How are we to define a word?
Words are like tools, very flexible tools. The definition of a word changes dependent upon the use we put it to.
For example take the term “free-will”.
I have had a few exchanges with a fellow blogger about what free-will is. It’s funny because we both agree that determinism is true, that it is the explanation for choice. That is to say we both believe that choices are pre-determined. But we differ on the issue of free-will. I say we do not have free-will and he says we do have free-will.
The common conception of free-will is opposed to determinism. In fact one of the oldest debates in philosophy is the debate between free-will and determinism. So how can my friend maintain that free-will is true and determinism is true? With a certain amount of dishonesty. Or maybe not… maybe we are playing different games.
The game I am playing is one in which I am attempting to create a represention of the conceptual space. That is to say I am trying to understand, or rather enumerate in language what it is possible to conceive. I’m not so concerned with the truth or not of a proposition/concept whilst playing this game; rather I’m concerned with its intelligibility, with whether or not it does work as a concept.
What do I mean by work here? Well using the word free-will I will show what I mean by work. The work “Free-will” does is to express an area within the conceptual space called choice. The question: Why do we choose what we choose? Has three possible categories of answer. One is determinism: we choose what we choose because we are acting within a framework of causality and what has gone before determines what actions we will take. Another is free-will: our actions are based on our choices which aren’t based on anything – or rather the way they work is incomprehensible because we think only in terms of causality and something that isn’t causal isn’t capable of being represented with causal terms. The third way is chaos: our choices are undetermined and random. So here the work free-will does is to provide a space for a 3rd category of answer to the question: why do we choose what we choose?
To Be Continued….