Compatibilist views on free will: some apparent inconsistencies in approach

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ruby sparks
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Post by ruby sparks » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:04 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
plebian;672921 wrote:
ruby sparks;672913 wrote:
plebian;672911 wrote:I'd like to see an argument that demonstrates value without utility.
Why would you like to see that?
because I agree with Hume that reason is a slave to the passions and I'd like to see a good counter-argument.
Ok. But what did that have to do with the post of mine you quoted? That's what I was wondering.[/QUOTE]

What I mean is, I'd be inclined to agree with you. I just wondered if you thought I'd said something which indicated otherwise, in which case I could clarify. I hope I didn't for example give the impression that I don't value utility. One has to, I think. I'm a part-certified, paid up utilitarian.

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Post by subsymbolic » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:38 pm

Act or rule? :D

I wasn't accusing you of lying. It's just odd and frustrating when you don't seem to understand stuff you certainly seemed to be up to speed on in the past, especially when it's fundamental to the discussion. The instrumentalist foundations of the intentional stance for example.

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Post by ruby sparks » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:42 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]Act or rule? :D

I wasn't accusing you of lying. It's just odd and frustrating when you don't seem to understand stuff you certainly seemed to be up to speed on in the past, especially when it's fundamental to the discussion. The instrumentalist foundations of the intentional stance for example.[/quote]

Sure, but in that case........ what made you think I wasn't understanding? Was plebian really talking about what happens when IS fails, or was he talking about IS? Not that it really matters, but that seemed to be the basis of your response.

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Post by ruby sparks » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:03 pm

If it means we can avoid a stupid argument, we can skip it.

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Post by plebian » Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:54 am

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
ruby sparks;672923 wrote:
plebian;672921 wrote:
ruby sparks;672913 wrote:
Why would you like to see that?
because I agree with Hume that reason is a slave to the passions and I'd like to see a good counter-argument.
Ok. But what did that have to do with the post of mine you quoted? That's what I was wondering.
What I mean is, I'd be inclined to agree with you. I just wondered if you thought I'd said something which indicated otherwise, in which case I could clarify. I hope I didn't for example give the impression that I don't value utility. One has to, I think. I'm a part-certified, paid up utilitarian.[/QUOTE]

Hmm. I'm more along the American pragmatism lines. Some people I work with have even accused me of straight up instrumentalism. But I don't remember what the context was at the moment and it's hard enough to get back and figure it out on my phone that it will have to wait a bit. I'll remember though.

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ruby sparks
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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:03 am

[quote=""plebian""]Hmm. I'm more along the American pragmatism lines. Some people I work with have even accused me of straight up instrumentalism. But I don't remember what the context was at the moment and it's hard enough to get back and figure it out on my phone that it will have to wait a bit. I'll remember though.[/quote]

I have a lot of time for that sort of thing (apologies for lumping stuff together) but it's not really me. If the sun doesn't in fact go around the earth, or we are descended from an ape, and so on (those are just historical examples) I'd like to understand that sort of thing, in a way that goes beyond pragmatism. :)

But, even only on the general topic of consequences, there is some literature out there, from various studies, which suggests that the strength of peoples' beliefs in free will affects their behaviour. And on the general topic of utility, for all we know there could be greater utility obtained from weakening beliefs in free will.

What I mean is, there is more to my position, even for someone like you, to consider. It's more than just the same amp being recalibrated to have an 11. There are real consequences to consider.

Also, I don't buy the 'only game in town' thing in the sense that it seems to be being used here, to support compatibilism (and by implication rule out incompatibilism or afreewillism). It may, possibly, be the only game in town, or one description of the only sort of game (I'd prefer this because really at the end of the day it's a model and all models are imperfect) but even if it were, there is surely room for change within that. Incompatibilism is a 'thing'. It's a position, a belief, based on a response to new information entering the system. It can't be waved away with talk of it not being possible, nor indeed practical.

I have, in my time, been around quite a few philosophy subforums at different secular fora, and this one seems slightly unusual in being doggedly compatibilist, on the whole (or at least in terms of the most frequent contributors). Incompatibilism and/or afreewillism, if floated elsewhere, does not seem to generate the same sorts of, um, resistance. Is that just because people here have thunk about it more, or that incompatibilists 'just don't understand' compatibilism? I don't think so, at the end of the day.
Last edited by ruby sparks on Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:42 am, edited 36 times in total.

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:02 am

[quote=""plebian""]...Some people I work with have even accused me of straight up instrumentalism. [/quote]

From what I read, Dewey was fairly keen on not ditching religion or an idea of god? A redefined, instrumentalist idea of god?

I say that after skimming (only skimming):

A Common Faith
https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/uv/uv/ ... faith..pdf

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Post by plebian » Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:37 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
plebian;672931 wrote:...Some people I work with have even accused me of straight up instrumentalism.
From what I read, Dewey was fairly keen on not ditching religion or an idea of god? A redefined, instrumentalist idea of god?

