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Free will vs. determinism

 
 
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 06:00 pm
@peacegirl,
peacegirl wrote:

It can help because this discovery can prevent that for which blame and punishment came into existence.
I'd go with: if you've got something to say... say it.

Maybe you're not aware that you're coming off like an evangelist. So be a good evangelist: ask questions and see where you have common ground with others.

Wisdom abounds. The library is full of it. What you can't do in the library is have a discussion that might help all involved with their thinking. Shhh! Wink
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 06:08 pm
@GoshisDead,
It's the exact opposite GoshisDead. This knowledge increases responsibility to an amazing degree.
0 Replies
 
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 06:13 pm
@Arjuna,
I don't know exactly why you think I come off like an evangelist, even though it's rare when someone offers something new. I am not preaching; I am just offering. If you don't want to learn more, that's fine. I will not push this knowledge on anyone. But I can't pretend that I have nothing to present. Does that mean I'll be banned? Sad You can all just go to the link if you are interested. That will vindicate me hopefully, and spare me the angst of getting anyone angry in here.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 06:18 pm
@peacegirl,
peacegirl wrote:
We are compelled to choose the alternative that we believe is the best option under our particular circumstances. Free will states that we can choose A just as equally as B, which is not true, because it is our nature to choose the alternative that gives us every indication of being the most desirable or the least undesirable at any given moment in time.

I can choose one of two options: I can either go to the dentist or go to the circus. I love going to the circus but I hate going to the dentist. I know that, for my long-term health, it is better if I go to the dentist than if I go to the circus. Yet, all things considered, I would much prefer to go to the circus.

Now, according to you (or, more properly, to your author/guru/benefactor), if I go to the circus, it's because I believed that was the best alternative and I was, therefore, compelled to make that choice. On the other hand, if I go to the dentist, it's because I believed that was the best alternative, and I was compelled to make that choice. Consequently, either choice was the best choice, depending on which choice I made. Given that any choice that I make is the best choice, it makes no difference which choice I make, since whatever I choose will be the best choice.

In that circumstance, it really doesn't make any sense to talk about a "best choice," as "best choice" and "choice" are synonymous terms. No matter what I choose, I choose the best alternative. And how do we know which is the best alternative? We know because I chose it. It's Pangloss writ small.

That brings up a problem which is common to most deterministic theories: we can only know what is determined ex post rather than ex ante. In other words, we can't know which alternative was "determined" until that alternative is chosen. At that point, we can say "that's the way it had to happen." But we can't say "this is the way it's going to happen." I don't know if I am determined to go to the dentist or to the circus until I go to either the dentist or to the circus. And if we're just left with saying "that's the way it had to happen," then there's really no point in bringing in all of this business about "choosing the best alternative." "Choice," in that scenario, is simply a meaningless term, and should therefore be dropped. Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

That kind of ex post determinism really ends up being an explanation of what happens based upon what happens. It has no explanatory power because, in a Popperian sense, it can't be disproved. What happened happened because it had to happen, and we know that because it happened that way and no other. But if what happens happens because it had to happen, then we might as well say that god willed it or that invisible fairies made it happen as say that it was "determined" because people lack free will. It's all the same.
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 07:21 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

I choose the best alternative. And how do we know which is the best alternative? We know because I chose it. It's Pangloss writ small.
I think it was: you choose what seems to you to be the best alternative. You may later say you screwed up. It's a way of pointing out that the future will be a manifestation of only one of the preceding choices... otherwise known as possibilities. The possibilities can each have a share in the future... until that point in time becomes now. Then all shares drop to 0... except for the one that won the grand prize.... actuality.
joefromchicago wrote:

But if what happens happens because it had to happen, then we might as well say that god willed it or that invisible fairies made it happen as say that it was "determined" because people lack free will. It's all the same.
I don't think any determinist thinks lack of free will would qualify as a cause.

But yea, determinism dissolves into meaninglessness without being compared to the choice scenario. Therefore it's a perspective that has to define its own basis as illusion and own something like gnosis. I enjoyed your post.
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 07:39 pm
@joefromchicago,
I can choose one of two options: I can either go to the dentist or go to the circus. I love going to the circus but I hate going to the dentist. I know that, for my long-term health, it is better if I go to the dentist than if I go to the circus. Yet, all things considered, I would much prefer to go to the circus.

Now, according to you (or, more properly, to your author/guru/benefactor), if I go to the circus, it's because I believed that was the best alternative and I was, therefore, compelled to make that choice. On the other hand, if I go to the dentist, it's because I believed that was the best alternative, and I was compelled to make that choice. Consequently, either choice was the best choice, depending on which choice I made. Given that any choice that I make is the best choice, it makes no difference which choice I make, since whatever I choose will be the best choice.

peacegirl: It does make a difference what choice one makes if that choice hurts another. It is also true that whatever choice a person makes IS the best choice at that moment in time. You are also right that the word 'choice' is misleading because we really don't have a choice at all, otherwise we could choose what is the least preferable alternative, which is impossible.

