Re: Free Will
Mon, 6 Sep 1999 19:46:31 -0400

> <>
> > >If we had no free will, and we acted on that belief, that all
> >actions are programmed in, or are the result of random
> synapses,> >then there would be no reason to hold people
responsible for
> their actions.

Agreed that if there is no free will, then it may well be argued that we _should not_ hold people responsible for their actions, but that doesn't mean that we can't go ahead and do it anyway. After all, if there is no such thing as free will, which is to say that all decisions are pre-determined in principle or pre-progammed in some sense, then the decision to hold people resposible would also be pre-programmed, so it would be manifestly meaningless to discuss the advisability of that decision, since under the 'no free will' assumption we really don't have a free choice.

Thoughts arise spontaneously, but not entirely at random. For example, when one is concentrating on working on a project, thoughts which arise in the worker during that time tend to be related to the project. Some thoughts suggest action, but people select their actions, and do not actually perform the action suggested by each and every thought. But I am unable to say how this selection is done, and whether it is an expression of free will. At the same time we can almost always provide reasons why any particular decesion was made. I am frankly unable to provide a good definition of 'free will' which is not circular in the sense that it is just a restatement of the concept in other words. If it is true that there is no satisfactory definition of 'free will', that suggests that 'free will' may be a bogus concept. But my intuition tells me that there is free will.

Ron Kean





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