Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Quick Response to Godismyjudge

Godismyjudge wrote (to someone else):

You speak of ability and possibility in a divided sense. That is, given X man is able to do A, but if you consider all factors (including Y), man is unable to do A. When I say man is able to do either A or B, I am speaking in a compound sense, including all factors. You are saying X doesn't prevent the man from doing A, but Y does. I am saying no preceding cause renders him unable.You said if man is physically able to do something, LFW entails that he is able to do it.

This is not what LFW is saying. LFW says that given all preceding causes (physical, mental, spiritual...) man is able to do this or that. LFW states man has ability in a compound sense, not a divided sense. Thus even if a man is able to do something physically (ie a divided sense of ability), that action still might not be within the scope of LFW, if something else prevents it.

If I said I am able to lift a 10 lbs weight, but not a 1,000 lbs weight, what am I saying? Am I saying that I can lift a 10 lbs weight, even if I don't have a 10 lbs weight? No. Am I saying that my muscles might lift a 10 lbs weight even if my brain tells them not to try? No. What I am sayings is that given the opportunity and my decision to try, my body can perform the task (provided nothing interferes). But if I have the opportunity to lift a 1,000 lbs weight, and I decide to try, my body cannot perform the task. So saying I am able to lift 10 lbs is speaking generally. Speaking generally is a divided sense, not considering certain things.


I have been lurking in the shadows of Godismyjudge's intereaction with Triablogue, but could no longer resist when I read the above summary explanation.

I think its one of the better explanations I've seen from an LFW advocate.

The problem has several heads:

1) The convention of saying "I can bench 150 lbs." even when there is no ready way to do so conveniently at hand, is perfectly normal. Saying that I "can bench 150 lbs." meaning that I am in a compound, LFW position to be about to do so is not a normal way of talking.

That's not inherently bad. After all, we can use words in philosophy in specific technical ways that the words are not used in common speech. I do that with "foreknowledge," and rightly so. But,

2) If G admits that he is using the term philosophically, not conventionally, he has to acknowledge that Scripture references to "choice," "choosing," and the like are using that term in the conventional sense (at least in most cases), and that the burden is on G to establish some reason to suppose that the term is being used in the specialized, technical, philosophical sense that G needs. And,

3) If G admits that the divided sense is the conventional sense, then he has to acknowledge that the Calvinist interpretation of the word is the conventional sense, and, thus, that the various referneces to "choice," "choosing," etc. are generally consistent with Calvinism. Additionally,

4) It's not at all clear that early Christian users of the term "free will" such as Justin Martyr (as it is widely believed) or Augustine (which seems still more certain) meant it in the compound and not the divided sense, and

5) In fact, it may be hard to find (and I'll leave this to the LFW proponents, if they like) anyone before the scholastics, and probably not until the 17th or 18th century, that so defines "free will." In fact, I cannot specifically recall where Arminius himself so defined "free will," though my depth in Arminius surely pales compared to that of some of the Arminians that have stopped by this blog in the past. Likewise,

6) This compound sense of LFW is not necessarily the sense of LFW that tends to find support among the general populace of folks who embrace LFW (which is demonstrable from their difficulty in properly enunciating it as G has done). So,

7) The easiest and best thing for G to do would be simply to discard this view of LFW as an unnecessary and vain philosophical construct that tends to confuse and obscure the issue (through appeals to intuitions that are connected with the conventional sense of the term), in favor of the conventional definition of freedom of will in a divided sense.

I realize that the quotation above was G's attempt to explain what he thinks, not WHY he thinks it. It is bound to be assertive, not demonstrative, for that very reason. I am not faulting him for that, and I'm not planning to publish any comments that just say "G hasn't demonstrated that LFW exists." I agree: he has not; but he wasn't trying to do so, and assertion has its proper place.

-Turretinfan

22 comments:

GeneMBridges said...

1. I'd point out that there are many kinds of compatibilism, but...

2. As I've also said over there, we Calvinists have no burden of proof to prove "compatibilism," but the Libertarians MUST prove libertarianism since they're positing it as axiomatic. We Calvinists have only to show that our choices have antecedent causes, particularly that our desires are viewed in the Bible as sufficient reasons/causes for moral blameworthiness to our actions. That's rather easily done, and, if you ask me GIMJ is doing a marvelous job of demonstrating that Arminianism has no exegetical argument against Calvinism of merit, it's all ethical and philosophical when the exegetical dress is removed.

3. It isn't as if there is only one sort of libertarianism. There's simple indeterminism, and then there's "agency theory." It looks to me like GIMJ may be advocating a version of the latter, and that doesn't really come about until Thomas Reid in the 18th century.

4. Which gets us to the problems with interpreting Justin or other Fathers on "free will" in libertarian terms. What sort of libertarianism did they have in mind, assuming, for ease of argument, that that's what they had in mind.

5. And if GIMJ is arguing for an permutation of LFW that is from the 18th century, isn't it inherently anachronistic to read this from Scripture?

EgoMakarios said...

As I've also said over there, we Calvinists have no burden of proof to prove "compatibilism," but the Libertarians MUST prove libertarianism since they're positing it as axiomatic.

You don't have to prove axioms. That's why they're axioms.

Turretinfan said...

EM:
In a debate, you do have to prove axioms that are disputed.

Calling something an axiom (and treating as axiomatic) does not remove the burden of proof.

Otherwise any debate would reduce to the affirmative speaker claiming that the resolution was an axiom.

-Turretinfan

GeneMBridges said...

