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Poll: Do you have free will?
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YES, I DO have free will, in the sense that it is ultimately up to me, or ultimately my choice, which actions I take and when.
53.85%
14 53.85%
NO, I do NOT have free will, in the sense that it is NOT ultimately up to me, and NOT ultimately my choice, which actions I take and when.
46.15%
12 46.15%
Total 26 vote(s) 100%
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Does free will exist?
#1

Does free will exist?
By free will I mean the ability to be the ultimate cause of our actions.

So, are you the ultimate cause of your actions?

I don't mean the ability to do what we want to do. We all do what we want to do. The question is though, if what we desire determines our actions... do we, ultimately, determine our desires? Or are they ultimately determined by something else? Or are they not determined by anything?


This is a discussion on whether free will of the ultimate kind exists... for a discussion of the experience of free will please go here: http://atheistdiscussion.org/forums/show...p?tid=1761
My Argument Against Free Will Wrote:(1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to originate your original nature.

(2) But you can't originate your original nature—it's already there.

(3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.
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#2

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 10:33 AM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote: By free will I mean the ability to be the ultimate cause of our actions.

So, are you the ultimate cause of your actions?

I don't mean the ability to do what we want to do. We all do what we want to do. The question is though, if what we desire determines our actions... do we, ultimately, determine our desires? Or are they ultimately determined by something else? Or are they not determined by anything?

We desire all sorts of contradictory and mutually exclusive things, in large part because we only have so much time and energy.  (For instance, if I marry Janice I can't marry Cindy too.)  Since we can't have everything we want, free will is about choosing between them so we get something we want.

So to answer your question, I don't think we determine certain basic desires, but we still do determine yet others.  For instance, I can't determine when I will be hungry (though I have some flexibility about when I will eat), but I most definitely can determine whether I desire to eat at Ruby's or Applebee's.  In the latter case, all sorts of variables are considered and weighted to figure out what I want most in terms of location, price, menu, timing, and so on.

When we determine our desires, the word "determine" takes on a different meaning.  It is not physical cause and effect, but rather a process of figuring something out.
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#3

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 12:08 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote: So to answer your question, I don't think we determine certain basic desires,
Why not?

Quote: but we still do determine yet others.
How?

Quote:  For instance, I can't determine when I will be hungry (though I have some flexibility about when I will eat),
Why not?

Quote: but I most definitely can determine whether I desire to eat at Ruby's or Applebee's.
How?

Quote:  In the latter case, all sorts of variables are considered and weighted to figure out what I want most in terms of location, price, menu, timing, and so on.

And ultimately all those variables have causes that are entirely beyond your control.

Quote:It is not physical cause and effect, but rather a process of figuring something out.

(My bold) So, it's a non-physical process of figuring something out that is separate of physical cause and effect? Are our minds magic?
My Argument Against Free Will Wrote:(1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to originate your original nature.

(2) But you can't originate your original nature—it's already there.

(3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.
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#4

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 01:47 PM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote:
(11-03-2018, 12:08 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  In the latter case, all sorts of variables are considered and weighted to figure out what I want most in terms of location, price, menu, timing, and so on.

And ultimately all those variables have causes that are entirely beyond your control.

Quote:It is not physical cause and effect, but rather a process of figuring something out.

(My bold) So, it's a non-physical process of figuring something out that is separate of physical cause and effect? Are our minds magic?

You are asserting free will doesn't exist. You are not proving it. You have the burden of proof, not me, since you are the one contradicting appearances.

Our brain is a physical mechanism, so it obviously can have physical effects. But it works in many (but not all) ways by symbolic processing and selection, which are not the same as the mere summation of physical causes. It works through self-motivated focused attention on some physical causes over others. We are ourselves in the loop. Thus what is termed free will.
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#5

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 12:08 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote: We desire all sorts of contradictory and mutually exclusive things, in large part because we only have so much time and energy.  (For instance, if I marry Janice I can't marry Cindy too.)  Since we can't have everything we want, free will is about choosing between them so we get something we want.

I think the question is best articulated like this: If it turns out that you choose Cindy, can we say that you could have chosen otherwise?

The determinists/incompatibilists say "no." Their reasoning is that everything in the universe operates according to the laws of cause and effect. If there is an exception to this rule, we haven't discovered it yet.

