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

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Fri Apr 6 06:15:47 UTC 2007

On 4/6/07, Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at mac.com> wrote:

> > 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.
> Isn't their will determined by their genes and environment? What other
> factors could possibly be at play?
> Nope.  At least people as far as we can reasonably tell with nearly
> identical genes and environments turn out so differently that you would have
> to believe the flutter of a butterflies wing causes a typhoon on the other
> side of the world.  It is not reasonable to prattle on about physics being
> physics when the system or behaviors being studied cannot be fruitfully and
> practically analyzed, understood or predicted at such a level.

Recall that even though a chaotic system is unpredictable it is still
deterministic. And while identical twins can have the same genes, it is not
possible that they have exactly the same environment; for a start, they
cannot both occupy the same space. It's not inconceivable that butterflies
fluttering in Iraq today will have an effect on George Bush's foreign policy
decisions a few months down the track. However, as you and Lee point out,
there is not much practical value in invoking determinism when the system
that is supposed to be determined cannot be analysed, and in this
compatibilists find room for free will, whereas I find room for the illusion
of free will.

Some people find a place for free will in indeterminacy, perhaps the
> indeterminacy in QM (or at least the CI of QM). But at best, that means free
> will is *randomness*, and why should we be any happier to believe that our
> behaviour is random than that it is determined?
> At the point you choose from among alternatives you are exercising free
> will.   I will not dance on the head of some philosophical pin that a
> sufficiently powerful and near all knowing mind could predict with perfect
> accuracy how you will choose in any situation.   It has nothing to do with
> behavior being either random or determined.  That false dichotomy is
> fruitless to pursue.  Something more fruitful as how we can choose thee best
> values and exercise the best decision making process in our choices that
> maximize our gaining and keeping those values.    The rest seems to me a
> colossal waste of (for now) all too limited time.

Fair enough. That puts you in Eugen Leitl's philosophy-hating camp.

Stathis Papaioannou
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