Jan 302017

Rewind-Time-AnalogyThere is a common complaint that I’ve heard by more than one free will believer: when asked to think about “if all events are caused (deterministic) and if we could bring back time to some point before a decision was made, could the person have decided differently?”, some people complain that “well we can’t do this”. They note that it is impossible to rewind time or to travel in time to before the decision. They note that we “cannot test this”.

This response, however, is one that misses the point entirely. The point isn’t about whether we can have the ability to “rewind or reset time” or “physically test it”. The point isn’t a claim about time travel, or magical powers over time. Rather, Continue reading »

Aug 222016

context-could-have-done-otherwizeSome compatibilists (people who define free will so that it is compatible with determinism), when asked the question of whether people “could have done otherwise” given a causally deterministic scenario (note that this discussion does not address indeterminism such as acausal or “probabilistic” events, etc. – which are equally incompatible with the free will of importance), say that “could have” or “could have done otherwise” can be used in different ways. They often address a few different contexts in order to push the important context off of the table of discourse. This post is going to address  those contexts/usages and explain why there is only one context/usage that applies to the important points for the free will debate that the free will skeptic wants to make sure isn’t neglected. Continue reading »

Dec 142015

possibility-confusionsThe word “possibility” can be used in two different ways: ways that are quite often confused and conflated, leading to some huge errors in thought. This is even done by very intelligent people.

One way has to do with our uncertainty about the future. Due to our limited prediction capabilities, we often look at and call future events in which we think at the time “could happen” as a “possibility”. This type of possibility I’ll call “epistemic possibility” as “epistemic” assesses our “knowledge or lack of knowledge” over the possibility.

It’s important to note that “possibility” in this epistemic sense does not necessarily align with whether something was a real possibility. Continue reading »