Re: Freewill

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Fri Jul 05 2002 - 16:11:41 MDT

Gordon Worley wrote:
> 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.
> I chose my wording carefully: I only assert that this is true, but
> admit completely that I cannot prove one way or another whether free
> will exists (if it can be proven please point me in the direction of
> such a proof, since I have not spent endless time thinking on this).
> As far as what free will is (and what I was thinking when I wrote this),
> I use the common, folk sense of the word, meaning that you, at any time,
> can decide to do or think anything. In other words, the common sense of
> free will implies that you have a magic box in your head that
> nondeterministically decides what happens in your brain next and it
> could be anything that `you' want (remember, its `you' that has the free
> will).

The common folk sense of the word is of course worse than
useless for discussing such a topic. However, I challenge the
contention that the human brain qualifies as deterministic. It
looks to me like it has too many random null input transitions
to qualify. :-) But it is bad debating style to mix up "common
sense" notions of something with technical discusions of such as
FSA and deterministic vs non-deterministic automata.

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

Your choice is free within the confines of your being. As
alluded to earlier, a claim that free will only exist for beings
that are unlimited is vacuous. At any moment in time any being
that does not transcend time will be of only a fixed "size". If
we build an FAI and/or augmented indefinitely, precisely in what
sense are we limited to the confines of our brain? For that
matter don't you need to extent the decision making space to
include other human beings (for starters)? The brain itself
either is or is not able to be modeled as a FSA. Personally, I
have my doubts that this model is workable. It is or is not
fully deterministic. Again I have my doubts. Your current mind
state is huge and capable of being influenced by literally
millions of internal and external events in parallel with and
without your conscious attention or intention. So saying that
we choose out of our current mind state is trivially true but
probably not useful to the question. How would we choose
otherwise? Utterly randomly? That isn't what most people mean
by free-will, common sense or otherwise.

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

I hear that. I just got home from such fun a couple of hours
ago myself. I hope all in the US had a good one.

- samantha

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:40 MDT