The Delusion of "Free Will"

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The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Kurieuo » Tue May 17, 2016 6:55 pm

I opened another thread here for non-believers asking about whether our actions are determined.

Those who responded, who were non-believers, tended to believe that we do have free will. While such seems intuitive to us, and I think intuitions ought to have a lot of weight in justification, that "we" are in fact determined is in fact a position many philosophers take who are Atheistic or non-believers. Why? Here is a 15 minute introduction:



I chose to open this here rather than the non-believers area, because the question of "free will" is relevant to Theists also, and something Christians also discuss in many different ways whether it's God and predetermination versus our free will, or how volitional our actions really are, etc.

However, I feel that Atheism, in particular a materialistic or purely physical context, does have drastically more problems if we're going to hang onto our basic intuition that we do have a say in our lives and decisions "we" make.

Note: if we are determined, at stake are concepts of morality, justice, fairness and even Descartes, "I think, therefore I am." If we can't even embrace that "we" do the thinking and decision making as Harris and others like him argue), then I'd argue that the I doesn't really exist but is an illusion also. Such are the ramifications for determinism as I see it.
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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Philip » Tue May 17, 2016 7:45 pm

Well, if one does not make his own decisions and freely control his actions, then he is not the driver responsible for his sins. This would mean that even f he rejects God, he is not responsible. But we know these things are both untrue, from a Scriptural basis. Else, what are the choices: Either I freely choose to sin, or something outside of me causes it. Now, I'd absolutely love to blame my sins on another, or upon some thing or force beyond my control and outside of my orbit. But there is only one other possibility - and He is a definite impossibility.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Kurieuo » Tue May 17, 2016 8:17 pm

From a Christian position, I'd love to throw into the mix that we're not necessarily comprised of one nature, but rather a combination of two as the Apostle Paul often discusses: Spiritual and Carnal (i.e., Romans 7:14-25)

Paul's thinking doesn't seem to me really that different from the majority of secular philosophy on free will. That our physical natures are deterministic and we're slaves to them. There is perhaps even a correlation to be found between our inability to seek God (Romans 3:11) since our falling away from God.

Yet, if it is only in God we find freedom from our carnal nature (Romans 7:24), perhaps metaphysically, it is in God that any of us have the ability to express real free choice. God who possesses ultimate freedom and creativity, imparts or allows us to share in such for ourselves. As a side reflection, do not dogs and pets in a sense find freedom from their own nature in us?

I could indulge further thinking on this, but I think here is a key for Theists as to how we can logically accept that we do make free decisions, escaping what logically leads to determinism for Atheists based upon an outworking of a purely physical nature.
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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby PaulSacramento » Wed May 18, 2016 9:56 am

Sam Harris is, well, mis-informed more often than not.
I am being nice when I say that.

Free will is simply the ability to choose between available options.
Sure we may be "pulled" towards one or the other based on a combination of nature and nurture BUT we are still free to choose.

Even the guy with a gun pointed to his head and told to do (A) can choose NOT to.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Philip » Wed May 18, 2016 11:27 am

Free will is the ability to choose betwixt the choices presented of known, but not between choices or abilities unavailable to us. Beyond those, the only real deterministic thing is our human nature, which 1) WE did not choose and 2) makes inevitable that we will forever be sinful creatures whilst still in our flesh. That said, God can intervene, guide and influence where and how He sees fit - yet without violating our free will. This is why and how God authors history to a conclusion that is perfectly known to Him - and not that is just foreknown, but with the precise ending, and JUST as He desires it to.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Audacity » Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:57 pm

Philip wrote:Free will is the ability to choose betwixt the choices presented of known, but not between choices or abilities unavailable to us. Beyond those, the only real deterministic thing is our human nature, which 1) WE did not choose and 2) makes inevitable that we will forever be sinful creatures whilst still in our flesh.


"Free will is the ability to choose betwixt ... choices." Yes it is, which is why it's a bogus concept.

