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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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In which way does quantum mechanics disprove determinism?

I've heard this pop up in a discussion with my physicist/engineer roommates, but didn't care to ask at the time. Now I'm mighty curious about it. Wikipedia doesn't really seem to say much on this ...
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What is the difference between free-will and randomness and or non-determinism?

In relation to the question "What are the necessary conditions for an action to be regarded as a free choice?", it came up that one way to insure the possibility of free-will was to have more than one ...
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What are the necessary conditions for an action to be regarded as a free choice?

A common philosophical question revolves around the existence of free will, but what I've found is that these debates seem to gloss over the concept of "free will" itself, either taking it as a given ...
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How can free will in compatibilism be proven?

Having very recently started getting interested in philosophy, I'm still halfway through my first book (Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy, by Simon Blackburn, as recommended in this ...
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Does free will require randomness?

Let us assume that randomness does not exist. For example, even the flip of a coin is not considered random. The coin's flip can be calculated if certain variables are given (the force used for the ...
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How does Nietzsche define and characterize “freedom” throughout his works?

My basic question concerns the meaning of freedom in Nietzsche's work. Nietzsche suggests that, in reality, a will can never be absolutely "free" or "unfree"—rather, any particular will is going ...
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Is free will reconcilable with a purely physical world?

Many are of the opinion that there is no metaphysical world beyond the material that we can sense, and that everything is therefore governed by physical cause and effect (some believe that we cannot ...
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Does compatibilism imply that a chess program has free will?

I am puzzled by compatibilism and am trying to understand what it means using a test example. Given that a typical chess program generates several choices, evaluates them with a goal of winning and ...
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How do defenders of libertarian freewill reconcile it with constraints imposed by the laws of physics?

Libertarian freewill is the position that we have some measure of metaphysical freewill. Per this position, a free agent at a given point in time is able to freely select a course of action among ...
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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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Why do modern materialists tend to favor determinism?

There seems to be no logical link between matter and determinism (or ideal and indeterminism for that matter). And libertarian free will was first articulated by a materialist, Epicurus, and is ...
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Can someone be an atheist and subscribe to substance dualism at the same time?

I consider myself to be firmly in the atheist camp. None of the arguments for the existence of a higher being or prime mover convince me, let alone attempts at proving the existence of the old God of ...
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What philosophers, other than Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, examine “will” first, before “free will”?

It seems to me that talk about free will is premature, until 'will' itself has been examined. As Hume noted, we don't have any direct experience of "causality"... two events follow each other and we ...
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Was Augustine intentionally ambiguous regarding free will?

So many scholars have written about St. Augustine and his views on free will, but there is little consensus to be formed from their literature. According to John Rist: There is still no consensus ...
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Is the theory of evolution a good basis for an argument against freewill?

In the theory of evolution, humans do not occupy any privileged status compared to other living beings, they are at one end of a continuous (although not necessarily monotone) spectrum of creatures. ...
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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. ...
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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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What is a mathematical description of free will?

This is following in the line of this question asking what the difference between free-will and randomness/indeterminism is: What is the difference between free-will and randomness and or non-...
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Does punishment from god contradict the idea of free will?

In various religions it is often preached that god has given humans free will. But at the same time those religions preach that there is punishment for sinning. Assuming a god does exist, and god ...
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Is Conway-Kochen's “free will” theorem about quantum measurements an argument for panpsychism?

Conway and Kochen have proved a theorem about free will (no to be confused with the related Kochen–Specker theorem, which rules out hidden variables), which states that if we have a type of ...
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Moral responsibility without free will

Are there any theories of moral responsibility that don't require free will? Sam Harris rejects the notion of free will and attempts to construct some form of moral calculus, but "The Moral Landscape"...
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Is compatibilism still considered a valid approach to free will?

Has the Free Will Theorem of Conway and Kochen been taken seriously by the philosophical community? Is compatibilism still considered a valid approach to free will?
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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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Does free will require an event to occur without a predecessor (thereby violating causality)?

From my understanding, a Mixed Quantum State defines the set of all probable outcomes for a system, but isn't there still only one outcome determined through the succession of factors leading up to it ...
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What is the difference between intension and intention?

What is the difference between intention and intension? If one intends to do something is this intent part of the concept of intension?
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What was Socrates/Plato's view on free-will?

Socrates (or, rather Plato, through the voice of Socrates) leads us to the conclusion in the dialog Protagoras (see this for example) that our actions are entirely determined by our beliefs of what is ...
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Aren't Determinism and Free Will indiscernible from the mortal perspective?

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 ...
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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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What counters are there to Spinoza's argument that acts of free will create infinite regress?

My 16-to-21-year-old self was very preoccupied with free will. When I was 21 years old I rejected the notion as ill-defined as both my reason and my inner experience told me that my will was caused ...
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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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Is belief an intentional act?

In what respect are we to understand the proposition, "I choose to believe x", and is there a significant difference between the proposition, "I choose to believe x" and "I choose to drive to San ...
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Is Compatibilism just a word game?

I understand compatibilism to mean that an action can be free if it is self-determined by the agent, even if it would have been impossible for the agent to choose any other action. Consider the ...
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Kant and free will

Could someone explain Kant's view on free will to me? As I understand it, Kant says that it is necessary that we have free will, because otherwise it would be unreasonable to hold people responsible. ...
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Is there a term for the position “no determinism but no free will”?

Often when free will is discussed, there are three main positions espoused: Libertarian: The universe is not deterministic and there is free will Hard-determinism: The universe is deterministic and ...
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Is World Deterministic?

I think that all the events of the world are just the results of the application of the rules of nature on the previous situation of the world. Our thoughts or efforts are also completely ...
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What is morally wrong about altering someone's behavior using psychological conditioning techniques?

I am reading the novel A Clockwork Orange. The priest is very angry at the behavior-altering technique being used on criminals to make them "good" and feels as though it is not right to take away free ...
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Are actually random events causeless?

Radium atoms decay by emitting alpha particles at random. Are these events without cause? Of course one may take a closer look at radium nuclei to determine a possible reason why they decay; for ...
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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 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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What did Acton mean by saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton said that "[p]ower tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." What did he mean by this? How might power compel evil or restrict free will?
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Why does Newcomb's paradox seem to have different solutions depending on when the choice is made despite determinism?

I believe the Newcomb's paradox is a significant problem in philosophy, since I regard it as a well formulated version of the lazy argument (under certain conditions) with real life implications. ...
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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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Is free will a third option aside from chance and necessity?

The determinism dilemma is that if our actions are predetermined they are not free, and if they are random they are not willed, either way there is no free will. Even if will causation is a mixture of ...
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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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Is it possible to program free will?

In any computational environment(digital,neural,analog or quantum mechanical) is it possible to write or construct a program which can be construed as free will?
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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 are some replies to the deterministic argument against free will?

This question is about the following famous argument (*) against free will: If determinism is true, the will is not free. If indeterminism is true, our will would just be a result of chance ...
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Does omniscience negate free will?

If a tri-omni being knows what you're exactly going to do, then you can't do anything other than what he already knows you'll do. Further, if a tri-omni being created this reality in which things ...
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How can there be autonomy in Immanuel Kant's ethics?

Immanuel Kant defines autonomy and general freedom as when a human makes a decision that is not to satisfy a dispositional end (when a decision is made to such an end, he defines it as heteronomy). ...
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Is there evidence for existence of destiny as opposed to free will?

Is there any evidence for the existence of some kind of "destiny"? And if not: What about the "free will", its very much the opposite of destiny. Lets assume, our brain really is "only" an input-...