With this in mind, the determinist asks, by what mechanism is one allowed to choose Cindy over Janice (or vice versa)? There seems to be no allowance in the laws of nature for such "free choosing" to transpire.
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#6

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 03:08 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote:
(11-03-2018, 12:08 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote: We desire all sorts of contradictory and mutually exclusive things, in large part because we only have so much time and energy.  (For instance, if I marry Janice I can't marry Cindy too.)  Since we can't have everything we want, free will is about choosing between them so we get something we want.

I think the question is best articulated like this: If it turns out that you choose Cindy, can we say that you could have chosen otherwise?

The determinists/incompatibilists say "no." Their reasoning is that everything in the universe operates according to the laws of cause and effect. If there is an exception to this rule, we haven't discovered it yet.

With this in mind, the determinist asks, by what mechanism is one allowed to choose Cindy over Janice (or vice versa)? There seems to be no allowance in the laws of nature for such "free choosing" to transpire.

Determinists think the brain works by a summation of causes, so that one cause comes out on top by being stronger than the others.  They consider this an automatic process which consciousness is not involved with.

But that's not how the brain works at all.  The brain works by self-motivated selection between possible causes.  Consciousness focuses on some things in preference to others.  We don't experience what we don't pay attention to, so such things don't influence our decisions.  Thus we actually give weight to some things over others, and build up habits which are the creation of our past selective awareness.

That's how free will works in contrast to simple cause and effect with awareness playing no role.
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#7

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 04:20 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote: Determinists think the brain works by a summation of causes, so that one cause comes out on top by being stronger than the others.  They consider this an automatic process which consciousness is not involved with.

But that's not how the brain works at all.  The brain works by self-motivated selection between possible causes.  Consciousness focuses on some things in preference to others.  We don't experience what we don't pay attention to, so such things don't influence our decisions.  Thus we actually give weight to some things over others, and build up habits which are the creation of our past selective awareness.

That's how free will works in contrast to simple cause and effect with awareness playing no role.
I'm not sure I follow.

Determinists think everything works by a summation of causes. You need to show that brains are somehow different. Sure, brains are complex. But all brain activity comes about due to causes, and the causal chain of events (worked backwards) eventually involves causes that occur outside the brain itself? How can the brain be itself the cause of anything?

Quote:The Consequence Argument
1. No one has power over the facts of the past and the laws of nature.
2. The events of the past and the laws of nature entail every fact of the future (i.e., determinism is true)
3. Therefore, no one has power over the facts of the future.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequence_argument
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#8

Does free will exist?
We do what pleases the most or hurts the least.
  [Image: pirates.gif] Dog  
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#9

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 10:31 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: Determinists think everything works by a summation of causes. You need to show that brains are somehow different. Sure, brains are complex. But all brain activity comes about due to causes, and the causal chain of events (worked backwards) eventually involves causes that occur outside the brain itself? How can the brain be itself the cause of anything?

Quote:The Consequence Argument
1. No one has power over the facts of the past and the laws of nature.
2. The events of the past and the laws of nature entail every fact of the future (i.e., determinism is true)
3. Therefore, no one has power over the facts of the future.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequence_argument

Nope. I don't have the burden of proof because everything I have asserted is in accordance with both appearances and the common usage definition of "free will." Determinists, who say appearances are an illusion, have the burden of proof.

I disagree with the second assertion in your Consequence Argument. Because evolution works by chance events, it can select for whatever works regardless of what is strictly determined.

Self-organization organizes selves. Human brains generate their own information and interpretations, which are every bit as casually effective as any real information from the external world. We are creative creatures. Just look around you.
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#10

Does free will exist?
I saved this post from the previous forum.  I figured it would be useful later.

This is a short summary of the points covered in The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will by Kenneth R. Miller.  Miller is a professor of biology at Brown University, where he teaches biology and general biology.  He was the lead witness against "intelligent design" in the 2005 Kitzmer v. Dover federal trial in Pennsylvania.  Although a Roman Catholic, he follows Augustine in saying that Christians' first priority should be the truth, and that since evolution is a fact, they should "get over it."

Prologue: Our Story
Much of the religious opposition to evolution is based on the reductionism which seems to follow from it.  The author maintains that a better understanding of evolution makes this opposition unnecessary, since evolution does not necessarily imply reductionism.

