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October 14, 2010

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The problem is not determinism, but rather irrational determinism. If we are rationally determined, our logic may be caused by reason; but if we're determined merely by physical cause, our logic is in turn only a physical effect.

Since Hawking is a physicalist, his determinism is irrational. Since Greg is a Christian (who happens to be a Calvinist) his determinism is rational.

-Wm

If there is no free will, then no one is capable of choosing to believe something because of good reasons.

But, Greg, do we really choose our beliefs? Think about that for a second. If our beliefs are really just the result of choice, then the only reason we believe what we do rather than the opposite is because we chose to. We could believe the exact opposite by exerting our wills and choosing to believe the opposite. Could you honestly, right now, choose to believe that there is no god of any sort? And if you did so, would you honestly think it was true that there was no god of any sort? Think about that.

It seems to me that if our beliefs are the result choices, then that would call our rationality into question. But if our beliefs are determined by reasons, then that would establish their rationality.

And that seems to be the case. When we are confronted with things in reality, we are caused to believe those things. When I see my cat laying on the couch, I'm caused to believe my cat is laying on the couch by my sensory perception. I don't choose to believe it.

One could never adjudicate between a good idea and a bad one. He’d only believe what he does because he’s been predetermined to do so. Arguments wouldn’t matter.

I don't think any of this is true. Arguments may in fact be part of the causal chain that leads to belief. So it isn't true that they don't matter. Arguments may be what causes people to judge one idea to be bad and another to be good.

If he’s right, then his conviction is not really based on reasons--on the merits of the view itself--but on prior conditions that cause his belief.

I think you are making a false dichotomy between causes and reasons since reasons may serve as causes in bringing about beliefs.

So, oddly enough, if there is no free will, no one could ever know it, because they could never have a good reason to believe it.

If that's the case, then you can't very well argue against free will either. After all, there may be no free will, and you just don't know it.

I this blog entry could be much improved by making a distinction between libertarian free will and compatibilist free will. The difference between hard determinism and compatibilism is that hard determinism involves blind mechanistic causes, and compatibilism includes mental, intentional, and rational causes. Libertarianism does away with both. So rationality is no more possible under libertarian freedom than it is under hard determinism. But if you go with compatibilism, you can keep both rationality and determinism as long as you stipulate that there are rational causes to beliefs, and I think it is a mistake to characterize them as "free choices."

I wrote a little more on this subject here.

Greg - you say if he is right, then his argument is flawed. But isn't assuming he is right a little counter-productive on your part as well? If he's right, who cares if his argument is flawed?

It's like saying that because someone in a coma can't possibly know he's in a coma (because by being in a coma, he doesn't have the consciousness to be aware of it), then therefore comas are impossible.

If Stephen Hawking is right, then your argument against him is just as irrational as his argument. At best you've proven that his belief is not very useful, but you definitely haven't taken any steps to proving it's untrue.

Ironic that someone claiming to be a physicist would make a determinist argument. One of the underlying principals of quantum phyisics is that the universe is governed by chance: you can't know anything about a future event, you can just predict the probability of an infinate number of possibilities. But then, Hawking spent 20 years fighting a losing battle that also denied one of the central principals in physics (conservation of entropy) so this shouldn't be a suprise.

Adam, there is not law of conservation of entropy. The second law of thermodynamics explicitly denies that entropy is conserved in any process. Rather, it says that the total entropy in the universe increases with every process.

Greg, I think your line of arguing is actually doing a great disservice to yourself.

Here you are arguing that if determinism is true, then all rationality is false. By doing this, instead of closing the case on determinism and saying it's false, you've left the possibility more open than ever before. Now there is no reason to believe determinism is false, because there CAN'T be, for if it's true, then those reasons can't exist.

Now when you say, "Here are some arguments for the existence of God," the person can respond, "Well, that's all good, if determinism is false. If determinism is true, then your arguments are necessarily rubbish, and any reason that appears in them is merely an illusion."

Your own argument is as suicidal as the one you say Stephen Hawking is making. Now in front of all your arguments, you have to ass "If determinism is false, which couldn't ever be reasonably proven." You've essentially killed any argument about anything that you will make in the future.

