• Banno
    19.9k
    @litewave, It's far from clear what you response to the OP is.
  • litewave
    793
    Still, intents do not of themselves choose outcomes. We as agents so driven by our intents do.javra

    Intents drive us and we drive outcomes. Seems like a row of billiard balls.
  • litewave
    793
    litewave, It's far from clear what you response to the OP is.Banno

    I agree with OP. We cannot choose to think a thought without already thinking it. Which means that our choice of thoughts is just thoughts popping into our head. So much for free will.
  • NOS4A2
    6.5k


    Nope. Free will pertains to living beings, in particular humans.
  • javra
    1.9k
    Seems like a row of billiard balls.litewave

    Not quite. Intents are teleological processes, i.e. teloi, and not causal processes as the latter is understood in modernity via Hume's notion of causation and the notions of those who followed.

    But, as to the issue of determinacy, if we do hold free will then we are only partly determined by determinants (teloi and antecedent causes included) in the choices we make, and thereby remain partly free to choose what we see fit (I have no idea what "absolute freedom" would be anyway). If we do not hold free will, then we are completely determined by determinants in all we do, including our choices.

    This issue, however, cannot be resolved via feelings of what is either way.

    As a heads up, if you want to argue against free will the best bet I currently know of is in research attempting to show that our unconscious mind chooses our choices before we are consciously aware of so choosing. That said, the issue of whether or not free will occurs is as of yet very much unresolved - very much despite all such research, which tmk so far is inconclusive.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    Then your mind seems oddly passive. I'm glad I'm not you, just watching your thoughts pop up, unable to decide between them.

    Is it pleasing to have such an uncomplicated mind?
  • Outlander
    1.6k
    If this is correct, does this automatically rule out the possibility of free will?Paul Michael

    No. What made you post all this? Curiosity no doubt. What made you curious? The intrinsic nature of your brain? That's kind of a whitewash isn't it? Under the same mindset, what can't be declared as outside of free will? "Everything I do has to make logical sense therefore due to the existence of logic the only act of free will is that which is purposely illogical."

    Words are nice. They can make anything seem like anything and lead the mind across a full circle of legitimate stepping stones that constitute "a logic" without actually explaining or having any real purpose or effect on anything.
  • litewave
    793
    Nope. Free will pertains to living beings, in particular humans.NOS4A2

    So it is not enough for my free will act to originate in me. I must also be alive and maybe also intend to do the act? But how do I choose an intention without already having it?
  • Banno
    19.9k
    If we do not hold free will, then we are completely determined by determinants in all we do, including our choices.javra

    That strikes me as a false dilemma. But is that what you are saying?

    It remains that one does not know what one will do next. Even if what one will do next were determined, the choice remains.
  • litewave
    793
    . Intents are teleological processes, i.e. teloi, and not causal processes as the latter is understood in modernity via Hume's notion of causation and the notions of those who followed.javra

    I want to eat a cookie and this wanting is the intention that drives me to get a cookie. If the wanting is of an obssessive intensity you can literally feel how it pushes you to your feet and toward the cupboard with the cookie.

    But, as to the issue of determinacy, if we do hold free will then we are only partly determined by determinants (teloi and antecedent causes included) in the choices we make, and thereby remain partly free to choose what we see fitjavra

    So to the extent our action is determined by our intentions it is not free. But to the extent it is NOT determined by our intentions it is unintended and therefore not free either.
  • javra
    1.9k
    But how do I choose an intention without already having it?litewave

    By choosing between alternative potential intentions - like the intent to read a book or the intent to see a movie.

    Even if what one will do next were [completely, rather than partly] determined, the choice remains.Banno

    Epistemologically, yes, of course. But this does not resolve the ontology of the world in which we dwell. We, in a sense, could be fated in a causal determinism to always hold the illusory sense of us having free will via our ontological nature of not being omniscient: the epistemological uncertainty as to which course of action is best then resulting in an epistemological sense of freedom in what we choose.

    Hoping the terse aformentioned summation makes some sense.

    Still, for one example, in this ontology of causal determinism, no degree of ontic uncertainty - no degree of "tychism" as Peirce would call it - could occur in the world. Rendering all that we do predetermined in full, ontologically.

