This post may be deleted shortly. It is intended to serve as the second part of my previous "quick look" post at Godismyjudge's definition of libertarian free will (link here to that previous post).
Godismyjudge had proposed a simple and complex definition of libertarian free will. He seems to believe that the two definitions are "the same." I cannot fully agree with him. The complex definition does not follow from the simple definition. It is more detailed, and those details do not flow deductively from the simple definition.
In the previous quick look post, we saw that the simple definition is not harmonious with synergist thought, but more importantly that as it stands a Calvinist could uncompromisingly agree that man is a free agent under the simple definition.
The complext definition attempts to more precisely define the boundaries of what is being discussed. Let us see whether it brings harmony to the definition.
Complex Definition of LFW (by Godismyjudge):
An agent has libertarian freewill if and only if what the agent will do is not, causally, logically, or accidentally necessary, but rather the alternative is within the agent's power and the agent is able to do otherwise that [sic] what he will do.
This definition introduces a number of problems that need to be resolved. Some of them Godismyjudge attempted to address, and we will see his comments on those points, as we proceed. The most obvious problem is the apparent typo of the fifth from last word. As I'm fairly confident that Godismyjudge meant "than," I'll simply correct the typo in the analysis that follows.
We'll break the definition into phrases for easier analysis:
1. An agent has libertarian freewill
2. if and only if
3. what the agent will do is not,
b) logically, or
c) accidentally necessary,
4) but rather
5) the alternative is within the agent's power
7) the agent is able to do otherwise than what he will do.
Phrase (1) is the same as line (1) from the simple definition, and the same analysis applies: "This line is understandable. It is an assertion about a present state of the agent."
Phrase (2) is also the same as line (2) from the simple definition, and the same analysis enures: "This line is also understandable. A definition is about to follow."
For the moment we will skip over phrases (3) to (6).
Phrase (7) is the same as lines (3) to (4) of the simple, definition, and the same analysis attaches: "[Line 3] is mostly understandable. It is a statement about a present ability to do something, where the something is defined negatively, and we are waiting for that something. ... [Line 4] by itself is understandable. What is being described is a future action of the agent. The lack of harmony appears when we combine 3 and 4 in view of 1. That is to say, when we speak of a present quality that depends on a comparison between the present and the future. ... I call these a lack of harmony, not because the definition itself is incoherent, but because these results do not harmonize with a non-compatibilist mentality."
Of the skipped phrases, we will now turn to phrase (5).
Phrase (5) states, "the alternative is (present tense) within the agent's power." This statement makes one thing clear. Whatever the alternative may be, it is something presently within the agent's power. The bigger question is what "power" means. Does it mean physical ability? That's the usual sense that "power" has. Does it mean mental ability? That's the usual figurative sense that "power" has. Either way, compatablists agree that man has the mental and physical ability to do things he is not currently doing: things that are alternatives to the reality of history. Another sense would be legal permission, and again, in most cases men also have legal permission to do other things than those that they actual do. As noted above, this means that what has been defined is not something that Calvinists and LFW advocates disagree about.
The "and" in phrase (6) is not completely clear. Perhaps Godismyjudge will clarify whether it is intended conjunctively or appositively. In other words is phrase (5) supposed to be in addition to phrase (7) or is it supposed to be another way of expressing phrase (7)? Under either sense, there may be new conflict between (5) and (7), because they appear to overlap, but are not identical. Perhaps Godismyjudge just means that we should view phrase (6) as expressing a logical "union" between (5) and (7). Godismyjudge, please clarify if this is not intended.
The "but rather" in phrase (4) has a similar ambiguity. It appears that it is intended as a logical "union" between the negatively worded phrase (3) and the union of (5) and (7). Godismyjudge, please clarify if this is not intended.
With those understandings, the only chance that Godismyjudge would appear to have, in rescuing the definition from being completely acceptable to compatablism, is the third phrase of the complex definition. Before we get there, though, we should note that Godismyjudge has provided a proposed definition of "power."
