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

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Thu Apr 5 16:34:20 UTC 2007

On 4/5/07, scerir <scerir at libero.it> wrote:

> Stathis Papaioannou:
> > A non-believer in free will can still go along with the law as something
> > which is instrumental in bringing about the determined behaviours. We put
> > roofs on our houses in order to stay dry, and we stay dry because the
> roofs
> > are in place. Similarly, we punish criminals to prevent further crimes and
> > further crimes are prevented because we punish criminals. However, I keep
> in
> > mind the fact that the criminals engage in their behaviour either because
> it
> > is determined by their genes and environment (in which case it isn't their
> > fault) or due to random processes (in which case it isn't their fault).
> > Blaming and revenge are in keeping with a belief in free will; tolerance
> and
> > compassion are in keeping with the absence of such a belief, although
> > tolerance and compassion do not prevent us from taking practical measures
> to
> > prevent crimes.
> I tend to agree here. But I think the criminals
> engage in their behaviour also because it is
> determined by their 'will', and not just by
> their genes or by contextuality.
> I always found difficult to define 'free will'.
> There are several definitions. My personal
> definition was something like 'the 'will' does
> not depend on the past story of (this) universe'.
> After some reflection I also wrote 'the 'will'
> does not depend both on the past story and on the
> future story of (this) universe'. This definition
> seems to be strong indeed :-) and perhaps also
> false and useless :-)

My opinion is that this is all very silly.  But let me add to the
silliness since that seems to be the game:


IF I have free will, then in order to exercise my will I must depend
on (this) universe being deterministic from this point forward.


There's no paradox here folks, it's just about using the appropriate
context.  We have no problem at all describing the behavior of *other*
agents in fully deterministic terms.  It's only when we consider
volition from our own point of view that we are seduced and overcome
by the illusion that something special is going on.

- Jef

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