• Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    From your description, I picture two minions inside a brain wrestling to pull a lever towards themselves haha. If that description is fitting for what you have in mind, it is unfitting as a description of the will resisting inclinations.

    Unlike the example of falling asleep, a drive towards pleasure and away from pain does not take over the body's actions (with a few exceptions like a jump-scare). We may be very tempted to do a certain act, but ultimately the decision to act comes from the will. E.g. out of anger, I may be tempted to punch someone, but ultimately the act of punching was my choice. It would be incorrect to claim such an act was done against my will.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    Again, I mostly agree. Now this may be splitting hair, but I wonder if it's worth making the distinction between passively following the will of others and willingly following it. What I have in mind is the Christian notion that ought to will the will of God. This act is different than a non-agent following the will of God in a deterministic way.Samuel Lacrampe

    I agree there's a distinction to be made but look at it this way: Imagine you see a person complying with another person's instructions. Can you tell, from that alone, whether this person is doing so willingly (free) /unwillingly (not free)? No! Therein lies the rub.
  • litewave
    569
    Let's say I proposed that everyone is concerned for the welfare of others and does nothing out of self-interest at all. That's known as psychological altruism. Is it plausible? No.Bartricks

    It seems not only implausible but also self-contradictory. What does "concerned" mean? Does it mean that it would make the "concerned" person happy or satisfied if he did something for the welfare of others? In that case the resulting pleasure (happiness or satisfaction) is the person's motive that makes it worth for him to do the act for the welfare of others.

    If a person is not motivated by his own pleasure, it means he doesn't care whether to do or not to do the act, or he does the act unintentionally. It doesn't mean that he cares for the welfare of others. Careless and unintentional acts certainly occur but obviously no free will is required for them; any machine can act without care or intention.
  • litewave
    569
    Anyway, hard determinism is, by definition, incompatible with compatibilism.Bartricks

    Yes, and still it seems that the difference between hard determinists and compatibilists is trivial in that they both say that in a deterministic world where all our acts are ultimately completely determined by factors that are out of our control we still have the ability to do what we want - but while compatibilists are satisfied to call this ability "free will", hard determinists refuse to call it so.
  • litewave
    569
    From your description, I picture two minions inside a brain wrestling to pull a lever towards themselves haha. If that description is fitting for what you have in mind, it is unfitting as a description of the will resisting inclinations.Samuel Lacrampe

    Why? It's the gist of a standard neuroscientific description.

    We may be very tempted to do a certain act, but ultimately the decision to act comes from the will. E.g. out of anger, I may be tempted to punch someone, but ultimately the act of punching was my choice.Samuel Lacrampe

    And why would you resist punching the person? Whatever reason you would have for the resisting, that reason is the minion in your mind that acts against the minion of anger. And the result of this battle between minions will be whether you punch or not.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Can you tell, from that alone, whether this person is doing so willingly (free) /unwillingly (not free)? No! Therein lies the rub.TheMadFool
    I can't always tell; but there is a difference between perception and reality. And that difference matters. E.g. the difference between freely accepting a marriage proposal, and marrying a robot that is programmed to say yes.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Why? It's the gist of a standard neuroscientific description.litewave
    It may be a correct neuro scientific description of the brain activities, but the will, being free, must be above those deterministic factors. Picture the cartoon with the white and black angels on each shoulder of the person. The black angel typically represents inclinations. The white angel typically represents reason and conscience. The will is the person in the middle that chooses to side with one of the angels. It makes the final call.

