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Can we do anything of our own free will?

 
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 06:30 pm
@tomr,
tomr wrote:

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.


So being compelled is something that we do not apply to the eclipse. For what reason?

Because something can be compelled to do something only if it wants not to do it, but eclipses don't have wants at all. Therefore eclipses cannot be compelled to do anything.

So compelled is the way to say a person has been caused to act a certain way.

Not caused to act a certain way. But caused to act in a way that the person does not want to act (which we call, "constraint") Or, cause not to act in a way that the person does want to act (which we call "restraint") So, in general, a person is compelled when the person is either constrained or restrained.

I am sorry you are confused, but I think that what I am saying is quite clear. It is that a person only if the actions of a person have a certain kind of cause, a compelling cause, does the person not have free will. So, if the person is caused to do what he does (which, if determinism is true, he is) but if that cause does not compel him to do what he does, so that he could have done otherwise if he had chosen to, or if he had wanted to do otherwise, then he has acted of his own free will.

So, if for instance I am compelled at the point of a gun to hand over my wallet to a thug, then I did not hand over my wallet of my own free will. But if, on the other hand, I give some alms to a beggar on the street, and am caused to do so by pity for the beggars plight, then although my action is caused, since it is not compelled, I have acted of my own free will.

In fact, if you come to think of it, when I assert that I did something of my own free will (or words to that effect) I am usually denying that I was compelled to do what I did. That is how we used the expression, "I did it of my own free will".

There now, even if you do not agree with me, you should now, at least, understand what it is I am saying. (And I don't think I used one uncommon expression, did I? In fact, I don't know what uncommon expressions you thought I used in my earlier post).
tomr
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 07:22 pm
@kennethamy,
Quote:
I am sorry you are confused, but I think that what I am saying is quite clear. It is that a person only if the actions of a person have a certain kind of cause, a compelling cause, does the person not have free will. So, if the person is caused to do what he does (which, if determinism is true, he is) but if that cause does not compel him to do what he does, so that he could have done otherwise if he had chosen to, or if he had wanted to do otherwise, then he has acted of his own free will.

That is much better. Now I can definitely see what you mean by compel and that you believe in free will. At least you believe in free will only whenever you want what you do. Which is almost all the time. Unless you are being forced or compelled to do it which is almost never for most people. But even in the case you are forced to do something you do not want, like being held at gun point, we cannot really call that determinism its more like not liking doing something. I guess a better example of determinism would be being tied up and having your finger rigged to the trigger of a gun so that when a rope is pulled you shoot somebody. Because like the eclipse and everything else not human this contraption would completely exclude any human decision (at least by the person in question in regards to pulling the trigger). I was for a long time under the impression that you were arguing people could sometimes be determined but now I know you only believe in free-will (Though everything else non-human is determined).
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 09:36 am
@tomr,
tomr wrote:

Quote:
I am sorry you are confused, but I think that what I am saying is quite clear. It is that a person only if the actions of a person have a certain kind of cause, a compelling cause, does the person not have free will. So, if the person is caused to do what he does (which, if determinism is true, he is) but if that cause does not compel him to do what he does, so that he could have done otherwise if he had chosen to, or if he had wanted to do otherwise, then he has acted of his own free will.

That is much better. Now I can definitely see what you mean by compel and that you believe in free will. At least you believe in free will only whenever you want what you do. Which is almost all the time. Unless you are being forced or compelled to do it which is almost never for most people. But even in the case you are forced to do something you do not want, like being held at gun point, we cannot really call that determinism its more like not liking doing something. I guess a better example of determinism would be being tied up and having your finger rigged to the trigger of a gun so that when a rope is pulled you shoot somebody. Because like the eclipse and everything else not human this contraption would completely exclude any human decision (at least by the person in question in regards to pulling the trigger). I was for a long time under the impression that you were arguing people could sometimes be determined but now I know you only believe in free-will (Though everything else non-human is determined).


I said exactly what I said before, but I am happy you understood it now.

