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Joad
Wordsmith
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Reged: 03/22/05

Re: origin of life new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5809920 - 04/20/13 01:02 AM

I imagine that the concept of free will as used above is the same one that haunted Boethius in his Consolation of Philosophy. That book was composed in the 6th century. As such it has historical interest as a major exemplar of the kinds of problems that concerned philosophers of that time and place. But contemporary philosophy, when informed by modern science, is not really concerned with such concepts.

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moynihan
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 07/22/03

Loc: Lake Michigan Watershed
Re: origin of life new [Re: Joad]
      #5809928 - 04/20/13 01:12 AM

Quote:

I imagine that the concept of free will as used above is the same one that haunted Boethius in his Consolation of Philosophy. That book was composed in the 6th century. As such it has historical interest as a major exemplar of the kinds of problems that concerned philosophers of that time and place. But contemporary philosophy, when informed by modern science, is not really concerned with such concepts.




Quite right.
Ah, Boethius. The touch stone of the protagonist in the marvelous novel, "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: origin of life new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5810634 - 04/20/13 11:19 AM

Thank you for your request that I be more specific about my understanding and use of the phrase "free will".

Right this moment I am typing. I am typing because I choose to type. I am free to choose not to type.

A determinist, with whom I once spoke, would say that my typing, or my not-typing, is not my choice but me acting out some controlling/determining mechanism operating in me at the neuro-chemical level.

Let us say, a person was mistaken in believing his/her actions, such as engaging in speech with others, were determined and controlled by neuro-chemical and physical processes. Acting on this contrary-to-fact belief, that person would choose not to engage in dialogue because there would be (so he/she thinks) no possibility of enlightenment or persuasion caused by the dialogue. If, on the other hand, the determinism which this person believed to be real, was real; i.e. if he didn't have the choice to engage in dialogue, then it would be the fact that his dialogue is a compulsion.

The reality is, we engage in dialogue here for the purpose of enlightening and persuading others. Our engagement in dialogue for these purposes evidences our belief in the existence of free will and our belief that determinism does not (in the mentally balanced individual) operate at this specific human level.

Otto


Two asides:

I understand there to be a difference between free will and free choice. I have never been really clear on what that difference is, but I sense there is a difference.

Also, I am sure determinism, as it exists in physical, chemical, and biological phenomena, may well be quite different than the type of determinism of which I spoke above. I am, however, most interested in the type of determinism which some claim controls human behavior. This issue is of interest to me as I am interested in why people like us engage in dialogue here in the manners and ways in which we address one another.


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moynihan
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 07/22/03

Loc: Lake Michigan Watershed
Re: origin of life new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5810802 - 04/20/13 12:31 PM

Quote:

... Our engagement in dialogue for these purposes evidences our belief in the existence of free will...




Perhaps, but only if one believes in "free will", as something other than a symbolic object, or as sometimes put, a "thought thing".

Speaking only for myself, i view free will versus determinism and nature vs nurture, as pre-scientific constructs. Terms for processes, without reference to the details and multi-linear interaction the processes comprise.

For operant purposes, i think of behavior as a relationship between a phenotype and its environment. Both the phenotype and the environment are in a state of change. Further, that the "phenotype" in the human case, includes the growing integration & summation of reaction/experience as he/she moves on his/her world line.

Or, as some fellow wrote:

The geese have no intention to cast their reflection, the water, no mind, to receive it.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: origin of life new [Re: moynihan]
      #5810822 - 04/20/13 12:41 PM

Jay,

Thank you!

Your responses were very interesting.

I would like you to say more about, explain in perhaps a little easier manner for me to understand, your paragraph, "For operant purposes, i think of behavior as a relationship between a phenotype and its environment. Both the phenotype and the environment are in a state of change. Further, that the "phenotype" in the human case, includes the growing integration & summation of reaction/experience as he/she moves on his/her world line."

Last of all, in the paragraph you wrote, preceding the one I just quoted above, your referred to free-will and determinism as a "pre-scientific construct". As far as I know, you are correct in your statement; this debate did pre-date modern science. But would you, with me, be willing to go one step further and say, in addition to free-will/determinism being a "pre-scientific construct" that free-will/determinism "continues to be a non-scientific construct"?

