Oct 262015
 

deterministic-universe

The question that often comes up in the free will debate is whether  the universe is deterministic or indeterministic. Regardless of which one, I argue, free will is entirely incompatible. In a deterministic universe we couldn’t have done otherwise, and in an indeterministic universe that would allow for a change in variables that lead to an otherwise, those indeterministic variables wouldn’t have been “of our own accord” or “up to us”. In other words, we couldn’t have, of our own accord, done otherwise.

But this isn’t enough for some people. Some want to insist that the universe is causally deterministic… period… no questions asked. Others insist on the opposite, that the universe is indeterministic (suggesting that determinism has been “disproven”). It seems being agnostic on these just isn’t good enough for a whole lot of people.

So which is it? Is the universe deterministic or is it indeterministic? And if we don’t know, are one of these options more likely than the other? Rather than give you a direct answer (as I am agnostic here), for this post I want to get into some key talking points that I feel are often missed. Continue reading »

Oct 122015
 

free-will-compatibilism-vs-skepticism

This post is going to be about some of the problems with free will compatibilist (re)definitions that certain philosophers (which is different than layperson compatibilist intuitions) have. So what is “free will compatibilism”? It’s basically the idea that free will is compatible with a causally deterministic universe (and that indeterminism doesn’t account for free will). For compatibilist philosophers this is accomplished through a redefinition of free will. It’s basically a way to say that, even if our decisions are caused, the fact that we have certain causal processes which can include such things as wanting, desiring, thinking, and rational deliberation, and the fact that sometimes those processes are not prevented in some way by (“free” from) a force such as a person with a gun, a drug addiction, or something similar – that in such a context we can label that “free will”. Continue reading »

Sep 212015
 

mental-causationSome people believe that there is a separation between the causal events of the world, and the consciousness that happens or that arises from such. In other words, even if the mental may be caused by the physical or is in ways correlated to it, they’d suggest that the mental has no causation back to the physical. This rejection of mental causation most often stems from either: Continue reading »

Sep 142015
 

floomp-moomp-free-will

The floomps are a creature not too unlike us (but much furrier). They live in their little floomp village and work together in a civilized fashion. The floomps believe in free will. They believe that any other floomp has multiple options to choose from, and more importantly that all of those options are real possibilities. In other words, whenever a floomp does something that another floomp doesn’t like, that one thinks that not only should the other floomp not have done that, but that it actually could have, through it’s own volition, not done it. Continue reading »

Aug 312015
 

Semantic Shift DayThat’s right, I’m creating a much needed holiday. Today, August 31st, is officially “Semantic Shift Day“!

YAAAYE!! WOOOHOOO!!! HAPPY SEMANTIC SHIFT DAY EVERYONE!!!!

It’s the day where we change the definitions of words around for everything that doesn’t exist so that we can officially, only for one day a year, say it does exist! Continue reading »

Aug 242015
 

Brain-ImplantsPeople often associate the idea of brain implants / microchips with some dystopia where some evil overlord controls the masses by implanting chips in their brain to take over the world with an army of people who are controlled by this mastermind. They fear any hardware that might control, to any degree, the thoughts and feelings of a person. They may even use the term “free will” here,suggesting that such an implant would take away someone’s “free will”.

At first this fear seems reasonable (with the exception of the use of the term “free will” here). No-one wants to be controlled by some psychopath to do hideous things “against their will”. And indeed, if it comes to pass that brain implants can take over a person’s “control” entirely, we need to have some real safeguards in place.

The problem, however, is when we take a technology that can be extremely helpful, and slippery slope it down to some worst case scenarios, and based on those scenarios we reject the idea altogether. This, I think, is a mistake that could be most unfortunate. Continue reading »