HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

THE DOCTRINE THAT DETERMINISM AND FREE WILL CAN AGREE AND DO NOT CONTRADICT EACH OTHER
 
Compatibilism is the doctrine that our decisions are caused and yet that we are free. It messes around with the word free.  The end result is nothing like real free will.  We want free will to be about us being fully responsible for our actions so that we can be morally judged to have done good or bad.  That doctrine of free will says that if we are programmed we can break that programming.  As somebody wrote, this free will "implies the power to break a causal chain of events, the processes known as determinism in which physical laws cause each new event to follow directly from earlier conditions."  So we are not a creature of present and earlier conditions and that is why if you murder and are sane you will be fully blamed.  You cannot say that your choice was unduly controlled by the past.

 

So what does compatibilism mean by free will?  It actually redefines the feeling of being free as free will but holds that we are actually programmed or determined or fixed or controlled by forces that are not of us.  Compatibilism cannot claim that indeterminism and determinism are both true in the same way at the same time.  That is like saying a totally planned event is also totally random. If a compatibilist does this he is not a compatibilist but just using the label. In fact he is just trying to believe two diametrically opposed ideas at the one time.

 

Compatibilism argues that if you feel psychologically pressured to do things that is not free will.  But if you try to feel programmed or that your desires and wants force you you can feel it.  What then?  We all love to pretend we are pressured by others when we have been caught doing something bad.  We easily feel then that we were pressured.

 

Alvin Plantinga regards compatibilism as nonsense.  He states "One might as well claim that being in jail doesn't really limit one's freedom on the grounds that if one were not in jail, he'd be free to come and go as he pleased".

 

Some believers in it argue that when you exercise your will a lot of inclinations are at work so that you can use it and some of those are coercive.  In this view you can have free will and still be compelled to do only good by say a God.

 

The others believers say that you force yourself and programme yourself so though you are programmed  you are still accountable.  If you have programmed yourself, that is if your current choice is forced on you by programming you previously did to yourself that is not free will.  Programming by definition is anti-freedom so it matters not who does the programming.  This view also suggests that God can programme us to choose only good.

 

Free will is the belief you are responsible for your choices while determinism is the view that you only think you make choices but you are actually determined or programmed. It is plain the two contradict each other but compatibilism tries to hide that.

 

Are free will and determinism compatible like compatibilism says? This philosophy of compatibilism is now the prevailing one.

Compatibilism is the notion that you are indeed programmed when you make decisions but that the one doing the programming is yourself. It stresses that you are free when no force outside of you is forcing you. Thus it agrees with the belief that you are free to do what you want but are not free to want what you want. If you have programmed yourself over the years to hate peanut butter you cannot change that right away. In that way, your want is not free. Many believe that you have great freedom to make yourself what you are but that you lose this freedom slowly but surely over time.

Compatibilism does not really endorse free will - a free will that is programmed by yourself or anything is an oxymoron.
 
The best authorities believe that the doctrine of compatibilism is sheer nonsense and the attempt to reconcile determinism and free will is hopeless (page 263, The End of Faith, Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason).
 
Some would say: “Our choices are free and determined at the same time.” This is impossible. If they are caused by the past they are not free.

Objection: “We can freely manipulate the things that cause us to act one way to make us take a different course. For example, the dieting person knows that having chocolate cake around will cause him to eat it. So he throws it out to cause himself to keep up the good work. We can self-determine ourselves.”

This does not prove that the two can be made to agree for the man might be programmed to throw out the cake.

Objection: “We only choose what we perceive to be good. In this sense, all our actions are determined and yet we are truly free.”

This does not prove that free will and determinism agree because it is assumed that we are free and that since we are free and only go for good the two can be reconciled. This is the fallacy of begging the question. The problem is can we be free if we do only what we understand to be good?

It is true that we can only “choose” good and this means that when we are forced by our nature and environment to see something as good we will be forced to “choose” it. But far from being agreeable with the doctrine of free will this actually disproves it. When circumstances force a particular choice on us how can it be free? Intelligence and emotion work on the will and not vice versa so it is enforced on us.

Others say: “We are free at times and determined at others. For example, when you lose your temper enough you are no longer free and become free again when you calm down.”

This is not compatibilism for it does not show that free will and determinism are compatible. This is because it says we are free when calm and not free when excessively emotional so the free will and the determinism never happen together but are so incompatible that they have to take place separately.

Compatibilism is nonsense.

Some would say compatibilism is possible because some things influence us though we are free agents. But if we have free will then influence is not making us do something for we have to let ourselves be influenced. It is not a determining or programming factor.

Free will means we could have done other than what we did at any given moment under the conditions existing at that moment. For compatibilists to come and tell us this is wrong for we are free and still can only do what we are determined by nature to do is nonsense for if their assertion had any merit it would be clear that they could not prove it. They admit we could be programmed and only think we have control over our actions so they can prove nothing they say.

