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Semidi
2007-08-04, 02:17 AM
Syllogistastic!

Every event has a cause.
Human actions (including thought) are events.
Therefore: All human actions have a cause.

Thus freewill does not exist.

Think of it like this: Metaphor-

Something happens, the universe as we know it begins. Could be the G word (discussion of the G word is against the rules as I understand), could be a massive explosion—doesn’t matter. Imagine this as a domino falling over. This domino hits another domino, which hits another domino, which hits two dominoes, each hit a domino of their own… et cetera. The domino being hit is the effect, the hitter the cause, and these domino’s branch off, one hitting another… And so on. Everyone’s life can therefore be thought of as a series of dominoes falling, every one of our actions is just part of a cosmic predetermined set of circumstances.

Freewill cannot exist because humans lack the ability to escape domino-hood. Previous motivators determine all of your actions. Hypothetically if every causation and every affect up until this point was known, the future could be calculated because every cause has a logical effect. Although, prediction of the future becomes far less of an option ever since the discovery of quantum mechanics; I’m no physicist by I understand that on the molecular level some things really are random—for instance electron movement. Electrons moving randomly may not be that big of a deal but, according to chaos theory, little things can have a large effect.

Which in turn raises a number of points. If you can agree that freewill is an illusion, and you’re a simple domino, then the human sense of morality crumbles.

If you’ve never made a choice that hasn’t been previously motivated then personal responsibility does not exist. We cannot be any other place than where we are now because we did not make any choices. The murderer on death row never decided to be there; this star collided with that star, this sperm cell hit that egg, this father beat up that son, that son killed and raped that woman. It was not possible for that man on death row to be anyplace but on death row, and that woman died because a universal domino chain happened to fall on her.

Please forgive me for any difficulties reading the post; I’ve never had the opportunity to properly write out a philosophical argument or question. Now I see why Satre is so hard to read. Please understand, I merely state the question because I think it’s thought provoking and a lovely vein (if bleak) of thought… which of course, has a cause.

Have at it.

Ok I lied about the death. Ha-ha!

Tor the Fallen
2007-08-04, 02:19 AM
How do you feel about Dualism?

Hell Puppi
2007-08-04, 02:19 AM
Holy crap I have a weird argument that I had with my friends one day that relates to exactly this but i can use it because IT'S RELIGIOUS IN NATURE.

Dammies. I could have actually participated instead of making my usual random quips.

Vuzzmop
2007-08-04, 02:23 AM
You are defining lack of free will as an event and a cause, the cause is human choice. There are things which govern our feelings and thoughts but, barring the meme theory, we ultimately make our own decisions. Everything happens for a reason, but you have the free will to decice what to do, making that the reason. The domino effect only works to an extent, before chaos theory comes into play, and we have a whole new ball game. Free will exists, but only in small, hard to find doses.

horseboy
2007-08-04, 02:42 AM
To use your domino theory, when a "domino" hits us, causing us to hit another domino, our "free will" is which domino we now hit.
Of course, if you know that person you will know where his path will lead. In essence allowing you to predict which domino he will choose. Thus ultimately free will is the question "Do I do what is intrinsic to my nature or not?"

To put it in the broadest of terms, that can be discussed on the forums. :smallwink:

Extra_Crispy
2007-08-04, 02:55 AM
Cant say I am good a philosophy. I have beliefs but lack the way to explain them. Lets see I feel that your discussion of freewill not existing is wrong. Using your own domino theory not all dominos are created the same. The way the domino is made (person raised, inborn genetic factors etc) can determine the way it will fall. Take by example my parents. If we took your example as truth and people follow the "domino" that created them. My mother would be an alcoholic, smoker, and (slightly) verbaly abusive. My father would be much more distant, and a smoker also. (his father was not there much) instead of being a very close very friendly guy. All of my mothers's siblings (6 of them) have or do smoke, but my mother never has. None of them drink alcohol. They all saw how their father after his nightly drinking and wanted nothing to do with that. If you follow that the domino before you influences what you are in life then my mother should have at least been a smoker. A couple of her siblings have even decided to just stop smoking, they just put down the cigarettes and stopped cold turkey. They choose to not smoke, a freewill option. If this was not they case they still would be smoking. Now I do agree that the people or "dominos" from our past influence us greatly, espically with the way we are raised, and genetic factors, but we all have the ability to choose.

Take for example children who were molested. There is a higher percentage of them doing the same to their children or being prostitutes, but not ALL. We are influenced but not forced into roles.

tannish2
2007-08-04, 02:59 AM
this contradicts some R words, and confirms some beleifs of others, and idk how direct the reference the rules are referring to but if thats true then some discussions of physics, history, and evolution would be taboo, i hope this rule doesnt exist, but if it does let me just take the time to say that its wrong

but i beleive (or at least try to) that there is at least some free will, though time travel does seem to be possible (i think there was some experiment with planes flying around the world in opposite directions with some whatsitcalled with a specific decay rate and one standing still in relation on earth, when the planes got back they were all slightly different, this would imply that, though i dont remember where i heard this and it might not be true) if time travel is possible then all events are predertermined and theres no point in doing anything, because thats what your supposed to do/have done and so im willing to continue assuming the opposite of the only evidence i have either way, just because it means that i DO have some freedom

Sir_Norbert
2007-08-04, 05:20 AM
Cant say I am good a philosophy. I have beliefs but lack the way to explain them. Lets see I feel that your discussion of freewill not existing is wrong. ... Take for example children who were molested. There is a higher percentage of them doing the same to their children or being prostitutes, but not ALL. We are influenced but not forced into roles.
I think you've misunderstood. Determinism does not claim that you always will be the role you were born into. It claims that everything we do is ultimately determined by physical factors. You can have two people in broadly similar circumstances -- two molested children for example -- who turn out very differently, because their circumstances are never absolutely identical. For a start, they're different people, which means their brains are configured differently; but this is a physical fact about them even if it's unobservable to everyone except neurologists (and even they are far from having a complete understanding of how the brain works). If, however, we did have a complete physical understanding of the brain and we knew all the physical events that happen to a certain person over the course of their life, we would be able to predict the physical outcomes of those events (the person's actions).

However, where I differ from the OP is when it comes to his claim that determinism means morality is bunkum. Sure, you're not responsible for being the person you are; the universe has landed you with that and you can't change it. But I simply don't believe "responsibility" is the be-all and end-all of morality. To me, that's like saying "Colour can be explained away in terms of the tendency of objects to reflect certain forms of light; therefore aesthetics is a pointless discipline." At best, reponsibility is a secondary concept that depends on the primary concepts of right and wrong. Morality is about knowing which actions are right and which are not right, and there is a point to this, because our knowledge can itself be a cause of other events and, in particular, can lead us to perform right actions more often.

Sisqui
2007-08-04, 09:45 AM
Stupid maintenance on boards.........I had a post written up and it got lost while the boards were down :smallmad:

Oh, well.

Quantum mechanics AND philosophy? I know someone in the playground who is going to have a field day with this one.

I have actually wondered about this question before, but not being a physicist type, I don't know if absolute certainty of outcomes is possible (I mean certainty as an independent principle, not one that is dependent on the scope of the knowledge of the person doing the predicting.) To put it another way, is the outcome of something already a given and the only sense in which "probability" is relevant is in assessing how accurately a human can apply their knowledge and predict it? If that actually were the case, then that line of thought might apply. I have no idea how you could actually test such a thing, though.

But, I will say this. When you alter the potential benefits of a given action, you alter the frequency of the action. Since the action preceeds the benefit, the benefit cannot be said to be the physical cause (again, apologies to QM people who want to argue that point, I am just not qualified to do it). Yet, it has changed the behavior. I think that has to prove it is a choice, not predetermined, because none of the physical determinants were changed. If that makes any sense to anyone other than me. :smallconfused:

Death, your friend the Reaper
2007-08-04, 09:59 AM
Now you lot are just barring me from these topics!

*Scandalized look*

Tom_Violence
2007-08-04, 10:02 AM
One point first off - even if Determinism were completely true, morality may still have an instrumental value.

When applied to the case of free will, I usually find myself agreeing with Kant -that Determinism is inconsistent and begs the question, the argument already assumes that human will is merely a passive cog in the causal machine. But then Kant's ideas on free will and long and complex, and end on a sort of "you'll never know!" note, so maybe that's not overly useful. :smalltongue:

The other thing worth thinking about is if you want a 'free' will that is completely uncaused by anything (i.e. undetermined) then you'd end up with quite a strange thing indeed. If you took away all the factors of your past that Determinism states caused you to make a decision then you'd have nothing left to influence the decision apart from this 'free will'. Anything like your personality, your mood, your intelligence - all these things could not be counted as factors leading to the decision, and the 'free will' becomes completely arbitrary, like flipping a coin.

Sisqui
2007-08-04, 10:14 AM
One point first off - even if Determinism were completely true, morality may still have an instrumental value.

When applied to the case of free will, I usually find myself agreeing with Kant -that Determinism is inconsistent and begs the question, the argument already assumes that human will is merely a passive cog in the causal machine. But then Kant's ideas on free will and long and complex, and end on a sort of "you'll never know!" note, so maybe that's not overly useful. :smalltongue:

The other thing worth thinking about is if you want a 'free' will that is completely uncaused by anything (i.e. undetermined) then you'd end up with quite a strange thing indeed. If you took away all the factors of your past that Determinism states caused you to make a decision then you'd have nothing left to influence the decision apart from this 'free will'. Anything like your personality, your mood, your intelligence - all these things could not be counted as factors leading to the decision, and the 'free will' becomes completely arbitrary, like flipping a coin.

Yes, if people were constrained to a given outcome without the input of their intellectual capabilities then they'd do all kinds of weird things. Hmm.......maybe that isn't such a good argument to make :smallbiggrin: But seriously, I don't think that determinism can explain how a person gains experience and learns to adjust their behavior about the world. Simple physical interaction does not require any cognitive process to occur. Yet people do change their behavior because of experience or a change in incentives or costs.


Now you lot are just barring me from these topics!

