Re: more, briefly

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Tue, 07 Apr 1998 12:16:49 -0500 (EST)

At 09:52 AM 4/7/98 -0400, Massimo Pigliucci wrote:
>in your latest to Scott you say:
>> 1) It is logically inconceivable for me not to believe that there is a
>> Creator. Belief in a Creator is an example of what is self-evident to me.
>Wow! You must have a weird definition of "self-evident". The existence
>of the ocean is self-evident. That humanity's history is plagued with
>wars is self-evident. God? If anything, it would be self-evident to me
>that s/he is no more than wishful thinking. But that *is* my opinion.
>And yours is just that, an opinion, no at all self-evident.

Dear Massimo,

The evidence for the existence of the ocean is based on other assumptions we
make before we conclude that the ocean is indeed real. These prior
assumptions are what constitutes what we consider self-evident. Philosophers
have considered such questions long ago. The subject matter of history are
historical events. Of course, there is a level of interpretation that places
such events in some context which may give a more global view of history.

> 3) a) Spend some time musing on the notion that you have no free will. The
>> mere fact that you can follow my advice or not proves that you have free
>> will.
>I'm sorry, but you're being a little philosophically naive here. No, the
>ability of changing your mind is by no stretch of the imagination a
>proof of free will. Consider this: a computer program can change its
>output depending on the input provided (and for sophisticated programs,
>this is for all effective purposes "unpredictable", see Big Blue
>defeating Kasparov). Would you grant free will to that program?
>Similarly, I (or even you) can change my mind as a result of this
>discussion, but this would simply be because my particular program
>elaborates these inputs in such a way to produce that output. No more.\

You are confusing making decisions with changing your mind. Do you really
have a choice before you act? I say you do. Otherwise you had no choice but
to marry your lovely Melissa :) Unless you want to admit that humans are
programmed like commuters, then you must admit that the decisions made by a
computers are totally unlike decisions made by humans. Computers cannot
reason. Man can! I am sure Big Blue did not know that it was playing chess.

>Where would "free will" reside in the human brain? Is it governed by the
>laws of physics? All of this has been eloquently said by Will Provine,
>and I refer you to his excellent on-line lecture at the Darwin Day site:

Where does wetness reside in the liquid? Clearly the notion of wetness is
foreign to individual atoms/molecules. It may be that our consciousness and
its actions are of this sort. But I am more inclined to think that human
consciousness goes beyond the physical.

Take care,