• Pippen
    67
    Many neurobiologists conclude from premises X, Y, Z to the conclusion that our will is unfree. But that means that their very argument is based on unfree reasoning, i.e. having no alternatives, undermining any confidence or justification in that process and therefore in the conclusion. If you have no choice what to think it's basically circular reasoning: you can just hope your one way is right, no other chance since no other way.

    How do these people deal with this problem, because I never saw them deal with it. They usually just discuss the brain, Libet, neuronal levels etc. and how physics (causation, randomness) governs all of that so that we are also governed by it, but they seem to fail to deal with the fact that it seems self-refuting to believe in unfree will (determinism).
  • Terrapin Station
    9.9k
    The whole notion of "free reasoning" seems rather odd. That doesn't seem to mesh with the logical notions of validity, soundness, implication, etc. We don't choose what follows logically.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.8k
    Physical and chemical processes are the means by which bodies and brains operate. It might be an error to suppose that the means and output are the same thing.

    Did "I decide to respond" to the title of this thread, or was "I compelled to respond"? Did this series of symbols on the landing page of TPF "Unfree will (determinism), special problem" caused me to respond? Or, was I moved by my interest in the perplexing issue of will--determined, free, or a combination of compulsion and freedom?

    People don't seem to be entirely free to respond however they wish (or we wish they would), and they don't seem to be automatons, either. (Of course, if we were all automatons, we wouldn't, couldn't care or notice that we were.)

    It seems impossible to claim all freedom or all compulsion in our behavior.
  • Pippen
    67
    The whole notion of "free reasoning" seems rather odd. That doesn't seem to mesh with the logical notions of validity, soundness, implication, etc. We don't choose what follows logically.Terrapin Station

    Actually we do, because we choose our rules of logic out of many possible alternatives, because they work better than others and because they persuade better than others. If we had just our rules and couldn't think of alternatives, then how to trust them since we couldn't compare them to alternatives? It seems the notion of freedom is built into our logic and proof systems thru bivalance: you never have just p, you always have p v ~p available. But determinism undermines this notion and leads to one-dimensionality we can't make sense of and can't trust therefore.

    If I understand these determinists rightly they basically say this: XYZ is true and from there it follows determinism/unfree will; yes, that also means this very proof/logic is determined but we just trust that the proof/logic is determined to be correct, giving us the truth, because ?!? we just trust, period. So basically all deteminism is religious and irrational eventually. That doesn't help libertarism though since that position would be just circular since we just saw that freedom is a-priori within our logical apparatus. So it's kind of like with God: nobody can prove anything rationally, so atheists and theists just toss around their irrational ideas that are more or lesss popular/believed. Is it that?
  • Terrapin Station
    9.9k


    So would you say that you're choosing to believe the principle of noncontradiction, for example, where you could just as easily choose to believe the opposite?
  • Pippen
    67
    So would you say that you're choosing to believe the principle of noncontradiction, for example, where you could just as easily choose to believe the opposite?Terrapin Station

    No, I choose to believe in non-contradiction, because it compares better to the alternative (contradictions). Without an alternative you can't compare, without comparison you have very little information, because you just have some p, which can be T oder F, but it's wide open if you just got p and no alternative like ~p.
  • Pippen
    67
    Just that we not forget it: the question is if one can hold determinism rationally because it seems in case one holds determinism, i.e. thinks determinism is true, one has no reason to trust ones thinking since it's determined itself. It seems we need to hold free will as a position, it seems our epistemological apparatus presupposes some freedom to work properly from our perspective. But if that is the case then determinism is not a rational position at all, as well as its counterpart (since it's presupposed in us), so the whole free/unfree will problem is undecideable.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.9k
    No, I choose to believe in non-contradiction, because it compares betterPippen

    Are you choosing that it "compares better"?
  • christian2017
    295


    i agree with this. Even if determinism was true it can be extremely dangerous over the long term and possibly comforting in the short term. On a different not i believe forgiveness is critical for any given society.
  • Forgottenticket
    148
    I think for science to function there has to be accidents in nature that the method is filtering out. If everything operated as billiard balls then it would be a demonstration video not an experiment.

