## What can I know with 100% certainty?

• 394
There is no universally accepted definition of free will. My definition of free will is a will that is free from determinants and constraints. I clearly don't have free will because my will is both determined and constrained by my genes, environments, nutrients, and experiences. I clearly have a determined and constrained will instead of a free will.

True, it is easier to define what Determinism is and just say, Free Will is not that.

To me, Determinism is believing that antecedent state A leads each and every time to resultant state B, never C. Free Will is believing that antecedent state A can lead to resultant state B or C.
• 692
Thank you for clarifying what you mean. I agree that people before Galileo and Copernicus used to believe that the Sun orbits the Earth but that didn't make it true. They were simply ignorant of the truth that the Earth orbits the Sun. I don't know what you mean by 1+1=X. Please explain what you mean. Thank you.
• 692
I agree with you.
• 692
You are most welcome.
• 1.6k
so every universe that isn't deterministic is a universe of free will? It doesn't even need life or consciousness in it? It's free will even if there's no beings in the universe who have a will?
• 394
so every universe that isn't deterministic is a universe of free will? It doesn't even need life or consciousness in it? It's free will even if there's no beings in the universe who have a will?

Huh? Free Will deals specifically in the realm of animal decision making, not the behavior of billiard balls.
• 3k
Thank you for clarifying what you mean. I agree that people before Galileo and Copernicus used to believe that the Sun orbits the Earth but that didn't make it true. They were simply ignorant of the truth that the Earth orbits the Sun. I don't know what you mean by 1+1=X. Please explain what you mean. Thank you.

You are welcome. :)

You come to the conclusion true or false by  your thought process. But it is always your judgement which tells you something is true or false.
Truth is not something that exists out there independently itself without the judgements.
When you say 1+1=2 is true, it is too self evident.   It does not extend any knowledge already known or gives you anything meaningful for saying it.

1 2 3 4 .... are just numbers.  Numbers on their own don't have any meaning of philosophical truths. Numbers are used in real life to denote the amount of something, measurement of size of the real objects, ... tangible things.

In real life, there are many cases where 1+1 does not come out as 2. For a simplest example, you can write a software program which does some extra calculations to give you the answer, 1+1= 257 or -35 .... depending on what functions you implement in the coding.  The software would be a totally closed world itself from outside, in which only the software writer knows how it operates.  In that world 1+1=2 would be false.  Therefore saying 1+1=2 is true is not a 100%  correct judgement.
• 692
I agree. Having a will is a prerequisite for having free will. We have a will but it is not free. It is determined and constrained by our genes, environments, nutrients, and experiences.
• 692
That's interesting. I didn't know that a computer program could have 1+1= 257 or -35 etc.
• 692
Having a will is a prerequisite for having free will. We have a will but it is not free. It is determined and constrained by our genes, environments, nutrients, and experiences.
• 1.6k

One of you said "True, it is easier to define what Determinism is and just say, Free Will is not that." and the other one of you agreed with it. My comment is meant to point out that I believe you have cast far too wide a net with that definition.

That definition implies that anything with any amount of randomness is free will.
• 3k
That's interesting. I didn't know that a computer program could have 1+1= 257 or -35 etc.

This is a simplest example of such cases in simulation scenario just to explain.
A software can be written to calculate how many hours are left for you to finish your project. Let's say the project requires 37 hours to work to finish.  The app asks you to input total hours required to complete the project. You type in 37.

First night on the activation of the app, it is written, so it will ask you 2 inputs a day for morning and evening hours you worked.
App:  How many hours have you worked this morning?
You:  1
App: How many hours have you worked this evening?
You: 1
It calculates ... (-37 in the hidden register)+1+1=  -35
You have 35 hours to work to finish the project.

