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Is free will real?

Discussion in 'Ethics & Morality' started by holo, Dec 8, 2019.

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  1. holo

    holo former Christian

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    The concept of free will popped up in a discussion I have with @Sanoy. I think it should have its own thread to keep things a little tidy.

    Is free will real? Can it be real, given what we know about natural laws? Is it truly possible, philosophically speaking?

    There are different conceptions of what free will means. What I mean by it is something like this: the ability to make a choice (or think of something) without that choice being determined by something else. For example, you can use your will to choose pizza over tacos, but is it a free choice? Do you pick one over the other for no reason? Or is it in fact determined by, say, that you just don't happen to like the taste of one of them (which obviously isn't something you freely chose)?

    What would be an example of truly free will being exercised?

    (Posted in this subforum because it has implications for how we think about morality.)
     
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  2. jahel

    jahel Well-Known Member

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    Yup, it’s all about filters programmed from early childhood. Can change be made to those inroads by choosing and sticking to another path is the question? Get out of the rut, so to speak.
     
  3. mkdrive2

    mkdrive2 New Member Supporter

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    We can always choose what gives us the best cost-benefit-ratio. And if we make mistakes we cope with the consequences. Our choices can be limited by our values, Christian values for example. They can also be limited by laws, by punishment and reward.

    Free will is such an abstract concept that my brain immediately shuts down when I think about it... :-/
     
  4. Robban

    Robban ----------- Supporter

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    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  5. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    In absolute terms free will is a myth.

    Who by deciding can become an elephant?

    Choice is always within defined boundaries and is never 'free'
     
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  6. Bob Carabbio

    Bob Carabbio Old guy -

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    Simple - WHEN (if) God favors a person with CONVICTION of SIN - presenting their SIN, and impending judgement to them in terms they understand perfectly, then that person has the "FREE WILL" to repent and surrender to God in FAITH (given by God), and entering LIFE, OR to "Cut and run away" continuing their chosen spiritual death.

    We Humans have the absolute FREE WILL to tell God that we DON'T WANT His offer of cleansing and salvation, and simply continue on with our physical life as we please, until it ends at an indeterminate time in the future.
     
  7. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    There was a certain gentleman who sought repentance with tears and didn't find it if I recall correctly.

    So I conclude that repentance is a gift and it is given by God's grace.
     
  8. Silmarien

    Silmarien Existentialist

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    I would question whether such a form of "free will" would even truly be free. If freedom consists of choosing to do things for no reason, then your decision making becomes completely arbitrary. Can a random choice be a free choice? I would say no.

    Philippa Foot has a good paper on this, though I can't find a free version online (there are jumbled quotes from it here, if you're interested). One thing she points out is that we tend to conflate two ideas of determinism--causal determinism, where one event directly leads to another, and a more ordinary language form of determinism, whereby our acts are informed by our motives and desires. If someone force feeds you a pizza, then your free will is not involved, but your own personal desire to eat a pizza doesn't compel you in the same way. I would identify free will in having the discipline to not just stuff your face with pizza, no matter how much you might like to, rather than in choosing to eat pizza rather than something else on a sort of internal coin toss.
     
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  9. holo

    holo former Christian

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    The fact that there are limits to what we can choose doesn't necessarily mean the will isn't free, I think. Free will could be the ability to choose truly freely between whatever choices we may have. But it appears to me that our choices are inevitably the result of something that is ultimately beyond our control. So a myth, as you say.
     
  10. holo

    holo former Christian

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    Did you freely choose to have a level of self control, though? :)

    Self control originates from something, right? I can choose to cultivate it, but even the choice to cultivate it isn't something I pulled out of thin air, so to speak. Something influenced me to think it's a smart thing to do.

    I don't see how free will fits with cause and effect.

    And of course, the reason this has implications for morality is that moral judgment, as far as I can tell, depends on "you could have done otherwise" to be an actual fact.
     
  11. DennisTate

    DennisTate Newbie Supporter

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    I personally believe that free will is real........
    but that belief has me inclined toward Multiverse Theory being equal to one possible fulfillment of Ezekiel 37


    Could the prophet Elijah have altered history if he had NOT........


     
  12. Silmarien

    Silmarien Existentialist

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    I don't think this is quite right. The catalyst which causes you to think that you ought to cultivate self-control might be outside of you, but you're not going to magically start cultivating it just because you realize that it would be a good thing to do. Disciplines are really difficult--the initial choice to cultivate one might be external, but the will to continue is a choice that you make over and over again.

    That probably depends on how you view cause and effect. If you're a materialist, then it's difficult to fit in free will (or consciousness), but I think it gets easier if you take something like an Aristotelian account of causality and associate freedom with final causes.

    I'm a Mysterian about free will, though. I think it, along with consciousness, is a deep mystery of reality and not something that can be reduced to causality.

    Yep, definitely. Though I'm in the camp that would actually claim that determinism itself is a deeply immoral view to hold, since it involves the denial of responsibility, which is extremely problematic on any common sense understanding of human nature.
     
