Materialism, Determinism, Free Will

September 2021 Forums General discussion Materialism, Determinism, Free Will

Viewing 15 posts - 91 through 105 (of 108 total)
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  • #89822
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Which would say that in determinism everything is caused by something prior, but being that infinite regress is impossible, that would mean that determinism basically proves the existence of an unmoved mover.

    #89823
    DJP
    Participant

    I agree that infinite regress is usually held as a problem in philosophy.I think in this case the general ‘first mover’ is usually taken to be the ‘big bang’ but taking this position is not without it’s problems also.The problem may be more to do with humans minds wanting to seek a beginning and end when there may not be one.

    #89824
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    There may not be a beginning or an end in some theoretical, untangible things, but otherwise, infinite regress is impossible.

    #89825
    DJP
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Looking for something else, I came across this contribution to a discussion of this same theme on our other forum in 2000:http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/WSM_Forum/message/1905I don’t think his article did get published in the Socialist Standard.

    Any idea what happened to the author? Is he still a member?

    #89826
    ALB
    Keymaster
    DJP wrote:
    Any idea what happened to the author? Is he still a member?

    I’m afraid not. He was a vegetarian and pro-animal rights and resigned about 10 years ago after another member (now an ex-member too, who contributes here from time to time) baited him by saying that he saw nothing wrong with bull-fighting. It seems we never learn how to behave on internet discussion forums …Pity really as he wrote a few good articles for the Socialist Standard, eg:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1990s/1999/no-1134-february-1999/utopian-socialism

    #89827
    DJP
    Participant
    Fabian wrote:
    There may not be a beginning or an end in some theoretical, untangible things, but otherwise, infinite regress is impossible.

    Indeed. But the concept of ‘free will’ leads to an infinite regress also:If you have free will then you must be responsible for your mental states in the present moment. But to be responsible for your mental states in the present moment you must also be responsible for those of the moment before it, and those the moment before that one, and the moment before that one, ad infinitum. So at some point you must be responsible for the creation of yourself. At least thats what Galen Strawson says…

    #89828
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Quote:
    But to be responsible for your mental states in the present moment you must also be responsible for those of the moment before it, and those the moment before that one, and the moment before that one, ad infinitum.

    Infinite regress problem has to do with connectedness of things successive, like they being caused by the other, or being the foundation of other, not with them simply being successive, like you here enumetaring successive moments of existence of some free will.

    Quote:
    At least thats what Galen Strawson says…

    Then this Galen guy not only doesn’t understand what the infinite regress problem is concerned with, he doesn’t seem to know what metaphysical libertarianism posits in the first place, because it simply says that the will is free, in the sense of not being determined by anything except itself, to act, and is thus responsible for it’s acts. So metaphysical libertarianism just posits that the will is free and not determined, not that it created itself- and it’s creation is it’s own act, which is assumed in the nonsensical objection to free will that you just put forward.

    #89829
    DJP
    Participant
    Fabian wrote:
    Infinite regress problem has to do with connectedness of things successive, like they being caused by the other, or being the foundation of other, not with them simply being successive, like you here enumetaring successive moments of existence of some free will.

    Like you say “being the foundation of other” so IF to have free will in the present moment you HAVE to be responsible for yourself in the moment before THEN the moment before is the foundation of the present moment.It is definitly an infinite regress. But you could have undermined the argument by saying that you can have free will but don’t have to be responsible for the moment before.

    Quote:
    Quote:
    At least thats what Galen Strawson says…

    Then this Galen guy not only doesn’t understand what the infinite regress problem is concerned with, he doesn’t seem to know what metaphysical libertarianism posits in the first place, because it simply says that the will is free, in the sense of not being determined by anything except itself, to act, and is thus responsible for it’s acts. So metaphysical libertarianism just posits that the will is free and not determined, not that it created itself- and it’s creation is it’s own act, which is assumed in the nonsensical objection to free will that you just put forward.

    Galen Strawson is one of the leading figures in philosophy of the mind so I really doubt that it is the case that he doesn’t know what libertarianism is, come on this is all really basic stuff.But if ‘free will’ does not create itself it must be created by something else, so in that case ‘free will’ must be determined, that is caused by something else.

