• Barkon
    147
    We cannot change the future directly except when we meet a junction where multiple conjoined paths are to be selected from. We can change the future indirectly, if I push my eyebrows now, I will do otherwise in the future as to if I didn't push my eyebrows then. There's two assets of free will. However, I cannot change the mode of my physique nor can I change most of the physical world and/or 'the good'. Therefore, there's elements of free will and determinism - there are certain rules and regulations to existing here.

    If there was no free will, our bodies would run off like criminals and try to take us for a ride. If there was 'pure' free will we would fully understand it and it would leave nothing to question. This supports my argument.

    I walk up to a junction, what is determined about my choice-making here? That if I choose left it was determined before? That if I choose right it was determined before? And the same with back and front? There's no substance to this claim, it's pure mysticism. Choice making at junctions can't be determined rationally, they are break points in determinism.

    To conclude, I have proven I can change the future indirectly by interrupting the flow of the present. I also assert that at junctions we can change the future directly. This is my argument that life is both determined and has free will, but neither purely.
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    To conclude, I have proven I can change the future indirectly by interrupting the flow of the presentBarkon

    Have you? Change the future from what?
  • Barkon
    147
    from whatever it was going to be if I didn't make that action.
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    but you haven't proven that it was possible for you to do other than what you've done, right?
  • Barkon
    147
    not necessarily, it's indirect.
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    So it's still possible that the "future" you changed to was the future that it was guranteed to be all along, yeah?
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    Would you consider yourself a compatibilist?
  • Tobias
    994
    To conclude, I have proven I can change the future indirectly by interrupting the flow of the present. I also assert that at junctions we can change the future directly. This is my argument that life is both determined and has free will, but neither purely.Barkon

    You have not proven anything because you have not proven that you have willfully interrupted the flow of the present. The claim of determinism is based on materialism. All matter that we can think of reacts to outward stimuli. When a rock is pushed and rolls from the mountain, we can predict its course and speed when we have all the information about the material characteristics of the terrain and the force of the push. You are made out of matter. It follows therefore that your matter reacts to stimuli. One of the stimuli is the threat of punishment which causes you not to run around like a criminal. If you want to postulate something undetermined, such as your 'free will', you cannot lay the burden of proof on the determinist and say you have proven something. The onus is on you to show there is some matter that does not react to stimuli and makes choices out of its own volition. That is the hard part of free will.

    Now I am a compatibilist so I think there are arguments, but the route you have taken is fruitless.
  • Relativist
    2.2k
    I have proven I can change the future indirectly by interrupting the flow of the present.Barkon
    Your description of free will is consistent with compatibilism. The alternative is Libertarian Free Will (LFW) which most people treat as entailing the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP). According to the PAP, when we make a freely-willed choice, we could have made a different choice. (I happen to think that's absurd). On the other hand, compatibilism is consistent with PAFP: the principle of alternative FUTURE possibilities - and that's what you describe. Mental causation is all that's required to account for the PAFP and compatibilism.
  • Barkon
    147
    it seems you believe query of whether everything is determined or not, outweighs 'what is.' In this way you suggest that 'determinism means that you can't tell the act was willfully chosen', but what is, is a indirect change in future happening before our eyes.
  • Pierre-Normand
    2.3k
    Your description of free will is consistent with compatibilism. The alternative is Libertarian Free Will (LFW) which most people treat as entailing the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP). According to the PAP, when we make a freely-willed choice, we could have made a different choice. (I happen to think that's absurd). On the other hand, compatibilism is consistent with PAFP: the principle of alternative FUTURE possibilities - and that's what you describe. Mental causation is all that's required to account for the PAFP and compatibilism.Relativist

    I don't understand the distinction that you are making between the PAP and the PAFP. Google returns no hit aparts from mentions of the concept in unpublished talks by William J. Brady. It does sound similar to something Peter Tse advocates in The Neural Basis of Free Will but I don't know if this corresponds to what you meant.
  • Relativist
    2.2k
    It's based on something I read in the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but I can't find it now. It may have been based on a paper by Brady and DeBrigard (
    "The principle of alternative future possibilities in moral judgments" published by the Society for Philosophy and Psychology.

    The point is simply this: at the point we make a decision, there is a set of determining factors: beliefs, genetic dispositions, environmentally introduced dispositions, one's desires and aversions, the presence or absence of empathy, jealousy, anger, passion, love, and hatred. These factors are processed by the computer that is our mind to make a choice. No alternative decision could have been made given that specific set of factors. But future decisions will be based on an altered set of factors: one might learn more about the risks of a particular course of action, or become more risk-averse, aware of better alternatives, more empathetic, etc. Those are the future possibilities, and it is because such future possibilities exist, it can be reasonable to hold people morally accountable for their actions. Knowledge that one will be held accountable may very well result in better behavior than would be the case if no accountability were expected.
  • Outlander
    1.9k
    No alternative decision could have been made given that specific set of factors.Relativist

    What about playing the lottery and having one's life changed by a random computer algorithm? Or a computer glitch that affects a streetlight causing a collision or death?