    Whatever reason you would have for the resisting, that reason is the minion in your mind that acts against the minion of anger.litewave
    To clarify, are you arguing from the standpoint that free will does not exist? in which case, I would agree with you that our acts are determined by the vector sum of all internal and external forces/reasons. But if we start with the premise that free will exists, then this description leaves no room for a will to be free. Could you clarify your standpoint? Then we can go from there.
  • litewave
    569
    The will is the person in the middle that chooses to side with one of the angels. It makes the final call.Samuel Lacrampe

    But why would the will choose one side or the other? I can only imagine that the will has motives, some stronger than others, and the will's decision is the result of the pushes of those motives. For example, you are hungry but have no money, so there is a push to steal food. And the more hungry you are, the stronger the push. But there is also a counter-push by the fear of being caught or by ethical concerns. So your will goes in the direction of the stronger push, but there may also be a lot of inner struggle and hesitation as the opposing forces grow stronger and weaker based on changing information from the environment, emerging and interacting thoughts, feelings and memories, etc.

    To clarify, are you arguing from the standpoint that free will does not exist?Samuel Lacrampe

    The only kind of free will I can understand is the compatibilist free will to do what one wants. I don't know how a different kind of free will could work.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    926
    Can you tell, from that alone, whether this person is doing so willingly (free) /unwillingly (not free)? No! Therein lies the rub.
    — TheMadFool
    I can't always tell; but there is a difference between perception and reality. And that difference matters. E.g. the difference between freely accepting a marriage proposal, and marrying a robot that is programmed to say yes.
    Samuel Lacrampe

    Fair point but I was trying to point out that if you comply, your free will is meaningless, it doesn't matter whether you have it or not.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Okay. Depending on what you mean by compatibilist free will, we may or may not be in agreement. My standpoint is that while the will is indeed driven by motives, it is more free than merely picking the stronger of competing values. Examples:

    In a situation with 2 competing values of the same type, say pleasure, indeed the stronger of the 2 always wins. E.g. In a situation where I choose between chocolate and vanilla ice creams and all else being equal, if my favourite flavour is chocolate; then I will necessarily choose chocolate ice cream.

    In a situation with 2 competing values of different types, say pleasure vs ethical, I am free to choose which type is most important, no matter how strong the values are. E.g. Buying ice cream would give me great pleasure, but giving the money to charity would produce a bit of ethical good works. Although hard to quantify, the first value seems greater than the second one, yet I can still choose the second path.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Fair point but I was trying to point out that if you comply, your free will is meaningless, it doesn't matter whether you have it or not.TheMadFool
    I argue it matters, for 2 reasons.
    1. Even if you comply, you are still free to change your mind later.
    2. Free choice implies more than one option. If the will is only free when saying no and nothing else, then there is only one option, which makes the choice no longer free. This looks like a self-contradiction.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    I argue it matters, for 2 reasons.
    1. Even if you comply, you are still free to change your mind later.
    2. Free choice implies more than one option. If the will is only free when saying no and nothing else, then there is only one option, which makes the choice no longer free. This looks like a self-contradiction.
    Samuel Lacrampe

    1 is just another of saying what I said (veto not volo, kind courtesy of @180 Proof)

    2 Obeying/complying rounds off to no free will; resisting/refusing rounds off to free will.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Okay. Maybe that last minor disagreement was just a misunderstanding on my part.
  • litewave
    569
    E.g. Buying ice cream would give me great pleasure, but giving the money to charity would produce a bit of ethical good works. Although hard to quantify, the first value seems greater than the second one, yet I can still choose the second path.Samuel Lacrampe

    But apparently the second value is greater for you, at least in that moment, and that's why you chose it. Why else would you choose it?

    You can have motives of various types but they cause forces of the same type in your brain (physical forces), which then cause motion of your body.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    But apparently the second value is greater for you, at least in that moment, and that's why you chose it.litewave
    Indeed, if I choose the second path, then it means that to me, the ethical is a priority over pleasure, no matter how great the pleasure is expected to be. Now I claim that this original choice, i.e. prioritizing the ethical vs pleasure or vice versa, is freely chosen. Then everything else is determined from there.

    Here is the order of the events:
    (1) We freely choose to prioritize pleasure over the ethical or vice versa. This is free.
    (2) For a situation, we predict the outcome resulting from different decisions. This is determined.
    (3) We pick the decision that will result in the greatest outcome we have prioritized in (1). This is determined.


