Free Will, Love, Justice, and Reason – Logical Theist
In my last podcast episode and blog post, I talked about Calvinist and Lutheran views of divine determinism. In this post, I will be focusing on the other side of the determinism vs. free will debate. I will be discussing libertarian free will as it relates to love, justice, and reason. What my goal is not for this post is to offer a philosophical argument for the existence of free will. Rather, I wish to present free will in a positive light and to demonstrate its importance. Also, I have already posted the content of this post in three separate posts, but I have decided to compile them into one for my podcast. So, if you have already read my previous three posts on free will, nothing here should be substantially different than what I wrote previously. With that said, let’s dive in.
By love, I mean true love, that is, love that is not merely a feeling. I argue that love is not merely a feeling, because feelings fade. Thus, if the sum of love is in feeling, then love is a wretched thing, leading lovers to a dead end and causing more pain than joy. However, I believe that true love is more than a feeling. True love is an affectionate sacrifice, a commitment bound within the heart, and more besides these. Whoever looks for love but expects no sacrifice, especially from themselves, is searching for something that is ultimately in words only, with no action. And who looks for love without commitment? Love without commitment is deceitful, a love which is given only to later abandon.
ON WHETHER PUPPETS CAN LOVE
If we do not have free will, then from where do our actions and desires come? If they do not come from ourselves, they come from outside us. Now, if they come from outside us, they must be determined. The next question then is: are they controlled, or are they the result of preprogramming? First, I will discuss the former, which I will refer to as puppet-determinism.
To demonstrate what I mean by this, let us look at a puppet and a puppeteer. A man is sitting quietly, minding his own business, when he feels a slap on the back of his head. When he turns around, he sees a puppet. Now let me ask you this, even if the man’s initial reaction is to blame the puppet, is this the right reaction? Of course not! For the puppet is not the doer of the action; but rather, the puppeteer is the doer. Similarly, if our actions are not our own but are the result of a controlling or determining being or force, such as God in divine determinism, then who is to blame for the action? The puppeteer is the culprit, not the puppet, for the puppet has no will of its own.
Now, let us apply this to love. It is not logical to say that a puppet can love in any way. Again, the puppet has no will: it’s desires and so-called choices are the results of strings being pulled. Therefore, it is wrong to say that a puppet can love. Taking this a step further, it is also incorrect to attribute hate to a puppet, by the same line of reasoning. Free will, then, is necessary for individuals to truly love.
ON WHETHER ROBOTS CAN LOVE
Next, we come upon the second type of determinism, which I will call robot-determinism. In this type of determinism, I am not referring to a robot that is remotely controlled, since that would be essentially the same as a puppet. Rather, I am referring to a robot that can perform actions independent of direct control, but whose actions are nevertheless preprogrammed and, thus, not out of volition.
A similar line of reasoning to that used for puppet-determinism can be applied here. If a robot, say, has the capability to punch someone, is it truly the robot who is to blame or the one who programmed the robot? The answer, of course, is the latter. Although the action may have come from code programmed into it, that is, although the action came from within, it is still, nevertheless, the programmer to blame. The same is true if we, as humans, do not perform actions based on our volition, but rather based on preprogramming, even if it comes from nature rather than an external being.
With that said, just as a puppet does not love, neither does a robot. True love, then, remains an impossibility without free will. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the truest form of love results from the will, that is, as a choice.
The existence of true love is dependent on the existence of libertarian free will. If there be no free will, let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that we love or that we are loved by other human beings. However, if there is indeed free will, which I hold there is, then let us rejoice in genuine love!
RIGHT AND WRONG
Now, let’s move on to justice. Justice necessarily deals with the concept of right and wrong. If someone does wrong, we call it just for the wrongdoer to face the consequences, whether naturally or artificially imposed. On the other hand, if one does good, then we recognize it as right for the doer of the good act to be rewarded. But what if the wrongdoer is let free? What if a murderer is treated as if innocent? This, we know, is unjust. And if someone is punished despite being innocent, then we also know this to be unjust.
