## Free Will

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I think there are definitely problems with the main ways of defining probability, particularly frequentism, but I don't think circularity is one of them. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/probability-interpret/ .

Probability Theory actually supports what i'm saying.

First recall that Classical Probability Theory is said to speak of 'events' of Probability 1 that occur almost surely, and conversely of 'events' of Probability 0 that occur almost never. So although classical probability is sound in the sense of comprising an identifiable class of entities belonging to the universe of, say, ZFC Set Theory, it's semantics is in contradiction with naive intuitions about chance.

E.g when probability theory is interpreted as saying that a dart must land somewhere on an infinitely divisible dart-board, at a location that has probability 0. One the one hand, we want Pr(1) to mean surely, and Pr(0) to mean never, but this 'exacting' demand conflicts with our other demand that it is possible to choose any member of an infinite set. What probability theory is actually expressing, is that our intuitions about chance, determinism and infinity are vague and contradictory and cannot be reconciled, let alone be formally represented in terms of a finite axiomatic definition.

An obvious way out of the above impasse is to interpret almost surely and almost never as referring to limits of a sequence of random events, such as the dart's sequence of positions over time, where these limits aren't considered to represents probability-apt events in themselves. In which case, we restrict our interpretation of Probability Theory as only assigning meaningful probabilities to either incomplete trajectories of darts that haven''t yet landed and whose eventual position is uncertain, or to landed darts whose position is vague and to within finite precision among a set of positions whose probability is strictly greater than zero. In my view, this way out amounts to a philosophical rejection of an absolute distinction between determinism and chance.

That's an interesting idea. Any tips on a place to read more?

Sadly I can't think of specific references off the top of my head, but in my view Category Theory is the right meta-language for relating physics, logic and philosophy, so Samuel Abramsky and Jean Yves Girard would be my generally recommended authors, Plus lots of nlab and SEP, of course.
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E.g when probability theory is interpreted as saying that a dart must land somewhere on an infinitely divisible dart-board, at a location that has probability 0. One the one hand, we want Pr(1) to mean surely, and Pr(0) to mean never, but this 'exacting' demand conflicts with our other demand that it is possible to choose any member of an infinite set.sime

Ooh I really like this thought experiment. Good food for thought. Thank you.

Fun fact: if you did throw a dart at an infinitely dividable board, and you got the x,y coordinates of the point it landed, you'd be more likely to land on irrational numbers than rational
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No matter how one defines the term (“free will”) I will not accept it.

Nor I. I think of the term as simple speech at the expense of critical thought.

Pretty sad, I must say, to create a philosophy predicated on the convenience of a phrase.
• 394

I would like to address the issue of contributing factors first to keep things simple and uncluttered so that we can potentially make some progress here. I'll address the issue of time, and making choices in the present later if you wish me to. For now...

It is only a contributing factor. There is also many other factors, like what Patterner argues, the force of habit.

I would be very interested in seeing a comprehensive list of these contributing factors if you can provide one. Also, am i to understand that contributing factors no matter how many or which ones are not responsible for any choice determination? Besides contributing factors, what else is there? Once the contributing factors are in place what makes or determines the choice according to you? It appears to me that without a final determination a choice is not possible, free or not.

Allow me to articulate my framework for decision-making. Given that decisions originate within the brain, which is comprised entirely of neurons, it is logical to surmise that comprehending the workings of neurons will enhance one's understanding of the decision-making process. By examining the structure and function of neurons, one can gain insight into how decisions are executed at the most fundamental level.

A neuron consists of a central body (soma), dendrites for receiving input, and an axon for transmitting output. Essentially, the neuron receives signals from its surroundings, primarily from other neurons, via its dendrites. These signals enter the neuron's central body and modify its responsiveness to future signals. Each incoming signal serves as a contributing factor towards an adaptive function within the neuron. By considering the cumulative effect of all present contributing factors in conjunction with prior contributing factors, the neuron makes a discerning determination to emit a signal back into the environment, thereby instigating an action that informs the future state of the neuronal environment (the brain). A person's choice is therefor the result of all the elemental "choices" or signals made by these component neurons in their brain to fire or not to fire a signal.

Is there anything else you would add or modify in this neuronal model of decision making to make it compatible with free will?
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Fun fact: if you did throw a dart at an infinitely dividable board, and you got the x,y coordinates of the point it landed, you'd be more likely to land on irrational numbers than rational
Couldn't any spot on such a board be 0,0? How would any specific spot be more legitimately the center than any other?
• 566
sure, any spot on a board could be 0,0, so choose a spot to be your 0,0 and then throw the dart.
• 271
↪Patterner sure, any spot on a board could be 0,0, so choose a spot to be your 0,0 and then throw the dart.
What I mean is, maybe anywhere it lands can be 0,0. I'm just goofing around. Ignore me.

Is there anything else you would add or modify in this neuronal model of decision making to make it compatible with free will?
Although it's impossible for us to list all the variables, figure out how much weight each has at any given moment, and probably many other factors, I think your general ideas is pretty clear.

Of course, if the Hard Problem is real, if there is subjective experience that is not explained by physicalism, it could be decision making is not entirely neuronal.
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Of course, if the Hard Problem is real, if there is subjective experience that is not explained by physicalism, it could be decision making is not entirely neuronal.

Whatever the solution to the Hard Problem, it must involve some other process that is also determined, but it may also be that we don't understand how all the already known components involved work, and how information flows through those components to be processed.

Take for instance how an artificial deep neural network makes decisions based on the weights and activation thresholds of its artificial neurons. These AI systems can in many instances make decisions on par with humans, or better. Modeled after biological neurons, but much simpler it is still able to make decisions, even without the biological complexity. The problem may be simpler than some may anticipate.

The very scientists that create these neural networks themselves do not understand what exactly is going on in these artificial decision processes (black box). What is clear is that there is nothing else going on in those neural networks than mere calculations (deterministic math and logic). And so it seems clear to me that we don't need to look for some external arbitrary thing to explain it, especially something outside the laws of a determinism. Determinism is sufficient for any problem we are trying to solve. If it were not deterministic then it would not be possible to solve since nothing would determine a solution, and that is just not how the world works.
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These AI systems can in many instances make decisions on par with humans, or better.
How is "better"defined here?

The very scientists that create these neural networks themselves do not understand what exactly is going on in these artificial decision processes (black box). What is clear is that there is nothing else going on in those neural networks than mere calculations (deterministic math and logic).
How is it they do not understand what is going on if there is nothing else going on aside from the mere calculations they programmed into it?
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I'm arguing that we don't make decisions without the influence of the past.

Of course, I don't think anyone would disagree with this, so it doesn't need to be argued. But I don't think it's relevant to the question of free will.
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I would be very interested in seeing a comprehensive list of these contributing factors if you can provide one. Also, am i to understand that contributing factors no matter how many or which ones are not responsible for any choice determination? Besides contributing factors, what else is there? Once the contributing factors are in place what makes or determines the choice according to you? It appears to me that without a final determination a choice is not possible, free or not.

There is no need for a list of contributing factors to demonstrate free will. The fact that not one of the multitude of contributing factors can be said to be the cause of the choice, and that the agent chooses from a multitude of options is enough to demonstrate free will.

So to answer your question, besides contributing factors, there is the thing which selects, we might call this the agent. The multitude of contributing factors provide a mutitude of options for "the agent", and a selection is made.

By considering the cumulative effect of all present contributing factors in conjunction with prior contributing factors, the neuron makes a discerning determination to emit a signal back into the environment, thereby instigating an action that informs the future state of the neuronal environment (the brain).

Are you proposing that a neuron itself makes a selection, it decides whether or not to fire when stimulated? That's what seems to be implied when you say "the neuron makes a discerning determination to emit a signal...".

Is there anything else you would add or modify in this neuronal model of decision making to make it compatible with free will?

I really do not think that a neuron makes a selection, or decision at all. So I think your terminology, "discerning determination to emit a signal" is not accurate.
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Interesting. I get what you're saying; I'm not sure if I understand the circularity of it though. But is there an example like this that doesn't involve infinites or infinitesimals? Would this be a problem for finitists or intuitionists? I could see the claim that this says more about our idea of infinites than probability.

Because, if physicists are correct that the world is computable (and there is a huge amount of supposition there, it's just speculation) then we wouldn't be dealing with true continua.
• 394
How is "better"defined here?

Faster and more accurate. These systems generally outperform humans at games of almost every kind, which demonstrates the power of their decision making capabilities.

https://medium.com/@evyborov/ai-vs-humans-a-noise-audit-in-decision-making-7093a8e25edb

How is it they do not understand what is going on if there is nothing else going on aside from the mere calculations they programmed into it?

Because of the enormous computational complexity involved and its non-linear nature (complex adaptive system), not because there are extra ingredients in the sauce. There are ongoing efforts to develop "Interpretable AI", which aims at making AI systems more transparent in order to understand how these deep learning systems make decisions. These machine learning model systems are very new and moving fast ahead, and the science necessary to understand them is very new as well. It's an extremely exciting field in science and philosophy in my opinion providing much insight into how minds work, including our own minds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explainable_artificial_intelligence
• 394
The fact that not one of the multitude of contributing factors can be said to be the cause of the choice, and that the agent chooses from a multitude of options is enough to demonstrate free will.

Not sufficient, how do you know that the agent is not selecting at random, or based on some deterministic criteria? How does the agent make a 'determination' or 'choice'? Do you at least have a probable model for how an agent makes a decision happen?

besides contributing factors, there is the thing which selects, we might call this the agent. The multitude of contributing factors provide a mutitude of options for "the agent", and a selection is made.

Is there a reason why an agent might select one option over another? If there is a reason then it's determined, and if it has no reason then it's random.

Additionally, environments are able to select genetic expressions in organisms for example and whether they live or die. Selection happens all up and down the hierarchies of nature and the universe, it's what evolution is made of (variation and selection). Even fundamental particles make decisions in how they respond to different electrical charges for example. A simple particle can be seen behaving the same way a cell does when it moves towards food or away from toxins and when the particle moves toward its complimentary charge and away from a self-similar charge.

You may not be comfortable with this definition of 'decision' or 'choice', but when one can generalize the concept then one can recognize it everywhere. A thing means nothing if it does nothing, and so the optimal way of thinking about things is to ask 'what does it do?', and not 'what is it?'. A thing's function is the origin of its meaning.

We know now that intelligence is substrait independent (AI), and that consciousness doesn't appear to be necessary for intelligence, at least not in the way we generally define consciousness now, and that signals to me that intelligence can exist at any level in nature including at the level of atoms and molecules (atomic intelligence, and molecular intelligence respectively) without needing to be defined as conscious.

Are you proposing that a neuron itself makes a selection, it decides whether or not to fire when stimulated?

Yes, of course what did you think they do? Why do you think it fires sometimes and sometimes not, even when in both cases it is receiving signals (contributing factors). It obviously has a preference for certain signals.

Simpler cells than neurons make decisions all the time like moving towards food or away from toxins, fungus as well. Just because they are not complex decisions like we make doesn't mean they are not making decisions. One neuron can only make very simple decisions, but when connected to a vast network of other neurons 'talking' to each other you get the emergence of swarm intelligence capable of more complex decision making.
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Simpler cells than neurons make decisions all the time like moving towards food or away from toxins, fungus as well. Just because they are not complex decisions like we make doesn't mean they are not making decisions. One neuron can only make very simple decisions, but when connected to a vast network of other neurons 'talking' to each other you get the emergence of swarm intelligence capable of more complex decision making.

I'll put my reply to the last part of your post first punos, just so you can have a better understanding of my position before reading the rest. I think that it is necessary to conclude that free will underlies all activities of living things. They all make use of the features of temporal existence which cannot be understood by determinism which I discuss below. Any "self" motivated activity like "self-subsistence", "self-nourishment", "self-movement", etc., must be supported by a type of causation known by the concept of "free will". This is best called "intentional" activity, or purposeful activity.

Is there a reason why an agent might select one option over another? If there is a reason then it's determined, and if it has no reason then it's random.

We discussed this already on this thread, when the principle of sufficient reason was mentioned. That there is a reason for the choice does not imply that the choice was determined. To be determined, the choice must be consistent with determinist principles. Determinist principles dictate that there is a direct causal relation between past events and future events. This excludes the possibility of a free will event. This is an event at the present which was not caused by an event in the past, but which will still cause an effect in the future.

