Thursday, August 10, 2006

What is Free Will?

I'm tackling a class entitled "Free Will & Responsibility" this semester. I've jumped into the first text already, and it is delicious. (I'm mixing metaphors, I know. Sounds like I'm jello-wrestling.) So, the question is already planted in my mind -- what, exactly, is free will?

I've worried about this quite a bit over the years. Does it mean that, at any given moment, I could make any choice? Now don't say something ridiculous like, "Could you choose to fly, smart guy?" What I mean is, among live options, could I choose anything? Or will my character, desires, etc. determine my choice?

Here's another spicy way to serve the question: If two people in two parallel worlds, who had exactly the same past, were faced with exactly the same choice at exactly the same time, must their choices be the same? Could Joe1 choose to vote Democrat and Joe2 choose Republican?

What do you think?

4 Comments:

Blogger derek said...

Chris, you're not laying the groundwork for a future post on Molinism, are you? ;)

Either way, i am interested to learn what you end up thinking. For my two cents, i am not as sure as i was before, but i am still thinking about it.

Blessings.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Okay, Chris, this is just off the top of my head...no philosophical theories to support it, just thinking out loud here...but I think character and moral values influence choices, just as much as desires influence choices. The spicy scenario suggested could result in two different votes. I think impulsivity has a significant influence as well. Some people tend to be more impulsive than others...those who have already made a decision, but in the last minute change it. Or what about compulisivity? Like compulsive liars? Plenty to think about.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Ryan Smith said...

I say no. It wouldn't make sense for the exact same guy in the exact same circumstances to make a different choice without some kind of different ifluence.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Well the two guys cannot be identical (at least not according to Leibniz's Law), however if the two guys had exactly the same past this would mean that they had made the exact same decisions up to date, which would make it extremely probable that they would make the same voting decision at the same time. But since this argument would be inductive in nature, it doesn't really prove that the two guys would make the same decision, just that they likely would.

Geez..this is a toughie! I guess it depends upon your views of determinism (natural or divine) and free-will.

I think a compatibilist would say that the two guys would make same choice and a libertarian would vote for Ralph Nader (just kidding)...would say the opposite.

12:35 PM  

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