New brain research refutes results of earlier studies that cast doubts on free will

by Bob Yirka report
brain

(Medical Xpress) -- When people find themselves having to make a decision, the assumption is that the thoughts, or voice that is the conscious mind at work, deliberate, come to a decision, and then act. This is because for most people, that’s how the whole process feels. But back in the early 1980’s, an experiment conducted by Benjamin Libet, a neuroscientist with the University of California, cast doubt on this idea.

He and his colleagues found in watching EEG readings of volunteers who had been asked to make a spontaneous movement (it didn’t matter what kind) that activity prior to the movement indicated that the subconscious mind came to a decision about what movement to make before the person experienced the feeling of making the decision themselves. This, Libet argued, showed that people don’t have nearly the degree of regarding decision making, as has been thought. Since then, no one has really refuted the theory.

Now new research by a European team has found evidence that the brain activity recorded by Libet and other’s is due to something else, and thus, as they write in their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that people really do make decisions in their .

To come to this conclusion, the team looked at how the brain responds to other decision forcing stimuli, such as what to make of visual input. In such instances, earlier research has shown that the brain amasses neural activity in preparation for a response, giving us something to choose from. Thus the response unfolds as the data is turned into imagery our brains can understand and we then interpret what we see based on what we’ve learned in the past. The researchers suggest that choosing to move an arm or leg or finger, works the same way. Our brain gets a hint that we are contemplating making a movement, so it gets ready. And it’s only when a critical mass occurs that decision making actually takes place.

To test this theory, the team built a computer model of what they called a neural accumulator, then watched as it behaved in a way that looked like it was building up to a potential action. Next, they repeated the original experiment conducted by Libet et al but added another element, a click noise. Each volunteer was asked to make a decision right away if they heard the click while they were mulling over their choices. The thinking was that for those who had built up a neural response already and were near the threshold, a faster response should come about, and in looking at the EEG data and comparing them to clicks, that’s exactly what they found. This, the team says, proves that it was still the conscious mind making the ; the subconscious was just doing background work to get ready.

More information: An accumulator model for spontaneous neural activity prior to self-initiated movement, PNAS, Published online before print August 6, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1210467109

Abstract
A gradual buildup of neuronal activity known as the “readiness potential” reliably precedes voluntary self-initiated movements, in the average time locked to movement onset. This buildup is presumed to reflect the final stages of planning and preparation for movement. Here we present a different interpretation of the premovement buildup. We used a leaky stochastic accumulator to model the neural decision of “when” to move in a task where there is no specific temporal cue, but only a general imperative to produce a movement after an unspecified delay on the order of several seconds. According to our model, when the imperative to produce a movement is weak, the precise moment at which the decision threshold is crossed leading to movement is largely determined by spontaneous subthreshold fluctuations in neuronal activity. Time locking to movement onset ensures that these fluctuations appear in the average as a gradual exponential-looking increase in neuronal activity. Our model accounts for the behavioral and electroencephalography data recorded from human subjects performing the task and also makes a specific prediction that we confirmed in a second electroencephalography experiment: Fast responses to temporally unpredictable interruptions should be preceded by a slow negative-going voltage deflection beginning well before the interruption itself, even when the subject was not preparing to move at that particular moment.

Related Stories

Our unconscious brain makes the best decisions possible

Dec 24, 2008

Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that the human brain—once thought to be a seriously flawed decision maker—is actually hard-wired to allow us to make the best decisions possible with the information ...

Subconscious saves the day when hungry brain fails

Nov 26, 2010

Complex decisions should be made subconsciously rather than consciously. This is the conclusion of Dutch researcher Maarten Bos. Hungry brains have difficulty making complicated decisions, but our subconscious functions fine ...

Recommended for you

New test to help brain injury victims recover

2 hours ago

A dynamic new assessment for helping victims of trauma to the brain, including those suffering from progressive conditions such as dementia, has been developed by a clinical neuropsychologist at the University ...

See-through sensors open new window into the brain

4 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers' efforts to understand ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

GenesisNemesis
1 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2012
Not able to access the abstract. How accurate is the computer model?
Deathclock
3.5 / 5 (8) Aug 07, 2012
Even if this is correct, there are still serious problems with the notion of "free will"...

Whether or not the universe is deterministic, we know that determinism holds true at scales larger than the atomic (otherwise we would not be able determine meaningful physical laws or to "do" science at all). But for the sake of argument, even if randomness did propagate up through the hierarchy of scale to affect the processes within our brains this still could not be the source of "free will"... because "randomness" and "will" have nothing to do with each other. The actions you take (call them decisions if you want) stem from the input of your five senses and the current state of your brain. You don't control either of these... When a ball is thrown at your head your brain receives information from your eyes that this is happening and your brain also knows, from past experience, that getting hit will hurt and that hurt is bad and so your brain sends impulses to your muscles to move... cont'd
Deathclock
3.3 / 5 (9) Aug 07, 2012
but you didn't "decide" to duck, you ducked because of the observation of an event that you had no control over and because of the associations that were already hard-wired into your brain through previous and similar observations of events that were also beyond your control.

From the moment you are born (and even some time before) connections are being formed in your brain based on the input it receives from your 5 senses. You sense the external world, and you have no control over that world, from the moment you are born through your entire life. Your brain is literally shaped by these experiences that were beyond your control, and the structure of your brain determines the actions you take in any given circumstance.

To think that you have free will, you have to somehow assert your will over the physical reality of your brains chemistry and structure, otherwise your actions are merely the result of physical law playing out in the matter of your brain. Free will must invoke magic.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Aug 07, 2012
this still could not be the source of "free will"... because "randomness" and "will" have nothing to do with each other.


Volition is nothing but choosing - the method of determining the choice is what's under question here. The problem is not about "will", but the definition of "free".

When a ball is thrown at your head your brain receives information from your eyes that this is happening and your brain also knows, from past experience, that getting hit will hurt and that hurt is bad and so your brain sends impulses to your muscles to move


You're forgetting something very important here. My brain is me. I exist nowhere else.
Deathclock
3.2 / 5 (9) Aug 07, 2012
The illusion of free will is all that we have, and even I, as someone who understands this, still go about my life as if I am actually making decisions because that illusion is so powerful... the realization of all that I am saying doesn't really affect my day to day life. It DOES affect my views on retributive punishment and other things however... which is why you'll often see me arguing against punishments that are based on retribution rather than on prevention or rehabilitation.

You don't have to get so technical to understand what I am saying either, it's self evident... With few exception Christians raise Christian children and Muslims raise Muslim children... why? Because the parents program the children with their beliefs. The children don't chose to follow the same beliefs as their parents, they are programmed to do so since infancy.

Programming people is quite simple actually, and movies like the Truman Show or The Island touch on this subject.
Deathclock
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 07, 2012
You're forgetting something very important here. My brain is me. I exist nowhere else.


Absolutely, your brain is you, and you are your brain, and your brain forms due to external stimuli that is always completely beyond your control. Therefore who you are or who you will turn out to be was/is completely beyond your control. You are literally a product of your circumstances, and this begins at the moment of conception. You do not choose where you are born, or the parents you are born to, or the siblings you have, or the wealth of your family, etc etc etc, and all of these things have an ENORMOUS impact on who you will eventually become.
GenesisNemesis
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2012
Deathclock
3 / 5 (8) Aug 07, 2012
"Volition is nothing but choosing - the method of determining the choice is what's under question here. The problem is not about "will", but the definition of "free"."

I wouldn't even call it a choice though... we only consider an action to be the result of a choice because we can recognize alternatives to that action. However, the fact that we can recognize these alternatives does not show that those alternatives were actually possible (in fact they were not). "Choice" is likely a meaningless abstract concept that never actually occurs. We are as subject to physical law as any random piece of gravel, but that relationship is hidden through extremely complex interactions that are obscured from our observation.
LariAnn
3.8 / 5 (10) Aug 07, 2012
@Deathclock,
All you can state with certainty is that what you are proposing is true FOR YOU. If you have never done something that goes contrary to your "programming", then for you it is true that you cannot do anything other than what your programming allows. That makes you a very good robot, but not a human being. When people place themselves in danger to save others, IMHO they are going against survival and experience programming in order to accomplish this. That is part of what makes them human, and what makes their decision an act of will, not just free.

As for me, contrary to my "programming", I believe and do things that do not conform to any upbringing or even physical experiences I have had. So in my experience, I make choices and decisions. Sometimes they correspond to "programming" and other times they go against it. It's up to me, not my physical brain, and that is the crux of any spiritual path - the determination of what is the self (who am I).
Deathclock
3 / 5 (8) Aug 07, 2012
All you can state with certainty is that what you are proposing is true FOR YOU.


Unless you are magic, it is true for everyone. You cannot subvert physical law, no one can.

If you have never done something that goes contrary to your "programming", then for you it is true that you cannot do anything other than what your programming allows. That makes you a very good robot, but not a human being. When people place themselves in danger to save others, IMHO they are going against survival and experience programming in order to accomplish this. That is part of what makes them human, and what makes their decision an act of will, not just free.


Oh dear... it appears you have drastically misunderstood that example... Your parents are not the sole source of your "programming"... every single picosecond of stimulation from all of your 5 senses is what programs your brain. Your senses provide knowledge about the outside world to your brain, and those senses shape your brain...
Deathclock
3.2 / 5 (9) Aug 07, 2012
"As for me, contrary to my "programming", I believe and do things that do not conform to any upbringing or even physical experiences I have had"

No you don't because it is impossible. Let me tell you what happens leading up to the moment that you take an action: Your five senses inform your brain about the circumstance that you are in in this instant. Relationships between the present situation and similar past situations are traversed, through physical connections between neurons. Those relationships, based on past experiences, are used to inform your brain of the action it should direct your muscles to perform in this instant. Your brain sends impulses to your muscles and you move to take an action.

Your brain is, for all intents and purposes, empty initially. External stimulation shapes the growth and formation of your neural network throughout your life, you do not have control over this external stimulation. You do not have control over the formation of your brain.
Deathclock
3 / 5 (9) Aug 07, 2012
It's very difficult to discuss this topic with average people who are not accustomed to thinking on such a deep level. Most people will simply say "Well your wrong because yesterday I chose to order a hotdog instead of a hamburger and I always get a hamburger"...

Yeah, it's not productive to engage people who will likely never understand even the basic points you are trying to make... so I'll probably just let what I have said be assaulted by people who cannot even begin to grasp it at any level. It would be too much of an effort to defend it against frivolous arguments, which is why most real scientists do not even address creationists.
LariAnn
4.3 / 5 (7) Aug 07, 2012
Note that the only thing wrong with your argument is that you are attempting to apply it to every person who is living and has ever lived and not just to yourself. IMHO, unless you consider yourself to be some kind of omniscient being, THAT is truly impossible and in the realm of "magic", as you state. Your post about the difficulty of discussing this topic is spot on but not for the reason you think - IMHO it is because this issue IS truly deep, but to reduce humanity to total programming is not deep at all. In fact, it eliminates all ethical arguments and the entire concept of right and wrong as well as all polaric concepts, such as progress vs. devolution and war vs. peace. How can anyone be judged right or wrong if they are merely acting according to lifetime programming, and how can you or anyone else deign to judge anyone because their lifetime of programming leads them to actions that you would not do yourself because your lifetime of programming prohibits it?
Deathclock
3.2 / 5 (9) Aug 07, 2012
"Note that the only thing wrong with your argument is that you are attempting to apply it to every person who is living and has ever lived and not just to yourself."

LariAnn, you really do not understand the argument. Trust me. The fact that it applies to everyone is a consequence of the fact that we are all physical beings in a physical world and are not magic. If you don't understand that then you don't understand the argument and I don't have the willpower to attempt to explain it to you in baby steps.
Deathclock
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 07, 2012
but to reduce humanity to total programming is not deep at all


Great, and what magic would you assert to intervene with the fact that the only information we have about the outside world comes to us through our five senses and our brain forms neural pathways due to that information and we have no control over that information because we have no control over the outside world prior to it's influence on us?
GenesisNemesis
3 / 5 (8) Aug 07, 2012
but to reduce humanity to total programming is not deep at all


Great, and what magic would you assert to intervene with the fact that the only information we have about the outside world comes to us through our five senses and our brain forms neural pathways due to that information and we have no control over that information because we have no control over the outside world prior to it's influence on us?


I'll add, does this particular person you're replying to have any issue with us not having souls, or there being no purpose to the Universe, or humanity being only one species on an insignificant speck of dust suspended on a sunbeam?
Deathclock
3 / 5 (6) Aug 07, 2012
Great, and what magic would you assert to intervene with the fact that the only information we have about the outside world comes to us through our five senses and our brain forms neural pathways due to that information and we have no control over that information because we have no control over the outside world prior to it's influence on us?


I'll add, does this particular person you're replying to have any issue with us not having souls, or there being no purpose to the Universe, or humanity being only one species on an insignificant speck of dust suspended on a sunbeam?


Yeah that's a good point, some people are just so far out there with their beliefs that discussion is pointless. If you are a mind-body dualist or believe in things like "souls" or have no idea about the form and function of the brain then please don't bother responding to the argument I am making, because it is fundamentally incompatible with your (incorrect) beliefs.
GenesisNemesis
4 / 5 (4) Aug 07, 2012
how can you or anyone else deign to judge anyone because their lifetime of programming leads them to actions that you would not do yourself because your lifetime of programming prohibits it?


Firstly, it's possible we live in an infinite multiverse. It's possible that this particular multiverse is capable of producing Universes, which are capable of having objective morality. We don't know if there are other Universes yet. Secondly, even if there is no objective morality, and there probably isn't, that doesn't eliminate my desire to have people who have committed acts of murder, rape, etc, to jail, because I live in a society, and I consider myself to be a member of society. Hate to break it to you but reality isn't black and white. The Universe is not by any means just and cares nothing whatsoever for your existence. That's why if you're standing in front of a tornado and it's coming near you, you're going to die. That doesn't mean we can't be nice to each other.
Deathclock
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 07, 2012
Good answer, I'll add this:

how can you or anyone else deign to judge anyone because their lifetime of programming leads them to actions that you would not do yourself because your lifetime of programming prohibits it?


EXACTLY, thank you for understanding this! It is unfortunate that some people end up murdering or raping or cheating or stealing or whatever, but it does occur. So what do we do about it? The answer is simple... what do we do about Hurricanes? What do we do about floods? What do we do about any natural disaster or problem? We 1) Prepare and 2) Prevent.

Preparation for the crimes people may commit include things like surveillance systems, which help us to identify the criminal. Prevention includes many things such as, anti-theft measures, incarceration, or even execution...

When you shift the focus from assigning blame and attempting to "get even" via retribution (which is useless) then you will identify the real problem and come to good solutions.
Deathclock
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 07, 2012
It's not like "oh you did something bad, so I'm mad at you and want to hurt you"... which is barbaric... it's more like "You did something bad, so you are likely to do bad things more often than most people, so we should prevent you from doing those things"...

The practical result is the same in regards to crime and punishment, including jail time, probation, or execution.

