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Old 08-08-2019, 02:30 PM
begbert2 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 13,600
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
But don't you see? Predeterminism means it is impossible for you to want otherwise, therefore it is meaningless to say you "have been able to pick a different option if you wanted to". The alternative reality where you picked the death peppers did not, does not, will not ever possibly exist. There is no path between T0 and T1 where you eat peppers at T1.

You could not have wanted to eat the death peppers. Assuming predeterminism, you don't have a choice in what you "want" any more than you have a choice in what you "do".
Let's step back from determinism for a moment and talk about how minds work - how they must work, based on observation of their behavior and outcomes. It's my intention to make statements here that apply to any model, even ones with a nondeterministic universe and/or supernatural souls.

Minds demonstrate a reasonable consistency of state - they change, but not with wild randomity. It's a flow from one state to another based on causes that drive it from one state to another; it's not like static snow on a screen without a signal, where the random mess of static one moment is completely unrelated to the snow a moment before.

So the brain changes based on causes. These causes could be random, I suppose, but the reactions are not.

This means that, because brains aren't static-snow random, that their previous states are in a sense limited by their prior states. The past matters.

If you have a preference one instant, you will have it the next instant, give or take logical modification based on a cause. (Possibly an internal cause and/or a cause you're unaware of.)

If you're experiencing an emotion one instant, you will still experience it the next instant, give or take logical modification based on a cause. (Possibly an internal cause and/or a cause you're unaware of.)

If you are aware/unaware of a piece of information one instant, you will still know/not-know it the next instant, give or take logical modification based on a cause. (Possibly an internal cause and/or a cause you're unaware of.)

We know all this because, as noted, minds demonstrate a reasonable consistency of state. And we know this is true regardless of which model of reality is right, because we didn't derive this based on any model.

So. We know that the mind is in a given state at the instant of any decision-making, and that as the decision-making process proceeds things will not be changing wildly without cause. We know that the knowledge that in the mind is the knowledge that's in it; we know that the emotions it is feeling are the emotions it is feeling; we know that its preferences and inclinations are whatever they happen to be. All of this is fixed at the moment of the decision, regardless of model.

Whence comes decision?

If choices are based on what you know, feel, and want, then they are based on your mental state - which is not random and at any and every given instant is fixed (regardless of model). If they are based on something that's not what you know, feel, or want, like randomity or control signals from an outside god or something, is that free will?

As best I can tell, based on even a casual examination of how thought works and the fact that the mind does, in fact, have a state, I can only conclude that regardless of model, the decisions a human brain makes are determined by their mental state at the time. The only possible exceptions to this are if randomity overrides reason or an external meddler overrides reason. And in my opinion* those violate free will. (*Definitions of free will may vary. No warranty is implied. Use at own risk.)

Given that this is, as best I can tell, how all minds have worked ever, I can only conclude that the definition of "choice" as used in modern parlance is compatible with this reality. This means, perforce, that when one talks about having multiple options to pick from, one is implicity but unavoidably deliberately ignoring the mind's state when they assess the situation and say "There are multiple options." They are saying that before the mind gets done with them there are multiple options; however once the mind and its workings are added to the equation only one option remains. You see that as a contradiction of some kind. I see that as the definition of the term "making a decision".

And again, I believe that this is how minds work regardless of model - minds are, by nature, deterministic. (That's what making choices is: determining what you're going to do.) The fact that this works nicely within a completely deterministic model of the universe, well, if minds as I understand them didn't fit within such a model, I would reject the model.