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Re: [nycfuturesalon] re: George has an idea for NYC Future Salon

From: George
Sent on: Thursday, April 22, 2010 4:37 PM
Re: [nycfuturesalon] re: George has an idea for NYC Future Salon
Youmay not have read my definition carefully enough.  I included  (8) genetic makeup and (11) various other factorsThere will always be specific factors about which we remain unaware, but those factors, and not a free will, always, collectively, determine what we do. 
----- Original Message -----
From: ingrid
Sent: Thursday, April 22,[masked]:42 PM
Subject: Re: [nycfuturesalon] re: George has an idea for NYC Future Salon

Therein lies the problem. That?s an all-or-nothing definition (except in its exclusion of the elderly, very young, etc.)

A useful definition of free will has to encompass the influence of genetics and epigenetics on human behavior as well as a great big bunch of other things (diet, disease, education etc.) and let?s throw in the rich passage of time as well; another influence. Personally, I do not hold out a lot of hope for a meaningful definition. Alls I know is that there is a lot less free will than commonly supposed by people who do not have this (useless =) discussion from time to time.


A very good definition for free will is "any act for which the person" truly bears moral responsibility.  For example, we sometimes exclude certain mentally challenged individuals, as well as the very young and very old, from this kind of accountability because various factors over which they have no control compel them to act as they do.  So, because free will is actually an admittedly very powerful illusion, no one would truly be responsible for what they did.  That, however, doesn't mean that we should undo all of our laws and rules.  Punishment, or the threat of punishment, is still a good deterrent to misbehavior and crime in many cases, and we are not all suddenly going to become anarchists as a result of accurately understanding the nature of human will.
Here's a popular definition of free will that may explain it more clearly;
The term FREE WILL is generally taken to mean that we human beings are free to think, feel and do whatever we want regardless of --

1) Whom we were born to, and how they raised us
2) Where we were born, and where we grew up
3) What we learned, or didn't learn, in school and from life in general
4) How young or old we are
5) How smart or not we are
6) What experiences we?ve had, or haven?t had
7) What type of personality we have
8) What our genetic makeup is, including whether we were born male or female
9) What our unconscious mind happens to be doing
10) Our preferences, needs and desires
11) And various other factors

That?s what the vast majority of philosophers and scientists mean when they say free will.

Here's a paragraph that presents what some of the greatest philosophers thought about the question;
In his 1943 book Physics and Philosophy, British physicist, astronomer and mathematician Sir James Jeans writes:

"Practically all modern philosophers of the first rank -- Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Mill, Alexander, as well as many others -- have been determinists in the sense of admitting the cogency of the arguments for determinism, but many have at the same time been indeterminists in the sense of hoping to find a loophole of escape from these arguments. Often they conceded that our apparent freedom is an illusion, so that the only loophole they could hope to find would be an explanation as to how the illusion could originate."

I hope this helps.

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