It is wrong to accept compatibilism for it is a paradox for which there is no evidence. If we are going to invent paradoxes we have nowhere to stop. We would have to agree with people inventing all the contradictory teaches they feel like and pretending that they are paradoxes.

William James wrote that compatibilism was just a quagmire full of evasion for it was inconsistent (page 250, Philosophy – the Pursuit of Wisdom).

A Concise Introduction to Philosophy by William H Halverson on page 362 argues that either determinism in the hard strict sense or free will without determinism is true and that compatibilism is not an option for it is really hard determinism in disguise.

He says that compatibilism or soft determinism as it is often called, arbitrarily changes the meaning of moral freedom and moral responsibility from what the free will believer means by them to identify moral freedom with doing what you want under the circumstances that exist and moral responsibility with doing what you want. The problem is it says these wants are caused and are inevitable or determined which is exactly the same as what a hard determinist says only the soft determinist says that free will depends on being determined and that despite being programmed you are responsible for what you do (page 363). That is like saying that a calculator is caused to say that 2+2=4 by its programming but it wants to say this so it has free will. He concludes that soft determinism fails to prove that our believing that a person can be praised or blamed for what they do is justified or agreeable with determinism. He observed that you can reconcile the statement that all the people in a country are totally loyal to the rulers with the statement that only some are totally loyal by changing the meaning of loyal and that is what soft determinists are doing with determinism and free will. You can do the same with any contradiction.

The soft determinists believe that you are to blame for what you do because though your reasons and thoughts and motives force you to do things, you can change the reasons and thoughts and motives to make you do different things if you wish. But what if the wish that causes the change is itself forced? It would have to be so how could you be free? To say that a person is unfree if forced by external factors such as a blackmailer but free if they are internally programmed is nonsense. Force is force whether it is in you or outside you. You are still unable to resist the forces that programme you and they don't let you change unless they program you to change.

A soft determinist called Schlick asserted that moral responsibility means acting in freedom from mental illness and other people and that moral responsibility means deserving a reward if you are good and deserving to suffer if you are bad (page 176, Basic Philosophic Analysis). He is right that moral responsibility is about reward and punishment. We cannot change the past to change our current behaviour and we cannot change the present for it is too brief but we can only change the future. He says that free will works through a person making themselves see a good in the future which makes them do what they would not have done without it. The mistake in this is that he does not realise that we could be programmed to do this and think we are free so this is not enough to prove free will in the sense of being able to do other than what you did, or being able to be responsible for what you do, is possible. His philosophy is absurd for evil is mental illness and he has failed to give any evidence that changing our programming is the same as free will. If you change your programming now you must have been programmed to change.

The future-centredness of soft determinism or compatibilism implies that animals are just as responsible for their actions as human beings for they can change their behaviour. A cat will run away from a mad dog in case she gets torn to pieces.

And that dead people can’t be to blame for things they have done without having the chance to change (page 364). I would add that we are all in the same position as dead people for what is done is done and we cannot change it.

And that if a person has had a bad background soft determinism implies that he should be punished with greater severity than one from a good background for there are more corruptions and bad motives to change. Some disagree with this for a person from a good background who turns out bad may be as bad or worse for having gone against the good upbringing. But that presupposes the person could have done otherwise. That’s hardcore free will. And if soft determinism implies such an evil thing as that people with bad backgrounds should be punished the most so does hard determinism. The only reason a person with a good upbringing can turn out bad is because of that person’s genes or because the background was not as good and education as it looks or other forces came in and changed him. Nobody can fully know another person so the punishment has to fit the crime. You cannot punish a person with a more obviously bad background the most.

A C Ewing has argued that determinism makes it unjust to punish a criminal with a bad background as much as one equally bad who had a good background (page 199, The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy). If you understand punishment as retribution then it is always unjust. But if it is about rehabilitation it does seem that the person with the bad background needs the most help. But what about the person who still turned out evil after the good background? One that commits a crime because of being determined by a bad background is no different from one who still managed to be bad after having a good one for the latter mocked his or her own background by doing what he or she did. But it must be remembered that it is not bad backgrounds that are to blame for a person turning out bad. One can be good despite the evil past. It is other factors that make up the personality. It is the response to the bad environment or to a good environment perceived as bad. For this reason Ewing’s objection is wrong. We can punish people equally no matter about their background. The safest way to do this is to inflict the same amount of suffering on that person that he or she inflicted on others.

Soft determinism implies that the heroin addict is acting freely when he takes drugs because it says he wants to do it. Supporters say that doing what you want is what free will is all about. If it is then there can’t be a God for he could make us want to do good things. He should if free will is not choosing between evil and good with one being able to desire one or the other but one just wanting and doing what one wants.

