people shouldn't protect themselves from those that might hurt them. that is afterall the purpose of life as established by evolution, act by the maxim which maximally ensures our survival and ability to reproduce.

in addition, not being able to comprehend the neurological basis for seeming illusion of creativity by no means means that there isn't one.

you failed to prove or really even state anything of value to your argument.

and no frank, i have never used any substances more harmful than alcohol or caffeine.
0 Replies
 
jonat3
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 04:26 pm
Quote:
I contend that we are influenced by our thoughts, which are neither external "inputs" nor genetic. As evidence for this contention, I offer the fact that I had an idea to respond to your post, and was motivated by that thought to type this response.


And where do you suppose "thought" originates from? They are the result of our genes and outside influences.

Quote:
The most obvious refutation to the argument that "free will is only an illusion" is this. If we do not have free will then we could never hold criminals responsible for their actions therefore we should immediately empty our prisons. That may not constitute the scientific evidence you seek however it points to the absurdity of your foolish notion. There is much more at play here than simplistic statements that genes and sensory inputs are the only determining factors. I would agree with Joe that we are controlled/influenced by our thoughts which are produced randomly depending on our sensory input which is second by second and our memory which is constantly being updated. Your analogy of the brain being nothing but a computer is false-----a computer can't originate thoughts or create ideas.


The reason we imprison criminals is that we prevent their influence from affecting our society and we hope to reform them. Putting a criminal in jail is a form of outside influence, an influence which we hope can change them for the better. At best at least preventing them to be an outside influence to society as well.
I have not said that free will doesn't exist. But i do claim, that in order for it to exist, it REQUIRES randomness in physical laws. Otherwise all situations would indeed be predetermined.
And also, i believe that a computer is capable of thought. The many calculations a computer performs can be seen as it's thinking process. A computer's thoughts are programmed and IMO so are human thoughts. Human thoughts are programmed by genes and outside influence.
The ability to have new ideas is something a computer is not able to do yet, but i believe it is because they are not advanced enough yet. Anything a human mind can do, can eventually be emulated by a computer.

Quote:
The scientific evidence we all seek may never come to light-----in the meantime we must be governed by pragmatic planning just to be safe.


This is your best comment of all. One i'm planning to live by.
0 Replies
 
perception
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 05:39 pm
Centroles wrote:
i contend that thoughts are indeed nothing more than nuerochemicals diffusing across neurons. i offer up as evidence that there is absolutely no indication of any other source from which to explain our thoughts. and as a staunt believer in the scientific process, i believe that facing no evidence to the contrary, no other possible explanation, we have no choice but to acknowledge that neurons (acting out of basic biological reactions influenced by external stimuli) are the likely source of our thoughts.


Centroles wrote:
i offer up as evidence that there is absolutely no indication of any other source from which to explain our thoughts..


In offering no evidence as "evidence" you have taken scientific reseach to a new level.

Centroles wrote:
i contend that thoughts are indeed nothing more than nuerochemicals diffusing across neurons.


Actually, even though you have not used exactly the proper terminology, I agree that the mind is nothing more or less than the result of neurobiological functions (the millions of synapses required to produce a concept or a series of concepts) It is precisely because we have the ability to conceptualize that causes some people to visualize the mind rising in a transcendent manner above the body. This is the illusion perhaps that you speak of. How is this phenomenon to be declared as proof that free will does not exist.
0 Replies
 
jonat3
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 06:54 pm
I think Centroles refers to the fact that people do not like to see themselves as robots. The way we presented our arguments make it seem that humans may be nothing more than robots. So people argue that robots (or computers, whatever) have no self consciousness.
I say that self consciousness may be nothing more then an illusion and that humans in essence are nothing more than robots, albeit highly sophisticated. All actions of robots are predetermined, they possess no free will. When robots become sophisticated like us, we will cease to be able to predict their actions (we already have some diffculty with that). But even when that day comes, they will still be robots. They will then also become "self conscious". IMO it will then be the same illusion we have.

The only thing that allows the existence of free will is randomness in physical laws. It is the only thing that allows us to be more then just robots.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 07:33 pm
Centroles wrote:
and joe, i contend that thoughts are indeed nothing more than nuerochemicals diffusing across neurons. i offer up as evidence that there is absolutely no indication of any other source from which to explain our thoughts. and as a staunt believer in the scientific process, i believe that facing no evidence to the contrary, no other possible explanation, we have no choice but to acknowledge that neurons (acting out of basic biological reactions influenced by external stimuli) are the likely source of our thoughts.

