Compatibilist Free Will

Sure. God sees the future, and you are able to choose.  Sure.

Sure. God sees the future, and you are able to choose. Sure.

Hint: It’s an illusion.

About these ads

22 Responses to Compatibilist Free Will

  1. QB says:

    i agree it is an illusion.. Destiny and Free will are compatible like reincarnation and resurrection are compatible
    Destiny =what the lesson is and why that you cant change
    Free will= how you choose to experience the lesson
    Reincarnation= one eternal round
    Ressurection=birth

  2. prophetize says:

    It seems to me that God’s absolute foreknowledge and our “free will” being compatible/possible is no less likely than a God coming to earth via virgin birth to atone the sins of humanity in a dusty backwater of a Roman province.

  3. WVS says:

    prophetize, I’m all for miracles. I just draw the line at paradox.

    • prophetize says:

      The Atonement itself is the ultimate paradox, though. How does a man’s blood, even a God’s, save all of humanity, past present and future? How did a virgin conceive a God?

      Paradoxes abound at the heart of the greatest miracle.

      (By the way, I’m not really trying to argue with you, I’m just pointing out a different perspective to these issues.)

  4. WVS says:

    I’m using “paradox” in the formal sense then.

    • prophetize says:

      I think the problem is rather vague though. Does applying the label “paradox” mean that it’s impossible in the absolute sense? (End of story, in other words.) How would we know either way? What is impossible in a logical or philosophical sense may prove to be real in another dimension of the universe.

      I guess I find myself unwilling to place my own limits on God. I recognize that according to Mormon doctrine even God is circumscribed, yet I hasten to recognize that the mortal brain is limited by what constrains *us*, meaning that just because we cannot intellectually reconcile what seems absurd to us, does not mean, simpliciter, that it is wrong. Many things are absurd and true, for instance.

      Perhaps at the end of day, we simply take the blue pill.

  5. ricke says:

    Like the “blue” sky, some illusions are to be enjoyed.

  6. WVS says:

    I think if we are willing to impeach the fundamental principles of first order logic, then it’s difficult to trust any conclusion drawn by anyone about anything. I admit that the fear of contradiction is probably a professional prejudice, but I think it has some utility for most everything.

    • prophetize says:

      I agree with the utility for ‘most everything’. I just think there can be exceptions. We don’t know enough about what God really knows. And therein lies the pickle, IMHO.

  7. J. Stapley says:

    Verily, WVS.

  8. I agree that compatibilist free will is an illusion. However, so is the notion of atonement with which prophetize is operating. That is not to say that there isn’t a perfectly good and scriptural notion of free will or atonement; it just ain’t these.

  9. Steve says:

    Likewise, if someone does not understand the principles behind special or general relativity, they may take issue with many of its conclusions. Things like relativity or compatibilist free will may not be intuitive to every person, but that does not make it illogical or illusory.

    Maybe you can outline what particular hangups you have with compatibilist free will. Because if we accept free will as a possibility, I assure you that something at least very near compatibilist free will is the only sound logical conclusion we can arrive at.

  10. WVS says:

    Steve, are you really pretending to be ignorant of the issues here? If you think physics implies a compatibilist view, whatever. The point of compatibility is that it really ruins the notion of accountability. In a Godelian universe where all world lines are set in the space-time stone, there are still space-time points of decision. But those moments have no real logical uncertainty attached to them apparently. And “free will” is an illusion.

  11. Steve says:

    WVS, I’m not pretending anything. If you feel there is actual ignorance on my part, I am open to new perspectives or ideas which I may not of heard of or considered before.

    “The point of compatibility is that it really ruins the notion of accountability.” I don’t understand why that has to be. Actually, I think the exact opposite is true: compatibility explains the notion of accountability, and it is rather incompatibility that ruins the notion of accountability. If one’s actions are not determined by one’s beliefs, desires, and character, then how could one possibly be held morally responsible for those actions? In a model where choice at best is based on probabilities, there is at least some element of the outcome being determined at random. How can individuals’ choices be held morally accountable if they are at least in part based on luck of the moment?