Unfortunately we are not at the point where we can effectively rehabilitate people... though I suspect we will be eventually if the human race survives long enough.
jstnthrgtrst
5 / 5 (5) Aug 07, 2012
Some should be a little more open minded
Even if you disagree with someone's beliefs, you shouldn't go as far as to put them down or insult their intelligence
We are all thinking beings and (hopefully) put a lot of thought and research into what we believe
And receive everything with an open mind, even if it (at first) seems "far out"

If you want to experience free will, learn to improvise on an instrument
GenesisNemesis
4 / 5 (8) Aug 07, 2012
Some should be a little more open minded
Even if you disagree with someone's beliefs, you shouldn't go as far as to put them down or insult their intelligence
We are all thinking beings and (hopefully) put a lot of thought and research into what we believe
And receive everything with an open mind, even if it (at first) seems "far out"

If you want to experience free will, learn to improvise on an instrument


I can improvise on an instrument. Knowledge of keys, chords, etc, is required. Finger conditioning (the fingers getting "used" to the keys, in order to press them loudly or softly) is required, unless you are a savant or something. I still don't believe in free will. There are many things we can do quickly, that we don't think about when we're doing them. These things are registered unconsciously.
jstnthrgtrst
not rated yet Aug 07, 2012
Of course I don't mean absolutely free; there are always constraints. I suppose I should've said freedom. Total freedom (Nirvana, God, enlightenment, Oneness, whatever) is acceptance of nothingness, which is the truth if you think hard enough about it (conservation of energy). But I am perfectly happy with my world of lights and sounds and words and feelings, (minus the problems with society) so I wouldn't know anything about all that. Improv is just a very "free" experience. Just because you or I haven't experienced higher degrees of freedom doesn't mean they don't exist.
RealityCheck
3.2 / 5 (9) Aug 07, 2012
What the heck! This again? I thought I cleared up this question years ago. I can demonstrate that free will exist quite simply by determining my choice BEFOREHAND and then creating a SCENARIO which gives me two alternatives which I will choose between based on my predetermined 'choice' irrespective of any other input or consideration; thusly...

I PRE-DECIDE (by solely and purely free will act) to toss a coin when I next come to a T-junction in the road. I also PRE-DECIDE (again, by solely and purely free will act) that I will go RIGHT if 'heads' and LEFT if 'tails'. The toss ends up 'heads'. I go 'right' as PRE-DECIDED by solely and purely free will based on my free will decision to accept (rather than not accept) the result of the coin toss.

See? Free will at every stage in decision making.

The toss result response pre-decided by free will even before the toss-result 'input' (heads or tails) had yet transpired!

Free will exists as demonstrated. Q.E.D.

Cheers!

RealityCheck.

RealityCheck
5 / 5 (5) Aug 07, 2012
Add to my above post:

Human choice/response is usually just 'interplay' outcomes between such 'soft' higher intellect 'circuit-breakers' (free will) and 'hard' animal program 'loops' (conditioned response) components of the human brain-mind synergy which manifests as 'human intelligence'.

RealityCheck.
Dug
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2012
DNA, evolution, genetic errors - pretty much eliminate complete free will within the context of those physical limitations. I'm sure some of us even thought we freely decided to post here, but even that is predisposed.
Deathclock
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 07, 2012
I can demonstrate that free will exist quite simply by determining my choice BEFOREHAND...


How did you arrive at that "choice"? More importantly, why are you even doing this demonstration? Because you read the discussion on this site, and why were you reading this site? Because you have an interest in science and technology, and why is that? Because of experiences that you've had during your life that were beyond your control. You did not choose to post this article, you did not choose what I posted in response to it, and you did not even choose your interest in this website that brought you here to begin with... So you obviously did not choose to conduct this demonstration, so you likewise did not choose this "choice" that you claim to have made...

You have to go back more than one step in examining why you do what you do...

Free will exists Q.E.D


Not only did you NOT demonstrate free will, you demonstrated that don't even understand the argument against it.. /yawn
Deathclock
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 07, 2012
Human choice/response is usually just 'interplay' outcomes between such 'soft' higher intellect 'circuit-breakers' (free will) and 'hard' animal program 'loops' (conditioned response) components of the human brain-mind synergy which manifests as 'human intelligence'.


I don't care what you call it, human beings are physical entities in a physical world governed by physical law... physical laws apply inside our brains just as they do outside... you have no control over these laws, you have no control over how your brain operates... This isn't complicated. I can demonstrate that you do not have free will from 2 different angles, the one I just mentioned regarding the fact that you have no influence over the physical laws that govern the interactions in your brain, and the other is the fact that your brain is formed based on the input it receives from your five sense of the outside world, which you do not control, beginning prior to your own birth.
Deathclock
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 07, 2012
The three people here so far who have claimed to have demonstrated free will have only demonstrated the illusion of free will. You think you have free will because you take prior to taking an action you recognize alternatives, so you think you could have acted in any of those alternative manners... but the recognition of alternatives does not mean that any of them were possible. You took a single action, not any of the recognized alternatives, and you did so based purely on the interplay of physical law inside of your brain with electro-chemical signals traversing your pre-existing neural network to make associations with the current sensory input being received by your five senses...

If you think you have free will, you must either be asserting that you can subvert physical laws, the laws of chemistry, the laws of physics, or you must be asserting some kind of magic like mind-body dualism.

If you don't understand this then it's your problem to solve, not mine.
spezz
5 / 5 (5) Aug 08, 2012
Deathclock, I do not agree with either the free will proponents in this thread or yourself. "Magic" was an abstract for physical phenomenon that we did not understand. Even today there are many observable quantum mechanics that cannot be explained.

How can we know if "free will" exists or not if we do not even fully understand the underlying science? Even if, in the future, we have a clearer view of quantum phenomenon, the observer effect may obscure or interfere with our understanding.

A deterministic point of view is convenient for someone who wishes to convince ones self that they understand everything. A scientist, like the ones in this article, are comfortable with the unknown. They can take heart that we will never understand everything, and they will always have a job.

"Physical law" is not documented in any manner even resembling complete. To assume either stance in this debate is an assertion of faith and is the basis for science, but not end result.
visual
5 / 5 (5) Aug 08, 2012
Deathclock, you are missing a few things.

First, the definition for "free will" is not quite clear-cut.
Obviously, with your definition, free will does not exist in a deterministic universe. Everyone's decisions are pre-determined by previous events and theoretically predictable if we could read the states of a large enough amount of particles and calculate their future.

But still, those decisions are not in any way dependent on other people's decisions. They are not forced by someone else's will. This alone could be called "free will", a more practical definition that seems to me quite natural for people that accept determinism, as opposed to the metaphysical definition which determinism clearly excludes.

Second, the universe might not be deterministic after all. Your decisions may not be completely predetermined and predictable. I agree that randomness does not exactly prove the idea of metaphysical free will, but at least it leaves the door open for such belief.

visual
5 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2012
Personally, I have no need to believe in "free will" in the absolute, metaphysical sense. In fact, I think human will is quite easily predictable in most situations - statistically or just by "common sense". There are also plenty of examples of human will being easily affected by various chemicals or manipulated by other people. So the whole concept seems pointless to me.

But I have no problem letting other people believe in whatever :p I have to, because I also happen to have unproven beliefs. For example I believe that the universe is in fact deterministic and eventually we will figure it out.
gwrede
not rated yet Aug 08, 2012
There is free will as long as one looks at it from within. But from the outside, the whole idea of a free will is obviously false.

So, if I choose this or that, I feel that I've chosen it myself, out of my own free will. But the audience, or the scientists or the historians see clearly that my choice was the result of circumstances -- whether I am aware of them, or not.

A dog may feel that it obeys its master out of free will. The dog may feel that it mounts the female dog out of free will.
mogmich
5 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
Deathclock: The brain changes its own structure in response to information from the outside world. How the brain changes is not exclusively determined by this information, but also by the brain itself. You also forget to ask yourself the question WHY the brain react this way. I would say, that the brain react by building neural connections in order to be capable of having a certain level of control later on (the level of control our brains actually have - not neccessarily the control we think we have).

You might say, that there is no mystical "I" that have a free will, but doesn't that mean, that we ARE our brains? Even if you say that, you can still give meaning to the concept of "free will" - by identifying it with the level of control your brain has at a given time (e.g. at the time of typing your comments here.
thingumbobesquire
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
I think the appropriate question about this entire line of "research" is what would motivate anyone in attempting to prove that humanity is without free will? I cannot imagine anything other than a rather dark and sinister explanation for such a compulsion.
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2012
Deathclock,

Despite your vacuous arguments, everyone does make choices every day. Each of those choices is unconstrained except by preference and circumstance. Such constraints are not barriers.

The sophist's argument that there is no free will is an attempt to free the arguer from the consequences of his actions. It is an attempt to deprecate the notion of morality and ethics. It is a bankrupt argument.

Prove that your activities are not choices. Explain how the universe compels you to argue against free will. You have the option of arguing otherwise and you have the additional option of remaining silent. Explain how you are compelled and how you are prevented from acting in a different manner.

You will be unable to rationally support the notion that you are unable to do otherwise, because you obviously can.
GenesisNemesis
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2012
Deathclock,
The sophist's argument that there is no free will


When you label your opposition as "sophist", there's no longer any hope for a debate, and I have absolutely no reason to consider your position considering the way you presented it.
GenesisNemesis
3 / 5 (2) Aug 08, 2012
So certain in our petty metaphysical assumptions on our pale blue dot. I have infinitely more confidence in mathematics than metaphysics, I don't see why others don't. Lighten up, people.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
You might say, that there is no mystical "I" that have a free will, but doesn't that mean, that we ARE our brains? Even if you say that, you can still give meaning to the concept of "free will" - by identifying it with the level of control your brain has at a given time (e.g. at the time of typing your comments here.


I suppose, but that redefines what the term "free will" for most people...

At the time of writing these comments, we cannot say that "I" chose to do so, because I did not chose to publish this article... if this article was not published, "I" would not have written these comments. Since it was published, and I read it (which I also did not choose, I read this article because I have a general interest in this topic, which can be traced back through time to various external influences on me that I did not control) I wrote these responses because these thoughts pop into my head about the subject and I feel compelled to share them... still not a choice.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
Okay, several of you have mentioned deterministic universe and quantum mechanics and all... if you look at the first sentence of my first post I explain why what I am saying is true regardless of whether or not the universe is ultimately deterministic.

Also, I am presenting 3 separate arguments simultaneously, each showing that we do not have free will... most of you when posting to oppose what I am saying are only focusing on one of these arguments... If you want to argue against what I am saying then you must address each argument.

Determinism vs. non-determinism is irrelevant because even in a non-deterministic universe you have randomness... randomness has nothing to do with will... you cannot derive will from random quantum effects.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
Even today there are many observable quantum mechanics that cannot be explained.
Irrelevant. See above.
How can we know if "free will" exists or not if we do not even fully understand the underlying science?
What I am saying applies to a deterministic as well as a non-deterministic universe equally. What I am saying also does not rely on any particular physical law... simply the fact that there ARE physical laws.
A deterministic point of view is convenient for someone who wishes to convince ones self that they understand everything.
A deterministic point of view is not necessary for my argument.
"Physical law" is not documented in any manner even resembling complete
Irrelevant. There only needs to exist physical laws for what I am saying to be true, whether or not we currently understand them.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (2) Aug 08, 2012
Look, there are 2 possibilities...

1) The universe is rational and everything occurs for a reason based on discernible (if not yet discerned) physical law.

2) The universe is irrational and at some level true randomness occurs. This randomness only exists at the smallest scales and does not propagate up the hierarchy of scale to the macro world, and we know this because we are able to discern some physical laws and the universe is not a complete fucking funhouse where anything happens for no apparent reason.

In either of these cases, knowing only what we know now, my argument against free will holds true...

"Will" cannot be derived from randomness... nor can "Will" be derived from on-rails causal sequences due to physical law (regardless of what those laws or if we know them).
GenesisNemesis
5 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
Looks like someone is downvoting our comments! Oh nos! Whatever will we do?
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
Free will is IMPOSSIBLE, it cannot come from randomness and it cannot come from causal sequences. I just don't see how you would explain the source of it or how it operates.

This is ONE of the arguments I am making... the other argument is that you can trace the ultimate cause of any of your actions back through time to find all relevant influencing factors of that decision, all of which are beyond your control, right back to the circumstances of your birth.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
Looks like someone is downvoting our comments! Oh nos! Whatever will we do?


Has nothing to do with what I am saying, someones shill account that has never made a comment votes every single one of my comments a 1... the use my comment history and just go through the list giving me all 1's... it's a bit pathetic.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
everyone does make choices every day. Each of those choices is unconstrained except by preference and circumstance. Such constraints are not barriers.


You take actions every day... you think they are choices because you can recognize alternatives, But you're wrong, those alternatives are not possible. The action you take is DETERMINED by the state of your brain at the instant that you take that action, you don't control the state of your brain, the input received by your five senses controls the state of your brain. Your brain develops over time from pre-birth based on NOTHING but the input received by your five senses... based on NOTHING but your perception of the outside world, which you do not control, at least not prior to it's influence on you.

The outside world exists at the moment you are born, and you had no control over it's state, and as soon as you begin receiving signals from your senses your brain begins to form based on these signals.

Get it?
visual
5 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
Since the source and nature of the apparent randomness is unknown, you can not exclude some metaphysical meaning to it, equivalent to 'will', 'soul', 'god' or 'invisible pink unicorn'. Yes, randomness is not a proof of any of those things, but it does not exclude them either. It leaves the door open, as I wrote earlier.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
This is all so obvious, but people are afraid of it because they are afraid of the consequences... the consequences are only positive, the elimination of retributive punishment for example, the focus on prevention of crime or rehabilitation of criminals rather than useless punishment...

Here's another argument... no one would argue that viruses have free will, but they self-replicate... no one would argue that bacteria have free will... no one would argue that amoeba have free will, no one would argue that fruit flies have free will...

Where is the dividing line? What "magic" happens at that dividing line that provides free will? NOTHING... all that happens is that the complexity of the path between cause and effect obscures the fact that we are riding on rails as much as those organisms are.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
Since the source and nature of the apparent randomness is unknown, you can not exclude some metaphysical meaning to it, equivalent to 'will', 'soul', 'god' or 'invisible pink unicorn'. Yes, randomness is not a proof of any of those things, but it does not exclude them either.


You have to use the term metaphysical... I almost literally see that word in red when I read the comment, it means what comes next is meaningless.

I cannot imagine how truly random effects can lead to your ability to willfully control your actions rather than your actions being based on the state of your brain in the instant that you take the action.

You're asserting that it "might somehow" allow for it, but that's equivalent to asserting that there might be a teapot orbiting Jupiter... in that I can't imagine how nor is there any evidence in favor of it.
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
I'm with you Deathclock... i believe that the concepts of both free will and randomness (irrelevant though it is, as you correctly state) are causality violating.

