They say it’s no big deal

(In response to someone that claimed that us compatibilists really mean that we don’t have free will when we agree with determinism, or more specifically, when we agree that the universe is spatial and temporal)

Yes, but that is what free will means, having a range of choices that we pick from. We can choose one or the other, not we can only pick one thing in principle.
That would mean that choosing is an illusion, that we don’t really have a choice of alternatives, no matter how viable they may appear, we are not even unconscious, but purely inanimate matter following the only course of events that it can.

That is what non-free will, incompatabilist, determinists say. When people talk about making decisions and choosing to do something, it means based on conscious evaluation of alternatives.

Making choices means, or at least very strongly implies, a conscious decision.
Not making choices is what non-free willism means, no matter how much you want to play semantics; it’s what people mean when they speak about human beings.

From wikipedia for ‘choice’:
Choice consists of the mental process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one of them. While a choice can be made between imagined options (“what would I do if …?”), often a choice is made between real options, and followed by the corresponding action. For example, a route for a journey is chosen based on the preference of arriving at a given destination as soon as possible. The preferred (and therefore chosen) route is then derived from information about how long each of the possible routes take. This can be done by a route planner. If the preference is more complex, such as involving the scenery of the route, cognition and feeling are more intertwined, and the choice is less easy to delegate to a computer program or assistant.

More complex examples (often decisions that affect what a person thinks or their core beliefs) include choosing a lifestyle, religious affiliation, or political position.

Most people regard having choices as a good thing, though a severely limited or artificially restricted choice can lead to discomfort with choosing and possibly, an unsatisfactory outcome. In contrast, unlimited choice may lead to confusion, regret of the alternatives not taken, and indifference in an unstructured existence; and the illusion that choosing an object or a course leads necessarily to control of that object or course can cause psychological problems.

Never having any choice is almost beyond sanity to contemplate. It is analogous to being 100% paralyzed and completely at the whim of outside forces. That is not even complete, because it still leaves you with freedom to think and intelligently express your wants and hopes.

You guys don’t have the slightest clue what it feels like to see and feel yourself as trapped without any power to change what happens to you or the direction of your life.


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One thought on “They say it’s no big deal

  1. Pingback: Choices maketh the person « differentissomething

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