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Please tell me we have free will


NonScientist
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5 hours ago, Eise said:

Sorry, dimreepr, but most of the times I am missing concreteness in your reactions. I discovered that when I react to possible interpretations of vague arguments or questions I have to write a long reply, then I get another short reaction that at one side seems to show that I interpreted you wrong, and at the other side forces me to write another long reply, etc. And then you react you do not have the time/energy/intention to read long texts...

If the topic interests you, I would suggest to illustrate your questions or arguments with examples, preferably taken from real life, that can give your reactions the clearness for a fruitful discussion. It is true, iNow and me are trained in scientific, resp philosophical discourse, and so we can meet (and cross swords...) on a pretty abstract level. But that in itself is not a sign of intelligence, it just means we are used to the words (I hesitate to write '.. and concepts ...'), and ways of thinking. But abstract thinking can also hide a lot of differences and nuances. Therefore I often ask for concrete, real life examples. If an abstract concept really means something to a speaker, shows itself if the person can still make the connection with concrete life. And that also reduces the chances that two people use the same word, but think different things by it.

Thank you Eise, that's very constructive. I have always struggled in converting my ideas into an essay (if I'm honest a couple of paragraphs can sometimes be a challenge) so, like a blind person, I compensate with other abilities.

5 hours ago, Eise said:

And then you react you do not have the time/energy/intention to read long texts...

You're never going to let that TLDR rest, are you... 😔

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Cause and effect are the only thing I will say is undeniable. We had no decision or part in being conceived, none of us(as far as I can tell) signed up for this, to be born, to be called into existence. We come into this world kicking and screaming in REACTION to what we’re experiencing. We didn’t cause our conception, we’re merely the effect. Our lives are reactions to past events. Our decisions and abilities to interpret situations are based on past experience 

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8 hours ago, IkeDillinger said:

Cause and effect are the only thing I will say is undeniable. We had no decision or part in being conceived, none of us(as far as I can tell) signed up for this, to be born, to be called into existence. We come into this world kicking and screaming in REACTION to what we’re experiencing. We didn’t cause our conception, we’re merely the effect. Our lives are reactions to past events. Our decisions and abilities to interpret situations are based on past experience 

Now that you've summarised the reasons why this is a difficult question, perhaps you can jump off the fence and wade in with an answer.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/15/2019 at 8:34 PM, NonScientist said:

Okay, so I’m new here. Hi everyone.

So I’m not sure why this is affecting me this severely, but I recently discovered the whole “free will vs. determinism” question, and I’ve realized quickly that I should’ve never been introduced to this idea, because I’m finding it almost impossible to deal with the notion of not having free will. It has sent my mind into this state of extreme shock, agony, and despair that almost seems insurmountable. It’s like my whole world and everything I believed has been flipped on its head. I’m serious in saying that this has sent me into a straight panic and shock. I feel like I’m having this nervous breakdown. It’s an overwhelming feeling.

 I’m trying to keep myself calm and just relax, but this has really messed me up. 

Does anyone here believe in free will? Or can offer any good defenses or arguments for free will? I feel like I need to be reassured that there is free will or else I won’t be able to deal with it. The idea that everything is predetermined, and I’m just robot with no agency or ability to do otherwise is more than my psyche can handle. I’m sort of in this crisis.

How many coin flips does it take to make a free choice?

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On 3/17/2020 at 11:35 PM, IkeDillinger said:

Cause and effect are the only thing I will say is undeniable. We had no decision or part in being conceived, none of us(as far as I can tell) signed up for this, to be born, to be called into existence. We come into this world kicking and screaming in REACTION to what we’re experiencing. We didn’t cause our conception, we’re merely the effect. Our lives are reactions to past events. Our decisions and abilities to interpret situations are based on past experience 

You seem to be assuming a spermatozoon has no consciousness and no free will.  You are also assuming that ova drop by mere chance alone.  

I'm guessing you also think that babies are born when they're "done" rather than by consensus.   

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22 minutes ago, cladking said:

You seem to be assuming a spermatozoon has no consciousness and no free will.  You are also assuming that ova drop by mere chance alone.  

I'm guessing you also think that babies are born when they're "done" rather than by consensus.   

But did that occur before or after we were consciously aware of it?

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11 hours ago, dimreepr said:

But did that occur before or after we were consciously aware of it?

Any free will expressed by spermatozoa or ova is wholly independent of us or our consciousness.  We didn't and wouldn't exist until we actually did when two specific ones became a zygote.  They no longer existed at all by this time.   

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9 hours ago, cladking said:

Any free will expressed by spermatozoa or ova is wholly independent of us or our consciousness.  We didn't and wouldn't exist until we actually did when two specific ones became a zygote.  They no longer existed at all by this time.   

