Investigating Choice.

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Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 06:56 am
I'm currently playing with a couple of ideas relating to choice and choosing, I want to then extend what I learn and apply it to the human assumption- more choice = more freedom

I have explored the idea that choice is constant and infinitely vast (at any given time there are an infinite number of options available to one) and therefore obsolete as an idea that leads to freedom. I think I will find some answers by exploring what we mean by 'choice' so I was wondering if I could pose a thought exercise to the forum in search of some definition and insight.


When lack of choice = unfreedom:


Scenario A- Biff has been arrested for the second time in his life- he is a petty criminal, often stealing to get a fix of drugs. He is processed at the station and then placed in a holding cell, he sits down on the cold bench and reflects on his lack of choice. He doesn't want to be in the cell and chooses to leave, the fact that he can't, the lack of choice, is what he attributes his unfreedom to.

Scenario B- Richard awakes to his mother shouting 'wake up!, you'll be late for school Rich!'
'Mum, nooo.'
'Hurry, you have to get to school'
'But I don't ant to'
'You have no choice! Now hurry'
'muuuuum'.
Richard chooses to stay home and not go into school that day, in fact every day he chooses not to go to school, he feels unfree and attributes the sensation of imprisonment to his lack of choice in the matter.

[CENTER]______________________________________________________[/CENTER]



My Notes-
Scenario A- I was thinking about the choice to leave the cell not as an option the prisoner is denied but as a controlling factor which limits his potential choices to within the cell. The choices available within the cell will be constant and plentiful but nothing compared to the infinite selection available to him outside the cell. Although this is simply a more in depth look at why Biff feels unfree, it led me to speculate that choices are infinite and endless in reality, but to the individual they are consistently limited in the same way they are for Biff, I labeled this limitation Environmental Freedom (the destruction of potential choices by a current context) and speculated as to whether Biff would be any more free if he left the cell, returning to a life where his choices are predetermined by a need for drugs which determines a need to avoid the police which might lead him to conclude that the police are Nazis who squash his personal freedom.

I therefore conclude that freedom for Biff is not connected in any way to his interest in having more choice (odd then that he was upset that the cell limited his potential choices) because of the life he 'chooses' outside of his holding cell. Biff perhaps would realize with some education that his choices outside the cell could be expanded even more by giving up drugs and crime, but he would tell you he is unfree if you forced him to enroll in 'freedom school'.
Biff doesn't see the similarities in a life which reacts to a constant urge for drugs and therefore is limited to choices revolving around drugs and a life that reacts to the walls of a cell ad therefore is limited to choices revolving around being in the cell.

In this scenario is freedom knowledge? The addition of more knowledge might encourage Biff to consider how he could increase his potential choices further. Well at the very least in the cell Biffs drug addiction might fade leaving him with truly higher degree of freedom right? I think we could label this Mental Freedom, the degree of freedom that is obtained by knowledge and realizations, like Environmental Freedom (the destruction of potential choices by a current context) it doesn't have anything to do with actually choosing, and with some consideration of what we would choose otherwise we will start to see 'more choice = more freedom' fall apart.

Already I am confused but can see perhaps that choice is constantly limited, or as I have suggested before a complete illusion. Choice only seems to come into question as freedom when our actions are limited in some way, are we forgetting that there is no human action only reaction?

Feel free to let rip, but originally I was wondering if you guys could help me determine any other scenarios I could explore other than 'when lack of choice = lack of freedom', or comment on the technique of investigation I'm using. Also I left scenario B without my personal notes incase any one else fancied a go. Thanks,

Dan
 
Arjen
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 08:54 am
@de budding,
lol,

On a serious note:

I wonder if freedom is measured by the number of choices one has. When one begins to follow the directing of letting things "exist" and just let things "flow" one is moving into the direction of moral Skepticism. One postpones ones judgement so to speak. By postponing ones decision one really lets go of the idea of knowing how to behave; one postpones a predicate to what is taking place; thereby an action-reaction formula can no longer be formulated: the re-action one choses is no longer bound by a "cause". The logical formula ex falso sequitur quodlibet comes to mind.

Anyway, it is not the amount of choices one can make, but the lack of judging which forms freedom in my opinion.

