Just for kicks, I thought I’d open a thread on free will. I found this great article that addresses all of the points that were recently raised in a different thread. I don’t we will come to any particular conclusion here, but having a reference point might help keep some other discussions from getting stuck.
And inviting Lois ;- )
I don’t know, tried reading it and it seems like a ‘just so’ essay. His first paragraphs are more about coloring his audience’s perceptions. Free Will doesn’t exist, but then he describes what to me seems acts of Free Will, making decisions based on rapidly changing conditions that you can’t predict ahead of time and such.
I probably missed it, i did start glazing over a little, but did he actually define what his “Free Will” is in there somewhere?
So my first question: Define Free Will?
Second question: Does a sense of self-preservation provide evidence (proof) of Free Will?
If not, Why not?
I like the article. Since he says that there is no existing theory for the concept of “strong emergence”, I should try to come up with one. Meanwhile, I stick with the idea that everything is determined.
Sabine Hossenfelder: “That renaming doesn’t make the conflict go away. To our best present knowledge nothing, including you, can influence your future.”
Hmmm, sounds like he believes in a mechanistic universe, know all the parts and presto you know the past and future.
Where’s chaos and such fit in?
And why so dismissive of emergent properties - that seem very at odds with a realistic view of creation/evolution.
He admits there can be a component of randomness. Iow, I think, everything happens mechanistically, so to speak, but within parameters of probability, i.e., chance can be part of the “mechanism”.
Since he says that there is no existing theory for the concept of “strong emergence”, I should try to come up with one.But there sure is a lot of evidence that "strong emergence" is part of evolution. Or?
Well we cannot choose the outcome of randomness or the chance mutations in evolution. And evolution follows from factors that determine what it is. No?
But maybe you are thinking of something else that could be evidence of “strong emergence” that allows us to make choices that are not determined by existing factors?
If there is randomness in the universe, it is one more deterministic factor that humans have no conscious control over. Randomness does not support the idea of free will, it supports determinism.
I think that’s right.
But maybe you are thinking of something else that could be evidence of “strong emergence” that allows us to make choices that are not determined by existing factors?Not even close. At least I think not.
I’m still stuck on organism evolution - such as, consider all the strong emergences that happened between that flatworm and the human hunter - though we are both basically tubes that absorb nutrition.
I’m back into my poetry of evolution thing. When looking at it from the outside the entire pageant of Earth’s Evolution reflects a steady advance towards ever greater awareness of and manipulatory power over the environment. From nerves that can sense photons, to eye’s that focus and see multiple light waves, and neurons that can process the flood of data. That sort of thing.
Randomness I think is also greatly misunderstood. All randomness within the universe is constrained in one way or the other.
Of course evolution determines a lot, my blood determined a lot about me, the lessons I’ve absorbed from my parents has determined a lot, every day has left an imprint that influence how I behave today. But growth and survival in an active changing world requires a little something more, in my estimation. I’ve grown up learning to appreciate how much about me is determined so, it’s not like I’m a believer in the “Free Will” notions of others <i> (No, you can not be anything you want to be. No matter how much you dream it.) </i>
<i>But I’ve also always bridled against certain determinations that life has settled on me, so I learned to finesse’ and influence outcomes. Resulting in some totally unexpected outcomes, that evolved in their own time, leading to more, guess that the smallest moments can lead to the most unexpected and there’s are choices that needs to be made all the time</i><i>. </i>
but beyond that when I hear people debating it seems all about semantics and very little about how we actually behave during the onslaught of many inputs.
I’m back to that: sense of self-preservation being an indicator of the self? That self must make decisions.
Then I think of the ideal warrior or athlete, incredibly trained, body and mind tuned together, in action, he/she does not think, just act. All actions are proof of “determinism” I guess is what that’s supposed to tell us. Not I’m still sure about that though. What about the will to endure, people that survive those toughest of ordeals, and those that don’t, from what I’ve read and heard, you usually can’t predict who’s gonna have the stuff and who tosses in the towel.
