Free will exists in a real sense.

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Dimmesdale
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Free will exists in a real sense.

Post #1

Post by Dimmesdale »

You are not entirely at the mercy of external (or even internal causes). You have free will, but, in my view, it is very minute. It is something that comes with being a spiritual being. You are not like a nail, who has to be driven into a plank of wood with a hammer. You have the capacity for control. Not complete control, because there are obviously many things which condition you and move you. Many, many factors. But, in the midst of that, you have a degree of freedom which you are to exercise.
As a matter of fact, free will is less about a one-time decision and more like a cultivation of mind. The more positive influences you internalize, the more virtuous you become, the freer you become. And you don’t become freer by making more choices but by making better choices.

IF you still don’t believe in free will, maybe the following illustration will convince you.

Let’s say you have to give a big speech in front of your class or colleagues or something. It’s an important speech and you want to come across as professional and just not make a fool of yourself. Now let’s say that in the middle of your speech a strange desire overcomes you. You suddenly feel the urge to say a dirty, ludicrous sort of word. You know that if you say this word, you’ll never want to show your face again. You have two separate emotions occurring within you: honor and a guilty pleasure. I will bet that, if you are a sane individual, who is determined not to be a fool or a clown, you will 10 times out of 10 assert your right to control your tongue, and resist the urge to say the dirty word. It may be difficult, and you might cave, but you will assert your free will in that instance and not resign yourself to… “oh, it’s just material causation going on, I have nothing to do with it� - the practical fact of the matter belies it, for you are definitely asserting your control and in fact would hate to lose your control. You have a degree of control because you have some free will. That is just a fact, whether you accept it or deny it.

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Re: Free will exists in a real sense.

Post #2

Post by Dimmesdale »

[Replying to post 1 by Dimmesdale]

An objection to this example may be leveled thus:

There is no free will demonstrated here, because of the two emotions at play, honor and guilty pleasure, honor simply won out.

But this is countered thus: It is you who are definitely asserting your control, and you are not an emotion. It is the rational mind, which, considering two options, falls on the side of honor. It is not that honor dictates the decision. It is true that we are very committed to protecting honor, but honor stems from something deeper. It stems from self-respect, which is grounded in our conception of ourselves. And it is this, through a rational weighing of the cost, that we are zealous to protect. If honor simply dictated the decision, then it would be automatic. We would not have to "will" ourselves to defend it in a given situation. We would have the sense that it would guard itself, as it were by instinct. Instead we, again, actively assert OUR control in a situation such as this.

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Divine Insight
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Re: Free will exists in a real sense.

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Post by Divine Insight »

Dimmesdale wrote: I will bet that, if you are a sane individual.
Do you have the free will to be a sane individual? Also, what does it even mean to be sane? If someone makes choices that you view as being bad choices, does that mean that they are insane?

Based on your argument it must mean they are insane, because you just argued that no "sane" person would chose to do this thing that you consider to be an insane act.

In fact, I've made this argument many time. If it's insane to chose to do bad things, then all criminals must then necessarily be insane. Right? How could they be sane when we have just defined sanity as not making bad choices?

So your entire proposition is already in deep trouble from a logical perspective.

You have no choice but to conclude that all criminals are insane. No sane person would make the choices they have made. That's your argument.


Also you say:
The more positive influences you internalize, the more virtuous you become, the freer you become. And you don’t become freer by making more choices but by making better choices.
But even this defies your original proposition. If you claim that our previous choices have an influence on the next choices we make, then you are setting up a chain of "cause-and-effect" that would violate your claim that we are free to chose.

I consider myself to be a very decent person who has obviously make very good choices throughout my entire life. At least in terms of moral values. I certainly haven't made the best choices in terms of financial success. But that's a whole other story.

The question then becomes, "Am I truly responsible for having become a good person? Or was I just lucky that things happen to go this way?"

As you point out, it could simply be that I tended to make good choices and those good choices were the "cause" that ultimately had the "effect" that I turned out to be a good person.

Things could have gone very differently. And possible even due to external influences beyond my control!

I may have just been lucky to have had good influences from a young age. My initial choices could have been nothing more than dumb luck. And they just cascaded (as you suggest) in a chain of cause-and-effect that just culminated in me being what we socially consider to be a "Good Person".

In short, you arguments don't convince me of the existence of free will. And why should I even have anything against the idea of free will? After all if free will truly does exist and I'm responsible for becoming the good person that I am, then why should I not want to argue for free will so I can take credit for being a good person?

If free will exists, that ends up being a gold star on my forehead. I have absolutely no motivation or incentive to argue that free will doesn't exist. Yet, I'm not convinced that it does.

As you argue. All criminals must then necessarily be insane, because what sane person is going to chose to do bad things if they have a free will choice to avoid them.

I think you just proved that free will cannot exist. For if it did there would be no reason for anyone to make bad choices, save for those who are indeed insane. But insanity is a sickness. So all criminals would be off the hood anyway in terms of having any responsibility for they bad choices.

According to your argument the ONLY reason they could have made bad choices is if they were insane (i.e. mentally ill).

So you have just made an argument that let's everyone who has ever made a bad choice off the hood entirely. They must be insane. Because according to your argument no sane person would have ever freely made bad choices.
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AdHoc
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Re: Free will exists in a real sense.

Post #4

Post by AdHoc »

[Replying to post 1 by Dimmesdale]

Why do children have to be taught to do good and not evil?

Why is it the default position to be selfish?

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Re: Free will exists in a real sense.

Post #5

Post by Dimmesdale »

Divine Insight wrote:
Dimmesdale wrote: I will bet that, if you are a sane individual.
Do you have the free will to be a sane individual? Also, what does it even mean to be sane? If someone makes choices that you view as being bad choices, does that mean that they are insane?

Based on your argument it must mean they are insane, because you just argued that no "sane" person would chose to do this thing that you consider to be an insane act.
You misunderstand. I give the condition for the type of control I have here in mind. The condition is that one is sane because he is self-possessed. That is, he can control his actions and is determined in a given course of action: namely, that he wants to give a professional speech. Minus that, I don't know what any given person's motivations might be. I simply point out what they are in this instance.

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