• Charlotte Thomas-Rowe
    could you elaborate on the latter, I am not understanding
  • Bartricks
    A mind is a thing. An object.
    — Bartricks

    Don't think that can be right.
    Objects tend to be breakable (under conservation), whereas things associated with mind are interruptible (experiences, thinking, etc).
    So, processes, occurrences, though maybe memory is an exception.
    The quote looks like a category mistake, and that's going by evidence mind you.

    No, ironically it is you who is making the category error. Mental states are states. A state is a state of a thing. Just as water is sometimes in a fluid state, minds are in mental states. (Water can be solid, gas, or fluid; minds can be thinking, hoping, intending, desiring and so on).

    It is a category error to confuse a state of a thing with the thing itself. This category error is extraordinarily common when it comes to the mind, as there is a tendency to use 'mind' and 'consciousness' interchangeably, even though minds are objects and consciousness is a state (a state of mind, with 'mind' being the thing that consciousness is a state of). This error is facilitated to some extent, no doubt, by the tendency to confuse the 'is' of predication with the 'is' of identity ('my mind is conscious' does not mean that my mind is consciousness, but rather that my mind is in a conscious state).

    Anyway, an 'object' is a bearer of properties. That's a non-question begging definition. That is, it is a definition that doesn't just assume that all objects are material.

    Exactly what properties are definitive of a material object is a matter of debate, but I will follow Descartes in holding that the defining property of a 'material' object is 'extension'. That is, it takes up some space (and by virtue of this there will be a boundary between the space it occupies and that which it doesn't, and that boundary will describe its shape).

    When it comes to minds, their defining state seems to be consciousness. This is not to say that minds are always conscious (although that is what Descartes thought). But rather, that if an object is in a state of consciousness, then it qualifies as a mind by dint of that.

    There's a big philosophical question over whether consciousness is a state of material objects. If it is, then minds are, or can be, material. But they'd still be objects, it is just that the objects in question would be composed of matter (our brain being the most likely candidate). So there isn't a debate over whether minds are objects; the debate is over what kind of objects they are or can be.

    If consciousness is not a state of material objects - and again, I follow Descartes, Plato, Berkeley, Locke and plenty of others in holding that it is not - then minds are not material. They are objects; they bear properties (one being the property of consciousness), but they do not have the kinds of properties that material objects have (extension, shape, size, location, colour).

    You must not, then, beg the question by simply assuming - as so many do nowadays - that all objects are material. There is nothing in the concept of an object that requires it to be material.

    And if one follows Reason diligently - as diligently as Plato, Descartes, Berkeley and others did - one will arrive, as they did, at the conclusion that the mind is an immaterial object. (And of course, now - as ever - most people couldn't give a rat's arse what Reason says about the nature of reality, preferring to listen to themselves in one form or another).

    One route to this conclusion (and there are lots) is via free will. We obviously do have free will. Any decision I make was made freely, even if the circumstances under which I made it were not under my control. For it was 'my' decision - my response to the situation. But of course, that would be an absurd contention if I myself was the product of alien forces. To hold myself morally responsible for my decisions but not for my circumstances would just be arbitrary. But it is not arbitrary. To hold oneself morally responsible for one's decision is rational; but to hold oneself morally responsible for one's circumstances is irrational. So, as it is rational to hold myself morally responsible for my decisions - something that would only be rational if I was free in respect of them - my reason is thereby telling me that I, the producer of those decisions, am not a product of alien forces. For if i have free will but would not have it if I was the product of alien forces, then I can conclude that I am not the product of alien forces.

    Yet all material objects seem to be the product of alien forces, including - obviously - my body and its brain. Thus, I can conclude that as I have free will and am therefore 'not' a product of alien forces but a source of origination, then I am not a material object. (Which should have been obvious anyway - I 'have' a body, but I am not my body; I 'have' a brain, but I am not my brain and so on; my body is my body because I am in it, not becuase I 'am' it).

    Obviously this argument - deductively valid and apparently sound though it is - will not move those who have already decided that everything that exists is material, and thus that free will, if it exists, has to be made sense of in material terms. But then those people are just dogmatists and their views about free will patently absurd.
  • Cidat
    Even if we make casuality-independent decisions, I feel we should not blame others for making bad decisions. Bad decisions happen, even though we have free will. Free will in itself doesn't teach us how to make good decisions. Personally I feel the question of free will is irrelevant. What matters is what we really do.
  • Manuel

    Let me ask a question. If they could prove to you that you did not have free will, would you act any differently?

    How would you change if someone could prove to you that we actually have free will?