*Scandalized look*

Just tell them you aren't death. You are a cat. In a box. (Who may or may not be death :smallwink:)

Tom_Violence
2007-08-04, 10:29 AM
But seriously, I don't think that determinism can explain how a person gains experience and learns to adjust their behavior about the world. Simple physical interaction does not require any cognitive process to occur. Yet people do change their behavior because of experience or a change in incentives or costs.

I think it could. If you considered a neuropsychological perspective, with the human brain as hideously complex as it is, which also would postulate that cognitive processes are 'just' physical interaction. Determinism may be simple enough to explain, but given that it involves causation of absolutely everything, right through the subatomic level and chaos theory etc., its hard to see what it can't account for without one somehow having to discuss non-physical entities, or things outside of causation.

Sisqui
2007-08-04, 10:34 AM
I think it could. If you considered a neuropsychological perspective, with the human brain as hideously complex as it is, which also would postulate that cognitive processes are 'just' physical interaction. Determinism may be simple enough to explain, but given that it involves causation of absolutely everything, right through the subatomic level and chaos theory etc., its hard to see what it can't account for without one somehow having to discuss non-physical entities, or things outside of causation.

I suppose there is no way to argue with that. :smalleek:

However, if the changing of the incentives does produce a change in the results (via a physical change in neurochemistry or what have you), then I think it is reasonably safe to keep the justice system in place, determinism or no. Whew! Of course, now comes the argument that it was the change in neurochemistry in individuals in society caused by the acts of offenders that led to the laws that changed the incentives that changed the.........BLAH,BLAH,BLAH. So, I declare, if the criminals can't help being criminals because they were predestined to do it, then I can't help punishing them because I am predestined to do that. So there! :smallbiggrin:

I think this philosophy is self-limiting in practice, though. If it were applied and people were suddenly not to be held accountable for their actions, anarchy would ensue. Everyone could do whatever they wanted to anyone else and not only do they have a built in justification, they have completely eliminated the need for justification itself. People just will not put up with that kind of environment. They will band together to enforce some kind of order and take punitive measures to do it, thus reestablishing society and a justice system.

Cryopyre
2007-08-04, 11:27 AM
Want a great way to explain what you're talking about.

Here's a Waking Life excerpt (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VxQuPBX1_U).

I understand what you're talking about, but it's hard to explain. Overall, our illusion of freewill gives us choice, but those choices we choose are ultimately pre-chosen.

Okay, nevermind, I did an awful job at describing that, but still.

Semidi
2007-08-04, 12:12 PM
I read all the posts, and nabbed the parts which I felt displayed the core of your argument to reduce post size. Please notify me if I missed an argument—though I did ignore some because they were already addressed properly, or I didn’t feel they required it. This debate is also severely neutered because the G word is a rather significant argument to be made for and against determinism.

I like to view myself as somewhere between a hard and soft determinist. I support the theory because I’ve looked quite a bit and haven’t found an argument which I think properly dismisses it.


How do you feel about Dualism?

I don't believe in a spirit; here nor there. The mind and body are one entity.


Holy crap I have a weird argument that I had with my friends one day that relates to exactly this but i can use it because IT'S RELIGIOUS IN NATURE.

Dammies. I could have actually participated instead of making my usual random quips.

Now that is an interesting debate. Sadly, it cannot take place here. You’re free to send me a PM if you want my input on the G word debate from this point of view.


Everything happens for a reason, but you have the free will to decide what to do, making that the reason.

Interesting point. Though I would argue that your decision for the reason has already been decided by prior experiences before you make that "choice." The choice of course would be the illusion--it only has one avenue which can pursue. If your choices weren’t based upon prior causation then the world would be an extremely chaotic place.


Yes, if people were constrained to a given outcome without the input of their intellectual capabilities then they'd do all kinds of weird things. Hmm.......maybe that isn't such a good argument to make But seriously, I don't think that determinism can explain how a person gains experience and learns to adjust their behavior about the world. Simple physical interaction does not require any cognitive process to occur. Yet people do change their behavior because of experience or a change in incentives or costs.

There's something called learned response. Touch a hot stove and you say something like "Son of a *****!", and the next time, you realize that the stove is hot. This is what experience is: a behavior has been adjusted to fit into the world--minus burns. It’s a bit more advanced than this, though I prefer thinking in the macro rather than the micro. I’m a dreamer, not a scientist.


However, where I differ from the OP is when it comes to his claim that determinism means morality is bunkum. Sure, you're not responsible for being the person you are; the universe has landed you with that and you can't change it. But I simply don't believe "responsibility" is the be-all and end-all of morality. To me, that's like saying "Colour can be explained away in terms of the tendency of objects to reflect certain forms of light; therefore aesthetics is a pointless discipline." At best, reponsibility is a secondary concept that depends on the primary concepts of right and wrong. Morality is about knowing which actions are right and which are not right, and there is a point to this, because our knowledge can itself be a cause of other events and, in particular, can lead us to perform right actions more often.

I think we disagree on your a priori assumption that a theoretical universal set of rules for right and wrong exist. Though I feel my statement about morality crumbling needs to be amended. Morality exists—however it is not universal, rather it is a culturally excepted set of beliefs of right or wrong.

I do believe that the relative concept of morality dictates action and is a significant causer of effects; though I also will point out that the concept of morality has a cause, most of which can be explained via evolutionary psychology.


"responsibility" is the be-all and end-all of morality. To me, that's like saying "Colour can be explained away in terms of the tendency of objects to reflect certain forms of light; therefore aesthetics is a pointless discipline."

All are is quite useless – Oscar Wilde

It really doesn’t fit. But how many times a day do you get to pull out that nifty quote.


When applied to the case of free will, I usually find myself agreeing with Kant -that Determinism is inconsistent and begs the question, the argument already assumes that human will is merely a passive cog in the causal machine. But then Kant's ideas on free will and long and complex, and end on a sort of "you'll never know!" note, so maybe that's not overly useful.

The other thing worth thinking about is if you want a 'free' will that is completely uncaused by anything (i.e. undetermined) then you'd end up with quite a strange thing indeed. If you took away all the factors of your past that Determinism states caused you to make a decision then you'd have nothing left to influence the decision apart from this 'free will'. Anything like your personality, your mood, your intelligence - all these things could not be counted as factors leading to the decision, and the 'free will' becomes completely arbitrary, like flipping a coin.

I agree with Kant when he states that we’ll never know, which makes it a lovely debate. Though I do not feel capable in arguing the finer points of his theories because I haven’t read much Kant (though I am familier with his main ideas). Could you be so kind as to reference me a work of his where he goes into detail with his theories?


So, I declare, if the criminals can't help being criminals because they were predestined to do it, then I can't help punishing them because I am predestined to do that. So there!

'zactly. I wont go as far to argue that we should do away with the justice system, just that those who have the joys of experiencing it aren't responsible for where they are. This pretty much goes in the face of the very American idea that we all choose our own destiny.

I might write more later.


Want a great way to explain what you're talking about.

Here's a Waking Life excerpt.

Lovely film.

averagejoe
2007-08-04, 12:24 PM
I do believe that the relative concept of morality

Ah! There's no escaping it! I could do a post about kittens, and as long as I put "philosophy" in the title it would degenerate into an argument about moral relativism. :smalleek:

Well, I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I definitely have free will. See, the world is just a projection of my mind, so anything that "happens" to me is just the result of my own subconcious, and not because of any outside factors.

Cyrano
2007-08-04, 12:41 PM
If I had free will, I certaintly wouldn't be HERE.
So it logically can't exist.

By the way, I have a related question...how CAN free will exist? If you accept the fact that free will exists, and you bear with me in the belief that all of your actions are defined by circumstance and personality, and that personality is influenced by environment, and that environment is the product of other people's actions, then therefore all of your actions are the product of other people's actions.

skywalker
2007-08-04, 12:45 PM
I don't know if I have free will, but I do know that I exist within a larger group, who, perhaps due to cultural pressures, agree upon the "basic universal laws" of morality. I also know that I am happy abiding by those laws, and that, by choosing to do so, I further increase my happiness existing within this group. It doesn't really matter to me, because justice, right and wrong, etc. can go take a flying stab at a rolling donut compared to happiness.

Sisqui
2007-08-04, 12:47 PM
If I had free will, I certaintly wouldn't be HERE.
So it logically can't exist.

By the way, I have a related question...how CAN free will exist? If you accept the fact that free will exists, and you bear with me in the belief that all of your actions are defined by circumstance and personality, and that personality is influenced by environment, and that environment is the product of other people's actions, then therefore all of your actions are the product of other people's actions.

Well, you could try this to test it. Take several individuals and put them through exactly the same scenario. Even do some Kiersey testing and try it on people who have the same personality type. See if people start making different choices even though their personalities and situations are the same.
That would seem to control for both personality and environment. I think. :smallconfused:

But it still won't get rid of the pesky determinism thing :smallannoyed:

Also, there is a difference between free will and total freedom. If you have total freedom, you are, essentially, not bound by any constraint, be it moral, physical, societal, etc... But free will could exist even if the options are limited. So long as you had options to choose from and were not coerced into choosing one or the other.

Cyrano
2007-08-04, 01:05 PM
Well, you could try this to test it. Take several individuals and put them through exactly the same scenario. Even do some Kiersey testing and try it on people who have the same personality type. See if people start making different choices even though their personalities and situations are the same.
That would seem to control for both personality and environment. I think. :smallconfused:

But it still won't get rid of the pesky determinism thing :smallannoyed:

Well, no one has exactly the same personality. By environment, I was referring both to current environment and the environment that shaped you, ie, your parents, guardians, fellow clutch mates, imaginary friends, whatever you grew up with. The childhood-shaping environment forms your personality, the current-environment shapes the actions you take. So you would have to take identical twins, clone the parents, create a carbon copy of Earth, put one twin on each planet, under each parent, under controlled situations so that everything is exactly the same for, say, 13 years, and see what comes out.
Obviously undoable.
Like determinism, it is completely and utterly unproveable and irrefutable.