I will, without hesitation, concede that thoughts are, in some sense, dependent upon biochemical processes. There can be no thought, then, without some kind of neurological function (the specifics of which I am neither qualified to describe nor particularly interested in learning). But to say that neurological function is thought is to confuse two entirely different things, in much the same way that Berkeley confused the act of perception with the thing perceived. But just as a house is not the same thing as seeing that house, a sparking neuron is not the same thing as thinking.

Look at it this way: a house is made up of a large number of building materials. But simply because houses consist of materials doesn't mean that there are no such things as houses. The existence of two-by-fours, in other words, does not vitiate the notion of architecture. In the same way, the existence of neuron-sparkings is, in no way, a refutation of the existence of thoughts.

But perhaps you're suggesting, Centroles, that, while thoughts exist, they consist of a set pattern of neuron-sparkings. Consequently, in much the same way we could duplicate a house by using the same types of materials arranged in the same pattern, we could, theoretically, duplicate the same pattern of neuron-sparkings and arrive at the exact same thought. In other words, if I "think" to raise my arm in a certain manner, the same sequence of neuron-sparkings that make up that "thought" could presumably be duplicated to produce the same result.

Well, that's fine, I'll even concede that point (at least for the sake of argument). But that still gets us no closer to eliminating the possibility of free will. After all, in order to equate the presence of biochemical processes with the absence of "thoughts," one would have to contend that the processes, in some sense, caused the thoughts. For if the reverse were true, if the thoughts caused the biochemical processes, then there is nothing left of your notion that we are naught but an amalgam of genetic information and external "inputs."

And despite your "staunch belief" in science, there is not much evidence there that you can point to as proof that biochemical processes cause thoughts. Indeed, I think there is abundant scientific evidence that suggests the exact opposite. And in those cases where we can say, with some confidence, that the process causes the thought, as where biochemical imbalances lead to hallucinations, we typically describe such a sequence as abnormal.

In other words, if the thought of raising my arm leads to a biochemical sequence that results in the raising of my arm, then the thought caused the sequence, not the other way around. As such, "thought" is something different from "biochemical process" or "genetic traits."

Centroles wrote:
perception, your statement that this means that prisoners should be released is both faulty and in no way disproves the argument. you can't reject a theory simply because it being true has poor implications for society as a whole. if that were true, no one should claim that there probably isn't a heaven since there is no evidence of one because it would mean that people would be worse off if heaven didn't exist.

Well, you're right, Centroles: although perception is, I believe, correct in noting that the absence of free will is incompatible with our notions of morality, this is merely an implication of your position, not a refutation of it.

Centroles wrote:
and your statement is also false in assuming that just because people aren't responsible for their actions doesn't mean that people shouldn't protect themselves from those that might hurt them. that is afterall the purpose of life as established by evolution, act by the maxim which maximally ensures our survival and ability to reproduce.

That is complete and utter nonsense. We do not punish those who are not responsible for their actions. For instance, we do not punish those who are suffering from a delusion, or who are incapable of forming intent, or who are acting under compulsion. That's because we believe that there's more to culpability than the act itself.

If, on the other hand, we merely punished those who acted in a manner not "conducive to evolution," as you suggest, we would first kill off the physically imperfect, the feeble, and the mentally deficient: in short, we would carry out a eugenics campaign of monstrous proportions. And, moreover, we would be justified in doing so, according to you, Centroles. That's not just wrong-headed, it's repellent.
0 Replies
 
jonat3
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 08:52 pm
Quote:
But perhaps you're suggesting, Centroles, that, while thoughts exist, they consist of a set pattern of neuron-sparkings. Consequently, in much the same way we could duplicate a house by using the same types of materials arranged in the same pattern, we could, theoretically, duplicate the same pattern of neuron-sparkings and arrive at the exact same thought. In other words, if I "think" to raise my arm in a certain manner, the same sequence of neuron-sparkings that make up that "thought" could presumably be duplicated to produce the same result.

Well, that's fine, I'll even concede that point (at least for the sake of argument). But that still gets us no closer to eliminating the possibility of free will. After all, in order to equate the presence of biochemical processes with the absence of "thoughts," one would have to contend that the processes, in some sense, caused the thoughts. For if the reverse were true, if the thoughts caused the biochemical processes, then there is nothing left of your notion that we are naught but an amalgam of genetic information and external "inputs."

