The above infographic gives a quick rundown on REAL possibilities in both a causally deterministic universe (one where every event has a cause) and an indeterministic universe (one where some events do not have a cause).
Keep in mind that an infographic just shows a quick view of the position. If you want the full logical case in all it’s detail check out my book Breaking the Free Will Illusion on Amazon.
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If you can’t read the infographic (due to an impairment or any reason), here is the text:
REAL POSSIBILITIES AND OUR DECISIONS
IF EVERY EVENT HAS A CAUSE
- A cause cannot both be the cause of X, and not the cause of X (but of Y instead) as that leads to a self-contradictory cause. This means that if a cause has the variables that lead to X, Y is never a “real” possibility.
- If every event has a cause, then there is only ever one “real” possibility that is dictated by the long line of causal events that lead to it.
If our thoughts and decisions are caused, what we decide at any given moment was dictated by causality. Even if we weigh and assess multiple options and select from those options, the option we ultimately select was the only “real possibility”. We never could have selected one of those other options that we deliberated on.
IF SOME EVENTS HAVE NO CAUSE
- If an event can happen in which a cause did not force it to occur, it could effect the causal lines to output a different “possibility” than without the non-caused event.
- Even though a non-caused event can push what was causally determined to a new possibility, there can never be any say over if this non-caused event happens, where or when it happens, or how it comes into existence. You can’t cause it.
- Once a non-caused event is in existence, how it effects other events afterward is dictated by causality, unless yet another non-caused event pops in, which is equally outside of anyone’s ability to control.
If a non-caused event has an effect on the causal process that leads to our decisions, we would have no say on the non-caused event. If our decision redirected to another option, that other option would now be a “possible” option, but it was forced by an event that was entirely outside of our control. It would not be “up to us” or “of our own accord”.
PRESENT TENSE “FREE WILL” ABILITY WE DON’T POSSESS
The ability to choose between more than one (really) possible option, in which that choice is “up to you”.
If everything has a cause, only one option is ever a real possibility, all others were just a part of the process that lead to you deciding on the only one possibility. If some events do not have a cause, such an event could push another option into possibility, but such a push could never be “up to you”.
PAST TENSE “FREE WILL” ABILITY WE DON’T POSSESS
The ability to have, of your own accord, done otherwise.
If everything has a cause, you could not have done otherwise than what that causality dictates as there was no other “real” possibility. If some events do not have a cause, those events could never have been “of your own accord”.
SO WHY SHOULD YOU CARE THAT WE DON’T HAVE THESE ABILITIES?
There are many philosophical, political, sociological, and psychological topics that need to adjust with the understanding that we don’t have these abilities. The understanding that we lack this type of “free will” is extremely important to these topics and toward our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.