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Questions tagged [free-will]

for questions concerning the freedom of choice of rational agents (often as opposed to determinism)

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Is there freedom in determinism?

I'm contemplating the idea that regardless of whether or not there is randomness involved in physics, the universe is still pretty much deterministic in the way of our actions being defined by physics....
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The illogical nature of want/motivation and its effects on free will

Are all the decisions and desires of humans made in order to stimulate pleasure centers and avoid pain? If so, could someone/thing which is unable to feel pleasure and pain, and only had the power of ...
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When would someone not have free will?

I was thinking about free will, and I kind of got confused. What would it look like for someone to not have free will? For example, if someone was paralyzed, they could still control their thoughts. ...
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Relation between Existence of Free Will and Existence of the Self

So, I am a student in mathematics and physics with no formal training in philosophy whatsoever, although I enjoy reading popular discussions of philosophical questions. However, my question is bound ...
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Will to power: why doesn't it work sometimes?

I'm reading Nietzsche and he had this interesting idea that all lives tend to expand their influence on the world as much as possible. And for human beings, that means seeking to start a family, or to ...
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Standard Argument against free will rebuttal

The Standard argument against free will states that an action is either predetermined or random and that these two options exhaust all the possibilities, leaving no room for true free will. To ...
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What is the difference between free will and freedom to choose?

The Wikipedia article on "secondary causation" notes the following without footnote: According to the Jewish Torah which brought down the original idea in Genesis, the phrase "free will" is a ...
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How can Determinism be true in light of the Free Will Theorem

The Free Will Theorem states: Given the axioms, if the two experimenters in question are free to make choices about what measurements to take, then the results of the measurements cannot be ...
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How are 'voluntary' actions possible in the scope of Sam Harris's framework of free will (its absence actually)?

Disclamer: I am striving to understand the point of view, not to examine if it is right or wrong (makes sense or not, etc.). I have listened to two audio excerpts by Sam Harris, discussing his views ...
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What is the connection between conscious mind and Gödel's incompleteness in a mathematical universe?

Assume that our universe is a mathematical one, similar to the one that Tegmark proposed (see here). In contrast to what I read there, let's assume that the axioms upon we build the universe are such ...
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How does Quantum Mechanics affect the modern account of free will and determinism?

In the edition of Feb/Mar 2016 of the Philosophy Now Magazine says: Under Feel Free to Differ it says: [...] Determinism itself comes in different flavours. Hard determinism of the most absolute ...
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Does functionalism of the mind allow for free will?

Functionalism views the mental processes in terms of causes and effects (ex. inputs such as sensory stimuli and output such as moving an extremity). But how would free will fit into this theory if at ...
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Free will and the principle of sufficient reason

According to Hume, "All distinct ideas are separable from each other, and as the ideas of cause and effect are evidently distinct, it will be easy for us to conceive any object to be non-existent this ...
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How do compatibilists understand “responsible”?

In Scott Christensen's book "What about free will?" on page 119 is "Pharaoh is held responsible for his actions". The reason given for God attributing culpability is "You are exalting yourself...". ...
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How can a stream of thoughts and perceptions have freewill?

William James believed that there was no central entity or ego that embodied the "I" in "I feel" or "I think". That the continuous stream of thoughts and sensations generated the illusion of their ...
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Truth Claims - Free Will - Determinism

In this video, Ravi Zacharias when asked how we can have free will if God already knows what we are going to do, says the following: "The moment you make a truth claim you are rising above the ...
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Can a version of the philosophical zombie concept be used to argue for libertarian freewill?

Philosophical Zombies are a thought experiment that is used to argue for dualism and against functionalism. The argument goes something like this: A purely functionalist account of the mind fails to ...
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What does the Soon unconscious determinants study prove?

I recently read this scientific study: Soon, C. S., Brass, M., Heinze, H. J., & Haynes, J. D. (2008). Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain. Nature neuroscience, 11(5), 543....
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Does having free will presuppose consciousness, can philosophical zombies have it?

Philosophical zombies may lack a consciousness, but does this preclude the ability to have a free will? Why does consciousness matter, for agency, or at all, if determinism is real? (I've framed the ...
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Experiment to test for the existence of free will and randomness

If (1) we assume the universe has a finite size, and (2) we took a snapshot of the universe that includes particle speeds and locations, and (3) using perfect knowledge of science, would this be the ...
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Is God free to make decisions?

God is omniscient, that means He knows the only one future. The only one future will become the only one past after some time. Thus we are sure that this future is really only one. It will be ...
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Would logic be respected if we assume that the God's omniscience includes the ability to DIRECTLY OBSERVE future events?

If we assume that God knows the future, we think that the only possible way to do that is because He knows all possible states of the system: He could thus "compute" that future. But this "computation"...
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Is free will required in order to differentiate between the subconscious and the conscious?

