Re: "Free Will Theorem"

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2005 20:27:15 +1000

Bruno Marchal wrote:

>Le 14-avr.-05, à 14:48, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :
>>A decision I make is "free" when I feel that I could have decided
>OK I can take that definition of free-will, although I would bet that
>free-will will always be in company of any genuine act of will.

It is exactly the quibbling over precise definitions etc. that I was trying
to avoid. When I say my decision was "free", I mean that it *felt* free, as
opposed to a decision I might have made with a gun held to my head. I have
to use some word to describe it, so that you can understand what I'm talking
about, which is only possible if you have similar experiences. Philosophers
then take this word "free", look at various possible meanings, and decide
whether my use of the word is appropriate. For example, if "free" means
"neither random nor determined", then I am misusing the word or deluding
myself, because everything has to be some combination of random or
determined. However, I didn't intend to enter such a debate when I used that

Suppose an octopus, in addition to the regular human-type free will ("will I
have dinner now or later?"), has a special 8-free will when it has to decide
which tentacle it will use. This 8-free will feels completely different to
the other sort, in that the octopus mentally spins a roulette wheel, which
feels completely random, but at the moment it moves the thus-chosen
tentacle, a strange retrospective causality event takes place, such that the
octopus knows with every fibre of its being that the chosen tentacle was the
"correct" one all along.

OK, here is the question. Given our knowledge of physics, does the octopus
really have 8-freedom, or not?

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Fri Apr 15 2005 - 06:31:44 PDT

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