Wow,

1. If that's true, then if I say that the Supralapsarian order of decrees or unconditional election or non-libertarian free will is "axiomatic" then, according to EM, I don't have to prove it. That's a real timesaver. I'll have to remember that.

2. Of course "axiom" and "given" are not convertible principles. I realize that EM isn't big on higher education, given his comments about seminary edumacation and all, but has he ever taken high school geometry. Sure, one could appeal to an axiom, but that did not thereby mean that the axiom could not be challenged and need not be proven. Yes, I was the kid who would do the geometric proof the long way in order to prove the axiom/s and THEN prove the other bits.

EM, if we both agree to a principle, for example, if TF and I are debating soteriology, we don't have to prove the doctrines of grace to each other. However, if the topic is, let's say, Infralapsarianism or Supralapsarianism, and we each take different positions,then there are certain items that we DO have to prove. Likewise, if I debate soteriology with a Southern Baptist who says he affirms the BFM 2K, we could take the inerrancy of Scripture and the Protestant rule of faith for granted.

When the points are disputed, then they cease to be "axioms" that can simply be assumed by both parties. If one party simply acts as you have stated, then we call that "begging the question," eg. assuming what you need to prove.

In this particular debate over LFW, I don't have to prove compatibilism, because compatibilism itself is not an axiom that Calvinism posits as a central plank and then constructs its theology around it. LFW, by way of contrast, is admittedly such a plank in Arminian theology. So, they have to discharge a burden of proof I do not. I only need to prove foreordination and the doctrines of grace on exegetical grounds. I don't have to defend a full blown philosophy of compatibilism, for we only invoke it to answer the Libertarian on his own level. The Libertarian makes it a key part of his whole theology, so it takes an axiomatic position that, in the debate, he must justify, and, since both parties are laying claim to the Protestant rule of faith, he must do so exegetically. The fact that this cannot be done by the LFW advocate is a serious and unrecoverable flaw in their argument, for once that falls, the rest of the exegesis thereby falls too. That is why that is generally one of the main,if not the first question, many of us ask the Libertarians when this issue arises. We still have our own burden of proof to discharge, but the point here is that if the Arminian cannot justify LFW from Scripture, and this is a main, if not the main, plank of his theology, then so much for his objections to what we present exegetically from our own side.

3. That said, I'll take this as a startling admission by EM that serves as his "Free Parking" position for him to use when he gets into a jam. It explains why he can't be bothered to prove LFW from the Bible. Rather, he simply assumes it and says Calvinists have redefined it.

Godismyjudge said...

I responded back on triablogue.

My response


God bless,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Here's a more direct link to GIMJ's reponse:

(Link)

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

In response to GIMJ's response:
- I assume that the comment regarding the change from 10 to 150 is just a joke.

- I also assume that the "quick remarks" including the "corner the market" comment is also a joke.

G: "I hope you can see that choosing and lifting are different."
I answer: Of course. Yet in the form of "able to do A" they are not different, they are just different examples of "A".

G: "Yet you moved from a divided sense of being able to lift to a divided sense of being able to choose without any explanation."
I answer: Because both are examples of "being able to do A."

G: "Clearly what was being divided out in the case of lifting, doesn’t work in the case of choosing."
I answer: That's not at all clear to this reader. In fact, I think it's rather important to you to establish that division doesn't work in the case of choosing.

G: "In the divided sense of lifting, I split out the object to be lifted and the choice to [lift]. Neither can be divided out of a coherent understanding of choice."
I answer: That's a bit like saying that neither can be divided out of a coherent understanding of running, and therefore the divided sense of lifting is not transferrable to a divided sense of running (since there is nothing to "lift" and no "choice to lift" in running).

But there was a better argument. That argument began with the assertion that:
"For a coherent divided sense, [one] has to be careful not to 1) divided something out so essential to the term that what’s left is unrecognizable or 2) leave something in the divided sense that the compound sense contradicts."

Where did this assertion come from? Apparently it came from the conclusion desired.

But G did briefly attempt to justify this bipartite test:
"In my weight example, I can’t say 1) in a divided sense, excluding my muscles, I am physically able to lift 150 lbs or 2) in a divided sense my muscles can lift 150 lbs, given I have different muscles."
I answer: In fact, one can say "I could lift 150 lbs if I worked out more," which is a statement of hypothetical ability, and which does divide out the current state of one's muscles.
For now, put that aside. We'll come back to it in a second.
The reason that the two examples sound odd is that we recognize that musculature is a source or cause of lifting ability. Thus, we can say: I can lift 150 lbs., because I have huge bulging biceps.
On the other hand, we would have no problem saying something like: "I can lift 150 lbs. of feathers," in a divided sense, dividing out the necessity of someone putting a useful grip on that 150 lbs of feathers. Only a moron would think that "I can lift 150 lbs. of feathers" should be taken in a compound sense, regardless of whether I will be able to grip them or not.
Yet "grip" is involved in lifting.

But let's get to the heart of G's objection:
"I don’t understand what a divided sense of being able to choose freely might be. Someone would not only have to demonstrate that such a thing is coherent, specifying what is included and also what has been divided out, but they would also have to demonstrate that such an understanding is the common parlance sense of the term."

I answer: Actually, no. It's simply another example of the principle that G already admitted applied to one human activity, namely lifting. The burden is on G to establish that the ordinary usage of ability in common parlance generally for human abilities does not also transfer to the activity of choosing.

Choosing is not an overtly physical activity. That's a difference. It's not important. We could tweak the example from "lift 10 lbs." to "remember 4 digit numbers for fifteen minutes." I think nearly everyone would agree that the same analogies apply.

