Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Free Will - Choose It Or Lose It?

More thoughts on choices, freely made or otherwise, and as a follow-up to my previous post, The Devil Made Me Do It:

Even if all events are predetermined - purposefully or simply inevitably - our mechanisms as life forms are required to go through the motion of calculating probabilities involved in selecting from our available options before action is taken - and it's that process we call choice. To argue that the choice may not have been free and therefor not a choice at all begs the question of what to call the process, if not one of engineering that choice. So free or not, we are required to choose our actions, consciously, automatically or by any measure of predictability.
And can't we say, for example, that a mechanical object such as a computer makes choices?  Based on differences in input, different results have become, in effect, choices.

What does this have to do with the question of will?  Only a realization that choice and freedom of choice are not the same concept.

Because it seems that every time the question of free will comes up, for whatever current reasons, the profoundly silly idea also recurs that we may not then be responsible for our actions - and thus not deserving of punishment for things we couldn't have helped doing. But responsibility refers to choices made, and the basis for such choices that, if altered, could have brought different results.
And predetermined or not, the introduction of both possible and probable consequences, short or long term, as options available to our calculating processes, will effectuate commensurate changes in the outcome of those calculations and of any actions to follow.

So even if it has been "predetermined" that we will want to alter the prospect that certain behaviors will be attempted or repeated, we will nevertheless be able in some degree to affect that behavior of others accordingly, even if that is part of the process some would like to call their destiny.  Because most of us at least have sensed no predetermined motivation not to so  choose.

Free or not, choices will continue to be made and consequences considered in that making.

No comments: