jules.lt wrote:The problem is that "inhibited by things that constrain freedom" and "externally controlled" is true of each and every one of our actions, only at varying levels. Now, were you to add in modulators and only conclude that they were acting "mostly freely", that would be another matter.
Suppose two stores are selling similar things, but one generally has lower prices. Since most people would predictably choose that store, does that mean their freedom is inhibited or controlled by the retailer? I don't think it makes sense to talk about it like that. There are certainly many ways that advertisers can subtly alter our behavior, but that doesn't mean each and everything is an external control. And internally most people value money, but our internal values are the landscape of our decisions, they are not inhibitions on our freedom.
jules.lt wrote:Both are complex systems reacting to external pressures in unpredictable ways because we lack enough information to predict their behaviour ("unpredictable" doesn't describe an object, it describes the observer's relationship with it). The difference is that we have enough information and understanding about the bouncing rock to not doubt that it's deterministic.
Well, determinisic versus random is really just describing the observer's relationship as well. Randomness is just our way of modeling an unpredictable system. But what I'm talking about is independent of whether our world is deterministic or random. In my opinion, what is relevant is whether we can precisely predict human behavior (i.e. are we free from some known algorithm) or whether that process is obscured in some way. A complex system may be just as unpredictable as a non-deterministic one if that system is sensitive to variations that are finer than the resolution of our measurements. In a post from almost precisely a year ago, I expanded my perspective on what's required for free will.
jules.lt wrote:So "having free will" is having less external/non-conscious constraints on one's choices, right?
I think it's still pertinent to talk about individual actions, because one person's constraints can wildly differ depending on the action at hand and individual actions can be analyzed more precisely.
If you look on wikipedia, it describes free will as an ability that agents have, not a quality of the actions they take. While it is both important and fascinating to talk about how we make individual choices, in general I see free will talked about in this way, so in my own proposed definition I keep to that.
And I am enjoying the discussion as well.