But G hasn't even got that far. He has simply made an assertion regarding coherence and attempted to justify with an intuitive example that is based in (I promised we would get back to this) our understanding of causation. Yet LFW denies the universal law of causation, by positing an alleged example of a non-divine uncaused cause. This too is counter-intuitive, and - as I mentioned in the post - this one reason to eschew the attempted philosophical definitions of "free will" - because they obscure the issues and misdirect intuition.

In fact, if we step back the analogy becomes clear:

1. The ability of a man to lift X.
2. The ability of a man to recall X.
2. The ability of a man to choose X.

Obviously, the nature of X is different between 1 and 2-3, but that doesn't particularly matter, because we can talk about memory ability (and we do) in an abstract, divided way - just as we do about lifting ability.

Likewise, we recognize that each of the following is counter-intuitive:

1. Dividing out the source of the man's ability, the man is able to lift X.
2. Dividing out the source of the man's ability, the man is able to recall X.
3. Dividing out the source of the man's ability, the man is able to choose X.

In fact, we could simply reduce the original statement to:

"The ability of man to do X."

The burden is on G to show that this general common parlance way of speaking about ability to do things does NOT extend to choice, since he is the one seeking to make an exception to the rule.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Dan has responded: (link)

Dan: “A divided sense is a way of speaking about one or more variables, within a combination of variables. It includes one or more variables and excludes one or more variables.”
I answer: As long as “variables” just means “things” – ok. Another way to put it:

A divided sense is speaking about something, without considering everything.

Dan: “Given the laws of identity and non-contradiction, 1) no one element can be both included and excluded and 2) an element included in a divided sense can’t change in the compound sense.”
I answer: As to (1) If a “thing” is excluded from consideration it is by definition “not included.” (2) Words should be used univocally, not equivocally. Still, words can mean different things in different contexts, and a divided sense is a different context from a compound sense. As to the statement as a whole. You shift here from “variable” to “element,” and I cannot tell whether you are doing so intentionally to make a difference, or unintentionally.

Dan: “If we speak of my physical abilities in a divided sense, we are including my physical attributes and excluding my non-physical attributes (including my mental ones).”
I answer: That’s not quite right, actually. We can speak of your physical abilities by speaking about your human abilities in a divided sense, excluding your non-physical abilities. In other words, when we speak of your ability to lift, in a divided sense that excludes your non-physical abilities, we are in fact speaking directly of your physical abilities (all of them, no exceptions, exclusions).

Dan: “If we speak of my mental abilities in a divided sense, we are including my mental attributes and excluding my non-mental attributes (including my physical ones).”
I answer: Same problem as above.

Dan: “Notice how that what is being divided out and what is included shifts, as my assertion shifts from physical to mental abilities. It will not do to leave them unchanged.”
I answer: Of course. No doubt. But notice how you are now putting the cart before the horse. We don’t speak about the ability to lift 10 lbs. excluding the availability of a 10 lb. weight because we are trying to follow some rules of speaking in a divided sense. Instead, we call our statement about the ability to lift 10 lbs. a statement in the divided sense, because it does not consider the availability of the 10 lb. weight, not vice versa.

If you changed from 10 lbs. to 150 lbs. the “divided out thing” would certainly “shift” and it would not do to leave it unchanged, because it would be silly to speak about the “availability of a 10 lb. weight” being divided out of a general statement about the ability to lift 150 lbs. In other words, we wouldn’t divide out the same thing, not because of some rules for how to make divided statements, but because the division of the availability of a 10 lb. weight is simply unimportant to the issue of whether someone can lift 150 lbs. There’s no reason to divide out such a feature, because the lack of availability of such a thing would have no effect on the exercise of the ability being discussed.

Dan: For example, this does not work:
If we speak of my mental abilities in a divided sense, we are including my physical attributes and excluding my non-physical attributes (including my mental ones).
I answer: It does not make sense to speak of my mental abilities excluding all my mental abilities. Agreed.
On the other hand, it may make sense to speak of one’s mental abilities in a divided sense, excluding opportunity (as with the weight-lifting scenario), or excluding some aspect of one’s mental abilities.

Dan: Clearly this wasn’t what you were talking about in your memory example. So what is being divided out and what is included, depends on what we are talking about.
I answer: Ok.

Dan: Some things are similar enough that by making the variables a bit broader, we can get the divided sense to transfer.
I answer: You seem to be missing the point. The point is not that we can get a divided way about speaking of one thing to transfer to another thing, the point is that the principle:

When we speak about “the ability to do X” we are speaking in a divided sense.

is transferable.

That is what both my running and memory examples illustrated.

Dan: [Dan provided some examples of cases where the thing divided out was the same in two cases, as well as a couple of cases where the thing divided out would not normally be the same.]
I answer: I don’t disagree, but I don’t think it’s relevant.

Dan: Similarly, if we assert in a divided sense that we are able to choose, we are including one or more variables and excluding one or more variables. And those variables can’t be the same variables I used in my lifting example.
I answer: No big disagreement there, but again – that’s not really germane.

Dan: Let’s come back to our earlier exchange.
Me: "In the divided sense of lifting, I split out the object to be lifted and the choice to [lift]. Neither can be divided out of a coherent understanding of choice."
Thee: That's a bit like saying that neither can be divided out of a coherent understanding of running, and therefore the divided sense of lifting is not transferrable to a divided sense of running (since there is nothing to "lift" and no "choice to lift" in running).
To me, this is like moving from:
I an able to lift in a divided sense, excluding my choice to lift, and including my arm muscles.
to
I am able to choose in a divided sense, excluding my choice to lift, and including my arm muscles.
But this isn’t what people are saying when they say they can choose. It get’s worse when we broaden the variables:
I am able to lift in a divided sense, excluding choice, and including my physical attributes.
to
I an able to choose in a divided sense, excluding choice, and including my physical attributes.
Now we are excluding what we are defining.
I answer: As noted above, I agree that the divided out things are not the same, and I think that’s irrelevant, for the practice of speaking about ability in a divided sense does transfer, even though the divided out things change.

