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Do animals have volition II?

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9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

It might even be random if there is no compelling factor urging the lion one way or another. It needs to move, so it moves. 

One thing that we can be sure of is that nothing acts randomly. You can say randomly as if you have no idea, but no animal or anything in existence acts truly randomly. Turning right is not involuntary, the whole point about locomotion is that it requires control. You can actually cut the spine of a cat in a specific surgical way and it's legs can move automatically without being even connected to the brain. This has been done before, the cat could walk on a treadmill. That would be involuntary and automatic in the truest sense. Yet this ability is not at all adaptive. You can't simply set the muscles in motion and everything is okay or partially functional. It can't turn left or right. 

An animal needs to move because something compels it to move. Food, water, attention, things like that. It's easy to observe. Vertebrates have pretty complex movements. Those complex movements are not really possible without some voluntary control. Some kind of selection about ways to move and seek out things in the world. The more you observe of animals, the easier it is to see. So when you put the 2 together, volition is the kind of attribute that explains complex movement while also explaining that awareness has a function for at least vertebrates. Jellyfish and things like that are at the borderline, so I'm leaving that out of the discussion.

5 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

In the section regarding children from the Scope of Volition, it was stated that it is well past two before they become self-conscious.

It's not really true. I mean, many people used to think that. But now plenty of scientists really believe that toddlers and babies are aware of themselves to some extent and capable of deliberately seeking goals that they want. Self-conscious it almost impossible to measure, using mirrors is not enough. It's not enough to ask their name. You have to watch what they do. Children explore in such a way that they are figuring things out not simply responding to stimuli. Of course there is complex analysis that scientists do, about how capable they really are, or to what extent they need language to develop further. If you tie the foot of a one-year-old up to a mobile above their bed, the baby will learn that kicking their foot will make the mobile move. I don't off hand remember the details of the experiment (there was a control group), the point is that the baby would kick without needing an external reward and made a causal connection between foot and mobile. 

 

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23 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

[P]lenty of scientists really believe that toddlers and babies are aware of themselves to some extent and capable of deliberately seeking goals that they want. Self-conscious it almost impossible to measure, using mirrors is not enough. It's not enough to ask their name. You have to watch what they do. Children explore in such a way that they are figuring things out not simply responding to stimuli.

I was essentially content with:

The day when he grasps that matter has no volition is the day when he grasps that he has—and this is his birth as a human being.

If anything, I would be curious at what age might the implicit self-conscious described become explicit in conceptual form.

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11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

One thing that we can be sure of is that nothing acts randomly. You can say randomly as if you have no idea, but no animal or anything in existence acts truly randomly.

Random in the sense that the lion might have gone left or right. The path he took was not determined by the factors compelling him to move. Let's say he was thirsty after waiting out a storm under some rock. He leaves in search of a puddle and comes to the junction. It's a new area, so he doesn't know where the puddles might be. He happens to be stepping toward the path on the right when he reaches the junction, so he continues in that direction. Now he's on the path to the right, but he didn't choose that path over the other one. It was where his roaming for water took him. 

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15 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

I was essentially content with:

The day when he grasps that matter has no volition is the day when he grasps that he has—and this is his birth as a human being.

If anything, I would be curious at what age might the implicit self-conscious described become explicit in conceptual form.

That line from Galt’s Speech is within a paragraph sketching human cognitive development from infancy.

