[extropy-chat] Best To Regard Free Will as Existing

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Wed Apr 4 06:24:21 UTC 2007

At 04:03 PM 4/4/2007 +1000, Stathis wrote:

>the impossibility of something being neither determined nor random, 
>which is (I believe) the common notion of free will.

I haven't followed this thread but I find this common objection to 
free will facile. (Sorry.) Surely what we mean by "free to choose" 
does not mean *canned but distinctive*, although that's part of our 
sense of individuality. And quite obviously it doesn't mean "random". 
It seems to me to follow from our capacity to compute or model a 
sheaf of possible consequences (accurately or not is beside the 
point) of alternative actions we might take soon or even in the long 
run. We constantly acquire new and slightly or even drastically 
surprising information, compress it, use it to modify our working 
models or hold it ready to do so if the data seems relevant to some 
emergent situation. So we can be *surprised* by choices, and by our 
assessments, and by our meta-assessments of how we're likely to feel 
if we act in one of several open ways, and all of this combines the 
overabundance of new information from a world larger than our mental 
workspace and memory, and the unexpected outcome of computations 
conducted by modules the inner working of which escape our conscious scrutiny.

Damien Broderick

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