Dan: So all I was asking in my first argument is:
1) what is choice?
2) what variables are excluded in a divided sense of being able to choose?
3) what variables are included in a divided sense of being able to choose?
I answer: My rebuttal is, why should it matter? If we generally speak about ability in a divided sense, why should “the ability to choose” not fall within the same convention? Maybe the answers are useful, but how can they possibly help you?

Dan: My second argument was different, but you didn’t address it.
I answer: That surely was not intentional. Perhaps you could direct me to it.

Dan also added some more commnets(link)

Dan: For now I will just say this. Some things are necessary to be able to choose, but aren’t sufficient for choice. Desires are one of them. So are the objects chosen. We have to desire something to be able to choose it, but it doesn’t make us choose it. I would go so far as to say that we need to desire two alternatives to be able to choose between them.
I answer: I’m not sure if this goes to answering your three questions above, or not. It certainly provides some ways to do so. Shall I elaborate?

Dan: The desire to do good comes from God. It isn’t a sufficient cause for doing good, but it’s necessary in order to be able to do good. Without grace, we have no desire to do good and therefore can’t choose it.
I answer: Suppose that there is no desire to abstain from doing good? It would seem from your comments above that then there is no “choice” to do good. This suggests that God is not freely good, under your definition. Do you follow? Do you deny the free goodness of God? Or do you assert that God has a desire to do evil? If neither, then perhaps you need to rethink your definitions.

Dan: I will add one other quick point. You speak of physical abilities then talk about choice. The will isn’t a physical thingy. It’s part of our immaterial soul. I might be physically able to do something, but I am not physically able to choose it.
I answer: Memory also isn’t a physical thing – at least not purely – as with choice.

-Turretinfan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

I am glad we can agree that divided senses shift as the topic shifts. I wonder if “ability to choose freely” could have a divided sense, but maybe it can. My concern is if it could have one, would that divided sense be of any use to you? One of the reasons I wonder this is because compatiblism and division seem at odds. That’s why I have been asking you (and Gene and Sinner Saint) for one. So I will gladly take you up on your offer to elaborate, using my necessary/sufficient distinction or anything else you would like.

BTW, I think “ability” can have a divided sense, but I don’t think it always has to have one. Further, a divided sense is more so about the scope of the context than the definition of the term.

As for God being freely good, I don’t think He is freely good. What He does is good, and what He does, He does freely. Responsibility has to do with being the source of ones actions whether they be bad (in the case of the totally depraved person) or good (in God’s case).

For more see:

Arminius: Article 22

And this argument from Freddoso in which he defends the compatibility of God’s maximal power and maximal goodness.

Maximal Power

May are maximally powerful and good Father grant you peace,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Dan wrote: I wonder if “ability to choose freely” could have a divided sense, but maybe it can.
I answer: Let me reduce the general argument this way:

1. When we say "I am able to do X," we normally mean that at in a divided sense.

2. The same is true, even when we are speaking about mental activities, such as memory, problem solving, or the like.

3. Therefore, unless we have some reason to suppose otherwise, the presumption should be that "I am able to choose" is likewise normally a statement in a divided sense.

It seems as though your response is that you can't quite visualize how we could be speaking of choice in a divided sense.

I hope that's a fair characterization. If it is, then I would propose, as an example, the following:

I say that I am "able to choose between right and wrong" (or if that is to controversial, between "apples and bananas for breakfeast cereal topping") in a divided sense, not considering the strengths of my preferences.

I will choose (let's say) bananas, but I could choose apples, if my preference for apples were stronger than my preference for bananas.

Leaving aside (and I'm sure it will be difficult - it would be for me) your view of the relationship between preferences and choice, can you see how that would be a divided way of speaking about choice?

Dan: My concern is if it could have one, would that divided sense be of any use to you?
I answer: Of course it would! That's why we brought it up. :)

Dan: One of the reasons I wonder this is because compatiblism and division seem at odds. That’s why I have been asking you (and Gene and Sinner Saint) for one.
I answer: I missed something. Asking us for one what?

Dan: So I will gladly take you up on your offer to elaborate, using my necessary/sufficient distinction or anything else you would like.
I answer: I assume you are referring to this:
Dan: For now I will just say this. Some things are necessary to be able to choose, but aren’t sufficient for choice. Desires are one of them. So are the objects chosen. We have to desire something to be able to choose it, but it doesn’t make us choose it. I would go so far as to say that we need to desire two alternatives to be able to choose between them.
I answer: I’m not sure if this goes to answering your three questions above, or not. It certainly provides some ways to do so. Shall I elaborate?


Your original questions were:

1) what is choice?
2) what variables are excluded in a divided sense of being able to choose?
3) what variables are included in a divided sense of being able to choose?


Choice is selection of one out of a plurality of (at least apparent) options.

The analogy is a judge deciding a case. The options are for the plaintiff (P) or for the defendant (D).

The Judge (Choice) can decide between the P and D.

(2) But we say that in a divided sense, excluding the relative strength of their cases.

(3) At least the Judge's ability to select is included, and his ability to make comparisons so as to arrive at a selection can be included.

