1. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    27 Jul '05 15:35
    Paraphrasing bbarr (replacing "God" with P, denoting any person)

    <b>

    (1)
    Either P's character is causally sufficient for P to act in the manner he does, or his character is not sufficient.

    (2)
    If P's character is causally sufficient, then P could not have done otherwise than that which he in fact did.

    (3)
    If P's character is not causally sufficient for his actions, then P's acts are random.

    (4)
    Either way, P does not have free will [and hence is not responsible for his acts, in any full-blooded libertarian sense]. </b>

    My question is whether premise (3) is true.

    (For the sake of simplicity, let's suppose that "character" covers everything of possible causal relevance in a person's current state, dispositional and situational.)

    Does an act being undetermined imply that it must be random? If so, what form does the implication take? Is it purely logical, formal conceptual? Or is it instead metaphysical, substantive, and empirical?

    A free act, according to libertarianism, is one that is neither determined nor random.

    So, are libertarians irrationally failing to recognize that their version of human freedom asks for something that is a logical impossibility (could not exist in any possible world)?

    Or are they instead asking for something that could exist (in some possible world), even if the nature of that something is not clear to our limited human faculties?
  2. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    27 Jul '05 15:451 edit
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole

    (3)
    If P's character is not causally sufficient for his actions, then P's acts are random.

    My question is whether premise (3) is true.
    Let there be scrutinization.

    You must say what 'random' means before this can be assessed.

    If 'random' means nothing more than 'without sufficient cause,' then the premise is true.

    If 'random' means something else, then what does it mean?
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    27 Jul '05 21:28
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    (1)
    Either P's character is causally sufficient for P to act in the manner he does, or his character is not sufficient.
    (2)
    If P's character is causally sufficient, then P could not have done otherwise than that which he in fact did. ...
    I agree with the beginning premise: either one's character determines one's action, or it does not.

    However, I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that, if character alone does not determine actions, that those actions are therefore at random.
    Why couldn't they be a result of the environment (primitive response) or direct manipulation by a divine being (puppetry) or, better yet, a combination of character and environment such that the two are in constant tension, and in each possible moment of action, either character or environment determines the action taken?
  4. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Jul '05 23:35
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Paraphrasing bbarr (replacing "God" with P, denoting any person)

    <b>

    (1)
    Either P's character is causally sufficient for P to act in the manner he does, or his character is not sufficient.

    (2)
    If P's character is causally sufficient, then P could not have done otherwise than that which he in fact did.

    (3)
    If P's character is not ca ...[text shortened]... ssible world), even if the nature of that something is not clear to our limited human faculties?
    (2) If P's character is causally sufficient, then P could not have done otherwise than that which he in fact did.

    Is “causally sufficient” the same as causally necessary? In world with multiple options—P can choose to x, y or z—the fact that x is causally sufficient, does not mean that P is constrained to perform x: y may also be causally sufficient, in which case, P will have to weigh the (causally sufficient) options. That is, x may be causally sufficient in itself, but that says nothing about y or z.

    If x the only option (other than a non-causally sufficient not-x), then I suppose that P could not have done otherwise.
  5. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    28 Jul '05 00:03
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b](2) If P's character is causally sufficient, then P could not have done otherwise than that which he in fact did.

    Is “causally sufficient” the same as causally necessary? In world with multiple options—P can choose to x, y or z—the fact that x is causally sufficient, does not mean that P is constrained to perform x: y may also be causally suff ...[text shortened]... er than a non-causally sufficient not-x), then I suppose that P could not have done otherwise.
    [/b]
    Causal sufficiency is an alleged property of the actor's character, not of the action.
  6. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    28 Jul '05 16:26
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Let there be scrutinization.

    You must say what 'random' means before this can be assessed.

    If 'random' means nothing more than 'without sufficient cause,' then the premise is true.

    If 'random' means something else, then what does it mean?
    And lo, they scrutinized, and lo, it they saw it was very good...

    Well, I would like to think that the meaning of "random" is not wholly parasitic upon "determined", nor vice versa. That is, I would like to think that we could understanding the meaning of "random" and "determined" at least somewhat independently, and then assess whether any other alternative might exist, which libertarian free will seems to require.

