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Does Free Will Exist In The Universe? (That Would Be A Yes.)

Embedded in nearly every argument against free will is the Appeal to Effeminacy. Here it is in Alfredo Metere’s new Cosmos article “Does free will exist in the universe? (That would be a no.)

From such a view, one can be tempted to interject that if free will does not exist, why do we punish criminals? It is not their fault, after all. A counter-argument to that is that punishment is the natural response to crime, such that global equilibrium can be sustained, and therefore punishment is just as unavoidable as the commission of wrongdoing.

No, a natural and consistent response is that if criminals have no choice then neither do their punishers. The Appeal to Effeminacy is to suppose that it is not the fault of people who do wrong things. It is instead the universe’s fault. Therefore there is no culpability. Except in those who say there is culpability. The moralists among us are the only ones who have free will. They have a choice not to punish or condemn, but they choose to punish or condemn. Even though they have no choice but to do whatever it is they do.

In other words, buried is these silly arguments is the desire to get away with something.

The second major and common flaw is the Delusion of Illusion. Metere has that, too.

This in turn means that free will is an inevitable illusion for us humans, due to our subjective perception of the universe, rather than its innermost nature.

It is, of course, impossible to have the illusion of choice. To say that we only have an illusion of choice is therefore a delusion.

Guy says “Mentally pick one of two doors, A or B.” You pick B. Then the guy says, “Ha! There is no door B. There is only A. You had an illusion of choice. Bwa ha ha.”

Besides taking away this fellow’s internet access in an effort to calm him, we can try and tell him that he has just proven there is free will, because you really did choose one of the options. That one of the options failed does not mean you did not choose.

The Delusion Illusion thus has a subtle connection to the Appeal to Effeminacy. You chose to have the extra beer and you crash the car. But you only had the illusion of making the choice to quaff. And therefore the crash wasn’t your fault.

All right, Metere checks off the standard Flaw boxes. But why does he say there’s no free will? It’s almost because of the Deadly Sin of Reification. That true for him?

Yes.

Physics is based on the idea that nature is mechanistic, which means that it works like a machine….

…we know from quantum mechanics that energy is transferred between physical bodies in discrete amounts, known as quanta. Hence, either Planck length or energy quanta can be considered as the relative sizes of the “pixels” composing the universe…

Fractals curves are recursive functions that require an initial state. Fractal curves require a continuous world to evolve, especially if we know that the initial condition must be an irrational number. From this, we can deduce that the behaviour of physical objects seem to be ultimately dictated by continuous functions somehow perceived by humans through a grid of these “pixels”…

If so, there is a causal relationship between the Big Bang and us. In other words, free will is not allowed, and all of our actions are just a mere consequence of that first event. Such a view is known as “determinism”, or “super-determinism” (if one finds it productive to reinvent the wheel).

If we believe the initial state of the universe to be quantified by a rational number, we are inferring that it is periodic, non-chaotic and globally predictable in nature. But if the initial state is rather quantified by an irrational number, we are instead inferring that the universe is aperiodic, chaotic and therefore only locally predictable in nature.

Therefore, because chaos, there is no free will.

Metere—like many, many—assumes because he can model some thing with numbers, all things can be modeled with numbers, and therefore reality is numbers. And since reality is numbers, and numbers are slaves to their equations, there is no free will.

This is the Deadly Sin of Reification. Mistaking one’s model or theory for reality. It usually happens because the model or theory is so pretty that one cannot help but fall in love. Metere has. It would therefore be churlish of us to talk him out of it.

184 thoughts on “Does Free Will Exist In The Universe? (That Would Be A Yes.) Leave a comment

  1. According to Metere, Metere’s comments are as “insightful” as the expostulations of Howdy Doody, Lamb Chop, or Miss Piggy.

  2. Meter had no choice but to pen those words. They are not his words, but belong to the universe. Therefore he does not hold copyright.

  3. You are a fluke
    Of the universe.
    You have no right to be here.
    And whether you can hear it or not
    The universe is laughing behind your back.

    — Deteriorata (National Lampoon)

  4. I’ve said it before: if “free will” is not exactly equivalent to “moral agency”, then it’s a meaningless concept; and if it is exactly equivalent to “moral agency”, then it’s only glancingly something that philosophy can deal with. Instead, moral agency is a theological category, whose depths can only be plumbed within the mystery of the Fall and Our Savior; for example: “whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them.” (Jn 20:23) Not too much that philosophy alone can do with a statement like that; but it is crucial to any understanding of “free will.”

    The following quotes (from Futurama) appeared as my ‘fortune’ when I opened a Linux terminal this morning:

    Bob Barker: “I may be against the fur industry, but that won’t stop me from
    skinning you alive… as long as no one wears the skin.”

    Fry: “How can I live my life if I can’t tell good from evil?”
    Bender: “Ah, they’re both fine choices, whatever floats your boat.”

  5. To quote Isaac Balshevis Singer (a renowned Yiddish author):

    “Of course I believe in free will, I have no choice.”

    I’ve written about this in several blog posts: “Do Quantum Entities Have Free Will?” (about the Conway-Kochen Free Will Theorem” and “Free Will and God’s Providence; the Many Worlds of Quantum Mechanics.”
    In the latter I suggest that the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics + Molinism, the notion of God’s Middle Knowledge provide a paradox free foundation for belief in free will.

  6. To quote Isaac Balshevis Singer (a renowned Yiddish author):

    “Of course I believe in free will, I have no choice.”

    I’ve written about this in several blog posts: “Do Quantum Entities Have Free Will?” (about the Conway-Kochen Free Will Theorem” and “Free Will and God’s Providence; the Many Worlds of Quantum Mechanics.”
    In the latter I suggest that the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics + Molinism, the notion of God’s Middle Knowledge provide a paradox free foundation for belief in free will.

  7. a consequence of godel’s incompletness theorm is that a deterministic system, can in principle, be unpredictible. therefore free will exists, even if it’s natural numbers all the way down.

  8. It’s possible to be conversant with the experiments and argumentation in this area and still believe in a version of free will, as Daniel Dennett proves. Briggs seems not to be aware of any of it, so I won’t bother to go there. He does make a single empirical claim, though: “It is, of course, impossible to have the illusion of choice.” This illusion is routinely created in the laboratory, in widely replicated experiments. That, of course, does not mean that free will does not exist, simply that, under some circumstances, choice can be an illusion. The starkest demonstrations of this are experiments (https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/55/10/964) where the subject’s choice of which finger to move is strongly influenced by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain, yet the subject believes his choices to be entirely free after the fact.

  9. Isn’t some card magic dependent on giving the observer the illusion of choice? Pick a card, the magician goes one way or another depending on your card, but the end result is the same because your choice was pre-included in the trick.

  10. The Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics needs an observer, to set up the experiment and to observe. If that observer needs to have Free Will (for instance, to decide which experiment to run, when to run it and how to run it), then you cannot consistently believe that the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics does away with Free Will.

  11. Speaking of free will, did the two women in the photo above freely choose to wear those contraptions?

    “Of course I believe in free will, I have no choice.”

    Well, yeah, considering you can’t choose your beliefs. If you think you can, take one of your deeply held beliefs then choose to not believe it. If successful, what changed your mind?

  12. Bob Kurland,
    You are still laboring under the reification fallacy. Physics including quantum mechanics does not capture all reality. Living things, for instance have non-quantifiable aspects. Animals have quale that are entirely outside physics. So, understanding of free will can have nothing to do with any interpretation of quantum mechanics. Free will is not a topic in physics.

  13. Mactoul, I don’t believe you understand what I said or how I think. As I’ve said in many blog posts, I do not believe physics captures all reality. See, for example, my review of Sean Carroll’s book, “The Big Picture:”
    http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/2017/08/sean-carrolls-big-picture-reviewd-why.html
    And there are many other posts that say science is limited, as well as the Essay in my web-book, “How we Believe, How Science Works” in “Truth Cannot Contradict Truth” (please Google–the spam filter won’t let me do the url.)

    Science offers explanations, explanations which are continually revised if new empirical evidence comes to light. And thus quantum mechanics may offer tentative explanations or justifications, not scientific but perhaps valuable.

    Please come back with criticisms again after you read the linked material.

  14. Good article there Briggs! It may also be noted that much of the attacks on the notion of free will is based on people assuming a phony materialist paradigm of the world. Of course, if we’re only material beings determined by the laws of matter and energy and our behavior is simply a product of our bodies interacting with the environment then there wouldn’t be freedom of choice or freedom of thought for that matter. Materialism entails fatalism – a reason among many why materialism is false.

  15. take one of your deeply held beliefs then choose to not believe it

    A weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails.

  16. A weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails

    More likely the strange notion of choice liberum arbitrium entails.

  17. “if free will does not exist, why do we punish criminals?”

    To deter them from committing more crimes and to deter others from doing so.

    “It is, of course, impossible to have the illusion of choice.”

    Never been to a supermarket?

  18. “No, a natural and consistent response is that if criminals have no choice then neither do their punishers.”
    Well only after the first claim of ‘no culpability’ is made, so the ‘no’ is superfluous.

    Claiming feminisation is just projection and judgement for a perfectly logical, unfortunately, consequence of claiming free will doesn’t exist. It absolutely follows so why even argue about it? Perhaps you find the feminisation argument more interesting and more pressing but I have news for you. It doesn’t take a woman to conclude that if free will does not exist then all comment on judgement, choice, action, is rendered nonsense. There can be no blame if there is no choice. I’m with you on the feminisation of all sorts of decision making and institutions but you have a funny way of working it in or spotting it.

    “man’s love of justice is nothing more than his fear of suffering injustice.”
    The motive isn’t necessarily selfless in excusing people. It’s the thought that they too might be let off their mischief. Is that feminine too? It’s just wrong whichever sex is ‘to blame ‘it’s simply wrong.

    Sworrdfish,
    Deterring criminals is but in vain if there is no free will. It will have no effect whatsoever since there is no existent choice?
    Claiming a deterrent is admitting the choice is there.

  19. “if free will does not exist, why do we punish criminals?”

    To deter them from committing more crimes and to deter others from doing so.

    If they have not free will, then how can they deterred? This is an example of the logical incoherence that will-deniers fall into. But then they had no choice but to utter the word strings they did. And in that case, why pay anymore attention to such outputs of physical forces blowing through your neurons than to the whispers of the wind blowing through the trees.

    A weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails

    More likely the strange notion of choice liberum arbitrium entails.

    Then you do not have the slightest clue of what it meant, and you are addressing only the kludge formulated by Descartes and the other Enlightened.

  20. Then you do not have the slightest clue of what it meant

    I see what you’ve done there. More of your peculiar form of dodge ball where you don’t actually say anything but pretend any reponse is a refutation.

    Your weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails was a non sequitur to my post and seemed to target the word “choice”. Did you even read the post? If you did, what exactly did you think I was saying?

  21. A. take one of your deeply held beliefs then choose to not believe it
    R. A weird notion of what
    liberum arbitrium entails.

    A. More likely the strange notion of choice liberum arbitrium entails.
    R. Then you do not have the slightest clue of what it meant, and you are addressing only the kludge formulated by Descartes and the other Enlightened.

    A. Your weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails was a non sequitur to my post

    But your post about ‘choosing your beliefs’ showed that you do not actually understand what liberum arbitrium entails. Then you floated off into some unspecified “strange notion of choice” entailed by free judgment. You claim that I “don’t actually say anything,” yet betimes I have also been chided for repeating myself. Do you really need instruction in acts of the will or the demonstration of its non-determination? As A.N.Whitehead one remarked, he never ceased to wonder at people who devoted their minds to proving they did not have one,

  22. Again you talk in riddles and fail to say anything.
    Good toss though you missed.

    The first quote (take one ..) is out-of-context.
    I doubt you understood even the complete version.
    I wasn’t talking about free will or liberum arbitrium or whatever.
    As such, your A weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails was a non sequitur.
    And a straw man.
    My response to it was flippant.

  23. Joy and Ye Olde Statistician,

    Just because we can’t make completely free choices doesn’t mean we can’t make choices. If punishment works as a deterrent, then it works whether free will exists or not.

  24. Swordfish,
    Yes those choices are strongly influenced by, essentially, brain chemistry, natural internal or artificially enhanced capacity, but the choice itself is still free and it must necessarily be for the logical reason I gave in my comment to Briggs. To hold the view that free choice (which is the same as free decision) is not free, renders conclusion, rational thought itself, judgement, a nonsense because it is contained within a chaotic circular system of biochemistry without the existence of a separate overriding consciousness. Consciousness is not just computational. There is something else happening which nobody really understands.

    In law, traditionally, as I understand it, guilt is separated from punishment. The reasons why a decision is made to commit a crime or take an action may be sometimes eligible for less harsh sentencing.

  25. To hold the view that free choice (which is the same as free decision) is not free, renders conclusion, rational thought itself, judgement, a nonsense because it is contained within a chaotic circular system of biochemistry without the existence of a separate overriding consciousness.

    Do animals, say dogs, have free will?
    Does reward/punishment work when training them?
    Why?

  26. Joy,

    “but the choice itself is still free and it must necessarily be for the logical reason I gave in my comment to Briggs.”

    If you’re referring to: “if free will does not exist then all comment on judgement, choice, action, is rendered nonsense” then that’s not a logical reason. In any case, if something is partly or largely determined by external and/or internal factors over which we have no control, then it can’t also be 100% free.

  27. @swordfish trombone:

    “…if something is partly or largely determined by external and/or internal factors over which we have no control, then it can’t also be 100% free.”

    Well, s t, what do you say about the Conway-Kocher Free Will Theorem, which says that if quantum mechanics is valid, then fundamental particles have free will; that is to say, the outcome of measurements is not determined totally on the past history of these?. See the link below for a fuller account.
    http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/2014/02/do-quantum-entities-have-free-will-and.html

  28. wasn’t talking about free will or liberum arbitrium or whatever.
    As such, your A weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails was a non sequitur.

    Exchange ran thus:

    A.[commenting on free will] Well, yeah, considering you can’t choose your beliefs. If you think you can, take one of your deeply held beliefs then choose to not believe it. If successful, what changed your mind?
    to which I responded
    R. A weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails.
    after having previously noted
    It’s a good thing that Aquinas and the rest did not write about ‘free will,’ but rather about ‘free judgement,’ liberum arbitrium.

    If your intention was to reduce the secular humanist version of “free choice” rather than the original philosophical concept, I apologize. But I can’t help supposing that you thought you were reducing the “religious” concept. Who would ever suppose that you could choose your beliefs except internetians who think they have come across a hitherto unheard of refutation of free will.

  29. If punishment works as a deterrent, then it works whether free will exists or not.

    But it cannot work except by coincidence, unless will exists.

    wasn’t talking about free will or liberum arbitrium or whatever.
    As such, your A weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails was a non sequitur.

    Exchange ran thus:

    A.[commenting on free will] Well, yeah, considering you can’t choose your beliefs. If you think you can, take one of your deeply held beliefs then choose to not believe it. If successful, what changed your mind?
    to which I responded
    R. A weird notion of what liberum arbitrium entails.
    after having previously noted
    It’s a good thing that Aquinas and the rest did not write about ‘free will,’ but rather about ‘free judgement,’ liberum arbitrium.

    If your intention was to reduce the secular humanist version of “free choice” rather than the original philosophical concept, I apologize. But I can’t help supposing that you thought you were reducing the “religious” concept. Who would ever suppose that you could choose your beliefs except internetians who think they have come across a hitherto unheard of refutation of free will.

    If something is partly or largely determined by external and/or internal factors over which we have no control, then it can’t also be 100% free.

    Who ever said “100% free”? Certainly not Aristotle nor Aquinas. [In the ancient-medieval scheme, free choice was only a deliberation over means. The end was given, and any end that wasn’t could only be a means to a necessarily willed end about which neither man nor God had any say whatsoever. Since means are ontologically posterior to an end (even if they exist first in time) free choice is ontologically posterior to something that is not an object of choice.]

    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/free-will-as-negligible-ii/

  30. “ “if free will does not exist then all comment on judgement, choice, action, is rendered nonsense” then that’s not a logical reason. “

    Well yes I think it is but let me explain why as my statement may be incomplete.
    Conviction (in the non legal sense) is a choice or a decision. Thought itself requires punctuation with convictions, weak or strong. Whether thinking about planning a trivial momentary future event or reflecting upon a memory of another event. Whether thinking of a tune or a picture in your head, (it doesn’t have to be selectively defined decision situations normally given as examples such as those of criminal acts.)

    If the process of deciding or choosing, cannot be trusted because it is considered predetermined or ordered by material necessity then culpability and blame dissolve in the chaotic electrochemical, inevitable and autonomic system that is the alternative to “no free will”.
    So the free will argument must be true to retain rationality or resolvability. This is why I say it is necessary for logical reasons.

    “In any case, if something is partly or largely determined by external and/or internal factors over which we have no control, then it can’t also be 100% free.’
    No it is not and/or in that sense. The influencing factors are and /or but the decision is not computational in the sense of a weighing to the inevitable conclusion, such as in a circuit or on a weighing scale. This is where the freedom part comes in, or the consciousness/awareness of truth. The ability to separately know right from wrong, for one example. That humans are faulty, sometimes intoxicated, sometimes lacking concentration, confused, distracted, all sorts of other things, means that we are not always prefect decision makers but that is separate from whether the freedom to chose is real or not.

  31. Dav,
    Do animals, say dogs, have free will?
    I think they do. They make choices and it’s funny constructing situations to see how they decide. For example, a dog knows to take the largest treat first and stash it before coming back for the smaller one. They can see at a glance that three is less than five and chose five.

    Animals are not morally responsible for reasons of limited mental capacity but that’s separate from their having free will.

    “Does reward/punishment work when training them? Why?”??Training involves practice, in order to build association or memory. The action is repeated until it is automatic in order that the animal is reliable in it’s response. It is like training in humans, in fact, but we don’t require overt punishment or reward in a formal way, we either fail or succeed in a set goal.

  32. A. [commenting on free will] …

    Wow! Three sentences and you can’t understand them. But then, they were pretty complicated unlike the simple ones employed by Aquinas whom you seek to interpret for us.

    I wasn’t “commenting on free will,” I was commenting on a belief in free will and not having a choice in the belief. Specifically, I was responding to “Of course I believe in free will, I have no choice.” You not only left out that part but misrepresented it.

    Who would ever suppose that you could choose your beliefs …
    So then what is your problem with me saying you can’t choose your beliefs. If you think you can, [try it] ?

    Stop being Sylly.

  33. Joy,

    Interesting.

    My personal view is that our nature forces us to select (choose) the option we perceive as best. We have no control over the evaluation and are compelled in our selection. The opposite of at least one sense of “free”. Animals do the same. Reward/punishment potentially alters the evaluation of ‘best”. So it is possible to have deterrents that affect the decision process but the process is still deterministic — or would be it we were privy to all that goes into the evaluation.

    The very language we use during (human) training is directed toward evaluation and not to choice per se. “This is a bad choice because …”, “You want to do this because …”, etc.

    As far as guilt wrt punishment, a tree that has fallen on your car isn’t considered guilty but it is still condemned to annihilation by being chopped to pieces.

  34. Bob kurland
    If you seriously speculate whether elementary particles have free will then you have a very mistaken notion of free will and it would be preferable to revisit the very definition of free will

  35. Joy,
    Per Aquinas., animals move by instinctive judgement but humans by free judgement
    Free will requires intellect

  36. Bob kurland
    Do elementary particles a sort of entities that can be said to possess wills?
    To ask this question is to answer it, I should have thought
    You equate “uncaused” or “random” to free will –a mistake usual in physicists
    Because they never visit the very definitions as they are defined in philosophy. Free will is a topic in philosophy not in physics

  37. Ye Olde Statistcian:

    “But [deterrence] cannot work except by coincidence, unless will exists.”

    Why?

    “Whoever said “100% free”? Certainly not Aristotle nor Aquinas.”

    Other philosophers are available.

    “Since means are ontologically posterior to an end (even if they exist first in time) free choice is ontologically posterior to something that is not an object of choice.)”

    I’m sure that this is right, wrong, or somewhere inbetween.

    @ Bob Kurland:

    “Well, s t, what do you say about the Conway-Kocher Free Will Theorem?”

    I say that it’s a valid theorem, but most people don’t accept quantum-mechanical randomness as free will.

    @ Joy:

    “The influencing factors are and/or but the decision is not computational in the sense of a weighing to the inevitable conclusion, such as in a circuit or on a weighing scale.”

    How do you know? Experiments have shown this isn’t the case. In any case, we’re going to try and make the right (optimum) choice in any given situation, so the only thing free choice would buy us is the ability to make the wrong choice, which doesn’t seem much use!

    To be (possibly) more clear, as I understand it, you’re saying that if we ignore all the constraining factors and considerations in any given situation, we have a free choice between the options. This is like saying that if we ignore gravity, everything is weightless.

