Define Free Will: Satisfactory Definition?

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In summary, the conversation is about seeking a definition of free will and formulating a proposition that does not use synonyms of the term. The proposed definition states that even with all facts known about an agent's physical and psychological state, it is impossible to predict their behavior at a future time. The discussion also touches on distinguishing free will from randomness and defining an inner condition in terms of external behavior. It is suggested to add a rider that the agent's actions are still rationally comprehensible and aimed at achieving a purpose.
  • #1
Skomatth
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Following the the logical positivist convention of defining a term in use I am seeking a definition of free will as it occurs in the proposition "[agent]A has free will". This will involve formulating an equivalent proposition which uses no synonyms of "free will".

I believe it can be done in this way: "At any time t, even if all facts are known about A's physical and psychological state, no reliable hypothesis could ever be able to predict A's physical or psychological state at time t+d."

Is this a satisfactory definition?
 
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  • #2
Skomatth said:
Following the the logical positivist convention of defining a term in use I am seeking a definition of free will as it occurs in the proposition "[agent]A has free will". This will involve formulating an equivalent proposition which uses no synonyms of "free will".

I believe it can be done in this way: "At any time t, even if all facts are known about A's physical and psychological state, no reliable hypothesis could ever be able to predict A's physical or psychological state at time t+d."

Is this a satisfactory definition?

How does this distinguish "freely willed" from random? In general how can you define an inner condition like will in terms of external behavior?
 
  • #3
Good point. Do you think free will is an unanalysable concept or could this be defined differently?
 
  • #4
selfAdjoint said:
How does this distinguish "freely willed" from random? In general how can you define an inner condition like will in terms of external behavior?

You need to add a rider to the effect that the agent's action is nonetheless
rationally comprehensible ie aimed at achieving some purpose.
 

Related to Define Free Will: Satisfactory Definition?

1. What is the definition of free will?

Free will refers to the ability of individuals to make choices and decisions without being controlled by external forces or predetermined factors.

2. Is free will compatible with determinism?

There is ongoing debate in the scientific community about whether free will and determinism can coexist. Some scientists argue that free will is an illusion and that all actions are ultimately determined by previous causes, while others believe that free will is a fundamental aspect of human consciousness that cannot be explained by determinism.

3. Can free will be scientifically proven?

The concept of free will is still a philosophical and scientific mystery, and there is currently no definitive scientific evidence that proves or disproves its existence. Some scientists believe that free will is a subjective experience that cannot be measured or observed objectively.

4. How does free will relate to morality?

The existence of free will has significant implications for moral responsibility and accountability. If individuals have free will, they are seen as responsible for their actions and choices. However, if free will is an illusion, then the concept of moral responsibility becomes more complicated.

5. Are there any limitations to free will?

Some scientists argue that free will may have limitations due to factors such as genetics, environment, and unconscious influences. Additionally, societal norms and cultural conditioning may also impact the choices individuals make, leading to the question of how much control one truly has over their actions.

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