WRT randomness, any notion of acausal determinants is oxymoronic. WRT free will, the belief it can constitute a "first cause" also denies causality - "i'm" something my brain does, its connectivity and activity are by definition causes of "me", and though i may have the illusion of influencing them, i know they're obviously beyond my control.

IMHO free will is very real - but only as an impression. I've long realised however that ultimately this makes little difference - we should all carry on as if we DID have such power of agency, even if we're just pretending to believe in it - although i agree WRT crime and punishment; it should be rehabilitative rather than punitive: we still need to protect society from wrong 'uns, as well as disincentivise antisocial behaviour...
rowbyme
not rated yet Aug 08, 2012
@Deathclock

Deathclock, I've read a lot of your comments but until now I never realized what an idiot you are. You're touting one point of view out of many, and you're completely dogmatic about it.
You better learn how to open your mind pal, you'll just be a frustrated pseudo intellectual otherwise.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 08, 2012
Deathclock,
How did you arrive at that "choice"? More importantly, why are you even doing this demonstration?...

You have to go back more than one step in examining why you do what you do...

Not only did you NOT demonstrate free will, you demonstrated that don't even understand the argument against it.


If you re-read my post, you will see where I effectively removed all other factors from the demonstration by 'free will' pre-deciding what will or will not be my 'choice' in that scenario given. Your counter arguments are therefore irrelevant.

....human beings are physical entities in a physical world governed by physical law...


Again, the interplay is in our brain-mind between what I demonstrated and what you limit your own take on.

You don't pay attention, so you miss it and resort to your own 'fixed' idea about it all. Your 'choice' of course!

By the way, is your 'take' on all this your 'free will choice', or are you just defaulting to hard wired programme?

RC.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
I'm with you Deathclock... i believe that the concepts of both free will and randomness (irrelevant though it is, as you correctly state) are causality violating.

WRT randomness, any notion of acausal determinants is oxymoronic. WRT free will, the belief it can constitute a "first cause" also denies causality - "i'm" something my brain does, its connectivity and activity are by definition causes of "me", and though i may have the illusion of influencing them, i know they're obviously beyond my control.

IMHO free will is very real - but only as an impression. I've long realised however that ultimately this makes little difference - we should all carry on as if we DID have such power of agency, even if we're just pretending to believe in it - although i agree WRT crime and punishment; it should be rehabilitative rather than punitive: we still need to protect society from wrong 'uns, as well as disincentivise antisocial behaviour...


Well said, thank you.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
I never realized what an idiot you are. You're touting one point of view out of many, and you're completely dogmatic about it. You better learn how to open your mind pal, you'll just be a frustrated pseudo intellectual otherwise.


I'm sorry you feel that way, but let me explain...

I may argue passionately for what I believe is true, that does NOT mean I will ever say that I KNOW that it's true or that I cannot be wrong. I believe the several independent arguments I have made here still stand, without serious contention. I also believe that, while I may be proven wrong in my conclusion eventually, I am absolutely right in my reason for thinking it given what we currently know about reality.

One of my detractors said it best themselves, (paraphrased) "somehow random quantum effects might affect us in a way to enable free will"... well great, but I don't see how, and like I said that is as useful of a statement as "there might be a teapot orbiting Jupiter".
DarkHorse66
5 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
@Deathclock: I don't wish to turn this into a protracted debate, as I'm supposed to be doing other things (eg assignments), but perhaps consider a SEMI-Kantian perspective:Autonomy WITHIN heteronomy.The heteronymous part is our 'programming' ie the dictates of the things that we 'know',& dictates the likelihood of a particular reaction.The autonomy comes into play in that we have the freedom to make those choices(or go against them)within the boundaries of those 'programs' of our knowledge,skills &experiences.On a different level, do you REALLY think that you have REALLY understood what it means to have lack of choice?Try this for size(You will need one 1 medical condition called ADHD-no meds,don't tolerate them): you desire very badly to do something, but you are forced to just sit there & cry out of frustration. Why? Because at that time, you can't muster the drive to set your desire in motion. I should point out that here 'desire' translates to the willingness to do something...cont
DarkHorse66
5 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
cont...& 'drive' is what allows you to set the action in motion, to achieve the desire.I would strongly content that, until you have experienced something like THAT it feels as though you literally in a mental CAGE), you only have an abstract idea of what heteronomy(hence lack of free will)is supposed to be.When you experience it for real(and are fully aware of it, while it is happening to you), then I think you may rethink your current definition.Remember too, Kant said that you can only have free will if you have autonomy.As for preventing deviancy; since there is no responsibility for actions without free will, there is no requirement for justice & hence deviancy doesn't exist.Yet you DO feel the need for justice.How did YOU get programed to need measures to stop others, after all they aren't responsible for their actions, therefore have committed no crime in the first place when they did something that you didn't agree withYour argument could be turned around/against you;...cont
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
The autonomy comes into play in that we have the freedom to make those choices(or go against them)within the boundaries of those 'programs' of our knowledge,skills &experiences.


But that is exactly what my argument is opposing... All that happens in your brain is chemistry and physics, as far as I know I cannot control physical laws... electro-chemical signals come into my brain from my five senses and cascade through my neural network activating regions associated with my current sensations which activate other associated regions which eventually leads to activation of nerves to various muscle groups that cause me to act in a way that is literally hard wired in my brain... again I ask, what kind of magic can interfere with this description I have given?

If you consider the brain a hugely complex electrical circuit in a constant state of flux where new connections are made and logic gates are changed based on input of the outside world it's very easy to see what I mean.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
ADHD ... you desire very badly to do something, but you are forced to just sit there & cry out of frustration. Why? Because at that time, you can't muster the drive to set your desire in motion. I should point out that here 'desire' translates to the willingness to do something


This has nothing to do with free will, this is a malfunction in your brain. In the example I gave above my senses give me a picture of the outside world and they activated associated memory regions and inform me of the current context that I exist in and of the history of previous similar contexts in my past and what my actions were at the time and whether they were positive or negative and with all these connections and associations my brain has been wired (long ago) to favor actions that have historically had beneficial results so the signals traverse this network to ultimately lead to the activation of muscles that cause me to act in a way to recreate the positive result I've experienced in the past..
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
In your example, the scenario above plays out until it comes time to activate the muscles to take the actions that you know will likely lead to a positive outcome. For some reason (I am not a neuroscientist but I am sure one could inform you about the PHYSICAL reality of ADHD better than I can) something interferes with the process, either due to simultaneous activation of conflicting regions of your brain that counteract the signals necessary to take action or due to some other kind of blockage that I can't imagine because again, I'm not a neuroscientist.

The brain is a physical entity in a physical world that follows physical laws... At the scale above the sub-atomic we KNOW that determinism dominates, if it didn't we would not be able to "do science" or create technology... there is no getting around this.
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 09, 2012
cont...(not a personal attack here :)) they would only need to dislike the cut of your hair (you like it) and decide that it was so ugly that it was a crime & that YOU needed to be stopped. They would be just as entitled/justified to their actions (no pers. responsibility!) as you would be to your haircut. Also, what is stopping you from deviant behavior of your own? After all, you aren't responsible for your actions?! Do you believe in morality/amorality? Even the secular, humanist type? Without free will, neither exists.
http://en.wikiped...Autonomy (Phil section), http://www.thefre...autonomy
http://www.thefre...teronomy
http://en.wikiped...teronomy
Also, there is then no point in arguing with the religionists on this site, their belief is programed by their external environment(they would argue, by a god), who/what programed you to de-program THEM?...just some food for thought ;D Best Regards, DH66
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
See, my argument really only rests on these four things:

1) Determinism dominates reality above the sub-atomic scale.

2) You are your brain, your brain receives all information about the outside world and literally causes your muscles to move that enable you to take action.

3) Your brain is physical and it operates rationally based on deterministic physical laws.

4) Any random or pseudo-random effects that may occasionally (RARELY) propagate up from the sub-atomic world to influence the atomic world CANNOT be the source of "free will"... randomness (equi-probable or probabilistic) and "will" have nothing to do with each other and one cannot cause the other.

I am convinced of 1, because we can determine physical laws that work and we can use them to do incredible things. I am also convinced of 2 because of the research and discoveries I am aware of in the field of neurology. I am convinced of 3 as well, but slightly less than 1 or 2. 4 I have the least confidence in...
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 09, 2012
Consciousness, self-awareness and identity arise out of the physical, but are not physical in themselves. here/what is the physical law that enables this transmutation?You are arguing on the basis of existing known laws only. None of them allow for it.
As for saying:'you only need to try for longer'is virtually the same as telling a depressed person to 'just pull themselves together'That tells me that you REALLY haven't understood the point that I was trying to make.That is NOT appreciated. :(
I hate to say this, but you have put all your energies (during the entire thread) into defending your standpoint, instead of rebutting others' args & the whole thing DOES sound rather like you are defending an article of faith/belief-with religious-like(?)fervor..That is not normally you...You have even avoided answering my direct q's about morality, etc.I don't know if you have posted further in the meantime, I'm typing as fast as I can, IT at uni is about to shut, I return tomorrow, gdnite,DH66
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
As for saying:'you only need to try for longer'is virtually the same as telling a depressed person to 'just pull themselves together'That tells me that you REALLY haven't understood the point that I was trying to make.That is NOT appreciated.


Wait, WHAT?

I never said that a person with ADHD only needs to "try for longer"

I didn't say or imply anything at all even remotely close to this.

I said there is a physical reason for the problem, I didn't say it could be overcome by trying harder. In fact in the context of my ENTIRE argument saying that they just have to "try harder" would make zero sense...

I think you are emotionally vested in this ADHD example, which is why you were so easily offended by something that I never even said.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
For the record, I have a loved one with bi-polar disorder... I fully understand that such mental diseases are just as much beyond a persons control as any other physical disease such as cancer. This in fact lends credibility to my argument.

Regarding people who commit suicide, I don't blame them for not being "strong enough" or anything like that either... their actions are dictated by the wiring of their brain, and that wiring formed over their entire life time due DIRECTLY and SOLELY to the experiences that they have had, to sum total of their sensory perception during their life, because that is the only information your brain receives, and that is how it forms.

This is my argument, what you claim I said about ADHD is directly counter to my own argument... don't you see?
mogmich
5 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
Deathclock:

When you say that: "Determinism dominates reality above the sub-atomic scale" you are right. But you forget, that reality above the sub-atomic scale only exists because reality below the sub-atomic scale does. Or to put it another way: Quantum reality is more fundamental.

What Quantum Physics really say, is that there are Quantum events that cannot be explained by local variables. You cannot observe any (local) cause for the event, and therefore you cannot predict the event precisely. You can only predict the different probabilities as expressed in a wave function. That is: You have to treat the outcome as being random. Not because of a lack of technology, but because nature itself makes it impossible for any observer to predict otherwise. Quantum events necessarily APPEAR random for any observer.

Many physicists interpret this to mean, that the randomness is absolute, but that is actually not known. We don't know this today.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
Yes, I get that, but that randomness does not affect the scale that we are talking about, and randomness cannot be used to derive free will.

Arguing that we somehow get free will from random fluctuations in probability distributions at sub-atomic scales which do not affect anything at higher scales is like arguing that we get free will from God... it's a non sequitur.
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2012
Isn't the most likely cause and effect relationship one that develops via classical conditioning of the predictable motor responses via the direct epigenetic effects of the sensory environment on hormone-secreting nerve cells in brain tissue? That would make nutrient acquisition and reproduction functions of classical conditioning at the receptor-mediated cellular level, but allow motor function to be associated with operant conditioning and reward mechanisms. It's difficult to refute a model of molecular biology that incorporates the chemical ecology of all species, but first someone must distinguish between classical conditioning of hormone-driven responses required for survival, and operant conditioning of optional rewards that are not required for survival.
mogmich
not rated yet Aug 09, 2012
Deathclock:
That is not true! If there were no (apparent) randomness in the universe, stars and galaxies wouldn't have formed. The formation of matter in cosmic scale depends on these quantum fluctuations. The Big Bang itself might also be the result of a quantum fluctuation.

Although we don't know the exact nature of the APPARENT randomness in nature, we nevertheless know today, that an event can be partly random and partly non-random. The spin of an electron can be random relative to the rest of the universe - except another electron, relative to which the spin is NOT random. This is possible if the two electrons are entangled.

But this kind of "spooky action at a distance" (as Einstein called it) is not a causal connection in the normal sense. So if you restrict the term "causality" to the classical cause-effect you find on the higher scale, there are actually more than the two possibilities you talk about: 1)randomness 2)determinism.
visual
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
Deathclock

Saying randomness can not affect things at the macroscopic level is wrong, and since you seemed like you have a clue about quantum physics, I thought you should know that.
It might be true for a lot of situations, where a large amount of random fluctuations can be neglected as on average they cancel each other out. But it is not universally true. Schrodinger's cat is the classic example. Or more generally, quantum random number generators, which have already been made in labs.
We do not understand how our brain work yet. They may very well be not as simple as you imagine... for example, they might turn out to be like a quantum computer to some degree. And quantum randomness could turn out to have a role in decision making.

Again, if you read my first two posts you should remember that this isn't something that I believe, but nevertheless it is something that we can not currently dismiss as a possibility.
visual
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
DarkHorse66
I do not agree with you about the implications you see from determinism and the lack of metaphysical free will.

Even if we accept that the universe were deterministic and we are machines operating on strict, predictable rules, all our choices pre-determined, that does not mean we should give up concepts like morality or responsibility.

We don't need an universal and absolute concept for "good" and "evil", the subjective concepts of what is good or bad for society or for the majority are sufficient to define a "moral law". And we should still punish crimes against it, even if we recognize how those crimes were a result of physical laws and initial conditions, etc... That punishment is not for the purpose of some divine retribution or to make us feel good that order and balance has been restored in the universe. It is intended so that the environment we as individuals live in, our society, is such that it makes it less likely that we will do crimes.
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
@visual: I accept determinism as far as non biological/inanimate entities goes. I do not have a problem with that & can well visualise the concept. What I do have a problem with, is determinism as applied to living, thinking beings. The fact that you think that:"[even if]all our choices pre-determined, that does not mean we should give up concepts like morality or responsibility." gives me some cause for concern. Determinism is a concept that belongs to philosophy (it defined it)& a part of the definition of the consequences of what determinism is, is PRECISELY the fact that 'responsibility' REQUIRES the ability/freedom/free will present to choose differently to the ultimately chosen action. There are different interpretations of determinism, but there are issues with all of them:
http://en.wikiped...erminism
http://en.wikiped...ree_will
http://www.trinit...ill.html
Out of characters, see next post....cont

DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
...cont: so that you understand where I am coming from: I am a student, enrolled in a BSc of Physics. This is a 'hard-science' field. Philosophy is a 'soft-science' field. Last semester, I did an introductory philosophy subject as an elective & that is where they introduce you to such topics as definitions of relativism, consequentialism, morality, determinism and free will, etc. It was an eye-opener. If you ever have the opportunity to do the subject, I would recommend it. Some might deny it any value for science (just think of GofOtto or others ;)), but, as evidenced in this thread, it is actually relevant for the 'hard-sciences'. Also your morality does influence the kind of ethics you have -and apply to your chosen scientific field, in fact anywhere.

