Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

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Rational Atheist
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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

Post #141

Post by bluegreenearth »

FYI - My apologies, but I won't be able to respond on this forum for a while. My career is advancing me into a new role in another State, and I'll be busy preparing my house to go on the market and finding a new home. Thanks for understanding.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #142

Post by bluegreenearth »

[Replying to The Tanager in post #135]

FYI - My apologies, but I won't be able to respond on this forum for a while. My career is advancing me into a new role in another State, and I'll be busy preparing my house to go on the market and finding a new home. Thanks for understanding.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #143

Post by The Tanager »

bluegreenearth wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:49 amThe 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.

Philosophically, both determinism and free will remain real possibilities. I absolutely agree that my case doesn’t rule out determinism; I haven’t claimed it does rule it out. You seemed to me to have been arguing that free will is ruled out and determinism or randomness are the only games in town. Both the determinist and the free willer have the burden to show why they believe as they do before being justified in rejecting the alternative.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #144

Post by Miles »

The Tanager wrote: Fri Dec 03, 2021 4:14 pm
bluegreenearth wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:49 amThe 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.

Philosophically, both determinism and free will remain real possibilities. I absolutely agree that my case doesn’t rule out determinism; I haven’t claimed it does rule it out. You seemed to me to have been arguing that free will is ruled out and determinism or randomness are the only games in town. Both the determinist and the free willer have the burden to show why they believe as they do before being justified in rejecting the alternative.
In what sense could the will be free to act without being caused to do so? If there was no cause behind the act how is it any different than being absolutely and utterly random in nature? And if it's caused then it necessarily requires a causal agent of some kind to make the act be X rather than Y.


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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #145

Post by The Tanager »

Miles wrote: Fri Dec 03, 2021 9:27 pmIn what sense could the will be free to act without being caused to do so? If there was no cause behind the act how is it any different than being absolutely and utterly random in nature? And if it's caused then it necessarily requires a causal agent of some kind to make the act be X rather than Y.
The will being free is just another way to phrase the individual (more specifically, the mind of the individual) as the causal agent. Thus, it's not random, but it's not caused by purely physical factors one has no control over either.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #146

Post by Miles »

The Tanager wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 10:36 am
Miles wrote: Fri Dec 03, 2021 9:27 pmIn what sense could the will be free to act without being caused to do so? If there was no cause behind the act how is it any different than being absolutely and utterly random in nature? And if it's caused then it necessarily requires a causal agent of some kind to make the act be X rather than Y.
The will being free is just another way to phrase the individual (more specifically, the mind of the individual) as the causal agent.
A rather odd definition, a free will being an individual as a causal agent. So what about other elements being an individual as a causal agent, elements such as our autonomic response? Or perhaps our dreams being an individual as a causal agent?


Thus, it's not random, but it's not caused by purely physical factors one has no control over either.
Fine, Then what causes the will to freely do A rather than B? Why did I turn right rather than left? Just because I felt like it? Why did I feel like it? There has to be a reason for everything we think and do, and that reason demands more than "It's what I wanted to do."------"Why did you want to do _________ ?


It's turtles all the way down. Each turtle explaining the existence of the turtle above it.


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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #147

Post by Seek »

Freedom of choice does not exist. Everything we do is the result of our brains and external factors.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #148

Post by The Tanager »

Sorry for being away for a couple of weeks.
Miles wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 2:25 pmA rather odd definition, a free will being an individual as a causal agent. So what about other elements being an individual as a causal agent, elements such as our autonomic response? Or perhaps our dreams being an individual as a causal agent?

Why do you think this is an odd definition? If you wanted to call both of these an individual as a causal agent, then you would need sub-categories to explain the clear difference of voluntary individual causation (even if it doesn’t exist in reality) and involuntary individual causation.
Miles wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 2:25 pmFine, Then what causes the will to freely do A rather than B? Why did I turn right rather than left? Just because I felt like it? Why did I feel like it? There has to be a reason for everything we think and do, and that reason demands more than "It's what I wanted to do."------"Why did you want to do _________ ?


It's turtles all the way down. Each turtle explaining the existence of the turtle above it.

Being the causal agent, in the ultimate sense, means (by definition) that you can’t ask “what caused X to do Y”. That’s true whether the ultimate cause is said to be a free will or physical factors or whatever. Asking “but what causes the will to freely do A rather than B” is just like asking “but what causes the physical factors to do A rather than B”.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #149

Post by Seek »

Miles wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 2:25 pm Fine, Then what causes the will to freely do A rather than B? Why did I turn right rather than left? Just because I felt like it? Why did I feel like it? There has to be a reason for everything we think and do, and that reason demands more than "It's what I wanted to do."------"Why did you want to do _________ ?
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Exactly. Any answer you give to "Why did I do this?" would re-inforce the idea that there is a reason for everything we do.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #150

Post by The Tanager »

[Replying to Seek in post #150]

There is equally a 'reason' physical factors cause us to do X. I think you and others are equivocating on reason and cause, treating 'reason' differently within the free will explanation and the determinism explanation.

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