    #89830
    robbo203
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
    Perhaps I’m nitpicking

    Yes you are!

    Quote:
    I was saying that determinism implies more than just causality.  It also implies directionality. – some things are causal agents; other things are effects – and hierarchy – some things are more determining than others, etc. So a non deterministic model is not necessarily one that is a-causal.  It’s the pattern of causality that makes it deterministic…

    I don’t know where you’re getting this definition from. None that I’ve came across define it so narrowly, or with so many caveats. Broadly speaking it just means “the doctrine that every event has a cause”.But I’m getting the feeling this discussion has passed it’s usefulness now…

     When people refer to “determinism”,  as when they ascribe to Marx, say,  (as some do)  the idea of “technological determinism”,  they usually mean by this that some aspect of reality is being adduced – in this case the  technological infrastructure of a given society –  to account for certain other aspects of that society.  This is the point that I am getting and, incidentally,  its  not a particularly narrow definition of determinism either even if it is not quite as wide as yours.    Saying that “every event has a cause” is indeed a kind of generalised definition of “determinism” but a rather anaemic one in my view. Its not particularly meaningful or useful in the same way that if the only colour we could see was red  (or different shades of red) then “red” would not be particular meaningful eitherHowever,  in the context that we are talking about, we are not trying to explain small discrete “events” but, rather, large scale patterns such as a  certain belief system of types or social institutions.  Do such things have some single cause as might be said of “an event”?  When you try to claim that they have then it is in this sense that you might reasonably be called a “determinist.”  It is a form of determinism based on reductionism in which the causal process may be grossly oversimplified and is often viewed as one way process.  There is something about that here if you go to this link:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism#Factor_priority.  You can see there are a number of different kinds of “determinisms” that come under this headingI find it difficult to believe that you have not come across this particular usage.   The SPGB, for instance sometimes criticises biological or genetic determinism which tries to explain human behavior in terms of genetic endowment .  When the party does this it is not attacking  the idea that “events have a cause” but is attacking what it sees as a simplifcation of reality –  the view that human behaviour is “determined” by our  genes – genetic determinismChanging the subject slightly, there is also something called called “soft determinism” or compatibilism which argues  that free will and determinism are compatible.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism)  I guess that would make me a compatibilist in that case!  The notion that we have no free will whatsoever is just as ridiculous as the notion that we have absolute free will, in my view.   The truth lies somewhere in between…..

    #89831
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    DJP wrote:
    Like you say “being the foundation of other” so IF to have free will in the present moment you HAVE to be responsible for yourself in the moment before THEN the moment before is the foundation of the present moment.

    Which is not connected, it does not follow from the other, but they all follow from the starting notion that I have free will.

    Quote:
    It is definitly an infinite regress.

    It is most definitely not.

    Quote:
    Galen Strawson is one of the leading figures in philosophy of the mind

    Appeal to authority is a fallacy, and most “experts” are ignorant in their own field of expertise, it’s something of a rule.

    Quote:
    But if ‘free will’ does not create itself it must be created by something else, so in that case ‘free will’ must be determined, that is caused by something else.

    Non sequitur. Something being created doesn’t imply that the actions of that something are determined.

    #89832
    steve colborn
    Participant

    Jonathan, Jonathan, wherefor art thou Jonathan?
    Methinks I smell a rat!

    #89833
    admin
    Keymaster

    MODERATION WARNING.Personal abuse, flaming and trolling will not be tolerated.Keep discussion on topic.

    steve colborn wrote:
    Jonathan, Jonathan, wherefor art thou Jonathan?Methinks I smell a rat!
    #89834
    DJP
    Participant

     

    robbo203 wrote:
    I find it difficult to believe that you have not come across this particular usage.   The SPGB, for instance sometimes criticizes biological or genetic determinism which tries to explain human behavior in terms of genetic endowment .  When the party does this it is not attacking  the idea that “events have a cause” but is attacking what it sees as a simplifcation of reality –  the view that human behaviour is “determined” by our  genes – genetic determinism

    Like I said ages ago

    DJP wrote:
    The problem is not ‘determinism’ per se but ‘economic determinism’, ‘technological determinism’, ‘genetic determinism’ etc which take one factor as the sole explanation of others.
    robbo203 wrote:
    Changing the subject slightly, there is also something called called “soft determinism” or compatibilism which argues  that free will and determinism are compatible.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism)  I guess that would make me a compatibilist in that case!  The notion that we have no free will whatsoever is just as ridiculous as the notion that we have absolute free will, in my view.   The truth lies somewhere in between…..

