• anonymous66
    626
    Assuming we all agree that the concept of Free Will is a coherent concept, then....

    Is belief in, or rejection of free will a matter of faith? Is it even possible to be agnostic on the issue? (Edit: How would someone who is agnostic about free will act?)
    1. Is Belief in, or Rejection of Free Will a Matter of Faith? (11 votes)
        Yes
        27%
        No
        36%
        Other
        36%
  • Michael
    7.4k
    I selected "Other" as I don't think it's often clear what it even means to have free will.
  • Mongrel
    3k
    It can be a matter of temperament (so relying heavily on emotional bias).

    It's also possible to accept and reject it at the same time (as in the case of Schopenhauer).
  • anonymous66
    626
    I selected "Other" as I don't think it's often clear what it even means to have free will.Michael

    Are you responsible for your actions? or are you merely a victim of a deterministic universe? Are you convinced by the supposed evidence coming from neuroscience that suggests we don't really control our own actions (because it is really our uncontrollable subconscious that makes all decisions)- that all feelings of choice are really just illusion?
  • Michael
    7.4k


    And what does it mean to be responsible for your actions? What is the self? Are responsibility and determinism even incompatible? These sorts of questions need to be answered first.
  • anonymous66
    626
    I read Harris' book on Free Will, and he and others are really trying to convince all of us that Free Will is and can only be an illusion- because the universe is determinisitic in nature.
  • anonymous66
    626
    As an example, If you were convicted of a crime. Imagine that you're standing before the judge. Do you take responsibility? or do you say (or think to yourself) , "because of the nature of our universe, I literally had no choice in the matter."
  • Michael
    7.4k
    Asking me questions doesn't answer my questions.
  • anonymous66
    626
    I think it helps to consider real life situations. My theory is that one can't be agnostic. One will either act like one is responsible (act like you have free will), or one will act like one is not responsible (act like you don't have free will).
  • Michael
    7.4k
    And what's the difference between acting like one is responsible and acting like one is not responsible? And what's the difference between actually being responsible and actually being not responsible?

    I think your posts highlight the exact point that I made. It's not even clear what it means to have free will. It seems to be one of those things that people talk about but, when they reflect on it, find themselves unable to actually make sense of. Which then suggests that there's no actual content to their belief. It's just empty assertions.
  • anonymous66
    626
    I think I hear you saying that the concept of Free Will is incoherent. Is that a valid summation? Or are you saying that you personally don't understand the concept?
  • Michael
    7.4k
    I'm saying that the concept hasn't been explained to me. You mention this thing called "free will" and I'm asking you to tell me what it is. What's the difference between being and not being responsible for one's actions?
  • anonymous66
    626
    What do you think it means? You must have come across the concept before this thread. Based on your responses, I think a valid assumption on my part, is that you are actually making a positive claim. Your claim being, "the very concept of free will is incoherent."

    So, I'm perfectly justified in asking, "How did come to that conclusion?"
  • tom
    1.5k
    I'll vote other/confused.

    Free will is axiomatic in science, and explicitly so in quantum mechanics. The experimenter has to be able to set up her apparatus as she wishes.

    However, many scientists (maybe even most) deny free will. Very odd!
  • anonymous66
    626
    However, many scientists (maybe even most) deny free will. Very odd!tom

    I haven't gotten a sense of whether or not there is a consensus among scientists.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    I don't know what it means, which is why I'm asking. I've certainly come across the concept, but only in the sense that people talk about it – but like you, they don't actually explain it.

    The same is true with the concept of Platonic Forms and the soul and obligation (or morality in general).
  • anonymous66
    626
    What explanations have you come across in the past? Why did you reject them?

    Or you are literally claiming that no one has ever explained what they mean by free will?

    Which definitions are you rejecting? and why?
  • Michael
    7.4k
    Either they've avoided explaining it, like you, or they've provided an explanation which, upon closer examination, leads to a conclusion that's contrary to their intentions.

    So, again, could you explain to me what you mean? What's the difference between being responsible and not being responsible for one's actions?
  • anonymous66
    626
    Just look at our discussion. I ask you to explain it and you avoid it. That's what others do.Michael

    If you could explain what definitions of free will you are rejecting, it might help.
  • Michael
    7.4k


    Just look at our discussion. I ask you to explain it and you avoid it. That's what others do. So rather than wonder why it hasn't been explained to me, why don't you actually explain it to me.
  • anonymous66
    626
    Take the time to check the link...

    Are you rejecting all explanations as incoherent? or just some of them?
  • Michael
    7.4k
    I haven't been given a definition. So give me a definition. Explain to me the difference between being responsible and not being responsible for my actions.
  • anonymous66
    626

    Try this link...