Chapter 1: Grandeur
For many religious people, evolutionary theory still seems like an assault on human dignity which must result in "increased selfishness and racism, decreased spirituality, and a decreased sense of purpose and self-determination."  And this idea that evolution is destructive to the social fabric is not limited to the religious.  People worry about evolutionary psychology taking over the humanities and free will being considered an illusion.  However, the author states, "Our deep, ancestral association with the natural world does not undermine our unique humanness."

Chapter 2: Say It Ain't So
While such concerns are authentic, there exist far too many lines of evidence supporting evolution for denialism to be justified.  The author reviews much of such information in the fossil record, in DNA, in how phylogeny reiterates ontogeny, in pseudogene locations, and so on.  (There is even a technical appendix to the book titled "The Chromosome 2 Fusion Site," which supports our relationship with other great apes.)

Chapter 3: Chances and Wonder
We can't look at ourselves as the culmination of evolution, as some have maintained in the past.  The evolutionary history of humans includes 22 species which are now extinct, so there was no linear progression.  Unlike the diversity of rodent species, the fact that only one human species exists shows that we have been as much a failure as a success.  On a cellular and molecular level, humans are nothing special evolutionarily, and without the luck of the asteroid strike which killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we likely wouldn't exist at all.  There was no teleology to evolution.  We evolved to fill the evolutionary niche for intelligent animals among social species.

Chapter 4: Explaining It All
The author explores the ideas of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, and discusses the successes and failures of both forms of evolutionary thought.  He says most of the failures are attempts to explain the great diversity of human behaviors, since specific hypotheses often become "just so" stories with little or no evidence to support them.  In a few words, such ideas maintain that nature always overrides nurture in humans.  He then asks, "What about human nature today has enabled us to largely escape the amoral behavioral chains of our evolutionary past?"

Chapter 5: The Mind of a Primate
The author quotes Charles Darwin from 1881: "Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"  The minds of primates were not necessarily evolved for precision and accuracy.  The author then goes on to say, "It's more useful to think of evolution as a tinkerer rather than as a designer" since biological creatures, including humans, are very much kluges which just happened to be competitive with other, similar kluges.  In that sense, we should look at humans as a generalized adaptation rather than as a hyper-adapted species.  If we do that, we can better see how some of our more unusual characteristics likely evolved.

Chapter 6: Consciousness
This chapter and Chapter 7 are the most important in the book, so I will therefore quote the author more extensively.

"In an evolutionary sense, preprogrammed behaviors are brittle and less able to adapt to new situations and changing circumstances.  The conscious and deliberative behaviors exhibited by many animals, including ourselves, not only make it easier to adapt to changing circumstances, but also better help to manage the prodigious amount of sensory information collected from the environment.  Think of how much information is processed as you shift the gears of a car while navigating through heavy traffic, moving lane to lane, avoiding other vehicles, and reacting to unexpected situations.  We certainly did not evolve to drive cars.  But the flexible nature of conscious, deliberative behavior has enabled nearly all of us to be capable of acquiring the skill."

"Consciousness is one of the brain's principle functions."

"In even the simplest cell, the unique properties of life emerge from the collective actions and interactions of tens of thousands of different molecules.  No wonder physics alone is not enough to describe it!  No atom, by itself, is ever alive.  But when atoms interact with innumerable others inside a living cell, those actions generate the remarkable process we call life."

"Matter itself does not become alive.  Rather, certain groupings of matter are capable of generating the tangled complexity of a self-sustaining process we call life.  Consciousness, similarly, is not a property of matter or even a property of individual cells.  In a way analogous to life itself, consciousness is a process generated by the hugely complex interactions of highly active cells within the brain and associated nervous tissue.  Consciousness, therefore, is something that matter does, not something that matter is."

"The notion that complexity emerges from simplicity is in fact a recurring theme in nature and in life.  Sound rises to music, words to literature, and cells to organisms."

The author says we should avoid "the adaptationist trap of concluding that everything produced by evolution exists only to serve the logic of survival and nothing more."  That is what is so often considered threatening and dehumanizing about evolutionary theory.

Chapter 7: I, Robot
The author quotes Daniel Dennett from his book Freedom Evolves: "Concern about free will is the driving force behind most of the resistance to materialism generally and neo-Darwinism in particular."