    Yes there is something called compatibilism and yes your position would be that. But to me this position seems untenable once you follow the logic closely. Either you end up re-defining ‘free will’ as something far removed from what is usually meant by the term, so why use it? Or you have real problems explaining how the will can escape the world of causality and become a self causing cause.

    #89835
    DJP
    Participant
    Fabian wrote:
    Appeal to authority is a fallacy, and most “experts” are ignorant in their own field of expertise, it’s something of a rule.

    Here’s Strawson’s full ‘Pessimism’ argument, make of it what you will.

    Galen Strawson wrote:
    One way of setting out the no-freedom theorists’ argument is as follows. (1) When you act, you do what you do, in the situation in which you find yourself, because of the way you are.It seems to follow that(2) To be truly or ultimately morally responsible for what you do, you must be truly or ultimately responsible for the way you are, at least in certain crucial mental respects. (Obviously you don’t have to be responsible for the way you are in all respects. You don’t have to be responsible for your height, age, sex, and so on. But it does seem that you have to be responsible for the way you are at least in certain mental respects. After all, it is your overall mental make up that leads you to do what you do when you act.)But(3) You can’t be ultimately responsible for the way you are in any respect at all, so you can’t be ultimately morally responsible for what you do. Why can’t you be ultimately responsible for the way you are? Because(4) To be ultimately responsible for the way you are, you would have to have intentionally brought it about that you are the way you are, in a way that is impossible.The impossibility is shown as follows. Suppose that(5) You have somehow intentionally brought it about that you are the way you now are, in certain mental respects: suppose that you have intentionally brought it about that you have a certain mental nature N, and that you have brought this about in such a way that you can now be said to be ultimately responsible for having nature N. (The limiting case of this would be the case in which you had simply endorsed your existing mental nature N from a position of power to change it.)For this to be true(6) You must already have had a certain mental nature N-1, in the light of which you intentionally brought it about that you now have nature N. (If you didn’t already have a certain mental nature, then you can’t have had any intentions or preferences, and even if you did change in some way, you can’t be held to be responsible for the way you now are.)But then(7) For it to be true that you and you alone are truly responsible for how you now are, you must be truly responsible for having had the nature N-1 in the light of which you intentionally brought it about that you now have nature N.So (8) You must have intentionally brought it about that you had that nature N-1. But in that case, you must have existed already with a prior nature, N-2, in the light of which you intentionally brought it about that you had the nature N-1 in the light of which you intentionally brought it about that you now have nature N.And so on. Here one is setting off on a potentially infinite regress. In order for one to be truly or ultimately responsible for how one is, in such a way that one can be truly morally responsible for what one does, something impossible has to be true: there has to be, and cannot be, a starting point in the series of acts of bringing it about that one has a certain nature; a starting point that constitutes an act of ultimate self-origination.There is a more concise way of putting the point: in order to be truly morally responsible for what one does, it seems that one would have to be the ultimate cause or origin of oneself, or at least of some crucial part of one’s mental nature. One would have to be causa sui, in the old terminology. But nothing can be truly or ultimately causa sui in any respect at all. Even if the property of being causa sui is allowed to belong unintelligibly to God, it cannot plausibly be supposed to be possessed by ordinary finite human beings.http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/dfwVariousStrawsonG.html
    #89836
    steve colborn
    Participant

    Sorry ADMIN, but you are a bit too late, the warning should have been given to Jonathan he, after all, went off topic on 2 different threads. If I’m wrong I apologise!

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