30 June 2016

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is freewill a fallacy?

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Is freewill a fallacy?

This is an old topic, even one we have discussed under various
questions. Recent reports (easily searchable on the internet) on
scientific investigations about the functions of the brain suggest that
indeed freewill is a fallacy.

There is of course no doubt that these scientific investigations are
being carried out according to accepted scientific standards. Sure there
are issues that still need to be investigated, for example how do we get
this feeling of acting freely even if we are not free to act freely?

The problem here is probably one of language and maybe concept.

The way we describe the world and our experiences is not the same as
science investigates natural phenomenon and the way scientist report
them. Thus when we say that we act freely, or we feel to be free, we are
describing a personal experience; probably on the lines that our
objectives have been met. This means that when we set out to achieve
something and we succeed in our endeavour then we say we are free. And
when we don't succeed we blame some interfering cause that thwarted our
endeavour. Part of the reality is that we have limits to what we can
achieve and is achievable.

In our daily use of the word free and freewill we basically mean we
managed to achieve something we wanted to have.

The conceptual problem is that most people don't have a problems with
freewill. Most people just go about their business getting things done
without thinking about freewill. It was only since the politicalisation
of religion that freewill was required to achieve salvation. Thus from
God being all good and provider of everything, all of a sudden we have
to be good, we have to provide for our salvation. And what's more, it
our responsibility how we get there.

And here is the problem we cannot always provide for our salvation, we
cannot always achieve what we want, sometimes we fail. Except of course
even the scientists have been caught into the philosophical language
trap. They are trying to solve a problem that does not exist in science.
Science can only investigate biological systems that function on the
principle of cause and effect. Science cannot solve problems conjured up
by fertile imaginations. Secondly, sometimes scientists also get too
tangled up in the glitter of a problem. Predicting how a system
functions is different from predicting what the system will do. What a
system will choose to do, and achieve, is constrained by the future.

Whist we can accept that science hasn't got it wrong about freewill,
that is we are a system subject to cause and effect, we just don't need
a function theory of freewill for us to do things and get on with our
business. And while this does not absolve us from acting morally
responsibly, it does put the rest of society on alert that there are
causes that might thwart our ideal standards.



tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is freewill a fallacy?

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