Sunday, 20 July 2014

Summary of the metaphysics of free will


I have written quite often about free will on this blog


The reason why people (why I myself) find it hard to grasp this subject is that it is metaphysical, not scientific; i.e. it is about our assumptions concerning reality - not about our investigations of reality.

Another problem is that the metaphysics of free will is that - to be real - the free will must be an unmoved mover, an uncaused cause.

It must be - so it is!


That places free will outside of science - because science is only concerned with caused things.

This means that science is necessarily incomplete - since there must BE uncaused causes, or else we have infinite regress in a-caused-b-caused-c-caused-d forever! - and a situation which nothing could happen (this was pointed-out centuries ago by Aquinas).


But free will conceptualized as an uncaused cause implies that each Man (and maybe other things) is to some extent an uncaused cause - and this creates difficulties for most philosophies, which are monist - and refer all causes back to one cause.

The conclusion seems to be that God has free will and is an uncaused cause; but the same also applies to each Man.

How can this be understood?

The only two rational conclusions I can see; are either

1. To state that God caused each uncaused cause: i.e. God caused (created) each Man to as an uncaused cause.


2. The theology of pluralism: that God and also each Man are alike in being uncaused causes, and 'always'-have-been. God and each Man are (at the level of being uncaused causes -  although not necessarily as 'persons') basic constituents in the universe.


The first is the solution of Aquinas, the second is the solution of Mormon theology. Each solution has advantages and problems - and different implications.

I personally favour the Mormon metaphysics, partly from temperament - but mostly because it solves the problems that are most dominant for me, and I find the consequences congenial; while the Thomist solution  seems too obviously paradoxical and leads to problems (such as the problems of pain/ suffering and moral responsibility) further down the line.

But both solutions are viable in some ways, unsatisfactory in others; and both are much preferable to the up-front, in-your-face nihilistic incoherence of denying the reality of free will!