As far as your decision to go to the circus, yes, at that moment, it gave you greater satisfaction considering the pros and cons. You chose to enjoy yourself rather than get your teeth fixed because it was more satisfying to do this than not to do it. That does not mean that later on when your teeth start to hurt and you have a choice to either go to the dentist or to the circus, that you won't this time, as the preferable alternative, go to the dentist because the consequences of not going are more dire.

joe: In that circumstance, it really doesn't make any sense to talk about a "best choice," as "best choice" and "choice" are synonymous terms. No matter what I choose, I choose the best alternative. And how do we know which is the best alternative? We know because I chose it. It's Pangloss writ small.

That brings up a problem which is common to most deterministic theories: we can only know what is determined ex post rather than ex ante. In other words, we can't know which alternative was "determined" until that alternative is chosen. At that point, we can say "that's the way it had to happen." But we can't say "this is the way it's going to happen." I don't know if I am determined to go to the dentist or to the circus until I go to either the dentist or to the circus. And if we're just left with saying "that's the way it had to happen," then there's really no point in bringing in all of this business about "choosing the best alternative." "Choice," in that scenario, is simply a meaningless term, and should therefore be dropped. Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

That kind of ex post determinism really ends up being an explanation of what happens based upon what happens. It has no explanatory power because, in a Popperian sense, it can't be disproved. What happened happened because it had to happen, and we know that because it happened that way and no other. But if what happens happens because it had to happen, then we might as well say that god willed it or that invisible fairies made it happen as say that it was "determined" because people lack free will. It's all the same.

peacegirl: You are right that we can't predict what is going to happen until after the fact, but with this law we can prevent the choice, in the direction of satisfaction, to hurt another with a first blow. The fact that something happened because it happened does not imply that something supernatural made it happen. There is truth that God made it happen if you think of God as this law of our nature which we have no control over. That is why everything had to be exactly the way it was, but mankind is developing, and just as a baby cannot be an adult unless he goes through the necessary stages, mankind also had to go through the necessary stages of 'evil' to reach this turning point in our lives.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 08:38 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna wrote:
I think it was: you choose what seems to you to be the best alternative. You may later say you screwed up.

Or he may later change the taste for one alternative over the other. Your way of phrasing it hides the fact that what constitutes "the best alternative" isn't an objective fact. It's a subjective judgment of joefromchicago's---a product of his free will. Choosing what seems like the best alternative doesn't contradict free will; it's how free will works.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 08:52 pm
@Thomas,
Choosing is a misleading word, one might argue...how about picking the best alternative according to judgement ? Judgement results in ONE option, coming up from within a system of reasoning, let it be good or bad...and the system recalls a pattern of behaviour...we could go on on this for century´s...

On top of this Neuroscience is already predicting choice 5 to 10 seconds before you come aware of it...
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 09:02 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:
how about picking the best alternative according to judgement

Thanks for the suggestion, but I'd rather stick with choose. Before you can judge what "the best alternative" is, you first have to answer for yourself the question, "what is the alternative supposed to be good at?" Answering this question involves a true choice.

Fil Albuquerque wrote:
On top of this Neuroscience is already predicting choice 5 to 10 seconds before you come aware of it...

So?
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 09:03 pm
@joefromchicago,
Hi Joe ! Very Happy

Do you believe in causation ?...
Do you believe that causation has a specific consequence ?

I can get fire with wood or with gasoline...well true. But are these fires similar ? Is it a matter of belief or prof ?

I can´t understand cause if not to a specific consequence !
In my world such interpretation of cause is nothing less then ALIEN...but well might just be my stupidity to get it...
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2010 09:06 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Fil Albuquerque wrote:
how about picking the best alternative according to judgement

Thanks for the suggestion, but I'd rather stick with choose. Before you can judge what "the best alternative" is, you first have to answer for yourself the question, "what is the alternative supposed to be good at?" Answering this question involves a true choice.

Fil Albuquerque wrote:
On top of this Neuroscience is already predicting choice 5 to 10 seconds before you come aware of it...

So?


Hi there ! Very Happy
I believe I can fit the bill on that...
Alternate possibility´s serve the purpose of judgement but are not ontological actuality´s...

The "World" is ONE entity not two...