    @ Mactoul: (To Joy)

    “Free will requires intellect”

    Intellect requires determinism.

    @ Mactoul: (To Bob Kurland)

    “Animals have quale that are entirely outside physics

    Evidence would be nice.

  38. Mr. Trombone, impelled by forces beyond himself, a/k/a ‘fate’ or ‘necessity’, commented

    1. This is like saying that if we ignore gravity, everything is weightless.

    which of course we would be. Weight is mass times gravity. Without gravity, there can be no weight, only mass.

    2. we’re going to try and make the right (optimum) choice in any given situation, so the only thing free choice…

    The will if free. That doesn’t mean the Scientific Revolution was correct about “choice”.

    3. Other philosophers are available.

    Yes, but they are wrong.
    4. “But [deterrence] cannot work except by coincidence, unless will exists.”
    Why?

    Because “deterrence” incorporates that meaning. De- (“away”) + terrere (“frighten”). If the will was not involved it would be “prevention”, as in “clapped in irons”. Being chained up is not a deterrance, but a prevention. The threat of being chained up may be a deterrance because it is an appeal to the intellect, and that implies the will. One must make a decision: succumb to the dread of being enchained or forget/neglect/disregard the dread. In either case, the response is not determined as in a physico-chemical reaction.

    5. “Since means are ontologically posterior to an end (even if they exist first in time) free choice is ontologically posterior to something that is not an object of choice.)”

    I’m sure that this is right, wrong, or somewhere inbetween.

    IOW, I was correct in my earlier comments that people do not understand volition. The will is the intellective appetite. That is, a hunger for, or revulsion to, the products of the intellect. (Making it analogous to the sensory appetites.) Because you cannot want what you do not know, the will is posterior to the intellect; and because the knowledge is necessarily incomplete, the will is necessarily undetermined.

    But just as the proper object of the intellect is the True, the proper object of the will is the Good. No one desires something which he perceives as bad. Since flipping switches and twitching fingers are neither good nor bad in themselves, so-called “experiments” of free will do not even address the classical will. (Although they may undermine the Modern claptrap dreamt up by the Scientific Revolutionaries.)

    But since the will is determined toward the Good, the judgment in “free judgment” comes in formulating or choosing among alternative means of achieving that Good. The end is thus prior to the means (or the means are posterior to the end). The end is, however, determined (within the limits of our understanding. Sometimes, the immediate end is just a means for achieving a deeper end. Since this cannot regress indefinitely, there must be an ultimate end, the Good, which is not an object of choice.

    I would have thought this obvious, just from parsing the sentence you quoted; but by your own account, understanding is not yours any more than the freedom to deny or give assent.

  39. “Animals have quale that are entirely outside physics

    Evidence would be nice.

    The qualia (sg. quale) were rejected by the Scientists. Galileo, Descartes, Bacon, Hume and the rest held that sound, color, pain, and other qualities did not exist in the object but only in the perceiving subject. They restricted science to the mathematically-amenable obect-ive and put aside the intractable, non-mathematical subject-ive. The apple is not red, it merely reflects certain (metrical) wavelengths of light. The proverbial tree falling in the forest makes no sound, only (measurable) compression waves in the air. Sugar is not sweet; and so on.

    In effect, they swept the qualia under the rug of the mind. Later, when the psychologists decided to make their field scientificalistic, and tried to use the tools of the natural sciences, they swept the rug under the rug.

    In any case, the qualia, being non-metrical, are invisible to the methods of Baconian science. While it is clear that the qualia exist, and we surmise that animals [unlike plants] have senses, we do not know what-it-is-like to be a bear or a bat.

  40. “Weight is mass times gravity. Without gravity, there can be no weight, only mass.”

    I know. It was an analogy. Plain version: It’s empty to say that if you remove all constraints, a decision is unconstrained.

    “The will if free. That doesn’t mean the Scientific Revolution was correct about “choice”.”

    I don’t get your banter at all.

    “Yes, but they [other philosophers] are wrong.”

    Other opinions than yours are available. (Thank God)

    “One must make a decision: succumb to the dread of being enchained or forget/neglect/disregard the dread. In either case, the response is not determined as in a physico-chemical reaction.”

    Take away the ornamentation and we’re left with an assertion. How do you know the result isn’t pre-determined?

    “Because you cannot want what you do not know, the will is posterior to the intellect; and because the knowledge is necessarily incomplete, the will is necessarily undetermined.”

    If we don’t have free will, our decisions are by definition determined partly by factors we’re unaware of. I don’t see how incomplete knowledge can also enable free will?

    “Since flipping switches and twitching fingers are neither good nor bad in themselves, so-called “experiments” of free will do not even address the classical will.”

    A poor argument. I love flipping switches!

    “there must be an ultimate end, the Good, which is not an object of choice.”

    So we don’t have free will?

    “I would have thought this obvious, just from parsing the sentence you quoted; but by your own account, understanding is not yours any more than the freedom to deny or give assent.”

    Oh dear, nobody likes a smartarse. I get it, you brainy, me dumb. Given that, it’s possible that you are an expert in things that “just aren’t so”.

  41. I know. It [weight without gravity] was an analogy.

    But it illustrated the opposite of what you intended. You may as well define inertial motion by what a physical body will undergo in the absence of all outside influences. There are never no outside influences, but that does not stop physicists from believing in inertia.

    It’s empty to say that if you remove all constraints, a decision is unconstrained.

    Definitions are not always vacuous.

    I don’t get your banter at all.

    That is evident.

    “Yes, but they [other philosophers] are wrong.”

    Other opinions than yours are available. (Thank God)

    Opinions are always available. There are many more wrong angles from which one may topple; only one at which one may stand upright.

    Which of these other “opinions” do you take as your starting point?

    Take away the ornamentation and we’re left with an assertion. How do you know the result isn’t pre-determined?

    The same way I know it wasn’t delivered by flying pink unicorns. A deterrant only IS a deterrant if the one deterred can change his behavior as a result. By the definition of deterrance. You cannot deter someone from involuntary actions like beating his heart or falling off a roof. You CAN deter him from jumping off a roof

    If we don’t have free will, our decisions are by definition determined partly by factors we’re unaware of.

    In the subordinate clause, you are assuming the conclusion; and then proposing “hidden variables” as in quantum mechanics. Why can no one see that some choices are constrained and some aren’t? If you must pick two integers that add up to 7, which two are they determined to be? What are the hidden factors that constrain them? (And this in a situation for which one would not normally expect free will to operate.) Or do you claim that your decision to write those particular words was determined by the ‘laws’ of physics?

    I don’t see how incomplete knowledge can also enable free will

    Yes, that is eminently clear.

    But it should also be clear that you cannot want what you do not know and that therefore if you don’t know the means to attain an end, you may select whatever means appear best to you. And for this to be the case sometimes must imply that the faculty is present at all times, even if not called upon.

    A poor argument. I love flipping switches!

    It’s an example, not an argument. By definition, such Buridan’s Ass choices do not involve the reasoning powers. That is, there is no reason to choose this bale of hay or that. Hence, such situations do not fall within the domain of “free will,” which is a power of reasoning.

    “there must be an ultimate end, the Good, which is not an object of choice.”

    So we don’t have free will?

    Pay attention. Do not mistake the Modern, whimsical notion of free choice with the rational conception it abandoned. You may reject the Scientifical conception; but you should at least realize that the original has not been touched. Just as “motion” has at its heart the Unmoving, so does the choices have at their center the Unchosen.

    Oh dear, nobody likes a smartarse.

    But you can work on that. But it was you who admitted, “I don’t get your banter at all” and earlier indicated puzzlement over a perfectly grammatical paragraph, “I’m sure that this is right, wrong, or somewhere inbetween.

    I get it, you brainy, me dumb.

    That isn’t the only conclusion possible. You might have said, “you brainy, me disingenuous.”

  42. Very interesting that people still cling to the idea that the quantum level is deterministic. It isn’t, it’s probabilistic. Also it seems there is still an enormous unexplored territory between what happens at subatomic levels and what happens in a world populated by large animals such as the human simian. Maybe when we have that GUT we’ll understand.

    As to dogs having freewill, if you’ve ever lived with samoyeds you’ll know the answer already – and it ain’t “no”.

  43. YOS,

    The physicists particularly are apt to spout on free will without first understanding what “free will” means. And many who defend free will then latch on to quantum indeterminacy as providing space for the mistaken understanding of free will as just a choice (with no rational basis). Thus the idea that quantum particles possess free will!.

  44. About quantum level determinism, there is no reason why it can’t be so; just because we can’t know all that there is to know about quantum dynamics nor can we ever get the inherent uncertainty out of our measurements. Then we have the fact that a system that has instruments involved isn’t quite the same system as one that doesn’t. Random is a synonym for ignorance. Bell’s inequality does not have to be actual. It may be just an artifact of our state of knowledge and the limits of measurements.

  45. @YOS,

    Plants certainly can sense light. They can also sense water and minerals. Is that more limited than animal senses? To a degree, likely yes.

  46. Mactoul, Conway and Kochen are not physicists; they are distinguished mathematicians (Princeton, prizes, all that stuff). And IMO mathematics is at the top of the hierarchy, even surpassing philosophy, but that’s by the way. Also, Conway goes into much detail in the video (linked in my post) linked posts on why the Conway-Kochen Theorem does not describe randomness. Please watch that and then respond specifically to his arguments rather than making simplistic assertions “tain’t so.” And also by the way, why the grudge against physicists? Did you have a bad experience in secondary school or college physics classes? Just curious.

  47. Plants certainly can sense light. They can also sense water and minerals. Is that more limited than animal senses? To a degree, likely yes.

    Sensation differs from pure reaction or tropism in three ways.

    1. Specialized sense organs associated with various forms of awareness: e.g., eyes for vis–ual awareness, ears for sonic awareness, etc. These organs include the neural connections: seeing takes place in the brain. (Plants have no such organs.)
    2. Variability of response. An animal may respond to a stimulus in several ways: creep toward a perceived prey, bound toward the prey in a blitz attack, avoid the prey if a stronger predator is seen, etc. A plant will simply grow toward the light or toward a source of nourishment.
    3. “Packaged” with appetite and locomotion. These acts comprise empirical evidence of awareness of the sensation. Their absence is further evidence that plants lack this faculty. Grass may have a tropism for water, but does not “feel thirsty.” Unlike animals, what could it do about it= Except grow toward water?

    Late Moderns cannot spot an analogy or a homologous structure without imagining an equivalence. Darwin thought the tip of the root acted sorta kinda like a brain, but he never said it was a brain.

    Aristotelians have less of a problem with plants or the above-said dogs. “The continuity of nature,” writes Brennan in Thomistic Psychology, “manifests a gradual transition from plant to animal.” (p.11) So we might perceive in Venus Fly-traps the rudiments of sensation. In borderline cases, it may be hard to tell which side of the border the thing is on. Brandon Watson wrote in a comment elsewhere: “Just as high-order estimative cognition has a wide range of similarities to low-order rational cognition, a sort of overlap, so high-order plant activity should have a wide range of similarities to, or even what could be seen as a sort of overlap with, low-order animal behavior.” That overlap of estimative cognition with rational cognition accounts for people thinking dogs have “free will.”

    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2014/10/in-psearch-of-psyche-day-of-triffids.html

  48. Bob Kurland,
    No amount of maths or Princeton can make sensible the idea that electrons have free will, just like the experimenters. The “free will” can not be part of maths nor of physics either. So, any reference to “free will” in a theorem must be an interpretation. Ever since Copenhagen, we can shallow the idea that the future motion of electrons is not determined from the past. But, as has been repeatedly suggested to you that it does not remotely mean that electrons have free will. Or even “unfree” will of animals.

    A PhD in physics is nothing to brag of, so I don’t.

  49. As different from a grain of sand, a piece of metal or a flash of lightening, an electron is an entity posited in physics. Thus all its properties are fully specified–it is a formal object and thus can be mathematically manipulated. Free will or even plain will is not one of them. Neither is life. Not that life or will are fitting topics of physics discourse. But it would be many orders of magnitude less absurd to believe that a flash of lightening has free will than to believe that an electron has.

  50. There is nothing a physicist won’t believe
    Most education is form of brainwashing and ten years spent studying physics is pretty effective brainwashing.
    You emerge into the daylight blinking weakly and talking about an endless number of universes stacked on top of each other.
    Or you start babbling inanely about how meaningless the universe is.
    If you ask me just who is the more credulous, the more suggestible, the dopier –a well-trained Jesuit or a PhD in quantum physics , I will go with the physicist each time. There is nothing these people won’t believe
    David Berlinski, a biologist

  51. @ Ye Olde Statistcian

    Free will is an issue I’m still not 100% convinced either way on (although I’m leaning very steeply to the “no” camp.), so I often comment hoping to learn something from any responses I get.

    As usual, I’m not learning anything from you as your position is both: a) not clearly set out, and b) based on disproven Aristotelian thinking, and c) rude.

    “A deterrant only IS a deterrant if the one deterred can change his behavior as a result. […] You cannot deter someone from involuntary actions like beating his heart or falling off a roof. You CAN deter him from jumping off a roof.”

    But again, you’re just assuming that the individual can “change his behaviour”, when really it’s the consequence which is changing his behaviour.

    Question: If a decision is rational, then it must have only one possible outcome. Given that, how can it also be free?

  52. you’re just assuming that the individual can “change his behaviour”, when really it’s the consequence which is changing his behaviour.>/i>

    No, by answering the question that “if free will does not exist, why do we punish criminals?”, you said To deter them from committing more crimes and to deter others from doing so. you assumed the individual can “change his behaviour.” If “the consequence [i.e. the prospect of punishment] which is changing his behaviour,” then ipso facto, the individual can “change his behaviour.”

    How something that might happen in the future [a non-material prospect] can be efficient in a completely material universe is left a mystery, and confuses final causation with efficient causation. Purposes differ from motives, and both differ from the purely mechanical subset of efficient causes in physics.

    If a decision is rational, then it must have only one possible outcome.

    Not necessarily. What is the one possible outcome of SQRT(4)? What is INT(x²)? And these are mere mathematical decisions, which are not the proper object of the will.

    ‘Rational’ means ‘having reasons for’. Surely, you can do this no matter what means strikes you as reasonable. One rational way of achieving an end to wars is to conquer all the other competitors, as Octavian Caesar or Shi hwang-ti did within their worlds.

    I’m not learning anything from you as your position is … based on disproven Aristotelian thinking

    What was disproven in either the metaphysics and/or the ethics, when, and by whom?

    Useful reading, if you find my own poor answers had to grasp, is Thomistic Psychology by Robert Brennan. https://www.amazon.com/Thomistic-Psychology-Philosophic-Analysis-Nature/dp/1944418237/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=#reader_1944418237

  53. Conway and Kochen: ” our theorem asserts that if experimenters have a certain freedom, then particles have exactly the same kind of freedom. Indeed, it is natural to suppose that this latter freedom is the ultimate explanation of our own.”

    A very strong free will theorem indeed.
    And how do they define freedom as a mathematical concept?
    “response of a spin 1 particle is free—that is to say, is not a function of properties of that part of universe that is earlier than this response …”

    That quantum mechanical particles are “free” in this sense was well-known even to a layman like CS Lewis in Miracles. He alludes to it but dismisses it as irrelevant to the question of human freedom. Also, he could not believe that physicists really mean what they say about particles being free in this sense.

    And the human experimenters. Their freedom consists on acting with deliberation. They consider pro-and cons of various courses of action open to them. Can this be doubted?
    And can this be maintained that electrons do the same weighing of pro-and-cons?

  54. The absurdity does not lie in whether physical systems have degrees of freedom, nor even that thia is what is meant by ‘freedom’ in ‘free will.’ The absurdity lies in supposing that particles have will, not that they have freedom.

  55. “Random is a synonym for ignorance”

    I don’t fully agree. Random things have a structure (by “structure”, I mean probability distribution). It just means you can’t predict it with certainty, ie. always be right. But you can predict it in a range say 90% of the time, and that is not total ignorance. For example, predicting a random normal variable to be within +-2 standard deviations of the mean or not. I’d be wrong sometimes, but I wouldn’t call that overall ignorance.

    Justin

  56. It means ignorance of cause. Assignable variation is variation that can be assigned to a particular causal factor. Random variation is due to a complex nexus of causes which are individually either economically or practically not distinguishable. Randomness is not a cause. If the causes are additive, the sum will tend to shake out into a normal pattern, if they are multiplicative, the product accumulates as a lognormal pattern, if they combine in a polynomial, you can expect an extreme value pattern, and so it goes. But random does not mean unpredictable, at least within bounds.

  57. “you assumed the individual can “change his behaviour.””

    What is the difference between a person not committing a crime because of threatened punishment and (say) a stream slowing because of an obstruction? In both cases, there’s just some behaviour which is the result of some or other deterministic cause.

    [If a decision is rational, then it must have only one possible outcome.]

    “Not necessarily. What is the one possible outcome of SQRT(4)? What is INT(x²)? And these are mere mathematical decisions, which are not the proper object of the will.”

    But sqrt(4) has only 1 correct outcome, it’s just that it consists of single set of 2 numbers(!) In any case, you’re missing my point. From a free will perspective, having 2 equally plausible choices would necessitate a random decision, which I’m told isn’t free will (for unclear to me reasons) but if there is only one possible rational choice, then how can that be free?

  58. As I said, YOS, up to a point. What are animal senses? How do they work? My own experience with these are that there are similarities between plant trophism and animal senses. Both involve shuffling ions across semipermeable membranes coupled to either absorption of photons (light trophism or sight) or binding of simpler chemicals to folded polymers. As you said, there are differences, such as having specialized organs, versus just specialized cells; and the presence of contractile elements which enable locomotion; of which some plants do have, for their specialized needs (stomata, for instance). That doesn’t negate the correctness of the concepts held by our ancestors with respect to the differences between plants and animals.

  59. What is the difference between a person not committing a crime because of threatened punishment and (say) a stream slowing because of an obstruction?

    The stream did not decide to slow, because it has no consciousness. We shouldn’t have to tell you that. Such animistic thinking may be poetic metaphor, but it is not a scientific description.

    [If a decision is rational, then it must have only one possible outcome.]
    But sqrt(4) has only 1 correct outcome, it’s just that it consists of single set of 2 numbers(!)

    But then any decision has only one outcome, described as a set of all possible results and your statement that rational decisions have only one outcomes becomes vacuous.

    … a random decision, which I’m told isn’t free will (for unclear to me reasons) …

    cf.: https://thomism.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/buridans-ass-decisions/

    The pseudo-scientific experiments run by various “psychologists” define freedom as control by conscious intention fixing on one thing as opposed to another (which lets your stream off the hook, even for the psychologists). But then they test for the existence of such a thing in circumstances when conscious intention has no reason (rationale) to fix on “one thing as opposed to another.”

    IOW, by bypassing the intellect, they bypass the intellective appetite (will, volition).

    if there is only one possible rational choice, then how can that be free?

    When is there only one? And what do you mean by “rational”?

    rational (adj.) late 14c., “pertaining to reason;” mid-15c., “endowed with reason,” from Old French racionel and directly from Latin rationalis “of or belonging to reason, reasonable,” from ratio (genitive rationis) “reckoning, calculation, reason”

  60. “The stream did not decide to slow, because it has no consciousness.”

    We could be conscious but not have free will, so this isn’t an argument.

    “But then any decision has only one outcome, described as a set of all possible results and your statement that rational decisions have only one outcomes becomes vacuous.”

    No, it would only apply to mathematics, and vacuous doesn’t equate to false.

    Using the sqrt(4) example, if asked to choose a number, you can rationally arrive at two choices (2 or -2), so to come up with a single choice, you’d have to use some or other non-rational, random method. Neither of these thought processes would be described as free will. (As I understand it.)

    “but then they test for the existence of such a thing in circumstances when conscious intention has no reason (rationale) to fix on “one thing as opposed to another.””

    How can the introduction of a rationale into the process result in more freedom?

  61. We could be conscious but not have free will, so this isn’t an argument.

    It’s not an argument at all, but an illustration why your equivalence of volition with an obstructed stream is ill-thought out. I never claimed what you wrote. Animals are conscious, but they possess animal prudence rather than volition and in some species, this approaches volition. But what I pointed out that something that is not conscious, like your stream, could not make choices.

    No, it would only apply to mathematics

    Ex post facto conditions are less than convincing. Please prove reaons why this restriction would be true.

    vacuous doesn’t equate to false.

    Indeed not. That’s why it’s a different word. ‘Vacuous’ means ’empty’. No new conclusions come from it.

    Using the sqrt(4) example, if asked to choose a number, you can rationally arrive at two choices (2 or -2), so to come up with a single choice, you’d have to use some or other non-rational, random method.

    Why? The side of a squarish field of 4 square miles is 2 miles, not -2 miles. You can’t have a negative physical length. This is neither “non-rational” nor “random.”

