Sunday, 20 July 2014

Summary of the metaphysics of free will

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I have written quite often about free will on this blog

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=free+will

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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!

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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).

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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.

Or

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.

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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!
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