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Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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Can we have free will and moral responsibility?

Yes
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No
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5%
Don't know
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10%
Don't agree with how the question is presented
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Total votes: 20

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animist
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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#101 Post by animist » March 29th, 2012, 1:37 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Compassionist wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:What I find frustrating is that the relative freedom we have doesn't allow us to prevent all suffering.
And we have absolutely no reason to think that if we had the kind of acausal free will that some people believe in we would be able to prevent all suffering. You're talking about two entirely different things, as animist has already pointed out. Free will does not imply omnipotence.
In my short story, free will exists because the protagonist is omnipotent. Without omnipotence, free will cannot exist. I am not omnipotent, therefore, I do not have free wll. Anyone who is not omnipotent, does not have free will..
Compo, you are not really listening to anyone else. As Emma said, omnipotence (or FTM even power if it is something less than total) is not the same as free will, whatever your story says. Actually, it is not just the case that free will does not entail omnipotence (which is what we seem to be on about here, with its corollary that - for you - absence of omnipotence entails absence of free will), it is also the case (and I think I might have said this already) that omnipotence does not entail free will. Even if you were omnipotent, you would still be subject to causality in respect of your origins (assuming you had origins) and so, by your reckoning, not free.

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#102 Post by Compassionist » March 29th, 2012, 8:07 pm

animist wrote: Compo, you are not really listening to anyone else. As Emma said, omnipotence (or FTM even power if it is something less than total) is not the same as free will, whatever your story says. Actually, it is not just the case that free will does not entail omnipotence (which is what we seem to be on about here, with its corollary that - for you - absence of omnipotence entails absence of free will), it is also the case (and I think I might have said this already) that omnipotence does not entail free will. Even if you were omnipotent, you would still be subject to causality in respect of your origins (assuming you had origins) and so, by your reckoning, not free.
I see your point (yes, you made it before in a prior post). Could a different choice have been made by me or anyone else given the same variables? I can't see how. Isn't a choice the inevitable outcome of the interaction of the variables? I have analysed the thought process behind many of my choices and I can't see how any of them could have been different. I only know what it is like to be me. I don't really know what it is like to be you or someone else. How do you experiece making a choice? Benjamin Libet's experiments showed that "some moments before you are aware of what you will do next ... your brain has already determined what you will do. You then become conscious of this ‘decision’ and believe that you are in the process of making it." Do you see the implications of this discovery?

