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Old 08-13-2013, 06:57 AM
viva_nate viva_nate is offline
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Default Re: Can there be free will in a world where pre-destiny exists?

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Originally Posted by MrInsanePolack View Post
I'm sorry but your ideas of destiny and determinism are skewed. The definition of destiny is a predetermined course of events considered as something beyond human power or control. By definition alone we humans have no say in our destiny, therefore our ability to make choices is mute. Something cannot be destined for you and still allow breathing room for choices.
We're not in disagreement. Destiny is always given a signifier: the thread, the omen, the event that fulfills the act. It has an important narrative element, because destiny is meaningful. Consider the concept of divine right, for instance, or the Greek gods and their interventions on earth: the force of destiny is the force of divine will on the actions of humans. Humans are able to act. But they are not able to overcome that force: Oedipus makes a number of choices only to find himself filling a destiny he knew to exist except in its particulars. But it is this belief in the need to act in order to fulfill a destiny that creates a sense of purpose in the man, but Oedipus' control over fulfilling the destiny is an illusion. Instead, there are a number of superhuman forces that bend him to their will.

In determinist systems, there is no choice; there is no purposive element. Things just happen after each other. An idea reflected in your next paragraph:

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Determinism states that for everything that happens, there are conditions such that, given those conditions, nothing else could happen. For example, I choose to punch someone in the face. There is a choice. Determinism dictates that since my fist contacted their face, they will feel the force of my fist on their face. This is what determinism states. Its A+B=C. But A and B have the option to be a choice. And in events of no choice, such as a car wreck, determinism only dictates twisted metal, not the fate of all those involved. Cars might be totaled, maybe not. People may die, maybe not.
But of course determinism doesn't dictate anything, because that would create some sort of destined or purposive element. Determinist physics are results of prior causes (a better example is "Since my fist contacted their face, they shot me, and I died, and they went to jail" and that would go on as an inevitable chain that whose constituents only come into existence as a result of their causes, but are necessary as opposed to probable - otherwise it's as if you're making a point about the efficient cause). Or, as you say, nothing else could happen - but because if something else could happen, there is a chance that it would. There's no maybe/maybe not. Cars are totalled if they are totalled; people die if they die. A deterministic system says: the car crash that happened was the only car crash that could have happened, and in the presence of the car crash, the only result could be that people died. How do we know? Because the cars crashed, and people died. That something happened is proof that it must have happened.

For this to work, choices must be the necessary results of a causal chain. For the compatibilist, this doesn't preclude free will.

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It is cause and effect, with philosophical ideas behind it.
Well, what are these "philosophical ideas" - are we talking final causes or just efficient causes, or what? Under whose theory are we defining the event? The discussion is not an either/or, that you have free will or the world is determined (though quantum mechanics makes the strictest form of the latter difficult to argue). "Free will" - as poorly defined as it is, "conscious agency" is probably better - is compatible with determinist or indeterminist schemes. It's fully possible to claim agency in a determinist system. What's at issue in questions of will (free or other) is the just-ness of your actions and how we rationalize them. How are we responsible for the events we're discussing, and what effect does our relative level of agency have on our obligation to act responsibly?
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