• TheMadFool
    3.3k
    I hope I don't have to define Freewill but what I understand of it is that to possess it one must be able to make choices without being influenced by anything.

    Freewill is usually contrasted with determinism which is the belief that the any state of affairs is causally specified by what comes before it.

    What is of note is that to understand x we need an explanation y and, the fact is, ALL explanations are causal in nature and that means, to explain freewill (necessary to comprehend it) we need to construct a causal model of it. That, it seems to me, is deterministic in flavor from the get go which Freewill, if extant, is NOT supposed to be.

    Do you agree, then, that Freewill can't be understood because it can't be explained since that would require a causal (deterministic) model?
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    I think we have to rethink the standard understanding of the term "free will."

    Totally uncaused "free will" would just be chaos. Imagine if you made choices without being caused to make those choices by rationality, life lessons, experience, values, etc.? It would just be random firings of the brain. Where is the freedom in that?

    So, in a sense, determinism is what makes having choices possible.

    Tom Clark is good for understanding how we should come to think of free will within a determined universe:
    http://www.naturalism.org/philosophy/free-will/fully-caused-coming-to-terms-with-determinism

    and :
    http://www.naturalism.org/philosophy/free-will/dont-forget-about-me

    Also some helpful articles collected here:
    https://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/dfwIntroIndex.htm
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    I hope I don't have to define Freewill but what I understand of it is that to possess it one must be able to make choices without being influenced by anything.TheMadFool

    It is obviously impossible not to be influenced by anything when making choices. A choice would not be possible without influences; we'd have nothing to graduate the decision by.

    Do you agree, then, that Freewill can't be understood because it can't be explained since that would require a causal (deterministic) model?TheMadFool

    I agree with your analysis. I think we are just like computers, our inputs (senses) determine our outputs (what we say and do).

    So, in a sense, determinism is what makes having choices possibleNKBJ

    The choices we make are determined by emotions (glands, hormones), logic, memory and senses. All of these things operate in a deterministic manner. I'm with Einstein on this one: free will is an illusion.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    I'm with Einstein on this one: free will is an illusion.Devans99

    It's like you didn't bother reading my post.
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    I did try to read your post. I'm of the opinion that free will can be understood; we have none. Am I missing something?
  • NKBJ
    1.1k


    You have a simplistic and outdated understanding of free will.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    I like to be naive about this. If I am not imprisoned, then I am free to come and go at will. I may be confined to bed by illness, or I may be confined to a cell at her majesty's pleasure. My freedom, however, extends to anything that is determined by my will, and not by circumstance.

    To pretend that there is no difference between being confined and being unconfined is merely to refuse to engage with the topic.

    The philosophical difficulty is that one has to believe that the past is completely determined, and that will completes this determination; but one has also to believe that one's decisions remain undetermined until one determines them. One can only decide anything on the basis that the decision is efficacious.

    There is a sense of 'determine' that means 'to find out'. Imagine the world as a computer game - fully determined in its internal workings, but requiring input from the player via a controller. These posts don't write themselves, do they?
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    The choices we make are determined by emotions (glands, hormones), logic, memory and senses. All of these things operate in a deterministic manner. I'm with Einstein on this one: free will is an illusion.Devans99

    It's contradictory to speak of choices and then claim free will is an illusion.
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    It's contradictory to speak of choices and then claim free will is an illusion.NKBJ

    OK by 'choices' I meant 'the things that we do'.

    Making a 'decision' is just like running a computer program IMO: same data, same program, always same results.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    Making a 'decision' is just like running a computer program IMO: same data, same program, always same resultsDevans99

    That's because it's reasonable to choose the same thing given the same data.
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    That's because it's reasonable to choose the same thing given the same dataNKBJ

    So therefore there is no free will. We respond to input data in a deterministic manner. No choice is involved.
  • whollyrolling
    412
    It's contradictory to speak of choices and then claim free will is an illusion.NKBJ

    Not if choices are also an illusion.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    So therefore there is no free will. We respond to input data in a deterministic manner. No choice is involved.Devans99

    It's both. We use reason to make choices based on determined data.
  • Devans99
    1.9k
    It's both. We use reason to make choices based on determined data.NKBJ

    But the logic we use is deterministic logic. We go from deterministic input data, through deterministic logic to deterministic output data.

