What is Free Will?

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memester
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 03:33 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;111848 wrote:
Once again, her being compelled does not necessarily mean she had no other choice; no one has said that her body was physically placed in the car by some force. It just means, in this case, there was overwhelming pressure for her to make that choice.

What about this do you not understand?
I don't understand what force made her body get in the car. you say "pressure". OK, then. What "pressure" made her body end up in the car ? What FORCED her, so that she had no choices available ?

I could claim that I was FORCED to kill someone because they insulted me.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 03:35 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;111851 wrote:
1 : upset, overthrow
2 a : to cover over completely : submerge b : to overcome by superior force or numbers c : to overpower in thought or feeling.

To overcome/overpower, that seems as if there was no other choice she could make, being overwhelmed effectivly limits the choice, not by making other possibilities nonextant but by making them unattainable.


One can be compelled and still choose otherwise. This is how we use "compel" in ordinary language. For instance, and I just said this a friend, "I was compelled to go to my Aunt Linda's for Christmas dinner last year".

Clearly I had other choices which were attainable, and, as you know, other choices existed. But, I was compelled to go because I knew she had just been diagnosed with cancer.

memester wrote:
I don't understand what force made her body get on the car. you say "presure". OK, then. What "pressure" made her body end up in the car ? What FORCED her, so that she had no choices available ?


You're obviously not reading what I'm writing, because I've repeated time and time again she did have other choices.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 03:37 pm
@Zetherin,
Compelled and overwhelmingly compelled, are not the same thing, I am compelled to call my mom, I am overwhelmingly compelled to breathe.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 03:38 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;111854 wrote:
Compelled and overwhelmingly compelled, are not the same thing, I am compelled to call my mom, I am overwhelmingly compelled to breathe.


It's good you're attempting to clarify this - this is what I'm hoping for.

So, if one is overwhelmingly compelled, they have no other choice? But you do have a choice not to breathe; you can hold your breathe.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 03:41 pm
@Zetherin,
then you pass out and start breathing again.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 03:46 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;111856 wrote:
then you pass out and start breathing again.


True. But not because I want to do so.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 03:51 pm
@kennethamy,
Overwhelming isn't it, do people "want" to be overwhelmed? Do people "want" to do things against their will? I'm not picking on the notion of will/free will/ choice or anything in thread in general except the 'choice' of the word Overwhelming in conjunction with compelling in the attempt to say that when one is overwhlemningly compelled they still have a choice.
 
memester
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 04:06 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;111853 wrote:
One can be compelled and still choose otherwise. This is how we use "compel" in ordinary language. For instance, and I just said this a friend, "I was compelled to go to my Aunt Linda's for Christmas dinner last year".

Clearly I had other choices which were attainable, and, as you know, other choices existed. But, I was compelled to go because I knew she had just been diagnosed with cancer.



You're obviously not reading what I'm writing, because I've repeated time and time again she did have other choices.
Yes, I am reading, but you are not elucidating what you mean by "compelled". If she had other choices, then she CHOSE to get in the car as the best action for her.

If she was told to kill her own child, or be shot, she might make a very different decision.

It's not clear how she was "compelled" to make that choice.
Quote:


To force, drive, or constrain: Duty compelled the soldiers to volunteer for the mission.2. To necessitate or pressure by force; exact: An energy crisis compels fuel conservation. See Synonyms at force.
3. To exert a strong, irresistible force on; sway:
You disallowed "forced, unjustifiably, and use "compelled". It's not my reading, it's your explaining that is faulty.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 04:18 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;111859 wrote:
Overwhelming isn't it, do people "want" to be overwhelmed? Do people "want" to do things against their will? I'm not picking on the notion of will/free will/ choice or anything in thread in general except the 'choice' of the word Overwhelming in conjunction with compelling in the attempt to say that when one is overwhlemningly compelled they still have a choice.


Compel

2 : to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure <public opinion compelled her to sign the bill>

Do you think in the example they gave, she had no other choice but to sign the bill? Couldn't she just have walked out?

memester wrote:
It's not my reading, it's your explaining that is faulty.


Are you compelled to read my faulty explanations?
 
memester
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 04:19 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;111866 wrote:
Compel

2 : to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure <public opinion compelled her to sign the bill>

Do you think in the example they gave, she had no other choice but to sign the bill? Couldn't she just have walked out?

It seems all or most of the definitions used "overwhelmingly" forced or caused.

Merely by finding an example of someone's use of English or faulty reasoning, does not make your case.

I am not forced to read your explanations, no. Your point in saying that ?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 04:22 pm
@memester,
memester;111868 wrote:
all the definitions used "overwhelmingly" forced or caused.

Merely by finding an example of someone's use of English does not make your case.


What exactly do you think my case is? If you think my case is that someone can be compelled and still have other choices, you'd be correct. And I think that is true. That dictionary example is not a rare example. You really have never heard people use the word "compel" before?
 
memester
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 04:25 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;111869 wrote:
What exactly do you think my case is? If you think my case is that someone can be compelled and still have other choices, you'd be correct. And I think that is true. That dictionary example is not a rare example. You really have never heard people use the word "compel" before?

sure, I have heard the word used.

what I'm trying to get out of you is that it either removes choice or does not remove choice.

which is it ?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 04:33 pm
@memester,
memester;111870 wrote:
sure, I have heard the word used.

what I'm trying to get out of you is that it either removes choice or does not remove choice.

which is it ?


It does not necessarily remove choice (please, please, please understand it is not necessarily). You may just be heavily influenced to make the choice, but you may have no other option. As fast details:

fast wrote:
Compulsion comes in degrees. For example, consider a man locked up in a jail cell. He cannot get out of the cell, so he is restrained from leaving (e.g. Compulsion by restraint); however, there are plenty of examples where we are either restrained (i.e. compelled from acting) or constrained (i.e. compelled to act) where we can overcome the compulsion (either the restraint or constraint).

For example, the law constrains me to obey the traffic laws (or restrains me from disobeying traffic laws). Yes, we can overcome the force of compulsion. That I can speed is not to say the law is not compelling me to act in certain ways.


And in regards to our example with the lady with a gun pointed to her head, she did have the option to make another choice (besides getting in the car). But this does not mean she wasn't compelled to make the choice she did (to get in the car).

But if you think I am incorrect, which I always can be, please detail why.
 
memester
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 04:43 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;111875 wrote:
It does not necessarily remove choice (please, please, please understand it is not necessarily). You may just be heavily influenced to make the choice, but you may have no other option. As fast details:



And in regards to our example with the lady with a gun pointed to her head, she did have the option to make another choice (besides getting in the car). But this does not mean she wasn't compelled to make the choice she did (to get in the car).

But if you think I am incorrect, which I always can be, please detail why.
A child mght say that he was compelled to kick the other child because the other child stuck his tongue out.

You're adding nothing that clarifies the problem by using using "compelled" instead of "forced". You are merely muddying the water.

Either you have options or you do not.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 04:43 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;111875 wrote:
It does not necessarily remove choice (please, please, please understand it is not necessarily). You may just be heavily influenced to make the choice, but you may have no other option. As fast details:



And in regards to our example with the lady with a gun pointed to her head, she did have the option to make another choice (besides getting in the car). But this does not mean she wasn't compelled to make the choice she did (to get in the car).

But if you think I am incorrect, which I always can be, please detail why.


No one would describe her as getting into the car "of her own free will". No one who cared about what we say and think under those circumstances, that is. If I am compelled to do something, that does not imply that it was impossible for me to do something else. That is one reason that being compelled to do something is an excuse for doing that thing when what you did was the wrong thing to do. If you had not been compelled, you would be blamed for doing it. For instance, a bank teller who give a robber money at the point of a gun has an excuse for doing so. She was an agent, but not a free agent.
 
memester
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 04:46 pm
@kennethamy,
She did it, but has an excuse. We do not hold her to a standard of conduct that would be unfair.

We do not expect employees to die instead of handing over the money.

It doesn't mean she did not have choice. What we hold her to, has nothing to do with whether she had choice or not.

We can make exceptions for BLAME placing.

this stuff is about normative language. She "should" do this or that, or "shouldn't".

We can excuse her for choosing to do something she "normally" shouldn't.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 06:32 pm
@memester,
memester;111878 wrote:
A child mght say that he was compelled to kick the other child because the other child stuck his tongue out.

