What is 'Free will'?

Use this forum to discuss the February 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, Free Will, Do You Have It? by Albertus Kral
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Sushan
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What is 'Free will'?

Post by Sushan »

This topic is about the February 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, 
Free Will, Do You Have It?
by Albertus Kral




All these discussions about 'Free Will' lead me to think, "what is actually free will?". So I checked a few resources.

free will, in humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. Free will is denied by some proponents of determinism. Arguments for free will are based on the subjective experience of freedom, on sentiments of guilt, on revealed religion, and on the universal supposition of responsibility for personal actions that underlies the concepts of law, reward, punishment, and incentive. In theology the existence of free will must be reconciled with God’s omniscience and goodness (in allowing people to choose badly) and with divine grace, which allegedly is necessary for any meritorious act. A prominent feature of existentialism is the concept of a radical, perpetual, and frequently agonizing freedom of choice. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–80), for example, spoke of the individual “condemned to be free.”
(Encyclopaedia Britannica)


https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freewill

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictio ... /free-will

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will


It seems like it is difficult to find a practical and 'acceptable in all conditions' definition for this term. Yet, people have been discussing the topic, and even experiencing its privileges since ancient times.

What is actually 'Free Will'? How can we define it? What should we expect to see in this concept in today's world?


(Note: This topic may overlap with other topics in this forum as well. Please feel free to relate to other topics if necessary.)
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Consul
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by Consul »

"'Free will' is the conventional name of a topic that is best discussed without reference to the will. Its central questions are 'What is it to act (or choose) freely?', and 'What is it to be morally responsible for one's actions (or choices)?' These two questions are closely connected, for freedom of action is necessary for moral responsibility, even if it is not sufficient."

("Free Will," by Galen Strawson. In The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig, 286-294. London: Routledge, 2005. p. 286)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by Elephant »

I've given up trying to argue about free will philosophically. However, I still argue about the human will itself. Of course, I think J.S. Mill and others define human will as free will, no forgiveness there. Anyway, when I say I still argue about will, I mean psychological will -- constrained or freed by culture, upbringing, and training. So, if I use the will in morality, I'd argue that we do have the capacity to be moral, or to acquire conscience, such that we can distinguish between moral and immoral actions. For example, we recognize and agree that human oppression is bad.
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by ernestm »

Consul wrote: February 5th, 2022, 10:28 pm "'Free will' is the conventional name of a topic that is best discussed without reference to the will. Its central questions are 'What is it to act (or choose) freely?', and 'What is it to be morally responsible for one's actions (or choices)?' These two questions are closely connected, for freedom of action is necessary for moral responsibility, even if it is not sufficient."

("Free Will," by Galen Strawson. In The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig, 286-294. London: Routledge, 2005. p. 286)
Strawson certainly made many clarifications on the nature of questions.
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by stevie »

Sushan wrote: February 5th, 2022, 10:12 pm This topic is about the February 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, 
Free Will, Do You Have It?
by Albertus Kral




All these discussions about 'Free Will' lead me to think, "what is actually free will?". So I checked a few resources.

free will, in humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. ...
(Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Considering current scientific evidence that's a nonsensical definition because it aims at absolutely free will which of course is merely a fabrication by thought. But of course the human organism can be said to have relatively free will.
mankind ... must act and reason and believe; though they are not able, by their most diligent enquiry, to satisfy themselves concerning the foundation of these operations, or to remove the objections, which may be raised against them [Hume]
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by Haloorhorns »

Free will.

The ability to do what you want.

This isnt possible with the constraints of soceity, this could mean we have no free will. The only persons that have free will are those in the highest possible positions of power they are the people that make and break the rules.

Maybe?
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

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Consul wrote: February 5th, 2022, 10:28 pm "'Free will' is the conventional name of a topic that is best discussed without reference to the will. Its central questions are 'What is it to act (or choose) freely?', and 'What is it to be morally responsible for one's actions (or choices)?' These two questions are closely connected, for freedom of action is necessary for moral responsibility, even if it is not sufficient."

