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Old 01-30-2015, 02:35 AM   #31 (permalink)
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when you look at your computer screen, your brain is doing some work to interpret the patterns of light and represent it to you as an image that you can comprehend. is that a choice you make just because it is your brain that is doing the work? i would argue that it's not. when we think about choices we think about them in terms of us making some sort of conscious decision. not automatic responses being triggered before we even have time to think about it.

does that mean you have no agency at all? no, it means your agency is constricted by natural factors. you have a will, which is a natural result of the sum total of your evolution. you don't have a free will, imo, because that implies your will is completely under your control as a conscious entity without any sort of natural constraints. it's a metaphysical concept that was proposed back when people thought it was your soul and not your brain which was directing your behavior.
Still a person have the choice to read or not to read, just because most of it is done automatically by the physical body (eyes, & brain) doesn't mean one is mindless. Do you believe you are mindless?
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Old 01-30-2015, 04:14 AM   #32 (permalink)
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i don't think the lack of free will as i described it it equals mindlessless. i just think what the mind does isn't necessarily under our direct conscious control.
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Old 01-30-2015, 08:43 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Free Will. The power and ability to act out without being held back, or caring about the consequences.

We all have it. We've all used it.
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Old 01-30-2015, 10:20 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Free Will. The power and ability to act out without being held back, or caring about the consequences.

We all have it. We've all used it.
Robots have the same. But, you're working with another definition of free will than I am. Yours is merely the lack of a metaphorical gun to my head, preventing me from doing what I want to do. Mine is the actual mental capacity to be able to make decisions free from ANY constraints, but they physical, mental, or metaphysical.

According to your definition, the lack of a gun to your head constitutes having free will, but in mine, the gun is unnecessary, because I am no more capable of making unconstrained decisions with or without the gun due to absolute mathematical predictability.

I don't know how aware you are of it, but there's a whole philosophical thing about "compatibilism"---which you seem to subscribe to---and "incompatibilism"---which I would agree with, and both of their definitions of free will are dependent on "determinism". Here's some Wikipedia help, that's at least vaguely helpful...

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Determinism is the philosophical position that for every event, including human action, there exist conditions that could cause no other event.
Determinism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A nebulous definition, but it basically means what I was talking about where mathematics determines everything that happens in the universe: from how a pool ball will rebound of the side of the table, to how a person will respond to coming home to find his wife in bed with the neighbor, to how a nation will respond in a crisis such as a natural disaster or war, to how the culture of an entire race will evolve over millions or billions of years, right down to the length of every step each individual member of that race will make for all of eternity.

Incompatibilists believe that the concept of free will and determinism are... well, incompatible.

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Incompatibilism is the position that free will and determinism are logically incompatible, and that the major question regarding whether or not people have free will is thus whether or not their actions are determined. "Hard determinists", such as d'Holbach, are those incompatibilists who accept determinism and reject free will.
Free will: Incompatibilism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Incompatibilism is the view that a deterministic universe is completely at odds with the notion that people have a free will; that there is a dichotomy between determinism and free will where philosophers must choose one or the other. This view is pursued in at least three ways: libertarians deny that the universe is deterministic, the hard determinists deny that any free will exists, and pessimistic incompatibilists (hard indeterminists) deny both that the universe is determined and that free will exists. Some of these incompatibilistic views have more trouble than the others in dealing with the standard argument against free will.

Incompatiblism is contrasted with compatibilism, which rejects the determinism/free will dichotomy. Compatibilists maintain free will by defining it as more of a 'freedom to act' — a move that has been met with some criticism.
Incompatibilism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Compatibilism is the philosophy that determinism and free will are... ya know, compatible. But they define free will differently than incompatibilists. There's generally a metaphysical (magical) component to free will for "us", as I've already explained with all my talk of mathematical calculations and randomness being necessary for the existence of free will. Compatibilists basically describe free will as you do, in that it's basically just being able to act without that gun to your head. The legal definition of free will basically, and probably what most people see as free will, even if they're not aware of the philosophical debate. (One of my fav debates as well, mostly because it's actually a rather simple concept which I'm comfortable in my position toward.)

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Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, and that it is possible to believe both without being logically inconsistent.[1] Compatibilists believe freedom can be present or absent in situations for reasons that have nothing to do with metaphysics.

For instance, courts of law make judgments about whether individuals are acting under their own free will under certain circumstances without bringing in metaphysics. Similarly, political liberty is a non-metaphysical concept.[2] Likewise, compatibilists define free will as freedom to act according to one's determined motives without arbitrary hindrance from other individuals or institutions.

In contrast, the incompatibilist positions are concerned with a sort of "metaphysically free will", which compatibilists claim has never been coherently defined.[
Compatibilism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Free will: Compatibilism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Basically, both sides are correct. It's just seems that they don't accept each other's definitions of free will. Without some kind of magic to give people "true" free will, the incompatibilist sees the concept as useless, whereas compatibilists see the incompatibilist definition to be impossible to define and therefore also useless.