    “But those moments have no real logical uncertainty attached to them apparently. And “free will” is an illusion.” I don’t think your last sentence follows from the previous sentence. That’s what an incompatibilist would say, not a compatibilist. To me, logical certainty of future outcomes does not make free will an illusion. Maybe freedom from one’s own will. But why would anyone want to be free from their own will (or free to act outside or against their own will)? That’s not the type of free will I’m interested in.

    I should add though, that there is probably one way that I differ from most compatibilists. I accept that the original mind of each individual is eternal. I understand that to mean each mind can be considered from its origin, an uncaused cause. But thereafter begins the deterministic chain as explained by compatibilism, where the will of the mind may find freedom of expression through choice. And since that which makes up the original mind can be learned by another mind (i.e. God), foreknowledge is possible.

  12. J. Stapley says:

    Steve, I think that the only way you can retain any sort of will in such a scenario is to pull back all choice to a single moment, perhaps the big bang–the collapse of an incomprehensibly vast wave function. If all choices are made at that one point, it is possible to have both free will and foreknowledge, but I’m not sure that is all that appealing of a solution.

  13. WVS says:

    Indeed. Driving accountability away from cotemporal positioning is truly counter to essential Mormon discourse. But Steve, if that floats your boat, more power to you!

  14. Steve says:

    I am glad to have responses from both of you. Just as a quick aside, thank you for the time and effort you put into your writings, I have learned a lot from both of you.

    @ J. Stapley. I’m not sure I agree. By “all choices” do you mean the foundational will of the individual mind? I can maybe agree with that. But of course, that will cannot be expressed and the moral consequences of choice made manifest until an actual choice is presented and selected without coercion from another being. Additionally, the underlying character or will of the individual mind can change over time through choices (often for good through the power of the atonement), such that the an individual’s choice in a given scenario may change over the course of time.

    @ WVS. I don’t think what I said drives accountability away from the time of action (if that’s what you meant), since reaping the rewards or punishments of choice only come after the time of action. It may be though that the basis for individual accountability in general may derive in part from an eternal uncaused mind.

    @ both. Outside of what I understand as compatibilism, I have yet to hear any logically valid alternate theory of free will that retains moral accountability. All other theories I have heard introduce some level of randomness at the fundamental level of choice. And if fundamentally random, how can just accountability be preserved? I don’t think it can be. To me, alternate models suffer from a faulty line of logic that says for free will to truly be free, the individual cannot be bound by their own will and the laws that govern it. I disagree. To me, it is comparable to saying for God to truly have power over the elements, He must be able to build something so heavy that He cannot lift it. Free will is freedom of will, and is realized when the current will of an individual is allowed to express itself by making choice without coercion. Free will is not freedom from will, or an actual metaphysical possibility of making multiple choices in a given circumstance–at least in choices where we can be held morally accountable.

    If you know of any other logically consistent model(s) of free will that retain a just moral accountability, I am very interested in hearing them. Or if there are holes you see in my logic, I am interested in knowing them in an effort to continue learning through open dialog.

  15. WVS says:

    Steve, you do realize that your narrative of self-determinism pushes your cosmology outside of Mormonism, right? Our current notions of freedom are predicated on the ability to choose either alternative at the moment of decision. Your universe justifies itself alright: the potential murderer was never going to pull the trigger because the negotiator was, by his own history, fated to be there to talk him or her down. While it may make you feel better to say that your own history has formed a causal chain that completely determines your future, the outcome is in fact no different that assigning the future to a Calvinist God.

    Let’s suppose you are convicted of murder. If determinism is correct, then you had no control over your mental state at the moment of the murder. You pulled the trigger and there was no possibility that you would not do so. This sounds like a great strategy for your attorney. But something tells me no one will take it seriously.

    Your “bound by will” is an interesting use of the term, but I think it is an unsavory one. What you really mean is “bound by history.” And that is something no self-respecting believer in free will is going to buy. At least, not me.

