Fate of Free Will?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Papus79
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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Papus79 » July 29th, 2020, 4:50 pm

Ecurb wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 4:37 pm
There's a grain of truth here, but only a grain. Humans do compete, but they also cooperate. We're actually formed not by the competition, but by the cooperation. All mammals are dependent on their mothers, who supply them with milk. Humans wouldn't even resemble humans without their cooperatively created culture: without language, and religion, and law, and other institutions that are cooperative by their very nature. One can emphasize either the cooperation or the competition; both play a role in human society. But I think you're emphasizing the wrong one.
And to be fair it could be the environments I'm dealing with and what I'm having to do to my own way of thinking to survive.

It's a salient enough dynamics lets just say that to not automatically conform to your environment, I don't mean practical conformity like being able to get along and work well with others or make sense but shibboleth conformity like sharing all of the hobbies, interests, values, beliefs, etc. of your coworkers of the people around you, means that your days are numbered. The really horrifying side of that is realizing that yes, you have a right to your own beliefs and to your own interests and hobbies, and it's closely tethered to your right to be destroyed.

I find it increasingly difficult to find people who want to even exchange pleasantries and it seems like they're looking for status-markers first before they figure out how to engage. It would be one thing if this was all happening to me, odds of it signalling that there's something wrong with me would be quite high in that case (and who, that has something wrong with them, can see it - that seems reflexive), but if that were the case I shouldn't see the same things happening to other people regularly. My best explanation - we're in a fitness war or an arms race where cluster B personality disorders are dictating the terms and when its like that - if you're a guy, you're literally a wallet and a height. If you're a woman in those conditions you're a set of measurements. Personalities don't matter, values don't matter, any humanity in relating to other people turns into 'Wait wait wait...stop. Show me your status card and your social status card. Below 700? That's what I thought, get lost'.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by chewybrian » July 29th, 2020, 4:55 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 11:07 am
Each of these events is causally necessary from any prior point in eternity. Your choice to fix pancakes in steps 4 and 5 was inevitable. Your two real possibilities in step 2 were also inevitable. Note that a possibility is real even if it never is actualized. Real possibilities exist within the imagination specifically during a choosing operation. A possibility is a possible future that may or may not ever happen. There were two of them in this example. One possible future was me fixing eggs for the third day in a row. Another possible future was me fixing pancakes.

Because these or similar events happen during a choosing operation, it is always the case there are are two real possibilities and that we can choose either one.
You are contradicting yourself by saying two outcomes are possible but one is inevitable. The only thing that is inevitable is that you can not reconcile determinism and free will, and must make a choice between the two (no pun intended). I don't deny my own free will, and my sense of being that tells me that I can have whatever I bloody well please for breakfast. If I am wrong in my opinion, then this opinion was thrust upon me by circumstances beyond my control, and I was unable to believe otherwise. If I am right, then I am right. So, if my gut tells me that I can choose (and I mean REALLY choose) then I have no choice but to go with it, or to live in bad faith by pretending to believe otherwise. Just as I have no burden to prove that the sun is shining when I can see that it is shining, so I have no burden to prove HOW I am able to choose when I am doing so.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Papus79 » July 29th, 2020, 4:56 pm

Another brilliant move - if anyone shows any vulnerability at all - exploit that vulnerability, gas-light em, and take em to the cleaners.

If this is close to 50% of the social transactions I'm seeing it doesn't say good things about our capacities, not the 'could' but the 'would'.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Papus79 » July 29th, 2020, 4:57 pm

(last post was a tack-on to my post before it, not the post above it)
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » July 29th, 2020, 7:36 pm

chewybrian wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 4:55 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 11:07 am
Each of these events is causally necessary from any prior point in eternity. Your choice to fix pancakes in steps 4 and 5 was inevitable. Your two real possibilities in step 2 were also inevitable. Note that a possibility is real even if it never is actualized. Real possibilities exist within the imagination specifically during a choosing operation. A possibility is a possible future that may or may not ever happen. There were two of them in this example. One possible future was me fixing eggs for the third day in a row. Another possible future was me fixing pancakes.

Because these or similar events happen during a choosing operation, it is always the case there are are two real possibilities and that we can choose either one.
You are contradicting yourself by saying two outcomes are possible but one is inevitable. The only thing that is inevitable is that you can not reconcile determinism and free will, and must make a choice between the two (no pun intended). I don't deny my own free will, and my sense of being that tells me that I can have whatever I bloody well please for breakfast. If I am wrong in my opinion, then this opinion was thrust upon me by circumstances beyond my control, and I was unable to believe otherwise. If I am right, then I am right. So, if my gut tells me that I can choose (and I mean REALLY choose) then I have no choice but to go with it, or to live in bad faith by pretending to believe otherwise. Just as I have no burden to prove that the sun is shining when I can see that it is shining, so I have no burden to prove HOW I am able to choose when I am doing so.
A possibility is not an outcome. A possibility may happen or it may never happen.
An outcome happens. An outcome is not a possibility, but an actuality.

