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Towards Implementing Free Will - Bruce Edmonds
There is no stopping some people philosophising, however inappropriate
or unhelpful this is in particular contexts. Such people seem to think
that it is both possible and useful to formulate generally and reliably
true principles (i.e. principles completely without exceptions regardless
of context) about the world using argument. For these people I briefly
outline my position below, for full details they will have to come and
argue with me.
Thus the practical, common-sense conception is a better representation
of free-will than many of the idealised, philosophical characterisations
of it. When involved in a process of implementation, it is wise to base
one's work on the best representation available.
The "hard" deterministic thesis is untestable and has no practical consequences
- the world is equally explained using it or otherwise since we can not
rewind the world to see whether this thesis does in fact hold. The only
consequences it can thus have is to sanction a normative claim about the
use of the term "free-will" - this amounts to no more than a position that
given I conceive of the world as determined then there can not be anything
denoted as an indeterministic process including free-will.
The above point can be demonstrated by considering the following thought-experiment:
compare a human who had a `real indeterminism pump' with an otherwise identical
human with only a good `pseudo-random' generator - there would be no testable
or practical difference between them. The distinction is thus irrelevant
except in how we conceive of our world.
There is a lot of evidence against the hard deterministic thesis both at
the micro-level (quantum effects) and at the macro level (that many complex
systems are not determinable in practice).
Any strengthening of the deterministic thesis to make it actually applicable
(e.g. that given almost identical circumstances a certain identifiable
system will exhibit the same behaviour) renders it false when applied to
some systems - for example humans will not always exhibit the same behaviour
in practically indistinguishable circumstances (even if they do not recall
their previous decisions).
I can see no reason why an indeterministic process has to be arbitrary.
It is difficult to see how any conception of free-will that did not come
down to the principles (1)-(5)
above could have any realisable meaning.
It is very difficult to see how the facility of free-will evolved in us
as a species if it was not implementable and was inextricably linked with
its practical consequences so it could be selected for
It is much more useful (in the analysis of issues surrounding free-will)
to consider the practical sources, advantages and consequences of different
kinds of free-will as argued in Dennett 
and Sloman .
Towards Implementing Free Will - Bruce Edmonds - 16 MAR 0
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