June 18, 2013 by Zerub Roberts
Surely a person could hold the belief that he has no free will. But we’d like to know if such a belief could be a product of free will.
Note – Let me clarify what I mean by that (to be a product of free will) – That means, all the causal history leading up to that event (his belief formation) isn’t sufficient by itself. You need some “extra stuff”. In other words, if we run the universe all over again, exactly similar to the same point (till the point before his belief formation begins), it should be possible for him to form a different belief.
Now, Consider all the possible options –
“In reality”, either there is –
1. Free Will or
2. No Free Will.
1) If there is Free Will, Surely the person can hold the belief “I don’t have free will”. He could arrive at that belief through free choices. But, such a belief would be unjustified and false.
2) If there is no Free Will, well, surely he can’t. Even his belief “I don’t have free will” is a result of previously determined conditions or pure randomness. However, in this case, that belief would be true. If he had the belief “I have free will” when in fact, he doesn’t, his belief would be false.
Now, in the second case, should we be so concerned about having false beliefs? I mean, wouldn’t our desire to maintain true beliefs also be a determined state? So, what’s so bad about having a wrong belief? (remember, whatever answer you give, wouldn’t that answer and your belief in your given answer also be determined?)
Another point – If all your beliefs and even “beliefs about beliefs” are determined, would that in anyway reduce the epistemic value or rather, the virtue of true beliefs? … and again, wouldn’t your answer to this question I just asked be determined as well?.. God! it’s so annoying, isn’t it?