“The birth of [a baby’s] mind is the day when he grasps that the streak that keeps flickering past him is his mother and the whirl beyond her is the curtain, that the two are solid entities and neither can turn into the other, that they are what they are, that they exist. The day when he grasps that matter has no volition is the day when he grasps that he has—and this is his birth as a human being. . . . The [later] day when he grasps . . . [that] his mind must discover the nature, the causes, the full context of his sensory material, his mind must identify the things that he perceives—that is the the day of his birth as a thinker and scientist.” (1957, 1041)

Rand wrote further: “The pre-conceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional; volition begins with the first syllogism” (1961, 15). At times Rand seems to have used syllogism in a super-broad, rather emblematic way to mean simply any logical inference, deductive or inductive. (The first definition of syllogism in my American Heritage Dictionary is as in any elementary logic text. The second definition is: “Reasoning from the general to the specific; deduction.” The definitions are very like these in my Webster’s Unabridged. Pellegrin points out that at 92a28 of Post An. “the term syllogism is taken in a broad and non-technical sense” (2010, 131n15).) I rather think volitional thinking, with action- and image-schemata, is in the repertoire before attaining first uttered word (at about one year), which word is co-referential and incorporated into schemata (and later into sentences).

As for the 1957 statement, I’d say that coming a day of realizing that matter has no volition and that oneself does have volition is not distinctively human; rather, it is shared with higher animals. By the time I realized my teddy bear was not volitional and that me and my puppy were, my puppy also had realized that, pretty sure.

In that 1957 sentence, I doubt Rand was thinking of that dawning of volition as the volition at hand in free will. With development of the Rand/Branden formulation of the Objectivist conception of free will in the early 1960s, as we have seen, the crucial ability is self-regulation of one’s explicit conceptual consciousness, including setting the general aim of attaining truth. Surely that ability arises before ability to make inferences. I wonder if it might be developing as one is learning explicit rules of grammar—for speaking and writing—expressly learning to follow them. That is an extensive self-regulation closely related, I imagine, to self-regulation of conceptual consciousness. On the learning and teaching of grammar from ages 5 to 7, there is this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lennox, J. G., and R. Bolton, editors, 2010. Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle – Essays in Honor of Allan Gotthelf. Cambridge.

Pellegrin, P. 2010. Definition in Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics. In Lennox and Bolton 2010.

Rand, A. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. Random House.

——. 1961. For the New Intellectual. Signet.

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1 minute ago, Boydstun said:

As for the 1957 statement, I’d say that coming a day of realizing that matter has no volition and that oneself does have volition is not distinctively human; rather, it is shared with higher animals. By the time I realized my teddy bear was not volitional and that me and my puppy were, my puppy also had realized that, pretty sure.

Coming to conceptually realize that you have the capacity of volition was not a condition of your being able to exhibit volition.  Many higher animals exhibit it without knowing anything about it conceptually speaking.

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4 hours ago, Boydstun said:

. . .

As for the 1957 statement, I’d say that coming a day of realizing that matter has no volition and that oneself does have volition is not distinctively human; rather, it is shared with higher animals. By the time I realized my teddy bear was not volitional and that me and my puppy were, my puppy also had realized that, pretty sure.

In that 1957 sentence, I doubt Rand was thinking of that dawning of volition as the volition at hand in free will. . . .

 

4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Coming to conceptually realize that you have the capacity of volition was not a condition of your being able to exhibit volition.  Many higher animals exhibit it without knowing anything about it conceptually speaking.

SL, yes. However, in Rand's 1957 paragraph shown in the preceding post, she was presenting things in chronological order of human development. The sentence "The day when he grasps that matter has no volition is the day when he realizes that he has---and this is the day of his birth as a human being" is at an early stage of development. It is not about mere exercise, but realization, recognition. And it is not plausibly, in context, about volition as free will. It is about a more primitive sort of volition and recognition of it, as when I recognize that my live puppy has volition and my teddy bear does not. It is a necessary step along the way of developing free volition and recognition of free volition later on. Rand was simply getting unnecessarily crossed up by wording of this sentence as it is located in the unfolding of development in the unfolding of the paragraph. It's fine to speak of "volition" sometimes while not meaning "free volition" or "free will". But in this sentence, in it's paragraph sequence, she is speaking of a more primitive volition and recognition of that volition that I and my puppy shared at that stage, and she should not have got in a hurry and telescoped the eventual distinctively human volition (free volition) and its recognition into toddlerhood by taking the toddler recognition as distinctively human.

