posted on 2020-12-31

Core values: Defining freedom

in a previous post i mentioned how i intrinsically value that people have freedom. but what does that mean, exactly ? after a couple of attempts, i feel like i've found a relatively solid definition.

it's not "being able to do what you want to do"

…in part because "want" is not exactly clearly defined. but, i think most people would agree there are times where you in fact choose to do things that aren't what you want the most at that moment, especially given the hedonistic implications of "want".

it's not "being able to do what you might choose to do"

…even if the brain were fully deterministic, one could choose to define freedom as "if you dismiss knowledge of how this brain works (such that its output becomes probabilistic), make it able to do whatever it might choose to do". this freedom, however, runs into issues, such as the fact that as the brain's configuration is a product of its environment, one could deduce its internal configuration from the environment it appeared in, or that you can become able to predict a lot about that brain's internal configuration from its behavior.

it's "being able to do what you decide to do"

i think this is the definition i'm settling on, at least for now.

one could raise the objection "but won't you only decide to do what you can do in the first place ?", but when you know/realize that you are able to do whatever you decide, you will expand what you decide to do to a lot more options.

this definition also covers the first one: you can always decide to do whatever it is you want at the time; but you can also not. this definition seems to be the most general.

thus, from now one, i value (among other things, of course) that people are able to do whatever it is they decide to do.

posted on 2020-12-31

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