JUSTICE IN A WORLD WITHOUT FREE WILL
In a world without free will, can there be justice? I argue that there cannot be justice. If justice is to address right and wrong, then it follows that justice should only be exacted upon those who did right or wrong. Now, let us say that there is no free will. Would it then be consistent to bring a person before a judge and at the same time hold that the person did not commit any wrong of his own free will? I answer no. It would be preposterous, and in fact, unjust to bring someone who did no wrong intentionally or even as a mistake before a judge when the true culprit remains free, if there is a true culprit at all.
As I mentioned before, it can be said that there are two types of determinism–puppet-determinism and robot-determinism. (We can also call the latter mechanical determinism, or we can refer to these types as outer- and inner-determinism or extra- and intra-determinism. But I digress.) The first type of determinism, puppet-determinism, implies an agent that would be truly responsible for right and wrong. Whoever this agent is should be the one held responsible for any right or wrong actions committed. Now, in the second type of determinism, mechanical determinism, the situation becomes a little more complicated; for there would be no true agent. In other words, there would be no one to be held responsible for right and wrong actions. After all, it is a great injustice to punish an innocent person, and an even greater injustice is to punish a victim. Indeed, without free will, any so-called “criminal” is merely a victim, a victim of circumstance, unable to control his or her actions, without fault. Therefore, in a world without free will, courthouses should not be called institutions of justice but rather of injustice!
If we are to cry out for justice at all, there must be free will. Without human free will, no human being can be held responsible for wrongdoing: there would only be victims; but I think that our sense of justice begs to differ; that is, we certainly act as if there is free will in matters of justice, whether free will truly exists or not. Nevertheless, I believe that we do have free will, by which our courthouses have the right to execute justice. However, this is not grounds for being vengeful. It is better for each individual and for society as a whole if those who do wrong are encouraged to do right. In other words, I am not advocating a primitive sort of justice that is based off of a desire for revenge. Rather, I believe that individuals who do wrong have the ability to make the free will decision to start doing right, and such a change should be encouraged in society.
THE ABILITY TO REASON
Finally, we come to free will as it relates to our ability to reason. Without libertarian free will, I do not believe that we would have this ability. Again, I will point to puppet-determinism and mechanical determinism (or robot-determinism). A puppet cannot reason. Even if it is a very complex puppet with a brain, it is still not able to reason, for it is not it that reasons but rather the puppeteer. Therefore, if free will is an illusion, it follows that the ability of that individual to reason is also an illusion, since it is another that reasons in that person’s place in the case of puppet-determinism.
As for mechanical determinism, one cannot reason if that person’s thinking is determined by a form of preprogramming. Now, I am not saying that a robot cannot learn, since recent advancements in artificial intelligence do show that following a script robotically can allow one to learn, although in my opinion artificial intelligence is significantly more robotic than it is actually intelligent, at least in the same way humans are. Of course, I am not an expert in the field of artificial intelligence, and I do not wish to portray that. However, I do not think that humans can be considered rational creatures if their entire thought processes are determined by a script, even a very complex script. Following a script does not give one the ability to contemplate, which is a part of reasoning.
IF WE ARE PUPPETS
If we as humans are mere puppets, then the debates, discussions, and contemplations which humans claim to have become very odd. After all, it is not actually the individual who is debating but the puppeteer, assuming that there is only one. In other words, either the puppeteer argues with himself; or there are multiple puppeteers, arguing through puppets, a very odd scene indeed.
IF WE ARE ROBOTS
If, on other hand, we are mere robots, then debates, discussions, and contemplations are ultimately useless or beyond the control of the individual. What this means for those who hold to determinism is that it is pointless to try to persuade anyone of their position. After all, no one has any real say in the matter anyway if there be no libertarian free will. All opinions are determined. Furthermore, why even boast in having the correct position if there be no free will? What does it matter? You who say that there is no free will have not chosen this position: your very worldview would itself be determined.
Truly, a world without free will is one of utter despair. All choices are illusions. Every thought is an illusion. The concept of free will allows us to better understand the individual and gives hope that there is truly opportunity of change.