Objectivist model of free will got more consistent and further developed when Rand and Branden thought on it further and wrote about it in their non-fiction of the early 1960's.

 

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8 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Now he's on the path to the right, but he didn't choose that path over the other one. It was where his roaming for water took him. 

That would be incidentally or accidentally. But if there really are two paths, there is some kind of selection in order to achieve drinking water. If the lion is trying to get to the lake and goes along the left path because that happens to be on the way to the lake, he is still looking at the environment and making some kind of choice. Even more importantly, we know he would change course as the circumstances change. Incidental or accidental would be more like a lion stepping on a dry leaf. 

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On 5/10/2021 at 4:42 PM, Boydstun said:

 

SL, yes. However, in Rand's 1957 paragraph shown in the preceding post, she was presenting things in chronological order of human development. The sentence "The day when he grasps that matter has no volition is the day when he realizes that he has---and this is the day of his birth as a human being" is at an early stage of development. It is not about mere exercise, but realization, recognition. And it is not plausibly, in context, about volition as free will. It is about a more primitive sort of volition and recognition of it, as when I recognize that my live puppy has volition and my teddy bear does not. It is a necessary step along the way of developing free volition and recognition of free volition later on. Rand was simply getting unnecessarily crossed up by wording of this sentence as it is located in the unfolding of development in the unfolding of the paragraph. It's fine to speak of "volition" sometimes while not meaning "free volition" or "free will". But in this sentence, in it's paragraph sequence, she is speaking of a more primitive volition and recognition of that volition that I and my puppy shared at that stage, and she should not have got in a hurry and telescoped the eventual distinctively human volition (free volition) and its recognition into toddlerhood by taking the toddler recognition as distinctively human.

Objectivist model of free will got more consistent and further developed when Rand and Branden thought on it further and wrote about it in their non-fiction of the early 1960's.

 

On a related subject, what are your thoughts on this question:

 

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A worthwhile set of schematics to think with, I’d say, SL, at least to get started. I notice that internally, there are random processes that affect a human life in a deterministic way, such as the appearance of a cell mutation (truly random at first cell alteration) we call cancer. It could deterministically become, say, non-Hodgkins lymphoma. In the particular case of person having it, though in advance of therapies, we might say it’s a matter of chance whether the therapy will be effective in this case; that is just our ignorance, and when the particular outcome eventuates—say death from the cancer—we sensibly say that this outcome was a matter of objective, determined fact from the time the therapy had begun. With the same stage of cancer and the same age of life when the therapy would begin, different patients would make different yes-no choices over whether to undertake the therapy. Each patient could weigh all sorts of common and uncommon factors in coming to a decision. It might become clear enough to a patient which way she should go, or she might end very unsure and decide to let a coin-flip decide which way. But I’d say each person of mature sound mind freely comes to their decision.

One thing that seems key in my current thinking about this is that alternatives as alternatives on what to do are not something merely out in the world without their being an agent confronting the world. The thinking agent is able to generate alternatives, and though they are drafted over what all is in the world, the more powerful at generation, the more free is the agent in the sense of having organized outputs more distant from, more deliberately organized than, immediate-emergency fight or flight response (I’ll pose the latter for William O’s deterministic case). And so long as the thinking agent’s conscious, purposive control system has been in the overall control, greater freedom seems also to go with greater distance from random acts, or anyway acts without large purpose, such as acts of someone who has lost their mind (which I’ll pose for William O’s randomness case).