I certainly don’t believe in the Free Will of the Dam builder under the illusion he can control that water.
I do believe in the Free Will that helps the kayaker, find his/her line down the cascade and stay with it.
Not so much that we “determine” things, but that our choses certainly weigh the dice.
As always we wind up back at definitions.
Hello, Lois, nice to see you dropping in.
Second question: Does a sense of self-preservation provide evidence (proof) of Free Will? If not, Why not?It could I guess but it doesn't have to. The survival instinct is active as long as you're alive, no matter the frame of mind you're in. Free will doesn't even need to help. That does not mean we can't learn lessons from dangerous experiences, but the learning and application of those lessons are automatic.
I think that’s right, also.
Re: a human hunter evolving from a flatworm. I just don’t see how that could possibly happen, in a thousand years… or even 10 thousand years… or even 100 thousand years… or even ten 100 thousand years (aka, 1 million years)… or even 10 million years… or even 100 million years… or even a billion years. But 2 or 3 billion years? Maybe so. Actually, given the right conditions and sufficient eons, it was bound to happen.
A flatworm? Yup, evolution was ticking along quite well at stage. As I understand it, the evolution of us began with an omoeba.
you usually can’t predict who’s gonna have the stuff and who tosses in the towel.CC, you seem to have some sense that if there isn't free will, then we should be able to predict people's actions. That would be a very simplistic determinism. It's our brains that have the free will illusion so expecting our brains to figure out all the expected outcomes based on the universe (including all time) full of inputs is really a bit much to ask. Accepting that you don't have free will is not some sort of switch, that if flipped, suddenly opens your eyes to how you are the result of your biology and chemistry.
Rolling a die or flipping a coin are called random, yet if we calculated all of the forces acting on them, we wouldn’t call them random.
Same as everything else- we have no way of figuring out the outcome of mental processes, so we act as though they are within our control, even if, when you get down to the finest grain, they probably aren’t.
It feels creepy and strange to think about it, but I guess I was ‘fated’ to be typing this sentence by the conditions of the early universe.
I get over it by thinking about how vastly more complex our minds are than a simple coin toss, so my thoughts and actions are essentially undetermined for our purposes.
I might suggest clicking on the link under “there’s no need to worry”. It expands on some of the objections I’m hearing, like how the lack of free will effect law enforcement and how not having it somehow takes away our decision making capability. It also sympathizes:
Free will, in this interpretation, is that nobody, possibly not even you yourself, can tell in advance what you will do. That sounds good but is intellectually deeply unsatisfactory.
From the article Lausten linked to: "I believe that instead of making life miserable accepting the absence of free will will improve our self-perception and with it mutual understanding and personal well-being."As much as I agree with the substance of the article, the idea that I don't have free will is actually a bit unsettling. It's an idea that is fun to think about, but my enjoyment quickly fades as I contemplate the implications (both in my own life and for society.)
So much of society is based on the concept of free will that I don’t know if the fact we don’t have it, can ever be fully incorporated. Just think of the justice system- they barely take into account psychology, how in the world can it ever be changed to incorporate this?
Just think of the justice system- they barely take into account psychology, how in the world can it ever be changed to incorporate this?Barely yes, but they do. We have moved a long way from snake pits and asylums and restorative justice is becoming more common every day. So it definitely can be changed. It's even being fought in the courts. People don't like letting sex offenders back out on the streets, so they get 'civilly committed' after their sentence is up. They are in a prison and forced to attend therapy, but no one ever graduates from the program. Some courts have ruled this is not constitutional, but the state governments are fighting it. It's a battle of accepting that they need the therapy, not just saying it as an excuse to lock them up, and of accepting that they can actually change their behavior. "Change their behavior" sounds like free will, but it's not. So, part of accepting this idea is understanding that their nature and nuturing led them to offend, and they can be nurtured to not offend.
Male child molesters could have their nuts cut off. This might help them to not offend.