Re: "Free Will Theorem"

From: Norman Samish <>
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 22:45:59 -0700

If "free will" simply means "self-determination" then Jonathan is right, and
to the extent we are self-determined we have free will. He says, "the only
relevant question as to whether our will is free is whether our conscious
minds (our selves) determine our actions."

But what about the sufferers of schizophrenia who Stathis Papaioannou
referred to? They exercise self-determination, and their mental state is
such that their actions, at least in some cases, are completely predictable.
Do they have free will?

Another example might be a self-aware computer of the future that would be
programmed to have predictable actions as well as self-determination. Would
it have free will?

In both cases, the actions of the Self-Aware Organism are predictable, hence
their will is not free. They are bound by their destiny.

To have free will, the actions of a SAO cannot be completely predictable.
To be free of complete predictability, at least some of the SAO's actions
must ultimately depend on some kind of random event. At the most
fundamental level, this must be quantum indeterminacy.

Norman Samish

From: "Jonathan Colvin" <>

This discussion is exhibiting the usual confusion about what free will
means. The concept itself is incoherent as generally used (taken as meaning
my actions are not determined). But then in this case they must be merely
random (which is hardly an improvement), or we require recourse to a
Descartian immaterial dualism, which merely pushes the problem back one
level. The only sensible meaning of free will is *self-determination*.
Once looked at in this manner, quantum indeterminacy is irrelevant. Our
actions are determined by the state of our minds. Whether these states are
random, chaotically deterministic, or predictably deterministic is
irrelevant; the only relevant question as to whether our will is free is
whether our conscious minds (our selves) determine our actions. In most
circumstances, the answer is surely "yes", and so we have self-determination
and hence free will. Sleepwalking, reflexes, etc. are examples of actions
that are not consciously self-determined, and so are not examples of free
Jonathan Colvin
Received on Mon Apr 11 2005 - 01:49:59 PDT

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