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

David McFadzean (
Sat, 15 Mar 1997 17:45:14 -0700

At 09:53 PM 15/03/97 GMT, Dave Pape wrote:
>Well... in pure maths no, but in applied maths often yes, kind of, but it
>/gets you by/. It's inaccurate. I reckon part of why old theories get

How are integers inaccurate? I would have thought they are perfectly
accurate, at least in set theory which is the most fundamental mathematics
after logic.

>disproved is because new evidence is more accurate and detailed than old,
>and considers the context of old results more. Hence the value of looking at
>context, and hence the danger of approximating your data too much- because
>the system you're trying to describe is butt-kickingly complex.

I agree you don't want to approximate too much. Sure there is some
balance between the two extremes.

>Oh yeh, I'm not denying that. But the history of science is one of less and
>less approximation, isn't it?

In the old sciences like physics, yes. But in the relatively new sciences
like biology and cognitive science the fundamental concepts are much
more abstract.

>But I don't think that the deterministically learnt nature of our behaviour
>IS irrelevant. That's why I kept hammering the point- because I think it's
>very relevant indeed.

If you are looking for the reason behind some particular human action,
all the causes can't possibly be relevant because there must be literally
trillions of causes. I guess I'm assuming "relevant" has some practical

>Okay: I'm invoking the "our definitions of freewill are different" clause.
>So now I'm going to be a wanker and try to argue that my definition is better...
>My definition of freewill is: will (desire/perceived need to do something)
>which is free of the deterministic constraints of the physical universe.

So free will must be mystical or magical?

>This is the freewill I argue against: the idea that "you" choose what "you"
>do. I think that "you" EMERGE from the things that "you" do/perceive/think,
>and those things kind of decide themselves by the way in which they
>interact. Insofar as "you have Will"... it isn't Free, and (critically for
>arguments with religious people) "you" aren't Good or Bad.

OK, so you defined free will such that you don't think it is real. Tell me
again how this definition better?

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus