Go Back   Freethought Forum > The Marketplace > Philosophy

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-16-2016, 07:43 PM
GdB's Avatar
GdB GdB is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: CCCLXXXIV
Default Free will in philosphy and science

In the 'Revolution in thought' thread, the topic of free will came up repeatedly, because it is one of the cornerstones of Lessans' book: the idea that determinism makes free will impossible. This is said by many more, especially scientists and science addicts, but also by some philosophers. That said, a majority of philosophers adhere to compatibilism, the view that there is no contradiction between determinism and free will, provided one gets rid of some impossible metaphysical connotations normally attached to the idea of free will, like that somebody could have done otherwise under exactly the same conditions, including his brain state.

One of the reasons to see a conflict between determinism and free will, is that the relationship 'is determined' is seen as a relation of force: our past, in the form of my biology and personal history forces us to the one thing we do. This idea is attacked by several philosophers: by Norman Swartz, by the Swiss philosopher Peter Bieri, by Daniel Dennett, by Derek Parfit.

The idea is that laws of nature are not laws that force things to behave in a certain way, but are descriptions of how things just behave. There is no causal relationship from laws of nature to the events in nature, in fact it is the other way round: events cause some descriptions to be true. If some of these descriptions contain only generic descriptions, i.e. these descriptions apply also to other similar objects in similar situations (maybe endlessly many) then we have a law of nature. Or, as Swartz prefers to say, to get rid of the idea of a law governing processes, a 'grand physical truth'. Or in my own words: laws of nature describe how causation works for different classes of objects and processes, but they cause nothing themselves. True sentences just cause nothing.

This should already take the sting out of the idea that we are forced to do what do by our past. We do what we do, and there are true descriptions for it. To judge if an action was free or not we must look at in how far a person was really acting according to his own wishes and beliefs, or that he was coerced by somebody else. Also he may lack the fundamental capabilities for reflecting on his actions: to oversee possible consequences of his actions.

Now there is one point, where I cannot follow Swartz completely is on the following point:

First he states that that the number of physical laws for all practical purposes is infinite (The Concept of Physical Law, page 127). But the later he goes on:

Quote:
But note: If I had chosen otherwise, that too, would have been determined. That choice, had I made it, would have, too, been subsumable under a timelessly true physical law, and would have been deducible from that law and a statement of antecedent conditions. Clearly, I could not choose both alternatives; but I could choose either. And in choosing the one, I ‘made’ it the one that was deducible from physical laws and antecedent conditions. But in every sense in which one could possibly want, I was free to choose the other.
For me that sounds a little bit too much like that my choice makes an until the present unknown physical law true. I don't think that there are infinite many physical laws. The idea of physics is to reduce the number of entities and physical laws as much as possible. So I would think that a true physical description of what I will do possibly already exists, but it is at a lower level (closer to the level of neurons, molecules, and atoms). For me Swartz is going one step too far here.

Another problem I have with Swartz is the idea of physical necessity (see here). It seems to me that something like physical necessity exists: given some conditions, the consequences are necessary. This of course does not mean that the laws under which we are able to describe the consequences force the consequences to occur. But as I understand Swartz, he concludes from the contingency of the conditions, the consequences are also contingent. But I think they are only contingent as far as the conditions are contingent. Given the truth of a set of conditions, the consequences are physically necessary.

Last edited by GdB; 07-17-2016 at 10:08 AM. Reason: Typo and accentuation
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-17-2016), davidm (07-17-2016), Pan Narrans (07-17-2016), Sock Puppet (07-18-2016), Stephen Maturin (07-17-2016), The Lone Ranger (07-16-2016), The Man (07-16-2016), viscousmemories (07-17-2016)
  #2  
Old 07-17-2016, 04:59 AM
davidm's Avatar
davidm davidm is offline
Condemned to wander the corridors of a drivel maze
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: VMMMDCCLXII
Blog Entries: 3
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Thanks for starting this thread, GdB. I started composing a response, but I've been working all day and now I'm savoring a nice IPA or five :unrevel: so I will try to post tomorrow!
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-17-2016, 06:31 AM
GdB's Avatar
GdB GdB is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: CCCLXXXIV
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
Thanks for starting this thread, GdB. I started composing a response, but I've been working all day and now I'm savoring a nice IPA or five :unrevel: so I will try to post tomorrow!
IPA?
Isopropanol? (Does not sound healthy...)
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-17-2016, 06:58 AM
Angakuk's Avatar
Angakuk Angakuk is offline
NeoTillichian Hierophant & Partisan Hack
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Iowa
Gender: Male
Posts: MXCCCXXXVI
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

