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Thread: Compatibilism: What's that About?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Correct. A real possibility must be realizable. It must be something that we can actually do, if we choose to do it.

    However, it is incorrect to say that, since I have decided that I will not do it, it must therefore be impossible. The fact that something will not happen does not logically entail that it could not happen. The only thing that insures that "it could not happen", is that it is physically impossible to actually do it, even if we chose to do it.

    What "can" happen constrains what "will" happen. If it cannot happen, then it will not happen. But what "will" happen never constrains what "can" happen. To say that something "can" happen never requires that it "will" happen. If something "can" happen, then maybe it will happen, or, maybe it will never happen. And when we say that something "could have" happened, it always logically implies that it definitely did not happen.

    In fact, all "real possibilities" exist solely within our imagination. We never think that we can drive our car across the "possibility" of a bridge. We can only drive across an "actual" bridge. And as soon as we actualize our possibility, we stop calling it a "possibility" and begin calling it an "actuality".

    But, a possibility that is never actualized is still a possibility. And, something that we can do, that we never do, is still something that we could have done, even though we didn't.
    A possibility that is not actualized is not a possibility for you. Not in that instance in time.

    It is a possibility some, it may become possible for you at a later time, seconds, days, weeks, months or years later depending on what is determined, event and conditions as they unfold, things that are out of your control - brain circumstances, fresh information altering perception and thought, etc.

    What is actualized in any given instance is not a matter of will or freedom.

    Compatibilism is not defined as the ability to actualize alternatives in any instance in time.

  2. Top | #212
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jarhyn View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    Jahryn, that doesn't even begin to explain the event of a car stopping at a red light. Can you elaborate? You did some handwaving when you started "simplifying" the complexities. For example, I know what a perceptron is in machine learning, but what does that have to do with nerve cells and brains? Can you point us to some scientific literature that validates their usefulness in explaining how human brains work? Computer programs only attempt to simulate intelligent behavior, but they don't really help us to understand why a human driver would stop at a red light. And while you are at it, I would like a full physical description of the legal system, the law, and its role in the process of getting human drivers to stop at red lights. This is all very illuminating.
    The perceptron is a matrix math operation. The nice thing about the level of the physics of it is that I don't have to explain the preconditions, why all that matter happens to be aligned the way it does. I just have to say what it does when it is so aligned in such a way.

    So, I am going to keep going deeper and deeper into this as I have to, and I can, ad nauseum. At some point I am going to start charging you money, however, and I will charge you more than the local university professors would to answer the question better, wherever you may be (assuming it is not some place that has no universities, in which case I may continue for free).

    I do not have to solve all of history to say why the car so stops, either. And let me note, it's on my to-do list. I am not so sure I will solve that one, however.

    I'm also not going to drill into unimportant aspects, here, what keeps the whole thing spinning around...

    Anyway...

    Neurons come together as a "graph structure" that can be mathematically simplified. That's what a perceptron is, albeit with some variables and behavioral requirements stripped out. If you wanted to, you could make a neuron on hardware with some transistors, and that is also on my to-do list. While our "wetware" neurons are a bit squishier and a lot less granular in their behavior, one can be used to "implement" the other.

    Because I am lazy and am not going to do work that has already been done, this set of links is good first reading.

    https://towardsdatascience.com/https...n-f87c66f512c5

    https://towardsdatascience.com/perce...m-37ca5025790a

    After this I am going to have more reading, probably on the Hierarchical Temporal Memory, or HTM stack.

    Note that these are not machines which people invented. They are machines people reverse engineered from neurology studies, dissecting brains, and then applying what they learned.

    At any rate, I expect that by this point, you have read the links about perceptron and why they are important to understanding this behavior. The more neurons there are in the network the more bizarre the behavior can be depending on the configuration. There is inevitably a configuration of neurons which translates in this predictable manner (these turn on) -> (these other ones down here turn on). It's not my responsibility to freeze someone to death using a high powered wave cancellation laser at a stoplight and then dissect them slice by slice to map their exact configuration. The important parts you can study are the biological machine that is a neuron, the biological machine that is a muscle cell, and the biological machine that is a cone neuron. Perhaps you might study leverage and ligaments? But that's just "gross object physics" not "neurodynamics" or "biochemistry".

    If you want to know more about why various proteins do the various things they do as they wiggle about, you will have to spring for an actual degree, and do a good enough job of it to be more than a bioassay developer or adjacent to the space.

    What you both seem to be failing at is that you wish there to be more to "why", Which is not what physics answers. I suspect that answer will first come from math. "The man stopped at the red light because it is implied by the axioms of math." Or some such.