    The difference might not be important for every day applications, granted, but it does make a significant difference in terms of what can be infered about the world we live in. But I think this now is deviating too much from the thread's topic of interest.
  • litewave
    793
    Then your mind seems oddly passive. I'm glad I'm not you, just watching your thoughts pop up, unable to decide between them.Banno

    Oh, I can decide between them, I just need a thought to decide between them, except when I don't need a thought to decide between them, in which case I don't decide or I decide unintentionally.
  • NOS4A2
    6.5k


    So it is not enough for my free will act to originate in me. I must also be alive and maybe also intend to do the act? But how do I choose an intention without already having it?

    It is enough for your act to originate in you. Whether an action is willed, determined, directed, chosen, intended, controlled, conditioned, dictated, regulated, they arise within and are performed by the same agent. In a sense, then, you’ve chosen, determined, directed, regulated, willed your thought by having it.
  • javra
    1.9k
    I want to eat a cookielitewave

    A person can and often enough does have conflicting wants ... these then being the alternatives we choose between.

    So to the extent our action is determined by our intentions it is not free. But to the extent it is NOT determined by our intentions it is unintended and therefore not free either.litewave

    No. Our actions would yet be "free" if we could choose otherwise in a selfsame situation - hence a situation wherein the same overarching intent (e.g., to increase one's own happiness) and the same alternative / conflicting wants (e.g., seeing a movie or reading a book) occur.

    ... will be taking a small break from the forum for now.
  • litewave
    793
    By choosing between alternative potential intentions - like the intent to read a book or the intent to see a movie.javra

    Like, I have an intention to read a book and also an intention to see a movie? How do I intentionally decide between them? I would need an intention to yield to the first or the second intention. But how do I choose that intention?
  • litewave
    793
    In a sense, then, you chosen, determined, directed, regulated, willed your thought by having it.NOS4A2

    So every thought that pops into your head is freely willed by you?
  • Banno
    19.9k
    Hoping the terse aformentioned summation makes some sense.javra

    Hmm. I've commented elsewhere on arguments that assume ontology and epistemology are incommensurate. I don't find that line of reasoning at all convincing. Causation does not imply determinism, for a start, and intention implies responsibility. And we have Frankfurt's examples of free choice without alternative possibilities.

    So what do you make of:
    ...you can literally feel how it pushes you to your feet and toward the cupboard with the cookie.litewave
    An inability to make decisions must make dieting hell.

    I just need a thought to decide between them, except when I don't need a thought to decide between them, in which case I don't decide or I decide unintentionally.litewave

    What a muddle. It remains that you chose the cookie; the existential fact of having no choice but to choose. Kidding yourself that you did otherwise is fraught. Litewave wants to be able to choose and yet not chose.

    Think I'll leave you folk to it. Have fun.
  • litewave
    793
    No. Our actions would yet be "free" if we could choose otherwise in a selfsame situation - hence a situation wherein the same overarching intent (e.g., to increase one's own happiness) and the same alternative / conflicting wants (e.g., seeing a movie or reading a book) occur.javra

    Well, in physics the outcome is determined by the joint influence of all present forces. It seems similar with my decision/action - it is determined by the joint influence of all my present drives. In quantum mechanics the outcome may also be partially undetermined by the forces - there can be different outcomes in the same situation (with the same forces present). Maybe my decision/action is partially undetermined by my drives too, but then again, to the extent it is undetermined by my drives, it is unintended and hence unfree.
  • NOS4A2
    6.5k


    nothing pops into the head, as if from nowhere. I think; and whatever contents could be said to be found in that act are freely generated by me and no one or nothing else.
  • litewave
    793
    But you are not isolated from your environment. You cannot think freely without breathing oxygen and you cannot walk freely without having a ground to walk on. So why is that slip on a banana peel not your free act?
  • Daniel
    440
    @Paul Michael

    To choose from a set of choices, we must be affected by the choices themselves before we make any choice. No?

    Now, I think a completely independent action would require an absolute lack of interaction with our environment. So, I'd say absolute free will does not exist.
  • javra
    1.9k
    Like, I have an intention to read a book and also an intention to see a movie? How do I intentionally decide between them? I would need an intention to yield to the first or the second intention. But how do I choose that intention?litewave

    The overarching goal that facilitates you choosing between two alternative lesser goals (e.g., seeing a documentary or reading a book) could either be something you chose for yourself previously (e.g., to learn about subject X rather than not so learning about subject X) or, else, could be something ingrained that operates within you subconsciously and teleologically drives all your choices (though I disagree with the details, a common enough example of this could be the goal/intent of self-preservation - I in part disagree because unfortunately some do choose the opposite while yet holding the intent of not suffering in mind).

