I am not sure I completely understand your question but it is not sensible to go thorugh life completely ignoring or outright rulling out any possitive claims that we don’t have evidence for, especially when it comes to things still out of our reach. You are right that the positive claim is the one that requires proof; but we must also aknowledge our limitations. Consider a reverse of this:
1) Abiogenesis is a positive claim
2) We don’t have evidence that it happens nor a mechanism for how it happens
3) Therefore we conclude it doesn’t.
Now imagine how silly it would be if I even tacked on point number four:
4) And therefore a god must exist or, disbelief in god is irrational
Our understanding of randomness at the quantum lavel is based on observations but, as far as I know, we don’t yet have a mechanism to explain how true randomness can happen. And, while we have made great strides in understanding the inanimate world, human psychology is still for the most part an untapped frontier.
So like I said, I can understand it if a behavioral scientist chooses to ignore the possibility of free will since it introduces aditional complications into his process. But that’s as far as I would go with that.
I think the problem we have with free will is not a result of the ‘posititive claims have the burden of proof’ issue but rather of two other factors:
1) First, in relatively recent history, materialism started growing in popularity and that logically seemed to lead to determinism which DID logically lead to the lack of free will.
Today however we know that materialism does NOT necessarily lead to determinism, so this really cannot be a factor anymore, though it seems the field of philosophy is slow to catch up.
2) There have been a series of studies that seem to indicate that, although individuals think they are making their own decissions, their decissions are in fact predictable. And, while I believe these studies ARE valuable in understanding human behavior, I don’t think they apply to the issue of free will as much as people think they do. I say this because the studies are looking mostly at impulsive decisions and not the kind of decisions where the person really thinks trough all their options carefully. Finding a way to predict the outcome of THOSE decisions WOULD disprove free will.
Another potential misunderstanding is the assumption that Free Will means that there are no outside influences. But there is no reason why this would NEED to be the case and it clearly ISN’T the case.
Most importantly though, and I meant to mention this in a previous post, we don’t even have a working definition of free will. I have tried to come up with one for some time, but it seems every one I come up with ends up being circular in some way. I run into a similar problem when I try to think through potential mechanism for true randomness.
Another thing I should have mentioned for the record is that I don’t believe in a soul or spirit so we don’t need to waste time going down that path.Share