The free will fallacy
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21-07-2017, 02:02 PM
RE: The free will fallacy
An ancient joke.

A philosopher's slave stole a petty sum from the philosopher, who them beat his slave with a stick for doing so. "Master! Don't beat me! I was fated to steal from you!"
The philosopher answered, "And I was fated to beat you with this stick!"

Later Islamic variation. And the judge said "And I was fated to have your hand cut off!".

Free will or lack thereof has long been an excuse for antinominists

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22-07-2017, 01:55 AM
RE: The free will fallacy
I thought of another way of putting it:

If we don't have free will, then we already are acting a certain way. We're already putting people in prison. We're already taking responsibility for our actions. We already care about each other.

If we discovered the fact that we don't have free will, we'll just develop a better understanding of how this all works and why we do all this, even as non-agents. Of course, that information will have an impact on us, just like any new information we learn. But it doesn't change anything; we haven't suddenly lost agency that we had before.

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23-07-2017, 12:29 PM
RE: The free will fallacy
(22-07-2017 01:55 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I thought of another way of putting it:

If we don't have free will, then we already are acting a certain way. We're already putting people in prison. We're already taking responsibility for our actions. We already care about each other.

If we discovered the fact that we don't have free will, we'll just develop a better understanding of how this all works and why we do all this, even as non-agents. Of course, that information will have an impact on us, just like any new information we learn. But it doesn't change anything; we haven't suddenly lost agency that we had before.

The problem with fatalism is that once we accept fatalism it becomes and excuse to do anything, even cruel or stupid things. "It wasn't my fault, I was fated to do that". "Insha'allah"
In Christianity, it is "The Devil made me do it". Or "Original sin destroyed my sense of morality".

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29-07-2017, 07:07 PM
RE: The free will fallacy
(22-07-2017 01:55 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I thought of another way of putting it:

If we don't have free will, then we already are acting a certain way. We're already putting people in prison. We're already taking responsibility for our actions. We already care about each other.

If we discovered the fact that we don't have free will, we'll just develop a better understanding of how this all works and why we do all this, even as non-agents. Of course, that information will have an impact on us, just like any new information we learn. But it doesn't change anything; we haven't suddenly lost agency that we had before.
I don't think anyone in this discussion has explicitly said that there's a difference between freedom of choice and free will. I think they are often conflated. Of course the issue of agency has been debated, which kind of covers it, I guess, but the way I prefer to understand it is that I generally have at least two choices in any given situation (do nothing or kill myself) and most often, quite a few more choices than that -- sometimes, some of the choices are even "good" ones from my perspective. ;-)

Society will tend to sanction me for making particularly bad or selfish choices or choosing not to play by the rules. But I don't even think of those as real options, nor do I consider that limiting because I understand that those classes of behaviors aren't sustainably successful often even at the individual level (unless maybe you're a sociopath) and certainly not at the societal level.

I completely agree that agency isn't influenced by the knowledge of how reality works, even if reality appears to support free will as illusory. There's still agency and we're still constantly making choices. It's a separate issue from free will.
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29-07-2017, 07:58 PM
RE: The free will fallacy
(29-07-2017 07:07 PM)mordant Wrote:  I don't think anyone in this discussion has explicitly said that there's a difference between freedom of choice and free will. I think they are often conflated. Of course the issue of agency has been debated, which kind of covers it, I guess, but the way I prefer to understand it is that I generally have at least two choices in any given situation (do nothing or kill myself) and most often, quite a few more choices than that -- sometimes, some of the choices are even "good" ones from my perspective. ;-)

I agree with your point. I wrote this (#4) above:

(16-07-2017 05:05 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(16-07-2017 04:48 AM)Gwaithmir Wrote:  We always have to view our options and the consequences of making choices for our actions, so how can our will be free? Consider

Because free will means the ability to choose, not the freedom to choose whatever we can imagine.

Google defines "free will" as "the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion."

We may think we are forced by necessity, but we can always kill ourselves instead. In other words, we have free will even when we only have two bad choices -- as long as we could choose something different.
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29-07-2017, 11:37 PM (This post was last modified: 29-07-2017 11:46 PM by Robvalue.)
RE: The free will fallacy
(29-07-2017 07:07 PM)mordant Wrote:  
(22-07-2017 01:55 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I thought of another way of putting it:

If we don't have free will, then we already are acting a certain way. We're already putting people in prison. We're already taking responsibility for our actions. We already care about each other.