The author then asks, "Is there a way to explain free will within an evolutionary framework?"  He goes on to say that contrary to many assertions, free will does not necessitate a soul or a rejection of science.

"If we lack free will, then scientific logic itself is no longer valid.  We cannot claim to make decisions or draw conclusions on the basis of evidence, we cannot pretend that scientific investigation is a path to truth, and we cannot even justify writing a book to get people to 'believe' in the absence of free will.  The reason is that belief in anything is not a free choice, but an artifice of genetics, circumstance, and uncontrolled external stimuli."

"Acceptance of behavioral determinism undermines not only itself, but all of science and perhaps the arts and humanities as well.  It is stunning how few critics of free will seem to realize this and to appreciate the grim nihilism that flows from such ideas."

The author quotes physicist Philip W. Anderson from a 1972 Science article: "At each level of complexity entirely new properties appear" and "Psychology is not applied biology, nor is biology applied chemistry."  The implication is that determinism may simply not apply at higher levels of organization, just as it doesn't apply to quantum mechanics, if determinism is itself a property rather than a law of all natural phenomena.

The author goes on to discuss the neurophysiology which might make free will possible.  He refers to Peter Tse's book, The Neural Basis of Free Will which describes the way our neurons are actually laid out.  The brain does not just send message back and forth, it actively switches where it sends messages and therefore controls how it responds.  "Thought itself can affect the future activity of the brain.  This may satisfy certain definitions of free will."

As Daniel Dennett wrote: "You are not out of the loop; you are the loop."

The author: "If one defines freedom as the ability to choose between alternative paths of action, then we surely have infinitely more degrees of freedom than a bacterium...."

"If the 'illusion' of free will did have adaptive value, then it actually did change the course of events by helping human social groups to cohere and prosper.  Therefore, if free will is an illusion, it is an illusion that became self-fulfilling."

"No matter which school of thought you subscribe, you will find evolution right at the center of any explanation of free will, whether genuine or illusory.  Darwin is not the enemy of free will.  For, if we are indeed truly free, it was evolution that made us so."

Chapter 8: Center Stage.
This chapter is largely a pep talk about why people should not take evolutionary theory as dehumanizing or destructive, because of the "limitless possibilities that evolution put within our reach."

"The antievolutionists have found their best allies among those who argue for the most extreme -- and most dehumanizing -- view of the significance of the evolutionary process."
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#11

Does free will exist?
No. But "free won't" might.
Amor fati.
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#12

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 05:14 AM)GirlyMan Wrote: No. 

And your argument is ... ?
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#13

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 10:33 PM)Gawdzilla Sama Wrote: We do what pleases the most or hurts the least.

I think that's true.  I also think we're subject to the time and place we live in.  We're all influenced by our upbringing in some way, whether it's good or bad.  If you think about it, someone like Mozart would be a very different person if he'd been born today.  He might be a rock singer with an amazing ability but he wouldn't be writing 18th century music.   So in that sense we don't have complete free will because we're so strongly influenced by our surroundings.  But nothing is foretold or predestined and there  is  no god guiding anything because there's no evidence a god exists.
                                                         T4618
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#14

Does free will exist?
According to the common definition of "free will" I'd say yes, of course I have free will.

As I personally have a dim view of philosophical arguments for the pros and cons, that's
as far as I need think it—particularly in my elderly, everyday, homebody existence. 
Nothing of any worldly import affects me directly with any deeply serious impact.  I don't
really give a fuck about politics, North Korea, the US midterms, or the burgeoning threat
of a new Cold War.  That's one of the few privileges of old age LOL.

But... whatever I choose to do, or how I express my free will, is a decision that's purely
mine to make.
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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#15

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 11:39 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote: "If the 'illusion' of free will did have adaptive value, then it actually did change the course of events by helping human social groups to cohere and prosper.  Therefore, if free will is an illusion, it is an illusion that became self-fulfilling."

"No matter which school of thought you subscribe, you will find evolution right at the center of any explanation of free will, whether genuine or illusory.  Darwin is not the enemy of free will.  For, if we are indeed truly free, it was evolution that made us so."