__________________
Old Pain In The Ass says: I am on a mission from God to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable; to bring faith to the doubtful and doubt to the faithful. :shakebible:
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
GdB (07-17-2016)
  #5  
Old 07-17-2016, 12:14 PM
Vivisectus's Avatar
Vivisectus Vivisectus is offline
Astroid the Foine Loine between a Poirate and a Farrrmer
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Gender: Male
Posts: VMMCXLVIII
Blog Entries: 1
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
The number of physical laws is for all practical purposes infinite.6
Adopt the view that laws
are nothing other than general statements of what happens, and one has the means to
accommodate free will. Human beings (and Martians) – as a sheer matter of fact – have evolved
to a sufficient degree of complexity that their behavior can be described only by a (potentially)
infinite set of laws. This situation may be as utterly determined as one could like, in the sense
that every action may be subsumable under one or more universal physical laws. But it also
allows human choice. I am presented with a difficult decision. There are strong arguments both
for and against choosing merged-gender mortality tables. I weigh the probable consequences; I
reflect on my principles of fairness; I look at previous similar, but not precisely the same,
precedents; I try to balance the cost-savings against the measures of outrage; and eventually I
decide. Nothing forced my decision, although it was completely determined in the sense of being
deducible from timelessly true physical laws and antecedent conditions. But note (and this is
perhaps my most important point and shows just how antithetical the Regularity account is to the
Autonomy account): If I had chosen otherwise, that is, had chosen instead that the sex-distinct
tables should be used, that choice, too, would have been determined. That choice, had I made it,
would have, too, been subsumable under a timelessly true physical law, and would have been
deducible from that law and a statement of antecedent conditions. Clearly, I could not choose
both alternatives; but I could choose either. And in choosing the one, I ‘made’ it the one that was
deducible from physical laws and antecedent conditions. But in every sense in which one could
possibly want, I was free to choose the other. I think Schwarz has a point though:
This guy is good fun :) I like his approach and I find this idea refreshing. It deals with the nagging feeling you sometimes get with some hard determinists, namely that they are just pushing a modal fallacy one step ahead of them at all times.
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
The Man (07-17-2016)
  #6  
Old 07-17-2016, 02:31 PM
GdB's Avatar
GdB GdB is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: CCCLXXXIV
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivisectus View Post
This guy is good fun :) I like his approach and I find this idea refreshing. It deals with the nagging feeling you sometimes get with some hard determinists, namely that they are just pushing a modal fallacy one step ahead of them at all times.
Nice you like him.

But also he is surely not the first to present this idea. But he is the most rigorous defender of this idea I know.

The same idea you can find e.g. in Raymond Smullyan's funny dialogue Is God a Taoist?

Quote:
Mortal:
(...) Do I have free will?

God:
Yes.

Mortal:
Then why did you say I shouldn't have taken it for granted?

God:
Because you shouldn't. Just because something happens to be true, it does not follow that it should be taken for granted.

Mortal:
Anyway, it is reassuring to know that my natural intuition about having free will is correct. Sometimes I have been worried that determinists are correct.

God:
They are correct.

Mortal:
Wait a minute now, do I have free will or don't I?

God:
I already told you you do. But that does not mean that determinism is incorrect.

Mortal:
Well, are my acts determined by the laws of nature or aren't they?

God:
The word determined here is subtly but powerfully misleading and has contributed so much to the confusions of the free will versus determinism controversies. Your acts are certainly in accordance with the laws of nature, but to say they are determined by the laws of nature creates a totally misleading psychological image which is that your will could somehow be in conflict with the laws of nature and that the latter is somehow more powerful than you, and could "determine" your acts whether you liked it or not. But it is simply impossible for your will to ever conflict with natural law. You and natural law are really one and the same.
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Clutch Munny (07-21-2016), Pan Narrans (07-17-2016), Stephen Maturin (07-17-2016), The Man (07-17-2016), viscousmemories (07-17-2016)
  #7  
Old 07-17-2016, 05:17 PM
thedoc's Avatar
thedoc thedoc is offline
I'm Deplorable.
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: XMMCXXXIX
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

The question of free will rests on where you draw the line. By this I mean which influences negate free will and which do not. If one claims that any influence negates free will, then that person in on the side of determinism. I all influences are allowed, and claimed that they do not effect free will, then that person is claiming complete free will. Neither side is completely correct and the actual position is somewhere in the middle, but the exact position is what is really being debated. Christianity claims that God has granted us free will to choose good or evil, but it is also claimed that God knows our decisions in advance. This is my only problem so far, that if our decisions are knowable, then how can those decisions be free? I have heard many arguments in support of this position, but I am not yet convinced, it just doesn't feel right, and I don't have any actual arguments either way.

I believe I'll need to find and read some of the material from the authors that have been referenced in this thread.
__________________
The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about. Wayne Dyer
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-17-2016, 07:13 PM
davidm's Avatar
davidm davidm is offline
Condemned to wander the corridors of a drivel maze
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: VMMMDCCLXII
Blog Entries: 3
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angakuk View Post
Some nice IPAs there. :yup: Though I found the best IPAs are in Seattle. They even have gluten-free IPAs! Plus they have perfectly legal marijuana stores. :bonghit:
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-21-2016, 01:20 PM
GdB's Avatar
GdB GdB is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: CCCLXXXIV
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by thedoc View Post
Christianity claims that God has granted us free will to choose good or evil, but it is also claimed that God knows our decisions in advance. This is my only problem so far, that if our decisions are knowable, then how can those decisions be free?
Why would there be a conflict? Let's look at 3 cases:

Case 1: Somebody (e.g. your spouse?) knows you very well. Somebody else asks some decision of yours, you weigh the arguments pro and contra, and then, when you tell what you have decided, your spouse says to you 'I knew you would decide that!'
Case 2: An astronomer counts down the moment for a total solar eclipse exactly '10...,4, 3, 2, 1, Totality!'. how did he do this: does this imply that he has power of the sun and the moon? Or does it imply that he has a perfect insight in how moon and sun move? Did his countdown have any influence on what is happening?
Case 3: A neurologist has a perfect neuro-imaging device, attached to a supercomputer. The same person as in case 1 asks your decision, but before you can do this, the neurologist writes down your decision. You say what you decided, and the neurologist shows what you have decided: he knew it in advance!

My idea, is that, as in case 2, there is an illusion of power. But in reality there is no power at all, you just decide what you otherwise would have done, if your spouse of the neurologist would not have been there.