    Clearly, determined events are not random, and random events are not determined, just as blue socks are not green and green socks are not blue. But there are white socks and there are yellow socks. Are their perhaps "white" libertarian acts that are neither random nor determined, or "yellow" libertarian acts that are both random and determined?

    I think a libertarian free act has to be "random" in the sense that it is (a) without sufficient cause, but has also to be not "random" in the sense that it is not (b) arbitrary or haphazard. Now, physical events, like quantum fluctuations, are obviously random in both senses. However, deliberate psychological acts may only be random in sense (a), because do not seem to be arbitrary or haphazard; rather, they involve the willful bringing about of a state of affairs for a reason.

    The question then becomes whether a state of affairs can be willfully brought about for a reason without that willing itself being sufficiently caused. If (b) entails (a), then this is logically impossible; and even if you (b) doesn't entail (a), then this may still be empirically false, for instance, because a reason acts as a sufficient cause, or because all willful acts are sufficiently caused by underlying motivations.

    So, do you think that (b) logically implies (a)? I am not sure whether it does. If it doesn't, does that mean that free will is possible?

  7. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Jul '05 16:29
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Causal sufficiency is an alleged property of the actor's character, not of the action.
    Ah, yes, you’re right; I went off on a tangent there. But I still have some confusion: If P’s character is causally sufficient for P to “act in the manner he does” (i.e., not simply to act), and if that means that “P could not have done otherwise than that which he in fact did.,” is there not an implicit assumption that P’s character in this case is causally sufficient only for P to act in that way?

    Maybe I’m getting confused due to the reference to a specific (manner of) action, in (1) and (2), coupled with the reference to P’s actions in general in (3)…?

    If P’s character is causally sufficient to act only in one way, then it seems to me that P’s manner of acting is either predetermined by P’s character, or “random”—scare quotes there because of your point about needing to define randomness. If we are talking, not about a specific action, but P’s general manner of acting, then it seems to me that, faced with a choice among alternative acts, P could still be free to choose, but that the way in which he goes about choosing would be predetermined by his character.

    Maybe I’m confusing myself by being too picky. Does the phrase “causally sufficient,” in general usage, always include that implicit “only”—i.e., if my character is causally sufficient to act in a certain way, does that necessarily mean it is causally insufficient for me to act in an alternative way?
  8. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    28 Jul '05 16:44
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Does the phrase “causally sufficient,” in general usage, always include that implicit “only”—i.e., if my character is causally sufficient to act in a certain way, does that necessarily mean it is causally insufficient for me to act in an alternative way?
    I don't know. It's not my term. I am merely a symbol processor.

    Let there be definitions.
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    28 Jul '05 16:58
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    (3)
    If P's character is not causally sufficient for his actions, then P's acts are random.
    ...My question is whether premise (3) is true.
    Let me try this again: Premise 3, while a possible solution, is not the excluse truth. If P's character is not causally sufficient for his actions, then P's actions are not a direct result of P's character. If you consider the only possible cause for action to be character, then the actions have no guidance and are thus random. However, it seems nonsensical to assume that actions can only be governed by character. If you add another factor (environment or the divine, for example), then character plus this(/these) other factor(s) may be causually sufficient.
  10. Standard memberColetti
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    28 Jul '05 17:19
    Originally posted by echecero
    Let me try this again: Premise 3, while a possible solution, is not the excluse truth. If P's character is not causally sufficient for his actions, then P's actions are not a direct result of P's character. If you consider the only possible cause for action to be character, then the actions have no guidance and are thus random. However, it seems nonsensi ...[text shortened]... ine, for example), then character plus this(/these) other factor(s) may be causually sufficient.
    Would not all other factors be external to P? And therefore the will of P must either be formed or influenced by external forces - or not. If P is the divine - then be definition - all external factors exist and are known fully be P, and are directed by P - so P's will is never in reaction or outside factors. P's will is P's will and is truly free.

