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Free Will posted 09 Jul 2004, 14:07 by Grantaire, Moderator

This is an issue I've grappled with for a while. Do we actually have free will? Speaking to someone a couple days ago, they argued that scientifically, we don't have free will, because at the particle level, there are set things that every particle does, even though by the Uncertainty Principle we can't fully measure the velocity and position. However, they said that since we can't measure those factors, we don't know what exactly the particles will do, so we can't tell what will happen in the future, and thus we have an illusion of free will- illusion because we don't actually know what is certain to happen, however the future is set. If taken non-scientifically, I think it also depends on your religious beliefs. Monotheistic religions usually say humans are given free will, but I am uncertain as to how the ideas of a deity, fate (heaven or hell), and free will are compatible. Sorry, I digress, I'll have to make a thread about that at a later point. So, simply, do you think we have free will or not? Or do you believe in a totally deterministic universe? And why? Thanks. view post


posted 09 Jul 2004, 17:07 by Replay, Auditor

Do we have freewill? Sure. But then we also don't have it. :) Sorry I know thats not much help, but I don't have any time to make a better reply at the moment. Besides it's another one of those questions that runs deep and touches on so many other subjects. view post


posted 09 Jul 2004, 17:07 by Grantaire, Moderator

Yes I know, which is why I was interested to see- it reveals a lot about a person, including religious and philosophical views. view post


posted 09 Jul 2004, 20:07 by Taliesin, Peralogue

Well, coming from my religious perspective, I'd say that yes, we definitely have free will, and that it's a very important part of who were are. The other thing to note, of course, is that, even if you buy into a deterministic picture of the universe, this does not necessarily have to rule out free will. I'm not quite sure what I think on the determinist issue, but perhaps I'll give this more thought, or do some reading to become more knowledgeable on the issue (I took an intro to philosophy course last semester, but that really means I just have a basic grasp of the different issues....) view post


posted 09 Jul 2004, 20:07 by Grantaire, Moderator

The thing I don't understand about people using religion as an argument for free will is that it seems to me that the two ideas are incompatible. view post


posted 09 Jul 2004, 20:07 by Taliesin, Peralogue

Why should they be incompatible? I don't see God as having determined everything that is going to happen to us. It is kind of ambiguous, in that I'd believe He knows what will happen, but that it is due to our individual choices that these things happen as they do.... I guess really I don't base my belief in free will solely on religious conviction or anything like that, but I don't see it as a contradiction. Plus, I am still coming to understand the world around me, and haven't completely figured out what all are my own beliefs vs. what I just believe because it is what I have been taught. Of course, I guess in some ways you can never fully separate the two... view post


posted 09 Jul 2004, 21:07 by Grantaire, Moderator

It's hard to explain, I'm not very good at changing my thought process into words..I'll give it a day and get back to you on that point. view post


posted 10 Jul 2004, 02:07 by Loof, Peralogue

I beleve that everything has it's roots in what has happened before. So the situations and choices we are offered are dependant on earlyer occurances, but in every situation we still have a choise about how we act/react. So I beleve in free will and a deterministic world (as opposed to a fatalistic world). view post


posted 11 Jul 2004, 00:07 by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

I meant to answer this a couple of days ago and I still aim to, but I need some more time to think things out. If I'm not careful, I'll start writing and then try to somehow "prove" without sufficient evidence something like a Grand Unified Theory or something. But I will try to answer this at length sometime in the next day or two. view post


posted 11 Jul 2004, 05:07 by Grantaire, Moderator

I do that sometimes too :wink: view post


posted 13 Jul 2004, 02:07 by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

So after thinking about this for a bit, here are just a few of the many thoughts I've had on this topic. A problem with approaching this topic is that all too often people tend to bandy about the word "is", as if we can "prove" or "disprove" that free will exists. "Is" just might be one of the most deadly and cutting words we have, as its very use presumes the existence (or nonexistence) of something. So with that in mind, I proceed with trepidation into revealing some of my thoughts regarding free will. I believe that a belief or disbelief in free will is not as important as how people [i:1f5tqfz4]apply[/i:1f5tqfz4] their beliefs to a given situation. Free will, like the idea of God, is not ultimately "provable" and to presume as such would tend to lead people down the fallacy of applying scientific methods to metaphysical discussions. So I eschew the notion that we can "know." Sometimes, ignorance is more than bliss; it's a way of life (and one that can have benefits for people and societies). Scott actually touches upon this some in TWP (the chapter quotes in particular are direct). Maybe we should just own up to our inability to know everything and just do what we can with what we have to create what we might out of this world that we [i:1f5tqfz4]can[/i:1f5tqfz4] know and understand. So if a belief in Free Agency helps a person construct a world-view (I prefer using the German [i:1f5tqfz4]Weltanschauung[/i:1f5tqfz4], despite its misapplication by Hitler, due to its subtle undertones of a connection with a person's life. But world-view will do for those who don't understand German.) that is beneficial for them and others, then that's a good thing. Same for the person who takes a belief in a foreordained destiny and creates something positive out of that. So I guess I'm saying that how we apply our beliefs is much more important than trying to "solve" those beliefs. view post


posted 13 Jul 2004, 04:07 by Taliesin, Peralogue

I like the idea that some people "have" free will while others don't. It's a kind of funny thought, some of us having the capability to do whatever we choose while others are forced into a certain preordained destiny. Obviously that wasn't at all what you were saying, but it still amused my mind for a few moments ;) I do like what you said, though, about how free will isn't something we can "know" exists or not, that whichever belief helps one to construct the most beneficial world-view should be applied. It's interesting how two people can take a similar belief and yield such different conclusions from it - something may seem entirely hopeful to one person, while in another it creates an entirely depressing view of how our world operates. view post


posted 13 Jul 2004, 16:07 by Replay, Auditor

Been thinking about this subject for the past couple of days and it's amazing at just how many angles there are that you can approach it from, and how many tracks of thought there are to follow (including all the other subjects such a question touches on). So instead of even attempting to explain it (which I doubt I could) and just rambling on forever, I'll instead just add a few questions that may or may not be of use to the discussion. The first one is just what do we mean when we say free will? Free from what exactly? Is it just the freedom to choose? And if it is, then what makes that choice freer than any other action? After all, even though we have the ability to look back to see how we been controlled by our past actions and then change, even that choice is influenced by our past and present conditioning in some way. Perhaps some people are freer than others since they are not as controlled as much by their past, and even if we were able to wipe out all our past conditioning, would there still not be something governing those choices? And if so, just what is it? What is it that makes one choice better than other? Is there even such a thing as a person to be free? It has been mentioned that we cannot know what free will is, and you could also say that it is the arrogance of humans to that think they can know everything, especially things such as this. Well perhaps it is, but is it not also arrogance to think something cannot be known just because we haven't figured it out for ourselves yet? Finally, a lot of people often harp on about freedom (especially in the states), but do they really understand just what it is they are after? You often see a lot of people fighting the establishment because they want to be free and not controlled, but just whatt kind of freedom is it that they hope to gain? And would they not be freer if they were to instead accept that they are often controlled and influenced by others? Freer to influence the direction of the currents if they were just to float along with them instead of trying to stand still and hold them back? Freer to admire the scenery of life as it goes past instead of constantly fighting and worrying about it? view post


