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Free Will

A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/12/2016 10:00:12 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
I am not a physicist, I don't know how to exactly interpret quantum mechanics and I'm not sure there even is consensus concerning that topic among scientists.

One possibility is that the universe is strictly deterministic, meaning chains of causality are uninterrupted and go back as far as time does. The other possibility is that there exist purely random processes. As they follow no logic they must be uncaused, and each occurrence initiates a new chain of causality that merges with the other chains.

In the first case there is no libertarian free will, if everything is determined then we are no different from computers. Depending on the inputs received by nature there can be only one possible output. No choices are possible.

In the second case the decisions we make are not perfectly predictable. But that does not imply that we are capable of making choices. Any choice we make would then be determined by the causal chains in addition to pure randomness. Our consciousness is not in control over the decisions.

If that is true, can it be said there is no libertarian Free Will?
Bob13
Posts: 710
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2/12/2016 10:35:04 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:00:12 PM, A1tre wrote:
I am not a physicist, I don't know how to exactly interpret quantum mechanics and I'm not sure there even is consensus concerning that topic among scientists.

One possibility is that the universe is strictly deterministic, meaning chains of causality are uninterrupted and go back as far as time does. The other possibility is that there exist purely random processes. As they follow no logic they must be uncaused, and each occurrence initiates a new chain of causality that merges with the other chains.

In the first case there is no libertarian free will, if everything is determined then we are no different from computers. Depending on the inputs received by nature there can be only one possible output. No choices are possible.

In the second case the decisions we make are not perfectly predictable. But that does not imply that we are capable of making choices. Any choice we make would then be determined by the causal chains in addition to pure randomness. Our consciousness is not in control over the decisions.

If that is true, can it be said there is no libertarian Free Will?

You can still make choices if there is a causal chain. There are many things I could chose to do right now, but I chose to post to this topic because the causal chain of my thoughts led me to that decision.
I don't have a signature. :-)
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/12/2016 10:48:11 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:35:04 PM, Bob13 wrote:

You can still make choices if there is a causal chain. There are many things I could chose to do right now, but I chose to post to this topic because the causal chain of my thoughts led me to that decision.

What I am saying is that even though in every day life we would call that making a decision, in reality it is a mere illusion. For you to make a decision there has to be the possibility for you either choose option A or option B. But given the causal chains it is clear that it is impossible for you to "choose" (lets say) B. Therefore your "choice" of option A is not a true decision. It is as much a choice as you choosing not to fly to Mars and back this instance. It is simply impossible for you to do so, just as it is impossible for you to choose B.
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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2/12/2016 11:37:21 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:00:12 PM, A1tre wrote:

In the first case there is no libertarian free will, if everything is determined then we are no different from computers. Depending on the inputs received by nature there can be only one possible output. No choices are possible.

In the second case the decisions we make are not perfectly predictable. But that does not imply that we are capable of making choices. Any choice we make would then be determined by the causal chains in addition to pure randomness. Our consciousness is not in control over the decisions.

If that is true, can it be said there is no libertarian Free Will?

Well, the libertarian has to make sense of some kind of decision making process, but so far I have not seen one that does not boil down to randomness.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Bob13
Posts: 710
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2/13/2016 2:11:29 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:48:11 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 2/12/2016 10:35:04 PM, Bob13 wrote:

You can still make choices if there is a causal chain. There are many things I could chose to do right now, but I chose to post to this topic because the causal chain of my thoughts led me to that decision.

What I am saying is that even though in every day life we would call that making a decision, in reality it is a mere illusion. For you to make a decision there has to be the possibility for you either choose option A or option B. But given the causal chains it is clear that it is impossible for you to "choose" (lets say) B. Therefore your "choice" of option A is not a true decision. It is as much a choice as you choosing not to fly to Mars and back this instance. It is simply impossible for you to do so, just as it is impossible for you to choose B.

The causal chain is your thought process that leads to your choice. The causal chain and the choice coexist. You make the choice, and a thought of yours is the cause.
I don't have a signature. :-)
PeacefulChaos
Posts: 2,610
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2/13/2016 5:03:38 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:48:11 PM, A1tre wrote:

What I am saying is that even though in every day life we would call that making a decision, in reality it is a mere illusion. For you to make a decision there has to be the possibility for you either choose option A or option B. But given the causal chains it is clear that it is impossible for you to "choose" (lets say) B. Therefore your "choice" of option A is not a true decision. It is as much a choice as you choosing not to fly to Mars and back this instance. It is simply impossible for you to do so, just as it is impossible for you to choose B.