    You have both shifted the goalposts from the important dots being connected in the physical graph structure to explaining all of history.
    Whoa! Don't join me at the hip with Copernicus. The point of this exercise is that we do not get a meaningful understanding of the behavior of human beings by studying the atoms and neurons. Michael Gazzaniga has a chapter about this in his book, with the heading: "You’d Never Predict the Tango If You Only Studied Neurons". (Gazzaniga, Michael S.. Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain (p. 133). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.)

    The quickest way to understand human behavior is to observe it, and document consistent patterns of behavior, which become the "laws" or "principles" or "rules" of that behavior. That's why we don't just have the Physical sciences. We also have the Life sciences and the Social sciences. We cannot predict behavior if we only look at the pieces.

    Neuroscience can provide us with an understanding of the neural infrastructure, and can locate specific functions, which help us know where to look for problems when the patient exhibits symptoms of mental illness or brain injury.

    And neuroscience can eventually explain to us how the choosing process works within the brain. But explaining how something works does not magically "explain it away". Choosing remains a real empirical event in the real world.
    Just because YOU in THIS moment of time can't predict the tango from a simple principle of math doesn't mean it's not coming, or that the tango is not a function of that mathematical activity.

    You are pretending "meaning" is a "meaningful" concept to this discussion. It is not. My argument requires a different burden of proof than yours because you invent many new concepts not reflected by the reality, concepts that are bad and halfway-expedient to understanding the outline of the harder and more complicated frameworks of systemic function.

    What you are failing is that choosing has already been described as an event. It's actual shape of action has been laid bare, and it is really a simple over/under on a charge differential necessary to fire off a neurotransmitter.

    I don't have to explain history to see that every thing that is happening is mechanical. You keep trying to shift the goalposts there and then ignoring the fact that you stand so accused.

    Observing human behavior will not help you understand that which is the nature of "behavior" or it's processes. It will help you a little bit to understand a particular behavior in a messy and inaccurate model of what behavior is, but your model will still be broken if you can't at least in some part accept the great physical dance.

    The rock dice choosing it's face is an empirical event too. Just because you don't know the particular air currents and imperfections and vectors of force it is experiencing does not change the fact that these will ultimately be the determinant of the result. I don't have to explain why air molecules are moving though I only need to know where and how much, to calculate the result. Then re-run the universe at those prior decision points to locate the prior graph node of the decision tree which put me on that path irrevocably.

    I can calculate the result of a perceptron, too, on paper. With enough time, a really good microscope, a diamond edged cross sectioning machine, and a high powered wave cancellation laser, I could do so for the person driving the car.

    You keep wishing that "the decision" cannot be explained and have a light shown on it. You keep trying to inject naive understandings where only formal ones belong.

    To give you an example: one day at work I was looking at the avionics for a 787. My job had been to make the 787 avionics software we got from Boeing run on a cheaper/different platform than they used. The thing is, once we finally got all the functions and addresses and such right for where we needed to "make it go", there were still a bunch of preconditions that sent the software down fault pathways.

    I was the one who had to sit at each of these decision points before the decision, calculate what the decision would be, validate why the decision would come out that way, and then find somewhere in the mess of code which could bring me to that point.

    Note, here and now, that I am not a pilot. I don't know how to fly a plane well. I don't know what any of that garbage is or even why most of it is in there, though I could probably get it off the ground or into the air as needed in good weather conditional). I just need to know a "Chinese room" level there. I don't need to know the history of faults, or even that this decision is caused by a fault detection routine, or even what a fault is. I just needed to know "this message needs to contain a 0, not a 1; what preconditions cause the 0, which preconditions cause the 1, and which of those preconditions is active?"

    In a very real sense, if someone DID have to understand the historical context of any given "decision" no technology would exist at all.

  3. Top | #213
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Correct. A real possibility must be realizable. It must be something that we can actually do, if we choose to do it.

    However, it is incorrect to say that, since I have decided that I will not do it, it must therefore be impossible. The fact that something will not happen does not logically entail that it could not happen. The only thing that insures that "it could not happen", is that it is physically impossible to actually do it, even if we chose to do it.

    What "can" happen constrains what "will" happen. If it cannot happen, then it will not happen. But what "will" happen never constrains what "can" happen. To say that something "can" happen never requires that it "will" happen. If something "can" happen, then maybe it will happen, or, maybe it will never happen. And when we say that something "could have" happened, it always logically implies that it definitely did not happen.

    In fact, all "real possibilities" exist solely within our imagination. We never think that we can drive our car across the "possibility" of a bridge. We can only drive across an "actual" bridge. And as soon as we actualize our possibility, we stop calling it a "possibility" and begin calling it an "actuality".

    But, a possibility that is never actualized is still a possibility. And, something that we can do, that we never do, is still something that we could have done, even though we didn't.
    A possibility that is not actualized is not a possibility for you. Not in that instance in time.

