8
   

Can we do anything of our own free will?

 
 
tomr
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Sep, 2010 10:58 pm
@ughaibu,
Hey Ughaibu. I do, just as you suggest of healthy humans, observe that feeling that I can choose whatever I want. But feelings are secondary to observation and observation is secondary to reality. It is possible that those feelings are wrong and it is even good to question them.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2010 03:44 pm
@ughaibu,
ughaibu wrote:
One doesn't need arguments in favour of free will, because free will can be demonstrated.

How?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2010 06:06 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

ughaibu wrote:
One doesn't need arguments in favour of free will, because free will can be demonstrated.

How?


By my doing something, without doing it under compulsion. For instance, writing this post. If anyone needs an argument, it is you, to show why I was compelled to write this post.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2010 08:41 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
By my doing something, without doing it under compulsion.

You're just begging the question.

kennethamy wrote:
For instance, writing this post. If anyone needs an argument, it is you, to show why I was compelled to write this post.

You wrote that post because you were determined to write it. There, I've refuted your argument!
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2010 08:57 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
kennethamy wrote:
By my doing something, without doing it under compulsion.
You're just begging the question.
No he isn't, as already explained.
joefromchicago wrote:
kennethamy wrote:
If anyone needs an argument, it is you, to show why I was compelled to write this post.
You wrote that post because you were determined to write it. There, I've refuted your argument!
Kennethamy made a demonstration, he didn't offer an argument, and you haven't offered any reason to doubt his demonstration.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2010 10:18 pm
@ughaibu,
ughaibu wrote:
No he isn't, as already explained.

Yes he is, as already explained.

ughaibu wrote:
Kennethamy made a demonstration, he didn't offer an argument, and you haven't offered any reason to doubt his demonstration.

No, he made an argument, and I offered as good a reason for determinism as he did for free will.
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2010 11:33 pm
@joefromchicago,
i apologize for my delayed response, i stopped paying attention to this thread for a while.

joefromchicago wrote:

Razzleg wrote:
I tend not to contribute to these Free Will v. Determinism threads anymore, since i tend to view both perspectives as receptacles of a moot point.

It's not moot, it's just pointless.


That's the very definition of "moot" to which i was referring (i.e. moot--adj. def. b: Of no practical importance; irrelevant.)

joefromchicago wrote:
Razzleg wrote:
However, i feel compelled to express a small reservation to the above objection:

Show me a force in which the indicators for "free will" and "determination" are distinguishable.

All due respect, Joe, but i may not choose to take part in further debate (out of boredom and laziness, morally inexcusable reasons, i'm sure.) But it seems to be that traditional debates about "free will v determinism" are undermined by taking account of modern patterns of thought about reality.

Really? Are you suggesting that the question of free will can be resolved as an epistemological problem? I'd like to see that.


Well, of course, proving the existence of free will would have an epistemological component, as do all hypotheses to some degree or other. i suppose the point i was trying to make was: that the concept of free will may have some practical shortcomings, and the theory of determinism may have some as yet unanswered questions. But when the proponents of these two perspectives come to conflict the problems that interfere with the arguments of each is the lack of a sufficient warrant for the resolution of the argument. The indicators of each concept's reality are either dismissed or co-opted by the other perspective's interpretation of events. That was my only point.

joefromchicago wrote:
Razzleg wrote:
Such accounts do not only undermine the idea of "free will", but also the simplistic version of determinism argued for by many modern "determinists". Isn't the idea of historical agency a bit more complicated than either classical idea?

Well, I don't really care. I haven't seen any sophisticated arguments in favor of free will in this thread, so I think we should to address this at the beginner's level first.


What i meant by my above statement was this: The classical arguments for determinism were made by treating a metaphor employed by classical physicists as a reality. Those early scientists, understandably due to their repeatability, called the theories proven by the results of their experiments "laws", meaning that they were necessary and eternal conditions. (It is perhaps unfortunate that many of the classical arguments for determinism were formulated before biology rose to the same level of scientific accuracy as that physics already managed, as metaphors derived from biology's terms might be more efficient for a philosophical discussion of historical agency. Unfortunately, when biological studies are introduced into this debate, they are often treated as if they promote physical "laws", which tends to ideologically skew the meanings of such studies. Think of eugenics as an example.) Unfortunately, neither the scientists nor the advocates for determinism took their legalistic metaphor far enough. Laws are not unbreakable. The fact of the matter is that all laws are broken, but if it happens in great enough numbers the consequences are great.

