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Frank_Hirsch comments on Explaining vs. Explaining Away - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: Frank_Hirsch 18 March 2008 01:17:00PM 1 point [-]

Frank Hirsch: "I don't think you can name any observations that strongly indicate (much less prove, which is essentially impossible anyway) that people have any kind of "free will" that contradicts causality-plus-randomness at the physical level."

Ian C.: More abstract ideas are proven by reference to more fundamental ones, which in turn are proven by direct observation. Seeing ourselves choose is a *direct observation* (albeit an introspective one). If an abstract theory (such as the whole universe being governed by billiard ball causation) contradicts a direct observation, you don't say the observation is wrong, you say the theory is.

Yikes! You are saying that because it seems to you inside your mind that you had freedom of choice, it must automagically be so? Your "observation" is that there seems to be free will. Granted! I make the same observation. But this does not in any way bear on the facts. How do you propose to lend credibility to your central tenet "If you seem to have free will, then you have free will"? To this guy it seemed he was emperor of the USA, but that didn't make it true. Also, how will you go and physically explain this free will thing? All things we know are either deterministic or random. If you plan to point at randomness and cry "Look! Free will!", we had better stop here. Or were you thinking about the pineal gland?