• Pantagruel
    3.4k
    I guess you mean that if I have the knowledge to build a bridge, it makes it easier for me to cross the river, and so I'm more free?frank

    Yes, that would be one way of describing it. Phase space is a physical characterization of the possible states of a system. A bicycle-rider system can assume various trajectories in phase space - i.e. rolling along the path that is defined by the rotation of its wheels, the turning of its handlebars, etc. But a bicycle ridden by someone who knows how to ride a bicycle has more possibilities - more degrees of freedom - than one ridden by someone who doesn't know how to ride a bicycle.
  • frank
    14.9k
    It sounds like you're equating freedom with potential. That's an interesting take.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    It sounds like you're equating freedom with potential. That's an interesting take.frank

    How do you mean exactly? Certainly, I'm construing it within the composite framework of the subject-object system. As such, it is measurable and quantifiable. More radically, I think it may be a feature that is "conferred" by subjectivity on the system. But it is still in evidence as a systemic feature.
  • frank
    14.9k
    How do you mean exactly? Certainly, I'm construing it within the composite framework of the subject-object system. As such, it is measurable and quantifiable. More radically, I think it may be a feature that is "conferred" by subjectivity on the system. But it is still in evidence as a systemic feature.Pantagruel

    You're saying that if I have more choices, I have more freedom. The way I think about free will is that it's about the ability to choose at all. To me, it's fundamentally about unity vs duality.

    I think this issue is good for revealing how people think and what biases they have. Notice how each participant in this thread has their own take on what it means.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    I think this issue is good for revealing how people think and what biases they have. Notice how each participant in this thread has their own take on what it means.frank

    Absolutely. The core of Scepticism revolves around the recognition of deep (epistemic) subjective relativism, which extends so far as to be able to shape what we are able to perceive. Which is why Scepticism touts the suspension of judgement to the greatest extent possible.
  • frank
    14.9k
    Sounds right. :up:
  • Benj96
    2.3k


    Perhaps free will and determinism both exist as a mutual duality/ neccessary dichotomy. Seems contradictory but:
    The past is fully determined and unchangeable, the future is fully undetermined, uncertain.

    The present moment (where we actually exist and do all our thinking and perception) is the point at which there is transfiguration of the "undetermined" (future) into the "determined" (past). A boundary between the two.

    In that way - one can rationalise the past as having determined the present. But we can also assert the existence of the uncertain future as the factor that fuels possibility/potential, imagination, desires, aspirations and dreams, choices and intent going forward (An act of free will because the basis -ie what the future might hold - is entirely uncertain, unlike the past. It is aspirational despite what may happen, ie hopeful/expectant but not based on something concrete and certain/established -like the past).

    In this way perhaps the mind has both deterministic and free-will methodologies to perceive and understand reality. Neither one nor the other, but a dynamic, an interplay between the two influences.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    Perhaps free will and determinism both exist as a mutual duality/ neccessary dichotomyBenj96

    And I think this is the rational approach. Human beings do act "automatically" in the sense that they enact their own physical "habits", but they can also (to varying degrees) modify their own habits. Life isn't "transactional" it is cyclical. We are constantly re-enacting in a kind of cybernesis into which free will can be injected, with varying degrees of success depending on the individual.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    The proof isn't in the institutions, it is in my immediate perceptions.Pantagruel
    Subjective experience, yes. We all have this. It's sufficient to convince us - to the point of basing all our institutions on it. We cannot do otherwise.
  • Igitur
    24
    Does anyone?Vera Mont

    Good point.

    The evidence is so overwhelmingly on the side of freedom of will (it is the basis of all law, qua responsibility for actions, which is the foundation of civilization) that the burden of proof is certainly on the side of the unfree....Pantagruel

    I tend to agree with this. The determinism argument is significantly less useful as a concept actually utilized than the idea that everyone has agency.

    Conversely, you can prove the existence of free will by proving that it is impossible to construct such app. Hence, the existence of free will is a mathematical problem. It is effectively about an incompleteness proof.Tarskian
    That is exactly what I would say, but not for that reason. I agree with this point completely, and since I have mentioned the difficulties of defining free will, I will define a lack of free will instead.

    In my mind, a lack of free will would look like having that app, and knowing those things, you are incapable of changing the outcome. So, the app is not a factor, because you are not able to respond to it. I would argue that a lack of free will means not that your choices are essentially determined by outside factors (which is arguably inevitable whether or not free will exists) but actually the opposite, the inability to respond to or make different choices when new information (or anything that should influence you) is revealed.

    So, yes, this app's existence would mean a lack of free will, because if the app existed it would cause a continuous change in the future (meaning it would be impossible to show only one outcome because the outcome displayed would change the real future once someone sees it) assuming that there is free will. Without free will, you would see the outcome and be powerless to stop it, making the same choices you would have made without seeing it.

    The only other possibility here is that you see the outcome, and are influenced by it to take actions that assure that outcome. This raises a problem, (unless that thing would have been the future anyway) that the app doesn't actually show the future, but instead the only possibility that would happen if it was shown (and it has to be the only one, because if not what would the app show?). Then I would argue that it is the app that has free will, not you (if it chooses what outcome to show).

    This is not a contradiction but an expansion of your idea.

    I take it you're a compatibilist?flannel jesus
    Maybe a little bit? I sort of believe in causal (or soft or whatever) determinism, but whether everything is causal (which it seems to be) is not actually as significant of a question as the others in the free will discussion.

    that their actions are the consequence of things like "physics" happening - things which their will has no control over.flannel jesus

    This idea is interesting to me because if having the ability to react and be influenced (and having your choices be influenced) by stimuli seems to be the only way you could have free will. I understand why some people think that but it seems to be a question of whether you have will, not whether it is free.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    Maybe a little bit? I sort of believe in causal (or soft or whatever) determinism, but whether everything is causal (which it seems to be) is not actually as significant of a question as the others in the free will discussion.Igitur

    Sounds like compatibilism to me. If you think the question of free will is independent of the question "do we live in a deterministic universe", I consider that compatibilism.

    I'm a compatibilist myself, I agree with a good deal of what you've said here.
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