The problem is that foresight seems to imply fatalism: but that is not the case. Say, God has perfect foresight, and knows exactly what you will do. What then? Can you lean back, and say to yourself, 'Well, when everything is fixed, then I must not care about anything'. The error is to think 'Whatever will happen, will happen whatever I decide'. and that is wrong of course. If God knows everything, he also knows how your thoughts develop and lead to your decision. Foresight is no denial of free will. Your thoughts and feelings are the causal prelude to what you decide, and your decision determines what you will do, and so has influence on what happens in the world. The possibility of foresight doesn't change that a bit.

'Trick Slattery however makes this error. I might look later again in his argument, and see where he takes a wrong turn. He is fully aware that determinism does not lead to fatalism, but I have to look up why he thinks foresight precludes free will.
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016), davidm (07-21-2016), Stephen Maturin (07-22-2016), The Man (07-21-2016)
  #10  
Old 07-21-2016, 02:10 PM
peacegirl's Avatar
peacegirl peacegirl is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: U.S.A.
Gender: Female
Posts: XXMMDCCCIV
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by GdB View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by thedoc View Post
Christianity claims that God has granted us free will to choose good or evil, but it is also claimed that God knows our decisions in advance. This is my only problem so far, that if our decisions are knowable, then how can those decisions be free?
Why would there be a conflict? Let's look at 3 cases:

Case 1: Somebody (e.g. your spouse?) knows you very well. Somebody else asks some decision of yours, you weigh the arguments pro and contra, and then, when you tell what you have decided, your spouse says to you 'I knew you would decide that!'
Case 2: An astronomer counts down the moment for a total solar eclipse exactly '10...,4, 3, 2, 1, Totality!'. how did he do this: does this imply that he has power of the sun and the moon? Or does it imply that he has a perfect insight in how moon and sun move? Did his countdown have any influence on what is happening?
Case 3: A neurologist has a perfect neuro-imaging device, attached to a supercomputer. The same person as in case 1 asks your decision, but before you can do this, the neurologist writes down your decision. You say what you decided, and the neurologist shows what you have decided: he knew it in advance!

My idea, is that, as in case 2, there is an illusion of power. But in reality there is no power at all, you just decide what you otherwise would have done, if your spouse of the neurologist would not have been there.

The problem is that foresight seems to imply fatalism: but that is not the case. Say, God has perfect foresight, and knows exactly what you will do. What then? Can you lean back, and say to yourself, 'Well, when everything is fixed, then I must not care about anything'. The error is to think 'Whatever will happen, will happen whatever I decide'. and that is wrong of course. If God knows everything, he also knows how your thoughts develop and lead to your decision. Foresight is no denial of free will. Your thoughts and feelings are the causal prelude to what you decide, and your decision determines what you will do, and so has influence on what happens in the world. The possibility of foresight doesn't change that a bit.

'Trick Slattery however makes this error. I might look later again in his argument, and see where he takes a wrong turn. He is fully aware that determinism does not lead to fatalism, but I have to look up why he thinks foresight precludes free will.
I'll help you out.

Determinism vs. Fatalism - InfoGraphic (a comparison)
__________________
"The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." George Orwell

"The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing
which is no longer doubtful is the cause of half their errors" -- John Stuart Mill
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-21-2016, 02:19 PM
GdB's Avatar
GdB GdB is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: CCCLXXXIV
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by peacegirl View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by GdB View Post
He is fully aware that determinism does not lead to fatalism, but I have to look up why he thinks foresight precludes free will.
I'll help you out.

Determinism vs. Fatalism - InfoGraphic (a comparison)
That's no help. It just explains what I said: that 'Trick knows the difference between determinism and fatalism. Now go back to your own thread. Hup, hup!
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016), But (07-21-2016), JoeP (07-21-2016), The Man (07-21-2016)
  #12  
Old 07-21-2016, 03:15 PM
peacegirl's Avatar
peacegirl peacegirl is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: U.S.A.
Gender: Female
Posts: XXMMDCCCIV
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by GdB View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by peacegirl View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by GdB View Post
He is fully aware that determinism does not lead to fatalism, but I have to look up why he thinks foresight precludes free will.
I'll help you out.

Determinism vs. Fatalism - InfoGraphic (a comparison)
That's no help. It just explains what I said: that 'Trick knows the difference between determinism and fatalism. Now go back to your own thread. Hup, hup!
Wow! How disrespectful! Don't you dare come to my thread. :D
__________________
"The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." George Orwell

"The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing
which is no longer doubtful is the cause of half their errors" -- John Stuart Mill
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-21-2016, 04:37 PM
thedoc's Avatar
thedoc thedoc is offline
I'm Deplorable.
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: XMMCXXXIX
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by GdB View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by thedoc View Post
Christianity claims that God has granted us free will to choose good or evil, but it is also claimed that God knows our decisions in advance. This is my only problem so far, that if our decisions are knowable, then how can those decisions be free?
Why would there be a conflict? Let's look at 3 cases:

Case 1: Somebody (e.g. your spouse?) knows you very well. Somebody else asks some decision of yours, you weigh the arguments pro and contra, and then, when you tell what you have decided, your spouse says to you 'I knew you would decide that!'
Case 2: An astronomer counts down the moment for a total solar eclipse exactly '10...,4, 3, 2, 1, Totality!'. how did he do this: does this imply that he has power of the sun and the moon? Or does it imply that he has a perfect insight in how moon and sun move? Did his countdown have any influence on what is happening?
Case 3: A neurologist has a perfect neuro-imaging device, attached to a supercomputer. The same person as in case 1 asks your decision, but before you can do this, the neurologist writes down your decision. You say what you decided, and the neurologist shows what you have decided: he knew it in advance!