Sam,
I have thought about your first argument, that we do not chose our beliefs. I think in many cases you are correct in your general analysis. However, at the end of that section you state "But if our beliefs are determined by reasons, then that would establish their rationality." "Determined by reasons" - what do you mean by that? I take it to mean that our beliefs come from rationale (thoughtful, careful) analysis of information. But don't we chose what weight we give each piece of information? For example, an atheist and a Christian can both look at the information/arguments given for the existence of God. One will choose to give little weight to those arguments while the other chooses gives great weight. Based on these choices, one disregards the information/arguments and does not believe there is a personal God. The other, based on their choices as to how they evaluate the information/argument, believes there is a personal God. Two very different beliefs based on the same "reasons" (information/arguments) but indirectly determined by how they chose to deal with the data.

So both you and Greg are correct. Beliefs are the result of choices we make on how we view the world, information, arguments, etc. On the other hand, one does not typically simply and directly choose what they believe.

Having said that, there are those instances where we do not have enough direct information to base a belief, yet we choose to believe (we make a ... wait for it ... "leap of faith"). For example, Micheal Polanyi was a well known and respected physical chemist during the 1930's - 1950's. He tells a story that he was doing some calculation in graduate school but did not complete that calculations yet came up with the correct answer. The professor asked how he could come up with the answer given that he did not have the full proof, and Polanyi said that sometime one knows the answer before he has all the information from which to formulate his/her conclusions. This was a case from which Polanyi began to formulate the role that intuition (personal knowledge) plays in science. I use this story to illustrate that even the best and brightest minds often choose to believe in something before they have enough information to confidently base their belief. So choosing can play a more direct role in our beliefs.

Thank you, Brian. "I thought about what you said" is probably the nicest thing somebody could say to me. :-)

What I mean by "determined by reasons" is that the reasons were sufficient to bring about the belief. The belief was the result of the reasons.

I asked J.P. Moreland about this subject a couple of years ago because he had written in some places that free will is necessary for rationality, but he had said and written in other places that our beliefs are not under the direct control of the will, and that nobody should ever try to believe anything. There seemed to me to be a contradiction in there somewhere.

When I asked him about it, he made a careful distinction between our beliefs being under the direct control of the will and our beliefs being under the indirect control of the will. He does not think our beliefs are under the direct control of the will. We cannot simply, by a pure act of volition, choose to believe one thing rather than another. But what we can do is choose to put ourselves in circumstances that will cause our beliefs to change. For example, I can choose to think about what you're saying. I can choose to read your post. In doing so, my belief could change. So we do have indirect control over our beliefs.

But I don't think libertarian freedom is necessary for rationality in this case. If my choice to read your post and think carefully about what you were saying was determined by my desire to arrive at the truth, then it seems to me that I'm being rational. So we can form a deterministic causal chain that results in a rational conclusion under compatibilism:

Desire to arrive at truth-->reading your post and thinking about what you said-->"seeing" the logical connection between your statements-->belief that you are right

This causal chain may be perfectly deterministic, but how does that diminish my rationality?

Think about this for a second. If we suppose that rationality is diminished by determinism, it leads to absurd results. The stronger evidence is, the more difficult it is to deny the conclusion, right? And the more difficult it is to deny a conclusion, the closer evidence is to determining your belief. If the evidence were ever so strong that you could not deny the conclusion, then your belief would be determined.

But that means the stronger the evidence is, the more irrational you are for affirming the conclusion, which is counter-intuitive. If our rationality is indirectly proportional to the determination of our beliefs, then the less hand evidence plays in determining our beliefs, the more rational we are. It follows that we are most rational when evidence has no hand whatsoever in bringing about our beliefs. We are most rational when our beliefs are artibrary.

But clearly that is non-sense. The stronger the evidence is, the more we ought to believe the conclusion, and the more irrational we would be for denying the conclusion. The more hand evidence plays in forming our beliefs, the more rational our beliefs are. It follows that we are most rational when the evidence determines our beliefs. So determinism is not inconsistent with rationality, as long as we aren't talking about hard determinism, which does away with the role of the mind and rationality in forming beliefs. It seems to me that compatibilism is the only way to preserve rationality. Libertarianism and hard determinism both fail to do so.

I don't think we choose what weight we give different evidences. The reason a theist and an atheist can look at the same evidence and arrive at different conclusion isn't because one makes a choice that the other doesn't make. Rather, it's because of our entire noetic structure--the sum total of all of our beliefs. We always interpret the world around us in light of what we already believe. It's easier to accept something that is consistent with what you already believe than it is to accept something that is inconsistent with what you already believe. If it's inconsistent with what you already believe, then there are more beliefs you would have to adjust than there would be if it had been consistent with your beliefs. Atheist and theists have different background beliefs, and that's what causes them to give different weights to different evidences.

Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. Whenever there's a Marian apparition, Catholics always have an easier time believing them than Protestants do. It isn't because Catholics simply choose to give the evidence more weight than the protestants do. It's because Marian apparitions fit more neatly into a Catholic worldview than they do into a protestant worldview. It would take more to convince a protestant than it would a Catholic because it would require the protestant to adjust more of their present beliefs than it would a Catholic.

For more on the role of noetic structures in forming beliefs, I'd recommend Faith & Reason by Ronald Nash.

But that is not to say that choice doesn't play a role. Like Moreland, I think choice does play an indirect role in why theists and atheists can look at evidence and arrive at different conclusion. In debates, for example, our egos are always at stake, and we have a strong desire to be right and not be proved wrong. This desire sometimes prevents us from choosing to think carefully about what the other person is saying. It causes us to turn a blind eye to evidence to to choose not to think through the logical consequences of the evidence. If don't want the conclusion to be true, we can make choices that will prevent us from coming to those conclusions. But this can all be done in a deterministic way with our desires determining our choices, our choices determining the thoughts that enter our minds, and the thoughts determining the beliefs that result.

I sometimes wonder what it means to give somebody the benefit of the doubt about something. One of the major objections people bring against Pascal's Wager is that you can't fool God. You can't just pretend to believe something. When people bring up these objections, they seem to essentially be saying that it's impossible to make a leap of faith, or to give God the benefit of the doubt.

I am skeptical of it myself. I still advocate Pascal's Wager because I think it's possible to put your trust in somebody without fully believing that they can do what they say. I can be 50/50 on whether somebody will return my book to me, but give them the benefit of the doubt and trust them by letting them borrow my book anyway. In that case, I'm putting my faith in them, even though my belief is in perfect equilibrium.

But I don't think the role of hunches or intuition amounts to choosing to believe. Sometimes there is more to forming beliefs than consciously looking at things and "seeing" that they are true. The human mind recognizes patterns without consciously thinking about them, so we form beliefs without knowing the rational justification for those beliefs. I think that would fully account for your example of Polanyi knowing an answer before constructing the proof. I don't think this is any illustration of somebody choosing to believe something. Polanyi merely found himself believing without knowing exactly why.

This is really a discussion about agent-causation. The real question here is, "Are we, as human beings, capable of agent-causation?"
This is a presumed special category of causation whereby agents initiate sequences of events when they act, without the initiation being itself causally determined.

The fact that we can make mistakes, recognize them as such, and then correct them seems to be evidence that we are capable of this.

Believing in freewill means subscribing to this statement:

The laws of physics do not apply to the space between my ears.

I don't agree with that, ToNy. I think it means subscribing to this statement:

The physical cosmos is not a closed system; there are effects in the physical cosmos whose causes are not part of the physical cosmos.

When something outside of the physical cosmos acts on something within the physical cosmos, it seems to me that the laws of physics remain perfectly intact.

Louis, if it's possible for an agent to initiate a sequences of events whose initiation was not itself caused by anything prior, then the principle of sufficient reason is not true. And if we make an exception in the case of agents, shouldn't we allow for the possibility that exceptions are made in other unknown places in reality?

The fact that we can make mistakes, recognize them as such, and then correct them seems to be evidence that we are capable of this.

Could you expand on that a bit? I'm not seeing it.

In "The Grand Design" Stephen Hawking postulates that the M-theory may be the Holy Grail of physics...the Grand Unified Theory which Einstein had tried to formulate but never completed. It expands on quantum mechanics and string theories.

In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

E=mc², Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.

Could we see an actual quote from the book?

Can somebody please tell me what is self-refuting about saying: there is no free will?

RonH

Sam

"The fact that we can make mistakes, recognize them as such, and then correct them seems to be evidence that we are capable of this.

Could you expand on that a bit? I'm not seeing it."

Determinism is carved in stone linear. When making a mistake, recognizing it as such, and correcting it, we in effect decide that we need to back up to the point of decision that caused the mistake and branch at that point to another direction. If our actions were deterministic, we could not even consider doing such a thing. The thought that we could undo a mistake would be ridiculous.

Gregory Koukl said: "If there is no free will, then no one is capable of choosing to believe something because of good reasons."

I don't think anyone chooses what to believe.

For example, could you choose to beleive that the earth is made of marshmallow?

Of course anyone could verbally say (lie) that they believed that the earth is made of marshmallow. My question is, could a person honestly convince themselves that it is true? I don't think so. What do you think?