Such an event, the freely willed event, is not unintelligible (as it is explained above), and it is not without reason. The determinist however, allows only determinist principles to be the reason for an event, and therefore excludes the possibility of a freely willed event as an unreasonable proposition. The determinist then argues that any event which cannot be understood under the precepts of determinism must be "random". Here, "random" really means a cause, or reason for the event which cannot be understood by determinist principles. This allows for the reality of causes and reasons for events which the determinist classifies as "random" simply because they are not able to be understood by determinist principles. Examples might be random mutation to genes in evolutionary theory, and random occurrence of life on the planet, to begin with.

The free willy may argue as I have, that this is because the determinist misunderstands the nature of time. The misunderstanding of time inclines the determinist to deny the possibility of an event at the present which does not have a cause in the past. The determinist understands time in terms of a temporal continuity of necessity between past and future, which is best exemplified as Newton's first law of motion. Things will continue to be in the future, as they have been in the past, unless a "force" is applied. This is a statement of necessity. It is necessary to apply a force to break the continuity of existence at the present.

The free willy may argue that such a statement of the necessary continuity of existence through the present, is a false statement. There is no such necessary continuity of existence at the present, and evidence demonstrates that absolutely everything, and anything has the possibility of changing at any moment of passing time. This means that instead of a cause of change at the present (the requirement of the application of force as described by Newton), in reality there must be a cause of things staying the same at each moment of passing time. From this perspective, "random" means that at every moment of passing time, every aspect of what we know as "existence" could be scrambled in any possible way. However, we observe continuity therefore the continuity must be caused.

The cause of the observed continuity of observed existents through the present, from the past, to the future, is the aspect of temporal reality which the determinists do not apprehend, and therefore misunderstand. They take this continuity for granted, as Newton's first law. However, the free willy knows that this observed continuity must be caused. This cause cannot be understood by determinist principles because it is prior to, therefore independent from, and necessary for, determinist causation, as producing the conditions for the temporal continuity required for deterministic causation. In other words, there is a type of causation which produces the required conditions for deterministic causation, and this type of causation cannot be understood as deterministic causation. This is reasonable and not random.

Additionally, environments are able to select genetic expressions in organisms for example and whether they live or die. Selection happens all up and down the hierarchies of nature and the universe, it's what evolution is made of (variation and selection). Even fundamental particles make decisions in how they respond to different electrical charges for example. A simple particle can be seen behaving the same way a cell does when it moves towards food or away from toxins and when the particle moves toward its complimentary charge and away from a self-similar charge.

There is equivocation between two distinct meanings of "select" here. That is why I was clear to say that "to select" is an act carried out by an agent. So, one meaning requires an agent which "selects", but "selection" in biology, under Darwinian principles requires no such agent. Darwin blurs the boundaries between human beings as agents of selection, doing selective breeding, and breeding under natural conditions, such that this can be called "natural selection". Thus Darwin sows the seeds of ambiguity in "selection". "Selection" in this sense can then be understood as the result of determinist forces which annihilate some things while others survive. So if you and I were both in the same plane crash, and I died while you lived, this would be an example of that type of "selection", where no agent actually "selects". Notice that there is no need to assume an active agent which "selects" in this meaning of "selection". It is this equivocation which generally supports compatibilism.

Yes, of course what did you think they do? Why do you think it fires sometimes and sometimes not, even when in both cases it is receiving signals (contributing factors). It obviously has a preference for certain signals.

I've never heard this before. You are saying that in distinct cases when the same neuron is subjected to what can be said as "the same conditions", it will sometime fire under those conditions, and sometimes not fire under those conditions. Can you provide some supporting documentation which I can read?
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I notice that you tend to put the cart before the horse when you say things like:

"I think that it is necessary to conclude"
"must be supported by a type of causation known by the concept of "free will""
"This (deterministic principles) excludes the possibility of a free will event"

I would prefer to use the null hypothesis in a situation like this since it seems more reasonable to assume nothing outside the box until what is in the box has been investigated thoroughly.

That there is a reason for the choice does not imply that the choice was determined. To be determined, the choice must be consistent with determinist principles. Determinist principles dictate that there is a direct causal relation between past events and future events. This excludes the possibility of a free will event. This is an event at the present which was not caused by an event in the past, but which will still cause an effect in the future.

If it is free should it not be free from reason as well? A reason determines what one selects, or it's not a reason; just a random selection. Here is the definition (from Google) for 'a reason': a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event. A justification or explanation consists of providing evidence, or logical arguments to support a claim. The term 'free will' is simply a claim and not an explanation or justification. One must show how it works or potentially works. What is the explanation, or justification for how an event (choice) occurs. The term 'free will' front-loads the word 'will' with the word 'free' seemingly only to contradict the meaning of 'will'. Here is the meaning of the word 'will': expressing the future tense; expressing inevitable events. Sounds like determinism.

The statement that "an event at the present which was not caused by an event in the past, but which will still cause an effect in the future" does not make sense. Once you move into the future, which you affected in the present, the present becomes the past, and now your present has been affected by your past present moments. Therefore the past affects the future in every way. The statement should read "an event at the present which was caused by an event in the past, which will cause an effect in the future".

Such an event, the freely willed event, is not unintelligible (as it is explained above), and it is not without reason.

Like i said it wasn't an explanation. It was a claim without a justification, i presume because according to you free will doesn't need a justification even though you claim it does have a reason.

The determinist however, allows only determinist principles to be the reason for an event, and therefore excludes the possibility of a freely willed event as an unreasonable proposition.

This says nothing because i can restate it like this: "The free willy however, allows only free willy principles to be the reason for an event, and therefore excludes the possibility of a deterministically willed event as an unreasonable proposition."

The determinist then argues that any event which cannot be understood under the precepts of determinism must be "random". Here, "random" really means a cause, or reason for the event which cannot be understood by determinist principles. This allows for the reality of causes and reasons for events which the determinist classifies as "random" simply because they are not able to be understood by determinist principles. Examples might be random mutation to genes in evolutionary theory, and random occurrence of life on the planet, to begin with.

Neither you, nor i can understand or predict something that is experienced as random, so it makes no difference between free will and determinism. My suspicions are that there is no such thing as true randomness. Randomness is a word that we have applied to describe our ignorance while saving face. Scientists used to wonder why particles and dust would move or jitter apparently randomly, until they discovered Brownian motion and random motions suddenly became deterministic (determined by Brownian motion).

Things will continue to be in the future, as they have been in the past, unless a "force" is applied. This is a statement of necessity. It is necessary to apply a force to break the continuity of existence at the present.