You're going to have to make a LOT more sense. 🤒

Edited by dimreepr
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10 hours ago, cladking said:

Any free will expressed by spermatozoa or ova is wholly independent of us or our consciousness.  We didn't and wouldn't exist until we actually did when two specific ones became a zygote.  They no longer existed at all by this time.   

You are endowing entities with a property which don't have the equipment to support it. Their behaviour will be wholly biochemically predetermined.

Edited by StringJunky
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58 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

You are endowing entities with a property which don't have the equipment to support it. Their behaviour will be wholly biochemically predetermined.

You're assuming you know what consciousness and free will are and that it takes place in the brain.  The nature of living things is predetermined but not the behavior.  Given the exact same conditions two individuals will behave differently.  

1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

You're going to have to make a LOT more sense. 🤒

Certainly the individual being born had few choices but the kicking and screaming are more about the rigors of birth than the horror of conception.  And then we each always have an out even where that out runs contrary to our natures. 

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2 hours ago, cladking said:

You're assuming you know what consciousness and free will are and that it takes place in the brain.  The nature of living things is predetermined but not the behavior.  Given the exact same conditions two individuals will behave differently.  

As does any person that understands the current science. Spermatozoa and ova are not 'individuals' in the commonly used sense.

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7 hours ago, StringJunky said:

As does any person that understands the current science. Spermatozoa and ova are not 'individuals' in the commonly used sense.

No.

Science doesn't even have a working definition of "consciousness".  This is as far removed from experiment as is "soul".   

"Consciousness" at this time is in the realm of philosophy.  

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37 minutes ago, teroko said:

Stephen Hawking's pretty good argument for free will...

No it is not. There is a huge difference between 'predestined' and 'causally determined'. I do not even know if Hawking meant it as an argument in favour of free will. Seems more an argument against some funny kinds of theology. The only way is to find the citation in full context.

May Google be with you.

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1 hour ago, Eise said:

Seems more an argument against some funny kinds of theology.

Sounds like the argument presented by some religious believer's " Even an athiest, when going over the top, prays to god."...

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23 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

"Even an athiest, when going over the top, prays to god."...

Except, no. This is another version of "there are no atheists in foxholes." It's obvious bullshit, and also totally off-topic.

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I couldn't answer before because of the five post limit in the first day of a new member.

Here it is shown the free will context for Stephen Hawking's comment I posted:

On free will and determinism
"I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined and that we can do nothing to change it look before they cross the road."
The question of free will has long been a mainstay of philosophy and science, and it's a topic Hawking visited from a scientific point of view in his essay Is Everything Determined from his book Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, first published in 1993. It's the origin of this quotation. The next line is less-frequently cited, however: "Maybe it's just that those who don't look don't survive to tell the tale."
Hawking touches on a grand unified theory of science, quantum mechanics, natural selection, DNA, the complexity of the human brain and fluid dynamics in particular before arguing that assuming that we have free will is the safest course of action.

It is an extract of a page explaining the context of the more known Stephen Hawking's quotes:
https://newatlas.com/stephen-hawking-quotes/53804/

I think the right question is on how much free will we have. May be in some circumstances we are totally conditioned with no possibility for a choice and in other ones we have complete freedom to decide and be totally responsible for our actions.

 

Edited by teroko
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On 4/8/2020 at 7:29 AM, teroko said:

Here it is shown the free will context for Stephen Hawking's comment I posted

Ah, well, that is interpretation too, and it is not bad as an abstract, but it is generally not a good idea to base philosophical discussions on abstracts.

I found the complete text, and here is what, in my opinion, makes clear what Hawking means (added an empty line for readability):

Quote

This situation arises in science whenever we deal with the macroscopic system, because the number of particles is always too large for there to be any chance of solving the fundamental equations. What we do instead is use effective theories. These are approximations in which the very large number of particles are replaced by a few quantities. An example is fluid mechanics. A liquid such as water is made up of billions of billions of molecules that themselves are made up of electrons, protons and neutrons.  Yet it is a good approximation to treat the liquid as a continuous medium, characterized just by velocity, density and temperature. The predictions of the effective theory of fluid mechanics are not exact - one only has to listen to the weather forecast to realize that - but they are good enough for the design of ships or oil pipelines.  

I want to suggest that the concepts of free will and moral responsibility for our actions are really an effective theory in the sense of fluid mechanics. It may be that everything we do is determined by some grand unified theory. If that theory has determined that we shall die by hanging, then we shall not drown. But you would have to be awfully sure that you were destined for the gallows to put to sea in a small boat during a storm. I have noticed that even people who claim that everything is predestined and that we can do nothing to change it look before they cross the road.  Maybe it's just that those who don't look don't survive to tell the tale.

