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Free will or "free will"?


chenGOD
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In another recent thread this issue was brought up by a couple of posters. It's an interesting topic, especially as neuroscience is still a relatively new (relatively you hard determinists).

 

While some would have you believe there is pretty much consensus among the neuroscience community,

it seems from doing some brief reading that there is not.

 

These two article I found to be useful reading:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psych-unseen/201411/the-neuroscience-free-will-and-the-illusion-you

 

http://www.philosophytalk.org/community/blog/laura-maguire/2015/08/does-neuroscience-threaten-free-will

 

I'll post more of my own comments later, but for now, my body is telling me to do something that is definitely not concious decision making.

 

 

poo[/poo]

 

I want this thread to remain in good spirit, and I will moderate it accordingly.

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People seem to have trouble understanding even their own experiences on this issue.

 

For instance, most people think they are the authors of their thoughts...if so, then what is your next thought gonna be?

You won't find out until it happens.

 

Similarly, if you make a choice (e.g. vanilla or chocolate) then whatever choice you make, there are--by definition, or logical inference--reasons you made that choice. Those reasons are simply more clockwork in the deterministic universe.

 

So is there free will? It really depends on how you define "free will" (and also, annoyingly, how you define "you").

Philosophy is plagued by semantic misunderstanding (I would say well over 50% of public philosophical debate is simply a matter of misunderstanding).

So some conceptual analysis is needed before kicking off the debate, lest we all talk past each other.

Edited by LimpyLoo
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The Free Will question seems to harsh mellows and rustle jimmies, so to add some sunshine to the topic...

 

Ultimately, it doesn't matter if Free Will exists:

You will still be free to do what you want in this life (excepting all the usual external constraints)

You are able to "get your Dostoevsky on" and exercise absurd demonstrations of your existential freedom

The sheer fact that you might've gone your entire life without worrying about Free Will should tell you all you need to know about its relevance

And again, Free Will can be defined so as to either make it a) trivially true, or b) trivially false

 

So yeah...

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For example, I can decide to put my attention on my big toe or decide to put my attention on the feeliing of love that I feel when I think about my cats and the feeling of compassion and care that I feel toward my mom. I can also decide to put my attention on people I hate and have been mean to me in the past. Theres freedom right now on to how you will use your attention. In that way, I believe that we have freedom in to how we decide to use our minds.

 

as to not owning our thoughts like limpyloo said, I agree for the most part. If anything, we most of the time rather not have certain thoughts yet they still arise. Thoughts have no power or no life on their own unless we believe in them or are not able to let them be and put our attention elsewhere.

 

I also agree with limpyloo that we need to define more clearly the meaning of free will.

 

We are most definitely not free from our sensual desires, ill will, worries or sloth.

Edited by Ayya Khema
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I was half thinking of diving into this thread but FFS the Wiki page covers pretty much everything anyone is likely to bring up in here lawl

 

It is fascinating though, esp to me thinking about how, if we do possess it, what physical processes is it rooted in. I lean towards the idea that Free Will is illusory (and maybe also a convenient fiction with which to flatter ourselves). I also suspect it'll remain untestable for the rest of our lifetimes at least

 

Consciousness is a similar issue - although presumably there's less debate about whether or not we possess that, and so assuming it doesn't arise out of some yet-to-be-identified magical stuff in the brain, then you're led to the conclusion that consciousness is some kind of inevitable property inherent in matter. Which is mind-numbing and would have immense ethical significance

Edited by Tricone RC
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Consciousness is a similar issue - although presumably there's less debate about whether or not we possess that, and so assuming it doesn't arise out of some yet-to-be-identified magical stuff in the brain, then you're led to the conclusion that consciousness is some kind of inevitable property inherent in matter. Which is mind-numbing and would have immense ethical significance

Consciousness is in every living organism indeed. even atomic particles I think.

It makes me think of the slot experiment in physic quantic. something along the line that without consciousness observing the particles, the particles is actually a wave, but when observed, the wave transform into a particle.

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Basically we're a bit delusional and creative when we rationalise our choices but it doesn't matter if you separate all the processes that led to that choice,those are the processes required for free will. Some animals are probably more directly conscious in that they are not deluded,so you could say they have something closer to free will (they don't, they are more liked to behave only in predetermined or learned behaviors but they are less likely to be subverted in to acting against their own best interests) but just cause a lot of our processes are in the background,doesn't mean it's automated at all--it just frees our minds for more complex thinking.