On the macro-scale, modern physics has done little to support the idea of atemporal necessity, and most of the "laws" hitherto taken as necessary have been shown to be the effects of certain cosmological events, subject to change. Such conditions, thought "unbreakable" before, are shown to be contingent on a host of other cosmologocally historical conditions. And on the micro-scale, a certain ambiguity precludes any ascription of necessity.

The "soft" sciences, developed as they have been in the last 150 years or so, have not achieved an accuracy to be free of doubt whence comes this confidence in necessity, and biology is not based on these sorts of concepts.

By the same token, i don't want to pretend to make an argument for the classical free will stance, because it seems a similarly inadequate description of the reality of human lives.

i hope that in my first post i didn't seem to be "piling on" in some sort of "free will frenzy", but i'm afraid that it must have come off that way. Your response to my post seemed annoyed and dismissive. Understandable, given that you were already involved in argument with other people in this thread. i just wanted you to know that i wasn't trying to attack you or your position, just trying to express a reservation that, at the time, appeared to me to be pertinent.

NB:
joefromchicago wrote:
I haven't seen any sophisticated arguments in favor of free will in this thread, so I think we should to address this at the beginner's level first.


Just because the question seems simple, there is no reason to expect the answer to be likewise. The conflict between free will and determinism is complicated. If all you want to do is argue against the most simplistic arguments of your opponent, don't think that will somehow satisfy someone with a more sophisticated point of view. If you address some matter at the beginner's level, you'll only be able to engage amateurs in your conversation.
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2010 11:37 pm
@Alrenous,
Alrenous wrote:

Hey Joe, I have a question.

Do you think we can assume that kennethamy is ignoring us, at this point? I'd like to know for future reference.


Haha..i don't think that kennethamy puts anyone on ignore, because to do so might require him to miss an opportunity for dispute. However, if you disagree with his original position, you have little cause to expect reasonable responses. He's here for conflict's sake, not for discussion.
0 Replies
 
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 12:50 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
he made an argument, and I offered as good a reason for determinism as he did for free will.
Not at all.
1) free will as defined by the law exists, it is defined so that it exists, this makes determinism irrelevant to the question of the existence of legalese free will.
2) if determinism is incompatible with any notion of free will, and free will under that notion can be demonstrated, then determinism is prima facie false.
3) you have given no more reason to suppose that this world might be determined than you have given reason to suppose that your posts are entirely imaginary, so you have not offered any challenge to any demonstration of free will.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 07:11 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:


No, he made an argument, and I offered as good a reason for determinism as he did for free will.


But you seem to assume that I am disputing determinism because I think free will is true. But you are wrong, since I think that determinism is compatible (not incompatible) with free will. Apparently you are simply assuming (without argument) and "determined" (whatever it means) means the same as "compelled". But exactly that is what is at issue.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 09:30 am
@Razzleg,
Razzleg wrote:

i apologize for my delayed response, i stopped paying attention to this thread for a while.

I don't blame you.

Razzleg wrote:
Well, of course, proving the existence of free will would have an epistemological component, as do all hypotheses to some degree or other.

No, all hypotheses may have an empirical component, but that's not the same thing as saying that they have an epistemological component.

Razzleg wrote:
i suppose the point i was trying to make was: that the concept of free will may have some practical shortcomings, and the theory of determinism may have some as yet unanswered questions. But when the proponents of these two perspectives come to conflict the problems that interfere with the arguments of each is the lack of a sufficient warrant for the resolution of the argument. The indicators of each concept's reality are either dismissed or co-opted by the other perspective's interpretation of events. That was my only point.

That may be true.

Razzleg wrote:
i hope that in my first post i didn't seem to be "piling on" in some sort of "free will frenzy", but i'm afraid that it must have come off that way. Your response to my post seemed annoyed and dismissive.

That happens a lot.

Razzleg wrote:
Understandable, given that you were already involved in argument with other people in this thread. i just wanted you to know that i wasn't trying to attack you or your position, just trying to express a reservation that, at the time, appeared to me to be pertinent.

It may, indeed, be true that determinism arose out of an extended metaphor drawn from the physical sciences. In this thread, however, we haven't reached that point yet, and I'm not sure it would ever be necessary to address that point.

Razzleg wrote:
Just because the question seems simple, there is no reason to expect the answer to be likewise.

On the contrary, the question is not simple -- it's rather complex. It is the arguments here that have been simple.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 09:33 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu wrote:
1) free will as defined by the law exists, it is defined so that it exists, this makes determinism irrelevant to the question of the existence of legalese free will.

Frankly, I don't know what you mean by "free will as defined by the law." To the extent that I do understand, it sounds like question-begging.

ughaibu wrote:
2) if determinism is incompatible with any notion of free will, and free will under that notion can be demonstrated, then determinism is prima facie false.