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#103 Post by Compassionist » March 29th, 2012, 8:34 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:The omniverse is hypothetical.
I know. I was just trying to get into the spirit of it. :wink:
You did a great job of it.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:In my short story, the "Omniverse Forever", the protagonist has a great time being omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniculpable.
Gosh! Doesn't sound like my idea of a great time. :D
Looks like we differ in our ideas of what constitutes a great time.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:If I were in orbit of Jupiter for an eternity, I would not be free to go to the park, rather like the prisoner in a cell. Whether stuck in a cell or outside a cell or stuck in orbit of Jupiter, all are still products and prisoners of causality.
Ah, no. That's why I specifically said, "What if you were orbiting round Jupiter for an eternity without any cause at all. I was hypothesising some future introduction of acausality to our universe. Suddenly uncaused things start happening. It wouldn't mean greater freedom; it would mean greater unpredictability.
That's true. That is why my protagonist needs the omniscience and the omnipotence - how else could one manage such unpredictability everywhere in the omniverse?
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:In my short story, free will exists because the protagonist is omnipotent. Without omnipotence, free will cannot exist. I am not omnipotent, therefore, I do not have free wll. Anyone who is not omnipotent, does not have free will.
I don't follow that, Compassionist. I mean, I'm not saying that the sentence "Anyone who is not omnipotent does not have free will" is false. But if we're talking about the kind of free will that enables people to act independently of their own biology and environment and all the various circumstances that hold at the time of acting, which is a kind I don't believe in and consider to be impossible (as do compatibilists like animist), then I don't see why that would have to be coupled with omnipotence (something else I don't believe in and consider to be impossible). Metaphysical libertarians claim that, given a particular set of circumstances, we are not compelled to do one particular thing: there is more than one option available to us; we can make choices. They are not claiming that we have an infinite number of choices, or that we can do absolutely anything.
I accept your point.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:In my short story, the omnipotence of the protagonist enables him to prevent all suffering and unfairness and everyone lives happily ever after. Why wouldn't anyone love such an omniverse?
It's hard to love a figment of somebody else's imagination, Compassionist. An omniverse is, by definition, "the conceptual ensemble of all possible universes, with all possible laws of physics" (according to Wikipedia). Your omniverse, by eliminating universes like the one we're in, with the laws of physics that we've got, which make omnipotence and omnipresence and omniscience impossible, ceases to be an omniverse. It's a uverse, a fictiverse, an imagiverse.
It's just a story - it didn't really eliminate this universe. In the story, this universe doesn't exist. Fiction, by definition, can do without pesky little universes lacking in omnipotence and omniscience!
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:I am sorry if I have given the impression that I am only aware of the negatives of causality. I am aware of both the positives and the negatives of causality. My frustration comes from my unfulfilled desire to prevent all suffering and unfairness. In my short story, the protagonist gets to do just that and everyone lives happily ever after!
It is the phrase "prisoners of causality" that focuses on the negatives. But if what you are really railing against is the fact that you're not omnipotent, then it is not causality that's the problem. You're frustrated that you're a mere human being, not a god. You're frustrated that, given a particular set of circumstances, you are not able to do absolutely anything and everything, rather than merely that you're not able to do one thing rather than another. Seems a daft thing to get frustrated about, in my view. If something's impossible, it's impossible. It's the possible but extremely difficult that I find frustrating. :wink:
What makes something possible but extremely difficult? Can you give me some examples? How do you know that these things are even possible?
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:I did overdose on lithium and anti-depressants but they didn't work - causality rules and I am still trapped! I suppose jumping from a very high building might be a better technique for suicide. The thing is, I don't know for sure that suicide would end my existence. What if Hinduism is correct and we are reincarnated according to our karmic bank balance? After all, it is impossible to disprove the concept of Maya.
I would hope that you have other reasons for not committing suicide apart from the possibility that you might be reincarnated. I would hope that the fact that there are people you love and who love you would count for more. The fact that, despite your lack of omnipotence, you are able to do some things that reduce the suffering and increase the pleasure of other people, and that you are able to experience pleasure yourself.
I suffer from Bipolar Disorder and chronic pain. I overdosed about eleven years ago. The overdose was attempt to externalise my internal suffering. I didn't even tell anyone about it for a long time, not even my GP or psychiatrist. As a result of the overdose, I had vomited profusely - the vomit got rid of the toxin. I knew that my medication had emetic properties (I used to be a medical student but they barred me because of my illness) and expected what happened. The main reason I haven't killed myself is because of the harm that would do to others.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:The omniverse of my short story, has an omnipotent saviour who prevents all suffering thanks to her omnibenevolence and everyone gets to live happily ever after!
You seem to have become fixated on this. I hope it's just temporary, because you've only recently written this short story, so it's fresh in your mind. But I hope you're able to let it go. It's nice sometimes to escape to imaginary places where everything's fine and dandy. But if it only serves to make this world seem terrible in comparison, then I'm not sure it's something we ought to do too much and too often.
I suppose I have become immersed in my fictitious Omniverse Forever!
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:I agree with you. My complaint is that causality didn't make me omnipotent as well as omnibenevolent. I am traumatised by many awful experiences and have regular nightmares - consequently, I sleep poorly. Damn causality! It should have made me omnipotent as well as omnibenevolent. Of course, causality is not sentient. It is simply a process and is not really at fault.
Exactly! And also bear in mind that many people who suffer as a consequence of past traumas are able to get better. There's an organisation I support called Freedom from Torture which provides clinical services to the survivors of torture, people who gone through experiences so terrible that they are hard for me to imagine. It doesn't eliminate all suffering, but it reduces it. There are all sorts of things that can be done that cause a reduction in suffering. You don't have to be omnipotent to be able to sleep at night. In fact, come to think of it, I wouldn't have thought the average omnipotent being would sleep at all!
I am very impressed with Freedom from Torture. I am glad that you support it. I have had insomnia since 1997. If you can cure me, I will be most grateful. I have tried various medications and herbal stuff but I still keep waking up with nightmares.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:I agree that the power to cause is something to be appreciated. I just wish I was omnipotent as well as omnibenevolent and thus be able to prevent all suffering - just like the protagonist in my story.
Well, dammit, Compassionist, if you really are omnibenevolent then that's pretty darned impressive. Musn't be greedy, eh?

Emma
Being omnibenevolent is mostly useless unless one is also omnipotent.

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#104 Post by Val » March 29th, 2012, 9:18 pm

This thread makes my brain hurt I think I will stop reading it for a while.

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#105 Post by animist » March 29th, 2012, 11:17 pm

Compo, I know that you are benevolent and compassionate, even if you are not omnibenevolent or omnipotent.

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#106 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 30th, 2012, 9:33 am

Compassionist wrote:Could a different choice have been made by me or anyone else given the same variables? I can't see how. Isn't a choice the inevitable outcome of the interaction of the variables? I have analysed the thought process behind many of my choices and I can't see how any of them could have been different.
Variables change. All the time. The variables that existed half an hour ago are not the same ones that exist now. Every moment brings fresh variables. Variables that we can't possibly predict. So while it's true that past choices can't have been any different, when we're talking about future ones [---][/---] that's another matter. From the perspective of this moment, future possibilities are endless. Who knows what variables might sneak in there and take you in one direction or another? And I'm more interested in future choices than past ones. We can't change the past anyway, whatever we might believe about free will.
Compassionist wrote:I only know what it is like to be me. I don't really know what it is like to be you or someone else. How do you experiece making a choice?
If we're talking about a conscious choice, then I think I experience it as a conscious focusing on the different options available to me, being aware of my own emotional reactions to each of them, and sometimes, just sometimes, weighing up the pros and cons of each. I think I tend to do much less weighing up than I feel I ought to. And of course there are lots of variables of which I'm not even aware, unconscious urges and fears and even beliefs. And I expect they have much more of an impact on my decisions that I like to think.
Compassionist wrote:Benjamin Libet's experiments showed that "some moments before you are aware of what you will do next ... your brain has already determined what you will do. You then become conscious of this 'decision' and believe that you are in the process of making it." Do you see the implications of this discovery?
No, that's not quite what Libet's experiments showed. They showed that for some decision-making the awareness of the decision follows the action, but we cannot assume that all decision-making is like that. Deciding to move one's finger might well involve different processes from deciding to sell one's house in Peckham and move to Achiltibuie. I think the Libet experiment and others carried out since (e.g. by John-Dylan Haynes et al.) do have important implications, though. I think they imply that far more of our decisions are made at an unconscious level than we realise. And I think that's very interesting. And for those who have a notion of free will that is dependent on consciousness, it might present something of a challenge. It makes no difference to my own scepticism about free will. Both conscious and unconscious processes are determined (ignoring, for the moment, the possibility of a degree of true randomness). They're all part of the self. I don't consider the conscious mind to be the "true" self. Whether I'm choosing to do something consciously or unconsciously, it's still "me" doing the choosing. Either way, "I" am in control, in one sense of the word. But either way, my choice is determined by variables outside my control.

Emma

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#107 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 30th, 2012, 10:40 am

Compassionist wrote:What makes something possible but extremely difficult? Can you give me some examples? How do you know that these things are even possible?
Very good questions. We use the word "possible" when something appears to be possible from our own perspective at this particular time. For instance, if I'm going to the hospital to get tests to determine whether I have a particular disease, I might think it possible that I have the disease, and possible that I don't. But in reality, there is only one possibility. We're talking about the consequence of events that have already happened but are unknown. Perhaps that's a pseudo-possibility. However, many future events are determined not only by past events but also by other future events, events that are not only not known but also not yet determined (I'm not the kind of determinist that believes that everything was determined at the time of the Big Bang, and is just rolling forward in a way that's theoretically if not practically predictable). For me, that makes them real possibilities. But in addition, when we're talking about our own behaviour, what makes it really interesting is that our own beliefs and attitudes about the possibility of our future actions are themselves determining variables. If someone believes that it is possible that she will give up smoking, for example, she'll stand a better chance of giving up smoking than if she believes that it's impossible.
Compassionist wrote:I suppose I have become immersed in my fictitious Omniverse Forever!
Just a bit, yes. Any plans for future short stories? :wink:
Compassionist wrote:I am very impressed with Freedom from Torture. I am glad that you support it. I have had insomnia since 1997. If you can cure me, I will be most grateful. I have tried various medications and herbal stuff but I still keep waking up with nightmares.
No, I can't cure you. But I think there's a good chance that someone or something might be able to help you. Have you sought treatment recently? They're making advances in the treatment of sleep disorders all the time. Have you looked into imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT), for instance? I understand that it has been used with some success to help rape victims and combat veterans, and others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (see, for example, "Nightmare reduction in a Vietnam veteran using imagery rehearsal therapy"). And then there's mindfulness, which we've discussed elsewhere, which might well be worth looking into if you haven't already.
Compassionist wrote:Being omnibenevolent is mostly useless unless one is also omnipotent.
Nonsense! Absolute nonsense! Having only good will towards others, not having a mean streak, never wanting to harm anyone, wanting to help others to the best of your ability, whatever that ability might be [---][/---] it's all very, very useful. If one has any power at all, and one uses it to help others and never to hurt them, then that's something wonderful, something to be celebrated. And even if it isn't omnibenevolence but just a generous helping of benevolence, it's still marvellous. Wish we all had more of the stuff. Hope one day we will. It is, after all, possible. :D

Emma

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#108 Post by Compassionist » March 30th, 2012, 11:39 am

Val wrote:This thread makes my brain hurt I think I will stop reading it for a while.
If it's any consolation, it makes my head hurt, too. Brains don't have nociceptors, so, can't hurt. That is why it is possible to prod the brain of a conscious patient without causing pain.

Incidentally, have you ever considered the solipsistic possibility that only you exist and all else are mere illusions? Obviously, if you have quit reading this thread you won't be reading this post - what a pity!

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#109 Post by Compassionist » March 30th, 2012, 11:43 am

animist wrote:Compo, I know that you are benevolent and compassionate, even if you are not omnibenevolent or omnipotent.
Thanks my friend. I try. :D

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#110 Post by Compassionist » March 30th, 2012, 11:58 am

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:Could a different choice have been made by me or anyone else given the same variables? I can't see how. Isn't a choice the inevitable outcome of the interaction of the variables? I have analysed the thought process behind many of my choices and I can't see how any of them could have been different.
Variables change. All the time. The variables that existed half an hour ago are not the same ones that exist now. Every moment brings fresh variables. Variables that we can't possibly predict. So while it's true that past choices can't have been any different, when we're talking about future ones [---][/---] that's another matter. From the perspective of this moment, future possibilities are endless. Who knows what variables might sneak in there and take you in one direction or another? And I'm more interested in future choices than past ones. We can't change the past anyway, whatever we might believe about free will.
I agree. 'Always in motion, the future is.' - Yoda, 'Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back'.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:I only know what it is like to be me. I don't really know what it is like to be you or someone else. How do you experiece making a choice?
If we're talking about a conscious choice, then I think I experience it as a conscious focusing on the different options available to me, being aware of my own emotional reactions to each of them, and sometimes, just sometimes, weighing up the pros and cons of each. I think I tend to do much less weighing up than I feel I ought to. And of course there are lots of variables of which I'm not even aware, unconscious urges and fears and even beliefs. And I expect they have much more of an impact on my decisions than I like to think.
That's almost identical to how I make choices or how choices occur in my brain - I don't really know which is the more accurate description. There is so much I don't know and in fact, can't know. For instance, the solipsistic possibility that only I exist and all else are mere illusions, can't be disproved. Is there an external reality outside my subjective experience? I don't honestly know. How can anyone know such things for sure? I am, therefore, I am. Is there anything more?
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:Benjamin Libet's experiments showed that "some moments before you are aware of what you will do next ... your brain has already determined what you will do. You then become conscious of this 'decision' and believe that you are in the process of making it." Do you see the implications of this discovery?
No, that's not quite what Libet's experiments showed. They showed that for some decision-making the awareness of the decision follows the action, but we cannot assume that all decision-making is like that. Deciding to move one's finger might well involve different processes from deciding to sell one's house in Peckham and move to Achiltibuie. I think the Libet experiment and others carried out since (e.g. by John-Dylan Haynes et al.) do have important implications, though. I think they imply that far more of our decisions are made at an unconscious level than we realise. And I think that's very interesting. And for those who have a notion of free will that is dependent on consciousness, it might present something of a challenge. It makes no difference to my own scepticism about free will. Both conscious and unconscious processes are determined (ignoring, for the moment, the possibility of a degree of true randomness). They're all part of the self. I don't consider the conscious mind to be the "true" self. Whether I'm choosing to do something consciously or unconsciously, it's still "me" doing the choosing. Either way, "I" am in control, in one sense of the word. But either way, my choice is determined by variables outside my control.
Sorry, I was over-generalising about Libet's experiments. I agree that your choice is determined by variables outside your control. It has been suggested that the self is an illusion, not an entity. The illusion is generated by the activity of the brain and ceases to exist when brain activity stops. The self is like a river: just as you can't dip into the same river twice, as the water molecules and debris have moved downstream and have been replaced by other water molecules and debris, you can't meet the same person twice as the cells constituting the body is replaced and the neural activity is subject to constant change.

Mind you, solipsism opposes the idea that the self is generated by brain activity. A solipsist is convinced that only he or she is real and all else are illusions. It is impossible to prove or disprove solipsism, Simulation Hypothesis, Maya, reincarnation, deities, etc. Of course, just because we can't prove or disprove certain concepts, it doesn't make them valid. Existence is such a puzzle! :puzzled:

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#111 Post by animist » March 30th, 2012, 12:10 pm

this stuff about not ever being the same person is rubbish; actually the Internet, not to mention dear old things like diaries and sundry other writings, help us to maintain our identities. (Sorry, I feel in a doctrinaire mood at the moment, but in another moment I may feel quite differently :laughter: ). Heraclitus said that no man steps into the same river twice, and it is true that in some ways everything is is constant flux, but to infer from that that nothing is reliable or consistent is naive; living would otherwise be impossible. To take a mundane example, the house I left a few hours ago has no doubt changed since then: the weeds will have grown a bit and many insects may have died (or grown) - but it is still my house. Obviously our conscious minds are in some way the product of our un/subconscious minds, and so what? We are judged by our public performances, not by the myriad processes behind them.

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#112 Post by Compassionist » March 30th, 2012, 12:22 pm

animist wrote:this stuff about not ever being the same person is rubbish; actually the Internet, not to mention dear old things like diaries and sundry other writings, help us to maintain our identities. (Sorry, I feel in a doctrinaire mood at the moment, but in another moment I may feel quite differently :laughter: ). Heraclitus said that no man steps into the same river twice, and it is true that in some ways everything is is constant flux, but to infer from that that nothing is reliable or consistent is naive; living would otherwise be impossible. Obviously our conscious minds are in some way the product of our un/subconscious minds, and so what? We are judged by our public performances, not by the myriad process behind them.
I am not the same person I was in the past. I have changed in many ways. I have seen other people change, too. Some things like the finger print, blood group, DNA, doesn't change and are used to verify people's identity but all the other things do change. Not only are we changed by biological processes, we are also changed by our experiences.

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#113 Post by animist » March 30th, 2012, 12:34 pm

Compassionist wrote:
animist wrote:this stuff about not ever being the same person is rubbish; actually the Internet, not to mention dear old things like diaries and sundry other writings, help us to maintain our identities. (Sorry, I feel in a doctrinaire mood at the moment, but in another moment I may feel quite differently :laughter: ). Heraclitus said that no man steps into the same river twice, and it is true that in some ways everything is is constant flux, but to infer from that that nothing is reliable or consistent is naive; living would otherwise be impossible. Obviously our conscious minds are in some way the product of our un/subconscious minds, and so what? We are judged by our public performances, not by the myriad process behind them.
I am not the same person I was in the past. I have changed in many ways. I have seen other people change, too. Some things like the finger print, blood group, DNA, doesn't change and are used to verify people's identity but all the other things do change. Not only are we changed by biological processes, we are also changed by our experiences.
yes I have changed too, in the ways that you mention, and not only in appearance - the most obvious marker - but no doubt in many more subtle ways. But this is normal change and does not affect identity; maybe the changes actually cement identity. Obviously there are many cases of traumatic personality change, memory losses and so on which force us to modify this overall picture of change within stability; but by definition they are exceptions.

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#114 Post by Marian » March 30th, 2012, 12:43 pm

A question: if we don't have free will, how is it possible to change? DNA can change; it happens all the time. It's called random genetic variance. It's what gave C his medical issues. My specific DNA is mine alone but that's part of what makes us unique rather than just entities.

We convince ourselves to continue believing in that which is patently untrue in an effort to protect ourselves. It's a good coping strategy (to a point) for the difficult situations we've created for ourselves. Not a judgment. A fact. Sure, not everything is within our control ie. who we were born to, other people's behavior, for example, but we are in charge of how we choose to look at things, whether that is the past or the present. How we choose to look at things definitely effects our choice of behavior which in turn reinforces our thoughts.

I will get off my soapbox for now (key words are: 'for now')
Transformative fire...

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#115 Post by animist » March 30th, 2012, 3:38 pm

Emma wrote:
Compassionist wrote:Benjamin Libet's experiments showed that "some moments before you are aware of what you will do next ... your brain has already determined what you will do. You then become conscious of this 'decision' and believe that you are in the process of making it." Do you see the implications of this discovery?
No, that's not quite what Libet's experiments showed. They showed that for some decision-making the awareness of the decision follows the action, but we cannot assume that all decision-making is like that. Deciding to move one's finger might well involve different processes from deciding to sell one's house in Peckham and move to Achiltibuie. I think the Libet experiment and others carried out since (e.g. by John-Dylan Haynes et al.) do have important implications, though. I think they imply that far more of our decisions are made at an unconscious level than we realise. And I think that's very interesting. And for those who have a notion of free will that is dependent on consciousness, it might present something of a challenge. It makes no difference to my own scepticism about free will. Both conscious and unconscious processes are determined (ignoring, for the moment, the possibility of a degree of true randomness). They're all part of the self. I don't consider the conscious mind to be the "true" self. Whether I'm choosing to do something consciously or unconsciously, it's still "me" doing the choosing. Either way, "I" am in control, in one sense of the word. But either way, my choice is determined by variables outside my control.
I have no doubt said this before, but I do not feel challenged by this research, partly because if one thinks of many actions one realises that they are not preceded by conscious decisions (and therefore to find out that scientific research confirms this is not a surprise). I refer mainly to fairly routine decisions like getting up or getting out of bed: there I am thinking one moment that getting up is probably a good thing now, and hey presto! - before I know it I am up! Maybe I am missing something? And if one believes in causation and is some kind of determinist, one must accept that SOME unconscious process must accompany and probably temporally precede even paradigmatically conscious end decisions (like selling one's house) which involve a series of logical and deliberated decisions.