Determinism is the the view that all events (including actions) are caused (that they can all be subsumed under some law of nature). I suppose that since my handing over my wallet at gun point is caused, that it is determined in just the sense I just explained. But one thing is clear, whether or not determined, my action was compelled, for I would not have done it unless someone were holding a gun and pointing the gun at me. And, if it was compelled, then I did not do it of my own free will. So whether or not it was determined (whatever that means) is irrelevant to whether I handed over my wallet of my own free will. Of course, I suppose that I could have taken the chance and been shot. But that does not mean that I was not compelled to hand over my wallet, does it. It means only that I chose the lesser of two evils. Not that I was not compelled to hand over my wallet. For I was. We are not compelled only when we have literally no other choice, as you seem to think. We are compelled when we have no other reasonable choice, as in the case we are discussing. The salient point, though, is that free will has nothing to do with determinism, and everything to do with compulsion.
0 Replies
 
Twnf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 06:59 pm
Determinists claim that everything that happens, including thinking, has a cause. According to this view, I am compelled to do whatever I do, such as writing this post, by my conditioning (beliefs, preferences, biases, etc.) and inherited instinctual drives (safety, belonging, independence, etc.).

If free will exists there must be something that exists outside my conditioning and biological urges that can make a choice uninhibited by these determinants. This opens the door for dualism.

So, the issue is whether you believe in material determinism or the existence of a supernatural aspect to reality.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 07:06 pm
@Twnf,
Exactly !
...or in turn deeply twist the meaning of freedom by conditioning it to human agency alone, without regarding for an instant how human nature is itself conditioned...
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 07:37 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Thinking around common sense and free will and the expression "my mind has a will of its own" popped up...some think of it as an excuse. I do take it seriously, even when people really are using it, as what they themselves perceive to be an excuse.
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 09:33 pm
@Twnf,
Twnf wrote:
Determinists claim that everything that happens, including thinking, has a cause.
This is incorrect, and even if it were correct
Twnf wrote:
According to this view, I am compelled to do whatever I do, such as writing this post, by my conditioning (beliefs, preferences, biases, etc.) and inherited instinctual drives (safety, belonging, independence, etc.).
wouldn't follow.
Twnf wrote:
If free will exists there must be something that exists outside my conditioning and biological urges that can make a choice uninhibited by these determinants.
Another non sequitur.
Twnf wrote:
This opens the door for dualism.
Dualism makes no difference, so this is nonsense too.
Twnf wrote:
So, the issue is whether you believe in material determinism or the existence of a supernatural aspect to reality.
Unfortunately this level of misunderstanding seems to be more or less usual.
0 Replies
 
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 09:41 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
What's done is done. However it came about, it can't be changed.

Judgement places us back before the event took place. We imagine we have the chance to redo it in a different way. We don't have that option. But through imagining we do, we learn. We call the outcome a mistake by comparing it to better versions of the event.

The meaning of the judgment is that when a similar situation appears, what we have learned is manifest. As the new event emerges, it's outcome is different. We don't make a mistake this time.

Phenomenologically, this is like living the same event over and making a different choice. We realize this can't really be so... it would make no sense to repeat an event. But that's the language of the mind... to relive, but not repeat... is to gain wisdom.

Alternate possibilities exist because of repetition. They are phantoms of the mind, just as repetition is.

Only if one could prove that the repetition is not entirely a lie, but a representation of something real, could one prove the existence of individual will. Complete freedom of the will is meaningless. But to have an individual will separate from the driving force that creates all events... is this any more meaningful?

Apparently not. And yet, we all do it, don't we? What do you think?
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 09:49 pm
@Twnf,
Twnf wrote:

Determinists claim that everything that happens, including thinking, has a cause. According to this view, I am compelled to do whatever I do, such as writing this post, by my conditioning (beliefs, preferences, biases, etc.) and inherited instinctual drives (safety, belonging, independence, etc.).

If free will exists there must be something that exists outside my conditioning and biological urges that can make a choice uninhibited by these determinants. This opens the door for dualism.

So, the issue is whether you believe in material determinism or the existence of a supernatural aspect to reality.


If only things were that simple.

It would be insupportable to say that determinists make no metaphysical ("supernatural") claims. Although i would be hesitant to paint determinists as a group with too broad a brush, they tend to reduce all causes to a form of efficient cause. Within that same reductionist movement, they also tend to identify the disparate ideas of efficient cause and necessity. In doing so they attempt to forge a connection between logical procedure and empirical process, perhaps by fusing or confusing scientific experiment with logical deduction. The connections formed between these ideas and methods rely upon a particular metaphysic, although determinists tend to be better at concealing this metaphysical substructure to their arguments than advocates of free will. But the idea or concept of cause does not automatically imply necessity, nor is scientific experiment to be identified with logical procedure.