Nevertheless, a truly just judge (God, for example) can only decide the case in accordance with merit. Nevertheless, we do say that the Judge has the ability to select either P or the D, without consideration of the relative merit of their cases.

Does that help?

-Turretinfan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

TF: I say that I am "able to choose between right and wrong" (or if that is to controversial, between "apples and bananas for breakfeast cereal topping") in a divided sense, not considering the strengths of my preferences.

I will choose (let's say) bananas, but I could choose apples, if my preference for apples were stronger than my preference for bananas.

Leaving aside (and I'm sure it will be difficult - it would be for me) your view of the relationship between preferences and choice, can you see how that would be a divided way of speaking about choice?


No, because I can’t leave preference aside. I think it’s an essential aspect of choice. I think you might agree. Hopefully you would at least agree that a divided sense that splits out preference is not common parlance.

me:

1) what is choice?
2) what variables are excluded in a divided sense of being able to choose?
3) what variables are included in a divided sense of being able to choose?


Thee: Choice is selection of one out of a plurality of (at least apparent) options.

The analogy is a judge deciding a case. The options are for the plaintiff (P) or for the defendant (D).

The Judge (Choice) can decide between the P and D.

(2) But we say that in a divided sense, excluding the relative strength of their cases.

(3) At least the Judge's ability to select is included, and his ability to make comparisons so as to arrive at a selection can be included.

Nevertheless, a truly just judge (God, for example) can only decide the case in accordance with merit. Nevertheless, we do say that the Judge has the ability to select either P or the D, without consideration of the relative merit of their cases.


Thank you for defining choice. While it’s not how I would define choice, it’s useful in letting the discussion progress.

Hum… this example is different than the one above. Here what’s being divided out is not preference but rather the relative merits of cases. In one way there is a divided sense of choice being provided here. We can speak of the ability to choose abstractly, without considering the actual use of that ability. It might even be common way of talking about choices. But that can’t be the way any actual choice is talked about. And I don’t think it’s what you were intending here…

You’re “truly just judge” criteria is interesting. One of the ways that an unjust judge might act is to not decided based on the relative strengths of the cases (either w/o making comparisons or in spite of making the comparisons). So technically, there are at least two choices going on, 1) which case is stronger and 2) should I side for the plaintiff or defended. A just judge uses 1 to decide 2, but an unjust judge might not. But it’s certainly common parlance to lump the two together.

I bring up the difference between the two, because I would say that for choice 1 (which case is stronger?) the relative strengths of the cases (what has been divided out) are the options (definitionally part of choice). So that’s splitting out what’s being included.

It seems to me that you have divided out the alternatives to choice one, but provided the options for choice 2. But it’s common parlance to speak of the two choices together as one. So I would say common parlance includes both.

Thee: Does that help?

Yep. I am still a bit confused but I think I understand enough now to take a shot here at formulating one of my arguments a bit more formally.

P1: When one posits that idea A is logically compatible with idea B, he is speaking of idea A in a compound sense, including idea B
P2: compatiblism posits that the idea of being able to freely choose between 1 & 2 and the idea of being determined to 1 are logically consistent
C1: Therefore, the compatiblist is speaking of being able to freely choose between 1 & 2 in a compound sense, including the idea of being determined to 1
P3: Compatiblists can say we are able to freely choose 2 only in a divided sense, excluding being determined to 1.
C2: therefore, compatiblists speak both in a divided and compound sense at the same time.

I suspect it may need adjustment, but I wanted to get it out here.

My other point here is that “the factor that determines us” is an essential part of choice, and can’t be divided out. But I need to understand a bit more on this one, before I can put it together.

God bless,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Dan,

You wrote: "No, because I can’t leave preference aside."
I answer: Then it will be hard for you to follow along. I'm asking you to set it aside for the sake of the argument, not forever.

You wrote: "I think [preference is] an essential aspect of choice."
I answer: It would seem to be impossible to provide any transitive justification for that classification. Furthermore, that classification seems to be only significant if one accepts your previous claim that one cannot divide out essentials, but that too seems to lack transitive justification.

You wrote: "I think you might agree."
I answer: I don't know what you mean by "essential," and since I don't know what you mean by "essential" I also don't know why it would matter, except that (above) you asserted that one cannot divide out essentials. Furthermore, except that you said so, I don't see why I should (or would) accept your assertion that we cannot divide out "essentials" - but that may also spring from my not knowing what you intend by the term "essentials."

Dan: "Hopefully you would at least agree that a divided sense that splits out preference is not common parlance."
I answer: On the contrary, I think it is the way we speak about choice. I'm surprised you would think I might agree with your claim. Perhaps you have misunderstood what I wrote?

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Dan,

You wrote: "Thank you for defining choice. While it’s not how I would define choice, it’s useful in letting the discussion progress."
I answer: ok

You wrote: Hum… this example is different than the one above. Here what’s being divided out is not preference but rather the relative merits of cases.
I answer: The analogy is:
strength of preference = merit of case
man chooses based on relative strengths of preference = judge judges based on relative merits of cases

It seems that I may not have been clear in providing the example as an analogy.

You wrote: "In one way there is a divided sense of choice being provided here. We can speak of the ability to choose abstractly, without considering the actual use of that ability. It might even be common way of talking about choices."
I answer: ok

You wrote: "But that can’t be the way any actual choice is talked about."
I answer: ... even as that is not how an actual lift or run is talked about. He did choose (or run or lift) is obviously a different kind of statement about ability. The existence of a lift, run, or choice implies the ability to make that lift, run, or choice.

At least, I assume that's what you mean by "actual choice": one that has actually be made. If you mean something else, let me know.