Once we get this distinction straight, our words become meaningful again. What we can do is not the same as what we will do. What we could have done is not the same as what we would have done.

Whenever a choice is involved, there will be at least two "I can's" and a single "I will". For example, I can choose A or I can choose B. That's two "I can's". The past tense of an "I can" is an "I could have". Because there were two "I can's" there will also be two "I could have's". And this is how we normally speak about our choices: "I chose A, but I could have chosen B".

If we roll back the clock to the beginning of the choosing operation, we will once again have two "I can's", "I can choose A" and "I can choose B" will both be true by logical necessity. If either of those two statements is false, then the choosing operation stops in its tracks.

Whenever we have a choosing operation where we choose A rather than B, every time we roll back the clock, "I would choose A" will be true and "I could have chosen B" will also be true.

Free will is when a person decides for themselves what they will do, free of coercion and other forms of undue influence. That's the definition of free will that is used when assessing moral and legal responsibility. Everyone outside of philosophy understands this definition and correctly uses it in most practical matters.

Free will is not "free of causal necessity". Nothing is ever "free of causal necessity", because causal necessity is neither a meaningful nor a relevant constraint. It is not meaningful because what we will inevitably do is exactly identical to what we would have done anyway. It's just us, being us, doing what we do, and choosing what we choose. And it is not relevant, because there is nothing anyone can or needs to do about it. Causal necessity is nothing more than ordinary cause and effect.

So, you are perfectly correct in saying that you can have anything that you want for breakfast. It is up to you. All that determinism can reasonably assert is that your choice will be reliably caused by your own purposes and your own reasons. Thus, your choice is both predictable by anyone who has knowledge of your purposes and your reasoning, and at the same time it remains your own choice, and not the choice of any other object or force in the entire universe. After all, neither the Big Bang nor Causal Necessity nor Determinism nor the Universe nor any other object gives a dam about what you have for breakfast. The choice is empirically your own.

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by chewybrian » July 30th, 2020, 4:55 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 7:36 pm

So, you are perfectly correct in saying that you can have anything that you want for breakfast. It is up to you. All that determinism can reasonably assert is that your choice will be reliably caused by your own purposes and your own reasons. Thus, your choice is both predictable by anyone who has knowledge of your purposes and your reasoning, and at the same time it remains your own choice, and not the choice of any other object or force in the entire universe. After all, neither the Big Bang nor Causal Necessity nor Determinism nor the Universe nor any other object gives a dam about what you have for breakfast. The choice is empirically your own.
Nobody else knows my own purposes but me. I am sometimes partly predictable, but I am not fully predictable like a lawn chair or a helicopter. I am a subject, not an object. Existence precedes essence, and they are far from the same thing. All your ideas about determinism must be filtered through your subjective perceptions, reasoning and understanding. It is the ultimate case of the Emperor's New Clothes to think you are so smart that you have figured out that you can't exist. Your subjective understanding is so sharp that it tells you that it is not real? You are using your own essence to deny your own essence.

You didn't say it explicitly, but I assume you would further say that my purposes and reasons were fully formed and caused by prior events. If that is the case, they are not my own, because I don't exist! Of course, the universe influences me and makes certain choices more logical. But, I can, in my mind, step outside my circumstances and form goals that are essentially my own. There is no reason the universe should have given me the impression that I can determine some things for myself if I can not. I'm certain that a rock does not think it is deciding which way to bounce as it fall down a mountain.

I can't think of a single idea that makes me angry any longer but this one. People are gleefully deciding that nothing matters and proud of their slavish devotion to 'science' when they accept this unproven idea. Step one: deny your own essence and accept that you are no more important than the coffee maker... I mean, I do like coffee, but I exist! How can I understand that I exist without existing to do the understanding?
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Terrapin Station » July 30th, 2020, 9:40 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 11:07 am
"What will I have for breakfast, pancakes or eggs?"
What is that option causally necessary from to start?

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » July 30th, 2020, 10:31 am

chewybrian wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 4:55 am
You didn't say it explicitly, but I assume you would further say that my purposes and reasons were fully formed and caused by prior events. If that is the case, they are not my own, because I don't exist! Of course, the universe influences me and makes certain choices more logical. But, I can, in my mind, step outside my circumstances and form goals that are essentially my own. There is no reason the universe should have given me the impression that I can determine some things for myself if I can not. I'm certain that a rock does not think it is deciding which way to bounce as it fall down a mountain.