("Free Will," by Galen Strawson. In The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig, 286-294. London: Routledge, 2005. p. 286)
How can we discuss about Free will excluding 'will'? Yes, the main issue is people having a moral responsibility to what they choose as a hindrance to applying freedom in choosing or acting. So in reverse thinking this concept of Free will should have to be a topic with no sense at all. Yet this is being discussed through generations.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by LuckyR »

Haloorhorns wrote: February 6th, 2022, 7:48 am Free will.

The ability to do what you want.

This isnt possible with the constraints of soceity, this could mean we have no free will. The only persons that have free will are those in the highest possible positions of power they are the people that make and break the rules.

Maybe?
"Will" has nothing to do with action, it has to do with intent. Thus Free Will is the ability to choose to do what you want, regardless of your ability to do what you want. Therefore the constraints of society do not constrain Free Will. If I choose to fly off of a building, the Free Will is the choice, not in my flying ability.
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

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Elephant wrote: February 5th, 2022, 11:48 pm I've given up trying to argue about free will philosophically. However, I still argue about the human will itself. Of course, I think J.S. Mill and others define human will as free will, no forgiveness there. Anyway, when I say I still argue about will, I mean psychological will -- constrained or freed by culture, upbringing, and training. So, if I use the will in morality, I'd argue that we do have the capacity to be moral, or to acquire conscience, such that we can distinguish between moral and immoral actions. For example, we recognize and agree that human oppression is bad.
I cannot fathom the difference between free will and human will. If we think about a will of an animal, many restrictions that humans are bound of does not apply for them. Take a dog for example. It can go around doing whatever it likes, having puppies everywhere from different b*tches, with no legal or any other restrictions. So whether there is a free will or not, it does not care, because it is already enjoying it. But humans cannot simply do so, and that is why we are keen about the topic. So ultimately it should be free will = human will.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: What is 'Free will'?

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ernestm wrote: February 6th, 2022, 1:43 am
Consul wrote: February 5th, 2022, 10:28 pm "'Free will' is the conventional name of a topic that is best discussed without reference to the will. Its central questions are 'What is it to act (or choose) freely?', and 'What is it to be morally responsible for one's actions (or choices)?' These two questions are closely connected, for freedom of action is necessary for moral responsibility, even if it is not sufficient."

("Free Will," by Galen Strawson. In The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig, 286-294. London: Routledge, 2005. p. 286)
Strawson certainly made many clarifications on the nature of questions.
I think Strawson diverted questions to more 'discussable' ways rather than clarifying them. He told that we cannot just discuss about a thing, but can discuss the uses of that thing. I think that is applicable to Free will as well.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by Sushan »

stevie wrote: February 6th, 2022, 4:00 am
Sushan wrote: February 5th, 2022, 10:12 pm This topic is about the February 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, 
Free Will, Do You Have It?
by Albertus Kral




All these discussions about 'Free Will' lead me to think, "what is actually free will?". So I checked a few resources.

free will, in humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. ...
(Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Considering current scientific evidence that's a nonsensical definition because it aims at absolutely free will which of course is merely a fabrication by thought. But of course the human organism can be said to have relatively free will.
The given definition maybe insane. But the idea of free will should be such a one. Earlier this concept was used in a religious background, to say that God does not interfere in human actions since He has granted them with free will. So, if such free will has become a relative concept now, can we consider of us as beings with a free will?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by stevie »

Sushan wrote: February 13th, 2022, 5:07 am
stevie wrote: February 6th, 2022, 4:00 am
Sushan wrote: February 5th, 2022, 10:12 pm This topic is about the February 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, 
Free Will, Do You Have It?
by Albertus Kral




All these discussions about 'Free Will' lead me to think, "what is actually free will?". So I checked a few resources.

free will, in humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. ...
(Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Considering current scientific evidence that's a nonsensical definition because it aims at absolutely free will which of course is merely a fabrication by thought. But of course the human organism can be said to have relatively free will.
The given definition maybe insane. But the idea of free will should be such a one. Earlier this concept was used in a religious background, to say that God does not interfere in human actions since He has granted them with free will. So, if such free will has become a relative concept now, can we consider of us as beings with a free will?
I don't take inappropriate definitions as reference when talking about the definiendum.
mankind ... must act and reason and believe; though they are not able, by their most diligent enquiry, to satisfy themselves concerning the foundation of these operations, or to remove the objections, which may be raised against them [Hume]
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by Sushan »

stevie wrote: February 14th, 2022, 3:05 am
Sushan wrote: February 13th, 2022, 5:07 am
stevie wrote: February 6th, 2022, 4:00 am
Sushan wrote: February 5th, 2022, 10:12 pm This topic is about the February 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, 
Free Will, Do You Have It?
by Albertus Kral




All these discussions about 'Free Will' lead me to think, "what is actually free will?". So I checked a few resources.



(Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Considering current scientific evidence that's a nonsensical definition because it aims at absolutely free will which of course is merely a fabrication by thought. But of course the human organism can be said to have relatively free will.
The given definition maybe insane. But the idea of free will should be such a one. Earlier this concept was used in a religious background, to say that God does not interfere in human actions since He has granted them with free will. So, if such free will has become a relative concept now, can we consider of us as beings with a free will?
I don't take inappropriate definitions as reference when talking about the definiendum.
In that case could you please mention an appropriate definition. By the way, what is the demarcation of a definition being appropriate vs inappropriate? If it is the source of reference, then I think Encyclopedia Britannica is a reliable one.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
stevie
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by stevie »

Sushan wrote: February 18th, 2022, 10:22 pm
stevie wrote: February 14th, 2022, 3:05 am
Sushan wrote: February 13th, 2022, 5:07 am
stevie wrote: February 6th, 2022, 4:00 am

Considering current scientific evidence that's a nonsensical definition because it aims at absolutely free will which of course is merely a fabrication by thought. But of course the human organism can be said to have relatively free will.
The given definition maybe insane. But the idea of free will should be such a one. Earlier this concept was used in a religious background, to say that God does not interfere in human actions since He has granted them with free will. So, if such free will has become a relative concept now, can we consider of us as beings with a free will?
I don't take inappropriate definitions as reference when talking about the definiendum.
In that case could you please mention an appropriate definition. By the way, what is the demarcation of a definition being appropriate vs inappropriate? If it is the source of reference, then I think Encyclopedia Britannica is a reliable one.
An appropriate definition is one that takes into consideration current scientific knowledge. An appropriate definition should refer to absolutely and relatively free will.
mankind ... must act and reason and believe; though they are not able, by their most diligent enquiry, to satisfy themselves concerning the foundation of these operations, or to remove the objections, which may be raised against them [Hume]
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Re: What is 'Free will'?

Post by Hypatia »

Hello fellow travellers,

I think the main problem here is the distinction made, or rather not made, between the will or the potentiality and the effects made of it, and their ontological status. I think the following at least needs to be said:

1. When we want to have an understatement, even a slight conception of what freedom could mean for the will, we need to know which's will it is, and thus require a complete understatement of the self, a theory of subjectivity, without which the category, in which freedom of the will could oppose enslavement, is certainly most dubious. This once again shows the necessarily systematic nature of philosophy, as much as it has been laughed at in the modern day by anti-hegelians and anti-platonics; and it shows also, that in this question, neutrality of a standpoint is impossible, because this very definition asks us to say what the mind is, and in what way the will exists. I shall not flee this for it though, and will provide a definition, as much as it will be disliked for it's disconnection (as asked previously) with the modern sciences: I, the subject, am existence, that is, I am the oneness, το έν, that connects the opposing contents of my experience. I am in this way opposite not just to all things, including to my own body, but also to my thoughts. I am not anything, as itself, it might even be said that I don't exist (and if I only ask about the possibility of existing without contradictions, than that is correct, as Plato did prove the inexistence of το έν in Parmenides through contradiction; which does not bother me, for I believe to fundamentally be a contradiction), but instead I am the form in which that, what is, is, and whatever I am is nothing but the way, in which things to me appear, those which I can influence an those which I can not. I am the existence-towards-me, and in that the misunderstanding and despair, that is the self-missing and invisibility of every perspective for itself, the blind spot that is the first person pronoun.

2. The will to me is a modification of things in as far as they appear. First, things do appear in me, and thus I do exist; but this Cartesian proof must be extended twofold: once in the direction of the possible, and once in the direction of the real. In what is possible, things are modified under my imagination. I imagine, phantasize, whatever I think, in that I think them, because what actually is is to me it's being-to-me, and therefore always already a modified being, not a being in or for itself. In what is real, the modification is towards that of the will: whatever is, is there partially already modified under my will to existence, be it under curiosity or fear (in their dialectical correlation), disgust, habitual normality, or indifference. In any way, this fundamental modification of will is not one of what is (in the same way as that of the imagination: not a different thing, but the thing itself appears, and φαινόμενα are not other things, but actions and movements that the νοούμενα make inside and towards the self, that is all of existence, and which brings it to reality); but also it does not change the ontological status of it's object. If I look at something in disgust, I don't change how it appears to me; rather, it already presumes it. The will, in a fundamental way, is later than epistemology. It decides if an action of understanding, that already took place, found me something I want; or rather something, of which I, through it's worthiness of investigation, want to see other qualities and details to be existing and experienced parts of reality.

3. There now is a curious problem, of which the problem of the freedom of will arises, and that is the fact, that a) I see all my thoughts in their content mirrored in the brain of my body, and b) that the physical world appears to have a consistent structure of causality, that seems to contradict the way, in which the will modifies reality after it exists. (This, by the way, also shows why the free will is really only discussed in the context of physicality, or in that related to the physical world, and not in that, while not related to it, which has a similar structure of existence as the will had to reality, as e.g. the decision of what is worthy of being defined in a mathematical proof, or which story of my imagination of a fabled place shall become part of a novel and which not.)

4. I therefore would define free will thusly: My will is free, if the thoughts of the decision of investigation, that follow from the modifications of existent things as already experienced (after epistemology), have the same immediate necessity, than those which are indistinguishably tied to it's understanding (transcendental qualities of imagination, of the action of existence, το φαίνεσθαι). This does mean a break in causality, if you believe that the epistemic process of knowledge and the post-epistemic process of will-full modification is inside the same time as the physical world, as it does create an already constituted reality, that still is free to be modified as worthy/ unworthy of certain thoughts to exists.

I must add that this clashes only with a certain form of causality, one which presumes the past as fixed an the future as it's function (one could call it laplacian, after Laplace's demon); I think, that a causality, that considers the past and future as function of the present, and therefore of my consciousness and reality now, while not just solving this problem, also does more accurately reflect the strange and not often straight-forward notion of causality in scientific research, that is more influenced by known results, which we search for definitions of, and by definitions, than we usually are willing to admit, and in which way our presence more clearly influences our understanding of our past and it's results than the other way around. To then put it, in the clearest, most shocking way, when translation this belief in the other dictionary: free will is my power to reach back at the beginning of time, to before the big bang, to create conditions such as that the reflection of my will in my body's brain is, after such changed past and conditions of the universe, in agreement with the things, that, in its transcendental reality, it changed and only after it's self-existence made them to be what they are, not just things, but willed, modified-towards-me things. My free will is the power, in which I bring the universe into existence as something, that is ontologically later than itself .

In regards of the truth, and in the name of a plushies tears,
Hypatia.
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