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I’m mostly just interested in hearing from other compatibilists, in this thread.
Posted: 30 April 2011 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Are there any arguements for non-compatibilism which have held up under scrutiny?

And while we’re at it: did Aristotle pretty much have this figured out well enough way back then?  or was he just on the right track?

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Posted: 30 April 2011 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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should teaching students of philosophy that the idea of a self which is, from moment to moment, ‘uncaused’, is a perfectly reasonable, rational, logical philosophical theory—should that be looked on about the same as teaching biology sudents that creationism is a scientific theory?

how about saying it’s a “non-rational yet legitimate philosophical idea.”  ?  Sort of like the approach taken to religious studies… viewing beliefs as in some sense “respectable” (and not a “cult”) just because enough people believe in them, and societies seem to get along ok with them.  (decent reasons, i suppose.)

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Posted: 02 May 2011 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Ok, ok; i’d be happy to hear from anyone.

but first, a pre-emptive shot at the ‘no free will’ crowd:

accepting an incoherent definition of what ‘free will’ means, proving it to not be ‘the case’, and then concluding that ‘free will doesn’t exist’ is a bit like disproving a supernatural understanding of consciousness, and then declaring that you’ve proven that consciousness ‘does not exist.’

In either case, you’re left with a useful term for a useful concept that plays a useful role in our language.  Redefining it would be much more useful than dismissing it.

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Posted: 02 May 2011 06:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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If that was a pre-emptive shot across my bow, I’d suggest that you rotate your cannon about 160 degrees.  It made no sense to me.  First paragraph - say what you mean rather than giving an arcane (I was polite enough to avoid saying meaningless) analogy as proof of your conclusion.  Second paragraph - You’re stating a conclusion without the logic that shows how you got there. 

Back to your second post:  I think a philosophy instructor who taught Free Will (“uncaused”) is either unethical or unintelligent.  At best, s/he should present both Free Will and Determinism with the strongest arguments the proponents of each have presented and let the students make up their own minds.  (And, s/he damned wlll better not penalize any student who chooses a different view from his/hers.)

Occam

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Posted: 02 May 2011 06:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Occam:  sorry if i sounded as if i thought i was stating a proof. 

Is there a coherent definition of free will which you disbelieve in, or do you only disbelieve in the many incoherent quasi-definitions (such as that it’s uncaused, yet non-random and adaptive, which is logically impossible, as i hope you’d agree)?

second, do you agree that there do exist coherent, useful senses of the term ‘free will’—such as, simply, that no one here and now is forcing you to do something?

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Posted: 02 May 2011 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve stayed away from this thread both because we’ve dealt with free will EXHAUSTIVELY in several other threads in this folder and because I can’t figure out what you’re after. The libertarian notion of free will (the ‘uncaused cause’) is IMO incoherent. Yet I say we have free will because to act freely is to act in accord with (= caused by) our beliefs and desires.

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Posted: 03 May 2011 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Well maybe the self is both a wave and a particle.

You can determine it’s location or it’s speed and direction, just not at the same time. grin

When seen as a wave you can determine where it’s been and where it’s going and of course interference between the self and other “selves”.

As a particle you can determine it’s location but not it’s direction and motion. It’s future is undetermined.

As a particle the self possesses the properties of freewill. As a wave it does not.

Now you just need the proper differential equation.  LOL

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Posted: 03 May 2011 11:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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isaac - 02 May 2011 01:06 PM

accepting an incoherent definition of what ‘free will’ means, proving it to not be ‘the case’, and then concluding that ‘free will doesn’t exist’ is a bit like disproving a supernatural understanding of consciousness, and then declaring that you’ve proven that consciousness ‘does not exist.’

It proves we don’t have that version of free will.

In either case, you’re left with a useful term for a useful concept that plays a useful role in our language.  Redefining it would be much more useful than dismissing it.

And it’s useful to deny we have a version of free will too. People express the wish that certain wrongdoers burn in hell for eternity. This is not just emotion, they really think that people have a power that makes it possible for them to be deserving of that.

It’s very important to deny we have that power.

I’m a compatibilist in that I believe the way compatibilists make sense of the ability to do otherwise is correct.

But it’s worth pointing out that there is a fudge in there somewhere.

Compatibilism turns out to mean compatible with determinism with a little bit of indeterminism some place, some time in this world or at least in another possible world.

Stephen

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Posted: 04 May 2011 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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StephenLawrence - 03 May 2011 11:36 PM

Compatibilism turns out to mean compatible with determinism with a little bit of indeterminism some place, some time in this world or at least in another possible world.

