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Old 08-06-2019, 06:19 PM
monstro is online now
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 21,457
Originally Posted by Dinsdale View Post
I don't think that the universe - or our brains - developed as they did such that they could be understood by us at this point in time. I can say, "I don't know" without buying into a particular fairy tale.

So, do some respondents actually believe in strict determinism? Every thought and action of everyone is predictable? Do you envision yourself an automaton? When confronted by a choice, do you make an effort to simulate choosing?
No, I don't think of myself of an automaton. I think of myself as a biological organism--one ruled by the physics and chemistry--who operates in a manner that can be predicted through the prisms of psychology and neuroscience. Is science advanced enough where we can predict everything with 100% accuracy? Of course not. Is science ever going to meet that goal? Probably not. Does that mean we have free will? Of course not.

Am I supposed to be bothered by the notion that my behavior is 100% predictable? Because I'm not. Knowing I'm predictable doesn't mean I'm not a very special person to those who know me.

At any rate, randomness <> free will.

Let me pose a thought exercise.

Pretend you are in a car accident caused by you being momentarily distracted while changing the radio dial. This accident intrigues an alien from an uber advanced civilization and the alien decides to recreate the whole scenario a hundred times--each run the same except with a minor change to a unique variable. And they place you (unknowingly) in each scenario to see if you make the same string of choices that led to the accident.

In Run 1, your bladder is halfway full instead of almost full.
In Run 2, the car temperature is 81-degrees instead of 75-degrees.
In Run 3, it is an overcast day instead of a sunny day.
In Run 4, the radio channel is tuned to your favorite song rather than your least favorite song.
In Run 5, you're wearing loose pants instead of tight pants.

Do you think that your behavior is going to be the exact same as what you exhibited in the original scenario?

Or do you think that your behavior may be identical in many of the scenarios, slightly different in others, and maybe substantially different in a few?

Or do you think your behavior will be widely different in all of them?

Because when I hear someone making an appeal to free will, I assume they are arguing that they have the ability to operate however they want (the third hypothesis), no matter what variables they are operating under. If they make a stupid choice, it's because they made a stupid choice. It's not because they were under the control of environmental factors X, Y, and Z interacting with the biological factors 1,2, and 3.

As a determinist, I'm going to go with the second hypothesis. I believe if the alien collects enough data and runs enough souped-up scenarios (e.g., multiple tweaked variables rather than one), they will be able to figure out, with high accuracy, how you might behave in a future scenario. Just like a skilled scientist can predict with high accuracy how a laboratory rat will respond in a future scenario after studying it long and hard enough.

All of this seems rather noncontroversial to me. But YMMV.