Talk:Free will

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Former featured article Free will is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Free will:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Cleanup : According to Tesseract2 (talk · contribs), since September 2010 "There is excess information - links and briefer summaries are needed"
  • Expand : *Lead
  • Other : *Balance of religious material okay? Mention the argument from free will in the article?
    • Seek external peer review and feedback
    • Diagram accurate?
    • Beyond this article:
      • Work on subarticles such as free will in theology
      • A page on Wikiquote might be appropriate
      • Disambiguation suggestion: the 1993 film "Free Willy"
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Draft for new introduction[edit]

Have at it.

Physical determinism taxonomy[edit]

I am reviewing this edit concerning the removal of the physical determinism taxonomy [1]; ("Reference clearly states no adherents to hard incompatiblism which is simply a logical position so state as such and remove diagram")

The inclusion of all logical positions does not invalidate the worth of a diagram. Moreover, diagrams help people understand concepts. Were there any other reasons why the taxonomy was removed?

Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 03:18, 18 October 2015 (UTC)

Including a position not held by anyone and not supported by a reference is hardly going to help anyone understand ----Snowded TALK 14:34, 18 October 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for looking into this Snowded. Hard incompatibilism is discussed in the introduction and there is a section on free will#Hard incompatibilism. A position needn't be held by academics to be discussed in the literature. Including all logical positions is precisely what helps people understand a concept (not including logical positions is what makes things confusing for people). I understand that there are cases where the literature has confounded two concepts, which makes it difficult for an encyclopedia to explain them (express all logical positions); but this does not appear to be the case here.
Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 23:52, 18 October 2015 (UTC)
Disagree - and you have to have a reference to include material. To put in something based on what you call logic is original research or synthesis ----Snowded TALK 05:06, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
Read the references that were added to the taxonomy (note you first described it as a logical position in your original reversion). Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 05:27, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
I'll take another look but they will have to be very convincing for me to agree - that diagram is misleading in its implications ----Snowded TALK 05:29, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
I did a quick scan and I can't see that any of the sources summarise in a form that supports the table other than through synthesis - if I am missing something here please point me to it. I'll happily read through in more detail tomorrow but for the moment I need to get to work ----Snowded TALK 05:37, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
For correctness, I am currently considering changing the caption to; "A simplified taxonomy of philosophical positions regarding free will and determinism. Positions should be considered in the following order; 1. compatibilism,[1][2][3] 2. libertarianism,[4][5] 3. hard incompatibilism,[1] and 4. hard determinism[1]."
NB This translates to; 1. "If determinism is true and free will is possible, then Compatibilism", 2. "If determinism is false and free will is possible, then Libertarianism", 3. "If determinism is false and free will is impossible, then Hard Incompatibilism", (else) 4. "If determinism is true and free will is impossible, then Hard Determinism".
Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 05:42, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

[1] [2] [3][6] [4] [5]