posted 17 Jul 2004, 13:07 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

Do you have free will, yes to a certain extent, as long as you follow your own beliefs and look at everything to a certain degree as the propeganda that it is and then make your own decision then thats fine. However if you look at each thing as the way in which youve been brought up then your a product of your times and have been influenced by others to form up your own conclusion of what you think. So really there is no such thing as free will if you look at it that way. view post


posted 19 Jul 2004, 02:07 by saintjon, Auditor

I would prefer to think that free will exists, but if someone were to prove to me that it really didn't, it wouldn't change how I live my life. This is all I've got, I wouldn't throw it to the wind just because I found out how much of a grip biology had on my actions. Whatever an identity is composed of, it's still an identity right? view post


posted 20 Sep 2004, 00:09 by Anonymous, Subdidact

Opinion: If an omniscient, omnipotent entity exists then no other (lesser) entity can have free will. It can revoke your choices at its discretion, perhaps even retroactively. Further Opinion: The existence or nonexistence of free will (and my possession or nonpossession of it) would likely make no (little?) difference to the living of my life. Either I cannot choose to change it, or I already try to make the best choices I can and can do no better with that knowledge. view post


Related Question posted 30 Sep 2004, 05:09 by Anonymous, Subdidact

If we accept the implication of science (sounds like we are talking about a person :lol: ) about are lack of free will, would that still apply to, for example, a disembodied consciousness? It seems to me that whatever form the mind takes the decisions it makes depend upon the inputs (stimuli?) that prompt the decision. That the result depends on the input and, therefore, the mind does not have free will because what it does is predetermined by external factors. And if it it does not base its decisions on this basis and instead chooses randomly, is it really making decisions at all. That was messy. I think my argument could be summarised thus: A process of evaluation is inherently deterministic. view post


posted 01 Oct 2004, 06:10 by tellner, Peralogue

[quote="Aesmael":ag96iu0u]Opinion: If an omniscient, omnipotent entity exists then no other (lesser) entity can have free will. It can revoke your choices at its discretion, perhaps even retroactively. Further Opinion: The existence or nonexistence of free will (and my possession or nonpossession of it) would likely make no (little?) difference to the living of my life. Either I cannot choose to change it, or I already try to make the best choices I can and can do no better with that knowledge.[/quote:ag96iu0u] The Talmud says "G-d has foreknowledge, but man has free will". The Diety's perception of time is not as limited as our own. What we see as sequential events is perceived as a timeless whole from the perspective of eternity. Our choices determine the shape. He sees the entire thing. Elsewhere it is said that even if we don not ultimately have free will it is wise to act as if our actions have consequences. But I'm not a philosopher. Just an indifferently observant Jew. view post


Re: Related Question posted 01 Oct 2004, 06:10 by tellner, Peralogue

[quote="Aesmael":2q3e9czx]If we accept the implication of science (sounds like we are talking about a person :lol: ) about are lack of free will, would that still apply to, for example, a disembodied consciousness? It seems to me that whatever form the mind takes the decisions it makes depend upon the inputs (stimuli?) that prompt the decision. That the result depends on the input and, therefore, the mind does not have free will because what it does is predetermined by external factors. And if it it does not base its decisions on this basis and instead chooses randomly, is it really making decisions at all. That was messy. I think my argument could be summarised thus: A process of evaluation is inherently deterministic.[/quote:2q3e9czx] What do you mean "the implication of science about lack of free will". Science is a way of looking at the world. These methods in and of themselves say nothing about free will or lack thereof. If you mean that the results of current research indicate that our thoughts and perceptions are limited by the machinery that's doing the sensing and thinking and shaped by past experience, well, sorry to break the news to you bro, it's true. You don't even need to get scientific about it. Try 1) All existence is imperfect, conditioned by contact, leads to the continuation of karma (dukka). 2) This imperfection arises out of attachment to the past 3) There is an end to dukka. 4) It lies in following the noble eightfold path of 1. Right View 2. Right Intention 3. Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration Or, to put it another way, you have a certain amount of autonomy, but what you are is influenced by what you are and your experiences. You still have choices, and the fact that they aren't all automatic (and the fact that we can be creative in any sense) means that you have at least a measure of free will. Get over it. Don't worry about it. view post


posted 02 Oct 2004, 18:10 by Anonymous, Subdidact

tellner, your phrasing is much clearer than mine (as in the 'science disenchanting the world' thread, I think you said what I was trying to, better). [quote:1c6gef4l]The Talmud says "G-d has foreknowledge, but man has free will". The Diety's perception of time is not as limited as our own. What we see as sequential events is perceived as a timeless whole from the perspective of eternity. Our choices determine the shape. He sees the entire thing.[/quote:1c6gef4l] That is an interesting idea. But it does not seem to account for a deity that is also omnipotent. My statement is concerned only with entities that possess both qualities. Could I have a context for the Talmud? I suspect it is a holy book, but the name does not get thrown around in my prescence as often as 'bible' or 'koran.' [quote:1c6gef4l]Elsewhere it is said that even if we don not ultimately have free will it is wise to act as if our actions have consequences.[/quote:1c6gef4l] Yes, I am rather fond of that idea myself. Wert your second post, first paragraph, again you type with greater clarity than I do. My question is: taking that as true, consider a consciousness without the 'machinary' that constitutes us. Is consciousness on its own a deterministic process or does that arise from the machinary that produces it? For Buddhism giving an answer to my question, I will need to think about. More likely, read some texts before I can respond to it. It has been a while and I do not want to misrepresent it. [quote:1c6gef4l]Get over it. Don't worry about it.[/quote:1c6gef4l] I don't. view post


