Sorry, that wasn't really an argument. It was meant to be more a first reduction of Sam's choice to desires. I was trying to show the direction an argument might have gone, which was meant to serve as a counterexample to Jake simply stating his position on Sam's situation.
Now at what point in all that did I react to anything outside myself, beyond the physical alternative presented to me: two jelly beans? And at what point did the "choice" take place? If the "everything in my life" (quoted from above) is put into motion in decision-making, in what way is this "everything" in fact distinct from "me"? Even if we loan this "everything" some external reality, isn't it's meaning subject to the dynamics of my brain's ability to process information? Am I not my brain, or at least, isn't my brain a part of me? If a desire is an an accurate expression of the one who desires, then in what way is it un-free?
I don't really want to reduce the question of free will to a biological or neurological process. I'm just trying to simplify for the sake of an example. My point is that so long as an individual gives some evidence of personal dynamism, a self-interfering pattern, doesn't that provide the grounds for the possiblity of free-will? If not as a rational process, per se, at least an individuating process that "rationality" helps to regulate?
Ah I see. Well, desires are funny things. They aren't just impulses that strike us full force or not at all. Desires can be cultivated. I might want to rob a bank and never do it. I might play into that fantasy with movies or games. I might actually start planning one out for fun until I decide to really do it. I might not. If I do these things then I make my desire to rob a bank grow and more likely to happen.
Part of having free will is avoiding situations that you know might cause you to lose your will, such as excessive drinking, hard drugs, obsessive behaviors or putting yourself in the way of temptation. If you're a child molester and you don't want to be one then the first step is not hanging out around schools and places where children are at. If you don't want to cheat on your wife then avoiding being alone with other women is a good start.
free will is the break in the massive causal chains that are a part of an otherwise determinate reality
But couldn't you also reduce your "choice" to "avoid situations" to some kind of desire?
Determinism is false and necessary causation is rejected by most empiricists as untestable and superfluous much like luminiferous aether and phlogiston.
Sure but you can't infer my behavior from the sum of my desires without incidentally including what I consider my "self", namely the interplay of those desires with my memories, perceptions, etc. I don't have a single set of desires all pointing one way. I have many conflicting desires all pointing different ways. Saying that those things cause my behavior is saying that I cause my behavior.
I'll be happy to grant pure determinism, pure randomness, or some combination of the two.
It isn't so much that the terms are related, it's that concepts such as "choice" and "realisable alternatives" rely on the existence of free will. My post was pretty poorly worded and my rephrasing was worse, not to mention I wasn't articulating my thoughts very well. I shouldn't have reduced "choice" and "realisable alternatives" to "free will." The point was to show that since the assumption of free will was behind both choice and realisable alternatives, the following account of free will:
"An agent has free will on occasions when they make and enact a conscious choice from amongst realisable alternatives."
wasn't really saying anything more than:
"A person has free will when they use free will, because free will exists."
Of course his original statement posited things beyond free will, but conceptually they didn't help define free will because both of them are (at least partially) defined by free will.
Thanks for correcting me (again, haha). this is why I love this discussion format. It's one of the best ways to figure out how to say what you mean. I'm still not sure I'm communicating my point quite the way I want to.
Not trying to write a reply for Doubt doubt, but I would respond...
The significant role of "everything external to me" is that the ultimate (original?) cause of my "choice" did not come from within me. It seems to me that the whole point of free will is to attribute control to beings (and therefore moral responsibility), and free will is the break in the massive causal chains that are a part of an otherwise determinate reality. The exercise as I understand it is to follow the causes of a choice to a point outside of the individual, thus showing that the "choice" is the result of something outside of the individual's control, thus annihilating any significant personal control (or "freedom").
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smooth doesn't matter. I can "smoothly" resist the advances of a woman whom I am not married to(assuming I was married, I'm not married by the way but just for example) even when the natural flow of events has dictated the ease of the situation.
In situations where we do not resist the path of least resistance we are essentially not using our free will in an active sense. We may assess that, yes, this is which way I want to go or this is what I want to do, but at that point we aren't really using our free will as much as we are suspending it. Much like my example of not resisting a cord which is pulling us downward.
Havnt read earlier comments but i do not believe free will is a good thing, because its just a dellusion anyway, all our choices are made by circumstances and prefiece experience, so what we think is right, wrong, good, bad doesnt matter because based on circumstances we are probably wrong, and will make harmful decisions for ourselfs and or others. Free choice is why America has such a large wealth gap, and prisoners.
The choice to make harmful decisions is nothing to be desired.
I never knew we had an active sense of free will. I always thought that when someone does something or his own free will that meant that he wasn't being compelled to do that thing. Or I did until you told be about active free will. Is passive free will still free will? Did I still marry Esmeralda of my own free will even if I overcame no obstacles?
do you go up an escalator of your own free will or does it take you up?