    You can have motives of various types but they cause forces of the same type in your brain (physical forces), which then cause motion of your body.litewave
    Agreed. The motives are a result of the free choice made in (1). From there, everything else is determined.
  • litewave
    569
    (1) We freely choose to prioritize pleasure over the ethical or vice versa. This is free.Samuel Lacrampe

    But why would you choose to prioritize carnal pleasure over ethical or vice versa? It seems you would need a motive to prioritize it.

    We are getting into a regress: In order to choose act X, you need to choose the motive to choose act X. But in order to choose the motive to choose act X, you need to choose the motive to choose the motive to choose act X. This regress goes into infinity or it stops at a motive that you didn't choose and this motive determines all the consequent motives that lead to act X.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    This regress goes into infinity or it stops at a motive that you didn't choose and this motive determines all the consequent motives that lead to act X.litewave
    But if the "choice" is determined by a motive that is determined, then the whole system is determined, and free choice is just an illusion. Isn't that simply hard determinism? What part of compatibilist free will is free?

    On the other hand, if free will is to exist, at least to be entertained, then there must be a component that is truly free. In which case, there is no prior motive to drive the choice described in (1). Note, this does not violate the principle of sufficient reason, because a free will, by definition, is a sufficient reason to explain the free choice.

    Note that I haven't given a reason to believe in free will yet. We can do that once the above has been clarified.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    It's no more incoherent than psychological egoism (and no more plausible). Desires can be self directed and desires can be other directed. If I desire that you be happy, that is other-directed; if I desire that I be happy, that is self- directed.
    What is silly is thinking that all of our desires are of one kind rather than the other. It's as silly as thinking everyone is over 6ft and if one encounters anyone who appears to be under 6ft, then that's an illusion- must be, because everyone's over 6ft.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    Again, compatibilism contradicts hard determinism. Hard determinism is the combination of two views: incompatibilism about free will and determinism about the operation of the universe.
    The difference between them is not 'trivial' then. They are opposites. One is an incompatibilism, the other isn't - by definition.

    Note, compatibilism is not a view about whether we have free will. It is a view about what it is compatible with. So, one can be a compatibilist and disbelieve in free will. There's no name for that combination, but it is logically possible.

    The important point is that compatibilism is incompatible with hard determinism because hard determinism essentially involves a commitment to incompatibilism, and thus essentially involves rejecting compatibilism.
  • litewave
    569
    But if the "choice" is determined by a motive that is determined, then the whole system is determined, and free choice is just an illusion. Isn't that simply hard determinism? What part of compatibilist free will is free?Samuel Lacrampe

    The part that we can do what we want (although our wants are determined by factors over which we have no control).

    On the other hand, if free will is to exist, at least to be entertained, then there must be a component that is truly free. In which case, there is no prior motive to drive the choice described in (1).Samuel Lacrampe

    You can do something without a motive, but that just means you don't care about doing or not doing it, or you do it unintentionally. Is that free will? Any machine can act without care or intention.
  • litewave
    569
    If I desire that you be happy, that is other-directed;Bartricks

    Still, the desire is yours, and so the pleasure from the fulfillment of this desire will be yours too (and I will be happy too, of course). So you are motivated by your own pleasure, whether your desire is self-directed or other-directed.
  • litewave
    569
    What would you call my view of free will then? My view is that all our acts are ultimately completely determined by factors over which we have no control, but we can do what we want. (Our wants are determined by factors over which we have no control.)
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    No one would disagree that even if we're causally determined, we still sometimes do what we want. And if that is all one understands free will to involve - which is what Thomas Hobbes thought - then one would be a compatibilist, not a hard determinist.

    A hard determinist thinks that free will requires more than this. (Most contemporary compatibilists think free will requires more than this too - but the 'more' it requires turns out to be satisfiable under determinism).