I have no problem accepting that reason and consciousness are the products of evolution; they obviously are. But in no way can an examination of the evolutionary process lead to the conclusion that we have free will. It can show that we developed will. It can show that the brain can process information as a part of stimulus/response. So what? My computer can process information, but that doesn't mean it has free will. To the hard determinist/incompatibilist, that's all the brain is doing.

On a side note, it is interesting that we unconsciously intuit that our computers have some sort of agency when they do not. When our computers are processing information we say they are "thinking"... an fact, we intuitively attribute agency to a great many things which obviously do not have agency. It's not too much of a stretch to presume that we do this with ourselves.
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#16

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 05:27 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: I have no problem accepting that reason and consciousness are the products of evolution; they obviously are. But in no way can an examination of the evolutionary process lead to the conclusion that we have free will. It can show that we developed will. It can show that the brain can process information as a part of stimulus/response. So what? My computer can process information, but that doesn't mean it has free will. To the hard determinist/incompatibilist, that's all the brain is doing.

On a side note, it is interesting that we unconsciously intuit that our computers have some sort of agency when they do not. When our computers are processing information we say they are "thinking"... an fact, we intuitively attribute agency to a great many things which obviously do not have agency. It's not too much of a stretch to presume that we do this with ourselves.

I sometimes think atheists who are determinists are still hung over with the assumptions of dualism. In other words, they still think of consciousness as non-material in such a way as to be causally ineffective.

What I am saying is that if materialism can lead to conscious creatures, then materialism is something that determinists don't understand well enough yet. Materialism can and does lead to new properties. From that perspective, determinism is just a property which may or may not be present in material phenomena. I am an emergentist, not a reductionist. Both are materialistic perspectives.

And just as a reminder, our machines are not conscious yet.

I personally think our observations of people making choices should overrule any dogmas we prefer. Science is built from observations, not dogmas.

Again, the burden of proof falls on determinists for denying appearances. Certainly as a trained philosopher, you should agree with that point at least.
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#17

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 05:27 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: I have no problem accepting that reason and consciousness are the products of evolution; they obviously are.

I agree with this.  The working capacity of the human brain has increased logarithmically over time.

Quote:But in no way can an examination of the evolutionary process lead to the conclusion that we have free will. It can show that we developed will.

I'd regard "will" and innate "instinct" as one and the same thing.  Do we have a will to preserve human life, or an
instinct to do that?  Bear in mind that our autonomic reflexes aren't produced by any consciously-driven will of the
brain, which could imply that we don't need will in order to survive at a base level.  Instantly withdrawing our hand
from a hot stove-top requires no will for example.

Quote:It can show that the brain can process information as a part of stimulus/response. So what? My computer can process information, but that doesn't mean it has free will. To the hard determinist/incompatibilist, that's all the brain is doing.

I think it's unrealistic to compare the human brain with a computer, for any reason—there's simply no comparison
between the organic and the electromechanical in this instance.  I'd say that your "so what" underestimates the
brain's power and overestimates the computer's.


Quote:On a side note, it is interesting that we unconsciously intuit that our computers have some sort of agency when they do not. When our computers are processing information we say they are "thinking"...

Personally, I've never done that.  I see them purely as number crunchers—it's all just ones and zeros.  The only
advantage that computers have over me is their raw speed—nothing special really.  And the most singular, telling
thing that my brain possesses over the computer is its power of logic.  End of story.
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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#18

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 05:45 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote: I sometimes think atheists who are determinists are still hung over with the assumptions of dualism.  In other words, they still think of consciousness as non-material in such a way as to be causally ineffective.

What I am saying is that if materialism can lead to conscious creatures, then materialism is something that determinists don't understand well enough yet.  Materialism can and does lead to new properties.  From that perspective, determinism is just a property which may or may not be present in material phenomena.  I am an emergentist, not a reductionist.  Both are materialistic perspectives.

And just as a reminder, our machines are not conscious yet.

I personally think our observations of people making choices should overrule any dogmas we prefer.  Science is built from observations, not dogmas.

Again, the burden of proof falls on determinists for denying appearances.  Certainly as a trained philosopher, you should agree with that point at least.

