On 9/29/2013 5:58 PM, Russell Standish wrote:
On Sun, Sep 29, 2013 at 07:33:08PM +0200, Bruno Marchal wrote:
I agree that free-will is related to a lack of predictibity.
It is not related to any indeterminacy due to superposition or
duplication, as this only would only made the will more slave, to
randomness, instead of of pondering intently the decision.
Where he starts to differ from my approach is that he draws a
distinction between ordinary "statistical" uncertainty and what he
calls Knightian uncertainty. To use concepts of the great philospher
of our time, Donald Rumsfeld :v), Knightian uncertainty
corresponds to the
"unknown unknowns", as compared to the "known unknowns" of
"statistical" uncertainty. Nasim Taleb's "black swan" is a similar
sort of concept.
Aaronson accepts the criticism that ordinary "statistical" uncertainty
is not enough for free will.
Of course, I tend to believe statistical uncertainty has nothing to
do with free-will. It is only self-unpredictability which is needed,
to give free-will, independently of the possibility that some alien,
or super-computer, of a god, or a goddess, can determinate the
decision in advance.
I do think the impossibility of some entity being able to predict your
decisions (or what amounts to pretty much the same thing, being unable
to communicate those predictions to me) is a key characteristic of
free will. That is not entailed by a classical hidden variable type
theory, as the state of the hidden variables (when known) allow such
By contrast, with superposition (in say MWI), or the FPI of your
duplication thought experiment, no god's-eye view is possible of the
decisions you make, as there will be equally other "yous" that make
But isn't nomological unpredictability enough; or even just FAPP uncertainty. There is no
"God's eye view".
The reason it doesn't make the will a slave to randomness, is that the
will is random in its essence. There is no self-other distinction
between the will and the random source. If there were, then like the
gerbil-powered AI story told by Aaronson, or basing one's decision on
a coin toss, there is no exercise of free will.
The self/other distinction is something in one's model of the world. That's why Dennett
says, "You can avoid responsibility for everything if you just make yourself small
enough." You can say, it wasn't me, it was just randomness. This is Dennett's reductio
in his argument for compatibilism.
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