AAARGH…!  shock

Calm down, GdB, calm down… Let it be… oooohhhhmmmm….
After all discussions here and here shut eye ...

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Posted: 04 May 2011 12:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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GdB - 04 May 2011 12:01 AM
StephenLawrence - 03 May 2011 11:36 PM

Compatibilism turns out to mean compatible with determinism with a little bit of indeterminism some place, some time in this world or at least in another possible world.

AAARGH…!  shock

Calm down, GdB, calm down… Let it be… oooohhhhmmmm….
After all discussions here and here shut eye ...

??

The strongest form of determinism is necessitarianism.

Weaker forms include indeterminism because they include non actual possibilities.

Generally this indeterminism is in the initial conditions.

Recently I learned that there is also a “local miracle” version.

You place the fudge in the initial conditions.

Stephen

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Posted: 05 May 2011 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam. - 02 May 2011 06:13 PM

Back to your second post:  I think a philosophy instructor who taught Free Will (“uncaused”) is either unethical or unintelligent.  At best, s/he should present both Free Will and Determinism with the strongest arguments the proponents of each have presented and let the students make up their own minds.  (And, s/he damned wlll better not penalize any student who chooses a different view from his/hers.)

Occam

With (sorry, slightly angry) respect:

philosophers do not typically teach ‘free will’ - or evolution, or anything ‘substantive’ (in a technical sense). they teach mostly *arguments* and analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.

Free will is an important topic - and interesting to most people to boot. Teaching the best (and typical) arguments for free will, or even phlogiston, is intelligent and indeed ethical; to demand that only the ‘right’ arguments be taught is the opposite. Mostly because it can take many years, even centuries, to discover a hidden premiss or faulty inference.

The arguments against free will - compatibilist or radical or in-between - have their own problems. Does this forum really believe they can be *perfectly* unbiased about knowing which arguments *must* be taught and which *must* not?

Teachers are committed, as a group, to fairly assessing students. It’s a cheap insult to even suggest otherwise in some vague, general fashion. Frankly, if you’re accusing *me* of being unethical or unintelligent for teaching arguments for free will, well, I have a short interpretive dance for you about how I feel about that.

As a philosopher, I am allowed, maybe even soemtimes required to have an opinion about which arguments are the stronger. I say the arguments against free will (radical or not) are not so strong. is that ‘teaching free will’?? Students respond well to someone with their own opinions; they also respond to someone who keeps all his own views out of the class - students appreciate *variety* in their teachers.

And anyway, on the *empirical* data, I’ve seen far more grief from naturalist philosophers to their dissenting students than from christian ones; I keep my ear to the ground on such things.

And also: ‘uncaused’ free will only is nonsensical under *some* interpretations. For example, if you only have one kind of cause as worthy of being called ‘cause’ then radical free will is rejected. But that means the real argument is not about free will but ‘cause’. That’s just a small example of the somewhat - well, juvenile - rejection of free will in this forum. And what paper has proved there’s only one kind of cause? many philosophers, naturalists too, believe there is no such thing as cause at all! (And so we will examine *their* arguments and analyze them.)

You guys have *loudly* complained the issue is too obvious to talk about - and it seems to me too obvious to seriously research. I haven’t argued about free will much exactly because no-one here has yet cracked open a *real* philosophical book about it.

Go thou and study. IF you all care; but if not, don’t diss the people who do.

chris

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Posted: 05 May 2011 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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StephenLawrence - 03 May 2011 11:36 PM

Compatibilism turns out to mean compatible with determinism with a little bit of indeterminism some place, some time in this world or at least in another possible world.

Stephen

At the risk of turning this into yet another thread on free will itself (rather than isaac’s original issue about *teaching* free will or any other subject in a class):

if compatibilism - whatever it is - is compatible with determinism *and* a little bit of indeterminism, isn’t that, well, sefl-contradictory? There is no amount of indeterminism small enough to escape contradicting determinism, if we could even quantify such non-mathematical notions.

——-

But see? Someone presents an argument, and we analyze it. It’s now the claimant’s task to reply to the objections, and it’s the students’ task to make up their own minds as which arguments, objections and replies have bite.

Philosophy is rather by necessity about what Chisolm coyly calls ‘hard problems’. When it gets easy enough to put into an equation, a field of inquiry then buds off and forms its own discipline, so obviously what’s left are puzzles *not* so easily amenable. Some people - more than just some atheists - have an extremely instrumental stance toward knowledge and inquiry: if the payoff isn’t tangible and quick, it must be a mere *glasperlenspiel*. Ha.

