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12/03/2018 10:08 pm  #11


Re: A Question About Free Will

Evander wrote:

I was posed these questions that I really didn’t know how to begin answering, and wanted to hear peoples thoughts about it:

How would you tell that something else had free will? How would you know that you yourself have free will?

  

You can take David Humes answer to free will and say, doing what you want, is exercising free will. But, I do not think, as far as I have heard, that the idea of free will is coherent. Your action was either caused by some other factor, which means you didn't choose it freely, that factor made you, or your choice is caused by nothing, which is neither logically or scientifically provable. You could say, that these factors persuaded you to choose, say A over B, but I think that would just come back to, your choice was caused by nothing. Even if you take some sort of dualist view, it doesn't really fix the problem, it just moves it.

 

12/04/2018 2:34 am  #12


Re: A Question About Free Will

ClassicalLiberal.Theist wrote:

Evander wrote:

I was posed these questions that I really didn’t know how to begin answering, and wanted to hear peoples thoughts about it:

How would you tell that something else had free will? How would you know that you yourself have free will?

  

You can take David Humes answer to free will and say, doing what you want, is exercising free will. But, I do not think, as far as I have heard, that the idea of free will is coherent. Your action was either caused by some other factor, which means you didn't choose it freely, that factor made you, or your choice is caused by nothing, which is neither logically or scientifically provable. You could say, that these factors persuaded you to choose, say A over B, but I think that would just come back to, your choice was caused by nothing. Even if you take some sort of dualist view, it doesn't really fix the problem, it just moves it.

I would argue that that's a false dichotomy. Just because something precedes your choice in a causal chain, doesn't mean your choice is strictly determined. The free will proponent doesn't typically subscribe to the idea that our choices are causeless. Rather, one could argue that a given choice may have a prior cause but the choice itself isn't a determinate effect of that cause, rather it's an indeterminate effect.

To better understand this point, observe how unconscious substances behave in a causal chain and how, we, as rationally conscious beings, behave in a causal chain. When the heat of the sun hits your skin your skin doesn't have a conscious response to it, it merely reacts in a determinate manner--that is, it becomes warm, perhaps it burns. The skin has no choice, it becoming warm is a determinate effect of the sun's heat. Now say you, as a rational agent, detect your skin becoming warm. Now you have a choice, you may decide to drink a cold beverage, find some shade, go for a swim, etc. But this doesn't mean your choice is spontaneous and causeless. Rather, it is an indeterminate effect of the sun's heat on your skin. Your will is moved by the sun's heat--there is still a cause and effect--but by virtue of your will's freedom the effect isn't determinate and is guided by your free agency.

In order to make your point you have to first justify your premise that all causal chains have determinate effects.

 

12/04/2018 11:05 am  #13


Re: A Question About Free Will

RomanJoe wrote:

ClassicalLiberal.Theist wrote:

Evander wrote:

I was posed these questions that I really didn’t know how to begin answering, and wanted to hear peoples thoughts about it:

How would you tell that something else had free will? How would you know that you yourself have free will?

  

You can take David Humes answer to free will and say, doing what you want, is exercising free will. But, I do not think, as far as I have heard, that the idea of free will is coherent. Your action was either caused by some other factor, which means you didn't choose it freely, that factor made you, or your choice is caused by nothing, which is neither logically or scientifically provable. You could say, that these factors persuaded you to choose, say A over B, but I think that would just come back to, your choice was caused by nothing. Even if you take some sort of dualist view, it doesn't really fix the problem, it just moves it.

I would argue that that's a false dichotomy. Just because something precedes your choice in a causal chain, doesn't mean your choice is strictly determined. The free will proponent doesn't typically subscribe to the idea that our choices are causeless. Rather, one could argue that a given choice may have a prior cause but the choice itself isn't a determinate effect of that cause, rather it's an indeterminate effect.

To better understand this point, observe how unconscious substances behave in a causal chain and how, we, as rationally conscious beings, behave in a causal chain. When the heat of the sun hits your skin your skin doesn't have a conscious response to it, it merely reacts in a determinate manner--that is, it becomes warm, perhaps it burns. The skin has no choice, it becoming warm is a determinate effect of the sun's heat. Now say you, as a rational agent, detect your skin becoming warm. Now you have a choice, you may decide to drink a cold beverage, find some shade, go for a swim, etc. But this doesn't mean your choice is spontaneous and causeless. Rather, it is an indeterminate effect of the sun's heat on your skin. Your will is moved by the sun's heat--there is still a cause and effect--but by virtue of your will's freedom the effect isn't determinate and is guided by your free agency.

