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Old 09-04-2019, 05:03 PM
Corry El is offline
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,886
Originally Posted by kevlaw View Post
Atheist here. I believe in free will.

1. The best evidence for free will is that some people seem to have more of it than others. Some people seem compelled to do things that are harmful to themselves and others manage to avoid them. Some people are able to exercise restraint and self-discipline and make choices that result in better outcomes.

2. Admittedly, Libertarians like me are currently stuck with a paradox but the determinists are not entirely paradox-free. As far as I can tell, determinists necessarily reject justice, merit, blame, good, evil and all of the other things that make life worth living. Note that I am not appealing to consequences here. I'm claiming that the determinist's worldview is riddled with paradoxes and inconsistencies where my side has only one small paradox to sort out.

3. This , for example, argues that even though free will is an illusion, we should continue to teach that free will is real because…

This presupposes that we have a choice in whether to teach or not to teach that free will is real.

4. Determinists live, love and administer justice as though they have free will. They say it's just an illusion but we need to keep it a secret because, otherwise, society will apart. They say this as though they have a choice and they say it with no apparent irony.
I'm Catholic and believe in free will according to Catholic teaching (which may or may not correspond exactly to other forms of Christianity and is potentially significantly at odds with any given cartoon/straw man presentation of Christianity by anti-Christians on the internet ).

I generally agree with your post (hope that doesn't make other people who previously agreed change their minds).

1. I don't know if this is objective evidence of a such thing as free will, but I do agree it's evidence society is on the right track to organize itself on the assumption most people in most situations can make better or worse choices and need to be incentivized to make the better ones. There is no contraction between this general idea and recognizing that some people lack this ability for mental health particularly, but also potentially other reasons, and that on a 'moral' basis it makes a difference how much 'temptation' the person faces to make the wrong choice. If one were to say 'OK but that's beside the point of our intramural atheist debate about free will' I'd respond that then the whole debate is beside the point. In fact a lot of the posters clearly track back their abstract ideas about 'free will' to concrete public policies like who if anyone to hold responsible for their actions.

2. There's always a paradox someplace, but I agree if you take determinism far enough then most concepts like the ones you listed become meaningless.

3. This is somewhat reminiscent of the idea that religious faith makes people behave better (though I guess if one were to present some study showing that it would get a lot more instantaneous and vociferous push back here than the article you quoted ). My only point is that they are similar in that if 'everyone' concludes the belief is false, you can't really teach it effectively and it becomes irrelevant if it's practically beneficial to believe it. Although as of now I think the % of people in the world who don't believe in free will, as I'd define it practically, is pretty tiny. It's a lot smaller than the % with no specific belief in a God's role in their life.

4. I also agree there, assuming as in 2 it's a meaningful discussion at all. In which case it would impinge on the basic practical question of if/when to hold people responsible for their actions. If you basically don't, with some exceptions, I don't see how you have a society. Whereas believing people should be basically responsible for their actions except in extraordinary circumstances, the concept of which can evolve, seems to have proven workable.

Last edited by Corry El; 09-04-2019 at 05:06 PM.