    Neither of these thought processes would be described as free will. (As I understand it.)

    Deciding that only +2 is physically realizable in the circumstance is a rational movement. This whole thread has hinged on “as I understand it.” Although you have not explained your understanding and how it differs either from the classical understanding or from the Cartesian one.

    “but then they test for the existence of such a thing in circumstances when conscious intention has no reason (rationale) to fix on “one thing as opposed to another.””
    How can the introduction of a rationale into the process result in more freedom?

    It doesn’t. There are two terms in “free judgment.” Volition is a rational faculty and, as the “intellective appetite,” it is a hunger/revulsion for the products of the intellect. That means, properly speaking, if there are no reasons for the choice, no judgement, the will as such does not enter into it.

    The continual insistence that you are responding involuntarily is bemusing. Did Planck involuntarily devise quantum theory? Darwin involuntarily construct descent-with-modification as the origin of species? Da Vinci involuntarily paint the Mona Lisa? Dizzy Gillespie involuntarily play Tin Tin Deo?

    One cannot refute free judgement by pointing to acts that are determined any more than one can refute Einsteinian relativity by pointing to everyday motions.

  62. Dav,
    Sorry I missed this discussion…just a few thoughts:
    “My personal view is that our nature forces us to select (choose) the option we perceive as best.”
    Is this not to imply that you, in this example, aren’t really there but just your nature in all it’s complexity of calculation?
    We have no control over the evaluation and are compelled in our selection. “
    Not really. We have no control over physiological elements making up nerve impulses but can chose whether or not to move a hand in every example. It is possible to impact physiology by thoughts which affect stress hormones, for a broad example. This has complex effects and again not controlled by ‘us’ except in controlling thoughts and perhaps understanding truth etc, to use a patient example.
    This is still a somewhat circular situation as I see it if there is no reliable trustable true conviction which in my mind comes into the question of free will.

    “…but the process is still deterministic — or would be it we were privy to all that goes into the evaluation.” This is true if the brain is working like a computer or a machine. Consciousness, as I view it, overrides and there is something more mysterious going on when a person considers themselves as separate from yet part of the universe. Hard to word it properly without sounding silly.?
    Evaluation versus choice seems to get closer to the point. The evaluation is the process with all the biochemistry, The mechanical process. The choice still doesn’t seem to depict the conscious person making the choice. The choice is evidence of the action of the consciousness.
    The tree is not conscious or morally responsible. Granted a tree can grow as it must toward light and roots down with gravity. The tree is more like the analogy of the machine, preprogrammed.

    Mactoul,
    So we are lead to believe but I don’t believe Thomas is correct if he is interpreted correctly.

  63. Swordfishtrombone, I’m not so far from agreeing with yours and Dav’s assertions but I just find it leads to self denial. I definitely exist.

    “How do you know? “Just the same way you know that it is deterministic.
    I don’t know how anybody would carry out an experiment to show that free will does not exist. There’s no harm in trying.
    “In any case, we’re going to try and make the right (optimum) choice in any given situation, so the only thing free choice would buy us is the ability to make the wrong choice, which doesn’t seem much use!”
    Why does it have to have currency? I understood your point but this might just be the way things are. Just like trees are green. In any event value comes into choice so a bad person might make mercenary choices, for example. Very lucrative!
    “This is like saying that if we ignore gravity, everything is weightless.”
    Although that’s not what I’m saying. Just that physiology, nature, as well as artificial influences such as narcotics can render better or worse choices based on the individual’s ability to know, for example, right from wrong, up from down. The value of the choice must be measurable against some idea of truth. If all things are purely materially determined in the end, there is no value at all. Value has no ultimate meaning, there is no such thing as currency either, which renders the whole universe a nonsense.
    Sense itself must have a basis in a value of truth. If your choices are inevitable, you become irrelevant.

  64. Forget why trees are green. That was daft.
    It may just be a brute fact that free will exists along with evolution.

  65. Joy,

    Almost missed your comments. I had closed this page but it was still open on my phone.

    I don’t understand why the absence free will or conviction in its existence leads to self-denial. Are you saying that you are defined by your choices? Perhaps in the eyes of others but to yourself?

    Seems to me that how we choose and the why, along with everything else, arose through natural evolution. To say otherwise is to presuppose some outside intervention. I find that to be an extraordinary claim. It’s right up there with claiming your car failed because of the actions of mysterious and undetectable gremlins or runs due to the good vibes it possesses.

    If it is evolutionary, we would expect to see some continuum across the animal kingdom and we do. We can play games with terminology to deny the continuum exists but those arguments aren’t evidence. No one can really say how they differ except by using vague terminology. Animals can’t X because they don’t have Y! (Animals can’t FLORM because they lack BOTSWATTLE! Instead, they FLOOZE.) As if that settles it.

    Can anyone really choose anything but the best valued option? If not, there really is no choice. We are often told without proof that the choice is ours but our arguments (and at times actions, like reward/punishment) in convincing someone to change their minds are all aimed at the evaluation of options.

    But the assessments are beliefs. The best option is the one we believe to be best. Even YOS admits you can’t choose your beliefs. From the outside looking in, we may think the choices are made whimsically but that’s only due to the lack of inside knowledge of the assessment details.

  66. The best way to deny that the will is free is to construe it in a complex and tendent6ious manner and then, when the complexity (or the construal) collapses from its own weight, cry AHA!

    But the logical way is to show in what manner the proof fails.

    But then, we are still waiting on the denialist definition of the will.

  67. Dav,
    I’m saying the opposite, that a person is not defined by their choices. Definition and judgement aren’t the same thing either, but that’s a distraction. I’m saying it falls short to say that, as some do, will and intellect define the person, or the soul, for argument’s sake.

    “The choice still doesn’t seem to depict the conscious person making the choice.”
    No definition of such an intangible metaphysical thing can really exist. Like defining love or hate, but even more complex and impossible.
    People are not just talking at cross purposes but cross experiences and attempting to bottle to an essence something which is beyond full rounded comprehension.

    I simply think that assuming your will is free. Is a kind of acceptance either trivially or more profoundly. Just as assuming the opposite leads to profound differences in behaviour, potentially.

    I knew my point about truth or conviction wasn’t properly iterated or formed. I imagine it would take a lot more time and thought to lay out the ‘working’, computer style, but the argument against free will has no beginning or end and is circular and chaotic. I do understand the selfish gene argument but it lacks the important element, for me, in explaining why the direction of travel is towards spirit and metaphysics when the entire thing is to be assumed as purely material. This is not an argument against evolution. Evolution is telling us nothing about mind except it speaks just of survival and similar profanatory stuff without giving explanation of such metaphysical things as can just be denied as a feeling or an illusion. Evolution is not a philosophy. It is just a mechanical process.

  68. The best way to deny that the will is free is to construe it in a complex and tendent6ious manner and then, …

    The best way to rebut them, of course, is to claim complexity and tendentiousness while remaining entirely vague about how.

    It’s when employing things like these that you resort to terse innuendo.
    Usually, though, you tend toward the obscure and the concept of an elevator speech seems foreign to you.

    BTW: the definition of tendentious according to Merriam-Webster is “marked by a tendency in favor of a particular point of view : biased”. Is the pot commenting on the kettle’s appearance?

  69. Joy,

    Thanks for the clarification. I mostly agree.
    Evolution is a mechanical process — so to speak — but it has produced some rather remarkable things. One of them is us. Seems to have produced philosophy as a byproduct.

  70. The best way to rebut them, of course, is to claim complexity and tendentiousness while remaining entirely vague about how.

    What vague? It is not I who has avoided definitions and proofs, but the deniers, who always come up with features of the system thinking they are bugs. The freedom of the will is easily demonstrated:
    1. The will is the intellective appetite: a hunger or revulsion for products of the intellect. (def)
    2. You cannot want what you do not know.
    3. The intellect does not know many things in their entirety.
    4. Therefore, the will is undetermined to some degree.

    Some folks make a big deal about the will being objectively ordered to the Good, and thus that it is Determined. But the Good is way too vague to determine anything in particular. After all, the intellect is ordered to the True, but some people believe they know things that turn out to be false. Aquinas discussed this in his tractatus, De malo, so it’s not exactly new.

    Also, the judgement applies to means, not ends. You may desire world peace as a good concept. But of what exactly does this peace consist and what are the means you will employ to achieve it? Conquering all rivals for world domination is one way; but surely there are others.

  71. You say what vague? and I say what complexity and tendentious manner?

    Therefore, the will is undetermined to some degree.

    Only to an outsider and then only to one who insists there is an objective standard to be met.
    Your opinion of the values of the options is irrelevant.

    Always selecting the option believed to be best leaves no room for choice.
    Later experience may lead to changing that belief. So what?
    In the past, you’ve said (paraphrasing): “of course the best perceived option is chosen — anything else is insanity”. Are you now saying otherwise?

    IF you can know how the values were reached and compared then the result is deterministic.

    Is that really so complicated?

  72. So much for Free Choice.

    But you are saying it’s the list of wants to be satisfied that is free.
    This list of wants is fed into the option list.
    To this, I say if you have enough information then that too is deterministic.

    An outsider undoubtedly wouldn’t have that information.
    So, yes, it appears non-deterministic to the outsider.
    But that’s only from the outsider’s perspective.
    There are no objective standards here either.

  73. Therefore, the will is undetermined to some degree.

    Only to an outsider and then only to one who insists there is an objective standard to be met.

    Who is outside logic? Which premise is incorrect? What objective standard do you mean? Modus tollens?

    Always selecting the option believed to be best leaves no room for choice.

    Of course it does. Which course of action is the best? There’s always more than one way to skin the cat.

    In the past, you’ve said (paraphrasing): “of course the best perceived option is chosen — anything else is insanity”. Are you now saying otherwise?

    Of course not. Do you suppose only random or chaotic judgments are undetermined?

    IF you can know how the values were reached and compared then the result is deterministic./i>

    No. You seem to confuse ‘deterministic’ with ‘determined.’ Why is it that non-sciences like [modern] psychology have glommed onto determinism even as physics has been letting go of it? Or do you have a special definition of ‘deterministic’? [Determinism is the doctrine that the past determines a unique present and future. That is, past states of the universe in conjunction with the laws of nature render only one present state of the universe physically or nomologically possible. cf. http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2009/05/the-consequence-argument-against-compatibilism.html%5D

    But you are saying it’s the list of wants to be satisfied that is free.

    No, it it the judgment as to the means of achieving an end that is free.

    The capacity to undertake voluntary acts by no mean excludes the possibility that some, even most act are involuntary.

  74. D: Always selecting the option believed to be best leaves no room for choice.
    Y: Of course it does. Which course of action is the best? There’s always more than one way to skin the cat.
    D: In the past, you’ve said (paraphrasing): “of course the best perceived option is chosen — anything else is insanity”. Are you now saying otherwise?
    Y: Of course not. Do you suppose only random or chaotic judgments are undetermined?

    So which is it?
    Can you select what you believe to be less than the best or not?
    If not, where is the choice?

    You seem to confuse ‘deterministic’ with ‘determined.’
    Am I?

    deterministic process: Algorithm, model, procedure, process, etc., whose resulting behavior is entirely determined by its initial state and inputs. Processes or projects having only one outcome are said to be deterministic their outcome is ‘pre-determined.’

    D: But you are saying it’s the list of wants to be satisfied that is free.
    Y: No, it it the judgment as to the means of achieving an end that is free.

    OK. It’s the list of options then.
    You are pushing the choice into building the list of options to choose from.
    If you had the information you would know what they are to the point of being able to generate the list yourself. You would know what would be seen as available; which to keep; and which to discard.

    But then, how do you know there’s any judgement at all in creating the list and inappropriate entries are simply winnowed out during option evaluation? One way of generating a list is to make an entry at the top then compare subsequent ones to the top replacing it if a better option is found. If done this way, building the list and selecting the best are done simultaneously.

    Animals generate option lists too: e.g., fight, flee, attack the throat, attack the legs, dodge left, dodge right, turn tail and run, etc and drop lick one’s paws and stop for water on the list. Assuming there’s any pre-selection being made.

    So people can generate a wider choice of options.
    How is that substantially different?

  75. Can you select what you believe to be less than the best or not?

    People do sometimes relent to the lesser of two evils, when they don’t see anything better as being achievable. Women sometimes ‘settle’ for a guy not quite what they wanted. But all this is final causation, and many people today do not ‘believe’ in such a thing. I suggest Aquinas’ On evil for insight on ends and means and on free judgment.

    If not, where is the choice?

    In the means employed to achieve the good.

    deterministic process: Algorithm, model, procedure, process, etc., whose resulting behavior is entirely determined by its initial state and inputs. Processes or projects having only one outcome are said to be deterministic their outcome is ‘pre-determined.’

    Congratulations, you are the first denialist to provide a definition, albeit one imbued with a mathematical, scientistic spirit. Algorithm? Model? Now all you have to do is show that human deliberation is a “process” in this mathematical sense.

    You are pushing the choice into building the list of options to choose from.

    No. The “list of options” may be given to you. E.g., the traditional robber’s demand, “Yer money or your life.” Or suppose you are presented with four letters: A, B, C, D, and told to “choose one.” (Here, we’re illustration libertarian free will, not Aquinas.) The will’s freedom is implicit in the word, “one.” To which of the four letters does it refer?

    how do you know there’s any judgement at all in creating the list and inappropriate entries are simply winnowed out during option evaluation?

    Introspection. I experience myself deliberating and acting as an agent. I am grieved to hear that you do nothing voluntarily and you do not deliberate over intellective choices.

    The uncertainty of the intellect is precisely the basis for the “play” or freedom in the choice. You will very seldom have all the information needed to determine the choice to one thing.

    One way of generating a list…

    That you continually think in such mechanistic terms is probably one reason you have not grasped the concept.

    Animals generate option lists too.

    And the superficial resemblance fools many people into assuming an equivalence between instinct or animal prudence and human volition.

    So people can generate a wider choice of options. How is that substantially different?

    The length of some “list” is not the defining characteristic of volition. This sounds like the silliness of people believing an abacus will suddenly become intelligent if only more wires and beads were added. Oh, if only more circuits and switches were added.

  76. Introspection. I experience myself deliberating and acting as an agent.

    Introspection is accessing memory and memory is malleable making it unreliable.
    You can’t be sure you aren’t merely remembering what you wish you had done — even if you think you can.

    D: In the past, you’ve said (paraphrasing): “of course the best perceived option is chosen — anything else is insanity”. Are you now saying otherwise?
    Y: Of course not. Do you suppose only random or chaotic judgments are undetermined?

    D: So which is it? Can you select what you believe to be less than the best or not?If not, where is the choice?

    Y: People do sometimes relent to the lesser of two evils, when they don’t see anything better as being achievable. Women sometimes ‘settle’ for a guy not quite what they wanted.

    We sere discussing choices and you switch to desires.
    I suppose you found changing the subject your best option.
    But by dodging the question you inadvertently answered it.

    If you settle then settling was the best option over, say, waiting for circumstances to change. Since it is the best option you have no choice but to select it. You yourself has said that selecting anything else would be insane .

    Since you are straying from the topic I guess we are done.

  77. Since it is the best option you have no choice but to select it.

    I really don’t understand your insistence that you do not perform voluntary acts; that you do nothing by deliberation. That the discoveries of science are no more than reflex actions.

    You note that memories are sometimes wrong and conclude that they are always wrong. But this has nothing to do with introspection. See Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition as History, for futher discussion before you throw science and history under the bus with your robotic, deterministic responses.

    That you cannot [or will not] understand that the ordering of the will to the Good is not the same as a determination of the will to one particular means for achieving it is mystifying. The intellect is imperfect, which means the end is not completely known and therefore, because you cannot want what you do not know, the movement of the will toward that end is undetermined. It has wobble or play. Degrees of freedom, in the engineering sense.

    There is no

  78. The primary difference between you and me is that I am interested in how the mind works. You clearly are not. For all of your definitions, you are forever trapped in the conceptual description.

    In engineering, a conceptual description is used to only for orientation purposes. The design is grouped by functionality. There are many possible groupings. The conceptual description really doesn’t shed much light.
    A conceptual overview example: http://help.eclipse.org/photon/topic/org.eclipse.platform.doc.user/images/arch-npi.jpg
    Did it help you much?
    It isn’t until one gets into the details that one begins to understand the design.

    I’m interested in those details. I postulate what they might be and how they came about. You keep referring to this as mechanical and robotic. Instead, you (and others like you) blather about partitioning functionality — which does seem to be self-consistent — but you have no idea if the mind really is partitioned the way you’ve imagined. You don’t even seem to be inquisitive enough to find out. Instead you go on and on about your conception of its functionality groups.

    Reminds me of the early days of the International Space Station when I was a fourth-tier manager. In those days, NASA had requested $10B for the project but Congress said: “No effing way! Here’s $2B. Go figure out how to do it cheaper.” So, what do a bunch of people with a lot of money they can only use for study actually do? They produce a lot of crap. I attended one meeting where a three hour argument, er discussion, erupted over the use of the word “buffer”. When the real work finally began, a large pit was dug and all of the crap was buried in it. At least the hearts of the early group were in the right place: they had $2B to spend and spent it. You do it for free. Amazing!

    I could elaborate on my view of the mind and how it came about but I think it would be a wasted effort with you.

  79. DAV:

    Wow. I can’t believe this discussion is still going on. You are trying to argue with people who have no interest in arguing, learning, or refining their understanding. They take a fixed, ideologically motivated position and maintain it through ambiguous definitions, goalpost shifting, and ignoring inconvenient evidence. In the rare case that they make a clear statement subject to empirical test, such as Briggs’ claim that it is impossible to have an illusion of choice, they simply remain silent when presented with falsification.

    I prefer my way of life. I’ve changed my position on these and other matters many times in the face of evidence and argumentation. Maybe it’s an illusion, but I feel that I have a deeper understanding of certain things because of my willingness to do so. Eventually one comes to pity people who are immune to the influence of what should be persuasive.

  80. They take a fixed, ideologically motivated position and maintain it through ambiguous definitions, goalpost shifting, and ignoring inconvenient evidence.

    You are too harsh on DAV, though it’s not clear yet what his definitions and arguments even are.

    subject to empirical test

    “empirical” LOL — Such as the claim that free will is an illusion? How exactly can that be tested, empirically or otherwise. Or is ‘illusion’ to be abandoned when your fundamental beliefs are on the table.

    I’ve changed my position on these and other matters many times in the face of evidence and argumentation.

    But according to DAV, it is impossible for you to have done so voluntarily. Free will is an illusion, remember? But, as the Maverick Philosopher once put it:
    “If I were thoroughly and truly convinced of the truth of determinism it would be psychologically impossible for me to deliberate.”
    http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2016/05/could-free-will-be-an-illusion-2016-version.html

  81. DAV:

    The abundance of immediate confirmation of everything I was trying to point out is almost embarrassing. It is only my capacity for pity that keeps in check the tendency to gloat. My only advice is not to waste your time. There is by now a vast literature, philosophical and scientific, on the “free will” problem, and serious people out there to argue with if you are so inclined.

  82. Lee,

    The discussion — if it ever existed — is over.

    Indeed, the very partitioning of the mind used reeks of ideological goals and propping of fundamental beliefs. It’s as if any other view is an attack on those beliefs.

    It was asked,”[I]s ‘illusion’ to be abandoned when your fundamental beliefs are on the table?” Clearly, for some, the answer is “Yes” — or at the very least, never embraced. Freudian Slip?

    ‘Nuff said.

  83. DAV:

    Indeed. Notice how the subject tries to tease me by, I think, pointing out what he thinks is a contradiction in my acting on choices. But I never said, anywhere, that people don’t make choices. Straw men piled on top of straw men.

  84. a. A meaningful and ‘newsworthy’ claim to the effect that it has been discovered that free will is an illusion must use ‘illusion’ in its ordinary sense, otherwise one is engaging in word play.
    b. Illusions in the ordinary sense of the term can be seen through and corrected.
    c. The ‘illusion’ of free will cannot be seen through and corrected.
    Therefore
    d. The claim that free will is an illusion is a meaningless claim.

    — The Maverick Philosopher, http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2016/05/could-free-will-be-an-illusion-2016-version.html

  85. @ Ye Olde Statistician

    Let’s dispense with the literary quotes and other superflous garbage. There are only two possible behaviours:

    1. Deterministic. (Dependant on previous events)

    2. Random. (Not dependant on previous events)

    (Or a combination of both: partly deterministic, partly random.)

    Which one corresponds to free will?

  86. swordfish,

    Don’t expect a straight answer to your straight question.

    Instead expect something like: The intellect is imperfect, which means the end is not completely known and therefore, because you cannot want what you do not know, the movement of the will toward that end is undetermined.

    The end of what? The result of a selected action?
    Undetermined by whom? An outside observer? The person making the selection? They don’t know what the selection is? They don’t know what is will be until they make it? How then was the selection made?