If the subconscious motivates actions in a way that we are not aware of, then its fair to say that we don't have control over our subconscious. If I were to look at this from a determinist perspective,...
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Trouble understanding Chomsky's answers on the free will question

Now, I don't think there's any scientific grasp, any hint of an idea, as to how to explain free will. Suppose somebody argues that free will is an illusion. Okay. This could be the case, but I don't ...
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Does free will contradict the theory of infinite universes

Let's imagine that we live in a world with infinite universes. One of these universes is the same as the one we live in, except for one change: this morning I choose to cut off my leg for some reason, ...
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School/branch of philosophy based on freedom

New to the exchange, please be gentle. Are there any branches of philosophy that hold freedom as something that is intrinsically good? I think that libertarianism and various versions comprise one ...
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In which writings does Charles Sanders Peirce generalize the idea of freedom so that it applies to all creatures?

Charles Hartshorne claimed that Peirce was pretty close to the first philosopher in the world who generalized the idea of freedom so that it applied to all the creatures.... In which writings ...
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Are there philosophers who have considered free will for agents who are not considered rational?

The tag for "free-will" currently has the following with my emphasis in bold: for questions concerning the freedom of choice of rational agents Are there philosophers who have considered freedom ...
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Is epiphenomenalism compatible with free will?

I sometimes see claims on the internet that according to epiphenominalism there is no free will. But what is the basis to this claim?
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Is the question of moral responsibility a valid one against determinism?

One of the questions I feel is most commonly asked about determinism is "how can people be responsible for their actions if they were following a determined fate? is it right to punish people for bad ...
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The Emperor's New Mind and Free Will

A good few years ago I read The Emperor's New Mind by Roger Penrose. Having recently read some philosopy primers I was wondering about the links between this book and the question of free will. From ...
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What is “limited free will”? [closed]

I have heard that humans have a limited or constrained free will, especially when biological limitations are brought up. However, Merriam-Webster dictionary says: Limited 1a: confined within ...
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What is a simplistic definition of Boethius' Consolation with Philosophy?

The specific extract is where he asks Lady Philosophy about the correlation of omniscience and free will having a coherent existence together. I know the extract well, but I struggle to define it ...
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Many-worlds defeats Doomsday argument (improved version)?

This is a more carefully argued version of my previous post Many-worlds Interpretation defeats the Doomsday argument? Standard Doomsday Argument Let N be the total number of humans who will ever ...
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If hard determinism is true, why should we try to better ourselves?

If hard determinism is true, then it was never really my choice to be the person I am at this exact moment. There’s also only one path from this point forward, so if I’m going to eventually be a good ...
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Conceptions of Free Will

Three questions here. Does anyone know of thought experiments in the philosophical literature that illustrate essential features of free will? Does anyone know of a philosophical work which offers an ...
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How do I believe in free will? [closed]

After considering all possible ways that famous philosophers have tried to explain it, and reading so many articles that treat it like God’s greatest gift to mankind, I still don’t get it. Is it that ...
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Did Thomas Aquinas state randomness as a prerequisite of free will?

I was told the other day that in one work on free will, Thomas Aquinas suggested that some randomness / non-determinism was a prerequisite for its existence. Does any one know where he expressed this ...
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How far can compatibilism go: God as active creator with perfect foreknowledge and free will

One of the main arguments of compatibilists trying to save free will from God's foreknowledge seems to be that free will is still possible in the face of perfect foreknowledge as long as God only ...
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Have there been any proposed empirical tests for free will?

Have any observational, i.e., empirical, tests been proposed for determining whether an entity has free will? That is, given an arbitrary entity, how would one test whether it has free will. Asking ...
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What is the relationship between memory and free will?

Suppose I want to go to a store and buy a few items- coffee, cereal, tape, and gum. However, I’m at work so I have to wait a few hours before I can go to the store. When I finally make it to the ...
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Can we control our emotions? [closed]

Suppose a man works 15 hour shifts to provide for his wife and 10 kids, and after a very long and exhaustive day, he comes home to find his wife in bed with another man. At what point does the man ...
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How does free will give life “meaning”?

Many people have suggested that if we don’t have free will, then life is essentially meaningless because everything we’ve ever thought or done has already been determined. I’m not sure why determinism ...
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Is the B-theory of time compatible with libertarian free will?

As I understand the B-theory of time it says that we can talk about things happening in time just by using tenseless sentences — which for me implies that the past, present and future are equally real....
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What role does “DESIRE” play in materialistic determinism?

Let us assume the worldview of extreme materialistic determinism. This is the belief that everything is the result of its material make up. This view goes so far as to eliminate free will. Our ...
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How does Plantinga's defense of free will align with omniscience

I've been reading about Plantinga's defense of free will and I can see how omnipotence is aligned with the existence of evil. What evades me, is how he resolves the conflict between foreknowledge and ...
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Is freedom a paradox?

The notion of freedom is clearly paradoxical. If everyone is free to do whatever they want, they are free to restrict other people's freedom, and hence those people are not free. If this is not ...
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Problem with propositions about future

I have some questions about propositions of future like “tomorrow, there will be rain” or “you won’t go to school tomorrow” 1) Are there certain truth values of future propositions? For example, ...
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Does the notion of an all-powerful God conflict with the idea of free will?

In Abrahamic religions, God is often believed to be wholly omnipotent. People also seem to believe that humans have "free will", esp. insofar that they feel they are in control of their own actions. ...