Thinking about Freewill
A friend of mine got me thinking about issues of freewill (again). Admittedly, I've been trying to come up with a bit more nuanced statement on my position concerning free will. I think I'm satisfied with this one for the moment:
S has freewill to perform some action A just when (1) S might perform A or S might not perform A; and (2) the collection of all knowable physical facts about S are not sufficient to predict S's performance ahead of time.
I acknowledge that (2) is a fairly strong claim b/c it does not presume one can have all physical facts (consistent with current claims about quantum physics); and, it assumes there are facts about us which are not physical.
Note well that I do not mean to make this entail the existence of "souls" in the Cartesian sense, but only that there might be facts about our information structures, facts about our temporal-properties, facts which are about other facts about us (i.e., meta facts, such as about counterfactual states of affairs -- e.g. it is false that Brint might eat a concrete block.)
Sometimes physical facts might be enough to predict S's performance ahead of time. For example, someone could be addicted to nicotine in a way such that after a Mexican meal, the urge to smoke cannot be vetoed by their will. They might engage in smoking behaviors withoutt consciously monitoring or even thinking about it, much like we keep our head level on our shoulders without consciously monitoring or even thinking about it.
However, that S's actions can sometimes be predicted, does not mean S is never free. For S to be free, there has to be at least some instances where S might perform A or S might not perform A. It's just that in the Mexican meal case to claim "S might not perform A" happens to be false. The deeper issue would be to determine when or when not S does have a freewill.
I should note that by "might" I don't mean just the logical sense, but the stonger physics sense, where something might or might not happen given the way natural world is ordered. One might worry whether there are "unnatural" worlds, so perhaps my phrase "natural" world doesn't make sense. However, here are at least unnatural logical worlds, since computer simulations can manipulate objects with adjustments in what are otherwise the equations which map the natural world -- the latter being the one we are all born into. (Whether there are unnatural physical worlds is very controversial. My inclination is to say there are not.)
I think many worries about lack of freewill are present in people who forget that physical facts are merely a subset of all facts.