    “you cannot want what you do not know” as in: if you don’t see mushrooms as food you aren’t likely to want to eat one? Doesn’t that mean the options are not as numerous as they could have been? What would that have to do with selecting one? And why would it make the selection “undetermined”?

    I don’t expect any sensible elaboration. I’m beginning to think YOS uses so many quotes (the one I referred to here resembles a paraphrased quote) because he doesn’t really understand them himself. When I’m making points and comments about, any, calculus, or any subject for that matter, I give my understanding in my own words. I don’t feel compelled to quote texts although I sometimes do so. Frequent quotation is often a sign of poor understanding, i.e., the quoter feels the original text says it much better than anything the quoter can say.

    YOS may have a comprehension problem and is compensating.
    For example:

    D: Introspection is accessing memory and memory is malleable making it unreliable.
    Y:You note that memories are sometimes wrong and conclude that they are always wrong.

    How he got from “unreliable” (not to be trusted) to “always wrong” (never correct) is a mystery.

    Then there are his responses to http://wmbriggs.com/post/24920/#comment-177163
    e.g.: http://wmbriggs.com/post/24920/#comment-177191
    He apperently didn’t understand the original post despite it being rather brief.

    Another:

    S: Using the sqrt(4) example, if asked to choose a number, you can rationally arrive at two choices (2 or -2), so to come up with a single choice, you’d have to use some or other non-rational, random method.

    Y: Why? The side of a squarish field of 4 square miles is 2 miles, not -2 miles. You can’t have a negative physical length. This is neither “non-rational” nor “random.”

    I understood what you meant (coming up with a choice lacking additional information) but YOS apparently didn’t. He countered with an example where he provided additional information.

    OTOH, his “misunderstandings” may be deliberate.

  87. There are only two possible behaviours:
    1. Deterministic. (Dependant on previous events)
    2. Random. (Not dependant on previous events)
    Which one corresponds to free will?

    Are you asking me to exercise free choice?

    In quantum mechanics, the results of any calculation is deterministic, yet it is based on what are called random events. In the fern-leaf algorithm of Michael Barnesly, randomly chosen inputs will always produce the same determined output. So it is` not entirely clear that you dilemma is established, even if you had correctly defined the two choices.

    Freedom of the will does not correspond to either of these misdefined categories. (The pea is under the shell of “dependent on”. You did not say “determined by.”) You may as well ask if free will corresponds to vegetable or fruit.

  88. Don’t expect a straight answer to your straight question.

    Instead expect something like: The intellect is imperfect, which means the end is not completely known and therefore, because you cannot want what you do not know, the movement of the will toward that end is undetermined.

    The end of what? The result of a selected action?

    IOW, expect a straightforward answer in simple English. I begin to suspect your lack of understanding is deliberate.

    The end of the Will is, generally speaking, the Good. The end of a particular act of will is a particular good. (which then becomes a means to a greater end). But this good might not be well known, and therefore there is wiggle-room for the judgment. I desire the taste of chocolate, but shall I achieve this through milk chocolate, semi-sweet, Nutrella, some other faux chocolate? My choice is not determined.

    For example, if I did not know what mushrooms were or what they tasted like, I could not desire (choose) them in my salad. If I knew that some mushrooms were poisonous, I might positively revile them, just in case. If I knew the difference, I might desire them or not, depending on how I like their taste of texture.

    When in the past I have stated something in my own words, the response has been ‘that’s just your opinion.’ Among the better educated, it has sometimes been, ‘you’re stealing that argument from so-and-so.’ But then, when I directly quote or paraphrase, the complaint is that I cannot ‘think for myself.’ In the present context, I am trying to make clear the actual concept that wants rebutting; yet all I see is folks ‘rebutting’ their own incoherent understandings. No one lays a glove on either Aristotle or Aquinas, let alone any more obscure thinker. Besides, in university, I waas taught always to properly cite sources and not pretend to have been original.

    The argument that introspection is rebutted by noting that “memory is unreliable” is absurd. Introspection takes place in the present, memory is` a recollection of the past as past. To suppose that this is a defeater for freedon of they will must suppose that memory is fundamentally unreliable. Otherwise, the commentator would have said “memory is sometimes unreliable” and under such and such conditions.

    All of which is a way to avoid addrressing the question of freedom of the will, as defined and demonstrated by those who established it in the first place. Instead, we hear Proof by Blatant Assertion addressing some inchoate version of the will.

    When I’m making points and comments about, any, calculus, or any subject for that matter, I give my understanding in my own words.

    Or you think you do. If there is no free will, then you cannot choose ‘my own words.’ Those words are determined by past conditions and the laws of physics. However, your understanding is likely to be less incisive than that of say Leibnitz or Cauchy or Weierstrass and rebuttal is likely to be of your formulation rather than of the foundational ideas.

    the quoter feels the original text says it much better than anything the quoter can say.

    I am not so egotistical as to suppose no one could say it better than me. But a bon mot is a bon mot. Usually, quotations are to give proper credit and context, lest one repeat old ideas while pretending they are one’s own.

    “you cannot want what you do not know” as in: if you don’t see mushrooms as food you aren’t likely to want to eat one?

    No. Read for comprehension. If you don’t know what mushrooms are, you are unlikely to want them. It’s not a matter of extending the list of options, but a matter of understanding what you hope to achieve.

  89. expect a straightforward answer in simple English
    Yes, of course, unless you want to maximize being cryptic and obscure.
    Elucidate; don’t obfuscate.

    When in the past I have stated something in my own words, the response has been ‘that’s just your opinion.’
    So, instead it’s better to post someone else’s opinion?
    Does a consensus or perhaps another agreeing with you make you correct?
    You could just link to the other if you feel the need to demonstrate groupthink.
    Or do both.

    yet all I see is folks ‘rebutting’ their own incoherent understandings
    What do you expect them to do when you avoid saying what YOU think and post someone else’s text? They then have to guess what it is you think it says. You seem to get a lot of enjoyment from the guessing and appear to relish pointing out how they misconstrued your understanding which you didn’t give in the first place all while yet again refusing to elaborate.

    I desire the taste of chocolate, but shall I achieve this through milk chocolate, semi-sweet, Nutrella, some other faux chocolate? My choice is not determined.
    Not determined until you choose but given enough information even an outside observer could know what you choice will be. You certainly determine it when you choose.

    If there is no free will, then you cannot choose ‘my own words.’
    Well, I don’t manufacture words but I am aware of the options. If by “free will” you mean “free of external control” then yes. If you mean something else then no. Yes they arise because of my past experience however I’m not parroting another’s opinion; they reflect my understanding and not necessarily that of another.

    The argument that introspection is rebutted by noting that “memory is unreliable” is absurd. Introspection takes place in the present, memory is` a recollection of the past as past.
    No. For example, you can remember events in the past that have never occurred. People have been known to fill in details they presume were there. Memory is unreliable. It’s irrelevant that you are remembering in the present (if you can actually experience anything in the present). Not remembering in the near present seems a lot like reliving remembering.

    I am not so egotistical as to suppose no one could say it better than me.
    When I said that I was implying feeling inadequate to say anything at all.

    D: “you cannot want what you do not know” as in: if you don’t see mushrooms as food you aren’t likely to want to eat one?
    Y: No. Read for comprehension. If you don’t know what mushrooms are, you are unlikely to want them. It’s not a matter of extending the list of options, but a matter of understanding what you hope to achieve.

    So you don’t know what you hope to achieve? How’s that work?
    In any case, even if you don’t know how to achieve some desire, you can still generate a list of actions in an attempt to get there — one of which could be to delay attempting to achieve it.

    You haven’t explained what that has to do with selecting one of the actions and why would it make the selection and/or the list of actions “undetermined”.

    I really don’t want to be pulled back onto the merry-go-round. Consider any questions rhetorical.

  90. ><blockquoteRandom. (Not dependant on previous events)

    Wait, that’s what random means?!

    Then what does “independent” mean?

    Dictionary gives “random” as: “made, done, happening, or chosen without method or conscious decision.” More precisely: “of or characterizing a process of selection in which each item of a set has a specified probability of being chosen.” Most often it is taken as “an equal probability” of being chosen.

    When in the past I have stated something in my own words, the response has been ‘that’s just your opinion.’
    So, instead it’s better to post someone else’s opinion?

    That would seem to exhaust the possibilities. Do you have a third way to dismiss a contrary opinion?

    yet all I see is folks ‘rebutting’ their own incoherent understandings
    What do you expect them to do when you avoid saying what YOU think and post someone else’s text?

    They could try coming to grips with the argument I have set out. They could also try setting out their own premises rather than ape without attribution the opinions of Hume or PZ Meyers. Is the purpose simply to disagree with me or is it to disagree with a philosophical position? Why should it matter if the argument I set out is my own original work or if it is merely one which I propose secundum argumentum?

    Not determined until you choose but given enough information even an outside observer could know what you choice will be. You certainly determine it when you choose.

    But determination by the individual is precisely what you folks are denying is possible. Determinism, previously defined, is the doctrine that present states are precisely set by initial conditions and the laws of physics. You are now also using it to mean that voluntary action said to be not in the Dirac equation.

    A free choice is not an unpredictable choice. That my wife can usually predict what I will order at the diner does not make my choice determined by outside forces.

    If by “free will” you mean “free of external control” then yes. If you mean something else then no.

    Since the former means my choices are determined, that is precisely what free will entails. Why would I mean anything else than what I Have been saying?

    Memory is unreliable.

    Again, what has memory to do with introspection?

    (if you can actually experience anything in the present)

    So now we have to deny experience and empiricism? Since natural science depends on remembering observations and experimental outcomes, you are necessarily claiming that natural science is unreliable. Jan Vansina addressed this form of nihilism in Oral Tradition as History.

    So you don’t know what you hope to achieve? How’s that work?

    If you don’t know what you hope to achieve, you cannot want to achieve it. Just what the words say. The result may be inaction.

    In any case, even if you don’t know how to achieve some desire, you can still generate a list of actions in an attempt to get there — one of which could be to delay attempting to achieve it.

    You can try; but if you don’t know quite what it is, the list will be incomplete or vague, thus allowing ‘play’ in your decisions. What is so defeating about you coming up with your “options”, assuming that you know that they will get you to your goal? That is the essence of voluntary [freely willed] action.

    You haven’t explained what that has to do with selecting one of the actions and why would it make the selection and/or the list of actions “undetermined”.

    Because if you don’t know what you want to achieve or how you are going to achieve it, your actions cannot be determined. If you choices were deterministic, there wouldn’t be a problem: you would just do whatever it was that you were compelled to do.

  91. @ Ye Olde Statistician

    “I desire the taste of chocolate, but shall I achieve this through milk chocolate, semi-sweet, Nutrella, some other faux chocolate? My choice is not determined.”

    You can only choose the one you want the most, but which one that is isn’t a choice. For example, if you like milk chocolate the most, you can only choose milk chocolate. The only way out of this is to deliberately choose something else just to prove you have free will, but then you want to do *that* the most, so you still don’t have free will. Your choice is determined by your wants, over which you have no control. Your choice is determined.

  92. For example, if you like milk chocolate the most, you can only choose milk chocolate. The only way out of this is to deliberately choose something else just to prove you have free will

    Once again we have refuted the modern, scientific notion of “free will,” not the ancient original pagan notion. What if I like all of them? I might choose some of each. To deliberately choose anything indicates liberum arbitrium. That I like semi-sweet above all others doesn’t matter, because it is =I= who likes it, not the Big Bang or the laws of physics.

  93. @ Ye Olde Statistician

    “What if I like all of them? I might choose some of each.”

    Then that would be what you want the most, which you still have no control over. So, no free will.

    “To deliberately choose anything indicates liberum arbitrium.”

    (I had to look up “liberum arbitrum”. It means “free will”. Sigh.)

    “That I like semi-sweet above all others doesn’t matter, because it is =I= who likes it, not the Big Bang or the laws of physics.”

    It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s “you” that prefers it, or the laws of physics – the “you” that is making the decision still has no control over your wants, so no way to make a free choice.

  94. If by “free will” you mean “free of external control” then yes
    Yeah, I had trouble formulating what a meant which was to be controlled by another person, say, through force or coercion. What is normally meant by “of your own free will”: nobody twisted your arm.

    Again, what has memory to do with introspection?
    Introspection requires consulting memory and memory is unreliable. Even f you think you can examine the decision making as it occurs, you can’t. It’s been shown you can’t have conscious focus on more than one thing at a time. You could oscillate between, say, two of them but when you return to each of them you need memory to keep them in context.

    D: if you can actually experience anything in the present
    Y: So now we have to deny experience and empiricism?
    Talk about running off on your own! What a leap! Our minds do not experience the world in the present but only after a delay. I suppose you could argue the present is where we experience it.

    Y: I desire the taste of chocolate, but shall I achieve this through milk chocolate, semi-sweet, Nutrella, some other faux chocolate? My choice is not determined.
    D: Not determined until you choose but given enough information even an outside observer could know what you choice will be. You certainly determine it when you choose.
    Y: But determination by the individual is precisely what you folks are denying is possible.
    No. We folks are saying that the determination by the individual leads to knowing the best option which then becomes the only possible choice.

    A free choice is not an unpredictable choice.
    Agreed. But only an outsider can see it as unpredictable. Given enough information, though, even an outsider will see which choice will be considered best and that will be the one selected. You seem to bounce between differing viewpoints but mostly from an outsiders viewpoint.

    D: expect something like: The intellect is imperfect, which means the end is not completely known and therefore, because you cannot want what you do not know, the movement of the will toward that end is undetermined.
    Y: The end of a particular act of will is a particular good. (which then becomes a means to a greater end). But this good might not be well known, and therefore there is wiggle-room for the judgment. I desire the taste of chocolate, but shall I achieve this through milk chocolate, semi-sweet, Nutrella, some other faux chocolate? My choice is not determined.
    Y: … It’s not a matter of extending the list of options, but a matter of understanding what you hope to achieve.
    D: if you don’t know how to achieve some desire, you can still generate a list of actions in an attempt to get there — one of which could be to delay attempting to achieve it.
    Y: You can try; but if you don’t know quite what it is, the list will be incomplete or vague, thus allowing ‘play’ in your decisions.

    I see these as problems in your posts:
    o) You say it is “it’s not a matter of extending the list of options, but a matter of understanding what you hope to achieve” then give a list of options as your example. The wants are just that, wants. Their relative importance is a factor in evaluating the options along with how well a given option satisfies wants.
    o) You keep asserting, but have yet to explain why, an incomplete list with possibly vague entries makes ‘play’ in decisions. It can only be incomplete to an outside observer. The person making the decision certainly knows what will be on the list and why. An outside observer given the same information as the list builder and only that information will also build the same list.

    Of course, the above implies choices are made in building the list of options to choose from. This seems a never-ending recursion. More likely the entries simply occur to the builder and are kept or discarded by comparison with previous entries. Oh, darn! I forgot that saying how something might occur is somehow mechanistic and robotic.

  95. “You are now also using it to mean that voluntary action said to be not in the Dirac equation.”

    I suspect it’s pointless to ask, but I will anyway: what does this sentence mean? In particular, how does the “Dirac equation” come into it?

    I notice that there is a recurring confusion above between syntax and semantics. Expressing astonishment that the meaning was not clear because the sentence was grammatically correct would be another example of that confusion. But, please, go right ahead.

  96. Yeah, I had trouble formulating what a meant which was to be controlled by another person, say, through force or coercion.

    Those are impediments to liberum arbitrium, but that my arms are tied behind my back does not mean I lack arms.

    D: if you can actually experience anything in the present
    Y: So now we have to deny experience and empiricism?
    Talk about running off on your own! What a leap!

    You say ‘leap,’ I say following the logical consequences. My apologies for not taking it slow.

    If Our minds do not experience the world in the present but only after a delay as you say, then we don’t actually experience anything but only remember things; and since empiricism is based on experience, that means emperical experience of, say, the lengths of Galapagos finch’s beaks or only based on memories — which are, we are told, “unreliable.”

    Now, the “delay” is in microseconds. But we also know that different sensations reach the brain at different times. That is, what we see is at a different instant than what we hear. (And not just because of the speed of light/sound; but because of the speed of different nerves/neurons.) Under your Weltanschauung, it is impossible to have unified sense impressions.

    D: Not determined until you choose but given enough information even an outside observer could know what you choice will be. You certainly determine it when you choose.
    Y: But determination by the individual is precisely what you folks are denying is possible.
    No. We folks are saying that the determination by the individual leads to knowing the best option which then becomes the only possible choice.

    Free judgment means that you decide. It does not mean that prior conditions and the laws of physics determine what that choice will be. It is one of the rational faculties, and your judgment will therefore have reasons.

    Given enough information, though, even an outsider will see which choice will be considered best and that will be the one selected.

    But what has that to do with liberum arbitrium. So far you have not said what you even mean by “free choice” or “free will.” I suspect it is some Modern confection, and therefore incoherent, but I don’t know.

    You say it is “it’s not a matter of extending the list of options.

    Right. Foreseeing more “options” does not make a judgment more free of constraints.

    why, an incomplete list with possibly vague entries makes ‘play’ in decisions.

    Because if you don’t know what you’re trying to do, you cannot be constrained to do it.

    The person making the decision certainly knows what will be on the list and why.

    Not if he doesn’t know what-all is entailed. (Assuming humans make such “lists”.)

    More likely the entries simply occur to the builder and are kept or discarded by comparison with previous entries.

    But that requires memory and we’ve been told that memory is unreliable.

  97. Exceedingly lame. A link to some vague musings that links to a somewhat more interesting piece by Sean Carroll that happens to not be about the free will problem at all. (There is no one there using the Dirac equation, which is an expression for the motion of an electron, to “deny free will”. Good God.)

    In other words, pretty much what I, and the others here who are on to your predictable shenanigans, have come to expect. But why this obsession with repeatedly proving oneself to be a buffoon? I admit, it’s a mystery.

  98. I had to look up “liberum arbitrum”. It means “free will”. Sigh.

    libedum arbitrium does not exactly mean “free will.” It means “free judgement.” It is closer in meaning to “free choice” rather than “free will,” and is what Aquinas argued for. It’s too much for a Late Modern to realize that things said in one language might not always correspond to things said in another. Aquinas never wrote libera voluntas, for example.

    the “you” that is making the decision still has no control over your wants, so no way to make a free choice

    Wants are ends, not means; and when there are multiple means and uncertainty in what they entail, the will is not determined to any one of them. As a child, I hated asparagus. Once, forced to eat some by parental ukase, I barfed it out. Later, as an adult I deliberately ate it, and now love it. If I have no control over my wants, how do you explain this?

    The will is determined toward the Good; but it is I who determines what is good. I’m sorry to learn this is not the case for you.

  99. Do you deny that physicist Sean Carrol put forward the Dirac equation in order to deny the soul, (which includes the will)? You may declare that physicists make poor philosophers, and I will agree; but it was Carrol who made the argument.

    Easy enough to dismiss the essay as ‘vague musings’ by a professor of philosophy. You may disagree with Chastek (in fact, by your position, you must disagree with him. The Big Bang and the laws of physics demand it.) but you might at least encounter the argument.

  100. Taking sentences out of context and treating them as stand-alone constructs leads to silly responses. At least not pertinent ones.

    D: You keep asserting, but have yet to explain why, an incomplete list with possibly vague entries makes ‘play’ in decisions.
    Y: Because if you don’t know what you’re trying to do, you cannot be constrained to do it.

    Perhaps but you are constrained in what you think you can do which is the list. That doesn’t mean the list has any ‘play’ in it. It’s determined by the list builder. It’s irrelevant that the list could have had other entries unknown to that person. You keep acting as if there is some objective standard the list should adhere to. The list is for the person making the list. Why does it have to be constrained to only actions leading to success? It doesn’t matter at all that it may not achieve what the person thinks or hopes it might. Anyone with the same information as the list builder (and doesn’t consider additional knowledge) would build the same list. To me, that makes it determinable.

    Free judgment means that you decide. It does not mean that prior conditions and the laws of physics determine what that choice will be. It is one of the rational faculties, and your judgment will therefore have reasons.

    Whatever the word you means. If one is built in a way such that prior conditions and the laws of physics determine the choice then it is still that person deciding. If you means under your control or in spite of prior conditions, etc. well then that’s the topic isn’t it?

    “Reasons” really means “causes”. The causes can be prior conditions and the laws of physics.

  101. As a child, I hated asparagus. Once, forced to eat some by parental ukase, I barfed it out. Later, as an adult I deliberately ate it, and now love it. If I have no control over my wants, how do you explain this?

    I can think of a number of explanations but why speculate? You know the answer. We don’t have enough information.

