Relativity of a Free Will Concept Depending on Both Conscious Indeterminism and Unconscious Determinism

Philosophy Study 1 (2):103 - 117 (2011)
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Free will is difficult to classify with respect to determinism or indeterminism, and its phenomenology in consciousness often shows both aspects. Initially, it is felt as unlimited and indeterminate will power, with the potentiality of multiple choices. Thereafter, reductive deliberation is led by determinism to the final decision, which realises only one of the potential choices. The reductive deliberation phase tries to find out the best alternative and simultaneously satisfying vague motivations, contextual conditions and personal preferences. The essential sense of free will is the introduction of personal preferences, which allows a higher diversity of reactions to vague motivations. With an oversimplified model of determinism as a chain of events, incompatibilists define “free” as “undetermined” so that determinism becomes incompatible with any free choice between alternatives. In consciousness, free will requires a more complex model of network determinism as well as the consideration of unconsciousness as a causal factor. When “free” defined as “undetermined” is applied to the context of consciousness, it should be reinterpreted as “unconscious of being determined” or not aware of underlying determinism. Lacking information on determinism generates a feeling of “free” in consciousness and, therefore, gives the impression of indeterminism. Lacking information may be induced by an uncertain future without determined events—an unconscious past with biological reactions suddenly emerging from the unconsciousness or an unknown present unable to distinguish determinism of complex events. Therefore, at the level of human consciousness, the experience of free will is associated with apparent indeterminism although it is based on unconscious determinism. The concepts of compatibilism and incompatibilism are only two different aspects of the same phenomenon and correspond to consciousness and unconsciousness. Nevertheless, they can be considered together with a free will concept based on relativity depending on two different reference frames—the first person’s experience frame or the Laplace’s demon frame with knowledge on every molecule of the universe. Only relativity of the free will concept avoids the contradiction between “free” and “unfree” for the same phenomenon and could be a compromise for considering compatibilism and incompatibilism equally.


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