Are you arguing that, because there are certain physically impossible things we cannot do, we have no free will?

What about my choice to eat what I want for breakfast?
Emgaol
Posts: 143
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2/13/2016 6:52:35 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:48:11 PM, A1tre wrote:
What I am saying is that even though in every day life we would call that making a decision, in reality it is a mere illusion. For you to make a decision there has to be the possibility for you either choose option A or option B. But given the causal chains it is clear that it is impossible for you to "choose" (lets say) B. Therefore your "choice" of option A is not a true decision. It is as much a choice as you choosing not to fly to Mars and back this instance. It is simply impossible for you to do so, just as it is impossible for you to choose B.

I'm sorry, but I don't see any "causal chains" that make it "clear that it is impossible for" me to choose B.
It seems as though you are arguing that because I chose A that it was impossible for me to have chosen B. And your reasoning is; that I chose A.

"I always avoid prophesying beforehand because it is much better to prophesy after the event has already taken place. " --Winston Churchill
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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2/13/2016 12:18:45 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:00:12 PM, A1tre wrote:
I am not a physicist, I don't know how to exactly interpret quantum mechanics and I'm not sure there even is consensus concerning that topic among scientists.

Go ahead and be sure, there isn't anything even in the ballpark of a consensus about how to interpret quantum mechanics.

One possibility is that the universe is strictly deterministic, meaning chains of causality are uninterrupted and go back as far as time does.

Yes, that is a "possibility", but there is no evidence that it is true.

The other possibility is that there exist purely random processes. As they follow no logic they must be uncaused, and each occurrence initiates a new chain of causality that merges with the other chains.

That is what the evidence tells us.

In the first case there is no libertarian free will, if everything is determined then we are no different from computers.

Not true, most philosophers are compatibilists regarding this issue, the majority opinion is that determinism and free will are compatible.

Depending on the inputs received by nature there can be only one possible output. No choices are possible.

This contradicts the evidence and logic.

In the second case the decisions we make are not perfectly predictable. But that does not imply that we are capable of making choices. Any choice we make would then be determined by the causal chains in addition to pure randomness. Our consciousness is not in control over the decisions.

Nonsense, you are saying that we don"t have free will no matter what, the logic of your second case is flawed. It makes no sense to claim there are only two options, one is that there is no free will, and the other is that there is no free will. You are trying to make an excluded middle argument with a single term.

If that is true,

It isn't true.

can it be said there is no libertarian Free Will?

Sure, plenty of people make such a claim. But it is an agenda based conclusion that ignores logic and evidence.

The strongest argument for the existence of free will is the undeniable fact that we all observe it during every conscious moment, hence it is self-evident. Consequently, the denial of free will is necessarily a rejection of the very concept of empirical evidence, and the argument against Free Will becomes a rejection without "proof", one which eliminates induction as valid. These two aspects of the approach clearly reject the very basis of science and scientific knowledge, leaving nothing but detached abstractions that have nothing whatsoever to do with the real world.

The attempt to deny the self-evident experiential reality of human consciousness and the associated fact that we are morally responsible causal agents is a very extraordinary claim and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. An unfounded and completely faith-based belief in determinism doesn't constitute extraordinary evidence by any stretch of the imagination.

Logic, mathematics, and deductive reasoning are abstractions, merely mental tools used to explain our experience of reality. To deny free will you must deny experience and claim that our abstractions are real and reality is an illusion, which makes no sense.

An argument that reality isn't real is self-refuting.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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2/13/2016 12:39:13 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:48:11 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 2/12/2016 10:35:04 PM, Bob13 wrote:

You can still make choices if there is a causal chain. There are many things I could chose to do right now, but I chose to post to this topic because the causal chain of my thoughts led me to that decision.

