On 01 Aug 2012, at 18:05, John Clark wrote:

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.

No I was not saying it is the great definition. I have given you the definition already.

> 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",

I think so, yes.

and of course being conscious means being able to make a free choice based on the desires of your will,

Nobody ever said that.

and around and around we go.

No. We just suppose you have an idea of what consciousness is. We might agree on some axioms: like is true and undoubtable, although unprovable or communicable to another in any rational way. And things like that. Free will might plausibly needs consciousness, but consciousness (of some pain for example) does not need a priori free- will, although the subject is complex, and we can expect some relations between them.

>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 depth.

This contradicts your own definition of free will that you already find "much better". It is hard to follow you.

> 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 know how.


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.

No. PC DOS 1.0 is conscious, because of being Robinsonian, or Turing universal, but it is not Löbian, and I think free-will, like self- consciousness requires Löbianity.

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.

An helium atom might be Turing universal, I can imagine. But still, I doubt that without being programmed to believe in arithmetical induction, he will be naturally Löbian. Those are obviously difficult question.

> >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,

My definition is basically your "2)", and this since the beginning. You don't discuss with person, you discuss with the imaginary person you associate with them, up to the point of attributing them the contrary to what they say, it seems to me.

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.

I work with the comp hyp, so you can even guess that I can't only defend a compatibilist (determinist) conception of free-will, à-la "2)".

> 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,

At least most people agree publicly, but sometimes they still despise the whole subject.

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.

You are so wrong. Study many of them and you will see difference. We can make assumption, agree on principle and reason. The study is of course contaminated by its hotness and cultural relation, and can attract many crackpots, often institutionalized in some ways, but this does not make serious studies less serious. There are also a lot of experimental data and subjective reports to work with, and then there is computer science, and the mathematical question of what can an ideally correct computer prove and guess correctly about itself.

If you want to be assured of not being called a crackpot then forget consciousness

You do the same error as with theology and notions of Gods. You want them to be handled only by the crackpots.

and find a good theory of intelligence;

Intelligence is interesting, but is a different, most plausibly related, topic.

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.

It is actually very simple. I define a machine as intelligent, if it is not a stupid machine. And a machine is stupid either if the machine believes she is intelligent, or if the machine believes she is stupid.

And oh I almost forgot, a good theory of intelligence will also make you a couple of dozen billion dollars,

You confuse intelligence and competence.

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.

A chance you were not in the jury of Hubble.

> 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.

How can you know that in advance. One definition is enough to give the concept some sense, and if you feel there is something deeper, or not, it is only by working on it that you can make this clear. You might just not be interested in the concept, but your definition, or refiniment of it, is enough to cast doubt on the proposition of those who say that a machine cannot have free will.

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.

Deep question might need long discussion. Here you just justify your disinterest in it. No problem with that.

> 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".

Just look at the posts please. In fact it is quoted above. I requote it here:


> >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.


And my (older) definition asks for one more thing: it is that the subject know (is aware or is conscious) about that inability and that he can still make the decision. There is a reflexion on the possibilities. If not, all non sentient beings have trivially 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".

Don't be so hard with yourself.



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