Re: Heed Clarification on MW

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 09:44:34 +1100 (EST)

> >>
> >>
> >> I'm new in town, and it's a delight to follow your discussions!
> >>
> >> On free will:
> >>
> >> I'm inclined to doubt that free will as usually conceived is a coherent
> >> idea. On the one hand, 'freedom', as a property pertaining to alterations
> >> of mental states, connotes a mysterious suspension of causal influence from
> >> the rest of the world. On the other hand, however, few would accept an
> >> analysis in terms of _randomly_ engendered alterations.
> >>
> At 12:19 14.12.99 +1100, Russell Standish wrote:
> >
> >Putting in the idea of downward causation is assuming something about
> >how free will might work, so I'd be reluctant to assume this from the
> >outset. All I mean by free will is that _I_ am able to make
> >decisions. This is a phenomenon of the 1st person, and one that can be
> >explained in a number of ways. One way is to say that this phenomenon
> >is an illusion, however that answer is too glib for me. I have stated
> >my own view on this, which is heavily influenced by Deutsch, so I
> >won't repeat it here.
> >The special connection relates to reconciling determinism and free
> >will. Free will is of course completely possible in a
> >non-deterministic single universe.
> As I don't want to sidetrack the other debates, and suppose you've discussed
> the compatibilism/incompatibilism issue before, I'll try to be brief:
> If by free will you mean only your own ability to make decisions, it's hard
> to see how determinism could hamper it. My oven is itself producing heat
> however much it was predetermined. Similarly, you can make decisions even
> though the content of those decisions are predetermined by the laws and
> constants of physics: All it takes is for your option set to be >1 in the
> relevant situations. Thus free will as decision-making is completely
> possible also in a deterministic single universe, and there should be no
> need to invoke MW.

My question is - how can one's option set be >1 in a completely
determined single track universe? It seems some level of indeterminsim
is required.

> In addition, the decision-making process comes with an experience of
> autonomous
> initiative that would perhaps have no equivalent in a conscious oven. It
> is _this_ experience that may be illusory (cfr. epiphenomenalism), and that
> I suggest might be explained by emergence as downward causation. Please
> excuse if I'm missing something obvious, but I can't see how the SW/MW
> distinction makes any difference whatsoever in this context. Deutsch also
> tries to analyze normative statements in terms of observer state
> probabilities, which is even more unworkable for my money: QM does not
> take you from "is" to "ought" any more than do General Relativity or
> Thermodynamics.
> Please note: I expect no replies if you have been through this sort of
> stuff before!
> --
> Gisle Tangenes

I don't think this issue has been gone into in any greater depth in
this discussion group, however I also feel this may be wandering a bit
off-topic for my taste.


Dr. Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit,
University of NSW Phone 9385 6967
Sydney 2052 Fax 9385 6965
Room 2075, Red Centre
Received on Tue Dec 14 1999 - 14:47:29 PST

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