Also, Freedom is an environment. Free willdom is a philosophical construct. I'm not sure where I mentioned freedom, but whereever I did, I'm pretty sure I didn't mean to.

Ceres
2007-08-04, 01:05 PM
This theory is certainly unnerving, and it is one I have struggled with for years. The fact is, I feel, that it is very hard to prove it wrong. As a man of science, I believe that every motion in the universe (including the activity in our brains) must have a cause. Since the universe seems to be operating by a few basic laws, none of them which include any random elements, it is logical that everything that has ever happened was predetermined in the Big Bang (or possibly before that).
I really don't like the idea, though, but I haven't heard any good arguments against it yet. Thus I have moved on by asking myself not whether it is true, but whether it does matter in any way. How would one answer or the other affect my life? The notion of not having free will seems to defy common sense, but I have always put my faith in logic.

Then again, I have problems proving whether anything except myself exist :smalltongue:

Siric
2007-08-04, 01:09 PM
This theory sounds like a lame attempt to get off death row. Too bad it won't hold up in Court.

I disagree with this theory. Or maybe just your metaphor. I don't know.

You use a domino theory. But that's assuming that events work together. It's too linear. Galaxies aren't sentient. It's more like an avalanche. An event occurs, the beginning of time maybe, that Causes a rock to roll. This hits a rock, and causes another to roll, like the dominoes. However at any given time, one rock might hit two rocks. These two rocks might hit four rocks. Before you know it, you have a wave of spherical and rockish destruction rolling down the mountain side. Any rock that rolls has a either a chance of hitting a number of rocks, or getting hit by a different rock and getting hit clear of course, into the nearby lake.

What does this mean? The events in the galaxy or to numerous and chaotic to possibly work together in an orderly fashion to end our free will. Sure, the father beat his son, which possibly could have ended in the murder of the woman, but all that went out the window when he found out that woman was actually the son's father, who happened to be cross dressing. Rather than kill "her" and go to jail, he laughed at his father, walked away, and became President of the Universe. Or, maybe, Rather than kill the woman, a random asteroid crashed into the planet and caused it to 'splode.

Their is a incalculable number of variables, an incalculable number of futures.

Maybe the Domino theory could still work if you said their was an innumerable amount of domino trails that frequently ran into each other. But, yeah, either way, I'm pretty sure I disagree with you. It's hard to tell when I don't know what I'm thinking.

Just tell them you aren't death. You are a cat. In a box. (Who may or may not be death ;) )

Hm I thought he WAS death and WASN'T death at any given time. Maybe I'm thinking of a different theory.

Tirian
2007-08-04, 01:12 PM
I believe that I have free will. That belief is either correct or it is not. If it is correct, then I am rational to believe it. If it is not, then my belief is just a deterministic outcome of the physical forces in the universe or the chemical processes in my brain, or the programming of the computer simulation that appear as reality to me or what have you, and therefore I am not particularly foolish for being incorrect.

In fewer words, there is no utility in believing that my beliefs are irrelevant, and so it is rational to believe that they are relevant.

This argument is essentially Pascal's Wager, except applied against determinism instead of atheism, and it seems even more sound than Pascal's original argument.

Cyrano
2007-08-04, 01:13 PM
By the way, Semedi, your entire premise is begging the question. You can't make an absolute judgement based on inabsolute evidence.
I can get away with it because I use terms like "If you can accept the fact that" and "IF such and such, THEN" rather than "Blahdeblah, SO, X must exist." Just a quibble.

Sisqui
2007-08-04, 01:27 PM
Also, Freedom is an environment. Free willdom is a philosophical construct. I'm not sure where I mentioned freedom, but whereever I did, I'm pretty sure I didn't mean to.

Sorry. I think I misunderstood what you were saying. I thought you were saying that since the actions of others affect what choices you make and what options you have before you, that you could not be free willed- that limitation of choice negated the ability to choose. I see what you meant now.


But, yeah, either way, I'm pretty sure I disagree with you. It's hard to tell when I don't know what I'm thinking.

I am so glad I am not the only one with this problem. :smallbiggrin:

horseboy
2007-08-04, 02:16 PM
By the way, Semedi, your entire premise is begging the question. You can't make an absolute judgement based on inabsolute evidence.


w00t! (http://www.adultswim.com/video/?episodeID=d01430440d13ad01b30c207310a6c1fe) I get to use this link twice in one day.

Siwenna
2007-08-04, 02:23 PM
Every event has a cause.

Actually, this is not stricty true. Causality gets totally screwed up on a quantum scale. I don't recall the exact nature of the experiment, but there was on that showed that under certain conditions there is a 50% chance of a neutron spinning left and 50% chance of it spinning right (oversimplified, I know.) But it doesn't have a reason for spinning left/right, it's literally just probability.

However our brain isn't at a quantum scale, so causality works for us. And even if some low-probability, totally bizarre event happened, it would just cause the particles to behave oddly and spontaneously, which would just make our brain act differently, not giving us free will.

So yeah, I don't think you can consider free will real without believing in it, which is fine. I just try not to blindly have faith in anything.

EDIT:
before chaos theory comes into play, and we have a whole new ball game.

Chaos theory just deals with the so-called "butterfly effect." Very small events can cause huge, seemingly spontaneous changes in the long run, but there's still a cause.

Tom_Violence
2007-08-04, 02:30 PM
I suppose there is no way to argue with that. :smalleek:

However, if the changing of the incentives does produce a change in the results (via a physical change in neurochemistry or what have you), then I think it is reasonably safe to keep the justice system in place, determinism or no. Whew! Of course, now comes the argument that it was the change in neurochemistry in individuals in society caused by the acts of offenders that led to the laws that changed the incentives that changed the.........BLAH,BLAH,BLAH. So, I declare, if the criminals can't help being criminals because they were predestined to do it, then I can't help punishing them because I am predestined to do that. So there! :smallbiggrin:

I think this philosophy is self-limiting in practice, though. If it were applied and people were suddenly not to be held accountable for their actions, anarchy would ensue. Everyone could do whatever they wanted to anyone else and not only do they have a built in justification, they have completely eliminated the need for justification itself. People just will not put up with that kind of environment. They will band together to enforce some kind of order and take punitive measures to do it, thus reestablishing society and a justice system.

Well the thing about a theory like Determinism is that it is in no way prescriptive - you can't use it as a 'reason' for doing something. You can try and say to people "here are reasons why morality isn't quite as 'real' as you might think it is" (and it is very possible to do this without collapsing into relativism, as it depends on what your definitions of 'real' are), but after you've said that people are likely to either disbelieve your claims, or perhaps just carry on as normal as the way of doing things that we have, which may often be referred to as 'morality', works quite nicely and we wouldn't want to lose it due to the aforementioned chaos you pointed out.


Well, I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I definitely have free will. See, the world is just a projection of my mind, so anything that "happens" to me is just the result of my own subconcious, and not because of any outside factors.

I shall hereby refer to you as Solipsistic Cat!

http://www.alessonislearned.com/cmx/lesson034.jpg


Chaos theory just deals with the so-called "butterfly effect." Very small events can cause huge, seemingly spontaneous changes in the long run, but there's still a cause.

Absolutely true. Determinism and Chaos Theory are completely compatible. So much so, in fact, that you could say that one relies on the other. :smalltongue:

averagejoe
2007-08-04, 03:38 PM
I shall hereby refer to you as Solipsistic Cat!

http://www.alessonislearned.com/cmx/lesson034.jpg

That is hilarious. :smallbiggrin:

geek_2049
2007-08-04, 03:51 PM
A friend from Portland wrote the following in her journal yesterday:

Small Coincidences

"Leaving my house this afternoon to make a grocery store run, I backed halfway out of my driveway intending to go west on my street. Halfway out, I changed my mind and went east, deciding I'd drop by a friend's house on my way to see if I can bring anything for his party later this evening.

As I started to make my turn, I saw a man lying unmoving in the parking strip, head on the sidewalk, a backpack next to him. I yelled are you okay? out my window and he didn't move. When I stood over him and yelled again, he didn't move. I shook his foot. Nothing.

He was breathing, so lightly as to be almost imperceptible, and only about every fifteen or twenty seconds, and his pulse was thready and slow. I called 911, and they were there within maybe two minutes. I talked to him while I waited, knowing he probably couldn't hear me, but I didn't know what else to do. I told him my name.

The paramedics figured out pretty much instantaneously that it was a heroin overdose, whapped him on the chest a bunch until his arms started spasming a little bit and gave him a shot of the adrenaline stuff. Once he started getting fluttery, they told me they all had they needed from me and I could go.

Funny how little bits of timing work out. I'm on vacation today. My street isn't particularly heavily traveled, and most of the neighbors work during the day. There's not much in the way of foot traffic. It's possible I'd be writing about someone finding a body on my street corner if the weird little directional coincidence hadn't happened.

We're all so goddamn interconnected."

The story has elements of free will and chance. Some chances include her going the opposite direction, the junkie who wandered down the street she was on, and that this time said junkie would OD (maybe). The free will was when she choose to stop and help the junkie.

bugsysservant
2007-08-04, 04:19 PM
The problem with determinism is that it allows a dualistic interpretation through the use of quantum mechanics and chaos theory. While this is probably just my little bit of rationalizing my lack of free will, by its very nature it can't be disproven. All right.
Statement one: Dualism posits that there exists a non-materialistic world which can affect the materialistic world in non physical ways. This is somewhat logical, since we can envision a perfect circle even though such a thing is impossible.
Statement two: Quantum mechanics allows fully random events the outcome of which can only be expressed in probabilistic terms. THis isn't logic, its an empirical fact. You can never say X will occur, thus Y will occur, only X will occur, thus Y has a probability of Z of occurring.
Statement three: Chaos theory allows a very small change in a complex iterative prediction to vastly change the course, and ultimately the outcome, in a relatively short timframe. This is also a fact. A butterfly flapping its wings will change the outcome of a weather model that accounts for all other factors, and it will do so relatively rapidly.