In truth, we don't choose anything at all. Choosing is an illusion we have come to incorporate in our lives so as to retain a sense of unique personal agency. It's the notion that "I could have done differently had I wanted to." Trouble is, you did what you did because you could do no differently. That this may throw a monkey wrench into the notion of culpability, both good and bad, is too bad, but that's the way the universe works. Want to call the good stuff people do admirable, heroic, praiseworthy, etc., and the bad stuff, deplorable, wicked, sinful, etc. go ahead, but when it gets down to the sum and substance of the matter they're all based on the mistaken notion that people choose to do what they do. That they could have done differently had they wanted to. But they couldn't have. They had to do what they did.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby RickD » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:46 pm

Audacity wrote:
Philip wrote:Free will is the ability to choose betwixt the choices presented of known, but not between choices or abilities unavailable to us. Beyond those, the only real deterministic thing is our human nature, which 1) WE did not choose and 2) makes inevitable that we will forever be sinful creatures whilst still in our flesh.


"Free will is the ability to choose betwixt ... choices." Yes it is, which is why it's a bogus concept.

In truth, we don't choose anything at all. Choosing is an illusion we have come to incorporate in our lives so as to retain a sense of unique personal agency. It's the notion that "I could have done differently had I wanted to." Trouble is, you did what you did because you could do no differently. That this may throw a monkey wrench into the notion of culpability, both good and bad, is too bad, but that's the way the universe works. Want to call the good stuff people do admirable, heroic, praiseworthy, etc., and the bad stuff, deplorable, wicked, sinful, etc. go ahead, but when it gets down to the sum and substance of the matter they're all based on the mistaken notion that people choose to do what they do. That they could have done differently had they wanted to. But they couldn't have. They had to do what they did.

So, when Mr. Dranktoomuch gets in a car and crashes into a van full of daycare children and kills them all, you're saying he had no choice whether he should drive, or call a taxi?
1 Corinthians 1:9
9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Audacity » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:56 pm

RickD wrote:
Audacity wrote:
Philip wrote:Free will is the ability to choose betwixt the choices presented of known, but not between choices or abilities unavailable to us. Beyond those, the only real deterministic thing is our human nature, which 1) WE did not choose and 2) makes inevitable that we will forever be sinful creatures whilst still in our flesh.


"Free will is the ability to choose betwixt ... choices." Yes it is, which is why it's a bogus concept.

In truth, we don't choose anything at all. Choosing is an illusion we have come to incorporate in our lives so as to retain a sense of unique personal agency. It's the notion that "I could have done differently had I wanted to." Trouble is, you did what you did because you could do no differently. That this may throw a monkey wrench into the notion of culpability, both good and bad, is too bad, but that's the way the universe works. Want to call the good stuff people do admirable, heroic, praiseworthy, etc., and the bad stuff, deplorable, wicked, sinful, etc. go ahead, but when it gets down to the sum and substance of the matter they're all based on the mistaken notion that people choose to do what they do. That they could have done differently had they wanted to. But they couldn't have. They had to do what they did.

So, when Mr. Dranktoomuch gets in a car and crashes into a van full of daycare children and kills them all, you're saying he had no choice whether he should drive, or call a taxi?

BINGO!

Actually, it would be better put by saying that choosing never entered into the picture: He had to drive.


.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby RickD » Fri Dec 09, 2016 6:07 pm

Audacity wrote:
RickD wrote:
Audacity wrote:
Philip wrote:Free will is the ability to choose betwixt the choices presented of known, but not between choices or abilities unavailable to us. Beyond those, the only real deterministic thing is our human nature, which 1) WE did not choose and 2) makes inevitable that we will forever be sinful creatures whilst still in our flesh.


"Free will is the ability to choose betwixt ... choices." Yes it is, which is why it's a bogus concept.

