Re[2]: Freewill

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Fri Jul 05 2002 - 07:48:48 MDT

Friday, July 5, 2002, 3:59:35 AM, Gordon Worley wrote:

GW> At 01:20 AM 7/4/2002 -0400, Gordon Worley wrote:
>> Besides, I assert there's no such thing as free will and it's just an
>> illusion of the interpreter, but that's another thread.

GW> I chose my wording carefully: I only assert that this is true, but
GW> admit completely that I cannot prove one way or another whether free
GW> will exists (if it can be proven please point me in the direction of
GW> such a proof, since I have not spent endless time thinking on this).

>From a hard science standpoint, it is as far as I can see
fundamentally unprovable.

GW> As far as what free will is (and what I was thinking when I wrote this),
GW> I use the common, folk sense of the word, meaning that you, at any time,
GW> can decide to do or think anything. In other words, the common sense of
GW> free will implies that you have a magic box in your head that
GW> nondeterministically decides what happens in your brain next and it
GW> could be anything that `you' want (remember, its `you' that has the free
GW> will).

But you're mixing levels and metaphors when you choose to use a common
sense understanding of concepts like "you" and "decide" and "free
will" -- and the implied, underlying concept of "consciousness" -- and
then refute it from a scientific perspective. You've shown exactly
nothing by doing this, because you haven't scientifically defined what
it is you're disproving the existence of.

Again, "consciousness" can AFAICT as a matter of principle never be
proven to exist: it has no weight, no smell, no physical properties
whatsoever, no location (see the essays "Where Am I" by Dennett and
"Where Was I" by Sanford, both readily Googlable). Its existence can
very tenuously be argued to be inferencable from the evidence, but all
such evidence of existence by inference falls flat upon even cursory

So does this mean "consciousness" does not exist? What would even be
meant by the statement "consciousness does not exist"? We would have
to define in some rigorous way what we mean by the word to begin with,
which I maintain is next to impossible. But if it were, any workable
definition would have to include its existence...I can't formulate the
exact reasons why, but, ehm, trust me, it would.

David Chalmers has written some interesting thoughts on what he calls
the "hard problem", see

GW> As for alternative definitions of free will, I'm not very interested.
GW> Once you clear out the mystical means of choice, your choice is no
GW> longer free but restricted by the confines of your brain and your
GW> current mind state.

How is the concept of "mind" any less mystical?

GW> That's it for tonight. I have been kept up far too late with all the
GW> Independence Day fun that everyone managed to involve me in.

GW> --
GW> Gordon Worley `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty
GW> said, `it means just what I choose
GW> it to mean--neither more nor less.'
GW> PGP: 0xBBD3B003 --Lewis Carroll

Interesting that someone who has that quote in their sig would be so
embroiled in what IMO is essentially semantic games.


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