posted 02 Oct 2004, 23:10 by tellner, Peralogue

[quote="Aesmael":a2t7cpzu]tellner, your phrasing is much clearer than mine (as in the 'science disenchanting the world' thread, I think you said what I was trying to, better). [quote:a2t7cpzu]The Talmud says "G-d has foreknowledge, but man has free will". The Diety's perception of time is not as limited as our own. What we see as sequential events is perceived as a timeless whole from the perspective of eternity. Our choices determine the shape. He sees the entire thing.[/quote:a2t7cpzu] That is an interesting idea. But it does not seem to account for a deity that is also omnipotent. My statement is concerned only with entities that possess both qualities. Could I have a context for the Talmud? I suspect it is a holy book, but the name does not get thrown around in my prescence as often as 'bible' or 'koran.'[/quote:a2t7cpzu] Back during the early later centuries CE (Common Era) the Jewish diaspora realized that the oral traditions and laws were in danger of being lost. In Babylon and Jerusalem scholars, scribes, prophets (prophets were thicker on the ground in those days) codified these things. That was called the Mishnah, the Oral Law. The Talmud is the Mishnah and its commentaries, discussions, arguments, feuds and conversations. The more commonly used Babylonian Talmud fills 63 volumes. The Jerusalem version comprises 20 if memory serves. As to omnipotence mixed with all of this, again, I'm not much of a philosopher or theologian, just an indifferently educated Jew with the tiniest bit of Sufi training. As best as I understand it, according to Jewish and Muslim traditions G-d could have made us without the capacity for free will or independent action but has elected for reasons of His own to give them to us. Hashem gets out of our way on those things and lets us make our own decisions. It would certainly be possible to put the Divine Thumb on the scales, but the Almighty has chosen not to do so. In the Sefer Yetzirah (a text which the Kabbalists believe was dictated to man by an angel) it's put more poetically. The Sephirot - the vessels manifesting the Divine powers in the world - were originally perfect. In such a state free will was impossible, so they were broken and reformed. The power is still Hashem's, but it is imperfectly or incompletely manifested in the world so that we can be human beings, not angels or animals. It's not a perfect answer, but it's about the best the theologians have come up with. [quote:a2t7cpzu] [quote:a2t7cpzu]Elsewhere it is said that even if we don not ultimately have free will it is wise to act as if our actions have consequences.[/quote:a2t7cpzu] Yes, I am rather fond of that idea myself. Wert your second post, first paragraph, again you type with greater clarity than I do. My question is: taking that as true, consider a consciousness without the 'machinary' that constitutes us. Is consciousness on its own a deterministic process or does that arise from the machinary that produces it? For Buddhism giving an answer to my question, I will need to think about. More likely, read some texts before I can respond to it. It has been a while and I do not want to misrepresent it. .[/quote:a2t7cpzu] Likewise. The good stuff is the Almighty's, the Sages' and the Prophets'. The mistakes are mine :) I don't know the answer to your question about a consciousness or a soul independent of the physical machinery that constitutes us. We certainly all carry the imprint of past actions. But we don't seem to be complete automata. The mystics - Sufis, Chassids, Buddhists and so on - provide methods by which one is supposed to be able to transcend those things. Certainly advanced practitioners are at least aware of what causes their own habits of thought. And the good ones have gotten beyond chasing cool states of consciousness like they were drugs. A lot of the practice for all of them seems to involve developing awareness, mindfulness, removing illusions and getting out of your own way. If this doesn't get to some ideal state beyond [i:a2t7cpzu]dukka [/i:a2t7cpzu]or the [i:a2t7cpzu]Nafs[/i:a2t7cpzu] at least it's closer than what most of us suffer under. Is there a conscious soul apart from the body? I don't know. The debate has been going on for thousands of years and has resulted in the spilling of a lot of ink and blood. view post


posted 27 Jul 2005, 18:07 by Lucimay, Subdidact

oh particle schmarticle! it's a decision you make. be aware. i'm with tellner, getting out of my own way as much as possible! view post


posted 21 Mar 2006, 03:03 by Zarathinius, Auditor

Try thinking about it this way: Every thought we have is the result of something or some things that happened previously, and every choice we make is similarly influenced. After all, would any of us be thinking about this topic if we hadn't been reading it? And would we be reading this topic if we were not already on this forum? It seems to continue endlessly in this manner. Essentially, we truly are beholden to "the darkness that comes before." :) view post


posted 21 Mar 2006, 14:03 by gierra, Sorcerer-of-Rank

i believe in both free will and destiny/fate. i kinda think of life as a choose-your-own-adventure story. ultimately your life is made up of choices. you have the free will to make those choices as you see fit, but each choice will lead in a predetermined path. looking at how the universe it made up, i can;t imagine everything being completely random. view post


posted 21 Mar 2006, 21:03 by Will, Peralogue

First, to state the question of Free will as I shall be attempting to answer it. Q1: Can the universe's next state U1 be determined by the complete knowledge of the universe's state and rate of change at U0? Imagine an omniscient and omnipotent observer, he freezes (in time, not ice) the universe and understands its totality. Then he does the same thing a minute later. Next he resets the universe to the first, and lets it run to the second. He repeats infinitely. Will he ever miss the second slice? That is, will the same inputs ever produce different outcomes? The only way to answer Yes to this question is to posit inputs which cannot be observed by an omniscient and omnipotent observer, which nevertheless act upon matter and energy. Consequently, I have 2 choices. If I reject the belief of unobservable inputs upon matter and energy we have precisely as much "free will" as a can of soda. Human thoughts and actions are more complicated examples of rocks falling down hills, controlled completely by our past actions and the world around us. Humans are lightning in meat. If I accept the existence of unobservable inputs upon matter and energy, and further posit that those inputs act upon the "lightning", then it is those inputs which constitute free will. In that case I consider myself precisely as free as the degree to which my consciousness is composed of these phantom inputs. I believe in the first of these hypotheses. Thus, I believe that I have no free will. view post


