Intelligent Design Mind Physics

At Mind Matters News: John Horgan at Scientific American: Does quantum mechanics kill free will?

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Physicists take sides: Sabine Hossenfelder thinks superdeterminism enables quantum mechanics to kill free will; George Ellis disagrees:


One of the most interesting science writers of our era is John Horgan, who has managed to infuriate so many of the right people (to infuriate) while giving the rest of us something to ponder. In a recent column in Scientific American he takes on the question of whether quantum mechanics (quantum physics) rules out free will.

Einstein’s suggestion that the moon “would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord” doesn’t really resolve anything because the moon isn’t thinking anything at all. For that matter, few ponder whether particles, viruses, or termites have free will. The problem is making arguments against free will coincide with human experience. Nor can we simply say, “People just want to believe they have free will”. Sometimes we want to believe that. But other times (when we are looking for excuses).

We don’t want to believe that.

Horgan sides, somewhat tentatively, with free will. He notes that humans are more than just heaps of particles. Higher levels of complexity enable genuinely new qualities. What humans can do is not merely a more complex version of what amoebas can do — in turn, a more complex version of what electrons can do. Greater complexity can involve genuinely new qualities. A philosopher would say that he is not a reductionist.

But that also means that mental phenomena are a reality. Materialists won’t stay comfortable with that for long. We haven’t heard the last of this debate.

News, “At Scientific American: Does quantum mechanics kill free will” at Mind Matters News (March 16, 2022)

Takehome: Horgan’s arguments against superdeterminism work quite well but they require a world in which the human mind really exists. Is he prepared to go there?

Mind Matters News offers a number of articles on free will by neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Egnor including

Can physics prove there is no free will? No, but it can make physicists incoherent when they write about free will. It’s hilarious. Sabine Hossenfelder misses the irony that she insists that people “change their minds” by accepting her assertion that they… can’t change their minds.

Does “alien hand syndrome” show that we don’t really have free will? One woman’s left hand seemed to have a mind of its own. Did it? Alien hand syndrome doesn’t mean that free will is not real. In fact, it clarifies exactly what free will is and what it isn’t.

But is determinism true? Does science show that we fated to want whatever we want? Modern science—both theoretical and experimental—strongly supports the reality of free will.

102 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: John Horgan at Scientific American: Does quantum mechanics kill free will?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    First off, the denial of free will by Atheistic materialists is, (and to use Hossenfelder’s own words denying free will against her), “logically incoherent nonsense.”

    ,,, “Hossenfelder calls free will “logically incoherent nonsense.”
    – John Horgan, Does Quantum Mechanics Rule Out Free Will?” Scientific American (Match 10, 2022)

    First off, logic is itself immaterial. As Dr. Egnor points out, “logic — is neither material nor natural.,,, logic,, is outside of any naturalistic frame.”

    Naturalism and Self-Refutation – Michael Egnor – January 31, 2018
    Excerpt: The hallmarks of the mind — intentionality, qualia, restricted access, the generation of propositions and logic, etc., have nothing whatsoever to do with matter. Matter, as understood by physics, isn’t intentional — it isn’t about anything. Matter is not inherently subjective, it doesn’t generate propositions or logic, etc.,,,
    Furthermore, the very framework of Clark’s argument — logic — is neither material nor natural. Logic, after all, doesn’t exist “in the space-time continuum” and isn’t described by physics. What is the location of modus ponens? How much does Gödel’s incompleteness theorem weigh? What is the physics of non-contradiction? How many millimeters long is Clark’s argument for naturalism? Ironically the very logic that Clark employs to argue for naturalism is outside of any naturalistic frame.
    The strength of Clark’s defense of naturalism is that it is an attempt to present naturalism’s tenets clearly and logically. That is its weakness as well, because it exposes naturalism to scrutiny, and naturalism cannot withstand even minimal scrutiny. Even to define naturalism is to refute it.
    – per Evolution News

    Secondly, since logic itself is immaterial, then the claim from atheistic materialists that all their thoughts are determined (solely) by the prior material/chemical states of their brain undermines any claim that they are making, (and/or that they are even capable of making), logically coherent arguments in the first place.

    As Martin Cothran explains, “By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself.”

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    – per Evolution News

    And as George Ellis succinctly put it, “If they (physicists) don’t (have free will), then why waste time talking to them? They are then not responsible for what they say.”

    Physicist George Ellis on the importance of philosophy and free will – July 27, 2014
    Excerpt: And free will?:
    Horgan: Einstein, in the following quote, seemed to doubt free will: “If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the Earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord…. So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will.” Do you believe in free will?
    Ellis: Yes. Einstein is perpetuating the belief that all causation is bottom up. This simply is not the case, as I can demonstrate with many examples from sociology, neuroscience, physiology, epigenetics, engineering, and physics. Furthermore if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options.
    I find it very hard to believe this to be the case – indeed it does not seem to make any sense. Physicists should pay attention to Aristotle’s four forms of causation – if they have the free will to decide what they are doing. If they don’t, then why waste time talking to them? They are then not responsible for what they say.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....free-will/

    As a shining example of just how logically incoherent the atheist’s denial of free will actually is, the following statement by militant atheist Jerry Coyne should literally be the number one example of a logically self-refuting argument that is given in philosophy 101 classes.

    “Free will is an illusion so convincing that people simply refuse to believe that we don’t have it.,,,”
    – Jerry Coyne – The Illusion of Free Will – Sam Harris – 2012

    As should be needless to point out to Jerry Coyne, and to other atheistic materialists, Coyne’s claim that free will is an illusion precludes the very possibility that people are free to choose to believe, or not believe, that we have free will. To repeat Cothran, it is “a freedom denied by the claim itself.”

    Moreover, besides the denial of free will being self-refuting ‘logically incoherent nonsense’, neuroscience itself clearly supports the reality of free will. Specifically, the research of Benjamin Libet and others, (directly contrary to what atheists try to claim), unequivocally points to freedom of the will.

    How Libet’s Free Will Research is Misrepresented (by atheists) – March 2020
    https://mindmatters.ai/2020/03/how-libets-free-will-research-is-misrepresented/

    Besides neuroscience, the empirical findings of quantum mechanics now also support the reality of free will.

    Specifically, although there have been several major loopholes in quantum mechanics over the past several decades that atheists have tried to appeal to in order to try to avoid the ‘spooky’ Theistic implications of quantum mechanics, over the past several years each of those major loopholes have each been closed one by one. The last major loophole that was left to be closed was the “setting independence”, and/or the “freedom of choice”, loophole.

    Closing the ‘free will’ loophole: Using distant quasars to test Bell’s theorem – February 20, 2014
    Excerpt: Though two major loopholes have since been closed, a third remains; physicists refer to it as “setting independence,” or more provocatively, “free will.” This loophole proposes that a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure — a scenario that, however far-fetched, implies that a physicist running the experiment does not have complete free will in choosing each detector’s setting. Such a scenario would result in biased measurements, suggesting that two particles are correlated more than they actually are, and giving more weight to quantum mechanics than classical physics.
    “It sounds creepy, but people realized that’s a logical possibility that hasn’t been closed yet,” says MIT’s David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and senior lecturer in the Department of Physics. “Before we make the leap to say the equations of quantum theory tell us the world is inescapably crazy and bizarre, have we closed every conceivable logical loophole, even if they may not seem plausible in the world we know today?”
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220112515.htm

    And now Anton Zeilinger and company have recently, as of 2018, pushed the ‘freedom of choice’ loophole back to 7.8 billion years ago, thereby firmly establishing the ‘common sense’ fact that the free will choices of the experimenter in the quantum experiments are truly free and are not determined by any possible causal influences from the past for at least the last 7.8 billion years, and that the experimenters themselves are therefore shown to be truly free to choose whatever measurement settings in the experiments that he or she may so desire to choose so as to ‘logically’ probe whatever aspect of reality that he or she may be interested in probing.

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: This experiment pushes back to at least approx. 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.
    https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.080403

    Moreover, when we rightly allow the Agent causality, and or the ‘Divine Will’, of God ‘back’ into physics, (as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned),,,,

    “Newton’s Rejection of the “Newtonian World View”: The Role of Divine Will in Newton’s Natural Philosophy – (Davis, 1991)
    Abstract Excerpt: Finally, Newton held that, since the world is a product of divine freedom rather than necessity, the laws of nature must be inferred from the phenomena of nature, not deduced from metaphysical axioms — as both Descartes and Leibniz were wont to do.
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/newton.htm

    “That (contingency) was a huge concept (that was important for the founding of modern science). The historians of science call that ‘contingency’. The idea that nature has an order that is built into it. But it is an order that is contingent upon the will of the Creator. It could have been otherwise. Just as there are many ways to make a timepiece, or a clock,,, there are many different ways God could have ordered the universe. And it is up to us not to deduce that order from first principles, or from some intuitions that we have about how nature ought to be, but rather it is important to go out and see how nature actually is.”
    – Stephen Meyer – 5:00 minute mark – Andrew Klavan and Stephen Meyer Talk God and Science
    https://idthefuture.com/1530/

    ,,, when we rightly allow the Agent causality, and or the ‘Divine Will’, of God ‘back’ into physics, (as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned), (and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands with the closing of the “freedom-of-choice” loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), then rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead bridges the infinite mathematical divide that exists between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and provides us with an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”

    December 2021 – When scrutinizing some of the many fascinating details of the Shroud of Turin, we find that both General Relativity, i.e. gravity, and Quantum Mechanics were both dealt with in Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/in-time-for-american-thanksgiving-stephen-meyer-on-the-frailty-of-scientific-atheism/#comment-741600

    Jesus Christ’s Resurrection from the Dead as the correct “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vpn2Vu8–eE

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  2. 2
    dogdoc says:

    I’m curious to see what the response here is to Galen Strawson’s “basic argument” against free will (or, at least, the sort of free will that confers moral responsibility).

    Here is my own version of that argument; I would like to see what counter-arguments there are:

    1) This argument uses “free will” to mean something that is not physically determined, nor random. The type of choices we’re interested in are those made deliberately by a rational agent, not choices that are made for no reason.

    2) Deliberative, free choices depend on the agent’s nature, or the way the agent is at the time of the choice. An agent’s nature consists of their beliefs, desires, intentions, commitments, values, priorities, hopes, fears… in other words any mental aspect of the agent that can contribute to their decisions.

    3) In order for one’s choice to be free, therefore, one must have freely chosen one’s own nature.

    4) One cannot choose one’s own nature, in the same way one cannot lift oneself up by their own bootstraps (the idea is known as causa sui -self-causing – a logical contradiction). In order to choose one’s own desires, for example, one would already need to have the desires that supported that choice, and so on, ad infinitum.

    5) Since we cannot freely choose our natures, and our deliberative choices depend on our natures, we do not have free will.

    Can someone explain a flaw in this argument?

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    The arguments against libertarian free will are compelling but my question would be the old one, if we are wholly determined, why do we have the sense or experience – which we all do – of exercising free will? If the cosmos is deterministic, why was that experience determined to be thus? What purpose does it serve?

  4. 4
    dogdoc says:

    Seversky,
    My argument does not assume determinism, nor does it attack libertarianism; it makes no claims about causality at all. Rather, it argues that the sort of free choices worth wanting are reason-responsive, and that the reasons we have for choosing ultimately cannot themselves be of our own choosing.

    As for why we believe our reasons are self-chosen: we are wrong about all sorts of things until we think about them carefully.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    “Can anyone spot a flaw in this argument?”

    Well saying that, “An agent’s nature consists of their beliefs, desires, intentions, commitments, values, priorities, hopes, fears…” pretty much completely removes the argument from being an argument for purely physical determinism, and against free will in the traditional sense, since all those ‘natural’ attributes can be readily classified as ‘spiritual’ rather than physical attributes.

    The argument, since it is not truly an argument for physical determinism, is very much similar to trying to fallaciously argue that God does not really have free will since it is against His ‘spiritual’ nature to do evil, and since He does not do evil, therefore He has no free will.