I wholeheartedly agree on rejecting dogmas. If you check my posts in this thread you will see that (while I have presented arguments for hard incompatibilism) I have not claimed any position. Why? It's metaphysics. There is no definitive proof for any of these positions (libertarian free will, compatibilism, hard incompatibilism, or revisionism). One can only say he/she finds one of these positions more plausible than the others. I have settled on incompatibilism as most plausible, but my mind is open to the possibility of each being true.

I find hard incompatibilism plausible because of the consequence argument. (It has nothing to do with an aversion to dualism). Every phenomenon that we observe in the universe has a cause. To date, we have found no exception to this rule. To state that we have free will implies that our choices somehow happen spontaneously and are not the result of a prior cause. While my position carries the burden of having to show that something we directly perceive is illusory, the libertarian free willist is burdened with showing how choices are caused in a deterministic universe (some postulate dualism; others appeal to quantum superposition). The only position that relies entirely on trusting our everyday experience of making choices is compatibilism. But it's a bit unfulfilling to rely on "it seems like we have free will, so we do" when the incompatibilists raise a pretty good question: How are living organisms exempt from the law of cause and effect?
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#19

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 03:44 PM)Dancefortwo Wrote:
(11-03-2018, 10:33 PM)Gawdzilla Sama Wrote: We do what pleases the most or hurts the least.

I think that's true.  I also think we're subject to the time and place we live in.  We're all influenced by our upbringing in some way, whether it's good or bad.  If you think about it, someone like Mozart would be a very different person if he'd been born today.  He might be a rock singer with an amazing ability but he wouldn't be writing 18th century music.   So in that sense we don't have complete free will because we're so strongly influenced by our surroundings.  But nothing is foretold or predestined and there  is  no god guiding anything because there's no evidence a god exists.

Unnecessary addition to what I said.
  [Image: pirates.gif] Dog  
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#20

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 06:30 PM)Gawdzilla Sama Wrote:
(11-04-2018, 03:44 PM)Dancefortwo Wrote:
(11-03-2018, 10:33 PM)Gawdzilla Sama Wrote: We do what pleases the most or hurts the least.

I think that's true.  I also think we're subject to the time and place we live in.  We're all influenced by our upbringing in some way, whether it's good or bad.  If you think about it, someone like Mozart would be a very different person if he'd been born today.  He might be a rock singer with an amazing ability but he wouldn't be writing 18th century music.   So in that sense we don't have complete free will because we're so strongly influenced by our surroundings.  But nothing is foretold or predestined and there  is  no god guiding anything because there's no evidence a god exists.

Unnecessary addition to what I said.

I freely chose to reply.  Whistling
                                                         T4618
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#21

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 11:31 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:
(11-04-2018, 05:14 AM)GirlyMan Wrote: No. 

And your argument is ... ?

Neurological.

Free will could all be an illusion, scientists suggest after study shows choice may just be brain tricking itself

Neuroscience of free will


There are many more references.
Amor fati.
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#22

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 06:27 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: Every phenomenon that we observe in the universe has a cause. To date, we have found no exception to this rule. To state that we have free will implies that our choices somehow happen spontaneously and are not the result of a prior cause.

I have seen this argument before. Essentially it conflates direct physical causes with symbolically processed "causes" or reasons, where the reasons are actually understood and acted upon.
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#23

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 09:52 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:
(11-04-2018, 06:27 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: Every phenomenon that we observe in the universe has a cause. To date, we have found no exception to this rule. To state that we have free will implies that our choices somehow happen spontaneously and are not the result of a prior cause.

I have seen this argument before.  Essentially it conflates direct physical causes with symbolically processed "causes" or reasons, where the reasons are actually understood and acted upon.


I'm not conflating anything. I'm making the argument that we live in a universe of "direct physical causes" and nothing else. We as humans have a very sentimental view of the human brain, but from a scientific standpoint, it is just a slushy of chemicals, carbon compounds, and electricity. As such, every atom in the brain behaves according the the laws of physics and chemistry. To say that we are affecting this chemical slushy with our conscious choices is to say that consciousness has some sort of power to affect the motions of material matter.

How does that happen?
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#24

Does free will exist?
(11-03-2018, 02:53 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote: You are asserting free will doesn't exist.  You are not proving it.  You have the burden of proof, not me, since you are the one contradicting appearances.

Incorrect. You have the burden of proof because you believe in something positive you are yet to provide evidence of.

