Tyrone takes on free will

Just last week Tyrone told me the following:

The traditional debate pits determinists against voluntarists.  The determinists believe that man is caught up in the grand causal nexus.  The voluntarists believe you somehow break free of cause and effect.  You are able to spew forth "uncaused events" more or less at will.  You are a truly special being, rather than just another toad.

As for the compatibilists, I say ugh.  I am sorry, but you can’t believe A and non-A at the same time.

The voluntarists just don’t cut it.  What strange theory of physics do they hold?  At what moment in the evolution of man (or monkeys) did cause and effect cease to apply to brains?  Plus neuroscience shows that subconscious brain activity, in the relevant parts of the brain, precedes the moment of conscious decision.

Furthermore I doubt if the voluntarist vision of free will is so fun.  How sad to have to stand apart from the causal nexus.  How alienating.  How totally gauche.  Isn’t the causal nexus what makes sex so fun?

My vision of free will starts with the problems in defining the self.  You know: Parfit, Hume, time-slices, and the fact that I cannot remember what I did last night (fyi, I don’t remember what my wife and I discussed on our first date but I do remember what she ordered).

If you are nothing but a time-slice, the free will "problem" goes away.  There is no "you" freely choosing, but there is also no "you" caught up as a prisoner of the causal chain.  Instead you are your choice.  At least "that you" was your choice at the time.  No more and no less.

You are identical to your choice.  What more dignity or freedom could you possibly expect?  Surely that is better than the voluntarist notion of exogenously originating autonomous control.

This view allows us to maintain that human beings are ruled by the same natural laws which govern the behavior of stones.  Physics remains monistic.  At the same time, you are not reduced to a mere puppet.  Ha!  There’s not even a "you" to be subject to reduction!

To up the ante just a bit, dare I mention multiple worlds quantum mechanics, David Lewis’s modal realism, and inflationary cosmology?  These views are distinct but all lead us to the conclusion that many possible universes, perhaps all possible universes, exist in some fashion.  They will give you lots of time-slices and lots of bits of you walking around.  Who cares in what order the deck is shuffled, or where the different cards lie spatially?  The time-slice you, temporary as he or she may be, is connected to an infinite or very large number of other time-slices.  A very large number of those time slices will be very close to the "you" that constituted your choice.  Furthermore some other time-slice will get to experience some almost identical version of your choice, sooner or later.  Being a solitary fellow, I like that better than voluntarism.

In some versions of these views, literally everything is removed from the causal nexus.  In fact there is no causal nexus in the first place.  Surely that should make you feel better and restore your underlying pantheism.  No self.  No reduction.  No causal nexus.  Just lots of you, you, you.  Better than having your own TV show.

Tyler, of course, is a determinist.  He thinks I had to write this post.  More to the point, this post is who Tyrone really is.

Tyrone is really quite a sad fellow.  Many of you believe in free will, but I know determinism applies to me and to my choices.  I feel the pull of those causal chains, day in and day out.


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