    The argument is basically assuming its conclusion.

    Though one’s ‘spiritual’ nature may very well constrain what types of choices one may be likely to make in any given situation, one’s ‘spiritual’ nature certainly does not dictate what specific free will choices one will make in every given instance.

    In short, the argument is too broad in its definition of ‘nature’ to be taken seriously as a valid argument against the reality of free will.

  6. 6
    dogdoc says:

    BA77,

    Well saying that, “An agent’s nature consists of their beliefs, desires, intentions, commitments, values, priorities, hopes, fears…” pretty much completely removes the argument from being an argument for purely physical determinism,

    Correct – this argument has nothing to do with physical determinism.

    The argument, since it is not an truly argument for physical determinism, is very much similar to trying to fallaciously argue that God does not really have free will since it is against His ‘spiritual’ nature to do evil, and He does not do evil, and therefore He has no free will.

    This argument has nothing to do with the “spiritual”, or “evil”, or “God” either.

    In short, the argument is too broad in its definition of ‘nature’ to be taken seriously as a valid argument against the reality of free will.

    I think it is a serious argument, and clear about what deliberative choices must be based upon.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    “I think it is a serious argument,”

    I do not.

  8. 8
    dogdoc says:

    BA77,
    I don’t believe you have engaged the argument. Which of the numbered statements do you take issue with? Is it that you don’t believe that our deliberative choices must be reason-responsive?

  9. 9
    dogdoc says:

    Perhaps an example would make this argument more clear. Imagine I am deciding whether or not to cheat on my income taxes. I might think about how much I desire to have more money for myself, or ponder what I believe to be the chances of getting caught, or my belief that cheating is immoral and my desire to be moral, and so on. If I simply made my choice without deliberating about any reasons – like a mental coin flip – then I would not be making the sort of choice that we value as being free. But if my choice is the result of such a deliberation, then it is dependent upon those aspects of my nature that I did not myself choose.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev,

    no self-referentially incoherent argument can ever be compelling, see below.

    DD,

    computationalism fails as a model of mind that is sufficiently rational, responsible and credible to freely reason and know; computers are rationally blind but programmed by the rational. I have repeatedly pointed to the Smith two tier controller model for how that can work, see https://uncommondescent.com/atheism/reference-the-smith-model-an-architecture-for-cybernetics-and-mind-body-free-will-determinism-compatibilism-analysis/

    As for oh my abilities expressed in my rational, responsible, conscience guided nature are a gift from my originator so I am not free, that is ill thought through. The issue is going concern and ability to go one way as another as opposed to mere stochastic dynamic process. Without which we cannot even be rational.

    BTW, there is a suggestion that quantum influence can and does allow for in effect fifth dimension influence on the brain body cyberloop, which is computational.

    REFER, Haldane:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For

    if

    [p:] my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain

    [–> taking in DNA, epigenetics and matters of computer organisation, programming and dynamic-stochastic processes; notice, “my brain,” i.e. self referential]
    ______________________________

    [ THEN]

    [q:] I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true.

    [–> indeed, blindly mechanical computation is not in itself a rational process, the only rationality is the canned rationality of the programmer, where survival-filtered lucky noise is not a credible programmer, note the funcionally specific, highly complex organised information rich code and algorithms in D/RNA, i.e. language and goal directed stepwise process . . . an observationally validated adequate source for such is _____ ?]

    [Corollary 1:] They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically.

    And hence

    [Corollary 2:] I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. [–> grand, self-referential delusion, utterly absurd self-falsifying incoherence]

    In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. Cf. here on (and esp here) on the self-refutation by self-falsifying self referential incoherence and on linked amorality.]

    KF

  11. 11
    dogdoc says:

    KF, did you perhaps post your last comment to the wrong thread? Do you have any input on Strawson’s “Basic Argument” against free will?

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, this is the thread I see as active as my internet came back up. I respond here. KF

  13. 13
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Since we cannot freely choose our natures, and our deliberative choices depend on our natures, we do not have free will.

    Human free will is always limited by the limits of humanity itself. We’re contingent beings, we didn’t create ourselves. We have freedom within limits – the limit of our powers and our status.
    The fact that nothing can create itself, and therefore has certain limits, is not an argument against the freedom human beings have to make choices.
    There are a lot of impossible things that we can’t choose – that doesn’t mean that free will choices do not exist for us. We are free within the limits of contingent being.

  14. 14
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Seversky

    if we are wholly determined, why do we have the sense or experience – which we all do – of exercising free will? If the cosmos is deterministic, why was that experience determined to be thus? What purpose does it serve?

    Those are excellent questions. As an evolutionist and materialist, how do you answer them?
    The freedom to choose wrongly, make fatal mistakes and even the time required to deliberate over choices – all come at a heavy cost. As you ask: What purpose would the illusion of free will serve and why would it be selected? It would seem far more efficient for organisms to be determined towards survival and reproductive goals – evolution should select for that. Then adding the fact that freedom would be an illusion in a deterministic model, it’s hard to see what value it would have.

  15. 15
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    You did not address the argument either, I believe. Let’s agree arguendo that there are limits constraining our choices. You claim that some freedom remains over and above those limits. But my example @9 regarding a reason-responsive choice shows that none of the reasons for our choice were themselves chosen by us, and therefore we did not make the choice freely at all.

  16. 16
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dd

    But if my choice is the result of such a deliberation, then it is dependent upon those aspects of my nature that I did not myself choose.

    Yes, you did not choose to exist in the beginning and you did not choose your human nature. But free choice is an aspect of human nature given to you by reason of existing. So, even though you didn’t choose free will, it remains.

    none of the reasons for our choice were themselves chosen by us

    If we look at the “reasons for your choice” then we look at the rational process. You have some variables. You compare and contrast. You weigh and measure. Is the money worth the risk of getting arrested? Is my moral conscience stronger than the desire for gain? Do I want to follow God or do I not care and will break the commandments? What is my philosophy? This is the reasoning process. In the end, you have a reason for your choice. You can trace it back. “I didn’t cheat because of this, this, this and this.”
    Those are your reasons. You chose them freely. You could have gone another way and were moved by various factors. You may not have even made a perfectly rational decision.
    In the end, you are fully free enough to make a moral decision.
    If you made a big mistake – you would have something to learn from for the next time.
    Your choice today, affects your knowledge and choice tomorrow. You are free to choose badly. You can do this repeatedly or not. It depends what you learn and what you’re willing to risk.

  17. 17
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    Yes, you did not choose to exist in the beginning and you did not choose your human nature.

    Agreed.

    But free choice is an aspect of human nature given to you by reason of existing. So, even though you didn’t choose free will, it remains.

    Free will is what we are discussing; you are simply declaring we have it, without argument.

    If we look at the “reasons for your choice” …This is the reasoning process. In the end, you have a reason for your choice. You can trace it back. “I didn’t cheat because of this, this, this and this.”
    Those are your reasons.

    Agreed.

    You chose them freely. You could have gone another way and were moved by various factors.

    Let’s say I choose to believe it is more important to follow God’s commandments than it is to have more money, and this convinces me to pay my taxes. But the choice to have that belief was not random; it too must have been the result of some reasoning process (unless it was made for no reason at all). And so on.

    Your choice today, affects your knowledge and choice tomorrow.

    Indeed it does. But at no time did you choose your beliefs, desires, values, etc except as dictated by the beliefs, desires, values etc. that you already had.

  18. 18
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DD

    But the choice to have that belief was not random; it too must have been the result of some reasoning process

    The reasoning process is an exercise of free will. If we didn’t have freedom of choice, there would be no purpose for or need for the reasoning process. Our rational intellect structures thought so we can decide on choices. The fact that we choose badly or wisely is evidence of our freedom.
    The entire learning process is an exercise of free will. We choose, learn, adjust and choose again. For various reasons, we can make bad choices also – that’s the nature of freedom. We can decide what values to esteem and which to de-prioritize. We can follow our emotions or we can follow our philosophy. We can choose to serve and worship God, or we can neglect that.
    All of that is evidence of free choice.

    But at no time did you choose your beliefs, desires, values, etc except as dictated by the beliefs, desires, values etc. that you already had.

    That sentence is not clear. You’re saying that at no time does a person ever choose something new? You’re saying that everything is “dictated” (determined) by what you already had.
    But again, the entire educational process fights against that. We seek out new information and knowledge and build wisdom. It’s not dictated by anything. We freely choose to pursue wisdom, truth and goodness – or we choose another path of sin, ignorance and vice. Either way, the choice is ours.

  19. 19
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    The reasoning process is an exercise of free will.

    I don’t see it that way. Unless I decide to deliberately be irrational, I am compelled by my beliefs, desires, etc to my conclusion. And even if I did decide to be irrational, I must have been led to that decision by some beliefs, desires, etc.

    If we didn’t have freedom of choice, there would be no purpose for or need for the reasoning process.

    We are led to our conclusions by our reasons, for the purposes that we see (survival, altruism, happiness, whatever). But since we don’t choose our desires or beliefs, etc, those choices are not ultimately free.

    The fact that we choose badly or wisely is evidence of our freedom.

    Not at all! Let’s take an extreme example: Imagine someone develops a tumor in their amygdala that affects their thinking, and that leads them to make the terrible choice of killing their wife. (There are many examples of this sort of thing in medical literature of course). We would not call this very unwise choice free.

    The entire learning process is an exercise of free will.

    Learning is obviously accomplished by all sorts of things to which we don’t typically attribute free will, like spiders or flatworms.

    We can decide what values to esteem and which to de-prioritize.

    Yes we do this continually, always based upon our current beliefs, desires, and so on.

    We can follow our emotions or we can follow our philosophy. We can choose to serve and worship God, or we can neglect that.
    All of that is evidence of free choice.

    No, it is not evidence of free choice in the sense of being the ultimate authors of our decisions, because our we did not freely choose our reasons.

    You’re saying that at no time does a person ever choose something new?

    No, I’m saying that the reason we make new choices is always based on other reasons. Let’s say you are a compassionate person. Did you freely choose to be compassionate? Did you deliberate about it – hmmm, should I be compassionate or not? On one hand it takes a lot energy, but on the other hand it seems that God wants me to be compassionate, and I want to do what God wants me to… but why do I want that? When did I decide to want to do what God wants me to do? And why? And so on and so on, all the way back to when we were born, when we obviously could not have deliberated about anything.

    You’re saying that everything is “dictated” (determined) by what you already had.

    Not in the sense of physical determinism, but in the sense that if our choices are deliberative (philosophers call it reason-responsive) then they are compelled by the way we are at each juncture, all the way back to our birth.

  20. 20
    jerry says:

    Decision making has a lot of antecedents as have been pointed out. But are all decisions determined?

    Rather than say this or that combination determines a decision is it better to say that all the prior states and needs are coaxing rather than forcing a particular decision?

    I once watched a man decide what job to take and was doing an ROI analysis of the incomes and expenses of where to work and live. I said why don’t you ask your future wife where she would like to live. An hour later he had decided on suburban New York City after talking with her.

    Some would say his free will was overridden by his hormones.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    DD,

    Free will is what we are discussing; you are simply declaring we have it, without argument.

    Do you recognise that absent responsible, rational, significant freedom, reasoned discussion and argument, much less decision, are impossible?

    KF

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky, “if we are wholly determined, why do we have the sense or experience – which we all do – of exercising free will? If the cosmos is deterministic, why was that experience determined to be thus? What purpose does it serve?”

    In all my years of debating you those are the most honest questions that I have ever seen you ask.

    As to: “What purpose does (natural selection creating the illusion of free will) serve?”

    I agree. This is an insurmountable problem for Darwinian materialists. Exactly why did natural selection go to all the trouble of creating the illusion of free will?

    As well, since survival is the only criteria for evolutionary success, then why did natural selection also go to all the trouble creating the illusion of subjective conscious experience in the first place? Why not just create mindless meat robots, and/or mindless zombies? i.e. Besides the illusion of free will, natural selection creating the illusion of conscious experience also seems like a hugely inefficient endeavor for a process that is only concerned about, ‘red in tooth and claw’, survival of the fittest.