posted 23 Mar 2006, 14:03 by Peter, Auditor

[quote:2v7oijd7]If I reject the belief of unobservable inputs upon matter and energy we have precisely as much "free will" as a can of soda. Human thoughts and actions are more complicated examples of rocks falling down hills, controlled completely by our past actions and the world around us. Humans are lightning in meat. If I accept the existence of unobservable inputs upon matter and energy, and further posit that those inputs act upon the "lightning", then it is those inputs which constitute free will. In that case I consider myself precisely as free as the degree to which my consciousness is composed of these phantom inputs. I believe in the first of these hypotheses. Thus, I believe that I have no free will.[/quote:2v7oijd7] Unless of course we go with a different account of free will. What if we started with the idea that we are free just when we are not unfree. If we then work out what it is to be unfree, we can know in a negative sense, when we are free, and this even with complete scientific determinism (which falls apart because of quantum anyway). So, I know that I am unfree when I am stopped from acting the way I want to act. If I am put in prison, if I am being held down, if someone is using mind-control techniques on me, these are all cases where I would clearly consider myself to be unfree. If this is unfreedom, then when I am considering whether or not to eat this apple pie I am free to the extent that there is not someone standing over my shoulder with a tazer waiting for me to choose to eat it (or not to eat it). All this account is saying is that freedom is being able to follow our desires (including second and third order desires) and this is perfectly compatible with determinism (hence why the theory is called compatibilism). Also you might go with something like Scott's Dunyain. I don't have the glossary to hand, but the idea that logic is formally (if not materially) outside the darkness that comes before and that be acting according to reason we are able to defeat it. This I think comes mighty close to the Kantian notion of Autonomy (although Scott did say that there are Hegelian elements in Dunyain thinking and given that I haven't read Hegel yet it may be closer to him than to Kant). Essentially a lot of free willists argue that the identification of free will with being able to overcome causation and subsequent attacks on that notion is really only targetting straw men. BTW if anyone asks this counts as work (ahem) :D... Why no I don't have finals starting in just over eight weeks time. (cough cough). view post


posted 23 Mar 2006, 15:03 by Nikodemus, Commoner

According to science we haven't got a free will as you've said. We are by everything around us and as long as you just believe in science No we havenĀ“t got a free will but if you believe in some god or any other overnatural beings etc. then yes maybe. It's up to your beliefs. If there is a god then he have to be a exception and maybe he's outside our understanding. He and our souls might have a influence over our deciscion in a way which science can't understand view post


posted 03 Dec 2006, 22:12 by Sorcerous-Words, Auditor

all things well founded. i think much of the original problems from who first posted go for many sects of organized religion. I will have a post on christianity a little later view post


posted 04 Dec 2006, 17:12 by Cordelia, Auditor

I always thought that we have both free will and fate/destiny. I see it as we have many endings and paths written out for us already, but we can choose the different paths to follow along the way, there by having many endings to choose from, etc. view post


posted 04 Dec 2006, 18:12 by Sorcerous-Words, Auditor

interesting point. i guess i never liked the idea of destiny because there is a feel of lack of control...but your idea somewhat cleanses that view post


posted 04 Dec 2006, 18:12 by TheDarkness, Peralogue

i believe the question is this. does choice entail free will? If it does then of course we have free will because all of us have decided to join this forum. If choice does not entail free will. then we must come up with a new definition for free will. will start a new topic about this. view post


posted 07 Dec 2006, 03:12 by Aesmael, Candidate

How is a choice made? view post


posted 07 Dec 2006, 03:12 by Sorcerous-Words, Auditor

by weighing the most beneficial aspect of the options...at least the most beneficial to our knowledge. view post


posted 07 Dec 2006, 03:12 by Sorcerous-Words, Auditor

of course with above it can also be instinctual. like moving out of the way of an oncoming car... view post


posted 22 Dec 2006, 06:12 by Corvis, Commoner

As Nietzsche said, and is quoted in the prince of nothing book one, "I shall never tire of underlining a concise little fact which these superstitious people are loath to admit-namely, that a thought comes when "It" wants, not when "I" want..." So what do you belive? Does it come when "it" wants or when "you" want it too? and if the thought comes when "It" wants not when "I" want then there can be no free will for, we would be moved by something out of our control making decisions so we think on thoughts that are not our own for they come when they want so it would seem that thought alone has free will... :?: :?: :o view post


posted 22 Dec 2006, 15:12 by Harrol, Moderator

Yes but I can choose what thoughts dominate. I never just have one thought come to mind on an issue but rather I have many. Then I choose which one to follow. view post


posted 23 Dec 2006, 08:12 by Corvis, Commoner

ah but the thought of choosing is a thought all its own. view post


posted 26 Dec 2006, 16:12 by Harrol, Moderator

Too true Corvis too true. view post


posted 05 Jan 2007, 14:01 by avatar_of_existence, Peralogue

"Not free from what, but free for what." - F.N.[/i] view post


posted 07 Nov 2007, 04:11 by jub, Peralogue

All actions are the result of causal events and certain circumstantial conditions that induce us to act. Without these influences we would be unable to act, unable to decide between A or B. view post


posted 07 Nov 2007, 05:11 by Jamara, Auditor

Free will is one's ability to act against one's instincts because one chooses to. view post


posted 07 Nov 2007, 07:11 by jub, Peralogue

If an agent's action is free the agent has to have had the ability to do otherwise. view post


posted 08 Nov 2007, 10:11 by Israfel, Peralogue

I'm afraid I'm of the opinion that the question is a pointless one. Without accepting the idea of free will the whole background behind human interaction and one's idea of self ceases to have meaning - it literally is a question without meaning, because it negates both the self and others, and the world as seen through human eyes. I can't remember which philosopher it is, but the person I agree with most on this debate essentially says that even if determinism is true, it's not something that can mean anything to us because all our actions in effect are predicated on the truth of free will. It is impossible to truly believe or act as if free will doesn't exist, and is therefore irrelevent to pursue the matter of whether our actions are actually free. Also if anyone mentions compatibilism they deserve a slap... view post


posted 08 Nov 2007, 12:11 by jub, Peralogue

[quote="Israfel":2we977y3]I'm afraid I'm of the opinion that the question is a pointless one. [/quote:2we977y3] Pointless because you don't like the answer? Or pointless because you fail to gain anything from it? The way I see it, I gain a whole lot from the discussion of free will, in the same way people gain a lot from their belief in a god. [quote="Israfel":2we977y3]Without accepting the idea of free will the whole background behind human interaction and one's idea of self ceases to have meaning[/quote:2we977y3] How does anything change by accepting that we have no free will? [quote="Israfel":2we977y3] It is impossible to truly believe or act as if free will doesn't exist, and is therefore irrelevent to pursue the matter of whether our actions are actually free.[/quote:2we977y3] It isn't impossible to believe anything, I could wholeheartedly believe that the sun rotates around the earth; I could believe any number of things. I fail to see how my belief in the non-existence of free will changes anything. view post