What I am saying is that even though in every day life we would call that making a decision, in reality it is a mere illusion. For you to make a decision there has to be the possibility for you either choose option A or option B. But given the causal chains it is clear that it is impossible for you to "choose" (lets say) B. Therefore your "choice" of option A is not a true decision. It is as much a choice as you choosing not to fly to Mars and back this instance. It is simply impossible for you to do so, just as it is impossible for you to choose B.

Your argument against Free Will presupposes determinism without establishing determinism as a fact. The philosophical doctrine of determinism is nothing more than an archaic and failed concept that is unscientific and completely faith based.

This appears a declaration of your faith rather than an actual argument perhaps it should have been in the Religion forum.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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2/13/2016 1:04:12 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 11:37:21 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 2/12/2016 10:00:12 PM, A1tre wrote:

In the first case there is no libertarian free will, if everything is determined then we are no different from computers. Depending on the inputs received by nature there can be only one possible output. No choices are possible.

In the second case the decisions we make are not perfectly predictable. But that does not imply that we are capable of making choices. Any choice we make would then be determined by the causal chains in addition to pure randomness. Our consciousness is not in control over the decisions.

If that is true, can it be said there is no libertarian Free Will?

Well, the libertarian has to make sense of some kind of decision making process, but so far I have not seen one that does not boil down to randomness.

Almost every argument against Free Will presupposes determinism without establishing determinism as a fact. The denial of free will is an extraordinary claim, the denier of free will has to make sense of their position with an extraordinary argument, so far I have never seen one that wasn't based on simply presupposing determinism without any evidence whatsoever.

How about we have a formal debate, I'll show you a real argument and you can show me one. My argument will not " boil down to randomness".
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
keithprosser
Posts: 1,968
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2/13/2016 3:29:54 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
I think that a1tre is saying that quantum randomness/indeterminacy does not provide a 'backdoor' for free-will because the essence of free will is not whether our decisions and choices can be predicted but whether they are under 'personal control'.

I think a1tre is 100% right. But suppose we accept that what we really have is only some sort of 'pseudo-free' will, or an illusion of free will or whatever. What difference would it make to have real free will? I don't think it would make any difference at all.
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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2/13/2016 3:59:25 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 1:04:12 PM, Sidewalker wrote:

Almost every argument against Free Will presupposes determinism without establishing determinism as a fact.
And just as often do people equate indeterminism with free will.

The denial of free will is an extraordinary claim, the denier of free will has to make sense of their position with an extraordinary argument, so far I have never seen one that wasn't based on simply presupposing determinism without any evidence whatsoever.
It seems we have a misunderstanding. I very much do think we have free will, just not the libertarian kind.

How about we have a formal debate, I'll show you a real argument and you can show me one.
I don't debate anymore. Had you asked me half a year ago tis would be a different story.

My argument will not " boil down to randomness".
Let's hear it anyway.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/13/2016 4:13:20 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 2:11:29 AM, Bob13 wrote:

The causal chain is your thought process that leads to your choice. The causal chain and the choice coexist. You make the choice, and a thought of yours is the cause.

right, and that choice is not a free one
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/13/2016 4:21:16 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 5:03:38 AM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
At 2/12/2016 10:48:11 PM, A1tre wrote:

What I am saying is that even though in every day life we would call that making a decision, in reality it is a mere illusion. For you to make a decision there has to be the possibility for you either choose option A or option B. But given the causal chains it is clear that it is impossible for you to "choose" (lets say) B. Therefore your "choice" of option A is not a true decision. It is as much a choice as you choosing not to fly to Mars and back this instance. It is simply impossible for you to do so, just as it is impossible for you to choose B.

Are you arguing that, because there are certain physically impossible things we cannot do, we have no free will?

What about my choice to eat what I want for breakfast?

That is not my argument. I was making a comparison. Given determinism is true it is equally impossible for you to choose option B over A than it is for you to fly to Mars and back this instant.

This applies to all "choices" we make in life. In determinism there would be a complete possible expalnation for why you choose to eat the breakfast you did. It could have been predicted, therefore you had no real choice in the matter.
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/13/2016 4:31:39 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 6:52:35 AM, Emgaol wrote:
At 2/12/2016 10:48:11 PM, A1tre wrote:
What I am saying is that even though in every day life we would call that making a decision, in reality it is a mere illusion. For you to make a decision there has to be the possibility for you either choose option A or option B. But given the causal chains it is clear that it is impossible for you to "choose" (lets say) B. Therefore your "choice" of option A is not a true decision. It is as much a choice as you choosing not to fly to Mars and back this instance. It is simply impossible for you to do so, just as it is impossible for you to choose B.

