Freewill – does it exist?
Lazy Trout Discussion Circle 4 Oct 2010
From the following essay http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/determinismandfreewill.html
If time allows at the end of this session we will look at some moral dilemmas
1. The Doctrine of Determinism
Determinism is a far-reaching term affecting many areas of concern, that most widely and radically states that all events in the world are the result of some previous event, or events. In this view, all of reality is already in a sense pre-determined or pre-existent and, therefore, nothing new can come into existence. This closed view of the universe and of our world holds all events to be simply the effects of other prior effects.
If this true what does it mean to us?
2. Theological determinism is a form of determinism which states that all events that happen are pre-ordained, or predestined to happen, by a monotheistic God. Theological determinism exists in a number of religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Its all God’s will then?
3. Genetic determinists claim that even behaviour is determined by our genes. In this line of thinking, we are but victims of our genetic makeup, and any effort to change our moral nature or behavioural patterns is useless. This is sometimes termed "puppet determinism," meaning metaphorically that we dance on the strings of our genes.
But what about nurture and our environment?
4. There is a general scientific picture of the world that lends itself to predictability and certainty of outcomes and hence more to determinism than any notions of freedom or free will. In science everything has a cause and the outcome should be predictable if we have the knowledge and big enough computers.
What do we think?
5. Our actions can be split into 3 kinds...
a) Spontaneous acts, those proceeding from an internal principle (e.g. the growth of plants and impulsive movements of animals);
b) Voluntary acts in a wide sense, those proceeding from an internal principle with understanding of an end (e.g. all conscious desires); and, finally
c) Those voluntary in the strict sense, that is, deliberate or free acts.
Whatever that means?
6. An argument for free will. Duty, moral obligation, responsibility, merit, and justice signify notions universally present in the consciousness of normally developed human beings. Further, these notions, as universally understood, imply that human beings really are the master of some of their acts, that they are, at least at times, capable of self-determination, that all their volitions are not the inevitable outcome of their circumstances.
Does it cut the mustard?
7. Free will does not mean capability of willing in the absence of all motive, or of arbitrarily choosing anything whatever. It is not non-determinism, randomness or non-causality, in any shape or form. The rational being is always attracted by what is apprehended as good. Pure evil, misery as such, is something a human being could not properly, rationally, desire. However, the good presents itself in many forms and under many aspects such as the pleasant, the prudent, the right, the noble, the beautiful, and in reflective or deliberate action we can choose among these.
Not sure that all humans are anti evil?