This is precisely what free will does; not determinism. Free will is the claim that some external force to the universe impinges on the present moment to cause an action that would violate a deterministic path. Determinism does no such thing because determinism is simply what the universe is doing and what it will do free from external influence. It can be argued that the definition of free will is the freedom of determinism to do its will without interference from an external will to the universe, including personal free will.

There is no such necessary continuity of existence at the present, and evidence demonstrates that absolutely everything, and anything has the possibility of changing at any moment of passing time.

I believe that everything changes at every moment without exception, but in a deterministic manner. Time is change and it is inescapable, the only true constant in the universe.

From this perspective, "random" means that at every moment of passing time, every aspect of what we know as "existence" could be scrambled in any possible way. However, we observe continuity therefore the continuity must be caused.

The continuity is caused because of previous effects which is the reason why existence suddenly doesn't collapse into chaos. It is in fact free will which would cause a collapse of reality as soon as it begins to violate the natural order. Entropic time is deterministic as opposed to primordial time which is not. This concept that you're describing is what i call primordial time which is what keeps an object persistent through multiple moments of existence. Without it the universe would at most be a virtual soup of virtual particles that never exist past one Planck moment. Entropic time is dependent on and emerges from primordial time.

About words and meanings in particular about the word 'select'. Here is the meaning of 'select': carefully choose as being the best or most suitable; carefully chosen from a larger number as being the best or most valuable. And to clarify further the meaning of the word 'choose': pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.

There is no implication that selection must be performed by an agent, and if one insists that it does then it means that something like an environment is an agent. One should not add arbitrary qualifications to a definition if that definition does not include that qualification. Of course one can do whatever one wants with their definitions, but it doesn't help in the arena of discourse, which i suspect is the main reason for most misunderstandings and inability to agree and come to consensus, apart from other more personal reasons one might have.

Here is the definition of 'agent': a person or thing that takes an active role or produces a specified effect.

Let me mention also that an organism such as an animal, or human is an environment all unto itself. An environment with it's own biological intelligence making decisions, having a desire or will for homeostasis, and being an agent of the whole system. Each cell in your body is also an environment all unto itself with a molecular intelligence, an agent with desires, and a will to maintain itself. You and every person inherits these features from the very components that make them up.

You are saying that in distinct cases when the same neuron is subjected to what can be said as "the same conditions", it will sometime fire under those conditions, and sometimes not fire under those conditions. Can you provide some supporting documentation which I can read?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshold_potential

This video may also help, the relevant part to your question is addressed between 1:50 and 4:00.
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Pretty sad, I must say, to create a philosophy predicated on the convenience of a phrase.Mww

It'd be easy to mistake what you're saying as hyperbole, but indeed, there are philosophies and worldviews that rely on this incredibly flawed term. It's a great place to study to better understand some of the risks of language.
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I would prefer to use the null hypothesis in a situation like this since it seems more reasonable to assume nothing outside the box until what is in the box has been investigated thoroughly.

I explained why what's "in the box" is insufficient to account for the complete reality of human experience, and why it is logically necessary to conclude something outside the box. But if you're happy to be constrained within the box, that's your choice. However, I see that your appeal to "primordial time" show that you are in some way inclined to step outside of the box. But it looks more like a falling out of the box to me.

If it is free should it not be free from reason as well?

The thing discussed, the will, is free from reason in it's activity, as not determined by reason, but this does not imply that it cannot be understood by reason (i.e. that it is random). There are many things in the world which are understood by reason, but not controlled or determined by reason.

The statement that "an event at the present which was not caused by an event in the past, but which will still cause an effect in the future" does not make sense.

You have not explained why this does not make sense to you. Yes, the event which is uncaused becomes a past event, but it remains as an event which was not caused by an event prior to it in time. Why does it not make sense to you that there are events in the past which do not have a cause which is prior to them. The alternative implies an infinite regress of events. Do you not believe that there was a beginning to time? If you do, then you ought to conclude the logical necessity that there was at least one event without an event prior to it in time, as cause of it. And if you recognize the logical necessity of one such event, why would you exclude the possibility of others?

Like i said it wasn't an explanation. It was a claim without a justification, i presume because according to you free will doesn't need a justification even though you claim it does have a reason.

Yes, as I explained above, we recognize the reality of many events in the world which have a reason, but are not justified. Take the effects of gravity for example. Something falling has a reason for falling, the effect of gravity, but that activity, falling, is not justified. Likewise, a freely willed act may have a reason for occurring, the effects of free will, but the act might still not be justifiable.

This says nothing because i can restate it like this: "The free willy however, allows only free willy principles to be the reason for an event, and therefore excludes the possibility of a deterministically willed event as an unreasonable proposition."

That's not a fair analogy. It is a false representation, a straw man, because the free willy allows also that there are events which can be explained by determinist principles. Therefore this part of the statement "the free willy however, allows only free willy principles to be the reason for an event" is a false representation. So, as I explained, the principles which underlie determinism, such as Newton's first law, must be accounted for within the context of a reality which also allows for free will. This inclines many, such as Newton himself, to state that Newton's laws are upheld by God's Will. Therefore, contrary to your claim, "a deterministically willed event" is actually very reasonable.

Neither you, nor i can understand or predict something that is experienced as random, so it makes no difference between free will and determinism. My suspicions are that there is no such thing as true randomness. Randomness is a word that we have applied to describe our ignorance while saving face. Scientists used to wonder why particles and dust would move or jitter apparently randomly, until they discovered Brownian motion and random motions suddenly became deterministic (determined by Brownian motion).

Right, at least we agree on the nature of "randomness". Now, the next step for you, in understanding free will, is to understand that an event which appears to be a random event, might actually have a cause which is not prior to it in time. So you replace "Brownian motion" in your example with "free will cause", and suddenly events which appear to be random, have a cause. The difference is that the cause is not deterministic, because it is not prior to the event in time. This type of causation will account for many events which are often spoken of as if they are random. To begin with, we have the first event in time, mentioned above. This is often called a random quantum fluctuation or something like that. And quantum physics is full of such "random" symmetry-breaking, and that sort of thing, where an event simply flies out of the present, as purely uncaused by an event in the past, so it is said to be "random". Then in the field of biology there are many other events which are often said to be "random"; the first living being, genetic mutations, etc., and of course our topic here, a freely willed decision.