I'm sorry, but I don't see any "causal chains" that make it "clear that it is impossible for" me to choose B.
It seems as though you are arguing that because I chose A that it was impossible for me to have chosen B. And your reasoning is; that I chose A.

That is not what I was saying. It is determinism that explains why you "choose" A instead of B.
To have libertarian Free Will, you have to be able to make real choices. To be able to make a real choice it has to be possible for you to either choose A or B. But in this case it is impossible for you to choose B due to the causal chains. Therefore you are not actually making a real choice, you are just one complex wheel bound to the causal chains of the universe doing your part.
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/13/2016 5:14:04 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 12:18:45 PM, Sidewalker wrote:
Nonsense, you are saying that we don"t have free will no matter what, the logic of your second case is flawed. It makes no sense to claim there are only two options, one is that there is no free will, and the other is that there is no free will. You are trying to make an excluded middle argument with a single term.

I did not say there is either no free will or there is no free will. What I said is there is are two possible options when describing causal chains. Either (1) they are uninterrupted and go back as far as time does, or (2) the are interrupted by randomness. In the second case we can say that randomness follows no logic and is uncaused. In case two we therefore have constantly new emerging beginnings of causal chains mixing with the already existing ones.

What I am proposing is a dichotomy. If you disagree with this, please show me how there are other options I have not considered. I then go on and argue that in both cases of the dichotomy it is impossible for libertarian free will to exist.

On a side note: I fail to see how compatibilism makes any sense at all, to me they are just changing the meaning of words. But even if compatibilism is true it's irrelevant to this case, as libertarianism is on trial here.

Further side note: You seem to think evidence speaks contra determinism and pro randomness. Just yesterday I started a thread concerning randomness where I make the claim it is impossible to find evidence for it. Check it out is you are interested, but for the sake of answering you here I will just assume you are correct about the evidence.

So assuming the universe contains randomness, does that allow us libertarian free well? I would argue the answer is no. If randomness is the explanation to the choices we make, how does this equal us making the choices ourselves? It is ultimately random what choices we make, we have no control over them whatsoever.

In order to prove me wrong you would have to either (i) show that determinism permits libertarian free will, (ii) show that randomness permits libertarian free will or (iii) show that I set up a false dichotomy with determinism and randomness.
SNP1
Posts: 2,403
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2/13/2016 5:39:03 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:00:12 PM, A1tre wrote:
I am not a physicist, I don't know how to exactly interpret quantum mechanics and I'm not sure there even is consensus concerning that topic among scientists.

One possibility is that the universe is strictly deterministic, meaning chains of causality are uninterrupted and go back as far as time does.

Never been a big fan of this version.

The other possibility is that there exist purely random processes. As they follow no logic they must be uncaused, and each occurrence initiates a new chain of causality that merges with the other chains.

Always been more of a fan of this one due to some randomness of QM (it is impossible to predict, for example, when and where virtual particles will appear). Combine some of that randomness with Chaos Theory, and then you have an impossible to predict system.

In the first case there is no libertarian free will, if everything is determined then we are no different from computers. Depending on the inputs received by nature there can be only one possible output. No choices are possible.

In the second case the decisions we make are not perfectly predictable. But that does not imply that we are capable of making choices. Any choice we make would then be determined by the causal chains in addition to pure randomness. Our consciousness is not in control over the decisions.

I would also like to add the third option that gets rid of libertarian Free Will, eternalism. If the future is set in stone, then libertarian free will is impossible.

If that is true, can it be said there is no libertarian Free Will?
#TheApatheticNihilistPartyofAmerica
#WarOnDDO
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/13/2016 5:39:49 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 12:39:13 PM, Sidewalker wrote:
Logic, mathematics, and deductive reasoning are abstractions, merely mental tools used to explain our experience of reality. To deny free will you must deny experience and claim that our abstractions are real and reality is an illusion, which makes no sense.