    It’s not even clear what you want us to explain:
    o) that you ate something you previously despised?
    Maybe you wanted to see if the previous attitude had merit given that others appear to like asparagus and satisfaction of curiosity overrode your previous attitude? Only a possibility and not the only one.

    o)You changed your mind?
    Just because you can change your mind doesn’t mean you are controlling your wants. It merely could mean your beliefs had changed in light of new information. You have admitted one can’t control one’s beliefs.

  102. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “when there are multiple means and uncertainty in what they entail, the will is not determined to any one of them”

    Uncertainty is irrelevant. The fact that you may not be able to work out the objectively most preferable course of action doesn’t mean that you don’t have a subjectively most preferable course of action. #NoFreeWill

    “As a child, I hated asparagus. Once, forced to eat some by parental ukase, I barfed it out. Later, as an adult I deliberately ate it, and now love it. If I have no control over my wants, how do you explain this?”

    Children want what tastes the best. Adults are able to factor in other wants, like being more healthy. You ate the asparagus because it is what you wanted to do the most. #NoFreeWill

    “The will is determined toward the Good; but it is I who determines what is good.”

    I would have thought that under your preferred philosophy, God decides The Good, not you? In any case, you can’t ‘determine what is good’ without reasons, and you can’t choose which reasons appeal to you. #NoFreeWill

  103. Wants are ends, not means

    No. Wants are believed solutions.

    You are hungry so want food due to a belief that food will stop the hunger.

    You find yourself fearing being attacked or empathize with persons elsewhere you imagine fearing attack; you don’t like that fear; you believe World Peace will alleviate it; so you want World Peace.

    You like being happy so you want things that make you happy. You believe that X will make you happier so you want X or more of it.

    Some wants are likely builtin. Sex for example arising from some builtin need to procreate.

    Wants seem to be the means of reaching goals and not ends in themselves.

  104. what do you imagine my “position” to be?

    Unclear, since you have never defined what you mean by will. You allow sometimes people make their own choices, but are confused by the fact that sometimes a “Buridan’s Ass” decision can be simulated with electromagnetc fields, and conclude that this has something to do with the question. You seem to think that questions of volition and deliberation are “scientific” questions in the Modern sense of empirical claims about the metrical properties of physical bodies. You seem to feel that quantum mechanics has something to do with the issue. Also, anyone who disagrees with you is of inferior intellect, a buffoon. Project that only the Other engages in ambiguous definitions, ignoring inconvenient evidence (always imagined as “empirical”) and so forth. You mention a “vast literature, philosophical…” and then dismiss any presented to you as “vague musings.” Centuries-old definitions become “goalpost shifting” when they contravert your own carefully unstated definitions.

    It’s possible to be conversant with the experiments and argumentation in this area and still believe in a version of free will, as Daniel Dennett proves. [What version?]

    This illusion [of choice] is routinely created in the laboratory, in widely replicated experiments. … under some circumstances, choice can be an illusion. [Are you sure that’s not an illusion? Illusions can be seen through, as the common illusion of water on the roadway; but this illusion by definition cannot be seen through.]

    experiments (https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/55/10/964) where the subject’s choice of which finger to move is strongly influenced by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain [i.e., I claim that wiggling a finger is an exercise of the intellective appetite. But who needs e/m fields? A reflex hammer or a strong arm can also cause bodily parts to move.]

    superdeterminism, under which the observer does not have free will; it’s an attempt to get around Bell’s theorem and some of the implications of the Copenhagen interpretation. [Free choice has something to do with Bell’s theorem rather than say Dirac’s equation. What if Wheeler’s interpretation is more true? Or Bohm’s or Cramer’s?]

    In the rare case that they make a clear statement subject to empirical test [i.e., I assume that the matter is subject to empirical testing]

    I’ve changed my position on these and other matters many times in the face of evidence and argumentation. Maybe it’s an illusion, but I feel that I have a deeper understanding of certain things because of my willingness to do so.

    There is by now a vast literature, philosophical and scientific, on the “free will” problem, and serious people out there to argue with if you are so inclined. [i.e., I will not cite or summarize any of it, lest my position be pinned down]

    A link to some vague musings that links to a somewhat more interesting piece by Sean Carroll that happens to not be about the free will problem at all. [i.e., Dr. Chastek was not part of that vast literature.]

    I never said, anywhere, that people don’t make choices. [Though, if YOS had said something similar, he’d be accused of dodging.]

    They take a fixed, ideologically motivated position and maintain it through ambiguous definitions, goalpost shifting, and ignoring inconvenient evidence. [What ‘ideological motivation’ did Aristotle have?]

    why this obsession with repeatedly proving oneself to be a buffoon?

    It is only my capacity for pity that keeps in check the tendency to gloat.

  105. This is drifting back into the realms of judgement and outcomes of decisions again instead of the idea of the agent making the decision or choosing according to their will. It is the free part which is now still unresolved since the word want has been switched for the word will.
    This simply plays into the moralising dogmatist. Be ready to be told you cannot trust your own conscience or your own mind. Religious people saying this are nothing but cultists.

    That choices are made implies an agent making the choice. The agent holds the conviction or the then the intention given the conviction.
    That each individual knows they are separate from the rest is enough to prove internally, that ‘you’ exist. So who are ‘you’? What are ‘you’?

    This is where somebody will argue about what free means and speak of dangling someone off buildings. It’s where I gave up first time.

    The argument made by Day about memory being used to make choices and memories might be unreliable is true and is one of the reasons people make mistakes. However, that decisions are often known to be compromises even when made says nothing about whether there is a separate ‘free’ agent making the choice. Free will does not imply prescience.

  106. “Reasons” really means “causes”.

    But then one may too easily confuse them with scientific causes and the thoughtless may think they are the same thing.

    It’s not even clear what you want us to explain

    How, if I chose my wants, you can say you can’t choose your wants.

    beliefs

    In the sense that they are not the proper object of volition, just as sound is not the proper object of the eye. But a belief is something especially loved. “Be-” + “lief” is cognate to “be-” + “love” and the German “ge-” + “liebt” and love is a motion of the will.

    doesn’t mean that you don’t have a subjectively most preferable course of action.

    Why do you continually cite examples of free choice as if they were arguments against it?

    I would have thought that under your preferred philosophy, God decides The Good, not you?

    Now you’re getting into Prime Mover territory. God does not decide that chocolate is good. Consider the distinction between Good and good.

    you can’t ‘determine what is good’ without reasons,

    Of course not. That’s why its a rational faculty. What has that got to do with free choice?

    you can’t choose which reasons appeal to you.

    I’m sorry you can’t do this. Many people use their intellects to accomplish this feat.

    Wants are believed solutions. You are hungry so want food due to a belief that food will stop the hunger.

    I am hungry, but I don’t want food because I am fasting or dieting.

    you believe World Peace will alleviate it; so you want World Peace.

    What does this World Peace look like? Of what does it consist? How will I work for it? Supporting Octavian against Antony is one possibility.

    You like being happy so you want things that make you happy. You believe that X will make you happier so you want X or more of it.

    Again, a feature, not a bug. One of the desires inherent to human nature [if you believe in natures] is the pursuit of happiness per Aquinas, and the rest.

    Some wants are likely builtin. Sex for example arising from some builtin need to procreate.

    Wants seem to be the means of reaching goals and not ends in themselves.

  107. Sorry, typos:

    This is drifting back into the realms of judgement and outcomes of decisions again instead of the idea of the agent making the decision or choosing according to their will. It is the free part which is now still unresolved since the word will has been switched for the word want.
    This simply plays into the moralising dogmatist. Be ready to be told you cannot trust your own conscience or your own mind. Religious people saying this are nothing but cultists.

    That choices are made implies an agent making the choice. The agent holds the conviction, then the intention, given the conviction.
    That each individual knows they are separate from the rest is enough to prove internally, that ‘you’ exist. So who are ‘you’? What are ‘you’?

    This is where somebody will argue about what free means and speak of dangling someone off buildings. It’s where I gave up first time.

    The argument made by Day about memory being used to make choices and memories might be unreliable is true and is one of the reasons people make mistakes. However, that decisions are often known to be compromises even when made says nothing about whether there is a separate ‘free’ agent making the choice. Free will does not imply prescience.

  108. How, if I chose my wants, you can say you can’t choose your wants.

    You didn’t demonstrate choosing a want. Instead you chose an action which led to changing a belief.

    But a belief is something especially loved. “Be-” + “lief” is cognate to “be-” + “love” and the German “ge-” + “liebt” and love is a motion of the will.

    Dodge ball — a silly game of which you are quite fond.
    Dictionary:

    belief: something that is accepted, considered to be true; conviction of the truth

    D: Wants are believed solutions.
    D: You are hungry so want food due to a belief that food will stop the hunger.
    Y: I am hungry, but I don’t want food because I am fasting or dieting.
    So you have conflicting wants. Your point?

    What does this World Peace look like? Of what does it consist?
    You might as well have asked that about “food”. Your point?

    D: Some wants are likely builtin. Sex for example arising from some builtin need to procreate.
    Wants seem to be the means of reaching goals and not ends in themselves.

    Y: quoting these as his own otherwise no response.
    ??? Again, your point?

    Again, a feature, not a bug.
    See what happens when you take a sentence out of context? You miss the point.

    S: you can’t choose which reasons appeal to you.
    Y: I’m sorry you can’t do this. Many people use their intellects to accomplish this feat.
    No. They see some reasons as supporting a belief which they then find compelling (swordfish used “appealing”). The conviction occurs because they are aware of the reasons and not because they are choosing to believe. You yourself has admitted that you can’t choose your beliefs.

  109. “…In the sense that they are not the proper object of volition, just as sound is not the proper object of the eye. ”
    “proper object” isn’t a help. It is arcane and inaccurate language.
    The cornea, the retina, the eyelash, aqueous humour, rods and cones, are actually the objects of the eye, along with a lot of other structural ‘objects’. Light is a grammatical object in a given sentence if it is constructed a certain way. This is where the confusion comes in always. I’m sure it’s where the errors are made, too. There’s what he meant and what others say he meant.

    The word medium would be more accurate and objective might be more helpful but less accurate.
    but then if the purpose is to seem sacred and mysterious then it makes sense not to alter the language. This is the kind of thing I mean about religious fanaticism and information control.

    To suit the modern superior understanding of the eye and it’s function it would be more accurate to explain a little better.

    The eye does not act on anything. The eye is passive, being sensory, and then reacts by chemical breakdown of proteins causing more sensory to be triggered at the optic nerve at the back of the eye.
    So light is the trigger, electrochemistry converts and conveys the information itself. This is normal for a sense organ. The words afferent and efferent are used to identify direction.
    Light is the SUBJECT not the object.
    Sensing light is the OBJECTive.

    Where proper comes into the thing isn’t clear…property? “properties” of things? Probably.

    Well the point is that one has already to know how the eye and ear work before deciphering what he might have meant (he being the philosopher) given those two examples. Then one has to lean over quite far to make the language consistent with what actually happens in a sense organ.

  110. I do not think that people who disagree with me are buffoons. If I did, I would have to think this of myself, as I am capable of changing my mind. Who deserves this admittedly harsh label? Someone who says that because of my position I must believe certain things, and then, when asked what he imagines my position to be, says that he can’t tell.

  111. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “Why do you continually cite examples of free choice [subjectively most preferable course of action.] as if they were arguments against it?”

    Because we can’t choose which course of action is the most preferable, any more than we can choose which chocolate we prefer.

    [you can’t ‘determine what is good’ without reasons] “Of course not. That’s why its a rational faculty. What has that got to do with free choice?

    Because we can’t choose which reasons appeal to us the most.

    Your argument seems to be: “I feel like I’ve got free will.”

  112. People chose WHAT they want or rephrasing, the thing, they want. The person is the chooser and the wanter.
    Want explains the reason, one of, for an action.

    WHO is doing the choosing is the question, who? or what?

    Materialists who do not believe in agency or free will must say this part is played by some temporary, temporal, local patch of cells somewhere in the brain, or a complex pattern of the same, which is all sharing information and memory like a ball in a netball court! But without a referee! Or any predetermined rules. The present tense is an illusion, therefore. The here and now is always in the past or near future. It still denies the ‘you’ or ‘me’ as just placeholders for the ball in the court.

    There are parts of the brain which appear to function as arbiters of ‘good/bad’ decisions, the so called policeman in the brain.
    Patients with head injuries often display inappropriate (sexually) or violent behaviour.
    However, patients without head injuries do the same or similar in different ways and it just implies that people need a proper functioning body to function properly, full stop. People are defective only compared to an ideal.

    Want and will are slightly different only, for the purpose of discussion.

    Will obviously implies a higher, more considered intention. Want can be of the moment and basic in nature. However, want and will can also be considered the same without any reference to animal ‘nature’ or ‘sensory appetites’.

  113. @ Joy,

    “The person is the chooser and the wanter.”

    I don’t think this is correct. I certainly don’t get the impression that the “wanting” and “choosing” parts of my what-I-like-to-call-my brain are the same bit. Even if they were, neither “choosing” nor “wanting” necessitates free will, AFAICT.

    You’re not in control of your wants, and you can’t choose anything other than what you want, so it’s game over.

    Nice FT clip (-:

  114. Swordfish,
    “The person is the chooser and the wanter.”
    You don’t think this is correct.?
    So who chooses? Just your body? Why is it your body? Serious question.

    “I certainly don’t get the impression that the “wanting” and “choosing” parts of my what-I-like-to-call-my brain are the same bit.“
    The Geography or the where? isn’t so important compared with the fact that something or someone is doing some choosing or wanting. Perhaps the wanting if it’s something basic or instinctive is in the tissues and the processing of the choosing is in another place but you experience these sensations or lack of to decide they’re not in the same place.

    “neither “choosing” nor “wanting” necessitates free will, AFAICT.”
    Wanting and willing may be considered somewhat similar since they both involve experience. The question is whether you are ‘free’ from making some inevitable choice given all the computation in the brain/body.
    Ultimately it must, or it is just chemistry such as in the plant cell, or again, the weighing scale even, the water with coloured dye poured in isn’t choosing where to allow the dye to flow first, it is determined by physics or matter. Demonstration of how and where things work doesn’t resolve the question of metaphysical or abstract things and let alone the why they exist at all!

    “You’re not in control of your wants,”
    Sometimes people are not in control of their wants. Addicts are a good example. It depends upon what you mean by control. Nobody is in control of all the parts of the brain and body just as they aren’t in control of a single cell’s metabolism. However, there is control once the will is free to choose to override the natural tendency of the tissues.
    2, “and you can’t choose anything other than what you want,” Recovering addicts are a good example.
    Wants or urges can be overridden by removing the irritant which is causing the problem if it is an unwanted want. Obviously not in every circumstance, although it does show that wants can be impacted by a different “input” to the system.
    We are tissue and we experience. One is physical and one is metaphysical. The first doesn’t preclude the second.

  115. @ Joy,

    “So who chooses? Just your body?”

    I’d say part of your brain is doing the choosing, another part is doing the wanting.

    “Ultimately it must [be free], or it is just chemistry such as in the plant cell”

    Why can’t our brain cells just operate according to chemistry? What use would they be if they didn’t?

    “Sometimes people are not in control of their wants.”

    I don’t believe we *ever* are, or that such a state of affairs would even make sense. Let’s say you’re deciding what to eat. Can you go: “I want chocolate the most, but instead I’ll just change my wants so I want lettuce the most.” This won’t work! The only way you can choose lettuce over chocolate in this example, is to have something you want even more, like being ‘healthy’. But in that case, you’re still just going along with wants which you can’t control.

    “Recovering addicts are a good example. Wants or urges can be overridden by removing the irritant which is causing the problem if it is an unwanted want.”

    Yes, but the addict is just going along with the thing they want the most, which would be to not be an addict. In any case, doesn’t this drug addiction example pretty much prove free will can’t exist? If drugs can control us *only* via our brain chemistry, then why can’t we just magically ‘free will’ ourselves out of such addictions?

  116. My father used to smoke, but one day he decided to give it up, so he did.

    In any case, that someone wills what he wants the most hardly seems contrary to free judgment.

    What do you mean by “freedom”?

  117. I’d say part of your brain is doing the choosing, another part is doing the wanting.”
    It’s fine to speak of processing areas of nerve tissue to describe the transmission of information but it still doesn’t explain how ‘you’ can evaluate such things and consider yourself outside of the system but yet still say it is a closed system. There is obviously an abstract appreciation of matter going on which is not made of material. Once this is established as a reasonable thought it isn’t so unreasonable to consider that there is freedom from pure material if only in that sense.
    Consciousness is the experience of that abstract element. ?…?“Why can’t our brain cells just operate according to
    chemistry?”
    Our brain cells do operate according to chemistry. Brain cells can be stimulated to fire by implants in treatment of Parkinson’s disease and in chronic pain treatment for example, (not advocating the latter), and cells can function, or stay alive with the correct nutrition supplied when outside of the body. Not sure if this has ever been done with a brain cell per se but it probably has. The majority of our brains are immune system cells in any event. So the system’s even more complex than most appreciate. All this is a very long way from ‘you’ and ‘me’.
    “What use would they be if they didn’t?” We couldn’t ’t be experiencing the usefulness or otherwise without there being some way of this happening.?That chocolate lettuce example makes perfect sense but it is not a matter of ‘choosing to want” is it? Is that not a mistake to think people chose to want a thing? Conversationally a person choses ‘what they want’ in the sense they are selecting from a list on a menu. Not quite the same as choosing to want, or choosing to feel something. With a degree of effort, thought, meditation, therapy people change the way they think about a thing and it alters how they feel. So this might be a way people can alter what they want.

    “If drugs can control us *only* via our brain chemistry, then why can’t we just magically ‘free will’ ourselves out of such addictions??General anaesthetic is another example to show that our brain state operates under sensitive conditions and is affected by, in that case, drug therapy. Our brains are also effected by mechanical, hormonal, vascular, immune system changes. This doesn’t negate the existence of free will but demonstrates it is overridden by powerful influences. Self Control or free will requires a threshold of health within the system. In the same way as if you break a bone it will almost always be followed by a failure to function of the adjacent parts. It is living tissue, delicately poised. That is all observational and uncontroversial, of course, but it does not reach the ‘you’ who is experiencing.
    YOS,
    free, I believe meaning not

  118. Sorry , Swordfish, This should be clearer to read:
    “I’d say part of your brain is doing the choosing, another part is doing the wanting.”
    It’s fine to speak of processing areas of nerve tissue to describe the transmission of information but it still doesn’t explain how ‘you’ can evaluate such things and consider yourself outside of the system but yet still say it is a closed system. There is obviously an abstract appreciation of matter going on which is not made of material. Once this is established as a reasonable thought it isn’t so unreasonable to consider that there is freedom from pure material if only in that sense.

    Consciousness is the experience of that abstract element.
    ?…?
    “Why can’t our brain cells just operate according to
    chemistry?”
    Our brain cells do operate according to chemistry. Brain cells can be stimulated to fire by implants in treatment of Parkinson’s disease and in chronic pain treatment for example, (not advocating the latter), and cells can function, or stay alive, with the correct nutrition, outside of the body. Not sure if this has ever been done with a brain cell per se but it probably has. The majority of our brains are immune system cells in any event. So the system’s even more complex than most appreciate. All this is a very long way from ‘you’ and ‘me’.

    “What use would they be if they didn’t?”
    We couldn’t ’t be experiencing the usefulness or otherwise without there being some way of this happening.?…

    That chocolate lettuce example makes perfect sense but it is not a matter of ‘choosing to want” is it? Is that not a mistake to think people choose to want a thing? Conversationally a person chooses ‘what they want’ in the sense they are selecting from a list on a menu. Not quite the same as choosing to want, or choosing to feel something. With a degree of effort, thought, meditation, therapy, people change the way they think about a thing and it alters how they feel. So this might be a way people can alter what they want.

    “If drugs can control us *only* via our brain chemistry, then why can’t we just magically ‘free will’ ourselves out of such addictions?”
    ?General anaesthetic is another example to show that our brain state operates under sensitive conditions and is affected by, in that case, drug therapy. Our brains are also effected by mechanical, hormonal, vascular, and immune system changes. This doesn’t negate the existence of free will but demonstrates it is overridden by powerful influences. Self Control or free will requires a threshold of health within the system. In the same way as if you break a bone it will almost always be followed by a failure to function of the adjacent parts. It is living tissue, delicately poised. That is all observational and uncontroversial, of course, but it does not reach the ‘you’ who is experiencing.

  119. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “My father used to smoke, but one day he decided to give it up, so he did.”

    So his wanting to give up (for whatever reasons) exceeded his wanting to smoke.

    “In any case, that someone wills what he wants the most hardly seems contrary to free judgment.”

    It is if we can’t control what we want, and we can’t.

    “What do you mean by “freedom”?”

    If you mean ‘freedom’ as in ‘free’ will, then it would be the ability to make a choice other than the one we actually make.

