Freewill (again)


You have noticed there is a dearth of content here for a while now. I don’t know who to blame for this but I know it ain’t me. So I thought I could lighten matters here a bit by asking a few questions.

For those who believe we have freewill, how do you define it?

When men go to war as soldiers, do the rank and file have freewill or is it the generals who have it? And to what extent can we say the soldier acted on his own freewill? I am aware of the recommendations arising from the Nazi trials where it was agreed among other things that people must own their mistakes and cannot hide behind a chain of command.

A person who was born well and became mental, at what point did they lose their freewill? Do they get it back if they were to get well?

When do children begin to have it?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

44 thoughts on “Freewill (again)

  1. ladysighs says:

    When do children begin to have it?
    I think the world wide consensus it about 2 years of age. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ron says:

    I define “free will” as being able to carry out your desires without restriction — i.e. acting as an autonomous individual. If your ability to choose between varying courses of action is impeded, then you do not possess free will. So physical and mental limitations would qualify as valid limitations, whereas commands to do things that violate your moral principles would not.

    “I was just following orders” is not considered a justifiable defense because you retain the ability to disobey immoral commands and act upon your desires even if it leads to undesirable outcomes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • basenjibrian says:

      I think your last paragraph brings up another issue: There are VARIED levels of responsibility, varied levels of capacity. And there are varied “lines that we will not cross”.

      I would argue your first paragraph never exists in human societies for human beings. We are all embedded in societies, even the most antisocial (mea culpa) . Which is why I am so skeptical of the ideology behind anarchism and even American libertarianism. There will also be “society” (contra the Iron Lady). There will always be some flavor of coercion, be it a state, or the local warlord or religious propehy.

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    • makagutu says:

      Do you chose your desires?

      Like

  3. john zande says:

    Was just reading this… Seems oddly in place:

    “Do the laws of physics rule out free will?”

    https://conscienceandconsciousness.com/2020/12/11/does-quantum-mechanics-allow-for-free-will/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron says:

      Interesting. While I tend to lean towards “free will” vis-a-vis human interactions, It seems an inescapable fact that your decisions are ultimately influenced by physical factors beyond your control no matter which way you decide to act,

      https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/researchers-map-free-will-choice-seconds-before-making-decisions-in-brain-scans-6244621.html

      Liked by 1 person

      • john zande says:

        I don’t see it as existing (the set of all possible things/actions/decisions/outcomes/feedback) in *this* universe is fixed), but the numbers are just so astronomically high that it’s impossible to predict anything, so we might as well simply act like free will does exist.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ron says:

          But it’s still an illusion, is it not? Because no matter what influences your choices (coffee or tea; rent or buy; blue or green; stay indoors or go outside; walk or drive; etc.), those choices are/were influenced by something at a subconscious level.

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          • john zande says:

            The sense? Yes, I’d say so given the closed set. Mapping even the smallest fraction of that set, though, is impossible. There’s just too many branches, so it’s an illusion you might as well take as real.

            Thinking about this always leads me to ponder the simulation hypothesis. Have no idea what that might mean, though.

            Liked by 1 person

            • makagutu says:

              A person who has behaved cowardly would be expected, as day follows night, to act similarly until circumstances change, such as possibility of public shame or other and this in my view is an argument in favour of determinism. Mapping all the sets is not necessary especially because, like many things in the universe, they are hidden from us for ever

              Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            An interesting question- as an influence out of the subconscious not “you” only that you are unaware of it?

            Like

        • basenjibrian says:

          John: I think you nail it. I think the universe and causality is too complex, too distant, too vague for determinism to be useful.

          As I said to Maka jokingly, the quantum foam demands that he obey with a smile his political leaders. It is inevitable.

          But that leads us, again, back, to the ineffableness of Gawd. And I don’t like that at all. Christianity’s claim to believe in free will is ludicrous and incoherent.

          Liked by 1 person

          • john zande says:

            “too vague for determinism to be useful.”