One cannot base one's conduct on the idea that everything is determined, because one does not know what has been determined. Instead, one has to adopt the effective theory that one has free will and that one is responsible for one's actions. This theory is not very good at predicting human behaviour, but we adopt it because there is no chance of solving the equations arising from the fundamental laws. There is also a Darwinian reason that we believe in free will: a society in which the individual feels responsible for his or her actions is more likely to work together and survive to spread its values.

I think he should have left the red lines out, because they do not fit the rest argumentation. In all the text he is talking about 'determined', but in the red lines he switches to 'predestined', which are definitely different concepts. 'Predestined' means that whatever you do, your fate is fixed. For this Hawking's red lines fully apply, but it is not an argument against determinism. Say we are determined: then what we do is determined as well. But the 'whatever you do' is not valid anymore. If you die on the gallows or in a storm at sea depends on your decision, even if your decision is determined. That is simply not what 'predestined' means. The red lines are an argument against fatalism.

Edited by Eise
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44 minutes ago, Eise said:

Ah, well, that is interpretation too, and it is not bad as an abstract, but it is generally not a good idea to base philosophical discussions on abstracts.

I found the complete text, and here is what, in my opinion, makes clear what Hawking means (added an empty line for readability):

I think he should have left the red lines out, because they do not fit the rest argumentation. In all the text he is talking about 'determined', but in the red lines he switches to 'predestined', which are definitely different concepts. 'Predestined' means that whatever you do, your fate is fixed. For this Hawking's red lines fully apply, but it is not an argument against determinism. Say we are determined: then what we do is determined as well. But the 'whatever you do' is not valid anymore. If you die on the gallows or in a storm at sea depends on your decision, even if your decision is determined. That is simply not what 'predestined' means. The red lines are an argument against fatalism.

Any case, with or without determinism, what i remark is Hawking's support to the existence of free will, the main subject of this thread.

My personal opinion on the subject is that i find rather difficult if not impossible the possibility of the existence of free will within a completely deterministic Universe…

Edited by teroko
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11 minutes ago, teroko said:

Any case, what i remark is Hawking's support to the existence of free will, the main subject of this thread.

Yes, but the original quote does not support it, as said, it is an argument against fatalism, not against not having free will.

But also note that Hawking bases his view in favour of free will on the fact that we cannot explain human behaviour from fundamental laws of nature, just because it is too complicated. I would translate that as 'theoretically, we have no free will, but practically we take, and should take it, for granted'. Personally I think he misses the point, but to be sure I first should read the text as a whole. 

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1 hour ago, Eise said:

Yes, but the original quote does not support it, as said, it is an argument against fatalism, not against not having free will.

If you are stubborn I'm worst.

Hawking's quote "I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined and that we can do nothing to change it look before they cross the road." is clearly and obviously related to free will.

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7 minutes ago, teroko said:

Hawking's quote "I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined and that we can do nothing to change it look before they cross the road." is clearly and obviously related to free will.

In philosophy, one does not give a viewpoint without reasons why this viewpoint should be valid. As you don't, I can just put it aside.

For me it is only obvious that Hawking means it to be an argument against not having free will. But he is wrong: it is an argument against fatalism. And I explained why.

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35 minutes ago, Eise said:

In philosophy, one does not give a viewpoint without reasons why this viewpoint should be valid. As you don't, I can just put it aside.

For me it is only obvious that Hawking means it to be an argument against not having free will. But he is wrong: it is an argument against fatalism. And I explained why.

You are not going too give up so easily isn't it? And now you are stating Hawking did it wrongly...

Fatalism has nothing to do here! That isn't even mentioned in the article of the context of the quote. You wrongly invented that.

The quote is about freedom of choice, in other words "free will". How could you not understand that? Unbelievable.

This is my last comment. I'm out now. It doesn't worth discuss this anymore.

Edited by teroko
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16 minutes ago, teroko said:

Fatalism has nothing to do here! That isn't even mentioned in the article of the context of the quote. You wrongly invented that.

No, I did not. Hawking uses the concept of 'predestination', and his argument is pointed against that. And predestination and determinism are simply not the same. Why do you think he uses the word 'determined' in these few paragraphs, but exactly in those lines he uses 'predestined'. The answer might be simple: because he realised that his argument about the gallows and the ship in the storm, resp. looking if a car is coming, only works against predestination. And predestination lightly leads to fatalism: the idea that 'whatever you do, everything is fixed' fits to both. But not to determinism, because there what you do matters. Even if what you do would not be an expression of free will.

43 minutes ago, teroko said:

This is my last comment. I'm out now.

Sure, you have no argument why Hawking's argument would be a valid argument against not having free will.

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