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Free Will Revisited

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aleph_0
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I think there is plenty of "outside evidence" confirming free will.

Since others presumably possess free will also, it is perfectly acceptable to use your observations of them and what they tell you about their introspections as supporting evidence. Of course this all presupposes free will, but so does the validation of free will itself.

Free will is axiomatic: it cannot be denied else it be accepted.

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I understand and agree with what you're saying, so long as you're not going so far as to say that one should believe in ghosts simply because they think they saw one once, without any further evidence.

You didn't answer my question, so I'll repeat it:

What makes you think a discussion of the validation of free will is similar in type to a discussion of ghosts?

Observation of ghosts is indicative of hallucinations, among other mental defects/mistaken inferences from hazy perceptions. Are you saying that free will advocates are hallucinating? Are you saying that I'm hallucinating? Because if you are, then I don't think there's any reason to continue this discussion.

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Oh yeah?! Watch me try!

Denying free will is denying the ability to self-regulate one's own consciousness, in effect: being reduced to an animal's consciousness (of course, you wouldn't agree, since there was never a higher form of consciousness to be "reduced" to).

So why should we bother debating you? You can't consider and deliberate over what's being presented to you, since you can't (by implication of your own views) self-regulate your own views, and hence debate is pointless.

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Denying free will is denying the ability to self-regulate one's own consciousness, in effect: being reduced to an animal's consciousness (of course, you wouldn't agree, since there was never a higher form of consciousness to be "reduced" to).

So why should we bother debating you? You can't consider and deliberate over what's being presented to you, since you can't (by implication of your own views) self-regulate your own views, and hence debate is pointless.

That comment was sarcasm, as EC pointed out right above you.

Edited by brian0918
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You didn't answer my question, so I'll repeat it:

What makes you think a discussion of the validation of free will is similar in type to a discussion of ghosts?

They are not similar in type and that was my point in asking for clarification. We are in agreement, then, about everything else.

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Nevertheless, the central topic of this thread is your unwillingness to accept free will by performing your own act of introspective validation; the rest is just window dressing that serves to obfuscate by pretending that there is anything else to discuss once the validation has been completed. Validate free will and your cultural determinism thesis becomes as irrelevant as the argument by neuroscience does, which is why I chose to focus on validation and its consequences. It makes no more sense to entertain fanciful ideas of an infinite god given the axiom of identity than to entertain the notion of cultural determinism given the self-evident fact of volition.

Quite the contrary, I noted that I do not accept the axiomatic nature of free will at the beginning in order to obviate that issue and focus the conversation on the topic I posted. It might be relevant to some degree for some posters, so it’s not entirely off-topic, but it’s not what I had brought up or intended to discuss.

This is where you've lost context. See my two posts from yesterday that talk about the words "determinate", "indeterminate", and "random" (1 and 2). Important bits:

This does not entirely address your argument, but simply the words you are choosing to use. You can still fall back to saying, "but don't particles just bounce into eachother; we can't have free will if we're just made up of particles bouncing into eachother" (or something to that effect), in which case I will direct you to the following post by Grames in that same thread:

Actually, the butterfly effect is quite irrelevant to the Uncertainty Principle which you seem to allude to, but they are entirely distinct, and the Uncertainty Principle has been proven to be not just a matter of human (or computer) capacity to be able to determine the outcome of any situation—but it is, indeed, a matter of the intrinsic nature of subatomic particles. What we mean when we say that subatomic particles behave indeterminately is that their location is many places at the same time, and when you “force it to decide” its location by measuring it, this “decision” is unpredictable in principle. There is no information possible that would possibly allow you to know its location after you have measured it.

Point being, indeterminism is not merely something defined by the human condition.

However, this is all a little beside the point since I was referring to something more directly philosophical than scientific.

Cause and effect work perfectly fine with free will. Just because there is a cause for everything, does not show or prove that anything was pre-determined. The fact that man must make choices at every point of his life(free will) and that there is a time line of events that lead up to a certain choice(cause and effect) does't not make the person choose x over y or over any other possibilities. The person is certainly influenced by past events, but he still posses volition to make any choice he wants. He is not pre-determined to choose x(determinism), nor did this situation randomly materialize out of no where(indeterminism).

Your thesis, then, is what I described above: “Nothing” determined whether a person chose x or y (or, perhaps more accurately, the individual agent in question determined whether he chose x or y). Then you have an event coming from nowhere. Indeterminacy. These indeterminate events are the manifestation of a willing agent. Existentialism.

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Actually, the butterfly effect is quite irrelevant to the Uncertainty Principle which you seem to allude to, but they are entirely distinct, and the Uncertainty Principle has been proven to be not just a matter of human (or computer) capacity to be able to determine the outcome of any situation—but it is, indeed, a matter of the intrinsic nature of subatomic particles. What we mean when we say that subatomic particles behave indeterminately is that their location is many places at the same time, and when you “force it to decide” its location by measuring it, this “decision” is unpredictable in principle. There is no information possible that would possibly allow you to know its location after you have measured it.

But you have not framed any of this entirely outside the context of an observer making observations. The wave-particle duality leads to this idea of things being "everywhere at the same time", but so what? It's not until an observer comes along to try to determine a specific particle's position that you discover you can't. You cannot possibly conclude from wave-particle duality that because X action was not predictable, therefore the actor should not be culpable, which is what I was responding to. What I was responding to was that convoluted claim that randomness violates causality, a claim that assumes that particles actually are in specific locations, but because we can't measure those locations exactly, therefore those wave-particles can't interact exactly, and must be interacting in a disconnected manner.

Edited by brian0918
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Quite the contrary, I noted that I do not accept the axiomatic nature of free will at the beginning in order to obviate that issue and focus the conversation on the topic I posted. It might be relevant to some degree for some posters, so it’s not entirely off-topic, but it’s not what I had brought up or intended to discuss.

Now that's a laugh-out-loud. Suppose you wanted to discuss an infinite god, and noted that you do not accept the axiom of identity at the beginning "in order to obviate that issue and focus the conservation on the topic I posted". Sorry, it doesn't work that way. You cannot have a discussion that entails cutting off the means of discussion at its root. The only proper thing left for a rational participant to do is point out your egregious error. Others may "discuss" the infinite god with you, but it will not be a rational discussion.

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You cannot possibly conclude from wave-particle duality that because X action was not predictable, therefore the actor should not be culpable, which is what I was responding to.

I wasn't trying to, I was simply clarifying the notion of indeterminism. My arguments concerning the logic of free will are not from scientific proofs of indeterminism.

Now that's a laugh-out-loud. Suppose you wanted to discuss an infinite god, and noted that you do not accept the axiom of identity at the beginning "in order to obviate that issue and focus the conservation on the topic I posted". Sorry, it doesn't work that way. You cannot have a discussion that entails cutting off the means of discussion at its root. The only proper thing left for a rational participant to do is point out your egregious error. Others may "discuss" the infinite god with you, but it will not be a rational discussion.

If you find the very topic unintelligible or impossible, fine enough. You can express that view, which is one I'm well aware of, and that's the end of our conversation. You cannot convince me that something is an axiom, since axioms by their nature are starting-points. I cannot convince you that something isn't an axiom. If you accept that free will is an axiom you won't begin to consider arguments for or against its reality, and the conversation is over before it begins. I've given reasons why one might still might find it worthwhile to consider my topic, but if you reject these as well, we have no more to say to each other.

On a tangential note, though you may get some satisfaction by making this conversation insulting by using such charged phrases as "Sorry, it doesn't work that way," and "egregious error," I find it completely unnecessary and unhelpful. I am not embarrassed by my ideas any more than I expect you are embarrassed by yours--and I'd like to maintain the courtesy of politely disagreeing. If you find me so wrong-headed that you cannot be courteous, I think it would be best for both of us to simply not speak.

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I wasn't trying to, I was simply clarifying the notion of indeterminism. My arguments concerning the logic of free will are not from scientific proofs of indeterminism.

By the way, "wave-particle duality" does not exist, it is simply a misinterpretation of the data. A particle is a particle and a wave is a wave. The supposed "wavelike" properties of particles can and has been explained in a way that doesn't include any violations of the law of identity.

There is no such thing as "indeterminism", either. Quantum mechanics is fully deterministic when interpreted correctly. There are no "proofs" of indeterminism.

And has been said to deny free-will is to use free-will. That is why it is an axiom, because it is self-evident in that it has to be used in it's denial. How can you NOT see this clear fact?

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If you find the very topic unintelligible or impossible, fine enough. You can express that view, which is one I'm well aware of, and that's the end of our conversation. You cannot convince me that something is an axiom, since axioms by their nature are starting-points. I cannot convince you that something isn't an axiom. If you accept that free will is an axiom you won't begin to consider arguments for or against its reality, and the conversation is over before it begins. I've given reasons why one might still might find it worthwhile to consider my topic, but if you reject these as well, we have no more to say to each other.

On a tangential note, though you may get some satisfaction by making this conversation insulting by using such charged phrases as "Sorry, it doesn't work that way," and "egregious error," I find it completely unnecessary and unhelpful. I am not embarrassed by my ideas any more than I expect you are embarrassed by yours--and I'd like to maintain the courtesy of politely disagreeing. If you find me so wrong-headed that you cannot be courteous, I think it would be best for both of us to simply not speak.

It is indeed the end of our conversation on the topic, but beyond that it ought to be the end of the conversation with any Objectivist. You admit this, which leaves you in the position of proposing a discussion among non-Objectivists only. Since you can have this anywhere else on the Internet, I am left wondering why you chose to bring it here to the debate forum, and the only answer I can think of is that you wish to enjoy the value of Objectivists' intellectual labors while simultaneously denying their validity. That's the real insult, and none of us here should stand for it.

Edited by Seeker
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By the way, "wave-particle duality" does not exist, it is simply a misinterpretation of the data. A particle is a particle and a wave is a wave. The supposed "wavelike" properties of particles can and has been explained in a way that doesn't include any violations of the law of identity.

There is no such thing as "indeterminism", either. Quantum mechanics is fully deterministic when interpreted correctly. There are no "proofs" of indeterminism.

And has been said to deny free-will is to use free-will. That is why it is an axiom, because it is self-evident in that it has to be used in it's denial. How can you NOT see this clear fact?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe wave-particle duality is distinct from wave-function collapse. Perhaps I've conflated wave-function collapse with Uncertainty. In any case, I take it the Bell Theorem has proven indeterminism.

I've heard the "free will, to be denied, must be used" argument before. I do not accept the assertion, as I do not assent that free will is axiomatic and present in every action a person makes. Your use of so much emphasis in your last paragraph tells me that you're growing emotional about this. That doesn't help convince me, and I doubt it is to any other advantage at all.

It is indeed the end of our conversation on the topic, but beyond that it ought to be the end of the conversation with any Objectivist. You admit this, which leaves you in the position of proposing a discussion among non-Objectivists only. Since you can have this anywhere else on the Internet, I am left wondering why you chose to bring it here to the debate forum, and the only answer I can think of is that you wish to enjoy the value of our intellectual labors while simultaneously denying their validity. That's the real insult, and none of us here should stand for it.

I have, like I said, mentioned reasons why someone might want to consider these ideas even if he is coming from the belief that free will is an axiom. You may reject them, but I think any reasonable person will see that I've intended no insult. I have, like anyone else here, invested quite a lot of intellectual labor into my philosophy and I do not believe that denying free will denies the validity of anyone's labor. That's another conversation, though. I chose to post this topic on this forum, in reality, because I respect some of the people here and hoped that something interesting would come of it. I was right. There were some subtleties of the topic that I had not anticipated. I also discuss my ideas with non-Objectivists. No attack was intended and, if an attack is perceived (though I doubt anyone could believe that I intentionally attack any individual), the rational reaction at this point would be to acknowledge that we have said everything we can properly say to each other and spend our time and intellectual labor wisely elsewhere. I see no reason to continue trying to pick a fight, and I've done my part to avoid it.

I'm searching for truth and being honest with myself and others, which impells me to recognize that I do not yet accept free will. If, in my current knowledge and beliefs, I said that I beleive in free will, I'd be a liar. And if you're like me in regards to searching for truth, I hope we both find it, no matter who turns out to be wrong.

[Edit: Inserted one word to correct grammar. No content altered.]

Edited by aleph_0
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe wave-particle duality is distinct from wave-function collapse. Perhaps I've conflated wave-function collapse with Uncertainty. In any case, I take it the Bell Theorem has proven indeterminism.

It did no such thing.

I've heard the "free will, to be denied, must be used" argument before. I do not accept the assertion, as I do not assent that free will is axiomatic and present in every action a person makes. Your use of so much emphasis in your last paragraph tells me that you're growing emotional about this. That doesn't help convince me, and I doubt it is to any other advantage at all.

Well then, I am done too, because it is self-evident. According to you, you can't "accept" or "not accept" anything because you don't possess the free will to do it. If you are "determined" not to "accept" my "assertion", then what is the point in having this discussion, or any discussion for that matter. Just to play out your pre-determined role?

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Well then, I am done too, because it is self-evident. According to you, you can't "accept" or "not accept" anything because you don't possess the free will to do it. If you are "determined" not to "accept" my "assertion", then what is the point in having this discussion, or any discussion for that matter. Just to play out your pre-determined role?

First, you say you are done and yet you continue to offer arguments. Secondly, I believe that is a misconception of the implications of free will, but beside the point anyway as it does not address the points I raised. If you like, I may make a topic about this later.

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First, you say you are done and yet you continue to offer arguments. Secondly, I believe that is a misconception of the implications of free will, but beside the point anyway as it does not address the points I raised. If you like, I may make a topic about this later.

I was just explaining why I am done. I have no interest in any more discussions with you, until you accept that discussion is even possible.

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On a tangential note, though you may get some satisfaction by making this conversation insulting by using such charged phrases as "Sorry, it doesn't work that way," and "egregious error," I find it completely unnecessary and unhelpful.

He couldn't help it, since he doesn't have free will.

But, evidently you retain enough self-control not to be insulting because you don't have free will either.

So, it all works out for the best.

By denying free will, you can claim that somebody else ought to do something -- I have no idea how he is supposed to do that, however, without free will -- but you can go on and on with your denials because you don't have free will. In other words, you are denying free will in man while expecting another man to freely choose not to insult you.

What are you trying to get away with by denying free will?

Are you choosing to be polite? If not, then why get upset if someone else is not polite? Are you presuming that you can help it, but he can't? Or that he can help it but you can't?

See, you can't get away with denying free will, since you are expecting him to have free will why denying it from the get-go.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe wave-particle duality is distinct from wave-function collapse. Perhaps I've conflated wave-function collapse with Uncertainty. In any case, I take it the Bell Theorem has proven indeterminism.
Bell's Theorem only rules out local hidden variables, its still possible to have non-local ones such as those in Bohmian mechanics, although this approach ends up with just as much weirdness as orthodox QM (its just a different type of weirdness). Edited by eriatarka
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He couldn't help it, since he doesn't have free will.

But, evidently you retain enough self-control not to be insulting because you don't have free will either.

So, it all works out for the best.

By denying free will, you can claim that somebody else ought to do something -- I have no idea how he is supposed to do that, however, without free will -- but you can go on and on with your denials because you don't have free will. In other words, you are denying free will in man while expecting another man to freely choose not to insult you.

What are you trying to get away with by denying free will?

Are you choosing to be polite? If not, then why get upset if someone else is not polite? Are you presuming that you can help it, but he can't? Or that he can help it but you can't?

See, you can't get away with denying free will, since you are expecting him to have free will why denying it from the get-go.

As I've said elsewhere more than once, I reject this argument but it's relatively non sequitur. It does not address the points I've raised.

Bell's Theorem only rules out local hidden variables, its still possible to have non-local ones such as those in Bohmian mechanics, although this approach ends up with just as much weirdness as orthodox QM (its just a different type of weirdness).

Which is my understanding. Thank you.

[Edit: Spelling correction.]

Edited by aleph_0
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As I've said elsewhere more than once, I reject this argument but it's relatively non sequitur. It does not address the points I've raised.

In other words, you are expecting us to stay within the parameters of your debate terms, to focus on what you wrote, and to consider that outside of direct evidence to the contrary; all of which would require free will, otherwise, we would be like a train on a track that cannot chose to take a right turn if there is no track.

Of course, Objectivism acknowledges free will in man, including the free will to avoid facts, which is called evasion. You can freely choose to go along with the facts of reality or you can freely choose to ignore them. You are freely choosing to ignore them.

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aleph0:

You say you reject that free will is axiomatic. I would like to work on this if you don't mind.

First, does this mean that you reject that we possess free will? Or are you leaving that question open and just saying that you reject its axiomatic nature?

Do you agree that the senses are valid and that you sense and observe that you possess free will?

This is an important question. Let us first agree that we possess free will and then we can move on to its validation and then to the demonstration of its axiomatic nature.

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