[extropy-chat] Best To Regard Free Will as Existing

Thomas Thomas at thomasoliver.net
Thu Apr 5 19:07:57 UTC 2007

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

> On 4/5/07, scerir <scerir at libero.it <mailto:scerir at libero.it>> wrote:
>     [...]
>     The compatibilist definition, which says simply that acts are
>     freely willed
>     if they are not subject to constraints, is identified as much used
>     in the
>     legal system and essentially impervious to scientific investigation.
That sounds irrational to me.  

>     A
>     middle-ground "incompatibilist" definition, which requires that
>     freely
>     willed acts be consciously initiated, is shown to be relevant to
>     the idea
>     of mens rea and in the author's view not actually incompatible in
>     principle
>     with a fully scientific worldview. 
That suits me better than speaking of a cuckoo clock making "decisions." 
 It would help to establish the level of consciousness context.  The 
sensation level of earthworm consciouness seems barely capable of any 
kind of will.  The conceptual level of the human forebrain seems the 
proper context.  

>     Only the strong libertarian definition,
>     which requires that freely willed acts have no physical antecedents
>     whatsoever, makes the existence of free will very hard to swallow
>     scientifically.
And not really sane, eh?

> [...] Blaming and revenge are in keeping with a belief in free will; 
> tolerance and compassion are in keeping with the absence of such a 
> belief, although tolerance and compassion do not prevent us from 
> taking practical measures to prevent crimes.
> Stathis Papaioannou

Well then, we certainly need a better definition and understanding of 
"free will."  I, for one, have chosen, by self determined means, to 
avoid blame and revenge.  I see very little compassion amongst creatures 
who survive without rational volition.  The practice of punishment seems 
like a (probably false) solution for the social problems arising from 
disrespect of "free will." -- Thomas

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