  120. @ Joy,

    “it still doesn’t explain how ‘you’ can evaluate such things and consider yourself outside of the system”

    Well, I don’t necessarily think of myself as a disembodied ‘I’ outside the system. It’s pretty easy to lose all sense of ‘self’ just by listening to some music.

    “There is obviously an abstract appreciation of matter going on which is not made of material.”

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘not made of material’. I’m not aware of anything which isn’t material.

    *

    [Why can’t our brain cells just operate according to chemistry?]

    “We couldn’t be experiencing the usefulness or otherwise without there being some way of this happening.”

    If we can think immaterially, why do we need brains at all? It seems such a waste of energy (-:

    *

    “That chocolate lettuce example makes perfect sense but it is not a matter of ‘choosing to want” is it?”

    No, that was the point of the example. If we could choose how much we wanted something, our wants wouldn’t be any use. If you could choose to not want water, you’d just be putting youself in danger of dying from dehydration.

    *

    “This doesn’t negate the existence of free will but demonstrates it is overridden by powerful influences.”

    It also seems to be overridden by trivial influences, like not being able to choose what to want. You’re agreeing that free will can’t ‘go against’ our brain chemistry in situations like drug addiction where it would be extremely valuable. What does it buy us then? AFAICS, only the useless ability to make less than optimum choices.

  121. “What do you mean by “freedom”?”
    If you mean ‘freedom’ as in ‘free’ will, then it would be the ability to make a choice other than the one we actually make.

    And when does that happen, that you can make the same decision twice? If you are rebutting Descartes and the Scientists, and “libertarian free will,” good luck. Let me know when you’re ready to take on Socrates, Aristotle, and Thomas.

  122. “Well, I don’t necessarily think of myself as a disembodied ‘I’ outside the system. It’s pretty easy to lose all sense of ‘self’ just by listening to some music.”
    Precisely, and it is the main reason people love to listen music, the same reason some cultists want to control it or even ban it altogether. So you might be lost in concentration, for some, busy, asleep, doing some other thing which means you are not contemplating self, so to speak, but it is still you who is experiencing all of those things.

    ?“There is obviously an abstract appreciation of matter going on which is not made of material.”?I don’t know what you mean by ‘not made of material’. “
    I’m not aware of anything which isn’t material.”
    Awareness isn’t made of material. Consciousness?
    ?…
    ?[Why can’t our brain cells just operate according to chemistry?]?“We couldn’t be experiencing the usefulness or otherwise without there being some way of this happening.”?If we can think immaterially, why do we need brains at all? It seems such a waste of energy (-:”!
    Yes! But thinking isn’t just processing or computing because it involves that extra element of awareness, which is immaterial. I think some call it ‘being’.
    …?“but it is not a matter of ‘choosing to want” is it?”?No, that was the point of the example. “
    We agree!
    If we could choose how much we wanted something, our wants wouldn’t be any use. “ That’s why some people think the solution is to keep reading and learning and growing your ‘intellect’. So you can know more things and keep adding to the list of priorities or the hierarchy of things to want or aim at. It’s also a bit faulty in my view, to think that is all there is.

    If you could choose to not want water, you’d just be putting youself in danger of dying from dehydration.” Well there’s not much argument there, if someone were silly enough they could chose not to drink, not to “not want” or not to be thirsty. Some people are just confused about want, need and aspiration. Often religious people. Even clever people.

    ?“It also seems to be overridden by trivial influences, like not being able to choose what to want. You’re agreeing that free will can’t ‘go against’ our brain chemistry in situations like drug addiction where it would be extremely valuable.”
    Some people are weak willed. The body can have a physical need for a drug that must be slowly weaned. This isn’t wanting. That is what it demonstrates. If I were pinned down and given coke or heroine to make me addicted, I’d then give it up after the experiment. I once pressed a morphine button seventy times post op! According to the nurse who asked if I was in pain. I wasn’t, I felt sick and was too drowsy and inexperienced to know the difference. Needless to say the thing is monitored to stop overdose but I felt extremely ill for days afterwards and I do believe it was like withdrawal symptoms, very embarrassing as I had to call out my GP who I used to work with who hadn’t a clue what was wrong but just laughed at and with me and explained something about women and five day blues. If a person knows they must suffer to get through withdrawal and can tolerate the suffering for the outcome they will absolutely overcome their addiction. For addicts, life gets in the way and continues to irritate the situation and the situation becomes entangled and chronic. Couple that with zero aspiration or inspiration and it’s easy to see how wills are drowned out.

    The ability to make less than optimum choices is apparent. You are seeking a purpose or an evolutionary currency in this freedom to make mistakes. Yet there is no purpose if there is no intention or direction in evolution, overall.
    ?If there’s no purpose why is anybody complaining!

  123. S: If you mean ‘freedom’ as in ‘free’ will, then it would be the ability to make a choice other than the one we actually make.
    Y: And when does that happen, that you can make the same decision twice?

    When what happens?
    o) make a choice other than the one we actually make?
    o) make the same decision twice?
    o) ???

    Depends on the information available. Information is always changing. What you see as best could change. For example, I’m flying en route and encounter deteriorating weather but decide to continue om my original flight path. Later, it becomes worse but I decide it’s still flyable so I again continue. Even later, it’s much worse and becomes much more treacherous that I fear for the safety of the flight so now I deviate from my original plan.

    Do you find yourself making contradictory decisions? If so, 1) does it happen often and, 2) you don’t know why?

    If you are rebutting Descartes and the Scientists, and “libertarian free will,” good luck.
    That’s an open ended challenge and pointless one. Regardless of what is said, you will counter with “you don’t understand X” when you really mean “you don’t have the same understanding of X as I do”. You rarely, if ever, state your understanding and merely quote X. I also think a lot of the stilted language you employ is rearranged, unattributed quoting as I doubt you normally talk that way,

  124. Some people are weak willed. The body can have a physical need for a drug that must be slowly weaned. This isn’t wanting. That is what it demonstrates.

    No, I think it simply means habits are hard to break and require something wanted a whole lot more to override. Smoking has a more pros than the official stance admits. One of them is a feeling of calmness. I quit a couple of years ago (the second time I’ve quit) because I lost the taste for tobacco and decided it was no longer worth the effort and cost (pecuniary vs. health). It wasn’t easy but then it wasn’t hard.

    I’ve had morphine twice. Both times I got a 10-second rush followed by a feeling of well-being that I can only describes as having the best day. I can see the attraction and it’s a powerful one and losing it must seem dreadful to those trying to break the habit.

    “Weak willed” is an interesting term. It implies the ability to make less than optimum choices. Even YOS admits only the insane can do this. But I doubt the insane are making suboptimal choices as well. It’s just that the insane choices seem bizarre to the “normal” people.

  125. unattributed quoting

    If I attribute a quote, I get attacked for that. If do not, or you imagine I do not, I get attacked for that.

    But now I get attacked for pointing out that you are addressing a concept of free will different from that used by those who developed the concept.

    If you intend to rebut the Scientists (Descartes, Hume, Kant and the other Revolutionaries, use the concepts of “will” and “freedom” that they used.
    If you wish to rebut Thomistic psychology, use the concepts of “will” and “freedom” that the Thomists used.

    If you have rebutted only your own thinking, that may mean your thinking was deficient, not that the will is determined.

    Consider why “free fall” is considered “free.”

    If success means you have rebutted you

  126. But now I get attacked for pointing out that you are addressing a concept of free will different from that used by those who developed the concept.

    Attacked? Disagreement is an attack? You have a rather high opinion of your opinions.

    If you intend to rebut the Scientists ([Aquinas], Descartes, Hume, Kant and the other Revolutionaries, use the concepts of “will” and “freedom” that they used.

    The problem is that I can’t question them on what they have said. When you say my concept is different what you really mean is different from what YOU think they have said. I’s YOUR understanding is wish to address here. Yet you hide your understanding.

    Y: [Re:] unattributed quoting
    Y:
    If I attribute a quote, I get attacked for that. If do not, or you imagine I do not, I get attacked for that.

    See? Again you take words out of context to make straw man arguments. What attack? You clearly missed the point that you are not saying what YOUR understanding is and are forcing others to guess as evidenced by unattributed quotes.

    If you have rebutted only your own thinking …
    I have not but nice try at implying that I have.

    Consider why “free fall” is considered “free.”
    It means “free” as in unimpeded. Unimpeded means not slowed down by a parachute or sliding along a slope. It doesn’t mean unconstrained. You can only fall toward a more massive object (such as the Earth) — in the normal sense of “fall” that is.

    If success means you have rebutted you
    Whatever that means. This is the second post which seems incomplete. Are you feeling well? I certainly hope so but, if not, I hope you can recover.

  127. I apparently can’t type and am merely another pretty face around here.
    I’s YOUR understanding is wish to address here.

    Should have been: It’s YOUR understanding I wish to address here.

  128. Are you feeling well?

    Not entirely. I am recovering from a stroke; but thanks for asking.

    I have not [rebutted my own thinking] but nice try at implying that I have.

    You have rebutted your own concept of free will. Or do you think your counterarguments have failed, and you have not rebutted “free will” as you understand it. Winning is easy when you get to construct the opposing position yourself.

    Consider why “free fall” is considered “free.”
    It means “free” as in unimpeded.

    Not exactly, but close enough. You’re getting there.

    I’s YOUR understanding is wish to address here. Yet you hide your understanding.

    IOW, you are more interested in debating me than in debating the question of free judgment?

    When you say my concept is different what you really mean is different from what YOU think they have said.

    How would you know, unless you understand what they said? (Either the Rationalists or the Thomists or even what the Compatablists. So far, we’ve seen only Empedocles’ ancient determinism: “everything is atoms in the void,” which is little better than the determinism of astrology. But pehaps “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…”

  129. YOS,
    Having been YOSed and Dav’d before it’s clear you both know the basis for your own views. Why would anybody doubt it. It is why people think the way they do that’s interesting.
    YOS it’s strange to me that you would think someone’s not interested in what you think yourself? I am, or was, but you don’t like to say and that’s your way. You wasted a lot of time arguing with me for a while and I did appreciate that it took your time and effort aside from being dangled off a roof amongst other things. Genuinely, thank you.
    Dav,
    A choice to take the drug or eat the cream cake in the person trying not to, often makes the suboptimal choice by doing what they ‘deep down’ or even near surface, know they don’t want to do! So they are ignoring or forgetting their preferences in favour of a short term endorphin hit and a “mañana’ approach.
    The example of the physical effect versus just a difficult craving or compulsion was to demonstrate, like anaesthesia, illness, many other situations, the will or preferred intention is overwhelmed. There is a gradient there. In the case of a ‘weak will’ the preferred intention is overwhelmed by other things which appeal more. We don’t only do one thing at a time. Our bodies are doing many things at once. So called wants, in this argument, can ensue and even dominate. Falling asleep at the wheel is another example. Conversely, there are cases of patients surviving for emergency surgery with almost no blood left in their body. Inexplicably they remain conscious enough or ‘alive’ enough, to survive and medics have no answer as to why, except a strong will to survive.
    The physical weaning I referred to was in specific situations when substance abusers are on high enough doses, such as some alcoholics, where they can be made ill by suddenly stopping. Flu-like symptoms and a list of about ten symptoms occur which is a sign that the person needs management to prevent complication outside of any cravings/wanting.
    So the weaning such as with nicotine, (which is said to be the most addictive substance there is), really wasn’t the kind I meant at all and I’m sorry for that confusion.
    So it’s a real physical need, not a want.
    “I think it simply means habits are hard to break and require something wanted a whole lot more to override. “
    I don’t think my comment or perhaps my opinion is inconsistent with that.

    “I quit a couple of years ago… It wasn’t easy but then it wasn’t hard. “
    This shows you don’t have a weak will. I am not surprised because you are a logical person and excel at sorting things out. The only ones I know of who are incapable of quitting despite wanting to are not very rational. Obviously many people smoke because they like it. That’s yet another preference.
    The calmness is also achieved by the illusion, so I’m informed, as it is a stimulant, like caffeine. The need is created in the nervous system and immune system so that when it is quenched, a calmness ensues and no doubt some endorphins are released, giving pleasure.

    “I can see the attraction and it’s a powerful one and losing it must seem dreadful to those trying to break the habit.”
    I know someone who had a drug habit for many years and described the first time he tried it at University, years before he admitted it. He described thinking,
    “where have you been all my life?…closely followed by a realisation that he was in big trouble.
    “It implies the ability to make less than optimum choices.”
    This obviously depends on the perspective of what’s being described. As it appears to the outsider, such as the drunk who’s pouring himself another, or as it happens internally to the person who’s drunk, which may be considered a kind of insanity. Caring about right from wrong is yet another important element. Legal insanity just means an inability to know right from wrong. Sanity and insanity also have to be defined and I agree that many who are considered insane are still, internally, making ‘optimum’ choices when they do mad things.

    Want is used above quite loosely, sometimes approaching a physical need and sometimes an aspiration or a greater aim.
    All of this is experienced in a real way. In the consciousness. That isn’t something which can be called matter. That is where the freedom and ‘free will’ is to be found within the universe.
    Thank you Dav and Sowrdfish, too.
    Stick to gardening and perfume, the weather and other people’s health. Never discuss religion or politics! I was warned.

  130. YOS,

    Sorry to hear about your stroke. I suspect they are more devastating than I can ever imagine. I certainly hope recovery is possible and that you achieve it.

    You have rebutted your own concept of free will.

    I think I’ve been consistent. Can you show me where and how I have rebutted myself?

    Y: Consider why “free fall” is considered “free.”
    D: It means “free” as in unimpeded.
    Y: Not exactly, but close enough. You’re getting there.
    Oh, goody! Instead of saying being acted by on gravity alone I said unimpeded. Sorry if that wasn’t the textbook answer. I was always bad at memorizing catechism responses. Where this there I am getting to? Is this supposed to have some connection to “free will”, “free judgement” or something?

    IOW, you are more interested in debating me
    Not really but I can only debate you. It’s impossible to argue with a book.

    D: When you say my concept is different what you really mean is different from what YOU think they have said.
    Y: How would you know, unless you understand what they said?
    Because you can only compare what I have said with YOUR understanding of what you’ve quoted. Surely, you can’t say otherwise. You can’t possibly know if my concept is different from the quote if you yourself didn’t think you have an understanding of the quote.

  131. Joy,

    A choice to take the drug or eat the cream cake in the person trying not to, often makes the suboptimal choice by doing what they ‘deep down’ or even near surface, know they don’t want to do!
    You mean like the guy that beats his head against a wall repeatedly and when asked why replies “because it feels good when I stop”?

    Many people respond with what they think the other person wants to hear just to avoid a lecture. Those that don’t quit don’t really want to. It’s as simple as that. Many start down the road and when the withdrawal symptoms appear decide it isn’t worth it. At no time is a lesser evaluated action (suboptimal) taken.

    The physical weaning I referred to was in specific situations when substance abusers are on high enough doses, such as some alcoholics, where they can be made ill by suddenly stopping.
    And when encountered, the person doing the stopping often has second thoughts.

    In the case of a ‘weak will’ the preferred intention is overwhelmed by other things which appeal more.
    “Weak willed” is more of a pejorative used by persons other than the person supposedly trying to stop Meaning what appeals to you is skewed. If the preferred intention is overwhelmed then it likely isn’t preferred. Even it is, it’s more similar to the difference between a like and a need. As in, I’d like to make a million per week but I need to eat so I settle for something less. Needs always outrank likes because a need is something you must have while a like is something you can do without.

    nicotine, (which is said to be the most addictive substance there is)
    If nicotine is the most addictive substance in existence then nothing must be. I quit a two-pack a day habit by simply stopping. I missed it. I encountered times when I would have smoked because of habit. But stopping was far more important to me than to continue smoking.

  132. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “Not entirely. I am recovering from a stroke; but thanks for asking.”

    I’m very sorry to hear that and wish you a full and speedy recovery.

  133. You have rebutted your own concept of free will.
    I think I’ve been consistent. Can you show me where and how I have rebutted myself?

    When asked what your definition of free will was, you gave libertarian free will (“that you could have decided differently”). But previously you had said that if the conditions were identical, the reasons for the decision would compel you to decide [judge the good] the same way. How anyone — whether you or Empedocles — can know this is a mystery, since it is not empirically verifiable. The best one can do is point to two similar situations with different outcomes. But it could be argued that the conditions are never perfectly the same. So you have countered the concept of free will that you put forward. It’s somewhat circular, because the rebuttal actually assumes determinism.

    Y: Consider why “free fall” is considered “free.”
    D: It means “free” as in unimpeded.
    Y: …You’re getting there.
    Oh, goody! Instead of saying being acted by on gravity alone I said unimpeded. Sorry if that wasn’t the textbook answer. I was always bad at memorizing catechism responses. Where this there I am getting to?

    You’re getting to Aquinas’ definition. You can’t discuss free will without some concept of what “will” is and some concept of what “freedom” means in the context.

    IOW, you are more interested in debating me
    Not really but I can only debate you. It’s impossible to argue with a book.

    We can only debate ad rationem, not ad hominem. The latter is to apt to degenerate into name-calling and “psychological” analysis.

    Because you can only compare what I have said with YOUR understanding of what you’ve quoted. Surely, you can’t say otherwise.

    Be careful of hopping too far down the Kantian bunny trail.

  134. Dav,
    It is absolutely described as one, if not THE most addictive substances (I’ve never bothered to double check, as I’m ambivalent about it). Clearly class A drugs are most dangerous because they are mind altering and kill easily with overdose. In my observation and my opinion, pot is also more dangerous than anybody wants to admit.

    I’ve known of others who’ve stopped smoking without a sweat, perhaps following a health scare or just because they decide to do so for someone else! even.
    It is a sign of a stronger will as well as a likely physical difference within the body’s make-up. You might call it a better way of approaching the aspiration to quit.. I understood perfectly your first description of preference of wants.

    Rather that is the sensible way to think about achieving a difficult goal, remembering what you’re trying to achieve. Not what many people do or can manage, perhaps because their will to do so is weak! They have a conviction about something, then they do the other thing that has a stronger ‘pull’, hence the ‘want is stronger.

    As to making suboptimal choices?
    If suboptimal is defined already, pre-choice, as anything decided must have been wanted more then it’s a kind of snooker before you start to think of ‘free thought.’

    The concept of the hierarchy of preferences at the moment of choice wasn’t unclear.

    1. Wanting is just one motive, it is being simplified as such, after the fact.
    2. It’s also still irrelevant to the question of whether the will is free.

    Convenient for psychologists and so on, but there are a host of motives, not all of them, well, animal, or selfish in quality. There also may be thousands of wants; there may be some wanted equally or in unmeasurable amounts, or that can’t be measured in terms of ‘want’. Certainly, subconscious and autonomic elements within the nervous system have nothing to do with want unless it is contrived that way by calling thirst a want, or breathing a want. So not all that happens is because it’s wanted.

    There needs to be freedom for preference to be established in the first place!
    Without conviction or an appreciation of truth, which is ‘free’ from the ‘wanting list’ programme, how can anybody be considered anything but mindless?

    The argument is, still hampered by the morality or merit of the choice itself as opposed to whether or not there is a freedom, a true freedom, to choose. You are saying there is no freedom because the mind is bound by this listing of preferences programme and it’s default position?
    That is a circular, closed system with no explanation for the person within which everybody experiences.

    Seems also to be a way, with hindsight, someone typically regards some of the situations already discussed. Also the way an observer might explain the pre volition of another’s action.
    Since the system of consciousness is considered computational only, it can only contain the ‘want’ within, which is all done by memory, I presume.

    No wonder people don’t believe free will exists. Having only ever heard the parody of the argument before, at least I understand a bit better. Thank you.

  135. You want my definition of “free will” but that’s a bit like asking me what I think
    the tooth fairy is. I only have a vague notion but I’m sure one doesn’t exist. Any definition of ‘free will’ from me is what I think YOU think it is. Determining that is like pulling teeth.

    When asked what your definition of free will was, you gave libertarian free will (“that you could have decided differently”).

    I did? I can’t find that in any post. Is it paraphrased? I couldn’t even find another instance of the word “differently”.

    That said, there is an oft repeated refrain: “You can choose to do the right thing.” Implying that not only are you choosing the wrong thing but you can decide to do otherwise. Sounds a lot like “you could have decided differently”.

    But previously you had said that if the conditions were identical, the reasons for the decision would compel you to decide [judge the good] the same way.
    Yes. Why would the evaluation be different if the conditions are identical?

    What do you mean by “but”? Do identical conditions somehow imply deciding differently?

    I’m not sure what you are driving at.

    How anyone — whether you or Empedocles — can know [identical conditions ==> same decision] is a mystery, since it is not empirically verifiable.
    ??? So NOW you want empirical verification? Didn’t you once say that philosophy doesn’t need any such thing? That doing so would be like attempting empirical verification of math proofs and what would be the point of that?