    A hard determinist is an incompatibilist about free will, so they think that determinism precludes free will. They would not dispute that if determinism is true we still sometimes do what we want. Rather, they argue that merely 'doing what one wants' is not sufficient for free will, as doing what one wants is compatible with, say, having been programmed to want what you want (or, more straightforwardly, it is compatible with everything one does being the causal product of matters one had nothing to do with). Yet that is not compatible with being morally responsible for one's decisions - which is what free will makes one. Therefore, free will requires more than simply doing what one wants - it requires that one's wants are suitably one's own (and incompatibilists think that it is only if indeterminism is true that one can be said to be the true originator of one's decisions and so on).

    Basically, if you think it is, in principle, entirely just to punish someone - and to punish them because they 'deserve' it - for doing what they want, even if their doing so was causally determined, then you're a compatibilist. If not, then you're an incompatibilist.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    Still, the desire is yours, and so the pleasure from the fulfillment of this desire will be yours too (and I will be happy too, of course).litewave

    These are common fallacies that lead people to conclude that psychological egoism is true.

    First, that a desire is located in you, does not make it self-interested. Whether a desire is self-interested or altruistic is determined not by its location, but its content.

    If you deny this, then all you are actually saying when you say that we always act out of self-interest, is that we always act on the basis of our own desires - which is true, but not an interesting psychological thesis, for it is entirely compatible with those desires often being altruistic.

    So, the first mistake is to confuse the 'location' of a desire with its 'direction'. Altruistic desires are not desires that lack a desirer. They are desires whose satisfaction requires something happening to someone else, rather than to you (there are other, non-altruistic desires like this - such as sadistic desires). If I want you to be happy, then my desire will not be satisfied unless something happens to you - unless, that is, you are happy - rather than anything to happening to me. Similarly if I wanted you to be unhappy - that too is 'other directed' in that something needs to happen to someone else in order for it to be satisfied.

    The second mistake is to confuse the consequence of a desire being satisfied, with its direction. If my desires are satisfied, then I derive satisfaction (by definition). But it does not follow that my desire was 'for' my own satisfaction. Whether the desire is self or other directed is not, then, determined by its outcome for its bearer, but by what it would take to satisfy it.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    You can do something without a motive, but that just means you don't care about doing or not doing it, or you do it unintentionally. Is that free will? Any machine can act without care or intention.litewave
    An unintentional act would be the opposite of an act from free will, because the word 'will' is synonymous to 'intention'. E.g. I will to do this = I intend to do this. If you use the word 'motive' in the sense of 'intention', then the original free choice I speak of in (1) is the motive you speak of. In other words:

    (1) We freely set our intention to prioritize pleasure over the ethical or vice versa.
  • Philofile
    62
    As long as we don't know how our determined paths wind, and we don't, we are free people. Only particles at CERN, in carefully planned experiments have determined (and calcuable) paths.
  • litewave
    569
    (1) We freely set our intention to prioritize pleasure over the ethical or vice versa.Samuel Lacrampe

    If the act of setting our intention is free, you need an intention to set the intention. Regress again.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Why? As previously mentioned, free will by definition satisfies the principle of sufficient reason on its own. Thus setting the intention towards one of the two paths can be the starting point.
  • litewave
    569
    Why? As previously mentioned, free will by definition satisfies the principle of sufficient reason on its own. Thus setting the intention towards one of the two paths can be the starting point.Samuel Lacrampe

    Why would you set the intention? If you have no motive/intention for the act of setting the intention, then the intention just appears in your mind without being chosen by you. It is the same problem as with motives, only now you replaced "motive" with "intention". Intention is a kind of motive that drives a specific action.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Why would you set the intention [towards pleasure or the ethical]?litewave

    Why choose pleasure? Because it is pleasurable.
    Why do the right (ethical) thing? Because it is the right thing to do.

    Pleasure and the ethical are last ends in themselves. This means that these are ultimately the only motives for why we do anything, and also that there cannot be any other motives beyond them.

    If not for another motive, then how do we choose one over the other? Free will.
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