    Is Consciousness a Spandrel? – Sept. 2015
    Introduction Excerpt: as several authors have pointed out, establishing that evolutionary processes produced consciousness to fulfill some biological function is a tall order (cf. Flanagan and Polger 1995; Polger and Flanagan 2002; Rosenthal 2008; Nagel 2012).The difficulties with adaptationist accounts appear so serious that some reject standard evolutionary theory—and even materialism along the way (Nagel 2012).
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282619766_Is_Consciousness_a_Spandrel
    Published online by Cambridge University Press

    Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False – Thomas Nagel
    Excerpt: If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.
    http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/pro.....9919758.do

    David Chalmers – Why is Consciousness so Mysterious? – (The Hard Problem of Consciousness)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTIk9MN3T6w

    As Frank Jackson made clear in his philosophical argument ‘Mary’s Room’, no amount of scientific and physical examination on Mary’s part will ever reveal to Mary exactly what the inner subjective conscious experience, i.e. qualia, of the color blue actually is until Mary actually experiences what the color blue is for herself.

    11.2.1 Qualia – Perception (“The Hard Problem” )
    Philosopher of the mind Frank Jackson imagined a thought experiment —Mary’s Room— to explain qualia and why it is such an intractable problem for science. The problem identified is referred to as the knowledge argument. Here is the description of the thought experiment:
    “Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal cords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue’. (…) What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not?”
    Jackson believed that Mary did learn something new: she learned what it was like to experience color.
    “It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. But then is it inescapable that her previous knowledge was incomplete. But she had all the physical information. Ergo there is more to have than that, and Physicalism [materialism] is false.”
    https://www.urantia.org/study/seminar-presentations/is-there-design-in-nature#Emergence

    Quote and Verse:

    “I think, therefore I am”
    – René Descartes

    Exodus 3:14
    And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.

  23. 23
    dogdoc says:

    Jerry,

    Decision making has a lot of antecedents as have been pointed out. But are all decisions determined?

    Either our choices are responsive to reasons or not. If I believe that God wants me to feed the poor, and have a desire to do God’s will, then if I have a choice whether or not to feed the poor I will choose to do so for those reasons. If I chose not to, it would have to be because of some other beliefs and desires. The only alternative is to make choices without deliberation at all – a mental coin flip that is not the sort of freedom we’re talking about.

    Rather than say this or that combination determines a decision is it better to say that all the prior states and needs are coaxing rather than forcing a particular decision?

    What else besides our beliefs, desires, values, priorities, commitments, fears, hopes, etc. would end up compelling a deliberative decision?

    Some would say his free will was overridden by his hormones.

    Hahahah good story. But seriously, if you’d like to add hormones, brain wiring, gut biotics, gene expression or any of that to our “natures” that compel our choices, that goes right along with my argument.

  24. 24
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DD

    No, I’m saying that the reason we make new choices is always based on other reasons.

    First, you’re saying “make new choices” which is what we do freely. Previously, you said “dictated” by prior choices. But that’s not the case. We made a choice in the past. Now we can reject it. We gain new information and question the previous choice, or ignore it. We can go with our emotions, our philosophy, our faith, our intuition, our logic – any of those can be chosen. Is there any law, rule, fixed condition that tells us which one will be selected at any time? If there was no free will, then there would be. We would always choose because of … whatever. But we don’t. We use several different foundations for choice – for good reasons or bad. Often, we didn’t think enough about it, or maybe we over-analyzed. We weren’t determined and we weren’t dictated by other things. We were influenced, yes – but the choice remained free for a good reason or bad reason.

    Let’s say you are a compassionate person. Did you freely choose to be compassionate? Did you deliberate about it – hmmm, should I be compassionate or not?

    Yes, of course. Compassion is a virtue. Before I was selfish. Now I decided – “I should be compassionate”. Why did I choose that? Was it determined by something? No. I learned, I grew mature, I freely tried this or that – then I wanted to be compassionate. Am I too compassionate? I can freely adjust my compassion so that it is just and not unjust (we can be compassionate towards evil, for example, and that would be unjust).
    Yes, we have standards. We freely make choices to meet the standard. Am I acting the way Jesus shows in the Gospel in His example? Now I can understand and choose. Maybe I have been wrong. Or maybe I did very well – how can I do better? There are hundreds of things I can think about before making a choice. Sometimes it’s selfish, other times it is done for love of a person. Did I make the right choice? I look back to figure it out. Nothing dictated what I was going to do.

    On one hand it takes a lot energy, but on the other hand it seems that God wants me to be compassionate, and I want to do what God wants me to… but why do I want that?

    Exactly. Did I just want a reward? Was I afraid of something? Or did I truly love God and want to honor Him? We freely made a choice – maybe it was good or maybe not.

    When did I decide to want to do what God wants me to do? And why? And so on and so on, all the way back to when we were born

    The fact that we have been freely making choices since the age of reason doesn’t mean any of them were not free. Right now, you will make choices based on many factors. Every choice you make is limited by your knowledge, your motives, your virtues, your sins – but you can choose one way or another. Your background doesn’t determine what you will do. One person is very wealthy and choose to become more wealthy. Another person is very wealthy and decides to give to charity and lose the wealth that way. Some things influenced both of those choices – education, physical conditions, friends, advertising – there are always influencers. But the reason we make a good choice is because we freely chose the right thing, no matter what the influencers said.
    Sometimes the influencers move us in the right direction, other times in the wrong direction.
    We can’t just blame the influencers for when we made a bad decision. No, we freely chose the wrong thing – then we see that we were arrogant, selfish, cruel, lazy, greedy – or many other things that we have to work against.
    If we weren’t free, there would be no reason to strive for virtue. There would be no guilt for our bad deeds.
    But when we choose badly, we have guilt in our conscience because we know we could have done better with our free choice.
    Mastering the skill of making free-will decisions is the ultimate work of a lifetime. That’s where character and integrity come from. It’s not something that is handed to us.
    Education itself requires hard work. We can choose to do that or not. It’s the same with virtue – we have to build the good habits and that requires repeated good choices, freely made.
    Otherwise, everybody would be virtuous, but that’s not the case.

  25. 25
    dogdoc says:

    KF,

    Do you recognise that absent responsible, rational, significant freedom, reasoned discussion and argument, much less decision, are impossible?

    I saw a cartoon once which was a big set of interlocking gears, with gear A interlocked with other gears as well as the cogs of gear B. Gear A says “I don’t believe in free will.” Gear B says “In that case, why are you trying to turn me?”

    Get it?

  26. 26
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DD

    What else besides our beliefs, desires, values, priorities, commitments, fears, hopes, etc. would end up compelling a deliberative decision?

    These things did not just magically appear in us and they didn’t just arrive in a fixed format.
    We made choices which shaped those things, and we have to evaluate if they are good or bad.
    We choose a standard and try to reach it. We can choose the Christian life, and the standard of God through the life of Jesus. We miss the mark, and try again. We didn’t create the moral standard. We freely choose to follow it or not.

  27. 27
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    These things [beliefs, desires, etc] did not just magically appear in us and they didn’t just arrive in a fixed format.

    Agreed.

    We made choices which shaped those things, and we have to evaluate if they are good or bad.

    Absolutely.

    We choose a standard and try to reach it.

    And what compelled your choice of standard?
    1) Beliefs, desires, values, priorities, etc
    2) Random mental coin flip
    3) There is no other option

  28. 28
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DD

    they are compelled by the way we are at each juncture

    The way we are at each juncture is influenced but not determined by our free will choices we have made.
    Reducing free will to the moment of choice is like a post hoc argument.
    “We were determined to make all the choices we made”.
    Proof? “You made all those choices, didn’t you?”
    But it doesn’t work that way. We deliberate. We go along with our background or against it.
    What does God want from you right now? That’s called “discernment”. We have to figure it out.

  29. 29
    Silver Asiatic says:

    And what compelled your choice of standard?
    1) Beliefs, desires, values, priorities, etc
    2) Random mental coin flip
    3) There is no other option

    Beliefs? No. I chose something I did not believe previously.
    Desires? No. It goes against my desire.
    Values? No. It provided new values that I didn’t have.
    Priorities? No. It’s something I just discovered so I don’t know.

    What other options? Intuition, spiritual insight, flash of understanding, curiosity, contrarianism, the weather, the unknown, fear …
    There could be 20 different things happening, some unconscious even …

    You should be able to predict a person’s every choice based on your reasoning.
    But it never works that way. People are unpredictable. Their choices come from the immaterial intellect and immaterial human consciousness – it’s not a deterministic process.

  30. 30
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    Reducing free will to the moment of choice is like a post hoc argument.
    “We were determined to make all the choices we made”.
    Proof? “You made all those choices, didn’t you?”

    No, I’m not trying to prove your choices were determined by reducing them to the moment of choice. You are completely correct that the way we are at each moment reflects a lifetime of deliberation, evaluation, and previous choices. My point is that each choice is based on the way we are when we make that choice (so much seems perfectly obvious). And because each deliberation along the way was made based on the way we were at those moments, there was never a time when we could “stand outside of ourselves”, as it were, and decide what sort of person we were going to be.

    In other words, causa sui is a logical contradiction.

  31. 31
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    Beliefs? No. I chose something I did not believe previously.

    Upon what did you base that choice?

    Desires? No. It goes against my desire.

    When did you freely choose to desire, or not desire, that – and why?

    What other options? Intuition, spiritual insight, flash of understanding, curiosity, contrarianism, the weather, the unknown, fear …

    There could be 20 different things happening, some unconscious even …

    Yes, good – you can add all of those – and more – to the list of things that I am referring to “our nature” or “the way we are”!

    You should be able to predict a person’s every choice based on your reasoning.

    No, that isn’t possible! I think we agree that computers are (typically) deterministic, but complex computer systems are completely unpredictable.

    But it never works that way. People are unpredictable. Their choices come from the immaterial intellect and immaterial human consciousness – it’s not a deterministic process.

    My argument has nothing to do with consciousness, materialism, or determinism. Only that reason-responsive deliberation is necessarily based on aspects of ourselves that we cannot freely choose.

  32. 32
    jerry says:

    What else besides our beliefs, desires, values, priorities, commitments, fears, hopes, etc. would end up compelling a deliberative decision?

    I worked at the highest levels of advertising, each agency had a different schtick to sell to their clients. One I used to teach to my students when I taught advertising was benefit likelihood.

    This involved asking consumers how important various benefits were and how likely would these benefits be found in a product found on the market. This produced a likely to buy for a certain benefit combination and this became the basis of product development for a superior product.

    The actual product’s ability to deliver the benefits and the ability of the ad campaign to communicate became a major part of product choice. Was this science? Yes and no. Most new products fail and most ad campaigns hardly move the needle. Which is why they do a lot of testing.

    Another form of product development is problem solving. Product development is based on obviously solving a problem. People like it when their problems go away. They choose the option that alleviates a problem the easiest or cheapest or fastest.

    Another rule of thumb for product development, fast, cheap or good. Choose any two of three.

    Try figure out how women choose shoes. If you can do that you will rule the world.

  33. 33
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DD

    And because each deliberation along the way was made based on the way we were at those moments, there was never a time when we could “stand outside of ourselves”, as it were, and decide what sort of person we were going to be.

    The term “deliberation” betrays the reality. We weigh options. We use different weights for a variety of reasons. This is the freedom. We deliberate. We toss it around. It’s not pre-selected.
    We can, and must, indeed decide what kind of person we are going to be. That’s why we make the choice. Have the past choices been good or bad? That’s what makes the present-day choice free and not determined by the past. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be choosing. We’d just be walking along a path. But we don’t have a path ahead of us – we create a new future. The past influences us but we can choose with it or against it.

  34. 34
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerry

    Most new products fail and most ad campaigns hardly move the needle. Which is why they do a lot of testing.