            That’s it. Said perfectly.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            We actually don’t have to think about all the possible combinations.
            For example, last week Jack saw a phone that the had dropped from owner’s pocket and took it. We can be almost certain that if the circumstances are the same, Jack will do the same thing some place else

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        • makagutu says:

          In many cases, it has been argued if the circumstances remain the same, Agent A will always act the same way. Only a small change in circumstances will change the outcome. This change can be internal- say resulting from education or external- a different environment.

          Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      I am not sure indeterminacy rescues freewill. It only means we can’t be certain how agent A will act.

      Like

  4. “When do children begin to have it?” Perfect question. Does a zygote have “freewill”? Specifically and EXACTLY when do wills become free? Are these “freewills” influenced in any way at all by the external programing they get from all that is around them or are they innate and free from the moment of conception? What are “freewills” free from? Can a human born in 2020 in Pakistan to devoutly religious Muslim parents decide to move to America, as an infant, and be raised by devoutly Christian parents just cause they have “freewill” and think Islam sucks? If not, why not. Are humans free to be anything else but humans living and thinking as other humans who were born in the same era and place they were? We have choices, but are our choice of said choices ours, or were they there long before we came to be? What influence does our “freewill” have on the limited number of choices we are born with and into?

    BTW, I bought two wills yesterday for 15 bucks and the fucking things don’t work. Now the store I bought them at won’t let me return ’em cause I took ’em outta the box already. Un-fuckin’ believable I tell ya! Why, oh, why don’t I have the freewill power to stop looking for free and cheap wills and just use the rusty ole broken one I was born with?! WHY??!!

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  5. Neil Rickert says:

    The laws of physics do not completely determine everything that happens. We have a small amount of leeway. Whether or not you want to call that “free will” is a choice that you get to make.

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  6. Libertarian free will is a will free of the laws of physics. We don’t have this kind of freedom. But since none of us is LaPlace’s demon, its absence is irrelevant.

    But when we are free to inhibit or indulge our desires and urges based on a common level of foresight, we have enough freedom to be pragmatically held responsible for our actions. A child gradually acquires this type of responsibility as they develop control of their desires and learn enough about the world to reasonably foresee the possible consequences of their decisions.

    In the future, we may be able to perform psychosurgery on criminals rather than punish them. Although I suspect many will see psychosurgery itself as one of the worst forms of punishment imaginable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      How free are our desires? Do we will them?

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      • No, at least not the base ones. They’re genetic and ontogenetic programming. That’s not to say we can’t acquire subsidiary desires, such as the desire to wash our hands regularly. But those are always in service of more basic desires (not dying).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ron says:

          But what if your desire is to die in battle and go to Valhalla? or to die in jihad to be assured of paradise? or to commit suicide because you feel life is no longer worth living? IOW, how do we account for those whose ultimate desire is to embrace death? To me it suggests that all of our desires are conditional and subject to outside influence.

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          • makagutu says:

            I think I agree with you

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          • For the people willing to die to get in paradise, I think they’ve just convinced themselves that they will live on in an afterlife. It’s not a complete override of their overall survival instinct, just a recalibration based on what they think is reality.

            But people who don’t buy an afterlife and still want death, it’s a fact that we can override any primal impulse, but we do so because of other primal impulses. Our impulses frequently clash with each other. Someone who’s in pain or despair who commits suicide still has primal reasons for doing it.

            Finally, systems don’t always work optimally. Some people’s programming is just off. It could be from a mutation, injury, malnutrition, or all kinds of other factors.

            All of which is to say, you’re right, but not in a way that contradicts what I said above.

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        • makagutu says:

          The desire to wash hands, like now, is from repeated external stimuli & in many places there are water points with messages to wash hands though some people still don’t wash their hands.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. La liberté est un fait directement et directement intuité de l’existence humaine, et la personne qui ne l’intuite pas ne peut être amenée à l’accepter par le processus de raisonnement.

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  8. Nan says:

    Does it matter?

    Like

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