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19 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

A worthwhile set of schematics to think with, I’d say, SL, at least to get started. I notice that internally, there are random processes that affect a human life in a deterministic way, such as the appearance of a cell mutation (truly random at first cell alteration) we call cancer. It could deterministically become, say, non-Hodgkins lymphoma. In the particular case of person having it, though in advance of therapies, we might say it’s a matter of chance whether the therapy will be effective in this case; that is just our ignorance, and when the particular outcome eventuates—say death from the cancer—we sensibly say that this outcome was a matter of objective, determined fact from the time the therapy had begun. With the same stage of cancer and the same age of life when the therapy would begin, different patients would make different yes-no choices over whether to undertake the therapy. Each patient could weigh all sorts of common and uncommon factors in coming to a decision. It might become clear enough to a patient which way she should go, or she might end very unsure and decide to let a coin-flip decide which way. But I’d say each person of mature sound mind freely comes to their decision.

One thing that seems key in my current thinking about this is that alternatives as alternatives on what to do are not something merely out in the world without their being an agent confronting the world. The thinking agent is able to generate alternatives, and though they are drafted over what all is in the world, the more powerful at generation, the more free is the agent in the sense of having organized outputs more distant from, more deliberately organized than, immediate-emergency fight or flight response (I’ll pose the latter for William O’s deterministic case). And so long as the thinking agent’s conscious, purposive control system has been in the overall control, greater freedom seems also to go with greater distance from random acts, or anyway acts without large purpose, such as acts of someone who has lost their mind (which I’ll pose for William O’s randomness case).

The division between internal and external may be illusory, but with respect to the discussion about free will they are primarily meant as providing some locus to encourage some focusing on what one would defines as free will (structure and process). 

The locus of the process is meant to distill how fundamentally that process works, and although determinism (classical) and random (quantum) processes were specifically shown, real systems and hence real processes can be combinations of these processes.  The upshot, is that a combined process can involve randomness, unlike a deterministic process. Free will was presented as a separate process for consideration.

So the circle is not the body, but a line circumscribing what is internal versus external to the process, and being, of a free will (wherever and however manifest). The deterministic effects on the body, therefore are external factors (and knowledge of it are inputs) to the locus of free will as a process of some natural structure (ie the relevant subset thereof).  The circle although arbitrary, does help because there is no need to quibble about what really is inside versus outside, only that if such a faculty exists it has identity, if we include too much into that identity, i.e. that which has no relevant causative effect, then it can lie there ineffectual.

In your cancer example, you conclude with "freely comes to a decision".  For argument's sake, I'd note that the defining aspect of that "freedom" is the ability to have chosen otherwise, not merely that the complex system came to an independent decision  in a certain way based on certain abilities to construct alternatives.

With respect to your discussion about alternatives, I am sympathetic to your identification of the sophistication of the choice giving rise to what we see as wider possibilities or possibilities more nuanced or effective... this goes IMHO to the quality of the choice, to the productive capacity of the will, and not specifically to its being free or not. 

One could imagine a complex and sufficiently effective Watson or other system, making "purposive" decisions and creating by trial and error or by some neural network, possible outcomes and scenarios and testing them... all in a deterministic manner (including so called random number generation determined from something like ambient temperature).  Such would generate and determine choices... eventually, a single choice, but without any freedom at all.  In fact the wider the system, the greater its capacity and the more information it houses or has access to, perhaps the more determined the single "maximal" or optimal choice becomes... ignorance might have lead to more unique choices...

In systems in which a free will IS operating, I agree that the cognitive apparatus supporting that locus has an effect on the sophistication and creativity in the final choice made, and can and do take it in a different direction from what a primitive cognitive system might choose... and yes a simple system or a complex one in fight or flight contexts (which adapt to become a simple one...) probably do drive the free will process towards a simple random process.

 

In the end I find the "free" in free will to be more interesting and glossed over, than the "will" in free will, and trying to determine just what we mean is incredibly important.

 

I have heard many arguments purportedly proving free will exists, and others purportedly proving free will does not exist, all the while without enough of an explanation of what the person MEANS by free will.  Saying one does not understand how or why free will exists, is not the same as and in no way is a valid excuse for, not knowing what one means by "free will" when one apparently has all the confidence in the world to claim proofs about it.

