Are you an atheist who belives in freewill. Or are you long past believing in the concept of freewill? I cannot imagine being a non-theist and still believing in freewill so I am curious how you feel about the concept.

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It isn't as if we would be punishing them, because it wouldn't be us doing the punishment, it would be the nature of the universe punishing him.

 

Total lack of freewill removes any sense from motivation or morality, because we are no longer making choices, we are just along for the ride.

It isn't as if we would be punishing them, because it wouldn't be us doing the punishment, it would be the nature of the universe punishing him.

 

We are part of the universe (and its nature).  Even if you consider the universe as one giant machine, and we are cogs in that machine, we still serve a function as cogs.  To say it is the nature of the universe that is punishing a person is incredibly vague and compared to identifying the specific component in the nature of the universe that is doing the punishing: us.

 

"Total lack of freewill removes any sense from motivation or morality, because we are no longer making choices, we are just along for the ride."

 

It shouldn't.  With or without freewill, experiences still have intrinsic value to us.  Pain, pleasure, thought, consideration, love, hatred, fear, security, compassion -- these things all exist, and they all affect/ effect motivation and morality.  Even in a universe devoid of freewill which functions like a machine, all of the afore mentioned things are components in that machine.  They all have properties and impact in processes that actually do occur.  Choice is a process that does occur with or without freewill.

We would be punishing them in the same way the cell door does, if even that.

 

For any action to occur, there must be a decision, otherwise it is just a process beyond any control.

 

Punishment is an action, so it is one of us deciding to carry out the punishment, or it is 'the universe' or some other force doing it, and we are part of the means of punishment. Or, there is no punishment taking place.

 

Yes, with or without freewill, experiences have value.  But if you aren't influencing your experience, then there is no reason to attempt one action rather than another. Not that you could even attempt  anything without freewill of some degree.

"We would be punishing them in the same way the cell door does, if even that."

 

No, not at all.  Cell doors and human beings may both be composed of matter, be subject to the same laws physics, subject to causality, and may share a host of base similarities, but at the macro level, they are two vastly different things with vastly different behaviors and responses.

 

"For any action to occur, there must be a decision, otherwise it is just a process beyond any control."

 

For most actions to occur, no decision is necessary; however, the term 'punishment' is generally reserved for something deliberate.  In the case of punishment, a decision is necessary.  Decisions occur all the time.  They are a pretty well-observed phenomenon.  I've already explained this earlier in the thread here.

 

"Or, there is no punishment taking place."

 

An unlikely scenario.  Punishment is a well-observed phenomenon.

 

"...or it is 'the universe' or some other force doing it, and we are part of the means of punishment."

 

I don't think it is at all meaningful to say that the universe is doing it, and I've never seen any evidence for some 'other force'.

 

"...so it is one of us deciding to carry out the punishment..."

 

This is, by far, the most plausible and well-supported explanation.  The processes involved, at a basic level, can be very easily outlined and explained.  Sentient beings are integral to these processes.

 

"But if you aren't influencing your experience, then there is no reason to attempt one action rather than another. 

Not that you could even attempt  anything without freewill of some degree."

 

Reasons to attempt one action rather than another (more simply, motivations) do exist.  We all experience this numerous times though out the course of even a single day.

This is a reply to Kris,  it seems we have run out of space to reply under one comment.

 

A choice means that there are more than one way for the chooser to act. Determinism and choice are mutually exclusive.

 

Cell doors and humans are quite different, but doors don't control their actions, and without freewill, neither do we.

 

I agree, what we think of as punishment is a well-observed phenomenon. But if it isn't actually deliberate, then we have been seeing something that looks a lot like punishment, but isn't actually punishment.

 

I don't think the universe punishes anyone (except in that we are part of the universe, so you could phrase it that way if you wanted), and I don't think any other force does it. So either we have a choice, meaning it is possible for us not to punish them, meaning we have freewill,  or there is no decision, and therefore no punishment.

 

And I suppose reasons to try and act a certain way can still exist without freewill, but they are entirely irrelevant and useless because you would not be able to act upon them.

 

If you were certain that you had no freewill, and you acted on that certainty, you would no longer believe you should try and influence your life. If you did in fact have freewill, and you acted this way, the consequences could be quite bad for you.

"A choice means that there are more than one way for the chooser to act. Determinism and choice are mutually exclusive."

 

Choice means making selection.  Unless you are Shrödinger's you cannot act more than one way.  With or without free will, and with or without causality, by definition you will act the way you will act and will not act the way you will not act.  It's completely senseless to define choice as the ability to act the way you will act and act the way you will not act at the same time. Doing so means removing the term by which we call a real process that does occur.  The process of choice certainly does occur; we simply previously misunderstood it's basic nature.

 

"And I suppose reasons to try and act a certain way can still exist without freewill, but they are entirely irrelevant and useless because you would not be able to act upon them."

 

Of course we can act on them. We do this all the time. The way we act on them is simply causal in nature.

