The idea of free-will is often invoked to resolve some apparent philosophical problems, for example problems of assigning personal morality under determinism and the problem of evil. It seems to me that even positing a will, one has to decide whether it's deterministic or random; either result seems to return us to the original problem, albeit at a more fundamental level. What attempts/theories (if any) have been proposed where free-will is somehow separate from the deterministic/randomized dichotomy, and what are it's features in these theories?

Note: I'm not interested in free-will per se, but rather in the idea that there are phenomena that are neither deterministic nor random. This post involves free will since this is one area where considerations of what is determined vice random (vice some other modality) are important. It seems plausible for someone to assert that will is its own phenomena that has its own rules of being. What are the implications of this?

In my own (brief) thinking on the subject, I've identified the idea that both randomness and determinism require the ability to construct "essentially equivalent conditions", either in the real world or as possible worlds, in order to assess whether we can predict aspects of the phenomenon, or not. Thus, one way that will could be neither is for there to be constraints on our ability (either practically or as thought experiments) to construct "essentially equivalent conditions" and thus, the comprehensive dichotomy between (apparent) randomness and determinism doesn't apply when wills are involved. I'm not claiming that the idea that wills limit our ability to construct essentially equivalent conditions is a particularly good one, but is an example of the kind of ontological implications that might be tied up with asserting that will is a principle that behaves distinctly from both determinism and randomness.

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    I take it the point of free will is to pose a will that makes decisions between courses of action -- which can be bound by its thoughts and background -- but remain chosen within its ability to reason. There hundreds of such attempts even prior to the 20th century. Can you narrow your question?
    – virmaior
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 14:45
  • I asked the same question, requesting a mathematically precise distinction: philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/11179/…
    – yters
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 3:23
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    @yters yes, this question is similar, but without the constraint on mathematical formulation.
    – Dave
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 14:07
  • Randomness has several shapes, like biased and unbiased random. As for the causality of non-determinism, there are esoterical alternatives like divine intervention and consistent luck. Consider you go into a casino to play slots every day for a year. If you play the same way as everybody else, on the same machines as everyone else (no tricks, no better skill), but you end up winning much more than others, that would be consistent luck. It would be difficult to explain other it causally (using causal determinism), but if you believed in being "blessed", that would be a third option.
    – tkruse
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 4:13


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