    Nobody knows what’s going to motivate the buyers. There’s some influence, more or less. The buyers themselves do not know what they’re going to choose. It might be price, quality, consumer reviews, or just some good feeling on the product. It could go one way or another. It’s the definition of free-will. Unpredictable and non-determined. We have no idea what’s going to happen.
    Political events show this all the time. Nobody always picks the winners – even with pre-polling stats.

  35. 35
    dogdoc says:

    Jerry,

    Interesting! Yup, all those things affect our decisions – our experiences interact with the way we are when we decide. Still we can’t decide the way we are when we decide. So in that sense, our choices are not ultimately free..

    Try figure out how women choose shoes. If you can do that you will rule the world.

    Oh I gave predicting women decades ago 🙂

  36. 36
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    The term “deliberation” betrays the reality. We weigh options. We use different weights for a variety of reasons.

    That is exactly what I mean by “deliberation” – we weigh options according to what we believe, feel, want, love, hate, are tired of, are enamored of, and on and on and on and on… whatever you’d like to add to this list of attributes that you believe might contribute to your deliberations.

    This is the freedom.

    You’re not wrong; it is just a different sort of freedom from the one I’m talking about. People even argue that strict physical determinism is compatible with freedom, because they mean something different too by the word “freedom”. We do of course make choices, and you might want to consider any choice we make that is not directly forced by external circumstance to be “free” – even the poor person with the tumor on their amygdala causing them to fly into a homicidal rage (or another person with an equally horrible pathology in their brain that doesn’t show up on radiological imaging) – they could be said to be acting “freely” as well, since nobody is putting a gun in their hand and pressing their finger on the trigger.

    But I’m talking about a different sort of freedom, and I think it’s the sort of freedom that most people assume we have: That somehow we can choose our personal attributes, and then use those attributes to make further choices, without accounting for how our original personal attributes (upon which all others depend) were chosen in the first place. It seems obvious to me that this is impossible, for the same reason we cannot lift ourselves off the ground by our own bootstraps. We would have to be ourselves before our self could decide what self to be.

  37. 37
    dogdoc says:

    This has been an interesting exchange for me. I see it’s not simple to make the Basic Argument against free will clear and comprehensible. I’ll try it with a more explicit example – a story about Alice.

    Alice is born, initially unable to deliberate about choices. Her nature at birth is determined by innate characteristics in combination with the totality of her (pre-natial) experiences.

    As she develops, she gains the ability to deliberate about her choices. The attributes upon which she bases her choices (that is, her nature) change as her brain and endocrine system develops, and as she encounters and learns from different experiences. She may become more empathetic, or selfish, or curious, or apathetic, or competitive, or cooperative, and so on. Each of these attributes affect the choices she makes, which in turn affect her nature.

    In order to assert that Alice has free will (of the sort that confers moral responsibility, at least), we have to be able to say at what point in this process Alice is able to determine her own attributes without relying on the attributes that she already has developed, over which she had no control.

    People who believe in free will would like there to be some other factor – her volition, or her soul, or her will – that is ultimately responsible for her choices, over and above her nature. Let’s say, for example, that Alice uses her will to decide to be a religious person, and her will’s decision is not entirely based on whatever tendencies she may have innately or as the result of her experiences.

    The critical question is this: Upon what basis does Alice’s will decide that Alice should be religious?

    If her will bases its decision on Alice’s beliefs, desires, values, priorities, prior choices, and so on (i.e. her nature) then her will is in fact the same thing that I have been calling her nature – which is itself the result of an unfathomably complex interaction between her innate characteristics and her experiences, neither of which Alice freely chose. And if her will does not base its choice on her nature, then her will is choosing for no reason at all. And choices made for no reason at all are not the sort of free choices that people want.

  38. 38
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DD

    As she develops, she gains the ability to deliberate about her choices.

    We call this “she reached the age of reason”. She’s able to make choices for which she has responsibility. Prior to that, she was developing, but was moved by instinct and biology. But as you say above, she gained the power of deliberation – that’s where her free choices begin.

    The attributes upon which she bases her choices (that is, her nature) change as her brain and endocrine system develops, and as she encounters and learns from different experiences.

    “Learning from experiences” is a function of free-will. We take in data. We sort it, compare, keep some, reject some, remember some, ignore some — we make hundreds of rational free choices in sorting data. Prior to this, we had no power to do it – so our free-will rational processes cannot be based on prior “nature” since we didn’t have the power of rational choice before then.

    She may become more empathetic, or selfish, or curious, or apathetic, or competitive, or cooperative, and so on. Each of these attributes affect the choices she makes, which in turn affect her nature

    She becomes those things, selfish, apathetic, competitive – based on the free-will choices she made in the past. Each set of choices affects (but does not determine) the future. She has more to sort through.

    Alice is able to determine her own attributes without relying on the attributes that she already has developed, over which she had no control.

    As soon as she started making choices, she had control. The attributes she developed came from the good or bad actions she performed through free choice. That’s what the learning process requires. We’re not locked into any one path, and people make radical changes in their life becoming much different than what they started out as when a child.
    For your theory to be correct, a person’s development would be linear. We have a “nature” and that determines the future in a direct line. But free choice subverts that.
    A person can behave very well, then behave badly, then correct that and become better than ever before. But in no way is that determined by initial conditions. People rise above all sorts of obstacles – the same obstacles and environment that cause others to fail in life.
    Acts of virtue require a deliberate fight against temptation.
    We fight against the world (outside influences) the flesh (our own weaknesses) and the devil (the enemy of our spiritual progress).

  39. 39
    Scamp says:

    I find that arguments about free will are pointless. You can’t prove that it exists and you can’t prove that it doesn’t.

    Free will is something we either take on faith, or we don’t. It can no more be proven that the existence or non existence of God. All of the ridiculous claims of “warrant” don’t change this.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, if your arguments are predetermined by non rational forces, i.e. you are not judging on merits and choosing to accept warranted conclusions on said merits, your thinking has no credibility. KF

    PS: Your gear train was anticipated 2360+ years ago by on certain Aristocles AKA Plato, in The Laws, Bk X . . . yes we got the point as a civilisation over 2,000 years ago:

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. [–> apply to determinism including compatibilism, the computational chain has no independent value and GIGO brings it under doubt . . . valid programmer and debugging needed and needs to be tested] But when the self-moved [–> notice, locus of freedom, reflexive self action with capability to initiate chains, programmer not substrate running a program blindly as a dynamic stochastic entity] changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second. [–> notice, the self-moved, initiating, reflexively acting causal agent, which defines freedom as essential to our nature, and this is root of discussion on agents as first causes.]

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.

    In short, self referential incoherence.

    Our rationality depends on freedom, and the imposition of lab coat clad worldviews that undermine it only manages to entrench self referential incoherence. As Provine inadvertently admitted:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    He undermined his own view.

    A better answer is to accept that while we are error prone, we are also rational, as a first point of thinking. That implies responsible, significant freedom and it is undeniable on pain of self referential absurdity and principle of explosion driven destabilisation of thought.

    So, we reject any and all views that undermine credibility of thought, for cause.

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    Scamp, precisely right that you cannot prove responsible rational freedom. That’s because it is a branch on which we all must sit first truth and first principle. Proofs come a long way after it and depend on it. To deny it, we imply the validity of the denial, which requires exactly the freedom being denied or sidelined. Self referentially absurd. Instead, we must learn to recognise when we are in the presence of first principles and we must be humble enough to accept that an inescapably pervasive first truth is self evidently true and inextricably embedded in our acts of reason, KF

  42. 42
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    But as you say above, she gained the power of deliberation – that’s where her free choices begin.

    If you define “free choice” simply to mean “deliberated”, then yes, her choices are free. I (and most people, I believe) mean something else.

    For your theory to be correct, a person’s development would be linear. We have a “nature” and that determines the future in a direct line. But free choice subverts that.

    No, you have misunderstood what I mean by one’s “nature”, even though I’ve been careful to spell it out over and over again. I do not mean something immutable that defines us; quite the opposite. As I’ve said repeatedly, one’s nature changes constantly as a result of new experiences and the outcomes of prior choices. One’s nature is simply what I’m calling the sum total of all of a person’s attributes that affect one’s choices, such as their beliefs, desires, values, priorities, commitments, fears, hopes, and so on, and so on.

    A person can behave very well, then behave badly, then correct that and become better than ever before.

    Yes, this is of course true.

    But in no way is that determined by initial conditions.

    Again I agree, and I’ve never suggested that initial conditions determine one’s behavior. I’ve attributed them to the effects of continuing interaction between innate characteristics and experiences, which continually change our natures.

    People rise above all sorts of obstacles – the same obstacles and environment that cause others to fail in life.

    Of course this is true as well.

    Please read my example @37; perhaps our differences will become more clear.

  43. 43
    dogdoc says:

    Scamp,

    I find that arguments about free will are pointless. You can’t prove that it exists and you can’t prove that it doesn’t.

    You need to define what you mean by “it” (free will) before you decide what can or can’t be proven. Some compatibilist definitions describe free will as something that uncontroversially exists, for example, such as “reason-responsive choices”.

    Free will is something we either take on faith, or we don’t. It can no more be proven that the existence or non existence of God. All of the ridiculous claims of “warrant” don’t change this.

    My argument doesn’t invoke any notion of warrant; it’s a logical argument. Essentially, I’m just pointing out that our decisions result from our selves, so in order for choices to be free we must freely choose our selves. But we can’t do that, since before we choose our self we would have to have some self to make the choice, based upon reasons over which we had no control.

  44. 44
    dogdoc says:

    KF,

    DD, if your arguments are predetermined by non rational forces…

    You have read none of what I’ve written; you are not even remotely close to understanding my position.

  45. 45
    vividbleau says:

    Dog
    “3) In order for one’s choice to be free, therefore, one must have freely chosen one’s own nature.”

    “5) Since we cannot freely choose our natures, and our deliberative choices depend on our natures, we do not have free will”.

    The above seems to be the heart of the argument, everything else is pretty much agreed by all. It is our nature that determines our choices and since we did not choose our nature we do not have free will. I hope I am understanding you correctly.

    I would first disclose that I do not like the term “free will” as I think it is an oxymoron. I see the will somewhat like a steering wheel on a car with myself as the driver of the car.Sometimes the car is in park and the will is inert , when in drive mode I turn the steering wheel this way and that. However if I don’t do anything the will is inert. At no time is the will, (the steering wheel) free from me , if not free from me the term free will is more like unfree will.

    I much prefer what I consider to be a more precise description which is free choice.My definition of a free choice is the ability to choose what I MOST WANT at the time the choice is made given the options available to me when the choice is made.

    Now you IMO rightly point out that what determines what I will most want is determined by my nature and since I did not choose my nature my choices are not free.

    So far so good?

    Vivid

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, the point applies to any species of determinism even if softened by stochastic phenomena. Indeed, it applies to hypercalvinism. Determinism locks out the freedom to freely choose, including, going with a responsible judgement on pondering evidence, logic and comparative assumptions etc. Further to which, responsible, rational, conscience guided, morally governed significant freedom of the self moved person is not proved. It is antecedent to proof, being a matter of branch on which we all sit. KF

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    Vivid (& attn DD et al):

    “3) In order for one’s choice to be free, therefore, one must have freely chosen one’s own nature.”

    “5) Since we cannot freely choose our natures, and our deliberative choices depend on our natures, we do not have free will”.

    A contrived, fallacious rhetorical gambit, designed to try to stir a faux objection to the gift of responsible, rational freedom. Indeed, guess what, that in 3 it is identified that one wishes to CHOOSE — here, one’s nature — the argument is instantly self referentially self defeating. Guess what endowment, embedded in our nature, enables us to make the sort of free, real choice being put up? If you guessed, responsible, rational freedom, you got it in one go.

    So, 5 pivoting on a self defeating 3, the argument not only fails, it collapses.

    How it does so, draws out the branch on which we sit antecedent nature of our responsible, rational freedom.

