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Is free-will an illusion?

 
 
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2016 09:08 am
@Briancrc,
If a person doesn't get credit or blame for his/her own choices, then where does the credit/blame go?
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2016 12:39 pm
@Briancrc,
Your momma.




Just joking.
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2016 12:48 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Well that's what I said Wink
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2016 01:00 pm
@Briancrc,
Credit or blame implies a value judgment that i didn't make. I don't see autism as a good or evil dead... It looks more like a disease to me. Wo do you blame for schyzophrenia?

To make such a judgment, i would need to study the matter in detail. As i said, i don't know much about it. Not enough to blame anyone let alone 2 yr olds.

I once talked to a genetician who was researching the possible genetic factors. She was convinced it was genetic but admitted back then there was no conclusive evidence. You seem to know the subject well. Instead of playing the blame game, why don't you explain what the state of the research is?
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2016 02:01 pm
@Olivier5,
If you do not blame or credit people for their choices, then I've been very confused by the position you have been promoting. To talk about the conditions in terms of a disease model is precisely one of the points I made earlier, and I'm in total agreement with you on this. I do not think that blaming people from a position of morality makes much sense. There are practical matters to address regarding the problems that individuals bring to society, but I think that we can address those adequately in the absence of moral judgment.
Olivier5
 
  0  
Reply Sun 6 Mar, 2016 05:05 pm
@Briancrc,
Quote:
If you do not blame or credit people for their choices, then I've been very confused by the position you have been promoting

Yes, you have been very confused, because you have not payed attention.
0 Replies
 
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2016 05:28 am
@Olivier5,
Maybe not, but maybe others who read what you wrote might think that you have put the responsibility for what people do on the person, him/herself?

Quote:
The way I see it, it's the subject who must decide, at some point, in spite of uncertainty. The subject deliberates, seeks advice, searchs for additional information, hesitates, procrastinates, sleeps on it, and then one day commits to a particular decision (until such a time when he will change his mind). So we have ways to deal with uncertainty that are OUR ways, we chose how to deal with it. Eg we chose to make up our mind and commit to a choice early rather than late, or instead to wait for as long as possible before chosing. Nobody/nothing is forcing us to mary that person or not, or to take that job or not, or to go to place X rather than place Y for holidays. The hesitation is OURS, and so is the choice we make or don't make.


Quote:
Even if you toss a coin, you're chosing to do so and to abide by the outcome. There's no way out.


Quote:
in all cases it's something THEY decide to do


Quote:
You might wish to reflect upon the fact that many people DO manage to get rid of their addiction. That is a strong argument in favor of "free will".


Quote:
You have no evidence that there was never any element of choice in each and every autism case in the history of mankind. Some people diagnosed as mildly autistic are fine this way.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2016 12:53 pm
@Briancrc,
I think "responsability" is a better word than "blame". Blame is very judgmental.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Mar, 2016 03:23 pm
It's good for you!

Quote:

The important psychological benefit of believing in free will
By David DiSalva, March 03, 2016

Do we have free will over our thoughts and actions, or do we only feel as if we do?

It’s a question that’s provided ample fodder for philosophical debates for centuries. The argument in favor of free will has tended to fare pretty well. That is, until neuroscience started peeking behind the curtain.

If we truly possess free will, the theory goes, we ought to consciously control our thoughts and actions. We “will” them into being in a state of full awareness. But for the last couple of decades, neuroscientists have found that our brains are buzzing with activity related to thoughts and actions well before we’re conscious of executing them.

Consciousness researcher Benjamin Libet kicked off the controversy in the mid-1980s when he showed that the brain experiences several hundred milliseconds of “preparatory” activity before someone consciously chooses to physically move. The finding was revelatory. But because the brain activity was nonspecific (Libet didn’t have the technology available to link it to a specific decision), his critics argued that he was simply wrong about when the activity took place in relation to the movement. Or perhaps he’d just found “tremors” of brain activity set off by the physical movement itself.

Then, a few years later, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)—a technology capable of finding the link between brain activity and a decision—seemed to support Libet’s discovery. When brains were scanned while making a decision, such as pressing a button in response to variables presented on a computer screen, identifiable patterns of activity were apparent seconds before the decision was consciously made. This activity appears where we’d expect to find it, in the areas of the brain where we process decisions. Not only that, but physical movement is actually predictable from observing brain activity in other brain areas responsible for motor control.

In other words, with the appropriate brain imaging tools, you can trace the origins of thoughts and movements in the brain before the owner of that brain realizes they’re going to happen.

Research delivering similar body blows to the concept of free will has been stacking up for the last decade, leaving many to wonder how we’ve been so deluded about this for so long. Even more troubling: If free will is an illusion, and the brain is already making decisions seconds or even milliseconds before we’re conscious of a decision, what are the implications? How can we hold someone wholly responsible for his or her actions if the backstory for those actions materialized outside conscious control? And what’s willpower, really, if decisions are made before we can “will” them in one direction or another?