posted 08 Nov 2007, 15:11 by Israfel, Peralogue

[quote="jub":2sy15dp9]Pointless because you don't like the answer? Or pointless because you fail to gain anything from it? The way I see it, I gain a whole lot from the discussion of free will, in the same way people gain a lot from their belief in a god. [/quote:2sy15dp9] No, not pointless because I don't like the answer, I fully accept that people could get a whole range of subjective bonuses from the discussion of free will. What I don't think is that the question can have any real meaning (see my points below). [quote="jub":2sy15dp9] How does anything change by accepting that we have no free will?[/quote:2sy15dp9] [quote="jub":2sy15dp9]It isn't impossible to believe anything, I could wholeheartedly believe that the sun rotates around the earth; I could believe any number of things. I fail to see how my belief in the non-existence of free will changes anything.[/quote:2sy15dp9] I think you're missing what I'm saying, which is that the way we regard people, and ourselves as people necessarily involves us believing that people are making their own choices and have responsibility for their actions. The way we think every day, the decisions we make, our judgements of others, our justifications to ourselves depend entirely upon the notion of ourselves as free beings. It is impossible to truly accept that you yourself are a robot-like being driven only by causal levers that you have no control over, and, I would suggest, to apply this to others and be an absolute solipsist in this way. The point is that the way we think and act every day depends absolutely on a whole range of assumptions that directly and indirectly assume the existence and force of free will in both yourself and others. Next time you have a negative thought about someone's decision, "I wouldn't have done that, that's a stupid thing to do" for example, you assume that you have a choice and that they do too, as they are morally/otherwise culpable for the action, which they would not be in any real way if determinism was true. So therefore, whether determinism is an actual fact or not, one cannot truly act as if it was true, and thus for me the question is literally a non-question. It is not one that the human mind and english language are equipped to deal with and cannot legitimately be answered in a way that affirms determinism given these contraints upon the human mind and our language, [i:2sy15dp9]regardless of whether or not determinism is a fact[/i:2sy15dp9]. Hope that helps clarify the position I hold on this issue. view post


posted 12 Nov 2007, 00:11 by jub, Peralogue

Determinism isn't the only argument out there, of which I am sure you know. Yet I am still puzzled as to why you would call this a non-question? I understand all the contradictions that determinism imposes, but what philosophical question does not come with these issues? From your explanation I would say you find the argument on personal identity a non-question also? What about consciousness? Dualism? view post


posted 12 Nov 2007, 01:11 by Israfel, Peralogue

It's true determinism isn't the only thing out there, but the forms of compatibilism I've seen all reduce the concept of "free will" or, in the more sophisticated forms, "choice", to something far less than the everyday understanding. To my mind denying this form of free will is what is in essence nonsensical in the most basic way. There literally is no honest way we can begin to consider ourselves without effective choice, for the reasons I've mentioned, and still less is there a way you could begin to apply that in social relations. Therefore, since even were we able to seriously consider the idea of free will not actually existing (which I would argue against, as stated), it would not be something that would have any ramifications for social matters, and I'd call that a pretty perfect case of a non-question. A question that is possible, perhaps, semantically speaking but makes pretty much no sense investigating from any philosophical or sociological perspective beyond, perhaps, a mere thought experiment. So to me it's a question that's a little like Ryle's Category Error (e.g. someone being shown round all of Oxford University's colleges and buildings and saying afterwards, "yes, but can I please see the [i:oex3zu45]university[/i:oex3zu45], all I've seen are these colleges and facilities") - a basic error in mistaking a semantically possible quesion for one that actually makes sense. I'm not sure what aspect of personal identity you're getting at, could you clarify? But I would mention that I'd probably come at it from a perspective much like Heidegger and perhaps Husserl; that the way we've become used to looking at ourselves in the world, that of a detached observer looking out onto a world of qualia, is a mistaken way of going about it. view post


posted 15 Nov 2007, 04:11 by Jamara, Auditor

I've always believed that free will exists. And it is a quality unique to man. But I have also firmly held the belief that we, as all animals, succomb to conditioning. And reading the last few posts, I had a thought. If you take an immigrant as an example, and you take watch how that immigrant intigrates into their new society, couldn't that be a study on free will? You have taken the person out of their conditioned environment and placed them into a new environment where the stimuli are different and proper responses are different as well. Some immigrants choose to intigrate, some choose not to, and some choose to mix the two societies . . . but in the end, they chose how to react to the environment, they weren't simply reacting. view post


posted 16 Nov 2007, 22:11 by Israfel, Peralogue

I suspect that the response doubters would leap at is that all that would be a test of is how and to what degree societies conditioned their citizens to cope with the unknown in its different forms. So perhaps someone from an incredibly remote (perhaps, say, prehistoric) tribe, who cast everything in terms of a rigidly ordered world where nothing changed and this was the uncontestable will of their god, would be utterly baffled by being plunged suddenly into modern western society, whereas someone from a more globalised culture, or even simply a more imaginative one, would be better prepared to deal with the situation. view post


posted 17 Nov 2007, 23:11 by Randal, Auditor

I think this is all a bit vague. "Free will reduced to something less than is commonly understood." Well, what is commonly understood? I believe free will of a sort exists in that people make choices all the time... but also that they're determined, in that given the same arguments they would make the same decision in every parallel universe. After all, your decisions aren't made by random chance, are they? They have reasons. If those reasons don't change, the decisions do not change either. "I would not have done that in his place" still applies, because you -would not- have done so in 'his' place. After all, you have access to different information, have a different brain with which to process the information, different experiences, different desires, priorities and ideals to motivate your decision... you would make a different decision because of that. Quite possibly in fact a better one. I think that is plenty free enough. We do the best we can according to our abilities and desires. But there's nothing magical about it, nothing that stands above the laws of nature, nothing that escapes the principles of causality. The causes just very often are found in your character, rather than in external circumstances. I don't see how that conflicts with concept of humanity at all. view post