    KF

  48. 48
    William J Murray says:

    Dogdoc,

    If I understand your argument correctly, your position is that no matter how far you go up the river of what self and “will” are, there is some reason we, in our mind, choose X and not Y. If there is no reason for that choice, it can only be a random occurrence.

    As you point out, we are fully contextualized beings. We never find ourselves at some tabula rasa without any context, internal or eternal.

    I’ve made the case some time ago here that what actually exists at the core of “self” and “will” is preference. Whether for direct or abstract preference, free will is indistinguishable from preference. Preference is directional; it is always points to enjoyment, whether direct or abstract; whether in the now or in the future; whether it is increased enjoyment or reduction of unenjoyable experience.

    IMO, free will is indistinguishable from preference, so the ultimate reason for all free will choices is preference, for all possible sentient beings because, ultimately, free will = preference. Preference is not generated by context; preference is discovered through context. It is the universal, fundamental reason for all free will choices, at least at the level of our mental intentions.

    Preference even drives the behavior of newborn children. It doesn’t even have to be a conscious decision. Preference drives us all.

  49. 49
    asauber says:

    I think the fact that we conceive arrays of possible choices for any given situation seals the deal for some free will.

    Andrew

  50. 50
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I’m facing a choice between A, B or C.
    The fact is, I can pick any one of them for any number of reasons. We cannot reduce the reason to one thing, such as the determined outcome of my background, desires, “nature” or whatever.
    If we could, then we could predict what I would choose. But we can’t. In fact, even I can’t predict it.
    I can choose the option I want the least.
    If we said, “your choice will always be what you desire”, that doesn’t add much. It’s just saying “whatever you choose, you wanted to choose that, even if you didn’t want what the choice provided”.
    We have free will because there’s no absolute hierarchy of values that we must use to make the choice.
    If you could tell me now which I would pick: A, B or C and for what reason – that would be evidence of determinism.

  51. 51
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Preference is not generated by context; preference is discovered through context.

    I would support that as long as we’re not saying “we are pre-determined to choose what we prefer”. Through free-will, on the other hand – as you say, we discover our preference. That’s where the freedom comes in. We can even choose the things that we are least attracted to.

  52. 52
    Scamp says:

    DD:
    You need to define what you mean by “it” (free will) before you decide what can or can’t be proven.

    My idea of free will is that we are free to make a decision independent of any precursor input that would dictate that choice. Since it would be impossible to control for all possible inputs I don’t see how we could prove that it exists. Conversely, For the same reason, I don’t think we can prove that it doesn’t exist.

    We all certainly believe that we have free will in the choices we make, but it is possible that this is just a delusion.

  53. 53
    dogdoc says:

    Vivid,

    It is our nature that determines our choices and since we did not choose our nature we do not have free will. I hope I am understanding you correctly.

    Thank you so much for paraphrasing and testing your understanding, Vivid!

    Yes you have it generally correct, but let me clarify the way I’m using “our nature” here. I should not have used that word, I see, because it’s being interpreted by some (despite my efforts to clarify) as some immutable, defining characteristic that we’re born with. That is not at all what I mean. Rather, I mean nothing more than “the way you are” – your beliefs, desires, values, priorities, commitments, hopes, fears, etc etc; in other words, any aspect of your being that may affect your deliberative choices, and which can continuously change as you learn, experience, and see the results of your previous choices.

    I much prefer what I consider to be a more precise description which is free choice.My definition of a free choice is the ability to choose what I MOST WANT at the time the choice is made given the options available to me when the choice is made.

    That’s fine. Given your definition of “free choice”, I believe we all exercise free choices. (In fact, it is my belief that our choices always and inevitably follow from what we most want, but let us not go off on that tangent, because people have a very hard time accepting that. Instead, they insist that they do things they don’t want and refrain from doing other things that they do want because of things like God’s commandments or other moral imperatives – not realizing that it is simply that they want to follow those things more than the temptations they resist!)

    Now you IMO rightly point out that what determines what I will most want is determined by my nature and since I did not choose my nature my choices are not free.

    So far so good?

    Yes, given the clarification about “nature” above, that is exactly my argument. Thanks again for your clarity.

  54. 54
    dogdoc says:

    WJM,

    If I understand your argument correctly, your position is that no matter how far you go up the river of what self and “will” are, there is some reason we, in our mind, choose X and not Y. If there is no reason for that choice, it can only be a random occurrence.

    Pretty much, yes.

    As you point out, we are fully contextualized beings. We never find ourselves at some tabula rasa without any context, internal or eternal.

    Yes, well said.

    I’ve made the case some time ago here that what actually exists at the core of “self” and “will” is preference. Whether for direct or abstract preference, free will is indistinguishable from preference. Preference is directional; it is always points to enjoyment, whether direct or abstract; whether in the now or in the future; whether it is increased enjoyment or reduction of unenjoyable experience.

    I could not agree more. I believe this may be what VividBleu is getting at as well.

    IMO, free will is indistinguishable from preference, so the ultimate reason for all free will choices is preference, for all possible sentient beings because, ultimately, free will = preference. Preference is not generated by context; preference is discovered through context. It is the universal, fundamental reason for all free will choices, at least at the level of our mental intentions.

    Preference even drives the behavior of newborn children. It doesn’t even have to be a conscious decision. Preference drives us all.

    Again this is exactly what I believe, all of it. However, I think that this is at odds with what most people believe that free will entails. For example, your view (and mine) is compatible with physical determinism.

  55. 55
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    I’m facing a choice between A, B or C.
    The fact is, I can pick any one of them for any number of reasons. We cannot reduce the reason to one thing, such as the determined outcome of my background, desires, “nature” or whatever.

    No, please read what I’ve written here. It is obviously NOT “one thing” that determines our choices; as I’ve said over and over again it is many many things – beliefs, desires, values, priorities, and on and on and on.

    If we could, then we could predict what I would choose. But we can’t. In fact, even I can’t predict it.

    I’ve already responded to this, but you’ve ignored my response. My view does not at all entail predictability, I don’t even understand why you would say that.

    I can choose the option I want the least.

    If you decided to choose the option you wanted the least, you would either be making that choice for a reason, or for no reason at all. If you choose for no reason at all, then your behavior is random and not rational, and if you want to call that “free” then I won’t argue. But if you do have a reason, then you are making that choice because of some belief, desire, preference, etc.

  56. 56
    dogdoc says:

    KF,
    Unfortunately you seem to still be missing the point. We are not discussing determinism here, but rather reason-responsiveness.

  57. 57
    Silver Asiatic says:

    SA

    But if you do have a reason, then you are making that choice because of some belief, desire, preference, etc.

    You seem to be saying that having a reason for your choice thus eliminates freedom.
    But I explained this already – it’s a tautology.
    A free choice requires a reason. We can freely choose any number of reasons, for any number of reasons. There’s nothing deterministic about it.
    You seem to be saying our “nature” causes the choice and therefore the choice is not free.
    But the choice is not “caused” by beliefs, desires, emotions. The choice is a free action of our rational intellect. We freely select from options. Of course we have reasons for selecting; whatever reasons we may want. We select the reason and then we select the option.
    You’re grouping every human characteristic under the concept “nature” and saying that’s the mechanism for the choice. So in that view, the only way to make a free choice is to have no reason for it, since a reason would supposedly violate freedom. But we freely choose reasons. They’re not given at birth. We actually freely create our own reasons.
    The creative act can be spurred by, for example, a divine insight -the light of grace in answer to prayer. This transcends our “nature” entirely with an input beyond that. People invent things and create things through this freedom of will and choice.
    The fact that we have a “why” for the choice does not mean we weren’t free to choose. The why is just part of the act of choosing. We were completely free to choose whatever for whatever reason.

  58. 58
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dog

    We are not discussing determinism here, but rather reason-responsiveness.

    What happens, however, usually we would have to say that if we don’t have free will, then we have determinism.

    As you explained, we were born with a nature. We didn’t choose our nature, it was just determined. Then every choice we made from that point was sourced in our nature (and in all subsequent choices), so we never had free choice.
    That’s determinism.

  59. 59
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    You seem to be saying that having a reason for your choice thus eliminates freedom.

    Yes, since we cannot ultimately choose our beliefs, desires, priorities, etc.

    A free choice requires a reason.

    Unless you consider random choices to be free, then yes, a free choice requires a reason (or reasons).

    We can freely choose any number of reasons, for any number of reasons. There’s nothing deterministic about it.

    Again, let’s not talk about determinism. Instead, let’s just talk about reason-responsiveness. If you do something for a reason, then it is reason-responsive, whether or not physical determinism is true. And if you do something for a reason, then that reason has to be some aspect of your nature – some set of beliefs, desires, etc. In order for your choice to be free, then, you must have be ultimately responsible for your beliefs, desires, etc. But you cannot be.

    Look at my previous example: Let’s say I desire to do God’s will, and believe that He wants me to feed the poor, so I decide to feed the poor. You would say I could have that desire and belief and still not choose to feed the poor. I would answer that your choice not to feed the poor would also be based on your (other) beliefs and desires and so on. There is nothing inside you that can possibly choose your beliefs, desires, etc. except other beliefs, desires, etc.

    But the choice is not “caused” by beliefs, desires, emotions.

    Again, my argument is orthogonal to issues of determinism and causality in general. I’m just talking about reason-responsiveness. If you do something for no reason, then you can act freely in that sense – perhaps even violating the laws of physics, if that’s what you believe. But if you do act for a reason (or many different reasons), then your choices are not free, because you cannot ultimately choose your reasons.

    You’re grouping every human characteristic under the concept “nature” and saying that’s the mechanism for the choice.

    No, this is not correct. One’s “nature” is simply what I’ve called the sum total of all of your beliefs, desires, priorities, values, commitments, etc etc etc etc etc at some given moment.

    So in that view, the only way to make a free choice is to have no reason for it, since a reason would supposedly violate freedom.

    You can act for no reason, and if you’d like to call that “free” then I won’t argue. But to choose for some reason and still be free, you would need to freely choose your beliefs, desires, etc. …and that is a logical impossibility…

    But we freely choose reasons. They’re not given at birth. We actually freely create our own reasons.

    No, we can’t ultimately and freely choose our reasons. This is because in order to choose, say, belief A, you would already have to have some other belief B that was the reason for your choice. And before you chose to hold belief B, you would need to have chosen some other belief C, and so on, and so on. At no point could you freely choose, unless you chose for no reason at all.

    The creative act can be spurred by, for example, a divine insight -the light of grace in answer to prayer. This transcends our “nature” entirely with an input beyond that.

    If you choose to receive and follow – or not follow – this insight, your choice (like all of your choices) would necessarily follow from your beliefs, desires, etc.

  60. 60
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dog

    No, we can’t ultimately and freely choose our reasons. This is because in order to choose, say, belief A, you would already have to have some other belief B that was the reason for your choice.

    All this is saying is that our choice is limited by the structure of reality.
    To make a rational choice, we have to have “some other belief” at the beginning – yes, the First Principles of Reason. We don’t choose those beliefs, but they are not “our nature” – they’re part of the reality that God has created.
    But saying that the First Principles of Logic eliminate free will is like saying being a contingent being limits our freedom. Of course it does – we depend on many things.
    But we have free will within the limits of our being. Those limits include the Law of Identity, the Law of Excluded Middle, etc. We didn’t create those first principles, but they are the beliefs we use for choices. They do not eliminate free will but make rational thought possible.
    So yes, we don’t have unlimited freedom – we cannot violate the First Principles of Reason and still maintain rational thought – that’s just the way reality works.
    But those laws do not eliminate our capability to choose freely – they merely put our choices within limits.

  61. 61
    dogdoc says:

    One other thing to ponder about the impossibility of free will: I have shown that it is not possible to freely choose one’s beliefs, desires, etc because all free choices need to be based on beliefs, desires, etc. , and so you have an infinite regress (or at least a regress from the moment you come into existence). But there are other reasons to doubt that we can freely choose our beliefs and desires. Just try it!