Greg: "That’s why it’s odd to hear someone try to argue for determinism."

It's just as odd to argue against determinism. Any argument against determinism has to beg the question - since arguments rely on reason and reason requires free will, to argue against determinism you must have "Determinism is false" as one of your propositions.

Of course, oddly enough, to argue FOR determinism, you have to have "Determinism is false" as one of your propositions, as reason is still required to accept that argument as well, so I suppose that puts determinists in an even worse position. :-)

Sam,

>> "When something outside of the physical cosmos acts on something within the physical cosmos, the laws of physics remain perfectly intact."

well they can't remain intact.

else, if they did, the non-cosmos originating force couldn't manifest any effect.

the physical laws must be temporarily suspended for said action to occur.


RonH,,

>> "Can somebody please tell me what is self-refuting about saying: there is no free will?"

===================================

Consider a system tasked with judging the veracity of its own judgment.

A deterministic system could have a flaw that is self-hiding.
A random system produces correct answers only accidentally.

Thus, neither a deterministic system nor a random system can, with absolute certainty, be sure of its own judgments -- indeed, we can see this is true with absolute certainty.

But if we must either be deterministic or random, then we know with absolute certainty that we can know nothing with absolute certainty - a fatal self-contradiction.

===================================

Louis, in your scenario it sounds like you'd have to go back in time and literally undo the mistake, so I'm still not following you. Given the linear nature of time, it doesn't seem possible to do what you are suggesting unless I've got a misunderstanding.

Simply taking a course of action because we regret the course of action we've already taken doesn't seem to me to require libertarian free will.

Boz:

You seem to have too much time on your hands, posting comments on a plethora of Christian blogs ad infinitum.

Your analogy is really a joke, and an embarrassing one at that.

We cannot be coerced to believe that the world is made out of marshmallow; the reason is, and following Greg's logic, we can discover such things by using our minds.

If the world was deterministic, as Hawking and others claim, then we would have no other way of looking at the world but by the way it is; there would be no thought, no discursive reason, nothing. It just is. We know this is false because we're spending quite a bit of time here using our minds and demonstrating our ability to reason.

Boz, perhaps if you dealt with your bigotry and ignorance, you'd be more fun to dialogue with.

There is something inherently absurd about arguing whether free will exists. It's something akin to a group discussing whether anything actually exists. Hard to imagine the discussion taking place if nothing existed.

so, richard romano, do you think you could convince yourself to believe that that the world is made out of marshmallow?

ToNy,

Hm, sounds familiar.

But did you show what I asked?

I'm looking for something like: If there is no free will then there is free will because...

Or: To say there is no free will is to display free will because...

Is something like that in there?

Somebody tell my why saying there is no free will is self-refuting. Please!

RonH

ronh,

the notion of claiming to have arrived at some level of epistemic truth in a deterministic system is flawed because by nature, a deterministic system could indeed necessarily never know if it had a flaw or not.

bruce

>> "There is something inherently absurd about arguing whether free will exists"

well i think arguing about football is absurd personally

the debate about consciousness, epistemology, dualism and freewill are, in my opinion, the most important topics a human can talk about.

ToNy,

"The debate about consciousness, epistemology, dualism and freewill are, in my opinion, the most important topics a human can talk about."

If I were a determinist I might respond (assuming that it was so determined): "How interesting that the dominoes fell in such a manner that something exists which has opinions about topics and a sense that some topics are more important than other topics."

By the way, careful about using terms like "human". One might get the idea that you believe it's possible to differentiate between that which is human and that which is not. Could get messy for you on other subject matters.

totally,

other than sex, i don't find much else interesting to talk about. afterall, we all gotta go someday.

and ya i use the token 'human' as a synonym for "blog commentators" or "constructs like tony" when i discuss some subjects.

and when i discuss the Philosophy of Biology, i use the word differently.

ToNy,

So if I say there is not free will I could be wrong about anything. That's self-refutation?

How does that compare to my situation before I say there is not free will?

RonH


By definition, a mind that operates on deterministic principles could necessarily never know if it's right or wrong.

Whereas, a mind that did not, theoretically could.

And, by definition, what is self-refutation?

RonH

By the way ToNy, are you a Free Willy or a Determinator?

In case it's not clear: I have no choice but to be a Determinator. But I'm lovin' it.

RonH

Scratch the 'but'. And I'm lovin't it.

The self-refutation comes when you make such statements as:

My mind is deterministic, and I know for sure this is true.

