Re: "Free Will Theorem"

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2005 10:21:57 +1000

Hal Finney writes:

> > On the other hand, I might aknowledge that my feeling of freedom is not
> > actually consistent with the particular interpretation of the term
> > the philosopher is trying to foist on me. In other words, if "freedom"
> > "not bound by determinism or randomness", then I could not possibly be
> > simply because there is no third alternative to determinism or
> > In this case, I would have to admit that my "free will" feeling is
> > quite peculiar, with no correlate in the real world. Fine: let's say
>this is
> > what it is. My subjective experience of free will remains unchanged, my
> > behaviour remains unchanged, and my attitude towards other people (also
> > exercising this strange, non-free, non-random, non-deterministic free
> > thing) remains unchanged.
>I guess I'm having trouble understanding this subjective experience
>of free will. It seems to require a somewhat sophisticated degree of
>self-modelling and self-understanding, in order to model the concept
>that your mind could have behaved differently and made a different
>choice. Yet it is blind to other physical realities. Aren't you just
>lying to yourself? Or do you really have this "feeling" as a direct,
>pre-rational self-perception, like the experience of redness or of pain?
>I'm not sure I have any such feeling, but perhaps I have internalized
>the philosophical arguments so much that they have contaminated this
>"pure" self-perception that you describe.

Yes, that's just what I mean. It is just like the perception of redness or
pain - just as essentially private. If I do try to analyse this feeling, it
seems that when I make a free decision, I am not bound by deterministic
laws, nor am I doing something completely random. Clearly, this is
physically impossible, for what other driving mechanism is there than
randomness or determinism? But I don't really think this is saying much more
than that when I experience a pain, it seems to me that something more is
happening than mere electrical impulses in my brain, even though I am aware
intellectually that that is the physical reality. If you want, you could say
that all subjective experience is a kind of self-deception.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Thu Apr 14 2005 - 20:26:11 PDT

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