    Right now, try and choose to believe something you don’t believe, like “Paris is the capitol of Italy” or “God is a ham sandwich” or “My name is Pablo Escobar”. You can’t actually do it, can you? The name for this is doxastic voluntarism, and there is certainly debate on the matter, and I don’t really need to debate that to make my argument against free will here, but I would encourage you to think about it.

  62. 62
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    Those limits include the Law of Identity, the Law of Excluded Middle, etc. We didn’t create those first principles, but they are the beliefs we use for choices.

    There are inumerable beliefs, desires, etc we use for our choices, like “I love dogs” or “You shouldn’t eat meat” or “Jogging is boring” or “I hate brussel sprouts” or “It’s not okay to cheat at poker”…

    They do not eliminate free will but make rational thought possible.

    Beliefs, desires, and all of the other aspects of our mentality make rational thought possible, yes. (Most people do not attempt to explicitly use propositions like “The Law of the Excluded Middle” in their everyday deliberations, but sure).

    So yes, we don’t have unlimited freedom – we cannot violate the First Principles of Reason and still maintain rational thought – that’s just the way reality works.

    We cannot do things for no reason and still make free choices – we’ve already agreed about that. Therefore we need to be able to freely choose our reasons. But that leads to an infinite regress. So we can’t.

  63. 63
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dog

    Here’s another problem:

    I have shown that it is not possible to freely choose one’s beliefs, desires, etc because all free choices need to be based on beliefs, desires, etc.

    You’re using the term “based on” as if it means “equivalent of”. But we can act counter to our “beliefs, desires” or we can adhere partially to them. So, we are free to choose how we use those prior beliefs and desires and that is not an infinite regress. We make that decision at the point of the free choice.

  64. 64
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dog

    Therefore we need to be able to freely choose our reasons. But that leads to an infinite regress. So we can’t.

    Again, I pointed out that we do not need to freely create the first principles of reason, without which a rational thought is not possible. Those first principles are given and are merely the logical structures. Those structures do not eliminate freedom.
    Your challenge is to show how, for example, the Law of Non-contradiction eliminates free will.
    You haven’t done that.
    To say “we’re not free to contradict a point we’ve affirmed and still maintain rational thought” does not eliminate free-will. It only says “there are rules within which our freedom must act.”
    No, we do not need to create the rules of logic in order to use logic in free-will decision making.
    Again, you need to show how logic destroys our free will.

  65. 65
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DogDoc,

    Your examples are merely showing limits to free will. You have to show how free will is completely destroyed. Using contradictory statements “I will believe what I don’t believe” is not a destruction of free will. It’s just irrationality. Nor is the idea that we have to have rules of logic in order to think rationally. Those are merely limits, within which our free will operates.

  66. 66
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    You’re using the term “based on” as if it means “equivalent of”.

    No, it means “entailed by”.

    But we can act counter to our “beliefs, desires” or we can adhere partially to them.

    If you act counter to or partially counter to your beliefs, desires, etc, then you are either doing that for a reason or for no reason at all. If for no reason, you are not making free and rational choices. If for a reason, then your reasons are, once again, your beliefs, desires, etc. We can do this all day, but the answer is always the same.

    Your challenge is to show how, for example, the Law of Non-contradiction eliminates free will.

    No, the law of non-contradiction has nothing whatsoever to do with my argument.

    To say “we’re not free to contradict a point we’ve affirmed and still maintain rational thought” does not eliminate free-will.

    I’ve said nothing remotely like this. I have no idea where you would have gotten this from anything I’ve said. Can you find a quote in any of my posts that you think might have suggested this?

    It only says “there are rules within which our freedom must act.”
    No, we do not need to create the rules of logic in order to use logic in free-will decision making.
    Again, you need to show how logic destroys our free will.

    I’m afraid you’ve taken a turn here that I can’t follow. I’m not talking about formal logic at all. People do not reason by formal logic (unless they are actually doing math or using other formal languages). It makes no difference to my argument if people’s logic is valid or flawed. This is all just a red herring.

    You have to show how free will is completely destroyed.

    For the sort of free will I’m talking about – that is, free deliberative choices – I believe this argument I’ve presented has done exactly that.

  67. 67
    vividbleau says:

    Dog
    “Yes you have it generally correct, but let me clarify the way I’m using “our nature” here.”

    Thanks for the clarification that was going to be my next question.

    “Instead, they insist that they do things they don’t want and refrain from doing other things that they do want because of things like God’s commandments or other moral imperatives – not realizing that it is simply that they want to follow those things more than the temptations they resist!)”

    Total agreement.

    “I could not agree more. I believe this may be what VividBleu is getting at as well”

    Yes I am equally fine substituting “prefer” instead of “want”

    Vivid

  68. 68
    vividbleau says:

    Dog
    “I mean nothing more than “the way you are” – your beliefs, desires, values, priorities, commitments, hopes, fears, etc etc; in other words, any aspect of your being that may affect your deliberative choices, and which can continuously change as you learn, experience, and see the results of your previous choices.”

    I would classify the above as what makes up my “self” and consequently my “self” determines my choices, my choices are self determined.

    Vivid

  69. 69
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DogDoc

    No, the law of non-contradiction has nothing whatsoever to do with my argument.

    You need to show how the use of the law of non-contradiction violates free-will. That law is the fundamental first principle that rationality requires.
    So, you need to demonstrate free-will rationality that can function in violation of that law.
    If you cannot do it, then free will reasoning is not possible without that first principle – so citing that as a destroyer of free will is falsified.
    Again, your challenge is to show that the laws of logic destroy free will.
    That’s basically your claim – you just need to demonstrate it.

    It makes no difference to my argument if people’s logic is valid or flawed. This is all just a red herring.

    If the logic is flawed then it’s an irrational choice – of the sort you said is not free will.
    So, the logic must enable a rational choice. The laws of logic are essential to your argument.

  70. 70
    dogdoc says:

    Vivid,

    I would classify the above as what makes up my “self” and consequently my “self” determines my choices, my choices are self determined.

    Yes that is also a good term for this, but unfortunately some will still identify “self” with a concept more like “soul” – an essential thing associated with us at birth. I think “the way we are” might be the best way to describe it; it is, I believe, what Galen Strawson usually calls it.

  71. 71
    dogdoc says:

    SA,

    You need to show how the use of the law of non-contradiction violates free-will.

    No, I really don’t. I don’t even see any connection between these two things.

    That law is the fundamental first principle that rationality requires.

    My argument is simply that free choices must be reason-responsive, not perfectly logical or rational.

    So, you need to demonstrate free-will rationality that can function in violation of that law.

    I don’t understand what this means, but I’m certain it has nothing to do with my argument, for reasons I just gave.

    If you cannot do it, then free will reasoning is not possible without that first principle – so citing that as a destroyer of free will is falsified.

    What I am arguing is that deliberative free will requires a self-chosen self, or causa sui, which is not possible. My argument has nothing to do with people being logical or perfectly rational.

    Again, your challenge is to show that the laws of logic destroy free will.
    That’s basically your claim – you just need to demonstrate it.

    Nope, you misunderstand my argument. That’s ok, I’ve tried my best 🙂

    If the logic is flawed then it’s an irrational choice – of the sort you said is not free will.

    Ok, I’ll try just one more time:

    I did not say irrational choices were not free will. Rather, I said that the sort of free will that I am arguing against is the type where people deliberate over reasons, rather than decide for no reason at all. This is called reason-responsive deliberation, and it does not imply the use of formal laws of logic or rationality, nor does it entail any particular level of intelligence or accuracy or validity of one’s reasoning. As long as people are reasoning – imperfectly as it may be – about their choices, their reasons are the things I’ve been talking about: beliefs, desires, values, and so on (you may add anything you want to this list, it doesn’t matter, it’s anything that one might invoke as a reason for their choice). But they cannot freely choose those reasons because of the infinite regress that I have explained ad infinitum here 🙂 Therefore, we cannot make free choices except for those we make for no reason at all. And that is not the sort of free will worth wanting.

    The laws of logic are essential to your argument.

    Nope, not relevant in the least.

  72. 72
    Viola Lee says:

    FWIW, I get what you’re saying, dogdoc.

  73. 73
    dogdoc says:

    Hey VL, thank you, appreciate it 🙂

  74. 74
    dogdoc says:

    Vivid,
    Thinking more about the way you put it:

    I would classify the above as what makes up my “self” and consequently my “self” determines my choices, my choices are self determined.

    Maybe I should summarize the argument by saying, “Our choices are self-determined, but our selves are not.”

  75. 75
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, significant freedom is not arbitrariness. It is our endowment of rationality that allows us to sense pervasive first principles and choose whether we will heed them. I note, you have communicated in English text using ASCII code. These and other aspects of thought, speech and reality are pervaded by distinct identity as core first principle of right reason (where, non contradiction and excluded middle are close corollaries). These enable our rational, responsible freedom, they do not undermine it. Freedom is lawful in the broadest sense, it respects what used to be called principle. Lawlessness or willful unprincipled-ness is arbitrary, chaotic and typically abusive towards others, as say Kant’s Categorical Imperative highlights. While, being free, we can to some extent violate principles, we cannot avert consequences, down to those of self referential incoherence and principle of explosion involving here loss of ability to think straight and discern true from false soundly. That has consequences, and that we have rationality and conscience guided responsibility thus volition, is an antecedent of power to choose. Would you rather that we were simply blind dynamic stochastic entities incapable of what Plato termed self-motion? Would you then have credibility as rational, or reasonable? KF

  76. 76
  77. 77
    William J Murray says:

    Dogdoc,

    First let me say, bravo, thanks for making such a fantastic argument here. I find you argument incredibly interesting and very stimulating.

    Second, I don’t know how long you’ve been reading here at UD, but a lot of people here “rebut” arguments by rote; they see certain keywords and throw out largely canned counter-arguments that may or may not have anything to with your actual argument.

    I just want to explore the concept of free will some.

    I think we can agree that being sentient, our inescapable, fundamental reason for every choice we make is one of preference towards maximum personal enjoyment, expressed in countless forms around the world, writ large in every institution humans construct.

    Also, we find ourselves in a fully contextualized experience, both inner and outer, which translates that fundamental urge to enjoy, as much as possible, into particular choices. In this situation, I think we may be able to agree that the first thing that translates that urge into a selection of choices is what I call our root reality program, or our deep-seated, assumed in the subconscious, rarely even noticed belief about what reality is, what the nature of our existence is, and how in general how all that works.

    If I remember correctly, you said something to the effect that we can’t just, on the fly, choose to believe something, like “God is a ham sandwich.” This was an example, if I read you correctly, of the inner state of self (beliefs, desires, etc.) that determine choices. Not physically, but in the abstract sense. We have abstract inner qualities that determine abstract choices in our minds before we attempt to enact them physically.

    Let’s say we realize this is the nature of our situation. In that situation, we know that our preferential choices are being filtered first by our deep beliefs about reality and existence. We can go further from here and realize that all of our inner, personal qualities, our emotions, thoughts, and choices, are downstream of that: our urge to enjoy initially filtered through our reality program. IMO, this governs how we think, react and feel, how we make decisions, which has filled us up with an extended “reality concept.”

    It seems to me that most of us find ourselves in a fully automated system that we largely don’t even question. The primordial enjoyment urge is just naturally filtered through what is a deeply entrenched reality system and is channeled into the same kind of choices on a continual basis. We experience that as just “what reality is,” and not really even a choice other than at the output end where we only have a small number of choices to choose from that are compatible with our reality system. All other choices get filtered out, or are rejected by the processing of the urge through that system.

    Now let’s try this on for size: let’s say that the enjoyment urge is just a universal necessity for sentient beings, and that is utterly universal. Let’s say that what makes an individual a “self” in any meaningful sense of the word is not that primordial urge, because that is universal to all sentient beings. Rather, the “self” is the unique, full personal reality program, so to speak, that exists between that primordial urge to enjoy and any decision that person makes.

    The urge isn’t determining any decision; it providing the original impetus to make any decision at all. The decision is self-determinative; the “self” being that full, personal reality program.

