Re: Free Will

Brent Allsop (
Mon, 16 Aug 1999 09:18:35 -0600 (MDT)

John Clark <> posted:

> It does if you use my definition, and I've never seen a better
> one. Free Will is the inability to always know what you will do
> next, and not know when you'll not know, even in an unchanging
> environment.

This seems like a completely worthless definition of free will to me. I can achieve this by taking no ration thought about a choice and simply flipping a coin for every decision, but is that what I really want? Of course not. If the choice is between something of different value (as deduced by accurate, rational thought) - between eternal life or eternal death lets say. I obviously, unconditionally, and deterministically always want the choice that has more value. Anything that causes me to choose otherwise, whether it be randomness in the decision process, quantum cosmology, or whatever, destroys my ability to get what I really want and hence eliminates my ability to fulfill my true will.

> >What is needed is a robust theory of agent-causation which takes into
> >account--indeed, incorporates--state-of-the-art quantum-cosmology

> Why do we need that? If the agent does what it does because of cause
> and effect then it's a machine, if not then it's random,

Good point. And even if the cause of our choices was something other than randomness or mechanical/rational determinism (something other than these seems logically impossible to me), if it ever results in, or causes (or forces?) us to choose that which is of lessor value, it destroys our ability to get what we really want and hence makes us not free in my mind.

As you can see, I'm a compatibilest. I think free will is compatible with determinism. The only way we can truly be free is if things are reliably deterministic so we can reliably and unconditionally always make the best (i.e. the most free) choice. Anything that causes us to deviate from that which is of most value, destroys our freedom. (And if the choice is between two things of equal value, who cares which choice we make? Such shouldn't concern us like a choice between two choices of different value should.)

Brent Allsop