Weeks wrote:tl;dr: There probably is no point in continuing this thread if the question "Free Will?" (or "Does Free Will exist?") has been answered.
I'm confused. By posting, you're doing all of the following:
- Declaring that there's no need to continue
- Continuing by making such a declaration
- Admitting you are possibly wrong, since you didn't read the thread
- Proclaiming that you won't unless you have reason
How is it that your lack of being informed about what has been said about such things so far in the thread NOT
reason to read the thread before posting? And if the concerns you raise, which admittedly have already been mentioned, were addressed, aren't you being rude to those who addressed it? Furthermore, your giving it ten minutes and making such declarations are very insulting to those who gave it ten years and are trying to show flaws.
You should at a minimum earn the right to make such bold declarations by reading the thread before making the declarations. Otherwise there's no point in even having
these threads, much less continuing.
Onto the topic--again, I have major issues with the concept of free will in itself. But the entire theme--the point of the exercise--is to determine whether or not we have control over our actions; the key importance of this is based on whether or not we can be held morally responsible for our actions. This is critical to keep in mind--it's what the debate is really
That having been said:
Person 'Y' with memories and experiences and knowledge 'X' presented with "choices" of
'A' - the best considering X
'B' - the 2nd best considering X
'C' - the worst considering X
Is not ABLE to choose B or C. Therefore it is PREDETERMINED in this system that Person Y with memories, experiences and knowledge X chooses A.
Sure, he has decided on A, but that does not constitute free will because it was predetermined.
Free will is being able to choose 'B' or 'C'.
The issues I have with it are underlined, and are with what is meant by them. It's phrased in the plato.stanford.edu account (which I linked to earlier) of the Classical Formulation of the free will problem:
1. Some person (qua agent), at some time, could have acted otherwise than she did.
2. Actions are events.
3. Every event has a cause.
4. If an event is caused, then it is causally determined.
5. If an event is an act that is causally determined, then the agent of the act could not have acted otherwise than in the way that she did.
...in statement 1, as "could have" acted (and here phrased in the positive to illustrate the free will problem).
But both of these are equivalent to the modal:
It is possible for some agent to have acted otherwise than how the agent did.
...and the main issue here is that this is an unqualified sense of possibility. There are a whole slew of different categories of possibility--what is conceptually possible, what is logically possible, what is physically possible, what is historically possible, etc. There's also an ultimately restrictive sense of the things which actually have a chance to happen--what is, for lack of better terms, ontologically possible
. The above treatment is focusing on this. The question of choice doesn't--the psychic equivalent to whether or not the agent chose 'A' regards a weaker level of possibility; the psychic equivalent to consideration of ontological
possibility is the unimpressive phrasing: "Person Y is not (ontologically) able to choose an option that the person does not in fact choose (aka, option B or C)". Note that the whole determinism issue is a distraction--this doesn't really
have anything to do with determinism and predetermination--the latter only helps an incompatibilist "find" in his mind some path to select the specific option so that he can say the other two can't happen. The problem is, really, simply the mutual exclusivity
of the options--the fact that you only can
select one of mutual exclusive options presented to you (and the other two naturally cannot happen, ontologically).
You can choose if it is, for lack of better terms, "volitiously possible"--that is, within your realm of options to consider and then select. Selection in itself, in regards to choice, simply requires that the thing that affects the selected option actually be the agency of the agent--nothing more. What is volitiously possible is an entirely different concern than what is ontologically possible--physically, it breaks no laws of nature for Aristotle to fly (airplanes powered by fossil fuels are physically possible), but it's historically impossible (because nobody was designing such machines). It's entirely (volitiously) possible, likewise, for me to act other than what I do from a choice perspective, given the alternative option is open for me to consider (I could have had a v8, sure! All I had to do was go to the store and buy one, and drink it), even though it's not ontologically possible due to the fact that I simply didn't. Likewise, it's physically possible for me to write the world's best selling novel of all time (simply requires me to move a pen in certain ways over a sheet of paper), but is almost certainly volitiously impossible (because I have no facility for considering this specific option).
Edit: Just to drive the initial point home, on the off chance that this is completely illuminating, and totally convincing, I've had numerous debates along these lines (not in these fora) with a certain very intelligent, well spoken comrade who would disagree with this assessment. I believe his reasons (which I won't bother mentioning) are wrong, of course, but it's very possible his views would be addressed somewhere in one of the posts.