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Author Topic:   free will
Mike Holland
Member (Idle past 565 days)
Posts: 179
From: Sydney, NSW,Auistralia
Joined: 08-30-2002


Message 31 of 37 (34084)
03-10-2003 8:45 PM


Forgiven asked us all to participate, so here is my tuppence worth.
Have any of you considered what free will would consist of? Are you free to choose to be a great actor today, a very loving and caring person tomorrow, the perfect grandson the next day? Can you choose to go outside right now and kiss the first lady you see, and then ask the next person in for a cup of tea?
You see, you are you, the result of genes and upbringing and a number of chance events in your environment. You can be no-one else. Your decisions are not free, but derive from your whole mind-set about who you are, how you fit in with other people, etc.
So much for subjective free will.
But in the physical sense we are not controlled, in the sense that WE make our decisions; the physical universe does not make them for us and impose them on us (except in the sense of not being ably to fly). We are that part of the physical universe that makes the decisions.
I have written computer programs which make decisions based on a collection of input data, where I had great difficulty following the logic it used based on a few rules I coded. I believe the program (computer?) made decisions just as I do. But I don't think either of us has free will to do otherwise. This does not make me feel controlled or determined, because I am the process which controls and determines.
I get irritated with attempts to sneak free will in through the 'loophole' of quantum determinism. An electron's quantum jump may not be predictable, but it is just as much a physical event (once observed) as a brick falling. Nobody has demonstrated a 'thought' moving an electron yet (except in the sense that thoughts are the result of electrical processes in the brain). There is no evidence for anything 'beyond' quantum indeterminancy which could 'modify' the indeterminancy to control events.
Mike.
NB. If that sounds like I think I have all the answers, I don't. I battle with great mysteries about how a nerve cell, or group of cells, could have my experience of consciousness. I would love to know where the colour red exists when I look at it. Or a table, for that matter. But supposing a soul, or another level of existence, does not answer anything.

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by Gzus, posted 03-11-2003 4:30 PM Mike Holland has not replied
 Message 35 by Peter, posted 03-12-2003 5:21 AM Mike Holland has not replied

  
Gzus
Inactive Member


Message 32 of 37 (34136)
03-11-2003 4:30 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Mike Holland
03-10-2003 8:45 PM


how true

This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Mike Holland, posted 03-10-2003 8:45 PM Mike Holland has not replied

Replies to this message:
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Gzus
Inactive Member


Message 33 of 37 (34137)
03-11-2003 4:35 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by Gzus
03-11-2003 4:30 PM


It is true what you say, that without some 'supernatural' assumption, consciousness is unfree. but one might ask how it is possible for a 'free' consciousness to exist or whether the concept is merely a human misconception.

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 Message 32 by Gzus, posted 03-11-2003 4:30 PM Gzus has not replied

  
Mike Holland
Member (Idle past 565 days)
Posts: 179
From: Sydney, NSW,Auistralia
Joined: 08-30-2002


Message 34 of 37 (34147)
03-11-2003 8:07 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by joz
12-27-2002 1:00 AM


Joz, you haven't posted in this discussion since December, but I would like to comment on your idea that QM and Chaos theory allow room for (or result in) freewell.
My decisions and actions seem to be the result of reasoned thought, and not random. Imagine the following scenario:
You see Joe approaching along the street. You call out 'Hi Joe!'. He responds by jumping in the air and yelling, strips off his clothes, lies down and starts reciting poetry.
THAT would be quantum randomness!
Randomness simply does not happen in our behaviour. It may appear to happen in the case of some mentally disturbed peopole, psychotics, etc, but we don't know what goes on in their heads, and would certainly not use them as evidence for free will.
I could accept that there is some randomness in the thoughts that pop into our heads (but wouldn't believe that quantum fluctuations are responsible), but these normally go through a lot of filtering before they are or aren't acted on.
I would hate the thought that my thinking and behaviour is the result of randomness. I prefer the conceit that I am reasonable and logical (and reasonably predictable, so that my wife can bear living with me).
Mike.
[This message has been edited by Mike Holland, 03-11-2003]

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Peter
Member (Idle past 1561 days)
Posts: 2161
From: Cambridgeshire, UK.
Joined: 02-05-2002


Message 35 of 37 (34164)
03-12-2003 5:21 AM
Reply to: Message 31 by Mike Holland
03-10-2003 8:45 PM


What you have suggested in the begginnig of your post
is what I described in another thread as 'constrained will'.
We are free to choose any alternative in a situation, but the
number of alternatives that will present themselves are limited
by our experience to date. Of those alternatives, our ultimate
choice is further constrained by factors in our psychological
makeup imprinted by our experiences to-date.
In the context of the normal 'free will' debate, it is unknowable
whether or not we are truly free to choose. After the event
it is not possible to determine whether we could have made a different
choice.
In the direction that this thread is taking, it seems to me, that
there are pyschological constraints both on 'what choices' an
individual will come up with, and once choices present themselves,
which ones will be ruled out as unacceptable.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Mike Holland, posted 03-10-2003 8:45 PM Mike Holland has not replied

  
Peter
Member (Idle past 1561 days)
Posts: 2161
From: Cambridgeshire, UK.
Joined: 02-05-2002


Message 36 of 37 (34188)
03-12-2003 8:42 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by Mike Holland
03-11-2003 8:07 PM


I doubt that any of our behaviour could genuinely be
described as random.
My feeling is that the interactions are simply so
complex as to appear random.
That's not to say that we are mechanistic, necessarily,
but there is a process behind our behaviours ... an
exceedingly complex process, but process non-the-less.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 34 by Mike Holland, posted 03-11-2003 8:07 PM Mike Holland has not replied

  
Gzus
Inactive Member


Message 37 of 37 (34219)
03-12-2003 4:44 PM


Freedom knows no laws and yet our minds are simply anomalies of the physical world. Therefore we are not free. If anyone tells me 'we have free will', i will ask them, which part of my thinking process is free? where is this 'free entity' that chooses? How does it work?
If they manage to figure out how it works, then they have found unintentionally that it is unfree. On the other hand it would be paradoxical to say, 'it is impossible to know its workings'.

  
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