Next time you activate the app again.
App: How many hours have you worked this morning?
You:1
App: How many hours have you worked this evening?
You:1
App: Calculates  (-35 in the hidden register) + 1+1= -33
You have 33 hours to finish the project.
• 3k
The point here is that, truths hide more truths, and one should try to look beyond what is told, heard and seen for more truths. Don't accept even A=A or 1+1=2 as truths. Doubt, analyse, reflect and criticise where there is even 1% of room for uncertainty.
• 394
One of you said "True, it is easier to define what Determinism is and just say, Free Will is not that." and the other one of you agreed with it. My comment is meant to point out that I believe you have cast far too wide a net with that definition.

That definition implies that anything with any amount of randomness is free will.

Several things:

First, everyone agrees that when speaking of simple physical systems, like billiard balls, that their behavior is governed by (determined) physics. In a Philosophy Forum (not the Physics Forum) discussion on Determinism vs Free Will specifically refers to complex neurologic systems governing animal decision making.

Second, most Determinists I know do not acknowledge "any amount of randomness" as far as human decision making is concerned, because that would violate their premise that the antecedent state DETERMINES the resultant state AND if a portion of the outcome of decision making was forever unpredictable (no matter the degree of detailed knowledge of the antecedent state), this so called "randomness" would be functionally indistinguishable from true Free Will. And you know they would never go there.
• 1.6k
First, everyone agrees that when speaking of simple physical systems, like billiard balls, that their behavior is governed by (determined) physics. In a Philosophy Forum (not the Physics Forum) discussion on Determinism vs Free Will specifically refers to complex neurologic systems governing animal decision making.

Ah okay, so any complex neurological system that isn't deterministic is free will, is that the idea?
• 692
I agreed with what LuckyR said because I interpreted his definition to be talking about biological organisms making choices. I can see that you interpreted it differently which is fine.
• 692
I agree with you.
• 692
Randomness is not free will. Randomness is just randomness.
• 1.6k
so, would it be fair to say than that in your view, any biological organism making choices has free will if it's not completely deterministic?
• 1.6k
but it's also not determinism. So that would seem to create a problem for the definition on offer here, I think.
• 692
I understand the process. Thank you for explaining it.
• 692
• 692
I never said that complex neurological systems can't be deterministic. As far as I know the decision making process in complex neurological systems is entirely deterministic. Of course, I am not all-knowing. If you can show that our will is not determined and constrained by genes, environments, nutrients, and experiences, then please do. Thank you.
• 1.6k
I never said that complex neurological systems can't be deterministic

I agree, you didn't say that. That's not the implication of my question.
• 692
I agree.
• 1.6k
I'll take it you don't want to answer the question asked for some reason. That's fine, I was just trying to understand the implications of the definition you were agreeing with.
• 394
Ah okay, so any complex neurological system that isn't deterministic is free will, is that the idea?

Uummm... no, as you correctly pointed out, a possible system is a random one. Therefore one option is 100% determined and 0% will or choice ("Free" being a label, not a descriptor) called Determinism. A second choice is <100% determined and >0% will or choice (commonly called Free Will). Other options incorporate randomness. 100% randomness is called Randomness (as TS noted). Of course there could be <100% randomness incorporated into either of the first two. I'm OK with that, but as I previously mentioned Determinists abhor (or more likely fear) the concept since functionally randomness can be indistinguishable from Free Will.
• 1.6k
Uummm... no, as you correctly pointed out, a possible system is a random one.

Ah okay, so that original definition, "define what Determinism is and just say, Free Will is not that" is not what we're going with then right? You've established that randomness isn't determinism, but randomness also isn't free will.

How do you think the definition should be adjusted to match up with your intuitions of free will?
• 3k
You are most welcome. :)
• 6.4k

You seem to be starting from Descartes, and so the obsession with "knowing" and the idea of an outside world. But you have to exist (and in a particular mode) to even ask the question in the first place. It's kind of silly to doubt this or that, or use words like "know" or "certainty" as if we're certain about their meaning. What's so great about certainty, anyway?

In any case, "I am, therefore I am consciously aware" is about right. But then again, this overlooks the 99% or so of our lives that are unconscious, habitual, automatic, etc. So perhaps unconsciousness can tell us more about our being rather than consciousness.
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