# Working on the problem of free will

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Sun 1 Jun, 2008 01:42 pm
I read and write a great deal of philosophy. I am currently writing on the problem of free will, and found this forum in an attempt to get help on some formal logic. The posts look great and I look forward to including this forum in my reading and writing habits.

Arjen

Sun 1 Jun, 2008 02:13 pm
@Austin Duggan,
PLeased to meet you Austin. I am looking forward to reading more from your hand then. I have studied some logic, but am no genius at it. Perhaps I can be of assistance in the beginning and maybe your "quest" can teach me a thing or two.

Arjen

Austin Duggan

Sun 1 Jun, 2008 02:17 pm
@Austin Duggan,
I have two questions. First, does this make sense:
Actions t occur if and only if there is some substance of the form x with property E. A substance I is making action t. If I makes t, then I is of form x. Therefore I has property E.
And also, is it equivalent to the logical statement below?

VideCorSpoon

Sun 1 Jun, 2008 08:16 pm
@Austin Duggan,
Well, its quantificational logic, so it does makes sense.

I'm not sure your translation is correct though, but I'm not quite sure where you are in logical study. Are you trying to solve this in a proof or are you just translating it into Logical syntactical English? Do you want another translation?

It might make more sense if you elaborate more on where you are in quantificational logic, or if it is college, university, or other level.

Besides that, welcome.

Also, I have been meaning to put together a few threads on how to actually execute propositional and predicate logic, but if you would like some quantificational logic help, I'm happy to get to it.

Austin Duggan

Mon 2 Jun, 2008 11:09 am
@VideCorSpoon,
Yes, I'm just trying to translate the statement. Though I have a bachelors degree in Mass Communication, I've never taken a logic or philosophy course. I'm primarily autodidactic, and began learning logic a few years back by reading the MIT website and a few books on the subject. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

boagie

Mon 2 Jun, 2008 11:23 am
@Austin Duggan,
Austin Duggan wrote:
I read and write a great deal of philosophy. I am currently writing on the problem of free will, and found this forum in an attempt to get help on some formal logic. The posts look great and I look forward to including this forum in my reading and writing habits.

Austin,

The topic is freewill is it not? Did you chose to come into this world, do you think it will be your choice when it is time to leave this world? Do you believe you have the ability to not react in this world, understanding that even inaction/non-reaction is by defination, reaction. Free will must be considered within this context---no? You have a choice of reactions, but, you have no choice NOT to react---------where is it to be found this freewill. Freewill infers autonomy, autonomy from what? Freewill I believe is nonsense. You should however have a firm foundation upon which to built a theorictial theory, how is it you have the passion to do so. I am most interest to hear. Freewill, is not even a desirable nonsense, how would it serve life??

Austin Duggan

Mon 2 Jun, 2008 03:32 pm
@boagie,
Well Boagie, you've assumed a lot. I said I was working on the problem of free will - which is not whether the phenomenon of consciousness has causal powers, but whether or not certain models of causation contradict the irreducible feeling of free will. As John Searle says, if you're in a restaurant and the waiter asks "what will you be ordering tonight," you can't say "well I'm a determinist so we'll just have to wait and see." The answer is incoherent, because in attempting to not decide, you've at least appeared to make a decision.

boagie

Mon 2 Jun, 2008 04:00 pm
@Austin Duggan,
Austin Duggan wrote:
Well Boagie, you've assumed a lot. I said I was working on the problem of free will - which is not whether the phenomenon of consciousness has causal powers, but whether or not certain models of causation contradict the irreducible feeling of free will. As John Searle says, if you're in a restaurant and the waiter asks "what will you be ordering tonight," you can't say "well I'm a determinist so we'll just have to wait and see." The answer is incoherent, because in attempting to not decide, you've at least appeared to make a decision.

Austin Duggan,

So, in essence you are not talking about freewill, you are talking about a sense of freewill, not quite the same thing, so, is the sense of freewill a form of delusion? Subject to context--temporal? The autonomy of this sense of freewill is in relation to what? Is it somewhat like my god delusion? Perhaps you can Clarify, my assumptions were based on your presentation, your statement was you were working on the problem of freewill. Now that we both agree it is non-existent, what is the problem??

Austin Duggan

Mon 2 Jun, 2008 05:18 pm
@boagie,
Actually, I don't agree that it is nonexistent. One tenable explanation is that consciousness has no causal powers. From there, various philosophers diverge. Some say that free will is totally an illusion, extraneous to a model of reality (functionalists such as Daniel Dennett.) Others say that it is epiphenomenal, or that mental states are "supervenient" on physical states (Davidson and Jaegwon Kim.) Others such as John Searle reject the form of the argument and say that consciousness as a process is reducible but as a phenomenal experience is ontologically irreducible. Neuroscientists such as Roger Penrose claim that free will does exist and relies on quantum mechanics. Gerald Edelman espouses an "alleviated epiphenomenalism" in which the neural correlates that entail the discriminations of consciousness have causal powers, and therefore a subject speaking of free will as if it is their own is not incorrect, because the "self" is merely the causal mechanism producing that consciousness. The list goes on.... Most of these are scientific questions. The philosophical issue is the whether or not the feeling

boagie

Mon 2 Jun, 2008 05:32 pm
@Austin Duggan,
Austin Duggan,

Sounds most impressive, there are only one or to people here that might be able to deal with this on the level you indicate, perhaps too some of the answers will be forth coming from neurology. At anyrate it is very very interesting, I shall be following your progress. Just a question, what is spiritual causation?:rolleyes:

Austin Duggan

Mon 2 Jun, 2008 06:45 pm
@boagie,
William James was referring to the substance dualism first posited by Descartes. Res extensa are material things extended in space and time, but are susceptible to skepticism. As Descartes said, the sensations of the world could be produced by a demon with the intent to deceive us. Res cogitans was the undeniable spiritual substance - the realm of the mind. Even though many philosophers reject Cartesian dualism, they often use terminology that is quite Cartesian. James was overplaying that in his lecture for dramatic effect, I think. "Spiritual causation" would merely mean free will - as in the phenomenal quality of what it is to be Austin Duggan somehow has causal powers over the universe.

de Silentio

Mon 2 Jun, 2008 06:57 pm
@Austin Duggan,
Austin Duggan wrote:

If I understand this statement correctly, James is saying that the belief in free will is valid because it is still useful. One problem I have with Pragmatism is that it seems to replace truth with usefulness. It may be the case that our belief in free will has a useful purpose, but I don't think that this should have any bearing on validating the belief in (or truth of) free will.

Arjen

Tue 3 Jun, 2008 10:33 am
@Austin Duggan,
Austin Duggan wrote:
I have two questions. First, does this make sense:
Actions t occur if and only if there is some substance of the form x with property E. A substance I is making action t. If I makes t, then I is of form x. Therefore I has property E.
And also, is it equivalent to the logical statement below?

What do you mean with (x,E)? It feels as object x with property E. Am I right on that?

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