posted 18 Nov 2007, 03:11 by Israfel, Peralogue

That's pretty much a statement of the more plausible compatibalist theories I've heard. But I can't see how you can argue that the mere act of making a choice can be free if there's no way you could or would ever make a different choice - that seems to me to be reducing the concept of free will far below any rational use of the phrase; saying that you have a choice but will (and can) never choose any other way is to me simply a more dishonest version of determinism. 'Choice' in those terms is not a choice at all. I understand your point about reasons playing the predominant, but in the process of deliberation, one may weigh many reasons against another, and the ability to judge either above the another at a certain moment I would not call random chance. To toss out an example (forgive me if it's overly complex or mildly retarded), if one supposes a case where one is deciding whether to condemn a murderer to death or life imprisonment, there may well be many varying reasons for either side. And while one's past experiences will necessarily have influenced how one views the options, I would suggest that to say that one would always make the same decision is to believe wholeheartedly in determinism - and if that's your point of view you'd do best to leave free will out of your conception at all. However, to believe in the concept of free will, and the possibility of either choice being made, is not to say that it comes down to random chance. It's a case of making a decision that is informed by and probably strongly influenced by the past and reasons, but not being utterly constrained by them. So in this example I can recognise (for example) my great fury at this murderer for killing someone, who perhaps reminds me of a person who killed a relative of mine, and that society would be better off with this person dead, thus. causing me to want to put the killer to death. I can feel there are compelling reasons to put this man to death. However, I nonetheless recognise that the evidence is not entirely fool-proof and perhaps I believe that rehabilitation works better as a penal system than simply locking them away. Or perhaps balancing these reasons I simply weigh up the concept of justice against mercy. The reasons do not change, but which ones I ultimately accept as more convincing is something that I can debate in my mind and decide on through deliberation. The fact that reasons exist and provide motivation does not therefore mean that these reasons compel us to accept them. So I would agree that causes are very often found within our character, but deny the assertion that these causes shackle us to a certain path. And it is that assertion that I believe stands at the centre of the point I made earlier about the lack of sense in asking the question as we do. Added to that, I'd add that the principles of causality aren't quite as rock-solid at their foundation as we'd like to believe. Tossing out things I'm definitely not the best person to elaborate on (but hoping you take the point in the spirit in which it's offered), quantum theory and the idea that if you ran into a wall enough times, theoretically you'd eventually pass through it (something to do with alignment of particles or the like, I believe - sue me, not a scientist...) alone should make us pause and think that perhaps we should not take as coldly mechanical a point of view as I would suggest is taken in the above post. Okay, that was possibly an overlong way of saying, "good points, but I still disagree". Beg pardon. I'll try to think on it some more and come up with some points that will perhaps do your argument more justice. view post


posted 18 Nov 2007, 21:11 by coobek, Candidate

[quote="Randal":3j9a9yij]I think this is all a bit vague. "Free will reduced to something less than is commonly understood." Well, what is commonly understood? I believe free will of a sort exists in that people make choices all the time... but also that they're determined, in that given the same arguments they would make the same decision in every parallel universe. After all, your decisions aren't made by random chance, are they? They have reasons. If those reasons don't change, the decisions do not change either. "I would not have done that in his place" still applies, because you -would not- have done so in 'his' place. After all, you have access to different information, have a different brain with which to process the information, different experiences, different desires, priorities and ideals to motivate your decision... you would make a different decision because of that. Quite possibly in fact a better one. I think that is plenty free enough. We do the best we can according to our abilities and desires. But there's nothing magical about it, nothing that stands above the laws of nature, nothing that escapes the principles of causality. The causes just very often are found in your character, rather than in external circumstances. I don't see how that conflicts with concept of humanity at all.[/quote:3j9a9yij] I did not read all of the 4 pages here but to support your view of things - the 1st 100 odd pages of economic treaty 'Human Action' by Mises are a very interesting literature on this subject. Moreover reading it you will non stop have flashback of - oh my this is darkness which comes before or this is conditioning or thid id how Kelhus acts. A very interesting treatise, mind you if sombody hates economy - those pages are not about economy at all - and than again they are 100% about economy. The book is free to download from the web. view post


posted 19 Nov 2007, 14:11 by Randal, Auditor

The problem is, I fail to see the distinction. The causes do not shackle us to a certain path? What -then- are your choices [i:3obj2ppd]based[/i:3obj2ppd] on? If you choose to execute the murderer in your example, why? And if next you do not, why not? Do you really think that given the exact same data and reasons, the exact same time to deliberate, you would make a different choice in a paralel universe? A choice not based on what you believe right, not on the reasons given, not on anything visible or measurable? You would 'just' come to a different conclusion? Why would you choose differently if the circumstances are the same? I honestly see no reason why anybody ever would. Or should. What meaning do our choices have, after all, if they can change... for no discernable reason? I do not see how that is any better than random chance. Note that I am not arguing against your example at all. Of -course- deliberation plays an important role. -Of course- you make every effort to choose what you think is best. Deliberation is an important factor in deciding what is best, in analysing the data you have. Your mind and thought processes are one of the most important causes that determine the eventual outcome. However, I also think that your deliberations would bring you to the same result in the end in any and all possible paralel universes provided the circumstances remain the same. You would think the same thoughts and arrive at the same conclusions. Why? Simply, because you are doing the best you can given your capacities. So you always choose what you think best or most pleasant, etc. I suppose I am not very much hung up on the question of whether the choice is "free" or not. I don't care, as long as I am still exercising judgement, still trying to find the best path. That to me is a lot more relevant than any ephermeal concept of "free will." So in short, what I am saying is you [i:3obj2ppd]could[/i:3obj2ppd] choose differently, if you were a different person. But you [i:3obj2ppd]will not[/i:3obj2ppd] choose differently as long as the circumstances remain the same, because your deliberations will eventually lead you to accept one choice as the right or most favourable one. And you will go with that. PS: Quantum theory is a nice one, often pushed forward by people advocating free will. Unfortunately, quantum universe does not support a truly free will either, as all it allows for in the way of undetermined events is random chance. view post