It is with[in] the agent['s] power to perform or refrain from performing an action
No other agent or event determines that the action in question is performed or not performed. If another agent or event determines that the action in question is performed or not performed, then the event is not within the agent's power.
This definition raises more questions than answers. The positive definition defines the word using the word, and thus appears at best to be an attempt to define by example. In this case, the example appears to be with respect to a meta-act. A meta-act is an act before the act of interest. In this case, the act of interest is the second item, which is preceded by the act of choosing to perform or refrain from the act. This sense is philosophically amusing, because it attempts to resolve the definitional problem by leapfrogging. The act is free if it is the result of choice. But then the choice itself may not be free, because it may not be the result of choice. Or, if it is, then the choice that preceded that one may not be free. And, of course, with any human being there is going to be a first choice by the human that cannot find a previous choice to leap-frog. And once that one is not free, the lack of freedom ripples back along the chain of choices. If anyone cannot see this, please feel free to ask how this follows, and I will be happy to provide a more detailed explanation.
That's a big reason not to attempt to evade the issue by appealing to a previous choice.
But suppose that this leap-frogging problem could be avoided, for the sake of the argument. If so, it just means that if the act is the result of a choice, it is free. If so, then of course compatibilists would simply refer to this power as the power of choice.
The second half of the definition raises further issues. It states: "No other agent or event determines that the action in question is performed or not performed. If another agent or event determines that the action in question is performed or not performed, then the event is not within the agent's power." This part of the definition could create problems for the compatibilist, and thus provides the best basis we see so far for a real definition of LFW that distinguishes the LFW position from the compatibilist position.
This definition appears to suggest that the "power" in question is predetermination, and that only one agent can predetermine any event. There are two main problems with this definition.
1) The first problem is a Biblical problem, but this objection should wait, as we are still working on the definitions. Once Godismyjudge has locked onto a definition that is clearly not acceptable, then we should debate whether the LFW position or the compatiblist position is correct.
2) The second problem is that this sense of "power" meaning that the agent is the sole predeterminer of the event is far from the ordinary sense of the term. It does not have the support of common sense, or common parlance. As long as this is acknowledged, it's not a big problem. But for clarity I would suggest that we call it by a name that acknowledges that it has a special meaning, such as PWR or something like.
In view of those problems, it is not clear whether Godismyjudge is willing to accept such a definition of power. If so, at least that part of the definition could provide a basis for a concise definition of LFW that we could reasonably debate. If not, we will need to continue on to the third phrase.
Phrase (3) has three parts.
3. what the agent will do is not,
b) logically, or
c) accidentally necessary,
A quick kill of this phrase would be to apply Godismyjudge's previous criticism that the future does not exist to the introductory portion of the phrase. That is to say that according to Godismyjudge's definitions, the future does not exist. Accordingly, it cannot have any other attributes, such as necessity or freedom. In that sense (in the sense that the future does not exist, because it is not occurring), it is always the case that what the future is not, and consequently does not have any attributes. Thus, for this phrase to have meaning, the earlier the-future-does-not-exist position must be abandoned. Godismyjudge, please clarify if this is not intended.
Continuing under the presumption that the phrase has meaning, there is still conflict when a future event is said to have attributes in the present. Again, we will try to find a way to understand the phrase to avoid this contradiction. As best understood, the phrase is attempting to convey the idea that the future event will not occur as a result of the various types of necessity. Godismyjudge, please clarify if this is not intended.
A final difficulty is trying to figure out what the various kinds of necessity mean. Here Godismyjudge has provided some explanation, if not precisely definitions:
Choices are a result of agent causation
Agent Causation: Some events are caused, not by events, but rather personnel [sic] agents.
Choices are not the result of a sufficient cause
Sufficient cause: Given the circumstances a sufficient cause always produces its effect, unless impeded by agent causation. Sufficient causes determine events. An event (E) is causally determined if some other event (E2) beyond the agent's control has already occurred, where the state of affairs that E has occurred and E2 does not occur is causally impossible. If an event is causally determined, it's casually necessary.
