Intelligent Design

“If’n I Drop, I’m Gonna Be in Motion”

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In a recent post I took umbrage with a writer who said :
“If determinism is also true, that does not mean that free will is false.”

Well, yes, it kinda does, because those two things — determined and free — are mutually exclusive. The whole thing put he in mind of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Raising Arizona. Enjoy.

10 Replies to ““If’n I Drop, I’m Gonna Be in Motion”

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Can we not say there are degrees of freedom and that determination need not be absolute?

    Even a/mats like me has the sense of exercising free will, yet I have to acknowledge that I cannot divorce myself from my history. For example,I dislike beans. I can make myself eat them by an effort of will but I have not been able to make myself like them. So what does that say about free will? Given a choice, I will not normally eat beans but that decision is determined by a dislike that was not a conscious choice. Whatever ‘programmed’ it into me happened before I was aware of it. My choice of whether or not to eat beans is determined to that extent If I override that dislike to prove that I can, that choice is determined by my desire to prove a point.

    The point is that,unless we always decide things by a toss of a coin, our choices are always influenced by something, be it reason or emotion or sense of taste so when we talk about free will aren’t we really talking about degrees of freedom like I said?

  2. 2
    EricMH says:

    @Seversky, no libertarian free will and determinism/randomness are categorically different things. They can be mixed, and introduce degrees of variance between them, but the things themselves are mutually exclusive.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky wants to hold, although he “has the sense of exercising free will”, that free will is an illusion and that all his actions are determined. Yet, Seversky’s ‘non-belief’ in libertarian free will is now falsified by advances in neuroscience and quantum mechanics:

    (December 2018) Neuroscientific and quantum validation of free will
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/three-knockdown-proofs-of-the-immateriality-of-mind-and-why-computers-compute-not-think/#comment-670445

  4. 4
    EugeneS says:

    Free will, free enough to hold us responsible for our past, is a reality.

  5. 5
    vmahuna says:

    Gee, I liked “Raising Arizona”. It was a crazy flick. I LIKE crazy flicks.

  6. 6
    Seversky says:

    EricMH @ 2

    @Seversky, no libertarian free will and determinism/randomness are categorically different things. They can be mixed, and introduce degrees of variance between them, but the things themselves are mutually exclusive.

    In principle, yes, but in practice? For example, nuclear physics can estimate the half-life of a given radio-isotope with a high degree of accuracy but it cannot predict which atoms will decay to a less energetic state and in what order. Is that because these events are inherently undetermined or simply because we lack the theoretical tools to make such predictions?

  7. 7
    doubter says:

    Leading science writer John Horgan has had some good things to say about free will. He has little patience with the deterministic free will-deniers.

    From a Scientific American article at https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/will-this-post-make-sam-harris-change-his-mind-about-free-will/:

    “Consider: When I watch the video of Sam Harris talking at Caltech, is it the electrons streaming through my MacBook, the photons impinging on my eye, the sound waves entering my ear that make me want to respond to Harris? Of course not. It’s the meaning of the video that stirs me, not its physical embodiment. I could have watched a DVD of Harris’s talk, or read a transcript, or listened to someone summarize his lecture over the telephone. And it’s possible that Harris’s words, instead of provoking me to write a critical response, could have changed my mind about free will, so that I decided to write a column defending his point of view. Of course, if I thought about it for a moment, I’d realize that the fact that Harris had changed my mind and hence my actions was evidence of my free will.

    We are physical creatures, but we are not just physical. We have free will because we are creatures of mind, meaning, ideas, not just matter. Harris perversely–willfully!–refuses to acknowledge this crushingly obvious and fundamental fact about us. He insists that because science cannot figure out the complex causality underpinning free will, it must be illusory. He is a throwback to the old behaviorists, who pretended that subjective, mental phenomena—because they are more difficult to observe and measure than planets and protons—don’t exist.”

    From a short article at http://religiondispatches.org/.....free-will/:

    “Science has discovered nothing that contradicts free will. To deny free will’s existence is to deny that our conscious, psychological deliberations—Should I ask my girlfriend to marry me? Should I major in engineering or art?—influence our actions. Such a conclusion flies in the face of common sense. Of course, sometimes we deliberate insincerely, toward a foregone conclusion, or we fail to act upon our resolution. But not always. Sometimes we consciously choose to do something and we do it. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but it often does.

    Moreover, free will must exist, if some creatures have more of it than others. My teenage daughter and son have more free will—more choices to consider and select from—than they did when they were infants. They also have more than our dog Merlin does. I have (on my good days) more free will than adults my age suffering from schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Try telling prisoners or paraplegics that there is no free will, and that choices are illusory. “Let’s change places,” they might respond, “since you have nothing to lose.”

    We also need the concept of free will, much more than we need the concept of God. Our faith in free will has social value. It provides us with the metaphysical justification for ethics and morality. It forces us to take responsibility for ourselves rather than consign our fate to our genes or God. Free will works better than any other single criterion for gauging the vitality of a life, or a society. Choices, freely made, are what make life meaningful.”
    …………………
    “Theologians have proposed that science still allows faith in a “God of the gaps,” who dwells within those shadowy realms into which science has not fully penetrated, such as the imaginary time before the Big Bang banged. In the same way, maybe we can have a free will of the gaps. No science is more riddled with gaps, after all, than the science of human consciousness.”

    The bottom line is, free will is experienced as an irreducible property of consciousness. Needless to say, science is no closer to understanding consciousness now than it was at the dawn of the twentieth century. In fact, a new paradigmal insight has emerged – the “Hard Problem” of qualia (Chalmers). It looks like there is plenty of room in consciousness for free will, no matter how mysterious.

  8. 8
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77 @ 3

    Seversky wants to hold, although he “has the sense of exercising free will”, that free will is an illusion and that all his actions are determined. Yet, Seversky’s ‘non-belief’ in libertarian free will is now falsified by advances in neuroscience and quantum mechanics:

    Those are intriguing observations but I do not find them persuasive yet and neither, as I understand it, do some other neuroscientists and quantum physicists.

    But I will put you another question: do you think you could become atheist again simply by an effort of will? I don’t mean just saying the right things or making the right arguments but could you actually make yourself disbelieve in God and dismiss the Bible is just a collection of myths and fables and as fictional as Lord of the Rings?

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky, since you deny the reality of free will on top of ignoring the overwhelming evidence I presented for free will, perhaps you will forgive me for pointing out that you are basically arguing for the position that you are, in reality, a mindless zombie with no more control over your own thoughts than a leaf falling to the ground has over the course of its fall. Perhaps you will forgive me further for treating your argumentation with all the respect it deserves, which is less than none.

  10. 10
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Science has discovered nothing that contradicts free will

    Scientismists, on the other hand, have discovered that they don’t like it.

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