• Michael
    7.4k
    But, of course, one's will isn't responsible for itself, which is why we don't hold people responsibile for what they want (only what they do).Michael

    Which contrasts with a libertarian conception of free will, which would seem to entail the legitimacy of something like thought police.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.8k
    Because one is one's will, and one's will is responsible for one's actions. Therefore, one's will is responsible for one's actions.Michael

    You said that in the case when one's will is not free, that individual is not responsible for one's actions. You are now saying that one's will is always responsible for one's actions. Or do you have a double standard of responsibility? An individual is always responsible for one's acts, because one is one's will, but in some cases the person is not responsible because one's will isn't free. That doesn't make sense.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    You said that in the case when one's will is not free, that individual is not responsible for one's actions. You are now saying that one's will is always responsible for one's actions. Or do you have a double standard of responsibility? An individual is always responsible for one's acts, because one is one's will, but in some cases the person is not responsible because one's will isn't free. That doesn't make sense.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm excluding cases of coercion, intoxication (to an extent), etc.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Maybe his theory is incompatible with determinism, but it doesn't then follow that evolution is. Evolution is a fact, and according to you so is determinism. Therefore they must be compatible.Michael

    That is pretty nonsensical. Evolution requires ontological chance/randomness. If biodiversity has happened as a deterministic inevitability from the initial conditions of the Big Bang, then the process that has occurred is not Evolution.

    Darwin's exact words on this were:

    If we assume that each particular variation was from the beginning of all time preordained... natural selection or survival of the fittest, must appear to us as superfluous laws of nature.
  • tom
    1.5k
    That just means that randomness is not globally allowed. You still can have local randomness.bahman

    You mean like local randomness for local people? Who is allowing this?
  • Michael
    7.4k
    It's evolution if the heritable characteristics of biological populations have changed over successive generations. It doesn't need to be randomly caused.

    Are you actually trying to deny evolution because determinism is the case? That's a very strange argument to make.
  • tom
    1.5k
    It's evolution if the heritable characteristics of biological populations have changed over successive generations. It doesn't need to be randomly caused.Michael

    You should read some Darwin, particularly the book and chapter I have been referencing.

    Darwin clearly states that if the variations are determined, them natural selection and survival of the fittest are superfluous.

    Darwin thought deeply about this issue, and for a very long time. If you don't understand him, at least show him some respect.

    Are you actually trying to deny evolution because determinism is the case? That's a very strange argument to make.Michael

    Perhaps you should re-read my posts.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    You should read some Darwin, particularly the book and chapter I have been referencing.

    Darwin clearly states that if the variations are determined, them natural selection and survival of the fittest are superfluous.

    Darwin thought deeply about this issue, and for a very long time. If you don't understand him, at least show him some respect.
    tom

    He can say what he likes, but it's still wrong to deny evolution on the grounds that determinism is the case.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    Perhaps you should re-read my posts.tom

    You've said that determinism is the case and that determinism is incompatible with evolution. Therefore the logical conclusion is a denial of evolution (unless you want to argue for an actual paradox?).
  • tom
    1.5k
    He can say what he likes, but it's still wrong to deny evolution on the grounds that determinism is the case.Michael

    So, your argument is that Darwin's words on the matter are irrelevant, and that he is wrong about his own theory.

    I am suppressing laughter.

    I could expand that the Modern Synthesis and Darwin are in concordance on this matter, but I suppose your retort would be that the MS is irrelevant and wrong also.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    So, your argument is that Darwin's words on the matter are irrelevant, and that he is wrong about his own theory.tom

    I didn't say he's wrong about his theory. I said that evolution happened, even if determinism is the case. You seem to equate Darwinist theory with the fact of evolution, which would be wrong. Darwin wasn't right about everything, e.g. pangenesis.

    Although from a brief reading I think you're misunderstanding him. In his own words, "I have hitherto sometimes spoken as if the variations—so common and multiform in organic beings under domestication, and in a lesser degree in those in a state of nature—had been due to chance. This, of course, is a wholly incorrect expression, but it serves to acknowledge plainly our ignorance of the cause of each particular variation." And from the SEP article it would seem that he didn't mean to contrast chance with determinism but with design.
  • bahman
    530
    You mean like local randomness for local people?tom

    This is difficult to explain but I give it a shoot. What I am trying to say is that there is no randomness in the whole if determinism is true. Determinism is not true in a part which interact with the rest of whole. That is true because there is only one chain of causality which dictates how the whole should evolve. There is no chain of causality for the part therefore local randomness is possible.

    Who is allowing this?tom

    This is just happening as a matter of fact.
  • SonJnana
    243
    Because I believe in free will, and for the reasons discussed already, I believe free will is incompatible with determinism.Metaphysician Undercover

    Why do you believe in free will?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.8k
    One can have a will but it might not be responsible for one's actionsMichael

    I'm excluding cases of coercion, intoxication (to an extent), etc.Michael

    I don't understand. You seem to have a double standard of responsibility. In the one case you said: "One can have a will but it might not be responsible for one's actions...". In the other case you said: "... one is one's will, and one's will is responsible for one's actions." In this latter case you made exception for coercion etc..

    So an individual is inseparable from one's will and this is why the individual is responsible for ones actions. But in cases of coercion etc., the person is separated from one's will, so that the will is not responsible for one's actions, something else is. You know that doesn't make sense, because either the person is inseparable from one's will, or not. If some things can separate a person from one's will, then why not other things? And since we're all different, anything in principle could separate a person from one's will. So it's questionable whether a person could really have a will, and it might be just a fiction used to hold people responsible.

    Do you see what I mean? I am responsible for my actions because I am inseparable from my will, and my will is responsible for my actions. But in some cases I am not responsible for my actions because I am separated from my will. So then it's not true that I am inseparable from my will, and not true that I am responsible for my actions. There is no reason to believe "one is one's will". These are clearly distinct because one is only one's will when one is responsible. And if the individual is distinct from the will, then how can the individual ever be responsible?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.8k
    Why do you believe in free will?SonJnana

    I've studied quite a bit of philosophy, especially metaphysics, and I've come to realize that the same principles which make reality intelligible are also the principles which support the notion of free will. This starts with the fundamental difference between past and future which we all recognize in our daily existence.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    I don't understand. You seem to have a double standard of responsibility. In the one case you said: "One can have a will but it might not be responsible for one's actions...". In the other case you said: "... one is one's will, and one's will is responsible for one's actions." In this latter case you made exception for coercion etc..

    So an individual is inseparable from one's will and this is why the individual is responsible for ones actions. But in cases of coercion etc., the person is separated from one's will, so that the will is not responsible for one's actions, something else is. You know that doesn't make sense, because either the person is inseparable from one's will, or not. If some things can separate a person from one's will, then why not other things? And since we're all different, anything in principle could separate a person from one's will. So it's questionable whether a person could really have a will, and it might be just a fiction used to hold people responsible.

    Do you see what I mean? I am responsible for my actions because I am inseparable from my will, and my will is responsible for my actions. But in some cases I am not responsible for my actions because I am separated from my will. So then it's not true that I am inseparable from my will, and not true that I am responsible for my actions. There is no reason to believe "one is one's will". These are clearly distinct because one is only one's will when one is responsible. And if the individual is distinct from the will, then how can the individual ever be responsible?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    In a causal sense you're responsible for all your actions (if your will causes your actions) but in a moral sense you're not responsible if you've been coerced or are otherwise not in the right state of mind.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.8k
    In a causal sense you're responsible for all your actions (if your will causes your actions) but in a moral sense you're not responsible if you've been coerced or are otherwise not in the right state of mind.Michael

    Now I think understand. You, and your will, are always the cause of your actions. But this is irrelevant to morality. Whether you are morally responsible is determined by some other principles. So this is consistent with what you said earlier:

    The difference is that the libertarian wants for the will to be free from prior influence whereas the compatibilist doesn't think it matters.Michael

    Now this brings me back to my original criticism. You have defined, or described "the will", and you have said that whether or not the will is "free" is irrelevant. If this is the case, then the compatibilist position (as described) doesn't really establish compatibility between determinism and free will, it just claims that with respect to morality, the question does not need to be resolved.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    Now this brings me back to my original criticism. You have defined, or described "the will", and you have said that whether or not the will is "free" is irrelevant. If this is the case, then the compatibilist position (as described) doesn't really establish compatibility between determinism and free will, it just claims that with respect to morality, the question does not need to be resolved.Metaphysician Undercover