For surely, by mere definition of possessing a deterministic mind, you cannot 'for sure' know that that is true.

And THAT's why I'm not a Calvinist.

Has anyone stopped to define determinism yet. I follow Peter VanInwagen on this.

Determinism is the claim that

1. The state of the universe at any moment plus the laws of physics logically imply the state of the universe at any other moment.

WHERE

2. A single state of the universe at a moment is not compatible with observably incompatible facts at that moment.

So on 2, for example, a single state of the universe at time t is not compatible with my right arm being raised at t and my right arm not being raised at t.

Given this definition, I cannot see how any serious physicist these days can be a determinist. All of them will gladly accept item 1 if the state of the universe at a moment is a quantum state. But quantum states do NOT satisfy item 2. A single quantum state is, famously, compatible with Schroedinger's cat being alive and his being dead.

On the other hand, apart from this definition, I can't really work up a lot of concern about the issue. To say that the past state of the universe plus the laws of physics entail the present state doesn't seem to commit me to anything. A single quantum state might be compatible with two observably different facts about me.

WisdomLover,

Depending on your interpretation of quantum mechanics, hard determinism is basically long dead.

Hence my other qualifier:

"A random system produces correct answers only accidentally."

Point being, either way, the person who doesn't believe in magic between their ears has an epistemological problem.

Ronh,

I don't believe in freewill.

Though I do acknowledge the problems that this stance entails.

I am very sympathetic with JP Morelands position that dualism ought to be the default position one takes.

But personally, i'd like to see more evidence on the matter. I thought the NDE experiments had promise. But they didn't work out so I feel justified in sitting on the fence.

Causality is what allows science and us the ability to make any accurate predictions at all, without it, we wouldn't be able to "determine" or learn a thing. If there are things that happen randomly or by chance, you still have no control. There is no room for free-will, no enabler. Even if one could disprove determinism to be true, it still doesn't mean we have free-will.

"A man can surely do what he wills to do, but cannot determine what he wills." - Schopenhauer

So Tony, you're point is that mechanism, the view that all explanations reduce to physics, and free will are incompatible?

If so, I think we're on the same page.

I'm not sure why I should characterize the denial of mechanism as uniquely involving the claim that there is something magic between my ears. But then, I have no idea what you mean by "magic".

On my definition of "magic", that which is true, not because of necessity, but because of the arbitrary will of some potent agent, both mechanism and the denial of mechanism entail magic between my ears (and outside of my ears also).

On the whole issue of the reliability of our cognitive processes given mechanism, I guess a real incompatibility in this area would depend on what you're definitions of knowledge and truth are.

If you are a pragmatist about truth and a coherentist about knowledge. I don't think you are going to have a problem saying that mechanistic processes can be reliable and can even be 'aware' of their own reliability. Can't computers run self-diagnostic programs to determine whether they are reliable (at least in a 'thin' pragmatist/coherentist sense)? But computers are paradigmatic examples of mechanism.

I will grant that that doesn't help me much, since I ascribe to a correspondence theory of truth and a foundationalist theory of knowledge. Given that outlook, mechanism might be a real problem. (Of course, I also reject mechanism).

Sam

"Simply taking a course of action because we regret the course of action we've already taken doesn't seem to me to require libertarian free will."

Point taken. However, my illustrationg recognizes two things. One that another course of action was possible. Two that another course of action in the future, should the same situation arise, is possible. To be able to know these things, seem to me necessary for libertarian free will. If one cannot know either or both, then determinism is the rule of the day. I think determinism effectively rules out alternate possibilities as a concept. If determinism is a closed system, no external inputs are possible. All effects are the result of the lower layers of the system exclusive to any external input from which we can choose.

Louis, earlier you said, "The fact that we can make mistakes, recognize them as such, and then correct them seems to be evidence that we are capable of this [initiating actions without those actions being causally determined]."

So it seems like what you're saying is that before we can make mistakes, recognize them as such, and then correct them, it must be possible that we could have done otherwise in the first place. Is that what you're saying?

If so, I think I can understand why. There can't be any such thing as a mistake unless there's some particular way things ought to have been. And since "ought" implies "can," mistakes presume the ability to do otherwise.

I've talked about this subject a lot on this blog already, so I'm a little reluctant to go into it again in any kind of detail. But in short, I think there's a relevant difference between a natural or physical ability on the one hand and a moral or psychological ability on the other hand. Culpability requires that we have the physical ability to do otherwise, but I do not believe it requires that we have the psychological ability to do otherwise. In fact, it's our psychology that determines whether we are culpable or not. We're responsible for what we do on purpose (meaning our action arises out of our own motives), not what we do by accident (i.e. actions that arose spontaneously without prior motive or intent). So it's possible to make a mistake if compatibilism is true. I question whether it's really possible to make a mistake of libertarianism is true.

In case anybody is interested, we had some debate on this subject on this blog here and here.

Saying 'there is no free will' is NOT self-refuting. (Christian apologists seem to have a fondness for the concept of self-refutation.)

=

But saying there is no free will does seem to imply there is always a particular way in which you can be wrong - ToNy's "self-hiding flaw". How often you are likely to be wrong via this route isn't clear. Nor is how that likelihood might vary with the question at hand.

%

The path between premises and conclusion is often very simple - even when the topic is 'hard' because it deals with abstract things. That would seem to protect us Determinators from this issue. It could be investigated.

@

When we're done with that investigation, yes, the problem applies to that line of thought as much as any other.

*

Big deal. Look, we have no choice but to assume the external world exists. We have no choice but to assume we don't live in the Matrix. Determinators in addition have no choice to believe we are a well built computer. That is a far cry from having your view be self-refuting.

#

Does 'sin', in an analogous way, hamper the Christian?

RonH


Wisdomlover,

>> " I have no idea what you mean by "magic"."

The insertion of force vectors into the physical world by a demon, soul, or other supernatural entity. e.g. the act of noah parting the red sea involved pushing a lot of hydrogen and oxygen atoms into vectors that they were not naturally destined.

>> "Can't computers run self-diagnostic programs to determine whether they are reliable"

They could never know for sure. For the flaw may be in the execution of the diagnostic apparatus itself.

wikipedia.org/wiki/Halting_problem

wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_FDIV_bug

RonH,

>> "Determinators in addition have no choice to believe we are a well built computer. That is a far cry from having your view be self-refuting."

No its not.

If Ron is a "well built computer" then, as was shown, Ron could necessarily never know if any string he outputs is flawed or not.

wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_FDIV_bug

"'there is no free will' is NOT self-refuting"

Let's break that down.

Knowledge is the adoption of a true proposition based on good reasons.

To adopt a claim based on good reasons is:

1. To consider the reasons one has for adopting the claim and the reasons one has for rejecting the claim.

2. To recognize that the reasons for adopting the claim outweigh the reasons for rejecting the claim.

AND

3. Based on that recognition to choose to adopt the claim.

The process just described involves rational choice and cannot, therefore, be unfree.

If there is no free will, then no claim can be adopted based on good reasons.

As such, if there is no free will, then the claim, "There is no free will", cannot be adopted based on good reasons.

So if there is no free will, the claim, "There is no free will", cannot be known.

If there is free will, then the claim, "There is no free will", is false.

So the claim, "There is no free will", is either unknowable or false.

To put it another way, the only thing that can be known about the truth of the claim, "There is no free will", is that it is false.

That surely makes it look like the claim "There is no free will", is self-defeating.

----------------------------------

"Christian apologists seem to have a fondness for the concept of self-refutation."

It's not so much that we have a fondness for the concept. It's that atheists engage in self-refuting thinking so much.

----------------------------------

"Look, we have no choice but to assume the external world exists. We have no choice but to assume we don't live in the Matrix."

The claim above is obviously false. We don't need to make any such assumption. We have all the choice in the world about this. If it were really impossible to assume that we live in the Matrix, I don't think it would have been possible to make the movie The Matrix. The idea just wouldn't have occurred to anyone. I mean, isn't assuming that we live in the Matrix exactly what the writers of The Matrix actually did?

I grant you that we are all naturally inclined to believe that we don't live in the Matrix. But that's miles away from saying that we can't assume otherwise.

simulation-argument.com

WL: Can't computers run self-diagnostic programs to determine whether they are reliable.

Tony: They could never know for sure. For the flaw may be in the execution of the diagnostic apparatus itself.

But if you are a pragmatist about truth and a coherentist about knowledge all one means by "I know that its true" is, essentially, "It passed the diagnostic".

I'm not recommending these views mind you. I think I mentioned that I rejected both. I'm just noting what a throroughgoing determinist/empiricist would say.

I guess they might say so I just think that said person would be using a ridiculous definition of 'truth'.

It would be the equivalent of making the statement:

My Intel P5 Pentium Processor has no flaw. Afterall, it diagnosed itself for errors and it couldn't find one.

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