Given these, I believe that there is some form of free will. That determinism is incorrect is indisputable, since, according to determinism, we could know our current state given only perfect knowlege of the universe half a second after the big bang. This is, of course, impossible, since so many quantum mechanical improbabilities have occurred and been exacerbated by chaos theory, that any prediction we may have made would long ago have been reduced to rubish. Anyway, it seems somewhat logical to me that we possess the inherent ability to influence small changes in our way of thinking which undermine determinism through chaos theory. As long as we have a non physical aspect of our beings, this theory is likely, but as soon as you strip us of that, it falls apart. But thats getting a bit too religious-ish for these forums.

MrEdwardNigma
2007-08-04, 04:26 PM
Nice string of thought. One problem. Ever considered that the cause" you are looking for might, in some cases, be what we call "Free Will"? Isn't free will just the name we give to how we react as an individual to information? In your example, the man killed the woman because he was beaten by his father. But does every kid that gets beaten by his dad turn into a killer? I think not. What made him turn into a killer, in addition to his abusive father, was free will.

Sure, free will might be determined genetically, and if we were much, much more intelligent creatures, we might be able to analyze our DNA pattern so to predict any person's reactions. Off course, except a more vast IQ, that would also require a lot of spare time to burn. Bu does it being determined genetically really stop it from being what it is, free will? No! Our genes determine who we are, and thus what we decide. Were we to decide anything different, we would be a different person, and thus not deciding differently at all!

Does this realisation affect our morality? It depends. Only if your free will decides it should, and that having such knowledge is enough reason to abandon reason. For me, it is not.

As for chance, that I don't believe in. I believe chance is a perfectly calculable factor, if only one knows the proper formulae, which we never will in my opinion, but that is irrelevant. The same can be said about the seemingly random movements of electrons and such. I say the universe has a logical, if complicated, design, that ticks to reason, and to nothing else.

Bugsyservant, I believe I have denied your theory by stating this, though I do agree that we could never actually calculate where we are now given the beginning of the universe. I, however, feel that is because of the limits of the human mind, and not those of the calculatableness (or whatever you need to call it) of the universe.

Siwenna
2007-08-04, 04:30 PM
In your example, the man killed the woman because he was beaten by his father. But does every kid that gets beaten by his dad turn into a killer? I think not. What made him turn into a killer, in addition to his abusive father, was free will.

No, it was different genetic inclinations and slightly different environment. We can't exactly immitate any environment, but even if we could, the kids are genetically different, so react differently. Different amounts of X protein in the brain can make all the difference in the world.

MrEdwardNigma
2007-08-04, 04:45 PM
No, it was different genetic inclinations and slightly different environment. We can't exactly immitate any environment, but even if we could, the kids are genetically different, so react differently. Different amounts of X protein in the brain can make all the difference in the world.

My point exactly (if you actually read the whole post...). Free will IS genes. Call it what you like, but your genes make you who you are, and who you are makes you make decicions the way you do. It's simple as that. And I call that free will. Determined free will, no matter how odd that might sound.

Siwenna
2007-08-04, 05:15 PM
My point exactly (if you actually read the whole post...). Free will IS genes. Call it what you like, but your genes make you who you are, and who you are makes you make decicions the way you do. It's simple as that. And I call that free will. Determined free will, no matter how odd that might sound.

But then it's not free will. But anyways, sorry I misunderstood you (I did read the whole post.)

MrEdwardNigma
2007-08-04, 05:19 PM
But then it's not free will. But anyways, sorry I misunderstood you (I did read the whole post.)

Off course it is. It's merely a paradox. We can decide anything we like, but what we like is predetermined. :smallbiggrin:

horseboy
2007-08-04, 05:39 PM
N
As for chance, that I don't believe in. I believe chance is a perfectly calculable factor, if only one knows the proper formulae, which we never will in my opinion, but that is irrelevant. The same can be said about the seemingly random movements of electrons and such. I say the universe has a logical, if complicated, design, that ticks to reason, and to nothing else.

Bugsyservant, I believe I have denied your theory by stating this, though I do agree that we could never actually calculate where we are now given the beginning of the universe. I, however, feel that is because of the limits of the human mind, and not those of the calculatableness (or whatever you need to call it) of the universe.

And this was the basis of Hari Seldon then?

MrEdwardNigma
2007-08-04, 05:43 PM
Who in blazes is Hari Seldon??? :smallredface:

horseboy
2007-08-04, 06:09 PM
Who in blazes is Hari Seldon??? :smallredface:

Hari Seldon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hari_Seldon)

TSGames
2007-08-04, 09:31 PM
Syllogistastic!

Every event has a cause.
Human actions (including thought) are events.
Therefore: All human actions have a cause.

Thus freewill does not exist.


This does not disprove free will at all. Look at this way.
assume free will exists
Humans make choices based on their environment(internal or external) because they choose to
Therefore: Freewill is human reaction to the environment

Just claiming that the choices we make have a cause, and even claiming that the choices themselves are predetermined does not disprove free will. The fact of the matter is that humans have made those decisions, and regardless of the reasons why, and regardless of how predictable their choices may be, the humans still chose that action.

Cyrano
2007-08-04, 09:42 PM
It doesn't necessarily disprove determinism, though.
It's just a wierd, twisted, bizarre form of determinism that doesn't make any actual sense.

purple gelatinous cube o' Doom
2007-08-04, 11:18 PM
I don't know if I have free will, but I do know that I exist within a larger group, who, perhaps due to cultural pressures, agree upon the "basic universal laws" of morality. I also know that I am happy abiding by those laws, and that, by choosing to do so, I further increase my happiness existing within this group. It doesn't really matter to me, because justice, right and wrong, etc. can go take a flying stab at a rolling donut compared to happiness.

So what you're telling me is that every decision has been predetermined for you. No matter what happens around you that may influence you has no effect at all on you, and you would make that decision over and over again. Without a doubt, I believe there is free will, and with that comes decisions. There is always a choice.

Siwenna
2007-08-05, 12:26 AM
Humans make choices based on their environment(internal or external) because they choose to
Therefore: Freewill is human reaction to the environment

But how could human's get freewill. I think we all agree that prokaryotic bacteria lack freewill. So somehow, between the first primitive cells and now, it would have to evolve. But evolution is based on chemical changes. OUr brain chemistry can change to the point where we have the illusion of free will, because, by definition, it would not be free will.

Extra_Crispy
2007-08-05, 01:00 AM
I think you've misunderstood. Determinism does not claim that you always will be the role you were born into. It claims that everything we do is ultimately determined by physical factors. You can have two people in broadly similar circumstances -- two molested children for example -- who turn out very differently, because their circumstances are never absolutely identical. For a start, they're different people, which means their brains are configured differently; but this is a physical fact about them even if it's unobservable to everyone except neurologists (and even they are far from having a complete understanding of how the brain works). If, however, we did have a complete physical understanding of the brain and we knew all the physical events that happen to a certain person over the course of their life, we would be able to predict the physical outcomes of those events (the person's actions).


Yes I think you are right and I missed the point some. Like I said I am not very good at philosophy espically at explaining what I mean. What I was trying to say was that people still choose. All the factors that lead to a certain set of choices and yet people still choose other things. Take in my post where I talk about my mother. Everyone in her family smoked. Her up bringing, genes (as her siblings will have very similiar genes), all pointed to her being a smoker also but she is not. she choose not to be. She exercised free will and decided against it. It does not matter what put the choice there, if it was predetermined or not. What matters is that she made the choice and decided that she would not smoke. To me that is free will. I cant think of how to describe it any better, just not that good at explaining things like this.

Koga
2007-08-05, 01:16 AM
I believe free-will exsists, but freedom doesn't.

We all can do what we want, when we want, how we want.

But we can never predict how another will react, and this inturn hinders our wills because we must concern ourselves with thier reaction because depending on the level of dislike. We can go from doing something to not doing anything. Not nesscary die, but being imprisoned, restricted somehow, regulated, etc.


Freedom is relative to the collective's cooperation. Even if just one person alters from that cooperation. Free-will becomes useless.


Our enviorment determines our free-will. For example, you notice I talk in the first person now, that's because I was warned by the admin that talking in third person was too much like masking speech. The amount of free-will I possesed was determined by my willingness to risk pissing the admin off. Was I willing to risk a harsher enviorment (the admin smacking warnings on me) for the sake of my pride as an artist?

The short answer speaks for itself. We are not free individuals. We are receptive individuals. We receive and register information and circumstances. And react as appropiately as our brains will let us. Those among us who have any true sense of free-will are completely psychotic and die instanously by a sniper cause they shotup a place.

In some ways I envy them..

But then I'd rather be alive then dead..

Koga
2007-08-05, 01:20 AM
But how could human's get freewill. I think we all agree that prokaryotic bacteria lack freewill. So somehow, between the first primitive cells and now, it would have to evolve. But evolution is based on chemical changes. OUr brain chemistry can change to the point where we have the illusion of free will, because, by definition, it would not be free will.
By contrast what we have evolved into is the ability to not nesscary do the most rational or efficient thing. We've gone a step up from machines.


Atleast in theory, I fail to see how subjecting one's self to anything less then what's best for them could be described as anything more then primitive.


If you ask me, plants are the highest form of life. They require little substinance, they lack emotion, rancor, they needn't have messy unrealiable intercourse to continue thier specie's exsistance. They have no wants, no pains.

After plants comes insects. Then it gets tricky between humans and other animals.

Siwenna
2007-08-05, 03:51 AM
If you ask me, plants are the highest form of life. They require little substinance, they lack emotion, rancor, they needn't have messy unrealiable intercourse to continue thier specie's exsistance. They have no wants, no pains.

After plants comes insects. Then it gets tricky between humans and other animals.

I don't think you can really say one grouping of life is higher than another. All have different advantages, and the extinct ones went extinct under conditions that would render many of todays species extinct. But you're comparing different categories of organisms. Plantae is a whole kingdom, Insecta is a class, and Homo sapien is a species.


By contrast what we have evolved into is the ability to not nesscary do the most rational or efficient thing. We've gone a step up from machines.