In order to make your point you have to first justify your premise that all causal chains have determinate effects.

I never argued for a deterministic cause and effect, but I don't think that fixes the problem. The nature of the cause and there being a cause, is somewhat seperate. Say, Cause A, has the capability of producing effect a1, b1, or c1. No matter what effect is produced, it was still caused by cause A. Indeterministic causes, may refute the idea of determinism, but it doesn't prove that free will exists. Whether the cause of an effect was deterministic or indeterministic, it was still caused. 

 

12/04/2018 12:13 pm  #14


Re: A Question About Free Will

Why do you think that just because the movement of the will has a prior cause for its movement, that that renders said movement not free? No free will proponent would deny that causal factors play a role in the movement of the will. To return to the prior example, the heat of the sun on your skin causes an effect in you--that effect being one of a plethora of choices for your reaction. Do you drink a cold beverage, find shade, go inside, go for a swim? Your choice is the effect of the sun's heat. But you aren't  locked into one determinate effect, you can freely choose. Free actions aren't conducted in a vacuum. There are external conditions for every movement of the will. It would be quite a stretch to say that there could only be a free will if there were no prior causal conditions that factored into the movement of the will. This is an absurd standard.

Last edited by RomanJoe (12/04/2018 12:14 pm)

 

12/04/2018 1:59 pm  #15


Re: A Question About Free Will

RomanJoe wrote:

Why do you think that just because the movement of the will has a prior cause for its movement, that that renders said movement not free? No free will proponent would deny that causal factors play a role in the movement of the will. To return to the prior example, the heat of the sun on your skin causes an effect in you--that effect being one of a plethora of choices for your reaction. Do you drink a cold beverage, find shade, go inside, go for a swim? Your choice is the effect of the sun's heat. But you aren't locked into one determinate effect, you can freely choose. Free actions aren't conducted in a vacuum. There are external conditions for every movement of the will. It would be quite a stretch to say that there could only be a free will if there were no prior causal conditions that factored into the movement of the will. This is an absurd standard.

They can either be caused (deterministicly or not) by something or nothing. If they were caused by something, then that act of choice would not have occured unless there was a cause. I am aware the cause could be indeterministic, but it still applies. You could say, two seperate causes can produce the same effect but indeterministic causes, are causes nontheless. Or, it could be caused by nothing, which is incoherent. I wish I could say we had free will in some respects (not all, because that would be a burden), but I see no logical justification.

 

12/04/2018 4:33 pm  #16


Re: A Question About Free Will

But again this is an absurd standard for freedom. On your view free agency means our choices are devoid of any causal conditions. Every choice is informed by those things that prompt that choice. You are thirsty because the air is dry. The air being dry elicits a free choice in response to this condition. You may choose to drink water, Pepsi, don't drink at all, drink an hour from now, two hours from now. Free agency doesn't mean our choices occur in a vacuum it means that we are free to choose how we govern our will with response to causal conditions that move it.

Here's an excerpt from one of Feser's posts to help clarify this point. He's criticizing divine determinism but it's still relevant to the issue of free will being compatible with prior causes:

"The answer is that God’s cooperation with a thing’s action does not change the nature of that action.  Impersonal causes act without freedom because they are not rational.  Human beings act freely because they are rational.  That God cooperates with each sort of action is irrelevant.  Suppose, per impossibile, that you and the flame could exist and operate without God’s conserving action.  Then there would be no question that whereas the flame does not act freely, you do, because you are rational.  There would in this scenario be no additional divine causal factor that might seem to detract from your freedom."

It's worth a full read.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/03/divine-causality-and-human-freedom.html?m=1

 

12/05/2018 10:37 pm  #17


Re: A Question About Free Will

RomanJoe wrote:

But again this is an absurd standard for freedom. On your view free agency means our choices are devoid of any causal conditions. Every choice is informed by those things that prompt that choice. You are thirsty because the air is dry. The air being dry elicits a free choice in response to this condition. You may choose to drink water, Pepsi, don't drink at all, drink an hour from now, two hours from now. Free agency doesn't mean our choices occur in a vacuum it means that we are free to choose how we govern our will with response to causal conditions that move it.

