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Old 2010-05-24, 07:29   Link #81
ChainLegacy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
Well, at least it won't help you in court. I'd love to see an exchange like this:

Accused: Not guilty, your honor! Free will is an illusion, I was determined to do it.
Judge: It might be that free will is an illusion but in that case I'm determined to put you into jail for 5 years nevertheless - because that's what I'm doing hereby.
Dawkins has spoken on the subject. I'm not sure I fully agree with him, but provocative nonetheless:

Spoiler for Quote, since it is kinda long:
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Old 2010-05-24, 07:37   Link #82
Irenicus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaden View Post
Yeah, I guess so. The way I see it is that the situations where the alleged free will comes to play can be broken down to making some kind of decisions. And our brain is so awesome, it can further break those descisions down to binary ones, weigh the options and make a choice based on only 'environmental factors' as you cleverly grouped them.

And all those factors are indeed near inifnite and hard to grasp. Maybe if on top of them we possessed some kind of esp-like power of free will, it wouldn't even be that strange?
Ah, but then the question isn't really about Occam's Razor -- what is simpler is probably more plausible -- anymore, but something much more difficult. To your proposition that our brain is so amazing (I agree, it's amazing) that it produces an illusion of free will for itself, I can counter with another proposition that this biological wonder is so amazing it actually creates free will by grasping on the abstract, meaning, purpose, and the idea of self.

For example, if I remember correctly (and if I'm wrong, blast away), the number zero doesn't actually exist in nature, yet that concept, that abstract, nonexistent concept, is a crucial part of human understanding. That we are able to *know* something as incredibly elegant yet utterly nonexistent as the number zero is rather amazing.

Which leads everything back to the beginning question: can we count that ability to grasp the abstract and acquire meaning to be free will? Can we really call the number zero our banner of freedom from the nature that created us?

Quote:
Machines as we might be, we do require motivations. If we're part of the environment that defines how we turn out, we should be inclined to improve that environment and indeed ourselves. People won't fall into despair just because philophers are unable to find the meaning of life, surely.
I'm going to be a little smartass, so forgive me there , but when you say we do require motivations, doesn't that indicate a need deeper than a chemically-defined biological machine would actually require?

On another, less on topic side, I was introducing something of a cultural argument to the discussion.
Spoiler for space saver:


Edit: On the Dawkins excerpt.

He sounded quite reasonable until he made that leap at the end, "[a]ssigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live," of which I must demand supporting evidence. Given that his entire argument hinges on this point that abstract morality is thoroughly an evolutionary construct, a shortcut built because -- and only because -- it's more convenient that way, he's going to have to demonstrate a stronger evidence than just an assertion that it is so.

Last edited by Irenicus; 2010-05-24 at 07:51.
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Old 2010-05-24, 11:03   Link #83
Jaden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
Which leads everything back to the beginning question: can we count that ability to grasp the abstract and acquire meaning to be free will? Can we really call the number zero our banner of freedom from the nature that created us?
Dunno. This is beginning to sound like wordplay. By a thread, I'd still define free will as a thing of feelings.

Quote:
I'm going to be a little smartass, so forgive me there , but when you say we do require motivations, doesn't that indicate a need deeper than a chemically-defined biological machine would actually require?
No, I think motivations are a simple thing, we're chemically rewarded for acting in accordance to them. I think you could even program a machine that way, though the question whould be why...

Quote:
On another, less on topic side....
Yeah, good stuff. When scientists discovered the genetic code, and begun to see the protein interactions that bring about our vital functions, it's understandable they hypothesized that the whole human can be understood as a machine, like clockwork. That's an old-fashioned view now, though.
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Old 2010-05-24, 21:52   Link #84
Ledgem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
Of course, I believe you're just expanding on the position, and I agree completely. We are affected by our environment; we change as we live, sometimes drastically, even so completely that the very question of identity is in doubt. The autonomy -- if we assume it exists, since that's the debate here -- is never absolute. But I'd still like to think it exists at some level. I think, at least. Or I think I think. On the other hand, while we sometimes call societies by the biological metaphor of "superorganism"...

...which is a rather sweet metaphor, mind -- it is still just a metaphor. A human has the crucial distinction of being able to act and most importantly think* autonomously. A cell can't do that. A nation doesn't have, well, a brain.

*Or "a phenomenon we mistakenly call thought," if the argument that there really is no free will is taken to its logical extreme.
That reminds me of an XKCD comic depicting two ants, claiming 'we've been putting out signals for years now - might as well call it off, there's no other sentient life out there.' While it was supposed to be funny, it was rather insightful. We recognize our own thought and thought process, but who is to say that something similar doesn't exist in other forms of life? Similarly, a nation may not have a brain, but what is a brain? Just a collection of cells. Those cells probably would have no idea (if they could have ideas) of what they were a part of. Neither would we. It reminds me of a concept from a game or anime once (or maybe a few), where they said something along the lines of "if X number of [people, machines, computers - what ever] come into existence, then the planet will become self-aware."