    So what if I can’t currently demonstrate to your satisfaction that identical conditions lead to the same result? Where’s the contradiction?

    If somehow the paragraph containing the above quotes was supposed to be a coherent argument then it wasn’t. Try again.

    You’re getting to Aquinas’ definition. You can’t discuss free will without some concept of what “will” is and some concept of what “freedom” means in the context.
    I’m getting warmer, eh? How about dropping this twenty questions game? This should be the point where you tell us what you think if means and why you think it exists. You can’t seem to be pinned down to any definitions or definite statements so then, regardless of what anyone says, you can simply say “Wrong!” and no one can dispute the claim.

    Fun for you perhaps but a total waste of everybody else’s time.

    D: Because you can only compare what I have said with YOUR understanding of what you’ve quoted. Surely, you can’t say otherwise.
    Y: Be careful of hopping too far down the Kantian bunny trail.
    See what I mean?

  136. Joy,

    For a choice to be called best (optimal) implies a ranking of all available options. The one believed best is the one chosen. Excluding ties (which are quite rare perhaps to the point of non-existence), there can only be one best. A suboptimal choice would be selecting any other option which is not believed best at the time of the selection.

    The options are usually, if not always, actions. Even if asked to choose among A, B or C. Saying “A” really is saying “I take A” — an action. Wants are derived from Likes and Needs (oddly, in System Engineering, Likes are called wants). They are solutions to satisfying Likes and Needs.

    Someone may take what another would consider suboptimal or may even claim to be able to select the suboptimal but may be driven to do so with the desire to show it is possible. What’s usually left tacit is the satisfaction of proving something which changes the evaluation of “best” such that the real “best” option now appears to be the suboptimal one because it satisfies the need to prove something. Swordfish touched on this.

    I say ties are rare because no two options are identical and there are unshared attributes which only become important when the others are equal. For example, if the choice comes down to selecting -2 or 2, 2 might be chosen because of some attraction to non-negative values or -2 might be chosen for the opposite reason. Or a coin flip could be used. Or, … you get the idea. A tie-breaker is applied if a decision simply must be made among otherwise equal valued options.

    As for “free will” and “free thought”, we are tossing about concepts of which we only have vague understandings. We think we know what they are until we get down to the nitty-gritty. We have lots of these: What is thought?, What is Life?, etc. All definitions fail at some point. There are gray areas. Take What is Life? for example. Are viruses alive? If so, is a virus consisting of a single strand of RNA alive? If so, is a strand of RNA alive? What makes it have Life? The answer to the last is “We don’t know”. Until we can say we do know, can we say we really understand what Life is beyond being able to perhaps recognize it? Some more: How can a person be dead but parts of that person be alive? Is that even possible? When exactly did the person cease living?

    We toss about “will” but what does that really mean? I’m sure YOS has some muddled and arcane blurb to put forth but I’ll bet even he can’t explain what it means in plain English. It seems to mean the act making a choice. As such, seems an unnecessarily redundant term.

    Until we can settle on commonly agreed definitions all of this is circular argument — what I called the merry-go-round earlier.

  137. You want my definition of “free will” but that’s a bit like asking me what I think the tooth fairy is. I only have a vague notion but I’m sure one doesn’t exist.

    Your mother did not leave quarters under your pillow? If you do not regard that as an instantiation of the tooth fairy, then you do have a notion of what the tooth fairy is. How can you possibly rebut what you do not know? There are folks who have only a vague notion of what biological evolution is, but they are sure it does not exist. However, they usually end up refuting something which is not the actual theories of evolution.

    Any definition of ‘free will’ from me is what I think YOU think it is. Determining that is like pulling teeth.

    I have said repeatedly that it is the intellective appetite for concepts, analogous to the sensory appetites for percepts. Since in a Darwinian sense, there can be no selection without some physical consequence to select, the act of intellection must result in action which would prove beneficial to survival. Otherwise, as Darwin said, natural selection would have “ruthlessly destroyed” it. Hence, there must be an intellective appetite that moves us toward or away from a concept. This is called “will” or “volition” and results in what are called “voluntary” acts. The will also supervenes over the sensory appetites. Just because you’re hungry, you don’t have to (deterministically) eat. Just because you’re horny, you don’t have to (deterministically) harass every woman you see.

    you gave libertarian free will (“that you could have decided differently”).
    I did? I can’t find that in any post. Is it paraphrased? I couldn’t even find another instance of the word “differently”.

    “If you mean ‘freedom’ as in ‘free’ will, then it would be the ability to make a choice other than the one we actually make.” I see now that you were only quoting Swordfish. My apologies. You were rebutting his concept of free will. Your own notion appears to be close to the Thomist one: What is normally meant by “of your own free will”: nobody twisted your arm.

    “You can choose to do the right thing.” Implying that not only are you choosing the wrong thing but you can decide to do otherwise. Sounds a lot like “you could have decided differently”.

    I am relectant to make the definition circular. The ability to decide differently is a consequence of the will’s indeterminacy, not a definition of it.

    Why would the evaluation be different if the conditions are identical? I’m not sure what you are driving at.

    They wouldn’t necessarily. But how does that impinge on the will’s ability to achieve its natural end?

    How anyone — whether you or Empedocles — can know [identical conditions ==> same decision] is a mystery, since it is not empirically verifiable.
    ??? So NOW you want empirical verification? Didn’t you once say that philosophy doesn’t need any such thing?

    I dunno. You guys are big on “evidence” and empiricism. But lacking any evidentia naturalis, where is the evidentia potissima? Why do you suppose it must be the case, since it cannot be demonstrated or tested. Recall that Gould famously claimed that if the “tape of evolution” were rerun. we would end up with different species than we have now. So the conundrum of these untestable hypotheses is why Natural Selection can decide differently while DAV cannot?

    If somehow the paragraph containing the above quotes was supposed to be a coherent argument then it wasn’t.

    It wasn’t. Only responses to things you had said, and so no more coherent that what it replied to. But you’ve given me an idea, and I may prepare an essay.

    How about dropping this twenty questions game?

    You’re right. Asking all those pesky questions is what got Socrates in deep doodoo with the Athenians.

    You can’t seem to be pinned down to any definitions or definite statements

    .

    Other than the definitions and proofs I’ve already posted several times because a few folks can’t or won’t follow them. I shall henceforth abjure enticing you to think for yourself and simply go to lecturing.

    D: Because you can only compare what I have said with YOUR understanding of what you’ve quoted. Surely, you can’t say otherwise.
    Y: Be careful of hopping too far down the Kantian bunny trail

    See what I mean?

    Recall that Kant taught that we can never know the world, but only our conceptions of it. But conceptualism fails imho when put against realism. No matter how often people say and that “All perception is memory because of a microsecond time lag” and “Memory is unreliable” virtually no one actually lives his life that way. So too the notion that he is a robot incapable of deliberation and volutary action.

  138. Dav,
    7. is about as nitty and gritty as I can muster.
    Words have always altered in use and necessarily, therefore, numbers of meanings or definitions over time. Only a dogmatic person would insist this isn’t so. The truth of some operation in nature doesn’t change over time.

    Who was first or “he does it more natural” is aesthetics, credit just petty.

    Definitions are contextual. This isn’t a problem.
    Sometimes, confusion appears to be deliberately introduced or definitions ‘kept’ vague; which is a wind up.
    2 …
    “Take What is Life? for example:”
    If so, is a virus consisting of a single strand of RNA alive?”
    A protein, molecule is not alive except it makes up a fragment of living tissue. Protein, tissue, organ and organism, are separate considerations with respect to existent life. The protein itself is never alive any more than an enzyme is alive. Viruses which share genetic material to be complete replicators are alive because they can replicate and metabolise. Like a sperm or a pollen grain or a single nucleus, (for a short while, until it stops moving/functioning).
    In necrotic tissue, (cell death within the body), cells begin to break down and decompose. They are treated by the body as foreign. The immune system reabsorbs what it can, surrounds what it can’t and even moves the dead or inert, useless matter towards the surface.
    Commonly, the head of the femur has little or no blood supply due to severance, following fracture of the adjacent neck, the body is stuck with what then becomes a foreign body in a crucial part. The cells become matter again. To avoid this happening it must be removed to prevent serious complications.
    RNA is only alive once it is part of the functioning host cell. RNA itself is alive only as it forms part of the whole system of living tissue and for as long as that living fabric is maintained in integrity to function as a piece. Molecules aren’t alive they may be part of living tissue.
    3…
    “What makes it have Life?“
    The boundary between life and death, even when a functioning cell dies is similar to the question about absolutely accurate measurement of anything. Like when is the moment the cup falls off the edge as opposed to remaining balanced? How long is the string? Precisely? That is a material problem with infinite things. These can only be considered by a conscious living mind, which requires freedom from constraints of pure material.
    4…
    “Some more: How can a person be dead but parts of that person be alive? Is that even possible?”
    No. Once a person dies the person dies. Once the last cell is dead.
    A person is a complete item, even if faulty. If you mean ‘brain dead’, there is no ‘brain dead’ which means dead person, in my view. While that tissue is perfused there is hope of receiving the person into consciousness. This is where I part from some of my colleagues. Medical advances and healing are driven by this hope or faith before incidental discovery is made.
    5…
    “When exactly did the person cease living?”
    Exactly is not measurable but shortly after the point where the person’s tissue no longer receives oxygenated blood flow which isn’t long in ambient temperatures.
    6…
    “We toss about “will” but what does that really mean?”
    YOS prefers arcane language of the classics. which is inherently vague. Plain English is helpful if clarity is the goal. As students is was a big Nono on placement or vivas if we couldn’t explain properly to patients, avoiding jargon. I took this to heart. It’s a great placebo to hide behind jargon and deliberately longer or strange words and that’s all some people are looking for, and sometimes all they need. If that comes across it can be done but only to speak the language the patient prefers, or try to. it’s the role of a physio to be honest and aim as straight forwardly as possible for what is best in the long run. So I wince, just as YOS does when he hears ‘sloppy moderns’ spoiling things. Never the Twain, YOS will say he’s being accurate.
    I’d say Will is an intention or a thought based on life experience and information which by definition happens in a conscious mind. Off the cuff.
    7…
    “It seems to mean the act making a choice. As such, seems an unnecessarily redundant term.”
    Yes, but I would say that’s just incomplete. It is the ability of the actor to make a free choice. That freedom has something to do with consciousness. It’s what I believe. I don’t think anybody will ever ‘find’ the consciousness but they might start to admit it is an indication of something other than pure matter.

  139. Your mother did not leave quarters under your pillow? If you do not regard that as an instantiation of the tooth fairy, then you do have a notion of what the tooth fairy is.

    Yes I said I had a notion — a vague one. I see nothing corroborating a belief in one. The tooth fairy seems to have supernatural aspects. In fact, it’s the supernatural part that tops the list of items leading to not believing one exists.

    there must be an intellective appetite that moves us toward or away from a concept. This is called “will” or “volition” and results in what are called “voluntary” acts.

    Whatever “intellective” is supposed to mean.
    So then “will” is a synonym for “desire”.
    OK.

    the ability to decide differently is a consequence of the will’s indeterminacy, not a definition of it.
    Why would the evaluation be different if the conditions are identical?
    Why do you suppose it must be the case, since it cannot be demonstrated or tested.
    How anyone … can know [identical conditions ==> same decision] is a mystery, since it is not empirically verifiable.

    If same conditions begat different results then it would not be possible to set forth natural laws. The notion that same conditions yield the same result is inherent in all science. The fact that scientific laws work is your empirical evidence.

    Same conditions but different result would mean that the result is not correlated to the conditions. It also would imply some hitherto unseen cause and one also independent of conditions. But no such causal agent has been found to exist, particularly in the mind — only postulated.

    When it comes down to evidence you can’t show the ability to decide differently given the same conditions. Nor can you show that the will and resulting volition do not behave according to natural law. If they could, it implies a supernatural component.

    All of what your are saying about volition seems ad hoc. The simplest explanation is that 1) the will is merely a part of the decision process that affects the weighting of alternatives and 2) the decision process itself — including the will — is determinate and 3) it is a natural process.

  140. Joy,

    The questions were meant to be rhetorical.
    Your answers to the Life questions, for example, only enable recognizing life when it exists and don’t really convey any understanding of what Life really is.

    The point was without that understanding, discussions of how it came about, etc. are mostly unproductive.

    YOS prefers arcane language of the classics. which is inherently vague. Plain English is helpful if clarity is the goal. As students is was a big Nono on placement or vivas if we couldn’t explain properly to patients, avoiding jargon.
    We had a similar thing in engineering. We had to explain in English how we approached and solved the problem. We also had to state the problem in English. The target audience consisted of non-engineers, e.g., company managers. We also had to include a short overview — effectively an elevator speech. Anything else resulted in a failing grade regardless of correctness of the answer.

    Sometimes reading what YOS posts is similar to listening to Jocelyn Pook’s Masked Ball (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-S4UvSnu20). Or maybe listening to a conversation in a language in which you have poor proficiency.

    It is the ability of the actor to make a free choice. That freedom has something to do with consciousness.
    It’s hard to pin down YOS as to what “free choice” means but I think it means (to him) “not directed by God”. IOW: it’s YOUR choice. As such, it doesn’t mean much and explains nothing.

    “consciousness” is one of those vague words we think we understand but really don’t.

  141. Dav,
    This is the essence business:
    “What IS is.”
    “Or what is IS?”:
    A lot depends upon it!

    Without purpose, which materialists don’t accept exist, there can’t be talk of intention because you can’t get behind the first intension to see what’s going on!

    As silly as that sounds, it says what needs saying.

    I thought you were being rhetorical but what is life itself and what is alive being slightly different questions and recognising the features which make them is a proof we all know that something is there. Or nobody would be talking about it. As for the will, it is the intension or the purpose.
    Materialists as I am lead to believe, don’t believe in purposes.
    To understand things and define them roundly, to everybody’s satisfaction, purpose needs to come into play.

    I understood you properly, I promise. It is me that’s not making myself understood…and CNN STILL knows nothing about the horse.

  142. Without purpose, which materialists don’t accept exist, there can’t be talk of intention because you can’t get behind the first intesion to see what’s going on!

    Well, yeah. But the first question that needs answering is “why must there be any intention?” Is “it just happened” too unsettling an answer?

    “What IS is.”
    “Or what is IS?”:
    A lot depends upon it!

    Yes it does. To me it becomes: “What do we mean when we say X? How deep is our understanding? Are the characteristics X merely described so that we can only recognize it when we see it or do we know what makes X work?”

    For all of what philosophy tells us about the mind we are stuck at the description level. It amounts to spinning our wheels and resembles the initial $2B spent on Space Station effort with its seemingly endless nitpicking of definitions and little else.

    A much more preferable approach would be one similar to “The Mind’s I” by Douglas Hofstadter asking the questions: “What do we really mean when we say I?” , “How can such a thing exist?” and “What makes it work?” It doesn’t have any answers but perhaps shows what needs to be done in order to get them.

  143. “why must there be any intention?” Is “it just happened” too unsettling an answer?

    You didn’t intend to type that? The string of words “just happened”?

    Without intention, you cannot look at this object as opposed to that object. There is nothing in the torrent of photons impinging on you retina to privilege these photons over those.

  144. The Standard Argument Against Free Will.

    First, if determinism is the case, the will is not free. We call this the Determinism Objection.

    Second, if indeterminism and real chance exist, our will would not be in our control, we could not be responsible for random actions. We call this the Randomness Objection.

    Together, these objections can be combined in the Responsibility Objection, namely that no Free Will model has yet provided us an intelligible account of the agent control needed for moral responsibility.

    http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/standard_argument.html

  145. Dav,
    “It just happened”
    Is one step better than,
    “It just is”. It’s not so much unsettling because if that’s it then, “it is what it is! So why care about anything or anybody?

    I prefer to have a reason for all the caring.
    Although Things don’t ‘just happen’. They never ‘happen” without a because. Something moves…acts. So materialist philosophy breaks down as well…. Nobody knows for sure.

    These seem to me to point away from pure matter only. Some greater power outside of what we can fully know or understand that is present in the universe.

    That backwards music is creepy as is the trailer.
    Never seen it. I wondered why you mentioned it before.
    I have observed the seemingly deliberate mysticism. The Turin Shroud video hoax was very unsettling. Makes me wonder …that kind of thing is far more unsettling.

    There’s no point propping up a philosophy with falsehood. It must stand on it’s own.

    Swordfish,
    The first objection works.
    The second is self limiting if random means unknown then you can’t be involved in taking a choice based on something you don’t know.

    The third is not therefore proved or satisfied by any provision.

  146. If it’s there, it doesn’t matter if anybody disbelieves it since materialists still believe in moral behaviour. They just find it hard to fully justify.
    If it’s providing freedom to make moral choices and humans display them, then it simply is indicative that free will does exist.

  147. “It just happened” Is one step better than, “It just is”.

    The latter is a dismissal while the former means “without a plan”. That doesn’t mean without a cause. So, again, why is it necessary that happenings in the world follow a plan?

    That backwards music is creepy as is the trailer.
    I don’t know why Jocelyn made it. Kubrick used it for the masked ball scene in the movie Eyes Wide Shut. It was quite a ritual with semi-religious and mystic overtones. The scene was meant to look sinister. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a strange one. Since the title of the piece in the JP’s “Flood” album was titled “Masked Ball” it likely was made specifically for the movie. It’s actually a reverse playing of (Romanian?) priests actually chanting.

    Lisa Gerrard, formerly of Dead Can Dance (which isn’t as creepy as it sounds), grew up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood in Australia listening to various religious chants and hymns. She didn’t understand the words and simply heard them as musical tones. Her compositions evoke that with sacred sounding tunes employing vocalise. For example, “Summoning of the Muse” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCEcqjVoVKY . I used the Dark Sanctuary cover because all of the YouTube recordings of Lisa have poor sound quality. Well, maybe not this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J8mvTWceO8

    I mention Lisa because J. Pook’s “Masked Ball” seems similar to me.

  148. You didn’t intend to type that? The string of words “just happened”?
    Exactly! I didn’t plan on typing them they just happened.

  149. Dav,
    Okay I’m posting this without checking it first! Testing testing…
    That doesn’t mean without a cause.

    “It just is” implies a steady state, which doesn’t explain existence…
    “it just happened” implies something changed, the easiest way to imagine is obviously by movement with respect to matter. Or ‘something from nothing’, which is said by some to explain existence of the first thing.
    However things happen according to an order of operation which is natural and is known as natural law or the laws of nature. These must have existed if the materialist is to insist things only happen under those strict laws. Laws don’t make things happen. Order implies a plan, which requires information. Information isn’t made of anything. Information has meaning but nobody knows what information ‘is’ made of because it’s immaterial. That is where the ‘magic’ lies which you are saying is somehow supernatural.

  150. Exactly! I didn’t plan on typing them they just happened.

    You don’t deliberate over your responses? You were compelled to type those words (rather than some other words)? What exactly do you mean by “plan”? Why devote your mind to claiming you don’t have one?

  151. Dav,
    The first is immediately pretty. I was surprised to like it.

    “Allegri – Miserere mei, Deus”
    Medieval and classical sacred music Work to soothe the soul even for non believers. People don’t need safe spaces they crave certainty but need peace. To listen to something they can trust, or know, that is eternally inspired by real human experiences from the past.

    It becomes creepy when something, even if it’s not clear what, is out of ‘true’ (whack) which has something to do with beauty I suppose.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRL447oDId4
    That is one of my favourite piece of music. It’s soaring, defiantly so at once point near the end. Although best not to reduce it too far. It’s all information from or built upon past wisdom.
    There’s just a touch of it in the first Summoning The Muse piece you linked.

  152. Order implies a plan
    Not really. Order of events occurs according to time. Things happen before other things because it was planned that way?

    Traffic jams during evening rush hour were planned? Or do they occur without a plan?
    A roll of dice turns up 4+3. This occurred because of a plan?

    But then, you may be using “plan” to mean “layout” or “map” which can exist without intent.

    Laws don’t make things happen.
    No they don’t. They are models we use to predict the future.
    They won’t work (or can’t be created) unless future events are determined by preceding circumstances.

    Information has meaning but nobody knows what information ‘is’ made of because it’s immaterial. That is where the ‘magic’ lies which you are saying is somehow supernatural.
    This is wandering off-topic but information is our understanding which we impress upon the world . Color, for example, is visual information but color is only in our heads. It is our interpretation of physical properties we see — a convenient label.

    It is indeed immaterial but not supernatural.

    What I see as supernatural are:
    o) A “soul” or “life-force” independent from the body that gives the body “life”. If it merely means “the property of life we don’t understand” then fine but if it means “that which resides in the body during life” then it’s a “ghost in the machine” and a supernatural entity.
    o) “Thoughts” as something channeled by the brain Channeled from where exactly? Some place outside of the brain? In my view, thoughts are the results of chemical/electrical flows during the brain’s operation along pathways defined by the interconnections of neurons.
    o) “An indeterminate will” partially or wholly independent of conditions which implies an unnatural cause — a cause without prior cause.