And despite your "staunch belief" in science, there is not much evidence there that you can point to as proof that biochemical processes cause thoughts. Indeed, I think there is abundant scientific evidence that suggests the exact opposite. And in those cases where we can say, with some confidence, that the process causes the thought, as where biochemical imbalances lead to hallucinations, we typically describe such a sequence as abnormal.

In other words, if the thought of raising my arm leads to a biochemical sequence that results in the raising of my arm, then the thought caused the sequence, not the other way around. As such, "thought" is something different from "biochemical process" or "genetic traits."


I think you are right in saying that thoughts may not equal the neuron sparkings. You may even be right in stating that thoughts cause the sequence. However, you conveniently skirt around the fact what "thought" actually is. For one thing thought cannot be static. Why? Because thought relies on information.
We know that data is stored in our brain. Data is static. However, data in itself is useless. Only when data is used, does it become useful. How is data used? Data interacts with each other and THAT's how it is used. Interact is the keyword here. That is what the thought process is, interaction between data. As you can see from this, the thought process cannot be static.
It may be that thoughts are not the neuron-sparkings (though highly unlikely), but it is clear that thought implies a reaction between particles. As of such, reactions fall under the domain of natural laws of physics and chemistry. All reactions are predetermined. When you burn Magnesium with oxygen and the conditions are normal, you will ALWAYS get MagnesiumOxide. Under the same conditions, one reaction produces always the same result.
There is only ONE thing that upsets all this and that is randomness in physics (how many times do i have to say this!? Evil or Very Mad ). Some particles movement are completely random and cannot be predicted. That may be, because we are still unable to comprehend it's movement or it may be because it is genuinely random. In the former event, free will doesn't exist. In the latter it does.

Quote:
If, on the other hand, we merely punished those who acted in a manner not "conducive to evolution," as you suggest, we would first kill off the physically imperfect, the feeble, and the mentally deficient: in short, we would carry out a eugenics campaign of monstrous proportions. And, moreover, we would be justified in doing so, according to you, Centroles. That's not just wrong-headed, it's repellent.


On an interesting note, killing the "weak" may actually lower our chance for continuity. For example, fat people are clearly inferior, right? Some people eat really little and still they manage to reach 300 pounds. Undoubtedly this is a genetic "weakness". But suppose that all the earth's food supplies diminished drastically. Wouldn't this supposedly "weak" person have a better chance of survival than other humans?
My point is, is that weakness actually betters our chances of survival. Terms like strong and weak depend on circumstance. For an optimum chance of continuity one needs a majority of "strong" people and a minority of "weak" people.
0 Replies
 
xifar
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 09:03 pm
I have choices. I can post this, or I can choose not to post this. Even though I am made up of my experiences and other stimuli that has affected my life, I can still think on my own. I will concede that many of my decisions are based on experiences I have had the opportunity to have (my wisdom) but this does not preclude my ability to decide things for myself.

The thing here is that there are proactive people and there are reactionists. Reactionists have no free will. Proactive people, the people who are constantly making decisions that affect the direction of their life, do have free will. But almost everyone is made up of a mix of the two, so everyone has a little free will. People can decide to rebel, they can decide to be complacent. People can decide to get mad or to stay calm. That is free will, the ability to change your circumstances.
0 Replies
 
jonat3
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2003 09:08 pm
Quote:
I have choices. I can post this, or I can choose not to post this. Even though I am made up of my experiences and other stimuli that has affected my life, I can still think on my own. I will concede that many of my decisions are based on experiences I have had the opportunity to have (my wisdom) but this does not preclude my ability to decide things for myself.

The thing here is that there are proactive people and there are reactionists. Reactionists have no free will. Proactive people, the people who are constantly making decisions that affect the direction of their life, do have free will. But almost everyone is made up of a mix of the two, so everyone has a little free will. People can decide to rebel, they can decide to be complacent. People can decide to get mad or to stay calm. That is free will, the ability to change your circumstances.


I did not say free will doesn't exist. I only say that free will requires randomness in physics. If there doesn't exist such a thing, free will is then nothing more then an illusion.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

How can we be sure? - Discussion by Raishu-tensho
Proof of nonexistence of free will - Discussion by litewave
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
Destroy My Belief System, Please! - Discussion by Thomas
Star Wars in Philosophy. - Discussion by Logicus
Existence of Everything. - Discussion by Logicus
Is it better to be feared or loved? - Discussion by Black King
 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.05 seconds on 04/13/2021 at 01:15:16