 

I think it's important to experience and remember your dreams to be more aware of your free will.

Edited by boo
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I think people mistake the process of consciously rationalising decisions as free will. So you think "I'm going to drink freshly squeezed orange juice every day because I know I need vitamin C."...whereas you could have easily not had that knowledge but felt the benefits of drinking orange juice anyway, and would have done it for that reason without putting any extra thought in to it. If that is your only concept of free will then you are going to be pretty open to your will being shaped by external forces. Actually if people dismiss the concept of free will as they perceive it,that could be a step towards actual free will.

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Consciousness is a similar issue - although presumably there's less debate about whether or not we possess that, and so assuming it doesn't arise out of some yet-to-be-identified magical stuff in the brain, then you're led to the conclusion that consciousness is some kind of inevitable property inherent in matter. Which is mind-numbing and would have immense ethical significance

Consciousness is in every living organism indeed. even atomic particles I think.

It makes me think of the slot experiment in physic quantic. something along the line that without consciousness observing the particles, the particles is actually a wave, but when observed, the wave transform into a particle.

 

 

nope nope nope

 

wave/particle duality and entanglement (and all that truly spooky shit) doesn't require consciousness to get all weird

that is the Deepak Chopra-and-What the Bleep Do We Know? new age interpretation, but it is fringe among actual physicists

 

Light behaves like particles in double-slit experiments...not because it is being observed, but because "which-path" information exists about it

now again, this is definitely the strangest aspect of the Universe we've yet encountered

and it is truly the mindfuck to end all mindfucks

but the spookiness does not entail/require consciousness

 

I didn't understand quantum entanglement until I understood (oddly, enough) Newcomb's Paradox

 

s_paradox"="">TL;DR = Double-Slit spookiness is caused by the existence of "which-path" information, not the presence of consciousness

Edited by LimpyLoo
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Consciousness is a similar issue - although presumably there's less debate about whether or not we possess that, and so assuming it doesn't arise out of some yet-to-be-identified magical stuff in the brain, then you're led to the conclusion that consciousness is some kind of inevitable property inherent in matter. Which is mind-numbing and would have immense ethical significance

Consciousness is in every living organism indeed. even atomic particles I think.

It makes me think of the slot experiment in physic quantic. something along the line that without consciousness observing the particles, the particles is actually a wave, but when observed, the wave transform into a particle.

 

 

nope nope nope

 

wave/particle duality and entanglement (and all that truly spooky shit) doesn't require consciousness to get all weird

that is the Deepak Chopra-and-What the Bleep Do We Know? new age interpretation, but it is fringe among actual physicists

 

Light behaves like particles in double-slit experiments...not because it is being observed, but because "which-path" information exists about it

now again, this is definitely the strangest aspect of the Universe we've yet encountered

and it is truly the mindfuck to end all mindfucks

but the spookiness does not entail/require consciousness

 

I didn't understand quantum entanglement until I understood (oddly, enough)

 

yeah, thanks for clarifying. so basically in the light experiement, light is at two different location at the same time?

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Consciousness is in every living organism indeed. even atomic particles I think.

It makes me think of the slot experiment in physic quantic. something along the line that without consciousness observing the particles, the particles is actually a wave, but when observed, the wave transform into a particle.

 

The collapse of the wave function has nothing to do with consciousness, you're just misunderstanding what physicists say when they talk about 'observation'. An observation could be a simple physical interaction, like a photon interacting with something.

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Consciousness is a similar issue - although presumably there's less debate about whether or not we possess that, and so assuming it doesn't arise out of some yet-to-be-identified magical stuff in the brain, then you're led to the conclusion that consciousness is some kind of inevitable property inherent in matter. Which is mind-numbing and would have immense ethical significance

Consciousness is in every living organism indeed. even atomic particles I think.

It makes me think of the slot experiment in physic quantic. something along the line that without consciousness observing the particles, the particles is actually a wave, but when observed, the wave transform into a particle.

 

 

nope nope nope

 

wave/particle duality and entanglement (and all that truly spooky shit) doesn't require consciousness to get all weird

that is the Deepak Chopra-and-What the Bleep Do We Know? new age interpretation, but it is fringe among actual physicists

 

Light behaves like particles in double-slit experiments...not because it is being observed, but because "which-path" information exists about it

now again, this is definitely the strangest aspect of the Universe we've yet encountered

and it is truly the mindfuck to end all mindfucks

but the spookiness does not entail/require consciousness

 

I didn't understand quantum entanglement until I understood (oddly, enough)

 

yeah, thanks for clarifying. so basically in the light experiement, light is at two different location at the same time?