  16. Steve says:

    “Steve, you do realize that your narrative of self-determinism pushes your cosmology outside of Mormonism, right?” I don’t think so, and since you mischaracterized my position (I’ll address that below), I don’t see any solid evidence for such a view. In my view, I find your position that God does not have actual foreknowledge incompatible with Mormon cosmology. Please explain the following without a God with foreknowledge: Christ being the lamb slain before the foundation of the world; knowing with 100% confidence that Christ would successful perform the atonement; knowing that the Jews would slay Christ and specifically hang Him on cross, Christ would be buried in a sepulcher, that Martin Harris would lose the 116 page manuscript, a personal and individual atonement (traditional view of suffering for actual future sins), etc. These are just off the top of my head. Also prophecy and revelation of future events in general. The ability to have complete faith and trust in God (per the Lectures on Faith) and his plan for your life. Believing in a God whose plans cannot be frustrated…… There has to be some serious warping of these traditional Mormon cosmological beliefs in order to somehow claim a God that does not have very specific foreknowledge. It is almost unfathomable to me in a Mormon context to believe in a God that does not have detailed and specific foreknowledge. And since we both seem to equate specific foreknowledge being possible only through determinism, I have a hard time understanding how you can so confidently say my position is at odds with our religion. I think a majority of LDS members and leaders believe in a God with specific foreknowledge, do you disagree? Does this push their beliefs outside of Mormon cosmology.

    I also take issue with the ways you characterize my position. I indeed believe one has the ability to choose in a moment of decision. But I do not believe when not coerced, an individual will choose that which is against his/her own will. Such a notion is irrational and nonsensical. Just because an individual will choose according to that which they want, does not mean they did not have the internal capability to do otherwise if they so wished. I think you at least accept that there is a single past that actually happened. Just because there is only one single past that actually occurred, does this mean that freedom of choice did not exist? Why then when I say there will in reality be only one future, is that suddenly subversive to the ability to make choice in your eyes? Neither are problematic. I can explain the past by the choices that were in fact made, and I can describe the future by the choices that will be made, none of this takes away choice. Your statement “If determinism is correct, then you had no control over your mental state at the moment of the murder” is entirely false; I reject it. I did mean ‘bound by will’, and did not mean ‘bound by history’ as that insinuates the inability for choice in the moment–which once again I wholeheartedly disagree with.

    You also have failed to provide a viable and logical alternative to compatibilism where free will can co-exist with indeterminism, and have failed to address my concerns that any such scenario must inherently and fundamentally be based on a principle of randomness. Surely you don’t think that a just moral accountability can coexist with our choices being based on a principle of luck of the draw?

  17. WVS says:

    Steve, there are a number of ways to provide for your “Please explain the following without a God with foreknowledge: Christ being the lamb slain before the foundation of the world; knowing with 100% confidence that Christ would successful perform the atonement; knowing that the Jews would slay Christ and specifically hang Him on cross, Christ would be buried in a sepulcher, that Martin Harris would lose the 116 page manuscript,” without assuming exhaustive foreknowledge. If you want to really understand such, may I suggest you start with Blake Ostler’s Exploring Mormon Thought series, Greg Kofford Books. They will help.

    Just one last remark on indeterminism: human choice really exists (for you, it does not). It’s not necessary for the orbit of Jupiter to be random for that to happen.

  18. Steve says:

    I am familiar with Blake Ostler’s positions, and again disagree on the principles outlined above. If you are going to say my position is that human choice does not exist, while I said the opposite, you should provide reasons. I have stated clearly why I believe determinism allows for real choice, and you have provided no other refutation than a blanket statement saying otherwise. I have provided evidence that free will cannot coexist with indeterminism, and yet you have not addressed these issues. No libertarian philosopher to my knowledge has either.

    It is apparent you are not willing to address this conversation other than restating your position, and taking liberty to restate mine. So I will have to leave this conversation to rest.

    At least we both agree that free will does exist. I additionally believe and have faith in a God who knows the specific future, and while we disagree, this is of central importance to my faith in God.

    All the best!

  19. WVS says:

    “I have stated clearly why I believe determinism allows for real choice, and you have provided no other refutation than a blanket statement saying otherwise.”

    Steve. Come on. I gave my definition of free will, one which most everyone understands in the same way. You are the one who claimed it doesn’t exist in order to support an idea that can’t be supported when free will exists. The business about fearing randomness is simply not sufficient to conclude that the universe is fully deterministic. But I leave you to your awful fate. May your past be kind to you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers

%d bloggers like this: