On Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 12:10:04PM -0400, John Clark wrote:
> On Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 3:45 AM, Russell Standish 
> <li...@hpcoders.com.au>wrote:
> 
> > In both your examples, (dice and roulette wheels), they always do
> > something stupid (generate a random number).
> 
> 
> But you said free will is the ability to do something stupid so both dice
> and roulette wheels have free will. But perhaps it's the "always" that

If you look at what I actually say (page 167 of ToN), "It is the
ability for a conscious entity to do somthing irrational".

Sometimes I replace "irrational" with "stupid", for effect, but
irrational is what I really mean.

Clearly the concept of rationality is also a can of worms, as per
recent discussions, but I use the term in its usual philosophical and
economics meaning.

But I don't think that's at all the issue with your examples - are you
really claiming that roulette wheels are conscious?

Free will requires randomness, but it is more than just randomness. A
random device will very rarely do something smart.


> bothers you, after all sometimes people do smart things; so then rig up
> some dice with a pocket calculator and make a hybrid machine, usually the
> calculator produces the correct answer but on average of one time in 6 it
> does not and it does something dumb, like give the wrong answer. Now it has
> free will.
> 
> > There is no choice in their actions
> 
> 
> Just like you, and me, and the dog, and a thermostat, and a rock, and a
> electron, and everything else in the universe, the dice and roulette wheel
> did what they did for a reason OR they did what they did for no reason. The
> word "choice" does not help because there is no third alternative.

Only when considered at the syntactic level. At the semantic level,
there are many alternatives. One of these is choice.

For an explanation of syntactic versus semantic levels, see section
2.2 of my book.

> 
> > I think you may be deliberately taking my statement out of context.
> >
> 
> Please note that I am not rejecting your definition, all I'm doing is using
> logic to see where it leads; if it ends up endowing things with free will
> that you don't want to have free will don't blame me, it's your definition
> not mine.
> 

I never thought that any of your examples were conscious, thus
immediately ruling out those examples. If you think they are, I'd need
some convincing.  A more interesting case is some complicated
automaton, endowed with the ability to perform a random course of
actions at appropriate times. I won't deny there are some grey areas
there. For example, if it makes sense to speak of the robot having a
mind, regardless of whether the robot is actually conscious or not,
then I can see it could make sense to say the robot has free will.

>   John K Clark
> 
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Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au
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