On 02 Aug 2012, at 00:27, RMahoney wrote:


Bruno wrote:
"And my (older) definition asks for one more thing: it is that the subject know (is aware or is conscious) about that inability and that he can still make the decision. There is a reflexion on the possibilities. If not, all non sentient beings have trivially free will."

This is pretty much what I was thinking... It appears we live in a cause and effect universe. Things do not happen without cause. There is a decision making process each concious being embodies that is governed by cause and effect, while the being cannot understand the process in it's entirety, so thinks they have some magic called free will. The being has a will, the being embodies the decision making mechanism, the being's mechanism makes a choice, even if the being decides to make a random choice, it is the being's choice. The being's very existence is made possible by cause and effect, and so it's decisions are governed likewise. The being emodies a will, it can be called a free will if you like, but it is not free from the cause & effect process. Even though in a multiverse a cause can have multiple effects.

I agree with you.
Of course, I would add that the physical cause-and-effect universe we live in is a theological (or biological, psychological) pattern emerging from the "laws of cause and effect" of the numbers, which in this case are just the laws of addition and multiplication together with some logical inference rule, like the modus ponens. But this is another topic, and it is not really needed for an account of the free- will notion.




But that's another issue. A being can embody a will, a free will as the being views it, but still be governed by a complex cause & effect process.

Absolutely. That is the compatibilist or mechanist idea of will or "free will".



The concepts are not really at odds with one another, as this being sees it.

Yes. It comes from the fact that we cannot use the basic laws we supervene on to predict our behavior. We can do it trivially only, and in a non constructive way, as we cannot be sure which machine we are, and have to bet on some substitution level. No lawyer will ever justify the non responsibility, or the absence of (free)-will of an agent by invoking the fact that the murderer (say) was just obeying to the physical laws. That would be trivial, and the judge can condemn the murderer to any pain by invoking himself that he is just obeying to the physical laws. Plausibly true, but trivial, and non sensical as it makes everyone non responsible of anything, and this without without changing the verdict, and even making possible arbitrary one, and this leads to a form of person elimination akin to materialist eliminativism (à-la Churchland couple).

Bruno


http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/



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