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What exactly does Hume consider acting out of free will/being free? Are those two things even the same to him?

Now, I believed Hume's definition for being free, to be that if you are doing what you want to do, you are free. However, I am doubting whether it's not that being free means that you are able to do or not do something, depending on what you want. So, which definition is it? Or are they both wrong? And does being free imply that you are acting out of free will?

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Hume's definition of liberty (=freedom) is close to your second formulation:

By liberty, then, we can only mean a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will; that is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may. Now this hypothetical liberty is universally allowed to belong to every one who is not a prisoner and in chains. Here, then, is no subject of dispute. (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding §73)

Hume was a compatibilist. That is, he held that freedom (=freedom of will), correctly understood, is compatible with necessity (=determinism). And he held that both freedom and necessity are the case:

It is universally allowed that nothing exists without a cause of its existence . . . Liberty, when opposed to necessity, not to constraint, is the same thing with chance; which is universally allowed to have no existence. (Ibid. §74)

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First off, I would like to apologize in advance if my English is not good enough since I am not a native speaker. Please excuse me.

Now, regarding your question,

Now, I believed Hume's definition for being free, to be that if you are doing what you want to do, you are free. However, I am doubting whether it's not that being free means that you are able to do or not do something, depending on what you want. So, which definition is it? Or are they both wrong? And does being free imply that you are acting out of free will?

Now, here personally to me I think you might have misread his theory or just his work was too ambiguous for you to understand "precisely".

Simply, Devid Hume was an empiricist, more simply saying he said "there is no free will".

His study into the inductive reasoning, later led to the materialism.

http://www.123helpme.com/david-hume-and-karl-marxs-critiques-of-religion-preview.asp?id=178526

The inductive reasoning, needs the strong evidences to support the conclusion. If you swap the above "conclusion" with "free will", then I think you might be able to understand his way of thinking. He virtually denied the "free will" in terms of its "literal" ( here free ) definition.

But please do not misunderstand, I would like to apologize if it sounds to you perplexing, but he did not deny the free will.

He meant, by free, that the free-dom can NOT stand itself alone, but although it is called free, the free-dom requires some empirical support. For example, you chose to go shopping to buy food. Your choice itself in that instant only is certainly free, but what Hume said was that there was a cause ( or the reasons in the past ) that had triggered you to choose to act so.

I hope I could have helped you to any extent.

  • I would like to add to comment that his works are unfortunately, in a way "primitive and politically influenced" one, but that doesn't mean his works should be criticized, considering what age he live at, so personally I recommend for you to read later successors' works such as Schelling, Hegel, and finally goes to Feurebach, Marx's. ( His works is subtly ambiguous, such as he is questioning, "to be" does not necessarily mean "it ought to be". ) – Kentaro Mar 14 '15 at 12:45
  • Lastly, let me add one more thing. Why did I quote the relationship between Hume and Marx in the answer? I should write it on the answer, but since I'd like to have some break, let me write here, sorry. The point is, who has the most freedom, yes, certainly it is God The Almighty. Idealists only deducts the reason of the existence of God "It is because God being there...on and on". So, David, as an empiricist, denied the existence of God, which leads to the problem of the "freedom". Have a good night ( here ). Thanks. – Kentaro Mar 14 '15 at 14:34
  • Does 'free will' mean having the ability to do only one of at least two mutually exclusive set's of behaviour and the 'acting out' of said behaviour is not predetermined by previous events? – 201044 May 3 '15 at 14:28
  • I really do not know. It's perhaps upon your idea or may be another. Should we call upon Hegelian like naturally granted free will?? Well then, we can fly the air, sensing outside object is because in an apriori way owes to the free will granted? Okay then if we take that stance then, we the society go into the Hobbs' idea. So I must say, well it's up to where you stand at. Thank you for comment. – Kentaro May 3 '15 at 15:28
  • Could a 'puppet' that behaves according to it's operating systems that is an A.I. system that can pass any Turing test ( and so the controlling operating system is likes it's strings); could this puppet 'believe' it is 'free' and can act 'freely'. Could it believe it is not controlled by any 'strings' (even if the strings are 'from' a collection of interacting algorithms) , could it act 'freely' in a non-predetermined way? – 201044 May 8 '15 at 16:59

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