Free will vs Choice
(20-Oct-2010, 12:12 PM)Sajit Wrote:

I doubt if this means anything about our free will. It just seems to show that the human neurological system can be controlled to an extent. If not for these special external factors that can inhibit our brain processes and control our actions, we still have the actions dictated by our brains. Right?
Aditya Manthramurthy
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That video is an excellent find, Sajith. Very simple language to demonstrate the false notions about the mind and consciousness that go into free-will belief. As I said before, the way we think about the mind is what leads us to make the mistake that we have free-will. The tendency for a Cartesian dualism is strong in humans, and this is reinforced all our lives through our culture and language.

Donatello, please see the previous discussion between Mohan Karthik and myself about what the idea of free-will actually implies. As I noted early in this discussion, when we are asked to defend the idea of free-will we tend to choose a compatibilist definition of free-will, but is (subconsciously) disingenuous because this is not how free-will is thought of and defined in culture at large. The type of free-will that we are opposing is not a common-sense concept (which is simply a muddled and fallacious idea) but the well-defined notion of contra-causal free-will.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
Sajith and others, I must warn you all that the interviewer is a religious apologist who has interviewed many people and twisted their words. I have seen all his videos and I watched the above one a couple of years ago. He starts off with a fallacy, bringing in determinism and evoking fatalistic ideas. Poisoning the well.

In any case, Dennett is also slippery about free-will, which you'll know if you read Tom Clark. This is why I said in an earlier post that Dennett defends compatibilist free-will. Here's his position:

Contra-causal Free-will doesn't exist, but that's not the important sense of free-will because for all intents and purposes a compatibilist notion of free-will works for us.

The basic difference between Dennett and those like Clark and Blackmore is that Dennett thinks we need free-will for people to act moral and for society to function, and the latter school do not think so and in fact think that free-will beliefs are causing much avoidable suffering in society right now. The arguments on this front get very deep into ethical philosophy, retribution and the justice system, political philosophy etc.

Anyway, this is the only issue that I disagree with Dennett on. I feel that his position really seems to be that we must accept some beliefs simply because they are convenient within the social context that we live in. I think that this cannot be true about factual claims. I'm all for accepting such compatibilist beliefs about subjective value claims such as 'love' and 'color', but not about objective fact claims such as 'god' or 'free-will'.

A good source to read in relation to Dennett's compatibilism is the debate between Saul Smilansky and Tom Clark:

There are other sources as well:
And an excellent paper by Tamler Sommers:

Edit: I have always regretted not pressing Dennett on this point when I interviewed him:
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
@Sajit: Is the first video you shared, a part of a bigger documentary? I see the BBC HD watermark on the left top? If so, can you share or give me the name?

@Ajita: I'm not convinced on whether the illusion of free will is really needed for society to function. Lol, it seems to be a very deep question. So i'm reading more. But this is a fascinating subject! I'm soo happy I brought it up smile
Quote:@Ajita: I'm not convinced on whether the illusion of free will is really needed for society to function.

I am fairly certain that it is an unnecessary illusion, only necessitated by our conditioning. If we can overcome our conditioning, I think we can construct social memes that are more compatible with scientific truths.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
Tom Clark's Latest interview with D.J. Grothe (his third with D.J, I think, the first two being on Point of Inquiry)
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
From Tom Clark's website I found this essay on free will, and it's been a big eye-opener for me. I hadn't thought about the implications on the legal system. I'm one of those people who supports the death penalty for certain heinous crimes... now I find myself doing some serious re-evaluation.

It's a fascinating essay, take a look.
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I just got "The myth of free will" from TC! smile smile smile..

This week has to be my happy week. I found The grand design finally in a book store in blore and I got the myth of free will too. Cant wait to go home and start. I'll let you guys know if I come across some interesting points Big Grin.
Where did you get it from??? I bought The Grand Design too, but haven't started it yet.

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