    It is a possibility some, it may become possible for you at a later time, seconds, days, weeks, months or years later depending on what is determined, event and conditions as they unfold, things that are out of your control - brain circumstances, fresh information altering perception and thought, etc.

    What is actualized in any given instance is not a matter of will or freedom.

    Compatibilism is not defined as the ability to actualize alternatives in any instance in time.
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    A possibility that is not actualized is not a possibility for you. Not in that instance in time.
    Let's deal with that "Not in that instance in time". Consider the thought experiment where we roll back the clock to a previous point in time and then replay the event. We will always end up making the same choice. Given the same person, the same issue to decide, under the same circumstances, their choice will always be the same. Right?

    Right. But what also happens again? We are once again faced with the same issue, where we have no knowledge of what our choice will be until after we have made it. And we are once again in the context of uncertainty, where we do not know what we will do. All we know for sure is what we can do. Once again, we face our two real possibilities, A and B. Once again, we have the ability to choose A and also the ability to choose B. This ability to do otherwise is logically required by the choosing operation. If either "I can choose A" is false, or "I can choose B" is false, then the choosing process stops right there. In order for choosing to continue, both "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must be true, by logical necessity (they are required by the operation).

    And, by causal necessity, each of our thoughts during the choosing operation will be the same as before. We will consider option A. We will consider option B. The thoughts and feelings we have about the consequences of option A and of option B, will be the same as the first time around, because, if we roll back the clock, this is once more the first time around. Once again we will end up with the same "I will" and the same "I won't". The "I won't" is the thing that "we could have done, but we didn't".

    At the end of our choosing process, you are correct that we are no longer thinking of the thing we didn't choose as a possibility. The choosing is over. But every time we review that choosing event in our heads, then the unchosen option will reappear as a possibility, as the thing that we could have done instead. And it will definitely reappear later if our choice doesn't work out as we expected.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    "It is a possibility some, it may become possible for you at a later time, seconds, days, weeks, months or years later depending on what is determined, event and conditions as they unfold, things that are out of your control - brain circumstances, fresh information altering perception and thought, etc. "
    Exactly.


    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    "What is actualized in any given instance is not a matter of will or freedom. "
    Yes and no. At the end of a choosing operation, an "I will" is precisely the thing that is actualized in that instant. And that "I will" becomes the prior cause of what is actualized in the next instant, the thing that "I did", as we carry out the act that we chose to do.

    In empirical reality, bumping into the issue that required us to make a choice was the prior cause of our choosing operation (the issue actualized the choosing operation). The choosing operation was the prior cause of our will (the choice actualize our specific will in that instant). And our will was the prior cause of our action (our will actualized our action).

    And, if our action affected others, then we are held responsible for the effects of our action. For example, the waiter brings us the bill for the lunch we ordered.

    The notion of freedom is used to describe the nature of the choosing event. Was the cause of our choice our own deliberation about our options (for example, choosing to participate in Libet's experiment)? Or was a choice imposed upon us by someone (for example, a guy with a gun) or something (for example, a hallucination) else?

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Compatibilism is not defined as the ability to actualize alternatives in any instance in time.
    Compatibilism is defined as the belief (-ism) that a notion of free will is compatible with a notion of a determinism.

    The notion of free will is the empirical case where a person decides for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence.

    The notion of determinism is the belief that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where every event is the reliable result of prior events.

    The event of choosing-what-we-will-do is reliably caused by prior events (we encounter a problem or issue that requires us to make a decision before we can proceed). Within the the choosing operation (1) we identify our options, (2) we consider the likely results of choosing each, and, (3) based on that evaluation, we decide what we will do. Our chosen intent then motivates and directs our subsequent actions.

    When choosing-what-we-will-do is free of coercion and undue influence, it is a freely chosen will (free will).

    So, the notion of free will and the notion of determinism are compatible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarhyn View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post

    Whoa! Don't join me at the hip with Copernicus. The point of this exercise is that we do not get a meaningful understanding of the behavior of human beings by studying the atoms and neurons. Michael Gazzaniga has a chapter about this in his book, with the heading: "You’d Never Predict the Tango If You Only Studied Neurons". (Gazzaniga, Michael S.. Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain (p. 133). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.)

    The quickest way to understand human behavior is to observe it, and document consistent patterns of behavior, which become the "laws" or "principles" or "rules" of that behavior. That's why we don't just have the Physical sciences. We also have the Life sciences and the Social sciences. We cannot predict behavior if we only look at the pieces.

    Neuroscience can provide us with an understanding of the neural infrastructure, and can locate specific functions, which help us know where to look for problems when the patient exhibits symptoms of mental illness or brain injury.

    And neuroscience can eventually explain to us how the choosing process works within the brain. But explaining how something works does not magically "explain it away". Choosing remains a real empirical event in the real world.
    Just because YOU in THIS moment of time can't predict the tango from a simple principle of math doesn't mean it's not coming, or that the tango is not a function of that mathematical activity.

    You are pretending "meaning" is a "meaningful" concept to this discussion. It is not. My argument requires a different burden of proof than yours because you invent many new concepts not reflected by the reality, concepts that are bad and halfway-expedient to understanding the outline of the harder and more complicated frameworks of systemic function.

    What you are failing is that choosing has already been described as an event. It's actual shape of action has been laid bare, and it is really a simple over/under on a charge differential necessary to fire off a neurotransmitter.

    I don't have to explain history to see that every thing that is happening is mechanical. You keep trying to shift the goalposts there and then ignoring the fact that you stand so accused.

    Observing human behavior will not help you understand that which is the nature of "behavior" or it's processes. It will help you a little bit to understand a particular behavior in a messy and inaccurate model of what behavior is, but your model will still be broken if you can't at least in some part accept the great physical dance.

    The rock dice choosing it's face is an empirical event too. Just because you don't know the particular air currents and imperfections and vectors of force it is experiencing does not change the fact that these will ultimately be the determinant of the result. I don't have to explain why air molecules are moving though I only need to know where and how much, to calculate the result. Then re-run the universe at those prior decision points to locate the prior graph node of the decision tree which put me on that path irrevocably.

    I can calculate the result of a perceptron, too, on paper. With enough time, a really good microscope, a diamond edged cross sectioning machine, and a high powered wave cancellation laser, I could do so for the person driving the car.

    You keep wishing that "the decision" cannot be explained and have a light shown on it. You keep trying to inject naive understandings where only formal ones belong.

    To give you an example: one day at work I was looking at the avionics for a 787. My job had been to make the 787 avionics software we got from Boeing run on a cheaper/different platform than they used. The thing is, once we finally got all the functions and addresses and such right for where we needed to "make it go", there were still a bunch of preconditions that sent the software down fault pathways.

    I was the one who had to sit at each of these decision points before the decision, calculate what the decision would be, validate why the decision would come out that way, and then find somewhere in the mess of code which could bring me to that point.

    Note, here and now, that I am not a pilot. I don't know how to fly a plane well. I don't know what any of that garbage is or even why most of it is in there, though I could probably get it off the ground or into the air as needed in good weather conditional). I just need to know a "Chinese room" level there. I don't need to know the history of faults, or even that this decision is caused by a fault detection routine, or even what a fault is. I just needed to know "this message needs to contain a 0, not a 1; what preconditions cause the 0, which preconditions cause the 1, and which of those preconditions is active?"

    In a very real sense, if someone DID have to understand the historical context of any given "decision" no technology would exist at all.
    The challenge, to explain why a car stopped at a red light, using only the laws of physics, is not usually accepted. So, kudos to you for taking up that challenge. Most of the time, it is instead simply argued that it could be done in theory, but would be too complex to attempt in practice. My point is that it is not realistic for the physics professor to claim that "physics explains everything".

    You seem to think that I am challenging determinism by challenging the ability of physics to explain all events. I'm not. We can rescue determinism by assuming that each causal mechanism, whether physical, biological, or rational, operates deterministically, and that every event is the reliable result of some specific combination of physical, biological, and/or rational causation. So, determinism still holds true with those assumptions. And this is the determinism that I assume is true.

    Free will shows up in the rational causal mechanism. And I hold that it is a physical fact that choosing causally determines our specific intent, our conscious will to do something or to not do it. Operationally, free will is a freely chosen intent, where the choice is specifically free from coercion and other undue influences. This occurs in physical reality. And whether the choice was unduly influenced or not is a matter of physically real objective evidence.

    The choosing operation itself is deterministic. Given a specific set of facts about an issue to be decided, the mind will apply logic and calculation to reliably determine the decision. However, despite the reliable operation of the brain, the decision itself may be incorrect, due to faulty assumptions or even a bug in the algorithm that the brain is applying. But even the error will be reliably caused by the bug or bad assumption. Every event is always reliably caused by something.

    Biological factors can also affect the choosing process. First and foremost, biological processes are providing the mind that does the choosing, the conscious awareness, the attention, our feelings about our options, and all the other functions that operate below conscious awareness. The various functions are performed by different areas of the brain which are interconnected and managed by the cerebral cortex (probably the closest thing to that "homunculus"). But if the neurons that support short term memory have died off, then the choosing operation will not be able to count on that function to perform choosing. Even the normal functioning brain is affected by low blood sugar or oxygen levels due to exhaustion. Our brains get tired, and it becomes difficult to concentrate.

    Physical factors can also affect the choosing process. Hit someone over the head with a bat and their mental operations can be injured or destroyed.

    So, determinism holds, even during the process of choosing what we will do, while free of coercion and undue influence, you know, the freely chosen will that we call "free will". Free will happens to be a deterministic event.
    Last edited by Marvin Edwards; 10-13-2021 at 05:21 PM. Reason: fix a word

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jarhyn View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post

    Whoa! Don't join me at the hip with Copernicus. The point of this exercise is that we do not get a meaningful understanding of the behavior of human beings by studying the atoms and neurons. Michael Gazzaniga has a chapter about this in his book, with the heading: "You’d Never Predict the Tango If You Only Studied Neurons". (Gazzaniga, Michael S.. Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain (p. 133). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.)

    The quickest way to understand human behavior is to observe it, and document consistent patterns of behavior, which become the "laws" or "principles" or "rules" of that behavior. That's why we don't just have the Physical sciences. We also have the Life sciences and the Social sciences. We cannot predict behavior if we only look at the pieces.

    Neuroscience can provide us with an understanding of the neural infrastructure, and can locate specific functions, which help us know where to look for problems when the patient exhibits symptoms of mental illness or brain injury.

    And neuroscience can eventually explain to us how the choosing process works within the brain. But explaining how something works does not magically "explain it away". Choosing remains a real empirical event in the real world.
    Just because YOU in THIS moment of time can't predict the tango from a simple principle of math doesn't mean it's not coming, or that the tango is not a function of that mathematical activity.

    You are pretending "meaning" is a "meaningful" concept to this discussion. It is not. My argument requires a different burden of proof than yours because you invent many new concepts not reflected by the reality, concepts that are bad and halfway-expedient to understanding the outline of the harder and more complicated frameworks of systemic function.

    What you are failing is that choosing has already been described as an event. It's actual shape of action has been laid bare, and it is really a simple over/under on a charge differential necessary to fire off a neurotransmitter.

    I don't have to explain history to see that every thing that is happening is mechanical. You keep trying to shift the goalposts there and then ignoring the fact that you stand so accused.

    Observing human behavior will not help you understand that which is the nature of "behavior" or it's processes. It will help you a little bit to understand a particular behavior in a messy and inaccurate model of what behavior is, but your model will still be broken if you can't at least in some part accept the great physical dance.

    The rock dice choosing it's face is an empirical event too. Just because you don't know the particular air currents and imperfections and vectors of force it is experiencing does not change the fact that these will ultimately be the determinant of the result. I don't have to explain why air molecules are moving though I only need to know where and how much, to calculate the result. Then re-run the universe at those prior decision points to locate the prior graph node of the decision tree which put me on that path irrevocably.

    I can calculate the result of a perceptron, too, on paper. With enough time, a really good microscope, a diamond edged cross sectioning machine, and a high powered wave cancellation laser, I could do so for the person driving the car.

    You keep wishing that "the decision" cannot be explained and have a light shown on it. You keep trying to inject naive understandings where only formal ones belong.

    To give you an example: one day at work I was looking at the avionics for a 787. My job had been to make the 787 avionics software we got from Boeing run on a cheaper/different platform than they used. The thing is, once we finally got all the functions and addresses and such right for where we needed to "make it go", there were still a bunch of preconditions that sent the software down fault pathways.

    I was the one who had to sit at each of these decision points before the decision, calculate what the decision would be, validate why the decision would come out that way, and then find somewhere in the mess of code which could bring me to that point.

    Note, here and now, that I am not a pilot. I don't know how to fly a plane well. I don't know what any of that garbage is or even why most of it is in there, though I could probably get it off the ground or into the air as needed in good weather conditional). I just need to know a "Chinese room" level there. I don't need to know the history of faults, or even that this decision is caused by a fault detection routine, or even what a fault is. I just needed to know "this message needs to contain a 0, not a 1; what preconditions cause the 0, which preconditions cause the 1, and which of those preconditions is active?"

    In a very real sense, if someone DID have to understand the historical context of any given "decision" no technology would exist at all.
    The challenge, to explain why a car stopped at a red light, using only the laws of physics, is not usually accepted. So, kudos to you for taking up that challenge. Most of the time, it is instead simply argued that it could be done in theory, but would be too complex to attempt in practice. My point is that it is not realistic for the physics professor to claim that "physics explains everything".

    You seem to think that I am challenging determinism by challenging the ability of physics to explain all events. I'm not. We can rescue determinism by assuming that each causal mechanism, whether physical, biological, or rational, operates deterministically, and that every event is the reliable result of some specific combination of physical, biological, and/or rational causation. So, determinism still holds true with those assumptions. And this is the determinism that I assume is true.

    Free will shows up in the rational causal mechanism. And I hold that it is a physical fact that choosing causally determines our specific intent, our conscious will to do something or to not do it. Operationally, free will is a freely chosen intent, where the choice is specifically free from coercion and other undue influences. This occurs in physical reality. And whether the choice was unduly influenced or not is a matter of physically real objective evidence.

    The choosing operation itself is deterministic. Given a specific set of facts about an issue to be decided, the mind will apply logic and calculation to reliably determine the decision. However, despite the reliable operation of the brain, the decision itself may be incorrect, due to faulty assumptions or even a bug in the algorithm that the brain is applying. But even the error will be reliably caused by the bug or bad assumption. Every event is always reliably caused by something.

    Biological factors can also affect the choosing process. First and foremost, biological processes are providing the mind that does the choosing, the conscious awareness, the attention, our feelings about our options, and all the other functions that operate below conscious awareness. The various functions are performed by different areas of the brain which are interconnected and managed by the cerebral cortex (probably the closest thing to that "homunculus"). But if the neurons that support short term memory have died off, then the choosing operation will not be able to count on that function to perform choosing. Even the normal functioning brain is affected by low blood sugar or oxygen levels due to exhaustion. Our brains get tired, and it becomes difficult to concentrate.

    Physical factors can also affect the choosing process. Hit someone over the head with a bat and their mental operations can be injured or destroyed.

    So, determinism holds, even during the process of choosing what we will do, while free of coercion and undue influence, you know, the freely chosen will that we call "free will". Free will happens to be a deterministic event.
    Jesus christ. Your inquiry was the deception. That's clever.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    A possibility that is not actualized is not a possibility for you. Not in that instance in time.
    Let's deal with that "Not in that instance in time". Consider the thought experiment where we roll back the clock to a previous point in time and then replay the event. We will always end up making the same choice. Given the same person, the same issue to decide, under the same circumstances, their choice will always be the same. Right?

    Right. But what also happens again? We are once again faced with the same issue, where we have no knowledge of what our choice will be until after we have made it. And we are once again in the context of uncertainty, where we do not know what we will do. All we know for sure is what we can do. Once again, we face our two real possibilities, A and B. Once again, we have the ability to choose A and also the ability to choose B. This ability to do otherwise is logically required by the choosing operation. If either "I can choose A" is false, or "I can choose B" is false, then the choosing process stops right there. In order for choosing to continue, both "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" must be true, by logical necessity (they are required by the operation).

    And, by causal necessity, each of our thoughts during the choosing operation will be the same as before. We will consider option A. We will consider option B. The thoughts and feelings we have about the consequences of option A and of option B, will be the same as the first time around, because, if we roll back the clock, this is once more the first time around. Once again we will end up with the same "I will" and the same "I won't". The "I won't" is the thing that "we could have done, but we didn't".

    At the end of our choosing process, you are correct that we are no longer thinking of the thing we didn't choose as a possibility. The choosing is over. But every time we review that choosing event in our heads, then the unchosen option will reappear as a possibility, as the thing that we could have done instead. And it will definitely reappear later if our choice doesn't work out as we expected.
    Time marches on (unless it's blocktime). What happens at a later time comes with its own set of conditions. Where an option is closed to you in this instance, it may be open in the next as new information acts upon the brain as an information processor.

    Your brain was not able to 'make this decision' in this moment in time, circumstances then changed - as they must, fresh information altered your brain state, that change enabling it to actualize an option that could not be actualized a moment before.

    That is a deterministic system at work, information acts upon a brain, which in turn determines its output in any given instance in time.

    What you couldn't do a moment ago, now you can....or you simply regret a bad decision for the rest of your life because circumstances don't allow correction or redress.

    This is not a matter of will, be it labelled 'free will' or not. It's just how the world works, time t and how things progress as a matter of natural law.

    Necessity:

    ''Necessity is the idea that everything that has ever happened and ever will happen is necessary, and can not be otherwise. Necessity is often opposed to chance and contingency. In a necessary world there is no chance. Everything that happens is necessitated.''


    'The desire to do X is being felt, there are no other constraints that keep the person from doing what he wants, namely X.'


    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post

    Compatibilism is defined as the belief (-ism) that a notion of free will is compatible with a notion of a determinism.

    The notion of free will is the empirical case where a person decides for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence.

    The notion of determinism is the belief that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where every event is the reliable result of prior events.

    The event of choosing-what-we-will-do is reliably caused by prior events (we encounter a problem or issue that requires us to make a decision before we can proceed). Within the the choosing operation (1) we identify our options, (2) we consider the likely results of choosing each, and, (3) based on that evaluation, we decide what we will do. Our chosen intent then motivates and directs our subsequent actions.

    When choosing-what-we-will-do is free of coercion and undue influence, it is a freely chosen will (free will).

    So, the notion of free will and the notion of determinism are compatible.

    What is true of the human brain in terms of determinism, its evolved structure, function and output, is true of all things within a determined world. None are special, none are privileged, all things are no more or less determined.

    The distinction that the brain has is complexity. Complexity enables, necessitates, determines complex behaviour and events.

    It is complexity, not will or free will, that is the key to understanding.

    The term 'free will' tells us nothing about the brain, its architecture, function or the behaviour it generates...

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post

    ...all things are no more or less determined.
    Has anyone on this thread suggested otherwise?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The AntiChris View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post

    ...all things are no more or less determined.
    Has anyone on this thread suggested otherwise?
    Good luck with that one, AntiChris!

    And around and around we go...
    When one has no character one has to apply a method. - Albert Camus, The Fall

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    What happens at a later time comes with its own set of conditions.
    Yes, that's right.

    This next series of comments center around the "can" versus "will" problem:

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Where an option is closed to you in this instance, it may be open in the next as new information acts upon the brain as an information processor.
    The only thing that "closes" is the choosing operation, which exits after the choice is made. All of the options that you did not choose remain things that you "could have done". They were never closed to you during this instance of choosing.

    Possibilities do not become impossibilities when they do not happen. They remain as things that could have happened even though they would not and do not happen. The fact that something "will not" happen never implies that it "could not" have happened.


    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Your brain was not able to 'make this decision' in this moment in time, circumstances then changed - as they must, fresh information altered your brain state, that change enabling it to actualize an option that could not be actualized a moment before.
    An "ability" is something that you "can" do. To say you are able to do something never implies that you actually "will" do it. It simply means that you "could" do it if you chose to.

    So, your brain was indeed "able" to make the decision, even though it did not make that decision this time around.

    The fact that you "can" do something never implies that you "will" do it. The fact that you "did not" do it, never implies that you were "not able" to do it.


    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    That is a deterministic system at work, information acts upon a brain, which in turn determines its output in any given instance in time.
    I know this is going to sound picky, but it is important to keep the words in sync with reality. In the deterministic system of the brain, it is the brain that is acting upon information, not the other way around. The information is not a causal agent, it is just data. Without the brain, the information is simply a stack of paper on your desk. It is the brain, itself, that turns data into information by relating it to a given problem or issue to be decided. It is the brain, itself, that decides which data is relevant to the current problem that it is trying to resolve to meet the person's own purposes and needs.

    It is these internal purposes and needs that drive both the data collection and how it is evaluated and applied.


    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    What you couldn't do a moment ago, now you can....or you simply regret a bad decision for the rest of your life because circumstances don't allow correction or redress.
    Again, the correct formulation is "What you wouldn't do a moment ago, now you will".

    If you can do something now, then it is very likely that you could have done it earlier, even though you chose not to do it before.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    This is not a matter of will, be it labelled 'free will' or not. It's just how the world works, time t and how things progress as a matter of natural law.
    In the matter of free will, it is all a question of our freedom in choosing what we will do. Free will is literally a freely chosen "I will". Free will is the case where our choice was simply free from coercion and undue influence. It never requires freedom from causal necessity.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post

    Necessity:

    ''Necessity is the idea that everything that has ever happened and ever will happen is necessary, and can not be otherwise. Necessity is often opposed to chance and contingency. In a necessary world there is no chance. Everything that happens is necessitated.''
    Necessity is the idea that everything that has ever happened would not have happened differently. And that everything that will happen, will happen.

    This conflation of "can" with "will" is a common error, even among experts.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    'The desire to do X is being felt, there are no other constraints that keep the person from doing what he wants, namely X.'
    Free will does not apply where there is no choosing. It does not apply to reflexive actions, like jerking back our hand when we touch something hot. It does not apply to conditioned behaviors, such as our acquired skills like walking or playing the piano, nor to our habits, which are the result of choices made long ago. Free will only applies to matters where we are still uncertain as to what we will do.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    What is true of the human brain in terms of determinism, its evolved structure, function and output, is true of all things within a determined world. None are special, none are privileged, all things are no more or less determined.
    Amen! Ironically, that is precisely why determinism doesn't really matter. Universal causal necessity/inevitability is a constant of all events, big and small. It is the grandest of all trivialities.

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    The distinction that the brain has is complexity. Complexity enables, necessitates, determines complex behaviour and events. It is complexity, not will or free will, that is the key to understanding. The term 'free will' tells us nothing about the brain, its architecture, function or the behaviour it generates...
    Correct. Free will tells us nothing at all about the brain.

    Free will tells us one simple, but very significant, fact: that a specific decision was made while free of coercion and undue influence. The significance of this fact is that the person's own rational thinking was the cause of this choice. And if this choice caused good behavior, then it should be encouraged. And if this choice caused bad behavior, then it should be corrected.

    On the other hand, if the cause of the choice was coercion or undue influence, then the source of coercion or undue influence needs to be corrected.

    Knowing the specific causes of a specific behavior is useful information. But the logical fact of universal causal necessity/inevitability tells us nothing useful. All it tells us is "Que sera, sera. Whatever will be will be."

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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post

    Time marches on (unless it's blocktime). What happens at a later time comes with its own set of conditions. Where an option is closed to you in this instance, it may be open in the next as new information acts upon the brain as an information processor.

    Your brain was not able to 'make this decision' in this moment in time, circumstances then changed - as they must, fresh information altered your brain state, that change enabling it to actualize an option that could not be actualized a moment before.

    That is a deterministic system at work, information acts upon a brain, which in turn determines its output in any given instance in time.

    What you couldn't do a moment ago, now you can....or you simply regret a bad decision for the rest of your life because circumstances don't allow correction or redress.

    This is not a matter of will, be it labelled 'free will' or not. It's just how the world works, time t and how things progress as a matter of natural law.

    Necessity:

    ''Necessity is the idea that everything that has ever happened and ever will happen is necessary, and can not be otherwise. Necessity is often opposed to chance and contingency. In a necessary world there is no chance. Everything that happens is necessitated.''


    'The desire to do X is being felt, there are no other constraints that keep the person from doing what he wants, namely X.'


    Quote Originally Posted by Marvin Edwards View Post

    Compatibilism is defined as the belief (-ism) that a notion of free will is compatible with a notion of a determinism.

    The notion of free will is the empirical case where a person decides for themselves what they will do, while free of coercion and other forms of undue influence.

    The notion of determinism is the belief that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where every event is the reliable result of prior events.

    The event of choosing-what-we-will-do is reliably caused by prior events (we encounter a problem or issue that requires us to make a decision before we can proceed). Within the the choosing operation (1) we identify our options, (2) we consider the likely results of choosing each, and, (3) based on that evaluation, we decide what we will do. Our chosen intent then motivates and directs our subsequent actions.

    When choosing-what-we-will-do is free of coercion and undue influence, it is a freely chosen will (free will).

    So, the notion of free will and the notion of determinism are compatible.

    What is true of the human brain in terms of determinism, its evolved structure, function and output, is true of all things within a determined world. None are special, none are privileged, all things are no more or less determined.

    The distinction that the brain has is complexity. Complexity enables, necessitates, determines complex behaviour and events.

    It is complexity, not will or free will, that is the key to understanding.

    The term 'free will' tells us nothing about the brain, its architecture, function or the behaviour it generates...
    The term "free will" as it is commonly used in common speech, and even with reference to the metaphysical AND political meaning of free will as used in discussions such as this, DOES NOT HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE BRAIN, because the necessity, activity, "information-processing" of the brain, is already assumed and acknowledged by all speakers - unless some speaker happens to be crazy.

    Even untermensche acknowledged that "mind" is not independent of the brain - he just had a really obnoxious manner of constant debate and declarative gainsaying that botched his thoughts up sometimes to the point of contradiction and drastic departures from reason and logic.

    No-one involved in this thread, or the current discussions of freewill/determinism - including the morality side of the issue - and I maintain that the freewill/determinism debate most certainly pertains to the political, ethical definitions of "free will" as well as to the metaphysical and/or epistemological definitions (which have distinctions - as in how the question is handled by strictly physics, metaphysics/epistemology, ethics, and/or theology, politics, what have you...etc.), which Martin and skeptcalbip have said is not true - but I am going to maintain my position on this because I see that the gradual corruption of basic terms in the Ivory Tower, where high-hatted "official" people "officially" pontificate with a rustle of tweed, pipe-smoke, and the ever-present labcoat is "trickling down to the "unwashed masses", infesting their brains and causing them to argue with great vigor and sheer silliness on social media and raise the finger of blame against one another constantly.

    We must defend the common-sense usage of terms like "mind", "I", "self", "consciousness" and especially "free" and "freedom". Everyone who is not insane KNOWS what mind, "I", and self refer to! Sure, there may be actual philosophical, primacy-of-consciousness Idealists (like that idiot, Berkeley), and various "libertarians" about who actually do think that there is a mind that is wholly independent and distinct from the brain. But as far as I know, none of them are participating here. We have no resident dualists that I am aware of. We have silly people galore, but that is to be expected in the Peanut Gallery.

    I currently have seven posters on ignore at the moment - when I usually have NO-ONE! They will come off of ignore when I am satisfied it is safe to post without them raising their hackles and snarling incoherently at me for simply trying to explain my point of view.

    Onwards!
    When one has no character one has to apply a method. - Albert Camus, The Fall

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