    But if P is a mere human being, then P's will may in deed by dictated by outside factors (environment, circumstance, God, etc). And P's will is always reactive - even if P is not conscious of this. P's will is not free in any libertarian sense.
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Jul '05 17:37
    Originally posted by Coletti
    Would not all other factors be external to P? And therefore the will of P must either be formed or influenced by external forces - or not. If P is the divine - then be definition - all external factors exist and are known fully be P, and are directed by P - so P's will is never in reaction or outside factors. P's will is P's will and is truly free.

    Bu ...[text shortened]... reactive - even if P is not conscious of this. P's will is not free in any libertarian sense.
    So, in the libertarian sense, “free will” is the ability to undertake unconditioned actions, and so is not something we can even meaningfully talk about within the framework of our conditioned existence—i.e., since all of our choices and actions are broadly subject to those conditions? In that case, libertarian free will is not only not possible, it is—in any relevant sense—meaningless.
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    28 Jul '05 18:39
    Originally posted by Coletti
    1.) Would not all other factors be external to P?
    2.) And therefore the will of P must either be formed or influenced by external forces - or not.
    3.) If P is the divine - then by definition - all external factors exist and are known fully by P, and are directed by P...
    4.) But if P is a mere human being, then P's will may indeed be dictated by outside ...[text shortened]... ive - even if P is not conscious of this.
    6.) P's will is not free in any libertarian sense.
    1.) Yes.
    2.) "Formed" and "influenced by" are greatly different things. I doubt anyone would argue that there is ever a choice that is not influenced by external matters -- at the very least, without any external factors, no choice could matter...there would be nothing to act upon or interact with. Without the external, action is quite meaningless.
    3.) If P is the divine, then by definition, P is a god of some sort. Not necessarily an omnipotent or omniscient god. The Christian God is indeed alleged to be omnipotent and omniscient, and would fit your description...but the Norse, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman gods would not at all fit your description. Yet, the word divine would still apply to them, as they are gods.
    4.) Not may be. Must be.
    5.) All actions can indeed be described as reactive. That does not, however, mean that there were not choices to be made. Without free will, no actual choices exist: every action is precisely determined by all the sum of everything previous, not merely instigated by it.
    6.) Eh, don't care much for the extreme "libertarian" version. I much prefer a simple indetermination that is compatible with some level of determination, because we all know that there are times that we act with no thought, no choice, and therefore the "libertarian" ideal cannot be entirely true.

    ...also, a nice little exploration of this topic can be found at http://www.answers.com/topic/free-will
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    30 Jul '05 14:40
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Paraphrasing bbarr (replacing "God" with P, denoting any person)

    <b>

    (1)
    Either P's character is causally sufficient for P to act in the manner he does, or his character is not sufficient.

    (2)
    If P's character is causally sufficient, then P could not have done otherwise than that which he in fact did.

    (3)
    If P's character is not ca ...[text shortened]... ssible world), even if the nature of that something is not clear to our limited human faculties?
    Does the term "character" include free will?
  14. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    02 Aug '05 08:39
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Does the term "character" include free will?
    No.
  15. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    02 Aug '05 09:08
    Okay, let's get rid of the term "character" altogether.

    (1)
    Either ALL EVENTS PROXIMATE TO PERSON P, INTERNAL OR EXTERNAL (ALL) are causally sufficient for P to act in the manner he does, or ALL are not sufficient.

    (2)
    If ALL are causally sufficient, then P could not have done otherwise than that which he in fact did.

    (3)
    If ALL are not causally sufficient for his actions, then P's acts are random.

    (4)
    Either way, P does not have [libertarian] free will [and hence is not responsible for his acts, in any full-blooded libertarian sense]. </b>

    This should clear the way for a relevant discussion of premise (3).

    "Random" can be understood as implying both (i) lacking sufficient causal conditions and (ii) being arbitrary and haphazard. I wonder whether (i) implies (ii). Responsivity to both causes and reasons would suffice to make something NOT arbitrary and haphazard. An act freely, consciously, and willfully undertaken for a reason would therefore not be haphazard. As long as the reason is not a sufficient cause of the act, and the act has no other sufficient cause, then the act could logically be free. Isn't this possible in principle?

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