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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was discussing the subconscious with someone, and according to her the literature says that it's always the subconscious that comes to the conclusion to do something. So I'm just curious about how much of a latency is there, is it different for different people, and does this sort of temporal displacement effect the nature of free will? Does the nature of making a choice different than the subconscious change over time?

And for a typical counter example I can imagine, one could say that they decide very consciously, and then carry out said action, and so what I say is flawed. But this could very well be a case of your conscious choice being in direct agreement with your subconscious so that it seems like you conscious is making the choice.
 

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jeremusic2 said:
I was discussing the subconscious with someone, and according to her the literature says that it's always the subconscious that comes to the conclusion to do something. So I'm just curious about how much of a latency is there, is it different for different people, and does this sort of temporal displacement effect the nature of free will? Does the nature of making a choice different than the subconscious change over time?

And for a typical counter example I can imagine, one could say that they decide very consciously, and then carry out said action, and so what I say is flawed. But this could very well be a case of your conscious choice being in direct agreement with your subconscious so that it seems like you conscious is making the choice.
If it's true that the subconscious is always that which produces our decision to do something, then there would be no such thing as 'deciding something very carefully and consciously' to begin with, so it couldn't serve as a counterexample to the assumption being made.

Whether or not this discovery affects free will depends on what you take free will to be. If you think that free will necessitates the absence of an antecedent cause, then your conception of free will is undermined by this fact. I don't think free will is that. I think that free will is being presented with a choice and having to choose whilst knowing that there is nothing in the whole wide world that can make that choice -- your choice -- for you. If it turns out that your choices aren't actually made by you, that does nothing to challenge this notion of free will because my experience of having to choose does not reflect it.
 
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akiyama said:
Guys, it's year 2015, do you honestly still believe free will exists?
The definition of free will that I endorsed in my previous post does not understand it in terms of the absence of an antecedent cause, so causal determinism has no bearing on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If it's true that the subconscious is always that which produces our decision to do something, then there would be no such thing as 'deciding something very carefully and consciously' to begin with, so it couldn't serve as a counterexample to the assumption being made.

Whether or not this discovery affects free will depends on what you take free will to be. If you think that free will necessitates the absence of an antecedent cause, then your conception of free will is undermined by this fact. I don't think free will is that. I think that free will is being presented with a choice and having to choose whilst knowing that there is nothing in the whole wide world that can make that choice -- your choice -- for you. If it turns out that your choices aren't actually made by you, that does nothing to challenge this notion of free will because my experience of having to choose does not reflect it.

Well everyone believes that at the time they are making a choice it really is up to them in that moment, so the choice occuring at a time completely different than what you would expect means you didn't have this fact to take into account, and this can very well effect the way you choose. So I think it matters. Free will largely depends on the accuracy of information one is utilizing. But then again, anti-freewill arguments usually refer to exact moments in time that one is aware, so it does change the broader question somewhat on both sides. I'm not necessarily saying there isn't free will at all now, I'm just saying this puts a new spin on how to interpret it, and I'm curious to know other people's take on it.

You make a good point, but you're side-stepping the implications. imo.
 

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I was discussing the subconscious with someone, and according to her the literature says that it's always the subconscious that comes to the conclusion to do something.
Yes I read a book (can't remember which) where someone with a damaged amygdala suddenly became almost incapable of making decisions. The amygdala regulates emotions. When emotions were gone, decision making become a purely rational thing. The problem is that it is nearly impossible to know all of the variables and thereby impossible to be able to easily or quickly come to a good, rational solution. So in that sense, very little of our decision making is free will, but it's an incredible subconscious response to factors we're very rarely aware of with our minds. Blink, by malcom gladwell (though kind of looked down upon by some) gives some interesting insight into this decision making process and how the best decisions (excluding large life-choices) are ones that are not conscious or logical for this very reason - it is next to impossible for us to know all of the variables logically, but our "subconscious" is in fact able to regulate a wide variety of variables and know what to do.

I really don't know what you mean by latency.

And I'm not really sure this is what you were thinking of in the first place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I really don't know what you mean by latency.

And I'm not really sure this is what you were thinking of in the first place.
I say latency because I think conscious determinations or decisions that are different than the subconscious influence the subconscious and are then included as variables for the subconscious when a decision is made later. In this way the conscious does choose, but the results of this kind of choosing aren't carried out until later.
 

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I was discussing the subconscious with someone, and according to her the literature says that it's always the subconscious that comes to the conclusion to do something. ...
How would they know? If they know that the subconscious makes the decision then they have a crap subconscious.
 

