"How do you explain the experience of “free will” then? "

You'll have noticed that I don't even try to explain it.

"Our experience of free will, of having executive decisional power within our 
own selves is a distinct, high fidelity, consistently reproducible, experience 
in us"

No determinist would deny that you have 'executive decisional power'. Choices 
are being made and it is you making the choices. But what makes you Chris?

I know someone who continually makes poor decisions and gets herself into all 
sorts of scrapes and compromising situations. Knowing her we forgive her. Why? 
Well when my friends and I get together and discuss her there is a common 
theme: Her father was rotten to the core. Her mother wasn't any better. She had 
a thoroughly rotten childhood. The decisions she makes now, reflect these facts 
about her past. This is the conclusion we always reach. She did 'this' because 
'that' happened to her in the past. This I offer is a typical way of speaking 
about people and their behavior.

There is an unspoken assumption here which is that had she had a different 
past, had her parents been better than they in fact were, she would make 
different decisions. Equally then, there is an assumption that people who have 
had a past like hers will make similar decisions. This is the language of 

Now its most certainly true that this kind of folk-psychology is questionable 
with regards to how things actually are. But, here is the crux of the argument: 
it certainly does reveal how people feel about how things actually are.

So to review the argument again just make it abundantly clear what I am 
arguing, it is this:

1) The way we speak about behavior reveals how we feel about behavior
2) When we speak about behavior we speak as though the past is reflected in the 
3) So, we feel that our current behavior is determined by our past.

Somehow, the wool has been pulled over our eyes and we have been asked how come 
we have an illusion of free will if everything is determined. 

The real question is how come we talk about one another as if behavior is 
determined if in fact we feel we have free will?

Chris, at some point in your post you ask this:

"OR Are you maintain that the experience of free will does not itself exist? 
(can you argue that?)"

Look again at the very first paragraph in my post to you. You quoted it, so I'm 
assuming you read it:

"...I'm arguing that there is no illusion of free will..."

Could I have been any clearer?

All the best

Date: Thu, 5 Sep 2013 21:30:47 -0700
Subject: Re: When will a computer pass the Turing Test?

    On 9/5/2013 8:34 PM, Chris de Morsella

                [] On Behalf
                  Of chris peck

                Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 7:30 AM


                Subject: RE: When will a computer pass the Turing
                also do not “KNOW” whether or not I really do have “free
                will”. But if I do not have “free will” evolution has
                seen fit to evolve a very expensive – in evolutionary
                terms – illusion of “free will... To argue that “free
                will”, “self-awareness” etc. are just noise, of no real
                value or consequence goes against evolution. Evolution
                doesn’t work like that. Unless it can be clearly shown
                that these qualia are inevitable by-products of some
                other evolutionarily vital brain function”
              haven't really addressed the ideas raised in my post. I'm
              not arguing that the illusion of free will has no
              consequence I'm arguing that there is no illusion of free
              will. And if there is no illusion of free will then there
              is no reason to drum up some evolutionary story to justify
              do you explain the experience of “free will” then? 
              experience of free will, of having executive decisional
              power within our own selves is a distinct, high fidelity,
              consistently reproducible, experience in us – I *know*
              through direct experience that I experience this in my own
              self, and I bet long odds that, even though you deny it,
              you also experience the sensation of having free will in
              your own everyday life. 

    I agree with Chris Peck.  I don't recognize your "drama of unfolding
    experience" at all.  I cogitate on decisions and make choices.  But
    none of that entails feeling "free will".


              thousands maybe, times a day you (or I, or anyone) are
              being presented with choices and experiencing the feeling
              that we are making decisions – i.e. exercising free will;
              we all wrestle with dilemmas in our lives and mull over
              decisions. Often in fact the drama of our unfolding
              experience of this non-existent free will extends over
              considerable durations of time and on occasion can
              dominate an entire life span. 
              experience of free will is not a snap shot, instead it
              unfolds over spans of time and is experienced as a clearly
              ordered series of distinctly related emotions, thoughts,
              and deep sensations emerging within our focal sense of


    That just sounds like obfuscation to me.


