Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Free Will: Yes or No?

Do You Have Free Will? Yes, It’s the Only Choice
Suppose that Mark and Bill live in a deterministic universe. Everything that happens this morning — like Mark’s decision to wear a blue shirt, or Bill’s latest attempt to comb over his bald spot — is completely caused by whatever happened before it.

If you recreated this universe starting with the Big Bang and let all events proceed exactly the same way until this same morning, then the blue shirt is as inevitable as the comb-over.

Now for questions from experimental philosophers:

1) In this deterministic universe, is it possible for a person to be fully morally responsible for his actions?

2) This year, as he has often done in the past, Mark arranges to cheat on his taxes. Is he is fully morally responsible for his actions?

3) Bill falls in love with his secretary, and he decides that the only way to be with her is to murder his wife and three children. Before leaving on a trip, he arranges for them to be killed while he is away. Is Bill fully morally responsible for his actions?...
The world seems to have progressed no further than the solution I came up with when I was 6:  The question is inherently indeterminable, and you might as well proceed on the assumption that you have free will.  If you you don't, that outcome was determined anyway, and if you do, you may actually be able to affect your future.

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