Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why we cannot but be free

I am inclined to think that the free will vs. determinism problem is only a seeming problem. No matter what natural scientists will decide about determinacy and indeterminacy, the status of electrones will not change the way we think about ourselves:

Standing there [between a cake you want to buy and someone with an Oxfam tin on the steps of the shop, with a single note in your pocket], you might believe that determinism is true. You may believe that in five minutes' time you will be able to look back on the situation and say, of what you will by then have done, 'It was determined that I should do that'. But even if you do believe this, it does not seem to undermine your current sense of the absoluteness of your freedom, and of your moral responsibility for your choice. (G. Strawson, Free Will in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Of course, one could reply that this is just a psychological attitude, and that just like we are deterministically inclined to believe in continuity after death, so are we also inclined to believe that we are free. But even if this could explain, it does not change our basic intuitions about freedom. Why? Because they belong to a different precinct than laws about the "external" world. If I do feel pain, I will not be convinced by my very learned physician that tells me I should not feel any pain in my knee, since it is intact. Pain and freedom, in other words, belong to subjectivity, in the sense that they are not subject-independent, although they "subjective" in the sense of "personal, different for each human being". One cannot explain them away from an "objective" point of view.

Indian authors seem to have chosen the middle path of compatibilism, see this post.
Are you aware of Indian works favouring determinism or predestination?

On free will on this blog, check the corresponding tag. For other blogs, you might be interested in this discussion on Amod Lele's one.

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