Free will advocates need not abandon an empiricist approach, nor must they necessarily advocate for some type of dualism. i'm not sure that a convincing monist argument for free will exists, but the proponent of free will is not deprived of access to concepts of pluralism, including a pluralistic materialism.
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 10:06 pm
@Razzleg,
Razzleg wrote:


It would be insupportable to say that determinists make no metaphysical ("supernatural") claims. Although i would be hesitant to paint determinists as a group with too broad a brush, they tend to reduce all causes to a form of efficient cause. Within that same reductionist movement, they also tend to identify the disparate ideas of efficient cause and necessity.
The supernatural aspect of determinism also shows up in it's gnostic character. The contents of human experience must be illusory. From what point of view could one know this?

Individual will can be seen to be nonsensical without resorting to efficient cause. Just notice that however many possibilities you may imagine exist prior to the emergence of an actual event, only one of those phantoms matches the actuality. So you could imagine a set of all actualities. The question is: did any of the events in this set have less than a 100% chance of happening? If so, explain what that means.

I think one of the issues in the background is the way that events are connected and related to each other in our minds. Judgement has something to do with relating events that are separated in time. Still working on it.
Very Happy
Twnf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 10:17 pm
@Razzleg,
Quote:
"nor must they necessarily advocate for some type of dualism

As you say there is no convincing monist argument for free will. This is because none is possible.

Pluralistic materialism posits at least one kind of non-physical stuff (dualism). Any non-material entity or realm is not amenable to any kind of material verification (empirical evidence). This does not exclude the possibility of a non-physical aspect to reality it just makes it impossible to prove empirically (by observation or experiment).
Twnf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 10:22 pm
@Arjuna,
Quote:
Individual will can be seen to be nonsensical without resorting to efficient cause

If it is caused it is it free? Doesn't "free" mean "not compelled"?
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 10:41 pm
@Arjuna,
I could n´t myself do a better description then the one you just did.
That is exactly the issue at hand here. An inconvenient truth that is better to put off...

From what I have read from your posts so far you are one of the few around who really seams to be open to listen all sides instead of bringing a cooked up idea to a cheap quick sell...you are here for the thrill of getting something new to learn, as it should be, as we all should do besides preaching for the market. Someone without a bias is what one asks when to be contradicted !

Now, getting down to business...where was I ?
...ah ! on Truth...

Truth is the word to look forward when thinking about Determinism...they make together. TRUTH...what is it and what is not ? What does BEING mean ? How could it (Being) be conceived beyond becoming or coming to be ? What is it about Truth that makes it Eternal, Unavoidable, and Unsurpassed ? Can Truth not be ? How ??? What else in its place ?

Truth is to put it in the most simple terms about what there is. But not just in the here and now...further, is about potential and its inevitability. Its about what must become if to be phenomenologically in Unity with all else...if to be perceived. How otherwise would "alien" entity´s to be observed ? What would be done with the sense in the word RELATIONAL if things where not to be caused ? (caused temporally speaking, considering they already are before they become...)

The issue with Freedom is that Freedom is about pure transcendence...hardly about anything tangible to us !
Something truly apart would most definitely be beyond our scope of observation and therefore unable to manifest itself. And that´s the problem with non causal approaches...then of course we have on the "other side" the half baked cake of half caused nonsense speech...what else ?

Well you well know what I feel concerning this subject.
And no I am not afraid of using the word "feel"...because that´s precisely what distinguishes me from some pretensions all knowing "Technos" around the place crawling in the shadows of some books that they don´t even understand, and that´s just for starters...

Old recipes, lacking flavour and insight, and sounding like repeating machines. "Gosh" give me a break !

But such is life is n´t it ? Thanks Arjuna for being so crystal clear.
See you around !

0 Replies
 
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 10:55 pm
@Twnf,
Twnf wrote:
As you say there is no convincing monist argument for free will. This is because none is possible.


Well, i appreciate your confidence. i just said i couldn't think of one offhand, but i won't go so far as to say that it's impossible.