This isn't to say that society becomes one big human, but think about it: if societies ever did become self-aware, how would we know about it? It's unlikely that we would be able to perceive it. Fun food for thought

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaden View Post
No, I think motivations are a simple thing, we're chemically rewarded for acting in accordance to them. I think you could even program a machine that way, though the question whould be why...
Not all people operate that way. Some people are motivated, yet their motivation drives them to depression and suicide. If it were so simple then people would only do things that made them feel good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaden View Post
Yeah, good stuff. When scientists discovered the genetic code, and begun to see the protein interactions that bring about our vital functions, it's understandable they hypothesized that the whole human can be understood as a machine, like clockwork. That's an old-fashioned view now, though.
Nature vs. nurture is far from being old-fashioned. The only thing that has changed is that it is now less one-sided: people recognize that both factors (genetic and environment) impact an individual.
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Old 2010-05-25, 07:44   Link #85
ChainLegacy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
That reminds me of an XKCD comic depicting two ants, claiming 'we've been putting out signals for years now - might as well call it off, there's no other sentient life out there.' While it was supposed to be funny, it was rather insightful. We recognize our own thought and thought process, but who is to say that something similar doesn't exist in other forms of life? Similarly, a nation may not have a brain, but what is a brain? Just a collection of cells. Those cells probably would have no idea (if they could have ideas) of what they were a part of. Neither would we. It reminds me of a concept from a game or anime once (or maybe a few), where they said something along the lines of "if X number of [people, machines, computers - what ever] come into existence, then the planet will become self-aware."
This is actually used as a possible answer to the Fermi paradox. Even with the odds seemingly in favor of intelligent life appearing, we haven't made any contact. But if one thinks about it, our form of consciousness is likely just one possibility out of a massive number of others. As you stated, too, if an intelligent species somehow reaches societal singularity it is likely we aren't even capable of communicating with them let alone detect their presence. And they very well may be 'above' us, if this hypothetical species has reached such a pinnacle.

Actually the Apocrita suborder of insects are basically an alien approach for society building, from our perspective. They have evolved to live under a perfect communist-style system and their forms of communication seem to have a great deal of depth even without sentience. Do these beings have a will? Can they break the mold, or are they essentially biological robots?
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Old 2010-05-25, 07:59   Link #86
felix
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Free will is the ability to act any which way I see fit, regardless if it fits into some group theory some other entity/person might have. The way the opening phrases it is more in line with the illusion some of have of us being some omnipotent beings and how we might loose this (nonexistent) ability. Which I find silly. Yes we can choose, but our choices are limited to our understanding. That doesn't mean we don't have freedom to choose, as in free will.
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Old 2010-05-25, 18:52   Link #87
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Everyone has free will, but every action interact with other people. For example someone can have the free will to set a building on fire. However that action has consequences.

I also think that people as a whole get into a rut that inhibits this free will. For example things like work, money, bills, and things like that take priority in the mind which inhibits free will.
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Old 2010-05-26, 06:13   Link #88
Zeyroth
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On the validity of free will?

Oh... That'd b--- wait. What? Free will? You mean it exists?
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Old 2010-05-26, 10:26   Link #89
Arbitres
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We question it existence. Me and a few others conclude just by living (or other more scientific explanation) we have free will.

I believe I have free will, why? Because I don't need a God interfering in my life.

God in Heaven. Fine by me.


Accepting things as determined is just a way of escaping the responsibility and not wanting to live or know you made a mistake. Because if it was destined to happen it isn't that bad, right? No. Thank. You. I'll live with my choices because I believe they exist.

Thinking everything is written in stone in some form or manner is just limiting yourself, if you think the future is written in stone then by all means believe it. I'll just believe the opposite and think people have a conscious, therefore they have a unique thought process, therefore they have an identity.

Therefore they have free will.

*rants and raves for several more minutes*
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Old 2010-05-26, 10:56   Link #90
idiffer
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lol, people are just stating what they WANT to be the truth. honestly, you cant prove either point. if there is no free will (lets just say), then you wont find the underlying principles and mechanisms that determine our actions, but that doesnt mean there is free will.
this question is one of the more amusing ones. because of what i stated before it doesnt matter if there is free will or not. you will always (no matter what the truth is) have the illusion that you have free will.
so i say just stop being afraid of uncertainty, put a big fat question mark on the issue and let it freaking go...
oh, i'll maybe post again when i've read the "just by living we prove free will" thingy. looks sketchy at best, cause for instance some religions say that us living is the proof of the opposite, lol.
PS. alot of psychologists and their studies point us in the inexistence(or non-?? in-?? spelling sucks) of free will. i would recommend at least giving them a try.
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e) Go home and die! Dattebayo!
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