I’m really liking the website, it looks nice.
I grew up in a pretty secular home, but now I’m looking for some answers that I haven’t been able to find. Your blog has been really informative.
My question might be better suited to it’s own post but here it goes. In this post and others you mentioned libertarian free will. What do you specifically mean by this? We have our mind, which is immaterial, and it has free will. But how does the will and mind interact with our material body?
That’s a pretty big question, but I think you’ll be able to help me understand it.
Hello Jared and Thank you for the question. I am encouraged to hear that the material has been a help in your quest for answers. Lets tackle your questions
By libertarian free will I mean the ability to make a choice without having anything to determine or cause you to make the choice. For example if the atheistic world view of physicalism is true then all you are is a physical substance who’s behavior is fixed by your brain structure, biology, genes, chemistry and so forth. Much like a computer acts only based on the internal physical structure and the input that is fed into it. Physical objects must act according to physical laws. A bullet cannot choose to swerve up or down because it feels like it. Now take us as humans for example. If I choose to lift my right arm, it can only be counted as a free choice if nothing determined me to do it and if I could have refrained from doing so. Take for example a mad scientist who injected you with something while you were asleep which gave him control over your bodily movement without you knowing it. Then say you go to an auction and the first bid is something you want so you know when the auction starts you know you will raise your hand. Well say the mad scientist wanted you to raise your arm as well so when he pushes a button you raise your hand, but it also so happened that you wanted to raise your hand. Now imagine the next item for bidding is something you do not want. But lo and behold your arm goes up and you have no control because the scientist is pushing the buttons to make your arm go up. In either case you did not have full “libertarian free will”. Why? For the two reasons mentioned above which were the fact that you were determined to do it and that you could not have refrained from doing it if you didn’t want to. One more analogy. Say you were in a room and you chose to stay in there all day. Well little did you know the door was locked and even if you had wanted to leave you couldn’t so whether you wanted to stay or not, you had no choice. This is what is meant by libertarian free will.
Now your second questions was in regards to how the mind interacts with the body. This is known as the study of dualism. Now some have argued that if the mind and soul interact with the body that there must be some intermediate link. But that can not necessarily be true because then we would have an infinite regress of links for that link and then a link for the link and so forth. So if you’re looking for a link there is none to look for. What can be said is that the mind/soul use the body much like a musician uses an instrument. The talent is not located in the instrument, but rather in the musician. It is often argued that if our mind is immaterial and not our brain then why does brain trauma effect our memory that is in our mind? Well lets follow with the analogy. If the instrument breaks, the talent is not lost, but the instrument through which the talent flows is incapacitated to convey it. Also, imagine you are trapped in a car and can not get out. It would then follow that your ability to be mobile would depend on the car. So if you want to go left or right you must operate the car in that way. But what happens if the car breaks down and you can’t move? Does this then mean you are the car? Of course not. So we can see that if we are to have libertarian free will then we must have something immaterial to our existence that acts on the physical. This can be seen much like a driver in a car or a musician using an instrument . And then to have libertarian free will it means we must 1) act without anything determining us to do so along with the 2) freedom to have refrained from doing so had we chosen not to (like not being locked in a room). I certainly hope this helped and thank you again for your thoughtful question.
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