One thing that is clear is that Persiflage does not hold to Libertarian Free Will, even though he thinks he does. In actuality, Persiflage’s view is self-contradictory. On the plus side, however, he is looking into the matter and is at least wrestling with it (as compared to others, such as Robert/Henry, who were only interested in flaming).
So for instance, Persiflage says (in response to Paul):
There’s something about this God rewinding time thing that bothers me. It is interesting. But I wouldn’t want to base any conclusions off of my speculation about it. From a purely speculative viewpoint, if a free agent made a free choice between two options, I don’t see how, if God rewinds time, the free agent wouldn’t just make the same free choice. That doesn’t necessarily imply determinism. Why? Because he’s still actually free to choose either A or B. He used his mind to make a rational decision and to will to do one thing over another thing. God did not exert any power on his mind to force him to do one or the other. Why would rewinding time result in different choices?The point with the illustration that Paul brought up, however, is to go against the principal of alternate possibilities (PAP). If a choice is to be libertarian, it cannot be determined in any manner at all. That is, those alternate possibilities MUST BE REAL. They cannot just be perceived, they have to be actual. And that would mean that if we rewound time’s tape, we would be unable to predict what the agent would do (even if we knew what he had done the previous “time” he went through time).
Persiflage’s rebuttal to Paul here suffers from a fatal ambiguity on the term “free.” He wants to hold to libertarian views, but for a libertarian free willer (LFW), “free” means alternate possibilities must be REAL, whereas for Persiflage “free” means “He used his mind to make a rational decision and to will to do one thing over another thing.” (This definition is actually quite close to my definition, which is that a free action is the action of an agent who does what he wants to do without compulsion or coercion.)
In any case, Persiflage’s idea that this would not “necessarily imply determinism” is false. In fact, if an agent always makes the same choice, then this just is determinism. Persiflage seems to think (based on the last two sentences of his above quoted paragraph) that determinism requires divine coercion; but this is mistaken. There are atheists who believe in determinism—that we cannot do other than our genes have programmed us to do, for instance.
Persiflage continues by stating:
Neither does the fact that God knew what choice the agent was going to make mean that the agent was not free to do the opposite. The very fact is that God foreknew both the fact that he was free to do either, and the fact that he willed to do one.Again, Persiflage is using “free” ambiguously. If God knows what choice an agent is going to make, then that agent is most certainly NOT free to do the opposite—his future has been determined because God’s knowledge is accurate. It cannot be wrong. Persiflage’s second sentence uses the word “free” in a difference sense from the first, because in the second sentence we see that Persiflage really means that God does not compel the man to do either, He simply knows which one will occur. But a lack of divine compulsion does not make Persiflage’s position indeterminate—the agent STILL has a determined future, one that he cannot avoid, because God knows it.
In any case, it becomes crystal clear that Persiflage is not really LFW when he writes:
Is it possible, simply within your mind, to exert your will in order to make a choice between two options, when you are mistaken - and you really only had one option all along? Yes, I agree with Peter that this is possible. I’ll also agree with Paul that there is a difference between making a choice and actually having a choice. It’s possible to make a choice mentally, when you didn’t actually have one in reality. And then finally, I agree with Bnonn, that the very idea of choice does not necessarily presuppose the “principle of alternative possibility” (PAP).Paul rightly pointed out: “Settle down and do some reading on all this. It doesn't bode well for conversation when you shoot from the hip and say things libertarians wouldn't say or don't say on this subject.” Indeed, no LFW would say “the very idea of choice does not necessarily presuppose the ‘principle of alternative possibility’” as Persiflage said.
That said, I’m glad that Persiflage is inconsistent here, because I think he’ll eventually reject LFW concepts completely :-)
One other thing. After quoting John Locke responding to Jonathan Edwards, Persiflage asked:
btw, has anyone here read Jonathan Edwards' "Inquiry respecting that Freedom of Will which is supposed to be essential to Moral Agency"? That sounds like it would be pretty mind blowing to read. It's exactly what we're discussing, and I'll have to look and see if I could use it to counterpoint what I'm reading in Locke.I have read it, and I enjoyed it a great deal. Most of my views on the will are Edwardian in nature, actually. And I would recommend you read it, although it is, as you say, “mind blowing.” Edwards has some difficult sentences to grasp, mostly because people don’t teach how to read anything these days. However, you’ll find much to mine from a careful study of “The Freedom of the Will” (as it is commonly called).
While I haven’t looked over the whole page, it looks like the entire book is located at the Reformed Reader here.
All that said, you should also note that philosophy has moved to some more detailed and clearer examples since Edwards. Paul has studied more of them than I have and can probably offer you some contemporary philosophers who may be easier to grasp. Still, if you’re reading John Locke, Edwards should be beneficial.