I have just finished Think by Simon Blackburn and found the stuff on free will really interesting. Through the chapter he puts together a definition of compatibilism which goes as follows:
The subject acted freely if she could have done otherwise in the right sense. This means that she would have done otherwise if she could have chosen differently and, under the impact of other true and available thoughts or considerations, she would have chosen differently. True and available thoughts and considerations are those that represent her situation accurately, and are ones that she could reasonably be expected to have taken into account.
What strikes me is that this appears to describe what I wpuld have previously called free will, the ability to chose, whilst acknowledging that some limiting factors may be present; or is free will the ability to do whatever you wish without ANY restraints e.g. money, time or even physical laws? How would you define free will? Is free will a concept which is logically impossible? Surely part of being human is having these limits. I feel that I cannot really understand the idea of compatibilism until I can understand how free will would be defined.
Any further reading suggestions would be great as well.
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Compatibilism and Free Will watch
- Thread Starter
- 28-08-2007 21:29
- 29-08-2007 17:28
a compatibalist would say that humans always make the best choices to them based on the facts they know, and thus in a sense our choices are determined by the outside world as in determinism. But nothing outside out mindis forcing us to make a certain choice, our minds are simply making the best choice based on the information we have and how we interpret it. The act of choosing is simply the act of weighing up the facts and our priorities and interpretations. However, there is a deterministic element in that if I asked someone the same question at the same time and place in a number of 'parallel' worlds, their descision would always be the same.
- 29-08-2007 17:35
As you seem to have picked up, a lot of the problem of free will depends on how exactly it's defined. This essay covers a lot of ground. Personally I feel that, since no one can really agree on what free will constitutes, it's impossible to say whether we have it or not.