|08:45:34 [jmcconnell] The Sunday morning chatroom will begin in 15 minutes, at 9 a.m. ET.
08:59:48 [efabbott] jmcconnell> Hi. It's 6 AM here in Sacramento. I'll be awake in 15 min.
09:00:03 [jmcconnell] Welcome, Gene.
09:01:49 [jmcconnell] Hi William.
09:02:19 [whmitchel] Hi Professor.
09:02:23 [jmcconnell] Hi Daniel.
09:03:22 [DanielH] good morning
09:04:58 [jmcconnell] Well, shall we start? Any thoughts or comments or questions about the material we've been discussing in class?
09:05:17 [efabbott] jmcconnell> "Free" will
09:05:41 [jmcconnell] Go ahead.
09:06:36 [jmcconnell] What's your question?
09:06:55 [efabbott] jmcconnell> Is this a philosophical jargon or does it exist?
09:07:33 [jmcconnell] What do you think? I want to hear your take on it.
09:08:03 [efabbott] jmcconnell> We are predetermined by experience and genes. There is no free will.
09:08:54 [jmcconnell] Why not take the compatibilist line (and Edwards'): that you're free because your desires cause your actions?
09:09:47 [DanielH] are we not as responsible for our desires/thoughts as our actions
09:10:36 [efabbott] jmcconnell> You mean, because they're my desires? Desire is the horse being whipped by Satan.
09:11:16 [jmcconnell] Are you suggesting that you must choose your choices as well as choosing your actions?
09:11:22 [whmitchel] i like the compatibilist line, provided it's within my means to change my desires and wants upon reflection.
09:13:13 [jmcconnell] Presumably, because you are able to change your desires and wants on reflection.
09:14:07 [jmcconnell] Doesn't the fact that you are able to change reflect freedom?
09:15:10 [jmcconnell] What do you think, Gene and Daniel, isn't that enough?
09:15:53 [DanielH] I'm a full believer in freedom
09:16:28 [efabbott] jmcconnell> free will must be directed to some act; otherwise, it's academic.
09:16:31 [DanielH] I don't see how one could have moral responsibility without it
09:17:03 [jmcconnell] If you were unable to change -- because of some psychological diasability -- then you would surely lack freedom. But mst people don't have those duisabilities.
09:17:38 [jmcconnell] sorry for the misspellings -- my keyboard is defective
09:18:12 [jmcconnell] Does this address your question, Gene? What am I leaving out?
09:18:57 [efabbott] jmcconnell> I'm saying that if there is no act to judge, wherein is the freedom?
09:19:15 [DanielH] is this related to Edward's use of vulgar and causal necessity, I had a hard time differentiaiting thoses
09:19:19 [jmcconnell] Is my choice to type these words free? Am I not concerned here about specific acts?...
09:20:01 [jmcconnell] And nothing about my choices seems compulsive -- and that seems to many to be enough to make them free.
09:21:40 [efabbott] jmcconnell> You are free to think what you will, even in prison.
09:21:45 [whmitchel] I'd like to say your choice to type is free, but I get hung up on the realization that all choices seem attended by wants and desires in one form or another. I'm not saying that's bad; emotions are the stuff of life. But it complicates my thinking of such things.
09:22:28 [jmcconnell] Daniel> By "causal necessity" he means the fact that my choices are caused. By "vulgar necessity" he means my actions being COMPELLED. The first does not entail the second. But he says that the two are commonly confused...
09:23:36 [jmcconnell] But in the case of compulsive actions -- tics, for example -- you have no choice, or at least little choice. In that way, they seem unfree.
09:24:15 [jmcconnell] In fact, the tic-caused actions seem not to respond to wants, desires.
09:25:45 [DanielH] I think I was trying to figure if compelled /irresistable in his usage meant Impossible to resist or just very hard to resist
09:26:34 [efabbott] jmcconnell> tics are involuntary acts: like heartbeat. What does it mean for a choice to be "free"
09:26:41 [DanielH] I find some women irresistable and compelling, but still don't act, if I acted, Idon't think I could just say to my wife, hey, I was compelled...at least not successfully say it
09:26:53 [jmcconnell] Voluntary.
09:27:28 [jmcconnell] Gene> Voluntary. What's the problem there?
09:29:37 [jmcconnell] Danuie>l think you are using the word "irresistable" metaphorically.
09:29:49 [jmcconnell] Daniel>...
09:31:38 [DanielH] okay, so you mean irresistable in a conotative since where it's used just to mean something is very appealing, when actually in Edward's use he really means, there is no choice to resist, is this actually the semantic meaning for it?
09:32:10 [jmcconnell] You can resist. You are not compelled to do what you do with some women...
09:32:51 [jmcconnell] Yes, we can distinguish to senses to the word -- or just say that one use is metaphorical.
09:33:18 [DanielH] okay, so I need to removed irresistable from my litany of excuses then, I thought I had a loophole in Edwards...just kidding
09:33:30 [jmcconnell] Now, there IS a problem with Satan here... nobody can resist Satan.
09:33:56 [DanielH] really?
09:33:59 [jmcconnell] And that was Gene's original concern, was it not, Gene?
09:34:22 [DanielH] that seems a mighty big assumption
09:34:48 [DanielH] or do you mean, that was Edward's position?
09:34:50 [jmcconnell] Edwards thinks we have free will in the capabilitist's sense, but he also thinks, like a good Calvinist, that Satan controls us.
09:35:07 [efabbott] jmcconnell> What I'm saying is, that if a thought is not connected to an act, the thought is nil to the will.
09:35:11 [jmcconnell] So the question is: How can he think both things?
09:36:02 [jmcconnell] Gene> I agree with that (so far as I understand you), but I am not sure I see any problem in that.
09:36:36 [DanielH] are the two things you mean "free will" and that fact that Satan controls us?
09:38:19 [jmcconnell] Yes: how can Edwards hold BOTH that we can't resist Satan AND that we have free will in the compatibilist's sense?
09:39:15 [efabbott] jmcconnell> I'm saying that 'thought' may be free; but acts are not.
09:39:42 [DanielH] it seems incongruent at first, he obviously is in a strong spritiual warfare paradigm, it seems in his view we are hardly more than puppets, especially with his writing on sinners in hands of angry god
09:39:48 [whmitchel] jmcconnell> i suspect Edwards can think both things in the following way: having free will is merely acting from one's desires, and as inherently depraved humans, we share certain tendencies with satan. we're all fallen.
09:41:23 [jmcconnell] Interesting, William. Sounds good.
09:41:29 [whmitchel] perhaps we can't resist satan because we don't really want to resist satan.
09:42:31 [jmcconnell] So your idea is not that Satan makes you do the specific things you do but that in having the desires you have they are all satanic -- Satanly, self-centered?
09:43:31 [jmcconnell] I want to address Gene's concern. What makes our acts "unfree," Gene?
09:44:12 [efabbott] jmcconnell> The fact that they are predetermined.
09:44:12 [whmitchel] basically, Jeff.
09:44:42 [jmcconnell] Gene> Why then not think that your thought are, too -- predetermined?
09:44:53 [jmcconnell] thoughts
09:45:12 [efabbott] jmcconnell> They are, of necessity.
09:45:45 [jmcconnell] But didn't you just tell me that the thoughts are "free" and the acts not?
09:46:27 [jmcconnell] Was that a mistake?
09:46:56 [jmcconnell] You said, " I'm saying that 'thought' may be free; but acts are not."
09:47:01 [efabbott] jmcconnell> 'free' in the sense of 'free of punitive or reward'; but not free in the sense that thought predetermines thought.
09:47:49 [jmcconnell] But can't acts be free in the same sense -- "free of punishment or reward"?
09:48:13 [jmcconnell] Aren't thoughts and acts on par?
09:48:29 [jmcconnell] The only difference is that thoughts are easier to hide.
09:48:55 [efabbott] jmcconnell> No act is free of consequence; we're all concerned with the reaction of our thought in acts.
09:49:37 [efabbott] jmcconnell> Parent to the child?
09:50:45 [jmcconnell] Fine. But my question is why you said that thoughts are free and acts not, when in fact the same considerations -- reward and punishment, causal necessity -- apply to both.
09:52:32 [jmcconnell] I fact, it seems to me that there's no reason to distinguish thoughts from acts for the purposes of determining if we have freedom. Many philosophers talk of thoughts as "mental acts."
09:53:01 [efabbott] jmcconnell> How is reward/punishment applied to thought without action?
09:53:28 [jmcconnell] It IS hard to force a person to think something -- harder than forcing a person to DO something.
09:54:18 [efabbott] jmcconnell> It's impossible to know what someone else if thinking; not so with acts.
09:54:38 [jmcconnell] Think of the Tom Cruise film by Steven Spielberg -- people are punished for just having murderous THOUGHTS.
09:55:18 [jmcconnell] You don't need to act on all your thought for them to be discovered.
09:55:20 [whmitchel] i've punished myself for having certain thoughts.
09:55:57 [jmcconnell] You can discover that I have many undisplayed thoughts if I merely say a single surprising thing.
09:56:12 [jmcconnell] Good point, William.
09:58:05 [jmcconnell] So the question is how Edwards can say that we are "free" in any sense.
09:58:50 [jmcconnell] The compatibilist -- at least the compatibilist of Edwards' sort -- says that all that matters is that one's desires cause his or her actions.
09:59:19 [jmcconnell] You ask: What then about the desires themselves?
09:59:55 [whmitchel] yes -- in particular, the desire to change one's desires ...
10:00:16 [jmcconnell] And the compatibilist says: No matter. So long as the desires are YOURS -- and they are YOURS if they are desires of the ordinary sort -- then it is enough that they cause your actions for those actions to be free.
10:00:36 [efabbott] jmcconnell> Can a leopard change its spots?
10:00:49 [jmcconnell] Yes, William: there are more sophisticated compatibilists you demand more.
10:01:04 [DanielH] I've to to go, everyone have a good week
10:01:10 [whmitchel] sometimes i have conflicting desires.
10:01:12 [jmcconnell] No. And the leopard is "unfree" in that respect.
10:02:14 [jmcconnell] But I can change what I do in the sense that if I desire X I act to get X but if I desire Y instead I can act to get Y.
10:03:08 [efabbott] jmcconnell> But the desire is predetermined.
10:03:18 [jmcconnell] Well, I should go, too. Gene, all these are very good questions. The controversy rages on. There is a very nice book by Thomas Nagel called WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? that has a chapter
10:03:40 [jmcconnell] on free will that raises these issues and reflects your concerns.
10:03:46 [whmitchel] thanks all. have a great week.
10:04:04 [jmcconnell] Any last minute questions before I sign off?
10:04:06 [efabbott] jmcconnell> Thank you all. I've enjoyed...see you next week.
10:04:27 [jmcconnell] Well, you have a good week, too. See you next week.