The obvious error here is the typo, which I'm confident was intended to read "personal."
The second error is that positive presentation is some vague as to be acceptable to everyone. Even hard determinists (non-compatabilist deniers of free will) agree that personal agents can be causes.
There are a significant number of problems with the negative presentation. The biggest of these problems surrounds the use of the term "sufficient cause."
Godismyjudge attempts to define sufficient cause, but the definition is not fully intelligible.
Let's examine it carefully: "Given the circumstances a sufficient cause always produces its effect, unless impeded by agent causation. Sufficient causes determine events. An event (E) is causally determined if some other event (E2) beyond the agent's control has already occurred, where the state of affairs that E has occurred and E2 does not occur is causally impossible. If an event is causally determined, it's casually necessary."
At first glance, this appears to be a heavily bootstrapped (self-referential) definition. Nevertheless, let's treat the first two sentences as examples.
Example 1: "Given the circumstances a sufficient cause always produces its effect, unless impeded by agent causation."
There are number of problems with this definition by example. First, it is unclear what causes are connected with what effects. Second it is unclear what is to be included within circumstances. Finally it is unclear in what a cause can be "impeded." Once these ambiguities were removed, it appears that what is being stated is that a sufficient cause is a cause that has an expected (but fallible) effect, with the fallibility due either to circumstances or the actions of agents (which are evidentally not part of the circumstances).
Example 2: "Sufficient causes determine events." This seems to suggest that sufficient causes are a subset of effecient causes, with (one would think) agent causes being the other subset of efficient causes.
Example 3: "An event (E) is causally determined if some other event (E2) beyond the agent's control has already occurred, where the state of affairs that E has occurred and E2 does not occur is causally impossible."
Perhaps this item ought not to be viewed as an example of sufficient causality, but of causal determination. In any event, it has several problems.
First, the exception that E2 (which has already occurred) is beyond the agent's control is strange. The past is always beyond any agent's control.
Furthermore, whether or not event E2 was beyond the agent's control does not have any bearing on the relationship between E and E2. At least, there is no reason to suppose that it does.
Finally, the term "causally impossible" in the phrase "where the state of affairs that E has occurred and E2 does not occur is causally impossible," is unclear. Nevertheless, we know that God is capable of causing any state of affairs, except the logically impossible. Therefore, "causally impossible" may simply reduce to "logically impossible."
Additionally, it is logically impossible that there would be a state of events in which God would know X will happen at time 2, and then E2 would be something other than X. Also recall that God has exhaustive knowledge of the future. Thus, under this definition, all of history is "causally determined," which would appear to be out of harmony with LFW thought.
Next we will examine the second set of explanations:
considering everything prior to the event, the event is logically possible
nothing prior to the event is logically incompatible with the event
If something prior to the event is logically incompatible with the alternative event, the event is logically necessary.
There's nothing particularly wrong with this definition. However, because God's knowledge of the future is exhaustive, and because that knowledge is as good as existing prior to the event (see my stone diary post linked here), nothing besides what actually will happen is logically possible, because it is logically incompatible with God's prior knowledge. Thus, again, we see that this definition is not really harmonious with LFW thought.
Let us then turn to the third area of "accidental necessity."
Given A will occur at T3, prior to T3, nonA is possible at T3
Given A will occur at T3, nothing prior to T3 renders nonA impossible
If something prior to T3 renders nonA impossible, A is accidentally necessary
This definition has explanation has a couple of quirks.
The first is the logical fallacy of stating (in the Positive statement) that it is a given that A will occur at T3, and yet that nonA is possible at T3. This fallacy is a violation of the law of the excluded middle.
The second is the statement that A will happen at T3, but that nonA is not rendered impossible by anything prior to T3. This is simply a denial that A is caused to be. If A is caused to be, then nonA is rendered impossible by the cause.
