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Mikee

Free Will as mere measurement

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I'd like to play devil's advocate for this one so here goes:

 

It simply boils down to choice being nothing more than the outcome of mere measurement. The point of measurement is to get closer to right or accuracy. Therefore if we are measuring, then we are just trying to be as accurate as we can be and that is what actually matters. The point is not to have options. Options are as irrelevant is the ability to have a ton of other less accurate measurements.

I contend the problem that keeps people from seeing it clearly is all the assumptions that get in the way because people are still looking at it wrong for the most part. And the questions that arise as a result of how that doesn't fit with how we conceptualize and experience reality are many, because we built our conceptual framework to assimilate (Piaget assimilation vs accomodation) our notion of free will.

By and large, I see it as choice is seen as valuable and important for its ability to give the best chance at getting things right, because the person most affected by the choice can often see possibilities and risks that others would not, and we could describe that the same way that we do for people who are "out of touch" with a social class, ect. So we value our ability to make choices, because the alternative is of high risk to not only our safety, but also our chance at getting the best. 

And safety isn't always part of that. We value what is right over what keeps us safe. That is why we can socially shame people into not being cowards in battle, and socially reward people into dying for their comrades, or for their faith.

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.

Wouldn’t it make sense to speak of a choice between (i) pursuing more accurate measurements and (ii) obscuring measurements? Both seem to be abilities we have, and although the second ability is parasitic upon the first, I would hesitate to say it is nothing but the first or that choice in exercise of the two abilities is an instance of the first.

 

I like your connection of choice to individual knowledge and valuation. Aquinas had free will as a rational faculty, whose object is the good, and by which man determines his own course of action and choices between particular goods. Your thinking may be filling that out or it may be a reorganization of that or it may be a scuttling of that. Bears further thought.

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My feeling about it is we are driven to obscure data because of bad data we got that makes us see obscuring as the action to take. It simply boils down to every chance for a choice creates a singular measurment, not mutliple. Just like every other type of measurement leads to a single measurement in regard to the focus. Everytime there is an option for anything, the way I see this, there is a chance that there will be a misperception that will lead to a miscalculation. Alcoholism for example, evidences that kind of measurement even against what we would imagine is a will.

 

In other words the only way to obscure measurement that is happening, is to measure and identify value in doing that, and then taking that course of action. And the more you know you are just measuring the less prone you will be to using your own system in such a backwards way. That is more of the principle of CBT, in enhancing your rationality and self-awareness, and thus increasing your ability to make better choices and have both better relationships and mental health. Though cognitive behaviorists usually still believe in free will. But I see it as mistaking a means for an end.

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Interesting idea Mikee. I agree with what you've wrote. "Mere measurement" may sound like watered down volition, but if it requires considerable self-awareness and the ability to identify value, then measurements that we actively perform are still as much a choice that leads to action. It looks like Nietzsche's views on volition, where people have values or a sense of self, while their will to power is an ability to bear these values out in life.

 

My preferred phrasing is that measurements lead to attitudes towards the things within reach or what you think about.

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Mike,

 

I’d suggest that coherent modeling of our subconscious or preconscious processes as measurement processes depends upon the reality of some conscious measurements. It would seem the orderings and comparisons entailed in conscious measurement (even ordinal measurements, along one or more dimensions) presuppose the freeness for potentials, the discipline and control, and the scope that is a free will. Free will and its elements would seem not to presuppose the reality of conscious measurement, though it makes such measurement possible.

Edited by Boydstun

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I do see conscious measurements as a reality, but what matters for measurements conscious or not, is not variability but accuracy. The best way to explain what I am drawing from would be to measure the length of the top of your computer monitor with a standard measuring tape. The potentials are present on the tape, far beyond what you would actually need for measuring the length of your monitor. And the potentials aren't relevant, because we don't measure with potentials in and of themselves, in mind. Potentials really lose value once they appear to lead to worse measurements of the length of the monitor. Potentials that lead to a possibly better measurement of your monitor length still may have value though. That is an example of the point of "ends being mistaken for means", accuracy the end and variability being the means. I just don't see the freeness in the potentials as legitimate. I don't consider freeness, when I use a measuring device of any kind, with that not being the focus. The potentials just account for the unknown range of outcomes that can't be ascertained pre-measurement, rather than an enabling of freeness.

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This is a fresh perspective on the topic of free will, and one I think that presents an accurate representation of what volitional beings do as a means of exercising control over their lives; that being the standard of value being measured.  In a moral context, we could say that choice is good because of the individual's desire for the best personal outcome out of many potential ones.  However that may parallel Boydstun's concern about pursuing or obscuring reality, e.g., is choosing the bad a good thing?

 

"It simply boils down to every chance for a choice creates a singular measurement, not multiple." ~ post #3

 

True, but a social context implies multiple measurements nonetheless, lest we lose the ability to accurately judge the actions of others.

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