Morality: if you reread my post, you will notice that I do NOT specify whether morality (& therefore 'good' or 'evil') should be absolute or subjective; I only talked about it in terms of sources that people tend to draw on, to...cont
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
cont...to define their own. If you are going to talk about philosophical concepts, then "good" vs "evil": bad choice of words, they draw on religiously biased interpretations of these words, whether you are intending to use them that way or not. More neutral words might be: acceptable/unacceptable, desirable/undesirable (etc, etc) behaviour. Morality is about making choices based on free will. Again, no free will=>no agency=>no responsibility=>no morality (does then not exist at all, not even on a subjective or individual level). The definition of agency here http://en.wikiped...sophy%29 The part about human agency is most relevant to this thread here: "Human agency is the capacity for human beings to make choices. It is normally contrasted to natural forces, which are causes involving only unthinking deterministic processes." And this is where DC is not making the distinction. He is lumping the inanimate (subject only to the...cont
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
cont...natural processes) with the animate into the one basket. As I said earlier, I can agree with inanimate being seen as deterministic, it is pure cause and effect, according to well defined laws. However, for the animate (sentient, indeed self-aware), he is assuming that exactly the same laws are at play, in the same way, all the way.In both cases, randomness gives way to organisation and structure, but the outcomes(& therefore the processes) are different.If they weren't, you could have a rock sitting here typing this:) Or you would no more be able to control moving your limbs against a storm than a tree could. Determinism would also imply that our every thought is predetermined. Yet we do not like every last thought in our head (even if just distracting) and can force change to them. If we have no agency, why do we even HAVE the capacity to feel emotions about our thinking? Why evolve something 'so useless', in this case? Back to the processes: They may both start with...cont
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
cont..randomness,but as we move away from the quantum level,somewhere along the line,a difference in how the process continues,creeps in.No one has yet even determined just how the organisation arises,ie what exactly is at play,whether it be the inanimate rock or the self-aware human being.DC has done inductive reasoning,he has taken an outcome for one category of 'behaviour'&applied it to everything, with the ASSUMPTION that there is no difference.But he has notactually established a true causal chain.The irony is that inductive reasoning is considered to be weaker than deductive reasoning in science(but not math)& therefore has a greater burden of proof.A couple more definitions: http://en.wikiped...f_agency http://en.wikiped...easoning http://en.wikiped...easoning If you can put together the gist of all of the extensive info that I have linked to,you should begin to have an idea as to why I am arguing the way that I haveDH66 :]
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
@Deathclock: This is what I took issue with: "All that happens in your brain is chemistry and physics" & "This has nothing to do with free will, this is a malfunction in your brain." I gave you my perspective on free-will to show you where I was coming from, but you did not appear to accept that I might have a different one. It distinctly felt as though you simply stomped on it, by presenting assertions in the way that so many people on this site so often try to present things as 'facts'.The problem with philosophical concepts(even when applied to hard-science)CANNOT be treated as CATEGORICALLY as true, in the way that science likes to treat what it defines as 'factual'.It is NOT as simple as A, therefore B. As I said earlier on, you have been presenting as arguing from a conviction based faith here.Probably because you failed to switch to the(differing)reasoning mode required for phil/soft-science topics?? It felt as though you were negating that my args could be equally valid...cont
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2012
So if you restrict the term "causality" to the classical cause-effect you find on the higher scale, there are actually more than the two possibilities you talk about: 1)randomness 2)determinism.


If something is deterministic it means it behaves as it does for a reason... if something behaves as it does for literally no reason than it is random... true randomness just means completely unpredictable given omniscient level knowledge. If an affect occurs without cause, then it is inherently random.

These are dichotomous statements, either the reason for something can be determined or it cannot... there are no alternatives of which you speak.

I am not going to reply to everyone, but I will reassert that the jump from recognizing randomness in nature to saying that it gives us free will is one that I don't think is defensible. Can ANYONE give a mechanism whereby random quantum effects can allow us to override physical law to affect the chemical interactions in our brain?
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2012
you have been presenting as arguing from a conviction based faith here.


I disagree, go back and read the post where I outline the assumptions my argument relies on and where I give my confidence level in those assumptions.

Again, I am not saying that my argument is true, the end! I am saying that given what we know my reasoning is sound. I've also given several arguments, which I don't think people are distinguishing... there is the argument from physics whereby your brain is a physical thing that operates according the laws of physics, and there is the argument from experience whereby the formation of your brain occurs due to your sensory input of the outside world, a world that you have no control over UNTIL it first influences you. I'd like people to address these separately, as they are really independent arguments.

If you want to use quantum effects to do away with the first... then address the second because it still holds true.
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
cont...I do not know what your background in phil is, but I found that I had to adapt the stringency (hard science style of my thinking to the 'perspective mode' require to be able to deal with multiple concepts presented as competing, but able to co-exist alongside each other and all of them equally valid in their own right, despite often excluding each. This change was actually a little disquieting in the beginning, but now I can think in either 'mode'. Unlike in physics, the point isn't to exclude one theory after another, in order to be left with one single model. I have always believed in free-will and agency & the point that I was trying to make, was that this 'malfunction' (implied by the ADHD, I do agree about the chem &phys, but not 'that it ends there')has (for me) EVERYTHING to do with free will, in that it restricts my agency (see earlier links) ie my ability to act on my choices.....cont
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2012
Well, there's the problem then, I don't necessarily see this as "philosophy"... philosophy is what exists until science takes over, and I think what I am speaking of is in the realm of science where it USED to be in the realm of philosophy. Neurology has come a hell of a long way, we are now directly interfacing with the brain to allow people to control prosthetics and to directly take control of animals. We can, for all intents and purposes, read minds... there was an article on here not too long ago about being to form an image on a computer screen that was an (albeit fuzzy and imperfect) image of what the person was imagining.

I don't think you understand how much we do know about how brains work and the kind of things we are already doing with that knowledge.

Furthermore, regardless of science or philosophy, I STILL assert that determinism leaves zero room for free will, and even randomness cannot explain it... I see no room for free will, regardless of how the universe operates.
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
cont..I think that we are cross-posting here...awkward!
"I think you are emotionally vested in this ADHD example,which is why you were so easily offended by something that I never even said."I will grant you that you did not say it,that subjective sense of negation that arose out of the way that you expressed yourself, gave rise to a very familiar feeling of having the validity of the true impact of ADHD dismissed.I am oversensitised to being perceived simply as lazy, needy, never good enough, doesn't hard enough,etc, etc, etc(!),even after my(adult diagnoses)of ADHD and AS(to complicate things more)That includes by my own mother.She has always refused to engage with the actual impacts of my diagnoses.THAT was the emotional investment of what the example represented -in response to its perceived treatment.This is meant as a clarification,not a justification.Sorry.The one thing that I would love though,is an attempt from your end to try to explore the args from the other's persp.DH66:)
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
Well, there's the problem then, I don't necessarily see this as ""philosophy"... philosophy is what exists until science takes over, and I think what I am speaking of is in the realm of science where it USED to be in the realm of philosophy."Agreed. To the point that the phil part is the structure of the concepts, written in one type of language(that of phil)When science 'claims'these theories for its own use,that part doesn't change. Without phil, science might not have a given theory of that 'thing' at all.What science does, is transliterate and apply the concepts to its own structure and rewrites the concepts in a different language: maths.Don't forget too,that some concepts&their definitions are actively in dual use by BOTH fields at the same time, such as determinism. Yes, contrary to your claim, it is STILL an ACTIVE part of phil! :)During the entire thread, most of the others seemed mindful of the definitions of determinism as defined by phil, it would appear you thought..cont
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
cont...that the basic concepts that define what determinism actually is, were somehow different, because they were being applied to science. The only real difference is in the application and on the types of allowable outcomes, ie a mental process and outcome vs a physical process and an outcome. That is also why so many were protesting. (So much for denying the philosophical structure underlying the physical application. :s It stays! ) We are getting booted out of IT again, its closing time. Will be back to read more on Monday. Best Regards, DH66
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2012
I think it comes down to this: If you could rewind time PERFECTLY, that is, reset all variables and your state of mind, would you be forced to repeat your actions or could you choose differently? I think if you are unable to choose differently you are just a complex series of "cogs and gears" and given the same input stimuli, you will get the same output. Your gears and cogs may change as a result of past outputs, but there is no external agent reviewing input stimuli and choosing which output to use.
zaxxon451
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2012
Humans believe they are "special" animals that can understand Reality. No other creature on Earth is capable of understanding the truth of Reality. Why do humans have the hubris to believe that they can? Science has practical usefulness to our lives, but we can no more understand true Reality than a fish can comprehend stellar nebulae.

This free will argument is like people arguing about what kind of wood Noah used to build his ark. The question most likely doesn't even make sense.

The water is deeper than we can imagine, and it's turtles all the way down.
danpi8ter
not rated yet Aug 11, 2012
I have an issue with both tests. Are they really testing for free will? It seems to me they are telling people what to do. If I tell you to move or flinch, just not in a specific manner I dont see that as testing for free will. I would say a better way to conduct the experiment would be to give people a problem that has several ways that it can be solved. The watch what goes on in the brain as they try and solve the problem. Maybe its just me, but I dont see how this is an indicator of free will.
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2012
Maybe its just me, but I dont see how this is an indicator of free will.


Free will -- the ability to freely choose our actions -- is the default status. It is the obvious status. Those seeking to show that free will does not exist or is illusory have the burden of proof on them.

They cannot prove that free will does not exist since we obviously make many choices every day and are not constrained to make particular ones.
MrVibrating
not rated yet Aug 12, 2012
@trekgeek1

There's a distinction to be made between chaotic systems and truly indeterminate ones; in the former the causative factors (or rather, the information about them) is unamenable to the method of inquiry - it's stochastic only insofar as it's a) not sampled, and b) usually too complex to do so. The weather is an obvious example. But we know that weather is NOT indeterminate, hence we continue to attempt better sampling and processing of data to improve our forecasting models.

So without a doubt, consciousness & will is a chaotic system, however this is no argument against determinism.. if the system could be rewound as you suggest, what exactly would constitute that closed system, and what would be disregarded (if only for practical purposes)?

We could run Wolfram's 'Rule 30' on a cellular automata engine multiple times, with different outcomes each time, however we're only sampling the results, not the causes in action...

MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2012
I'd argue that the elements of a dynamical system, the state space, the basin of attraction etc., are deterministic in operation, even if the outcomes remain unpredictable.

This unpredictability is intrinsic only to the limited mode of inquiry, and does not, and cannot, be taken as evidence of acausality.

Ultimately any appeal to complexity falls foul of the same arguments against true randomness... neither constitute "free will" either!
brianweymes
5 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2012
Being that neuroscientists and many philosophers themselves are still divided over free will (and what about compatibilism?), forgive me if I remain skeptical when random people on a website speak as if they themselves have already proven free will does or does not exist.
mogmich
5 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2012
Most people not only believe they have a free will. It is also something that plays a very important role in their life as a human being.

In my opinion this means, that it is acceptable to demand extremely clear scientific evidence, before you change your mind on this subject. Science is very far from this today!

As long as this is the case, it is much wiser to try to analyse the subject from a philosophical point of view. This has already been done, but of course scientific results are important in this connection.
HarshMistress
not rated yet Aug 13, 2012
From the very Big Bang instance, when entropy started to unroll the whole chain of events which predetermined mechanics of creation of life and response of each and every living cell in the history of Universe to the stimuli of that very same Universe, our brain was a clear-cut case: it was meant to be a Universe's instrument of self-reflection.

How come, then, that our brain has a rich history of wrong concepts, wrong views of self and everything else? Lack of cognitive capacity? But such insufficiency would be against the predetermined logic: in a deterministic world, brain should never be perplexed.
eachus
not rated yet Aug 13, 2012
This whole discussion so far ignores important parts of mathematics, in particular the theory of computation, which is usually a graduate level computer science course. Basic mathematics, even a restricted set which includes logic and the integers, has emergent properties. The most important of these were discovered by Kurt Gödel. See http://en.wikiped...er,_Bach for an introduction to Doug Hofstadter's book (which is heavy going even with the necessary math background).

Another approach to the issue of emergent properties in computation is the halting problem. This is part of why you have to live with computer programs that have bugs. (Well, there are primitive recursive functions and partial recursive functions. Tools that restrict programs to primitive recursive functions exist. But not all programs you might want to write are primitive recursive functions.)

Human brains are able to compute partial recursive functions.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2012
Maybe its just me, but I dont see how this is an indicator of free will.


Free will -- the ability to freely choose our actions -- is the default status. It is the obvious status. Those seeking to show that free will does not exist or is illusory have the burden of proof on them.

They cannot prove that free will does not exist since we obviously make many choices every day and are not constrained to make particular ones.


See, I stopped posting on this topic because when I spend a great deal of effort to outline my argument and someone posts something like this that indicates that they haven't read one word of it yet still think they have something significant to contribute it is really disheartening and discouraging.

Dogbert, what you've said does add anything to the discussion... I addressed your "we make choices every day" argument from the VERY BEGINNING. You've ignored every bit of my arguments here...
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
Being that neuroscientists and many philosophers themselves are still divided over free will (and what about compatibilism?), forgive me if I remain skeptical..
Compatibilism confuses the subjective with the objective. Truly 'free' will defies causality. Yet causality is axiomatic & unassailable. "Freedom from coercion" is a false distinction...

All available evidence confirms free will as being a very real sensation - and a quite useful one at that - if a completely impotent impression, with no evidence at all to support its actual abilities as a first cause.

Worse, not only is such a power of agency logically inconsistent, but any evidence that might support it is intrinsically unobtainable - it's an inherently untestable hypothesis!

Like G_d.

(This connection isn't trivial - for we necessarily ascribe this power of agency to others, as ourselves, friend or foe. Thus from animism to pantheism, we project the perception of conscious intent even when it's not there..)
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2012
Deathclock,
Dogbert, what you've said does add anything to the discussion... I addressed your "we make choices every day" argument from the VERY BEGINNING. You've ignored every bit of my arguments here...


No, I have read your arguments. They are inadequate and wrong. You want to believe your own delusions.

You cannot show that at the decision point, an individual is compelled to choose A, B or C (or any one out of numerous possibilities).

I come to a fork in the road. I can choose the right hand fork, the left hand fork or neither (I can turn around). You cannot predict which action I will take nor can you show how I am constrained to take one of the three possibly actions.

Neither you nor I am constrained in our choices.

You propose that we are constrained, but you cannot show how or the direction of the constraint -- because such restraint does not exist.
MrVibrating
not rated yet Aug 13, 2012
@eachus - i took a punch at emergence / complexity / chaos etc. a few posts before yours, though a more thorough discussion is welcome...

I followed Stuart Kauffman's work at Santa Fe in the 90s and it made a big impression on me, the issue here however is causality - the perception of choice is undoubtedly emergent in nature, but its unpredictability is due to a lack of available information (not to mention processing power). As a rational skeptic, to attribute it instead to a causality violation seems a bit hasty.. Chaotic outcomes may be indeterminable, without implying indeterminism.