So ???
You chose nothing consciously which is by definition the only concept of choice worth debating...
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Aug, 2010 08:26 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna wrote:
I think it was: you choose what seems to you to be the best alternative. You may later say you screwed up. It's a way of pointing out that the future will be a manifestation of only one of the preceding choices... otherwise known as possibilities. The possibilities can each have a share in the future... until that point in time becomes now. Then all shares drop to 0... except for the one that won the grand prize.... actuality.

That may be true, but then that doesn't tell us anything that we didn't already know, and it certainly doesn't go to proving that we lack free will.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Aug, 2010 08:37 am
@peacegirl,
peacegirl wrote:
It does make a difference what choice one makes if that choice hurts another.

No it doesn't, at least not when it comes to the question of free will. Suppose I have two choices: I can either go to the circus or I can rape and murder an eight-year old girl. If I go to the circus, it's because (according to you) I considered that to be the best alternative and was, therefore, compelled to make that choice. On the other hand, if I decide to rape and murder an eight-year old girl, it's because I considered that to be the best alternative. Whatever choice I make, I make because it's the best alternative, so it really doesn't matter whether I choose to go to the circus or choose to rape and murder an eight-year old girl, since any choice I make is the "best" choice.

Now, of course, it might make a moral difference whether I choose to go the circus or choose to rape and murder an eight-year old girl, but then if my choice is determined, you will have to explain why I am morally responsible for that choice.

peacegirl wrote:
You are right that we can't predict what is going to happen until after the fact, but with this law we can prevent the choice, in the direction of satisfaction, to hurt another with a first blow.

I really don't see how. If your choice can be influenced by something, then how is it determined?

peacegirl wrote:
The fact that something happened because it happened does not imply that something supernatural made it happen.

You may be right, but I don't see how you could prove that. After all, the explanation that "things happen the way they happen because they're determined" and the explanation that "things happen the way they happen because of the intervention of invisible fairies" are equally disprovable, and thus equally plausible.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Aug, 2010 08:39 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:

Hi Joe ! Very Happy

Do you believe in causation ?...
Do you believe that causation has a specific consequence ?

I'm not sure "believe" is the right word. I understand causation on a mechanistic level, and I certainly accept that one thing can cause another. What's your point?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Aug, 2010 08:46 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:
You chose nothing consciously which is by definition the only concept of choice worth debating...

I don't have a problem with subconscious instincts affecting our consciousness, and I certainly think they are worth debating. But if you don't want to debate them, I respect this as a manifestation of your free will, however misguided it may be.
0 Replies
 
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Aug, 2010 09:15 am
@Thomas,
Thomas, there is nothing objective about choosing because what one chooses is very individual. But it is not a product of one's free will because any choice other than the one that is chosen, could NEVER have been chosen, as it was not the choice that was most preferable, and our nature demands that we choose not the alternative that is worse for ourselves at any given moment in time, but what appears [in our eyes] to be the best choice under our particular circumstances. I know I'm repeating myself, but you haven't quite understood, according to this author, why man's will is not free even though he can contemplate between two or more alternatives.
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Aug, 2010 11:08 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

Arjuna wrote:
I think it was: you choose what seems to you to be the best alternative. You may later say you screwed up. It's a way of pointing out that the future will be a manifestation of only one of the preceding choices... otherwise known as possibilities. The possibilities can each have a share in the future... until that point in time becomes now. Then all shares drop to 0... except for the one that won the grand prize.... actuality.

That may be true, but then that doesn't tell us anything that we didn't already know, and it certainly doesn't go to proving that we lack free will.
If you already realized that your choices are governed by conceptions of right, then you didn't get told anything you didn't already know.

And it doesn't prove the nonexistence of anything. I don't know how to do that. A determinist may argue that if free will exists, it defies reason. But then reason is used to being defied... in my world, anyway.
0 Replies
 
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Aug, 2010 11:21 am
@peacegirl,
peacegirl wrote:

Thomas, there is nothing objective about choosing because what one chooses is very individual. But it is not a product of one's free will because any choice other than the one that is chosen, could NEVER have been chosen, as it was not the choice that was most preferable, and our nature demands that we choose not the alternative that is worse for ourselves at any given moment in time, but what appears [in our eyes] to be the best choice under our particular circumstances. I know I'm repeating myself, but you haven't quite understood, according to this author, why man's will is not free even though he can contemplate between two or more alternatives.


Can you elaborate?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Aug, 2010 11:30 am
@peacegirl,
Peacegirl, it seems to me that you are answering the question simply by the way you are using terms like "choice", "free will", and "our nature". If so, there's nothing for us to discuss, because no evidence could possibly convince you otherwise.

For a moment, and for the sake of the argument, let's assume that you're wrong. What conceivable evidence would it take to convince you of that?
peacegirl
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Aug, 2010 11:49 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil, you are absolutely correct in that the word 'choose' is misleading. I hope you read the book.
0 Replies
 
 

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