While reading this question about the existence of free will, I thought that the implications of stating nonexistence of free will can be at least as important (and interesting) as the main question itself.

Assuming that one accepts no free will. I thought about two levels in which it can affect our lives:

  1. as an individual:

Assume a person is told that she lacks free will. As a typical person, she ends up thinking:

"OK. Since whatever I do is predetermined, then I can do whatever I want (in some sense)."

and then she goes crazy (e.g. starts smoking, stops exercising and starts breaking the law etc.) completely deactivating her self-control.

Well, in my opinion, her thought seems only partially true. It is true that whatever she does is already predetermined and she can't control it whatsoever. But she is forgetting that all our actions have consequences (smoking significantly increases the chance of lung cancer, inactivity can lead to a heart attack). So although she can't choose what she does, her actions depend on her current state of mind which should've changed, after reading this statement (or in some other way).

So now she realises that her actions are as inevitable as their consequences, and to avoid those consequences, she should avoid the actions (and hopefully activate her self-control again)!

  1. as the society (the system of justice):

At first, not having free will may seem really horrible for our justice system. After all, no one can be held responsible for their actions. It is just the circumstances that led them to this point.

Again, I should disagree. Not inculpating anyone for their actions can be a perfect idea! In our current standpoint, we tend to demonise the criminals and cage them like animals (e.g. solitary) and then reason since they had free will, something intrinsically evil about them caused them to do bad.

Instead, if we accept they didn’t have a free will, we can concentrate on the causes of their actions like poverty, poor education or even psychological disorders. So, this view definitely doesn't say that we should let all criminals free. We should control and monitor them in whatever way appropriate and more importantly try to solve their problems as well.

Also, I think there should be some punishment involved. Not because we want to punish the person since they are evil, but to impact the mental state of society. So, in my first example (when that person decides to do whatever they want), thinking about this punishment would change their state of mind and prevent them from breaking the law.

I wish to know:

  1. Are there any other dilemmas when accepting the premise of no free will? What are the solutions to them?

  2. How reasonable are my solutions to the two problems above?

  • The implications are well-explored in the Wisdom literature. On this view freewill would be an illusion, as would agency. – PeterJ Feb 27 '18 at 12:13

It seems like you're arguing in circles. Nothing personal - it's just the nature of the free will argument.

You suggest that if there's no free will, a woman might be forced to focus on the CONSEQUENCES of her actions. So she does something intelligent - she avoids the actions you describe as "inevitable." If those actions are "inevitable," how is she going to avoid them? It sounds to me like she's exercising free will.

Are there any other dilemmas when accepting the premise of no free will?

You've already suggested the most obvious problem: Individuals drop their standards, reasoning that they're predestined to do bad things, anyway.

As a political activist, I'm wondering "What's the use of trying to fix things or save the human race if people don't even have free will?"

In fact, it often seems like there is indeed some cosmic force limiting socio-political reform, and free will may well be part of it. But if I knew for a fact that the entire human race was nothing more than a giant ant colony with no individual free will, I'd probably be persuaded to give up on my political crusades once and for all.

How reasonable are my solutions to the two problems above?

I'm confused by your comments on crime and punishment. You believe in punishment - not because we want to punish the individual but because we want to impact "the mental state of all society." But then you state that when a person thinks about doing something bad, they'll worry about the punishment they're going to receive.

So you go from the individual to "all society," then back to the individual. Or are you suggesting that the individual's second thoughts before committing a crime result from a society-wide perception of punishment?

Also, it isn't clear to me how your suggestion is radically different from the status quo. I'm no fan of the justice system in the U.S., which is horribly corrupt and embraces an enormous double standard.

But I think it's based largely on the premise that punishment is a deterrent to crime. You're obviously in favor of punishment, but I guess you just support it with a supposedly different philosophy.

I may be going off on a tangent, but I think punishment is important not just as a deterrent but to give society a sense of justice. If a psychopath murders a dozen people and isn't punished, then a lot of friends and loved ones are going to be in even greater pain.

  1. are there any other dilemmas when accepting the premise of no free will? what are the possible solutions to them?

There are logical dilemmas. If there is no free will, you can not do any accepting. You have no choice. Acceptance would be an illusion, and you would be simply watching, observing, recording all that is happening. You couldn't even have thoughts about what you were observing because that would require decisions. A solution would be to show people they do have free will.

  1. how reasonable are my solutions to the two problems above?

If one believes they have no free will then the solutions are unreasonable. Without free will, there can be no deciding how to solve problems. Without free will, no one can do anything about anything. For someone who wants to solve problems caused by people believing they do not have free will, there are some good solutions proposed, but they would be difficult to apply on a large scale. Also, excessive law and punishment becomes an infringement on free will, which historically has magnified issues.

  • The OP was asking about implications of having no free will. This just claims having no free will is impossible with non sequiturs. – k0pernikus Jul 22 '17 at 22:06
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    Logically, this is the implication of having no free will. It is possible to have no free will, that is not my claim. – takintoolong Jul 22 '17 at 22:08
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    Anyway, that is not what the OP was asking, I quoted what was asked. If anything else, the solution is to clarify to people that they have free will. – takintoolong Jul 22 '17 at 22:23
  • I edited my answer after some thought on your comment. – takintoolong Jul 22 '17 at 22:39

The philosopher Peter F. Strawson did a lot of thinking on this topic. He was in the determinist camp but he had some interesting thoughts and conclusions on the subject that may save the OP from having to reinvent the wheel. Do search: Peter F. Strawson on free will; check out the first one up. As with all reading in philosophy, it takes a bit of work to acclimate yourself to the philosopher's particular use of terms, vocabulary and so on.

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    “Do search: Peter F. Strawson on free will; check out the first one up.” — Why are you so confident that the first link will be useful? Note that the first link you get on your search is not necessarily the first link someone else will get on their search. To begin with, they may use another search engine. Or use the same search engine, but in another country. And thanks to personalization, even the same search engine in the same country may give different results, or order them differently. – celtschk Feb 27 '18 at 5:57
  • @celtschk Yes, you are correct. Thank you for pointing this out to me. – Gordon Feb 27 '18 at 14:02

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