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Free Will Revisited: What Dennett should have said to Sam about the first person experience of Free Will

 
buybuydandavis
 
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buybuydandavis
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05 July 2016 03:06
 

I basically agree with Dennett on the overall argument, although he didn’t properly respond to Sam’s point about first person experience of choice. He didn’t actually *start* from that experience of choice, and relate it back to the third person knowledge we’ve gained.

Sam’s point about the first person experience of choice, of being able to choose differently, is a good one, and deserves a better response.

Dennett at first argues that that experience of Free Will is just a function of sensitivity to initial conditions. (Third person perspective). “If a couple of molecules were different”, then you might have chosen differently.

That entirely misses the boat. People experience being *able* to choose otherwise, but not that they *do* so often, which would be implied by such a fiddly brain that flipped decisions based on one or two molecules. People wish to be free to choose, and, ironically enough, *determine* their choice. They’re not going to be pleased to be told that some jitter of a couple of molecules can flip their choices around. We are not so variable. It’s just not true, and it doesn’t address the experience of choice that Sam brought up anyway.

Sam responds making just that point.

Dennett then backtracks and says that only a few actual decisions are on the knife edge of indeterminacy. So, what was your original point?

I argue that the problem Sam identifies is of choice and control. The 1st person experience is rather like the Cartesian Control Room. We are riding around in a meat bag, experiencing the world through a meat bag, and choosing how we control the meat bag.

There could be all sorts of explanations for that experience, many of which *are not* You are the Meatbag.

Maybe there is a meatbag you, plugged into the Matrix, experiencing the life of virtual you in the Matrix. It’s conceivable.
Maybe there is an ethereal you, with sensations directed to you from the meatbag, and commands from you sent to the meat bag.  Maybe. I think that much like God, it only removes the problem of free will to a new location. Okay, does ethereal you have free will as it control the meatbag?

But, what we’ve found through science and experience, largely in a 3rd person manner, is that the state of the meat bag has a large effect on the outcome of choices. We see it with drugs. We see it with Alzheimer’s. We see it with brain injuries.  These manipulations of the meat bag change behavior.  In all sorts of very weird ways if you look into the medical and research literature. We’ve learned a lot about the how the meat bag works. Sensory organs send nerve spikes up the central nervous system to the brain. Neurons fire in the brain. Neural pathways compute. The brain sends activation impulses out to motor neurons to take action. Your brain remembers. Your brain forgets.

What we also observe is that the meatbag is made up of the same stuff as everything else. To the extent that they are deterministic, so is the Meatbag.

Theories that try to keep You separate from the Meatbag start to have all sorts of problems and complications once we recognize that manipulations of the Meatbag can have a profound effect on your sensations, memory, and behavior. If you are the Chooser separate from the Meatbag, how are manipulations of the Meatbag effecting your choices? And again, separating Choosing You from the Meatbag simply displaces the problem of free will to a new locus - the NonMeatbag you. How does NonMeatbag you make choices?

You’re starting down the road to epiphenomenalism, which is just a mess.

Instead, if you simply accept that you are the Meatbag, there is no mystery. Your experience of your choice is your experience of the computation to make that choice. You the Meatbag experience choice. You the Meatbag compute options. You the Meatbag predict outcomes. You the Meatbag evaluate preferences between outcomes. You the Meatbag choose. You have experience of choice. You make the choice. You have control. Your choice was *determined* by *You the Meatbag*. That’s what it is to have free will - to have your choices determined by who and what you are. (It really couldn’t be anything else.)

We have a much better model of how the Meatbag can experience, remember, choose, and act than we have of the hypothetical epiphenomenal you.

The identity of Choosing You and the Meatbag is the best theory given our observations. Sam’s point is that it is not immediately and experientially obvious. And I think that’s correct.