    How you answer these questions are of some importance. Probably the only important thing that can be gotten ought of questions of these types, or so it seems to me.
  • Charlotte Thomas-Rowe
    if someone tried to prove I did not have any free will and was successful I don’t know how I would act. Especially as I believe I have autonomy over my actions and the decisions in my life - it would be a shock of course.

    I wouldn’t change if someone proved free will existed as I have always believed I had free will...
  • Manuel

    If there is a change in reaction and behavior, then that already indicates the ability to act on reasons, which you can reject. Like, someone could come and prove to me that the blue sky I see is actually everybody else's "red". I can't help but seeing a blue sky. So the actual answer won't affect me in practice, though I would be shocked.

    There's been experiments done on people in which two different groups of people were told that they have free will and the other were told they had none. The one's who believed they had no free will behaved more recklessly and thought to themselves "I can't do anything about it". Those who did believe they had free will behaved normally. I wish I could find that study quickly.

    Of course, this is no proof of anything, but it's worth noting.
  • Charlotte Thomas-Rowe
    thats really interesting, do you believe people have free will?
  • Manuel
    Yes, I think we do. But the way it works is a mystery for us - we simply lack the brain power to understand how it could work. But that you can do otherwise than what you did at any moment, seems obvious. This doesn't help us understand why we don't change what we often should in the way we act or think, nor why other people don't either.

    If a person is arguing that we lack free will seems to me like that person is denying something that they can't understand, so it's easier for them to deny its existence than admit we have no idea how it works.
  • Adam Hilstad
    Free will is impossible to prove directly, in the same way that we cannot prove that we are not all ‘philosophical zombies’ without consciousness. Free will is an aspect of the starting point, just as consciousness is. I am a compatibilist, however, and I also have an ultimately deterministic outlook. In my mind, that is only to say that in theory, if we had infinite computational powers we could calculate every event leading up to our choices.
  • SolarWind
    One can discuss the question of free will for many miles. All unnecessary, because the question is wrongly posed. My will is free from what? That would be the right question. My will is free from the atoms on Sirius, but certainly not from the laws of nature.
  • Tiberiusmoon

    IMO Yes, but not just humans if you know what to look for.

    Out of all the many impulses, biases, actions of any living thing there is a mental dynamic adaptation or free will.
    The ability to act on new scenarios in order to adapt, each living thing has varying levels of inteligence which determine how well they act on change.
    Change itself is quite explanatory considering not all prey is in one place and not all predators are in one place, its changes which would require a free will in order to adapt to such things.

    With humans we have great cognative function paired with opposable thumbs, add that with free will and you have an inteligent being who is able to extent their will through creation of things.
    With being a living thing who does not have to fight for survival constantly gives oppertunity to act free will in creation of things that may not be necessary for survival.

    We humans may think of free will as being able to act without restraint and that we are special when it can be a species bias to assume so, especially when you have thousands of years of culture to influence our thinking.
    So if you pile on humanities biases, cultures, experiences, and all the others things they can influence free will in order to dynamically adapt, but the act of dynamically adapting to new mental scenarios that is free will itself.
  • James Riley

    We have will, but it ain't free. It's going to cost you. And it will accost you.

    Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer.Charlotte Thomas-Rowe

    I started to pen some thoughts on this, contesting it, but I figure I should step back and have someone explain it to me; make sure I understand what is being said. I haven't read the whole thread, so if my curiosity would be satisfied by doing so, I apologize. Just lazy.
  • counterpunch
    Either I have no choice but to believe I have free will. Or I have free will. In either case, I believe I have free will.

    Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer.Charlotte Thomas-Rowe

    I'm guessing Schopenhauer didn't have a gym membership!
  • Charlotte Thomas-Rowe
    I think many things can influence our free will, but the fact we are able to act or not act on those influences is freedom of our will
  • Charlotte Thomas-Rowe
    not in agreement with the question you posed, it is like the argument of the via negativa where you state what God isn’t to summarise what his actual attributes are.
  • James Riley
    what are your thoughts?Charlotte Thomas-Rowe

    Well, again, I'm not so sure I understand what was being said, and I may be missing the mark, but when I was a little boy I could will my will. I remember a time, when I was about 5 or 6 or so, when I would somehow become aware of a way that I would like to be. I would acknowledge that will once, at night, before falling asleep. Then, maybe four or five days later, it had become an indelible part of my personality. It only happened about four or five times, over the course of a year or so, before life got in the way, and I fell off of that ability for some reason. I had willed what I would will.

    I can't remember what all the wills were, but one of them was to be a good person. Another was siding with the underdog. I can't seem to shake those characters, try as I might. I can remember one other incident, but I don't want to share the details. Suffice it to say, the specifics were a waste of will; but the general lesson that I could will my will was itself not waste, and therefore worth it.

