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Free Will Does it exist?

#1 User is offline   Jordan Icon

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 11:42 PM

All my life I believed I had free will. Lately, I've been researching the topic and it's coming to light that perhaps I've been wrong all this time, perhaps free will is just an illusion.

Is there any one here that has an argument FOR free will? I can't find any logical argument that would prove we have it.
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#2 User is offline   civilian_number_two Icon

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 03:27 AM

There is no argument that disproves pure skepticism. It's the same as trying to prove a negative; no matter where the argument ends, you are still empowered to doubt it. So no, there is no argument to prove to you that your "decisions" are not hard-wired into you either by God or by the circumstances of your life.

Me, I think there is something to be made of the circumstance argument: you don't have absolute authority over the events in your life, or even over your responses to them. I think however that rather than their being a single response to every event, and one fixed outcome, you have options. These options, some chosen deliberately and others determined by chaos, constitute Free Will.

Outside a religious context, the argument is meaningless anyway. The whole point of trying to prove whether we have Free Will was to get over the paradox of Sin and Redemption. After all, if God made us and is in control of everything that happens to His creation, then how can we be considered responsible for our sins? Esp if God made us with Original Sin, then how is it our fault that we are sinful? Etc. Outside the theological context, the argument is less troublesome, except to Philosophy students.
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#3 User is offline   Jordan Icon

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 05:20 AM

Right, so if there is an omnipotent agent who knows the end, then we are all hopeless in terms of altering that end. I don't like this one bit. But even if there isn't an all knowing agent, then we are still victims of our DNA. So either way we live in a deterministic world. But since we don't know the future, and we don't know how we could alter it, in a sense we do have something like free will, but it seems to be an illusion rather than absolute freedom to make decisions.

I don't like the idea that our physical nature determines everything about us. We are only "good" if we have the proper brain structure and "evil" if we are wired slightly different. Our entire legal system is based on the fact that individuals have a choice. And it seems to work. Can't an arguement be made in the same context for God? Sigh.
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#4 User is offline   Jordan Icon

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 04:34 AM

Can Predestination and free will co-exist?

When you look at Scripture can't one make the observation that Your free will is what drives your predestination, and predestination drives your free will. They are two sides of the same coin?
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Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:43 AM

I think outside the fiction that an omnipotent being is managing everything, it is silly to conclude that the universe is ordered and predestined. There are too many variables with respect to agents and events co-existing, enough to say that the universe is random and chaotic, and that order exists only so far as there are some limitations on possibility (eg, apples always fall from trees, but people are not predestined to be sitting under them when they fall).

I don't buy the brain chemistry business either. If it can easily be observed (and it can) that people's choices are often limited by their opportunities, that their natures are often the product of their upbringing, then it is not the case that a person is born with the capacity for good while another is born only for evil. People know mostly what their peers know, they follow their peers' religions, they enjoy the art and culture enjoyed by their peers. There are no kids in Tibet spontaneously and without teaching suddenly liking Lady Gaga and reading about Christianity, for instance. Insanity is one thing, and that certainly happens, but by and large, people become who they are based on where they live, who they meet, and what happens to them. If you want to call that predestination, then have at it, but I don't believe in a puppeteer, either in the form of God or in the form of an ordered and scheduled universe.

I don't think scripture backs the idea of Predestination. Scriptures is all over Free Will.
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#6 User is offline   J m HofMarN Icon

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 02:43 AM

Here's an argument against predestination from a deist perspective: IT WOULD BE BORING. I think free will has to exist just for God to have something to watch. Otherwise, what's the point? Why would any of us be damned or sent to paradise for merely doing what we were already going to do anyhow? Also, the sheer number of possibilities before us to be plotted and determined is simply beyond the perception of anything humanity can invision. Imagine time in a predestined environment as a straight line, stacked up in such a way that each even builds upon another (a time line, in my opinion, seems the only possible way predestination could work, no other perception of time would really allow for such) now, if one thing goes out of line, it tips over everything infront of it like dominoes. I cannot believe that the structure of the time/space continuum is so brittle. Time is probably a great deal more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey... stuff.

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#7 User is offline   Jordan Icon

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 02:55 AM

You can't escape determinism, I'll post my full argument tomorrow during lunch, bit late now. But for now, I don't agree that it's boring, because from your point of view JM you're living your life as if you do have freedom to make choices, even though you don't. I understand what you meant by Chaos, Civ, but in theory there is no such thing as random events. Random just means incredibly complex, technically if you had the money and time you could figure out which balls would fall out of the lotto machine in order. It's just physics going on in there and it's following strict laws of nature. What do you mean you don't buy brain chemistry? You know the people you know based on the environment you live in, based on the parents you were born to, based on the genes they gave you, which boils down to your brain and physical ability or lack thereof to move about in the world.

You know whats really fucked up, we aren't even the author of our own thoughts. Thoughts just 'happen' with consiousness. We have an ability to select thoughts that already preexist in our brains but we can't really create new thoughts. How would you? It would require you to pre-think them before you think them. FUCKED UP.
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#8 User is offline   Otal Nimrodi Icon

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 02:55 AM

A debate? With people posting?

What manner of Unicorn magic fuckery is THIS?!

The question of free will is irrelevant.

From your perspective you are certainly acting with free will. Both you and other people are capable of experiencing things positively or negatively.

From your perspective, and other people's perspective, you (and they) need to actually take an action. So whether you were predetermined to take the action or not, you still need to think that you are taking it.

If your action will lead to positive experience for you and/or others, take it, whether or not you were predestined to.

If your action will not lead to positive experience for you and/or others, don't take it. Again, whether or not you were predestined to.

What you perceive as deciding to take action or not take action still has an effect, measurably, on yourself and others.

Free will doesn't matter.

Personally, I think there is a free will. I find most arguments that "No, we don't have any free will" as convincing as an argument that everyone on the internet is an elaborate computer simulation and only I exist. I can't prove it, but it seems far more plausible to me that "I think I did something, and thus I did," than "I think I did something, and thus someone or something has made me do it and then implanted thoughts of action-taking retroactively in my mind"
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#9 User is offline   J m HofMarN Icon

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:22 AM

...But to an observer who could view things in a level sufficient to reveal that we dont have free will, it has to be really boring... And if we BELIEVE in free will, doesn't that ipso facto make it a reality (excepting the idea that some foreign deity creates what is real and not, what is truth and not, etc) if we perceive ourselves as having free will, than we do. That last bit down there sounds a bit to meta and Matrixy for me to work out just now.

View PostJordan, on 30 November 2012 - 02:55 AM, said:

You know whats really fucked up, we aren't even the author of our own thoughts. Thoughts just 'happen' with consiousness. We have an ability to select thoughts that already preexist in our brains but we can't really create new thoughts. How would you? It would require you to pre-think them before you think them. FUCKED UP.

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#10 User is offline   Otal Nimrodi Icon

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:27 AM

View PostJ m HofMarN, on 30 November 2012 - 03:22 AM, said:

...But to an observer who could view things in a level sufficient to reveal that we dont have free will, it has to be really boring... And if we BELIEVE in free will, doesn't that ipso facto make it a reality (excepting the idea that some foreign deity creates what is real and not, what is truth and not, etc) if we perceive ourselves as having free will, than we do. That last bit down there sounds a bit to meta and Matrixy for me to work out just now.


My argument is that, even Determinists still need to think about it. In arguing against Free Will, Jordan will still have to organize his thoughts and type them up. Whether he believes he does so of his own free will or because an outside force has predetermined he will argue against free will is irrelevant. If he does not, from his perspective, write down his thoughts in re: Free Will, I will never read them.

Whether or not we have free will is irrelevant.
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Posted 21 December 2012 - 01:48 AM

Jordan I don't understand what you mean when you say we can't create new thoughts. Thoughts are the product of our experiences and the way our formed personalities react to stimuli. To say thoughts come out of brains only and therefore they must pre-exist there is to say that the brain is a closed system. It is not. You might as well say, as some do, that the Earth is dying because energy goes away over time. Again, this presupposes that the Earth is a closed system, which it is not: we gain energy from the sun.

Anyway, yes, you can make new thoughts. Stimuli in, responses out.

"In theory there is no such thing as random events." Ok, I'll let that go there, but you CANNOT predict everything because all of the variables are impossible to track. Impossible, not difficult. There are too many, observing takes too long, etc. It's like trying to write down every detail of your life, a la Tristram Shandy. You will find it takes longer to write about the thing that it does to live it. So anyway, since the majority of life's business is unpredictable, you will react to what happens, and to the reactions of other people as well. To say that the fellow who walked near you and overheard the thing you said that reminded him of something that made it so he got his wife the thing she wanted ... to say that was predetermined is just a philosophical decision. It makes no practical sense to imagine that.

I am going to drop a die. In the future, its result is already known, Now, I don't know the result. Numerous variables determine what its result will be, even though you could say that in the future it is already known, and that all time is simultaneous. In order to draw that conclusion however, you have to look at time as something completely different from what it is, that is, it has to be fully observable, rather than in this way where our consciousnesses can only perceive it in one very limited way. Looking at it in a way other than the only way you are physically able to look at it is to embrace a philosophical interest that has no practical application. After all, with all your philosophy you will never be able to see the die roll until I roll it. Your reaction is not knowable before the fact. I will call your unknown reaction Free Will.

PS: I don't really have a die, and I am not about to roll it. React to THAT!
"I had a lot of different ideas. At one point, Luke, Leia and Ben were all going to be little people, and we did screen tests to see if we could do that." -George Lucas, in STAR WARS: the Annotated Screenplays (p197).
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