The Reality Report: Episode 117

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Episode 117

The second episode in a series discussing free will with Mark Taylor. Mark suggests that ideas from physics like "quantum indeterminism" aren't the way to "save" free will. I pick up on the word "save" and how (just about) everyone wants there to be free will, which could lead to biases and wishful thinking in any arguments made in its favour. Mark then puts forward the idea of automata/robots of ever greater sensitivity to their environments and refinement of responsiveness, how eventually you end up with something indistinguishable from free will. This then leads me to raise the questions of: (1) predictability (which is here complicated by the fact that feedback systems involving an automaton in an evolving environment could render the automaton's behaviour effectively unpredictable); and (2) consciousness, in that we wouldn't generally attribute free will to a zombie-like entity with no self-awareness. Mark then brings up Kant's ideas about freedom depending on reason, and then the difference between reasons and causes for behaviour.


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