I recently had someone respond to my claim that there is no objective free will with the following.
If we can truly assess our beliefs then we are not determined after all. If we are determined then we have no epistemic justification for believing our beliefs to be true. I’m not sure if you are really grasping the epistemological implications of determinism.
Let’s examine these statements.
If we can truly assess out belief, then we are not determined at all…unless our tools of assessment have been determined. They have been. There is no component of assessment that has not been shown to have a neurological correlate.
The fact that a causal chain turns back in on itself is unremarkable. This happens with tornadoes, economies, and psychological development, none of which requires that we introduce a “supernatural” cause. And if the intricacies of the material mechanism have not been teased out, we are not warranted in plugging a “supernatural” placeholder into these variables. We patiently wait with the warranted expectation that the cause is fully material; warranted due to the long history of successful material explanations and the utter failure of all proposed supernatural placeholders.
And if we are determined, then we have no epistemic justification for our beliefs…unless our beliefs provide us with predictive power. The fact that we are objectively determined within a substrate of material causation speaks nothing to the only valid test for the justification of beliefs; do our beliefs work? Do they provide us with the predictive power that allows us to make decisions that aid us in the accomplishing our goals? The very same scientists who claim they have no objective free will are also providing us with technologies and medicine that depend entirely on predictive power.
We possess a subjective free will that recursively loops within a greater objective determinism, and we can subjectively choose to train ourselves in rational thought and apply that rational thought to the matrix of material causation of which we are a part. We don’t need a divine source for our thought for it to be productive. And if it is productive due to its predictive power, it has been epistemically justified. This highlights the need for us to, in our subjectively perceived free will, hone our critical thinking skills to optimize our access to objective truths.
The epistemic implication of determinism is that we, as subjective causal loops within a greater matrix of objective causation, can assess, develop and tweak the heuristics of inquiry that most approximate truth. Defaulting to the injection of some immaterial cause to legitimate our conclusions is unnecessary, lazy and for many unprincipled individuals, a deceitful attempt to create a false vacuum to be plugged by an imaginary god.