Talk:Argument from free will

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Removed Criticism of Barkers 4th Point[edit]

Not only was this criticism an opinion piece, it was demonstrably false. The sources referenced did not support the overall criticism, only minor components thereof. The idea that an omniscient entity can have knowledge that is false is just preposterous and a willful violation of the term omniscience. If you look through this talk page you'll see how many people have expressed concern over this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.74.131.110 (talk) 17:49, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Incorrect Link[edit]

The term "incoherence" links to an album titled Incoherence. A page about the concept of Incoherence does not exist, so this link should probably be removed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.207.225.94 (talk) 22:44, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Why Point 4 is still here?[edit]

"The second sentence is false because it commits the modal fallacy of saying that a certain action is impossible, instead of saying that the two propositions (God knows a future action to be true, and that action does not occur) are jointly impossible." - That's as bluntly false as saying 2=4. The only thing the second sentence is saying is that IF A is true, then B is false, which is exactly as saying "either A or B are False".\ —Preceding unsigned comment added by 79.177.237.147 (talk) 15:29, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

Logically, there is a huge difference between the statements, “If A is true, then B is false,” and “if A is true, then it is impossible for B to be true.” The AFFW contains the second statement, which is where the modal fallacy occurs. The Vidiot (talk) 17:38, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
No, logically there is no significant difference. If it is not possible for B to be true, then it must be false (Law of Excluded Middle). 209.198.166.126 (talk) 17:24, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
I think he is using "impossible" in the modal sense of necessity. That is, the difference between B being false in this case, and B being necessarily false. However, I don't really see the distinction as relevant here. Eebster the Great (talk) 17:48, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't understand. Isn't the condition for possibility that a claim be not necessarily false? So if B is not possible, doesn't that mean it is necessarily false? 209.198.166.126 (talk) 02:40, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes. Vidiot is distinguishing that scenario from merely one incidence of it being false. He is distinguishing the statement "B is false" (in this instance) from "it is impossible for B to be true" (i.e., B is necessarily false). Again, I don't think this distinction is relevant here, especially since he misuses the example of implication. A \to B certainly implies B must be true for all A. Eebster the Great (talk) 05:02, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
So tell me if I understand this correctly: The statements are not equivalent because in the first, A will be negated by the truth of B, whereas in the second A will be negated merely by the possibility of B? 209.198.166.84 (talk) 17:37, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Let me clarify this somewhat: The implication that A => B means that it is necessarily true that "if A, then B." However, this is not equivalent to "if A, it is necessarily true that B." That is where the fallacy comes in. "If it is not possible for B to be true" does not come into it; "B is not true" is not the same as "it is not possible for B to be true." For example, let's say that A is "I am wearing a black shirt today," and B is "I am wearing a white shirt today." It is necessarily true that A => not B; in other words, it is necessarily true (i.e. it is always true) that if I am wearing a black shirt today, I am not wearing a white shirt today. However that does not mean that A => necessarily not B. In other words, just because I am wearing a black shirt today does not mean that me wearing a white shirt today is necessarily false. I could have worn a white shirt today; I just chose not to. B is false, but not necessarily false. That is the modal fallacy here. The Vidiot (talk) 23:03, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
When it comes to omniscience, the foreknowledge that you would wear a black shirt today does make you wearing a white shirt necessarily false. The whole point is that there is no possibility that you will wear a white shirt. At the point in time when you select the shirt you don't have a choice.Thespans (talk) 11:00, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
@Thesppans You are already assuming your conclusion, i.e. circular reasoning. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.155.241.13 (talk) 07:11, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
It is not assuming the conclusion, if an omniscient being knows that you will or will not do something, then you will or will not do that thing, period. Knowledge can be incorrect, but omniscient knowledge cannot be incorrect without violating the definition of omniscience. I have removed the criticism to point 4, because it is nonsense. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.74.131.110 (talk) 16:01, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
No, he is merely using the definition of what omniscience and foreknowledge mean. 109.93.252.149 (talk) 16:26, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

The article Theological fatalism has very similar content to this article, the only sources on Theological fatalism article refers to the same subject, and the talk page of Theological fatalism is extremely critical. As such, I suggest that the articles should be merged.Ht686rg90 (talk) 18:48, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Done.Ht686rg90 (talk) 09:36, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

criticism of point 4[edit]

Criticism of point 4 is the most confused biased writing I've ever seen in Wikipedia.

"Simply asserting that God knows a future action still leaves the possibility for the action not to occur (i.e. if God is wrong, it might not occur)."

A future action is something that MUST occur. A future possibilty does not however have to occur.

"This claims to prove that at time T, person X is unable to do any action other than A. However, you could also remove steps 4–6, and arrive at the same conclusion. This is called logical determinism, and it suffers from the same modal fallacy as AFFW."

This just a random attack on the argument from free will. It also does no seem to know what logical determinism is.

Both of these need to be removed from the article

Probably should be. It's VERY nonsensical and actually rather self-defeating - a god that can be wrong in its knowledge of the future? Then it isnt omniscient, which only validates the original argument from free will.
Almost the entire criticism of point 4 should be entirely written. It's entirely nonsensical and illogical. 98.168.192.162 (talk) 16:07, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
The part about God being wrong is an incorrect addition, and has been removed. The rest of the logic should be correct. The Vidiot (talk) 19:58, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Criticisms of Section 4/Definition of 'Knowledge'[edit]

This needs very heavily reworked.

"One criticism of the Argument from Free Will is that in point 4 of the proof it simply assumes that foreknowledge and free will are incompatible. It uses circular logic to "prove" this, by simply stating that "a being that knows its choices in advance has no potential to avoid its choices". Point 4 is therefore saying, in essence, "A being that knows its choices in advance has no free will, and therefore has no free will". By assuming what it is trying to prove, that point undermines the entire argument.

Specifically, point 4 commits the modal fallacy of assuming that because some choice is known to be true, it must be necessarily true (i.e. there is no way it could possibly be false).[11] Logically, the truth value of some proposition cannot be used to infer that the same proposition is necessarily true.

Using logical terminology and applying it to AFFW, there is a marked distinction between the statement "It is impossible (for God to know a future action to be true and for that action to not occur)" and the statement "If God knows that a future action is true, then it is impossible for that action to not occur." While the two statements may seem to say the same thing, they are not logically equivalent. The second sentence is false because it commits the modal fallacy of saying that a certain action is impossible, instead of saying that the two propositions (God knows a future action to be true, and that action does not occur) are jointly impossible. Simply asserting that God knows a future action still leaves the possibility for the action not to occur (i.e. if God is wrong, it might not occur). The confusion comes in mistaking a semantic relation between two events for a causal relation between two events.

With these assumptions more explicitly stated, the proof becomes:

Assume that person X has free will (assumption). By the definition of free will, at any point in time, X can choose to do any action A, where A belongs to A(T), the set of all actions that X is physically capable of at time T (definition of free will). At time T, person X will choose to do action A (i.e. a person cannot logically choose to do both A and not A) (Law of the Excluded Middle). Assume that an omniscient God exists (assumption). By the definition of omniscience, God knows everything that will happen at any point in time (definition of omniscience). From 3. and 5., God knows that at time T, person X will choose to do action A (logical conclusion). Therefore, person X must do action A at time T. This claims to prove that at time T, person X is unable to do any action other than A. However, you could also remove steps 4–6, and arrive at the same conclusion. This is called logical determinism, and it suffers from the same modal fallacy as AFFW. If a certain proposition is true, that does not imply that the proposition is logically necessary. Once you remove the invalid assertion, then the argument for logical determinism is shown to be false. Similarly, when that same invalid assertion is removed from AFFW ("by the definitions of 'knowledge' and 'choice', if one knows for certain what choice one will make in the future, one will not be able to make the opposite choice"), the proof is shown to be false."

This entire section is based on the premise that the word "knowledge" can be considered flexible (as is even stated on wikipedia's page on knowledge), which probably warrants a mention, and the definition that would have to be used for this - information gained through experience & etc would fundamentally violate other definitions of the word, such as "awareness" and "recognition of cause and effect." It might also warrant a mention of another definition of the word as "the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning," which fundamentally contradict it with an argument in favor of the existence of god, the argument from reason.

The liberties taken the word "knowledge" lead me to find this section rather POV, particularly in how strongly it claims these criticisms completely dismiss the argument, which they do not. "Undermines the entire argument?" (from the section's first paragraph) With the liberties taken with the word "knowledge," yes, and the same goes for "the proof is shown to be false" at the ending.

What definition do we use? Knowledge's article states it to be "justified true belief," by Plato. If we are to go with this definition, the criticisms are not valid, if god's knowledge was justified and true. 98.168.192.162 (talk) 16:52, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

I added the "Criticism of Criticism of God is outside of time"[edit]

a) Is there a more proper wording of the heading? b) I have no citations for what I wrote, but my argument does flow on logically I believe. -Basically worried I have added in my own personal argument and if that is the correct thing to do.