Your fundamental mistake is that you assume human experience to be an accurate objective depiction of reality. This is simply not true. Human experience varies from person to person and is all too often false. Oftentimes humans interpret dreams as reality and feel corresponding emotions to the situation they think to find themselves in, just to wake up and realize it was all just in their heads. This is just one example.
In this case I claim that our experience of having free will, an experience I myself share every day, is simply an illusion.

An argument that reality isn't real is self-refuting.

The argument that not reality itself, but our perception of reality that tends to be inaccurate and therefore sometimes unreal, is not self-refuting.

Sure, plenty of people make such a claim. But it is an agenda based conclusion that ignores logic and evidence.
This appears a declaration of your faith rather than an actual argument perhaps it should have been in the Religion forum.

I find it unfair of you to accuse me of pushing an agenda and denouncing my argument to a "declaration of your faith" simply because you disagree with my conclusion. Why not just make proper counter arguments to prove me wrong? Also I have no idea what agenda you think I am pushing, unless you interpret my opinion to solely represent an attempt to attack a worldview you hold which you dogmatically believe to be true, but now I am the one making unfair accusations.
A1tre
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2/13/2016 5:43:07 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 5:39:03 PM, SNP1 wrote:

I would also like to add the third option that gets rid of libertarian Free Will, eternalism. If the future is set in stone, then libertarian free will is impossible.

Can you explain eternalism to me?
SNP1
Posts: 2,403
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2/13/2016 5:46:02 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 5:43:07 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 2/13/2016 5:39:03 PM, SNP1 wrote:

I would also like to add the third option that gets rid of libertarian Free Will, eternalism. If the future is set in stone, then libertarian free will is impossible.

Can you explain eternalism to me?

Eternalism is the ontological model where the past, present, and future are all equally real.
Future events are already "there", past events are still "there".
#TheApatheticNihilistPartyofAmerica
#WarOnDDO
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/13/2016 5:47:50 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 5:46:02 PM, SNP1 wrote:

Eternalism is the ontological model where the past, present, and future are all equally real.
Future events are already "there", past events are still "there".

Thank you
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/13/2016 6:03:16 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 3:29:54 PM, keithprosser wrote:
I think that a1tre is saying that quantum randomness/indeterminacy does not provide a 'backdoor' for free-will because the essence of free will is not whether our decisions and choices can be predicted but whether they are under 'personal control'.

I think a1tre is 100% right. But suppose we accept that what we really have is only some sort of 'pseudo-free' will, or an illusion of free will or whatever. What difference would it make to have real free will? I don't think it would make any difference at all.

To the extent we are talking about our every-day life I would agree with you. But when it comes to how we see ourselves, our life and our universe I think it does make a difference. Especially considering that it is possible to hold views that rely on having free will and which can effect our lives dramatically.

Also thank you for better wording my point.
keithprosser
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2/13/2016 7:39:17 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
To the extent we are talking about our every-day life I would agree with you. But when it comes to how we see ourselves, our life and our universe I think it does make a difference. Especially considering that it is possible to hold views that rely on having free will and which can effect our lives dramatically.

I'll have to ask for more on how one's philophical views on free will are so significant!

It seems you've gven this a bit of thought, so have you considered why we think we have free will? I've got my own ideas about that, hinging on the nature of the self and consciousness in general, but I don't want to write a long post right now! So - why do we have the illusion of free will?
skipsaweirdo
Posts: 1,864
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2/14/2016 1:48:04 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 5:39:03 PM, SNP1 wrote:
At 2/12/2016 10:00:12 PM, A1tre wrote:
I am not a physicist, I don't know how to exactly interpret quantum mechanics and I'm not sure there even is consensus concerning that topic among scientists.

One possibility is that the universe is strictly deterministic, meaning chains of causality are uninterrupted and go back as far as time does.

Never been a big fan of this version.

The other possibility is that there exist purely random processes. As they follow no logic they must be uncaused, and each occurrence initiates a new chain of causality that merges with the other chains.

Always been more of a fan of this one due to some randomness of QM (it is impossible to predict, for example, when and where virtual particles will appear). Combine some of that randomness with Chaos Theory, and then you have an impossible to predict system.