    Either way, be it something you’ve previously chosen for yourself of something ingrained that is beyond your choosing, it does not nullify the logical possibility of free will in the choices you do make at any given juncture.

    Well, in physics the outcome is determined by the joint influence of all present forces. It seems similar with my decision/action - it is determined by the joint influence of all my present drives.litewave

    That’s the crux of the matter for many: a perceived conflict between a causally deterministic physics and the occurrence of free will. Still, one’s preference between these two alternatives does not resolve the issue of whether free will – i.e., the ability to choose otherwise in a selfsame situation - is real or not. Nor would the occurrence of free will necessitate that causal determinacy does not take place in the world - it would only necessitate that the world is not one of (complete) causal determinism.
  • javra
    1.9k
    Hmm. I've commented elsewhere on arguments that assume ontology and epistemology are incommensurate. I don't find that line of reasoning at all convincing.Banno

    Interesting; neither do I … but I did mistakenly presume that you did.

    And we have Frankfurt's examples of feee choice without alternative possibilities.Banno

    A correction: Frankfurt’s examples and like cases are one’s in which one could not choose otherwise between alternative possibilities yet supposedly retains moral responsibility for what was effected - basically arguing for the occurrence of moral responsibility in the absence of free will.

    One possible objection among others is that such examples presuppose the condition of causal determinism in attempting to evidence that free will is unnecessary for moral responsibility. Whether or not free will occurs is thereby not addressed by such examples.

    If interested in a reference: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/#FreeDoOtheVsSourAcco
  • javra
    1.9k
    So, I'd say absolute free will does not exist.Daniel

    Do you know of any established philosopher or philosophy that makes a distinction between “absolute free will” and “non-absolute free will”?

    To my knowledge free will simply expresses the ability to choose otherwise than what one ends up choosing - such that the adjective “absolute” doesn’t add any apparent meaning to what “free will” signifies.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    A correction: Frankfurt’s examples and like cases are one’s in which one could not choose otherwise between alternative possibilities yet supposedly retains moral responsibility for what was effected - basically arguing for the occurrence of moral responsibility in the absence of free will.javra

    Perhaps, I'd have said the patient chooses to vote for Clinton, yet could not have done otherwise. I'd have to drag out the article to check. The wording in the SEP is “decides to vote for Clinton on his own”, which seems compatible with my "chooses on his own".

    I take the Frankfurt examples as further argument for the incoherence of free will, which seems to be an invention of theologians.
  • javra
    1.9k
    I take the Frankfurt examples as further argument for the incoherence of free will, which seems to be an invention of theologians.Banno

    This seeming ... well, as a non-theologian that sees considerable merit to the notion, I disagree. Babies and bathwater sort of thing.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    So do we pursue that line of thinking?

    I'd suggest that our actions are physically caused yet not physically determined. Free will is from early 13c, and apparently related to arguments concerning the problem of evil.
  • javra
    1.9k
    I'd suggest that our actions are physically caused yet not physically determined.Banno

    Can you elaborate? Do causes not determine their effects?


    Free will is from early 13c, and apparently related to arguments concerning the problem of evil.Banno

    I counter that with reference from the same SEP article previously linked to: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/#AnciMediPeri
  • T Clark
    10.8k
    Can we choose how much insulin our pancreas secretes? If not, does this rule out free will?

    The brain does what the brain does in the same manner that the pancreas does what the pancreas does. Neither is under our direct control. That fact says nothing about free will.
    — T Clark

    If the brain does what the brain does in the same manner that the pancreas does what the pancreas does, then the brain makes its choices automatically without any input from us as well.
    Paul Michael

    [metaphor]The brain is a gland that secretes the mind.[/metaphor] Are you asking if the mind controls the mind? How would that work? To oversimplify, the mind perceives, feels, thinks, believes, and decides. It is us.
  • Daniel
    440


    Do you know of any established philosopher or philosophy that makes a distinction between “absolute free will” and “non-absolute free will”?javra

    No. My intention was to highlight that there is no independent action, and thus any decision we make is influenced by some external factor. Free will would entail that at the moment of choice we do not interact at all with our environment, including the choices we are presented with; otherwise, any interaction we participate in would affect our choice, for the interaction would necessarily affect us, and whatever it is that makes the choice would make such choice under the effect of the interaction - in contrast to the absence of such effect. So, because we are in constant contact with our environment, which is changing, the choices we make are necessarily and constantly influenced by such changes. No choice I make is fundamentally/entirely/absolutely mine and only mine for that would require that I receive no external influence, at all, no?
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