On 30 Sep 2013, at 06:25, meekerdb wrote:

On 9/29/2013 9:00 PM, LizR wrote:
On 30 September 2013 16:56, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:

I think it's just definitional. What constitutes "you". If you see someone else throw dice and you're bound to follow different actions depending on how they fall then you're a slave to randomness. If you decide to throw the dice in order to determine your course of action then it's an act of will. Now suppose something random in your head, like decay of a radioactive iodine atom, causes a certain thought that leads to you choosing vanilla instead of chocolate ice cream. Did you choose or were you "a slave to randomness"? And note that in this kind of example the randomness doesn't make you do just anything. It can only work within the range of your deterministic self. It won't make you choose liver ice cream or jump off a bridge. We make the distinction in ordinary discourse: We say someone isn't acting himself when they do something wildly inconsistent with their past behavior. We send them to a psychiatrist.

So equally, if I threw the dice in secret to decide what to do (having decided by "an act of will" what the results mean before I do so) that would give the same result as if they happened to be inside me.

As you say this seems purely definitional. I can't see any greater or lesser amount of being "a slave to randomness" however you do it.

The greater or lesser enslavement is in the range of decisions made at random. Your decisions should serve to realize your values. If you deliberately make decisions contrary or indifferent to your values that's being irrational; it's not serving yourself. That's where the metaphor of being a slave to randomness comes in. I don't think it depends on where the dice are thrown (though if it's in your head you won't even know). Being a slave means serving someone else. If you make a random choice to serve your interest that's not being a slave. If you, thru coercion or stupidity, say, "I'm going to throw a dart at the financial page and invest in whatever stock it lands on, even if I think this is a bad idea." THEN you're a slave to randomness.

I think there is a psychological component to the idea that choosing at random can't be "free will" because we think of "will" as being a kind of mental effort, a mustering of resolve. Someone is "strong willed" when they expend a lot of effort to get what they want. So those cases where making a random choice is in our interest seem not to require this kind of will.

OK with the above.



Incidentally, on another list I was just sent a paper by Taner Edis on how randomness allows one to evade Penrose's argument that consciousness cannot be algorithmic.

To use randomness to evade an invalid argument seems to me doubtful at the start.

But consciousness is not algorithmic, like the truth that 1+1 = 2, is not really algorithmic (only the belief can be algorithmic).

Computer science shows that most interesting notions *about* machines, are not mechanical or algorithmic.

Bruno



See attached.

Brent


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<Edisgoedel.pdf>

http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/



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