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Determinism and Free Will

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Atlas-
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Right, of coure the mind can't make use of information it doesn't have any way of accessing, but if this is a requirement for free will, then this is an impossible requirement. What we mean by free will is not what you are thinking about, but the mechanism of thinking itself. What one thinks about will depend on many factors, inclusive of which is external stimuli. The proposition that free will means you are never, ever influenced or acted upon by external stimuli is untenable.

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The traditional notion of "determinism" versus "free will" is a false dichotomy - both conceptions, as traditionally understood, are incoherent and false. It is in the nature of human beings to have volition, but free will does not mean freedom from reality. It merely means that we have values (some the result of our nature as living organisms, others the result of experience), that we receive information about the world, and that we act on that information in accordance with our values.

See also the four previous threads on the exact same topic linked in the FAQ under Epistemology.

Edited by brian0918
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Because some of the events you speak of in determining what we are are, namely your personal character, is coming from your choices. So in that sense, you are a moral being. It is just not permissible to interpret that as freedom from interacting with anything external to you in reality.

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But wouldn't your "personal character" be merely the result of your genetic makeup, which is not a matter of choice at all? And if the choices we make are determined by the kind of person we are (our "personal character"), aren't we programmed, then, to make whatever particular choices we make?

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Everything in the body is a result of genetic makeup, so I don't see why that observation would invalidate the fact of choosing, which you can directly see yourself making, e.g. when you decide to hit the "reply" button, or not. As for the second thing, the conclusion doesn't follow. If the choices we make are determined by what kind of person we are, it doesn't follow that we are determined to make the particular choices we make by factors beyond our control.

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Iff all actions have causes and all those causes have actions, and we make our descions based on things we have seen/hear/felt and so on then where does free will come from? are we all not just a line of dominos being knocked down by those before us like those before them?

The domino stops here.

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If the choices we make are determined by what kind of person we are, it doesn't follow that we are determined to make the particular choices we make by factors beyond our control.

There is miscommunication here. No one has really defined what character even is. If the choices you make are determined by what kind of person you are, then it does follow that you have no real control over your actions. If you can't *help* what your character is, then you can't help doing whatever action falls under that kind of character. This is basically how Aristotle explained how you can figure out what virtue is. Look at what good people do to figure out what good actions are. Denial of volition isn't the issue, but the implication that people have a genetic *character* trivializes volition to actions like picking whether you want Cheerios or scrambled eggs for breakfast.

There isn't even scientific evidence that personal character can result from genetic makeup. The concept of character requires the concept of volition. While I think Aristotle was pretty far off on how to figure out virtue, I still use the idea that character is a conceptual categorization of the sum of habits a person has. Habits are actions you take consistently over a period of time. And actions, that's what we choose. Without the choosing aspect, actions you take are merely a result of the environment. Perhaps some actions a person is more inclined to take because of a corresponding sensation that is the result of a genetic or biological feature, but that's different than suggesting that character has even a tiny genetic component.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error

Take at that link, it's very useful to getting to think about what the concept of character even means.

This is the last thread I remember this being discussed: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=22235

I wrote an essay about it for a class once, which I probably should edit for the forum since this topic has come up several times.

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Oh yeah I see how that could be misleading... I was just thinking in the sense of ongoing choices contributing to shaping your character, which in turn helps shape what kind of choices you will make in the future. I don't think we can infer from one's character influencing one's choices at a certain time to the fact that it couldn't also be previous choices influencing one's character at an earlier time. But that could be confusing.

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The spiral theory of knowledge applied to the ongoing choices which shape your character, helping to shape your future choices, only able to regress back to the fundamental choice, the choice which has the potential to set all the subsequent choices into motion; the initial choice: to focus - thereafter followed by the ever present continual choice: to focus.

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I realise what you are all saying but the fact still remains when you make a choice, whether it's what you want to eat for breakfest, set out to world domination or to focus, what made you make that choice? It is the infomation you have aquired and deduced. This info has come to light and is true because of the actions of someone or something. If not for this infomation than consciously or subconsciously you're descion would be changed. When you come into the world there is aloready a host of info out there. I have chosen to think rationaly yes, but if I had not experienced that which I did then I might no have. Then again I had to experience those things because of the colliding of two atoms billions of years ago.

Think of it this way, if you rewind a tape then it still plays the same thing no matter how many times you do it. Life is the same people where always going to make those choices based on the choices made by others. I don't want to belive this and thats why I'm asking but I can't deny reality.

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Life is the same people where always going to make those choices based on the choices made by others.

Can you demonstrate how you know this?

I don't want to belive this and thats why I'm asking but I can't deny reality.

If you already think determinism IS reality, why are you asking the question? You couldn't help but ask it based on all of your previous experiences?

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I realise what you are all saying but the fact still remains when you make a choice, whether it's what you want to eat for breakfest, set out to world domination or to focus, what made you make that choice? It is the infomation you have aquired and deduced.

No, the choice to focus is a primary choice, it is not deduced or acquired from some other information.

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If you rewind a tape, it will play the same thing because it is the nature of the entities involved - the cassette, and the cassette player.

Life, specifically with regard to conceptual consciousness, too has a nature. The primary choice is to focus. The choice to focus provides you a plethora of choices which exist about you available to direct your focus on. Did you direct your eyes, or are they being moved in some predetermined way? (If your eyes are being moved in some predetermined way, please let me know what kind of vehicle you drive so I can choose the next exit, should I observe it.)

The tape has magnetic particles and the head of the recorder reads it as it passes across in the order it appears on the tape.

Which way, or upon what you direct your focus is guided by your choice. You can choose to read these words and comprehend them, and ignore or choose to pay attention to the sensations available to you on your back against the chair (presuming you are sitting in a chair reading this) or even take cognizance of the brightness of the light enabling you to see the myriad of things about you. You can even choose to read these words and take note of the suggestions mentioned to become aware of how the words and the related stimuli correlate.

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I am in the same position as Atlas

Think of this

You make a computer strong enough and physics simulation software advanced enough, then enter ALL THE DATA in it, would you, or would you not, be able to predict one persons behavior? Or anything that ever happens ultimately.

If no(most common opinion) explain why please(free will).

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This is an issue I had trouble with for awhile too, until I realized that I was confusing the words determinism and causality, and for that reason thinking that causality is incompatible with free will.

It's not! Free will is a link in the causal chain. It's just a link whose nature is different from that of the nature of every other link (in that its effects are self-determined and therefore not perfectly predictable).

We are dominos in a certain sense, but we're dominos who get to decide how to fall, and which other dominos to hit in doing so.

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