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A Proposal For A Determinism That Is Compatible With Free Will

I've always thought that the world is strictly deterministic and causal. Study physics for ten minutes and it just seems so obvious that for every 'thing' that exists there is a physical counterpart. All the particles in the universe, our thoughts in our brains and if there is a god then it too would have a physical component.

Now this doesn't jive with free-will. The fact that I feel in control of my life. It feels like I make my own decisions, have my own unique thoughts, etc. And I find it hard to swallow that I am not, that I am just a slave to the laws of physics, in control of nothing not even myself.

So what follows is an attempt to shore this up. I'm not proposing a new metaphysics, but what I am introducing is a new way of looking at free will and solving the conflict between determinism and free will by eliminating the psychological barriers to accepting hard determinism.

In other words I'm going to prove that determinism isn't such a big deal and, in fact, you want it.

  1. So if the world were hard determined it would eliminate the "world outside the world" issue but the consequence is that the ability to act spontaneously is impossible. This seems to imply that all our behavior is forced by external stimulus. We have no choice in what we do and no free-will.1
  2. But we do respond to our environment and we do feel in control of those responses. We don't watch the world go by silently observing what we do with absolutely no control of our behavior. Clearly we are measuring our environment, comparing to our needs (e.g. physical, emotional, existential), applying reason of various types, coming to some conclusion and finally we act on it.
  3. Now, a sane, rational person given a same set of beliefs, knowledge and awareness of surroundings, etc will always produce a conclusion to the best of their ability. Furthermore, if you were given the same set of beliefs, knowledge, surroundings, etc. over and over and over you would produce the same conclusion. If you didn't then either something changed or you're insane. I'm not saying you can't learn or grow, what I am saying is that if your knowledge base and reasoning skills are fixed, then so are your conclusions.
  4. What this means is that we operate like rational, intelligible machines and that we want to act like rational, intelligible machines. What we don't want is to run haywire, all over the place and out of control.
  5. On the other hand we don't want to be slaves of physical rules, forced to be conscious of our surroundings while having no say. In other words what we want is choice.
  6. This is hugely important because what it essentially says is that we were never interested in free-will, being decoupled from the universe. I say this with humor, but essentially free will is the freedom to be crazy. Which we never are by choice. In actuality we wouldn't mind being part of an orderly universe so long as we have the ability to change the way we reason. The freedom of choice lies in the ability to reason and pick the best solution to a problem. Choice is the very essence of our minds, it is always at the center and we are always at liberty to exercise that particular freedom.

The true fear of a deterministic universe is that we have no autonomy. No freedom to choose the outcome of our lives. So despite the fact that our response might be mechanical it not only preserves our autonomy it will actually be preferred because it provides an environment which can be predictable.

So what changes for the average person? Nothing. If the world is hard determined there are no actions you would want to perform under any "free will" theory that you couldn't perform under hard determinism.2,3

1Of course this presumes that the universe is always casual AND that there is a rule or rules (i.e. physica) that applies to each event which determines what happens. Is it? I don't know what I'm pretty sure this is a prerequisite to hard determinism. I'd love to see alternatives to this that aren't religious.
2The concepts of free will always seem vaguely defined. I never see a discussion on exactly what activities we perform when we are being free/decoupled from the causal universe and when we are not.
3"Free will" is largely a concept of comfort.

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