Quote of what I have added:

Criticism of Criticism of God is outside of time
Simply, the above criticism presumes that God knows something happens before it happens, where if God is outside of time then there is no before. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 130.95.77.89 (talk) 17:08, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Removed under WP:NOT#OR. Wikipedia is not a place for personal arguments. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.10.160.226 (talk) 18:23, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Use of word "proof"[edit]

Hello guys

I noticed that many times in the article there is the use of the word "proof" in a way that it isn't. An argument is not exactly a proof, specially because profs has the potential of beeing undestructable and necessary pointing to an conclusion, while an argument has always the potentality of beeing destroyed. Even if my reason is not that good, I think that one should agree that this term is beeing misused.

Momergil (talk) 12:44, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

Ridiculous arguments[edit]

This is quoted from the article. This makes no sense. The 'logic' falls flat almost immediately. An atheist trying to 'disprove the existence of God'.

"Dan Barker

Dan Barker's argument is formulated as follows:

1. God is defined as a personal being who knows everything.

2. Personal beings have free will.

3. In order to have free will, you must have more than one option, each of which is avoidable. This means that before you make a choice, there must be a state of uncertainty during a period of potential: you cannot know the future. Even if you think you can predict your decision, if you claim to have free will, you must admit the potential (if not the desire) to change your mind before the decision is final.

4. A being who knows everything can have no "state of uncertainty". It knows its choices in advance.

5. A being that knows its choices in advance has no potential to avoid its choices, and therefore lacks free will.

6. Since a being that lacks free will is not a personal being, a personal being who knows everything cannot exist.

7. Therefore, a personal God does not exist."

There are so many errors in this proof, it’s hard to know where to start. So, I’ll just start at 1.

1. God is defined as a personal being. God is defined as a personal being? Where? By Who? By Don Barker for his purposes? For purposes of this article questioning Free Will and Omniscience, God is only defined as omniscient – absolute knowledge of past, present, and future.

2. Whether God has free will or not is irrelevant. We are talking about whether humans have free will if an omniscient God exists.

3. Is correct. In order to have free will, you must have more than one option, each of which is avoidable. Everything after this sentence is extraneous to the argument and biases the argument to NPOV.

4. Offers nothing in the way of argument for or against proof. If I walk to the middle of a bridge and know that I can either jump (and die) or not. And I also know that I don’t want to, so I won’t, doesn’t mean that the choice isn’t available to me. And that’s the case where I know the outcome. We are discussing God knowing what I would do.

5. Redundant. Does not follow from No. 4.

6. Redundant. Does not follow from No. 5. Becoming nonsense.

7. ??? Does not follow at all.

This argument does nothing to promote or disprove the existence of God as it claims. The logical fallacies are overwhelming. There can be debate of the existence of God or not. And even whether His existence precludes Free Will. But the arguments have to be logical without circular logic. 76.196.3.116 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 00:01, 6 July 2010 (UTC).

Dan Barker's "Proof" should be removed from the article. Specious arguments belong on their own home pages. I am going to remove this section unless there is an objection or clarification for the entry. 76.196.3.116 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 00:12, 6 July 2010 (UTC).

Note: I haven't extensively read the article, and am not familiar with the notability of Dan Barker or his argument. However, the objections you've laid out here are no reason to remove content. Wikipedia is not a forum, and this is not the place to discuss the subject matter... only the notability of inclusion of content. Jess talk cs 05:08, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

You clearly do not understand the argument, particularly your criticism of point 4 has nothing at all to do with the reason the point was included in the proof. — Preceding unsigned comment added by CHollman82 (talkcontribs) 23:07, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

This article is pretty bogus and needs drastic trimming to get to a notable core (if any)[edit]

This article is pretty bogus and needs drastic trimming to get to a notable core (if any). The supposed "refernces" in the Stanford Encyclopedia turn out not to support the supposed "logic" at all. I really don't think this (manifestly fallacious) argument is at all notable. NBeale (talk) 18:12, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Really?[edit]

Surprise surprise you are a member of a Christianity task force... the arguments regarding theological fatalism date back to antiquity, they are not "bogus", and the counter-arguments presented rarely if ever even address the point, and even then usually rely on redefining either omniscience or free will. — Preceding unsigned comment added by CHollman82 (talkcontribs) 13:24, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

Arguments regarding theoligical fatalism are old but they are not considered arguments against the existence of God. And the present article leans heavily on 1 non-notable article and a load of OR. Compare what was done to Argument from Love. I think we should do much the same here. NBeale (talk) 14:43, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

Counter-arguments?[edit]

If Wikipedia is not a debate forum as so many people claim why are we allowing counter-arguments in the article? As an encyclopedia the article contents should be specifically about the topic, and if the topic is a philosophical argument then counter-arguments are specifically counter to the topic. Counter-arguments belong in the further reading section, if at all. — Preceding unsigned comment added by CHollman82 (talkcontribs) 23:01, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

Here is an example of how an article like this one should look... not littered with counter-arguments and rebuttals to counter-arguments as if this were a debate forum: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incompatible-properties_argument CHollman82 (talk) 23:30, 19 October 2012 (UTC)


"Thanks, but without a source this is original research. We also can't call it "obvious". Care to discuss on talk? "

You are correct, without a source it is OR, I am new to this, forgive me. I still don't think counterarguments belong in an article about a philosophical argument... they can have their own pages. — Preceding unsigned comment added by CHollman82 (talkcontribs) 23:10, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

Hi CHollman. No worries. We've all been new at this before :) A lot of these arguments, I would imagine, are not notable enough for their own article. But, it seems to me they are in some sense germain to the topic as a whole. These criticisms are in another sense just public discussion of the topic which so happens to be negative. We have guidelines and essays on this, WP:CRIT comes to mind, which might help to read through. CRIT is just an essay, but it seems to provide a reasonable overview. We tend to frown upon shoving criticisms into a "Criticism" section or another article, and so usually we aim to incorporate the full view of the topic into the normal article prose. I'm just speaking in general terms now, so there may be an argument to be made about a specific part of this content being inappropriate. I'd be happy to discuss that further if you think so. But ultimately, our aim should be to incorporate as many sources on the topic as we can in an understandable fashion, including reception of the idea. We should aim not to argue for or against the idea in doing so, but also convey the appropriate weight of each idea in the literature. It's a balancing act. Does that make sense? Thanks!   — Jess· Δ 23:34, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Jess, my main concern at the moment is that I believe the counter-argument from Molinism makes no sense at all, and as such I feel the inclusion of it could lead readers to false conclusions. I understand that the mere inclusion of this or other arguments are not an endorsement of them, but at the same time I fear that many might read this one and mistake it for a valid argument. The problem with the Molinists view is that this "middle knowledge" of what you will do in any given scenario is still knowledge of what you WILL do in the future, and if any being with the property of omniscience can know what you will do, regardless of whether that knowledge comes directly or indirectly (in this case as knowledge of what any being will do in any given situation), then it is incompatible with free will. Do you know what I am saying? It doesn't matter if this knowledge is directly relating to you, or indirectly relating to "any being in the same circumstance"... that's an irrelevant detail that does not address the paradox. So my question to you is what is the proper course of action? I don't want to remove it, because it is after all a cited piece of accurate information, but I want to be able to respond to it to dissuade others from assuming that the mere fact that it is printed here is evidence that it is a valid counter-argument. — Preceding unsigned comment added by CHollman82 (talkcontribs) 01:46, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
Hmm. I find that the best way to approach these issues is to concentrate on the sourcing rather than the content. It seems that one of the following cases will be true:
  1. The 'counterargument' is well sourced, but has not been discussed critically. We should cover the counterargument (with consideration for its weight; with no critical discussion, due weight may be minimal), but we can't engage in OR to expose flaws that haven't been published. Making sure the 'counterargument' is directly attributed can help to convey that its an opinion of a person or group, and not an opinion largely endorsed.
  2. The 'counterargument' is well sourced, and has been discussed critically. We should cover the counterargument and its reception (with consideration for their weight). This may mean more emphasis on the counterargument than the rebuttal, or more emphasis on the rebuttal than the counterargument. Weight is key.
  3. The 'counterargument' has minimal coverage. We should not cover it at all, even though it may meet WP:V.
This means we may occasionally publish bad arguments (as in case #1), but remember our job is not to argue points, but to cover published ideas. I don't have the time now to search for sources, but I have a hunch that this idea falls into #2; there's probably a source out there contending with Molonism. If we can grab that source, we could then talk about paraphrasing it for inclusion, rather than OR. Does that sound reasonable? I might have some time to search later on, but I've been fairly tied up recently. :/   — Jess· Δ 03:04, 20 October 2012 (UTC)