A Quick Note on Autonomy…

July 7, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 1:55 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will,Ethics,orthodox

Autonomy is condemned within the scriptures:

34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.

35 That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.

36 All kingdoms have a law given;

37 And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.

-(D&C 88)

In order to unpack what this means, we should juxtapose autonomy with heteronomy and tutelage – all three of which are (roughly) Kantian terms.

Tutelage is the pre-modern mindset in which law, legitimacy, justification, etc. come down from above.  Each person is given a law from some person above them: a noble, an ancestor, a priest, God Himself, etc.  (The word for this legitimation from above is “grace”.)  This, more than anything else, is what the Enlightenment fought against.

One of the two alternatives that the Enlightenment presented to tutelage was heteronomy.  This is basically what classical liberals and most Americans call “freedom” and is essentially a negative freedom where others are not allowed to legislate our lives for us.  Thus, the birth, ordination, coronation, etc. of each and every person is essentially irrelevant to the justification for any course of action.

The second alternative to tutelage is autonomy.  This alternative is based in the recognition that heteronomy essentially consists either in 1) optimizing our response to external conditions or 2) slavish obedience to our undisciplined passions.  In neither case can this be considered freedom in any deep or morally meaningful sense.  Indeed, such modes of living are the very definition of “alienation” – the control of our lives from somebody or something outside of ourselves.

Thus, autonomy consists in our conforming to a moral law that we ourselves dictate for ourselves – it is moral self-legislation.  Autonomy thus consists, quite literally, in our becoming laws unto ourselves.  To be clear, there are collectivist and (somewhat) individualistic versions of this ideal (think Rousseau vs Kant).  That said, whether it is participatory democracy or rational self-determination that is being advocated, the essential core remains the same.

The main point of this post is that the Gospel condemns both heteronomy and autonomy as moral ideals.  Tutelage to the Celestial King and His “celestial law” is the only condition under which we can enter His Celestial Kingdom.  Those who cry for “autonomy” or against “alienation” within the church are greatly confused on this point.

Liberty within the Scriptures

September 19, 2015    By: Jeff G @ 11:41 am   Category: Determinism vs. free will,Ethics,Happiness,Mormon Culture/Practices,orthodox,Scriptures,Universalism

If you have not done so already, I strongly recommend that anybody interested in social or political thinking go and read Isaiah Berlin’s classic: Two Concepts of Liberty.  Within this paper he lists 4 premises by which modern thinking can and at times has transformed into the very opposite of freedom.  I will then state my views regarding the (in)compatibility of these premises with the religious tradition found in the scriptures. (more…)

Neo-Pragmatism and a Young Earth

September 30, 2014    By: Jeff G @ 12:27 pm   Category: Before Abraham,Determinism vs. free will,spirit birth

Neo-pragmatism (at least as Richard Rorty understands it) is committed to the position that, in some sense, the earth did not exist until there was a community of people to conceptualize and categorize it as such.  To be sure, there are obviously ways of reading this which do not do justice to the neo-pragmatists.  The main point at issue lies in the question, “In what sense did the earth not exist until relatively recently?”  I think this question is especially interesting within the context of a Mormon worldview that – in some sense – believes in a very young earth.  In this post I want to sketch out some (very) rough interpretations and possibilities of how neo-pragmatism might(!) link up with LDS claims.  (Warning: rampant speculation ahead!) (more…)

Dennett – Freedom Evolves (lecture)

February 15, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 11:20 am   Category: Determinism vs. free will

I am worried this answer will crater the discussion that continues on the previous thread, so I’m opening a new thread to discuss Dennett’s lecture on his book Freedom Evolves. I know it is sort of stupid to post about this when I haven’t read the book yet, but oh well. Consider this a post about the lecture.

Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 1 (9:55)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 2 (9:58)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 3 (10:01)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 4 (9:59)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 5 (9:48)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 6 (3:01) (more…)

Rocks have feelings too

February 13, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 11:55 am   Category: Determinism vs. free will

A couple of years ago I advanced the idea that rocks are free, if the compatibilists are correct. Although this suggestion was called “ridiculous” by the esteemed Jeff G, the three detractors[1] of my view mostly convinced me that it is a very useful way of illuminating the issue. (more…)

Free Will and Emergence

February 28, 2009    By: Blake @ 5:16 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will

Responsible agency and free will are not consistent either with determinism or indeterminism. This short statement is called the “Mind argument.” It has two parts. First, determinism is incompatible with free will : “If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of these things (including our present acts) are not up to us.” (Peter van Inwagen An Essay on Free Will (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), p. 56.) (This is dubbed the “Consequence Argument)

The notion of something “being up to me” is that I exercise a certain type of control over my actions. I am responsible for these acts because they are my actions in the sense that I am responsible for causing them. For something to be my act, it has to belong to me the sense that the act arises from my own acts and not from something that just happens to me or happens by happenstance which is not in my control. The problem with determinism is that I don’t have control over the causes that lead to my acts. (more…)

How Does Libertarian Free Will reject Causal Determinism?