My idea, is that, as in case 2, there is an illusion of power. But in reality there is no power at all, you just decide what you otherwise would have done, if your spouse of the neurologist would not have been there.

The problem is that foresight seems to imply fatalism: but that is not the case. Say, God has perfect foresight, and knows exactly what you will do. What then? Can you lean back, and say to yourself, 'Well, when everything is fixed, then I must not care about anything'. The error is to think 'Whatever will happen, will happen whatever I decide'. and that is wrong of course. If God knows everything, he also knows how your thoughts develop and lead to your decision. Foresight is no denial of free will. Your thoughts and feelings are the causal prelude to what you decide, and your decision determines what you will do, and so has influence on what happens in the world. The possibility of foresight doesn't change that a bit.

'Trick Slattery however makes this error. I might look later again in his argument, and see where he takes a wrong turn. He is fully aware that determinism does not lead to fatalism, but I have to look up why he thinks foresight precludes free will.
As I have stated, I have heard most of the arguments before, and I understand them intellectually, but the idea just doesn't feel right and I can't quite yet define what is bothering me. I'll read your examples again, and if you could expound a bit more, perhaps something will click and I'll be able to state just what I find to be the problem. There have been many times when I have had a poorly defined and stated idea in mind, and then I read something that clearly stated what I was thinking. Either I'm not thinking clearly about it, or I have too many other distractions to focus on it as much as needed. I'm reminded of a Sherlock Holmes story "The Hound Of the Baskervilles" where Sir Henry says, "This puzzle takes more thinking than I can give it".
__________________
The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about. Wayne Dyer
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016)
  #14  
Old 07-21-2016, 04:40 PM
thedoc's Avatar
thedoc thedoc is offline
I'm Deplorable.
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: XMMCXXXIX
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by peacegirl View Post
Wow! How disrespectful! Don't you dare come to my thread.
You arrogant little fool, like your father, you think you can boss other people around.
__________________
The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about. Wayne Dyer
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-21-2016, 05:35 PM
davidm's Avatar
davidm davidm is offline
Condemned to wander the corridors of a drivel maze
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: VMMMDCCLXII
Blog Entries: 3
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

As a matter of pure logic, there is no conflict between perfect foreknowledge and free will. Norman Swartz discusses this in one of the links GdB gives in his OP, which post I’ll specifically address later, and plus I’ve discussed this before here at :ff:. But let’s look at the alleged problem again.

Put simply, the claim that perfect foreknowledge precludes free will constitutes a modal fallacy.

The structure of the claim is: If God foreknows that I will do x, then I must do x — no free will.

As Swartz explains, in cases like this (and it generalizes to logical and causal determinism; what we are discussing here is a case of epistemic determinism) — the modal fallacy lies in imparting necessity (must) to the the consequent of the antecedent, whereas the correct step is to assign necessity jointly to the consequent and the antecedent.

The repaired argument now goes:

Necessarily (If God foreknows that I will do x, then I will [not must!] do x)

Given the stipulation that God is omniscient, it follows that he cannot fail to know what I will do. What doesn’t follow is that I must do the thing, that I actually do.

Suppose instead of doing x, I choose to do y. Then we would get:

Necessarily (If God foreknows that I will do y, then I will [not must!] do y)

It is not necessary that I do x or y. I can do either, freely. What IS necessary is that what I do, and what God foreknows, must match, in virtue of God’s omniscience.

If I do x, God will foreknow I do x. My doing x provides the truth grounds for what God foreknows. If I do y instead, then God’s foreknowledge will be different, for I will have supplied different truth grounds for his foreknowledge: I will have supplied y instead of x. This result, btw, is the solution to Newcomb’s Paradox.

Modal logic is cashed out in a heuristic of possible worlds, by which we mean logically possible worlds.

We can now parse out the above scenario in the modal language of (logically) possible worlds:

There is a possible world at which I do x.

There is a possible world at which I do y.

There is a possible world at which I do x, and God foreknows that I do x. (In fact, this proposition is true at all possible worlds, which means it is a necessary truth, like the statement “all bachelors are unmarried.” But note again — this is absolutely crucial to understand — the necessity lies jointly in the relation between the antecedent — what God foreknows — and the consequent — what I actually do. What I do by itself is utterly contingent; i.e., free.

There is a possible world at which I do y, and God foreknows that I do y. (also a necessary truth; i.e. true at all possible worlds and false at none of them.)

BUT

5. There is no possible world at which I do x, and God foreknows I do y; and there is no possible world at which I do y, and God foreknows I do x.

The upshot here is that while I am free to do x or y, there is no possible world at which what I do, and what God foreknows, fail to match. But this fact is no curb on my freedom. Once we see that there is a possible world at which I do x, and another at which I do y, then the whole alleged problem between God’s foreknowledge and my freedom evaporates.