              temporally arrayed series of distinct feelings, also
              include often prolonged virtual reality drama plays (if
              free will does not exist) in which we find ourselves
              wrestling with difficult choices, followed perhaps by a
              clear sensation of converging on a decision, and then an
              experience of deciding that feels clear and distinct in
              our inner self-aware sense of being.
              well rendered dramatic movements all carefully arrayed
              into a highly orchestrated sequence is what we experience
              as our free will. These are subtle experiences and
              producing them and stacking them into a temporal sequence
              and then playing them out in a manner that is so perfectly
              acted out inside that it is convincingly real in us – in
              so far as we experience it (without getting into whether
              it is real or not)
              see two basic options here: 
          A)     If
              free will exists (and also of course that we have it) then
              we experience the sensation of having free will because
              that is our actual nature (however that happened) and is
              in the nature of the universe we exist within. 
          B)     If
              instead free will does not in fact exist, then explain the
              dynamic unfolding drama of our experience of it and do so
              without providing any sort of rendering mechanism. The
              experience is exquisitely and very carefully synchronized
              and is so convincing in us that we perceive ourselves as
              “really” having it? You must show how it is a zero cost
              side effect of something else that can clearly be shown to
              be vital and would necessarily be a pre-cursor to
              experiencing free will – for example consciousness
              necessarily must exist in the first place in order for
              free will to exist.
              Are you maintain that the experience of free will does not
              itself exist? (can you argue that?)
              you concede that the experience of free will does in fact
              exist in us then you must concede that something produced
              that experience, unless you can quite clearly demonstrate
              how the experience of free will – an experience that is so
              profound in our species and has been a central theme in so
              much of our thinking, art, poetry, ideology throughout
              history – is a clear side effect of some precedent thing,
              such as say intelligent self-awareness.
              you talk about qualia I take it that you have something
              other than the concept of free will in mind. Its an
              important distinction because the concept, however
              incoherent, clearly does exist. But being an idea has a
              history describable by semiotics or memetics, which ever
              floats your boat. 
              is subjective for the subject! How can a discussion of
              free will not involve a subjective view. Our experience
              colors our perception of ourselves and of how we
              experience ourselves; including our experience of free
              will, of being presented with choices and arriving at
              decisions. A headache may be described objectively in a
              medical text, but headaches are experienced subjectively
              and different people experience them in different ways.
              Why should it be different for free will? Is it not still
              the subject doing the perceiving? Is not free will
              something that is inextricably bound up with the notion of
              subjectivity? Can you conceive of “free will” without
              introducing a subject in which it arises and is
              as for a qualitative feel of 'freeness' that goes hand in
              hand with the decisions I make; these qualia are
              conspicuous by their absence. For sure, when I make day to
              day decisions I don't feel under external duress, but that
              feeling is understandable because I am not under external
              duress. I am also aware that there were alternatives
              available to me other than the one I in fact choose, and
              in a sense there were, but when asked to explain my choice
              the lexicon of determinism comes to the fore. I talk about
              the reasons and causes of my choice. I choose salad over
              steak because I am worried about being fat. I am worried
              about being fat because culture places value upon being
              slim. Eating steak will make me fat because my metabolism
              is slow. My metabolism is slow because of the genetic hand
              I was dealt. Nature and nurture, neither of which I have
              control over, conspire to drive my decisions.
              you confuse abstractness with absence

    Whatever this set of feelings which you denominate a feeling of
    'free will', you have done nothing to show that they (like other
    feelings) are just how processing data and making a decision feels. 
    You have not shown that it requires any additional effort or
    complexity or energy over and above that necessary to process the
    data and make a decision.  And so evolution in providing the means
    to make decisions favorable to procreation has necessarily also
    produced corresponding feelings; just as in providing imaging of EM
    waves it has necessarily provided the perception called "seeing".




              on this list have been arguing that we are complex systems
              that nevertheless lack the ability to home in on the
              neural mechanics of our own decision making and therefore
              are unable to witness the choices being determined. Thus
              we don't have a feeling of being determined. I disagree
              with them. Our choices feel determined, rather than free,
              in precisely the way a determinist would recognise. 
              take it you have never wrestled with some difficult
              decision in your life. Explain in what way that naturally
              arises from a deterministic playing out of a program. The
              drama that we sometimes experience when faced with the
              need to choose and the often quite prolonged inner
              struggles we go through do not feel predetermined to me.
              So if they are the illusion has been constructed, and very
              carefully so, in my mind at great cost in terms of the
              brain activity required in order to render it. This
              capacity evolved in us then, it survived selective
              pressure. Why? What survival benefit does this confer?
              argue that it does not exist then fail to provide an
              explanation for the sequential ordered dramatic subjective
              experience of it is unsatisfactory for me. Either you must
              show how these tapestries of interwoven experiences  --
              call it our “free will” virtual reality drama (soap opera
              maybe [grin]) – that is unfolding within our subjective
              experience *is the result of something else* that
              is precedent and necessary and that would *naturally
                produce* the nuanced experience of free will within
              our subjective beings.
              other words, there is no illusion of freewill to explain
              and in fact when people talk about their behavior they use
              language which reflects the determinist's perspective.
              instead I am saying that either free will does exist or if
              not the temporally stacked sequentially and dynamically
              unfolding experience of it (we never know ahead of time
              how we are going to ultimately decide) needs to be
              explained. This experience must either be a carefully
              produced drama or it must naturally arise out of something
              that is vital to our being and clearly bound up with
              self-awareness, conscious intelligence etc.
              maintain that no illusion is taking place and that free
              will does not exist; then provide the mechanism for the
              generation of the experience of it?
              the best




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