You're adding nothing that clarifies the problem by using using "compelled" instead of "forced". You are merely muddying the water.

Either you have options or you do not.


I am sorry I have muddied the water. I thought I had expressed myself clearly. But, if I have failed to elucidate, as you have told me I have, it's hard for me to tell you you are wrong (as you are just as much a part of this communication as I am). If a catcher misses a catch, it could be either the catcher or thrower at fault. It may even be something out of both the player's control, like the wind. Or, in our case, language.

I'll try to effectively communicate this at a later time. Perhaps, for the time being, one of these fine men and women here can help you out; most of them are far more intelligent than I, and I think some of them have a much firmer grasp on this issue.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 07:04 pm
@memester,
memester;111881 wrote:
She did it, but has an excuse. We do not hold her to a standard of conduct that would be unfair.

We do not expect employees to die instead of handing over the money.

It doesn't mean she did not have choice. What we hold her to, has nothing to do with whether she had choice or not.

We can make exceptions for BLAME placing.

this stuff is about normative language. She "should" do this or that, or "shouldn't".

We can excuse her for choosing to do something she "normally" shouldn't.


Yes, she had a choice. It wasn't a good choice, and that is why we (and Aristotle) held that compulsion is one of the main headings of excuses. Ignorance is the other. I think we can learn a lot about free will from studying excuses. The better the excuse, the less the degree of freedom.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 08:45 pm
@fast,
Free will raises the question whether, and in what sense, rational agents exercise control over their actions, decisions, choices.


That's Wiki. Take it for what it's worth. But how about this? What is this rational agent made of if not a collision of instincts? The self is a false unity. It's a useful fiction. Take from us our desires, and freedom loses its meaning. A being born with a multitude of instincts cannot be free except to pursue the goals of these instincts. He is free to be a slave to the desires/instincts/itches that he is.

But this is just one possible description.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2009 09:20 pm
@Reconstructo,
[CENTER]"It is six o'clock in the evening, the working day is over. Now I can go for a walk, or I can go to the club; I can also climb up the tower to see the sun set; I can go to the theater; I can visit this friend or that one; indeed, I also can run out of the gate, into the wide world, and never return. All of this is strictly up to me, in this I have complete freedom. But still I shall do none of these things now, but with just as free a will I shall go home to my wife." This is exactly as if water spoke to itself: "I can make high waves (yes! in the sea during a storm), I can rush down hill (yes! in the river bed), I can plunge down foaming and gushing (yes! in the waterfall), I can rise freely as a stream of water into the air (yes! in the fountain), I can, finally, boil away and disappear (yes! at certain temperature); but I am doing none of these things now, and am voluntarily remaining quiet and clear water in the reflecting pond."
[/CENTER]

Modern science comes close to confirming the truth of this. The treatment for severe epilepsy is (or was) to sever the connection between the two hemispheres. The patients would then have two unconnected brains. They would have them stare at a dot and then display a picture of a house so that only one eye would see it. If they showed it to the left brain, the person would say it was a house (language in the left brain) if they showed it to the right brain they wouldn't be able to say what it was but could point it out on a piece of paper with the left hand (right brain).

When they told the right brain to get up and walk out of the room, the person would start to, and when asked why they would say "I was going to get a drink" or "I was restless", believing it completely. We have a mechanism that confabulates constantly, making sense of what we are doing, providing the illusion of choice.

Quantum type randomness is not relevant to free will--whether an action is predetermined or random it is still not chosen. The Greeks suggested that our spirit could "swerve" electrons, but we can't.

So, factually speaking, we don't have free will. Pragmatically, we do (usually).


Let's take a fat person.

Someone who goes for complete free will might say "they made all of the choices that led to them being fat, they are to blame".

Someone who goes for determinism might say "They had no choice, they are fat because of what tastes good to us, how habits form, modern sedentary lifestyles, fast food, etc". You could use this position to excuse the person, or you could say that actions reflect character.

I think both views are useful. The deterministic view is what the government should take when deciding how to combat obesity. You can't try to change things by just saying "make better choices".

On the personal level, if you treat people like they have choices, they are more likely to do what they should.


That is to me the take away message from "free will vs determinism" (and the point of philosophy should be to find a take away message...).
 
 

 
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