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Old 09-08-2008, 02:38 PM
Jon Jon is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Rochester, New York
Posts: 15
Default Re: Free Will: Intellectual Cousins Edition

Great discussion.

. Psychology in part developed as a reaction to philosophy. It turned away from understanding the world primarily through reason and adopted empirical methods to study questions such as motivation, behavior, cognitive processes and morality. What is the difference between experimental philosophy and the old fashioned subfields of developmental and cognitive psychology? See especially the work of Robert Hogan in the 1970s and 1980s for the study of the psychology of moral development.

Determinism and Free Will

. Imagine a world that has a device that can truly randomly and with the appropriately weighted conditions to correspond to the probabilities that are set, pick numbers. These numbers are picked through some quantum uncertainty priniciple methodology that cannot be observed. Imagine people using this devise to determine their actions in the world for any type of behavior (for instance for determining occupational training). They believe that this chaotic method of determinating choices is a basic way to conduct their affairs and always follow the machine's choice. The device randomly selecting a 1 for instance is predetermined to have the person be trained as a psychologist, a 2, to be trained as an economist, etc. Each number weighted to bring about the exact number of occupations desired by that society. In this case a society that follows such a device would be non-deterministic, as there is (at least to our understanding of the world as limited as that may be) no way to determine by past movement of particles, the outcome of the machine's choice.

To the extent that the real world has essential non-deterministic elements to it, there is a part of the our world that is non-deterministic. This doesn't mean that on a more macro level some very sound predictions of events, behaviors and outcomes cannot be made. In fact, they are made all the time. So, there may be a strong case to state that the world is essentially deterministic at the macro level. But it appears to be limitedly deterministic on the quantum level.

. Regarding free will, depending on whether brain processes that determine behavior are found to contain a micro level set of processes (subatomic) and whether those processes can be linked to rational thinking and choice behavior, the answer to whether or not there is free will depends on the level of brain functioning that corresponds with complex historical-cognitive-emotional factors. If such factors are primarily subject to observation and non-intrusive measurement then free will is a reification. If there are components of brain functioning that are subatomic in nature (I know of none so far), and are shown to be essential in the operation of choice, then free will is a possibility and the prediction of behavior is limited.
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