The idea of things being uncaused is both contrary to the Bible, and to common sense. Nevertheless, such a lemma may provide additional basis for a concise statement of LFW that distinguishes the LFW position of Godismyjudge from a Calvinistic view.
Finally, Godismyjudge offered up an explanation apparently designed to help link the various senses discussed above.
Before the event, the agent is able to cause or not cause the event.
At the time of the event (T2) the agent is:
1) able to cease from causing the event at a subsequent time (T>T2)
2) in a divided sense (excuding the event), able to cause the alternative event (T=T2)
3) in a compound sense, unable to cause the alternative event (T=T2)
Why is the relevant sense of freedom temporally before the event? Because causation works forward in time. If an agent at T2 cause an effect which is produced at T3, in effect the event at T3 is necessary in the tautological sense that it is what it is. But it's not necessary in the relevant sense: it had to be what it is.
This explanation also raises several issues.
The first line states: "Before the event, the agent is able to cause or not cause the event." Nevertheless, if the event occurs and the agent causes it, and not everything the agent does causes the event, then the agent clearly was able both to cause and not to cause the event, and the agent did both. However, the event is the agent doing somthing. And the agent causing the event appears to be a meta-deed. See above regarding the leap-frogging problem associated with meta-choice. Finally, if we eliminate the meta-deed aspect, the result is absurd, see above regarding the simple definition.
The second line states: "At the time of the event (T2) the agent is:1) able to cease from causing the event at a subsequent time (T>T2)2) in a divided sense (excuding the event), able to cause the alternative event (T=T2)3) in a compound sense, unable to cause the alternative event (T=T2)." Item (1) is yet a further meta-deed problem, and really has no place in the discussion. (2) creates a problem of self-contradiction, because it impossible to define "the alternative" in a divided sense that excludes the event. Without knowing the event, we cannot know what the alternative is. (2), however, provides an interesting alternative to the "successive" definitions of LFW, because it address man at the time of the act. Finally, (3) does not distinguish LFW from compatabilism.
Godismyjudge's explanation continues: "Why is the relevant sense of freedom temporally before the event? Because causation works forward in time. " This means that (2) in the paragraph above is not viewed by Godismyjudge as the relevant freedom. That's certainly puzzling, because I've seen that presented as the relevant freedom (I think by Godismyjudge) on previous occasions.
Nevertheless, as noted above, the "before the event" freedom has been discussed in most of the discussion above. Godismyjudge, please clarify that (2) in the paragraph two paragraphs above is NOT the relevant kind of freedom, in your point of view.
Godismyjudge's explanation concludes: "If an agent at T2 cause an effect which is produced at T3, in effect the event at T3 is necessary in the tautological sense that it is what it is. But it's not necessary in the relevant sense: it had to be what it is. " This explanation is perhaps the clearest and best of Godismyjudge's explanations of the previous-freedom view. The main objections to this definition of freedom are Biblical objections and objections from common sense.
I will await Godismyjudge's response.
Hopefully that response will identify which thesis Godismyjudge is willing to advocate:
I. The Power-based discrimantor:
"No other agent or event determines that the action in question is performed or not performed. If another agent or event determines that the action in question is performed or not performed, then the event is not within the agent's power."
II. The Accident-based discrimantor:
"Given A will occur at T3, nothing prior to T3 renders nonA impossible. If something prior to T3 renders nonA impossible, A is accidentally necessary."
III. The Simultaneous discrinator:
"2) in a divided sense (excuding the event), able to cause the alternative event (T=T2)"
IV. The Had-to-be discriminator:
"If an agent at T2 cause an effect which is produced at T3, in effect the event at T3 is necessary in the tautological sense that it is what it is. But it's not necessary in the relevant sense: it had to be what it is."
I suspect that any of I, II, or IV would be acceptable to Godismyjudge as being representative of different aspects of LFW. My suggestion for how we should proceed forward is to pick one of those items as the position, and then we can debate that particular definition.