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Aaron

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The nature of libertarian free will
« on: September 07, 2010, 12:08:11 pm »
Hello everyone,

Just like many of you, I've been thinking about the whole free will / God's sovereignty issue, and I'm wrestling with one major concern in my head - the nature of free will (specifically, libertarianism).  Let me explain, then I'll present my question, and I look forward to hearing what people may have already unraveled in their mind.

I basically see two major branches in this whole debate / realm of thought:
  1. Compatibilism - on this view, which endorses determinism, the major problem I see is that it implicates God in peoples' sin.  Whether directly or indirectly, ultimately, God is the only "unmoved mover" and all else is moved by Him.
  2. Libertarianism - on this view (where I find myself, yet struggling) there seems to be, at the lowest common denominator, no answer for why a person chooses A or B.  This view basically posits a person as their own "unmoved mover" in regards to free will.  Arbitrariness and randomness have been the issues raised here.
My question is really aimed at other libertarians.  How have you guys dealt with the issue of randomness / arbitrariness that rises on a libertarian view of freedom?  The main objection I've heard from compatibilists is that on a libertarian view, all things being equal, the person could have done different.  There's nothing to account for that ability.  So have you libertarians out there just held this mystery in tension or is there more to the picture that I'm not seeing here?

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Harvey

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The nature of libertarian free will
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2010, 02:54:47 pm »
questthewordsmith wrote: How have you guys dealt with the issue of randomness / arbitrariness that rises on a libertarian view of freedom?  The main objection I've heard from compatibilists is that on a libertarian view, all things being equal, the person could have done different.  There's nothing to account for that ability.  So have you libertarians out there just held this mystery in tension or is there more to the picture that I'm not seeing here?

I don't see why free will should be treated any differently than deterministic or random explanations as to why we do what we do. If we look at a determinist answer, the way to account for our ability to choose to be in state S3 instead of S4 at t3 is that at t2 we were in state S1 versus S2. Had we been in state S2, then we would have chosen to be in state S4 at t3. But, this just begs the question. Why does S1 require S3? Presumably this is because there are physical laws, L, that exist that make (S1->S3) necessary. Yet, if that is the case, what makes (S1->S3) necessary given L? There must exist some brute fact that itself cannot be necessary without initiating an infinite regress which doesn't resolve the issue either. In other words, the soft or hard determinist is forced to provide the same answer that a libertarian readily admits: viz., free will is a properly basic property of being in state S1 at t2.

The random view of decision making fairs no better. In this case, (S1->S3) is contingent. It could have been (S1->S4), but because there are no deterministic laws at t2, in some cases S3 will result and in other cases S4 will result. However, in that case, this answer also begs the question. If the reason that states S3 or S4 obtain is because there are no laws, then this reason itself is a law or regularity. In that case, there is nothing to account for random outcomes other than this is what nature does when there are no laws.

So, in each case, we see nature behaving differently without giving an account as to why nature behaves like that when in a S1 state. So what? All this amounts to is that different states have different properties. Some properties at S1 bring about deterministic outcomes, some properties at S1 bring about random outcomes, and some properties bring about free will outcomes. We don't have to give account of what it is about those states at S1 that bring about the different results obtaining since this is properly basic to a "substance" (I'm using substance in an Aristotelian sense in terms of being qua being). As a free will substance we choose our decisions based on the holistic Self's free nature, whereas a determinist substance "chooses" it's decisions based on either a semi-holistic Self's determinist nature (i.e., compatibilist) or it chooses it's decisions based on an internal component that composes the Self (i.e., hard determinism). (Or, there is an internal component that causes the Self to act randomly.) There is enough variety in substances such that a variety of outcomes occur according to the properties of the substance in question.

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Maxeo

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The nature of libertarian free will
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2010, 08:02:35 am »

Determinism cannot be concluded by an experiential inquiry.  There are other factors involved and questions to be answered. Are we responsible? Are my choices limited? Do I have the ability to genuinely choose another? Am I the origin of my choices? What are the causes of my choices?  If there are causes, who is truly responsible? So on...

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