Until a philosopher can distill just what would qualify, at a high level, as a process with some amount of free will he has no means of determining whether anything, human or artificial, exhibits it. 

I have tried to circumscribe the minimum abstract physical requirements I have for free will (sophisticated or not), not necessarily the ultimate requirements for it.  So far, I do not see any reason why it could not be composed of a combination of deterministic (classical) and random (quantum) processes, however, I do not believe it possible to be composed entirely of deterministic processes.

 

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SL,

Pages 107-12 of Onkar Ghate’s chapter “A Being of Self-Made Soul” sets out really well the Objectivist concept of free will, if you should ever like to get hold of the Blackwell book A Companion to Ayn Rand (2016) containing this contribution. The Objectivists take free will to be “the power to select among alternatives, with no particular selection necessitated by antecedent factors. Rand’s theory of free will, therefore, is a version of self-determination.” The geological earth is not a self-determining system. A forest fire or candle flame are not self-determining systems. Life and perhaps certain non-living machines invented by intelligent life can be self-determining systems, that is, systems organized with needs and powers for active self-maintenance of the system it is. Then, with that understanding as the proper context of application, we could define free will as a self-determination in which there is power to select among alternatives, with no particular selection necessitated by antecedent factors.

Antecedent factors, internal antecedent factors, at what time before the instant of choice? If the event that is choice itself occurs over a tenth of a second, for example, it could remain an empirical question, it seems to me, how much contingency (159-62), thence continuing possible freedom in the choice there remains at half a second before the choice, three seconds before the choice, and so forth.

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3 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Pages 107-12 of Onkar Ghate’s chapter “A Being of Self-Made Soul” sets out really well the Objectivist concept of free will, if you should ever like to get hold of the Blackwell book A Companion to Ayn Rand (2016) containing this contribution. The Objectivists take free will to be “the power to select among alternatives, with no particular selection necessitated by antecedent factors. Rand’s theory of free will, therefore, is a version of self-determination.” The geological earth is not a self-determining system. A forest fire or candle flame are not self-determining systems. Life and perhaps certain non-living machines invented by intelligent life can be self-determining systems, that is, systems organized with needs and powers for active self-maintenance of the system it is. Then, with that understanding as the proper context of application, we could define free will as a self-determination in which there is power to select among alternatives, with no particular selection necessitated by antecedent factors.

I have the book and have read it through.  I'm not sure I am completely satisfied with the level of detail reached.  Nor do I believe there is quite enough of an integration/reconciliation (this is in reference to the article) with a persistent dichotmously and disparagingly labelled "material world" (label used not in reference to the article).

 

3 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Antecedent factors, internal antecedent factors, at what time before the instant of choice? If the event that is choice itself occurs over a tenth of a second, for example, it could remain an empirical question, it seems to me, how much contingency (159-62), thence continuing possible freedom in the choice there remains at half a second before the choice, three seconds before the choice, and so forth.

An undecided mind is still roving over the possibilities... narrowing in on the choice, the freedom from being wholly determined I would assume must extend continuously until it has been made.  Whatever choice is, if one is ever definitively made and if it is of only a choice of one of many alternatives, then the alternatives I assume must somehow be eliminated  in the process, thrown out of consideration, until literally only one remains.

 

I suppose rather than looking at this process empirically as merely refining one's ideas of about freedom of choice, we could simply use it to define the moment of choice.

A free choice has been made, by definition, once the factors present to make it free, are all in the past.  This freedom shrinks (if one could assign a magnitude) as one approaches the choice, and simultaneously becomes 0 as it is made.

That does not mean one can not make another choice, quickly countermanding the previous... but that is a further choice, not an extension of the first, nor an illustration that the first choice was or was not free.

There may be a "deciding one has chosen" factor which shuts the freedom down, at least for that choice, or for some temporary period afterward... to avoid endless dithering in the mind.