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#116 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 30th, 2012, 5:02 pm

Compassionist wrote:It has been suggested that the self is an illusion, not an entity.
Two words: false dichotomy.

Emma

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#117 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 30th, 2012, 5:34 pm

animist wrote:I have no doubt said this before, but I do not feel challenged by this research, partly because if one thinks of many actions one realises that they are not preceded by conscious decisions (and therefore to find out that scientific research confirms this is not a surprise). I refer mainly to fairly routine decisions like getting up or getting out of bed: there I am thinking one moment that getting up is probably a good thing now, and hey presto! - before I know it I am up! Maybe I am missing something? And if one believes in causation and is some kind of determinist, one must accept that SOME unconscious process must accompany and probably temporally precede even paradigmatically conscious end decisions (like selling one's house) which involve a series of logical and deliberated decisions.
Yes, but I think the research goes a little bit further than you're suggesting. More later, as I have to post a letter, but have you seen this BBC video on "Neuroscience and Free Will"? Ignore Marcus du Sautoy's hyperbole, and listen to John-Dylan Haynes's comments instead, especially from around 3 minutes 20 seconds.

Emma

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Val
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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#118 Post by Val » March 30th, 2012, 8:05 pm

I can't keep away. Just to point out that selling a house in Peckham and moving to Achiltibui is a very good idea.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#119 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 30th, 2012, 8:21 pm

:laughter:

I visited the hydroponicum there once, and fell in love with the place. Not sure I'm hardy enough to live there permanently, though.

Mind you, not sure I'm hardy enough to live in Peckham. :exit:

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#120 Post by Compassionist » March 30th, 2012, 9:38 pm

Marian wrote:A question: if we don't have free will, how is it possible to change? DNA can change; it happens all the time. It's called random genetic variance. It's what gave C his medical issues. My specific DNA is mine alone but that's part of what makes us unique rather than just entities.

We convince ourselves to continue believing in that which is patently untrue in an effort to protect ourselves. It's a good coping strategy (to a point) for the difficult situations we've created for ourselves. Not a judgment. A fact. Sure, not everything is within our control ie. who we were born to, other people's behavior, for example, but we are in charge of how we choose to look at things, whether that is the past or the present. How we choose to look at things definitely effects our choice of behavior which in turn reinforces our thoughts.

I will get off my soapbox for now (key words are: 'for now')
I know that DNA can change through mutation. I was thinking of DNA as an identifier. For example, my DNA could have been used to identify me as a child and at present. In that sense, DNA doesn't change. Of course, DNA changes during the recombination process of meiosis and during chromosomal crossover at chiasmata.

We can change without requiring any free will. Our desire for change arises according to causality e.g. wanting to quit smoking. This leads to appropriate actions e.g. using nicotine patches.

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Re: Do/can we have free will and moral responsibility?

#121 Post by Compassionist » March 30th, 2012, 9:54 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
animist wrote:I have no doubt said this before, but I do not feel challenged by this research, partly because if one thinks of many actions one realises that they are not preceded by conscious decisions (and therefore to find out that scientific research confirms this is not a surprise). I refer mainly to fairly routine decisions like getting up or getting out of bed: there I am thinking one moment that getting up is probably a good thing now, and hey presto! - before I know it I am up! Maybe I am missing something? And if one believes in causation and is some kind of determinist, one must accept that SOME unconscious process must accompany and probably temporally precede even paradigmatically conscious end decisions (like selling one's house) which involve a series of logical and deliberated decisions.
Yes, but I think the research goes a little bit further than you're suggesting. More later, as I have to post a letter, but have you seen this BBC video on "Neuroscience and Free Will"? Ignore Marcus du Sautoy's hyperbole, and listen to John-Dylan Haynes's comments instead, especially from around 3 minutes 20 seconds.

Emma
Many thanks for the link. I agree with John-Dylan Haynes. I love the six seconds advanced foretelling of what choice was going to be made. I wish we could monitor everyone's brain activities using MRI and PET scanners all the time.

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