Why I think free-will and determinism co-exist

Why I think free-will and determinism co-exist
msquires9
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Posted Nov 13, 2009 - 7:52 AM:
Subject: Why I think free-will and determinism co-exist
I believe we are free to choose what we choose, because it is determined that we will choose what we choose. Every choice effects your next choice. You have the possibility of doing anything (humanly possible) at any time, but the choices you make are reactions to your last choice. There's still a choice there, it's just that the outcome of your choice is determined by everything leading up to the choice. It's kind of like a "pick-your-own-adventure" book. With every choice you make you determine your next choice. You have a belief in what the correct thing to choose is at the time, and that belief is developed by the choices you've made in the past. Even if you choose to do something counter-intuitive to try and "prove" that your choices are not casually determined, your decision was based off of a causual chain of events. The decision to do what is counter-intuitive was decided on as a reaction to the thought "what does not feel like the correct choice to make", which makes that choice correct. Hopefully I expressed this well enough... I have thought it for a while but haven't really verbalized it before.

Another interesting aspect of this theory is that people can't live and not choose something. Every moment of life is a choice, and if you choose to kill yourself, you haven't really stopped choosing, you chose to not be given a choice in the future. To not choose would be to be given a choice and not choose, which is not possible.
aletheist
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Posted Nov 13, 2009 - 10:28 AM:

msquires9 wrote:
I believe we are free to choose what we choose, because it is determined that we will choose what we choose.
In other words, you are a compatibilist. The problem that libertarians like me have with this is that if "it is determined that we will choose what we choose," then by (our) definition we do not have free will at all. This has been a subject of considerable discussion and debate on these forums and elsewhere; see here for a recent lengthy thread and here and here for ones that are currently in progress.
msquires9
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Posted Nov 13, 2009 - 10:59 AM:

Nothing new under the sun, it seems.
Dragohunter
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Posted Nov 13, 2009 - 12:53 PM:

Personally I think the idea of determinism is misled for reasons irrelevant to this topic, but compatibilism doesn't prove anything. Simply asserting that psychological determinism is possible with external causal relations still posits the question of whether our actions and decisions are based on a composition of the sum total of our experiences.
reincarnated
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Posted Nov 14, 2009 - 2:06 AM:

aletheist wrote:
In other words, you are a compatibilist. The problem that libertarians like me have with this is that if "it is determined that we will choose what we choose," then by (our) definition we do not have free will at all. This has been a subject of considerable discussion and debate on these forums and elsewhere; see here for a recent lengthy thread and here and here for ones that are currently in progress.

Agreed. I too am a compatibilist, hence I define free will as being compatible with determinism.

The resolution to this is to accept that different people may mean different things when they talk of things like "free will" and "choice" (not, as some participants in these threads seem to insist, "no, no, no, your definition is WRONG, you MUST accept MY definition!") wink

The important thing, when arguing these things, is to be very careful to specify what one means when one is using such terms.

Dragohunter wrote:
Personally I think the idea of determinism is misled for reasons irrelevant to this topic, but compatibilism doesn't prove anything. Simply asserting that psychological determinism is possible with external causal relations still posits the question of whether our actions and decisions are based on a composition of the sum total of our experiences.

"Compatibilism" is a view of the world, its not necessarily intended to "prove anything". Similarly, metaphysical libertarianism is also a view of the world, it is not necessarily intended to "prove anything". Simply asserting that one believes oneself to be an uncaused cause does not entail that one IS an uncaused cause.
Soylent
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Posted Nov 14, 2009 - 4:02 AM:

reincarnated wrote:

Agreed. I too am a compatibilist, hence I define free will as being compatible with determinism.


Are you just turning compatibilism into an analytical statement? Isn't compatibilism supposed to show that free will and determinism are compatible and not merely define them to be?

Philo: Is free will compatible with determinism?

Demea: If it's not then its not really free will.
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Posted Nov 14, 2009 - 5:46 AM:

Soylent wrote:
Are you just turning compatibilism into an analytical statement? Isn't compatibilism supposed to show that free will and determinism are compatible and not merely define them to be?

Philo: Is free will compatible with determinism?

Demea: If it's not then its not really free will.

The problem is that the answer to the question of whether or not "free will" is compatible with "determinism" depends on how one defines free will (and determinism). Decide which definition you wish to use, and then proceed to show whether its compatible with determinism or not. The definition I wish to use is compatible with determinism.

Thus to "show that free will and determinism are compatible" requires that one choose compatible definitions of free will and determinism in the first place. If one's objective is to demonstrate compatibility, then the strategy is obvious, no? What would be the sense of attempting to show free will to be compatible with determinism if one started out with incompatible definitions?

The metaphysical libertarian definition of free will is generally held to be incompatible with determinism, but is also held (by compatibilists) to be incoherent, hence is rejected (by compatibilists) as a useful definition.

Edited by reincarnated on Nov 14, 2009 - 7:51 AM
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