  1. ^ a b c d McKenna, Michael (2009). "Compatibilism". In Edward N. Zalta. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2009 ed.). 
  2. ^ a b O'Connor, Timothy (Oct 29, 2010). Edward N. Zalta (ed.), ed. "Free Will". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition). Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  3. ^ a b Hoefer, Carl (2008-04-01). "Causal Determinism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  4. ^ a b Vihvelin, Kadri (2011). "Arguments for Incompatibilism". In Edward N. Zalta. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 ed.). 
  5. ^ a b Randolph, Clarke (2008). "Incompatibilist (Nondeterministic) Theories of Free Will". In Edward N. Zalta. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 ed.). 
  6. ^ Vedral, Vlatko (2006-11-18). "Is the Universe Deterministic?". New Scientist 192 (2578). Physics is simply unable to resolve the question of free will, although, if anything, it probably leans towards determinism. 
Have you got a source which directly supports that taxonomy? As far as I can see it is a synthesis/interpretation of the sources you give and it is misleading as such in terms of the weight it gives to approaches aside from the general synthesis issue. FAD insertion in a modified form is not agreed until we have a consensus here ----Snowded TALK 06:09, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
I presume that this diagram was added to Wikipedia in the interests of providing the readers with a better understanding of the concepts (I doubt the author who first developed it was engaging in synthesis). I am interested to know people's opinion on the description I have recommended be added to the caption. I believe it negates any claims of being "misleading in its implications". Perhaps people can find a reference to contradict it? Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 07:03, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
Two by twos tend to over simplify and also to give equal status to each quadrant. It is synthesis but if enough editors agree it might be allowed. But I don't take the argument that it has to be disproved. A three way diagram might be more interesting but again I am not sure why this is needed It also emphases a dichotomy between the physical and the mental which directly contradicts post-cartesian models of consciousness which give radical new solutions to the free will problem. So the representation perpetuates a distinction that in turn leads to a problem. ----Snowded TALK 16:45, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining your reasoning Snowded.
Oversimplification: I think we should give the readers the benefit of the doubt in desiring clarification of the text rather than simple pictorial explanations of the problem. There may however be other ways to visualise the material, and this has been discussed in the past.
Equal status: I don't think we should assume that readers infer equal status from 2x2 matrices. Despite this, equal status is difficult to quantify in this context. I think we should be emphasising the philosophical positions discussed by contemporary philosophers rather than those held by contemporary philosophers - in which case the presentation of all logical positions is preferred. Moreover, their status in academia is dependent on the status of contemporary physics (it is not static).
Synthesis: The diagram is not a synthesis as defined by Wikipedia:SYNTH
Editing: I don't think this is a question of allowing rather than preferencing. I think we should be finding the best possible material for this article.
Criticism: I am not arguing that the diagram has to be disproved. I am suggesting that if it can't be contradicted, then it probably is a good diagram.
Three way diagram: I think it is important to ask, which position would be culled and on what basis? "In recent times, hard determinism has fallen out of fashion, largely because our best sciences suggest that determinism is probably false. But the spirit of the hard determinist position is sustained by hard incompatibilists, who hold that there is no free will if determinism is true, but also, that there is no free will if determinism is false".[1] Before 2010, the diagram was 3 way. Hard incompatibilism was added to the diagram. One could even argue that hard incompatibilism is underemphasised in the diagram (the diagram is giving respect to historical positions over their contemporary superordinate classification).
Post-cartesian models of consciousness: Can you please explain what you mean here? I am not sure how the taxonomy emphasises a dichotomy between the physical and the mental. All non-cartesian formulations of metaphysical libertarianism are covered by the diagram.
My recommendations: It is possible that the diagram belongs in section "In Western Philosophy" instead of the lead. However, I think it is the most appropriate diagram we have for the lead at present. This is a philosophical (not a theological) article, and we should be catering for readers interested in philosophy. I am interested to know what Pfhorrest thinks on these issues (including the caption update); he also has a background in organising this content.
Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 01:46, 20 October 2015 (UTC)
Well per the above I think it can be proved to be incomplete, the possible/impossible distinction and the emphasis on physical in one dimension would require us too have a massive circle in the middle to handle novelty receptive v autonomic processing for example. It's a model stuck in a specific tradition in a specific past. At the most a historical note in Western Philosophy not the lede. Always interested in Pfhorrest thoughts. But, it is a crude and simplistic taxonomy that does not cover all the options ....----Snowded TALK 05:52, 20 October 2015 (UTC)
Note I can't comprehend the argument here Snowded - it appears to be critiquing the literature. You are happy with a textual description of the free will classification scheme discussed in the philosophical literature, but not a visualisation of it? Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 02:58, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
Well as far as I can see the literature does not cover one of the options in the taxonomy. Also as I said it is stuck in the past, hence my reference above to post-Cartesian concepts of consciousness which change the free will debate. Any diagram created by editors is a form of critique or synthesises material by the way. The diagram you give below is better than the two by two but still suffers from the points raised. We need other comments really to progress this ----Snowded TALK 04:38, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

I have created an alternative visualisation of the material. FreeWillTaxonomy4.svg is based on DeterminismXFreeWill.svg and FreeWillTaxonomy2.svg. Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 02:58, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