I can't think of a single idea that makes me angry any longer but this one. People are gleefully deciding that nothing matters and proud of their slavish devotion to 'science' when they accept this unproven idea. Step one: deny your own essence and accept that you are no more important than the coffee maker... I mean, I do like coffee, but I exist! How can I understand that I exist without existing to do the understanding?
Interesting rant, but none of that is justified by anything I've actually said. The fact that every event is always causally necessary, because it was brought about by a series of instances of reliable cause and effect, includes it being actually you that decides what you will have for breakfast. Like I said, you and you alone were the sole object that made that choice. No other entity, on the planet or off, made that choice other than you.

The fact that the choice was causally necessary, and inevitable from any prior point in eternity, also means that it was causally necessary that you and you alone would be making that choice.

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » July 30th, 2020, 10:36 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 9:40 am
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 11:07 am
"What will I have for breakfast, pancakes or eggs?"
What is that option causally necessary from to start?
Every event is always causally necessary from any prior point, because each cause also has its own causes and those causes have their own causes ad infinitum. Causal necessity is not a big deal. It is just a series of ordinary instances of reliable cause and effect. And we're all familiar with ordinary cause and effect, and do not normally feel threatened by it. But those who have been infected with the philosophical paradox do feel threatened by it, which is unfortunate.

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by chewybrian » July 30th, 2020, 12:18 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:31 am
chewybrian wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 4:55 am
You didn't say it explicitly, but I assume you would further say that my purposes and reasons were fully formed and caused by prior events. If that is the case, they are not my own, because I don't exist! Of course, the universe influences me and makes certain choices more logical. But, I can, in my mind, step outside my circumstances and form goals that are essentially my own. There is no reason the universe should have given me the impression that I can determine some things for myself if I can not. I'm certain that a rock does not think it is deciding which way to bounce as it fall down a mountain.

I can't think of a single idea that makes me angry any longer but this one. People are gleefully deciding that nothing matters and proud of their slavish devotion to 'science' when they accept this unproven idea. Step one: deny your own essence and accept that you are no more important than the coffee maker... I mean, I do like coffee, but I exist! How can I understand that I exist without existing to do the understanding?
Interesting rant, but none of that is justified by anything I've actually said. The fact that every event is always causally necessary, because it was brought about by a series of instances of reliable cause and effect, includes it being actually you that decides what you will have for breakfast. Like I said, you and you alone were the sole object that made that choice. No other entity, on the planet or off, made that choice other than you.

The fact that the choice was causally necessary, and inevitable from any prior point in eternity, also means that it was causally necessary that you and you alone would be making that choice.
But you just said it again. Saying I am choosing with only one option is like calling me a married bachelor. I no longer exist in any meaningful way if I can not interrupt the chain or start a new one. My own sense of being tels me I am making real choices. I see no compelling reason to deny myself, as you might argue if I was spouting religion.

I almost understand when people are condescending about religion, but when they act like determinism is a forgone conclusion, they are telling me I don't exist, and I am foolish for trying to improve myself or the world. There is no point in swerving to avoid a pedestrian, or even getting out of bed in your world. There is no sound basis for living in a fully determined world. In this real world, you are "condemned to be free", and so you must endure the indignity of"pretending" to have the free will you deny having. In what other aspect of life must you proceed on these terms?
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » July 30th, 2020, 1:48 pm

chewybrian wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 12:18 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:31 am


Interesting rant, but none of that is justified by anything I've actually said. The fact that every event is always causally necessary, because it was brought about by a series of instances of reliable cause and effect, includes it being actually you that decides what you will have for breakfast. Like I said, you and you alone were the sole object that made that choice. No other entity, on the planet or off, made that choice other than you.

The fact that the choice was causally necessary, and inevitable from any prior point in eternity, also means that it was causally necessary that you and you alone would be making that choice.
But you just said it again. Saying I am choosing with only one option is like calling me a married bachelor. I no longer exist in any meaningful way if I can not interrupt the chain or start a new one. My own sense of being tels me I am making real choices. I see no compelling reason to deny myself, as you might argue if I was spouting religion.

I almost understand when people are condescending about religion, but when they act like determinism is a forgone conclusion, they are telling me I don't exist, and I am foolish for trying to improve myself or the world. There is no point in swerving to avoid a pedestrian, or even getting out of bed in your world. There is no sound basis for living in a fully determined world. In this real world, you are "condemned to be free", and so you must endure the indignity of"pretending" to have the free will you deny having. In what other aspect of life must you proceed on these terms?
As I've said repeatedly, you are the only object in the universe that is making the real choice. Determinism is neither an object nor a force. Determinism never determines anything. However, I think you'll recognize that you decide what you will do for your own reasons and to suit your own purposes. Thus, your choice is reliably caused by your own thoughts and feelings. Your thoughts and feelings causally necessitate your choice. Your thoughts and feelings about different things have a history. That history reliably causes what comes into your mind in the present.