June 28, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 10:29 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will

Ok, If you’ve been around a while, you know that I’ve never had a philosophy lesson in my life, and that I am pretty ignorant on these sorts of things. But I’m trying to get better and I’ve recently discovered the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and am learning, but have some questions.

Do Animals have Free Will?

February 25, 2008    By: Jacob J @ 11:42 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will

Not that long ago I was shocked to find out that Geoff J does not believe animals have free will. A bit later, I found out my brother (usually an advocate of libertarian free will) is not so sure when it comes to animals. The birth of a post. (more…)

Kobayashi Maru

July 27, 2007    By: Jacob J @ 10:45 am   Category: Determinism vs. free will

After two long debates on the issues of free-will and determinism, Joshua summed up his response in this comment. His description gets to the heart of the matter in my opinion. At the end of the day, I think we are left with a fundamental problem on both sides and I think the problems are unanswerable. This creates a dilemma that I find quite fascinating. (more…)

Actually, free will probably is free

July 12, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 2:56 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will,Theology

It seems like whenever the subject of free will comes up among religionists — especially Christian religionists — someone chimes in with some variation of this old chestnut: “Free will is not free!” (When Mormons use it they sometimes say “Free agency is not free” but the intent is the same.)

I disagree. I think that our free will is not only free, it is inescapable. In other words, I think that free will in the libertarian sense is entailed by sentience. As far as I can tell, you can’t have one without the other. (more…)

Libertarianism Part Deux

July 9, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 7:43 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will,Theology

The discussion on my last post veered into a highly technical philosophy of mind debate so I wanted to pick up the core issue again here.

My take on the debate so far is that the Mormon compatibilists were left in an extremely tough spot. One of their main arguments was that we don’t understand how libertarian free will works so it must not exist. But Blake proposed a emergentist theory of how it might work and none of the compatibilists had any ammo to shoot that theory down. (And even if Blake’s theory does not prove to be the final reality behind LFW, not knowing how something works is hardly a powerful argument that it must not exist.) (more…)

Give me libertarian free will or give me oblivion

July 4, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 11:33 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will,Foreknowledge,Theology

I figured freedom would be a good subject for Independence Day here in the U.S.

Here is the question of the day: Does the Plan of Salvation and restored gospel even make sense if humans do not have free will in the libertarian sense?

Here is the answer for the day: No.

“Veto” Free Will

January 4, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 1:54 am   Category: Determinism vs. free will,Foreknowledge,Theology

[Edit: In this post I should have written that we generally live “as if” we were causally determined beings. Later discussions showed this mistake of mine confused a lot of people.]

There was an interesting article in the New York Times this week called “Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t” (Hat tip to the BCC sideblog). The author gives a quick review of the scientific arguments against the concept of Free Will (and in favor of causal determinism). I recommend you check it out.

There was one section and specifically one conclusion the author drew that I want to focus one in this post. The author recounted a now-famous experiment that has been brought up around these parts before (by some of our local science guys like Jeff G., Christian C., and Clark if I remember correctly). Here is the passage from the article:

Determinism, Free Will, and Track Jumping

March 27, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 9:45 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will,Theology

How often do we actually use our free will? I have vigorously defended the doctrine of robust free will here and elsewhere on the Web. I am convinced that if there is no free will in the libertarian sense then the entire structure of the gospel fails. We must be free to choose our future in a robust way or this life is no real test at all. With no libertarian free will we all find ourselves as predestined cogs in the great machine called the universe. But having said that, I’m not at all convinced we actually use our free will very much at all in life. (more…)

The Natural Man = Causally Determined Man?

March 26, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 11:49 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will,Foreknowledge,Theology

My recent post asserting that exhaustive foreknowledge is a faith crippling and pernicious doctrine spurred a teensy, tiny debate… The exchange has been a very interesting one. I’d summarize that debate, but that wouldn’t do it justice so you’ll have to check it out yourself. One of the challenges posed to me and those of like mind was: “Ok, if God doesn’t see the exact future just how does he pull off prophecy, let alone have assurance things will go his way?” If I wasn’t such a sucker for a challenge I would just say “God is just that smart. It may seem difficult, but at least it is not a paradox like trying to reconcile free agency and a fixed future”. But of course I am a sucker for a challenge so here is a model of how he might pull this off. This is a continuation of my earlier post called “How God could figure out the future without foreknowledge.(more…)