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The Solution to the Problem of the Freedom of the Will
#1
The Solution to the Problem of the Freedom of the Will


Quote:"....the attempt to reconcile human autonomy with the complete randomness of human actions is surely hopeless.2 At first sight it appears that, despite the initial worries about determinism, indeterminism makes the conception of freedom of the will even less tenable.3
Despite the untenability of the ideas just mentioned, my aim in this paper will be to show that the solution to the problem of the freedom of the will does lie, nevertheless, with the truth of indeterminism. To see how this is so, it is necessary first to distinguish two very different grades of indeterminism. The indeterminism entailed by the common understanding of quantum mechanics, while it denies that the causal upshot of a situation is a determinate function of any fact about that situation, still insists that there is a complete causal truth about every situation. It is just that this truth is in the form, not of a unique outcome, but of a range of outcomes with specific probabilities attached to their occurrence. Thus situations are still conceived as evolving according to laws, just laws of a somewhat different kind. I shall refer to both determinism, and this brand of moderate indeterminism, as versions of the thesis of causal completeness. Even if determinism is false, causal completeness requires that there be some quantitatively precise law governing the development of every situation. If we maintain the doctrine of causal completeness, then the only retreat from physical determination of our actions is in the direction of more or less unreliability, hardly a desirable philosophical goal. However, the indeterminism that I wish to advocate is something quite different, the denial of causal completeness. I shall maintain that few, if any, situations have a complete causal truth to be told about them. Causal regularity is a much rarer feature of the world than is generally supposed. 

And the real solution to the problem of freedom of the will, I shall argue, is to recognize that humans, far from being putative exceptions to an otherwise seamless web of causal connection, are in fact dense concentrations of causal power in a world where this is in short supply."
"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us."

  -Thomas Browne
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#2
"What does determinism profess? It professes that those parts of the universe already laid down absolutely appoint and decree what the other parts shall be. The future has no ambiguous possibilities hidden in its womb; the part we call the present is compatible with only one totality. Any other future complement than the one fixed from eternity is impossible. The whole is in each and every part, and welds it with the rest into an absolute unity, an iron block, in which there can be no equivocation or shadow of turning. Indeterminism, on the contrary, says that the parts have a certain amount of loose play on one another, so that the laying down of one of them does not necessarily determine what the others shall be. It admits that possibilities may be in excess of actualities, and that things not yet revealed to our knowledge may really in themselves be ambiguous. Of two alternative futures which we conceive, both may now be really possible; and the one become impossible only at the very moment when the other excludes it by becoming real itself. Indeterminism thus denies the world to be one unbending unit of fact. It says there is a certain ultimate pluralism in it."
— William James

"Chance is a purely negative and relative term, giving us no information about that of which it is predicated, except that it happens to be disconnected with something else—not controlled, secured, or necessitated by other things in advance of its own actual presence. What I say is that it tells us nothing about what a thing may be in itself to call it “chance.” All you mean by calling it “chance” is that this is not guaranteed, that it may also fall out otherwise. For the system of other things has no positive hold on the chance-thing. Its origin is in a certain fashion negative: it escapes, and says, Hands off! coming, when it comes, as a free gift, or not at all. This negativeness, however, and this opacity of the chance-thing when thus considered ab extra, or from the point of view of previous things or distant things, do not preclude its having any amount of positiveness and luminosity from within, and at its own place and moment. All that its chance-character asserts about it is that there is something in it really of its own, something that is not the unconditional property of the whole. If the whole wants this property, the whole must wait till it can get it, if it be a matter of chance. That the universe may actually be a sort of joint-stock society of this sort, in which the sharers have both limited liabilities and limited powers, is of course a simple and conceivable notion."
— William James
"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us."

  -Thomas Browne
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#3
A claim in there says: "Causal regularity is a much rarer feature of the world than is generally supposed."

Now is it really?
How do we know this?

If the cause is unknown to us it might appear as if it not there.
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#4
(08-29-2017, 08:06 PM)Slorri Wrote: A claim in there says: "Causal regularity is a much rarer feature of the world than is generally supposed."

Now is it really?
How do we know this?

If the cause is unknown to us it might appear as if it not there.

It seems Dupre speaks of the regularity and you're talking about there being an unknown cause?

I guess I'm not sure what you're saying here?
"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us."