Twnf wrote:
Pluralistic materialism posits at least one kind of non-physical stuff (dualism). Any non-material entity or realm is not amenable to any kind of material verification (empirical evidence). This does not exclude the possibility of a non-physical aspect to reality it just makes it impossible to prove empirically (by observation or experiment).


Why proceed from that assumption, other than simply quoting from a googled second-hand source? A pluralistic materialism could just as well do without the idea of substance altogether, and supply an implicit critique thereof, without surrendering any of its empiricist directives.

Only dualists insist upon dualism.

Also:
Twnf wrote:
Arjuna wrote:
Individual will can be seen to be nonsensical without resorting to efficient cause


If it is caused it is it free? Doesn't "free" mean "not compelled"?


How do you justify the identification of cause and necessity you make here? "Cause" is not the same as "compel", nor are "cause" and "free" antonyms.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 11:11 pm
@Razzleg,
Cause is not the same as compel ???

So you mean that I am a sequitur for action through the action of my willing but action is a non sequitur for me...such idea should be called "Transcendent Dualism"...Dualism is a bad shortcut for what it really means.
Twnf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 11:15 pm
@Razzleg,
Quote:
A pluralistic materialism could just as well do without the idea of substance altogether

No substance, no material; so no materialism, pluralistic or otherwise.
Quote:
and supply an implicit critique thereof, without surrendering any of its empiricist directives.

Not sure what this means. Could you give me an example please?
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 11:44 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
On clarifying this nonsense between Cause and Compulsion:

1 - To say for instance that someone "make´s me do it" against my own free will is utterly false, given based on free will own´s argument I could always have chosen otherwise! So either I can be compelled or I cannot !!!

2 - If I say that I was caused to go for instance to restaurant A, by someone or something else, then I do must implicitly mean that I was not the agent of such choice given in correct English I was caused, I was not the cause. And more, if I were to be this solely cause to this given action to happen then I must admit the impossibility of something causing me in order to prevent a chain of cause to which my own willing was conditioned.

3 - Either I am the solely agent of my choices and therefore cannot be compelled, or, in order to be compelled I must admit that there are causes beyond my free willed decision making... which is the same to admit that I may well not be in control of my own willing !
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 11:49 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:

Cause is not the same as compel ???


No, it's not.

cause (kôz) n.
1. a. The producer of an effect, result, or consequence.
b. The one, such as a person, event, or condition, that is responsible for an action or result.
2. A basis for an action or response; a reason.
3. A goal or principle served with dedication and zeal
4. The interests of a person or group engaged in a struggle.

cause (kôz) v.
to be the cause of; bring about; precipitate; be the reason for
[from Latin causa cause, reason, motive]


com·pel (km-pl) v.
1. To force, drive, or constrain.
2. To necessitate or pressure by force; exact.
3. To exert a strong, irresistible force on; sway

Fil Albuquerque wrote:
So you mean that I am a sequitur for action through the action of my willing but action is a non sequitur for me...such idea should be called "Transcendent Dualism"...Dualism is a bad shortcut for what it really means.

i'm not sure what to make of that word salad. I appreciate that you seem to be insinuating an insult into your statement, but i don't feel particularly hurt. As i've said in the past, i'm not a strong advocate for free will, since i find it an inadequate model of historical agency. However, while a variety of reasons or causes may precede an incipient event, i find that it requires a leap to say that their value is necessarily determinative or enunciation imperative.
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 11:51 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:

On clarifying this nonsense between Cause and Compulsion:

1 - To say for instance that someone "make´s me do it" against my own free will is utterly false, given based on free will own´s argument I could always have chosen otherwise! So either I can be compelled or I cannot !!!

2 - If I say that I was caused to go to restaurant A by someone else I do must implicitly mean that I was not the agent of such choice given in correct English I was caused.

3 - Either I am the solely agent of my choices and therefore cannot be compelled, or, in order to be competed I must admit that there are causes beyond my free willed decision making... which is the same to admit that I may well not be in control of my own willing !


Why must any of these extreme examples be true? Do any of those strawman positions adequately describe our experienced reality?
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 11:59 pm
@Razzleg,
Can you present an all full argument against them step by step ? Enlighten me since intellectually you well seam capable of such endeavour ! Share your insight for the sake of knowledge and good to the world with this poor fellow on the other side of the line ! ( I am not joking you )
 

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