Sunday School

Sunday School 9th May 2021

This topic contains 71 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Autumn 1 month, 1 week ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 72 total)
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  • #37638

    Autumn
    Participant

    get the causality problems with making ‘real choices’.

    Why does it, tough? It’s like saying walking is impossible because when we delve down to the underlying mechanics of the movement, it is not walking, but in fact just quantum activity resulting in the appearance of walking at the macro level.

    I am aware that doesn’t seem analogous, and I suspect that’s because people attribute some bizarre, special quality to making choices. If we look at choice as having an array of options, then being free to select any of those options (or at least select more than one of them).

    But there has to be a process that drives decision making. And when we go down a reductionist path looking at all the constituent elements of choice, because it can be described as a series of causal events, then we can describe it as deterministic. If it’s deterministic, how can it be real choice?

    But the problem with that line of thinking is you end up with such absurdities such as “Unless I can choose what I cannot choose, I cannot actually choose anything.” The problem is, even if you can choose what you cannot choose, your choice, by definition, becomes what you not only could choose, but also what you did choose as a result of a causal chain of events.

    But there is a different way to look at the situation. In any situation where you make choices, a set of processes has to occur in order for that choice to be made. Without that process, the outcome would be different. This process is something that can be observed and defined as distinct from reflex, or a chair effecting a series of events by remaining stationary as someone trips over it. Choice is a specific phenomenon, just as walking is distinct from swimming or being thrown across a room, though if you reduced all of those events, I am sure by the atomic level they’d all start to look pretty similar.

    The real problematic word in all of this is the ‘free’ in ‘freewill’. For some reason in this particular context, we use the word in a way we do not use it anywhere else. For some reason, when it comes to freewill, ‘free’ has to mean some absolute concept to the bizarre extent that in order for will to be free, it has to be free from all of the properties that give it agency. It’s a blatant and irrational contradiction.

    #37639

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Lets forget about the word “freewill” for a while.

    How is a choice ‘distinct from reflex’ as you say? Living systems do exhibit distinct properties. They make choices. There has to be a mechanism. I wonder if living creatures use randomness and/or quantum physics to give themselves survival advantage. It seems to me that evolution would favor a primitive organism that gave itself ‘choices’ (no matter how ‘free or unfree’ the mechanism) and makes the right choices over an organism without that ability.

    #37640

    Autumn
    Participant

    Lets forget about the word “freewill” for a while. How is a choice ‘distinct from reflex’ as you say? Living systems do exhibit distinct properties. They make choices. There has to be a mechanism.

    Definitionally, reflex is an automatic response to a stimulus and choice is a conscious process of deliberation. Even if we could dismantle decision-making until we reduced it to a whole array of what are basically reflective responses to stimuli, in practical terms choice and reflex behave differently.

    I wonder if living creatures use randomness and/or quantum physics to give themselves survival advantage. It seems to me that evolution would favor a primitive organism that gave itself ‘choices’ (no matter how ‘free or unfree’ the mechanism) and makes the right choices over an organism without that ability.

    I’ve only ever read a little about it. I don’t know how randomness pairs with choice. But beyond that, even if there were true randomness at the quantum level, by the time we get up to the macro level, wouldn’t the relevant physics operate uniformly enough that the relevant causal relationships in play would not be random? That’s not a challenge or rhetorical. I honestly don’t know enough to understand how this would impact choice.

    #37641

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Nuclear decay is a quantum activity that is said to be random, spontaneous and independent of how long the atom has been in existence, for example. We are limited to general predictions about ‘half-life’.

    I don’t claim to know a lot about QM. Presently, I do think ultimately ‘choice making’ will cease being a philosophical/semantical subject when the nature of choice making is finally discovered in physics.

    #37642

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I also think that somehow ‘ideas’ and mental creativity are related subjects to ‘choices’. Is an idea physical? Certainly ideas need ‘life’ and matter to manifest and transfer/propagate but clearly ideas and information have an abstract, non material characteristic.

    #37643

    Unseen
    Participant

    There are only two ways things might happen, Autumn: 1) due to immediately antecedent conditions or 2) a miracle happens. I’m not sure an English class, even on the graduate level, will get us past that dichotomy.

    You appear to be responding to a point I am not making. It makes no sense to define a term in a way that is self-defeating. ‘Will’ depends on causal relationships. To determine it is not free because it is restricted by the thing that enables it is circuitous, linguistic fuckery. You don’t need a graduate degree in English to find that the problem there is semantics and an ability to define terms sensibly.

    I don’t think invoking “linguistic fuckery” (nice turn of phrase, BTW) salvages free will. Explain how it shows my choices are not determined, and if they are not determined (the result of something), doesn’t that imply that they are the result of nothing?

    #37644

    Unseen
    Participant

    I get the causality problems with making ‘real choices’. The one path to free will in my mind depends on the answer to the following question. Have biological systems harnessed quantum weirdness to increase survival chances (via choices.)? Life is just so ‘different’ than inanimate matter.

    Yeah, maybe free will is due to “spooky action at a distance.” I’m into ordinary language philosophy in the sense of, if you can’t explain the solution in language and concepts any normally intelligent person can understand, you haven’t provided any sort of solution.

    Philosophical questions aren’t like scientific matters where we’re all willing to believe an astrophysicist’s or mathematician’s word. When it comes to philosophical issues, the general public wants to hear and understand the supporting arguments.

    #37645

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I get the causality problems with making ‘real choices’. The one path to free will in my mind depends on the answer to the following question. Have biological systems harnessed quantum weirdness to increase survival chances (via choices.)? Life is just so ‘different’ than inanimate matter.

    Yeah, maybe free will is due to “spooky action at a distance.” I’m into ordinary language philosophy in the sense of, if you can’t explain the solution in language and concepts any normally intelligent person can understand, you haven’t provided any sort of solution. Philosophical questions aren’t like scientific matters where we’re all willing to believe an astrophysicist’s or mathematician’s word. When it comes to philosophical issues, the general public wants to hear and understand the supporting arguments.

    It IS a scientific question, not a philosophical question in my mind and I am proposing a possible mechanism, (not a solution) whereby living creatures use stochastic processes to create choices just like they use them to evolve.

    #37646

    jakelafort
    Participant

    I wanna vomit. Having joined a group is a little awful.

    #37647

    @jakelafort – If you were not smoking one of Groucho’s  fat cigars when you signed up as a member you would not being feeling so ill. But at least this school has no exams and no roll call. Remember you used your own freewill to join 🙂

     

    #37648

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Reg, you bet your life!

    #37649

    Autumn
    Participant

    I don’t think invoking “linguistic fuckery” (nice turn of phrase, BTW) salvages free will. Explain how it shows my choices are not determined, and if they are not determined (the result of something), doesn’t that imply that they are the result of nothing?

    Because causal determinism isn’t a limiting/ restricting factor—it is, in itself, a description of our properties and how we operate. To say that causal determinism limits or negates freewill comes down to saying a thing is bound because, by definition, it will do what it will do and will not do what it will not do.

    We can strip that down a little to: because a thing is what it is and is not what it is not, then it lacks true agency. It’s as silly as saying a car is immobile because it cannot move; it is merely moved by its motor and wheels (et al.).

    #37650

    TheEncogitationer
    Participant

    Unseen,

    I would always want to go with the evidence for the claim, not the number of adherants.  Also, I would want to hear what the 98 percent and the 2 percent have to say to see if they base their respective positions on evidence and to see what that evidence is.

    Abduction is a new one on me.  I’ve heard of deduction, induction, and preponderance of evidence, but not abduction.  What does that even mean?  “Accept Determinism or you’ll never be seen again?”  I’ve always heard–tying in with what I told Reg about hitch-hiking–to never let anyone forcibly take you to a second location.

    I’ve also always heard that statements under duress cannot be taken at face value, so if a consensus of “experts” or “professionals” all are taking positions by abduction and not by deduction or induction, that deserves scrutiny as well.

    There is always the option of suspending judgement until more evidence becomes available.  There is no crime or sin in saying: “I don’t know.”

    #37651

    Unseen
    Participant

    It IS a scientific question, not a philosophical question in my mind and I am proposing a possible mechanism, (not a solution) whereby living creatures use stochastic processes to create choices just like they use them to evolve.

    No, it’s philosophical, and the reason is that it ties in to nonscientific (in terms of “hard” science)  notions like responsibility, praise, blame, and justice.

    Are you seriously proposing that humans chose their own evolutionary path?

    #37652

    Unseen
    Participant

    Because causal determinism isn’t a limiting/ restricting factor—it is, in itself, a description of our properties and how we operate. To say that causal determinism limits or negates freewill comes down to saying a thing is bound because, by definition, it will do what it will do and will not do what it will not do.

    Can you relate all that for me to how (or whether) our choices have a moral/ethical dimension? If you could boil that down for me, I’d appreciate it because, that is why people care about free will. You see, the question, “Do we have free will?” is the outer shell of a deeper question “How are people morally/ethically responsible beings?”

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