posted 21 Nov 2007, 18:11 by Israfel, Peralogue

[quote="Randal":3emwejj1]The problem is, I fail to see the distinction. The causes do not shackle us to a certain path? What -then- are your choices [i:3emwejj1]based[/i:3emwejj1] on? If you choose to execute the murderer in your example, why? And if next you do not, why not?[/quote:3emwejj1] The answer here would be, the way I see it, if you choose to execute the murderer, that would be because you let your anger overcome your beliefs, or upheld one reason for doing it over another. There are motivating reasons that could push you either way. [quote="Randal":3emwejj1]Why would you choose differently if the circumstances are the same? I honestly see no reason why anybody ever would. Or should. What meaning do our choices have, after all, if they can change... for no discernable reason?[/quote:3emwejj1] You would choose differently because you have reasons on both sides, that often struggle against each other. What tips the balance can be many things, a surge of anger, a moment of clarity or inspiration that comes to you regarding the morality of your acts, a resolution one way or the other that depends on your volition and will-power. It seems to me that you're assuming that people's reasons for doing things are always reasonable. Which is blatently untrue - someone might kill another for sport, stop an argument by force because they're bored, do something they regret later while angry, depressed and so forth, and so I can see many reasons why people would make different decisions given the same reasons and time to reason in. [quote="Randal":3emwejj1]However, I also think that your deliberations would bring you to the same result in the end in any and all possible paralel universes provided the circumstances remain the same. You would think the same thoughts and arrive at the same conclusions. Why? Simply, because you are doing the best you can given your capacities. So you always choose what you think best or most pleasant, etc.[/quote:3emwejj1] This strikes me to be so overly optimistic I'm astounded - and I'm a liberal and oft-time optimist myself. People don't always do what they think is best or most pleasant. People often drift through life without thinking, without challenging social norms with their beliefs even when they're deliberating. People often do things they regret, sometimes only seconds later, and to say that they were doing the best they could according to their capacities strips away any kind of notion of moral responsibility you could possibly have. If everyone is doing the best they can, and it's the only thing they can, or ever could, do, there's no way on earth you could possibly blame them. As well as 'choice' being bereft of meaning in your interpretation, then, you also have stripped the idea of responsibility for one's actions of any kind of relevence. If all we are doing is determined by internal systems of reasoning within our head, and these in turn are caused by a multitude of other factors, also unable to be anything but determined by their causes, then you are left with full blown determinism and no matter how much you claim it for this theory, the idea of 'choice' and, as mentioned above, 'responsibility' has no place within it. We might have an illusion of choice, but this in no way affects the fact that there's no way you can legitimately blame, criticise, praise, appreciate anyone, and many other things besides. All you are doing is acting out the result of many causal levels upon your brain. I'm not sure determinists and compatibalists realise the extent to which they are attempting to strip the world of meaning... [quote="Randal":3emwejj1]I suppose I am not very much hung up on the question of whether the choice is "free" or not. I don't care, as long as I am still exercising judgement, still trying to find the best path. That to me is a lot more relevant than any ephermeal concept of "free will."[/quote:3emwejj1] But this is exactly what you're [i:3emwejj1]not[/i:3emwejj1] doing by your account... You are not "exercising" judgement at all. Your brain is merely following a path laid out for it in advance, and your brain is simply experiencing something that is essentially an [i:3emwejj1]illusion[/i:3emwejj1] of judgement. No analysis is taking place, no choice is the end result, that isn't entirely set up in advance - because the importance of different reasons is set by your experiences (and can't change, which is the key point in your argument), things that have caused you to think in certain ways determine what you'll do in advance, and so you're no more "trying to find the best path" and "exercising judgement" than a robot programmed to move in certain ways. [quote="Randal":3emwejj1]PS: Quantum theory is a nice one, often pushed forward by people advocating free will. Unfortunately, quantum universe does not support a truly free will either, as all it allows for in the way of undetermined events is random chance.[/quote:3emwejj1] I'm not saying quantum theory on its own proves free will. What I'm saying is that the purely deterministic and mechanical conception of the universe has taken a hit with Quantum theory - why shouldn't it take another hit by acknowledging free will :wink: I'm sure finding new laws for it would be difficult, but not necessarily impossible. That's conjecture of course, but I'm essentially pulling a Hamlet without resorting to religion; "There are more things in heaven and earth..." etc. But also, I personally wouldn't be averse to a conception of consciousness in which the role of chance played its part. Why shouldn't things like inspiration, of whatever kind (musical, artistic, social), genuinely new ideas that strike out of the blue, and perhaps other things too, have a certain element of chance? Maybe (to take it further, though I wouldn't necessarily agree with the following) your account of having to act a certain way is true, but certain realisations only come to me randomly, and it is this randomness that causes parallel universes. And what would be wrong with this compared to your purely mechanical version where we can do nothing but what we do? Either way we have no genuine control over our actions, but in one version those actions are fixed and in others there's a degree of chance. It seems to me you have no legitimate way of criticising one without criticising the other. view post


posted 21 Nov 2007, 21:11 by Randal, Auditor

I apologise for not replying to your post point by point. I had started to, but felt it reduced the clarity of my post and risked getting side-tracked into endless rambling. I will shortly note that my opinion of human nature is not all that optimistic. I just do not feel there is much of a difference between rational and irrational reasons where this discussion is concerned, and threw them all under one header. Maybe I should have been clearer. Now, your main objection seems to be the lack of meaning in a deterministic universe, so I will try to clarify my position on that. My point, and it may seem like sophistry though I do not intend it that way, is that even though you will always make the same choice no matter how many exactly parallel universes there are, it still -is- a choice. It -is- based on all those deliberations, on what goes on in your mind, on rational reasons and irrational ones like that sudden surge of anger when the defendant smiles smugly. Just because it is predictable, does not to me make it any less valid. Another person would have made a different choice, a better one or a worse one. You yourself in a bad mood might have made a worse one. You yourself but with less self discipline might have made a worse one. So why not praise a person who makes good choices? Why not condemn one who makes bad ones? It still is your personal achievement as much as anything you do is. When deconstructed far enough, your ability to make those choices is not really the result of personal merit, yes. It is determined by your inborn intelligence or lack thereof, by the experiences you have had, by whether or not you are easily swayed by emotions or not and then whether your toast burned in the morning... you make good choices, but someone who makes bad ones through hot-temperedness could not suddenly to decide not to be hot-tempered and start making good ones. But all that would -also- go if through some unknown measure the choice was -not- predictable. Just like a top athlete isn't really that good by his own merit, it is largely inborn talent. A genius is praised for his work, but he was born a genius. An altruist is praised for his good deeds, but derives pleasure and statisfaction from helping others. Self-control can be learned to an extent, but is much easier for some than for others. Maybe that too makes you think the world is devoid of meaning. However, I think the evidence is incontrovertible even leaving aside the issue of free will that much of who and what we are is decided by nature and nurture, and that any praise (or blame) given is given to those people who were lucky enough, talented enough and ambitious enough (or the reverse) to achieve greatness. (or be failures) I confess I do not find that greatly troublesome. I mean, it would be nice if the world was truly fair, but obviously it is not. If someone achieves great things, I am impressed even if his talent was inborn. If someone makes good choices, I will praise them even if he made those choices because he was born with a sound sense of judgement. And if someone lets his judgement be swayed because he broke his shoelaces in the morning and is in a bad mood, I'll kick him out of the court if at all possible because he will achieve bad results, even if he cannot really help his temper. That also applies to choices made. Even if they are as free as you believe I think you would agree that that freedom only goes so far, that not everybody has it in him to make good choices no matter how hard he tries, and that not everybody has it in him to even try hard. Some people would just not care. So my bottom line would be that finding out free will does not exist would not make the world any more devoid of 'meaning' than it is already, and does not make people more or less accountable than they with free(er) will. I'm sure you've noted I have made no effort here to defend my position that there is no true free will. We can get back to that later, if you wish. I found this more interesting to talk about. view post


posted 21 Nov 2007, 22:11 by jub, Peralogue

[quote="Israfel":2z395ubl] So I would agree that causes are very often found within our character, but deny the assertion that these causes shackle us to a certain path. And it is that assertion that I believe stands at the centre of the point I made earlier about the lack of sense in asking the question as we do. [/quote:2z395ubl] So how does this make us any less of a 'robot programmed to move in certain ways'? Are you suggesting at some point in your judgement you way up the possible decisions, and act on what you [i:2z395ubl]feel[/i:2z395ubl] is best? So to put it crudely, you systematically eliminate possible decisions until you find the most probable action for success. Or do you somehow avoid using any form of judgement in your decision making? view post


