[Harris] Do we have free will? Answer: no. “The problem is free will is just a non-starter, philosophically and scientifically. Unlike many other illusions, there is no way you can describe the universe so as to make sense of this notion of free will.You can describe the universe so as to make sense of free will. Classical philosophers did it quite nicely (Aquinas: Summa Theologica 1.83.1, Quaestiones disputatae de malo 6). The free will "problem" is largely a consequence of idiotic materialism and scientism. But Harris has such a deep buy-in to this nonsense he doesn't understand that there are quite coherent ways of understanding free will.
[Harris] Now there are many people who have artfully changed the subject and tried to get a version of free will that makes some scientific sense. [JAC: so true!] But this is not what people actually mean by free will. What people mean is that they—their conscious selves—are free to chose their actions You choose what you want; you choose what you will to do. . . they still feel that at every moment, there is freedom to choose. Now what can this mean? From the position of conscious awareness of your inner life, this can’t be true. Everything you’re consciously aware of, at every moment, is the result of causes of which you’re not aware, over which you exert no conscious control.”Huh? "Everything you're consciously aware of.. is the result of causes of which you're not aware, over which you exert no conscious control'? Does that mean that Harris made that statement without being in conscious control? That would explain its incoherence!
[Coyne] Sam goes on to explain, in light of this notion, why we should not be nihilists; why we need to do something instead of existing passively. I am 100% on board with his answer, and am glad that he sees through those philosophers who, through redefinition, try to save “free will” by simply ignoring what nearly everybody thinks is free will. It’s time to admit—and that means telling the public—that contracausal free will doesn’t exist, and to coin a new term for those philosophical forms of “free will” that aren’t contracausal.
Gibberish. The absurdity of denying libertarian free will is evident in this observation:
The philosophical problem of free will is linked to the issue of hard determinism. Hard determinism is the view that all of our acts are completely determined by natural processes. A way to understand what this means is to imagine a Cartesian graph with the x-axis as time and the y-axis as some quantifiable variable that we "choose"- such as the number of calories in the lunch I choose to eat today, or the number of miles I choose to drive when I'm on vacation, etc.
If my "choice" occurs at time zero, and hard determinism is true, then there is one and only one possible line extending forward in time. I stress: hard determinism means that there is only one possible future. At every time x, y is determined. Every x maps to one and only one y. That's what hard determinism means.
If I have libertarian free will, then beginning at time zero there are many different possible lines extending to the right-- different possible futures-- representing different values of y (choices) at the same value of x. The graph of free choice over time looks like a horizontal bush that branches at time zero (now).
Now consider this: if hard determinism is true, and I have no libertarian free will, then there is one and only one value my 'pseudo-choice' can take at each time in the future. Therefore, no matter what I choose (or think I 'choose'), the future will be what it will be.
Therefore, why choose to go to work in the morning? My future salary (the y axis) will be the same regardless. There is only a single line.
Why choose to eat? My future health (the y axis) will be the same no matter, because it's determined and I have no libertarian free will to alter it.
Why write a blog post defending determinism? It won't affect the future in any way.
You see the point. Following the logic of hard determinism, we can't choose, so why do anything? What will be, will be.
Now of course, as you might imagine, a few materialists have spotted this catastrophe for hard determinism, and propose 'compatibilism', which is the view that determinism and free will are compatible.
The difficulty with compatibilism is obvious: if our acts are determined entirely by natural law, we cannot have free will because we have no control over natural law.
I'll post more on free will and determinism in a while. It's a fascinating question, and nicely demonstrates the idiocy of materialism/scientism.
Meanwhile, my suggestion to free-will deniers like Coyne and Harris is: just chill. Stop writing your inane blogs, stop pushing your idiotic philosophy. The future is determined, and you have no choice. Just sit back, chug a cold one, spend the day in your underwear, watch old movies. The future is determined.
Que sera sera, materialists.