My take on free will

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Postby Elman » Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:51 pm

eebamxela wrote:Here Elman, pick this analogy apart.

You hungry. On a table lie the last two edible objects in the universe. Lets say its a baked potato, and a pb&j sandwich. These are the only two options you have. Which one will you eat first and why? The why is more important than the which.

Lets say you eat the potato first. Did your arm reach out for it because a series of nerve impulses from your brain were triggered by the knowledge of higher enjoyment levels ensue by the consumption of a baked potato? Did your arm reach out for it at random (meaning the liklihood of you eating the potato first was exactly 50%)?

Or was it that you really have knowledge of gaining higher enjoyment from the pbj, but, just for the hell of it, because you just wanted to, you went for the potato?

Does your consciousness actually have the power to overide the chemical reactions in your brain where food-taste memory occurs?
I don't think the arm did anything until the brain told it which one to pick up. I think the brain could have told it to pick up either. Yes my brain and consciousness could actually cause me to pick up the one I least desired, particularly if you were watching just to mess with your mind.
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Postby Diagoras » Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:52 pm

I've asked several times now. Please explain to me already: if our "decisions" are not inevitable and they are not random, what are they?

If your decisions are inevitable based on your desires and your beliefs, that is not free will. And if your decisions are completely random and senseless, that is not free will either. So what is free will? How does it arrive at the decisions it arrives at?

You say if we don't have free will, we aren't justified in punishing people for their bad decisions. How then are we justified if the only decisions you can make are random ones? Can you ethically punish somebody for something that was completely random? Nobody is responsible for random events. It wasn't the murderer's fault that killing and not killing seemed equally desirable to him, and his brain just made a random choice.

Inevitability and randomness. That's all there is. There is no other logical possibility, therefore free will is logically impossible.
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Postby Diagoras » Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:03 pm

Elman wrote:
eebamxela wrote:Here Elman, pick this analogy apart.

You hungry. On a table lie the last two edible objects in the universe. Lets say its a baked potato, and a pb&j sandwich. These are the only two options you have. Which one will you eat first and why? The why is more important than the which.

Lets say you eat the potato first. Did your arm reach out for it because a series of nerve impulses from your brain were triggered by the knowledge of higher enjoyment levels ensue by the consumption of a baked potato? Did your arm reach out for it at random (meaning the liklihood of you eating the potato first was exactly 50%)?

Or was it that you really have knowledge of gaining higher enjoyment from the pbj, but, just for the hell of it, because you just wanted to, you went for the potato?

Does your consciousness actually have the power to overide the chemical reactions in your brain where food-taste memory occurs?
I don't think the arm did anything until the brain told it which one to pick up. I think the brain could have told it to pick up either. Yes my brain and consciousness could actually cause me to pick up the one I least desired, particularly if you were watching just to mess with your mind.

But that's still a decision based on your desires. If you desire to eat the less tasty food just to mess with his mind, that only means that your desire to mess with his mind was stronger than your desire to eat the tastier food. No matter what choice you make, you make that choice for a reason or else you make it completely at random.
Last edited by Diagoras on Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby eebamxela » Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:03 pm

AH HA! You've hit a new snag in your argument.

Elman wrote:Yes my brain and consciousness could actually cause me to pick up the one I least desired


But wouldn't that mean that you really desired that one you end up picking?

We all know what it means to "desire" something. But what IS a desire? Do you have the power to change it? I don't mean "are they changeable". I mean at any arbitrary given instant, can YOU, your consciousness, change your desire for something?

It would seem that a desire is one of those things that cannot be determined until ultimately acted upon.

------------------------------

PS: learn how to quote people properly and PREVIEW your post for errors (not just in quotes but in general spelling and grammar too). seriously you've been told to do so many times.
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Postby bugsoup » Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:29 pm

eebamxela wrote:Here Elman, pick this analogy apart.
[...]
Does your consciousness actually have the power to overide the chemical reactions in your brain where food-taste memory occurs?
An extension (which I'm not sure he's ready for): Do you have the ability to violate your own will? For example, would you ever intentionally hurt yourself? Could you hurt yourself anyway? No matter what the reason, if you said no to both of these, you DO NOT HAVE FREE WILL.
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Postby eebamxela » Sun Sep 09, 2007 11:35 pm

Go here to see another point of view, and to even aid the conversation.

http://ilovephilosophy.com/phpbb/viewto ... highlight=
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Postby Elman » Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:09 pm

Elman wrote:Yes my brain and consciousness could actually cause me to pick up the one I least desired

eebamxela
But wouldn't that mean that you really desired that one you end up picking?


Elman responds:
It would if I decided to do what you did not expect.

eebamxela
We all know what it means to "desire" something. But what IS a desire? Do you have the power to change it? I don't mean "are they changeable". I mean at any arbitrary given instant, can YOU, your consciousness, change your desire for something?

