Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Problem with Free Will

A regular attendee has suggested that the Problem of Free Will be discussed for our meeting on Friday.  I am all for this, however I wonder if this topic will create much discussion.  When the determinism that a created and planned world is taken away, it makes a lot of sense to think that we all have the ability to act independently and of our own volition.  Why not?  What is keeping us each from acting independently?

If you Google "the problem with free will" you will come upon several good websites where folks have written summaries of this problem down through the ages.  The historical summary they represent offers good context for the question.  If cause and effect rule nature, why not human relations?  If events have causes, actions to take today will produce outcomes tomorrow, and so forth.  Would it be possible for a super intelligence (computer?) that could assemble enough starting condition information to predict outcomes?  That sort of thing.

Do you have free will?  Some philosophers say that you have made a free will decision when you feel that you were free to make it.  Does that definition work for you?  You are free when you feel free?

How can we frame the question for this topic to encourage discussion?  Or, do you feel free to make that call?