I believe that the new diagram is suitable for the western philosophy section (although it is too complicated for the introduction):
[as discussed] it a) covers all logical positions on the topic, b) using the primary method of classification discussed in philosophical literature (compatibilism/incompatibilism).
For reference (although irrelevant), the primary classification scheme for free will (compatibilism/incompatibilism) maps to lay intuitions regarding free will.
[as discussed] Diagrams are not Synthesis as defined by wikipedia (assuming the positions discussed are sourced together).
[as discussed] The positions illustrated are sourced in an academic encyclopedia[1], see; "Compatibilism's Competitors". I have quoted from this paragraph above.
[as discussed] The positions illustrated are already discussed in the introduction (and have been for a long time).
The new diagram addresses the ambiguity present in the simpler layout [discussed].
The historical classification scheme is independent of cartesian conceptions of consciousness/philosophy of mind (it only concerns physical determinism).
[as discussed] The criteria for encyclopedic material is its coverage of views discussed in the literature (not its coverage of views held by academics).
It is not clear that the classification scheme discussed in the philosophical literature is outdated ('stuck in the past'); physical determinism is not an issue that has been definitively resolved at present (although the evidence suggests that we live in an indeterministic universe).
If there are any other points raised that the new diagram suffers from please repeat them; thanks.
Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 03:17, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
Placing a diagram such as this in a section not the lede makes sense, but if so the title needs to indicate its relevance to a series of debates even within the western tradition. Maybe "A perspective on debates" or similar would do it ----Snowded TALK 08:09, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback Snowded. For now I have placed the diagram deep within the incompatibilism section (indicating its relevance to the historic debate). Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 03:59, 10 December 2015 (UTC)

Dilemma of determinism?[edit]

There used to be such high quality article on the topic, distinguished as a separate term and argument by many philosophers and scholars. There's an ongoing discussion as to whether delete it (with no good reason except "protection of some forms of religion") or no. See Dilemma of determinism, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Dilemma of determinism (2nd nomination)#Dilemma of determinism. It deserves more vote but Snowded supported by admins insisted on not including the article in its natural categories (8-9 categories or so) so it's almost unattended voting and, as far as I know, people on Philosophy group such as Brewsohare were banned for incorrect edits and view, so it's rather very biased. At present, if the article be deleted, no rationalist arguments are mentioned in Free will which would undermine the term, even though such arguments exist and are independent from determinism/indeterminism. See Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Dilemma of determinism (2nd nomination)#Dilemma of determinism. (talk) 09:59, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

Free will or free evaluation of motives ?[edit]

Hi, this article is very interesting, but I think in principle wrongly explained. Take for instance the first sentence: Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action. - In practical life this never happens as explained in this example: Assume there is a philosopher who after having lunch has the possibility to choose between two desserts: either one chewing gum or else one apple. Now, this philosopher will start to think about the advantages (chewing gum tastes better, apple is more healthy) and disadvantages (chewing gum is not healthy, the apple tastes a little sour) and he will think about satisfying his cravings and caring for a good health. Now, let's assume that the philosopher decides for the apple because he needs a good health for being able to be a good philosopher, which is very important for him. Then, after having eaten the apple, he asks himself: Did I make a free choice? Yes, I did, because I freely evaluated my motives and intentions, but then afterwards my only will was to take the apple. It does not make sense to me to be able to choose what I don't want, because what I want is determined by motives that I freely reflect over. Hence, my will is not free because I want what I want (and not what I don't want), but what is free instead is how my will develops and finds its motives. Or at least this is the question: If I can freely evaluate motives then I'm really free, but if the motives come up in deterministic manner, if I cannot freely think, my freedom is an illusion. Therefore, this entire article is not about the question of free will, but about the question of free thinking. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:18, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

Deletion of Galen Strawson's table[edit]

I feel that this table is not fully explained and is linguistically awkward in its current set up. However, I feel that to actually go through the full table would not be a worthwhile effort for the reader. I propose that it be deleted since it does not add anything meaningful to the topic of free will in its current form and would only add a minor contribution and be tedious for the reader if it were fully explained. Is there any objection to this? Pulliam.thomas (talk) 01:53, 16 July 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference stanfordcompatibilism was invoked but never defined (see the help page).