    I’m not saying that the supernatural can’t exist but going there is a dead end in our understanding of the world. Talk about “just is!” It should be a last resort when all else has been examined and then only “maybe but still not sure”. YOS and others of his ilk have already given up; are apparently “completely sure”; and deride any attempt to view things such as the mind as something arising from and described by natural processes . This derision is evidenced by use of words like “robotic”, “mechanistic” or, strangely, “scientific” as pejoratives. I wonder why.

  153. Joy,

    Glad you liked it. “Summoning” is one of my favorite Lisa Gerrard pieces.
    The “Agnus Dei” you linked is also wonderful.

    There was a surge of popularity for Gregorian chants and similar during the 90’s. The boy”s choir Libera (https://www.singers.com/group/Libera/) still shows up regularly on XM satellite radio.

  154. You don’t deliberate over your responses?
    Whatever deliberate means. I don’t plan the words I use. I plan to convey what I am thinking. The words simply occur to me and I select what seem the best at the time of writing.

    Perhaps you are one of those who hear little voices in your head while thinking? I am not. I think entirely in images and I only hear the little voice when I am thinking about conversing with someone. I don’t hear it when I read unless (as now) I am thinking about talking. The words I use merely come to me. I don’t know how. They apparently come from the plan to convey concepts but from my subconscious. Is it possible to plan subconsciously?

    You were compelled to type those words (rather than some other words)?
    Yes in so far as they seemed the best. Should I have chosen something less than the best?

    What exactly do you mean by “plan”?
    You first for a change. I’m growing weary of one-sided conversations with ELIZA.

    Why devote your mind to claiming you don’t have [a plan]?
    Because you asked and it caused me to think of the concept.

  155. DAV:

    You have stamina.

    Anyway, I’ve noticed several times that Briggs, at least, seems to be confused about a basic point of philosophy (among others): he notes, correctly, the the intellect is immaterial, and seems to conclude that “atheism”, or any other stance that dispenses with the supernatural, can’t accommodate it. Of course, it’s possible to reject materialism as insufficiently rich to describe reality, while recognizing that the supernatural is incoherent. The position that you seem to be describing, for example, is sometimes called physicalism: the intellect depends upon physical processes and requires a material substrate, but is not itself a material thing. Just as the words on a page are made of patterns of ink molecules, but are not themselves particles of ink or anything else material; no ghosts required.

    Your other comments above remind me of what Sam Harris points out in one of his lectures: if we were the conscious arbiters of our thoughts, then we would need to think our thoughts before we thought them….

  156. Traffic during evening rush hour were planned? Or do they occur without a plan?

    A fascinating question. It depends on what one means by “plan.” Surely, the highway [or street] was laid out by planners, as were the hours of work by sundry employers, and as a result traffic jams regularly occur at certain times and places.

    But if by ‘planned’ we mean ‘intended,’ not many city planners intend the traffic jams.

    I’m not saying that the supernatural can’t exist but going there is a dead end in our understanding of the world.

    Right on, dude. That’s why the medieval Latins devised the distinction between first [primary] causes and secondary [instrumental] causes. As St. Albertus Magnus wrote in De vegetabilibus et plantis, “In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power; we have rather to inquire what Nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass.” Or William of Conches, when he wrote
    “[They say] ‘We do not know how this is, but we know that God can do it.’ You poor fools! God can make a cow out of a tree, but has He ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing is so, or cease to hold that it is so. … [God] is the author of all things, evil excepted. But the natures with which He endowed His creatures accomplish a whole scheme of operations, and these too turn to His glory since it is He who created these very natures.” Or later Aquinas, when he wrote, “Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.”

    “show some reason why a thing is so,” does not mean “it just happened” or “it just IS” any more that “God did it.”

    That’s why natural science arose in the Latin West, and not elsewhere.

    YOS and others of his ilk have already given up; are apparently “completely sure” and deride any attempt to view things such as the mind as something arising from and described by natural processes .

    You can describe any way you wish. What are “such things” as the mind? Why did Hume and others reject the idea of minds or natural laws that could not be observed? Since natural science deals with the metrical properties of physical bodies, it’s hard to see what it could say about non-physical, immeasurable bodies.

    This derision is evidenced by use of words like “robotic”, “mechanistic” or, strangely, “scientific” as pejoratives. I wonder why.

    The first two are strictly descriptive. Humanists applied them to the mechanists, who being overly impresses by the success of mechanics in physics, sought to apply the same principles to biology and psychology. Ironically, they were doing so at about the time physicists themselves were abandoning the old 19th cent. mechanistic models. If human beings cannot act voluntarily [i.e., with free will] but simply react to the stimuli of outside forces, it’s hard to imagine other adjectives that would apply. Interesting that you perceive “not free will” descriptions as “pejorative.”

    “Scientific” is only pejorative when science in the modern sense is applied to matters that are inherently non-science. The “replication crisis” in psychology imho stems from this. I.e., scientism.

  157. Whatever deliberate means.

    deliberate (v.) 1540s, “weigh in the mind, consider carefully;” 1550s, “discuss and examine the reasons for or against,” from Latin deliberatus, past participle of deliberare “consider carefully, consult,” literally “weigh well,” from de, here probably “entirely” (see de-) + -liberare, altered (probably by influence of liberare “to free, liberate”) from librare “to balance, make level,” from libra “pair of scales, a balance”. Related: Deliberated; deliberating. The earlier form of the verb in English was deliberen (late 14c.), from Old French deliberer and directly from Latin deliberare.

    verb (used with object), de·lib·er·at·ed, de·lib·er·at·ing.
    to weigh in the mind; consider: e.g. to deliberate a question.

    I don’t plan the words I use. I plan to convey what I am thinking. The words simply occur to me and I select what seem the best at the time of writing.

    How can you “select” without free will?

    If the words “simply occurred” to you, there is no reason why they should form coherent sentences.

  158. If the words “simply occurred” to you, there is no reason why they should form coherent sentences.
    Yet they do. You are now telling me how I think?

    to weigh in the mind; consider: e.g. to deliberate a question.
    OK I deliberate (select the best by weight) the words. Judge and juries deliberate what are they planning?

    D: I’m not saying that the supernatural can’t exist but going there is a dead end in our understanding of the world.
    Y: Why did Hume and others reject the idea of minds or natural laws that could not be observed? Since natural science deals with the metrical properties of physical bodies …
    They gave up trying. They now have reached a dead end and are stuck. So have you. All you have are definitions and lists of functionalities. No how — not the same as know how — it works. Hard to proceed from there.

    What are “such things” as the mind?
    The brain in operation.

    “not free will”
    When asked what you think “free will” is you said: an intellective appetite that moves us toward or away from a concept. This is called “will” or “volition” . IOW: “desire”. What is “free desire”? Or does the “will” in “free will” mean something different? You keep (or seem to be) using “free” and “will” with multiple meanings. Please settle on one for each of them.

    You seem to have sidestepped answering “what do YOU think ‘free will’ is” and only defined “will”.

    Define “free” as you mean in “free will”.
    Define “will” as you mean in “free will”.

    D: use of words like “robotic”, “mechanistic”
    Y” The first two are strictly descriptive. Humanists applied them to the mechanists, who being overly impresses by the success of mechanics in physics, sought to apply the same principles to biology and psychology.
    I prefer “algorithmic” which is “mechanical” only in the sense it may be possible to build a machine to implement an algorithm — a set of rules. Algorithms aren’t physical things. Some of them are nondeterministic (a nondeterministic finite automaton, NFA, for example) which should give you great joy. But nondeterministic from an observer’s viewpoint because an observer can’t know which path will be taken. Every NFA has at least one equivalent deterministic finite automaton (DFA). There are several ways to implement a NFA only one of which is converting it to an equivalent DFA.

    Oh my! NFA’s and DFA’s are automatons, i.e., a synonym for robots! Guess that means they can’t be used when talking about the mind.

    An algorithm describes how to process inputs to reach a result. Note the HOW. You have given up on trying to find the HOW of the workings of the mind and have settle for only describing some aspects of it and, even then, appear to have gone too far (e.g., animals can’t “think”).

  159. Lee.

    The position that you seem to be describing, for example, is sometimes called physicalism: the intellect depends upon physical processes and requires a material substrate, but is not itself a material thing. Just as the words on a page are made of patterns of ink molecules, but are not themselves particles of ink or anything else material; no ghosts required.

    In a sense, yes, however I’m saying what we call the mind, which manifests as intellect, effectively IS the process — or possibly is, anyway. This is unlike the configurations of ink forming words but the patterns aren’t the words themselves. The words we see are our interpretations of them.

    Sam Harris points out in one of his lectures: if we were the conscious arbiters of our thoughts, then we would need to think our thoughts before we thought them….
    Many of our thoughts arise unbidden and aren’t consciously formed. Maybe all of them. I think it possible that we only observe the thought process which is occurring subconsciously. So, in effect, we think them before thinking them.

  160. YOS,
    I think you do understand what Dav’s saying I also think where I’ve already admitted that things of a certain type cannot be defined to everybody’s satisfaction Lee is calling this “incoherent.”
    Like Robotic,” It’s a potential pejorative. As it’s meaning has connotations implying that there can be nothing useful said about such incoherent things by reductionist, purely materialist science.
    (Which is clearly not the case.) No saying Lee intended that in his comment, just to be clear.

    It is the dogmatic insistence that there is only one way of doing science or approaching the truth about what is observed and not yet understood. Also the dogmatic certainty that somebody’s worked out what a soul is and what it’s make-up outside of a trivial definition of how it might be talked about using the word ‘substance’ and insisting upon that word. Clearly the word itself matters to a Roman Catholic as something important depends upon it.

    To Paraphrase Kieth Ward, the word ‘substance has confused everybody or some people.

    You drove me mad pretending not to understand while insisting I, was having an entirely different conversation!
    I think Dav has already made the point and Lee has also admitted something about this topic.

    It’s not about a ghost in a machine. It’s two ‘substances’ in one with “dual aspects”. Two inextricably linked parts which cannot be separated. I’ve said as much from first principles.

    Thomas says! If they were separated it would be ‘unnatural’ and ‘improper’.
    This is what I’ve always maintained about ‘the person’. YOS also accused me of believing in a ghost in a machine or some meat muppet thing…and I don’t want to hear about persons and personalities. Spare me.

    Some things require an engineer. Some require a different kind of approach.

  161. What are “such things” as the mind?
    The brain in operation.

    No, I meant what other “such” things as the mind?

    Cabinetry is the hammer in operation?

    They gave up trying.

    Evidentally not, since they are still going on about it.

    All you have are definitions and lists of functionalities. No how — not the same as know how — it works. Hard to proceed from there.

    And the conclusions of reason. What “proceed”? Do you expect engineers and tinkerers?

    I prefer “algorithmic” which is “mechanical” only in the sense it may be possible to build a machine to implement an algorithm

    Yes. software has subverted the 19th century, providing an exemplar for things like mind, vital force, and all the rest rejected by the mechanists. Yet we often cling to their conclusions while rejecting their foundations.

    Guess that means they can’t be used when talking about the mind.

    No more so than hydraulics or clockwork/machinery, which were the preferred metaphors of prior eras. Metaphors can provide insight, but we mustn’t confuse our post-modern enthusiasms for reality.

    You have given up on trying to find the HOW of the workings of the mind and have settle for only describing some aspects of it

    I was a statistician, not a psychologist. It’s not that I gave up so much as I never started.
    I’m not sure why you think some psychologists are trying to find “the workings of the mind” while others, that I have noted, have not. My old college textbook, Thomistic Psychology that we used for Philosophy of Man seemed quite thorough. But I was a sophomore then and had much of your own apparent mindset.

    and, even then, [you] appear to have gone too far (e.g., animals can’t “think”).

    “Think” is too vague and inchoate a word, insufficiently precise for philosophy. Animals cannot abstract universal concepts from concrete particulars, but they can “think” rather well [some species] with representative imagination, memory, and animal prudence. Any living creature with senses is sentient. The Rationalists went too far by reducing animals to meat puppets.
    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2008/10/11/what-really-are-uniquely-human-traits/

  162. how [soul] might be talked about using the word ‘substance’ and insisting upon that word. Clearly the word itself matters to a Roman Catholic as something important depends upon it.

    And to Orthodox Christians or to anyone else who takes Nicaea seriously. But the concept is a pagan, pre-Christian concept. Aristotle defined it in On the soul and the Metaphysics. The Greek is ousia; an English equivalent might be thing. See http://alexanderpruss.com/papers/Forms.html

    It’s not about a ghost in a machine. It’s two ‘substances’ in one with “dual aspects”.

    The “two substances” approach is called “substance dualism” or “Cartesianism” and is the source of the ‘ghost in the machine’ nonsense. The rest of your statement seems to be hylemorphic in spirit, which is more like what I’ve been saying.

    You drove me mad pretending not to understand

    Even when I thought I agreed, I could not be sure unless I checked what definitions you were using. As an independent example unrelated to anything said here and dealing only with material things: in Late Antiquity libraries were not libraries, schools were not schools, and science was not science. That is, these terms were not conceptualized as they are today and to use them with the modern meaning would be to profoundly misunderstand was historians or philosophers of that era were saying. Quite often, there is no modern term that means quite the same thing. As far as school goes, think “school of fish” not Eton or PS 34. It meant a “following” of a teacher or thinker, not a building, and certainly not one with a “faculty” and “grades.” Bibliotheke meant book chests, not a modern style library. And science meant organized and rigorous knowledge, not natural science. Hence, in any discussion of the past, it behooves us to get the terms straight.

  163. Yes. software has subverted the 19th century
    Algorithms aren’t software. They existed long before software did. Software defines the machine which implements one or more algorithms. It is “soft” because it replaced the necessity to “hard” wire the machine.

    No more so than hydraulics or clockwork/machinery, which were the preferred metaphors of prior eras. Metaphors can provide insight, but we mustn’t confuse our post-modern enthusiasms for reality.
    You seem confused by the word “algorithm”. Algorithms aren’t metaphors. They are sets of rules. Follow them and you convert inputs to outputs.

    Cabinetry is the hammer in operation?
    No. Hammering is the hammer in operation and hammering is a part of cabinetry. So, to you, the mind is something separate from operation of the brain? How did you get there? Because you can’t see how the workings of a brain can be the mind?

    You have given up on trying to find the HOW of the workings of the mind and have settle for only describing some aspects of it
    It’s not that I gave up so much as I never started.
    And apparently doesn’t interest you either. Not trying to understand the HOW of the mind seems to lead to asserting the mind and operation of the brain are not the same thing. The certainty is puzzling.

    even then, [you] appear to have gone too far (e.g., animals can’t “think”).
    Animals cannot abstract universal concepts from concrete particulars
    You’ve made my point.

  164. I was a statistician, not a psychologist.
    I think you don’t understand what I meant with HOW. A psychologist seems more interested in what the mind does (thinks about) as opposed to how it actually works. Kind of like taking about what a car does instead of how one might be built. I’m interested in what makes the mind work.

    I was a statistician
    Strange outlook. A doctor who has stopped practicing is still a doctor at least I’ve never encountered a “former doctor”. I would think an unemployed statistician would still think of himself as a statistician.

  165. Algorithms aren’t software. … Software defines the machine which implements one or more algorithms.

    Hence, the hard-wired algorithms of the mechanical age. The algorithms are nothing new; the medievals had them. But the mechanical ones that so impressed the Byzantines are not what you seemed to be hyping.

    Algorithms aren’t metaphors.

    They can be used as such. Anything can be used metaphorically. Back when hydraulics was high tech, the mind was imagined in terms of balances of humors. When gears and wheels were the big thing, the mind was imagined in terms of machines. Nowadays, computers are the big deal, and the mind is viewed in terms of computers.

    Not trying to understand the HOW of the mind seems to lead to asserting the mind and operation of the brain are not the same thing. The certainty is puzzling.

    So is the certainly of asserting they are the same, in view of Lucas’ Goedelian proof, Searles’ Chinese Room, and so on. All the syntax in the world will not add up to semantics.

    Animals cannot abstract universal concepts from concrete particulars
    You’ve made my point.

    No, your point was that I had said “animals can’t think.” They can.

    A doctor who has stopped practicing is still a doctor at least I’ve never encountered a “former doctor”. I would think an unemployed statistician would still think of himself as a statistician

    I’m retired. I would not go to a doctor who had stopped practicing.

  166. D: Algorithms aren’t software. … Software defines the machine which implements one or more algorithms.
    Y: Hence, the hard-wired algorithms of the mechanical age.
    The keyword is “implements”. Algorithms are neither hardware nor software but sets of rules. Are you claiming the mind operates without rules?

    no, your point was that I had said “animals can’t think.”
    Again, you missed the point.

    Speaking of point, there doesn’t seem to be any in continuing given your perverse “misunderstanding”.

  167. Just one more…
    YOS:
    No, there is no ghost in the machine except in some people’s heads! People are embodied.
    Dav,
    “…only enable recognizing life when it exists and don’t really convey any understanding of what Life really is.”
    What it is to be living, is the same question you’re asking in a dispassionate proper way.
    It needs sorting out and considering from the other direction! From that of the individual person, as opposed to the observation of others. Everybody owns the same or similar equipment. In the brain there is neuroplasticity. Even this only takes explanations such as in pain science so far.
    which is only one of Life’s incoherent qualities.
    I accused YOS of being reductionist in his approach to ‘the soul’ and I think it is. It is the realms of spirituality. This is not remotely the same as saying ‘medievals are X’.
    Some things can’t be broken down in the way matter has been. Meaning is one of them. Meaning comes into a full understanding of anything. No Thing is really truly fully understood, even Electricity isn’t fully understood but people have travelled vast distances on it and made their way back using a pencil and some gaffer tape, which is one of the true meanings of life! So people can know how things work without knowing everything when it comes to matter but consciousness and mind can’t be escaped to study it without using the thing. There is at least subconscious and conscious, two separate things. We always have to rely on a patient to tell us if they are conscious. People have been awake when it was believed they were not. It is this reason that on ITU patients are always spoken to and treated as if they are there. You say hello and talk to them. Involve them in the consultation/input.
    “You’re never going to be satisfied with the answer because there’s always another question.”
    Yet humans manipulate it. Which is one of the drivers of the intellective will to live and survive. One important motive. Mystery is built in.
    Materialist reductionism in experiments works but only so far with a person.

    I am also guilty of the robot talk.
    There are physical causes in the brain and these are already complex enough to a point of unpredictability or randomness. It doesn’t go near to reaching such things as Value or Meaning or knowing in abstract, true convictions.
    ‘knowing’ requires a mind or the word becomes meaningless…brains become mindless. Yet personal experience of ‘knowing’ shows the self is real, whatever is ultimately real in the physical sense of electrons or smaller pieces of atom.

  168. On ‘dual aspect’ versus the dreaded ‘dualism’ and meat muppet school discussion.
    “any discussion of the past, it behooves us to get the terms straight.”
    It behoves US to make ourselves as clear as we can if we want a sensible response, or one that responds to what was intended but first you must find the intended meaning.

    There is nothing wrong with saying something has dual aspects. It is not remotely nonsensical. It’s no use to an engineer but it’s useful in pastoral contexts.
    If you construct the argument for me in your head, or from a book, in which I am not involved and which relates to some historical ‘school of thought’ you can’t blame ME for disagreeing with you! That would be silly.

    If you don’t know what I think first, how can you tell me I’m wrong? Kieth Ward did say that to mention ‘dualism’ will make everybody hate you. They are misunderstanding and often what has been said. Yet I’m still not really interested in what they said ultimately I’m attempting to explain observations I have made and certainly neuroscience is on my side right up until the discussion about ‘soul’, although religious faith is being admitted, only as one factor, at least, by physios as a playing a role in treatment of chronic pain.

    I’m not the one defending or attacking ‘substances’ as a word. It’s a perfectly ordinary, decent word. It just means what Kieth Ward says it does with regard to describing the blatantly obvious, doesn’t need over thinking. It is unfortunately right in the sweet spot though of a substantial matter.

  169. @ Joy,

    How is your objection to (2) not really an agreement with it? If you’re “not involved in taking a choice” then you’re “not responsible for your choice”. If ‘random’ means ‘unknown’, then it’s determined by causes, so objection 1 applies. If ‘random’ means just random, like quantum mechanics, then objection 2 applies.

    AFAICT, free will is just an incoherent idea. If determinism is correct it can’t work, and if determinism is false, it *still* can’t work. A mixture of determinism and randomness won’t work either!

    This hasn’t even got anything to do with concepts like us having a ‘soul’, or whether our minds are ‘immaterial’ (whatever that means). You mind (immaterial or not) can only reach decisions either by following some sort of deterministic reasoning, or by randomness. There isn’t any other way in which anything can behave.

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