[ExI] Humans losing freewill

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Wed Nov 23 14:30:44 UTC 2016

A possible future causing the very past
which reduces the probability of that future occuring seems to violate our
understanding of how causality works in classical physics but agrees with
our intuitions of psychology.

Correct.  In anticipation of a hot date on Friday, a girl gets  the total
works at the hairdressers on Wednesday.  Then on Thursday he calls and has
to go home for a funeral.

So did she get her hair done because of the date?  No.  Because then you
have removed the cause and left the effect.  She got it because of her
anticipation of the date.

I am not familiar with all the definitions of random used in the post, but
I'd say that random behavior is impossible.  Different options will have
different probabilities of occurrence stemming from different expectations
of reinforcement and or punishment, and the one with the highest (or
lowest, for punishment) expectation will be performed - determinism.  Note
that most or all of the thinking that goes on to make the choice can be
unconscious, and the person cannot satisfactorily answer why he chose what
he did.

bill w

On Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 10:20 PM, Stuart LaForge <avant at sollegro.com> wrote:

> Stathis wrote:
> <I assume that I make choices because my brain is in a particular
> configuration, and that my brain is in that configuration because of the
> way the universe has evolved up to that point. When I say I could have
> chosen differently, I mean that if my brain had been in a different
> configuration I would have chosen differently; and my brain could only
> have been in a different configuration if the universe had evolved
> differently to the way it actually has. This is a counterfactual; all that
> is required is logical possibility.>
> So you are saying that you are assuming determinism, i.e. every choice you
> make is caused by events in your past light-cone and that your decisions
> are shaped by the actual history of the universe and not by any of the
> other possible histories. Here you also seem to rule out that any of your
> decisions are made because of events in the future or undetectable fairies
> on the other side of the universe. So far so good.
> Stathis continues:
> <There is the possibility that I might make different choices given the
> same brain configuration, because there is some truly random element in my
> brain. This is in fact slightly disturbing, because it means I may make a
> choice at some point not because [of] my experiences and disposition, but
> for no reason at all.>
> Ok here you are back-pedaling from determinism and saying that your
> decisions are sometimes random. So could you describe what you mean by
> random as randomness can be very subjective and relative. Are you talking
> ontological or epistemic randomness? Objectively random or subjectively
> random?
> A schizophrenic's behavior may seem random to an outside observer but from
> his subjective point of view he is simply doing what the voices in his
> head tell him to do. So its random from the external observer's POV but
> deterministic from his own. Furthermore you can have a process like
> flipping a coin that is textbook random and end up finding some mechanism
> that makes it deterministic such this coin-flipping machine:
> http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1697475
> So ontological randomness are those things that truly have no cause at all
> while epistemic randomness is simply randomness *perceived* by observers
> due to ignorance of hidden, possibly complex, deterministic causes.
> Stathis wrote:
> <We can punish criminal behaviour if it is due to deterministic factors,
> but to the extent that it is due to this postulated random element, there
> would by definition be no deterrent effect, so punishment would be
> futile.>
> It is interesting that you bring up "deterrent effects" because
> deterrence, if efficacious, is a great example of a retrocausation. Think
> about it: a counterfactual but possible punishment in your future causes
> you to refrain from criminal behavior in the present which causes that
> future punishment to never happen. A possible future causing the very past
> which reduces the probability of that future occuring seems to violate our
> understanding of how causality works in classical physics but agrees with
> our intuitions of psychology.
> This is interesting because photons can do similar things in QM as
> demonstrated by Wheeler's delayed choice quantum eraser experiments and
> the Elitzur–Vaidman bomb-test experiments. Photons can seemingly make
> decisions in your past based upon whether you are going to try to measure
> their particle or wave properties in your future. They change their own
> histories, by going through one slit instead of both for example, to
> accomadate whichever measurement you are going to make. This is even if
> the photons came from a distant galaxy.
> This retrocausal aspect that both QM and human psychology share seems to
> suggest that consciousness might be a quantum mechanical pehenomenon. Of
> course the converse hypothesis might be true instead, that quantum
> particles might have sufficient consciousness to make decisions based upon
> the consequences of them going through one slit or both based upon whether
> you are going to choose to measure an intereference pattern or which-way
> information at a later point in time.
> Stathis continues:
> <If you used the term "free will" for this random component, then we might
> say that a person is not to be held responsible for their behaviour if it
> is freely willed, but only if it is determined. This, of course, is not
> how "free will" is normally conceived; which supports the point that it is
> an incoherent concept, and we are best to have the discussion using other,
> universally agreed to terms.>
> But I am not suggesting that randomness is the same as free will. They are
> not necessarily mutually exclusive but they certainly are not the same
> thing. Indeed our best applications of free will are those that are causal
> to our well-being and gratification or the well-being of the people and
> causes we care about.
> Instead I am saying that free will is a choice precipitated by factors
> intrinsic to the agent rather than extrinsic to him or her. That is to say
> that there are no invisible puppet strings on you causing your behavior.
> Stuart LaForge
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