posted 22 Nov 2007, 01:11 by Israfel, Peralogue

[quote="jub":mz77zt58]So how does this make us any less of a 'robot programmed to move in certain ways'? Are you suggesting at some point in your judgement you way up the possible decisions, and act on what you [i:mz77zt58]feel[/i:mz77zt58] is best? So to put it crudely, you systematically eliminate possible decisions until you find the most probable action for success. Or do you somehow avoid using any form of judgement in your decision making?[/quote:mz77zt58] Not sure I understand the question you're asking here; The reason you wouldn't be like a robot if you had free will would be the existence of a genuine choice. Battling internal causes that depend on an exercise of will, or at least acquiescence of an intellect with the capacity for choice, to motivate action is the very opposite of a robot. Hence my confusion with your question. Judgement is of course exercised in choice, but it is not the systematic elimination of possibilities whereby we eventually come to one answer - that seems to me to be what is being suggested in the deterministic/mechanical conceptions of human action. Nor, I would argue, is it simply the stronger feeling that wins out. We decide which arguments persuade us, or at least whether we act upon the contradictary dictates of our different feelings and rational judgements (which both often conflict amongst aspects of themselves as well as each other), and to conceive of judgement in the above ways seems to me to be demonstrably incorrect and overly simplistic, as well as condemning one to a coldly deterministic world whereby you're placed in the odd predicament of having to disbelieve in meaning while living in a world full of it... I would say one's judgement is composed of many aspects, both emotional and rational, with some of those aspects hidden even to ourselves at first glance as well as the usual elements we are aware of. When we are considering whether to give money to a beggar, there's (for example) the sympathy we feel for another being in distress, the consideration that they might spend the money on booze, any moral code we follow that might dictate kindness to strangers or those in need, perhaps even a feeling of mild revulsion at their appearance, which we might not even admit to ourselves. These all combine in different ways, and then you get onto issues of self-analysis, or aims you have (other uses for the money?) and other beliefs about society, yourself, and so forth. These combines to form various arguments for and against. How you finally act, what final weight you give to them is what I would suggest is not (and cannot sensibly) be determined. Do you side with certain feelings over others (revulsion vs empathy), rational reasons over others (giving money to charity vs money that will help individuals now), all of which have a certain weight beforehand in your mind, perhaps, but with the myriad interpretations and complexity (as well as lack of certainty) it's nothing so simple as weighing two scale in your head and the result that wins dictates your actions. God, listen to me ramble on. Apologies if my replies aren't always amazingly insightful, but I'm still exploring the issue myself and trying to weigh up what I actually think as well as argue the point :) view post


posted 28 Nov 2007, 11:11 by jub, Peralogue

[quote="Israfel":10hi1foa] Not sure I understand the question you're asking here[/quote:10hi1foa] In plain terms, how would you explain your actions as being free? view post


posted 29 Nov 2007, 11:11 by Israfel, Peralogue

An action is free (in the sense of free will) if in making a decision about actions, there is a genuine choice about which action we will in fact take. If there is not an actual sense in which another decision could have been made then the action is purely determined by other factors, both inside yourself and out - you put in certain stimuli and through a complex reaction inside of you (elements of which are structural and all of these are themselves determined by outside factors according to a determinist viewpoint) a certain action results. Essentially mine is a conception of action in which the consciousness has a choice to make, and can genuinely decide which way to go. Further ideas of mine about how the internal process works I included in my posts above. view post


posted 29 Nov 2007, 16:11 by Raz, Commoner

Well all decisions depend on predetermined circumstances, so theres no way to rationally differentiate between the ideas of free and controlled will. If all our decisions are just results from all the factors involved and the role played by human thought, then one could say that free will is just an abstract concept, and to question the validity of free will is to assume that the 'will' is in a state where it can be free or essentially controlled, or that there is even a will to be [i:n9sgm7y9]free[/i:n9sgm7y9]. If someone is limited to subjective thought however, I guess they could judge the will of someone else being imposed on him or her as an infringement of their own will, but theres nothing to suggest they have ever been forced to make a decision; no one can be forced to make a choice, because they fact the choice is made makes it [i:n9sgm7y9]free[/i:n9sgm7y9], and all else just became a factor in its making. view post


posted 29 Nov 2007, 17:11 by Lucky Sevens, Candidate

Perhaps choice is more the recognition of an individual the potential to act, or not act, independent of the probability of taking that action and any attributable causes behind it. view post


posted 02 Dec 2007, 01:12 by jub, Peralogue

[quote="Israfel":33zogeyp] Essentially mine is a conception of action in which the consciousness has a choice to make, and can genuinely decide which way to go.[/quote:33zogeyp] Determinism doesn't try to refute this; it accepts that we make a choice, it just dennies we would have made any other choice given the exact same circumstances. view post


posted 02 Dec 2007, 17:12 by Israfel, Peralogue

Then there's no genuine choice or decision being made, because everything about the decision is predetermined - it's saying that our consciousness runs down predetermined paths, so there is no way that person can genuinely make the decision to do another thing. Therefore determinism can't say that the consciousness has a choice and a genuine decision to make. Our consciousness might believe that it has the decision, but would not actually have it if there was never any possibility that another action would take place. The idea of a genuine decision nowhere enters determinism, because by the model you give, we must accept that past habits of thinking and information of which we are aware completely control how our thoughts will go and which decision we will make. This is clearly not compatible with the idea of a genuine choice to be made by our consciousness; In that case our consciousness is like a cog in a machine that can only turn one way given the pressures put on it. I'm struggling to see how one would conceive of this as anything resembling an actual choice (beyond the simple impression that you're making a choice). view post


posted 02 Dec 2007, 20:12 by Lucky Sevens, Candidate

While it is easy to point out examples that have taken a deterministic course, I think that proving 100% causality (i.e. no external influences or errors) is impossible. As it was pointed out, we do not need to have full control over every thought we have in order to have choice, just a slight nudge in one direction or another. If something such as a "soul" that can influence the paths of electrical charge in the brain exists, it would allow for this possibility. My point is that as long as there is error, there can be no meaningful discussion of determinism's authority. view post


posted 30 Dec 2007, 01:12 by Mandati Wannabe, Candidate

Gnostic Christianity believes that both the free will and predestination are incorrect, as they are products of human reasoning, which is inherently limited. Thus, are we even capable of determining the true nature of the universe? view post


posted 16 Jan 2008, 02:01 by jub, Peralogue

Christianity believes in a whole lot of crap view post


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