Moreover, this modal solution to the alleged conflict between epistemic determinism and free will universalizes to all alleged conflicts between determinism and free will; the same modal solution holds for logical determinism and for causal determinism, and thus it renders the alleged conflict between all forms of determinism and free will a pseudo problem.
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016), Stephen Maturin (07-22-2016), The Man (07-21-2016), thedoc (07-21-2016)
  #16  
Old 07-21-2016, 05:55 PM
But's Avatar
But But is offline
This is the title that appears beneath your name on your posts.
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: MMMCMXLVI
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

That assumes a compatibilist meaning of free will, doesn't it?
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016)
  #17  
Old 07-21-2016, 06:11 PM
davidm's Avatar
davidm davidm is offline
Condemned to wander the corridors of a drivel maze
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: VMMMDCCLXII
Blog Entries: 3
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by But View Post
That assumes a compatibilist meaning of free will, doesn't it?
It doesn’t actually assume compatibilism; it’s simply a logical demonstration that there can be no conflict between what we call determinism and what we style free will. Swartz himself writes that while the solution can be seen as “compatibilist” in a certain sense, this sense seems kind of superfluous, like saying that “doubts and itches should co-exist.” Why shouldn’t doubts and itches co-exist? I think the Swartzian logical reconstruction of the age-old problem is best described as eliminativist, rather than compatibilist: There is no threat of incompatibilism in the first place, any more than one should worry about incompatibilism between doubts and itches.
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016), Dragar (10-02-2016), Stephen Maturin (07-22-2016), The Man (07-21-2016)
  #18  
Old 07-21-2016, 07:04 PM
peacegirl's Avatar
peacegirl peacegirl is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: U.S.A.
Gender: Female
Posts: XXMMDCCCIV
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by But View Post
That assumes a compatibilist meaning of free will, doesn't it?
It doesn’t actually assume compatibilism; it’s simply a logical demonstration that there can be no conflict between what we call determinism and what we style free will. Swartz himself writes that while the solution can be seen as “compatibilist” in a certain sense, this sense seems kind of superfluous, like saying that “doubts and itches should co-exist.” Why shouldn’t doubts and itches co-exist? I think the Swartzian logical reconstruction of the age-old problem is best described as eliminativist, rather than compatibilist: There is no threat of incompatibilism in the first place, any more than one should worry about incompatibilism between doubts and itches.
No one is saying we don't have a choice given our ability to pick among a number of options every minute of the day. No incompatibilist or hard determinist is taking this human ability away as if to say we necessarily must choose a certain option in advance of that choice, which is no choice at all. Moreover, no one is denying God's foreknowledge as to what those choices will be whether you choose x or y. Again, being able to choose x or y does not give you a free will that co-exists with determinism. You have conveniently conflated the meaning of "choice" that we all have whenever we consider between two or more alternatives, with "free" choice, which none of us have because we cannot choose that which gives us lesser satisfaction under those exact circumstances. You then conclude that the entire free will/determinism debate is solved by Swartzian logical reconstruction of an age-old problem. Unfortunately, it doesn't solve anything. It just helps us to see that we are not pre-programmed robots; that we do have choices. Who is arguing with that? Not the determinists I know. What a silly strawman! :giggle:
__________________
"The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." George Orwell

"The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing
which is no longer doubtful is the cause of half their errors" -- John Stuart Mill

Last edited by peacegirl; 07-21-2016 at 07:22 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 07-21-2016, 07:06 PM
thedoc's Avatar
thedoc thedoc is offline
I'm Deplorable.
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: XMMCXXXIX
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
As a matter of pure logic, there is no conflict between perfect foreknowledge and free will. Norman Swartz discusses this in one of the links GdB gives in his OP, which post I’ll specifically address later, and plus I’ve discussed this before here at :ff:. But let’s look at the alleged problem again.

Put simply, the claim that perfect foreknowledge precludes free will constitutes a modal fallacy.

The structure of the claim is: If God foreknows that I will do x, then I must do x — no free will.

As Swartz explains, in cases like this (and it generalizes to logical and causal determinism; what we are discussing here is a case of epistemic determinism) — the modal fallacy lies in imparting necessity (must) to the the consequent of the antecedent, whereas the correct step is to assign necessity jointly to the consequent and the antecedent.

The repaired argument now goes:

Necessarily (If God foreknows that I will do x, then I will [not must!] do x)

Given the stipulation that God is omniscient, it follows that he cannot fail to know what I will do. What doesn’t follow is that I must do the thing, that I actually do.

Suppose instead of doing x, I choose to do y. Then we would get:

Necessarily (If God foreknows that I will do y, then I will [not must!] do y)

It is not necessary that I do x or y. I can do either, freely. What IS necessary is that what I do, and what God foreknows, must match, in virtue of God’s omniscience.

If I do x, God will foreknow I do x. My doing x provides the truth grounds for what God foreknows. If I do y instead, then God’s foreknowledge will be different, for I will have supplied different truth grounds for his foreknowledge: I will have supplied y instead of x. This result, btw, is the solution to Newcomb’s Paradox.

Modal logic is cashed out in a heuristic of possible worlds, by which we mean logically possible worlds.

We can now parse out the above scenario in the modal language of (logically) possible worlds:

There is a possible world at which I do x.

There is a possible world at which I do y.

There is a possible world at which I do x, and God foreknows that I do x. (In fact, this proposition is true at all possible worlds, which means it is a necessary truth, like the statement “all bachelors are unmarried.” But note again — this is absolutely crucial to understand — the necessity lies jointly in the relation between the antecedent — what God foreknows — and the consequent — what I actually do. What I do by itself is utterly contingent; i.e., free.

There is a possible world at which I do y, and God foreknows that I do y. (also a necessary truth; i.e. true at all possible worlds and false at none of them.)

BUT

5. There is no possible world at which I do x, and God foreknows I do y; and there is no possible world at which I do y, and God foreknows I do x.

