Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

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Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

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Post by Rational Atheist »

Here is a simple, yet powerful, argument against the idea that we 'freely' choose our actions.

1. Our thoughts determine our choices.

2. We do not freely choose our thoughts.

3. Therefore, our choices cannot be free.

I don't think anyone would object to premise 1, especially those who believe in free will, since by definition, a "free" choice, if it could exist, requires a person to consciously make it, which by definition involves thought. Premise 2 may be controversial to some, but with a simple thought experiment, it can be proven to be true. If a person could freely choose their thoughts, then they would have to be able to consciously choose what they were going to think before actually thinking it. In other words, there would have to be a time before a person thinks a thought that that thought was consciously chosen by a person, which literally entails the necessity of being able to think a thought before one thinks it. This, of course, is a logical contradiction. Ergo, free will does not exist.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

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Post by The Tanager »

bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Nov 19, 2021 5:54 pmI'm not following your logic for how the existence of a mental reason for choosing X over Y is at a different level than the two identified explanations.
On determinism, physical factors produce mental reasons for "choosing" X over Y in order (for some reason) to give us the appearance of being logical beings. On libertarian free will, the will chooses a good to pursue and then can use logic in order to see how one would best pursue that good. Both of our explanations include mental reasons for choosing X over Y as part of the fuller narrative. You tried to use the existence of mental reasons for choosing X over Y as proof that libertarian free will is a farce, but it fits right in my explanation, just like they also fit into your fuller, more ultimate explanation. Another analogy would be that it is one of the floors of our buildings, while the whole building itself is the explanation at the level of determinism vs. libertarian free will.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #132

Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 3:33 pm On determinism, physical factors produce mental reasons for "choosing" X over Y in order (for some reason) to give us the appearance of being logical beings. On libertarian free will, the will chooses a good to pursue and then can use logic in order to see how one would best pursue that good. Both of our explanations include mental reasons for choosing X over Y as part of the fuller narrative. You tried to use the existence of mental reasons for choosing X over Y as proof that libertarian free will is a farce, but it fits right in my explanation, just like they also fit into your fuller, more ultimate explanation. Another analogy would be that it is one of the floors of our buildings, while the whole building itself is the explanation at the level of determinism vs. libertarian free will.
Thanks for the explanation. For the record, I do not claim to have "proof' that libertarian freewill is a farce. This is because it is my understanding that no quantity or quality of evidence can prove or disprove the faith-based claim of libertarian freewill.

Meanwhile, on determinism, the claim that physical factors produce neurological activity (e.g. mental reasoning) is falsifiable and continues to pass a variety of tests designed to demonstrate if it is false. Therefore, it is justifiable to infer determinism at this time. Is the libertarian freewill claim falsifiable and testable in the same way to justify your inference?

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #133

Post by The Tanager »

bluegreenearth wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:06 pmMeanwhile, on determinism, the claim that physical factors produce neurological activity (e.g. mental reasoning) is falsifiable and continues to pass a variety of tests designed to demonstrate if it is false. Therefore, it is justifiable to infer determinism at this time. Is the libertarian freewill claim falsifiable and testable in the same way to justify your inference?

Could you give a specific examples of this, so that we can understand and analyze your point more fully?

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #134

Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 3:38 pm
bluegreenearth wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:06 pmMeanwhile, on determinism, the claim that physical factors produce neurological activity (e.g. mental reasoning) is falsifiable and continues to pass a variety of tests designed to demonstrate if it is false. Therefore, it is justifiable to infer determinism at this time. Is the libertarian freewill claim falsifiable and testable in the same way to justify your inference?

Could you give a specific examples of this, so that we can understand and analyze your point more fully?
My point is that neurology is a rigorously peer-reviewed scientific field. As such, its hypotheses and theories which are inherently deterministic must be falsifiable and thoroughly tested or be rejected as unscientific. The methods and results of numerous peer-reviewed experiments in the field of neurology are published in various reputable journals in which they describe how their tentatively accepted deterministic hypotheses and theories were and are falsifiable. It is not necessary to specify random examples of this because any rigorously peer-reviewed experiment conducted in the field of neurology was, by definition, a demonstrable attempt to falsify a deterministic hypothesis. That is how science works to mitigate for confirmation bias and why its inferences are justifiable. The fact that no neurological experiment has yet succeeded in falsifying determinism means we cannot justifiably rule-out determinism at this time.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #135

Post by The Tanager »

bluegreenearth wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:56 pmMy point is that neurology is a rigorously peer-reviewed scientific field. As such, its hypotheses and theories which are inherently deterministic must be falsifiable and thoroughly tested or be rejected as unscientific. The methods and results of numerous peer-reviewed experiments in the field of neurology are published in various reputable journals in which they describe how their tentatively accepted deterministic hypotheses and theories were and are falsifiable. It is not necessary to specify random examples of this because any rigorously peer-reviewed experiment conducted in the field of neurology was, by definition, a demonstrable attempt to falsify a deterministic hypothesis. That is how science works to mitigate for confirmation bias and why its inferences are justifiable. The fact that no neurological experiment has yet succeeded in falsifying determinism means we cannot justifiably rule-out determinism at this time.

Determinism versus free will is not a scientific question; it is a philosophical one. So, neurology can’t be inherently deterministic unless one proves or begs the philosophical question. The rigorously peer-reviewed philosophical question is still very much an open one. So, yes, you do need to bring in examples and make a philosophical case for why determinism is in a different boat than libertarian free will in these respects.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #136

Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 7:58 am Determinism versus free will is not a scientific question; it is a philosophical one. So, neurology can’t be inherently deterministic unless one proves or begs the philosophical question. The rigorously peer-reviewed philosophical question is still very much an open one. So, yes, you do need to bring in examples and make a philosophical case for why determinism is in a different boat than libertarian free will in these respects.
The philosophical case is that determinism remains a logical possibility until it is demonstrated to be false. Your argument for the possibility of freewill does not rule-out the possibility of determinism. So, you need to demonstrate that determinism is false before you are justified in rejecting it.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

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Post by Grunt0311 »

When the jailer asked Paul what must I do to be saved.Paul responded with believe on the Lord Jesus, which yes is your choice to accept or reject.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

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Post by Miles »

Grunt0311 wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 10:17 pm When the jailer asked Paul what must I do to be saved.Paul responded with believe on the Lord Jesus, which yes is your choice to accept or reject.
Choice, choosing, and having chosen are all illusions. You do only what you've been made to do.


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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

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Post by Grunt0311 »

Not even close the jailer did as God required and Paul taught.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #140

Post by Miles »

Grunt0311 wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 12:11 am Not even close the jailer did as God required and Paul taught.
Perhaps not, but it's spot on re. your comment, "which yes is your choice to accept or reject."



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