    Are you rejecting all those explanations as incoherent? or just some of them?
  • Michael
    7.4k
    Pick the one that you agree with. I have neither the time nor the space to look at and address all of them.
  • anonymous66
    626
    I don't know if it's going to happen... but, I'd like you to acknowledge that people have taken the time to explain the concept of free will. I wonder what you think of those explanations.

    I understand that some people do reject the entire idea of free will as incoherent. I think it's reasonable to ask, "What concept of free will do you have in mind, when you reject the concept of free will?"
  • Michael
    7.4k
    Not in any meaningful sense. Like you they'll "explain" it as "we have free will if we're responsible for our actions" but then don't explain what it means to be responsible for our actions, or they'll "explain" it as "we have free will if we choose how to behave" but then don't explain what it means to choose how to behave.

    Now, for the last time – because this is getting tiresome – are you going to explain to me the difference between being responsible and not being responsible for one's actions? Because if you're not then I'm going to take it as confirmation of my claim that the concept of free will is nebulous, if not entirely vacuous, that you don't even know what you mean by such a thing, and so that there isn't even anything for you to believe or not believe in (hence my selection of "Other" in the poll).
  • anonymous66
    626
    Because if you're not then I'm going to take it as confirmation of my claim that the concept of free will is nebulous, if not entirely vacuous, that you don't even know what you mean by such a thing, and so that there isn't even anything to believe or not believe in (hence my selection of "Other" in the poll).Michael
    Well, you'd be wrong. I'm more interested in what other people think about the concept. I still don't know if you literally have not read anything on the subject, or if you just reject the explanations you have read, because you came to the conclusion that they are incoherent.

    It's one thing to reject the concept, and another to refuse to read anything about it.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    I still don't know if you literally have not read anything on the subject, or if you just reject the explanations you have read, because you came to the conclusion that they are incoherent.

    It's one thing to reject the concept, and another to refuse to read anything about it.
    anonymous66

    I've read about it, but like I said, the explanations don't amount to much of an explanation at all (or, upon closer examination, don't actually convey what is intended). As such, it seems that the notion of free will isn't at all clear, and so there's nothing of substance to either believe or not believe in.

    I'm more interested in what other people think about the concept.

    And I've told you what I think about it. So if you want to show that what I think about it is mistaken then you need to actually provide me with a meaningful account of free will, of the difference between being responsible and not being responsible for one's actions, of what it means to make a choice, and so on. It's only then that we can look to see whether or not there are good reasons to believe one way or the other.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Is belief in, or rejection of free will a matter of faith? Is it even possible to be agnostic on the issue?anonymous66
    Let's see - to sin or not to sin - that's the vulgar understanding of free will. If that is so, then you must admit the possibility of sin for free will to even make sense. But that seems strange - for free will, a good thing, depends on the possibility of sin, a bad thing. This doesn't make good theological sense, thus St. Anselm proposed free will to be defined as the ability to choose the Good for its own sake, and for no other reason. Thus free will depends on love, which depends on Goodness. So if you believe in virtue (goodness), you also believe in free will.
  • Barry Etheridge
    349


    Yes, no and other. For starters you've got to decide what you mean by faith. If faith is voluntary then it proves the existence of some degree of free will in which case it becomes a matter of knowledge rather than faith anyway. If on the other hand faith is involuntary, if you cannot help what it is you believe, then is it really faith at all? The whole question is so beset with paradoxes that it ultimately becomes meaningless.

    Consider the position of someone who accepts the existence of free will. Presumably consistency demands that he or she accepts that they have freely chosen to believe in the existence of free will which means that they could equally have chosen not to believe in the existence of free will but if they had so chosen then they would have been committed to the view that there was no such choice even though they had just made it. Similarly the determinist, if consistent, must accept that the dice could have landed either way and it is equally possible that they could be a believer in the existence of free will which would have committed them to accepting that the decision was a free one even though it was pre-determined.

    Ultimately it is an undecidable question and the truth is that we are doomed to a life of acting as though free will exists (even the most ardent determinist has to decide what to have for breakfast) without ever knowing one way or the other. I'm really not sure that 'faith' even begins to describe how we stand relative to an undecidable proposition.
  • anonymous66
    626
    I modified my OP to add the following. "Assuming we all agree that the concept of Free Will is a coherent concept, then...."

    I do understand there are various ways to describe and define free will. I'd rather talk about the descriptions that do exist, including the pros and cons, vs make my own claims about free will.

    I understand that some people truly believe the entire concept of free will to be incoherent, to such an extent they believe there can be no valid explanation of free will, such that it can be said "free will does exist".

    Others understand that there are various ways to describe and define free will, and that some definitions of free will are more likely to be the case than others. For these people, they could be convinced that free will is the case, depending on how it is defined.
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