The upshot here is that while I am free to do x or y, there is no possible world at which what I do, and what God foreknows, fail to match. But this fact is no curb on my freedom. Once we see that there is a possible world at which I do x, and another at which I do y, then the whole alleged problem between God’s foreknowledge and my freedom evaporates.

Moreover, this modal solution to the alleged conflict between epistemic determinism and free will universalizes to all alleged conflicts between determinism and free will; the same modal solution holds for logical determinism and for causal determinism, and thus it renders the alleged conflict between all forms of determinism and free will a pseudo problem.
Thankyou, I believe that this is similar, if not the same, as your explanation in the other thread. As I have stated, I understand the logical explanation, and I know the difference between must and will, my problem is that it just doesn't feel right, and this is not a logical problem. Sometimes it takes me awhile to internalize information and ideas, sometimes it never happens. Again thankyou for the explanation, I will be trying to absorb it and internalize it.

I think my problem is similar to the difficulty I have with Lessans/Peacegirl's argument that we don't have free will, but our choices are free. And then she claims that we are compelled to choose only the "best" option in the circumstances. Of course Lessans claims that we always choose in the direction of greater satisfaction, by claiming that every choice we make is in the direction of greater satisfaction. We choose what we choose because we choose it.
__________________
The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about. Wayne Dyer
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016)
  #20  
Old 07-21-2016, 07:21 PM
davidm's Avatar
davidm davidm is offline
Condemned to wander the corridors of a drivel maze
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: VMMMDCCLXII
Blog Entries: 3
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by thedoc View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
As a matter of pure logic, there is no conflict between perfect foreknowledge and free will. Norman Swartz discusses this in one of the links GdB gives in his OP, which post I’ll specifically address later, and plus I’ve discussed this before here at :ff:. But let’s look at the alleged problem again.

Put simply, the claim that perfect foreknowledge precludes free will constitutes a modal fallacy.

The structure of the claim is: If God foreknows that I will do x, then I must do x — no free will.

As Swartz explains, in cases like this (and it generalizes to logical and causal determinism; what we are discussing here is a case of epistemic determinism) — the modal fallacy lies in imparting necessity (must) to the the consequent of the antecedent, whereas the correct step is to assign necessity jointly to the consequent and the antecedent.

The repaired argument now goes:

Necessarily (If God foreknows that I will do x, then I will [not must!] do x)

Given the stipulation that God is omniscient, it follows that he cannot fail to know what I will do. What doesn’t follow is that I must do the thing, that I actually do.

Suppose instead of doing x, I choose to do y. Then we would get:

Necessarily (If God foreknows that I will do y, then I will [not must!] do y)

It is not necessary that I do x or y. I can do either, freely. What IS necessary is that what I do, and what God foreknows, must match, in virtue of God’s omniscience.

If I do x, God will foreknow I do x. My doing x provides the truth grounds for what God foreknows. If I do y instead, then God’s foreknowledge will be different, for I will have supplied different truth grounds for his foreknowledge: I will have supplied y instead of x. This result, btw, is the solution to Newcomb’s Paradox.

Modal logic is cashed out in a heuristic of possible worlds, by which we mean logically possible worlds.

We can now parse out the above scenario in the modal language of (logically) possible worlds:

There is a possible world at which I do x.

There is a possible world at which I do y.

There is a possible world at which I do x, and God foreknows that I do x. (In fact, this proposition is true at all possible worlds, which means it is a necessary truth, like the statement “all bachelors are unmarried.” But note again — this is absolutely crucial to understand — the necessity lies jointly in the relation between the antecedent — what God foreknows — and the consequent — what I actually do. What I do by itself is utterly contingent; i.e., free.

There is a possible world at which I do y, and God foreknows that I do y. (also a necessary truth; i.e. true at all possible worlds and false at none of them.)

BUT

5. There is no possible world at which I do x, and God foreknows I do y; and there is no possible world at which I do y, and God foreknows I do x.

The upshot here is that while I am free to do x or y, there is no possible world at which what I do, and what God foreknows, fail to match. But this fact is no curb on my freedom. Once we see that there is a possible world at which I do x, and another at which I do y, then the whole alleged problem between God’s foreknowledge and my freedom evaporates.

Moreover, this modal solution to the alleged conflict between epistemic determinism and free will universalizes to all alleged conflicts between determinism and free will; the same modal solution holds for logical determinism and for causal determinism, and thus it renders the alleged conflict between all forms of determinism and free will a pseudo problem.
Thankyou, I believe that this is similar, if not the same, as your explanation in the other thread. As I have stated, I understand the logical explanation, and I know the difference between must and will, my problem is that it just doesn't feel right, and this is not a logical problem. Sometimes it takes me awhile to internalize information and ideas, sometimes it never happens. Again thankyou for the explanation, I will be trying to absorb it and internalize it.

I think my problem is similar to the difficulty I have with Lessans/Peacegirl's argument that we don't have free will, but our choices are free. And then she claims that we are compelled to choose only the "best" option in the circumstances. Of course Lessans claims that we always choose in the direction of greater satisfaction, by claiming that every choice we make is in the direction of greater satisfaction. We choose what we choose because we choose it.
I think the easiest way to understand it is to reverse the time direction.

If God has infallible foreknowledge of what we will do, then he also has an infallible memory of what we did, right?

So if yesterday I did x, then God will infallibly recall that fact, right?

But does it follow from this that I had to do x, yesterday? I think most people will immediately see the falsity of this. They will recognize that I could have done y instead, but did not. If I had done y, then God would infallibly remember that fact instead, the y fact, rather than the x fact.