In truth, we don't choose anything at all. Choosing is an illusion we have come to incorporate in our lives so as to retain a sense of unique personal agency. It's the notion that "I could have done differently had I wanted to." Trouble is, you did what you did because you could do no differently. That this may throw a monkey wrench into the notion of culpability, both good and bad, is too bad, but that's the way the universe works. Want to call the good stuff people do admirable, heroic, praiseworthy, etc., and the bad stuff, deplorable, wicked, sinful, etc. go ahead, but when it gets down to the sum and substance of the matter they're all based on the mistaken notion that people choose to do what they do. That they could have done differently had they wanted to. But they couldn't have. They had to do what they did.

So, when Mr. Dranktoomuch gets in a car and crashes into a van full of daycare children and kills them all, you're saying he had no choice whether he should drive, or call a taxi?

BINGO!

Actually, it would be better put by saying that choosing never entered into the picture: He had to drive.


.



So, you're saying that a choice, an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities, doesn't exist?
1 Corinthians 1:9
9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Audie wrote:
"Christianity is not a joke, but it has some very poor representatives."


St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Jac3510 » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:34 pm

No she is saying she isn't going to object when someone lies about her because they didn't have a choice. or that she will object because she doesn't have a choice, not because she cares about the lie. after all there is no her to care at all.

Anyway it's silly for nontheists to be determinists. QM doesn't allow for it. They're just being bad Newtonian philosophers. I mean the idea that everything has a deterministic cause is laughable anymore.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue

And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Philip » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:36 pm

Audacity: So, you're saying that a choice, an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities, doesn't exist?


He HAD no choice but to say that, Rick! Seems he HAS to talk or type, right? Whatever nonsense that might communicate, he's not responsible for. :lol:

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Jac3510 » Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:27 pm

To expand a bit on what I was saying before, atheism only leads to determinism in a Newtonian world--a world in which A necessarily causes B. But I don't see any reason to think that is true. Not only does QM show that to be false, but just a common sense view of the world is that there really is a large degree of randomness in the world. Things a random if and only if there is really a truly a sense in which they are uncaused. It may be that the thing itself is caused, but the fact that it was caused to be this way rather than that can be uncaused, can be truly random. And if that is true, then the point we are getting at is that some A may cause B or C, and the effect may necessarily be B or C such that we say if B then it was caused by A or if C then it was caused by A; but that A is indeterminately related to either B or C.

Now, I think this principle of indeterminacy is actually a fundamental aspect of reality and underlies ALL cause and effect. The only reason that we think in deterministic terms is because in the macro world in which we live, we are good enough at predicting effects from causes that the probabilities that what we expect not to happen are so very small that we get away with short-hand thinking, A->B. What a lot of people unfortunately do is mistake that short-hand thinking for the way reality really is and then they mistakenly think that they are going to find hidden causes that guarantee B for any given A at these fundamental and indeterministic levels. It's really an arrogant way to look at reality if you want to get down to brass tacks.

So if we accept the notion that the universe is fundamentally indeterminate, and that effects are only more determinate than not when they get into large and large conglomerates such that fewer variables can realistically make in an impact on the effect (quick visual: it takes a MUCH larger rudder to steer a cruise ship than it does a speed boat), then free will is actually pretty easy to account for. I can will A, B, C, or any number of things. The effect in question is indeterminately related to the cause (me). That's all free will is. When I will A, I've simply made a determination of what was previously indeterminate. There's no reason an atheist couldn't say that.

Now, there is some good science showing that we actually make our choices before we're aware of them. But, again, people are confused as to what this means. They're still being silly Newtonians, thinking that some combination of chemical reactions produced the illusion of me choosing A rather than B, such that it only looks in retrospect like A was a possibility but in fact never was. In the language we've been developing, such a position is really just saying that I was deterministically related to A, that there was no indeterminacy. Again, just bland, boring, and incorrect Newtonianism. Way too shallow. Further, the mistake here is to fail to distinguish between epistemology and ontology. Becoming aware of a choice is not the same thing as making it. I have no problem accepting the fact that I make a choice and a tiny fraction of a second later become aware of the choice I've made. None of that negates free will. It doesn't even mean that the conscious mind has no say so over our choices. This post is already way too long so I won't get into it here, but it should be really obvious (and historically, it has been) that all thought, all intellectual activity (in philosophical jargon, all judgment, conception, and imagination) happens at the subconscious level. Again, Aquinas and Aristotle were clear on that thousands of years ago. Bottom line is that free will and rational deliberation is a constant "conversation" between our unconscious intellectual activity and our conscious intellectual activity, with the first feeding into the latter which feeds back into the former. It follows that when we make a choice, becoming aware of that choice comes after the making of that choice.

