Consciousness and free-will,********************************************* they cannot be held to exist because they are so rare.
This is not my argument against Free Will. my argument is not that Free Will events are rare it is that Free Will events are not material events. Material events are events that are caused by other events either going back in time, or contemporary.This covers every event in nature. Free Will events, and God, if they are to exist, exist outside of nature. Both God and Free Will events are self caused. Nothing in nature is self caused, except possibly some subatomic events. We can for the time being dismiss those because our choices are conducted within the more macro world that we inhabit.
Personally I don't accept this definition of material events, that they are necessarily caused by other events, as Belinda and I have discussed before, it's a faith, not empirically arrived at.
Further, I believe an act of will is a material event: it happens in a brain and nervous system, it's not performed by some other mental stuff, in that sense I'm a monist. The act of will and the nerouns firing are probably the same event seen from different angles.
Muddler wrote:Mcdoodle, I've read about a dozen books about free will. Authors Dennett, Searle, and Honderich come to mind, but two of the best books, in my opinion, are "The Illusion of Conscious Will" by Daniel Wegner, and "Free Will" by Sam Harris. Wegner and others say that all our actions and choices are created in the subconscious, and we're not even aware of them until they are projected into consciousness a few milliseconds later. This has been confirmed experimentally many times.
The evidence from Libet and after convincingly demonstrates that in certain small tasks there's brain activity directed towards action before we 'consciously' believe we've made a decision. This certainly shows that sometimes we're deluded about what we've consciously decided. It does not mean that 'all our actions and choices are created in the subconscious' at all. Consciousness studies is a very lively field: I feel that Nahmias (.gsu.edu/~phlean/papers/When_Consciousn ... tters.pdf)
has a strong critique of Wegner, who is a lovely writer but not entirely coherent in argument.
Some of the other people Muddler quotes, like Dennett, are compatibilists: there is a version of 'free will' they are happy with. Indeed Searle, for instance, has shifted his position towards an indeterminist view in his later life (informationphilosopher.com/solutions/ph ... rs/searle/
) He writes: 'The special problem of free will is that we cannot get on with our lives without presupposing free will. Whenever we are in a decision-making situation, or indeed, in any situation that calls for voluntary action, we have to presuppose our own freedom.'
Lastly, back at Occam's Razor: I find the use of this unconvincing about causality and human action. For instance, I'm writing a song at the moment. To me, a purportedly causal explanation of the key it's in - the melody - the theme - the exact words - the harmonies - the relevance to what I think and feel - such a 'causal explanation' would take a lifetime of computation and deliberation, just on my writing this one song. Whereas a paragraph of simple observations would explain a 'freewill' version, the constraints on me, the chance elements I seized on and the individual decisions I made. Surely Occam would opt for the one paragraph?
I haven't seen proponents of the causal explanation of human action attempt a causal explanation of anything but the simple and most mechanical of tasks. In every moment of creativity I am exploring my will - accident - reason - emotions - and what emerges is a hotch-potch. But as I read the in principle argument: advocates of causality would have to demonstrate that 100% of my actions were causally determined. I don't see how they ever can.