 

I do like your softening of classical determinism, and your reflections about genuine contingency, with processes which (like QM) exhibit multiple outcome causality.  I think it is a sort of multiple outcome causality which for any particular starting identity of the universe and itself, would exhibit a probability function (if it were possible to repeat reality) in the Hilbert space of all choices and actions, which would typify free will.  It has enough identity (the probability function is specific... maybe you'll choose Italian Food over Thai 80% of the time) so that it is not purely random, but it also is not wholly determined.

 

Here's an aside:

Of course if we shrink free will, or the free aspect thereof, i.e. if we restrict it ONLY to the choice to focus... well we have a different story.

Once you make the choice to focus or not everything else would be determined... and so then alternative futures are all about the randomness with which you choose to focus. 

IF you so happen to be such that you choose to focus 100 percent of the time you'd be deterministic. 

If you so happened to be such that you choose to focus 0 percent of the time you'd be deterministic. 

If you so happened to be such that in each and every particular context you always made the same decision to be focused or not, say 100% whenever you are in a car and 0% whenever you are on a boat, you would be deterministic.

There has to be some appreciable number of contexts, realities in the moment, at which point you could choose to be focused or you could also choose not to be in focus, that alternative futures are even possible.

 

If follows, that in accordance with Objectivism, your ability to choose to go out of focus is crucial to your having fee will.

[As you can likely see I am not of the view that free will must be so restricted]

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Strictly Logical,

If I understand correctly, you are saying that, in at least some cases where a person makes a free-will choice, probabilities can be assigned to the different alternatives the person is choosing among.  Is this what you are saying?  If so, why do you think this?

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1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

Strictly Logical,

If I understand correctly, you are saying that, in at least some cases where a person makes a free-will choice, probabilities can be assigned to the different alternatives the person is choosing among.  Is this what you are saying?  If so, why do you think this?

Free will requires that you could have chosen otherwise, absolutely everything about the context the same... the exact same universe, the exact same you (identity).

Probability, in the context of "you could have chosen otherwise" means you are more likely to choose certain things than other things.  IF we could rewind the universe to when you started making a choice and let you choose again it might be different... but if we could rewind the universe and let you choose again... and rewind it again and let you choose again... and do it over and over... as we approach infinity, there will emerge certain patterns which have certain probabilities, which reflect your identity.  Your preferences, tastes, thoughts, memories, all might be involved in the decision making process and because you are you and not someone else, you will tend to do some things in that situation and tend not to do other things.

I posit probability, because positing certainty of any one choice, would deny free will entirely.

 

I am not saying that your faculty of choice is a alternative choosing machine governed by some numbers stored in you as probabilities, your choice works the way it works, period, we only understand and analyse your choices according to statistics (this is pretty well true for anything "statistical"... no coin looks up a spreadsheet stored in itself and says... last time I landed "heads" so to make things work out next time I should land "tails"). 

Since you are unique, the outcomes of a repeated (hypothetical) choice will (must) exhibit a pattern of probability according to who you are, but always you do what you do according to who you are not according to statistics.

 

 

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I posit probability, because positing certainty of any one choice, would deny free will entirely.

A probability distribution in this context means that the person choosing doesn't even know why they choose - it's just a certain chance that they will do what they chose to do. If in this exact context I choose to reply to your post, why would I do anything different if nothing about the context changes if it's repeated?

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11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

A probability distribution in this context means that the person choosing doesn't even know why they choose - it's just a certain chance that they will do what they chose to do.

No.

You clearly do not understand or are not trying to understand what I posted.  Read it again.  Try using abstractions when thinking.

 

11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

If in this exact context I choose to reply to your post, why would I do anything different if nothing about the context changes if it's repeated?

Some of us here believe in free will, if you want to propose a determinist theory of human action, you can but I am not going to argue that with you. 

That pleasure I leave to someone else.

