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 (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…)
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…)
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 of my view mostly convinced me that it is a very useful way of illuminating the issue. (more…)
Responsible agency and free will are not consistent either with determinism or indeterminism. This short statement is called the â€œMind argument.â€ 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.â€ (Peter van Inwagen An Essay on Free Will (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), p. 56.) (This is dubbed the â€œConsequence Argument)
The notion of something â€œbeing up to meâ€ 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 donâ€™t have control over the causes that lead to my acts. (more…)
Ok, If youâ€™ve been around a while, you know that Iâ€™ve never had a philosophy lesson in my life, and that I am pretty ignorant on these sorts of things. But Iâ€™m trying to get better and Iâ€™ve recently discovered the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and am learning, but have some questions.
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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.
[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 Donâ€™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:
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…)
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…)