Kenny wrote: ↑
Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:49 pm
Nils wrote:Think of a computer. The program and inputs determine its output. If you change the inputs, the output will change (no free will). The same with humans. Heredity and environment determine our behaviour. If you change the environment (saying that you will punish murders) you will prevent some murdering. No free will is needed.
I remember speaking to two brothers at different times; one was abusive to his girlfriends, the other kind. The abusive one said he was abusive to women because he grew up seeing his dad beat his mom and that’s all he knew; by watching his dad. The non-abusive one said he grew up watching his dad beat his mom and all he knew was to not be like his dad.
I think the problem with your computer analogy is the computer has no choice but to react to its input because it is incapable of making a decision. People are different; no matter our heredity or environment, we can still choose to do differently because we are capable of making a decision.
Nils wrote: Ken,
Are not computers making decisions?
No; computers only do what they are programmed to do. They are incapable of independent thought.
Nils wrote: I don't understand what you mean. The computers that will control the self-driving cars, for instance, they have to make decisions all the time.
The computers on self-driving cars are programmed to react to the sensors around the car. They do not decide to react to the sensors, they have no choice; they can only do what they have been programmed to do by an outside source (programmer)
People are different; though our decisions may be influenced by circumstance, experience, or outside sources, they are not determined by them.
Computers do not only react on sensors, they also relate to their inner states, just as person do. Do you have another definition of “decide” than the standard? Se for example https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decide
1 a : to make a final choice or judgment about
• decide what to do
• couldn't decide whether to take the job or not
b : to select as a course of action —used with an infinitive
• decided to go
c : to infer on the basis of evidence : conclude
• They decided that he was right.
2 : to bring to a definitive end
• one blow decided the fight
3 : to induce to come to a choice
• her pleas decided him to help
: to make a choice or judgment
• decide on where to go”
This definition applies to computers as well as persons ( even if the examples are related to humans)
Nils wrote: What does the example with the two brothers show more than they are different? They have differnet genes for example. Then you say that we can choose, "no matter our heredity or environment". If you include some randomness, it seems that you refer to some forth factor not included in the three I mention here. What is this?
Free will. The ability to conjure independent thought; and act on them.
What is “independent” thought? Independent of what? In heredity and environment is usually included everything that follows internally from the environment for instance you inner states, desires, beliefs, preferences, views, decisions. Environment is everything you have experienced and all external forces including God (if you believe in God) that have acted upon you. This is independent of if you believe in a spiritual part of you or if you are a materialist. Even a spirit is ruled by causality.
I admit that there are philosophers that not only think that there is the standard “event causality”, that events acts on us. They also believe in “agent causality”, that the agent (undefined) as a being outside time acts on the physical (or maybe also the spiritual) body at specific times. However, this view is highly speculative and there are lot of problems with it and it is commonly regarded as untenable in philosophical literature.