 

 

not quite

 

there are a couple different ways to think about it

 

-one way to think about it is that light is merely a theoretical/probabilistic 'wave function' until it's "forced" to become particles

(this is the Copenhagen view IIRC)

-another is that it remains a 'wave function' and that when it "collapses" it is actually just being distributed among parallel universes and it merely appears to "collapse" to us because we're stuck in this Universe (Many Worlds view)

 

-then there is the (underdog) 'pilot wave' theory that says that the light is just normal stuff, but is being guided by 'pilot waves'...a sort of invisible obstacle course that pushes and pulls it, making it sometimes appear to be wave-like

 

The funny thing is that all of these theories yield nearly identical results practically, and so while there are some favorites in the field, the debate rages on

Edited by LimpyLoo
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Couple of quick half arsed semi serious thoughts:

- difference between consciousness and free will: to what extent does an organism need to be aware of its thinking when you talk about free will?

- can autonomous behavior suffice for 'free will'? (eg. an agent which is not conscious of its own thought processes, but nevertheless behaves autonomously. can that be considered 'free'? and is that enough for "free will"? - implying a "will" might just be some epiphenomena )

 

before people dismiss these questions, please remember that us simple humans tend to act mostly on a set of subconscious processes.

 

of course some watmm members appear to have no subconscious whatsoever, and seem to post like if ..then.. else.. bots. maybe i am.

 

....

 

* self destructs due to neverending self-reference loop *

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The best I could come up with is that we have free will as 'rationalizations' as someone mentioned earlier. We can analyze various outcomes and simulate them which enables us to make a decision, but every outcome and every simulation is made up of building blocks from reality, and our simulations are restrained by the scope of our experience and imagination, and so in some sense, every decision is an inevitable puzzle (maybe the puzzle only exists for one state of the brain and then the brain changes and the puzzle changes) but we can't perceive the puzzle directly.

So in a way we have two wills, one in the brain and one in the mind. The cog in the machinery is really consciousness I think, because consciousness enables a strange active "top down" mode that seemingly can suppress the natural instincts of the brain, and even create whole new decisions out of left field. Since there isn't a good physical model of consciousness, we don't know what it is or how it changes instincts and lower level brain activity, and so the buck pretty much stops there for me. I'm totally down with the materialist view that everything about consciousness and the brain can be reduced to 'atoms', however it hasn't been definitively mapped out and described

Edited by coax
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(i've lost so much fucking sleep thinking about the fucking DCQE experiment...greatest mindfuck of all time IMO)


Limpy please stop referring to scientific experiments and then calling them 'spooky', and also tricone in calling them 'magical'. This is science, not Scooby Doo!

 

it wasn't me who called this shit "spooky"....it was Albert Einstein

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guys we havent even solved the refugee crisis and we're already tryna solve the free will question. No wonder we never get shit done. One problem at a time folks

 

we solved it. but the solution didn't work!

 

NEXT PROBLEM TO FUCK UP PLEASE

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s_paradox"="">TL;DR = Double-Slit spookiness is caused by the existence of "which-path" information, not the presence of consciousness

 

That's only one interpretation of it, there are several others (e.g. non-local hidden variable determinism), and no good evidence really to pick one over the other yet. The only thing we know for sure is certain limits on what's possible, via experimental proofs of Bell's Inequalities (e.g. we can't have determinism without non-locality, or to preserve locality you require quantum uncertainty at a fundamental level).

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s_paradox"="">TL;DR = Double-Slit spookiness is caused by the existence of "which-path" information, not the presence of consciousness

 

That's only one interpretation of it, there are several others (e.g. non-local hidden variable determinism), and no good evidence really to pick one over the other yet. The only thing we know for sure is certain limits on what's possible, via experimental proofs of Bell's Inequalities (e.g. we can't have determinism without non-locality, or to preserve locality you require quantum uncertainty at a fundamental level).

 

 

DCQE proved quite elegantly and definitively that the existence (or non-existence) of "which-path" information determines how photons will act

there is no other reputable interpretation of the DCQE results

 

any hypothesis that doesn't address "which-path" information is gonna have its work cut out for it

(almost like a Flat Earth theory that tries to account for all the evidence of a Round Earth)

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