On Thursday, 21 February 2013, Craig Weinberg wrote:

We can't predict our own decisions, since there is always the
>> possibility that we can change our minds.
> But we are in control of that possibility to some extent. If I bet you
> $100 that I will post something about tree frogs later today, then I can be
> sure that I will follow through on that, barring unforeseen events beyond
> my control.

Surely you, a free will enthusiast, will admit that you *could* change your
mind about that post even though at the moment you are pretty sure you want
to win the bet. If you felt you could not change your mind then that would
be a weird situation. It can occur with so-called passivity phenomena in
schizophrenia, where patients describe feeling controlled by an external
force which they are powerless to resist.

> This is where the feeling of
>> "free will" comes from. Note that this has no bearing on the question
>> of whether our decisions are determined or not: the only requirement
>> for the feeling of freedom is that we not know what we're going to do
>> until we do it.
> I think that you are confusing freedom with farting. Not knowing what we
> are going to do is meaningless if we don't have the possibility to freely
> exercise control over what we do. Why would there be a feeling associated
> with some process which has no consequences that we could do anything about?

We have the feeling of control over what we do because we can't predict
exactly what we are going to do. As I keep trying to explain, this has no
bearing on whether our actions are determined or not. There is no logical
connection between the two concepts.

Suppose someone demonstrates to you that they can reliably predict every
decision you make. You deliberately try to thwart them by making erratic
decisions but they still get it right. This might be disturbing for you,
but do you think the strong feeling of free will that you have would
suddenly disappear?

Stathis Papaioannou

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