Up? Down, I'd say, though it makes the illusion of freewill more realistic :smallwink: . But I still think that that is do to the chemicals in the brain acting a certain way, not freewill.


Those among us who have any true sense of free-will are completely psychotic and die instanously by a sniper cause they shotup a place.

I disagree with that. Their brain chemistry is just screwed up enought that they don't value society and other people. We're social animals. THat's how we've evolved, but in some cases chemical unbalaces and certain environments can screw up or reverse those instincts.

TSGames
2007-08-05, 04:33 AM
But how could human's get freewill. I think we all agree that prokaryotic bacteria lack freewill. So somehow, between the first primitive cells and now, it would have to evolve. But evolution is based on chemical changes. OUr brain chemistry can change to the point where we have the illusion of free will, because, by definition, it would not be free will.

It doesn't matter how we got it.

Siwenna
2007-08-06, 08:55 PM
It doesn't matter how we got it.

But it does. If you assume we have it, it matters for the scientific value, the same reason why it matters how we became bipeds.

However there is no evidence that we have freewill. So in order for it to be even valid speculation, there needs to be some way for it to evolve. If there is no way for a species to evolve to have freewill (and I don't think there is,) then we can't have it.

horseboy
2007-08-06, 09:09 PM
they needn't have messy unrealiable intercourse to continue thier specie's exsistance.

Have you seen what all that pollen does to my car? :smalltongue:

But it does. If you assume we have it, it matters for the scientific value, the same reason why it matters how we became bipeds.

Why?


However there is no evidence that we have freewill. So in order for it to be even valid speculation, there needs to be some way for it to evolve. If there is no way for a species to evolve to have freewill (and I don't think there is,) then we can't have it.
Why?

Tom_Violence
2007-08-06, 09:43 PM
Can anyone here even define free will yet? Has anyone tried? :smalltongue:


That is hilarious. :smallbiggrin:

Wherever I can, I shall spread the good work of A Lesson Is Learned.

Tom_Violence
2007-08-06, 09:53 PM
The problem with determinism is that it allows a dualistic interpretation through the use of quantum mechanics and chaos theory. While this is probably just my little bit of rationalizing my lack of free will, by its very nature it can't be disproven. All right.
Statement one: Dualism posits that there exists a non-materialistic world which can affect the materialistic world in non physical ways. This is somewhat logical, since we can envision a perfect circle even though such a thing is impossible.
Statement two: Quantum mechanics allows fully random events the outcome of which can only be expressed in probabilistic terms. THis isn't logic, its an empirical fact. You can never say X will occur, thus Y will occur, only X will occur, thus Y has a probability of Z of occurring.
Statement three: Chaos theory allows a very small change in a complex iterative prediction to vastly change the course, and ultimately the outcome, in a relatively short timframe. This is also a fact. A butterfly flapping its wings will change the outcome of a weather model that accounts for all other factors, and it will do so relatively rapidly.

Given these, I believe that there is some form of free will. That determinism is incorrect is indisputable, since, according to determinism, we could know our current state given only perfect knowlege of the universe half a second after the big bang. This is, of course, impossible, since so many quantum mechanical improbabilities have occurred and been exacerbated by chaos theory, that any prediction we may have made would long ago have been reduced to rubish. Anyway, it seems somewhat logical to me that we possess the inherent ability to influence small changes in our way of thinking which undermine determinism through chaos theory. As long as we have a non physical aspect of our beings, this theory is likely, but as soon as you strip us of that, it falls apart. But thats getting a bit too religious-ish for these forums.

I don't see the link between Dualism and Determinism.

Anyway, the existance of the theory of Quantum Mechanics doesn't invalidate Determinism. All a Determinist has to claim is that even quantum events are somehow determined, even if we don't quite know how yet. Furthermore, in terms of free will at Determinist stance doesn't require us to be able to predict events, all it has to claim is that our 'choices' are the result of previous events (even entirely random ones) and not because of a voluntary act of will on our part. Evidently, what this 'will' consists of needs to be decided on for this debate to go anywhere.

Evrine
2007-08-06, 10:04 PM
A quick, general definition of free-will as far as I'm concerned is the power of the mind. The mind is unmeasurable, and even more mysterious is the unconscious. We know that they both exist, but we barely understand either.

Creativity alone should be enough to prove free will.

Strict cause and effect isn't the most sound of theories, because there can be multiple causes contributing to a single effect, and vice versa. It's like saying the head of a donkey causes the tail.

As an example, take a look at schizophrenia, which is a series of psychological disorders that tend to run in families. Yes, it may have a biological component, but that is not its cause.

Cyrano
2007-08-06, 10:41 PM
Creativity alone should be enough to prove free will.

What? Whatwhatwhat? No, you completely miss the point. Determinism is impossible to prove, but creativity is in no way an indication of free will. There's no way to tell it IS creativity. It could be a completely mechanical reaction to stimuli, or a biological function that has already been determined, hence the name.

Dhavaer
2007-08-06, 10:55 PM
I think 'free will' needs to be defined before anything much constructive can happen in this thread.

Cryopyre
2007-08-06, 11:00 PM
I think 'free will' needs to be defined before anything much constructive can happen in this thread.

The good old word game.

Okay, I'll pull up a dictionary dictionary because I'm lazy:

(philosophy) The doctrine that humans (and possibly other entities) are able to choose their actions without being caused to do so by external forces.

Dhavaer
2007-08-06, 11:03 PM
The good old word game.

Okay, I'll pull up a dictionary dictionary because I'm lazy:

(philosophy) The doctrine that humans (and possibly other entities) are able to choose their actions without being caused to do so by external forces.

I like that one. According to this definition, I'd say that yes, humans do have free will, because internal forces (hormones, microvoltage in the brain, etc.) have a say as well as external ones.

Tom_Violence
2007-08-06, 11:07 PM
I like that one. According to this definition, I'd say that yes, humans do have free will, because internal forces (hormones, microvoltage in the brain, etc.) have a say as well as external ones.

Which probably makes the definition inadequate for many. :smalltongue:

Siwenna
2007-08-06, 11:43 PM
@horseboy: As to to first "Why?", because there is a value in understanding things. It's hard to fix what you don't understand. And I think there is a value in pure understanding and knowedge, not a concrete value, but still a value (I don't think this, but sometimes I feel like we're in some big game where to goal is to get as much knowedge as we can before extinction. But, yeah, that's beside the point.)

As to the second.... it's harder for me to explain. I'm going to assume that there can be no physical/chemical/scientifically explainable cause of freewill. So in that case it can't exist because there is no way for it to come about. And if things can just supernaturally appear then the universe stops to make any sort of sense. There isn't any way for it to come about because there aren't any laws governing it that would allow matter to change and evolve to the point it is at now.

Sorry, I know I did a horrible job explaining that. It's deeply tied to my belief about the nature of the universe, which is intuitive enough that I can't really explain it.

I would define freewill as the ability to decide something completely independently of any sort of physical cause. So with the geek_2049's example, the friend decided to help the guy. Neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, electro-chemical gradients, etc had nothing to do with it. Looking at it like that, I think the belief in freewill requires belief in some sort of soul. SOmething immaterial that is still the essense of you.

Semi-offtopic: I'm taking an Intro to Psychology course this semmester, and from the required books, it looks like there's going to be at least some discussion about stuff like this (it includes De Anima, or On the Soul, by Aristotle, and Matter and Consciousness, by Churchland.

Talya
2007-08-07, 06:59 AM
I have to say I agree with the OP.

Even with the supposed randomness of quantum events, human actions are primarily deterministic. You will do as you are programmed to do. Whatever choice you think you are making was not a choice; the way you respond in any situation, even what you think, is a product if the wiring of your brain, which is just a biological computer. The function of that computer is determined by biology and by life experience. You do what you do because that's how your brain will react in that situation at that time. "Choice" is nothing but an illusion.

Evrine
2007-08-07, 09:10 AM
What? Whatwhatwhat? No, you completely miss the point. Determinism is impossible to prove, but creativity is in no way an indication of free will. There's no way to tell it IS creativity. It could be a completely mechanical reaction to stimuli, or a biological function that has already been determined, hence the name.

Yes, it could be, but that's impossible to prove as well. Creativity is linked with higher activity in the frontal lobe and temporal lobe. But does that mean this higher activity causes creativity? Or does the creativity cause the higher activity? There's no way to know because it's purely a correlation. There is no causation at all.

Multiple systems within the body work this way. It's called the mind-body (or sometimes mind-body-spirit) connection. It states, basically, that the mind influences the body just as much as the body influences the mind.

Siwenna
2007-08-07, 10:02 AM
Yes, it could be, but that's impossible to prove as well. Creativity is linked with higher activity in the frontal lobe and temporal lobe. But does that mean this higher activity causes creativity? Or does the creativity cause the higher activity? There's no way to know because it's purely a correlation. There is no causation at all.

From a scientific point of view there is, though. There needs to be some sort of basis for the creativity, something causing it to happen. The amount of activity the frontal and temporal lobes is a good explanation. However, to say that creativity is some sort of higher substance, one that isn't caused by any sort of physical occurance and which can not be shown to exist, makes very little sense.

Number 6
2007-08-07, 10:21 AM
The problem with determinism, i.e. the theory that there is no free will, as proposed by Tayla, is that they confuse motivation with will. No one does anything without motivation; no one just jumps up for no reason, they do it because they sat on a tack.

But, barring totally automatic reflexes like putting your hand on a hot stove, we still evaluate what our reaction would be. A man walks into a book store with a bazooka; the observer can still decide whether he wants to A) run, B) put up his hands, C) call lunch time. The determinists say that his decision is determined (hence the name) by his experience or psychological makeup, but they're making an assumption there. The fact that we cognate i.e. think about what we should do next indicate, I think, free will.

In short, no one suddenly swerves off the road for no reason, we do it because there's a truck coming, or because we're loony and want to prove that we have free will. But to assume then that we are slaves to motivation is a non sequitar.