In the first case there is no libertarian free will, if everything is determined then we are no different from computers. Depending on the inputs received by nature there can be only one possible output. No choices are possible.

In the second case the decisions we make are not perfectly predictable. But that does not imply that we are capable of making choices. Any choice we make would then be determined by the causal chains in addition to pure randomness. Our consciousness is not in control over the decisions.

I would also like to add the third option that gets rid of libertarian Free Will, eternalism. If the future is set in stone, then libertarian free will is impossible.

If that is true, can it be said there is no libertarian Free Will?

I see you still have your fallacious "tensed garbage" argument at the bottom of your posts. You do realize it shows your complete ignorance of logic and especially your incomprehesion of the proper use of modus ponens. It's equivelant to clishmaclaver.
skipsaweirdo
Posts: 1,864
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2/14/2016 1:53:21 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 5:46:02 PM, SNP1 wrote:
At 2/13/2016 5:43:07 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 2/13/2016 5:39:03 PM, SNP1 wrote:

I would also like to add the third option that gets rid of libertarian Free Will, eternalism. If the future is set in stone, then libertarian free will is impossible.

Can you explain eternalism to me?

Eternalism is the ontological model where the past, present, and future are all equally real.
Fallacy of ambiguity.
Future events are already "there", past events are still "there".
And this is too....already "there", still "there", where exactly?, fantasy land maybe. lmao.
Absolutely no explanatory value at all.
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/14/2016 6:59:59 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 7:39:17 PM, keithprosser wrote:
To the extent we are talking about our every-day life I would agree with you. But when it comes to how we see ourselves, our life and our universe I think it does make a difference. Especially considering that it is possible to hold views that rely on having free will and which can effect our lives dramatically.

I'll have to ask for more on how one's philophical views on free will are so significant!

It seems you've gven this a bit of thought, so have you considered why we think we have free will? I've got my own ideas about that, hinging on the nature of the self and consciousness in general, but I don't want to write a long post right now! So - why do we have the illusion of free will?

It might be smart to open a new thread for your question, I feel like I could write an entire book on the topic and it seems you have a lot to say as well. Do you mind if I do so?
keithprosser
Posts: 1,968
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2/14/2016 7:56:18 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
It might be smart to open a new thread for your question, I feel like I could write an entire book on the topic and it seems you have a lot to say as well. Do you mind if I do so?

Let me try to de-mystify free will. I'll start by stating that I am assuming that if I perceive X (say a red football) then I can guarantee there is a bunch of neurons in my brain whose activity codes for a X (a red football in this case).

There may or may not be a red football in the real world - I could be dreaming or hallucinating, but that doesn't alter the fact that if I perceive X then without doubt there is 'neural activity encoding X' in my brain - sometimes I call that a 'neural representation of X'.

Perceiving X does not imply X exists 'in reality'. If what 'really exists' is a yellow pool ball but what gets represented in my brain is a red football, I will perceive the latter.

Imagine making a decision - say between tea or coffee for breakfast. If we perceive the decision process at all, we perceive it as the result of exercising our 'free will'. But as we have seen perceiving free-will only means there is a neural representation of free-will in my brain, not that free-will exists.

I suggest that what exists is a 'black box', i.e. a portion of my brain that operates unconsciously and deterministically, which take various memories and sensations as inputs and outputs a decision. Only the decision gets deposited in my consciousness. That is, while I am allowed to be conscious of the decision, I have no access to or knowledge of the actual workings of the black box that produces it.

As I have no access to the actual mechanics of my decision making, it will seem to me that my decisions are reached 'magically', by exercising some unexplained power. In other words I perceive my 'decision making process' as 'free will'. The reality is that my decisions are made by a deterministic black box, but I don't perceive the reality because it is not represented in my brain. What is in my brain is a representation of a fictional 'free-will'.

The point is that free-will (if we imagine it as a non-deterministic magical process) cannot exist, but it doesn't have to exist for us to preceive it. Free-will doesb;t have to be how we make decisions - it only has to be how the brain represents (or rather mis-represents) the decision making process.

The difference is a bit like a faster-than-light spaceship. An actual FTL spaceship cannot exist, but there is no physical or logical obstacle to the existence of a representation of a FTL spaceship.
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/14/2016 9:17:30 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/14/2016 7:56:18 PM, keithprosser wrote:

I suggest that what exists is a 'black box', i.e. a portion of my brain that operates unconsciously and deterministically, which take various memories and sensations as inputs and outputs a decision. Only the decision gets deposited in my consciousness. That is, while I am allowed to be conscious of the decision, I have no access to or knowledge of the actual workings of the black box that produces it.

As I have no access to the actual mechanics of my decision making, it will seem to me that my decisions are reached 'magically', by exercising some unexplained power. In other words I perceive my 'decision making process' as 'free will'. The reality is that my decisions are made by a deterministic black box, but I don't perceive the reality because it is not represented in my brain. What is in my brain is a representation of a fictional 'free-will'.

If I have understood you correctly you are saying that because we are not aware of the factors determining our decisions, we experience our decision making process as free will. That does make sense to me.

But I am not sure what you are saying regarding our consciousness. Do you mean to say that our decisions are produced purely by our unconsciousness and only after they are made do we become conscious of them? What about using reason to arrive at a decision, would that part of the decision making process not have to part of our conscious mind?

In any case I find your proposal very interesting.
keithprosser
Posts: 1,968
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2/14/2016 10:12:49 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
If I have understood you correctly you are saying that because we are not aware of the factors determining our decisions, we experience our decision making process as free will. That does make sense to me.

But I am not sure what you are saying regarding our consciousness. Do you mean to say that our decisions are produced purely by our unconsciousness and only after they are made do we become conscious of them? What about using reason to arrive at a decision, would that part of the decision making process not have to part of our conscious mind?

In any case I find your proposal very interesting.

If you have misunderstood it is probably because I erred in trying to be too terse! I am not quite saying that we perceive our decision making process as free will because we are not aware of the factors we take into account. Rather it is that we don't perceive the actual method we use to make decisions at all(obviously, as nobody really knows what that method is!).

I think it is reasonable to suppose that there is a 'decision making black-box' in the brain. It probably works by taking a 'weighted comparison' of alternatives, but as I said its actual workings are opaque. But it must deposit its result into consciousness in order for to act on it. My reason for suggesting that model are the obvious ones - I don't know how I make decisions, but I know they do get made.

I wasn't really considering conscious decision making, which I think is relatively very rare. If you are (for example) choosing between buying something for cash or on your card then you will be using a different part of your brain - the analytical part. I was more thinking of the sort of spontaneous decision making we do from moment to moment, for example the choices you will make in selecting the words and grammar for your reply to this post - if you analytically decide to reply at all!

Really what I wanted to was put flesh on the bones of the idea that free-will is an illusion. I don't like the word 'illusion' because that implies there is nothing in reality that it corresponds to. I prefer 'fiction' because (as I see it) free-will is a fictional version of the real 'black-box' decision making machinery of the brain. Free will is how the brain 'models' its decision making, not knowing any better!
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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2/15/2016 1:29:07 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 5:14:04 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 2/13/2016 12:18:45 PM, Sidewalker wrote:
Nonsense, you are saying that we don"t have free will no matter what, the logic of your second case is flawed. It makes no sense to claim there are only two options, one is that there is no free will, and the other is that there is no free will. You are trying to make an excluded middle argument with a single term.

I did not say there is either no free will or there is no free will.

Sure you did, you presented two cases, you said if case 1 is true we have no free will, and if case 2 is true, we have no free will.

What I said is there is are two possible options when describing causal chains. Either (1) they are uninterrupted and go back as far as time does, or (2) the are interrupted by randomness. In the second case we can say that randomness follows no logic and is uncaused. In case two we therefore have constantly new emerging beginnings of causal chains mixing with the already existing ones.

What I am proposing is a dichotomy.

Yeah, I know, but it's a false dichotomy.

If you disagree with this, please show me how there are other options I have not considered.

Ok, another option would be what the rest of us refer to as reality. The problem here is that the contrived description of reality that your argument presupposes completely discounts the primary experiential reality of consciousness, but over here in the real world the self-evident truth is that human beings are conscious, morally responsible, causal agents. Consciousness is not merely a passive perception or awareness that simply reacts to stimuli; it is an active force that we exert upon the physical universe as causal agents.