    This thread turned out to be much more readable and robust than I thought it would. :smile:
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    The point is simply this: at the point we make a decision, there is a set of determining factors: beliefs, genetic dispositions, environmentally introduced dispositions, one's desires and aversions, the presence or absence of empathy, jealousy, anger, passion, love, and hatred.Relativist

    Surely, there's no problem about one acting in accordance with one's beliefs and desires (and emotions are an aspect of one's desires). That's what freedom means. What would be it be like not to act in accordance with them? So even if you say these are determining factors, they are not factors that threaten free will.

    Yes, I realize that sometimes we feel that our emotions have "carried us away", but other times our emotions are exactly what we want to do. The interesting question is to understand which emotions on which occasions threaten our freedom and which don't. In the same way, we sometimes talk of being in the grip of a desire - addiction and habit are the greatest threats with social expectations and manipulation a close second - and sometimes doing what we want to do just is freedom. Again, the interesting question is to distinguish the two. Beliefs also sometimes mislead us - it is better to act on what we know, but hard to be sure which beliefs are knowledge and which not, but that's the interesting issue. No-one wants to act on false beliefs. Everyone wants to act on knowledge. Sweeping generalizations just create fake philosophical problems.

    In my opinion.
  • Patterner
    665
    I have no idea what this topic is about. If I go to my refrigerator and take out the ham and cheese for a sandwich, then put it back and make pb&j, have I changed the future? Is that the idea?
  • Relativist
    2.2k
    No alternative decision could have been made given that specific set of factors. — Relativist


    What about playing the lottery and having one's life changed by a random computer algorithm? Or a computer glitch that affects a streetlight causing a collision or death?
    Outlander
    I'm not sure I understand your point. We have the potential to be changed by everything we experience, and this can impact the choices we make in the future.
  • Relativist
    2.2k
    I have no idea what this topic is about. If I go to my refrigerator and take out the ham and cheese for a sandwich, then put it back and make pb&j, have I changed the future? Is that the idea?Patterner
    No, because the future hasn't happened. My point is that your choices establish the future.
  • Patterner
    665

    I agree with you. But I'm asking if what I said is the idea of the thread. Sorry, should have specifically asked .
  • Outlander
    1.9k
    I'm not sure I understand your point.Relativist

    No worries there, me and @Patterner are of one mind when it comes to understanding the underlying premise of the thread itself! :smile:

    I heard once an argument, based on determinism I believe, that in theory a supercomputer could predict the future if, as you said, every painful, excruciating detail of every physical and environmental aspect of a given thing could be known. So for example, a bridge built in 1957. If somehow a computer could know the exact composition of every atom in the steel of the bridge, it's exact number of vehicles traveled and their weight, as well as any environmental factors such as salinity of the air that affect corrosion or weakening of integrity, etc, etc. x1000 for every single other factor (of which it admittedly is virtually impossible to. though not technically impossible) it could be predicted an exact date and time when the bridge would collapse and by what type of vehicle, etc. If that makes sense. Basically in short, your statement of "everything is based on factors" such as the rock being pushed and if every single factor was known (force, resistance, etc) basically any movement, trajectory, or location could in theory be determined. I was just suggesting the modern presence of certain factors that truly cannot be determined (random computer generation or glitches in technology), similar but NOT like the flipping of a coin (I had a debate earlier which a person asserted a coin flip is in fact not random as, much like your rock example, could in theory be measured by force, friction, etc.) whereas a true random event such as random number generation or a glitch cannot. I think? That's all I was trying to bring up, at least. The introduction of modern technology that creates truly random outcomes not based on any measurable or observable factors prior to said outcome, unlike a coin flip or dice roll.
  • Patterner
    665
    (I had a debate earlier which a person asserted a coin flip is in fact not random as, much like your rock example, could in theory be measured by force, friction, etc.)Outlander
    Sure. If we could measure EVERYTHING. In theory, we could tell how the coin would land if we had all of the variables at the instant it lost contact with your hand. The question is whether or not the instant it leaves your hand is as knowable, in theory.
  • Barkon
    147
    I'm asserting that if we aim to change course, i.e. switch the mode we're in (what we're doing right now) it changes the future indirectly.
  • Outlander
    1.9k
    I'm asserting that if we aim to change course, i.e. switch the mode we're in (what we're doing right now) it changes the future indirectly.Barkon

    This seems, at face value, at least to me, to be lacking in the depth or profoundness you yourself may find in it.

