Does Free Will Exist? Summary Q & A

A question-and-answer format may summarize free will most simply. We’ll start with some general questions first and then recall very briefly what has been contributed by specific thinkers over time.

What is free will? Continue reading “Does Free Will Exist? Summary Q & A”


Is Free Will an Illusion? Not by These 5 Rules

“Is free will an illusion?” Four of 6 philosophers surveyed by the online Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012 agreed that free will is an illusion. One said no, and one gave an in-between answer.

The majority answer derives from an arbitrary assumption of objectivity. That assumption, even when recognized as arbitrary, remains difficult to discard.

Not only in 2012, but from the earliest time I can remember thinking about GSOT, the question of free will and its arbitrary answer has provoked in me the long search described in these blogs. Continue reading “Is Free Will an Illusion? Not by These 5 Rules”

Arthur Schopenhauer. Part 1. Introduction

 Arthur Schopenhauer could see the worst in any situation. Witness these snippets, published in 1851:

Politeness is a tacit agreement that we shall mutually ignore and refrain from reproaching one another’s miserable defects, both moral and intellectual. In this way, they do not so readily come to light, to the advantage of both sides. Continue reading “Arthur Schopenhauer. Part 1. Introduction”

The Pupil and the Teacher

In 1911 Luther Weigle authored a 217 page textbook on teaching Sunday School, a book that remained in production more than 30 years and eventually sold more than 1 million copies. Were there really that many Sunday School teachers in America? Continue reading “The Pupil and the Teacher”

Pragmatic Free Will for Individuals and Groups

If 5 rules for GSOT apply, then free will pragmatically works. It sounds right, but does the conclusion follow?

The 5 rules are as follows:

Rule #1.  Every sentence is first-person in its origin.

Rule #2.  The overarching viewpoint is not allowed.

Rule #3.  Unless it makes a difference in somebody’s disposition to act, then it makes no difference.

Rule #4.  Break these rules.

Rule #5.  Get back to the rules. Continue reading “Pragmatic Free Will for Individuals and Groups”

Rule #5: Get Back to the Rules

Reality is elusive. Truth hides beyond our reach. Break-these-rules makes it clear that we simply are looking for GSOT, not truth. Let’s not make the mistake of those who tried too hard to grasp reality. Continue reading “Rule #5: Get Back to the Rules”

Pragmatism and Free Will

Can pragmatism and free will work together?

Pragmatism was the 3rd rule presented in our search for GSOT.[1] The rule of pragmatism can be stated simply: Unless it makes a difference in somebody’s disposition to act, then it makes no difference.

We have considered whether free will is valid under pragmatism. This does not mean proving that free will is true, probably an impossible task, but rather demonstrating that free will can constitute a clear and uncontradicted belief upon which a person can act.

It has seemed possible that free will might run afoul of a fundamental philosophical postulate – the principle of causation.  Therefore, we looked in some detail at the apparent conflict between these 2 propositions:

  1. Every event has its cause.
  2. The ideas I/we bring up and the habits of responsive action I/we form can produce effects in the world.

The first proposition is essentially the same as the Principle of Sufficient Reason put forward by Leibniz as the foundation of all philosophy. The second is a statement of free will, although it could be viewed alternatively as a statement that posits a sense of my self or of our group as a locus of will. I shall call it a statement of free will. Continue reading “Pragmatism and Free Will”