    Now, what if one finds themselves in the following state of self: they see that this is going on, that their “self” is really a reality program, and that they can deliberately change it to whatever they want, however they choose, by believing whatever they wish. They see that their particularized preferences are the result of a reality program filtering and translating the fundamental, basic, general urge into particular preferences. IOW, they see that they can actually change their own particular preferences by changing who they are.

    The state you find yourself in is “I can choose to prefer and enjoy anything, not just what I currently prefer or enjoy.” IOW, you find yourself in this situation where you see everything about your “self” as being available to choice and change in an unlimited fashion, other than being driven by this general urge towards enjoyment. Here we see that “preference” is a term that only applies to self; preferences are particular interpretations of the “urge to enjoy” that are filtered and translated by the reality program of self.

    IMO, this is the only proper conceptualization of free will exists; when you realize you are not your self, but are consciousness experiencing “a” particular self, and you can fashion that self however you want.

    But, you may ask, what is the “want” in that situation Where does it come from, if not the self?

    Of course, the “want” can only be expressed in terms of what the “self” has experienced and can imagine; but the choices have been greatly expanded because you can choose anything, while knowing that there are things you don’t even know about nor can even imagine. Before, there wasn’t really even a choice; the choices were determined by the structure of self; but now, your choices are not determined by the structure of self, even if the available options are, because you can change your self to fully enjoy any of the available options.

    To simplify this: you encounter an unenjoyable X. Your reality program decision is to change, avoid or eliminate X, or perhaps just find some way to endure it if you can’t do any of the first three options. What doesn’t usually occur to us is this option: I can change myself so that I enjoy X.

    So I would summarize at this point this way: free will is a capacity to choose from options towards maximum personal enjoyment, and is proportional to the available options. Free will is not related to what you specifically choose, so it is not reason-determinative. Free will, rather, is about how free the will is, meaning the size of the pool of options available. An analogy is: a horse has virtually no free will when it is locked in a stable. It has more free will when it is in a corral. It has more free will when it is confined by the fence of a 10,000 acre ranch. It has more free will when it is not confined by any fence, yet is still confined by gravity, terrain, etc.

    I realize that’s not the kind of free will you are arguing about, but my point is that while you’re never free of inner and external context, you can change and/or expand that context, which can result in entirely different choices and entirely different reasons for making those choices. You can change the reasons, and thus the choices. Yes, you are changing the reasons for a reason, but you’ve expanded the field of reasons.

    The inescapable, primordial reason is “urge towards enjoyment.” How much freedom we have to express that fundamental, non-determinative reason in our choices depends on how many choices we have as a product of internal and external context. The more choices we have available, the more freedom we have. I don’t think “free will” can functionally be anything other than that kind of commodity.

  78. 78
    William J Murray says:

    Beyond self, there is only pure consciousness. What the “self” is, is a reality program consciousness is having a particular set of experiences through. When you realize you can change that program to whatever you want, including what you want, you have as much free will as is possible.

  79. 79
  80. 80
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    It’s insanely comical that an proponent of no free will would botter to write a single comment to argue against free will as if s/he would think( THE OPPOSITE) that the others would have free will to change their minds. 😆 But probably s/he didn’t have free will to post (his) comment here , s/he had to because s/he have no free will. Must be very annoying to be forced(remember no free will!) to post dumb ideas on internet.
    People, why botter to argue with somebody whose ideas are just self-defeated concepts?

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    LCD, yes, but others don’t necessarily see that as easily as you have, because you have learned to recognise the pattern. It seems, many objectors to ID and to other things simply do not realise how dangerous self referential arguments are, between circularity on one hand and self refutation on the other. Frequently, they fall into self referential incoherence. Here, they forget that if we do not have genuine freedom to choose [so we are dynamic-sochastic computational systems, or are driven by forces beyond reason, or are psychosocially conditioned etc], then choose to reason or to follow steps of reasoning, then to weigh up and judge soundly, then to conclude warrant and to acknowledge knowing a result, the “we” includes them. Oops. Then, it is futile to imagine that first principles of reason constrain freedom, no they ENABLE and rightly guide it. Start with, apart from distinct identity we cannot think or communicate coherently, as such rely on marking distinctions. And much more. KF

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    DD,

    just for record:

    >>1) This argument uses “free will” to mean something that is not physically determined, nor random. The type of choices we’re interested in are those made deliberately by a rational agent, not choices that are made for no reason.>>

    a: Yes.

    >>2) Deliberative, free choices depend on the agent’s nature, or the way the agent is at the time of the choice.>>

    b: Our responsible, rational, self-moved, significantly free nature or constitution enables us to make rational choices,

    c: Yes it can be befuddled etc.

    >> An agent’s nature consists of their beliefs, desires, intentions, commitments, values, priorities, hopes, fears…>>

    d: Off target. Our nature has to do with our being capable of rational, responsible choice, however we find ourselves to be ultimately constituted.

    e: Our present worldviews, emotions etc may influence our inclinations but they are not our nature, we could speak of habits, beliefs, commitments, agendas but again such are influencers not the core of our nature.

    >> in other words any mental aspect of the agent that can contribute to their decisions.>>

    f: This is partly correct but in context due to the highlighted just above sets up a strawman.

    >>3) In order for one’s choice to be free, therefore, one must have freely chosen one’s own nature.>>

    g: Fallacious and inadvertently shows the problem that one must have the right constitution to freely choose, rational, responsible freedom.

    >>4) One cannot choose one’s own nature, in the same way one cannot lift oneself up by their own bootstraps (the idea is known as causa sui -self-causing – a logical contradiction)>>

    h: Error carried forward, based on a strawman caricature of our nature as minded, conscience guided self moved agents. Where, mind cannot be reduced to computationalism etc.

    >>. In order to choose one’s own desires, for example, one would already need to have the desires that supported that choice, and so on, ad infinitum.>>

    i: Some desires are built in, others are habitual, formed by cumulative impact of earlier choices that influence our inclinations. But one can choose that one no longer wishes a Full English for breakfast.

    >>5) Since we cannot freely choose our natures, and our deliberative choices depend on our natures, we do not have free will.>>

    j: Errors carried forward have now led to a knocked over strawman.

    k: It seems that underneath, the no freedom was the start point, and so we come full circle.

    KF

  83. 83
    jerry says:

    Another Great Courses course on sale till tomorrow night

    Great Philosophical Debates: Free Will and Determinism

    https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/great-philosophical-debates-free-will-and-determinism

  84. 84
    dogdoc says:

    KF,

    It’s so odd, no matter what people write you just spout off the same weird arguments that have nothing to do with the discussion. Ok then!

  85. 85
    dogdoc says:

    LCD,

    It’s insanely comical that an proponent of no free will would botter to write a single comment to argue against free will…

    This is the argument one inevitably hears in freshman philosophy classes and late-night dormatory discussions when everyone is stoned. There are two things wrong with it.

    First, if there is no free will then obviously whoever argues against free will does so because they have no choice, duh. (Note that my argument here is not that there is no free will at all; rather I argue against a particular sort of free will – not that you have read my argument carefully enough to understand that).

    Second, and more importantly, yours is the argument of someone who, their own naivete notwithstanding, imagines that whoever disagrees with them are making comically stupid mistakes. That will ensure you will never learn to appreciate the depth of your own ignorance.

  86. 86
    dogdoc says:

    WJM,

    Wow, thank you for your interesting post! I will be unavailable all of today and unable to devote sufficient time to respond, but please wait for my response.

  87. 87
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DogDoc

    I did not say irrational choices were not free will.

    You’re violating rationality itself with that statement.

    An irrational statement is this: “Choice by a coin flip is an example of having a reason for a choice.”
    You’re saying that’s compatible with free will. It’s an irrational statement, but that’s ok within your system.

  88. 88
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DogDoc

    Note that my argument here is not that there is no free will at all; rather I argue against a particular sort of free will

    You’ve been talking about free will without qualifiers. But what your argument is showing is merely that there are limits to human free choice.
    You’ve also refused to take up the consequences of determinism that your view entails. If we don’t have free will then our choices are not the product of free, rational beings – but rather – they’re determined.

    As long as people are reasoning – imperfectly as it may be – about their choices, their reasons are the things I’ve been talking about

    “Imperfect reasoning” includes statements like “I never tell the truth” or “I believe what I don’t believe” or “Free choice means being determined by force to do something” or “freedom means doing whatever the coin flip tells me”.
    Those are merely imperfectly reasoned statements. But you’re including them as possible foundations for free will.
    You’ve repeatedly eliminated the first principles of logic from your system – so you’ll end up with irrationality, which is a violation of human nature.

  89. 89
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, perhaps you have forgotten that the five points were presented by you above and you invited comment. Briefer comment above was brushed aside and claims of irrelevancy on our part were made. I therefore took time to explicitly respond point by point with remarks that a reasonable onlooker will readily see are responsive. They reveal a strawman fallacy based on misunderstanding human nature. What was your response? Another strawman fallacy, set in the trifecta context that leads to ad hominem. That tells us all we need to know. Depending, I may go through further points I judge that it would be helpful to an onlooker or for further record but your reaction above tells us a lot, none in your favour. Sad. KF

  90. 90
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    Freedom is lawful in the broadest sense, it respects what used to be called principle.

    Yes, free will operates within limits that we’re given by our rational human nature.
    The structure of logic does not destroy free will, but instead it enables it. That’s how we are able to freely choose options or even invent our own logical arguments about anything.
    Without the first principles, there’s just irrational chaos which is not freedom.
    Free, rational choices require axioms that are given. That’s the foundation of our reasoning process. It’s not in disassociated “beliefs, values, feelings, etc” – those cannot be understood or processed independent of the logical process of our mind.
    Saying that there’s an infinite regress of “reasons” is therefore false. We are rooted in a rational nature, and our reasoning is traced back to First Principles which are an essential to free will choice.
    By definition – rational free choice, requires the structure of reason, and is thereby limited.
    Nowhere can it be seen that the rational process “destroys free will”. We freely choose – that is obvious.

  91. 91
    dogdoc says:

    KF,

    All of the posts here you made up until this one were completely unresponsive to my argument, as though you were posting in the wrong thread. But yes, here finally you have responded to what I’ve written. Thank you! My response:

    DD: Deliberative, free choices depend on the agent’s nature, or the way the agent is at the time of the choice.
    KF: Our responsible, rational, self-moved, significantly free nature or constitution enables us to make rational choices,

    We we may be using “nature” in two different senses here. What I mean by “nature” in this context (as I’ve written many times here) is any attribute of a person that might affect one’s deliberation over choices, including one’s beliefs, desires, intentions, commitments, hopes, fears, and so on.

    DD: An agent’s nature consists of their beliefs, desires, intentions, commitments, values, priorities, hopes, fears…

    KF: Off target.

    Definitions can’t be right or wrong or on target or off target. Definitions simply express the meaning intended to be conveyed by a word in some context. I used the word “nature” here in a particular way, and made sure I provided a clear definition of the way I was using it. If you are interested in discussing my argument, you’ll need to interpret that word just the way I defined it here. Otherwise we’ll just be talking past each other.

    Our nature has to do with our being capable of rational, responsible choice, however we find ourselves to be ultimately constituted. Our present worldviews, emotions etc may influence our inclinations but they are not our nature, we could speak of habits, beliefs, commitments, agendas but again such are influencers not the core of our nature.

    This is a different meaning of the word “nature”. My argument does not use this meaning.

    DD: in other words any mental aspect of the agent that can contribute to their decisions.>>
    KF: This is partly correct but in context due to the highlighted just above sets up a strawman.

    Again, I was defining the term, trying to make very clear the way I was using the term “nature” in this context. Definitions are neither correct nor incorrect, because they are not propositions. Definitions simply enable people to communicate; they are not truth claims.

    The next few items you wrote were not responsive to my argument, because you were using a different definition of the word “nature” than I was.

    Again: In this context, I use the word “nature” to mean any personal attribute that can be said to contribute to a deliberative choice, such as ones beliefs and desires.

