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Old 08-07-2019, 03:09 PM
monstro is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 20,911
Originally Posted by Dinsdale View Post
If you care about convincing people, you might eschew unfounded generalizations such as this. Whether or not "most people" believe this, I've seen nothing to suggest this is a position held by any posters to this thread.

As with most threads we have had here about free will, most posters here arguing for free will are all arguing different things. You have people here arguing that subconsciously-driven actions are free will. You have people here arguing that a discussion of mental impairment has no relevance to free will. You have people implying that anything that acts randomly has free will.

So I don't have to work that hard to convince someone (maybe not you) that the notion of free will is a bunch of bullshit. All I have to do is point them to the diversity of ad hoc, diosyncratic, and contradictory definitions and they will at least walk away thinking that it is a problematic concept with little intellectual rigor behind it.


I doubt anyone in this thread would question that actions are not INFLUENCED by prior conditions. My perception is that the disagreement is whether EVERY action is ENTIRELY DETERMINED by those conditions. In other words, in Mijin's definition - could you have decided otherwise?
I have no way of knowing whether an action is entirely dictated by prior conditions or whether it is merely influenced. So instead of being arrogant and assuming something I cannot know, I choose to take the more parsimonious position-- one that simply allows me to say I performed an act. I don't have to say I performed that act under my free will. I don't have to give an unqualified explanation for why I committed that act. I can just say I committed an act. The end.

I do not know the answer. I'm certainly not a neurochemist/physicist. But it sure FEELS like I'm able to decide which flavor of ice cream to have.
Do you choose what kind of ice cream you prefer? If I offered you the choice between your favorite ice cream flavor and shit-flavored ice cream, do you think you would ever choose the latter? If you chose the latter, don't you think that would indicate that you were insane? Don't we normally deny free will to the insane?

I know that for me, I would never choose shit ice cream unless I was being coerced (someone was holding a gun to my head or threatened to fire me from my job). Being coerced into an act is the opposite of free will. Now as a determinist, I view the ice cream choice as coercion even without a gun. I don't feel anyone pushing my hand to select my favorite ice cream, but since I did not choose to have a preference for it in the first place and since I did not choose to be repulsed by shit, I believe my hand is indeed being pushed. I can imagine myself selecting a bowl of shit to eat just to make observers recoil in horror, but that does not mean I ever would make this choice freely, without some external condition pushing me into this action.

I gotta think that if you met someone who had to deliberate long and hard over whether it makes more sense to eat shit than vanilla ice cream, you would immediately assume something was wrong with that person. Either they are mentally challenged or they are mentally ill. And because of this, you would likely conclude that they did not have free will. Or at least the same kind of free will as a "normal" person. Normal people act predictably yet people assume they have free will. Crazy people are unpredictable, but we assume they aren't mentally "free". That is crazy to me!!

And I (and it seems most people) seem to view life as more enjoyable and meaningful if we act under what may be a shared delusion that we each have at least some limited degree of personal agency.

I too share in this delusion most of the time. But the difference is, I stop indulging in this delusion when it loses its benefits. And I am not afraid to call it a delusion.

So the debate is:

science hasn't proven the existence/mechanism of free will VS it sure seems like we have FW, yet current science is unable to explain it.

It only "sure seems like it" when you haven't thought about it long and hard enough. I think if people were more familiar with neuroscience, they would see that free will doesn't have a lot of usefulness. It is feel-good pap for those who don't care to dig deeper.

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