I define myself as an incompatibilist simply because society at large seems to accept compatibilism in ignorance while still subscribing to the metaphysical definition of free will in a way that would make no sense if they really thought about the subject from a secular point of view. And since this popular definition of free will (the incompatibilist definition) is the one that is accepted by the majority of at least the Western world, I will accept that definition and base my arguments around it.

There's other stuff tied into both philosophies, but I'm not all that up on the details, and this post is probably already kind of TL;DR. I tried to make it as coherent as possible, but I'm long-winded and prone to being disorganized. Hopefully I wasn't too confusing. If so, someone smarter than me please explain what I just said in a more clear manner.
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Old 01-30-2015, 10:28 AM   #35 (permalink)
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But, you're working with another definition of free will than I am. Yours is merely the lack of a metaphorical gun to my head, preventing me from doing what I want to do. Mine is the actual mental capacity to be able to make decisions free from ANY constraints, be they physical, mental, or metaphysical.
Mine is from Merriam Webster

Free will - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I think you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. It's really very simple.

Today, I have the free will to do whatever the hell I want. Would some options physically hurt me or others, or get me in trouble with the law, or damage relationships? Of course. I still have the free will to do them.
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Old 01-30-2015, 10:55 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Mine is from Merriam Webster

Free will - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I think you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. It's really very simple.

Today, I have the free will to do whatever the hell I want. Would some options physically hurt me or others, or get me in trouble with the law, or damage relationships? Of course. I still have the free will to do them.
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: the ability to choose how to act

: the ability to make choices that are not controlled by fate or God
Those are vague enough that they could support either of our definitions, and the second actually sounds like it supports MINE. If you don't want to think much beyond the casual definition of free will that's fine, but if you're going to respond to arguments like mine or JWB or Xurtio, then you should put a little more thought into what you're actually arguing then you seem to be, as your logic comes across as lazy.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:27 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Illusion. "Choice" is a funny word, I think the primary force keeping the free will debate alive is foggy semantics.

We makes choices, sure, but we will only make the choices we've been conditioned to make, choices our biology will allow us to make, choices that our environment and experience have encouraged us to make. The brain is a learning and problem solving machine. We're born and we begin testing the world, we touch hot surfaces, stick our tongues on cold poles, touch the stove burner, talk back to our parents, wipe out on our skateboards, play video games, watch movies, lie to people, make poor financial decisions, smoke weird drugs, break speed limits, and gauge everybody's reaction to everything we do. All of that incoming data, filtered through our biology, determines how we act, our temperament, our restraint, our cleverness, our inclination to take risks, our intuition, our taste in music, film, and culture, and whatever else we consider typical human behavior and thoughts.

Any time we are presented with a choice to make (AKA every living second), our brain remembers past results, considers the current situation and the possible outcomes, does some weird math, and makes an informed decision that may or may not be a good one. Every single choice we make can be traced back to a series of events that informed us to act this way, or how to answer a certain question.

It feels like we're making choices, and we are, but the choices aren't decided by "we", our whole biological system makes the choice, we don't control our bodies like a mech pilot. Our mind is shaped by the experience of our body and will only behave in ways that the body has taught it, and the body is taught by the rest of the systems surrounding us. Every body is reacting to everything else, and everything else is reacting to everything else. I had chicken noodle soup for breakfast this morning because the dinosaurs suffered a mass extinction. The dinosaurs suffered a mass extinction because the Earth formed in this particular corner of the galaxy. The galaxy formed over here because some **** happened over there.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:30 AM   #38 (permalink)
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I agree with Batlord, you're equivocating. There's nothing to be gained by arguing semantics. Accept the definition we've used and base your discussion on it (particularly since it's the default definition in this well-known, global philosophical discussion).
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:45 AM   #39 (permalink)
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If you're going to respond to arguments like mine or JWB or Xurtio, then you should put a little more thought into what you're actually arguing then you seem to be, as your logic comes across as lazy.
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I agree with Batlord, you're equivocating.
No, you guys need to put less thought into it.

FREE. WILL.

It's pretty f*cking simple.

Bat, you're not willing to dive deep into Citizen Kane yet you're taking this straight forward concept and heaping layers of psychobabble on top of it?
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Old 01-30-2015, 12:25 PM   #40 (permalink)
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No, you guys need to put less thought into it.

FREE. WILL.

It's pretty f*cking simple.
When talking about the possibility that you're basically a biological machine with no control over your actions, then it's not really all that simple. The difference between the common/compatibilist concept of free will, and the metaphysical/incompatibiliist definition can shape how we view consciousness and the human brain. Why stick to comfortable vagueness, when accepting it closes the door to greater scientific understanding about the most basic and profound aspect of how the human brain functions.

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Bat, you're not willing to dive deep into Citizen Kane yet you're taking this straight forward concept and heaping layers of psychobabble on top of it?
First of all, just because I don't want to rewatch some movie I find to be boring doesn't mean I'm not interested in intellectual discussion. Enjoying Citizen Kane is not some litmus test for intelligence or nuanced thought.

Secondly, it's not psychobabble. It's rather straightforward logic that just has big words attached to it. When talking about things like this it's difficult to be specific and clear without specific and clear language. Calling it psychobabble to use words like "incompatibilism" and "determinism" is reductive and lazy.
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