    Short anecdote - and I promise it's related - during a tragedy, religious leaders often attempt to console the grieving by stating "God has a plan" or "it was part of God's plan". Which I've often observed if not delivered in the most delicate and tactful of ways and timing, can actually become quite infuriating, unsatisfying at least. It makes one, at least internally. question: "Oh so if I decide to take out a knife and stab you right now, that's part of God's plan too?!" Point being, I think your premise needs a bit of "dressing up" to be as profound or satisfying to others as you yourself find it to be. :smile:
  • Patterner
    665
    I'm asserting that if we aim to change course, i.e. switch the mode we're in (what we're doing right now) it changes the future indirectly.Barkon
    What is an example of changing the future directly?
  • Relativist
    2.2k
    So even if you say these are determining factors, they are not factors that threaten free will.Ludwig V
    I agree.
    I was just suggesting the modern presence of certain factors that truly cannot be determined (random computer generation or glitches in technology), similar but NOT like the flipping of a coin (I had a debate earlier which a person asserted a coin flip is in fact not random as, much like your rock example, could in theory be measured by force, friction, etc.) whereas a true random event such as random number generation or a glitch cannot. I think?Outlander
    Generally, computers don't really generate random numbers - they generate pseudo-random numbers. And computer glitches are also predictable, in principle (they aren't magic: they're consistent with laws of nature; you can't produce indeterminacy from deterministic processes). So these are still fully deteministic.

    The only truly unpredictable thing is an event that is a consequence of quantum indeterminacy. But this still doesn't entail complete indeterminism- it implies probabilistic determinism. In principle, all possible quantum outcomes could be predicted - but it's impossible to predict which series of outcomes would be actualized.

    Proponents of Libertarian Free Will seem to freak out about the fact that determinism implies that each choice is pre-determined. This sounds worse than it is. It ignores the fact that individually, we are causal agents - we cause things to happen that would otherwise not happen. And those things that we cause were the product of our mental processes, influenced by our genetic and psychological make-up.
  • Janus
    15.8k
    On the other hand, compatibilism is consistent with PAFP: the principle of alternative FUTURE possibilities - and that's what you describe.Relativist

    If there are actual alternative future possibilities, why would we not have been able to do otherwise than we did in the past? By alternative future possibilities do you mean alternative ontological possibilities or merely alternative epistemological possibilities on account of the fact that we cannot know what the future will be?

    And those things that we cause were the product of our mental processes, influenced by our genetic and psychological make-up.Relativist

    But is there any free 'self' that causes those mental processes or are they the result of neural processes of which we are completely unaware, and thus have no control over. The very idea of mental processes might be a post hoc rationalization/ fabrication.
  • Relativist
    2.2k
    If there are actual alternative future possibilities, why would we not have been able to do otherwise than we did in the past? By alternative future possibilities do you mean alternative ontological possibilities or merely alternative epistemological possibilities on account of the fact that we cannot know what the future will be?Janus
    Assuming there's no quantum indeterminacy in the mix, then there is only one possible future. But you nevertheless contribute to what that future will be.

    But is there any free 'self' that causes those mental processes or are they the result of neural processes of which we are completely unaware, and thus have no control overJanus
    Even though mental states are the product of neural processes, it's still the case that there is mental causation. So your thoughts and feelings actually do affect the world in a unique way. The 'self' is your consciousness; a "machine" that develops intentions and acts upon them. You are caused to be what you are, but you were not caused through prior intent (not entirely).
  • Janus
    15.8k
    But you nevertheless contribute to what that future will be.Relativist

    As do every chemical reaction or energy exchange and absolutely every change of any kind. The question really is 'what is that "you" apart from the totality of your physical being'? Seems to me the salient question is as to whether there is anything more than an illusion of agential control based on the reified self of reflection made possible by symbolic language.
  • Relativist
    2.2k
    I don't think "you" exist apart from your physical body, but you do have a mental life. IMO, agential control is not an illusion if mental causation exists. It certainly seems like we have it, and it can be accounted for with purely physical processes (Peter Tse provides such an account in his book, "The Neural Basis of Free Will").
  • ENOAH
    637
    If there was no free will, our bodies would run off like criminals and try to take us for a ride.Barkon

    I think, we falsely accuse our Bodies, when it is Mind which both constructed and projects gluttony.

    As for running off if there was no free will, again, I think the opposite. Thank god Mind moves on a dynamic incessantly in pursuit of the most functional projection. Gluttons to the extent of criminals are an aberration in the conventional narrative. Thank god there's no free will or Mind would have gone extinct eaons ago.
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