    We can never do it, but if you could put a person in exactly the same situation and state say 1000 times then I would guess them to make the same decision 1000 times out of a 1000 (even for something as arbitrary as 'will it be heads or tails?').
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    We can never do it, but if you could put a person in exactly the same situation and state say 1000 times then I would guess them to make the same decision 1000 times out of a 1000 (even for something as arbitrary as 'will it be heads or tails?').Devans99

    That's the thing: we can't think of free will as arbitrary. That wouldn't be any kind of freedom or will at all.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k


    I really suggest you at least read the first article I posted. It will answer a lot of your concerns.
  • christian2017
    295
    That's the thing: we can't think of free will as arbitrary. That wouldn't be any kind of freedom or will at all.NKBJ

    I believe the key to thinking we have free will is to intentionally limit our understanding to some extent. This is a future case. I believe at some point in the future our ability to predict the future will be tremendously enhanced. Free will is the product of being ignorant of all the laws and notions that make reality real. Its like playing chess against a human opponent instead of Rybka. For Rybka to lose more often it designers would have to purposely limit its knowledge of the game of chess.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    one must be able to make choices without being influenced by anything.TheMadFool

    Let's try to charitably understand this. I choose chocolate ice cream freely because I am only influenced by my liking for chocolate ice cream. If you have a gun to my head and promise to shoot me unless i choose vomit tutti frutti flavour, then my choice is not free, and I may well choose against my will and according to your will.

    Strictly speaking, I would say I am still free to defy you and your tutti frutti fascism, but there again, one must pick one's battles.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    I choose chocolate ice cream freely because I am only influenced by my liking for chocolate ice cream. If you have a gun to my head and promise to shoot me unless i choose vomit tutti frutti flavour, then my choice is not free, and I may well choose against my will and according to your will.unenlightened

    Right.
    And to choose a flavor absent any influences whatsoever would just be random. It wouldn't even be your "choice."
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    Well I can imagine never having had ice cream before, and having no idea what favourite would be. So I choose on a whim. Still my choice, still free, no?
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    Well I can imagine never having had ice cream before, and having no idea what favourite would be. So I choose on a whim. Still my choice, still free, no?unenlightened

    Your whim is still going to be influenced by the tastes of foods you know you like.

    But besides that, would you really want people going around making uncaused choices all the time?
  • Anaxagoras
    349


    Because we don't have it, not completely...
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    Your whim is still going to be influenced by the tastes of foods you know you like.NKBJ

    Maybe, maybe not. Maybe my lottery numbers are influenced by something or other, maybe not. I think it is a matter of faith that they 'must be'.

    But besides that, would you really want people going around making uncaused choices all the time?

    Oh, I didn't realise I had the choice. :joke: Can I suggest that reasons are not necessarily causes? I might choose an unknown flavour on one occasion, and stick with something I know I like on another. Each has its reasons.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    . I think it is a matter of faith that they 'must be'.unenlightened

    How do you figure that? Lottery numbers are generated by computers and those have algorithms. Definitely caused and determined.

    Can I suggest that reasons are not necessarily causes?unenlightened

    If a reason causes you to do something, then it is a cause.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    How do you figure that? Lottery numbers are generated by computers and those have algorithms. Definitely caused and determined.NKBJ

    No. I can pick my own numbers for my ticket.

    If a reason causes you to do something, then it is a cause.NKBJ

    Well yes, that's a bit tautological. But perhaps reasons are not the kind of thing that causes anything. It certainly seems that I can have a reason to do something and yet not do it.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k
    Free will was invented as a means to exonerate the God of Abraham from the existence of evil.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    It certainly seems that I can have a reason to do something and yet not do it.unenlightened

    You'd have other reasons that caused your action, though.
  • christian2017
    295


    Free will was invented as a means to exonerate the God of Abraham from the existence of evil.creativesoul

    What about all the non Abrahamic religions? I feel this is getting off topic.
  • creativesoul
    5.4k


    Off topic? I just told you the very origin of the term... It was a response to Epicurus' argument.
  • Mariner
    366
    Free will and determinism are complementary notions, one does not have meaning without the other.
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