You've stated compatibilism, and from that perspective free will tends to look trivial ("you can choose things") or like magical thinking.

Many people have wanted there to be something special about the act of choosing or making decisions. This is necessary for several moral theories, as they demand a particular sense in which you are responsible for your actions that does not obtain if all your actions have prior causes. This is often related to theories that call for a soul, some sort of you apart from your body, brain, genetics, environment, and randomness. You have a sense of self and many people want that to be very important, as you think of yourself as important (to you, if no one else).

You may have read Douglas Adams and recall him describing the fundamental question of philosophy as what life is all about when you really get down to it, really, I mean really. A fair amount of philosophy can be understood as people tacking "really" onto things and considering that a better question. "Sure you choose, but do you choose what you choose to choose? Is our will really free? I mean really, fundamentally free, when you take away everything else, really?"

Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015

by MrMind 1 min read21st Dec 2015233 comments

2


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