And that's not free will? Silly. Of course it is. The will was not determined to A or B, but through a series of causes ultimately determined A or B. Everything else is secondary.

So the real problem atheists have isn't that they are bound to determinism because the world is fundamentally deterministic; indeed, it isn't. The real problem is consciousness at all. Because while the world really is fundamentally indeterministic, it is not fundamentally intentional. And THAT is what you can never get to. In order to account for intentionality, you have to have an agent. That's the real and impossible head scratcher. The traditional "oh it's just an illusion" doesn't fly, because illusions are real in some sense. To take Descartes' actual argument, it's not "I think therefore I am," but rather "I doubt, therefore I am." For illusions, by nature, presume a reality. If there is no agent to be deceived by the illusion, then there is no illusion.

No, the problem for the atheist isn't free will per se but rather what free will entails: free agency. And agency is intentionality, and intentionality is the real bugger. Agency is Mind, which means Mind is just as fundamental to the universe as indeterminacy. And that, by the way, speaks to the real freedom of God. For God is the absolute demonstration of indeterminacy, of absolute freedom. God is unaffected, uncaused. That's why God can't be body, physical, or anything like it. He can't be potency but rather is pure act. God, in a word, is Mind--not incarnated mind like you and I have, or like animals have in a lesser way. God is Mind in the perfect sense of intentionality. God intends, and so because He does, we can.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue

And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Audacity » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:14 pm

RickD wrote:
Audacity wrote:
RickD wrote:
Audacity wrote:
Philip wrote:Free will is the ability to choose betwixt the choices presented of known, but not between choices or abilities unavailable to us. Beyond those, the only real deterministic thing is our human nature, which 1) WE did not choose and 2) makes inevitable that we will forever be sinful creatures whilst still in our flesh.


"Free will is the ability to choose betwixt ... choices." Yes it is, which is why it's a bogus concept.

In truth, we don't choose anything at all. Choosing is an illusion we have come to incorporate in our lives so as to retain a sense of unique personal agency. It's the notion that "I could have done differently had I wanted to." Trouble is, you did what you did because you could do no differently. That this may throw a monkey wrench into the notion of culpability, both good and bad, is too bad, but that's the way the universe works. Want to call the good stuff people do admirable, heroic, praiseworthy, etc., and the bad stuff, deplorable, wicked, sinful, etc. go ahead, but when it gets down to the sum and substance of the matter they're all based on the mistaken notion that people choose to do what they do. That they could have done differently had they wanted to. But they couldn't have. They had to do what they did.

So, when Mr. Dranktoomuch gets in a car and crashes into a van full of daycare children and kills them all, you're saying he had no choice whether he should drive, or call a taxi?

BINGO!

Actually, it would be better put by saying that choosing never entered into the picture: He had to drive.


.



So, you're saying that a choice, an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities, doesn't exist?

Yes.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby Audacity » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:27 pm

Philip wrote:
Audacity: So, you're saying that a choice, an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities, doesn't exist?


He HAD no choice but to say that, Rick! Seems he HAS to talk or type, right? Whatever nonsense that might communicate, he's not responsible for. :lol:

Just as you have no choice in whatever nonsense you might communicate.

See, it isn't that difficult to grasp after all. :mrgreen:


.

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Re: The Delusion of "Free Will"

Postby abelcainsbrother » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:03 am

Hebrews 12:2-3 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,despising the shame,and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

2nd Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,lest the light of this glorious gospel of Christ,who is the image of God,should shine unto them.


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