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Your subconscious may do a lot of things in the background but one thing it doesn't do is make decisions for you. That's all conscious choice. It's your volition. There's no little demon hidden inside your mind making your choices for you. It's all you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How would they know? If they know that the subconscious makes the decision then they have a crap subconscious.
:laughing: Well no one "knows" in that instant, it was just according to what she has read. I think it's plausible.

Your subconscious may do a lot of things in the background but one thing it doesn't do is make decisions for you. That's all conscious choice. It's your volition. There's no little demon hidden inside your mind making your choices for you. It's all you.
I understand that you have an opinion by what you say, but how exactly would you refute the possibility that it would be your subconscious that has the ultimate say in your choices? You may be under the guise that it is conscious when in fact it isn't.
 

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It certainly feels like most (or all) decisions come from subconscious mind, but that's not a very good argument. If the subconscious mind is processing and feeding information - which I believe it should be doing all the time - to the conscious mind, then it's affecting each decision. The conscious mind may be responsible only for asking the questions and realizing the results of the subconscious.

This is more practical pondering, but my decision making process is often very long, especially if I'm trying to decide something very important. Usually I'll grow into decisions instead of actually making them. I can rationalize pros and cons, and superficially make up my mind, but in the end I always need some validation that I'll just at some point know. It's not like any big "aha" moment, but a very gradual process and I'm hardly ever certain.

(And I don't really believe in free will.)
 

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The definition of free will that I endorsed in my previous post does not understand it in terms of the absence of an antecedent cause, so causal determinism has no bearing on it.
So it seems to me that you're talking about will, not free will.
 

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So it seems to me that you're talking about will, not free will.
I have no idea what this statement means, nor why I should accept it as being true.

akiyama said:
Yeah but that doesn't look like a great definition of free will to me.
The fact that you think that it is a bad definition is immaterial until you provide a reason that justifies this sentiment. I'm sure you agree that this is how we do things when we think about them seriously. I'm going to make this harder for you by elaborating on what follows from the definition of free will that I gave earlier, as well as why your view amounts to something that you don't even believe in yourself.

Free will is not the idea that you are the first cause of your actions. As a definition this is worthless since it's incoherent. We cannot conceive of an event without a cause. That is not how human brains function, which anyone can deduce from a brief moment of introspection. Yet, people frequently assume that unless you are the first cause of your actions (unless you are God, effectively), you are the equivalent of a pre-determined object in a grand causal chain. This is even dumber because nobody actually believes it. What does this mean? It means that when someone rapes and murders your sister in cold blood, you believe that the person who did it is responsible because he chose to do it when he could have chosen some other course of action. If you do not believe that persons choose, then it makes no sense for you to assign blame to them in such a scenario. After all, their actions were merely the product of a grand mechanical system over which they had no control. Since you do assign blame in such an instance you don't really believe that people don't choose, regardless of what science tells you is the case. This is why you believe that people do choose, as well as why you believe in free will.

But what is this free will that you, me, and every other sane person, believes in? It derives from our experience of always having to choose when we are presented with a choice. In this sense we cannot choose not to choose. In fact, freedom qua having to choose in this way is such a prevalent part of our lives that we frequently try to escape it. That is, we often pretend not to be able to choose. For example, you might justify your choice to drink alcohol due to your alcoholism, rather than due to your choice to do so. Alternatively, you might blame the fact that you never attempted to get into Medical School on that you think there is some fact about you that simply makes you too stupid to ever successfully get in. You invent these excuses because of the convenience. It's simply too much for you to take responsibility for the fact that the choices you are presented with are yours and yours alone.

These convenient escapes from our freedom to choose are highly important aspects of most of the things we say are true of us as people. Consider MBTI descriptions. Self-identified INTJs tend to ignore the choices they have to be considerate about people because they think there is something about the way they function psychologically that just makes it acceptable for them to do that. They are nonetheless responsible for choosing to act that way, because they had the choice not to. I believe that the same is true, albeit in a more agreeable way, of the way in which INTPs do things.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
@Sequence, with all due respect, free will defined as the one we are forced to behave as if exists - and by some strange "therefore" it must be the one we all believe exists, is not very convincing. And not just to me but anyone who wants a legitimate definition of it. i.e. this opinion of mine is actually quite objective.

Anyway the article given in this thread about a scenario where it seems like you have free choice to make any decision with no incentive either way you want very reactively - and this was shown to have a predictable pattern - only seems to support that decisions are made differently in time than when our consciousness thinks they are. It's still possible in this case for this latency in choice to exist. Here, subconsciously the participants worked out a way to respond to scenarios such as this in a predictably reliable manner a long time ago. And perhaps they chose this consciously at a different time.
 
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^ The problem is, your argument is impossible to disprove at the moment, but that certainly does not mean it is correct.
 
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