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Free Will?

Religion and Philosophy
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we are introducing this on a trial basis and that respect for other's views is important e.g. phrases like "your imaginary friend" or "you will go to hell" are not appropriate
XFool
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Re: Free Will?

#410896

Postby XFool » May 10th, 2021, 10:19 pm

jfgw wrote:
XFool wrote:One thing that hasn't been defined is the meaning of "we". Who/What exactly is the "we" that has, or has not got free will?

Lemons? Humans in general? While "We" may refer to, say, the human race, such a discussion would not preclude free will in other beings such as cats.

No, by "we" I was referring to the individual being - albeit in a collective sense - who is, allegedly, freely making these decisions. Is it the physical, objective being or the subjective being's consciousness? Are they somehow identical in the matter of "free will" or possibly entirely separate? Perhaps the conscious being is in reality only a kind of phantom effect, that is responsible for deciding nothing? (This is unlikely to be a popular view)

vrdiver
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Re: Free Will?

#410900

Postby vrdiver » May 10th, 2021, 10:28 pm

OK, sorry for the delayed response, but I was off re-running the universe from the Big Bang again. Took a while but I'm back now.

Sorry to have to tell you, but you're repeating yourselves...

VRD

jfgw
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Re: Free Will?

#410912

Postby jfgw » May 10th, 2021, 11:16 pm

vrdiver wrote:Sorry to have to tell you, but you're repeating yourselves...


Only because we chose to.

Bubblesofearth
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Re: Free Will?

#410935

Postby Bubblesofearth » May 11th, 2021, 6:56 am

jfgw wrote:
Why do you think that it is impossible? Do you know how consciousness works? Do you know how the physical world works? Unless you know how these work, you cannot know whether or not free will is possible.


You can if you define free will as something that can happen without any input. It doesn't matter how consciousness or the physical world work if you believe that nothing happens without some form of input to cause it.

If, on the other hand, you believe free will to exist without any input then how is that an ability to choose? We choose to do things because we want or have to do them, i.e. we have a reason. If there is no input then how can there be a reason? Free will according to that definition would be no more requiring of a reason than the decay of radioactive particles. Hardly a valuable human trait?

XFool
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Re: Free Will?

#411014

Postby XFool » May 11th, 2021, 12:50 pm

vrdiver wrote:OK, sorry for the delayed response, but I was off re-running the universe from the Big Bang again. Took a while but I'm back now.

Sorry to have to tell you, but you're repeating yourselves...

But only because it's been a long time since the last Big Bang. ;)

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Re: Free Will?

#411036

Postby jfgw » May 11th, 2021, 1:43 pm

Bubblesofearth wrote:We choose to do things because we want or have to do them, i.e. we have a reason. If there is no input then how can there be a reason? Free will according to that definition would be no more requiring of a reason than the decay of radioactive particles. Hardly a valuable human trait?


It is very rare, if ever, that we have "a" reason. We have lots of reasons. If there was only one reason, the outcome would, I suggest, be determined and free will would not be a factor. With many opposing reasons, I contend that it becomes a matter of free, conscious choice. Decision-making can involve a considerable amount of deliberation.


Julian F. G. W.

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Re: Free Will?

#411121

Postby ursaminortaur » May 11th, 2021, 5:36 pm

jfgw wrote:
Bubblesofearth wrote:We choose to do things because we want or have to do them, i.e. we have a reason. If there is no input then how can there be a reason? Free will according to that definition would be no more requiring of a reason than the decay of radioactive particles. Hardly a valuable human trait?


It is very rare, if ever, that we have "a" reason. We have lots of reasons. If there was only one reason, the outcome would, I suggest, be determined and free will would not be a factor. With many opposing reasons, I contend that it becomes a matter of free, conscious choice. Decision-making can involve a considerable amount of deliberation.


Julian F. G. W.


No, it is just that the algorithms that your brain uses (encoded in neural networks etc in your brain) are more complicated when weighing up multiple inputs and multiple potential outputs. However the choice is still either determined by those inputs or selected randomly.

As to consciously making decisions studies seem to suggest that that is an illusion as at least some decisions which we believe we are making consciously are made well before we become conscious of having made them.

https://brainworldmagazine.com/whos-the-decision-maker-your-brain-or-you/

A classic experiment from the 1970s and early 1980s that is referenced frequently in these discussions is the work of Dr. Benjamin Libet, which showed that the brain begins preparing for movement even before we consciously decide to move. In Libet’s experiment, people were asked to move a finger whenever they were ready. When they had the urge to move, all they had to do was check where the second hand was on the clock. Meanwhile, Libet measured the activity in his subjects’ brains and found that while the conscious decision to move the hand happened on average 200 milliseconds before the person moved their hand, the brain had already begun preparing for this movement a whole second in advance.

The experiment contradicted everything we had believed so far about decision-making. Until then, scientists thought that a person makes a conscious decision to act, and then the brain sends signals to the body that enables us to take that action. But this sequence of events was now under question. Do we really make our decisions, or are they made for us? And, if so, are we still responsible for them? Additionally, if someone were to monitor my brain, could he or she know, even before I do, what action I’m going to take?



https://www.nature.com/news/2008/080411/full/news.2008.751.html

Brain makes decisions before you even know it

Brain activity predicts decisions before they are consciously made.



https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-03-brains-reveal-choices-aware.html

A new UNSW study suggests we have less control over our personal choices than we think, and that unconscious brain activity determines our choices well before we are aware of them.

Published in Scientific Reports today, an experiment carried out in the Future Minds Lab at UNSW School of Psychology showed that free choices about what to think can be predicted from patterns of brain activity 11 seconds before people consciously chose what to think about.

XFool
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Re: Free Will?