    But one can choose that one no longer wishes a Full English for breakfast.

    1) If you chose to forgo a Full English for breakfast, then you would either be doing that for some set of reasons, or you would be doing it for no reason at all.

    2) If you made your choice for no reason at all, and if you want to call that sort of choice a “free choice”, then I won’t argue that. It is not, though, what I would say is a sort of free choice worth wanting.

    3) But what if you make your choice by deliberating over some set of reasons? For example, say you believed that the Full English was not healthy, and you desired to eat only healthy foods, so you chose to eat something else. And if you believed the Full English was healthy, or if you desired to eat unhealthy food, you would have made a different choice. Your choice thus relies on your beliefs and desires (and priorities, values, and so on)

    4) Since your choices rely on your beliefs and desires etc., then you must have freely chosen your beliefs, desires, etc. in order for your choice to be free.

    5) But you cannot have freely chosen your beliefs, desires, and so on. This is because in order to choose, say, belief A, you would already have to have some other belief B that was the reason for your choice. And before you chose to hold belief B, you would need to have chosen some other belief C, and so on, and so on. At no point could you freely choose, unless you chose for no reason at all.

    6) Therefore, our deliberative, reason-responsive choices are not free.

    That is my argument. Now that we are (hopefully) using our terms consistently, I hope you will share your criticism of it.

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    DD, first, false, I have responded, but it is clear that there is a root problem indicated by how you treated the word nature defining our constitution as human beings, starting with favourable summary of an argument. As a start point, consider what is in common and evidently innate for reasonably normal human beings, relevant to our considerations such that we can see that to lack such is to be deficient. We are rational, self/other aware, language using, conscience guided, preferring and have a sense of freedom in that choice, i.e. had we wished or felt it prudent or right could have chosen another option. We find that we have a certain dignity or worth that we have rights, freedoms and correlative duties, some by dint of being born human, some by virtue of our given word, and more. These are antecedent to and enable patterns of choices, learning etc, though we are also aware that we can change our minds and ways, perhaps with some difficulty. Further to which, we understand first principles of reasoning, conduct etc that guide us, though for some of these, we may to some extent flout the principle. We know habits of thought, attitude and behaviour can be changed, but often only with difficulty and pain. And more. So, the attempt to redefine our nature fails. KF

    PS, it is almost amusing then sad to see you trying to argue us to choose to reject the self understanding that we are responsible, rational, self-moved, significantly free creatures. If we are not, we cannot know, reason or be persuaded by evidence or argument, we can only be manipulated or programmed. That one has reasons or preferences or principles or a sense of prudence guiding one’s choice is not an expression of being not free in choice, such help us to choose with wisdom, as opposed to without freedom. To argue that we are not free is to undermine the credibility of one’s argument through fatal self reference. Regrettably, simply pointing such out may often be inadequate to persuade those who have become convinced of lack of freedom, but it is enough to show a core error of self referential incoherence.

    PPS, I note:

    human nature
    n
    1. the qualities common to humanity
    2. ordinary human behaviour, esp considered as less than perfect
    3. (Sociology) sociol the unique elements that form a basic part of human life and distinguish it from other animal life
    Collins English Dictionary

    Compare, the classic summary, rational animality, i.e. self-moved but guided by reason.

    Where, misleading, manipulative, fallacious, false or even deceitful definitions arbitrarily inserted into discourse are classic techniques to manipulate the naive or unwary. When we address human nature we seek to accurately and reasonably objectively identify human characteristics antecedent to our description. We use language as a going concern institution, but one with established usage, we cannot simply arbitrarily rearrange to suit our agenda without being fallacious or worse. Yes, one may inject new ideas but the pretence that usurpation is the standard is wrong. We can note that this has now proceded to a point where evident gaslighting on characteristics coded into our cells, is now being pushed as though to question it is what is wrong. That is usurpation and moral inversion.

  93. 93
    vividbleau says:

    Dog
    Welcome back, I hope you had a great day.

    “5) But you cannot have freely chosen your beliefs, desires, and so on. This is because in order to choose, say, belief A, you would already have to have some other belief B that was the reason for your choice. And before you chose to hold belief B, you would need to have chosen some other belief C, and so on, and so on. At no point could you freely choose, unless you chose for no reason at all.”

    I would be interested in your critique of the following. I am not so sure that 5 represents the true state of affairs. Before any beliefs can be chosen I would think that self awareness would be the starting point. There must first be an encounter with the fact that what I am aware of is the existence of something distinct from me, a brute fact. This encounter logically precedes belief and is also the foundation and starting point for making sense of the world and the subsequent beliefs we adopt.

    Vivid

  94. 94
    William J Murray says:

    Before any beliefs can be chosen I would think that self awareness would be the starting point. There must first be an encounter with the fact that what I am aware of is the existence of something distinct from me, a brute fact.

    A fairly common spiritual perspective is that everything we consider to be “other” is actually aspects of ourselves “projected outwards.” There are even non-spiritual perspectives under idealism, such as that provided by Bernardo Kastrup, that the experiences we have as “other” or “not-self” are actually internal aspects ourselves that we do not identify with as being “us,” or aspects of the self-identifying “ego” within a purely internal, mental reality.

    So, “self and other” is not necessarily a “brute fact.” Rather, it is an ontological perspective. IOW, a belief.

  95. 95
    Seversky says:

    There are also the intriguing cases of people who hear voices that they are convinced are other people even though there is no one else present, as far as we can tell.

    This raises two questions.

    First if both our internal voice and those we presume are coming from an external reality are both experienced in our consciousness, how do we distinguish between them?

    Second, if there is no external reality, just conscious experience, why do we create the illusion of other then self?

    Me and the others would like to know.

  96. 96
    William J Murray says:

    Seversky said:

    First if both our internal voice and those we presume are coming from an external reality are both experienced in our consciousness, how do we distinguish between them?

    Do you have difficulty distinguishing between what you’re thinking, and what other people around you are saying, in a dream? In your worldview, are the people in the dream, and the other stuff in the dream real, solid things occurring somewhere other than entirely in your consciousness?

    Second, if there is no external reality, just conscious experience, why do we create the illusion of other then self?

    You don’t know enough about what “self” and “other” represent under idealism/MRT to ask proper questions that utilize those terms, much less apply the term “illusion” in a meaningful way in that paradigm.

    But, we’ve been over this before, if I remember correctly, some time back in other threads. Not really much use in rehashing it here. I more enjoy participating in other venues about MRT and idealism than here.

  97. 97
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Vividbleau
    Before any beliefs can be chosen I would think that self awareness would be the starting point. There must first be an encounter with the fact that what I am aware of is the existence of something distinct from me, a brute fact. This encounter logically precedes belief and is also the foundation and and starting point for making sense of the world and the subsequent beliefs we adopt.

    I think first come the dependence of somebody else(mom’s breast and later God /or for atheists different subsitutes of God ) then unconditional love that is represented by our parents (then by God/or surrogates of God: governments, “science”,etc. ) . Of course we couldn’t understand these concepts if we hadn’t had the primordial concept of TRUTH. Truth that I’m me ,truth that I’m totally dependent by somebody else that is not me ,the truth that I need/receive(or not)/ love.
    Truth, dependence and love are the foundation on any thought. Perversion(with our free will) of any of these will result in ending in the pathological area(see leftist, atheist ideologies) that sooner or later will became norm and normality will be considered pathology.

  98. 98
    dogdoc says:

    KF,

    DD, first, false, I have responded, but it is clear that there is a root problem indicated by how you treated the word nature defining our constitution as human beings, starting with favourable summary of an argument.

    This really is so odd. I went to great lengths to explain to you something that should be obvious to anyone: definitions are not truth claims. I provided a particular definition for a concept I was using in my argument, and I assigned that concept to a word, and the word I chose was “nature”. I could have called it “characteristics” or “mental states” or “the way one is” or “attributes” – or I could have it called “garlic” or “motorboat” or “badabing” – and it would not have changed my argument one iota! It’s just a definition, KF! We are free to take any word we choose – even made-up ones – and announce how that word is being used in one’s argument, and that can’t possibly be right or wrong!

    In any case, I provided you with exactly what I meant, and yet you still couldn’t engage my argument. I think the reason is obvious: You have actually realized that you have no rebuttal to the argument I’ve laid out here.

    What is that argument? Simply that our choices are determined by our beliefs and desires, so we cannot choose our beliefs and desires. It is a bootstrapping, or chicken-and-egg problem. But instead of arguing against that, you go off on a weird tangent about how I’m using the word “nature” in a way you don’t like. Oh, well.

  99. 99
    kairosfocus says:

    DD,

    definitions can be arbitrary when dealing with conventions, e.g. sucessively redefining the metre from a fraction of earth’s circumference to now how far light travels in about 3 ns, because of the accuracy of measuring time. As I had to memorise as a 4th former, the definition of a quantity or unit is a precise statement describing that quantity or unit. But when a definition is more like a dictionary description of a real world entity or state of affairs, it has a requirement of accuracy, truth. Saying, of what is that it is; and of what is not that it is not.

    What is happening in our civilisation currently is that powerful or influential radicals seek to blur distinctions by subverting language from this requirement of accuracy. In short, sophisticated cultural imposition of newspeak lies, designed to corrupt our ability to think straight. This, you are echoing and enabling, and it needs to be highlighted as systematic lying, speaking WITH DISREGARD TO TRUTH, in hope of profiting from what is said being taken as true. And that is a classic example of apt definition. So, no, you do not get to enable corruption of the very good term human nature, nor do you get to suggest that as character formed by prior choices, formed attitudes, habits, emotions, perceptions, thoughts and experience etc influence decisions, then we are not rationally, responsibly, significantly free.

    Such is also trying to subvert what rejecting determinism and insisting that we are and must be significantly free are about, through injection of compatibilism, relativism etc.

    The bottomline is simple: if we are not significantly free as a race, rationality and responsibility, ability to warrant claims and conclusions so have genuine insight and knowledge all collapse. It is not emotive reaction to consequences to point out that you cannot but appeal to our responsible rational freedom in order to undermine our justified confidence in it. Sorry, reductio, fail.

    We have every good reason to stand on the first facts of our intellectual and volitional experience and to hold that notions and arguments to the contrary are false and potentially or actually corrosive of reasoned thought, discussion, decision and consensus building towards community upliftment.

    They, therefore, reflect misanthropy. I suggest, you are well advised to reconsider.

    KF

  100. 100
    William J Murray says:

    It seems to me that what is standing in the way of having “true” free will is the infinite regress of reasons. Ultimately, there is a reason why we make any choice, even if we are “meta” choosing the reasons for and against making any particular decision. Even if we are choosing how we feel about what it is we are making a decision about.

    The central issue here is the question, is it correct to say that reasons act on will in a determinative fashion? Or, is there some ineffable “free will” commodity that is involved? Is it a true chicken-and-egg scenario?

    If it is a true “chicken and egg” scenario, then not only is every “choice” preceded by a reason, every reason is also preceded by a choice. Neither and both can be seen as “the original” because they are inseparable except by perspective.

    Free will is inseparable from reasons, and reason are inseparable from free will. You can’t have one without the other. Reasons do not matter unless there is free will; free will does not matter without reasons. They are two sides of the same coin; one cannot exist without the other.

    Without free will, reasons are not reasons. They are causes, which as KF points out, destroys all rational thought and renders us deterministic automatons.

  101. 101
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, there is no infinite regress of reasons, influences or inclinations in our decision and action, yes there are these factors but there just is no way to pack infinite regress into ourselves as finite, fallible, often struggling [including morally but not just], too often ill willed creatures. A growing lifetime and even family, community and civilisation of influences yes, an achieved traversed actual infinity no. KF

  102. 102
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Without free will, reasons are not reasons. They are causes, which as KF points out, destroys all rational thought and renders us deterministic automatons.

    The fact that reasons exist means there is free-will. Reasons come from purpose and meaning – and those are sources from mind or intelligence. There’s no infinite regress because both reasons and free will are contingent and derivative and have to have a first cause.

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