Once you allow for the reality of such causation, an act at the present which is not caused by anything in the past, then many such events which are "called" random will be reasonable, instead of being random. Then you can understand what Aristotle called "final cause", as completely distinct from what we call "efficient cause". Efficient causation is central to determinism, and it is always understood as requiring a cause which is prior to it in time. This produces a problem of infinite regress in causation because there is always required a prior time. That is a very real logical problem, because any current state of existence can only be understood as the logical result of the initial conditions, which constitute the boundary conditions. But the infinite regress renders true initial conditions as impossible, and this renders any state at any time as fundamentally unintelligible.

So that's a real logical problem which "final cause" resolves. Not only does it resolve that problem, but it is completely consistent with observed experience of intentional actions. However.it is a completely different type of causation, which does not require that there is a further cause prior to it in time, putting an end to the infinite regress, hence the designator "final". Once we see that it is a real logical necessity to include the reality of such a type of cause, it becomes a "first" cause in relation to chains of efficient causation, not requiring a cause prior to it in time. Then we can see evidence of this type of causation everywhere in reality, such as freely willed acts, and we escape "the box" of determinist thinking.

This is precisely what free will does; not determinism. Free will is the claim that some external force to the universe impinges on the present moment to cause an action that would violate a deterministic path. Determinism does no such thing because determinism is simply what the universe is doing and what it will do free from external influence. It can be argued that the definition of free will is the freedom of determinism to do its will without interference from an external will to the universe, including personal free will.

Yes, if "universe" is restricted in that way, such that the entire universe is deterministic, then the free will act must come from outside the universe. As explained above, it is logically necessary to assume such a type of act to break the infinite regress of "the universe". That infinite regress renders the universe at anytime as unintelligible because it makes the current state of the universe dependent on initial conditions, but also denies the possibility of initial conditions with the infinite regress. Therefore to bring "the universe" into the realm of intelligibility we must assume another sort of cause, which has been named "final cause".

The continuity is caused because of previous effects which is the reason why existence suddenly doesn't collapse into chaos.

This way of thinking produces the infinite regress, by always requiring "previous effects" when looking backward in time, and that produces the logical problem of no initial conditions, explained above.

Entropic time is deterministic as opposed to primordial time which is not. This concept that you're describing is what i call primordial time which is what keeps an object persistent through multiple moments of existence. Without it the universe would at most be a virtual soup of virtual particles that never exist past one Planck moment. Entropic time is dependent on and emerges from primordial time.

See, here you propose two types of time, coexisting at the present moment, primordial time which keeps an objects persistent, and entropic time, which allows for deterministic change. But you propose nothing to establish a relationship between these two "times". So the fact that you insist on determinism forces you (logically), to propose a completely different type of time. In other words your clinging to determinism has rendered the universe as unintelligible, in the way I described above. Then, in your resistance to the traditional and conventional way of dealing with this problem "final cause", you instead propose something completely irrational and ridiculous, two types of time coexisting with no principles for interacting with each other, only the implication that they must interact because things both persist through time, yet also change through time. This is nothing but an extremely unintelligible form of dualism.

There is no implication that selection must be performed by an agent...

Are you kidding? "Carefully chose" signifies an activity as a verb, and the phrase implies an agent acting with care. How can you interpret this otherwise? Is there an effect of this act of carefully choosing? If so, there is necessarily an agent by your definition, "a person or thing that takes an active role or produces a specified effect". You could deny the need for an agent by denying that there is an effect from the act of choosing, but that would leave selection as irrelevant to our discussion of causation.

This video may also help, the relevant part to your question is addressed between 1:50 and 4:00.

There is nothing there that supports your claim, only an indication that "a neuron" cannot be sufficiently isolated from its environment to test what you claim. In other words you have made a very simplistic claim about something which is much more complex and that complexity invalidates your claim.
• 394
There are many things in the world which are understood by reason, but not controlled or determined by reason.

Understanding is inherently tied to reason, which serves as an explanation or justification. If something cannot be articulated in a logically consistent manner, it implies a lack of understanding. Reason and mathematics are effective precisely because the universe operates fundamentally on principles of reason and mathematics, which leads to determinism. "In the beginning was the Logos", the fundamental logic behind the universe, underlying the natural order of things.

This primordial logic, while maximally simple, serves as the dynamo of the universe, perpetually executing its function. Primordial time can be likened to a unitary logical NOT operator, representing the creative and destructive force of time, while space is dualistic and represented by binary logical operators [AND, OR]. The logic of being and determinism in our universe is intertwined with these temporal and binary spatial operators, likening the universe to a literal computer with time as the processor and space as the working memory. This perspective views fundamental particles and numbers as essentially the same, and 'quantum mechanics' can be reframed as 'number mechanics' or 'number logic,' emphasizing the fundamental connection between math and logic and the way the universe works.

The statement that "an event at the present which was not caused by an event in the past, but which will still cause an effect in the future" does not make sense. — punos

You have not explained why this does not make sense to you.

The statement appears to be logically contradictory. According to the principle of causality which i have no reason or evidence to deny, every event is caused by a preceding event or set of circumstances. The idea of an event in the present not being caused by a past event but still causing an effect in the future seems to defy this principle. I can see why someone who doesn't accept the principle of causality might agree with the statement. Alternatively, you can simply provide me with an example of an event, any event that was not caused by a prior event. I would prefer an actual real and verifiable kind of event, but i'm willing to consider a hypothetical, yet logically consistent one.

The alternative implies an infinite regress of events. Do you not believe that there was a beginning to time?

No, i do not believe that time had a beginning, because time itself is the measure of beginnings and endings, and thus to ask if time had a beginning is like asking at what time did time start? If you are speaking of entropic or thermodynamic time then yes it did have a beginning, but primordial time never did. You should think about this: If there were ever a 'time' before time where time was not, then why would time decide to start all of a sudden? Notice how incoherent the question is, like asking what's north of the north pole?. If time were ever not, then nothing could have ever happened to make anything happen ever. Nothing would change since there is no time to change it. That is why primordial time necessarily must have always been and will always be. Primordial time was active before our universe, and will be way after our universe is long gone.

Something falling has a reason for falling, the effect of gravity, but that activity, falling, is not justified.

Every force in the universe including gravity manifests as a result of some broken symmetry. The topology of space is such that it is repelled by matter or mass (like opposite charges), and as a result causing a rarification or thinning of spacial energy in the vicinity of that matter. Matter which is the inversion of space, is attracted (not repelled) towards gravity wells simply as the universe's attempt to "fill the hole" so to say, and repair the broken symmetry of space.