    It does establish compatibility between determinism and free will because it defines free will in terms that are consistent with determinism: one has free will if one's will is causally responsible for one's actions. I've just also the noted that free will does not always entail moral responsibility. Even the libertarian who defines free will as something like "could have done otherwise" must admit that even in cases of coercion one has free will as blackmail or threats are not sufficient to make it (meta)-physically impossible to pick either of two possible options.
  • Buxtebuddha
    1.8k
    I just want to say that I every time I glance at the the read title I read, "Cannibalism is impossible."
  • Rich
    3.2k
    one has free will if one's will is causally responsible for one's actions.Michael

    There is no such thing as "one", "will", "free", "responsibility" in determinism. These are all illusions that emerge (quite magically) from particles that are simply bouncing around in accordance to the "Laws of Nature". Determinism is only particles and the Laws that guide them. Any other concept pollutes Determinism with non-deterministic ideas. This is why Darwin had to concede that his whole theory was meaningless . Pretty interesting what happens to people when they actually take determinism seriously.
  • Janus
    6.1k


    And your own actions have demonstrated that this is erroneous?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.8k
    It does establish compatibility between determinism and free will because it defines free will in terms that are consistent with determinism: one has free will if one's will is causally responsible for one's actions.Michael

    As I pointed out "free" here has no meaning. One's will is by your description causally responsible for one's actions. Whether one's will is free relative to a particular action is determined by moral responsibility. If the person was coerced or such, the person's will was not free.

    So you cannot say that "free will" is defined in this way without equivocating with the word "free". You claim that one's will is always causally responsible for one's actions, and this is "free will". Yet when the person is not morally responsible due to coercion, the person"s will is not free. What exactly does "free" mean to you in "free will"?

    As I've said already, I don't think you've defined "free will" at all. You have defined "will", and whether or not the will is free is another issue. You haven't yet defined what "free" means, because you allow that a person's will, which is the cause of one's actions, may or may not be free from duress. So you need to clear up this issue with the meaning of "free". Your definition claims that if the will is the cause of one's actions then it is a free will, yet you allow that under duress the will is still the cause of one's actions, but it is in some important way, not free.

    Perhaps the solution is to remove "free" from the compatibilist's conception of will. The compatibilist has a conception of "will" which is compatible with determinism. But it would be deceptive to say that this is a conception of "free will" because the word "free" here doesn't do anything at all, except to mislead.
  • sime
    198
    You believe in determinism, yes?
    Determinism as I understand it is that for every event there exist conditions that could cause no other event. Therefore the event of one making a decision would be due to past conditions that could cause no other event, yes?
    SonJnana


    Supposing I insisted " Having seen five white swans, it has been determined that all swans are white". Clearly this statement only expresses my behavioural disinclination to presuppose swans of any other colour.

    One might object that this example is not representative of a statement of determinism, but i beg to differ. All examples of determinism, whether physical, logical, mathematical or social are universal generalisations of this form; they consist a finite number of assertions along with a proposed rule for generating an unlimited number of similar assertions, and yet no finite supply of assertions considered independently of one's behavioural dispositions can justify even a single inference, never mind an unlimited number of them. Rather, what we call a "rational justification in response to evidence" is how we believe we should react to evidence to be successful. One might say like Wittgenstein that our beliefs are groundless, i.e. they have no epistemological justification except for our anticipatory feelings of success.

    Universal generalisations are not empirical facts, nor are they even empirical statements. Rather they are proposed rules for generating new hypotheses for pragmatic purposes. For example, accepting my previous universal statement means that I condone the invention of a testable hypothesis such as "the next ten swans observed will be white".

    Hence the notion of determinism does not describe states of affairs independent of our behavioural compulsions, rather it expresses what we feel we are able to do in response to our observations. Universal statements over an open domain are not truth-apt 'in themselves'. Rather to take the universal statement as being true reflects one's disposition to act in accordance with it.


    The only argument that I've come across with compatibilists in the past is that they redefine free will as a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will. Hume also redefines free will this way (you can correct me if I'm wrong about that).

    However that misses the whole point of what hard determinists mean when they say there is no free will. If you redefine free will that way, you aren't taking a different position than hard determinists in their argument. You are forming a completely different argument because free will has been redefined. I doubt many hard determinists would argue that there isn't a clear difference between a decision where eat pizza because you like it and a decision where you eat pizza because there is a person holding a gun to your head telling you to eat pizza.
    SonJnana

    Hard determinists appear to believe that determinism is a metaphysical or physical fact of nature that is independent and separate from our conscious choices, hence as you say, they appear to reduce conscious choice to determinism as a separate, unconscious and pre-psychological notion.