Free will is when you decide for yourself what you will do, free of coercion and other forms of undue influence, like mental illness or authoritative command or deception or anything else that effectively removes your normal control over your choices. Reliable cause and effect is neither coercive nor undue, therefore it is no threat to free will.

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Terrapin Station » July 30th, 2020, 2:19 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:36 am
So when I ask you, "What is that option causally necessary from to start?" I'm not setting you up to wax poetic about causality in general.

I want you to tell me specifically what it follows from as a causal necessity.

Which means that I want you to think about this, and communicate what you're thinking, where you've probably never thought through what you're claiming in as much detail before. So I want you to do some novel thinking for you, rather than falling back on a more generic script that you already have prepared.

So what, specifically, does the choice in question follow from as a causal necessity?

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » July 30th, 2020, 3:19 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 2:19 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:36 am
So when I ask you, "What is that option causally necessary from to start?" I'm not setting you up to wax poetic about causality in general.

I want you to tell me specifically what it follows from as a causal necessity.

Which means that I want you to think about this, and communicate what you're thinking, where you've probably never thought through what you're claiming in as much detail before. So I want you to do some novel thinking for you, rather than falling back on a more generic script that you already have prepared.

So what, specifically, does the choice in question follow from as a causal necessity?
Okay. So, if I recall correctly I was discussing the two options that I had for breakfast this morning, pancakes or eggs. The history of eggs as an option was my prior experience having eggs for a meal. The history of pancakes as an option had a similar history. These two histories are contained in the history of my life, some time after I was born, when I had my first eggs and when I had my first pancakes. The history of my life is contained within the history of all life on Earth. The history of all life on Earth is contained within the history of the universe. The history of the universe is contained within the serial history of all the universes that resulted from all the Big Bangs throughout eternity. The history of eternity has no start and has no end.

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by Terrapin Station » July 30th, 2020, 6:11 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 3:19 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 2:19 pm


So when I ask you, "What is that option causally necessary from to start?" I'm not setting you up to wax poetic about causality in general.

I want you to tell me specifically what it follows from as a causal necessity.

Which means that I want you to think about this, and communicate what you're thinking, where you've probably never thought through what you're claiming in as much detail before. So I want you to do some novel thinking for you, rather than falling back on a more generic script that you already have prepared.

So what, specifically, does the choice in question follow from as a causal necessity?
Okay. So, if I recall correctly I was discussing the two options that I had for breakfast this morning, pancakes or eggs. The history of eggs as an option was my prior experience having eggs for a meal. The history of pancakes as an option had a similar history. These two histories are contained in the history of my life, some time after I was born, when I had my first eggs and when I had my first pancakes. The history of my life is contained within the history of all life on Earth. The history of all life on Earth is contained within the history of the universe. The history of the universe is contained within the serial history of all the universes that resulted from all the Big Bangs throughout eternity. The history of eternity has no start and has no end.
That you have prior experience of having eggs and pancakes as a meal isn't at all sufficient to support that it's a causal necessity that you have those two options (and only those two options).

Why not?

Well, because we can just as well say that it's a simply a contingent possibility that you can have those two options based on prior experience.

Contingent possibilities are not the same thing as causal necessities.

So that you had the prior experiences isn't a valid argument for causal necessity. (Validity guarantees that the premises can't be true while the conclusion is false.)

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Re: Fate of Free Will?

Post by chewybrian » July 30th, 2020, 7:09 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 6:11 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 3:19 pm


Okay. So, if I recall correctly I was discussing the two options that I had for breakfast this morning, pancakes or eggs. The history of eggs as an option was my prior experience having eggs for a meal. The history of pancakes as an option had a similar history. These two histories are contained in the history of my life, some time after I was born, when I had my first eggs and when I had my first pancakes. The history of my life is contained within the history of all life on Earth. The history of all life on Earth is contained within the history of the universe. The history of the universe is contained within the serial history of all the universes that resulted from all the Big Bangs throughout eternity. The history of eternity has no start and has no end.
That you have prior experience of having eggs and pancakes as a meal isn't at all sufficient to support that it's a causal necessity that you have those two options (and only those two options).

Why not?

Well, because we can just as well say that it's a simply a contingent possibility that you can have those two options based on prior experience.

Contingent possibilities are not the same thing as causal necessities.

So that you had the prior experiences isn't a valid argument for causal necessity. (Validity guarantees that the premises can't be true while the conclusion is false.)
This is the reality that most of us (humans, not science-happy philosophers...) see, feel, experience and understand. We are *influenced* by the events of the past. They push us in a certain direction, and this push can be so strong that we will almost certainly go in a given way under certain circumstances. But, there is nothing but theory to say that influence ever becomes a necessity, that we have no real choice in the matter. And, if you think through the implications of that understanding of the world (a world of necessary "choices"), you can see that it makes no sense. There is no basis for heading out the door and doing anything under those terms. Any choice is as good as another, as past events have already determined what you are about to do!
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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