Those are tough, existentially battering questions. But hope for free will may not be entirely lost. Two sorts of life preservers could still rescue it.

The first comes in a study published in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Instead of challenging the idea that the brain “prepares” for a thought or action before we’re consciously aware of it, German researchers asked if there’s any room left for us to consciously override it.

To find out, they used a computer to monitor the results of brain imaging on a group of subjects provided with a series of simple tasks. The study participants were asked to press a foot pedal when they saw a green light, and stop pressing it when shown a red light.

As long as the participants were fully aware of their decisions, this was an easy task. Then researchers upped the ante a little, directing the computer to flash the red light when it detected signs of preparatory brain activity (the activity happening in the participants’ brains before they became conscious of moving).

If the red light flashed before conscious awareness, the participants shouldn’t have been able to stop their movement. But, surprisingly, they often did. An extremely brief window of opportunity appeared to open for stopping movement before it began. When that window closed (in less than a quarter of a second), the movement couldn’t be stopped.

The results dealt with infinitesimally thin slivers of time. But they nonetheless suggested that free will sometimes holds a trump card over brain activity. “They (the study participants) are able to actively intervene in the decision-making process and interrupt a movement,” lead author Dr. John-Dylan Haynes of Charité – Universitätsmedizin in Berlin, wrote at the time. “Previously people have used the preparatory brain signals to argue against free will. Our study now shows that the freedom is much less limited than previously thought.”

The second reason to hold on to the prospect of free will comes from studies observing that our beliefs can actually influence real-life outcomes. The most recent study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences in February, showed that students who agree with statements like “I am in charge of my actions even when my life’s circumstances are difficult” consistently earn higher grades on tests and generally perform better overall as compared to their peers whose answers to those questions reveal a disbelief in free will. And that’s true even when other factors like demographics and socioeconomic status are taken into account.

Previous research has resulted in similar outcomes. When people believe they have more control—that they can exercise free will to their benefit—their performance at work, school and other facets of their lives improves.

This brings us to one more question. Even if free will is, to some extent, an illusion, is it a useful illusion? Beliefs have consequences. Choosing to believe in at least a modicum of free will lines up with a better set of outcomes than believing otherwise.

All this suggests that even if science could reach a firm conclusion on the question of free will, the pragmatic argument in favor of believing in it remains the strongest one.
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Thu 10 Mar, 2016 04:29 pm
@Olivier5,
Remember when Russia banned all religions? It just went underground. It's somewhat similar to outlawing liquor.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2016 01:23 am
@cicerone imposter,
I think it's worse than that. To deny free will is like forbiding sex. It's alienating in that it's denying your own nature.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2016 07:45 am
@Olivier5,
Denying your OWN nature ??? The opposite. Its is justifying your own nature !
Who you are didn't come out of thin air. Who you will be doesn't come out of thin air either. You will what you MUST want.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2016 07:54 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Nature needs no justification. My point is that denying free will is denying our natural sense of who we are, a sense that came out of natural selection and which therefore must provide a significant survival advantage.

You willusionists are putting yourselves at a disadvantage compared to us free thinkers...
Fil Albuquerque
 
  2  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2016 08:13 am
@Olivier5,
If your point is that believing in free will provides the human brain with motivation to live a happy life and have a false sense of being in control then I agree. Ironically I believe there are GOOD REASONS to why people believe in free will. The need for such belief is not magical nor did come out of thin air. It is useful. In fact why would beliefs exist if it weren't because they can be useful ? Human beings in order to cope with complexity build belief systems so that they can adapt functionally within their computing limits to whatever challenges them.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2016 08:31 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
So we agree that the belief in free will is more useful to us than the opposite belief. Good.

We just disagree on whether it is a belief justified by facts and logic or not. I see logical contradictions cropping up as soon as one denies free will, so based on logic alone I would lean towards free will. It's also better supported empirically than the opposite theory.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Mar, 2016 02:00 pm
The following documentary is almost mandatory to see, I highly recommend it.

cicerone imposter
 
  0  
Reply Tue 29 Mar, 2016 02:24 pm
@Olivier5,
I agree; we do what we wish to do - minute by minute. The only constraints are our ability to travel based on availability of transportation, $$$$, and mobility.
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  0  
Reply Tue 29 Mar, 2016 03:24 pm
This is the previous episode in the series and just as interesting to the topic of free will...

cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Mar, 2016 03:28 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil, I'm not getting any sound, even when I put it on highest volume.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Mar, 2016 06:18 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Check the sound symbol on the side to the sound loudness marker on youtube
Check your hardware and software in windows. Something is definitely not working but that is not the video CI. Hope you enjoy the all series, it is very enlightening.
 

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