Emergence (Evolution)

by dhw, Wednesday, August 21, 2019, 11:27 (322 days ago) @ romansh

dhw Atheism: the belief that God does not exist. Theism: belief in the existence of God or gods. (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English) I have neither belief. What is your point?

ROMANSH: Yes that is a definition ... but perhaps this wiki article might help.
Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.
And if you recall this this was part of the discussion of how lacking a belief in free will is similar to lacking a belief in god.

It doesn’t help. I agree that lacking belief in God/free will means the same: but it is not the same as disbelieving. What is your point?

dhw I do not pray or give thanks to any deity. I simply do not know if there is such a thing. If there is, it may well be blind and uncaring. What is your point?

ROMANSH: […] Are you seriously telling me if someone but a gun to your head and said make bet or else you would not come down on one side or the other?

To save my life, I might tell a lie. But the truth is, I am split 50/50. Again, what is your point?

dhw So you want to define free will out of existence and stop the debate!

ROMANSH: And that is like saying you just want to continue the debate. Really dhw?

It was you who raised the subject! So are you now saying you don’t want to discuss it?

dhw You have indeed defined free will out of existence.

ROMANSH: Only if that were true ... there is the god given free will that people believe in and the libertarian free will ... etc.

Yes, there are other definitions.

dhw: You might as well say that if we had never existed (no universe, no life), or if there was nothing to choose from (no environment), we could not have had free will, and so free will does not exist. And yet you claim that compatibilists “change the definition” as if your definition was “the” definition.

ROMANSH: Your rhetoric escapes me here.

No decision can be independent of the universe (without which we would not be here) or of the environment (without which there would be no choice for our will to make). That is how your own highly personal definition removes the possibility of free will. But you accuse compatibilists of “changing the definition”. Which definition?

dhw: The basic premise before we even begin such a discussion is that we do exist and there are choices.

ROMANSH: Yes and its the nature of our existence and choices that is under discussion.

Of course.

dhw ... so it is “I” and no one and nothing else that makes the choice.

ROMANSH: I don't think this bit necessarily follows. Where do you draw a line around yourself? When you say "I" what exactly do you mean by that? Is it some ephemeral soul, is it the bacteria speaking to you from your stomach?

I don’t draw a line. You simply haven’t grasped the fact that I am neutral on the subject! I don’t know if I consist solely of cells, bacteria etc., or if I have an immaterial self, or if my material self produces an identity that is greater than the sum of my parts (emergence). But because you wish to define free will out of existence, you oblige me to tell you why I reject your definition and why I think free will is a possibility.

dhw: The issue is controversial, and a definition should not exclude one side or the other.

ROMANSH: In what way is it controversial?

Because some people believe we have free will, and some people believe we haven’t.

ROMANSH: Most people seem to believe that at least in part they can exist outside of the causal mesh. Even though they believe they can use the very same mesh to get things done. If we believe we are immersed in the causal mesh, then we have to come to the conclusion that our thoughts and actions are a product of that mesh. Unless of course we believe we are somehow separate from that mesh.

A fair summary. It means those who believe we cannot make decisions outside the "causal mesh" disbelieve in free will, and those who believe we can make decisions outside the "causal mesh" believe in free will. But your personal definition of free will is the ability to make decisions outside the causal mesh (i.e. the inescapable factors of the universe and the environment) and therefore free will does not exist. I offer a different definition which means that free will may or may not exist.

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