    In contrast I am saying that determinism expresses nothing more than the feeling of having a gun held to your held. Furthermore, I am saying that one has the choice whether or not to interpret the statements of physics, logic, and mathematics as constituting such a gun.

    If you feel that what you know and think about nature determines your choices, then you are correct. But if you feel they do not, then you are also correct.
  • Michael
    7.4k


    One has a will, but whether or not it is causally responsible for one's actions is debatable (see here). If it is then we have free will, according to the compatibilist, and if it isn't then we don't. Talk about the will being free isn't talk about whether or not the will is free from external influence but talk about whether or not the will is free (able) to direct one's behaviour.

    One could be a compatibilist in that one believes that free will is compatible with determinism but not believe that we actually have free will (e.g. if our behaviour is determined by subconscious activity rather than conscious will as the aforementioned article suggests), so it would be wrong to say that the compatibilist has only defined "will" and not "free will".

    Your definition claims that if the will is the cause of one's actions then it is a free will, yet you allow that under duress the will is still the cause of one's actions, but it is in some important way, not free.

    A libertarian would make much the same claim. They define "free will" as something like "could have done otherwise", which obtains even in cases of duress. Despite the gun to my head, it is still (meta-)physically possible to disobey. So in the strict sense we do have free will even when coerced. It's just that we also have a lesser sense of "free will" that takes into account things like duress or not being in the right state of mind.

    So it might be useful to distinguish between causal free will and moral free will. The libertarian defines causal free will as "the ability to do otherwise" and the compatibilist defines causal free will as "one's will being the cause of one's behaviour". And then both define moral free will as "having causal free will and being in the right state of mind and not being coerced".
  • Michael
    7.4k
    There is no such thing as "one", "will", "free", "responsibility" in determinism. These are all illusions that emerge (quite magically) from particles that are simply bouncing around in accordance to the "Laws of Nature". Determinism is only particles and the Laws that guide them. Any other concept pollutes Determinism with non-deterministic ideas. This is why Darwin had to concede that his whole theory was meaningless . Pretty interesting what happens to people when they actually take determinism seriously.Rich

    I wonder if your argument is self-defeating. If there are only particles and the laws that guide them then there surely there's no such thing as an illusion (or Darwin or theories or ideas or taking something seriously, etc.)?
  • Rich
    3.2k
    I wonder if your argument is self-defeating. If there are only particles and the laws that guide them then there surely there's no such thing as an illusion (or Darwin or theories or ideas or taking something seriously, etc.)?Michael

    This is ultimately the problem with Determinism. How does it explain ANYTHING if the universe is just bouncing particles? It can't!, So it makes all of conscious and everything we experience an illusion! How does this illusion materialize, emerge? Well we get all kinds of ridiculous explanations such as the Existence of a Thermal-dynamic Imperative or Selfish Genes or whatever (totally fabricated concepts) which in themselves mean nothing.

    In itself, Determinism explains nothing and means nothing. It is this idea that everything is Determined which is similar to Calvinism with the concept of Laws of Nature replacing God. And if you want to know why something is the way it is, you just refer to b the omnipotence of the Laws of Nature. Determinism is a religion, pure and simple, and scientists who believe in it are the priests.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    This is ultimately the problem with Determinism. How does it explain ANYTHING if the universe is just bouncing particles? It can't!Rich

    Firstly, you seem to conflate determinism and physicalism. You can claim that the universe is just bouncing particles without claiming that they do so in a deterministic manner.

    Secondly, claiming that the universe is just bouncing particles doesn't entail that you have to explain everything in such a reductionist way. A physicalist is quite capable of talking about a molecule as a single thing without having to specify that "it's actually a collection of different particles", or talking about a tree as a single thing without having to specify that "it's actually a collection of different molecules", and so on.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.8k
    One has a will, but whether or not it is causally responsible for one's actions is debatable (see here). If it is then we have free will, according to the compatibilist, and if it isn't then we don't. Talk about the will being free isn't talk about whether or not the will is free from external influence but talk about whether or not the will is free (able) to direct one's behaviour.Michael

    I find that to be a very odd set of definitions. Each of us has a will, and our wills may or may not be the cause of our actions. If the will is the cause of our actions then the will is free. That's a strange use of the word "free". Wouldn't the will be more free, if it were free to either cause our actions or not cause our actions? But instead, you say that when the will is constrained, to cause one's actions then it is free.