Therefore, contrary to your claim, "a deterministically willed event" is actually very reasonable.

You are right, i apologize. I did not mean to construct a strawman, my mistake. I should then clarify here that i myself do not preclude the possibility of non-deterministic events either, but these events do not count as free will, simply random. Never the less i am still somewhat skeptical as to the veracity of true randomness. Either way this doesn't convince me that free will is possible or probable.

This inclines many, such as Newton himself, to state that Newton's laws are upheld by God's Will.

I do not have a problem with the concept of God really. My concept of God is non-personal, and in my view it simply equivocates to the whole of the universe, not some creator outside of it with complex knowledge and intentions, and a fully developed and infinite consciousness. That's the old outdated anthropomorphic view of God, and we should know better by now, but many still lag behind. I believe in Father Time, and Mother Space, and if that specific wording bothers some people then i have no problem changing it back to simply time and space... no big deal, because it's still the same thing. God is not a useful concept to explain anything anyway, its optional as long as logic and reason is not violated.

The concept or more precisely the word 'free will' was introduced to Christianity i believe by the theologian Tertullian in the 2nd century. The reason for the introduction was to solve the "problem of evil" and absolve God of any evil that might exist in the world. This essentially scapegoated humanity for the sake of God. A legal loophole to let God off the hook for all the things people didn't like about the world. All good things come from God, and all bad things come from humans.. is that right?

I've already stated that i'm not convinced that quantum fluctuations are random; they are most likely caused. The only thing that does not have a cause in my book is time, since in my view, time (primordial time) is the first cause of all things that exist in time, but it has nothing to do with free will because it did not choose to cause anything, it is forced to cause, it has no choice to cause, and the only thing it can cause is the manifestation of simple and fundamental virtual particles in the quantum foam. The rest is up to determinism to work out.

Once you allow for the reality of such causation, an act at the present which is not caused by anything in the past, then many such events which are "called" random will be reasonable, instead of being random.

"Once you allow the reality that 2 + 2 = 17, then it would be reasonable for of course 2 + 2 to equal 17, since you decide. This is true because 17 is not caused by 2 + 2, but the free will of the person doing the calculation to freely choose the answer. This explains everything. When an engineer for example with free will wants to build a bridge, he can choose whatever numbers or measurements feel right, by the unfathomable power of his free will. The resulting bridge will hold up perfectly because of the free will of the engineer willing it to be correct. The bridge is not caused by the engineer, even though he did design it. What is there not to understand?". That is the kind of thing i'm hearing you say.

Then you can understand what Aristotle called "final cause", as completely distinct from what we call "efficient cause".

here is my understanding of the four kinds of causes:

Material Cause: primordial energy, or simply energy (same as primordial time)
Formal Cause: logic, reason, mathematics
Efficient Cause: force (directed energy, or vector) = (energy + logic) = (material + formal)
Final Cause: universal symmetry, complete matter annihilation, universal unification of all opposites

That is a very real logical problem, because any current state of existence can only be understood as the logical result of the initial conditions, which constitute the boundary conditions. But the infinite regress renders true initial conditions as impossible, and this renders any state at any time as fundamentally unintelligible.

All things begin with initial conditions, but since prime time never began, it never had an initial condition, it is also not a 'thing', but things begin, exist, and end in it. Prime time is what sets the initial conditions for things to manifest and exist. Nothing exists until symmetry is broken.

See, here you propose two types of time, coexisting at the present moment, primordial time which keeps an objects persistent, and entropic time, which allows for deterministic change. But you propose nothing to establish a relationship between these two "times".

In my understanding there is only really one kind of time, and if it was completely up to me i would never mention a second kind of time (entropic). Most people it seems are not able to perceive or comprehend what i mean by primordial time (except you apparently), and insist that thermodynamics is actually time. For me thermodynamics or the entropic or thermodynamic state is not time, but simply the arrow of time. Time and the arrow of time are not the same thing. Thermodynamics emerges only in the context of extended space or dimensions where things have the probability of being in different states, and are constantly changing their relationships to each other.

Are you kidding? "Carefully chose" signifies an activity as a verb, and the phrase implies an agent acting with care. How can you interpret this otherwise? Is there an effect of this act of carefully choosing? If so, there is necessarily an agent by your definition, "a person or thing that takes an active role or produces a specified effect". You could deny the need for an agent by denying that there is an effect from the act of choosing, but that would leave selection as irrelevant to our discussion of causation.

choose: pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.

carefully: in a way that deliberately avoids harm or errors

I've already stated that i believe that every part of the universe has agency of some kind, including the universe as a whole. Consider how electro-magnetism works and how careful it is to never move towards a charge equal to itself (or move away from an opposite complimentary charge to itself) since this would be an error and harmful for the overall purpose of the universe. Electro-magnetism picks out or selects the charge it will move towards as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives. It is so deliberate that it never makes a mistake... that is how careful it is.

An agent, like the definition says is a person or thing. That it mentions 'person' is redundant since if a thing can do something, then obviously a person can too. So the definition is not making a distinction between something or someone, it means anything can be an agent.

There is nothing there that supports your claim, only an indication that "a neuron" cannot be sufficiently isolated from its environment to test what you claim. In other words you have made a very simplistic claim about something which is much more complex and that complexity invalidates your claim.

It doesn't matter, since i don't think you'll agree with it anyway. The Wikipedia article about 'threshold potentials' should have been enough to answer your question, and the video was just supplementary.
• 11.9k
Understanding is inherently tied to reason, which serves as an explanation or justification. If something cannot be articulated in a logically consistent manner, it implies a lack of understanding. Reason and mathematics are effective precisely because the universe operates fundamentally on principles of reason and mathematics, which leads to determinism. "In the beginning was the Logos", the fundamental logic behind the universe, underlying the natural order of things.

Of course you recognize that there is an agent involved in such understanding and reasoning. All logic is an activity carried out by an agent. Generally we say that human beings perform this activity. So when you say "the universe operates fundamentally on principles of reason", I assume you mean that the universe operates in a way which can be understood through reasoning.

There is a slight problem here because until we actually understand the fundamental operations of the universe, we have no proof of that, and this is just speculation on your part. Problems with quantum mechanics, and the uncertainty principle in general, indicate that maybe the fundamentals might not be understandable by human reason.

