RE: Free Will not an illusion..

From: Herb Martin (HerbM@LearnQuick.Com)
Date: Sun Dec 25 2005 - 16:49:11 MST

> Let me propose this thought experiment for all of you out there who
> think "Free Will is not an illusion". Suppose you are wrong and "Free
> Will IS an illusion"; how would the world be different? It wouldn't be
> one bit different near as I can tell, and that suggests to me that the
> entire phrase is meaningless.
> John K Clark

The above has finally nudged me to share
the following....

I have a short and compelling statistical
proof (or argument) for free will:

There are two possibilities: free will exists
or not (if the question is meaningless then in
some real sense free will does not exist.) The
two possibilities are not (necessarily) equal
in probability but it you find it easier to
consider then assign arbitrary probabilities to
these possibilities (99% does not, 1% does or
50/50 are both fine.)

In the case where free will exists and you hold
(especially if you act as if it does not) you
are both wrong and quite likely to engage in
counter-productive, less than optimal, or even
illegal behavior. After all, if there is no
true choice you decisions are all predetermined.

In the case where free will and therefore choice
are non-existent you have no choice and several
results pertain:

        1) You are not responsible for your mistake,
                as it was beyond your control being
                predetermined (or perhaps random due
                to quantum fluctuations). You never
                had a chance to "decide" or "choose"
                anything -- all such choice was an

        2) You have no chance of convincing anyone
                that would not have been convinced
                anyway so arguing against (or even
                for) if irrelevant, wasteful (energy,
                bandwidth, time etc.), and futile.

        3) You were never really "considering" the
                evidence anyway, so to claim there
                is no choice is intellectually dishonest
                (to the extent that #1 & #2 is not true
                and you believe your arguments are
                rational (#1) AND (#2) effective.

The only rational choice it to believe in free will,
and statistically you will be correct in all possible
universes where the question makes sense AND you have
free will.

In all other case any belief and argument against
free will is merely illusion and ineffectual.

As a matter of fact, everyone (probably with zero
exceptions, except those committing suicide in the
next 30 seconds -- maybe) follows the above
pragmatic approach in daily life.

We all act as if our choices "matter" and that
our opinion is rational, and that we can change
the opinion or behavior of others through acts
of will expressed as actions and arguments.

Were this not so there would be no reason to
consciously encourage yourself or others to
carefully 'consider' any action or 'decision.'

Without free will there is no true decisions,
consideration, nor responsibility.

BTW, quantum indeterminacy is NOT a direct
route to explaining HOW free will works. The
world could (in principle) be indeterminate but
with all 'decisions' and 'choices' largely
pre-determined despite a small influence of

This does not guarantee that quantum effects
do NOT play a role in free will of course, but
the mechanism would need to be elaborated.

Merry Christmas, Pleasurable Solstice, &
Happy Hanukah, and a Successful New Year.

If it matters...

Herb Martin

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