Here's an excerpt from one of Feser's posts to help clarify this point. He's criticizing divine determinism but it's still relevant to the issue of free will being compatible with prior causes:

"The answer is that God’s cooperation with a thing’s action does not change the nature of that action. Impersonal causes act without freedom because they are not rational. Human beings act freely because they are rational. That God cooperates with each sort of action is irrelevant. Suppose, per impossibile, that you and the flame could exist and operate without God’s conserving action. Then there would be no question that whereas the flame does not act freely, you do, because you are rational. There would in this scenario be no additional divine causal factor that might seem to detract from your freedom."

It's worth a full read.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/03/divine-causality-and-human-freedom.html?m=1

It may be an annoying standard, but I think it is the only coherent standard. If you wouldn't have choosen option X, without the existence of a cause or sufficient reason for the act of choosing option X, in what sense did you choose it of your own free will? Whether the cause or sufficient reason be deterministic or not, I wouldn't say, that it is relevant. Look, I will give you a short arguement to critique.

Premise 1: If a choice was caused by something, it isn't free.
Premise 2: If a choice was caused by nothing, it is free.
Premise 3: Nothing can not cause anything.
Premise 4: So, all choices are caused by something.
Conclusion: Therefore, no choices are free choices.

I think the only disputable premises, is premise 1 or 2 and this is going to depend on your definition of free will. 
 

 

12/06/2018 10:10 am  #18


Re: A Question About Free Will

RomanJoe wrote:

  ... Free agency doesn't mean our choices occur in a vacuum it means that we are free to choose how we govern our will with response to causal conditions that move it.

[Feser] "Human beings act freely because they are rational.

Joe, so you hold that if it's a rational creature, then it has libertarian free will? That the definition "rational" includes or entails LFW?

I thought this is the very point in question.

 

 

12/06/2018 2:39 pm  #19


Re: A Question About Free Will

ClassicalLiberal.Theist wrote:

RomanJoe wrote:

But again this is an absurd standard for freedom. On your view free agency means our choices are devoid of any causal conditions. Every choice is informed by those things that prompt that choice. You are thirsty because the air is dry. The air being dry elicits a free choice in response to this condition. You may choose to drink water, Pepsi, don't drink at all, drink an hour from now, two hours from now. Free agency doesn't mean our choices occur in a vacuum it means that we are free to choose how we govern our will with response to causal conditions that move it.

Here's an excerpt from one of Feser's posts to help clarify this point. He's criticizing divine determinism but it's still relevant to the issue of free will being compatible with prior causes:

"The answer is that God’s cooperation with a thing’s action does not change the nature of that action. Impersonal causes act without freedom because they are not rational. Human beings act freely because they are rational. That God cooperates with each sort of action is irrelevant. Suppose, per impossibile, that you and the flame could exist and operate without God’s conserving action. Then there would be no question that whereas the flame does not act freely, you do, because you are rational. There would in this scenario be no additional divine causal factor that might seem to detract from your freedom."

It's worth a full read.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/03/divine-causality-and-human-freedom.html?m=1

It may be an annoying standard, but I think it is the only coherent standard. If you wouldn't have choosen option X, without the existence of a cause or sufficient reason for the act of choosing option X, in what sense did you choose it of your own free will? Whether the cause or sufficient reason be deterministic or not, I wouldn't say, that it is relevant. Look, I will give you a short arguement to critique.

Premise 1: If a choice was caused by something, it isn't free.
Premise 2: If a choice was caused by nothing, it is free.
Premise 3: Nothing can not cause anything.
Premise 4: So, all choices are caused by something.
Conclusion: Therefore, no choices are free choices.

I think the only disputable premises, is premise 1 or 2 and this is going to depend on your definition of free will. 
 

Again, I just don't think that your underlying premise that a cause prompting one to make a choice renders that choice not free. At this point I almost think we agree that rational agents make choices that are not strictly determined by their causes--i.e. choices are indeterminate effects--you just call these choices determined and not free, while I call them ultimately free, though influenced by prior causal conditions.

 

12/06/2018 2:41 pm  #20


Re: A Question About Free Will

ficino wrote:

RomanJoe wrote:

  ... Free agency doesn't mean our choices occur in a vacuum it means that we are free to choose how we govern our will with response to causal conditions that move it.

[Feser] "Human beings act freely because they are rational.

Joe, so you hold that if it's a rational creature, then it has libertarian free will? That the definition "rational" includes or entails LFW?

I thought this is the very point in question.

 

I believe the point in question is, regardless of whether or not rational agents make choices, can these choices be called free if they were prompted by prior causal conditions.

 

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