We don’t even need God here. We have a record that Hitler invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Because we have this record, does it mean Hitler had to have invaded Poland on that day? Surely not. He just did invade Poland, and that is all. Had he not done so, then today we would have a different historical record — Hitler not invading Poland on that day.

Gods infallibly foreknowing I will do x no more forces me to do x than God’s remembering I did x, forced me to do x. What God foreknows or remembers is conditional on what I actually (freely) do.
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016), Stephen Maturin (07-22-2016), The Man (07-21-2016)
  #21  
Old 07-21-2016, 07:38 PM
But's Avatar
But But is offline
This is the title that appears beneath your name on your posts.
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: MMMCMXLVI
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by But View Post
That assumes a compatibilist meaning of free will, doesn't it?
It doesn’t actually assume compatibilism; it’s simply a logical demonstration that there can be no conflict between what we call determinism and what we style free will. Swartz himself writes that while the solution can be seen as “compatibilist” in a certain sense, this sense seems kind of superfluous, like saying that “doubts and itches should co-exist.” Why shouldn’t doubts and itches co-exist? I think the Swartzian logical reconstruction of the age-old problem is best described as eliminativist, rather than compatibilist: There is no threat of incompatibilism in the first place, any more than one should worry about incompatibilism between doubts and itches.
It should very much depend on what we mean by "free will"; I don't see how it could be independent from that. The whole thing invoking an omniscient God is basically time travel and equivalent to assuming determinism. If the result isn't predetermined by an earlier state, there is nothing for any God to foreknow. The time travel is a constraint that ensures determinism, assuming a unique history.
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016)
  #22  
Old 07-21-2016, 07:38 PM
peacegirl's Avatar
peacegirl peacegirl is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: U.S.A.
Gender: Female
Posts: XXMMDCCCIV
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by thedoc View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
As a matter of pure logic, there is no conflict between perfect foreknowledge and free will. Norman Swartz discusses this in one of the links GdB gives in his OP, which post I’ll specifically address later, and plus I’ve discussed this before here at :ff:. But let’s look at the alleged problem again.

Put simply, the claim that perfect foreknowledge precludes free will constitutes a modal fallacy.

The structure of the claim is: If God foreknows that I will do x, then I must do x — no free will.

As Swartz explains, in cases like this (and it generalizes to logical and causal determinism; what we are discussing here is a case of epistemic determinism) — the modal fallacy lies in imparting necessity (must) to the the consequent of the antecedent, whereas the correct step is to assign necessity jointly to the consequent and the antecedent.

The repaired argument now goes:

Necessarily (If God foreknows that I will do x, then I will [not must!] do x)

Given the stipulation that God is omniscient, it follows that he cannot fail to know what I will do. What doesn’t follow is that I must do the thing, that I actually do.

Suppose instead of doing x, I choose to do y. Then we would get:

Necessarily (If God foreknows that I will do y, then I will [not must!] do y)

It is not necessary that I do x or y. I can do either, freely. What IS necessary is that what I do, and what God foreknows, must match, in virtue of God’s omniscience.

If I do x, God will foreknow I do x. My doing x provides the truth grounds for what God foreknows. If I do y instead, then God’s foreknowledge will be different, for I will have supplied different truth grounds for his foreknowledge: I will have supplied y instead of x. This result, btw, is the solution to Newcomb’s Paradox.

Modal logic is cashed out in a heuristic of possible worlds, by which we mean logically possible worlds.

We can now parse out the above scenario in the modal language of (logically) possible worlds:

There is a possible world at which I do x.

There is a possible world at which I do y.

There is a possible world at which I do x, and God foreknows that I do x. (In fact, this proposition is true at all possible worlds, which means it is a necessary truth, like the statement “all bachelors are unmarried.” But note again — this is absolutely crucial to understand — the necessity lies jointly in the relation between the antecedent — what God foreknows — and the consequent — what I actually do. What I do by itself is utterly contingent; i.e., free.

There is a possible world at which I do y, and God foreknows that I do y. (also a necessary truth; i.e. true at all possible worlds and false at none of them.)

BUT

5. There is no possible world at which I do x, and God foreknows I do y; and there is no possible world at which I do y, and God foreknows I do x.

The upshot here is that while I am free to do x or y, there is no possible world at which what I do, and what God foreknows, fail to match. But this fact is no curb on my freedom. Once we see that there is a possible world at which I do x, and another at which I do y, then the whole alleged problem between God’s foreknowledge and my freedom evaporates.

Moreover, this modal solution to the alleged conflict between epistemic determinism and free will universalizes to all alleged conflicts between determinism and free will; the same modal solution holds for logical determinism and for causal determinism, and thus it renders the alleged conflict between all forms of determinism and free will a pseudo problem.
Thankyou, I believe that this is similar, if not the same, as your explanation in the other thread. As I have stated, I understand the logical explanation, and I know the difference between must and will, my problem is that it just doesn't feel right, and this is not a logical problem. Sometimes it takes me awhile to internalize information and ideas, sometimes it never happens. Again thankyou for the explanation, I will be trying to absorb it and internalize it.

I think my problem is similar to the difficulty I have with Lessans/Peacegirl's argument that we don't have free will, but our choices are free. And then she claims that we are compelled to choose only the "best" option in the circumstances. Of course Lessans claims that we always choose in the direction of greater satisfaction, by claiming that every choice we make is in the direction of greater satisfaction. We choose what we choose because we choose it.
I think the easiest way to understand it is to reverse the time direction.

If God has infallible foreknowledge of what we will do, then he also has an infallible memory of what we did, right?