#411165

Postby XFool » May 11th, 2021, 7:25 pm

ursaminortaur wrote:As to consciously making decisions studies seem to suggest that that is an illusion as at least some decisions which we believe we are making consciously are made well before we become conscious of having made them.

https://brainworldmagazine.com/whos-the-decision-maker-your-brain-or-you/

A classic experiment from the 1970s and early 1980s that is referenced frequently in these discussions is the work of Dr. Benjamin Libet, which showed that the brain begins preparing for movement even before we consciously decide to move. In Libet’s experiment, people were asked to move a finger whenever they were ready. When they had the urge to move, all they had to do was check where the second hand was on the clock. Meanwhile, Libet measured the activity in his subjects’ brains and found that while the conscious decision to move the hand happened on average 200 milliseconds before the person moved their hand, the brain had already begun preparing for this movement a whole second in advance.

The experiment contradicted everything we had believed so far about decision-making. Until then, scientists thought that a person makes a conscious decision to act, and then the brain sends signals to the body that enables us to take that action. But this sequence of events was now under question. Do we really make our decisions, or are they made for us? And, if so, are we still responsible for them? Additionally, if someone were to monitor my brain, could he or she know, even before I do, what action I’m going to take?



https://www.nature.com/news/2008/080411/full/news.2008.751.html

Brain makes decisions before you even know it

Brain activity predicts decisions before they are consciously made.


https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-03-brains-reveal-choices-aware.html

A new UNSW study suggests we have less control over our personal choices than we think, and that unconscious brain activity determines our choices well before we are aware of them.

Published in Scientific Reports today, an experiment carried out in the Future Minds Lab at UNSW School of Psychology showed that free choices about what to think can be predicted from patterns of brain activity 11 seconds before people consciously chose what to think about.

Well yes. When I was a young man I involuntarily managed to carry out such an experiment on myself. But I approached it the other way around.

Following an operation under general anaesthetic, when I recovered full consciousness I was lying on my back in a hospital bed, I was totally paralysed*.

How did I know this? I didn't - which is rather the point.

So... I found it very relaxing lying there still and quiet with my eyes closed, hearing the sounds from the ward around be. (I had been through a difficult time in the preceding months, but no matter) So I "decided" to stay just like that for a while more. Then for a while longer. Then for even longer... I was liking it, it felt good to me.

Eventually my stasis started to attract attention from other patients: "What's wrong with him?" "Why hasn't he woken up?" "Will he recover?" "Is he dead?"

Hah! "Little do they know. I feel fine, I like this - so I'm just going to carry right on doing it!" The hours passed, I was still "doing" exactly the same thing - nothing. But I still felt fine, so I 'decided' I would continue "doing" it. Eventually, even I started thinking: "This is odd. I've never done this before. Nobody does this. Still! Feels OK to me, so I'm going to keep right on doing it!" A doctor came and examined me, he went away again. I kept on doing exactly nothing - and liking it.

The next day (or so) nothing had changed. Then I had an idea, I decided I was going to do something! But only something very small: I would open my eyelids a tiny, tiny amount. Absolutely no more that 1 mm.

So I did.

I now knew that I had been totally paralysed. I now knew I was no longer totally paralysed - albeit all I could do was open my eyelids 1 mm. I now knew I would shortly 'decide' to open my eyelids a whole 2 mm and then a little later...

This was not any kind of revelation, or shock, or even surprise. Before I physically opened my eyes 1 mm I had not known in any way that I couldn't. 'I' thought/knew it was simply 'my' choice/decision to lie immovable - though even I thought it was a bit unusual, not to say odd. This transition from not knowing to knowing was seamless.

After it was all over I naturally thought about it all at the time. Clearly it seemed strange and unexpected, bizarre even. One thing I thought at the time was it was as if my brain knew I was paralysed and it 'thought': "Blimey! We can't tell him that, he'll go spare. Let's tell him he's fine and just enjoying a quiet period of rest. He's so dumb he'll swallow that."

Amongst other things it did leave me at the time with an apparently strange and disconcerting conclusion: "I'm not in charge around here. My brain is."


* I don't know if in the circumstances "paralysed" is the medically correct term to use. But I will use it here for simplicity

XFool
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Re: Free Will?

#417391

Postby XFool » June 4th, 2021, 7:58 pm

...That went down like a lead balloon. :lol:

Try this:

Is it time to give up on consciousness as ‘the ghost in the machine’?

The Conversation

Is consciousness special?
"Our experience of consciousness places us firmly in the driver’s seat, with a sense that we’re in control of our psychological world. But seen from an objective perspective, it’s not at all clear that this is how consciousness functions, and there’s still much debate about the fundamental nature of consciousness itself."

"In other words, our subjective experience of consciousness is real, but the functions of control and ownership we attribute to that experience are not."

Chimes with my experience...

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Re: Free Will?

#432805

Postby MuddyBoots » August 6th, 2021, 12:53 am

This is my first post and I've just caught up with this thread, although read it quickly so apologies in advance if I'm repeating old ground.

My first thought on free will is epistemological; if reality is deterministic that includes all our thoughts, theories and models of the world. So we aren't consciously distinguishing between truth and falsehood, and we don't know anything. It seems a paradox to say you don't believe in free will, even though this may be true.

On the other hand, if I do believe in FW, where is it, what is it? It seems very hard to give a testable definition other than just saying that it's a feeling. Not a very strong argument I'll agree.

[i] "Try this:
Is it time to give up on consciousness as ‘the ghost in the machine’?" [/i]

I haven't believed in it for some years, philosophically, although the mind-body duality remains as a kind of social convention during my everyday life. A slightly contradictory position perhaps, but it's like the other stories about me being the ego who observes the consciousness, inside the physical body, inside the world etc.


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