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Old 2019-02-08, 07:18   #1
jasong
 
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Default What is the ability that people have, that animals don't, that causes free will?

My education mostly stopped in high school. Between my movement disorder and my seizure disorder, it's a nightmare to be in situations where I'm expected to sit still and pay attention for more than an hour. After about 20 minutes or so, I can't do much more than stay in my seat.

Anyway, I've developed the notion that our ability to tell time is where free will comes from. As far as I can tell, animals live in a perpetual now. Master is here, then Master is behind the front door, then when the car starts up Master ceases to exist. When we hear the car again it means the front door is about to vomit forth Master. A dog exists in the now and that's all it knows. We can train it, but we have to realize that dogs only have a limited ability to anticipate things and we need to train them to anticipate the right thing.

But it's a different thing with people. Very young children know that things can happen in a more complex fashion and can learn to adjust to that. So they can anticipate things in a way that animals can't. They might learn, for example, that if mom wakes them up while they're still tired that a certain show will be on and then they'll be expected to go to school. So we can anticipate things in a more complex way than animals.

What do you guys think? Obviously, free will is a very complex thing, but do you think it starts with our ability to tell time?

Last fiddled with by jasong on 2019-02-08 at 07:19
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Old 2019-02-08, 07:28   #2
xilman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
My education mostly stopped in high school. Between my movement disorder and my seizure disorder, it's a nightmare to be in situations where I'm expected to sit still and pay attention for more than an hour. After about 20 minutes or so, I can't do much more than stay in my seat.

Anyway, I've developed the notion that our ability to tell time is where free will comes from. As far as I can tell, animals live in a perpetual now. Master is here, then Master is behind the front door, then when the car starts up Master ceases to exist. When we hear the car again it means the front door is about to vomit forth Master. A dog exists in the now and that's all it knows. We can train it, but we have to realize that dogs only have a limited ability to anticipate things and we need to train them to anticipate the right thing.

But it's a different thing with people. Very young children know that things can happen in a more complex fashion and can learn to adjust to that. So they can anticipate things in a way that animals can't. They might learn, for example, that if mom wakes them up while they're still tired that a certain show will be on and then they'll be expected to go to school. So we can anticipate things in a more complex way than animals.

What do you guys think? Obviously, free will is a very complex thing, but do you think it starts with our ability to tell time?
Many non-human animals demonstrate an ability to understand time. An example is that of a zoo chimp who stockpiled rocks ahead of opening time so that he'd have ammunition available when needed.

I don't have enough experience with either dogs or the literature on their behaviour to make credible comments.

Whether non-human great apes and other species such as elephants have free will because of their demonstrated ability to understand time is also open to question.
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Old 2019-02-08, 13:18   #3
CRGreathouse
 
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I'm not inclined to opine on the subject without at least a working definition of "free will". Finding a definition so that humans have it but nonhuman animals lack it seems tricky.
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Old 2019-02-08, 13:28   #4
retina
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We don't even know if humans have free will*, so the question assumes something that might not be evident.

* under most "normal" definitions of the term.

Also this: https://xkcd.com/505/
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Old 2019-02-08, 14:17   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
<snip>
Anyway, I've developed the notion that our ability to tell time is where free will comes from.
<snip>
Obviously, free will is a very complex thing, but do you think it starts with our ability to tell time?
Free will is distinguished from Determinism. See also the page on Buridan's ass.

Dogs can tell time with their noses. Scents fade with time, and a dog can remember how much, say, its master's scent has faded between the time he has gone to work, and the time he gets back. So, even before it can hear the car approaching, the dog will know its master is due back from work.

If it is possible to know with certainty what a person will do at some future time, that seems, at least to me, to be at variance with the notion that that person will be able to freely choose what to do at that time.

Last fiddled with by Dr Sardonicus on 2019-02-08 at 14:28
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Old 2019-02-08, 14:38   #6
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If it is possible to know with certainty what a person will do at some future time, that seems, at least to me, to be at variance with the notion that that person will be able to freely choose what to do at that time.
So a pair of dice has free will, but a sleeping person doesn't.
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Old 2019-02-08, 14:47   #7
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Free will? FREE WILL?

No, you and I are predestined,and we have no choice.
If someone else has the same circonstance (exactly) as me, why would that person make any different decision trhan the one I would make?


If, in a video game, I start walking right, jump 1.5 sec after, fall in a hole and die, then I will die again if I do the exact same thing. should you modify any of these parameter, the outcome MAY differ. That video game character may think he has free will, after all it choose to jump at 1.5 sec, right?


What we have is insanity, not free will
https://www.urbandictionary.com/defi...?term=Insanity

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Old 2019-02-08, 15:39   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRGreathouse View Post
So a pair of dice has free will, but a sleeping person doesn't.
AFAIK, dice are incapable of acting on their own volition. Therefore, the notion of free will does not apply to them. In theory, the landing of thrown dice is predictable via Newtonian mechanics. I don't know whether anyone has tried such a prediction. An early attempt to use wearable computers in casinos to predict via physics what number the roulette wheel would land on is described in The Eudaemonic Pie.

I suppose dice would move around on their own if Planck's constant were large enough
:-D

However, I haven't heard anyone posit that actual quantum phenomena like tunneling are in any sense volitional. The phenomenon of "quantum entanglement" may be more pertinent to denying the notion of cause and effect than affirming free will.

As to the sleeping person, see, e.g. R v Parks and Automatism (law).
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Old 2019-02-08, 16:40   #9
chalsall
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Quote:
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Anyway, I've developed the notion that our ability to tell time is where free will comes from. As far as I can tell, animals live in a perpetual now.
Having been "the staff" for many cats and dogs throughout my life, I can say with some certainty that they can tell time. This might simply be a function of how hungry they are, where the sun and/or the moon is in the sky, or where their "staff" is.

But I've also seen both cats and dogs plan for the future. For example, if they know the staff is not going to be around for a while, they will forgo eating the food just because it is available, but instead save it (and sometimes guard it) for later consumption.

As noted by you and others, "free will" is a very complex domain. Personally, I believe that all animals (including humans) have it. Further, I believe this is because of quantum uncertainty.

I could, of course, be incorrect.

One of the wonderful things about becoming "enlightened" is understanding that there are some things we simply cannot know for certain. An example is we cannot know what the last digit of pi is.
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Old 2019-02-08, 17:49   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Sardonicus View Post
AFAIK, dice are incapable of acting on their own volition.
It's kinda circular to rely on the definition of volition when defining free will, no?
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Old 2019-02-08, 17:50   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalsall View Post
One of the wonderful things about becoming "enlightened" is understanding that there are some things we simply cannot know for certain. An example is we cannot know what the last digit of pi is.
Is that like not knowing who the current king of France is?
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