Regular readers have met Marvin. In his new post, freewill in a deterministic universe, he repeats the same claims he made in this post.
Now as then, I ask him to define what he means by freewill. I, when referring to freewill, mean un-caused. I don’t expand the meaning of free to include not being in bondage for that meaning is not relevant in our present discussion.
Our purpose — to survive as individuals, societies, and species — motivates us to adapt ourselves to our environment, and to adapt our environment to us
tells us nothing about freewill, adaptation to the environment happens without motivation. You adapt or perish, no two ways about it.
I confess readily English isn’t my first language, but I have tried to make sense of
It is us walking, talking, and thinking. It is us performing the mental process of choosing for ourselves what we will do next. And it is our own reasons and feelings, our own beliefs and values, our own genetic dispositions and our own life experiences, which guide our choosing
and I have failed. Apart from Monty Python’s Silly walk
which requires a lot of conscious effort, or military parades where the general does the thinking for the entire company, your walking style is unconscious, in fact if someone tried to imitate it, you’d hardly know it was you they were trying to imitate. And the same applies to all the things listed above here, they tell us nothing on the discussion about freewill.
So when he writes,
Ordinary free will is simply us deciding for ourselves what we will do (free), without being forced by someone else to choose or act against our will (unfree). And that is a meaningful distinction
I can fully appreciate the difficulty Marvin has here. In one scenario, and it is what confuses most people, a person is coerced to act in a certain way and in another there is no coercion. It is important to note; we don’t know how the subject would have acted without coercion and this is peripheral to our discussion on freewill. The relevant question to the discussion is whether the actions of the one who wasn’t coerced were un-caused. This is the only relevant question, all others are not relevant to this discussion.
I disagree with Marvin when he writes
But the single fact of inevitability tells us nothing we can put to any practical use. If you tell me my choice will be inevitable, but cannot tell me what that inevitable choice will be, then you’ve told me nothing helpful.
By telling you the above, I have told you all you need to know. Had we known all the circumstances, we would tell you what you would do, but because of this limitation, the best we can do is at least to reassure you that the outcome is inevitable and if all things were kept constant, that outcome will be repeated all the time.
It is good to remember words have different applications. and such meanings should not be confused.
This discussion will continue as long as we continue to equivocate.