Some claim that when you do anything and your character or nature is doing it that the act is not free but if you do it, though it is your will and this doing is not produced by your character they say it is free (page 194, Basic Philosophical Analysis). In other words, if your character is kindly then when you do something unkind you are free for that is against your nature for you are made to be kind but if you do what your kind character causes you to you are not free for character is fixed to a large degree – for example, if it is in your nature to be religious you will never change. But character depends entirely on memory. Memory can confuse and change and so lead to a change in character. The logic is invalid and wrong especially when you see that if our evil is what looks good to us then a kindly person can commit murder if he or she sees it as kindness and goodness.

Some claim that though you always have reasons for what you do and the reasons cause what you do it does not follow that your will is not free (page 210, Philosophical Problems and Arguments). But that is like saying that a computer is programmed to present Microsoft Word to you and it cannot help this programming but it can help giving you Microsoft Word.  They argue that some of the things that cause or determine you to do what you do are under your control so there must be free actions or actions produced by free will (page 211). But everything you have done is in the past and you cannot escape what it makes you now in the present when you are using your will. It is meaningless to say your free will has anything to do with it for even if you have it you cannot use it. Even if your thought of the result changes your behaviour now it is the way the past made you relate to itself that caused this thought and decision. Nothing is under your control. For your happiness, nature may make it feel as if this is not the case but it is the case.

The fact that compatibilism sees the conflict between determinism and free will or the idea of the will being caused by the past and the present and still being free as a pseudo-problem is sufficient to prove that all it does is embrace hard determinism and pretend it fits free will theory (page 174, 196, Basic Philosophical Analysis). This is tantamount to saying that hard determinism that eliminates free will cannot be thought of as possible. But it can. It is akin to saying that a computer is programmed but still has free will and can program itself. It is akin to saying that if a hypnotist forces you when you have only two choices not to think of the second and that you are still free. And that’s folly.
 
Hard determinism refutes free will. Suppose it doesn't. Then in that case, it makes it very improbable so being a compatiblist is being irrational. But we know that it is more than improbable. It is IMPOSSIBLE!
 
The compatibilists define free will as freedom from compulsion. They think that even if you are causally determined to commit murder, you are free because you have the ability to refrain. They think this even though the causes that could lead to you doing different have been suppressed by the other causes. They think that though you have the power to do different you not only do not use it, but cannot use it. They talk nonsense. Nothing they say shows that you are not being forced to behave in what seems to be a free way by mental programming.

The picture some have is that nature makes us go a certain direction and to go for certain things but at the moment we are about to do them we can miraculously go against it and this is free will (page 121, Doing Away With God?). This implies that we can make a choice, and choice is a manifestation of power created out of nothing and against nature and purely supernatural. This would imply that we have spiritual souls - that we are beings that have no parts for if we have parts how can we make something come from nothing for things with parts cannot do that. This would also imply that we are God for each person has infinite power because that is what is required to make something come from nothing. But we have only finite power! We are not Gods. Also we have to choose to do the miracle of choice so how did we manage to do the first miracle of choice? There could be no such miracle at all for we cannot choose to choose the first miracle for you need to do a miracle first so there would be no first miracle. If we have such wonderful supernatural powers why can’t we always choose what is right?

We have well and truly buried compatibilism or soft determinism.

If we programme ourselves and are still free, then clearly God has control over our freedom. God is to blame for the evil we do.

 

APPENDIX: ARE WE PROGRAMMED BUT NEED A TINY BIT OF FREEDOM AND THAT IS ENOUGH TO MAKE US FREE?

 

Some people argue that we are morally accountable for the actions we take as long as even a tiny bit of us is the creator of the action and it is not just down to the programming and the causation that trap us.   They might call themselves compatiblists but in fact they hold we are determined and part of us is not.  That is not compatibilism but holding to both determinism and free will at the same time.  Compatiblism is saying all we do is written in the stars and we are free as long as no outside force compels us and our brains do the work.  The computer is free as long as nobody forces it to do things.  There is no way to tell if you are both programmed and not which side is doing the action so accepting both determinism and free will is of no value.

 

Compatibiilsim teaches that as long as your action is not down to outise storng ifnlence or coercion then it is your action even if you are programmed by your inner nature to do it and nothing else. But logically you are still being forced by your past and your ocmpurer brian. A computer that is progrmemed to feel free is as much programmed and controlled as one that is not. In fact this stametn needs clarification. It is more programmed when it feels free for that is an additional programme to the programming it has.

If God has antying to o with how you act then no goo daction is fully yours. Comablatinst say God can give grce that works with you but that is nonsense.

If compatiblismis true then do decsions really matter? If so howmuch? How respoenosible are you? Compatiism defimtely says that we become te deisons we make. They start with what we want to be and then the action shows what we are and we become more and more identified with them and identify our selvies with them.

 
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