I say that after skimming (only skimming):

A Common Faith
https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/uv/uv/ ... faith..pdf[/QUOTE]

Dewey's thoughts on religion are pretty complex but he really takes up where James leaves off in his "varieties of religious experiences". A cliff notes or wiki summary version of that would probably give you a better idea of Dewey's perspective on religion than a summary of skim of Dewey.

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Post by plebian » Tue Jun 06, 2017 5:06 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
plebian;672931 wrote:Hmm. I'm more along the American pragmatism lines. Some people I work with have even accused me of straight up instrumentalism. But I don't remember what the context was at the moment and it's hard enough to get back and figure it out on my phone that it will have to wait a bit. I'll remember though.
I have a lot of time for that sort of thing (apologies for lumping stuff together) but it's not really me. If the sun doesn't in fact go around the earth, or we are descended from an ape, and so on (those are just historical examples) I'd like to understand that sort of thing, in a way that goes beyond pragmatism. :) [/QUOTE]
I don't speak for the school of thought but my feeling is that no matter how hard you look, you will never find anything beyond pragmatism in terms of physical understanding because it isn't there.

But, even only on the general topic of consequences, there is some literature out there, from various studies, which suggests that the strength of peoples' beliefs in free will affects their behaviour.
yes but we already know that belief is causal. Now all we need to do is figure out what a belief is. ;)

And on the general topic of utility, for all we know there could be greater utility obtained from weakening beliefs in free will.
Utilitarianism and instrumentalism are not the same thing. Utilitarianism is normative.

What I mean is, there is more to my position, even for someone like you, to consider. It's more than just the same amp being recalibrated to have an 11. There are real consequences to consider.

Also, I don't buy the 'only game in town' thing in the sense that it seems to be being used here, to support compatibilism (and by implication rule out incompatibilism or afreewillism). It may, possibly, be the only game in town, or one description of the only sort of game (I'd prefer this because really at the end of the day it's a model and all models are imperfect) but even if it were, there is surely room for change within that. Incompatibilism is a 'thing'. It's a position, a belief, based on a response to new information entering the system. It can't be waved away with talk of it not being possible, nor indeed practical.
hmm. On my phone this may be too​ much to reply to but you have a lot of different issues going on there. By "the only game in town" subsymbolic is referring to the point that there is no alternative to the intentional stance as a way of interacting with other humans. We cannot ​not use it. That presents some logical problems if we are trying to undermine it as an ontological position if the new ontological position doesn't offer a way to reinterpret the same information.
You mention new information​ entering the system. If you remove agency from the system, you remove the boundaries that agency establishes, however fuzzy. At that point, you've got another logical puzzle regarding the methods you use to establish boundaries.

For me personally, freewill is undefinable outside of a strategy using agency as a principle. What I take from that is that the boundaries we choose will determine the identities we use and there is no there there beyond that. We must define the system we are concerned with and our definitions and identities must be consistent within those systems. Because the system under consideration is a choice in an agency based framework there are potential recursive errors built in to any purely physical description of mental activities that involve decisions and choices. The way incompatiblists seem to address that is to deny the existence of decisions and choices but that only hides the recursive errors, it doesn't eliminate them. Does that make sense?
I have, in my time, been around quite a few philosophy subforums at different secular fora, and this one seems slightly unusual in being doggedly compatibilist, on the whole (or at least in terms of the most frequent contributors). Incompatibilism and/or afreewillism, if floated elsewhere, does not seem to generate the same sorts of, um, resistance. Is that just because people here have thunk about it more, or that incompatibilists 'just don't understand' compatibilism? I don't think so, at the end of the day.
Well, I don't think we can model a model of a model to eliminate recursive errors by pretending one of the models is real.

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ruby sparks
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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 5:07 pm

[quote=""plebian""]
ruby sparks;672947 wrote:
plebian;672931 wrote:...Some people I work with have even accused me of straight up instrumentalism.
From what I read, Dewey was fairly keen on not ditching religion or an idea of god? A redefined, instrumentalist idea of god?

I say that after skimming (only skimming):

A Common Faith
https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/uv/uv/ ... faith..pdf
Dewey's thoughts on religion are pretty complex but he really takes up where James leaves off in his "varieties of religious experiences". A cliff notes or wiki summary version of that would probably give you a better idea of Dewey's perspective on religion than a summary of skim of Dewey.[/QUOTE]

Thx. I skimmed that even more briefly. :)

It occured to me that these guys did not seem to think that the world would be a worse place without a belief in god, so I suppose I'm contrasting that with the views of you know who (and many atheists today).