You wrote: "And I don’t think it’s what you were intending here…"
I answer: Hopefully the above comments clarify.

You wrote: "[Your] “truly just judge” criteria is interesting. One of the ways that an unjust judge might act is to not [decide] based on the relative strengths of the cases (either w/o making comparisons or in spite of making the comparisons)."
I answer: The assumption that the judge will act justly is supposed to be a given in the analogy. Adding a risk a potential for the judge to act unjustly needlessly complicates the analysis.

You wrote: "So technically, there are at least two choices going on, 1) which case is stronger and 2) should I side for the plaintiff or defended."
I answer: This is that complication I referred to above. I don't think you've parsed out the choices correctly, but it shouldn't matter since the question specifically called for a just judge.

You wrote: "A just judge uses 1 to decide 2, but an unjust judge might not." But it’s certainly common parlance to lump the two together."
I answer: More of the needless complication.

You wrote: "I bring up the difference between the two, because I would say that for choice 1 (which case is stronger?) the relative strengths of the cases (what has been divided out) are the options (definitionally part of choice). So that’s splitting out what’s being included."
I answer: That doesn't make any sense to me. Perhaps you misunderstood what I wrote. Let me know.

You wrote: "It seems to me that you have divided out the alternatives to choice one, but provided the options for choice 2. But it’s common parlance to speak of the two choices together as one. So I would say common parlance includes both."
I answer: This springs from the needless confusion referenced above.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

You wrote:
1: When one posits that idea A is logically compatible with idea B, he is speaking of idea A in a compound sense, including idea B
P2: compatiblism posits that the idea of being able to freely choose between 1 & 2 and the idea of being determined to 1 are logically consistent
C1: Therefore, the compatiblist is speaking of being able to freely choose between 1 & 2 in a compound sense, including the idea of being determined to 1
P3: Compatiblists can say we are able to freely choose 2 only in a divided sense, excluding being determined to 1.
C2: therefore, compatiblists speak both in a divided and compound sense at the same time.


I answer:
The problem is with P1. The statement that two concepts are logically compatible does not entail what you assert.

Let me provide an example:

1) Pizza is half price (except on Fridays), and
2) Today is Friday.

Those are logically consistent, and yet we can properly make both statements, even though considering that today is Friday pizza is not half price.

Exactly so, we can say that man can do A (except if he is determined to do otherwise); and man is determined to do otherwise.

You wrote: My other point here is that “the factor that determines us” is an essential part of choice, and can’t be divided out. But I need to understand a bit more on this one, before I can put it together.
You wrote: I think my point above about the lack of definition of "essential" and your (apparently unjustified) assertion that "essentials cannot be divided out" are parts of the problem.

-Turretinfan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

You wrote: The problem is with P1. The statement that two concepts are logically compatible does not entail what you assert.

Let me provide an example:

1) Pizza is half price (except on Fridays), and
2) Today is Friday.

Those are logically consistent, and yet we can properly make both statements, even though considering that today is Friday pizza is not half price.


One can’t imply a divided sense within the context of what has been divided out. Full disclosure would be in order to do so. W/o full disclosure its not just confusing, a different (although perhaps unintended) meaning has been provided.

But the normal formulations of compatiblism don’t provide such a disclosure. It’s like saying:

Pizza is half price and today is Friday.

Which is really saying you can get Pizza for ½ price today.

Once determinism enters into the context of ability, ability goes away. Given determinism, we are unable to freely choose. Sure, we can still talk about “hypothetical ability” or that fact that other factors besides the ones that determine us are not the ones rendering us unable. But the fact remains that given determinism we are actually unable to choose.

Perhaps someone might object that fact that since: 1) determinism has entered the discussion and 2) determinism and the ability to freely choose don’t contradict, therefore a divided sense of the ability to choose freely has been implied. I would disagree. This would not imply that the ability to choose freely is in a divided sense, but rather that what we have been talking about as a divided sense for the ability to choose freely is in fact the only sense. Nothing is or needs to be divided from it, inside or outside the context of determinism.

BTW, I agree that the two statements “in a divided sense, excluding determinism” and “given determinism” don’t contradict. But they do cancel each other out. It’s kind of like saying 1-1=0 is a valid equation. Sure. But the combination of the two doesn’t amount to anything. In the same way, the combination of determinism and ability excluding determinism isn’t meaningful.

God bless,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Dan,

You wrote: "One can’t imply a divided sense within the context of what has been divided out."
I answer: I'm sure you mean something by that, but I cannot guess what.

You wrote: "Full disclosure would be in order to do so."
I answer: Same comment as above.

You wrote: "W/o full disclosure its not just confusing, a different (although perhaps unintended) meaning has been provided."
I answer: Again, I really honestly don't know what you are trying to communicate to me.

You wrote: "But the normal formulations of compatiblism don’t provide such a disclosure."
I answer: Same comment as above.

You wrote: "It’s like saying:

Pizza is half price and today is Friday.

Which is really saying you can get Pizza for ½ price today."
I answer: I don't really see the analogy to compatibilism, or how this connects with the argument, probably because I didn't understand what you were trying to say in the first few sentences.

You wrote: "Once determinism enters into the context of ability, ability goes away."
I answer: That's the definition of incompatibilism. If you presuppose that, of course you end up with incompatibilism. You get out what you put in.

You wrote: "Given determinism, we are unable to freely choose."
I answer: This seems to be based on your petitio principis above. It would follow, if incompatibilism were correct.

