Free will is an action were you can do x, you know you can do x, and you decide to do x, rather than not-x, and no other person can know which decision you will make.
Have we an operational definition of the free will concept ?
I think this definition has an undefined concept – choice – embedded in it. I’m not surprised, because each of the two words in the phrase “free will” refers to a distinct concept – freedom, and will.
The concept of choice is closely tied to the concept of choice, but doesn’t imply freedom. A computer program of a person using a rule book can strongly exhibit the phenomena of making a choice, yet have it be a completely un-free one.
So the question “does X have free will?” might be stripped down to a simpler “is X free?”
One of the things that troubles me about my informal definition of free will, and the more formal one you incorporated it into, Rade, is that these definitions require that it be a quality of other than the entity (“you” in our examples) we traditionally consider to have or not have it. If having free will depends on “no one knowing that what you will do next”, it’s not the a quality possessed by you, but the lack of a quality possessed by somebody who can know something about you.
I’m also bothered that free will as we’re defining it is a situational
quality. Consider that we don’t now have the ability to read one another’s minds. However, it may be someday be possible to make instruments that can, by precisely, non-destructively measuring the processes in our brains. It would then be possible for a person with such an instrument to know precisely what you will do next. According to my pragmatic definition of free will, this mind-reading instrument and the use of it make you no longer have free will. Free will, then can be defined as a phenomena that occurs in the absence of the use of a mind-reading instrument, or the absence of the quality of an instrument being capable of mind-reading.
This weird misplacement of the object to which the quality of free will applies makes leads me to question whether free will is really an important quality of minds.
In his I Am a Strange Loop
, Douglas Hofstadter suggested that the most important quality of mind is it category systems
being arbitrarily extensible
. This quality is only vaguely related to the concepts of will, choice, and freedom. It’s most strongly related to the concept of learning.