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Free to choose
Posted: 27 April 2007 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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Doug,

I’ve had an idea and I’m hoping you can help me out with a yes or no answer.

Am I right to think it is a fact that being able to do otherwise in the circumstance at the time, is not a necessary condition of having a choice?

I’m not trying to prove a point here but I think if I’m right I can go and test what people actually think against what the fact of the matter is.

Stephen

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Posted: 28 April 2007 04:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]Am I right to think it is a fact that being able to do otherwise in the circumstance at the time, is not a necessary condition of having a choice?

It depends who you talk to. If you talk to a libertarian about free will, he will say this is a necessary condition of having a (free) choice.

It follows from my being a compatibilist about free will that I do not believe it is necessary. Indeed, if you hold fixed the entire circumstance at the time, that entails holding fixed the beliefs and desires that caused the action. But it’s your beliefs and desires’ causal impact that make the choice “free”.

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Posted: 28 April 2007 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]

It depends who you talk to. If you talk to a libertarian about free will, he will say this is a necessary condition of having a (free) choice.

Now we are moving away from what I was trying to do but still I’d like to check into this.

I’m not sure if you are correct.

What I’m wondering is, if theological free choice and libertarian free will are two different things?

Christian Free choice is the idea that when you did one thing you could equally well have done another and therefore it is you fault if you did the wrong thing. (this is what I think does tremendous damage and the thing I want to play my small part in doing something about.)

Libertarian free will seems to be the idea that you are self determined. So if God is self determined he knows the best thing to do and knows how to do it and can’t do anything else.

So although Christain Free choice entails could do otherwise, I’m not so sure about libertarian free will.

It follows from my being a compatibilist about free will that I do not believe it is necessary. Indeed, if you hold fixed the entire circumstance at the time, that entails holding fixed the beliefs and desires that caused the action. But it’s your beliefs and desires’ causal impact that make the choice “free”.

Yes. I think I agree that this is a useful distinction. What I don’t understand is if I can’t be blamed for my beliefs and desires, how I can be blamed for acting upon them, Unless blame is viewed as an input to correcting behaviour. But if so I struggle to see the difference between someone who believes in compatibilist free will and someone who doesn’t believe in free will.

Stephen

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Posted: 28 April 2007 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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Christian Free Choice (as you are calling it) is a version of libertarian free will. It extends to god ... the notion that everthing could have been exactly the same up to the moment of choice and the choice could have been different. What’s more, it’s that this contra-causal “voluntas” is the essence of a freely willed action.

[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]Yes. I think I agree that this is a useful distinction. What I don’t understand is if I can’t be blamed for my beliefs and desires, how I can be blamed for acting upon them, Unless blame is viewed as an input to correcting behaviour. But if so I struggle to see the difference between someone who believes in compatibilist free will and someone who doesn’t believe in free will.

One is morally praise- or blameworthy for those acts that one enters into freely. That follows, I believe, by definition.

If you believe that free will is essentially libertarian, you will say that a compatibilist doesn’t believe in free will. I, on the other hand, believe that free will is essentially deterministic, so I believe that the libertarian doesn’t believe in free will. He believes in essentially random, “spontaneous” action. In other words, it would appear to me that the paradigmatic free act for a libertarian is a random twitch.

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Posted: 28 April 2007 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]
One is morally praise- or blameworthy for those acts that one enters into freely. That follows, I believe, by definition.

If you believe that free will is essentially libertarian, you will say that a compatibilist doesn’t believe in free will. I, on the other hand, believe that free will is essentially deterministic, so I believe that the libertarian doesn’t believe in free will. He believes in essentially random, “spontaneous” action. In other words, it would appear to me that the paradigmatic free act for a libertarian is a random twitch.

Well the free will I don’t believe in is libertarian and the thing I’m concerned about and what people generally intuitevly feel we have .

I believe we have all the free will you believe in (I think) but can’t reach the conclusion you think follows.

Any way thanks for returning to this but we are stuck.

I was actually trying to do something else.

I was talking about choice not free choice and thought it was perfectly possible to seperate the two concepts.

If we look in a dictionary, most of the time the definition will be to do with selecting between options and picking the one that has the highest value.

What I thought is that it is a matter of fact that we don’t need to be able to do otherwise in the circumstances at the time to do this.

If I were to ask my daughter if she would like roast potatoes or mashed potatoes.

She will select between options and pick the one that has highest value.

She has always picked roast so far because she loves them and doesn’t much like mashed.

I don’t see any need for her to be able to like mash or pick mash in the circumstances for this to be a choice.

So I was hoping that regardless of who you are libertarian, compatibalist or what ever, that it is simply a matter of fact to say could do otherwise in the circumstances at the time, is not a necessary condition of having a choice.

Stephen

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Posted: 29 April 2007 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]So I was hoping that regardless of who you are libertarian, compatibalist or what ever, that it is simply a matter of fact to say could do otherwise in the circumstances at the time, is not a necessary condition of having a choice.

