Free Will

John K Clark (
Sun, 1 Mar 1998 08:53:28 -0800 (PST)

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----" <> On Sat, 28 Feb 1998 Wrote:

>I'm sorry, you're claiming that electrocuting someone is improving
>their brain?


>Is this what you believe to be 'rehabilitation?'

A few kilowatts of electricity would put the brain of a serial murderer into
a vastly improved state.

>I agree that there are, and will be, means of altering someone's

The Modern method of rehabilitation, taking a human monster who grew up in
a bad environment and locking him into the most horrible environment on the
planet crammed with other monsters for a decade or two, is not noted for
producing marked improvements in character. These creatures need
Nanotechnology to rewire their brains, however we don't have Nanotechnology
yet, but we do have super shock treatments.

>punishment for the purposes of prevention is not a legitimate tactic
>in a world where criminals have no free will over their actions.


>You seem to imply by this argument that there is some sort of
>equivalency between momentum and desires.


>Care to elucidate?

Both effect the future state of a system.

>You seem to believe that if I have a reason to do something, that is
>some form of determinism.


>Reasons and causes are a few of the many factors that we consider
>when we make decisions. They do not (necessarily) force us to take
>any particular path.

I don't know what you mean by "factors" but if you're rational it means you
have other reasons why those reasons were not sufficient, it's not just a
coincidence that the word "reason" means intelligence and also means cause.
Without the slightest doubt, everything absolutely everything happens because
of cause and effect OR it does not, and if it does not then it is by
definition random.

>not being able to do things that we don't want to do is not really
>seen as a limitation on our freedom, since those choices are
>undesirable. It does not alter the impression that we would still
>be able to make those choices should we be so inclined.

Obviously, but the point is that you're not so inclined so you can't make
those choices, and there are reasons for having that particular inclination.

Of my own free will, I consciously decide to go to a restaurant.
Because I want to.
Because I want to eat.
Because I'm hungry?
Why ?
Because lack of food triggered nerve impulses in my stomach , my brain
interpreted these signals as pain, I can only stand so much before I try to
stop it.
Because I don't like pain.
Because that's the way my brain is constructed.
Because my body and the hardware of my brain were made from the information
in my genetic code (lets see, 6 billion base pairs 2 bits per base pair
8 bits per byte that comes out to about 1.5 geg, you could put it on a little
700 meg hard disk with stacker) the programming of my brain came from the
environment, add a little quantum randomness perhaps and of my own free will
I consciously decide to go to a restaurant.

>Wouldn't you agree that most people believe that there is something
>more to free will than the mere experience of it?

When most people talk about free will they are not right or wrong, a burp is
not right or wrong either, it's just a noise.

>If I were to have complete control over someone's actions by means
>of an ingenious remote control device which left them with the
>distinct impression that they were choosing their own actions, would
>you accord that individual with the power of free will?

30 years ago Dr. Jose Delgato of Yale University approached several people
about to undergo brain surgery for medical reasons, and asked them if he
could implant some electrodes in their brain at the same time. Some agreed.
This experiment would be difficult or impossible to perform today without
getting a lot of flack from self proclaimed ethics experts. Even then he
got into some trouble for doing it, and he got into even more trouble for
his excessive showmanship. For publicity he implanted an electrode into a
bull's brain, got dressed up as a matador, stepped into a ring with him, and
stopped the bull in mid charge by remote control. The animal rights people
were not amused.

Anyway, he was able to experiment with people. In one case when the electrode
was fired the man would always turn his head to the left. The interesting
thing was that the man said he felt free, he couldn't even tell when the
electrode was turned on. The patient was always able to come up with good
reasons for turning to the left. He would say "I'm looking for my slippers"
or "I heard a noise" or "I was looking under the bed". This man was
intelligent and rational, he never said I'm looking for Martians, and felt
perfectly free. In all cases he thought turning his head was his own idea,
he felt free because he was, he was doing what he wanted to do.

I think the man was perfectly correct when he said "I'm looking for my
slippers" that's exactly what he was doing. Nobody could convince him that he
didn't really want his slippers because he truly did, he just didn't
understand why he wanted them.

John K Clark

Version: 2.6.i