I do predict however that this argument ends up with me being cornered for proofs of non-local hidden variables or somesuch, so i'll just pre-empt those now by admitting that all i have is faith in causality... But it seems a fairly well-grounded faith, as far as they go...
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2012
I come to a fork in the road. I can choose the right hand fork, the left hand fork or neither (I can turn around). You cannot predict which action I will take nor can you show how I am constrained to take one of the three possibly actions.

Neither you nor I am constrained in our choices.

You propose that we are constrained, but you cannot show how or the direction of the constraint -- because such restraint does not exist.
But you'll likely have reasons for your choice, even if you're unconscious of them. You may flip a coin, to reinforce the illusion of abstaining from choice. But in reality you no more control the neurons responsible for your reasoning than the flight of that coin in the first place. A neuron fires because a charge threshold is reached, not because puppies have souls.

It IS a disconcerting realisation, hence why i say: IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE! It doesn't change jack. A trifling thing, offending only our ego.

Chillax. All is as it should be...
RealityCheck
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2012
Hi MrVibrating.
But you'll likely have reasons for your choice, even if you're unconscious of them. You may flip a coin, to reinforce the illusion of abstaining from choice. But in reality you no more control the neurons responsible for your reasoning than the flight of that coin in the first place. A neuron fires because a charge threshold is reached, not because puppies have souls.

It IS a disconcerting realisation, hence why i say: IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE! It doesn't change jack. A trifling thing, offending only our ego.

Chillax. All is as it should be...


Please read my first post on this topic. Therein I showed where one can remove all the 'constraints' by PRE-deciding the choice/s etc. before the scenario/inputs arise as shown therein. That scenario adds another 'free will' dimension to dogbert's scenario that you take issue with.

Cheers.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
MrVibrating get's it, I'm glad someone does, makes this whole thing worthwhile.

(though I am sure you understood all of this prior to this discussion, I'm not trying to take credit for that ;) )
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
No, I have read your arguments. They are inadequate and wrong. You want to believe your own delusions.
Based on the rest of your post I can say authoritatively that you did not understand the arguments I presented...
I come to a fork in the road. I can choose the right hand fork, the left hand fork or neither (I can turn around). You cannot predict which action I will take nor can you show how I am constrained to take one of the three possibly actions.
Are you blind? No? Then the sensory input from your eyes triggers memories in your brain and through those associations one path is favored over the other based on what you see and how they each relate to past experiences that you've had.
You propose that we are constrained, but you cannot show how or the direction of the constraint -- because such restraint does not exist.
I have shown how, you didn't understand the argument.

Read more at: http://medicalxpr...free.htm
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
These are dichotomous statements, either the reason for something can be determined or it cannot... there are no alternatives of which you speak.


It's a false dichotomy that ignores the possibility of true emergent behaviour, wherein A causes B or C or D which appears deterministic when viewed in retrospect since you see the cause and effect like in any other causal chain, but which you cannot predict (determine) in advance. This is different from deterministic chaos which is merely impractical to measure.

Determinism as it applies to will is logically inconsistent; it's simply tautological - the will is deterministic because it is deterministic. Shouldn't you be proving it first?
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
These are dichotomous statements, either the reason for something can be determined or it cannot... there are no alternatives of which you speak.


It's a false dichotomy that ignores the possibility of true emergent behaviour, wherein A causes B or C or D which appears deterministic when viewed in retrospect since you see the cause and effect like in any other causal chain, but which you cannot predict (determine) in advance. This is different from deterministic chaos which is merely impractical to measure.

Determinism as it applies to will is logically inconsistent; it's simply tautological - the will is deterministic because it is deterministic. Shouldn't you be proving it first?


Oh for the love of zombie jesus... I've already addressed this several times... my argument does not hinge on determinism. Randomness (true or probabilistic) cannot account for free will either... nothing about "random" has anything to do with "will".
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
In my opinion, free will doesn't even have to be constrained to the actual moment of the choice.

Suppose we make a Shroedinger-esque hypothetical to tie things up with quantum mechanics: you are a frozen egg and a sperm in a laboratory, where a clock runs that points to the numbers of test tubes that could become you. When a radioactive isotope splits, a choice is made, and assuming your action would be perfectly dictated by the random pairing of egg and sperm, you would in essence have no causal connection to anything before you.

In that sense, it doesn't matter that your will acts according to some predictable internal rules, because the rules themselves are not predictable, not deriveable from some previous cause - they are free - so you are free.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
Also, Eika, it's not a false dichotomy, either it's possible to determine the cause of an event or it's not... please tell me how that is a false dichotomy.
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
Randomness (true or probabilistic) cannot account for free will either... nothing about "random" has anything to do with "will".


I just made a case where it would. See above.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
In my opinion, free will doesn't even have to be constrained to the actual moment of the choice.

Suppose we make a Shroedinger-esque hypothetical to tie things up with quantum mechanics: you are a frozen egg and a sperm in a laboratory, where a clock runs that points to the numbers of test tubes that could become you. When a radioactive isotope splits, a choice is made, and assuming your action would be perfectly dictated by the random pairing of egg and sperm, you would in essence have no causal connection to anything before you.

In that sense, it doesn't matter that your will acts according to some predictable internal rules, because the rules themselves are not predictable, not deriveable from some previous cause - they are free - so you are free.


Sure, this is sensible, but I am not arguing for predictable behavior, I am arguing that ultimately you don't control your behavior, the laws of physics do... predictable or not, probabilistic or not.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
Randomness (true or probabilistic) cannot account for free will either... nothing about "random" has anything to do with "will".


I just made a case where it would. See above.


What? No you did not... you said a radioactive atom splits and then a choice is made... that's not a choice, that's a physical process.

How are YOU in control of that atom?

I don't give a damn if you think the universe operates in a probabilistic manner on the subatomic scale... it's still true that YOU don't control it... IT controls YOU.

You and everything about you are the result of the interplay of the laws of physics on energy... regardless of whether that is deterministic or probabilistic or completely random. It still controls you, and not the other way around.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
"Choice" is an illusion that occurs when your neural network is traversed in response to stimulus from your five senses to ultimately arrive at impulses going out to your muscles to make them take an action. You consciously perceive all of the eventualities that DID NOT lead to the action you took as well as the one that did... so you assume that you could have taken those other actions when in reality you could not have, because you did not, because they did not lead to the electrochemical signals output to your muscles.

I know why people fight tooth and nail against this even when it is obvious that you don't control the physical and chemical interactions that dictate your actions... because people simply don't like the idea that they are as subject to physical law (or the lack thereof) as the common earth worm... or rock for that matter.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
If you believe you have freedom of will go ahead and make the choice to fly to the moon... you can't, why not? Because you are bound by physical law?

Guess what, physical law also dictates the interactions in your brain that result in the impulses to your muscles... you are bound to these physical laws just as you are bound to the Earth by gravity, they are just less apparent.

Your brain is not a black box of mystery and magic... it is a physical entity that exists in a physical world that is governed by physical law like anything else. Even if that physical law has a probabilistic or truly random component, this does not mean you control it, it controls you.

Deal with it.
knikiy
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
"I" is the wizard of OZ, sometimes a Professor Marvel snake oil salesman, sometimes the one behind the curtain, or maybe sometimes you can't really say - though its a convincing illusion.
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
Also, Eika, it's not a false dichotomy, either it's possible to determine the cause of an event or it's not... please tell me how that is a false dichotomy.


Because you can have cases where you can determine the cause, and yet not the effect. You can say for already observed events their causes, but not for the future events of the same cause - like the decay of an atom that can split one way or the other. It is given that one will occur, but not which.

As you try to apply determinisim vs. non-determinism to the question of will, it becomes a false dichotomy because you systematically ignore other alternatives.

How are YOU in control of that atom?


Do I need to be? My freedom to be is inherited from that event just the same.

it's still true that YOU don't control it... IT controls YOU.


"IT" happens to be me. I'm not separate from the universe. I am of the universe.
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
so you assume that you could have taken those other actions when in reality you could not have, because you did not, because they did not lead to the electrochemical signals output to your muscles.


This is the main fallacy right there: "did not" does not equal "could not". Again, I repeat, you can have events where A leads to B,C,D and observing that A -> D does not imply that it had to happen. It just means it did happen. If it had to happen, then we would have to conclude the options B,C are impossible, and would have to come up with a reason why.

Essentially, we would have to find the hidden variable that dictates why the atom sometimes splits one way and not the other before we can retrospectively claim that it had to split the way it was observed to.

you don't control the physical and chemical interactions that dictate your actions


And, the physical and chemical interactions that dictate my actions ARE me. Insofar as they are free to be stochastic, I am.
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
Your brain is not a black box of mystery and magic... it is a physical entity that exists in a physical world that is governed by physical law like anything else. Even if that physical law has a probabilistic or truly random component, this does not mean you control it, it controls you.


You are speaking with a strange dualism that separates "you" from the rest of the physical reality as if it was fundamentally separate from the body and the interactions it has.

Indeed the brain is not a mystery box. There is no mysterious "you" that is or is not in control of the brain's actions, because they are one and the same. My brain controls me, because I am my brain, among other things.

The other altrenative is that you have to find this mysterious... thing... that is in the person's body, but not of the person, like some supernatural soul that exists as something else than the mundane reality of physics.
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
Essentially, to universally equate the observation "did not" with the claim "could not", or "did" with "had to" is at once assuming superdeterminism.

Because if you try to apply the principle to e.g. the throwing of dice, which we assume random, that they land the way they do because they cannot do any otherwise, you're essentially saying that reality is superdetermined: that even random events have pre-determined outcomes, because you can't otherwise explain why you couldn't get any of the other five possible numbers - why it had to be that one.

It becomes either an endless search for hidden variables and first causes through abandoning randomness, or an admission that reality is like a recorded movie, in which case the real illusion is that anything is really causing anything at all.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
And, the physical and chemical interactions that dictate my actions ARE me. Insofar as they are free to be stochastic, I am.


I see what you are saying now.

I don't think this is how most people understand the term "free will" though.

You are still on rails. You are still a passenger in the train that is reality and where it takes you is not really up to "you" other than the fact that "you" are nothing but a component of that reality.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
I think we are saying the same thing Eikka, just with different understanding of the notion of free will...

To help me understand your POV answer this: If a rock falls off a cliff and hits a person and kills them it clearly makes no sense to attempt to take revenge on a rock because it was controlled by the physical laws that govern reality... but if a human kills another human does it make sense to take revenge on that human?

I'm not implying not to take action to prevent the crime from occurring again, I am asking if it makes sense to punish them for the sole purpose of retribution, rather than prevention or rehabilitation.

I see taking revenge on the human to be equivalent to taking revenge on the rock...
dogbert
3 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2012
Deathclock,
Are you blind? No? Then the sensory input from your eyes triggers memories in your brain and through those associations one path is favored over the other based on what you see and how they each relate to past experiences that you've had.


Sophism is an insufficient argument. You want to believe that you have no free will, thus relieving yourself from the responsibility of your actions.

I have pointed out several times that you cannot predict which action among several choices will be chosen nor how an individual is compelled to make a particular choice. You continue to argue that we are somehow predisposed (compelled) to make a particular choice. You continue to fail to show how we are programmed to take a particular path or how we are compelled to follow that path. We are not compelled. We can freely choose any available path.

Asserting is not sufficient. How is anyone compelled to choose a particular path?
MrVibrating
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
Please read my first post on this topic. Therein I showed where one can remove all the 'constraints' by PRE-deciding the choice/s etc. before the scenario/inputs arise as shown therein. That scenario adds another 'free will' dimension to dogbert's scenario that you take issue with.

Cheers.


I did read it, however it doesn't even move the goalposts - yes our choices can be predetermined by an earlier decision, but we were no more controlling our own neurons then as now..

Santino the chimp caches rocks to throw at visitors later; yet he cannot control his own neurons either.

Rather, it's THEM that holds the whip. We're something THEY do, not vice versa.
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
To those concerned by the ethical repercussions; the impression of free will is there and it serves good purpose. As individuals and societies, we depend on its acceptance - the "my brain made me do it" defense can only reasonably be admitted where there is compelling consistency between behavioural and physiological abnormalities.

In all practical intents and purposes, We should all just carry on pretending to believe in free will, even if we know it's a farce - i can't imagine anyone's gonna go catatonic with the realisation anyway... was it Churchill who once said, "most folks will stumble across the truth at some point, and mostly they'll pick themselves up, dust themselves down and carry on regardless"..? Same deal here.

The only real dissonance lies with the convictions of certain religious beliefs - and yet then again, what could be more deterministic than a desire for salvation..? ;)
RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
I did read it, however it doesn't even move the goalposts - yes our choices can be predetermined by an earlier decision, but we were no more controlling our own neurons then as now.. Santino the chimp caches rocks to throw at visitors later; yet he cannot control his own neurons either. Rather, it's THEM that holds the whip. We're something THEY do, not vice versa.
Controlling' neurons is not the point. It's using their collective capability to present a 'virtual picture of possibilities' (human choices in an open-ended 'world-construct') instead of a 'fixed pattern of probabilities' (reflexive 'animal' responses in a very severely bounded 'world-construct'). That is what makes us human (given healthy mind-brain states). My scenario/choice was 'blind' to deterministic factors because I pre-determined the factor 'possibilities'; and so effectively 'cut' the sort of deterministic decision-chain 'pattern' you imply above. I then chose to go with my choices. Compound choice. See?
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
@Eikka

I'm not sure you are on the same page - you ask (for arguments sake?) that we regard a dice throw as truly random, yet in reality this is simply a comfortable euphemism for "complex".

A dice throw is a perfectly classical mechanical system. a perfectly controlled throw in a high vacuum will be intricately determinable. Moreover, we cannot do so by hand and eye for precisely the reason that we cannot exert such fine control and processing ability! The 'randomness' you invoke to subvert causality is actually just our own inability to control the outcomes of our own actions to sufficient resolutions - the resulting micro-variations between throws are fully deterministic, and fully beyond our sphere of influence..!

True randomness is only a metaphorical expression - to conclude it as a reality is to deny causality. Besides, as DeathClock's pointed out, true randomness offers no more freedom of choice than determinism.

"Superdeterminism" is simply a redundant concept..
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
You are still a passenger in the train that is reality and where it takes you is not really up to "you" other than the fact that "you" are nothing but a component of that reality.


Again with the dualism. If you want to use that analogy, I would not be on a ride, I would BE the train, AND the rails. I cannot be anything else than that part of the physical reality that behaves as me, and if that part isn't completely determined by the rest of the reality, then I am free, at least to some degree.

If a rock falls off a cliff (...) but if a human kills another human does it make sense to take revenge on that human?


The question is too wide. Do we take into account societies of people or just one person and his victim? One can argue that revenge serves no purpose in either case, and that it does in both.
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
True randomness is only a metaphorical expression - to conclude it as a reality is to deny causality.


No. It doesn't make things that are causal any less causal, and it solves the paradox of the original cause that arises if you deny the existence of non-causality. This is not a dichotomy.

If you have a problem with dice, substitute it by radioactive isotopes. You'll find that hard determinism requires hidden variables, which are insufficient to explain quantum mechanics.

Besides, as DeathClock's pointed out, true randomness offers no more freedom of choice than determinism.


Unsuccessfully so. Randomness IS freedom of choice. The only question is, who or what is choosing?

Santino the chimp caches rocks to throw at visitors later; yet he cannot control his own neurons either.


He is his own neurons, so what you are saying is that the neurons cannot control themselves, which they clearly can.
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
@RealityCheck

Big fish, little fish, fight or flight, our brains are there to weigh up the options and implement the best call based on the information available and processable.

It makes no difference how many paces before the junction we make our choice, 1 or 10,000, nor to whom or what we abrogate the responsibility of choosing. If on arrival we see our chosen path blocked by a bear, we'd re-evaluate accordingly.

None of this addresses the issue of defying causality - even Descartes had it back-arsewards; we are, therefore we think.

Focus on causality and you'll realise it's not so easily thwarted..

Of course we like to think we make good choices, but then why wouldn't we?

Free will is just a feeling. And very pleasant it is too. But that's all it can be... who knows, maybe it's something to do with feedback / feed-forward loops between cortex and thalamus (but then, i do say that about everything)...

Anyhoo, off to eat, nice food, cuz i'm hungry...
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
"Superdeterminism" is simply a redundant concept..


Superdeterminism is distinct from determinism in the sense that determinism assumes that effects follow causes, whereas superdeterminism has no effects and no causes but mere events.

In other words, A does not cause B. They merely appear one after the other, as if in a movie where the reaction of an actor is not caused by any prior event, but is merely giving the illusion that causality is taking place.

In superdeterminism, things aren't because they are caused, or because they can be, but because they simply are - and this is an important distinction.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
Here's the basis of my thought:

Volition or will is the cognitive process by which an individual decides on and commits to a particular course of action.

For a will to be considered "free", we must understand it as capable of affecting causal power without being caused to do so. But the idea of lawless free will, that is, a will acting without any causal structure, is incomprehensible. Therefore, a free will must be acting under laws that it gives to itself.


We only have to add the fact that the process of will is the same thing as the existence of the thing that wills. There is no separate "you", your will, your brain etc. rather they are all one process.

So, in other words, if the brain is capable of rewiring itself with some degree of freedom independent of the rest of the physical reality, then we must conclude that it has some free will; you have free will. If not, then not.

A falling rock would not have free will in either case because it doesn't have cognition.
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
No. It doesn't make things that are causal any less causal, and it solves the paradox of the original cause that arises if you deny the existence of non-causality. This is not a dichotomy.


Aha but there you tacitly admit acausal determinants without resolving that intrinsic paradox! Without evidence to the contrary, causality must be taken as given - axiomatic and unassailable, while acuasality remains untestable by its very nature! As to first causes, the results from theoretical cosmology look increasingly like an effective information limit - infinite, isolated islands of causation. Still no hint of acausation. Perhaps it's only a subjective paradox... either way, i'm with Occam when it comes to multiplying them, one first cause is enough.

MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
If you have a problem with dice, substitute it by radioactive isotopes. You'll find that hard determinism requires hidden variables, which are insufficient to explain quantum mechanics.


Local hidden variables, yes. Non-locality is still up in the air for now. But there's an increasing tide of alternatives from versions of M-theory to holographic models etc., and given that we're talking about CAUSALITY i think it's a bit early to be throwing in the towel. The lure of the Copenhagian interpretation and its twisted offspring is nothing more than a fascination with the occult iIMHO (the all-possible-outcomes scenario for example is all possible anti-Occams rolled into one). Regardless, i'm confident a waveform doesn't collapse because it 'wants' to...
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
Unsuccessfully so. Randomness IS freedom of choice. The only question is, who or what is choosing?


Heh heh yes - or else, what is experiencing the illusion? I refer to my previous remark re. corticothalmic feedbacks.. the algorithm's output is re-input. There really IS an echo in here. A truly 'random' outcome however is uncaused, while truly free will would be a cause - they're mutually incompatible possibilities... acausal determinism is a contradiction in terms.

He is his own neurons, so what you are saying is that the neurons cannot control themselves, which they clearly can.


Tell me, at what point does thermodynamic causation break down, such that free will can take over the reigns - is it a matter of complexity or what?
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
The proposition is, that as far as we can claim a rock thrown against a wall has some real probability of randomly tunneling through it according to our understanding of Quantum Mechanics, a brain too must have some real probability of coming up with an original thought or choice, and therefore we all must have at least a tiny amount of free will by the very nature of reality.

Even a random mutation in some of our neurons would be a plausible mechanism to how the brain wires itself differently and non-deterministically to have freedom.
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
"Superdeterminism" is simply a redundant concept..


Superdeterminism is distinct from determinism in the sense that determinism assumes that effects follow causes, whereas superdeterminism has no effects and no causes but mere events.

In other words, A does not cause B. They merely appear one after the other, as if in a movie where the reaction of an actor is not caused by any prior event, but is merely giving the illusion that causality is taking place.

In superdeterminism, things aren't because they are caused, or because they can be, but because they simply are - and this is an important distinction.

Ah, beg your pardon i should've googled. Not impressed tho - it basically assumes that the apparently solid, consistent evidence for causality is mere coincidence - an inestimable lucky streak, just to deny that we're automatons? Besides, in this view wouldn't the impression of freedom likewise be a stunning coincidence?

Perhaps i still misunderstand...
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
Aha but there you tacitly admit acausal determinants without resolving that intrinsic paradox!


It's perfectly possible to assume that some variable is random.

Besides, if we assume hard determinism, the illusion is not of freedom, but of will in the first place because you cannot even have a will if you are perfectly determined.

Regardless, i'm confident a waveform doesn't collapse because it 'wants' to...


Of course not, because it's not a cognitive process in and of itself.

A truly 'random' outcome however is uncaused, while truly free will would be a cause - they're mutually incompatible possibilities... acausal determinism is a contradiction in terms.


It seems you are mixing things up. The will is a cognitive process that is affected by a random variable, which makes it free. I don't see how that is in contradiction with itself.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
Perhaps i still misunderstand...


Superdeterminism is the idea that we are the ultimate automatons - that nothing is really happening in the first place, but merely playing back as if from a movie reel.

I like to pet the idea that reality is some sort of a higher-dimensional turd shaped object that is moving across a three dimensional space and casting a "shadow" where it intersects, that looks and acts as our reality, while in fact being an unchanging solid object.

It's one of the things that you can't prove, and you can't rule out because it's fundamentally as reasonable an assumption as any.
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
a cognitive process that is affected by a random variable, which makes it free


"free" from hard determinism, but not "free" to yourself - it's the outcome of a random event, not your power of choice.

The proposition is, that as far as we can claim a rock thrown against a wall has some real probability of randomly tunneling through it according to our understanding of Quantum Mechanics, a brain too must have some real probability of coming up with an original thought or choice, and therefore we all must have at least a tiny amount of free will by the very nature of reality.

Even a random mutation in some of our neurons would be a plausible mechanism to how the brain wires itself differently and non-deterministically to have freedom.


It's a nice sentiment perhaps but logically i'm afraid i can't come with you.. i'm open to new evidence but not seeing it, and sensing resistance in the flow here so i'll politely bow out. It's been an interesting discussion though...!
Eikka
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
"free" from hard determinism, but not "free" to yourself - it's the outcome of a random event, not your power of choice.


The point is, that the random event is intrinsic to me - a part of me - because I am not separate of what I am. I see no reason to distinguish between parts of me and the whole of me in that respect.

What I do is what I do.

MrVibrating
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
Superdeterminism is the idea that we are the ultimate automatons - that nothing is really happening in the first place, but merely playing back as if from a movie reel.

I like to pet the idea that reality is some sort of a higher-dimensional turd shaped object that is moving across a three dimensional space and casting a "shadow" where it intersects, that looks and acts as our reality, while in fact being an unchanging solid object.

It's one of the things that you can't prove, and you can't rule out because it's fundamentally as reasonable an assumption as any.

Lol who knows, maybe someday someone will come up with a testable hypothesis for that..

The point is, that the random event is intrinsic to me - a part of me - because I am not separate of what I am. I see no reason to distinguish between parts of me and the whole of me in that respect.

What I do is what I do.

The question is one of control - and randomness isn't. But hey i don't blame you for trying.. :)
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2012
The question is one of control - and randomness isn't.


To have control over something simply means to have the power to change its behaviour, to inhibit or excite it. Randomness therefore IS control, because what else could the word mean than the act of causing effects?

If you combine the words "freedom" and "control" while denying physical randomness as a form of control, then you must be demanding a controlling agent that is not of this physical reality. Since we're demanding freedom, the answer can't be superdeterminism, which leaves us only with a mystical answer: a soul or a spirit.

A physically real free will can only be understood without contradiction and mysticism as a random event or process of the brain that causes it to deviate in behaviour in a propabilistic manner. This is the freedom of the brain to set its own rules, on which the will operates, which makes the will free.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2012
Excellent discussion from the last page forward guys, I wish more people would read it than will... I have nothing more to add, Mr. Vibrating is presenting my POV more eloquently than I ever could.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2012
Lol who knows, maybe someday someone will come up with a testable hypothesis for that..


Well, if we start with the assumption of superdeterminism, we are necessarily admitting that we cannot gain any information about anything because none of our observations really happen; we don't happen.

It's like a character in a book saying "I am a character in a book". There's nobody there to make that observation - it is not a person - it's just how the book is written.

Mr. Vibrating is presenting my POV more eloquently than I ever could.


It seems the point of view can be summarised simply as: randomness does not exist, therefore free will does not.

The other stuff about control vs. randomness is just semantical confusion, and the separation of self or will from its physical existence is mysticism.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2012
It seems the point of view can be summarised simply as: randomness does not exist, therefore free will does not.


Really?

This has been addressed... randomness does not provide for free will... how can it? If something is random it is RANDOM, it cannot be used as an explanation for anything by definition. How you link randomness to free will is still beyond my understanding.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2012
I'm sorry, I was wrong... randomness CAN be used as an explanation for something, it can be used as an explanation for further randomness. Randomness can cause only randomness, probabilistic or not. Either the universe is fully random or it is not random at all. If it is fully random then it MUST be probabilistic with an extremely steep bell curve, because we know that in the macro world of golf balls and rockets determinism (or apparent determinism with an extremely high probability) holds true (and this is true even at the molecular level and probably even the atomic level).
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (2) Aug 15, 2012
A splendidly succinct summation DC, kudos.

@Eikka - your argument's a layer cake of non sequitir: free choice and random chance are distinct, exclusive concepts. Yes, they're both agents of causation, at least hypothetically, but to conclude that all things within a class validate eachother's reality (even when they're hypotheticals!), and to then conflate them (despite their conflicting implications) is absurd - Godzilla on methamphetamine is a particularly powerful causal agent, in principle, so does my choice this evening of San Miguel over the usual Stella imply his existence?

Maybe i was fruitlessly trying to test my freedom in light of this discussion, randomness is subjective and Godzilla's fictional. Or, maybe i successfully exercised freedom, randomness is real and Godzilla is at this moment giving handjobs behind a skip in downtown Tokyo?

Ditto superdeterminism. It's a 'God of the gaps' appeal, clutching at straws.. a truly free agency can't depend on that of others.
MrVibrating
not rated yet Aug 15, 2012
Hmm, i've now read the Wiki on superdeterminism, and fallen back to my original conclusion: it's a redundant concept, presupposing classical determinism is somehow watered-down (ie. the quote from Bell explains his belief that free will is compatible with determinism, thus by superdeterminism he means what i take for granted as implicit within 'normal' determinism).

I also consider Zeilinger's objection that it 'renders science pointless' as misconceived - i'm comfortable with the notion that i'm part of the universe's power of introspection, and also with my ignorance and desire for answers. I ask questions because i want answers, regardless of whether the universe set the questions and already 'knows' the answers - the inanimate universe isn't sentient, and didn't make me for the purpose of self-observation. It can have no 'intention' towards me. Thus his objection is an anthropomorphic ego defense.

We don't do science 'for the universe', we do it for ourselves.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 15, 2012
@MrVibrating.
@RealityCheck

Big fish, little fish, fight or flight, our brains are there to weigh up the options and implement the best call based on the information available and processable.

It makes no difference how many paces before the junction we make our choice, 1 or 10,000, nor to whom or what we abrogate the responsibility of choosing. If on arrival we see our chosen path blocked by a bear, we'd re-evaluate accordingly.


Please reread my first post and responses to Deathclock regarding irrelevant counterarguments.

It's not how many places before the junction, it is that there is a choice made according to free-willed conditions rather than just input-and-response train.

My second post stated that human decisions are interplay between the animal 'fight or flight' programmed loops and higher level 'short circuit' judgement overlays based on more factors than are involved in just the direct inputs. That is human/higher intelligence and free wil at work. Cheers.
MrVibrating
5 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2012
Freedom from the coercion of other 'wills'? Sure.

Freedom from physiological determinacy is an unqualified leap. The reasons why have been adequately explained by myself and Deathclock. As i asked of Eikka - where's the threshold between physical and conscious determinants? Does an ant have free will?
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2012
It's not how many places before the junction, it is that there is a choice made according to free-willed conditions rather than just input-and-response train.


But it is just an input and response train, as you say... what else can it be? Even considering feedback loops and interaction with pre-existing circuitry (memories) that doesn't make it any less of a path between input and response... it just makes it a more complicated path.

based on more factors than are involved in just the direct inputs.


Of course there are more factors involved, there is the entire pre-existing brain that is traversed, including all of your memories, I've already explained this.

That is human/higher intelligence and free wil at work.


What exactly is your definition of "free will", since your conclusion seems to be a non sequitur given mine.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 16, 2012
@Deathclock.
But it is just an input and response train, as you say... what else can it be? Even considering feedback loops and interaction with pre-existing circuitry (memories) that doesn't make it any less of a path between input and response... it just makes it a more complicated path.
Of course there are more factors involved, there is the entire pre-existing brain that is traversed, including all of your memories, I've already explained this.
What exactly is your definition of "free will", since your conclusion seems to be a non sequitur given mine.

I abstractly created a scenario. No inputs until later, which I pre-decided I would respond to in a certain way. It was creation/pre-decision by free will higher (circuit breaker) brain-mind processes, and not simply lower (fixed loop) brain-mind input-output programming pathways. Memories etc are mere facilitators, not determinants. Greater awareness of 'self' and 'other' and to abstractly pre-assign 'priorities' to both/all.
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2012
No matter how many times Deathclock and others assert that there is no free will, their assertions are meaningless. Unless they can show a mechanism by which human beings are compelled to make a particular choice and prevented from an alternate choice for every decision point a human being faces, they fail in their argument.

Plainly, everyone is free to choose and is not under a compulsion to make a particular choice.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2012
dogbert, you couldn't be more of an idiot if you tried.