Choice must be between multiple possible outcomes, by definition.

 

And yes, you will do the thing you will do. But that doesn't mean that what you will do tomorrow is determined today. Are there multiple ways that the future can unfold? You have definitely not proved that there aren't. If there are multiple possible futures, can I influence which one actually happens? You have not proven that I can't. You have the burden of proof, I do not, as I have not claimed that we actually do have freewill.

No not multiple outcomes: between multiple candidates or considerations.
You are saying that when you 'choose' something, it is already determined by forces beyond your mind. Which means there is only one candidate, one consideration, and one outcome. There might be an illusion of choice, but there is no choice.

No, I am not saying that.  I am saying that a process of weighing criteria must occur before any subsequent action will take place.  That process of consideration and acting upon it constitute choice.  That process has its own set of mechanics and characteristics at the macro level, which warrant regarding it as a distinct phenomenon.  

 

If you flip a light switch off, the light switch gives no consideration to the end result.  There is no computation process; there is just direct response.  If you ask me to turn the light switch off determination will dictate whether I do it or not, just as it did with the light switch, but there is an intermediary process that occurs in which I give consideration to your request.  Do I fulfill it or do I not fulfill it?  That process of consideration could be analyzed, diagramed and established to be a process disctint from that of the light switch.  We call that choice.  

 

It's about the process of weighing criteria and not the ability to defy causality.  The ability to defy causality is not only nonsensical, but also completely unnecessary for defining 'choice'.

 

Causality does not limit this process.  Causality is not a forcefield that acts upon things or makes them do one thing over another.  Causality is the recognition that things have intrinsic properties, definition, characteristics, mechanics (etc.) that are consistent and thus predictable.

 

My nature will govern how I make choices and I am not capable of choosing my own nature.  I understand where people see that as a negation of free will, but that is not how we experience reality.   Part of my nature is to have self-awareness, as well as an awareness of my environment and an awareness of the consequences of my actions.  In that awareness, I also have desires and a conscious appreciation for some consequences to my actions over others.  That's also know as 'will'.  My will is one of the factors that determines how I make decisions. That is all a part of my nature, part of the mechanics of how I function.  

 

Could I be considered a biological computer?  Sure, but  will and choice are components in this computer that strongly define how this computer runs.  If you've ever tried to replace components on a computer, I'm sure you'll find that a reductionist approach doesn't work.  "Yes, I'd like to order a collection of atoms that behave in a deterministic manner based on the laws of physics to create a set perceived behaviour that creates the illusion of random access memory".  I know my analogy probably should have been software and not hardware, but I'm typing furiously on a break and am too lazy to go back and fix it.

 

So from the position that I am arguing, yes I am a biological computer, but choice and will are definitive components in how this system runs.  I think, in order to understand human biology and psychology, it is necessary to acknowledge these phenomena.

 

Is my will free?  Ah, freewill isn't that important to me, but I would say it does exist.  'Free' means without impediment.  In the absolute sense, I am not aware of anything that exists without impediment.  I don't think it's ever useful to use the term 'free' in the absolute sense.  In a practical sense what impedes my will when I make choices?  I am standing in a hardware store to buy pain.  I am presented with green paint and an equally priced yellow paint of the exact same quality and performance.  Personally, I prefer the colour green.  My desire is to have a colour I like.  Using that single criterion, I act on that desire and select the green, which is the enactment of my will; an intrinsic preference based on an appreciation of the available candidates.  Where there any restrictions on that will?  Yes.  For instance, I did not choose to like the colour green.  In this case, however, liking green may not be a choice, but it is part of my own nature.  To say that it impeded my will is to say that my will is impeded by my own nature, which would be odd because I also say that my will is determined by my own nature.

 

When considering the dynamics of human behaviour (and perhaps other animas as well), I think it is not only practical in an expedient sense, but also meaningful to acknowledge free will as part of the equation.

I do not see what point you are trying to make.

 

I think we agree that we do not really know whether or not we have freewill, and I am arguing that unless we can conclusively prove that we do not have any freewill whatsoever, we should live as though we have some measure of freewill, because choosing what to do based on a lack of freewill makes no sense whatsoever.

 

With limited freewill, life is like driving a car. You can turn left or right, accelerate or stop, but you can't necessarily teleport or fly.  And it makes a difference what you do.

 

A total absence of freewill is like a roller-coaster. no matter what you do, it is going to follow its path. It might be fun, it might not, but you are along for the ride, and can't do anything about it.

 

If you are on a roller-coaster, and think you are in control, you really aren't going to cause any harm. If you are in a car, and think it is a roller-coaster, you  have a fairly good chance of either not going anywhere at all, or going somewhere you would rather not be.

I think this is one of those issues for which the evidence is not sufficient to support a claim of either extreme, free-will vs determinism, being the case. The most rational view, based on our understanding of all the complex factors involved is that what we have is "limited free will."

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