On Nov 18, 6:31 am, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 11:45 AM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
> > On 16 Nov 2010, at 04:51, Rex Allen wrote:
> >> On Sun, Nov 14, 2010 at 6:04 PM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
> >>> ? Are you saying that it is obvious that compatibilism is false?
> >> Compatibilism is false.  Unless you do something sneaky like change
> >> the meaning of the term "free will" to make it true.
> >> Which is like changing the definition of "unicorn" to mean "a horse
> >> with a horn glued to it's forehead".
> >> I agree with the critics of compatilism in this passage:
> >> "Critics of compatibilism often focus on the definition of free will:
> >> Incompatibilists may agree that the compatibilists are showing
> >> something to be compatible with determinism, but they think that
> >> something ought not to be called 'free will'.
> >> Compatibilists are sometimes accused (by Incompatibilists) of actually
> >> being Hard Determinists who are motivated by a lack of a coherent,
> >> consonant moral belief system.
> >> Compatibilists are sometimes called 'soft determinists' pejoratively
> >> (William James's term). James accused them of creating a 'quagmire of
> >> evasion' by stealing the name of freedom to mask their underlying
> >> determinism.  Immanuel Kant called it a 'wretched subterfuge' and
> >> 'word jugglery.'"
> > What is your position? And what is your definition of free-will?
> My position is:
> So either there is a reason for what I choose to do, or there isn't.
> If there is a reason, then the reason determined the choice.  No free will.

Unless you determined the reason.

> If there is no reason, then the choice was random.  No free will.
> I don't see a third option.
> =*=*=*=
> As for my definition of free will:
> "The ability to make choices that are neither random nor caused."
> Obviously there is no such ability, since "random" and "caused"
> exhaust the possibilities.
> But some people believe in the existence of such an ability anyway.

Free Will is defined as "the power or ability to rationally choose and
consciously perform actions, at least some of which are not brought
about necessarily and inevitably by external circumstances".

Not that according to this definition:

   1. Free will is not deterministic behaviour. It is not driven by
external circumstances.
   2. Nor is free will is randomness or mere caprice. ("Rationally
choose and consciously perform").
   3. Free will requires independence from external circumstances. It
does not require independence or separation from one's own self. Ones
actions must be related to ones thoughts and motives
   4. But not complete independence. Free will does not require that
all our actions are free in this sense, only that some actions are not
entirely un-free. ("...at least some of which...").
   5. Free will also does not require that any one action is entirely
free. In particular, free will s not omnipotence: it does not require
an ability to transcend natural laws, only the ability to select
actions from what is physically possible.
   6. Free will as defined above does not make any assumptions about
the ontological nature of the self/mind/soul. There is a theory,
according to which a supernatural soul pulls the strings of the body.
That theory is all too often confused with free will. It might be
taken as an explanaiton of free will, but it specifies a kind of
mechanism or explanation — not a phenomenon to be explained.

I.1.v Libertarianism — A Prima Facie case for free will

These arguments are not to be regarded as finalising the issue of free
will, but only of showing that there is a case to be answered.

   1. The existence of the introspective sense of free will.
(Determinists will quickly tell you this is down to not understanding
the causes of our actions — but why don't we intuitively see our
actions as being random, or, for that matter determined by unknown
causes? (Determinism by unknown causes is certainly thinkable, after
all it is just what the determinist thinks. It is not as if we can't
conceive of either of those).

   2. The tendency to value freedom. (No-one, not even a determinist,
would want a benevolent dictator making their decisions, even if the
decisions in questions were better than the ones they would have

   3. Our ability to detect greater and lesser amounts of 'robotic' or
'zombie' like behaviour in others.

   4. Creativity and innovation. (Determinists often make a hand-
waving argument (like this)listing all the external influences that go
to act on an individual, and conclude that there is no room left for
any individual contribution. But then why aren't we still in caves ?)

It is often claimed that free will is an inherently contradictory
idea, or that if free will is possible at all, it must be somehow
magical or supernatural. We intend to argue against both these claims
by building a consistent theoretical model of free will could work in
an indeterminstic universe, that is entirely naturalistic.

It is often objected that a random event cannot be rational or
responsible. However, human decision-making is not an individual event
occurring at the atomic level, it is a very complex process involving
billions of neurons. It is often assumed that indeterminism can only
come into play as part of a complex process of decision-making when
the deterministic element has reached an impasse, and indeterminism
has the "casting vote" (like an internalised version of tossing a coin
when you cannot make up your mind). This model, which we call the
Buridan model, has the advantage that you have some level of
commitment to both courses of action; neither is exactly against your
wishes. It is, however, not so good for rationality and self-control.
The indetermistic coin-toss can reasonably be seen as "the" crucial
cause of your decision, yet it is not under your control.

In our model, by contrast, the indetermistic element is moved back in
the descision-making process. A funtional unit we call the "Random
Idea Generator" proposed multiple ideas and courses of action, which
are then pruned back by a more-or-less deterministic process called
the "Sensible Idea Selector". (This arrangement is structurally
modelled on random mutation and natural selection in Darwinian
theory). The output of the R.I.G is "controlled" in the sense that the
rest of the system does not have to act on its proposals. It can
filter out anything too wild or irrational. Nonetheless, in a
"rewinding history" scenario, the individual could have acted
differently, as requied by libertarian free will, because their R.I.G.
could have come out with different proposals — and it would still be
something they wanted to do, because it would not have been translated
into action without the consent of the rest of the neural apparatus.
(As naturalists, we take it that a "self" is the sum total of neural
activity and not a ghost-in-the-machin).

It could be argued that placing indeterminism at the source of
decision-making in this way means that our decisions are ultimately
unfounded. We respond that being able to give a rational account of
your actions, the reasons behind them, the reasons behind those
reasons and so on to infinity is setting the bar too high. In real
life, nobody is that rational.

We also comment on the definitions of free will and determinism, the
alleged empirical evidence against free will and the existence and
significance of genuine indeterminism.

Of course, being able to build a model of it does not show that that
free will actually exists, but the claim is made that it is
impossible, that there is no way of conceiving it, and the appropriate
response to such a claim is in fact to conceive of it. We are only
arguing for its possibility, and how else do you argue for the
possibility of something other than showing that it can be posited to
exist without entailing any contradiction?

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