Demonstrated in what way?

ughaibu wrote:
3) you have given no more reason to suppose that this world might be determined than you have given reason to suppose that your posts are entirely imaginary, so you have not offered any challenge to any demonstration of free will.

Indeed. That was my point. My argument in favor of determinism was just as valid as kennethamy's argument in favor of free will.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 09:35 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
But you seem to assume that I am disputing determinism because I think free will is true. But you are wrong, since I think that determinism is compatible (not incompatible) with free will. Apparently you are simply assuming (without argument) and "determined" (whatever it means) means the same as "compelled". But exactly that is what is at issue.

I'm not sure what definitions you're following but free will is incompatible with determinism. Or are you suggesting that there are some things that are determined and some things that are subject to free will?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 10:49 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

kennethamy wrote:
But you seem to assume that I am disputing determinism because I think free will is true. But you are wrong, since I think that determinism is compatible (not incompatible) with free will. Apparently you are simply assuming (without argument) and "determined" (whatever it means) means the same as "compelled". But exactly that is what is at issue.

I'm not sure what definitions you're following but free will is incompatible with determinism. Or are you suggesting that there are some things that are determined and some things that are subject to free will?


But what you do not seem to understand is that compatibilism (as its name implies) is the view that determinism is compatible with free will. That is, my action or choice can be caused and yet be free. And the reason is that my action is not free only if it is compelled, and some actions that are determined are not compelled. Simply to assert that free will is compatible with determinism begs the question of whether compatibilism is true.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 10:58 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
But what you do not seem to understand is that compatibilism (as its name implies) is the view that determinism is compatible with free will. That is, my action or choice can be caused and yet be free. And the reason is that my action is not free only if it is compelled, and some actions that are determined are not compelled.

I have always understood the term "compatibilism" to mean the belief that determinism was compatible with the notion of moral culpability. I understand that the term has also come to be understood by some as the belief in the compatibility of determinism with free will. Frankly, I've never understood how determinism can be compatible with free will, nor why anyone would even bother making that argument.

kennethamy wrote:
Simply to assert that free will is compatible with determinism begs the question of whether compatibilism is true.

No, not on a definitional level. Asserting that "all unicorns are white" doesn't beg the question of whether unicorns exist.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 12:50 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

kennethamy wrote:
But what you do not seem to understand is that compatibilism (as its name implies) is the view that determinism is compatible with free will. That is, my action or choice can be caused and yet be free. And the reason is that my action is not free only if it is compelled, and some actions that are determined are not compelled.

I have always understood the term "compatibilism" to mean the belief that determinism was compatible with the notion of moral culpability. I understand that the term has also come to be understood by some as the belief in the compatibility of determinism with free will. Frankly, I've never understood how determinism can be compatible with free will, nor why anyone would even bother making that argument.

kennethamy wrote:
Simply to assert that free will is compatible with determinism begs the question of whether compatibilism is true.

No, not on a definitional level. Asserting that "all unicorns are white" doesn't beg the question of whether unicorns exist.


You may have understood "cmpatibilism" that way, but you were mistaken. It does not mean that. It means (as I said) that free will is compatible with determinism.

I don't understand what that unicorn business has to do with it.

Here is the argument for the conclusion that free will is compatible with determinism:

1. A person who is caused (determined) to do something need not be compelled to do that thing.
2. A person does not do something of his own free will only if he is compelled to do that thing.

Therefore, 3. a person who is caused (determined) to do something may do that thing of his own free will.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 01:48 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
You may have understood "cmpatibilism" that way, but you were mistaken. It does not mean that. It means (as I said) that free will is compatible with determinism.

I think I understand the term just fine. But if you want to use it to mean that determinism and free will are compatible, then so be it. As long as you use it consistently and I understand your usage, there are no problems.

kennethamy wrote:
I don't understand what that unicorn business has to do with it.

It's called an "analogy."

kennethamy wrote:
Here is the argument for the conclusion that free will is compatible with determinism:

1. A person who is caused (determined) to do something need not be compelled to do that thing.
2. A person does not do something of his own free will only if he is compelled to do that thing.

Therefore, 3. a person who is caused (determined) to do something may do that thing of his own free will.

What's the difference between something that is "compelled" and something that is "determined?"
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 03:29 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

kennethamy wrote:
You may have understood "cmpatibilism" that way, but you were mistaken. It does not mean that. It means (as I said) that free will is compatible with determinism.

I think I understand the term just fine. But if you want to use it to mean that determinism and free will are compatible, then so be it. As long as you use it consistently and I understand your usage, there are no problems.

kennethamy wrote:
I don't understand what that unicorn business has to do with it.

It's called an "analogy."

kennethamy wrote:
Here is the argument for the conclusion that free will is compatible with determinism:

1. A person who is caused (determined) to do something need not be compelled to do that thing.
2. A person does not do something of his own free will only if he is compelled to do that thing.

Therefore, 3. a person who is caused (determined) to do something may do that thing of his own free will.

What's the difference between something that is "compelled" and something that is "determined?"


I think I understand the term just fine.

Compatibilism offers a solution to the free will problem. This philosophical problem concerns a disputed incompatibility between free will and determinism. Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. (Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

It's called an "analogy."

Yes, I imagined that it was an analogy. But I did not understand the point of the analogy.

What's the difference between something that is "compelled" and something that is "determined?"

To say that an event is determined is to say that it is caused. But not all events that are caused are compelled. For example, an eclipse is caused, but an eclipse is not compelled. As far as the actions of people are concerned, the suggestion of my friend that a visit a restaurant may cause me to visit that restaurant, but it does not compel me to visit the restaurant. I did to have to visit the restaurant unless I wanted to. So I was not compelled to do so, although I was caused to do so by my friend's suggestion.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 03:48 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
It's called an "analogy."

Yes, I imagined that it was an analogy. But I did not understand the point of the analogy.

I don't either. I was simply responding to this statement that you made:

Previously, kennethamy wrote:
Simply to assert that free will is compatible with determinism begs the question of whether compatibilism is true.

Frankly, I have no idea why you raised that issue. No one, up to that point in the discussion, had even mentioned compatibilism, and no one, as far as I can tell, had assumed that free will is compatible with determinism. I'm not sure whose argument you were addressing, but you certainly weren't addressing mine. But, whatever your motivation or your point, you're wrong: simply asserting that free will is compatible with determinism is not begging the question of whether compatibilism is true.

kennethamy wrote:
To say that an event is determined is to say that it is caused. But not all events that are caused are compelled. For example, an eclipse is caused, but an eclipse is not compelled. As far as the actions of people are concerned, the suggestion of my friend that a visit a restaurant may cause me to visit that restaurant, but it does not compel me to visit the restaurant. I did to have to visit the restaurant unless I wanted to. So I was not compelled to do so, although I was caused to do so by my friend's suggestion.

This is why I prefer the term "determined" to "compelled," since the latter has too many unwanted connotations, and it leads one to attempt a logical solution that is merely verbal sleight-of-hand. Nevertheless, your distinction wouldn't be very convincing to a determinist. After all, although your decision to go to the restaurant may not have been "compelled," it was "determined" -- and that's the important thing.
0 Replies
 
tomr
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 04:52 pm
@kennethamy,
Quote:
To say that an event is determined is to say that it is caused.

Okay. That makes sense you are defining determinism by causation.

Quote:
But not all events that are caused are compelled.

I'm not sure why this is but you give an example. Maybe it will clarify the above.

Quote:
For example, an eclipse is caused, but an eclipse is not compelled.

So an eclipse is caused and causation can now be equated with determinism. But the eclipse is not compelled. So being compelled is something that we do not apply to the eclipse. For what reason? The examples continue...

Quote:
As far as the actions of people are concerned, the suggestion of my friend that a visit a restaurant may cause me to visit that restaurant, but it does not compel me to visit the restaurant. I did[n't] have to visit the restaurant unless I wanted to. So I was not compelled to do so, although I was caused to do so by my friend's suggestion.


So by saying "as far as the actions of people are concerned" I am drawn to think maybe it is only people that can be compelled. So compelled is the way to say a person has been caused to act a certain way. Since we do not want to say determined to act or just caused because this is for everything non-human like the eclipse. Is this what you mean?

But then you go on with the restaurant example to say your friend suggests you go to a restaurant but that does not compel you to visit the restaurant. So suggestions do not compel. Then you say you do not have to go unless you want to. So you are never compelled unless you do not want to do something, and since "compelled" is the human version of determined, a human being that wants something is not determined but acting freely.

And just when I think I understand, you say that although you were not compelled to go to the restaurant, you were caused to by your friends suggestion. I thought we already equated something being caused with being determined. You do say "that to say an event is determined is to say that it is caused." But maybe this does not apply to people or are you using cause here just to show there was a reason or... Look how frustrating it is to understand what you are saying. I have read your restaurant examples again and again. You have got be more clear in what you are saying. Just use the common definitions please.
 

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