I am not contradicting appearances when you haven't even provided any evidence of the appearance of free will. The fact people believe in something doesn't mean it actually appears to them... as they could easily be confused about what actually appears to them. If the vast majority of people believed that ghosts appeared to them... it wouldn't mean that ghosts actually appeared to them... and would it even be evidence of some mass hallucination going on? I doubt it. It's much more likely to be evidence that many people are confused. And even if it was of some sort of bizarre mass hallucination, that wouldn't be any evidence that those hallucinations represented reality and were anything more than hallucinations. Evidence of appearance would still not be evidence of the appearance of anything real, so the burden of proof would still be on you to provide evidence of something real. What you're talking of is evidence of a mass hallucination at best, and at worst, and most likely, it's simply evidence of a conceptual confusion... unless you provide evidence to the contrary. The onus is on you to provide evidence of the reality of free will.

But here's a simple argument that proves free will of the kind defined in the OP to be impossible, anyhow:

Galen Strawson Wrote:1. You do what you do, in any given situation, because of the way you are.
2. To be ultimately responsible for what you do, you have to be ultimately responsible for the way you are—at least in certain crucial mental respects.
3. But you cannot be ultimately responsible for the way you are in any respect at all.
4. So you cannot be ultimately responsible for what you do.



And here's a more detailed version of it:

Galen Strawson Wrote:(1) Interested in free action, we are particularly interested in actions that are performed for a reason (as opposed to 'reflex' actions or mindlessly habitual actions).

(2) When one acts for a reason, what one does is a function of how one is, mentally speaking. (It is also a function of one's height, one's strength, one's place and time, and so on. But the mental factors are crucial when moral responsibility is in question.)

(3) So if one is to be truly responsible for how one acts, one must be truly responsible for how one is, mentally speaking—at least in certain respects.

(4) But to be truly responsible for how one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects, one must have brought it about that one is the way one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects. And it is not merely that one must have caused oneself to be the way one is, mentally speaking. One must have consciously and explicitly chosen to be the way one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects, and one must have succeeded in bringing it about that one is that way.

(5) But one cannot really be said to choose, in a conscious, reasoned, fashion, to be the way one is mentally speaking, in any respect at all, unless one already exists, mentally speaking, already equipped with some principles of choice, 'P1'—preferences, values, pro-attitudes, ideals—in the light of which one chooses how to be.

(6) But then to be truly responsible, on account of having chosen to be the way one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects, one must be truly responsible for one's having the principles of choice P1 in the light of which one chose how to be.

(7) But for this to be so one must have chosen P1, in a reasoned, conscious, intentional fashion.

(8) But for this, i.e. (7), to be so one must already have had some principles of choice P2, in the light of which one chose Pl.

(9) And so on. Here we are setting out on a regress that we cannot stop. True self-determination is impossible because it requires the actual completion of an infinite series of choices of principles of choice.'

(10) So true moral responsibility is impossible, because it requires true self-determination, as noted in (3).


Quote:Our brain is a physical mechanism, so it obviously can have physical effects.  But it works in many (but not all) ways by symbolic processing and selection, which are not the same as the mere summation of physical causes.  It works through self-motivated focused attention on some physical causes over others.  We are ourselves in the loop.  Thus what is termed free will.

None of that shows how we could be the ultimate cause of our actions. That's just trivial compatabilism... which is not at all how I defined free will in the OP.
My Argument Against Free Will Wrote:(1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to originate your original nature.

(2) But you can't originate your original nature—it's already there.

(3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.
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#25

Does free will exist?
(11-04-2018, 10:49 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...To say that we are affecting this chemical slushy with our conscious choices is to say that consciousness has some sort of power to affect the motions of material matter.

How does that happen?

Could I suggest this scenario:  An image of a young woman being stoned to death is shown to
a practising Christian and a devout Muslim.  She was discovered to be having a sexual relationship
with a male other than her husband, and was punished "accordingly".

Each of their brains is connected with an fMRI  (functional magnetic resonance imaging) device
which measures the specific areas and degrees of brain responses.

Obviously each has made a prior conscious decision regarding the morality of Islamic stoning as a
punishment.  And each of their brains will react in totally different ways at the neuronal level when
viewing the image.

So... conscious choices could be seen to be moving molecules.
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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