Thursday, June 5, 2008

Notes on Free Will, Rescued from Pownce

What about Free Will? (I have to work in what is meant by "Choose". But, basically, a pragmatic take on Free Will -- people who act as if they have and believe in Free Will are measurably more Effective than those who act as if they lack or otherwise disbelieve in Free Will.) ((Hmm, yes, the people who most stridently deny Free Will are pretty sorry creatures.)) Is that it? Do I tie the definition of Effective with Free Will (by definition, you are Effective if you (A) Believe and Act as if you have Free Will, and (B)...) Yeah, it isn't encouraging that the people who demonstrate the most energy spent to deny free will are some sad and sorry creatures. Also, those that deny free will only consider very short time frames in their arguments. I have held discussions in my head, over decades. Even the most fleeting sparks of free will would have had the ability to influence dozens or hundreds of times, in that span. Choice, Volition, Desire -- mixed together -- over a long span (at least a thousand eye-blinks) -- can create a mixture of uncertainty & certainty, morality & immorality, fickleness & steadfastness -- that is indistinguishable from free will. If the argument against free will is so strong, why do the people use all the tools of the art of controversy, and consider the trivial and the fleeting, instead of the significant over long periods of time. It is like arguing that there exists no large pile of leaves -- because one leaf is not a large pile, two leaves are not a large pile, three leaves are not a large pile... and adding a single leaf to a small pile cannot make it large... QED (Obviously, if the argument is strong, why not directly attack the existence of "the large pile of leaves". If the argument against free will is so strong, why not assert that Melville writing Moby Dick demonstrated nothing you could call volition. Or a human constructing a personally prescriptive ethics over a lifetime demonstrates nothing you could call volition.) Similar people in similar situations (as similar as we can try to make them) exhibit complex behavior over long stretches of time that are a mixture of (A) capriciousness and (B) obedience to the consequences of internal moral state. (Definition of "moral state" -- ask them some questions about optimal prescriptive ethics, ask them about the implied actions based on those prescriptive ethics. Just ask them -- and record the answers.) We call this mixture "Free Will". (Note: this turned out stronger than I expected. Is this my argument for free will? I have an argument, not based on work-a-day pragmatics?) (Back to my original train of thought...) This might be the whole of my argument to not deny free will. My argument for free will, is purely practical. It is demonstratively effective (helpful for a person to achieve goals). (I gotta think this out more, my quick edit turned out stronger than I expected. I wasn't expecting to type out such a good definition of Free Will so quickly.)

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