Hmmm ... well, in order to have a choice, there must be some sense to be made of having taken the other one. You must be able to truthfully say, “I didn’t choose mashed, but I could have if I’d wanted to.”

Note that this is true on a compatibilist understanding, so long as you allow for different possible-but-non-actual worlds. In the closest possible world where I’d wanted mashed, I would have been able to choose mashed, because that possibility was open to me.

If you fix all the antecedents, I lose the understanding of how that other opportunity is really open to me.

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Posted: 29 April 2007 10:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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Good Morning Doug,

[quote author=“dougsmith”]

Hmmm ... well, in order to have a choice, there must be some sense to be made of having taken the other one. You must be able to truthfully say, “I didn’t choose mashed, but I could have if I’d wanted to.”

I’m undecided on this.

If we give a computer a chess problem and ask it to analyse a number of moves and select the best one, we wouldn’t need to be able to truthfully say, it could have made another selection if it had worked out that it was the best one, would we?

Note that this is true on a compatibilist understanding, so long as you allow for different possible-but-non-actual worlds. In the closest possible world where I’d wanted mashed, I would have been able to choose mashed, because that possibility was open to me.

Yes, I think I’ve got a much better grasp of your position on this, these days.

But what I haven’t grasped if indeed I’m wrong is this.

What is necessarily untruthful about the next statement.

I could have chosen mash if I wanted to but I was unable to want to, therefore I couldn’t choose mash.

Or I could have won the tennis match if my arms were three inches longer but it was impossible for my arms to be three inches longer so I couldn’t.

What I’m really saying is if it was possible, it could have happened. Is that untruthful?

and lastly what difference does it make if selecting mash was really possible for Chloe or not?

It seems to be irrelevent, as long as she could pick what she wanted.

As long as we can pick the option we do want, does anything else matter to us?

Stephen

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Posted: 19 June 2007 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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To the poster who included “if we abstract ourselves from the constraints of physics” as the beginning of a proposition I would like to say “Yes, you do that, then I’ll accept the premise, whereupon we can begin a dialogue.

Now to all those who have argued that they have free will here is a test:
Prove that you have free will by posting the last thing you would think I would ever expect you to post.

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Posted: 20 June 2007 01:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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Here is my answer to the question posed by this thread:

You better believe that I am free to choose!!!

I am free to choose to be an atheist becasue it makes the most sense; and it is, in fact, the truth.

Are you other atheists going to tell me that you didn’t choose to not believe in nonsense?  That it just happened to you?  That you didn’t reason your way to that position?

Are you going to tell me that you were just caused not to believe?

That you are just the same as the believer in this way?  That he or she was caused to believe by the exact same sort of (mindless) process that caused you not to believe?

That seems to me to discount the power of reason.

Hope you didn’t expect me to post that way, narwhol!

PN

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Posted: 20 June 2007 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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I’ll wait for a couple more answers before I go on to the next task. So far you have scored one on the free will test.

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Posted: 21 June 2007 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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I’ll wait for a couple more answers before I go on to the next task.

Next task?

Are you a computer?

I’d say I’m at two now.

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Posted: 21 June 2007 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
Rush—Free Will

I bet you never thought I’d use Geddy Lee as an authoritative source.

Damn, I’m scoring points at an alarming rate.

In no time I’ll be at negative zero.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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Are the only objections you make to the free-will idea on the basis of neurology and physics? Without this knowledge, would you say that it is a good concept?

To me it seems that “free will” is definitely not 100% free, since it is being affected by our moods, our headaches, the weather and so on. So even without neurology, it seems a weird concept.  And if “free will” is only partially free, how would you define it then?

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Posted: 15 July 2007 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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Pragmatic Naturalist - 20 June 2007 01:24 AM

Here is my answer to the question posed by this thread:

You better believe that I am free to choose!!!

I am free to choose to be an atheist becasue it makes the most sense; and it is, in fact, the truth.

Yes you are free to choose in this way but my point is you don’t need free will to be free to choose.

By free will I mean the type normally believed in that makes you ultimately responsible for your choice.

It’s a belief in a type of could do otherwise which is non existent.

Could you choose not to be an atheist and how?

Stephen

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Posted: 01 August 2007 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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Occam - 24 December 2006 07:22 AM

By the law of cause and effect, everything that we do, every decision we make, was caused by prior events including genetic ones.  However, those events and their interactions are usually so complex that we cannot identify what the causes of our behavior were.

For the most part, I absolutely agree. However, I’d say roughly the same thing this way: By the law of cause and effect, everything that we do, every decision we make, was caused by prior events including genetic ones [and are akin to a separate factor added into the equations that are our lives].  However, [this mathetmatical equation of possibilities,] those events and their interactions are usually so complex that we cannot identify what the [equation or its sum is. In the end, we have “free will”; not out of choice, but out of ignorance].

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