Obviously, you can freely choose to step on an escalator and that is certainly free will but once on, it takes no will on your part to get to the top.
This is what I mean by active and passive free will.
The person who walks up a flight of normal stairs is reaching the top through the active use of their free will.
The person who steps onto an escalator and begins going upward is reaching the top through without using their free will actively.
I use the escalator of my own free will. Which is to say that no one forced me to use the escalator. I don't understand what else you mean. When I am on the escalator I don't have to go up unless I want to. I can always turn round an walk down even if the other passengers give me dirty looks. I don't mind you talking about active free will as long as you don't think that is the only kind of free will there is. Free will is something negative, not positive. When I say I did X of my own free will, I am denying something, namely that I am compelled to do X. I am not asserting anything. I think that is why when people look for free will, and find nothing (but where are they looking?) they think there is no free will. And, when you claim that free will is something positive, that when you say that you are doing something of your own free will, that you are discovering something other than that you were not forced to do what you did, then you are actually abetting those who deny that there is free will on the ground that they cannot find what you say you can find. Both you and your opponents, you who say that there is this bit in you that is free will, and they, who say there is no such bit in you, are engaged in what the French call, a folie a deux. A kind of mutual dance of foolishness. Both of you assume that "free will" is the name of the presence of something, when it is really the name of the absence of something.
Remember when I talked about good philosophical mistakes? Good because they teach us something in the very course of understanding why they are mistakes and unraveling them? Well, the one you make about free will is a splendid example of a wonderful philosophical mistake. For by understanding it, and correcting it, we advance our understanding of philosophy.
Now, I suppose you will think that a left-handed compliment, and I guess it is. But, so what. It is the truth, and I hope that our egos are not engaged to the exclusion of everything else.
doing nothing is not doing something. It's doing nothing. Being taken up by the escalator is not actively doing something but passively.
If you do nothing you are not actively using your free will in the sense that I am meaning.
I agree with you that, in my terms, active free will is not the only free will. I was simply attempting to show that one of the big ways we can use or free will is resist the natural flow of events. Obviously in a passive sense we can go with the flow and this doesn't mean we don't do so of our free will but, in that sense, our usage of it is more akin to stepping onto an elevator and then doing nothing and being taken where we want to go.
You are right. If you are doing nothing then you are not using your free will in the sense you mean. But why should that mean that when you are passive you are doing something under compulsion, and thus not acting freely in the sense that everyone means? Clearly, it doesn't. The fact remains that when I say that I am doing something of my own free will, I am not asserting anything, much less asserting that there is a mythical will in me that I am employing. Rather, I am denying that I am under compulsion. Therefore, there is no metaphysical entity that those who assert they are acting freely have in virtue of which they are acting freely; and, just as important, there is no such metaphysical entity that those who deny that there is free will are denying they have. The truth is that there is no such metaphysical entity at all. And the belief that there is, is what make the theological/philosophical discussion of whether we have or do not have free will, a pseudo-problem. Of course, that is not to say that we do not do things of our own free will, nor that we do not. It is only that when we do (or do not) we are not asserting (or denying) that there is a metaphysical entity we are employing; or one we are not employing, as you seem to believe.
"Philosophers raise the dust, and then complain they cannot see". Berkeley.
yes, typically we and our free will are not 2 things. But we can certainty, as Leibniz did, talk about the distinction between our will and our intellect. In fact, I think Leibniz would make a clear distinction between the act of actually doing something and the act of deciding what it is we will do where free will is only involved in the latter. Either we control what seems best to us or we control which alternative we select. It is on these same grounds that I am talking about me and my will; as the me, is made up of more than my will and includes things like my intellect.
Just as long as we do not invent wills who are free. As Locke pointed out, it is not the will that is free, it is persons who are free. Persons are free when they are not being coerced. Free wills are a gratuitous invention.
Just as long as we do not invent wills who are free.
But people do have wills and some wills are free while others are not. Even free will skeptics are not skeptical about wills.
I think it is semantics to call the person free not the will. The person is free because we have a will.
But then again it is always difficult for me to separate the idea of will and the idea of a soul
When we say of someone that he is acting freely (of his own free will) we are not asserting that there is some mysterious metaphysical entity somewhere in him pushing him on. That is just obvious nonsense.
Randomess allows for lumpiness and patterns. If you flip a coin an infinite number of times, you will produce every pattern possible, including an infinite pattern of heads and tails, including a pattern that spells out in ASCII the King James Bible, and so on. Randomness is counter-intuitive and definitely too misunderstood to be a threat to free will without an elaborate argument.
Right, it is your usual obvious nonsense. Anyone that does that is guilty of reification (Reification (fallacy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). I have a will and I have a self but neither of those are mysterious metaphysical entities. Why do you think that is the only option?