Re: Free Will (was Re: virus: Re: Rationality)

Tim Rhodes (
Sun, 9 Mar 1997 21:50:56 -0800 (PST)

On Sun, 9 Mar 1997, David McFadzean wrote:

> So, back to free will. What if an agent (a system with behaviour) is said
> to have free will if and only if the behaviour is endogenously generated
> (influenced from within). Of course any physical system is influenced to
> some extent by the environment (everything outside the system in question),
> gravity being an obvious example. But that merely puts the attribute of
> free will on a continuum: the more the control comes from within the system,
> the more free will it has. Nothing has complete free will except the universe,
> assuming that nothing outside the universe has any influence on the universe
> whatsoever. A rock has very little (if any) free will because its behaviour
> is influenced entirely (practically) by its environment. Humans have a great
> deal of free will considering that their behaviour is generated (mostly) by
> their nervous system which is considered to be within the human system. But
> they don't have complete free will because their behaviour is also influenced
> a great deal by their environment, especially other humans.
> The reason I like this angle on free will is because it corresponds closely
> with our intuitive notions about what does and doesn't have free will,
> and defines it in such a way that is possible to analyse it further using
> concepts such as information, computation and control (cybernetics).
> Does this make sense?

A great deal, I think. We can then talk of the effect memes have on free
will with a sliding scale that mirrors actual day-to-day experience.

Well done. Now to see if everyone else agrees...

-Prof. Tim