Oct 042018


Prove it! That’s what the feedback to our show last week demanded. Our conclusion that there is no conflict or contradiction between determinism, free will, and morality ‘proved’ to be point of discomfort for some.

A demand for proof is understandable and necessary ‘Proof’ verifies a fact, theory, or argument that may lead to (or perhaps prevent) action, and thus, have consequences.

It is important to bear in mind that in order for something to be susceptible to a test of ‘proof’ – whether concerning the existence of an object or the validity of an idea – it must also be capable of being proven false. If it is not possible to prove it false, then ‘proving’ its validity becomes a pointless exercise.

All ‘proofs,’ whether in mathematics or in logic, philosophically are best categorized within philosophy’s branch of epistemology – where it is actually possible for theories and assertions to be ‘proven’ true or false – ironically validated against the ‘unprovable’ but axiomatic reality of existence.

Even more notable if not ironic, such proofs that we do accept as proofs do not rely on the evidence of our senses, but upon our ability to conceptualize and think.

But a demand for ‘proof’ that validates some ‘metaphysical’ fact of reality (like existence, consciousness, or free will) exceeds the bounds of what ‘can’ be proven, and thus will never be satisfied. There simply is no such ‘proof.’

To demonstrate why something as self-evident as ‘existence’ cannot be ‘proven,’ try ‘proving’ the ‘existence’ of any particular thing. For example, try proving that a simple dollar coin held in your hand and that everyone can see, actually ‘exists.’ That is, offer an objective ‘proof’ of its ‘existence’ without relying on the evidence of your senses. See the problem? Now, given that the coin is in plain sight of everyone (including yourself), try ‘proving’ that the coin does not exist. Feel silly?

Which ‘proves’ the point – sometimes the evidence of our senses is all we have to ‘prove’ whether our apprehension of something that ‘exists’ is Just Right.

  One Response to “576 – Proof! Free will and the evidence for it”

  1. Brilliant show Bob. Never heard the subject explained so well. Should be in the curriculum of every philosophy program everywhere.

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