 

 

Please stop misconstruing what I am saying.. if you do not or cannot understand, the polite thing to do is first ask what I mean.  The impolite approach you are using is to prop up something unintelligible resulting from your erroneously twisting of what I have said, then to claim I said it, and then to proclaim "aha" that does not make sense.

If you cannot do the polite thing, then we have a problem.

 

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17 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Strictly Logical,

If I understand correctly, you are saying that, in at least some cases where a person makes a free-will choice, probabilities can be assigned to the different alternatives the person is choosing among.  Is this what you are saying?  If so, why do you think this?

Thank you for the question by the way.  Does my answer clear things up for you?

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Read it again.  Try using abstractions when thinking.

For a second there, I forgot that I'm not a Neanderthal.

3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Some of us here believe in free will, if you want to propose a determinist theory of human action

Is there anything I said that leads you to believe that I don't believe in free will?

3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The impolite approach you are using is to prop up something unintelligible resulting from your erroneously twisting of what I have said, then to claim I said it, and then to proclaim "aha" that does not make sense.

Which part was unintelligible?

What was mistaken about a probability distribution implying that not even the person making the choice would know why they chose it?

The question I asked was another way of asking what you mean. It gives you a chance to clarify what I think is a problem or contradiction. "Erroneously twisting" is me pointing out the contradiction - contradictions do indeed twist what you mean. It's not because I'm trying to distort your words.

Think of it this way. If the context I'm making a choice in gives me the reason for the choice I make, and I make the choices I do because of the way I think, why would identical context and my identical way of thinking ever lead me to make a different choice? If you are hungry, food is available, and you want to survive, you're going to choose to eat. You wouldn't then say that if the context repeated forever into infinity, some portion of the time you would not choose to eat. This isn't a denial of free will, but a fact of behavior to explain. Making the same choice is still a choice.

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38 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Is there anything I said that leads you to believe that I don't believe in free will?

This:

15 hours ago, Eiuol said:

If in this exact context I choose to reply to your post, why would I do anything different if nothing about the context changes if it's repeated?

and this:

38 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

 why would identical context and my identical way of thinking ever lead me to make a different choice?

Because if it never lead to a different choice you would be deterministic.  Free will requires that you could have chosen otherwise, without that aspect, you do not have free will.  I am open to the idea that some choices, especially important ones core to who you are, will almost certainly always be the same.

 

38 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Which part was unintelligible?

This part:

15 hours ago, Eiuol said:

A probability distribution in this context means that the person choosing doesn't even know why they choose

It does not.  Choosing includes everything we are and think and feel etc. when we choose, it is what it is, and generally includes knowing why, in that choice, we make that choice.

The part which I think most relevant for reread is this:

SL wrote:

"I am not saying that your faculty of choice is a alternative choosing machine governed by some numbers stored in you as probabilities, your choice works the way it works, period, we only understand and analyse your choices according to statistics (this is pretty well true for anything "statistical"... no coin looks up a spreadsheet stored in itself and says... last time I landed "heads" so to make things work out next time I should land "tails"). 

Since you are unique, the outcomes of a repeated (hypothetical) choice will (must) exhibit a pattern of probability according to who you are, but always you do what you do according to who you are not according to statistics."

 

38 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Think of it this way. If the context I'm making a choice in gives me the reason for the choice I make, and I make the choices I do because of the way I think, why would identical context and my identical way of thinking ever lead me to make a different choice? If you are hungry, food is available, and you want to survive, you're going to choose to eat. You wouldn't then say that if the context repeated forever into infinity, some portion of the time you would not choose to eat. This isn't a denial of free will, but a fact of behavior to explain. Making the same choice is still a choice.

There are some choices which you are almost certain to make... and perhaps for some (its hard to know) you are absolutely going to make that choice every time. In such a case the probability would be unity, but for most choices, certainly almost all of the little or not so important ones, the probabilities of outcome for the alternatives will be less than one, but all add up to 1.

