Defining Free Will, Fairly

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Purple Knight
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Defining Free Will, Fairly

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Post by Purple Knight »

I think there was one of these before, but I want to start one with the emphasis on hammering out a definition that is fair to both sides. In other words, a definition of free will that does not render itself definitionally false (thus rendering the people who believe in it stupid) or render itself definitionally true (thus making the people who doubt it stupid).

So to be fair to the people who believe in brown rabbits, we are not going to define rabbits as nonbrown.

I would also like to focus on arriving at a definition that is fair to the concept most people have of free will, rather than defining it as something else. For example, on the question of randomness, the idea that claim to randomness is what free will is does not pass this particular muster, since no one is claiming a random number generator hooked up to the decay of a radioactive isotope has free will.

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Re: Defining Free Will, Fairly

Post #2

Post by Tcg »

[Replying to Purple Knight in post #1]

What is the question/s for debate?


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Re: Defining Free Will, Fairly

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Post by Miles »

Purple Knight wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 3:27 pm Defining Free Will, Fairly
Hardly an original definition, although it did occur to me before I read it, is:

"The ability to have done differently"

which I've seen put forth in several places. There's also:

The ability to choose between different possible courses of action.
Source: Wikipedia


Although as a hard determinist my objection to this is in assuming there's an ability to choose.


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Re: Defining Free Will, Fairly

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Post by Purple Knight »

Tcg wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 3:35 pm [Replying to Purple Knight in post #1]

What is the question/s for debate?


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What is free will? What is it people are talking about when they talk about having, or lacking, free will?

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Re: Defining Free Will, Fairly

Post #5

Post by Purple Knight »

Miles wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 6:15 pm
Purple Knight wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 3:27 pm Defining Free Will, Fairly
Hardly an original definition, although it did occur to me before I read it, is:

"The ability to have done differently"

which I've seen put forth in several places. There's also:

The ability to choose between different possible courses of action.
Source: Wikipedia


Although as a hard determinist my objection to this is in assuming there's an ability to choose.


.
So you're combining these definitions, in a way.

By the first definition, a random number generator has free will if it's hooked up to the decay of a radioactive isotope. But it's not choosing, so, according to you, you'd have to have both?

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Re: Defining Free Will, Fairly

Post #6

Post by Miles »

Purple Knight wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 6:45 pm
Miles wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 6:15 pm
Purple Knight wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 3:27 pm Defining Free Will, Fairly
Hardly an original definition, although it did occur to me before I read it, is:

"The ability to have done differently"

which I've seen put forth in several places. There's also:

The ability to choose between different possible courses of action.
Source: Wikipedia


Although as a hard determinist my objection to this is in assuming there's an ability to choose.


.
So you're combining these definitions, in a way.
Not at all. I don't even agree with the second one. Just put it out there for variety.
By the first definition, a random number generator has free will if it's hooked up to the decay of a radioactive isotope. But it's not choosing, so, according to you, you'd have to have both?
Random number generators don't have wills.


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Re: Defining Free Will, Fairly

Post #7

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Miles wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:07 pmRandom number generators don't have wills.
No, but you could combine a random number generator and a person, giving the random number generator lordship over the person's decisions. Now he has a will, and he could have done differently. Just take as a given for the moment that the random number generator... we've found a way to make it actually random. And we've found some poor sap and enslaved him to it for the purposes of giving him free will, because if he'd chosen to follow the RNG, well, that would be traceable back to his own mind which is not random.

This doesn't look like free will to me. I'm curious as to what free will would look like to you.

I can tell you what it would look like to me. It would look like a genuinely higher motivation chosen not out of any instinct we have, but arising purely from the higher mind.

It would look a little bit like being Vulcan, but taken even further. Vulcans say they don't use their emotions as motivation, but they still wake up, eat breakfast, preserve their own existences, and do everything else living beings do out of instinct. Logic is not a goal; it only serves other goals. If some stoic eschewed all of his basal motivations and found some truly higher motivation, one provably not motivated by any drive we were born with, I would say that might indeed be free will. I wouldn't bother about whether he could have done otherwise.

I think religious people falsely believe altruism is such a proof, but we're motivated to altruism because we're social animals. We're still only preserving our genes when we preserve other humans. Even when some of us love our pets above ourselves, the genetic seed for that motivation is there, since we took wolves into our packs to help preserve our own species.

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Re: Defining Free Will, Fairly

Post #8

Post by Miles »

Purple Knight wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 4:22 pm
Miles wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:07 pmRandom number generators don't have wills.

This doesn't look like free will to me.
I'm curious as to what free will would look like to you.

It would look like the ability to have done differently.


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Re: Defining Free Will, Fairly

Post #9

Post by Purple Knight »

Miles wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 4:41 pm
Purple Knight wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 4:22 pmI'm curious as to what free will would look like to you.

It would look like the ability to have done differently.
So this is in the vein of defining free will fairly. Those who believe in it certainly would prefer to have free will than not to have it. Would you want the ability to have done differently as long as you're constantly looking around you, taking in the information, and making the logical choice for the best benefit?

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Re: Defining Free Will, Fairly

Post #10

Post by Miles »

Purple Knight wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 8:53 pm
Miles wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 4:41 pm
Purple Knight wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 4:22 pmI'm curious as to what free will would look like to you.

It would look like the ability to have done differently.
So this is in the vein of defining free will fairly. Those who believe in it certainly would prefer to have free will than not to have it. Would you want the ability to have done differently as long as you're constantly looking around you, taking in the information, and making the logical choice for the best benefit?
What anyone prefers has nothing to do with what free will would look like to me.


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