You wrote: "Sure, we can still talk about “hypothetical ability” or that fact that other factors besides the ones that determine us are not the ones rendering us unable."
I answer: Any unexercised ability is simply hypothetical ability. That's true regardless of whether determinism is true.

You wrote: "But the fact remains that given determinism we are actually unable to choose."
I answer: This seems to be based on your petitio principis above. It would follow, if incompatibilism were correct.

You wrote: "Perhaps someone might object that fact that since: 1) determinism has entered the discussion and 2) determinism and the ability to freely choose don’t contradict, therefore a divided sense of the ability to choose freely has been implied."
I answer: Hmmm ... Smells like straw, but perhaps you are just being thorough.

You wrote: "I would disagree."
I answer: Clearly. :)

You wrote: "This would not imply that the ability to choose freely is in a divided sense, but rather that what we have been talking about as a divided sense for the ability to choose freely is in fact the only sense."
I answer: I think this also stems from the petitio principis above. I can't see any other way for you to arrive at that conclusion except by reference to your previous assertion.

You wrote: "Nothing is or needs to be divided from it, inside or outside the context of determinism."
I answer: Perhaps I overdiced your comments, but I'm not sure what the "it" is in your sentence. Perhaps you are saying that if the divided sense is the only sense, then the divided sense is really the compound sense? I'm not sure.

You wrote: "BTW, I agree that the two statements “in a divided sense, excluding determinism” and “given determinism” don’t contradict."
I answer: Excellent!

You wrote: "But they do cancel each other out. It’s kind of like saying 1-1=0 is a valid equation. Sure. But the combination of the two doesn’t amount to anything."
I answer: That's not unique to this example of a divided sense (i.e. freedom of man to choose). The same is true in my pizza example. (I don't yet see the relevance of your pizza example, though perhaps you'll clarify.) We could say the same thing about your general divided sense of the ability to do something, if nothing interferes. That "if nothing interferes" divides out something interfering. When we add that back in, we cancel things out ... etc. etc. Or if there is nothing around that actually weighs 10 lbs. etc. etc. Hopefully you follow, though I'd be happy to try to explain, if you could let me know where it gets vague.

You wrote: "In the same way, the combination of determinism and ability excluding determinism isn’t meaningful."
I answer: On the contrary, see the demonstrations of meaning provided via the Pizza analogy (mine) and the "unless something interferes" analogy (paraphrased from you).

-Turretinfan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Turretin,

Let's say we both had Pizza shops across the street from each other. You had a sign up that said:

Pizza is half price except on Fridays and today is Friday.

I had one that said:

Pizza is half price and today is Friday.

Let's say the customers start heading my way, but when I ring them up I start charging them full price. If they complain, I would just tell them that the exception for Friday was implied. Might they get annoyed with me? Might they go across the street to your establishment, muttering something like "at least he disclosing that he’s going to charge full price"?

In the same way the compatibility thesis shouldn't read:

The ability to choose freely is compatible with determinism.

Rather, it should read:

The ability to choose freely in a divided sense, excluding determinism, is compatible with determinism. In a compound sense, including determinism, we can't choose freely.

There would be less muttering... and adherents.

God bless,
Dan

God bless,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Your analogy is not analogous, because the divided sense of "except on Fridays" is not normally implied in a statement like "Pizza is half price."

In contrast, statements regarding ability are generally statements in a divided sense, and consequently a divided sense IS implied in a statement that someone has an ability (Whether that be to lift 10 lbs. run 10 ft. or select A or B).

Furthermore, while I do affirm that the ability to choose freely is compatible with determinism, I do not affirm: "The ability to choose freely in a divided sense, excluding determinism, is compatible with determinism. In a compound sense, including determinism, we can't choose freely."

If you think I do, one of us doesn't understand what I affirm, and for now I'm going to think that it is you.

Instead, what is divided out is not "determinism" per se, but one or more cause for the actual choice. Ability (to do counterfactual things) is hypothetical, choices are actual (and imply ability to do what is done, not to do what is not done). Man has various abilities hypothetically, but man actualizes in a particular way for various reasons. There is a reason why man chooses A and not B. If we include that reason, we are simply noting the reality of what was (or will be) done. If we exclude that reason, we are in the realm of ability as to counterfactual events.

Same with lifting, running, or remembering. "Ability" is generic, general, and hypothetical. We usually speak of ability in the abstract. Of course, we sometimes speak about ability after the fact: he has the ability to lift 150 lbs, for he just did. Likewise, he has the ability to choose to lift 150 lbs, for he just did so.

-Turretinfan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Turretinfan,

Your analogy is not analogous, because the divided sense of "except on Fridays" is not normally implied in a statement like "Pizza is half price."

In contrast, statements regarding ability are generally statements in a divided sense, and consequently a divided sense IS implied in a statement that someone has an ability (Whether that be to lift 10 lbs. run 10 ft. or select A or B).


The problem is that not everyone will agree with you that the ability to choose freely is normally in a divided sense. I don’t. I don’t think any libertarian would. I wonder if the average compatiblist is aware he’s speaking in a divided sense and providing a self canceling assertion? Because not everyone agrees, its not a standard implication. As a Pizza vendor, I think it’s fair for me to imply Pizza is half price. But not everyone agrees with me either.

Generally speaking, when people say they are able to do things, they are not talking about just a physical ability, excluding some other disabling factor. When it comes to being able to choose, only a determinist assumes a disabling factor.

Furthermore, while I do affirm that the ability to choose freely is compatible with determinism, I do not affirm: "The ability to choose freely in a divided sense, excluding determinism, is compatible with determinism. In a compound sense, including determinism, we can't choose freely."

