What is "Choice"

What is the nature of existence?

Re: What is "Choice"

Post by VasaVasori on Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:43 pm
([msg=51334]see Re: What is "Choice"[/msg])

Questions like this are very important for general philosophical discussions. Before you answer more obviously important questions (such as "do we ever have choice?") you need to define exactly what you mean by a choice. If you don't know what you're talking about, how can you identify it when you see it?

As far as the question of choice is concerned... I gave this lots of thought when I was taking a Philosophy of Mind course (as well as an Ethics course) and I was most satisfied by saying that "P had a choice if and only if P could have done otherwise". For me, this seems to fit all the general categories under which we use the term choice: we say that someone didn't have a choice if there was no possibility that they could have made another decision, while we (strictly) say that someone had a choice if there was any possibility that they could have done otherwise.

That is obviously a very brief overview of my thoughts on what choice is... if you want to go into it further I'd love to discuss it. My thoughts on whether we have free choice are just as simple, though. I tend to believe that we and our actions are a result of direct physical interactions and that we have no choice, because each physical interaction is a directly result of the previous physical interaction, and as such could not have been otherwise.

This is the general direction that most philosophers tend to lean. That does not, of course, even suggest that it is correct.
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Re: What is "Choice"

Post by msbachman on Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:59 am
([msg=51346]see Re: What is "Choice"[/msg])

VasaVasori wrote:This is the general direction that most philosophers tend to lean. That does not, of course, even suggest that it is correct.


So you're arguing for determinism, correct? How do you get past the obvious appearance of choice, then?
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Re: What is "Choice"

Post by Skiddie Killer on Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:43 am
([msg=51359]see Re: What is "Choice"[/msg])

I agree with the OP. You don't have a choice. What if there is another option, only it was never
mentioned? This is something that can be "exploited", and it's used in hypnosis.
If I say "Which one of your hands is more stuck to the table?" They can choose "left" or "right".
That's the only choice. Nobody ever thinks about the third option-"none".
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Re: What is "Choice"

Post by Vulpine on Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:07 am
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Skiddie Killer wrote:I agree with the OP. You don't have a choice. What if there is another option, only it was never
mentioned? This is something that can be "exploited", and it's used in hypnosis.
If I say "Which one of your hands is more stuck to the table?" They can choose "left" or "right".
That's the only choice. Nobody ever thinks about the third option-"none".


That's called a false dichotomy, not proof of a lack of free will.
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Re: What is "Choice"

Post by VasaVasori on Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:23 pm
([msg=51365]see Re: What is "Choice"[/msg])

msbachman wrote:
VasaVasori wrote:This is the general direction that most philosophers tend to lean. That does not, of course, even suggest that it is correct.


So you're arguing for determinism, correct? How do you get past the obvious appearance of choice, then?


Ohhh, good question. I hadn't thought about it, but here are my initial thoughts. You're right, it does seem like we have choice, I think. Of course, this doesn't necessitate that we do have a choice. But, again, you're right, if we're going to say that we have no choice in anything then we have to explain why it seems like in many everyday situations we choose between things as small as whether I should have a burger or a sandwich for lunch. It's not okay to simply say that we're wrong when looking at the situation: I think it's probably necessary to explain just why we would make such a mistake, which is what you're getting at.

Undoubtedly such an explanation would come from psychology, which would break down to biology, which would, in turn, in a system of scientific determinism, break down into Physics. So I think the best explanation would lie in some sort of evolutionary mechanism (showing that things which "think" that they have free will have a greater chance of surviving). But what could be a possible evolutionary advantage to thinking oneself to have free will? That's a hard question. Perhaps it is the case that in having such sophisticated thought processes, where we are able to question the nature of our own existence and such things as whether or not we should exist, if it were to appear that we do not have free will we might go insane or commit suicide. I feel like somehow in this paragraph I have alluded to choice... but I don't think it's necessary that one have choice to have this type of thing (a false impression of choice) be an evolutionary advantage.

These are my initial thoughts on the issue. Do you have any thoughts on it?