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Post by plebian » Tue Jun 06, 2017 5:14 pm

They saw religion as a social phenomenon and as a personal experiential issue with a high curiosity factor. Different times I guess.

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Post by subsymbolic » Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:47 pm

At this point here's a paper that I found hugely influential when I first encountered it. It's a slightly different angle to the Churchlands and significantly easier to get to grips with.

False, yet unavoidable.

https://web.stanford.edu/~paulsko/papers/RSG.pdf

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:52 pm

What a load of old bollocks.

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ruby sparks
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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:52 pm

Kidding. It was beautiful.

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:54 pm

Kidding again. It was interesting (not kidding).

I can see why you like it, and I can see a way that it's related to the OP, sort of.....

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Post by plebian » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:05 pm

How is eliminativism not related to the op? If freewill is incompatible with determinism, then eliminativism is your skyhook.

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Post by subsymbolic » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:52 pm

[quote=""plebian""]How is eliminativism not related to the op? If freewill is incompatible with determinism, then eliminativism is your skyhook.[/quote]

And all you have to do is rebuild psychology on the basis of a multiplicity of vector states in a multiplicity of ad hoc and individually unique N dimensional spaces and you are away.

Meanwhile, as you try to predict the outcomes of those non conceptualised mental states by tracking cause through a uniquely constituted chaotic, stochastic and massively parallel architecture and processing regime designed and redesigned on the fly by evolution and experience, a task that makes weather forecasting look like child's play, I'll carry on thinking that folk psychology is both false and the only game in town.

When the choice is between mere utility and NP complete intractibility, I think Plebian might have a point. Personallly I don't like the idea of utility and prefer to think of it as the idiom in which we came to be and transcended our biology, but that's probably romanticising a pragmatic recognition of no choice at all.

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Post by plebian » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:19 pm

I really don't think it's accurate to call it false. That makes reductionism seem like an answer to recursive logic errors and it isn't because they still exist at any level​. We generate identities at levels of complexity. Those identities collapse at other levels. As you move up, you include and transcend. That means you can still find identities from lower levels but it doesn't make them meaningful at higher levels. It is meaningless to discuss atoms in the context of physiology. You have to build a system (which is a subsystem) out of atoms and then make that subsystem relate to the higher level.

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:29 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
plebian;672981 wrote:How is eliminativism not related to the op? If freewill is incompatible with determinism, then eliminativism is your skyhook.
And all you have to do is rebuild psychology on the basis of a multiplicity of vector states in a multiplicity of ad hoc and individually unique N dimensional spaces and you are away.

Meanwhile, as you try to predict the outcomes of those non conceptualised mental states by tracking cause through a uniquely constituted chaotic, stochastic and massively parallel architecture and processing regime designed and redesigned on the fly by evolution and experience, a task that makes weather forecasting look like child's play, I'll carry on thinking that folk psychology is both false and the only game in town.

When the choice is between mere utility and NP complete intractibility, I think Plebian might have a point. Personallly I don't like the idea of utility and prefer to think of it as the idiom in which we came to be and transcended our biology, but that's probably romanticising a pragmatic recognition of no choice at all.[/QUOTE]

Sorry but I think......we're mixing two things up here.

One is the belief (I'm calling it that for convenience) and the other is what happens next.

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:30 pm

I can't agree that it makes no difference at all when number one happens.

It may be subtle, it may be intermittent, but it's new knowledge, which gets added to the system.

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:31 pm

I might even go so far as to say that the IS carries on, pretty much as it did. Of course it does.

I sense an underlying assumption that the sky will go black and the earth stop spinning and people's heads will float off. Or somesuch. That would be a red herring, imo.

One would just have an extra mindfuck.

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Post by plebian » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:34 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]I might even go so far as to say that the IS carries on, pretty much as it did. Of course it does.

I sense an underlying assumption that the sky will go black and the earth stop spinning and people's heads floating off.[/quote]
What do you think the intentional system is if it is determined?

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:36 pm

[quote=""plebian""]
ruby sparks;672987 wrote:I might even go so far as to say that the IS carries on, pretty much as it did. Of course it does.

I sense an underlying assumption that the sky will go black and the earth stop spinning and people's heads floating off.
What do you think the intentional system is if it is determined?[/QUOTE]

The same IS? Why would a system need free will to run IS?

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:39 pm

Given that free will is probably an illusion, and we can run IS, that's almost a self-answering question. :)

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Post by ruby sparks » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:42 pm

Anyhows, once the system has taken on board a new belief, that then goes on to affect other beliefs. How can it not? This is probably why studies can apparently detect changes in behaviour when beliefs in free will are experimentally 'weakened'. I doubt it's a hypothetical issue. Dennett probably wouldn't be worried about it getting turned off if he thought it was purely hypothetical and inconsequential.
Last edited by ruby sparks on Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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