It is a contingent discovery about this universe based on the third person scientific knowledge we have gained. Without the knowledge gained by science about how interventions into the Meatbag control experience and choice, I don’t know that there would be that strong a case to be made. Without our understanding of how the brain can process sensation, abstract, remember and act, thinking might still seem ineffable. But there’s not much left to explain, and certainly not where we have *better* explanations under some other models. Just as we walked away from animism for the rest of the natural world through our ability to model and predict, we can walk away from it in ourselves as well.

We didn’t know it had to come out this way. Maybe it’s in fact incorrect. But it’s the best bet based on what we know now.

Fundamentally the problem was to make the best coherent picture our 1st person experience and 3rd person discoveries. You are the Meatbag does this. Not that one can’t quibble, but the alternatives are much worse, and largely simply not defined. 1st person experience of choice, with 3rd person discoveries, all accounted for pretty well, and better than any alternatives ever presented. It’s not intuitively obvious, but why would it be? We had to figure out a lot to make a compelling argument.

 
nonverbal
 
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05 July 2016 05:45
 

Dennett, in strong Wittgensteinian form, effectively ends the discussion early on, by pointing out that free will—as it’s historically considered to be—is mistakenly conceived but the term itself is not entirely obliterated once the concept is seen as being in need of some sprucing up. Harris then accuses Dennett of changing the subject. Later, Harris compares the notion of free will to Atlantis, which is an irrelevant comparison since it attempts to attribute abstractedness to something that, if it were to exist, would be entirely concrete. The discussion plods forth with Harris accusing Dennett of redefining free will (the horror!) . . . Dennett cheerily responding . . . Harris drawing the neuroscience card, Dennett responding in kind with his own abstruseness cards . . . for the remainder of the hour and a half.

Banff can tend to be a setting for plenty of conversation inspiration. Once Wittgenstein is left behind in this sort of a topic (a topic that’s highly abstract, whose inherent fuzziness relies on individual interpretation), multiple disagreements remain points of mutual frustration. So for me, the real discussion lasted only a few minutes. After that, each comment/question was an irrelevant response to the previous comment/question. Banff can have a way of doing that to people. I enjoyed every minute of their conversation.

[ Edited: 05 July 2016 11:28 by nonverbal]
 
 
nacazo
 
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05 July 2016 09:04
 

This is a great podcast. The background bar noise is absolutely compeling. It makes the podcast very realistic. The mike is very good because the conversation is not lost with the background noise at all.

Regarding the argumentation, they just agree to disagree and i get the feeling that dennett is missing sam’s points in some places but in an honest intellectual way. unlike namazie who disagreed on everything by backtracking into impugning sam’s motivations, dennett puts forward his explanation for disagreement even if missing a point here and there. i found Dennett more honest than namazie.

[ Edited: 05 July 2016 09:06 by nacazo]
 
AntiPistic
 
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06 July 2016 12:45
 

so i agree with Sam here. but as most discussions of free will end up this comes down to semantics. Dennett is simply concerned about the implications of the fact the free will doesn’t exist. unfortunately instead of starting with the agreement that free will doesn’t exist, and dennett simply arguing his reasons as to why we need to embrace the illusion of it. we have his insistence that the illusion of free will is free will. had they had the debate of how to reconcile the lack of free with in the moral social world we live in, it would have given Sam the opportunity to talk about the ethical benefits of not believing in free will in terms of how you view and approach other people. they also for the purpose of argument take these hypothetical statements which focus on extremes, as if the student who goes to business school and doesn’t become bernie madoff some how had free will. the simple argument that i always make which i believe dennett would describe as flawed mathematical induction is: if who we are is any combination of our genetics and our experience than since we don’t have control over our genetics, and at the very least we don’t have control over our initial experiences then we don’t have free will. there is a reason that in the abrahamic religions god gave man free will, it’s because that is the only way it could exist.