CrazedGoblin
2007-08-07, 10:27 AM
*stares at screen briefly trying to understand things said in the post before falling off the chair*

Number 6
2007-08-07, 10:27 AM
Some people, like those who follow Kant disagree with me, but I think it's futile to debate something before we define what it is. There's no point going on until someone tells us what we mean by free will. If we don't know what the "question of life, the universe, and everything is," we can't get the answer. 42.

So, anyone, what is free will?

Telonius
2007-08-07, 11:00 AM
What is free will? This won't be very organized, but I'll give it a go.

Free will and self-awareness seem to have quite a bit to do with each other. A choice is free only insofar as I'm aware that the choice exists, and of its likely consequences. Free will isn't an absolute thing for me - it's not an on/off switch.

There are certain constraints that free will can't overcome - I can't decide to "not fall" if I get dropped out a window, for example. That would be a compelled "choice." Not free.

If somebody holds a gun up to my head and tells me to give them my money. I do have a choice. I can die, or give them the money. The choice isn't great, and it's pretty clear that the consequences would be severe. So, the choice might be technically free (it is possible for me to decide to get killed), but the costs and benefits would be so out of proportion as to be pretty meaningless.

Now suppose I'm buying a car. I go in and purchase one, and it breaks down within a block because the salesman cheated me. Did I choose to buy a broken car? Well, yes. Nobody forced me to buy a lemon, but I didn't have full information about the car. I would have made a different choice if I'd known more. Still, it didn't occur to me that somebody would try to cheat me. So something like this seems a bit freer than somebody threatening to kill me; but not quite as free as it could be.

Now let's say I go do a bunch of research on cars. I find out all I can about them, talk to industry experts, friends, read car reviews, and so on. I do a full check on my finances and ability to pay, and think about how much car I'm willing to buy. Then, I pick out a car based on that. I take it out for a test drive. Then, I buy it. That seems to be a much freer choice than the others.

There are still things I don't know - when will a particular part wear out, will somebody be impressed by it, what will the world 50,000 years from now look like because I picked the green model instead of the red one? In order for me to make a completely free choice, I would have to know all the consequences. To know that, I'd need to know the current state of all the matter in the universe, as well as all of the laws that govern it. Only an omniscient being could do this.

So, while completely free will is unattainable to normal human beings, we can have free-er will in some situations than in others.

Indon
2007-08-07, 11:02 AM
I don't think Determinism is even required to disregard the concept of "Free Will" as it is being used in this thread. This was implied earlier, but I'll expound on it a bit.

So, yeah, you have no choice, by that definition of choice, if everything is determined by previous things.

But let's say, for the sake of argument, that the universe really isn't deterministic; cause and effect are simply not neccessarily associated with each other. Do you have free will now? No, you don't, because you still aren't making your choices; the universe is making the choices, now they're just random, rather than regulated.

I think the concept of free will simply predates our modern understanding of causality, and as such is incompatible with it. I feel instead, that a more functional definition of Free Will, which involves an understanding that the concept of choice exists to improve society, would allow us to maintain all that is good about the concept (such as responsibility and accountability) while discarding the logical silliness.

One further advantage of a functional view of free will is that punishment (i.e. revenge) is no longer justified; only correction or neutralization.

Tom_Violence
2007-08-07, 11:14 AM
Yes, it could be, but that's impossible to prove as well. Creativity is linked with higher activity in the frontal lobe and temporal lobe. But does that mean this higher activity causes creativity? Or does the creativity cause the higher activity? There's no way to know because it's purely a correlation. There is no causation at all.

Multiple systems within the body work this way. It's called the mind-body (or sometimes mind-body-spirit) connection. It states, basically, that the mind influences the body just as much as the body influences the mind.

Of course, the very easy way around this is to say that the creativity is the higher activity, that the mind-body-spirit are all the same thing.

Evrine
2007-08-07, 12:25 PM
From a scientific point of view there is, though. There needs to be some sort of basis for the creativity, something causing it to happen. The amount of activity the frontal and temporal lobes is a good explanation. However, to say that creativity is some sort of higher substance, one that isn't caused by any sort of physical occurance and which can not be shown to exist, makes very little sense.

Except that it's not an explanation at all. As I stated, it's only a correlation. You know what else produces activity in the frontal and temporal lobes? Close your eyes, reach out and identify an object by touch. That increases the activity in those areas also.

I wouldn't exactly call creativity a substance, as that implies a physical aspect, which is something I'm trying to avoid. My point is this, the mind and creativity can not be directly observed and measured by science, but we know they exist because of the end products. How do we have such a wealth of works of creative fiction, tv shows, movies, plays, et cetera if there is no creativity?

Similarly, if the mind had a physical aspect, we could selectively damage areas of the brain and wipe out memories. And no, the hippocampus doesn't count, because it doesn't actually store memory, it just processes memory. The only way to damage memory directly is to damage so much of the brain the person would likely not be able to function anyway.

Also, look at cases like Phineas Gage, who had a railroad spike exploded through his left frontal lobe. He still had all of his mental faculties after the accident, however he did have some problems with impulse control, socially appropriate behavior, and aggression, which are areas the frontal lobes manage.

To reiterate, the mind and the body (and the spirit, if you want) are separate entities that are connected and capable of influencing each other. The mind is the source of free-will because while it may be influenced by the body, it is not controlled (caused) by the body.

Nym Nailo
2007-08-07, 12:30 PM
My opinion as a philosopher-in-my-spare-time...

The definition of Free Will that I would propose is "the ability to create an additional cause for an event, that cause being independent from any event in the past".
This means that most of the causality for the event is determined by previous events, but there is an additional element causing the event which is not related to any event in the past.
It seems to me that this is a fitting definition... (whether this new element is "voluntary" or not is irrelevant, it is however a necessary condition for free will, as defined here, to exist)

But if this is the case, the syllogism proposed by the author of the first post is a tautology, because the first hypothesis (interpreted as the author probably intended) is just a negation of this definition.
So the reasoning reduces to "if free will does not exist, it does not exist".

Can we really prove that free will does not exist, i.e. the set of causes for any event is only determined by the events in the past (first hypothesis in the syllogism, summarized in a simple "every event has a [certain] cause")?
We can answer from a religious point of view, from a philosophical (logical) point of view, or from a scientific point of view.

Let's skip religion because it can not be discussed in the forums.

Using logic, we can either assume that the hypothesis is an axiom, or prove that it can be deduced from the other axioms of the logical system.
If we say it is an axiom, then we have made an arbitrary choice, and that is what the author of the first post has done.
But if we say that it can be deduced, then we have to find its proof starting from the set of axioms in our logical system. Still, those axioms have to come from somewhere. Ultimately, axioms are initial definitions of the formal system that we set, and the only way to make sure they are true (and they are not just arbitrary) is to have scientific experimental evidence for them.

Which brings us to the scientific analysis.
I seem to remember that one of the consequences of Heisenberg's principle (which is widely accepted by now) is, in very very simple words, that it is impossible to measure energy levels below a certain threshold without affecting the system (and making the measurement useless).
Now, this means that scientific experimental evidence (i.e. measurements) is correct only over a certain precision threshold, below which it is impossible to determine energy variations.

So I think that the assumption that causality is rigidly determined by events in the past can not be proven.
Consider an event that happens only if the energy level of a particular entity is higher than X. We can measure the energy of the entity in such a way that we do not alter its state, and it turns out to be slightly less than X. However, we find that the event happens anyway. Why? Well, we could not possibly measure the exact value of the energy level, so it must have been higher. But why was it higher?
Suppose that we identify all the possible interactions of the entity with all the other entities in the universe. Every interaction modifies the energy level of the entity, but we can only measure variations up to a certain precision. With our measurements, we still find that the energy level should be less than X.
But the event happens, so it was greater than X.
Where does the energy difference come from?
Well, scientifically we can not prove its source. We have no way of doing so.

Therefore, we can not disprove that there is "something" able to create an additional energy variation below the threshold. Which results in an additional cause for the event, independent from all the scientifically measurable events in the past.

I am not saying that this "something" exists. I am saying that science can not effectively determine the real cause of an event, and therefore stating that it can or can not be due to an external cause (free will?) is just an arbitrary statement that does not have scientific proof.

You can still believe it, or you can believe otherwise.
I am content that everybody can have their own opinion based on personal experience, religious beliefs, or whatever.


[sorry for the very long post! :smallredface: ]

horseboy
2007-08-07, 01:51 PM
@horseboy: As to to first "Why?", because there is a value in understanding things. It's hard to fix what you don't understand.
Why would "free will" need be fixed?


And I think there is a value in pure understanding and knowledge, not a concrete value, but still a value (I don't think this, but sometimes I feel like we're in some big game where to goal is to get as much knowledge as we can before extinction. But, yeah, that's beside the point.)hmm, maybe they need to errata the rules for free will?


As to the second.... it's harder for me to explain. I'm going to assume that there can be no physical/chemical/scientifically explainable cause of freewill. So in that case it can't exist because there is no way for it to come about. And if things can just supernaturally appear then the universe stops to make any sort of sense. There isn't any way for it to come about because there aren't any laws governing it that would allow matter to change and evolve to the point it is at now.
Does it need one? We know what lightning is, but not WHY lightning is.
Doesn't Hawking's theorems of black holes allow for things to appear and completely disappear from this dimension? Does "free will" even need to reside within this dimension?


Sorry, I know I did a horrible job explaining that. It's deeply tied to my belief about the nature of the universe, which is intuitive enough that I can't really explain it. It's through exchange of ideas that these ideas grow and expand. :smallsmile:


I would define freewill as the ability to decide something completely independently of any sort of physical cause. So with the geek_2049's example, the friend decided to help the guy. Neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, electro-chemical gradients, etc had nothing to do with it. Looking at it like that, I think the belief in freewill requires belief in some sort of soul. somethings immaterial that is still the essence of you.
This disturbs you why?


Semi-offtopic: I'm taking an Intro to Psychology course this semester, and from the required books, it looks like there's going to be at least some discussion about stuff like this (it includes De Anima, or On the Soul, by Aristotle, and Matter and Consciousness, by Churchland.
Cool.

Telonius
2007-08-07, 02:00 PM
My point exactly (if you actually read the whole post...). Free will IS genes. Call it what you like, but your genes make you who you are, and who you are makes you make decicions the way you do. It's simple as that. And I call that free will. Determined free will, no matter how odd that might sound.

A person's genes are not fixed at birth; gene expression changes (http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s1407993.htm)throughout a person's lifetime. (Disclosure: I work for the journal that published the paper).

Indon
2007-08-07, 04:11 PM
A person's genes are not fixed at birth; gene expression changes (http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s1407993.htm)throughout a person's lifetime. (Disclosure: I work for the journal that published the paper).

As much as I hate to expand on the tangent, but wouldn't genetic expression changes also essentially be encoded into genes?

I mean, you can write computer code that rewrites itself, but the rewriting is still part of the code.

Telonius
2007-08-07, 06:39 PM
As much as I hate to expand on the tangent, but wouldn't genetic expression changes also essentially be encoded into genes?

I mean, you can write computer code that rewrites itself, but the rewriting is still part of the code.

While that's possible, the general impression I get is that environmental factors have more of an impact. I'm not sure if they've done a study on twins raised separately (i.e. split up at birth), but that would tell for sure whether or not. If the changes in those twins are greater than the changes in a control group of twins, the change would be due to environmental factors. But even with the study I linked to, it seems like a correlation is there. Early on, twins are raised in (essentially) identical environments. But as they mature and move out on their own (separate from their twin), their respective environments are different.

Siwenna
2007-08-07, 07:54 PM
Does it need one? We know what lightning is, but not WHY lightning is.
Doesn't Hawking's theorems of black holes allow for things to appear and completely disappear from this dimension? Does "free will" even need to reside within this dimension?

We're not yet sure of the root cause of lightning. However you can find a pretty good summary of why lightning occurs here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning). I think that the latest physics research says that subatomic particles such as electrons spend much of there time as "virtual particles". I'm not too sure on the specifics, but I think that they're actually switching to a more wave-like form, without mass but with energy. No, freewill does not need to reside in this dimension, but there is no reason to think that it resides anywhere, as there is no evidence in favor of it existing. And you still haven't given any possible mechanism through which freewill would work.


This disturbs you why?

Because it doesn't make sense.

Cyrano
2007-08-07, 08:23 PM
Siwenna, I would respond to that with 3 lines of size 7 laughter, but last time I did that it got edited out of my post, so lemme just say "Rofl".
This is philosophy. Don't expect it to make sense.

Siwenna
2007-08-07, 08:35 PM
I know. This is why I'm bad at philosophy. I'm so thoroughly a logical positivist that I even drag science into philosophy :P.

Rachel Lorelei
2007-08-07, 08:39 PM
So, have we defined free will yet? I mean, free from what? If it's free from all influences, it's arbitrary (and in no way a good thing); if it isn't, then it's obviously not free, because it's caused and driven by things.

Cyrano
2007-08-07, 08:41 PM
Free will is usually defined as the ability to make choices based on personal choice, personal morality, etc. It's also defined occasionally as the negative space around determinism. An absolute definition is impossible to make, really, for any philosophy.
And if you're wondering how anyone can be free when your personality counts as an "influence", I made a post about that.

Tom_Violence
2007-08-07, 09:18 PM
Siwenna, I would respond to that with 3 lines of size 7 laughter, but last time I did that it got edited out of my post, so lemme just say "Rofl".
This is philosophy. Don't expect it to make sense.

Wow.

Tell that to the thousands of years of progress in philosophy, and the countless millions that have studied it and got plenty of sense out of it.

Definitions are possible in philosophy.

Philosophy is compatible with science.

If you want a discussion that doesn't have to make sense I dare say here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=34) may be a better place to start.

horseboy
2007-08-07, 10:05 PM
We're not yet sure of the root cause of lightning. However you can find a pretty good summary of why lightning occurs here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning). I think that the latest physics research says that subatomic particles such as electrons spend much of there time as "virtual particles". I'm not too sure on the specifics, but I think that they're actually switching to a more wave-like form, without mass but with energy.
Hmm, interesting, so they're not electricity or light?


No, freewill does not need to reside in this dimension, but there is no reason to think that it resides anywhere, as there is no evidence in favor of it existing. And you still haven't given any possible mechanism through which freewill would work.
Why do you choose to not see evidence of free will?



Because it doesn't make sense.
Does it not make sense because you can not find that which others accept?

Cyrano
2007-08-07, 10:09 PM
Wow.

Tell that to the thousands of years of progress in philosophy, and the countless millions that have studied it and got plenty of sense out of it.

Definitions are possible in philosophy.

Philosophy is compatible with science.

If you want a discussion that doesn't have to make sense I dare say here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=34) may be a better place to start.

Really? So you assume that Philosophy can be defined as having sense, can you? I'm going to ignore the amazing irrelevance of your bringing in death and time (Oh wait! Just did. Sorry) and instead focus on one experiment.
Give me a solid definition of any philosophical construct. Then give me a definition of sense. I will have a different definition of that same philosophical construct, by light of me being a different person. Then I will refer you to your definition of sense. Philosophy is not absolute. Thousands of years and millions of deaths have proven nothing if not that.

averagejoe
2007-08-07, 10:18 PM
Why do you choose to not see evidence of free will?

What evidence? I've seen no evidence either way posted by anyone, just speculation.

Cyrano
2007-08-07, 10:21 PM
Uuuughh.... Guys, outside of Pascal's Demon, nobody knows whether free will exists, and it's unproveable. Debate it all you please, and good job, but there is no "evidence" either way, 'mkay? Just making that absolutely clear, if at all possible.

Cryopyre
2007-08-07, 10:30 PM
I don't think any current definition of freewill encompasses what we propose. After all, you make choices, but the choices you make are predetermined by chemistry.

So, it's neither having our lives laid before us, nor is it an absolute toss up for what you can do.

Siwenna
2007-08-07, 10:49 PM
but there is no "evidence" either way, 'mkay? Just making that absolutely clear, if at all possible.

So therefore there is no reason to think that it exists. Lack of evidence to the contrary is not evidence for something. For example:

I say there are little green humanoids on mars. They have a much more efficient metabolism than us humans, so they can survive in the very thin atmosphere. They avoid the robots we send because they don't want to be seen by us. They evolved just like life on earth, but were among the very, very few species that survived when all the liquid water froze. You can't disprove that because I can always argue that the little green humanoids are in another location, or are hiding beneath ground, or something. However very few believe that there are humanoids on mars, and those that do are usually considered insane or at least rather troubled.

Cyrano
2007-08-07, 10:53 PM
Uuuugh....No, I'm NOT using that as an example that it does or does not exist! You missed the point entirely! There IS no evidence because it is UNPROVEABLE. It is unproveable because we're mortal, not because it does or does not exist, alright? It's a fine thing to debate but we can't know! THAT'S my point.

Cryopyre
2007-08-07, 11:01 PM
Either side is non-rational

Well D'anna, welcome to philosophy, it's all about the non-rational, if you dislike it, you don't bother arguing.

horseboy
2007-08-07, 11:05 PM
So therefore there is no reason to think that it exists. Lack of evidence to the contrary is not evidence for something. For example:
I've already used that quote once on this thread, so I won't link it again. Free will, however, falls under the "unknown unknowns". There are still many things we don't know that we don't know. Proof for or against it will come in time, however we currently are not capable of knowing what we need to know so we can find out if it is or not true.

Ultimately it boils down to do you want to live your life like YOU are in charge of it, or do you want to live your life like someone else is in charge of you.

Cyrano
2007-08-07, 11:21 PM
Either side is non-rational

Well D'anna, welcome to philosophy, it's all about the non-rational, if you dislike it, you don't bother arguing.

I don't dislike it, I'm trying to state the fact that it is non-rational so that absolute terms like "evidence" don't work. If anything related to philosophy is absolute enough to be referred to as "fact." That was my entire point, thanks for the agreement.

Rachel Lorelei
2007-08-07, 11:27 PM
Free will is usually defined as the ability to make choices based on personal choice, personal morality, etc. It's also defined occasionally as the negative space around determinism. An absolute definition is impossible to make, really, for any philosophy.
And if you're wondering how anyone can be free when your personality counts as an "influence", I made a post about that.

See, those aren't even remotely precise definitions of free will. What you refer to as "free will" doesn't seem to be "free" at all. It's entirely controlled by a number of things, such as your biology, your upbringing, and, heck, how your neurons are firin'.

If free will is so free, why are people (in large groups) so predictable? Why is advertising so devastatingly effective? Modern marketing is almost entirely based on the lack of free will.

Scalens
2007-08-07, 11:40 PM
Really? So you assume that Philosophy can be defined as having sense, can you? I'm going to ignore the amazing irrelevance of your bringing in death and time (Oh wait! Just did. Sorry) and instead focus on one experiment.
Give me a solid definition of any philosophical construct. Then give me a definition of sense. I will have a different definition of that same philosophical construct, by light of me being a different person. Then I will refer you to your definition of sense. Philosophy is not absolute. Thousands of years and millions of deaths have proven nothing if not that.

He never claimed philosophy was absolute. Nor does it need to be to make sense.

As for the "experiment"... the only Categorical Imperative is Kant's Categorical Imperative. Redefinition is not possible, albeit interpretation and explanation are.

Cryopyre
2007-08-08, 12:04 AM
I don't dislike it, I'm trying to state the fact that it is non-rational so that absolute terms like "evidence" don't work. If anything related to philosophy is absolute enough to be referred to as "fact." That was my entire point, thanks for the agreement.

In that case your welcome.

It seemed you were coming off as one of those "Well why even discuss it then" moping type.

But if you will actively participate that's great.

Siwenna
2007-08-08, 12:19 AM
There IS no evidence because it is UNPROVEABLE.

BUt nothing is PROVABLE when you get right down to it. I say none of this is real. I'm dreaming everyone up, and I actually live in a universe with an entirely different nature. This is just a crazy, possibly drug-induced, dream the real me is having. Or maybe you're dreaming all of us up. It's a bizarre possibility, but it's still a possibility.