So if yesterday I did x, then God will infallibly recall that fact, right?

But does it follow from this that I had to do x, yesterday? I think most people will immediately see the falsity of this.
You didn't have to do x in advance of you doing it. But once you did it, you could not have done otherwise given that same set of determinants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm
They will recognize that I could have done y instead, but did not. If I had done y, then God would infallibly remember that fact instead, the y fact, rather than the x fact.
God would go along with anything you chose and have the foreknowledge of it. Who is saying otherwise? But this does not grant you freedom of the will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm
We don’t even need God here. We have a record that Hitler invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Because we have this record, does it mean Hitler had to have invaded Poland on that day? Surely not. He just did invade Poland, and that is all. Had he not done so, then today we would have a different historical record — Hitler not invading Poland on that day.
But he did do so and if you understand determinism at all, you would know that given his background, his heredity, his experiences, his personality, he could not have chosen any other option than the one he did. Had he not done so, there would have been a different set of antecedent conditions; a blip in the causal chain of his life that may then have led to a different outcome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm
Gods infallibly foreknowing I will do x no more forces me to do x than God’s remembering I did x, forced me to do x. What God foreknows or remembers is conditional on what I actually (freely) do.
Why do you keep bringing God into this? God does not force anything. Natural laws are descriptive, remember? God is not forcing us in a certain direction; we choose it because we want to. You are making it seem that God is making you do something that you haven't chosen and don't want to do. You are not being forced by God or anything else to do what you don't want. God is in line with whatever you choose, but once you have chosen x (which was contingent on the available options and your consideration of the pros and cons of each of these options), you were not free to choose y because you found y less preferable in comparison. Your choice of x is not a free one at all, and all of your failed logic will never change that fact.
__________________
"The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." George Orwell

"The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing
which is no longer doubtful is the cause of half their errors" -- John Stuart Mill

Last edited by peacegirl; 07-21-2016 at 07:58 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 07-21-2016, 07:42 PM
But's Avatar
But But is offline
This is the title that appears beneath your name on your posts.
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: MMMCMXLVI
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by peacegirl View Post
But he did do so and if you understand determinism at all, you would know that given his background, his heredity, his experiences, his personality, he could not have chosen any other option than the one he did. Had he not done so, there would have been a different set of antecedent events; a blip in the causal chain of events that led him to making this particular decision.
That's what you keep assuming. There is no actual evidence that this is the case.
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016), The Man (07-21-2016)
  #24  
Old 07-21-2016, 07:43 PM
davidm's Avatar
davidm davidm is offline
Condemned to wander the corridors of a drivel maze
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: VMMMDCCLXII
Blog Entries: 3
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by peacegirl View Post
Why do you keep bringing God into this. God does not force anything. Natural laws are descriptive, remember? God is not forcing us in a certain direction; we choose it because we want to. You are making it seem that God is making you do something that you haven't chosen and don't want to do. You are not being forced by God or anything else to do what you don't want to do. God is in line with whatever you choose, but once you have chosen x based on the contingencies of that moment, you were never free to choose y.
What the fuck is actually wrong with you?

I just said the exact opposite of what you have ascribed to me -- I just got through saying that God's foreknowledge does NOT force our action -- idiot!

And yes, once you have chosen x, you were free to choose y, but did not -- that is the entire fucking point.

Go keep on shitting up your own stupid thread. This is the thread for adults. :wave:
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016), Pan Narrans (07-21-2016), Stephen Maturin (07-22-2016), The Man (07-21-2016)
  #25  
Old 07-21-2016, 08:03 PM
davidm's Avatar
davidm davidm is offline
Condemned to wander the corridors of a drivel maze
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: VMMMDCCLXII
Blog Entries: 3
Default Re: Free will in philosphy and science

Quote:
Originally Posted by But View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by But View Post
That assumes a compatibilist meaning of free will, doesn't it?
It doesn’t actually assume compatibilism; it’s simply a logical demonstration that there can be no conflict between what we call determinism and what we style free will. Swartz himself writes that while the solution can be seen as “compatibilist” in a certain sense, this sense seems kind of superfluous, like saying that “doubts and itches should co-exist.” Why shouldn’t doubts and itches co-exist? I think the Swartzian logical reconstruction of the age-old problem is best described as eliminativist, rather than compatibilist: There is no threat of incompatibilism in the first place, any more than one should worry about incompatibilism between doubts and itches.
It should very much depend on what we mean by "free will"; I don't see how it could be independent from that. The whole thing invoking an omniscient God is basically time travel and equivalent to assuming determinism. If the result isn't predetermined by an earlier state, there is nothing for any God to foreknow. The time travel is a constraint that ensures determinism, assuming a unique history.
I’m not quite sure I grasp your objection here, but look: Whether the future is pre-determined, or determined, or just open, I think is off the point. Regardless of how we regard the future — existent or just potential yet open — the point stands.

We don’t need to invoke God at all; God is just a special (epistemic) thought experiment that is a subset of Aristotle’s problem of future contingents, also known as logical determinism.

The question is: Can there be true statements today, about future contingent events? And if so, what, if anything, does that imply?

Suppose today I utter the following statement: “Tomorrow, there will be a sea battle.” And then tomorrow comes and a sea battle indeed takes place, so my statement today was true about an event tomorrow.

Does that mean the sea battle had to happen?
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Angakuk (07-21-2016), The Man (07-21-2016)
Reply

  Freethought Forum > The Marketplace > Philosophy


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

 

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 11:12 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Page generated in 0.42684 seconds with 14 queries