Otto


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moynihan
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 07/22/03

Loc: Lake Michigan Watershed
Re: origin of life new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5810983 - 04/20/13 02:03 PM

Quote:

I would like you to say more about, explain in perhaps a little easier manner for me to understand, your paragraph, "For operant purposes,...




That would be alot of typing....

Quote:

But would you, with me, be willing to go one step further and say, ... that free-will/determinism "continues to be a non-scientific construct"?




Yes, in so far as i might say that about such things as for example; vitalism, astrology, or sympathetic magic.


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: origin of life new [Re: moynihan]
      #5811029 - 04/20/13 02:25 PM

Your qualified agreement...the words with which you qualified it, i.e. "vitalism, astrology, or sympathetic magic" can be taken two ways. Either, the free-will/determinism debate is not part of philosophy or theology, or they are part of philosophy/theology but that philosophy and theology are of the same value as vitalism, astrology, or sympathetic magic.

Assuming these two options exhaust the substantial possibility of ways to interpret "vitalism, astrology, or sympathetic magic" in relation to free-will/determinism, with which of the two options would you agree?

Otto


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moynihan
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 07/22/03

Loc: Lake Michigan Watershed
Re: origin of life new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5811277 - 04/20/13 03:56 PM

Quote:

Your qualified agreement...the words with which you qualified it, i.e. "vitalism, astrology, or sympathetic magic" can be taken two ways. Either, the free-will/determinism debate is not part of philosophy or theology, or they are part of philosophy/theology but that philosophy and theology are of the same value as vitalism, astrology, or sympathetic magic.

Assuming these two options exhaust the substantial possibility of ways to interpret "vitalism, astrology, or sympathetic magic" in relation to free-will/determinism, with which of the two options would you agree? Otto




I do not conside the duality/debate, free-will/determinism to have operant value as to the exploration and understanding the apparent biogeophysical "world"/"reality" etc. As concepts in and of themselves they do not lead to edification about anything other than some aspects of the history of human thought.

Free will/determinism though, as imaginary or symbolic, mental objects, are as concepts or beliefs, worthy of study. This is because many if not most humans believe instance, free will. The belief has a multitude of impacts in society, from language structure to governing models. That belief, and acting on it does have actual effects.

For example, All existing criminal justice systems assume "free will" exists. That assumption underlies concepts such as moral responsibility, culpability, competency, and punishment. Another example.
Given the human tendency for teleological thinking, a belief in "determinism" can often result in situationally convenient attribution to something being predestined.

Edited by moynihan (04/20/13 04:03 PM)


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scopethis
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/30/08

Loc: Kingman, Ks
Re: origin of life new [Re: moynihan]
      #5811326 - 04/20/13 04:15 PM

the employment of the seer, prophet, fortune teller...

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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: origin of life new [Re: moynihan]
      #5811534 - 04/20/13 06:49 PM

Your thoughts seem to be good and very well stated. Thank you, Jay. Otto

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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: origin of life new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5812011 - 04/20/13 10:51 PM

Quote:


A determinist, with whom I once spoke, would say that my typing, or my not-typing, is not my choice but me acting out some controlling/determining mechanism operating in me at the neuro-chemical level.





That determinist might, but I suspect his concept of "free will" and "choice" are just as garbled as yours are.


There's no shame in that. I don't think anybody really has a handle on what the terms mean in anything more than a personal sense, which is why these conversations invariably end up talking past one another.

I prefer a definition that is a bit simpler, and doesn't require a philosophy of metaphysical absolutes. Even if your decisions are somehow predetermined, they are predetermined within the context of your unique mileau of genetics, experiences, capabilities, education, desires, and circumstances. You don't share those 100% with anyone else. Therefore, the choices you make will be unique to you.

In this context, all "free will" is, is the recognition that your decisions are autonomous, and are not predictably triggered by the latest external events, and they are not guaranteed to be the same as someone elses. Add to that the concept that, as a sentient being(which itself has no metaphysical significance -- in this argument robots can conceivably be sentient as well) you have the ability to predict consequences of your choices, and to mentally model their affects on yourself and others, and factor those results into whatever your particular input array may be.

There is nothing in determinist science which precludes or overrides the concepts of personal autonomy, freedom, or responsibility.


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Joad
Wordsmith
*****

Reged: 03/22/05

Re: origin of life new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5812042 - 04/20/13 11:09 PM

Indeed. As moynihan has put it so well, "free will/determinism . . . as imaginary or symbolic, mental objects, are . . . concepts or beliefs . . . ."

Sorry for the ellipses but I haven't changed his basic point.

As a symbolic mental object, free will has been of concern in two particular contexts. The first is theological. Early on, Christian theologians ran into a problem when they contemplated an omniscient creator. Namely: if the creator is both eternal and omniscient, then he (they did conceive it in masculine terms) already knows what is going to happen to all of us even before we are born. Since that creator is both all knowing and unerring, that would imply that we have no free will. This gave the theologians fits, because free will was essential in their view in determining who was going to be saved and who wasn't. Boethius, as I mentioned before, provided some classic arguments to resolve this dilemma. There is no need to revisit those arguments, but they are foundational to Scholasticism.

Calvin, for his part, took the logical implications of divine omniscience at face value and denied all free will in a doctrine of predestination.

The second context for concern appeared during the Enlightenment. Modern science, as led by Newton, proposed universal laws that appeared to many philosophers as governing a "clockwork universe" (as has been mentioned in another thread). This bugged a lot of people (like the 19th century novelist Dostoevsky, whose "underground man" refused to be a "piano key.") The key word/concept this time around was "determinism" rather than "free will," and it also gave people fits.

Twentieth century philosophers just haven't been very worked up about the matter in either of its conceptual forms. As Ilanitedave has said, we are complex organisms existing in nearly infinitely complex dynamic relations with our environment. Personally, I do not believe that it would ever be possible to run down all of the causes for our actions, but they are most certainly not entirely free; perhaps not very free at all. But as moynihan has also pointed out, our institutions assume a certain level of responsibility for our actions, and from a Pragmatic standpoint (which says that the truth is that which is good in the way of belief; or as Pragmatic instrumentalism would put it, the good is that which is socially useful) it's better to assume responsibility than not to. Though I am not always a Pragmatist, I would certainly lean that way in this case.


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: origin of life new [Re: Joad]
      #5812053 - 04/20/13 11:15 PM

And of course all this has little to do with the origin of life, but the only usefulness of the free will concept has ever been within the realm of social behavior. And in that context, I'd say we are "free enough".

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scopethis
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/30/08

Loc: Kingman, Ks
Re: origin of life new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5813607 - 04/21/13 05:44 PM

does a dog have "free will"..should I the dog bark at the stranger, bite the stranger, wag my tail at the stranger...decisions, decisions, decisions.....

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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: origin of life new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5813819 - 04/21/13 06:48 PM

Dave, you wrote, "That determinist might, but I suspect his concept of "free will" and "choice" are just as garbled as yours are."

I have a memory of reading some things, maybe thirty years ago, which said something about how the concept of "free will" and "free choice" are not the same thing. I wish I could remember what the distinction was.

Do any of you have a though about what the difference between the two would be?

Otto

Edited by Otto Piechowski (04/21/13 06:52 PM)


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: origin of life new [Re: Joad]
      #5813823 - 04/21/13 06:51 PM

I found your post very well written; easy to understand, Joad. Also, from what I know, I found everything in it to be an accurate summary of the history of the discussion.

Though I have read a good bit of Dostoyevsky, I am not familiar with the item about the "underground man" refusing to be a "piano key". I would enjoy it if you would tell me/us a bit more about that.

Otto


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: origin of life new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5814129 - 04/21/13 09:38 PM

Quote:

Dave, you wrote, "That determinist might, but I suspect his concept of "free will" and "choice" are just as garbled as yours are."

I have a memory of reading some things, maybe thirty years ago, which said something about how the concept of "free will" and "free choice" are not the same thing. I wish I could remember what the distinction was.

Do any of you have a though about what the difference between the two would be?

Otto




I don't recognize a distinction between them, but then, my concept is pretty garbled too!


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: origin of life new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5814138 - 04/21/13 09:41 PM

Thanks anyway Dave.

My memory of this distinction between free will and free choice is kind of like me memory of hearing the distinction of civil liberties and civil rights; I have a real clear memory of the impression that the distinction was very clear and convincing when I heard it, but darned if I can remember what I heard.


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: origin of life new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5814150 - 04/21/13 09:44 PM

Maybe it's the kind of distinction I thought about today...

Me: "I can't believe I get paid for this!"

The boss: "I can't believe you get paid for this!"


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: origin of life [Re: llanitedave]
      #5814166 - 04/21/13 09:48 PM

that was funny!

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