For me, the biggest reason that I tend to believe in a lack of free will (not necessarily determinism as it is typically thought, though I believe it is still a form of determinism) is that I can't fathom how it is possible for anyone to choose without that choice being made as a direct result of the previous events... and that isn't a choice at all, because one couldn't have done differently. People often use the existence of a soul (and mind) (which exists outside of the realm of the physical world) to try to solve this issue. However, on the surface of it I think this yields the same issue: is it not the case that all of our actions are still causally determined, but we just add in the extra factor of our soul contributing to this determination? I don't immediately see any way in which a soul can solve the issue because what is in the soul must be causally determined by previous things happening (either within the soul or outside of the soul, depending on the view you're looking at). Even if you look at the mind/soul as affecting the body and the body (and the world) being unable to affect the mind/soul, you still run into this issue. Because how did you choose what is in your mind? Were you created that way? If you were, then you still lack choice. If you did have a choice about what is in your mind, how did you make such a choice in a way that was not causally determined?
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Re: What is "Choice"

Post by sanddbox on Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:26 pm
([msg=51366]see Re: What is "Choice"[/msg])

Skiddie Killer wrote:I agree with the OP. You don't have a choice. What if there is another option, only it was never
mentioned? This is something that can be "exploited", and it's used in hypnosis.
If I say "Which one of your hands is more stuck to the table?" They can choose "left" or "right".
That's the only choice. Nobody ever thinks about the third option-"none".


Quite easily one of the worst arguments in this pseudo-philosophical thread. If you have a choice of two options, but you only know about one option, that's called not knowing your options, not evidence of a lack of free will.

If you ask "Which one of your hands is more stuck to the table", the keyword "which" indicates you want the answer to be in the form of one of the hands. Thus, this is not "hypnosis" but merely bad English. This question would only be appropriate if he asked "Which one, if any, of your hands is more stuck to the table?".
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Re: What is "Choice"

Post by Skiddie Killer on Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:06 pm
([msg=51369]see Re: What is "Choice"[/msg])

sanddbox wrote:
Skiddie Killer wrote:I agree with the OP. You don't have a choice. What if there is another option, only it was never
mentioned? This is something that can be "exploited", and it's used in hypnosis.
If I say "Which one of your hands is more stuck to the table?" They can choose "left" or "right".
That's the only choice. Nobody ever thinks about the third option-"none".


Quite easily one of the worst arguments in this pseudo-philosophical thread. If you have a choice of two options, but you only know about one option, that's called not knowing your options, not evidence of a lack of free will.

If you ask "Which one of your hands is more stuck to the table", the keyword which indicates you want the answer to be in the form of one of the hands. Thus, this is not "hypnosis" but merely bad English.


Sorry, I was oversimplifying things. You think you have free will when you don't.
Think about it. No matter how many choices you have, you are bound to choose one. You have free will to choose any option, but you must choose one.
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Re: What is "Choice"

Post by sanddbox on Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:15 pm
([msg=51370]see Re: What is "Choice"[/msg])

Skiddie Killer wrote:
sanddbox wrote:
Skiddie Killer wrote:I agree with the OP. You don't have a choice. What if there is another option, only it was never
mentioned? This is something that can be "exploited", and it's used in hypnosis.
If I say "Which one of your hands is more stuck to the table?" They can choose "left" or "right".
That's the only choice. Nobody ever thinks about the third option-"none".


Quite easily one of the worst arguments in this pseudo-philosophical thread. If you have a choice of two options, but you only know about one option, that's called not knowing your options, not evidence of a lack of free will.

If you ask "Which one of your hands is more stuck to the table", the keyword which indicates you want the answer to be in the form of one of the hands. Thus, this is not "hypnosis" but merely bad English.


Sorry, I was oversimplifying things. You think you have free will when you don't.
Think about it. No matter how many choices you have, you are bound to choose one. You have free will to choose any option, but you must choose one.


Free will is the ability to make choices, not the ability to have every option available. What you are referring to is the fact that choice is tricky in that it is perceived as better than just having one option, even if all of the others are worse options.
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Re: What is "Choice"

Post by Skiddie Killer on Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:43 am
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Hmmm... I think you're right. Maybe I was thinking the wrong way.
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Re: What is "Choice"

Post by insomaniacal on Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:12 pm
([msg=51422]see Re: What is "Choice"[/msg])

Skiddie Killer wrote:I agree with the OP. You don't have a choice. What if there is another option, only it was never
mentioned? This is something that can be "exploited", and it's used in hypnosis.
If I say "Which one of your hands is more stuck to the table?" They can choose "left" or "right".
That's the only choice. Nobody ever thinks about the third option-"none".


I must be a nobody. My initial thought was "None, they're both on a keyboard."

I believe we have free will. I could take the keys to my car right now, drive until I run out of gas in some far off city, and with no documentation or cash, see how far I can make it in the world. Why don't I? Because it's a stupid choice. I realize the option is there, yet I choose instead to write about it rather than to complete it.

At the same time, nothing is stopping me from actually doing it. It's just not beneficial (probability wise), and so my logical choice is to ignore it.
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