 

Back to this:

I said this:

"Deterministic thinking machines will be able to fool us into thinking they have free will only in the sense that it will mimic it.  We will know it does not have free will because we will know exactly how it works, and know that it is deterministic."

Think of this, all replacements are in bold:

"Hydraulic driven watches will be able to fool us (as watch onlookers) into thinking they have gear driven internals only in the sense that it (the Hydraulic watch) will mimic (fake, look as though it were - as seen from the outside) it (standard gear driven watches).  We (as watchmakers) will know it does not have gear driven internals because we will know exactly how it works, i.e. know that it is Hydraulically driven."

 

This IS exactly, by analogy, what I meant.

 

 

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The part which I think most relevant for reread is this:

Why don't you tell me what I should notice rather than saying it louder? Or try explaining it a different way? Clearly it didn't work the first time, why would it work the second time? It's not because I didn't read it. Pasting it again didn't change anything for me.

4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Because if it never lead to a different choice you would be deterministic.

So if my way of thinking is to be rational, and I evaluate the context in such a way that I figure out the rational action I want to take, then always making that choice would be deterministic? Do you see the problem here? Making a deterministic choice. That's a contradiction. 

4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

perhaps for some (its hard to know) you are absolutely going to make that choice every time.

You flatly called this deterministic. If you're always going to make the choice every time, then the context and your way of thinking will never lead to a different choice.

4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

It does not.  Choosing includes everything we are and think and feel etc. when we choose, it is what it is, and generally includes knowing why, in that choice, we make that choice.

Then you would succeed in making the same choice every time.

I mostly wrote this next part for myself because I thought it was useful. For other reasons as well. Let's try this:

 

choosing to eat = p(e) = 0.9
not choosing to eat = p(s) = 0.1
p(e + s) = 1

For any choice, we know that there are factors involved, reasons why you make a particular choice. Choices are made in order to acquire or move toward something. We know this simply by observing any animal. If there is an apple, then this is a factor (reason why) you choose to eat. This factor is external. It exists outside the animal. Broadly speaking, we can also say that there are internal factors. One such factor is hunger. Internal and external factors make up the context. 

c = (EX, IN)

In this case

c = (apple, hunger)

So c is context. Whatever your context is, that's the material for making choices. So let's call volition v, assuming whatever you want goes into that process itself. Whatever method you want. For precision, let's call it a deliberation process. It is determinate with choice involved, that is, there is no uncertainty about each step along the way (determinate as in knowable). I am hungry, and there is an apple, therefore I will eat. Moreover, you are aware that you were hungry. You know exactly why you chose to eat. The input to the function is c. The output, the behavior, the mental choice, is b. 

v(c) = b

In this case,

v(c) = (choosing to eat)

Presumably, if nothing ever changes about a context, nothing about the process of volition will change, so the resulting choice would not change. If the choice did change, then there is something about the process of volition that is indeterminate, or the context is indeterminate. Indeterminate context, truly indeterminate, would apply to someone who doesn't trust the senses, which doesn't apply here.

I would think that p(v(c)) = 1

But somehow v(c) = e OR s

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In another thread, a selection of critters is offered to observe free will. 

The concept of rolling can certainly be formed from observing a ball, tire, a stone or even a log roll along a stretch of surface.

In the case of animals, hunger develops, the quest for food ensues (in the case of humans, this presumes he has learned to identify hunger by some unspecified means.) "Choosing" to look for food does not strike me as what Rand is referring to when she penned:

that which you call 'free will' is your mind's freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only freedom, the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and your character.

Is this the same freedom found in jellyfish, honeybees, alligators, elephants, as is found in man?

It seems to fall short in the realm of "the process of defining identity and discovering causal connections."

Digressing to positing an explanation of determinism, why wouldn't there be agreement on all matters, were mechanistic determinism a valid (pesky free-will laden) choice to select from? After all, are not all residing in the context of existence? 

To paraphrase another writer, Steven Covey, is the effort here to understand, or simply to be understood?

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