Free Will

Don't ask me how, (benifits of dating a Philosophy major) but I was looking into the subject of free will recently. Oh, I know! "Something as frivolous as free will? Certainly you jest!" or so they say. Well, frivolous in comparison to more practical things like third world hunger or politics and so on.
In anycase, bare with me for a moment.

There are three tiers of free will and each have interesting implications. The highest, most abstract level deals with the environment in which a dicision is made. Essentially it is asking "Has the situation been manipulated to remove options?" The second involves actually physical manipulation of your decision making organ... er... ok fine: mind control. The last deals purely with the decision making process.

Frankly, who cares about the first too. They are alittle to wishy washy for me. Technically no one is ever free from influence on either level. Once the degree of influence begins to be discussed then it is difficult to say anything concret. Ah, but in the decision making process the meat does lie.

Free will commonly means the ability to act freely. This begs the question of what free really is. One would not consider the gentle falling of rain a "free" action but I would argue that really there is nothing else rain would rather do (Baring of course the evil Wind which will sometimes blow the drops back into the cloud or the Cold which will freeze them into hail... but that would be outside influence and more a matter of the first and second tiers :-) Lastly, can we give it up for over extended metaphores! *clap* *clap*) . Concentrating on the decision making process it would seem that free will is the ability to choose the decision we desire. Simple as that.

Or not. That would be a trivial answer that teaches us nothing so lets add in the idea of consciencesness. Or rather the idea of actually "making" a decision. Given the same external circumstances our previous definition of free will alows for us to make the same decision ad infinitum. Is this really free will? Computers are awesome at this and yet I don't think we would prescribe free will to them. Quite the opposite, acting like a computer is ment to imply the complete lack of free will.

If free will is the ability to not make the same decision given the same circumstances then it would appear that free will is the ability to act randomly. This certainly jives with the type of people we call "free spirits" and with what economists are only now comming to terms with, the peculiar irrationality of the human race.

Randomness can occure for many reasons, a certain noisy perception of the world, bugs in the actual decision making process, and mistakes as the decision is carried out. Regardless though, random processes are at the heart of what makes us human.

This is fairly comforting to me on many levels. For one, I see it as a sort of manifestation of the underlying uncertainly inherent in a quantum mechanical view of the universe. (Incidentally this can explain how my girlfriend can be ambivilent about a decision untill the decision is actually made... at which point the wave equation collapses causing whatever decision that was chosen to be wrong and the other right. Just kidding! Seriously, it was a joke.... But... But... awwww, but baby!. heh. It is kind of funny though and perhaps I will find out if she actually reads this...)

I think this also gives reason to get rid of laws that in some way remove our ability to make bad decisions. Our ability to make decisions that are bad for us is fundimental to what makes us human. Taking that away takes away more then we imagine.