  13. Palmfever

    Palmfever New Member

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    That person was Esau. And what he couldn’t get back was his inheritance/land. Isaac had already given it to Jacob. Jacob by deception with the aid of his Mother who preferred Jacob claimed the inheritance. Later in the story, When Jacob returning being so fearful, sent his servant before him. Esau was over it having become successful apart from the inheritance. Genesis, 33:4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. Verse 9. And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself. So no, he didn’t get Isaac’s property. This story is about doing something dumb in haste. An example.
     
  14. Palmfever

    Palmfever New Member

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    Is our life dictated solely by extrinsic motivation? The argument whether or not biological, physiological and religious constraint dictates our actions has been kicked back and forth on the metaphysical field between supporters and detractors for centuries with cheerleaders leaping up and down on both sidelines. What the unbelieving heart professes is of no consequence to me with the exception of when Christians attempt to inject it into scripture. This relates therefore to the ability of individuals to choose Gods grace, or reject Him.

    Did Adam have the ability to choose? Did Adam have the capacity and information necessary to make an informed choice on obeying God’s command, “Do not eat”… Capacity, perhaps. Information, no. Prior to consumption of the fruit from the tree of knowledge, there was no knowledge of good and evil. What Adam and Eve had was an edict, a command with no explanation other than “you will die,” a concept he had no reference for. The fact is he was not then struck down, that did not occur until the age of 930.

    Free will, Free agency. Does the free agent exercise free will? Does the agent have a specific faculty of will? Does causal determinism strictly exclude free will, or does it allow for partial free will?

    This is relative as it pertains to, “how one is saved?” The freedom to choose to act or not is not determined by the ability nor the casual inability to act. The will is fulfilled by the determination to act. We are addressing the will, not the action. The inability to walk does not negate the determination to do so. We are discussing a relationship with God, not the decision to walk the dog or not, regardless of being incapacitated physically or prevented by external factors inhibiting physical action. We do not “wrestle against flesh and blood”. We are discussing FAITH. ‘If a man looks upon a woman with lust, he has committed adultery in his heart’.

    Free agents have the faculties of intellect and will. The intellect/rational faculty cognates, as a result the intellect presents various options to the will as to a course of action. If Adam had the capacity to choose adherence to Gods edict, he certainly had the option to choose disobedience. Some may argue from a position that free will and free agency are separate and independent states, they are nondetachable. The agent responds and makes a decision based on the best information available, that decision within itself is an act of will. Some may assert a completely neutral heart as a prerequisite for making any decision of will. If indifference, lack of preference or bias are required attributes for the exercise of free will, human nature is replete with them.
     
  15. Radagast

    Radagast is no longer on CF Supporter

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    Of course it's real. What kind of free will is real, though? Philosophy lists several different standard definitions.

    If "free" means "entirely uncaused," then it excludes actions taken for any kind of reason or in pursuit of any kind of desire.

    Seems like a pretty useless sort of free will to me.
     
  16. Aussie Pete

    Aussie Pete Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The definition of "free" is wide open to interpretation. In a sense, even God does not have free will. He is not able to lie, for example. It is not in His nature. Free will exists but within limitations. Just as God cannot lie, so fallen man cannot be righteous. It's not in his nature. Now if you say that free will is limited, some would argue that it is not free. We choose according to desire. The will is free to choose but according to the desire of the heart. The unbeliever is ruled by the sinful nature. The sinful nature chooses what it pleases and what it pleases does not please God.

    As a Christian, I realise that many of my desires are contrary to God's will. Rather than fight myself, I ask God to establish the desires of my heart according to God's will, not my self will. That way I don't covet the Aston Martin that parks near my home from time to time. It's a lousy colour anyway.
     
  17. jayem

    jayem Naturalist

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    My naturalistic view:

    Firstly, it's axiomatic that we can only act in ways that are physically possible.

    Secondly, our choices are obviously determined by our brains. The brain processes sensory input and sends the information to the prefrontal cortex—the executive region. It determines our immediate situation. It also receives information from memory circuitry regarding our learning and prior experiences, and input from the limbic system which subsumes our desires and emotions. It analyzes all this and makes a decision about what to do. Strictly speaking, this is a chaotic event. The outcome is dependent on initial conditions. Which is the pre-existing state of our brain. Thus, there is no absolute free will. If we are in exactly the same situation, and our brain is in exactly the same state, at two different times, then we will make exactly the same decision. But the physiologically normal brain is a dynamic organ. It’s constantly receiving input, and our neural circuitry is constantly forming and reforming. The chance that our brain will be in exactly the same state at two different times is vanishingly remote. So this gives us the impression that we have free will to make decisions. But it’s a relative, not an absolute free will.
     
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  18. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    No walking on water then...
     
  19. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    There are brain cells in the heart...
     
  20. Bob Carabbio

    Bob Carabbio Old guy -

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    Absolutely. If God doesn't DRAW YOU to Christ, you're NOT COMING. "Conviction of SIN" isn't something you can generate within yourself.

    This, however isn't a support of the "L", and "I" of Calvinism, OR their Theology of "T".
     
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