    That's a definition of "free will" which I would designate as unacceptable. You describe the will in a free state, free to either cause or not cause an individual's actions. Then you describe a constrained will, one which must cause the person's actions, and you say that this is a "free" will. So in your definition "free" has a meaning which is opposite to what it normally means. When the thing is constrained from its natural state, it is said to be free. The "will" itself is free to either cause or not cause human actions, but it is only said to be a "free will" when it is constrained to be causing human actions.

    There's a very important aspect of the free will which you do not seem to be accounting for. This is the power which the will has to refrain from activity, what we call "will power". It is through will power that we break our bad habits, maintain our resolve, allowing ourselves to proceed toward new things. This is where the original philosophical sense of "free will" comes from, in work such as Augustine's. We have the power to break away from the habits which our material bodies have established, to follow pure intellectual principles in contemplation. That is why the will is said to be "free". It is not constrained by the habits of the body, to cause those activities which have been habitualized. We can designate those habits as "bad" and the free will has the power to break them. The traditional concept of "free will" associates the freedom of the will with our capacity to prevent our actions, not to cause them.

    How would you account for the existence of "will power" under the compatibilist definition of "free will"? It could not be the free will which constrains human activity, because the will is only said to be free when it causes human activity. How would you account for this capacity which we have, to refrain from habitual activities which have been determined as bad, if it's not the free will which gives us the power of restraint?
  • Rich
    3.2k
    Firstly, you seem to conflate determinism and physicalism.Michael

    The two depend upon each other. Introducing any other concepts pollutes determinism with non-determinism. We (and all of experience) is an illusion emerging from bouncing particles. Hence, Darwin's reluctant concession that his explanation had no relevance, it is an illusion everything from a deterministic universe (as is quantum theory for that matter). EVERYTHING is subsidiary to the Laws of Nature (God).
  • Michael
    7.4k
    find that to be a very odd set of definitions. Each of us has a will, and our wills may or may not be the cause of our actions. If the will is the cause of our actions then the will is free. That's a strange use of the word "free". Wouldn't the will be more free, if it were free to either cause our actions or not cause our actions? But instead, you say that when the will is constrained, to cause one's actions then it is free.Metaphysician Undercover

    The compatibilist probably wouldn't phrase it like that. They'd say "if the will is the cause of our actions then we have free will". In talking about the will being free you're tacitly implying a libertarian definition of "free will", and so all you're really arguing is that the compatibilist's definition is incompatible with the libertarian's definition.

    Free will, for the compatibilist, isn't a matter of whether or not the will is free to choose from more than one outcome but a matter of whether or not we are responsible for our behaviour. And as I've said before, there are two different senses of responsibility: causal and moral. We're causally responsible if the will is the cause of our behaviour and we're morally responsible if we're causally responsible, in the right state of mind, and not under any unreasonable duress.

    There's a very important aspect of the free will which you do not seem to be accounting for. This is the power which the will has to refrain from activity, what we call "will power". It is through will power that we break our bad habits, maintain our resolve, allowing ourselves to proceed toward new things. This is where the original philosophical sense of "free will" comes from, in work such as Augustine's. We have the power to break away from the habits which our material bodies have established, to follow pure intellectual principles in contemplation. That is why the will is said to be "free". It is not constrained by the habits of the body, to cause those activities which have been habitualized. We can designate those habits as "bad" and the free will has the power to break them. The traditional concept of "free will" associates the freedom of the will with our capacity to prevent our actions, not to cause them.

    How would you account for the existence of "will power" under the compatibilist definition of "free will"? It could not be the free will which constrains human activity, because the will is only said to be free when it causes human activity. How would you account for this capacity which we have, to refrain from habitual activities which have been determined as bad, if it's not the free will which gives us the power of restraint?

    If my will causes me to turn down the alcohol then it is responsible for me not accepting and drinking the alcohol. So I don't see why we can't say that determinism allows for the capacity to prevent some action or another.
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