Smile
 
de budding
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 09:33 am
@Arjen,
Quote:

I wonder if freedom is measured by the number of choices one has

If it is we are all very very free. Even within the highest security prison in a 2.0mx2.0m room I can choose to make an infinite number of noises or move in many many ways- wriggle a finger, push a wall, and that's just for starters.

How does one gauge how free one is? A suggestion I found in a delightful book called 'do you think what you think you think?' is that we can measure how free we think some one is by looking at how much responsibility we charge them with. Here is a copy of a couple of the questions, see what you think. Your supposed to answer how responsible you think the subject of the scenarios is, and then you get a score at the end telling you how free you think people are. Very Happy


http://www.instantimagehosting.com/storage/freedomquiz_1.jpg
 
Justin
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 09:40 am
@Arjen,
Video removed due to obscenity and language.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 09:57 am
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
If it is we are all very very free. Even within the highest security prison in a 2.0mx2.0m room I can choose to make an infinite number of noises or move in many many ways- wriggle a finger, push a wall, and that's just for starters.

How does one gauge how free one is? A suggestion I found in a delightful book called 'do you think what you think you think?' is that we can measure how free we think some one is by looking at how much responsibility we charge them with. Here is a copy of a couple of the questions, see what you think. Your supposed to answer how responsible you think the subject of the scenarios is, and then you get a score at the end telling you how free you think people are. Very Happy


http://www.instantimagehosting.com/storage/freedomquiz_1.jpg

Dan, I don't understand the relevance. Smile
 
de budding
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 11:22 am
@Arjen,
Well, scenario A demonstrates how problematic it is to try and measure ones freedom by the amount of choices or potential choices one has. As you said 'I wonder if freedom is measured by the number of choices'. What I think might work better though is to measure the amount of responsibility we would endow on someone for their current situation; if we could claim someone is 100% responsible for their current situation what would it imply about their freedom and choices?

Responsibility, choice and freedom are all intrinsically tied and I think it would be healthy to establish how, so that we could control our situation better.

I get the impression I don't express myself so good Smile.
Dan.

Personal Notes: How do we decide the level of responsibility we endow someone with?
By the impact an action has? No, that's unfair because a man who accidently kills a child while windsurfing is not as responsible than a man who intentionally breaks a child's legs.

Responsibility has more to do with the intent of actions, we can intentionally do something (choose/act) or accidently do something (not choose/react).

Human action is a temporal illusion created by communication of ones actions (e.g. an anecdote) to another person, here we invent the beginning of time (where our story/anecdote begins) and imply that the conditions present at the start of our 'story' are what cause the events entailed in the story. If there is no human actions, there is no choice and therefore no responsibility, just die hard determinism.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 11:49 am
@de budding,
De budding, Smile

de_budding wrote:
Well, scenario A demonstrates how problematic it is to try and measure ones freedom by the amount of choices or potential choices one has. As you said 'I wonder if freedom is measured by the number of choices'. What I think might work better though is to measure the amount of responsibility we would endow on someone for their current situation; if we could claim someone is 100% responsible for their current situation what would it imply about their freedom and choices?

If we assume that we still have to argue that the subconscious is also responsible for a lot a person does. The subconscious can be shaped by early "lessons", such as shock and I am 100% sure that if I try really hard I can totally corrupt people because they mean well. Freedom does not correlate with resposibility in that way. Responsible is a value I think. My responsibility is not yours so there is no solid base from which to argue a point and it proves that it is a value.

Quote:

Responsibility, choice and freedom are all intrinsically tied and I think it would be healthy to establish how, so that we could control our situation better.

Are you sure "control" is a viable option? It seems another value.

Quote:

I get the impression I don't express myself so good Smile.
Dan.

I think you do, but I just look at life in a different manner.

Quote:

Personal Notes: How do we decide the level of responsibility we endow someone with?
By the impact an action has? No, that's unfair because a man who accidently kills a child while windsurfing is not as responsible than a man who intentionally breaks a child's legs.

Value's

Quote:

Responsibility has more to do with the intent of actions, we can intentionally do something (choose/act) or accidently do something (not choose/react).

Intention (less of a value statement. Smile )

Quote:

Human action is a temporal illusion created by communication of ones actions (e.g. an anecdote) to another person, here we invent the beginning of time (where our story/anecdote begins) and imply that the conditions present at the start of our 'story' are what cause the events entailed in the story. If there is no human actions, there is no choice and therefore no responsibility, just die hard determinism.

I think this is where you go "wrong". Determinism exists in the mind as cause and effect. How sure are you that such a thing exists in reality.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 12:49 pm
@Arjen,
Hi Y'all!!


In a world where the understanding of how things work, such as cause and effect, is replaced by the understanding of the relational nature of all reality.
With cause and effect it is possiable to entertain determinism, so to, it is possiable to do so with the concept of a relational world. In a relational world your destiny is as baffling as determinism, the complexity of possiabilites of a world held together by its relations is perhaps infinite. It does not logically follow that because in a relational world you can do nothing but react, that you in any sense are not free. You are free to make a choice out of the unlimited number of choices available to you. The concept of Self-responsibility remains intact.
 
cjames phil
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 12:53 pm
@Arjen,
I like your reasoning and where you are going with this Dan. And I think you make yourself very clear, so that a non-native speaker like me understand almost everything without checking a dictionary Smile
 
de budding
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 01:14 pm
@Arjen,
[quote]I think this is where you go "wrong". Determinism exists in the mind as cause and effect. How sure are you that such a thing exists in reality.[/quote]



My brother got angry that there was no hot water last weak and threw a can of hairspray at a window in the house and broke it. Before any one could shout at him he noted that every window in the house was double glazed apart from the one he broke and proceeded to tell off my mum...



Without realizing it my mum used the same trace-back-to-big-bang technique to blame the window not being double glazed on money issues that existed at the time she paid to have the others double glazed. The blame will go back and back referring to what was specific about the environment at the time 'choices' were made until we reach someone's birth, in which case they will be able to pass blame to their parents for conceiving them, lol.

So yes I guess I do think it exists in reality, because people use it all the time to invalidate assertions that something is their fault. Furthermore I think it has big implication on freedom and choice which seems to have a huge effect on responsibility and blame.

[quote]My responsibility is not yours so there is no solid base from which to argue a point and it proves that it is a value.[/quote]

Following the above train of thought your responsibility is either (a) non existent or (b) not yours.

So how lost am I? I was thinking along the lines that if we really do can chose, we stop and initiate an action based on a selection of actions (that is the choice being made), the infinite knock on effects of that action are then all your responsibility, and we seem to judge responsibility on how noticeable the actions are, for example if someone dies you can guarantee someone is getting sued, even though their actions were, in my opinion, predetermined by the environment.

So I was looking to the way people use blame/responsibility on each other for an insight into when people differentiate between a action/choice or reaction/non-choice. In my opinion it is all the latter, reaction and non-choice, therefore responsibility, choice and action are non existent or illusionary but, this won't stop me analysing the way we treat 'blame' in an attempt to unlock what people assume freedom, choice and responsibility to be.

Sort me out:D,
Dan.

 
de budding
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 01:18 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
You are free to make a choice out of the unlimited number of choices available to you. The concept of Self-responsibility remains intact.


You can only choose what you know you should:
That which you need to chose
That which others need you to choose
That which you are obliged to choose
That which you would preffer to choose

Without those values you have no choice, just a random pick which is determined by the fact that you didnt have the knowledge to choose better.

Does the choice becomes non-existent if not limited to what we know?
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 01:36 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Hi Y'all!!


In a world where the understanding of how things work, such as cause and effect, is replaced by the understanding of the relational nature of all reality.
With cause and effect it is possiable to entertain determinism, so to, it is possiable to do so with the concept of a relational world. In a relational world your destiny is as baffling as determinism, the complexity of possiabilites of a world held together by its relations is perhaps infinite. It does not logically follow that because in a relational world you can do nothing but react, that you in any sense are not free. You are free to make a choice out of the unlimited number of choices available to you. The concept of Self-responsibility remains intact.



Read and consider my young students, for this man knows what he is talking about!
 
de budding
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 02:25 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
Read and consider my young students, for this man knows what he is talking about!


I am not sure what a 'relational world' is, and I don't see how choice can be born out of a world with no action, no intention- only reaction and conformity.
 
Calia
 
Reply Wed 4 Jun, 2008 08:40 pm
@de budding,
I'm coming at your question from a different angle so hopefully it will have value for you.

I don't want to engage in semantics but definitions are quite critical here. Freedom is considered the ability to act on choice.

Biff does not have the choice to leave his cell BECAUSE he is not free to leave. So you are semantically combining the two. Freedom literally equals choice.

If you assume them as separates then through a universal mojo Biff may only choose to move his right toe and go outside. He is only free to move his toe. He has few freedoms. The mojo lifts he sees a choice to either go out, or move either his right or left toe. His freedom has exponentially expanded with more choice.

In that light choice becomes a numbers game, the more choices you have the greater the liklihood that your freedoms increase.

But I fail to see a practical application. If you aren't free to avail yourself of a choice you don't have it. It's binary. Yes or no.

The rest is psychology: the ability to recognize your choices (actual freedoms) and your perception of restraint. You can choose to step in traffic rather than wait, but prioritize choosing life over that. Traffic didn't restrain your freedoms as much as force your priorities. You remained able to act on choice throughout but you perceived that you HAD to wait, a perceived restraint.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 4 Jun, 2008 09:21 pm
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
You can only choose what you know you should:
That which you need to chose
That which others need you to choose
That which you are obliged to choose
That which you would preffer to choose

Without those values you have no choice, just a random pick which is determined by the fact that you didnt have the knowledge to choose better.

Does the choice becomes non-existent if not limited to what we know?


de budding,Smile

:)When we are speaking of choice, we are speaking of the objective circumstances of the world, this world, has no meaning without you as its subject, it has no requirements of you, So, it is impossiable to escape self-responsibility.Wink
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 4 Jun, 2008 09:37 pm
@Calia,
Calia wrote:
I'm coming at your question from a different angle so hopefully it will have value for you. I don't want to engage in semantics but definitions are quite critical here. Freedom is considered the ability to act on choice. Biff does not have the choice to leave his cell BECAUSE he is not free to leave. So you are semantically combining the two. Freedom literally equals choice. If you assume them as separates then through a universal mojo Biff may only choose to move his right toe and go outside. He is only free to move his toe. He has few freedoms. The mojo lifts he sees a choice to either go out, or move either his right or left toe. His freedom has exponentially expanded with more choice. In that light choice becomes a numbers game, the more choices you have the greater the liklihood that your freedoms increase. But I fail to see a practical application. If you aren't free to avail yourself of a choice you don't have it. It's binary. Yes or no. The rest is psychology: the ability to recognize your choices (actual freedoms) and your perception of restraint. You can choose to step in traffic rather than wait, but prioritize choosing life over that. Traffic didn't restrain your freedoms as much as force your priorities. You remained able to act on choice throughout but you perceived that you HAD to wait, a perceived restraint.


Calia,

:)Interesting, yes freedom does equate with choice, but, one is not free not to chose, that would be autonomy from the very context that defines you. So. If your idea of freedom does not involve autonomy from context then we are agreed. As long as freedom is defined by choice, and it does not trouble anyone that one does not have the ability not to react, in other words one has to chose, there is no freedom in this. So freewill does not then infer autonomy and so, I have no problem then with freewill.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Thu 5 Jun, 2008 12:06 pm
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:



My brother got angry that there was no hot water last weak and threw a can of hairspray at a window in the house and broke it. Before any one could shout at him he noted that every window in the house was double glazed apart from the one he broke and proceeded to tell off my mum...



Without realizing it my mum used the same trace-back-to-big-bang technique to blame the window not being double glazed on money issues that existed at the time she paid to have the others double glazed. The blame will go back and back referring to what was specific about the environment at the time 'choices' were made until we reach someone's birth, in which case they will be able to pass blame to their parents for conceiving them, lol.

So yes I guess I do think it exists in reality, because people use it all the time to invalidate assertions that something is their fault. Furthermore I think it has big implication on freedom and choice which seems to have a huge effect on responsibility and blame.

Let's try to seperate the physical from the mental. There are physical actions (or re-actions if you wish) and there are mental actions (or re-actions if you wish). Mental re-actions are based on the frames of reference people use and the mental complications of judgements; the acting upon a mental object. Physical re-actions are based on the acting upon physical objects. Although we cannot be sure that the seperation exists, all things seem to point to the distinction.

In assuming that physical reality exists we must conclude that physical reactions are created by physical movemenets and are, in that sense, a necessity. Mental re-actions are created by usage of the personal frame of reference. Mental re-actions are therefore re-actions to the personal mental movements; the acting of mental consciousness upon itself. In that sence mental re-actions are created by judgements on ourselves (instead of judgements of another as is often assumed).

I might be very straightforward and say a few very true things on the basis of your example above. Suffice to say that your brother does not like to waste money and that your mother spends it when needed.

Quote:

Following the above train of thought your responsibility is either (a) non existent or (b) not yours.

I ment to say that my responsibility is self-responsibility and your responsibility is self-responsibility as well. Therefore we are both responsible for different objects and our responsibilities are not the same.

Quote:

So how lost am I? I was thinking along the lines that if we really do can chose, we stop and initiate an action based on a selection of actions (that is the choice being made), the infinite knock on effects of that action are then all your responsibility, and we seem to judge responsibility on how noticeable the actions are, for example if someone dies you can guarantee someone is getting sued, even though their actions were, in my opinion, predetermined by the environment.

Let's examine what you are saying. Say, for arguments sake, that A's drunk stumbling about made B's re-action to being shoved an agressive one, throwing his beer-mug at the drunk A, missing him and hitting C in the face. I'll stop here for our example and not describe the hidious barfight that followed.

The physical reaction of A on B (the shove) was a somewhat uncoordinated destabilization. The throwing of the beer-mug was not a re-action o the shove. What happened in reality was a mental judgement of B on B (I should not allow myself to be pushed around (<--ego; which consists of judgements)) which resulted in the "re action" of throwing the mug across the room. I think I have proven herewith that this was not a causal physical reaction to A's shoving, but a mental re-action of B on B. Therefore a new action was instigated instead of a continuation of a causal cycle.

Quote:

So I was looking to the way people use blame/responsibility on each other for an insight into when people differentiate between a action/choice or reaction/non-choice. In my opinion it is all the latter, reaction and non-choice, therefore responsibility, choice and action are non existent or illusionary but, this won't stop me analysing the way we treat 'blame' in an attempt to unlock what people assume freedom, choice and responsibility to be.

Sort me out:D,
Dan.

I am going to leave out the "blame" part for now. This requires an understanding of several other factors as well. Perhaps a new topic is needed for this.
 
de budding
 
Reply Fri 6 Jun, 2008 08:00 am
@Arjen,
I've got a nagging feeling that B's mental re-action- 'I should not alow myself...' is a self judgment which still exists for one reason and one reason only... because he was shoved and therefor reacted by analysing the situation, the analysis of which he reacted to with 'I shouldn't let myself be shoved' or whatever.

Dan.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Fri 6 Jun, 2008 02:21 pm
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
I've got a nagging feeling that B's mental re-action- 'I should not alow myself...' is a self judgment which still exists for one reason and one reason only... because he was shoved and therefor reacted by analysing the situation, the analysis of which he reacted to with 'I shouldn't let myself be shoved' or whatever.

Dan.

What is important here is that B didn't react to the shoving by throwing the beer-mug, but by 'a somewhat uncoordinated destabilization'. The throwing of the beer mug was an action based on the combination of a number of thought objects, such as 'I was shoved', 'being shoved and not responding with force is a sign of weakness', 'I do not want be percieved as weak because I'll be taken advantage of', etc.

The real treat here is that there are two things going on:
1) A reaction: 'a somewhat uncoordinated destabilization'
2) A re-action: the throwing of the beer-mug.

I am laying the empahsis on re-acting because it is a new action. There is no physical causal chain. The mind (thought-objects) allowed B to act all on his own and start a new causal chain.

Now, how is it possible to create a new action out of thin air?

p.s. I know one can debate the mental cause and effect, but I view the new chain as starting with the mental judgements, seeing as it is not connected in a real way to it. Bith are at this point valid to me btw.
 
bfz
 
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 07:18 am
@de budding,
Basically no one is responsible for anything, everyone is a product of their environment, and if we had a large enough computer and chips in everyones brains analysing every atom in the world, and the universe we could predict the future and everything going on in the universe right now, but we have to deal with the fact that right now we don't have that computer.
 
 

 
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