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Free Will and the greater good

Meatros
Posts: 1,075
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5/13/2011 8:10:55 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Something I've been curious about recently. It seems to me that in response to the argument from evil theists sometimes appeal to free will.

Something is fishy about this though - human beings do not generally regard free will as a greater good. What I mean by this is that when people commit crimes, the defense never (well, not to my knowledge, anyway) appeals to the defendant's free will. We do not say that we are glad that Jeffrey Dalhmer had free will, even though he used it to commit evil. In fact, it seems to me that we go out of our way to inhibit a person's free will (drug laws, laws regarding sex, even what we can watch on tv).

If free will is the greatest good and is meant to resolve the problem of evil, then why do we humans not value it?
baggins
Posts: 855
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5/13/2011 10:38:14 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/13/2011 8:10:55 AM, Meatros wrote:
Something I've been curious about recently. It seems to me that in response to the argument from evil theists sometimes appeal to free will.

Something is fishy about this though - human beings do not generally regard free will as a greater good. What I mean by this is that when people commit crimes, the defense never (well, not to my knowledge, anyway) appeals to the defendant's free will. We do not say that we are glad that Jeffrey Dalhmer had free will, even though he used it to commit evil. In fact, it seems to me that we go out of our way to inhibit a person's free will (drug laws, laws regarding sex, even what we can watch on tv).

If free will is the greatest good and is meant to resolve the problem of evil, then why do we humans not value it?

Dangerous question.

It is normally stated that existence evil is a necessary consequence of free-will.

But is free-will a good thing. I think it is more likely that it is neutral. If we use it properly, it is good and leads to salvation. If it is abused, it leads to eternal condemnation.

So why does free-will exist. I am not sure but would like to make a guess. Maybe good use of free-will is so desirable that its negative effects are tolerated!

Incidentally, free-will that humans have is essentially very limited. Moreover human capacity to commit evil is also restricted.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
Meatros
Posts: 1,075
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5/13/2011 12:37:46 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
baggins wrote: "
So why does free-will exist. I am not sure but would like to make a guess. Maybe good use of free-will is so desirable that its negative effects are tolerated!"


I don't think this is actually the case - we don't tolerate the negative effects. We lock them up. In fact, when making a consideration as to someone's action, free will really doesn't come into it. We don't say that it was better that a person freely chose to kill someone then if they had no choice but to kill them. In fact, I would think the latter would be preferable.

baggins wrote: "Incidentally, free-will that humans have is essentially very limited. Moreover human capacity to commit evil is also restricted."

I'm not sure what you mean here - it seems to me that our ability to commit evil is limited on our imagination and our ingenuity - not necessarily our capacity.

It also seems like free will is essentially an argument that the ends justifies the means. This doesn't seem right to me.
Meatros
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5/13/2011 1:25:20 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Another thing that I was thinking about is that if free will leads to the greater good, then it would seem to me that by interfering with an agent's free will we could be doing wrong.

Given this train of thought, since we don't know the will/plan of God, there is a danger in actually stopping people from exercising their free will to choose evil. God could, after all, have an even greater good that their evil will cause.

This seems valid to me, yet human beings, again, do not live like this.
OMGJustinBieber
Posts: 3,484
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5/13/2011 4:32:03 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/13/2011 8:10:55 AM, Meatros wrote:
Something I've been curious about recently. It seems to me that in response to the argument from evil theists sometimes appeal to free will.

Something is fishy about this though - human beings do not generally regard free will as a greater good. What I mean by this is that when people commit crimes, the defense never (well, not to my knowledge, anyway) appeals to the defendant's free will. We do not say that we are glad that Jeffrey Dalhmer had free will, even though he used it to commit evil. In fact, it seems to me that we go out of our way to inhibit a person's free will (drug laws, laws regarding sex, even what we can watch on tv).

If free will is the greatest good and is meant to resolve the problem of evil, then why do we humans not value it?

I think it's being talked about in very different terms. When religious people speak of "free will" they talk about it as a substitute to determinism or the idea that "what if humans had no free will?" Everybody concedes that free will can breed evil, but when used as a defense against the problem of evil religious people see as preferable to a situation where humans are not free or "robots."
Cliff.Stamp
Posts: 2,169
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5/13/2011 5:14:47 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/13/2011 8:10:55 AM, Meatros wrote:

If free will is the greatest good and is meant to resolve the problem of evil, then why do we humans not value it?

We do, but it is not an absolute in that context. Consider for example sex is a good thing, but if someone is raped can you defend that by saying sex is a good thing.
Cliff.Stamp
Posts: 2,169
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5/13/2011 5:15:45 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/13/2011 1:25:20 PM, Meatros wrote:

Given this train of thought, since we don't know the will/plan of God, there is a danger in actually stopping people from exercising their free will to choose evil. God could, after all, have an even greater good that their evil will cause.

And it could be that you are given free will to stop it.
Lionheart
Posts: 520
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5/13/2011 5:54:05 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I don't feel that free will is good or bad.

It is a term used to define the ability to make a choice freely. Only the choice can be defined as good or bad, and that judgement depends on the perspective of any conscious being that has knowledge of the choice.

Free will itself could only be judged as good or bad in reflection of a choice that is made through it's use.

That is my personal stance on free will at least.
"Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power."


- Lionheart -
Meatros
Posts: 1,075
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5/13/2011 7:20:43 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp wrote: "We do, but it is not an absolute in that context. Consider for example sex is a good thing, but if someone is raped can you defend that by saying sex is a good thing"

So then why would God?

Cliff.Stamp wrote: "
And it could be that you are given free will to stop it."


True, but we don't know that. I think we would be justified in not acting, since if the evil continued, then it must lead to a greater good anyway (or else God would have to stop it, right?).

If this is the case, then it has some interesting implications for morality.
tkubok
Posts: 5,044
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5/13/2011 7:27:32 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/13/2011 8:10:55 AM, Meatros wrote:
Something I've been curious about recently. It seems to me that in response to the argument from evil theists sometimes appeal to free will.

Something is fishy about this though - human beings do not generally regard free will as a greater good. What I mean by this is that when people commit crimes, the defense never (well, not to my knowledge, anyway) appeals to the defendant's free will. We do not say that we are glad that Jeffrey Dalhmer had free will, even though he used it to commit evil. In fact, it seems to me that we go out of our way to inhibit a person's free will (drug laws, laws regarding sex, even what we can watch on tv).

If free will is the greatest good and is meant to resolve the problem of evil, then why do we humans not value it?

Free will has always been at odds with society. Justice has a price, the price is freedom. We have always restricted the freedom of individuals so that society can exist.
baggins
Posts: 855
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5/13/2011 7:47:54 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/13/2011 12:37:46 PM, Meatros wrote:
baggins wrote: "
So why does free-will exist. I am not sure but would like to make a guess. Maybe good use of free-will is so desirable that its negative effects are tolerated!"


I don't think this is actually the case - we don't tolerate the negative effects. We lock them up. In fact, when making a consideration as to someone's action, free will really doesn't come into it. We don't say that it was better that a person freely chose to kill someone then if they had no choice but to kill them. In fact, I would think the latter would be preferable.

I was trying to explain why God might have allowed free-will (It is just a guess). When you have a choice to do good or evil - and you choose to do good on your own, that is considered as an extremely good phenomenon. This phenomenon might be the reason God permitted free-will.

baggins wrote: "Incidentally, free-will that humans have is essentially very limited. Moreover human capacity to commit evil is also restricted."

I'm not sure what you mean here - it seems to me that our ability to commit evil is limited on our imagination and our ingenuity - not necessarily our capacity.

Our free-will is very limited. We have control over our body only at a particular level. We cannot really control how individual cells of our body work. It is also limited by death.

Earth is a small speck in an extremely big universe. We do not know it's boundaries yet. We don't even know whether it is the only universe. I doubt whether anything human idiocity (which is much bigger than human ingenuity and imagination) will do, will ever affect it.
The Holy Quran 29:19-20

See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.

Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.
DATCMOTO
Posts: 6,160
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5/14/2011 5:27:19 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/13/2011 8:10:55 AM, Meatros wrote:
Something I've been curious about recently. It seems to me that in response to the argument from evil theists sometimes appeal to free will.

Something is fishy about this though - human beings do not generally regard free will as a greater good. What I mean by this is that when people commit crimes, the defense never (well, not to my knowledge, anyway) appeals to the defendant's free will. We do not say that we are glad that Jeffrey Dalhmer had free will, even though he used it to commit evil. In fact, it seems to me that we go out of our way to inhibit a person's free will (drug laws, laws regarding sex, even what we can watch on tv).

If free will is the greatest good and is meant to resolve the problem of evil, then why do we humans not value it?

I believe in freedom of thought, not will..
The Cross.. the Cross.