This primordial logic, while maximally simple, serves as the dynamo of the universe, perpetually executing its function. Primordial time can be likened to a unitary logical NOT operator, representing the creative and destructive force of time, while space is dualistic and represented by binary logical operators [AND, OR]. The logic of being and determinism in our universe is intertwined with these temporal and binary spatial operators, likening the universe to a literal computer with time as the processor and space as the working memory. This perspective views fundamental particles and numbers as essentially the same, and 'quantum mechanics' can be reframed as 'number mechanics' or 'number logic,' emphasizing the fundamental connection between math and logic and the way the universe works.

Since only an intelligent being can act to create things according to reason, or logic, I assume that you are saying that God is the agent who employed "primordial logic" and created the universe and also created "primordial time" according to some principles of reason.

According to the principle of causality which i have no reason or evidence to deny, every event is caused by a preceding event or set of circumstances.

I gave you very good reason why there is very significant problems with "the principle of causation" as you state it. If every event is caused by a preceding event, then this would mean that there is an infinite regress of events extending backward in time, with no possibility of a first event. This would make aspects of the universe fundamentally unintelligible, as I explained. That contradicts what you say above, that there is a " fundamental logic behind the universe". Therefore your believe in "the principle of causation" contradicts your belief in a "fundamental logic behind the universe".

The idea of an event in the present not being caused by a past event but still causing an effect in the future seems to defy this principle.

Yes, the idea of an event in the present not being caused by a past event but still causing an effect in the future does defy "the principle of causation". However, this principle is defective as I explained, because it denies the possibility of a beginning to time, a first event, and it renders the universe as unintelligible because it makes "initial conditions" which are required for understanding any system, impossible. Consider, that when time started to roll, there was a future but no past. An event at this time would be at the present, and it would have an effect in the future, but not an event in its past.

When you realize that it is necessary to include this type of event, the event with no prior event as its cause, in any complete understanding of the universe, as a very reasonable proposition, then you will see that there is no reason to exclude this type of event from occurring at any moment of the present, as time passes. The inclusion of this type of event, an event which starts at any point in time, a zero point, with no preceding event linkable to it causally, makes issues of free will, and quantum uncertainty very reasonable.

You can characterize this type of event in a number of different ways, but what is required is to understand "time" in a way which is unconventional. We tend to characterize "the universe" as everything which fits within a space-time representation. From this perspective we'd have to place these acts as coming from outside the universe, as not fitting into the space-time representation because of the need for a true "zero time" at each moment of the present, as time passes, marking the time when the uncaused event starts. The common practice of calling such events "random" assumes that the universe is fundamentally unintelligible, instead of moving to recognize such events as still in some way "reasonable".

No, i do not believe that time had a beginning, because time itself is the measure of beginnings and endings, and thus to ask if time had a beginning is like asking at what time did time start? If you are speaking of entropic or thermodynamic time then yes it did have a beginning, but primordial time never did. You should think about this: If there were ever a 'time' before time where time was not, then why would time decide to start all of a sudden? Notice how incoherent the question is, like asking what's north of the north pole?. If time were ever not, then nothing could have ever happened to make anything happen ever. Nothing would change since there is no time to change it. That is why primordial time necessarily must have always been and will always be. Primordial time was active before our universe, and will be way after our universe is long gone.

Inquiring about the beginning of time does not necessarily mean asking what time did time start. That is already self evident in the question, it is the "zero point" of time. What is required is simply to put "time" into the context of something larger, just like when we ask about the relations of any particular thing. We put that thing into a larger context. That is what you do with "the universe" in your concept of "primordial time", you tie "time" to something larger than the universe, and allow that the universe had a beginning in time, primordial time.

The problem with your approach is that you propose nothing real to tie the concept of "primordial time", prior to the universe, to. You assert that time is something bigger, a wider context than "the universe", such that the universe can have a beginning and ending in "primordial time", but primordial time is just a purely imaginary thing, providing no link to our universe, whereby we could apply some principles of reasoning or logic, to bring the concept into our fold of intelligibility. My perspective is based in real observed empirical principles (free will acts which appear to be random), and logic (the need for a true "zero time", and therefore provides a real perspective for relating the smaller context (inside time or the universe) with the larger perspective (outside time or the universe).

Every force in the universe including gravity manifests as a result of some broken symmetry. The topology of space is such that it is repelled by matter or mass (like opposite charges), and as a result causing a rarification or thinning of spacial energy in the vicinity of that matter. Matter which is the inversion of space, is attracted (not repelled) towards gravity wells simply as the universe's attempt to "fill the hole" so to say, and repair the broken symmetry of space.

A break of symmetry is fundamentally unintelligible, as random, and outside the governance of logic or reason. That is the problem with this approach, we start to see at the fundamental level, that all forces derive from outside the realm of intelligibility. This is completely at odds with your claim of a primordial logic at the base. I propose to you, that the reason why this basic uncertainty and unintelligibility arises in our representations or models, is our failure to be able to determine a true "zero point" in time. When time is passing, we cannot adequately determine "a point" from which measurement might be made. We might assume an infinitesimal, but this does not give us a proper point. Then all things that start to happen, and all measurements we try to make, get enveloped by uncertainty.

I should then clarify here that i myself do not preclude the possibility of non-deterministic events either, but these events do not count as free will, simply random. Never the less i am still somewhat skeptical as to the veracity of true randomness.

You should see, that "randomness" is contrary to your opening statements about "the fundamental logic behind the universe". To say that an event is "random", is to say that no logic can explain it. When we allow randomness into our explanations, and do not distinguish between "appears like it's random" from "it truly is random", then we allow that the reason for the event cannot possibly be understood. This becomes a problem for the philosophically inclined person, who wants to be able to understand everything, and therefore is inclined to think that there must be a reason for everything (principle of sufficient reason). If we keep a philosophical mind we keep looking for the reason, if we designate "random" we do not even look for the reason. A free will event is not random. Nor is it deterministically caused, because it has a cause which is not consistent with "deterministically caused".

I've already stated that i'm not convinced that quantum fluctuations are random; they are most likely caused. The only thing that does not have a cause in my book is time, since in my view, time (primordial time) is the first cause of all things that exist in time, but it has nothing to do with free will because it did not choose to cause anything, it is forced to cause, it has no choice to cause, and the only thing it can cause is the manifestation of simple and fundamental virtual particles in the quantum foam. The rest is up to determinism to work out.

If we posit time as "the first cause" of all things in time, as you propose, then when time acts as the first cause, isn't it true that time would be just like an absolutely free will, having infinite freedom as to what it chooses to bring into existence. Consider this, there is nothing except primordial time, then primordial time brings something into existence. Doesn't this imply that in its capacity of "first cause", primordial time is just like "free will", only having an infinite capacity of freedom to cause the existence of absolutely anything. There would be no prior existents, therefore no events in the sense of physical events which could act as determining causes of what comes into being, because there is nothing but time.

So I think that you are completely wrong in saying that primordial time must cause, is forced to cause, and does not choose to cause. Clearly, as "first cause" there is nothing to force it to be a cause in the determinist sense, because there is nothing prior to this first act which could cause the first existents. How can you conceive this first act, which brings existents from nothing, a forced act? In reality, your concept of "primordial time" if you think it through logically, is nothing but an infinitely free act of will.

"Once you allow the reality that 2 + 2 = 17, then it would be reasonable for of course 2 + 2 to equal 17, since you decide. This is true because 17 is not caused by 2 + 2, but the free will of the person doing the calculation to freely choose the answer.

I don't understand your analogy. Things like "2", and "17" are just symbols, and we assign meaning to the symbols freely. We could make "2+2=17" correct, simply by changing the meaning of the symbols. However, we already have a different convention, so convincing people to make the switch would be difficult.

In my understanding there is only really one kind of time, and if it was completely up to me i would never mention a second kind of time (entropic). Most people it seems are not able to perceive or comprehend what i mean by primordial time (except you apparently), and insist that thermodynamics is actually time. For me thermodynamics or the entropic or thermodynamic state is not time, but simply the arrow of time. Time and the arrow of time are not the same thing. Thermodynamics emerges only in the context of extended space or dimensions where things have the probability of being in different states, and are constantly changing their relationships to each other.

We probably really need to say what each of us think "time" actually is. I would describe it as a process, the process by which the future becomes the past. Also, since we apprehend the future as possibilities, and the past as actualities, the present is when this process occurs, and the activity we observe at the present is the result of this process. Free will fits in because something must select which possibilities will be actualized. We tend to think that the inertia of being, from the past, necessitates which possibilities will be actualized, in a deterministic way, but this is not realistic because an intelligent creature with a will can step up at any moment, and break this supposed necessity.

That is why we need to allow for acts which are derived directly out of the present. So if we apprehend the passing of time as a process, there is necessarily a force involved with this process. This means that some future possibilities must be actualized due to the very nature of passing time (entropy perhaps). The being with free will can make use of this force to direct it toward the various possibilities it selects for.

choose: pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.

carefully: in a way that deliberately avoids harm or errors

I've already stated that i believe that every part of the universe has agency of some kind, including the universe as a whole. Consider how electro-magnetism works and how careful it is to never move towards a charge equal to itself (or move away from an opposite complimentary charge to itself) since this would be an error and harmful for the overall purpose of the universe. Electro-magnetism picks out or selects the charge it will move towards as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives. It is so deliberate that it never makes a mistake... that is how careful it is.

Ok, so you think that electro-magnetism "deliberately" avoids harm and errors. I think that's ridiculous, "deliberate" implies intentionality, and careful thinking, which I do not think is an appropriate description for electro-magnetism.

An agent, like the definition says is a person or thing. That it mentions 'person' is redundant since if a thing can do something, then obviously a person can too. So the definition is not making a distinction between something or someone, it means anything can be an agent.

That's right, an "agent" is anything active causally, it may be animate, inanimate, or inconclusive. However, inanimate agents are observed to act causally in a way consistent with determinism, while living things are known to make choices and act in ways not consistent with determinism. Therefore we have two distinct types of "agents", and we ought not equivocate between the two.

The Wikipedia article about 'threshold potentials' should have been enough to answer your question, and the video was just supplementary.

The "threshold potentials" article mentions a "threshold" for action, so similar stimulation would always cause action, being above the threshold, and similar below the threshold stimulation would not cause action. So it really doesn't indicate that the neuron can decide to fire or not fire, in equal cases of stimulation.
• 454
Fun fact: if you did throw a dart at an infinitely dividable board, and you got the x,y coordinates of the point it landed, you'd be more likely to land on irrational numbers than rational
Fun fact 2: There are a countable number of points with rational coordinates and an uncountable number of points with irrational coordinates (and some with mixed, as in (1,pi), which I'll ignore). This makes talking about probability difficult as the straightforward way of calculating probability
> (number of points with rational coordinates) / (total number of points)
which is
> (countable) / (uncountable)
which, it can be argued, equals 0.

So there is 0 chance of hitting a point with rational coordinates?

Yes, just like the probability is zero of geting EXACTLY 0.5 on a wheel with real numbers from 0 to 1.
• 8.4k
I wonder if a fundamental cause of the controversies is that the concept of free will is poorly defined

I think the controversy arises from the fact that one is obliged to believe and not believe at the same time.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost.

One has to choose whenever roads diverge. And in order to make a choice, one has to believe one can freely choose, and has to choose or else remain forever in the wood. It is always some other philosopher or poet who claims that one's choice is not free but predetermined, but for oneself, as for that other herself, one has to make the choice whatever one believes just as if one were free to choose.

And of course even the most trivial choice of action, as any time traveller will affirm, makes "all the difference", if only because the next traveller will find the paths differently worn and have a different choice to make depending which, for you was "the road not taken".

Edit: In case anyone does not intuit the argument from the poetry, the philosophical claim is that for any human choice, the decision-making process can include any philosophical claim or consideration except one that specifies that choices cannot be made, or are already determined.
• 11.9k
One has to choose whenever roads diverge. And in order to make a choice, one has to believe one can freely choose, and has to choose or else remain forever in the wood. It is always some other philosopher or poet who claims that one's choice is not free but predetermined, but for oneself, as for that other herself, one has to make the choice whatever one believes just as if one were free to choose.

This is exactly the point Aristotle made. We can can ask about whether or not the truth about a chosen act precedes the act itself, as if whatever happens will happen necessarily, and even claim that it does (determinism), but we cannot live this way.

So, to avoid the hypocrisy of living our lives in a way other than what we claim to believe, we ought to admit to ourselves that we do not believe in determinism.
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