Ultimately it boils down to do you want to live your life like YOU are in charge of it, or do you want to live your life like someone else is in charge of you.

I live my life like I'm in charge of it. Our entire civilization is based on that. We need to act like we have freewill, otherwise everything would fall apart. Yes, I could blame the first primitive cell every time I screw something up, but that gets nowhere. Anyway, I think we're genetically programmed to believe in freewill, just because it basically makes civilization possible. I don't think we have freewill, but some of fears, for instance, seem based on the premise that we have freewill, which can be removed under certain conditions.

Rachel Lorelei
2007-08-08, 12:23 AM
BUt nothing is PROVABLE when you get right down to it. I say none of this is real. I'm dreaming everyone up, and I actually live in a universe with an entirely different nature. This is just a crazy, possibly drug-induced, dream the real me is having. Or maybe you're dreaming all of us up. It's a bizarre possibility, but it's still a possibility.

Why do people even bother saying this? I'm just guessing here, but the world is really real is kind of a shared premise we have here. What's the point of pretending you don't share it? It's a "possibility" that adds absolutely nothing to the debate and is only used whenever something one favors gets dismissed as unproven.
Solipsism isn't helpful, kids.

averagejoe
2007-08-08, 02:26 AM
Why do people even bother saying this? I'm just guessing here, but the world is really real is kind of a shared premise we have here. What's the point of pretending you don't share it? It's a "possibility" that adds absolutely nothing to the debate and is only used whenever something one favors gets dismissed as unproven.
Solipsism isn't helpful, kids.

For that matter, why enter into a discussion on free will? It has the same basic problems as dicussing existance.

Setra
2007-08-08, 06:43 AM
Didn't read the whole thread, but a good deal of it (Got bored of reading long paragraphs).

My (simpleton, if you will) comments are this.

What you may call an illusion of free will, I think, is close enough to call free will. You chose to make this topic, did you not? Why did you? You wanted a discussion, or arguement, in any case.

If humans have an illusion in their heads, that lets them go "Should I eat Chinese or Italian?", something that lets them ask themselves questions, whether simple, like this, or complex, such as thoughts as free will in the first place, even if it is an illusion, it's close enough to reality that it really doesn't matter.

I chose to respond to this. I thought in my head "Should I respond to this?", and chose yes, after some delay. The fact that I thought about it, is close enough to proof for me.

You may go ahead and rip through my arguement.

Tom_Violence
2007-08-08, 10:04 AM
Really? So you assume that Philosophy can be defined as having sense, can you? I'm going to ignore the amazing irrelevance of your bringing in death and time (Oh wait! Just did. Sorry) and instead focus on one experiment.
Give me a solid definition of any philosophical construct. Then give me a definition of sense. I will have a different definition of that same philosophical construct, by light of me being a different person. Then I will refer you to your definition of sense. Philosophy is not absolute. Thousands of years and millions of deaths have proven nothing if not that.

Ooo, scathing.


He never claimed philosophy was absolute. Nor does it need to be to make sense.

As for the "experiment"... the only Categorical Imperative is Kant's Categorical Imperative. Redefinition is not possible, albeit interpretation and explanation are.

Exactly. There are plenty of others too. E.g.:

(Simplified) Hedonistic Utilitarianism - pleasure is good, pain is bad. Therefore the best thing to do is what maximises pleasure/minimises pain.

And: Sense (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic).

Now, you can disagree with the premises of someone's argument and propose better ones, but you need to have rational reasons for doing so. You can argue that one's conclusion does not follow from the premises, but in order to do that you'd at least need to know what 'logic' is. Otherwise you might as well stick your fingers in your ears and say "la la la its just your opinion". Well done for noticing that philosophy doesn't arrive at absolutes, but neither does science. Well done as well for discovering that our own perspective is an obstacle in debate. But neither of these things rule out progress or people having better answers for things than others. You can be a skeptic about absolutely anything, but that doesn't make it a tenuable position.

Edit:

Why do people even bother saying this? I'm just guessing here, but the world is really real is kind of a shared premise we have here. What's the point of pretending you don't share it? It's a "possibility" that adds absolutely nothing to the debate and is only used whenever something one favors gets dismissed as unproven.
Solipsism isn't helpful, kids.

I think Siwenna was being intentionally flippant to demonstrate the point that, indeed, Solipsism is no use in a debate about anything other than Solipsism. :smalltongue: That is to say, you can stick your head in the sand whenever you like but it does it bring about a useless stalemate, and is about as fruitable as saying "why?" to every single thing someone says.

Telonius
2007-08-08, 10:58 AM
BUt nothing is PROVABLE when you get right down to it. I say none of this is real. I'm dreaming everyone up, and I actually live in a universe with an entirely different nature. This is just a crazy, possibly drug-induced, dream the real me is having. Or maybe you're dreaming all of us up. It's a bizarre possibility, but it's still a possibility.



I live my life like I'm in charge of it. Our entire civilization is based on that. We need to act like we have freewill, otherwise everything would fall apart. Yes, I could blame the first primitive cell every time I screw something up, but that gets nowhere. Anyway, I think we're genetically programmed to believe in freewill, just because it basically makes civilization possible. I don't think we have freewill, but some of fears, for instance, seem based on the premise that we have freewill, which can be removed under certain conditions.

So if free will didn't exist, we'd have to invent it...? :smallwink:

Leliel
2007-08-08, 11:07 AM
BUt nothing is PROVABLE when you get right down to it. I say none of this is real. I'm dreaming everyone up, and I actually live in a universe with an entirely different nature. This is just a crazy, possibly drug-induced, dream the real me is having. Or maybe you're dreaming all of us up. It's a bizarre possibility, but it's still a possibility.



I live my life like I'm in charge of it. Our entire civilization is based on that. We need to act like we have freewill, otherwise everything would fall apart. Yes, I could blame the first primitive cell every time I screw something up, but that gets nowhere. Anyway, I think we're genetically programmed to believe in freewill, just because it basically makes civilization possible. I don't think we have freewill, but some of fears, for instance, seem based on the premise that we have freewill, which can be removed under certain conditions.

Forgive me for being a newbie, and thus maybe a flawed perspective, but isn't this the very definition of free will?

And what is it about souls you find threatening? Are you afraid of ghosts?:wink:

Cyrano
2007-08-08, 12:05 PM
Ok, guys, as for all your decidely sad-making remarks (:smallfrown: . See? Sad-making), I was not using non-absolute philosophy and lack of evidence as a philosophical position! I was using it to dissuade you guys (you know who you are, I quoted you) from going "Why do you disregard EVIDENCE of free will" or "thus free will MUST exist." I haven't actually stated my opinion yet! That's what most of this post is for.


See, those aren't even remotely precise definitions of free will. What you refer to as "free will" doesn't seem to be "free" at all. It's entirely controlled by a number of things, such as your biology, your upbringing, and, heck, how your neurons are firin'.
That's my personal definition, in fact! Bravo! That's my opinion of free will, ie, it ain't. I made a post about this, in this very thread. You make decisions based on personality, a construct that is (arguably) based on formative environment, that is based on parent/guardian's actions, that are based on personality, etc. Your actions are defined by other's. Now, that's because I've never found a definition of free will that would cause me to disagree with this, but my position is in no way absolute.


If free will is so free, why are people (in large groups) so predictable? Why is advertising so devastatingly effective? Modern marketing is almost entirely based on the lack of free will.
Ahem. You can see above, or like me, you can start thinking that in large groups, we revert to some pseudo-instinctual more-more-more impulse like animals. They both fit.

Eldpollard
2007-08-08, 12:13 PM
Free will raises a few arguments.
Some argue free will cannot exist as human reasoning is based entirely on brain functions which lack concious thought and any thought comes about through biological process as opposed to choice.
The counter argument to the above is the idea of a higher conciousness that is above biological processes and can think rationally (or irrationally).
However no evidence exists to prove either correct or incorrect.

EDIT: I failed to say my own standpoint in this argument. I'd like the idea of free will to exist however biological imperative takes precedence and as such I feel that free-will does not exist. Not to mention the outside factors that contribute to our thoughts, such as marketing and large groups which have already been said. If these outside factors influence us then in what way can it be said that we have free will?

Siwenna
2007-08-08, 01:28 PM
And what is it about souls you find threatening? Are you afraid of ghosts?

It's not the idea souls specifically that I dislike, rather any sort of unexplainable supposed phenomenon. If something is truely unexplainable then it means that there are no inherent physical laws in the universe. I know plenty of people are not bothered by that, but my deeply held belief on the nature depends on the universe being ultimately an explainable place. I'm putting everything rather badly, but it's so difficult to verbalize basic beliefs that I don't think I can make it any clearer.

Einkil
2007-08-08, 01:51 PM
If we are not owners of our will, we don't have nothing...

At least y choose what i choose..

Telonius
2007-08-08, 03:45 PM
It's not the idea souls specifically that I dislike, rather any sort of unexplainable supposed phenomenon. If something is truely unexplainable then it means that there are no inherent physical laws in the universe. I know plenty of people are not bothered by that, but my deeply held belief on the nature depends on the universe being ultimately an explainable place. I'm putting everything rather badly, but it's so difficult to verbalize basic beliefs that I don't think I can make it any clearer.

(emphasis added)

Not necessarily. It could simply mean that there are things outside this space-time that intersect with, and affect, us. They might be impossible (by our laws of physics) to detect, and may well be incoherent based on our physical laws. However, within our existence, the universe makes sense and is explainable. And even if ghosts, time-travelling green aliens from Dimension QX342, and Flying Spaghetti Monsters exist, they might follow laws specific to their universe (but not ours). From our perspective this might seem to be chaos; we would appear in a similar manner to them.

Either way, there is at least one thing in this universe that is not explainable by its own laws: why should it be, that anything exists at all? To know this, you would have to know what happened prior to the Big Bang - which is impossible, considering that (at least the last time I checked) time wasn't supposed to exist "prior" to the Big Bang. Universal laws didn't exist, because the universe didn't exist.