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carbon unit

Registered: 01/23/00
Posts: 1,739
Loc: Europe
Last seen: 15 hours, 56 minutes
Re: Does altruism exist? [Re: Sclorch]
    #1908688 - 09/12/03 06:16 AM (17 years, 7 months ago)

Scenario 1. You drive a certain country road every day. One day you choose not to stop at a certain intersection. When you reach the intersection, you crash into another car. You could have acted differently, but your free will made this particular choice that resulted in a crash.

Scenario 2. Same country road, but in this case you decide one day that it's a waste of time to stop at that intersection, so you make a habit of speeding through it without stopping. After six months of doing this, you crash into another car one day. You could have acted differently in other circumstances, but your action was deterministic. Anyone who had observed your behaviour the past six months would have been able to predict your choice. The free will that was involved here was exercised six months earlier.

In practice, it's seldom possible to know whether someone's behaviour is caused by a fresh instance of free will or by habits or other forms of deterministic mental programming. That's why personal responsibility should be based on pragmatic considerations, not on abstract reasoning about the nature of free will.

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Folding@home Statistics
Registered: 07/13/99
Posts: 4,805
Loc: On the Brink of Madness
Re: Does altruism exist? [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1909108 - 09/12/03 12:04 PM (17 years, 7 months ago)

Look... habits are habits - they don't negate the existence of free will. I'm not even saying that we make free choices all the time... I'm just saying that we have the ability to do so. I have a favorite flavor of ice cream, but I don't have to choose that flavor every time (I usually don't actually).

The presence of patterns does not necessarily mean that there is some grand fractal behind everything.

Note: In desperate need of a cure...

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Leaving YourWasteland

Registered: 10/23/02
Posts: 3,594
Loc: Passing Cloud
Re: Does altruism exist? [Re: Sclorch]
    #1920136 - 09/16/03 01:06 AM (17 years, 7 months ago)

im reminded of the painting of narcisuss by salvador dali. MAybe he sees the danger of psycho analysis. It makes you believe there is some pattern, some pre concieved notion to existence. How it can destroy someone. So bent on thinking about themselves, in their own head. But sometimes i wonder about de ja vu... ITs like you wake up to that moment, that youve changed, and maybe thats a point of self reflection i guess. Maybe thats not making sense. And i really dont know anymore.

But i remember thinking one time... like all the many times upon uproar. Man exists for his own sake. Everything is hidden within it a pattern for its own existence... and all these things tie together into one thing.. for they all exist together. And its nothing more than a picture. And you and me, we are here, and we see this world in front of us. We see wet paint on the canvas of our existence. And we mix and mingle. And sometimes we wonder if we become the art itself. Sometimes we look into our own meaning. But as i have come to discover, it is just as crazy as the world that i dont understand. The things i do understand underlay my feelings and actions inside my life. Under that sense, i think compassion are merely a grasp away, and some things are out of reaach. How we view the two is up to us i suppose.


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The Action inInaction

Registered: 07/03/03
Posts: 98
Last seen: 16 years, 5 months
Re: Does altruism exist? [Re: Zero7a1]
    #1920375 - 09/16/03 03:19 AM (17 years, 7 months ago)

I have a slightly interesting point to make here. I once went about trying to prove the ideas of psychological egoism. It was earlier in my youth, and jaded philosophy (not that I have achieved great age or overcome all jadedness but still). I wanted to try and show repeated acts of selflessness could occur simply out of complex interactions of reward and punishment. So I turned to Artificial Intelligence.

Essentially I created a ?society? of very simple nodes that interacted with growing and eating food. The first thing to define real quickly is my reward and punishment. I defined two main sources for each, internal reward and punishment and external reward and punishment. Internal is what your mind and body do to you. I treated this as a very powerful motivating force, but it could be tempered by external reward and punishment as well. The source of this external reward/punishment was other nodes. If enough nodes attempted rewarded or punished you for an action it could override internal drives. Thus external realities could create ?selfish? selfless acts.

The society was essentially based around food. The idea was simple, any given node could perform three actions; it could eat some food out of a central area, water and care for the food in the area, or do nothing. Every cycle used up energy for the nodes and if there energy went to zero they died off. Eating provided energy, water and caring increased overall food stores, nothing did nothing. The less available energy a node had the stronger internal reward or punishment a node received for its actions. So a node low on energy that did not eat during a cycle received a high internal punishment, or vice versa. Other nodes in the vicinity of a given node could observe behavior and offer either complaints or praise that acted on the overall motivation of the given node. The lower the food supplies for the whole group the more likely and stronger the condemnation for eating or praise for water. The total external and internal weighted reward/punishment lead to the nodes actions. So the nodes actions were motivated purely by efforts to maximize its overall reward and minimize punishment. My idea was that altruistic acts, watering when personal energy was low, would become common in this environment yet any given node was still motivated by selfish desires. One added piece I did was allow additional nodes to be created during high times of surplus, these next generation nodes inherited the group average tendency to perform a given action, so that essentially actions were teachable to next generation nodes.

Well all the technical jargon behind, I discovered what I thought were some interesting things. What I found was that a society based on these rules almost always fell apart with in a few generations. The next step I did was randomize all the initial conditions and allowed the program to repeatedly attempt to create a stable society, where nodes could maintain adequate food supplies and most nodes survived multiple iteration cycles. What I found after 5 days of crunching was that the only society that could ever become stable were societies where nodes had an initial propensity for performing selfless acts regardless of reward/punishment.

So I pretty much disproved my initial hypothesis. Whatever application this might have to humans, I leave open to personal review.

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General Interest >> Philosophy, Sociology & Psychology

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