The title sort of says it all.

Aren't Determinism and Free Will indiscernible from the mortal perspective?

Under Determinism if I don't know what the plan is then whatever I do is was and always will be whatever I was always going to do and have done, so it makes no difference. From my perspective (determined or not) I'm making choices, though potentially some entity somewhere with enough data could theoretically predict my choices with absolute precision.

I found a question that I believe hits on the same nerve however I'm specifically looking for answers that express ways that we might probe reality in order to separate the two, and not so much wanting to decide if such an idea as "freedom" matters or not.

I recently found a name for the running theory I have about the "entity with enough data" model, Laplace's Demon.

  • 1
    For attempted experiments concerning free will see neuroscience of free will. However, since free will, like causality, is a holistic concept that must accomodate the totality of empirical evidence individual experiments are unlikely to be dispositive. For general arguments see arguments for incompatibilism – Conifold Sep 21 '17 at 20:22
  • what we "discern" is the appearance of freedom in our actions on a 1st personal level. Some studies might show otherwise in terms of analyzing behavior en masse. Not sure how that equates to "indiscernable from the mortal perspective" – virmaior Sep 22 '17 at 3:30
  • You won't be able to separate the two. There is no need for the phrase 'human perspective' in your question. These are two aspects of the same phenomenon, two ways of looking at it. metaphysical problems are solved by 'sublating' the distinctions on which they depend. . There's no other way. Compatibilism rules okay. – PeterJ Sep 22 '17 at 10:52
  • It's truly amazing how modern telecommunications enables brave, bright minds to cross beams, shattering barriers that kept out forefathers in the dark. Truly enlightening! – Ron Royston Sep 27 '17 at 17:48

Your point, "Determinism and free will are not discernible from the mortal perspective" is indeed the third antinomy (paradox) of Kant. According to Kant, human capacity for knowledge is innately limited by his 12 categories. The categories function like a fish net. Those that are caught by the net constitute human knowledge, and those that go though the net are something we will never know. Kant calls those uncapturable things transcendental (or Ding an Sich). According to Kant, if we try to gain the knowledge of transcendental things, we will always arrive at a contradiction, thus impossible is the knowledge of the transcendental stuff. Kant proposes that there are four such transcendental objects, the third of which is free will. Our sense of free will could be like a rock thinking that it is flying when I throw it to the air.

  • Respectfully, how does this answer his question? Quantum mechanics reinforces the probabilistic or statistical nature of human experience as well as reality, i.e. the best things in life happen by chance. So to say that, e.g., a lack of ability to predict the future with 100% accuracy, does not result in reality being transcendental. My idea is that we can effectuate outcomes over time by stacking the deck. – Ron Royston Sep 24 '17 at 1:08
  • I am just answering based on what I think is the best answer, which is Kant's. The free will debate is still popular (from hard determinism to compatibility views to voluntarism). – Nanhee Byrnes PhD Sep 24 '17 at 15:20
  • I like the answer. The word discernible used in the question seems unreasonable. It seems to me that incompatible frames the issue. From my perspective, chaos is misunderstood as entropy, and does not equate to indeterminism or determinism. – Ron Royston Sep 24 '17 at 19:21
  • I do not think this post reflects Kant's position. Even Critique of Pure Reason contains a defense of free will, developed into full blown theory in Critique of Practical Reason. What pure reason can not resolve is not subject to "knowledge" (in Kant's exalted sense), but "though Kant‟s noumenal ignorance principle means that we cannot have theoretical knowledge of the existence of agents qua noumena, it is practically necessary for us to be committed to their existence" (Vilhauer). I.e. we do have what is now called "practical knowledge" of free will. – Conifold Sep 29 '17 at 0:12
  • "Critique of Pure Reason contains a defense of free will," The question is not a defense of free will, but the existence of free will, which Kant believes we will never know. To Kant, the existence of free will is a postulate in Critique of Practical Reason, since no free will means no responsibility for the outcome' s of one's own action, ergo, the impossibility of the moral agent. – Nanhee Byrnes PhD Sep 29 '17 at 13:36

Both determinism and free will are terms. A term is defined as

a word or phrase used to describe a thing or to express a concept, especially in a particular kind of language or branch of study.

Indiscernible is defined as

impossible to see or clearly distinguish.

So respectfully your question, "Aren't Determinism and Free Will indiscernible from the mortal perspective?" seems unreasonable in light of the fact that you articulate the question which suggests that you grasp the terms - the terms are discernible to you.

Free will is said to be considered by Aristotle well over 2,400 years ago. Wikipedia has excellent information on these terms/concepts. See Free will and Determinism.

  • I would appreciate feedback on how my answer is in error, or wrong? I'd like to learn! Please provide feedback if possible. – Ron Royston Sep 24 '17 at 1:11
  • The question is asking if a free will has a different phenomenal experience than a determined will. You have simply noted that we have separate words, not what they are like. – Canyon Sep 25 '17 at 4:23
  • @canyon your comment, while appreciated, is indiscernible. Certainly, free will does not experience anything and your usage of the term phenomenal is redundant. The second sentence is clearly inaccurate as I provide definition of what each term is (like). Don't give up though! Philosophy is invaluable. – Ron Royston Sep 25 '17 at 19:40
  • While I thank you for your sage guidance, I think you have missed the point. The question is: does a will that is free carry with it a specific sensation or other distinctive marker? Definitions are not sensations; the definition of red is not what red is like. – Canyon Sep 25 '17 at 20:21
  • @Canyon i think i like you. On a personal level. Your framing of the question is riveting [no sarcasm intended]. I'm gonna think about that. As an aside, check out the book Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow By C. L. Hardin from the great folks at HACKETT. – Ron Royston Sep 26 '17 at 17:36

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