for me personally i accept the illusion of free will for myself, which is not difficult to do, since clearly i can observe my own thought process. but by saying “you don’t have free will” it allows one to be less judgmental of others and in a large sense help to eliminate hate from our minds. there are those that pose a threat and thus should and need to be separated from our society, so from a practical stand point our criminal justice system does not need to change, and the excuse that “I don’t have free will” will never need to be taken seriously. but it puts us in the position to reframe things in such a way that allows us to ethically sound, and to fight against many of the corrupt and destructive aspects of our society. Blame becomes meaningless and practical solutions become paramount.

clearly i am bit of a lazy writer so i apologize for the run on sentences and poor grammar.

 
dd049
 
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06 July 2016 17:52
 

I found this a somewhat frustrating podcast to listen to, in that it never seemed Dennett would give a straight answer. The first person account should not be dismissed so easily, and I had hoped that Dennett would acknowledge that Sam is holding his ground defining “you” as the conscious author of your thoughts and actions, while he (Dennett) is fine with “you” being the totality of your brain as the free agent. Sam dismisses Dennett’s compatibilism as missing what has made this an enduring philosophical topic for centuries, and Dennett says the idea of free will as historically conceived just needs revision.
Personally, I agree with Dennett’s overall viewpoint, but I find him incredibly hard to follow, both in his written and verbal argumentation. Regardless of whether you consciously author your thoughts or desires, it’s all still you, and the subjective feeling of struggling against certain desires feels pretty damn real. Especially if the outcome is very complexly determined, and if pertinent facts and desires that for all purposes are “yours” appear to figure into that outcome, it really doesn’t matter from the first person point of view that they are determined. Sam’s assurances that the deliberation and weighing of pros and cons before making a big decision matter always seemed a little out of place with his insistence the conscious you has no control.
The subjective feeling of “willing”, whether its trying to get a song out of your head or to stop at one doughnut, is to me too powerful to dismiss as not “me”, regardless of what genes or environmental conditions you could in theory trace back to producing a brain that at that moment had that feeling. Especially right now, as I think through what to say, there is a definite subjective feeling of “willing” to stick with this line of thought, to get the words right, to be concise, that doesn’t seem handed to my consciousness from the black box. If there is something to the “spotlight” theory of consciousness, I definitely feel like I have some control over where that spotlight shines. I know this is appealing to personal introspection, but the first-person experience is what I know best.
It seems the third person viewpoints on responsibility and punishment and law, etc were points of agreement, and Dennett spent much too much time bringing the discussion back to that.  I agree with Dennett that no one is in complete control, but as a society we set the default as “in control enough” to be held responsible, until proven otherwise. Even if we allow Sam that most of what we desire, think and how we act is authored subconsciously, I think there are enough times when we do exert conscious control of ourselves to be held responsible.Sam wants to say that in the end, since its all determined by genes and environment, no one is ultimately responsible. I would say that if genetics has provided us with the proper cognitive equipment to be able to deliberate and understand the laws and social mores of our community, that leaves enough freedom to be held responsible. I think the ethical training we all receive as children, and the laws of our society effectively deter most of us most of the time, so they are effective. Perhaps we are ‘determined’ to be deterrable, but I think we are justified to set the default as “responsible” for all but special cases. Holding no one responsible because no one has ultimate responsibility is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. As Dennett said, most psychopaths don’t act on their impulses, and you don’t see the ones who do doing so in broad daylight in front of everyone else; they apparently can restrain themselves adequately when they fear getting caught. So they have some degree of self-control. I don’t think anyone is ready to exculpate them because it’s apparently not enough or as much as everyone else.They don’t fall below the bar the way children and the mentally handicapped do.
I’m glad they made up, however. Friends should be able to disagree about philosophical matters or politics without the conversation degenerating the way the original one did.

 
NL.
 
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06 July 2016 19:41
 
dd049 - 06 July 2016 05:52 PM

The subjective feeling of “willing”, whether its trying to get a song out of your head or to stop at one doughnut, is to me too powerful to dismiss as not “me”, regardless of what genes or environmental conditions you could in theory trace back to producing a brain that at that moment had that feeling. Especially right now, as I think through what to say, there is a definite subjective feeling of “willing” to stick with this line of thought, to get the words right, to be concise, that doesn’t seem handed to my consciousness from the black box. If there is something to the “spotlight” theory of consciousness, I definitely feel like I have some control over where that spotlight shines. I know this is appealing to personal introspection, but the first-person experience is what I know best.

 


Well, this is what I found frustrating - unless I misunderstand their positions, I don’t think either Harris or Dennett would disagree with the basic concepts you state here, just the semantic framework you want to superimpose on them. Yes, in your example above, you did not choose to be an agent who ‘wills’ certain things - why should you feel any subjective desire to stick to a topic, get the words right, be concise, or anything else, after all? But once those parameters are in place, yes, we can talk about ‘agency’, and to me there are far more interesting conversations to be had there, given that they basically agree on the baseline concepts involved, if not the labels. For example, assuming they both agree that said sense of agency exists, then do they see it as causal or epiphenomenal? If an agent (through no free will of their own, ha ha) feels very much like an agent or quite selfless, does anything shift? Where is the sort of ‘cell membrane’ of agency parameter-wise and what determines what gets in and out? If agents sort of co-create each other as in the oft-misunderstood ‘hell is other people’ quote, what does this say about the creation and direction of ‘will’? Etc.

 
 
WVCogs
 
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06 July 2016 20:19
 

I don’t think this argument comes down to semantics at all. I do find it a little frustrating. For me, Sam wins easily, but doesn’t follow through on Dennett’s comments.

Every time Dennett argues for degrees of freedom, you only have to ask him what exactly it is that gives that freedom. The burden is on Dennett to identify what it is that allows you to decide differently under the same circumstances. Once he’s identified an act that you are free to perform or not perform, it’s not difficult to show how the act is a result of prior knowledge, environment, genes, etc.—all things you have no control of. It’s an iterative argument with no end. 1) He’ll identify something that would allow you to have acted differently; 2) you show how that something was actually fully caused; 4) repeat. He gives the example of piloting a boat and, while not having control of the weather, currents, etc., having control of the boat. But your knowledge of how to pilot that boat is as fully caused as the rest of you. You either did or didn’t have the intelligence, inclination, money, etc. to obtain that knowledge, and each of these factors were present or not present based on things clearly out of your control.

You “feel” as if you have control over your knowledge, environment, etc., but it doesn’t take long to go down each path and discover you’re a fully caused being. If you disagree, the burden is on you to identify what it is that gives you freedom. It’s an unwinnable argument for compatibilists.

Dennett seems unable to understand how you can be moral and yet fully caused at the same time. He joins lots of those who don’t see that the punishment/shame/guilt—or whatever that comes as a result of not being a moral person—still matters without free will. Why wouldn’t all of these negative effects still play a determining role in future actions, even when free will is a myth? They do, of course, and that’s why they’re effective in helping to shape moral actions.

 
Poldano
 
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07 July 2016 00:50
 
WVCogs - 06 July 2016 08:19 PM

I don’t think this argument comes down to semantics at all. I do find it a little frustrating. For me, Sam wins easily, but doesn’t follow through on Dennett’s comments.

Every time Dennett argues for degrees of freedom, you only have to ask him what exactly it is that gives that freedom. The burden is on Dennett to identify what it is that allows you to decide differently under the same circumstances. Once he’s identified an act that you are free to perform or not perform, it’s not difficult to show how the act is a result of prior knowledge, environment, genes, etc.—all things you have no control of. It’s an iterative argument with no end. 1) He’ll identify something that would allow you to have acted differently; 2) you show how that something was actually fully caused; 4) repeat. He gives the example of piloting a boat and, while not having control of the weather, currents, etc., having control of the boat. But your knowledge of how to pilot that boat is as fully caused as the rest of you. You either did or didn’t have the intelligence, inclination, money, etc. to obtain that knowledge, and each of these factors were present or not present based on things clearly out of your control.

You “feel” as if you have control over your knowledge, environment, etc., but it doesn’t take long to go down each path and discover you’re a fully caused being. If you disagree, the burden is on you to identify what it is that gives you freedom. It’s an unwinnable argument for compatibilists.

Dennett seems unable to understand how you can be moral and yet fully caused at the same time. He joins lots of those who don’t see that the punishment/shame/guilt—or whatever that comes as a result of not being a moral person—still matters without free will. Why wouldn’t all of these negative effects still play a determining role in future actions, even when free will is a myth? They do, of course, and that’s why they’re effective in helping to shape moral actions.

You are reiterating the assumption of absolute determinism. There is no evidence that absolute determinism is true of reality, as opposed to a measurable degree of probabilistic determinism. Absolute determinism is simply a convenient model for us to use in constructing our models of reality—our world model—because it absolves us of the need to think very hard about things that do not matter very much to our well-being. The physical world is highly deterministic, and some physical processes are deterministic to many orders of magnitude, but there are many physical processes that are not very deterministic at all.

I think the human nervous system combines a high degree of determinism with an ability to exploit divergences—mistakes or random events—for cognition, action, and learning. I think the self-sense of free will is part of a reinforcement system for divergences that have notable results. If the result is negative, the self-sense negatively reinforces the response, which makes it less likely to happen in the future. If the result is positive, the self-sense positively reinforces the response, which makes it more likely to happen in the future. Sometimes, the response is negative for one reason and positive for another, which creates a quandary. Some of these quandaries are moral in nature, because morality is all about action results that are positive in some respects but negative in others. Quandaries may need the extended neural processing that is characteristic of volitional consciousness, which may not happen before the fact as often as it does after the fact.

[ Edited: 07 July 2016 00:55 by Poldano]
 
 
WVCogs
 
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07 July 2016 08:07
 
Poldano - 07 July 2016 12:50 AM

You are reiterating the assumption of absolute determinism. There is no evidence that absolute determinism is true of reality, as opposed to a measurable degree of probabilistic determinism. Absolute determinism is simply a convenient model for us to use in constructing our models of reality—our world model—because it absolves us of the need to think very hard about things that do not matter very much to our well-being. The physical world is highly deterministic, and some physical processes are deterministic to many orders of magnitude, but there are many physical processes that are not very deterministic at all.

I think the human nervous system combines a high degree of determinism with an ability to exploit divergences—mistakes or random events—for cognition, action, and learning. I think the self-sense of free will is part of a reinforcement system for divergences that have notable results. If the result is negative, the self-sense negatively reinforces the response, which makes it less likely to happen in the future. If the result is positive, the self-sense positively reinforces the response, which makes it more likely to happen in the future. Sometimes, the response is negative for one reason and positive for another, which creates a quandary. Some of these quandaries are moral in nature, because morality is all about action results that are positive in some respects but negative in others. Quandaries may need the extended neural processing that is characteristic of volitional consciousness, which may not happen before the fact as often as it does after the fact.

But does absolute determinism really absolve us of the need to act morally and for our well-being? Or, does it simply map out for us how this thinking and our actions work?

I agree that there is the self-sense of free will that reinforces actions. Given that, is this a feeling that you control? And isn’t this sense of free will simply another deterministic factor that helps shape our thoughts? I’d argue that both this sense of having free will and any thoughts/actions that result from that sense are both fully determined.

Compatibilists need to be very specific about the “…many physical processes that are not very deterministic at all.” The examples given seem to fall into two categories. 1) They’re either random/neural, and therefore have no relation to free will and aren’t repeatable; or, 2) they can be shown to be fully determined by other agents; Dennett’s example of steering his boat out of dangerous waters being an example of this.

 

[ Edited: 07 July 2016 13:06 by WVCogs]
 
wd216
 
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07 July 2016 13:48
 
WVCogs - 07 July 2016 08:07 AM
Poldano - 07 July 2016 12:50 AM

You are reiterating the assumption of absolute determinism. There is no evidence that absolute determinism is true of reality, as opposed to a measurable degree of probabilistic determinism. Absolute determinism is simply a convenient model for us to use in constructing our models of reality—our world model—because it absolves us of the need to think very hard about things that do not matter very much to our well-being. The physical world is highly deterministic, and some physical processes are deterministic to many orders of magnitude, but there are many physical processes that are not very deterministic at all.

Absolute determinism or otherwise is a red-herring here. It doesn’t matter if the world is absolutely deterministic or only probabilistically deterministic, the argument made against free will still holds; there is a causal chain responsible for any aspect of your behaviour you choose to focus on and it precedes your existence. Whether this chain is absolutely deterministic or only probabilistically deterministic is immaterial…

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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07 July 2016 15:33
 

As far as I could tell the best isolated point of disagreement (the point on which they clearly agreed that they disagreed) was about the role of moral responsibility.

Sam thinks that there is no difference-of-kind between a criminal pathology and an ostensibly intact conscience. It’s just a variation of circumstance. Just luck.

Daniel thinks there is. He maintains that the emergent systems of justice, while not describing the metaphysics of human choice are suitably adapted to minimize harm by creating structural incentives for acting on behalf of the greater good.

If I had to pick I’d go with Dan here. I think Dan’s best critique was that Sam fails to consider the recursive outcomes of treating all criminal behavior as mental illness. We need a concept of criminal agency as opposed to criminal insanity.

 
AntiPistic
 
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07 July 2016 16:03
 

what dennetts argument really comes down to to me is that if we tell everyone the fact that they don’t have free will then anarchy will ensue. this is silly. people still will have their own sense of free will and their own evolutionary drive towards acceptance in society, unless they are the 1% of the population that are psychopaths, and their knowing that they don’t have free will won’t matter anyway.  we will still have guilt, fear, shame, embarrassment, pain, boredom and many other states of mind at our disposal to act as punishments and deterrents.

the discussion should be since there is no free will what are our ethical responsibilities in how we punish vs attempt rehabilitate offenders. one option is we lock every criminal in solitary confinement, shame them and treat them like anonymous animals for a set amount of time based on their crime. i personally think, and i’ve read some anecdotal evidence that confirms, that that would have terrible consequences for our society. but when you are of the mind set that someone of free will committed that crime thus they need to be punished to somehow right the universe, that isn’t far off from what you get. when you realize that everyone is the product of factors outside of their control, the gratuitous nature of punishment goes away, and you are left with trying to separate those who pose a threat, and help them to no longer pose a threat. some people absolutely should be separated for the rest of their lives and by some points of view even put to death, but many others are so dehumanized by our current standards that from potentially minor infractions we effectively take their lives away.

[ Edited: 07 July 2016 16:06 by AntiPistic]
 
Wittgenstein216
 
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07 July 2016 18:25
 

Ok Sam, I think this should suffice…

‘If freewill really is compatible with determinism as Dennett argues, then he must answer as to why it is not possible for him to choose to believe in compatibilism whilst simultaneously choosing not to believe in compatibilism. Thus, the fact that he can only ever believe in compatibilism whilst never being able to simultaneously choose to disbelieve it at any one time, is in itself, proof of a hard determinism that is completely incompatible with freewill. Accordingly, his inability to ‘change his mind’ (brain) in such a way is wholly predetermined by the prior causes that facilitated this unchangeable brain state, and more importantly, by the ‘arrow of time’. Hence, for freewill to be the case he would have to, sort of, think across the arrow of time, against the grain of his current beliefs whilst still believing in them, whilst his thinking (cognition) was simultaneously following the arrow of time - which makes no sense whatsoever. Therefore, freewill is clearly incompatible with determinism, lest he would be able to ‘choose to temporarily free his will’ in order achieve such a feat. We can, of course, generalise this to account for all possible ‘choices’ that could ever be made by any brain in this universe.’

By the way, you still owe me 20000 USD.

Lots of love,

Ryan wink

P.s Please let me know if you require more arguments. I can always analyse the podcast step by step in order to point out specific mistakes, errors of reasoning etc.

 

 

 
Wittgenstein216
 
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07 July 2016 18:46
 

Erm…

Might have been a bit careless with the last bit of the argument. Thus, I cannot rule out another ‘brain’ (or something similar) existing in the universe that might be able to pull off some sort of criss-cross temporal cognitive (or something similar) manoeuvre, like the one I have outlined above. Though I do think it highly unlikely.

Ryan

 
Pericles
 
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08 July 2016 07:10
 

Daniel Dennett makes the observation that we can learn and improve ourselves by making an effort to learn and improve ourselves. This is “free will worth wanting” (compatibilist free will).

Sam Harris’ remarks amount to claiming that we can’t learn and can’t improve ourselves. We have no control over our actions. The notion of compatibilist free will is not supported by evidence or reason.

Dennett uses the example of sailing: he cannot control the properties of the water or wind, but he can control the boat and gets better with experience and deliberate practice. Harris says no. Consciously learning from experience to improve one’s self is not possible. Consciously choosing between a finite list of options at a given moment is not possible.

Dennett later goes on to observe (as he has before) exactly what a person with common sense would observe: the belief that we cannot make decisions in the moment semi-autonomously on a day-to-day basis is absurd. This is the belief that Harris holds.

As Jerry Coyne once wrote on his blog in relation to his career path: “What could I have done better? To a determinist like me, regrets are unproductive (though perhaps useful to others), as I couldn’t have done other than what I did.”
(https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/i-retire-today/)

This manner of reasoning about one’s and others’ autonomy is indeed absurd, and carries more behavioral risk than a compatibilist conception of free will (or what one might call a “common sense” conception of free will).

As someone who adheres as much as possible to reasoning on the basis of verifiable evidence, I find this relentless free will debate to be both disillusioning and fortifying: how can it be that someone who adheres to reason and evidence and who writes extensively on human consciousness and the basis for grounding moral judgments in empiricism hold such a view? Our minds are indeed fragile and prone to error. It is best to remain forever skeptical.

 
AntiPistic
 
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08 July 2016 07:41
 

I would be very surprised if Sam Harris ever said that one can’t improve themselves. that is not what the lack of free will means. clearly people can change their view on things their emotional reactions their motivation or drive. the question of free will is about what led them to the point where they made the change. this falls back on the same difficulty of looking at the larger philosophical ideas because it feels like i have free will. no one is arguing that any individual should act without their own sense of free will. I should say in most cases since in certain therapys, probably CBT or patients dealing with trauma, it is often valuable for the purposes of self forgiveness and reflection. but we as individuals are not in a practical sense going to be without free will. the more important conversation, and one that didn’t happen in this discussion because they couldn’t get passed the initial baseline, is how this effects how we should treat people. this also goes beyond the major societal issues in our criminal justice system.

take this lesser example: I have a very good friend who is perpetually an hour late to any event i invite her to. I could keep getting angry at her, frastrated, annoyed, and have that be a passive aggressive cancer on our friendship. or i can recognize that she has well established this behavior, it is unlikely that it will change, realize that i am the only one to blame for expecting her to behave differently than she has shown her self to be. my options are with out judgement either choose to maintain the friendship and be happy when she eventually does show up,or choose to no longer seek her out. yes i will make that choice and that doesn’t mean that my choice was free, but thats not the point, because i have the illusion of making a free choice. the point is a healthier response to a common interpersonal conflict that does not need to create any angst or anxiety. In this silly case i chose to maintain that friendship and laugh at how absurdly consistent she is.

[ Edited: 08 July 2016 07:54 by AntiPistic]
 
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