Fair enough. I will reformulate from:

"The ability to choose freely in a divided sense, excluding determinism, is compatible with determinism. In a compound sense, including determinism, we can't choose freely."

To:

"The ability to choose freely in a divided sense, excluding the determining cause, is compatible with the determining cause. In a compound sense, including the determining cause, we can't choose freely."

If you still don’t agree, please put it in your own words.

Boy! we are really riding this one to the ground!!!

God bless,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Dan,
You wrote: "The problem is that not everyone will agree with you that the ability to choose freely is normally in a divided sense."
I answer: That's not a problem. It would be a problem if they had a reason for their disagreement. So far, though, I haven't seen a reason expressed.

Furthermore, as established above, "ability" is normally spoken of in a divided sense.

You wrote: "I don’t. I don’t think any libertarian would."
I answer: See above.

You wrote: "I wonder if the average compatiblist is aware he’s speaking in a divided sense and providing a self canceling assertion?"
I answer: I'm not sure why continue to imagine that the assertion is self-cancelling. Where was I unclear (or wrong) above?

You wrote: "Because not everyone agrees, its not a standard implication."
I answer: There's almost nothing on which everyone agrees. In this case, we can see that "ability" generally and usually is in reference to a divided sense. Even biased libertarians can see that. That's enough to put the ball in your court to establish why we should make an exception here.

You wrote: "As a Pizza vendor, I think it’s fair for me to imply Pizza is half price."
I answer: Probably you mean to include "not" in there, right before "half." Your conscience, as a Pizza Guy, should tell you it's not fair in that context.

You wrote: "But not everyone agrees with me either."
I answer: As noted above, your analogy is non-analogous, because speaking about "ability" generally is not like speaking about pizza prices in an important way.

You wrote: "Generally speaking, when people say they are able to do things, they are not talking about just a physical ability, excluding some other disabling factor."
I answer: Really? They are including the disabling factors (whatever that may mean)? I don't think so.

You wrote: "When it comes to being able to choose, only a determinist assumes a disabling factor."
I answer:
a) That there is a reason why we choose one thing over another is not "an assumption."
b) The term "disabling factor" is a bit wishy-washy. The "disabling factor" of "the reason why we choose what we choose" does not take away our elective ability, it just determines the application of that ability. Perhaps you'd like to explain what you mean by "disabling factor."


You wrote: [reformulating] "The ability to choose freely in a divided sense, excluding the determining cause, is compatible with the determining cause. In a compound sense, including the determining cause, we can't choose freely."
You continued: "If you still don’t agree, please put it in your own words."
I answer: As for your final request, of course, I have done that - but you didn't like it: "The ability to choose is consistent with determinism."

Yes, I don't agree.

Let's see if I can work within your characterization:

The ability to choose freely A in a divided sense, excluding the cause why A is not actually chosen, is compatible with there being a cause why A is not actually chosen.

In a compound sense, including the determining cause, A will not be chosen.

Does that make sense to you?

-Turretinfan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Turretinfan,

Me: "I wonder if the average compatiblist is aware he’s speaking in a divided sense and providing a self canceling assertion?"
Thee: I'm not sure why continue to imagine that the assertion is self-cancelling. Where was I unclear (or wrong) above?


I honestly thought you were agreeing with me above. I think I could demonstrate that what I mean by a divided is self canceling when stated overtly within the context of what is divided out. But perhaps the point is moot. We can come back to this if needed.

The term "disabling factor" is a bit wishy-washy. The "disabling factor" of "the reason why we choose what we choose" does not take away our elective ability, it just determines the application of that ability. Perhaps you'd like to explain what you mean by "disabling factor."

I meant that which makes us unable to choose freely.

The ability to choose freely A in a divided sense, excluding the cause why A is not actually chosen, is compatible with there being a cause why A is not actually chosen.

In a compound sense, including the determining cause, A will not be chosen.


I notice you said “will not be chosen” rather than can not be chosen. Thus we are still able to do otherwise, despite the determining cause. I see no reason for a divided sense for being able to do otherwise. It seems you providing the term in an absolute sense. I am not sure how dividing out or including in the determining cause alters the sense.

Perhaps you intended (or implied) that A cannot be chosen, in the sense that we are unable to freely choose A?

God bless,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Dear Dan,

You wrote: "I honestly thought you were agreeing with me above."
I answer: In case it was unclear, I do not question your honesty or integrity. I assume there was some sort of miscommunication between us.

You wrote: "I think I could demonstrate that what I mean by a divided is self canceling when stated overtly within the context of what is divided out."
I answer: If that's true (let's suppose arguendo that it is), isn't that always true of the divided sense (and not limited to our discussion)? If so, then isn't the argument really non-unique?

You wrote: "But perhaps the point is moot. We can come back to this if needed."
I answer: Perhaps ... still some clarification may be helpful. I'll keep it at least in the back of my mind.

You wrote: I meant [by "diabling factor"] that which makes us unable to choose freely.

The ability to choose freely A in a divided sense, excluding the cause why A is not actually chosen, is compatible with there being a cause why A is not actually chosen.

In a compound sense, including the determining cause, A will not be chosen.

I notice you said “will not be chosen” rather than can not be chosen. Thus we are still able to do otherwise, despite the determining cause. I see no reason for a divided sense for being able to do otherwise. It seems you providing the term in an absolute sense. I am not sure how dividing out or including in the determining cause alters the sense.

Perhaps you intended (or implied) that A cannot be chosen, in the sense that we are unable to freely choose A?


I answer: I think we are talking past each other a little bit. Plus, this comments thread is getting long. I'll try to clarify in a new post.