If we discovered the fact that we don't have free will, we'll just develop a better understanding of how this all works and why we do all this, even as non-agents. Of course, that information will have an impact on us, just like any new information we learn. But it doesn't change anything; we haven't suddenly lost agency that we had before.
I don't think anyone in this discussion has explicitly said that there's a difference between freedom of choice and free will. I think they are often conflated. Of course the issue of agency has been debated, which kind of covers it, I guess, but the way I prefer to understand it is that I generally have at least two choices in any given situation (do nothing or kill myself) and most often, quite a few more choices than that -- sometimes, some of the choices are even "good" ones from my perspective. ;-)

Society will tend to sanction me for making particularly bad or selfish choices or choosing not to play by the rules. But I don't even think of those as real options, nor do I consider that limiting because I understand that those classes of behaviors aren't sustainably successful often even at the individual level (unless maybe you're a sociopath) and certainly not at the societal level.

I completely agree that agency isn't influenced by the knowledge of how reality works, even if reality appears to support free will as illusory. There's still agency and we're still constantly making choices. It's a separate issue from free will.

I agree that it appears we always have choices. It's pragmatic for our conscious mind to make us believe that I imagine.

I wouldn't count killing yourself as an option that is always there though. The idea of doing it is there, but following through with what is necessary is a huge undertaking, even for someone like me who would rather be dead. And of course, suicide attempts aren't guaranteed to be successful.

So the best I think you could say is that you have "the choice" of intending to lead yourself down the path of suicide. But most people would be fighting a huge uphill battle against all their survival instincts, to even begin to turn that intent into anything real.

I think an interesting/useful way of defining a "choice" is that it would be impossible to predict what action will be taken out of two or more alternatives. If that is the case, it doesn't tell us how the choice is "made", of course. It doesn't mean the agent is making choices the way they feel like they are. We already know this isn't the case in humans.

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30-07-2017, 08:31 AM
RE: The free will fallacy
(29-07-2017 07:58 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(29-07-2017 07:07 PM)mordant Wrote:  I don't think anyone in this discussion has explicitly said that there's a difference between freedom of choice and free will. I think they are often conflated. Of course the issue of agency has been debated, which kind of covers it, I guess, but the way I prefer to understand it is that I generally have at least two choices in any given situation (do nothing or kill myself) and most often, quite a few more choices than that -- sometimes, some of the choices are even "good" ones from my perspective. ;-)

I agree with your point. I wrote this (#4) above:

(16-07-2017 05:05 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  Because free will means the ability to choose, not the freedom to choose whatever we can imagine.

Google defines "free will" as "the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion."

We may think we are forced by necessity, but we can always kill ourselves instead. In other words, we have free will even when we only have two bad choices -- as long as we could choose something different.

> This flies in the face of the theological claim that God is omniscient and omnipotent. For, if this is true, it would be impossible for me to make a choice which is against God's will. Consider
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30-07-2017, 04:04 PM
RE: The free will fallacy
(30-07-2017 08:31 AM)Gwaithmir Wrote:  
(29-07-2017 07:58 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  I agree with your point. I wrote this (#4) above:

> This flies in the face of the theological claim that God is omniscient and omnipotent. For, if this is true, it would be impossible for me to make a choice which is against God's will. Consider

I think it isn't necessarily against that idea. If we assume that your will is the same as the will of God there wouldn't be any conflict. As an analogy, let's assume my finger has a free will, whenever my finger wants to move, I also want to move my finger. In fact my finger is experiencing part of my will. There is never a conflict and both of us are free. My will does not "cause" the will of my finger, the two are the same.

It might not make much sense concerning a theistic God. Since a theistic God is usually perceived as separate from his creation (it's not always the case though). But I think it definitely makes sense concerning a pantheistic God.
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31-07-2017, 01:35 AM
RE: The free will fallacy
Romans 11, why didn't the Jews believe Jesus was the messiah? Because God hardened their hearts not to believe. Thus if one takes Paul's seriously as revelation, God does not really care about free will. Why not make all Jews believe? Why not all people? If God can do these things and chooses not to do so, choosing arbitrarily who will be the elect and who will not, from before creation, free will is biblically not possible. Romans 11 is one of those chapters that many people don't really know about, and is rather problematic for Christianity. It all builds on OT idea that God blinds some people to religious truth.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se...ersion=KJV

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31-07-2017, 05:46 AM
RE: The free will fallacy
(31-07-2017 01:35 AM)Cheerful Charlie Wrote:  Romans 11, why didn't the Jews believe Jesus was the messiah? Because God hardened their hearts not to believe.

The Qur'an is filled with that kind of thinking too, if I remember correctly.
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