I've already done what you are asking for, you are too simple to understand the arguments being presented by myself and others here.

Go play with your blocks and leave the intellectual stuff to people like Mr. Vibrating and myself.

You're a creationist retard that posts ridiculous creationist propaganda on physorg articles, no one has any respect for you or your opinions.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2012
I abstractly created a scenario. No inputs until later, which I pre-decided I would respond to in a certain way


IT DOESN'T MATTER WHEN IT HAPPENS... you say you "made a decision" prior to the decision, that makes no sense. You're brain existed prior to the "decision", right? That's all that's necessary for my argument to remain intact here.

No inputs? My ass no inputs, you've had input into your brain every picosecond for your entire life... you don't understand at all the argument being made.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 20, 2012
Deathclock:
IT DOESN'T MATTER WHEN IT HAPPENS... you say you "made a decision" prior to the decision, that makes no sense. You're brain existed prior to the "decision", right? That's all that's necessary for my argument to remain intact here.

No inputs? My ass no inputs, you've had input into your brain every picosecond for your entire life... you don't understand at all the argument being made.


We're at cross purposes now. I created a self-sufficient scenario to isolate/demonstrate relevant essentials. No more; no less.

The only 'inputs' of relevance are those that only arise during the scenario, irrespective of what went on before I created it. It is those 'inputs' which I pre-decided on how to respond even before they arose.

You seem to be talking about pre-existing matters which are not part of the self-sufficient scenario I made to illustrate free will in that way to specifically make 'pre-existing' factors irrelevant.

Free will thus isolated and demonstrated
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2012
The only 'inputs' of relevance are those that only arise during the scenario, irrespective of what went on before I created it.


No, listen to me, you created a scenario in which someone was told to "make a decision" regarding something that they know nothing about... this happens all the time, picking heads or tails in a coin toss for example... it's at best a random guess because you have no idea which side the coin will land one... this is your example, and it DOES NOT contradict my arguments, but you don't understand the arguments.

Whether you pick heads or tails is determined by the state of your brain in that moment. Your neurons still fire ACCORDING TO PHYSICAL LAW and they still stimulate muscles in your jaw and your tongue to cause you to speak your "choice"... this is still COMPLETELY GOVERNED BY PHYSICAL LAW, the state of your brain and the chemical reactions that occur after you are asked to "choose" determine whether you say "heads" or "tails"...
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2012
Do you guys not realize that there is no magic that goes on in your brain? Everything that happens inside of your brain, all of the chemical reactions that cause the firing of neurons, all of the stimulation of nerves that lead to muscle contractions that cause you to take action is CAUSED by the input you receive through your five senses (as the ONLY input you ever receive from the outside world).

RealityCheck will tell you that if asked to pick a number between 1 and 10 with no bias (impossible) toward any number you will make a choice and demonstrates free will... RealityCheck doesn't bother to ask WHY you are choosing a number between 1 and 10 in the first place... because SOMEONE ELSE asked you to do so... you did not control that, and if they hadn't asked you you wouldn't be "choosing" this number. The fact that you are doing this in the first place was beyond your control, it was based on sensory input of the outside world.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2012
Even disregarding the fact that you wouldn't even be picking a number if you weren't asked by someone else to do that, the number you "choose" is not a free choice either. Regardless of whether reality is deterministic or not, the nerve cells that transfer a charge between them and ultimately to the neurons in your brain which spread that charge through other neurons which eventually activate other nerve cells causing your mouth and tongue to move to make a sound ALL OPERATE ACCORDING TO THE PHYSICAL LAWS OF REALITY.

If reality is ultimately deterministic it is OBVIOUS that you have no free will, because everything is a simple causal sequence from one step to the next that cannot deviate... but even if reality is probabilistic that STILL leaves no room for free will... because YOU DON'T CONTROL THE PROBABILITY OF THE OUTCOME... even if reality is completely random (its not) that STILL leaves no room for free will because RANDOMNESS means no control, so you STILL don't control anything
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2012
RealityCheck needs to check his reality, because he seems to believe in a fantasy world whereby humans (and possibly other animals?) somehow are in direct control of the physical reactions that play out inside of their brains that lead to the nerve stimulation that causes muscle contractions and expansions.

Maybe you and others don't understand that EVERYTHING you do is MERELY the electro-chemical activation of nerves by your brain, and these are CAUSED by the stimulation of your neurons by other nerves that carry signals into it from your five senses.

Tell me, at what point in that processes do you inject your "will" in order to subvert physical law?

Complexity is confusing you, it is the ILLUSION of free will that I mentioned at the very beginning of this discussion. You see the input and you see the output but in the middle all you see is a giant question mark... a "black box" (engineering term)... but through simple logic we can turn that black box transparent.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 21, 2012
Hi Deathclock.

You might take your own 'advice' and listen instead of cross-purpose misunderstanding it.

The scenario I created is NOT just a matter of heads or tails per se. It is a matter of creating the scenario and pre-deciding what I would do. That is different from just choosing per se when presented with alternatives 'cold'. Do you see the subtle difference?

Your other examples are just that, 'cold' alternatives/choices when presented by others/external factors. Whereas my scenario was a self-created and self-predecided alternatives for choosing based on self-pre-decided basis.

See? None of what you put since in response has any relevance to MY self-created scenario/alternatives based on factors which I pre-decided upon. So your 'scenarios' and my 'scenario' are apples and oranges (not directly comparable) scenarios.

And all that about neurons etc: they fall under 'facilitators', not 'determinants'. I explained that before. Thanks.

Cheers.

RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 21, 2012
Hi again, Deathclock.

Just to add:

I stress again the point that MY scenario (not to be confused with any other scenario put by anyone else here) was specifically constructed to EFFECTIVELY REMOVE all those 'physical law' and 'prior/present' biochemical process factors you allude to. That was the whole point of the exercise in MY scenario: to exclude all irrelevancies and illustrate the essential factors; namely, free will 'creation' of the scenario and free will 'pre-deciding' of 'choices' even before they arise in the 'running' of that experimental scenario.

See? No more, and no less, need come into it because it was purposely constructed so as to exclude all else. Cheers.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2012
RC:

Give me the scenario again then, because I must have misunderstood you. No harm no foul, just state it again, plainly describing how you subvert the physical processes that play out in your brain in order to actually exert control over them.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2012
But, again, regardless of whatever you're talking about, all that I need to say to prove my point has already been stated:

If reality is ultimately deterministic it is OBVIOUS that you have no free will, because everything is a simple causal sequence from one step to the next that cannot deviate... but even if reality is probabilistic that STILL leaves no room for free will... because YOU DON'T CONTROL THE PROBABILITY OF THE OUTCOME... even if reality is completely random (its not) that STILL leaves no room for free will because RANDOMNESS means no control, so you STILL don't control anything


In a deterministic reality you clearly have no free will, in a probabilistic reality you also have no free will because YOU do not control the probability of any outcome, and in a completely random reality you also obviously have no free will, because random means RANDOM.

Done. Period. Those are the only possible configurations of reality and NONE of them allow for true free will.
dogbert
5 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2012
Deathclock,
dogbert, you couldn't be more of an idiot if you tried. I've already done what you are asking for, you are too simple to understand the arguments being presented by myself and others here. Go play with your blocks and leave the intellectual stuff to people like Mr. Vibrating and myself. You're a creationist retard that posts ridiculous creationist propaganda on physorg articles, no one has any respect for you or your opinions.


No sir. The mark of true dogmatism and challenged mentality is an attack on personalities when you cannot support your unsupportable position.

I asked a simple question. How is anyone compelled to make a particular choice when given two or more choices. You cannot answer that question. Saying that a deterministic universe or a random universe requires a particular outcome is pure sophism or pure idiocy (your choice).

You are free to make any decision any way you choose. So am I.
A_Paradox
not rated yet Aug 25, 2012
I shakes me 'ead I does, as I reads the posts above.
:-)
The fact is we humans now live in a different universe from the one in which people first tried to nut out what is actually involved in _being_ human.

My point is that using language from the pre scientific universe, ie saying "free will" as if free will is actually something different from the process of deciding, does not compute; it does not fit into the reality of our current era.

What we do is, by definition and observable evidence, caused by what went before but, and this is a big "but", it is not accurately predictable.
Why not predictable? Ans: because the mental processes which bring actions about arise at least in part from recursive processes in which outcomes feed back to become part or all of inputs of the next repetition of the process.

We become free when we take responsibility for our actions, but not before.
Cracker
not rated yet Aug 25, 2012
remove ethics from science.
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 26, 2012
Seriously, realitycheck, your arguments do not prove a thing. They only show where you yourself stop reasoning. On what base do you make these decisions? Whether you choose heads or tails, this does not automatically make this the result of free will. It was pre-determined, you only found out at the moment you -thought- you were making that decision.

As humans we have always thought we were at the center of existence. It turned out we were not in the center of our solar system. At some point we will wake up and see that we are not even at the center of life. We are just as much part of this ongoing chain of action-reaction as any other rock. We want to believe that we are special and we secretly hope we never find a real answer to what we really are.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2012
Whether the argument is "The Devil made me do it." or "Nature made me do it.", unless you can show how the Devil or Nature made you do it, your argument fails.

The obvious is in fact reality -- that we can and do make unconstrained decisions every day. We direct ourselves.

Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 27, 2012
Dogbert, what you are basically saying is that you don't understand why you do what you do, and there can not even be a rational explanation for it. Don't you have reasons for you actions? Why do you go to grocery stores? Because you need food. Why did you buy a blue painting? Because you like blue. Why heads over tails? Because it doesn't matter. The coin doesn't choose heads or tail when it falls, neither do you before you flip it. Why does a chicken cross the road? Because it -wants- to. there was nothing more desirable than crossing the road at that time for the chicken so she crossed it. Freedom of choice, not freedom of will.

Nobody can show you all the factors that decide your behavior. We are experiencing reality subjectively. From a subjective viewpoint you could say that there is free will because it ignores all reality you don't see. But you are not above reality, you are just as much a part of it.
dogbert
3 / 5 (2) Aug 27, 2012
You are welcome to your religion, Sasuga, but if you want to convince others, you need something better than "Nature made me do it".

And I do understand why I do what I do. You apparently have difficulty with the concept of autonomy.
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 27, 2012
dogbert, you are indeed way too simple an individual, lol. Suit yourself, goodday.

You admit yourself that you have reasons to make actions. And still you insist on being above nature.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 27, 2012
Hi Sasuga:
Seriously, realitycheck, your arguments do not prove a thing. They only show where you yourself stop reasoning. On what base do you make these decisions? Whether you choose heads or tails, this does not automatically make this the result of free will. It was pre-determined, you only found out at the moment you -thought- you were making that decision.

You also misunderstand my scenario as initially put. It differs from the simple choosing between heads or tails which you imply. I created the scenario with predetermined (by free will choice as the constructor) response options to heads or tails. I did not choose heads or tails per se. See? Please read back to my scenario which differs subtly from the one you are basing your comments on.

Thanks, Sasuga.

RC.
RealityCheck
5 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2012
Hi Deathclock:
RC:
Give me the scenario again then, because I must have misunderstood you. No harm no foul, just state it again, plainly describing how you subvert the physical processes that play out in your brain in order to actually exert control over them.

My eyes have been acting up, painfully; so briefly...

Of course you are right about molecular-level associations/interactions etc. which higher-level intelligence/free-will emergent capabilities use 'indirectly'.

But, these 'support' neurochemistry/structures only 'facilitate' higher processes, not 'determine' them.

The 'free operator' (your 'self') acts according to more than just chemistry/physics which you note. A (healthy) brain-mind creates 'a world of its own' involving myriad subtleties which cannot even begin to be imagined. Only if unhealthy states are involved (hypnosis, conditioning, habits) is higher-level free will 'choice' an illusion.

Hence my scenario; all extraneous considerations removed.

Cheers.
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 29, 2012
Realitycheck, in your scenarion you assume free will in the first place to 'prove' it's existence. It can therefore not be placed in a rational thought experiment.

It's unclear, as Deathclock states, which laws you actually mean by 'all those 'physical law' and 'prior/present' biochemical process'. Because without any of them, there would not even be consciousness to begin with, let alone an entity able to do 'free choosing'. Your body would fall apart the instant these laws vanish. You could not be consiouss even without a single one of them (assuming it's even possible to just remove one because they might all be the result of one and the same 'law').

continued
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 29, 2012
All the laws that were there from the moments our universe came into existence to the point the first consiouss being developped are the very nature of consiousness and they play a fundamental role in our illusion of free will or anything else for that matter. There is no reason to assume there was a point in evolution where matter gained some form of control other than rational causality.

To work with the minimum requirements for consiousness (imo) your experiment would assume that from the moment you were born, your brain was placed in an environment where there is no conditioning. No light, no feelings, no gravity, not even a body to perceive, nothing. No inputs. Then it's placed back into your adult body the moment your experiment starts. How do you pre-determine anything at this point? Heads? Tails? T-junctions? Even if you did it must have been hardwired into your brain somehow. Your brain -needs- to be conditioned to even be aware of those possible choices.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2012
Sasuga,

You assume the lack of free will and then conclude that there is a lack of free will. The ability to make unconstrained choices is the default, rational assumption.

To say that nature requires anyone to make a particular choice when there are more than one possible choices, you must state how nature (or chance or conditioning) can compel an individual to make that particular choice.

In fact, if you can show how a particular choice is compelled to occur, you should be able to predetermine which among a set of choices will be chosen before the choice is made.

You cannot show a mechanism which compels a particular choice nor can you use your claimed knowledge that a particular choice is inevitable to predict that choice.

Your position is no more scientific that superstition is. It has no basis in fact.
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 29, 2012
Dogbert, you clearly don't understand what rational means. Unconstrained choices are literally irrational.

I will show you that free will cannot exist, starting with the assumption that there is free will. But not now, I'm expecting visitors any moment.
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 29, 2012
And basically I've already done that in my earlier post. I've assumed the reality we inhabit and translated Realitycheck's experiment to this reality. Realitycheck already assumed free will and you, who inhabit this reality, can read it as if free will is assumed. You don't want to read it that way, I can't help that.

Nevertheless, I will try to show you even though I don't think it's gonna matter.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 29, 2012
Hi Sasuga:
Realitycheck, in your scenarion you assume free will in the first place to 'prove' it's existence. It can therefore not be placed in a rational thought experiment. It's unclear, as Deathclock states, which laws you actually mean by 'all those 'physical law' and 'prior/present' biochemical process'. ....
No. The creation of that self-demonstrative scenario (without all the extraneous factors you and Deathlock keep introducing) makes it irrelevant who or why the scenario was created. It is the 'running' of that scenario that demonstrates free will throughout. By design and irrespective of surrounding arguments thereby specifically excluded and rendered irrelevant.

As demonstrated in the scenario, all those 'factors' are merely 'facilitating' not 'determining' in my scenario irrespective of 'provenance'. No free will needed to be presumed; only self-demonstrated therein and thereby. No more, no less.