  -Thomas Browne
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#5
(08-30-2017, 01:50 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: It seems Dupre speaks of the regularity and you're talking about there being an unknown cause?

I guess I'm not sure what you're saying here?

He not only speaks of regularity, but even causal regularity. And his claim seems to be that it is rare. And I'm questioning that.

Is causation not regular? What is it then? Irregular?

If we find some string of events to be irregular, how can we prove that is due to some irregular causation and not by unknown causes?
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#6
(08-30-2017, 05:50 PM)Slorri Wrote: He not only speaks of regularity, but even causal regularity. And his claim seems to be that it is rare. And I'm questioning that.

Is causation not regular? What is it then? Irregular?

If we find some string of events to be irregular, how can we prove that is due to some irregular causation and not by unknown causes?

But this would also get into the question of how causation works in and of itself, and why anyone would think there is something binding the effect that comes from a particular cause.

I actually don't think Dupre is correct in his phrasing, as I agree with the Principle of Sufficient Reason. I just think Sufficient Reason does not bind the effect to its causes.
"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us."

  -Thomas Browne
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#7
(08-31-2017, 04:57 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: But this would also get into the question of how causation works in and of itself, and why anyone would think there is something binding the effect that comes from a particular cause.

I actually don't think Dupre is correct in his phrasing, as I agree with the Principle of Sufficient Reason. I just think Sufficient Reason does not bind the effect to its causes.

Of course we do not know how causation works in all cases, so that question has to be left out. There is no need for us to know how everything in this world operates to have an philosophical idea about it.
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#8
Also the writer, Dupre, is obviously biased against determinism.

Here is another quote:

"Presumably determinism is a very strong metaphysical assumption. To claim
that everything that happened had to happen, given the totality of prior conditions, is
to impose an enormously strong--indeed the strongest possible--restriction on the
possible evolution of the universe."

That is to say that his very existence stands and falls on him being able to prove determinism wrong. So he does that. He has no other option.
And he does it very superficially. He look upon how things appear to him. That is a high level approach.

What if his assumption in the quote above is wrong? Well, then his conclusion was based on an error.
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#9
(08-31-2017, 10:33 PM)Slorri Wrote: Of course we do not know how causation works in all cases, so that question has to be left out. There is no need for us to know how everything in this world operates to have an philosophical idea about it.

Actually I was saying we don't definitively know how causation works in any case, not that there are particular mysteries with the rest of causation being understood.

(08-31-2017, 10:41 PM)Slorri Wrote: Also the writer, Dupre, is obviously biased against determinism.

Here is another quote:

"Presumably determinism is a very strong metaphysical assumption. To claim
that everything that happened had to happen, given the totality of prior conditions, is
to impose an enormously strong--indeed the strongest possible--restriction on the
possible evolution of the universe."

That is to say that his very existence stands and falls on him being able to prove determinism wrong. So he does that. He has no other option.
And he does it very superficially. He look upon how things appear to him. That is a high level approach.

What if his assumption in the quote above is wrong? Well, then his conclusion was based on an error.

Well anyone can be accused of bias, for example I think many people are desperate for determinism to be true, but I don't really understand your objection?

He is simply saying in the quoted portion that it is a strong metaphysical assumption to assume that reality works in such a way that anyone could predict the subsequent fate of the universe from any point in time just by pondering the state of reality at the time.

What part of that could be wrong? That it isn't a strong metaphysical assumption? Even so this would not change the conclusion of the paper, that we don't live in a reality in which effects are bound by causes?
"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us."

  -Thomas Browne
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#10
From the empirical side:

Farewell to Determinism

Quote:It is a fantastic achievement of human knowledge when it becomes apparent that a set of experiments can conclusively resolve an ontological question. And moreover that the resolution turns out to be in sharp contrast to the intuition of most people. Outside of superconspiracy theories and “brain in a vat”-like scenarios (which can be dismissed as cognitively unstable), experimental results tell us that the world around us is not deterministic. Such a conclusion, in addition to being fascinating in itself, has a multitude of consequences. For one, it answers the question “Is the whole Universe just one big computer?” with a definite “no.” Also, it opens the door for the compatibility between the laws of physics on one side, and a whole plethora of concepts like free will, strong emergence, qualia, even religion — on the other. But these are all topics for some other articles.

[Image: flowchart-0011.jpg?w=983&h=737]
"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us."

  -Thomas Browne
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