On Tue, Jul 31, 2012 Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
> Free will is the ability to make a willing choice
Are you saying WILLING choices is the great definition you keep claiming
I'm ignoring, this is the famous "it" ? Willing? So free will is will that
is free. Well, at least that's not gibberish, in fact just like all
tautologies it's even true.
> among alternatives we can be partially conscious of.
So we have to drag in a illusive concept like consciousness if we want to
define "free will", and of course being conscious means being able to make
a free choice based on the desires of your will, and around and around we
>I think that I do not believe in your conception of free will.
The problem is I have no conception of free will and neither do you nor
does anybody else, at least not a consistent coherent one that has any
> Pebble have plausibly no (free) will, as they obey to simple computable
> laws. Butterflies have plausibly free will, because they obey high level
> complex computable laws
Then the dividing line between something that has free will and something
that does not is as vague and imprecise as the dividing line between simple
and complex. And it depends on who's doing the judging, what's simple to
you may be complex to me. After all, even brain surgery is simple if you
And a 30 year old home PC running the DOS 1.0 operating system had free
will because it operated in complex ways, at least complex by human
standards, by that I mean if it started to behave in odd ways people had
difficulty figuring out exactly why, I know this from personal experience.
And a helium atom also has free will because its very complex to calculate
from first principles what its electromagnetic emission spectrum will look
like, you need a supercomputer and even then its only a approximation.
> >I have said many times there are only 2 definitions of free will that
>> are not gibberish:
>> 1) Free Will is a noise made by the mouth.
>> 2) Free Will is the inability to always predict ones actions even in a
>> unchanging environment.
> I thought you did. So "free-will" is not just noise.
I also said that unfortunately nobody except me seems to use either meaning
of the term, and from their context it's clear that whatever they mean when
they say "free will" it is not even close to the 2 non-gibberish ones; well
3 if you count free will is will that's free.
> To believe in consciousness has been a reason to present many young
> researchers as crackpot in many universities for a long time.
Everybody this side of a loony bin believes in consciousness, the problem
is that consciousness theories are just too easy to dream up and there is
no way to tell a good one from a bad one. If you want to be assured of not
being called a crackpot then forget consciousness and find a good theory of
intelligence; they are not nearly as easy to come up with but are far far
easier to test, its simple to separate the good from the bad. And oh I
almost forgot, a good theory of intelligence will also make you a couple of
dozen billion dollars, and that is not a major disadvantage; after all even
philosophers have to eat.
> why do you continue to fight against the whole notion of free-will?
I don't fight against the notion because there is no notion there to fight,
there is only amorphous gas.
> Why not defend your definition [of free will]
Because I don't like my definition very much, although it's clear and
consistent it is not deep and it is not useful. I think my definition of
free will has zero value, but to toot my own horn I must say that is a huge
improvement over other definitions because they have large negative values.
If no human being ever again wrote or spoke the words "free will" again the
world would not suffer one single bit. No other "idea" in law or philosophy
has caused more confusion wasted more time or sent more perfectly good
biological brains into infinite loops than the "free will" noise.
> I gave a definition. I just did. You even just said "excellent".
I gave it not you and it was a example not a definition and it was about
consciousness not "free will". All I have is a mediocre definition of "free
will" that isn't good for much and nobody except me uses. So "free will"
like "God" and "luminiferous aether" are words and terms that should join
other extinct things in the English language, words like
"methinks","cozen","fardel", "huggermugger", "zounds" and "typewriter".
John K Clark
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