a night time question (long but any response would be great)

as i am an uneducatedo layabout, and currently drunk, this will probably seem very stupid. given the questions over nature and nuture in terms of an individuals devlopment, currant, past and future conduct and character, and the reasonable assumtion that at least one and probably both effect an individuals make up, is it reasonable to assume that such influences as genetics and experience would account for the entirety of a personality and all its decisions and doings in every day life and its wider span, being as there are no alternative influences are offered upon the various processes and occurances that govern such day to day moments when one course is chosen above an other or that events should conspire towards a particular happening? Is it also then reasonable to assume that in particular the human element in this endless universal chain of events would be entirely preictable (though not easily) given that there are only two sources proposed to determine human “free will” or personality/decision making. If it could not be ascertained that we could reasonably predict, given a considerable knowledge of factors involved far beyond our currant understanding, an individuals actions in any circumstance, the whole sequence of momentary occurances that constitute a human life and its whole become inevitable, and human free will is eliminated. Should free will, the ability of any human at any single second to attempt to do any thing he chooses, to make independant decisions, exist, and not be based upon either nature, its genetics, or nurture, its body of experiance, both of which constitutes too vast an influence to be outlined here, would this bring into play a third party and somthing gained from neither of the two observable material sources, somthing immaterial and intangible? Would this thus have an impact upon the monist/dualistic debate over human nature? who can i read who writes about this stuff?

ive just seen the free will/determinism topic and have not read it, this is not in relation, and sorry for the inadvertant subject saturation.

thank you

and also this should probably be there.

I strongly suspect that there’s element of unpredictability in all organic processes, even for something with all knowledge.

Hello Sebastian,

Perhaps the best best overview of this enormously challanging subject may be found here.
Robert Kane has done a superlative job in editing the Oxford Handbook of Free Will.


well, to say that all decision is due to genetics and environment, is to suppose the mind is an abstraction of brain, that the mind, being the agent of choice, reduces to the physical and is thus completely subject to the [physical] environment and physical genes. There are several problems with this theory, i’ll explain one of them.

To say that a car is ‘made up of’ a certain collection of parts, and the running, working car is an abstraction of the parts, or the emergent property of their interactions if you want to go that far, is all fine and dandy, because a car is a physical concept at its essence, so it’s commensurate with the physical parts it’s said to be made up of. The mind, on the other hand, is not a physical concept. You can szay it’s an abstraction of something physical, but that is theoretical, what we mean when we say mind, before any particular theories about what it’s made of, does not include even one single physical referent. Unlike anything else we are sure exists in this world, the mind, as its core concept, is not physical. So to come up with a theory that it’s made up of physical things is not commensurate. it’s not even possible to correctly imagine. you can’t fit the puzzle pieces of the non-material referents of ‘mind’ into puzzle pieces of the the material referents of ‘brain’ to put both concepts into the same puzzle.

ANd not to mention that the mind comes before the physical–‘i think, therefore i am’–you can be sure the mind exists before you can be sure the material exists–so trying to explain the mind as material is the knower trying to explain the knower in terms of the known. it’s just backwards.

so whatever this mind is, we have a good mind to say that it’s beyond the physical, and determinism, genetics, environment, even causality as we know it are rooted in physical concepts, so what i am trying to prove is that the Mind by its nature implies a third avenue for choice, room for free will.

If physics were deterministic, then there would be no route for anything transcendent of physical cause to affect free will, since a considerable part of human action is a physical effect. BUT per quantum mechanics, physics is not deterministic. the ‘causality’ involved in quantum mechanics is so mind-boggling, that physics consigns itself to predicting things in terms of probabilities, and scientists consign themselves to interpreting that in terms of ‘absolute random chance’, and even local realism has been disproven by experiment per Bell’s theorem. The concept of causality carries with it certain limitations/specifications, and the universe may just well be weird enough to give decisions meaning beyond ‘this happened because that happened’.