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Free will

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Clydey
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Re: Free will « Reply #345 on: June 03, 2012, 05:57 PM »
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The fact I can't conceive a confounding factor proves one doesn't exist??? That's not a great argument.

I didn't say that. I said one couldn't possibly be conceived, not that solely your inability to do so proves the point.

Nice strawman, though.

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As I say, though, you keep making that assumption.

I'm not making any assumptions.

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Essentially, someone could come up with a free decision they made, one which could have been different had they chosen for it to be so, and your response will simply be "nah, there's been environment and genes in play there, even though I can't truly show just how that happened".

Let me rephrase what you just said in a way that will hopefully demonstrate how ludicrous that paragraph is. I'll change the field of enquiry to make it clearer.

Essentially, someone could say 2+2 = 5 and your response will simply be "nah, there are certain axioms on which mathematical knowledge is necessarily based, even though I can't prove why they are axioms."

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It's like arguing with a religious nut about the existence of God.

Debating sound deductive logic is like debating a religious nut? I'd like to meet the religious nuts you talk to.

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Let's go wild as you suggest - if there's the possibility of an uncaused event, like the very first one as we logically believe there must have been, then why not the possibility that somewhere in our brain exists the ability to override a chain of events in there, or start a new chain of cause and events?

Because the brain is caused, and all of the information stored in the brain comes from genetics or environmental factors. You can't even conceive of a single piece of information that would arise in the brain without prior causes, nor can you conceive of any possible decision or scenario that would allow for free will. Indeed, no one has been able to.

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Also, from an evolutionary standpoint - why this desire to believe we're in control? We know when we're not in a real situation, and become very uncomfortable with it (pretty much the premise behind Inception). We can tell the difference between a dream and reality. We have this absolute need to feel in control of what we do. If we never have been, why has that behaviour been one which has developed through natural selection, and why would it be seen as a helpful one to delude ourselves like that? I know there's flaws in just about every species in some way, but that one is pretty massive.

Why have we not evolved an immune system that will deal with cancer? I hate to break it to you, but evolution isn't a conscious process. It doesn't decide to weed out all undesirable traits. Many traits are maladaptive and they continue to be passed on through genetic and cultural transmission.

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As I've said earlier, I actually reckon you might be right here, but it's purely speculation all round. You can't dismiss other arguments for flawed logic when the logic here isn't as solid as it would seem.

It isn't speculation. The logic is bulletproof, but you don't seem to accept the premise that all choices come from genes and environment. We know for near certainty that this is in fact the case. Holding out for the possibility that there may be some other factor that no one can even conceive of is perhaps more absurd than suggesting that we should only tentatively suggest that fairies don't exist.

Your objection is barren of any real content. Such Cartesian skepticism is utterly impractical, and would very likely leave you paralysed with fear if you truly approached knowledge in the way you seem to be suggesting.
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strider
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Re: Free will « Reply #346 on: June 03, 2012, 08:08 PM »
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Despite no clear way of showing the cause and events chain that leads to any one decision, you're saying it's "near certainty" that every single one of them come from that. It's not a very sound foundation to build an argument on.

That, and that alone, is why I dispute the "logic is bulletproof" line. The premise that every decision comes from genes or environment hasn't been conclusively proven. It's assumed before the argument to show that they do is even presented, making the whole argument either circular or question-begging.

I'm happy to agree that all the available evidence suggests that they do come from that, and even the best thinking on the subject would suggest it. Not so long ago, though, the best evidence around would have suggested the opposite.

Are you really saying there's absolutely no chance we've got something else to discover that will change this again? Neuroscience has barely scratched the surface.

(my examples were vague and rushed, I'm happy to admit they weren't the best)
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Mark
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Re: Free will « Reply #347 on: June 03, 2012, 09:29 PM »
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In complete agreement with all of that... glad there is someone who can articulate my feelings so well.
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Clydey
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Re: Free will « Reply #348 on: June 04, 2012, 01:00 AM »
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Despite no clear way of showing the cause and events chain that leads to any one decision, you're saying it's "near certainty" that every single one of them come from that. It's not a very sound foundation to build an argument on.

Of course it's a sound foundation. The kind of certainty you are seeking simply does not exist.

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That, and that alone, is why I dispute the "logic is bulletproof" line.

The logic is bulletproof. You are objecting to the premise.

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The premise that every decision comes from genes or environment hasn't been conclusively proven.

Nor has anything. Ever.

It hasn't been conclusively proven that fairies don't exist, nor has it or can it be conclusively proven that I don't have an invisible pet unicorn. There are some things that cannot be 'proven' in the sense that you are suggesting my argument requires. You cannot prove beyond all doubt that some other factor in choice exists.

You are asking for evidence that cannot exist and are expressing a sort of Cartesian doubt that would embarrass the most skeptical philosopher. We know for near certainty that we are products of genes and environment. To say that I'm begging the question is akin to saying that all of mathematics and quantum theory beg the question. Suggesting the possible existence of another factor that no one has even been able to conceive of is really just a way of not conceding the argument. It's a tactic one could use to extend any argument beyond a reasonable point.

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I'm happy to agree that all the available evidence suggests that they do come from that, and even the best thinking on the subject would suggest it. Not so long ago, though, the best evidence around would have suggested the opposite.

And not so long ago we used to think homosexuality was a mental illness. The fact that our knowledge base was once deficient does not mean we should treat all current knowledge as such. I can play this game with our most robust scientific theories. Does it mean that there is a reasonable possibility that they are wrong?

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Are you really saying there's absolutely no chance we've got something else to discover that will change this again? Neuroscience has barely scratched the surface.

No chance? No, I would never say that about anything.

And what could neuroscience discover (from a brain we were born with, not one that we chose) that would cast any doubt on my premise? You don't even seem to realise that even the remotest chance of something inconceivable being discovered would not cast doubt on the logic. Whatever is in the brain is something we were given, not something we chose.

Like I said, your argument is really barren of content. It's one big, unreasonable 'what if?' game that you're playing.
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Clydey
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Re: Free will « Reply #349 on: June 04, 2012, 01:08 AM »
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Ok, Strider, let's play your game just to prove a point. I want you to choose something that you think we know for certain. You have the freedom to choose anything we currently believe to be true. I'll act as devil's advocate and I'll play the kind of game you're playing and maybe you'll understand how unreasonable your approach to this discussion is.
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Mark
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Re: Free will « Reply #350 on: June 04, 2012, 01:13 AM »
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I'm still very disappointed that this hypothesis doesn't seem to be falsifiable.
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Clydey
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Re: Free will « Reply #351 on: June 04, 2012, 01:18 AM »
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I'm still very disappointed that this hypothesis doesn't seem to be falsifiable.

Nothing is truly falsifiable in the sense Strider is asking for. We can only know things to a certain point. There is no knowledge that cannot in theory be overturned, but is it reasonable to continually say 'what if?' when faced with an otherwise sound argument?
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Mark
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Re: Free will « Reply #352 on: June 04, 2012, 01:20 AM »
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Nothing is truly falsifiable in the sense Strider is asking for. We can only know things to a certain point. There is no knowledge that cannot in theory be overturned, but is it reasonable to continually say 'what if?' when faced with an otherwise sound argument?
Strider aside, you know what I mean - evolution can so easily be found to be false if it were but the no free will hypothesis can't at all or so it at least seems from our discussions thus far.
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Clydey
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Re: Free will « Reply #353 on: June 04, 2012, 01:27 AM »
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Strider aside, you know what I mean - evolution can so easily be found to be false if it were but the no free will hypothesis can't at all or so it at least seems from our discussions thus far.

It isn't unfalsifiable. In theory, it could be falsified if some other factor was identified. The problem is that no such factor has even been conceived of, let alone been proven to exist.
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Mark
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Re: Free will « Reply #354 on: June 04, 2012, 01:28 AM »
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So it is unfalsifiable right now then?
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Clydey
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Re: Free will « Reply #355 on: June 04, 2012, 01:30 AM »
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So it is unfalsifiable right now then?

No, it is falsifiable. It just hasn't been falsified, nor is there any suggestion that there is another factor other than genes and environment.
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Mark
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Re: Free will « Reply #356 on: June 04, 2012, 01:31 AM »
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So if it is falsifiable, can you give me a hypothetical example that would disprove the theory?
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Clydey
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Re: Free will « Reply #357 on: June 04, 2012, 01:36 AM »
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So if it is falsifiable, can you give me a hypothetical example that would disprove the theory?

No. That's the point I'm making. No one has conceived of one, but that doesn't mean one doesn't exist in principle.
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Mark
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Re: Free will « Reply #358 on: June 04, 2012, 01:53 AM »
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You could use that get out for any theory that is considered unfalsifiable. If someone hasn't conceived one yet -- and this idea has been known for centuries -- then the sensible default position has to be it's not a falsifiable hypothesis.
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Clydey
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Re: Free will « Reply #359 on: June 04, 2012, 02:02 AM »
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You could use that get out for any theory that is considered unfalsifiable. If someone hasn't conceived one yet -- and this idea has been known for centuries -- then the sensible default position has to be it's not a falsifiable hypothesis.

I'm saying in principle it can be falsified. If you mean falsifiable in the sense Popper used the term, then no it isn't. It doesn't make testable predictions. Again, it could in principle make testable predictions.

There are many things we don't consider falsifiable in the Popperian sense that we consider sound knowledge, though.
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