Elman responds:
Yes I change my mind all the time from chicken salad to tuna and back.
eebamxela
It would seem that a desire is one of those things that cannot be determined until ultimately acted upon.

Elman responds:
It seems to me I can determine a desire and then act on it, or I can determine I want something and then decide to not act on it.
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Postby daedalus » Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:11 pm

Elman wrote:It seems to me I can determine a desire and then act on it, or I can determine I want something and then decide to not act on it.


What is your desire based on? Previous experience? If you had had a different experience, would you have made a different choice?

There is a great podcast on memory that I would encourage everyone to listen to. memory is not at all what we think it is.

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2007/06/08

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat
What is a memory? Science writer Jonah Lehrer tells us is it’s a physical thing in the brain… not some ephemeral flash. It’s a concrete thing made of matter. And NYU neuroscientist Joe LeDoux, who studies fear memories in rats, tells us how with a one shock, one tone, and one drug injection, you can bust up this piece of matter, and prevent a rat from every making a memory. LeDoux’s research goes sci-fi, when he and his colleague Karim Nader start trying to erase memories. And Nader applies this research to humans suffering from PTSD.


Obviously, our memories impact our choices, but our memories are recreated as we try to remember - they are physical, chemical connections in the brain made new everytime we conjure them up.
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Postby Elman » Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:27 pm

quote="Elman"]It seems to me I can determine a desire and then act on it, or I can determine I want something and then decide to not act on it.[/quote]

daedalus"][
What is your desire based on? Previous experience? If you had had a different experience, would you have made a different choice?



Elman response:
When I think and make a decision, I am influenced by my previous experience, but I am not controlled by them. My previous experinces include when I made decisions and experienced the consequences of those decisions. So If I had a different experience I might have made a different choice, but I also might make the same choice.

daedalus"][
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat
What is a memory? Science writer Jonah Lehrer tells us is it’s a physical thing in the brain… not some ephemeral flash. It’s a concrete thing made of matter. And NYU neuroscientist Joe LeDoux, who studies fear memories in rats, tells us how with a one shock, one tone, and one drug injection, you can bust up this piece of matter, and prevent a rat from every making a memory. LeDoux’s research goes sci-fi, when he and his colleague Karim Nader start trying to erase memories. And Nader applies this research to humans suffering from PTSD.


Obviously, our memories impact our choices, but our memories are recreated as we try to remember - they are physical, chemical connections in the brain made new everytime we conjure them up.
Elman response:
We have a part to play in what they are. We are one of the sources of what they are.
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Postby bugsoup » Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:14 pm

Elman wrote:
eebamzela wrote:
Elman wrote:Yes my brain and consciousness could actually cause me to pick up the one I least desired

But wouldn't that mean that you really desired that one you end up picking?

It would if I decided to do what you did not expect.

Free will has nothing at all to do with third party expectations. It is completely subjective. It only matters that you do what you expected to do.
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Postby bugsoup » Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:16 pm

Elman, do you undertand how the quote system works at all? It looks like you keep trying different things each post. There exists a preview function. You can try differnt things before the final post gets created.
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Postby daedalus » Mon Sep 10, 2007 6:51 pm

Elman wrote:When I think and make a decision, I am influenced by my previous experience, but I am not controlled by them. My previous experinces include when I made decisions and experienced the consequences of those decisions. So If I had a different experience I might have made a different choice, but I also might make the same choice.
Yes, but do you notice that when you body lacks salt or water, or something, that your desire for a food that satisfies the craving is more than usual?

True, you can choose to deny your cravings, but what reason would you have for denying them? Some other external impulse: you don't want water because you are in Morocco (anyone who has been, knows what I'm talking about). But that isn't Freedom of Will.

Your Will is limited and affected. It is never free from external or internal forces.

Further, a side note: you may also choose to kill someone, but they may object and end up maiming you. Perhaps they give you a slight bit of brain damage. Are you You anymore? Are you still the Elman you were? Does asking if "do YOU have free will" make sense anymore?

So, if you make up your own memories, and those are chemicals that are reliant on the chemicals your body needs to make or manipulate and you "choose" to do something are you really free in you Will, or is your Will always dependent upon some other force outside of you?

daedalus"][
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat
What is a memory? Science writer Jonah Lehrer tells us is it’s a physical thing in the brain… not some ephemeral flash. It’s a concrete thing made of matter. And NYU neuroscientist Joe LeDoux, who studies fear memories in rats, tells us how with a one shock, one tone, and one drug injection, you can bust up this piece of matter, and prevent a rat from every making a memory. LeDoux’s research goes sci-fi, when he and his colleague Karim Nader start trying to erase memories. And Nader applies this research to humans suffering from PTSD.


Obviously, our memories impact our choices, but our memories are recreated as we try to remember - they are physical, chemical connections in the brain made new everytime we conjure them up.
Elman response:
We have a part to play in what they are. We are one of the sources of what they are.[/quote] But they are chemical, we do not control the chemicals in our brain. As the research suggests - the more we try to remember an event, the more different it becomes from the true event: despite our attempts.

That is, even if you try to remember clearly, you are unable to. It is not in your power. You can't Will it.

So, if you base an action on your memory, you are basing it on a chemical soup beyond your control.

Pretty cool, huh?
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca the Younger

"SUCK IT, JESUS!" Kathy Griffin
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Postby Elman » Mon Sep 10, 2007 6:52 pm

bugsoup wrote:It would if I decided to do what you did not expect.

Free will has nothing at all to do with third party expectations. It is completely subjective. It only matters that you do what you expected to do.[/quote] It would be me that decided to fool you. You would have nothing to do with it.
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Postby Elman » Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:06 pm

quote="Elman"]When I think and make a decision, I am influenced by my previous experience, but I am not controlled by them. My previous experinces include when I made decisions and experienced the consequences of those decisions. So If I had a different experience I might have made a different choice, but I also might make the same choice.[/quote]

daedalus"][Yes, but do you notice that when you body lacks salt or water, or something, that your desire for a food that satisfies the craving is more than usual?

True, you can choose to deny your cravings, but what reason would you have for denying them? Some other external impulse: you don't want water because you are in Morocco (anyone who has been, knows what I'm talking about). But that isn't Freedom of Will.
I think it is freedom of will. I may have more than one reason to do more than one thing and I get to chose the reason I wish to control the situation.

daedalus"][
Your Will is limited and affected. It is never free from external or internal forces.


Elman responds: Lets talk about defining free will because I never said free will was unlimited or uneffected by outside and inside factors. I define free will as my being a part of the decision despite all the limitations and influences.

daedalus"][
Further, a side note: you may also choose to kill someone, but they may object and end up maiming you. Perhaps they give you a slight bit of brain damage. Are you You anymore? Are you still the Elman you were? Does asking if "do YOU have free will" make sense anymore?

Elman responds: I agree that we must be mentally able to make decisions to have free will. If we are mentally impaired to the point we are not responsible for our decisions, we do not have free will.
daedalus"][
So, if you make up your own memories, and those are chemicals that are reliant on the chemicals your body needs to make or manipulate and you "choose" to do something are you really free in you Will, or is your Will always dependent upon some other force outside of you?
What cause the particular chemicals to exist or activate? If I had something to do with it, that would be free will.

daedalus"][
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat
What is a memory? Science writer Jonah Lehrer tells us is it’s a physical thing in the brain… not some ephemeral flash. It’s a concrete thing made of matter. And NYU neuroscientist Joe LeDoux, who studies fear memories in rats, tells us how with a one shock, one tone, and one drug injection, you can bust up this piece of matter, and prevent a rat from every making a memory. LeDoux’s research goes sci-fi, when he and his colleague Karim Nader start trying to erase memories. And Nader applies this research to humans suffering from PTSD.


Obviously, our memories impact our choices, but our memories are recreated as we try to remember - they are physical, chemical connections in the brain made new everytime we conjure them up.
Elman response:
We have a part to play in what they are. We are one of the sources of what they are.[/quote]
daedalus"][But they are chemical, we do not control the chemicals in our brain. As the research suggests - the more we try to remember an event, the more different it becomes from the true event: despite our attempts.
Elman responds: I suspect we do have some control over the chemicals in our brain.
That is, even if you try to remember clearly, you are unable to. It is not in your power. You can't Will it.
Elman response: I think you are talking about after the chemical being destroyed. If it is not destroyed, I can decide to think about what happened to me and try to remember and sometimes I can.

That is, even if you try to remember clearly, you are unable to. It is not in your power. You can't Will it.
So, if you base an action on your memory, you are basing it on a chemical soup beyond your control.

Pretty cool, huh?
Elman respond: It may be beyond my control now, but I helped create that chemical soup based on my memory of my actions. It was not always beyond my control and does not exist without my input.
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Postby daedalus » Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:50 pm

But it is ultimately out of your control. You didn't control whether your mother ate the right things, or if you were subject to some environmental pollution of some sort. You may not have a damaged brain, but your brain chemistry may be different than it would have been if your mother had a beer in her third trimester or not. (figuratively speaking).

Plus, you are living in a world of people that have certain "damage" also. (I say damage, as in "altered from the what your genetics would have been minus the environment).

All of this has affected your decision making from the time you were born.


I appreciate the attempt to define FW. However, it seems that it is a little like the definition of God. You keep chasing it down to a smaller and smaller set of properties that aren't proven to be otherwise by science.

That is, if FW is that little bit of "whatever" you have that you can't explain but hope is there because you wish it to be...

I can't tell you to disregard your strong feeling that there must be FW, but I also don't have to accept it unless you can show what it is and that it exists.

It's tough, I know.
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca the Younger

"SUCK IT, JESUS!" Kathy Griffin
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