    As far as neuroscience goes, I don't think brains look deterministic by a long shot. The best neuroscientists stick to the science and tend to discuss how XYZ can help stroke victims, recover lost senses ect. Neurodevelopment is too complex to made broad arguments for/against long dead male philosophers.
  • luckswallowsall
    46
    "How do these people deal with this problem, because I never saw them deal with it. They usually just discuss the brain, Libet, neuronal levels etc. and how physics (causation, randomness) governs all of that so that we are also governed by it, but they seem to fail to deal with the fact that it seems self-refuting to believe in unfree will (determinism)."

    Free will is impossible with or without determinism and it's not circular reasoning ... it's a basic argument. Namely:

    (1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to control your fundamental nature.

    (2) But you can't control your fundamental nature.

    (3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.

    This is true with or without determinism.
  • Pippen
    67
    Free will is impossible with or without determinism and it's not circular reasoning ... it's a basic argument. Namely:

    (1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to control your fundamental nature.

    (2) But you can't control your fundamental nature.

    (3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.

    This is true with or without determinism.
    luckswallowsall

    But from your (3) it also follows that you can't control your very argument, so how can you believe in it? That's exactly my problem.
  • Couchyam
    22

    I'm having trouble accepting (2) as self-evident. To my knowledge, there has been a significant body of philosophical work devoted to the cultivation of virtue. Are virtues not part of one's fundamental nature?
  • aporiap
    155
    There are 2 assumptions you are making that are a bit problematic:

    1. Determinism and ‘unfreewill’ are synonymous
    2. Unfreewill implies reasoning is circular

    Im still not sure how you came to the second assumption. You can have a deterministic processs that lets you compare and consider all alternative explanations for something. And the first is not true. They’re distinct concepts and there are many people ready to defend the belief that both are compatible with each other
  • yupamiralda
    81
    Probably all of our choices are determined. However, we have the illusion of free will. That's all that matters. What use is it to think "I don't control my thoughts"?
  • Hanover
    4.6k
    But from your (3) it also follows that you can't control your very argument, so how can you believe in it? That's exactly my problem.Pippen

    That's the problem with determinism. The conclusion we reach is determined by preexisting causes, not necessarily by the force of the accuracy of the argument. If one makes an argument, it is assumed the conclusion is accepted because it makes sense, not because you were forced to accept it, but that's inconsistent with determinism.
  • Eseitch
    7
    I love determinism. I think we don't have free will at all.

    There are choices you can make and choices that are already taken. And think how immensely the latter has influenced your life. You didn't choose your parents; you didn't choose your homeland; the age you were born into; your face; your race; and you can't freely determine which scientific hypothesis should be correct. Your parents themselves didn't choose such things either.
    Truth is like a fossil buried deep in our ignorance. Even if we have no idea about it, it's there, determined.
  • luckswallowsall
    46
    I don't have to "control" my argument in order to present it or believe in it. If determinism is true it doesn't mean we can't give arguments or believe things.
  • luckswallowsall
    46
    Our fundamental nature goes much deeper than virtues.

    if you try to change the way you are that comes about through the way you already are, and if you try to change that it comes about through how you already are before that, and so on. Fundamentally we can't change our essence ... our essence changes by itself due to how our essence already was previously.
  • Couchyam
    22
    But isn't the world bigger than any one person? How does one decouple 'essence' from the rest of the universe, which includes conscious experience?
  • luckswallowsall
    46
    One cannot decouple one's essence from the rest of the universe which is precisely why one cannot be free. We do what we do because of the big bang or we do what we do because of the universe's probabilistic acausal nature ... in either case, we can't control our nature.
  • Couchyam
    22
    Well, even assuming the universe is perfectly causal, who controls (or even knows) its initial conditions? What 'determines' them? Is it possible that the actions of a human being could in theory be interpreted by a qualified judge as willfully "writing" those initial conditions through their choices? People accept as much responsibility as they can personally tolerate. Our circumstances are largely beyond our control, but circumstance alone doesn't eliminate the possibility of freedom.
  • Willyfaust
    21
    If u ignore contextual and interpersonal past variables, u have free will. We extend ourselves from the past. I will now choose to eat pizza, I did not choose to be hungry.
  • Arne
    363
    but it does mean that the arguments we give and the things we believe are determined.
  • luckswallowsall
    46
    And philosophical determinism doesn't imply scientific determinism.

    Furthermore. ... I wouldn't describe a random essence that decides our behavior as a determinist one. Even if it 'determines' it in the sense that it's due to our random nature that our behavior is random.

    Philosophical determinism is not implied. That's the point. Philosophical determinism is the view that there is only one possible future ... and there's nothing about the argument I provided that requires that truth.
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