    Now that I'm slowing down, I'm trying to re-attain that ability. But a lifetime of experience may present an obstacle. We'll see, I guess.
  • Charlotte Thomas-Rowe
    do you believe as humans we possess free will was basically the topic of discussion, so you’re not off the mark at all!
  • 3017amen

    A deterministic world is a world where all pasts have the same future, but it is true in a quantum world where all pasts do not share the same future. Consider that if the nature of human will is not necessarily reducible to all of physical causation (otherwise human will is a product of the material brain which is exclusively a physical object), it must be beyond physical law.
  • Michael McMahon
    Our mindset changes as we age so whatever is causing free will would have to be continuously updated rather than it being endowed once at birth. Dreams allow us to escape “collectivised” physical reality. They interrupt a continuous chain of causality in our lives. It disconnects us from the previous day. Absolute nothingness is pure time! If we’re struggling to derive free will from determinism than a shortcut is to start from the polar opposite of determinism; anarchy. The silliness of some dreams can merely be the unconscious telling us what not to do. The visual content of the dream such as dream characters, objects and surroundings all behave like decoys. Hedonistic impulses in a dream can be there to distract you by lulling you back unconscious. A dream could try to analyse our understanding of others and not just ourselves.
    Dreams can convey the absurdness of our immediate goals. If we don’t like the message of a dream we can ignore it. If some of our thoughts are deterministic, then could those same thought patterns be computationally accelerated during sleep? If a dream isn’t physically real then it follows that thinking about a dream after you wake up no matter how little you remember will still contribute to your free will. It’s not just the dream itself but also your response to it during the day that also counts. Dreams are like our own version of a Boltzmann brain that you created out of the chaos of your unconscious.
  • thewonder

    I don't yet have the elaborate philosophical justification for this claim, but I am of the opinion that, because we experience the world as if we have free will, we can assume that we do and that it is up to determinists to prove otherwise. The general course of the mind-body debate has taken has been entirely to the contrary, though.
  • sime
    This question concerns the grammar of intervention; What do we mean when we say that an agent "intervenes" upon a system to bring about a particular state of affairs?

    For example, one might say that the Earth considered as an isolated system has "no choice" but to assume a particular orbit when subjected to gravitational forces exerted upon it by the rest of the solar system. Hence in this situation we have a notion of causality that relates a system taken independently and in isolation, namely the Earth, to the rest of the solar system considered as an external system. Here "no choice" means that the earth is expected to move differently given a different arrangement of the surrounding solar system, but it should also be noticed that the meaning of "different arrangement of the solar system" is itself partly determined by how the Earth itself moves. Hence even in this materialistic and atomistic example of an isolated system subject to external forces, the meaning of having no-choice is somewhat fuzzy and tautological in character.

    But what about when considering the orbit of the Earth jointly with the motions of the rest of the solar system taken as a single, collective holistic system? When considering the solar system jointly, all that physics needs and has is an equation that describes the simultaneous motion of all the planets. As Bertrand Russell observed, the notion of causality that we had in the previous instance disappears when considering everything jointly, and in this latter context it would be meaningless to say that the earth's trajectory was determined by the solar system that it is simultaneously modelled with.

    In a nutshell, causality is a meta-theoretic relation that relates a system considered as "foreground" to a context considered as "background". This implies that the question of free-will versus determinism is meaningless in the absolute sense in which everything is (hypothetically) considered simultaneously.
  • Charlotte Thomas-Rowe
    thats an interesting way to interpret a dream
  • Charlotte Thomas-Rowe
    hmm, would you reject the cosmological argument for the existence of God? As the main principles use causality as a means to prove His existence
  • sime
    hmm, would you reject the cosmological argument for the existence of God? As the main principles use causality as a means to prove His existenceCharlotte Thomas-Rowe

    For me, a causal proposition is merely a synthetic proposition used to describe an intervention, that has the form "If an action A is performed upon a system in state S then the system possibly produces state R" .

    Since my view of causality is anti-realist , game-theoretic and possibilistic, I suppose that my view is closest to the Occasionalists, at least as I understand them when squinting in an attempt to see past their surface-level dualism.
  • TheMadFool
    1. Either I'm sane or I'm insane [premise]
    2. If I'm sane then, I'm logical [premise]
    3. If I'm logical then, logic determines my choices [premise]
    4. If logic determines my choices, I don't have free will [premise]
    5. If I'm insane then, I don't have free will [premise]
    6. If I'm sane, logic determines my choices [2, 3 HS]
    7. If I'm sane, I don't have free will [4, 6 HS]
    8. I don't have free will or I don't have free will [1, 5, 7 CD]
    9. I don't have free will [8 Taut]


    N.B. Logical choices are, by definition, necessary which is just another way of saying you don't have a choice.
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