Cheers!
mogmich
not rated yet Aug 31, 2012
There is no scientific evidence, that human consciousness and will can be fully explained by classical laws of nature. It is an assumption.

Before Quantum Physics it was assumed - also by many scientists - that everything was governed by classical laws. Today this assumption is known to be false.

You don't have to explain free will by Quantum randomness. It is not known today that EVERYTHING can be explained by classical laws and quantum laws (determinism and randomness). So free will cannot be excluded by science.

And another thing: You can say, that the classical laws that govern the physical reality we experience in our daily life actually SUPPORT our free will, because it makes it possible for us to more or less predict the effects of our actions. If you have a small ball in your hand you can choose to let it fall to the ground by opening your hand, or you can choose to not let it fall.
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 31, 2012
No. The creation of that self-demonstrative scenario (without all the extraneous factors you and Deathlock keep introducing) makes it irrelevant who or why the scenario was created. It is the 'running' of that scenario that demonstrates free will throughout. By design and irrespective of surrounding arguments thereby specifically excluded and rendered irrelevant.


You must agree with me then that when we replace the person in your scenario by an entity with an artificial brain, we prove that this entity also has free will. I hope you can see by now that your scenario proves does not prove free will exists for any form of intelligence.

Thank you!
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 31, 2012
You don't have to explain free will by Quantum randomness. It is known today that not(fixed) EVERYTHING can be explained by classical laws and quantum laws (determinism and randomness). So free will cannot be excluded by science.


Mogmich, this is backward reasoning (if I understand you correcty). Science should never assume things can not be explained and it should always attempt to explain in terms that themselves can be explained. Therefore free will does not belong in science.

If you have a small ball in your hand you can choose to let it fall to the ground by opening your hand, or you can choose to not let it fall.


If it's predictable, it's not within our control. You know if you want to drop the ball, but you either want to or not at any point in time.
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 31, 2012
1/2

In response to earlier posts where people link randomness to free will: randomness does not give rise to free will as Deathclock and others have suggested; when it's random, it's random and not within our control. But let's assume free will exists and it gives rise to randomness. The outcome of an unrestrained choice would be, what we call, random. This litteraly is irrational.

When you throw a stone twice, in the exact same way, under the exact same circumstances, it's path would be exactly the same and ends up exactly where it did the first time. We all remember this example from physics class where we calculated such a path. Agree?

If the stone had free will and takes a different path the second time you throw it, you will probably agree that this would be irrational. But you'll argue that, at this level, reality behaves deterministic and that stones do not have free will. And I would agree if you did.
Sasuga
not rated yet Aug 31, 2012
2/2

But when we do a similar experiment with a photon, we do encounter this kind of behaviour. As you all probably know, photons behave probablistic, taking different paths under the exact same circumstances (as far as we can tell). So let's assume the photon has free will and decides itself where it wants to hit a surface. This would be truly random and thus irrational. Even if it preferred one location on a surface over another, it would not have decided this himself and it's choice is not unrestrained. Unless it had at some point chosen his preference but it would have done so by preference over another preference, which in turn it would have done by preference over another preference, etc etc.

It would be pointless to assume it had 'chosen' regardless of preference or that it's behaviour cannot be rationally explained. And yeah, maybe this IS what happens but, until it's proven that it does, science should assume there is a rational explanation. And you can never prove that. :)
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2012
Sasuga,

Dogbert, you clearly don't understand what rational means. Unconstrained choices are literally irrational. I will show you that free will cannot exist, starting with the assumption that there is free will. But not now, I'm expecting visitors any moment.


I am still waiting.

Please explain how any individual making a choice is compelled to make a particular choice. What is the nature of the compulsion? Who applies the compulsion? How is the preferred choice chosen before it is mandated?

You claim that the outcome of every choice is predetermined. How is it predetermined? Who makes that predetermination? Why, if the outcome is known before the choice is made, can you not predict the choice?

You can answer none of these questions because we clearly do have freedom of choice and exercise that freedom of choice multiple times daily.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Aug 31, 2012
Sasuga:
You must agree with me then that when we replace the person in your scenario by an entity with an artificial brain, we prove that this entity also has free will. I hope you can see by now that your scenario proves does not prove free will exists for any form of intelligence. Thank you!

I agree up to a point, mate. :-) What is artificial intelligence? What distinguishes it from human intelligence? That is the point up to which I agree. Identifiably human intelligence; where 'free will' is emergent capability facilitated by neurological chemistry/physics in human brain-mind system to 'simulate' a 'world construct' capable of handling 'self' and 'others' (each having their own world constructs/states). Such subtle open-ended capabilities/interactions distinguish it from lower animal conditioned-reflex brain-mind 'loops' and your posited 'artificially' programmed 'brain'. Free will capability/processes emerge where 'self' meets 'world construct' and 'other' etc.

Cheers.:-)
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 01, 2012
What is artificial intelligence? What distinguishes it from human intelligence?

It doesn't matter how it's different. Your scenario 'proved' that free will would be an emergent capability of an artificially constructed neural net just the same. Actually, you only proved how you automatically assume free will exist.

It doesn't matter whether the neurological processes that give rise to will are simulated or not, it's just never free. It you can give an explanation of how any mechanism could give rise to free will I would be more than happy to read it. Or maybe you can refute the other points that I've made.

I still accept free will as a possibility no matter how unlikely it seems to me. Why are you not open to the possibility that free will is an illusion?
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 01, 2012
Dogbert, your questions have been answered more than once. Your compelled to act by your will, by your thoughts, by your emotions.

How about you refute the points I've made instead of just repeating the same questions over and over again. Your not adding anything to the discussion.

If you have free will then at least try to behave less predictable.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Sep 01, 2012
Sasuga,

Your response is just a continual restatement that free choice is predetermined.

You cannot support this bankrupt argument because you cannot identify any mechanism which predetermines a choice or compels anyone to select a particular action when multiple selections are available. Nor can you show by prediction that any choice is required.

It is incredible how you cling to this foolishness when you cannot even attempt to answer reasonable questions about your stated beliefs.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Sep 01, 2012
Hi Sagusa:
It doesn't matter how it's different. Your scenario 'proved' that free will would be an emergent capability of an artificially constructed neural net just the same. Actually, you only proved how you automatically assume free will exist. It doesn't matter whether the neurological processes that give rise to will are simulated or not, it's just never free. It you can give an explanation of how any mechanism could give rise to free will I would be more than happy to read it. Or maybe you can refute the other points that I've made. I still accept free will as a possibility no matter how unlikely it seems to me. Why are you not open to the possibility that free will is an illusion?
I was. Then proved otherwise to myself. My questions highlighted essential difference/point. Even lowest animal brain is a neural network which does not produce emergent 'human intelligence' and 'free will'. There is a gulf in qualitative synergy/emergence potential I explained already.

Cheers!
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 02, 2012
Realitycheck, why do you keep ignoring my points? I'm not trying to convince you, I'm trying to learn something here. Why can you not elaborate?

Dogbert,
It is incredible how you cling to this foolishness when you cannot even attempt to answer reasonable questions about your stated beliefs.


Are. You. Serious?!?
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2012
Sasuga,

Are. You. Serious?!?


Very. Are you?

Again. How is the requirement that a particular choice among several choices enforced? Who decides that a particular choice is the required choice? If, at each decision point, the decision is predetermined, why can you not predict that choice before it is made?

You cannot answer these questions and you continue to ignore them with pointless statements like "I've already answered that" or "Are you serious?".

If each choice is predetermined:
1) How is it predetermined? What mechanism or entity makes that predetermination?
2) How is that decision enforced?
3) Why can't you identify that predetermined choice before the choice is made?

Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 03, 2012
Again.

Indeed....

How is it predetermined? What mechanism or entity makes that predetermination? How is that decision enforced?

No entity, we refer to it as the laws of nature. It's essentially a mechanism. It's there (you can see it) and it is the way it is. You didn't choose where and when to be born, the same applies to the universe.

Even if were an entity that created everything, it could not have made it's choice of how and when unrestrained. Even the creator must have been compelled to create, just as I compel you to keep reposting every time I post.

If you assume there is an entity that can decide above and/or before all laws of nature, then at least admit you are a creationist. There is therefore no entity with free will as this implies creationism. And YOU were calling ME religious, lol. Please continue to illustrate your simplicity.
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 03, 2012
Why can't you identify that predetermined choice before the choice is made?

Uncertainty as illustrated by Heisenberg. You could also do some reading on chaos theory.

So here we have answers, illustrations and assertions. If you don't agree then elaborate. I predict that you won't.
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 03, 2012
Also Realitycheck, regarding your last post; you didn't explain how emergence causes free will. You merely stated groundlessly that it does. No science to back it up.

Even lowest animal brain is a neural network which does not produce emergent 'human intelligence' and 'free will'
There is no such thing as 'human intelligence', just intelligence. Would an animal intelligent enough to decide to flip a coin when it runs into a t-junction prove by your scenario that it would have 'free will' and 'human intelligence'...???

It's ok, though. I think you are already aware that your 'prove' isn't prove at all. It has been a fun discussion. Disappointing, but fun.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2012
Sasuga,

So now, instead of predestination, you say it is "the laws of nature". I was correct earlier when I suspected you were a naturalist.

As I noted earlier, that its not an answer. Nature made me do it, the devil made me do it, etc. are sophist positions. Meaningless.

Worship your nature god if you wish. You may even argue that your god prevents you from making independent decisions, but unless you can cite a mechanism, you are just presenting dogma.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Sep 03, 2012
Hi Sasuga:
Also Realitycheck, regarding your last post; you didn't explain how emergence causes free will. You merely stated groundlessly that it does. No science to back it up.

Even lowest animal brain is a neural network which does not produce emergent 'human intelligence' and 'free will'
There is no such thing as 'human intelligence', just intelligence. Would an animal intelligent enough to decide to flip a coin when it runs into a t-junction prove by your scenario that it would have 'free will' and 'human intelligence'...???...
Emergence observable function/inevitability of scale/number/interconnectedness in complex systems. Free will is observable/demonstrable (please read my first posts). Correct; 'human intelligence' in inverted commas. You miss salient points. Must first be self/other aware; 'plan ahead'; make abstract scenario; pre-decide options/choice even before getting to junction/toss. Not trying to 'convince' either; just putting scenario/observations. :)
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 04, 2012
Dogbert, laws of nature is just an idea, you could call it anything. You could also call them 'the laws science tries to describe/understand'. Assuming there is anything that is above or before 'that what can be understood' is meaningless. It does not lead to further insight, as you have showed many times.

Realitycheck, free will was never demonstrated as I've argued. None of the things you mentioned rationally imply free will. If you want to believe they do, go ahead. It's just not scientific.

But were running in circles now. It would be a waste of time to try to have you do some explaining. So this is it for me.

Goodday!
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2012
Excellent time to decide to quit, Sasuga. Glad you were able to make that unrestrained decision.
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 05, 2012
Why would that make you happy? Are you so emotionally attached to your believes that you don't like it to be challenged? You don't have to answer that, I know you are.

Don't forget to wear your helmet when you go outside!
RealityCheck
not rated yet Sep 05, 2012
Hi Sasuga:
Realitycheck, free will was never demonstrated as I've argued. None of the things you mentioned rationally imply free will. If you want to believe they do, go ahead. It's just not scientific.
Sorry mate, I covered this many years ago elsewhere (references lost) and I haven't time/health/energy to spare in exhaustive repetition of past arguments/points already made. That is why I initially just put that self-explanatory scenario in my first post/s and left it at that. In parting gesture of goodwill (freely chosen), I add further free-will scenarios:
- Willful Denial: where one wilfully ignores 'input' facts and maintains a preconclusionary stance;
- Willful Motivations: Abstract concepts purely attributed to free self-ego to 'interpret' inputs from world/other;
- Willful Fantasizing: Abstract free-willed states 'chosen/facilitated' by higher level brain-mind capability/processes;
- Game playing according to freely-willed/self-constructed 'rules'; etc.

Cheers!
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 08, 2012
Ok, now that you have mentioned these, I understand why you presented your t-junction/coin flipping scenario the way you did.

Just one last question: Imagine we reset the entire universe (everything that mattered, even in the slightest. Maybe even multiverse) into the state it was in at the moment you were born, do you think your life would become any different from what it is now? Do you believe that free will would have you make different choices even if the circumstances were exactly the same?
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2012
Sasuga,
Imagine we reset the entire universe (everything that mattered, even in the slightest. Maybe even multiverse) into the state it was in at the moment you were born, do you think your life would become any different from what it is now? Do you believe that free will would have you make different choices even if the circumstances were exactly the same?


You imagine something impossible to support your equally impossible thesis.

The universe does not compel your (or anyone else's) choices. You are free to choose any way you want. Your god is not a machine and did not create you as a machine, incapable of choice.

Notice that you decided to quit commenting, then decided to continue commenting. Your own unconstrained decision each time. Your own actions should inform you of your ability to act.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Sep 08, 2012
Hi Sasuga.

Hmmmm. I get what you mean. That is basically what 'regret' is all about? How many have wished we could go back and 're-do' where in hindsight we might/should have 'chosen' differently (for various reasons) given the very same circumstances? That's what free will choice (conscience etc higher level brain-mind capabilities) is all about: making mistakes and freely choosing 'differently' if we had the chance to 'do over'.

Of course, resetting the universe is impossible due to the ever-active 'butterfly effect' (wiki it). It cannot be 'run backwards' to recover initial conditions/state.

The brief answer is no; for free will state is always 'on the edge of uncertainty' and unstable/sensitive to high degree. This is demonstrable when one 'looks back' and says to oneself: "What was I thinking!"

See? The fact we CAN 'look back' and wish we had chosen differently shows we can choose differently if we are free to do so.

Sorry I haven't more time. Nice to have met you. Cheer! :)
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 09, 2012
No, that was not what I meant. Not like going back in time with the knowledge you have now. But having all the (internal and external) circumstances being exactly the same from when you were born. Without your current knowledge, wouldn't you just make the same mistakes again?

I am actually very familiar with chaos theory and complexity. They are at the basis of my deterministic views. :)

Thank you for your answer and I wish you a good day!
Sasuga
not rated yet Sep 09, 2012
The reason I asked by the way, is that I suspect we think alike but we just interpret things differently.
RealityCheck
not rated yet Sep 09, 2012
The problem is, 'history' cannot ever be 'repeated' like that. There is more to a 'moment' in life/cogitations of brain-mind 'world construct' forever too subtle to treat in that 'historical reset' way. Choice made 'then' is choice made given the circumstances....including your 'free will' component circumstances. So naturally, if free will THEN (given all other factors) chose a particular way, then of course the likelihood is that free will acting under the same 'recreated' circumstances would very likely make the same 'choices'. But that is merely semantics, because free will acted as it did on surrounding circumstances applying then (or again 'if reset').

Only removing free will part of 'reset' scenario can show 'reset outcome' deterministic case. But if we do we create animal/programmed closed loop (not healthy human) brain-mind state. So not 'resetting' same circumstances.

I suspect same also. Variety is spice of life. Boring otherwise! Good talking with you. Good luck!

Bye.