Consciousness has causal influence due to its content, not solely because of the physical aspects of its neural correlates. A conscious state includes a desire or intention, it includes the ability to envision a future state and establish a strategy for attaining that state. That makes it more than a purely physical state, it is a conscious state with reference to a future possibility, and no such reference is part of any purely physical state. Such conscious states can have causal effect to bring about further states for the sake of values and purposes, and intents, and these qualities are not reducible to the purely physical state of your argument.

Your argument necessarily denies purposeful action or human freedom and responsibility in order to reduce all behavior to purely physical deterministic laws. The argument is refuted by the fact that human beings are subject to both physical causality and the aforementioned teleological causality, we can change our conduct for reasons that are not included in the purely physical causation which by definition, does not include intent, values and purpose.

I then go on and argue that in both cases of the dichotomy it is impossible for libertarian free will to exist.

Yeah, except for the fact that in neither case is it impossible for libertarian free will to exist

On a side note: I fail to see how compatibilism makes any sense at all, to me they are just changing the meaning of words. But even if compatibilism is true it's irrelevant to this case, as libertarianism is on trial here.

You are self-refuting your own argument, you can't "fail to see how compatibilism makes any sense at all" without being conscious, the ability to judge whether or not it makes sense presupposes the conscious ability to deliberate, evaluate, and decide.

Further side note: You seem to think evidence speaks contra determinism and pro randomness. Just yesterday I started a thread concerning randomness where I make the claim it is impossible to find evidence for it. Check it out is you are interested, but for the sake of answering you here I will just assume you are correct about the evidence.

I'll go take a look, perhaps you noticed that I have strong opinions about this subject.

So assuming the universe contains randomness, does that allow us libertarian free well? I would argue the answer is no. If randomness is the explanation to the choices we make, how does this equal us making the choices ourselves? It is ultimately random what choices we make, we have no control over them whatsoever.

Just because some events are uncaused and involve chance does not justify the conclusion that all events are undetermined and random. Chance can generate alternative possibilities for thought and action without being the direct cause of those actions. We are free, in control, and morally responsible for our choices and actions because we are conscious agents.

You are a conscious human being with the completely natural and distinctly human powers of logic and reason, it has been demonstrated by rigorous scientific analysis, primarily in the fields of neuroscience and psychology, that you exert control by the natural laws of cause and effect. Free will is foundational to all rational thought; any logical argument presupposes free will, a so called "logical" argument that concludes that free will does not exist is logically incoherent and self-refuting.

In order to prove me wrong you would have to either (i) show that determinism permits libertarian free will, (ii) show that randomness permits libertarian free will or (iii) show that I set up a false dichotomy with determinism and randomness.

I already pointed out that your premises were wrong, and logically, that should be enough to "prove you wrong". I also pointed out that your dichotomy is a false dichotomy, and that proves you wrong. But hey, if the fact that your argument is based on two false premises and it is structured in the form of a false dichotomy fallacy making it logically incoherent isn't enough to convince you that it's wrong, then I'll play along and do it your way.

Your first premise (i) is wrong twice, it is simply a false premise, and even if it weren't, physical determinism does not eliminate the self-evident fact that we are purposeful conscious causal agents that can act with intent, can foresee the consequences of our actions, deliberate, and act in accordance with those preceding conclusions. We are causal agents that have the ability to compare and contrast the past and present with future possibilities, and creatively plan and select appropriate courses of action in a teleological manner, which is to say, in a purposeful and goal directed way.

Your second premise (ii) makes the fallacy of composition, while it is true that randomness occurs in some quantum events, it is a hasty generalization fallacy to leap from the fact that some events are uncaused and involve chance, to characterize all events as undetermined and random. It does not logically follow that if indeterminism is true, which appears to be a fact about reality, that all events are therefore undetermined and random, and therefore we cannot be enough in control of our will to freely make choices. Chance can indeed generate alternative possibilities for thought and action without being the necessary cause of our actions, which is to say that they can be adequately determined and therefore free will can exist and be compatible with determinism or indeterminism.

Your OP argument is logically refuted on all levels; the structure of the argument is a logical fallacy as are both of its premises, it is not only logically incoherent, it is internally inconsistent".but hey, other than that, it's a good argument.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater