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Doug_S. comments on Explaining vs. Explaining Away - Less Wrong

46 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 17 March 2008 01:59AM

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Comment author: Doug_S. 17 March 2008 08:33:59AM 4 points [-]

One man's modus tollens is another man's modus ponens. Reductionism is true; therefore, there is, in fact, no "free will" in the sense that Ian C. seems to be implying. ;)

I can't predict the tomorrow's weather; does that mean atmospheres have free will?

Comment author: Rixie 02 April 2013 05:04:56PM *  -1 points [-]

Why do I think I have free will?
I think I have free will because I tell my hand to type and it types.
And why do I think that that was my own free will and not somebody or something else's?
Wait, what do I even mean when I say "free will"?
I mean that I could do whatever I wanted to.
And what controls what I "want" to do? Is it me or something/one else?

Why do I think that I control my own thoughts?
My thoughts seem instantaneous, maybe I don't control my own thoughts.
I can say things without thinking about it beforehand, sometimes I agonize over a decision (It's a Saturday, should I get out of bed right now or later?) and I choose one decision without coming to a conclusion and without knowing why I chose it.
Maybe, subconsiously, I was hungry, or obeying a habit.
If I was hungry, or if some other instinct was propelling me, then I don't really have free will when it comes to simple things like this, although "I" can override my instincts, so it's my instincts serving me, as a mental shortcut, and I am not a slave to it, so I do have free will.
If it was a habit, it was I who created my habits by repetition, so I have free will. I can also override my habits. Who's to say that my overrides aren't controled by something/one?
I feel like I have free will, but maybe that's how whatever controls me "wants" me to feel.
Maybe I'm just a zombie, writing paragraphs on free will because the laws of nature are making me do it.
In that case, how am I supposed to assume that I am, in fact, correct about me having free will?
So I don't have free will at all? Is that the answer that other people have gotten to? Are there gaping holes (or even tiny holes) in my logic, and are there angles that I havn't considered yet?

I still feel like I have free will. Maybe I should have written that like, 'I still feel like I have "free will".'

This may be like the time the math teacher told me to prove that two lines were parallel and I couldn't because I didn't know about Thales' theorem.

Could someone please help me figure this out? I don't see a way to continue from, "Either I have free will, or who/whatever is controling me is making me think that I have free will." I'm not sure how those two universes would be different.

Edit: In a universe where someone is controling me, I'm guessing "he" would have a plot in mind. The universe doesn't appear to have a plot, but maybe I'm just too small to see it, or- wait, who says the universe doesn't appear to have a plot? I don't think I know enough to answer this question. Help?

Comment author: Rixie 02 April 2013 05:49:23PM *  -1 points [-]

Why do humans think that they have free will?
What kind of situation would favour humans who thought that they had free will over humans who didn't?
Will to survive?
No, that's not the right question, I'm off track.
I'm drawing a complete blank.
What is there in my head that makes it so that I think I have free will?
I keep thinking in circles. I'm trying to differentiate the answer of this question from the answer of the question "Why do I think I have free will?", but every time I get close there is litterally a giant blank, I don't think I know enough about how human brains work in the first place in order to answer this question.

Oh, no, here we go:
Why do I think that I don't know enough about how my mind works to answer this question? I live in it, after all.
Well, I can't answer the question, that seems like ample proof to me, although it might not be.
I think that I could work out everything I needed to know given enough time, but why start from scratch when other great minds have done the work for you?

Can anyone direct me to some ressources I can use to better understand the internal algorithms of the human mind please?

Comment author: CronoDAS 02 April 2013 08:30:30PM 1 point [-]

Can anyone direct me to some ressources I can use to better understand the internal algorithms of the human mind please?

Well, there is The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences, but I've never tried to actually read any of it...


Comment author: TheOtherDave 02 April 2013 06:30:24PM *  5 points [-]

Wait, what do I even mean when I say "free will"? I mean that I could do whatever I wanted to.

Well, if that's what you mean, then you certainly don't have free will, at least not if you're anything like me. There's lots of things I've wanted to do in my life that I haven't been able to do.

So, if that's really what you mean by "free will", I submit to you that not only do you not have this thing, you don't even feel like you have this thing. Conversely, if you're talking about something you do feel like you have, then your description of what it is is flawed, and it might be helpful to return to the question of what you mean.

Also, you may want to ask why is this an interesting question? What would depend on you having free will, or not having it? Why should anyone care?

You might also find it useful to google "compatibilism".