# Re: free will and mathematics

```On 6/12/2012 1:06 PM, R AM wrote:
```

```

```
On Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 9:39 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net <mailto:meeke...@verizon.net>> wrote:
```
I means that, in retrospect, I can't trace back to external (to me) causes,
a
deterministic sequence that inevitably led me to do that.

Isn't that randomness?
```
```
```
No, it's unpredictablity - something we may fruitfully model by a mathematical theory of randomness even though the dynamics are perfectly deterministic, when we don't know enough to use the dynamics to predict results. Except in quantum mechanics, where events may be inherently random, 'randomness' is just modeling uncertainty due to ignorance and so it is relative to what is known.
```
```
```      Conceivably we could make an intelligent machine that could keep a record
of all
its internal states so that when did something it could then cite the
sequence of
internal states and say, "See I had to do it.  It was just physics."

And the machine would be right ...

```
```    Or in other words, if the same situation is repeated "I would do
otherwise". But
it's difficult to explain (I might be wrong too).
OK, let's suppose that exactly the same conscious state is repeated N
times. If
each time we do a different action, even opposite ones (such as killing or
not
killing someone), then our decision making is basically random. I don't
think that
is what is meant by free will.
```
```
I think that's wrong. You are equating unpredictable with random.  Suppose
the same
conscious state is repeated and one second later you either shoot someone
or you
punch him.  In that second different unconscious processes may determine
what you
do; so that which you do is unpredictable.

Agreed, but then the reason is unconscious. To me, that's not free will.
```
```
```
That's a problem with 'free will'. Some people, like Sam Harris, insist that it means the same thing it did in the middle ages, a supernatural ability to do the nomologically impossible by conscious thought. Some people, like Daniel Dennett, look at how the concept functions in society and redefine it so it doesn't require the supernatural but has the same extension in social and legal discourse.
```
```
```    But it is only 'random' within a range which is determined by who you are -
and in
this case you are very angry with the someone -

```
OK, but I think a defender of free will would say that you could have also kissed that person instead of attacking him.
```
```
But would he be wrong? We, as external observers, might say that if his brain had been in exactly that state a second earlier it's extremely unlikely that he could have done differently (he might have been hit by a gamma ray, but...). Or suppose we, as external observer, knew exactly that part of state of his brain that determined his *conscious* purpose, but not the other part, the unconscious. Then we would assign a probability measure over the unconscious part and some part of it would result him doing the same and some in doing differently and we could assign probabilities to the various outcomes. We're modeling our ignorance of the unconscious part by a random model. And so we'd conclude he could (in light of our imperfect knowledge) have done xi with probability pi for i=0,1,... And that's exactly the same position he is in. He has access to the conscious part of his brain, but not the unconscious.
```
```
```    so it is still an exercise of your will.  And it's not constrained or
coerced, so
it's 'free will'.

```
But you are removing all possible decisions except different ways of attaking the victim, so it is not free will, at least not that feeling that I could have done anything no matter what.
```
```
But you know that's not the case. You have a certain character, a certain consistency of behavior so that your friends can trust you NOT to do anything at random. And having this consistency is essentially part of defining you and defining who it is who has compatibilist free will. The fact that almost all this character is subconscious is irrelevant to the social meaning of 'free will'.
```
Brent

--
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-list@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to