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Posted: 05 May 2011 08:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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dougsmith - 02 May 2011 07:12 PM

I’ve stayed away from this thread both because we’ve dealt with free will EXHAUSTIVELY in several other threads in this folder and because I can’t figure out what you’re after. The libertarian notion of free will (the ‘uncaused cause’) is IMO incoherent. Yet I say we have free will because to act freely is to act in accord with (= caused by) our beliefs and desires.

Hi Doug;

I think the answer is that isaac’s already convinced of the incoherence of libertarian free will; his question is ‘OK, now that it’s so obvious that it’s incoherent, is it wrong to *teach* free will? Let’s assume he means libertarian free will - that’s the kind the average man has in mind, imo.

So you’ve read my trenchant ‘keep of my grass’ post. What do you think? Is a professor wrong to teach *about* libertarian free-will? Must he teach it as obviously wrong? What of dissenting students? Is the issue of libertarian free will really to be expunged from philosophy classes? Can we ethically vet professors primarily on the basis of their own philosophical views on particular issues like the will, or naturalism, or etc? Of course I do not mean that an obviously naturalistic (or continentalist, or etc.) department must take dissenting philosophers: beetles are allowed to fancy other beetles. But to *grade* a philosopher’s performance on how ‘hip’ he is? I have studiously avoided joining clubs; is philosophy supposed to end up as the atheist’s club? That is not a route to better things, but to stagnation and conservatism.

I urges the forum to recall the weird status of philosphical arguments, going all the way back to Plato: most philosophical arguments are dialectical, and mostly because they cannot be decided by other means. If not impossible (Aristotle suggested so in Metaphysics I.1 and then avoids answering it directly!), dialectics is very difficult, full of mistakes, and it takes a long time to sort out.  Libertarian free will is obviously false? Well, so was a non-spherical Universe until Newton; so was government without a dictatorial king or emperor; so for that matter was ‘secular’ government itself.

Furthermore, philosophical arguments employ tools that anyone has. The natural sciences had each to wait for their special instruments of observation. Astronomy needed telescopes, biology needed microscopes (*needed*, I claim, not just ‘really helpful’), chemistry accurate balances and detectors. Philosophical discussion does not require technology, and *so* it matured quickly. it is no surprise at all to the learned philosopher that old arguments still are fresh, and still have bite - thus another reason to retain old, even ancient arguments about free will, or non-naturalism, or virtue ethics, or several other topics hated by forum members but which - despite their cries - still have legs to a large bulk of people. this is also why I find people who don’t know much pre-modern philosophy to be pretty uninteresting to talk to; I also find that students eagerly read ancient philosophers - and of course make up their own minds.

Matters pertaining to teaching and job-security are always sure to make my fingers fly on a keyboard.

Chris

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Posted: 05 May 2011 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Addendum: we teach old arguments,even if we *know* they’re wrong, partly because we often have been wrong about a judging arguments, and partly because in philosophy as in no other discipline - except maybe mathematics - its subjects, arguments and notions, do not rely on advances in technology. (Not *zero* reliance, but less than in any other field on inquiry.)

Chris

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Posted: 05 May 2011 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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inthegobi - 05 May 2011 08:27 AM

At the risk of turning this into yet another thread on free will itself (rather than isaac’s original issue about *teaching* free will or any other subject in a class):

if compatibilism - whatever it is - is compatible with determinism *and* a little bit of indeterminism, isn’t that, well, sefl-contradictory? There is no amount of indeterminism small enough to escape contradicting determinism, if we could even quantify such non-mathematical notions.

Well there you have it.

Determinism is the theory that given the past and the laws of nature there is one possible future.

If the past could only have been as it was and the laws of nature could only have been as they were as well, we have necessitarianism.

But most compatibilists are not necessitarians, they believe in contingent events and that what is true could be false, assuming a beginning that requires some indeterminism.

So either the compatibilist is in error or has indeterminism somewhere in the theory and is defining determinism as determinism with an incy wincy bit of indeterminism. grin 

Stephen

[ Edited: 05 May 2011 10:15 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 05 May 2011 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I don’t give a damn about free will however you proponests define it.  I’m not going to bother getting into the silliness that has been exhibited interminably.  I merely stated that teaching one view without the other would be unethical.

And in the interests of succinctness I’m through posting on this thread.

Occam

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