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The Debate Of Free Will


Jryan8385
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Free will is something people have believed in for thousands of years. Yet now in the modern day world with all of our physics I am starting to think if its even physically possible. Any thoughts?


also i wont to bring this up. i know the answer i just want to see if anyone else picks up.

 

there is a red ball and a blue ball on the table and a machine on the table. the machine can take the information of the gazillions of atoms around it to predict their movements. this includes your brain. the machine says you will pick the red ball. after seeing this you choose the blue ball. The machine is not wrong. How does this work?

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I would be cross-posting for this. However, maybe some SFN members would be interested.

 

http://forums.philosophyforums.com/threads/does-science-presume-freewill-65724.html

 

 

Free will is something people have believed in for thousands of years. Yet now in the modern day world with all of our physics I am starting to think if its even physically possible. Any thoughts?


also i wont to bring this up. i know the answer i just want to see if anyone else picks up.

 

there is a red ball and a blue ball on the table and a machine on the table. the machine can take the information of the gazillions of atoms around it to predict their movements. this includes your brain. the machine says you will pick the red ball. after seeing this you choose the blue ball. The machine is not wrong. How does this work?

 

OH! ALSO!! By the way, if you know the answer, please share.

 

To answer your question, my answer is the following: I don't know. If I knew I had free-will, that I could prove it to myself, that dancing around in a silly way would cause rain (throwing ethics aside and taking what comes from a potentially negative action, karma/dharma or what-have-you), then I doubt I would be posting here.

 

Most of my background is philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. As of late, I've beens studying conceptual aspects of physics without going into the mathematical depth of quantum physics. However, whether free-will exists or not can be re-phrased in this way: "Is there anything about my personhood that is independent of the universe that can voluntarily cause an object in the physical universe to become dependent on the aspect of my personhood that is independent of the universe?"

 

The question may be better formulated as such: "Is there a personhood that is independent of the universe that can voluntarily cause an object in the physical universe to become dependent on that personhood that is independent of the universe?" That would not necessarily mean that you have free-will. It's simply targeting whether anyone or a "person," if but some part of the person ("personhood") could have free-will. Solipsism is an annoying thing.

 

 

Many people will go into the realm of dualism in an attempt to say yes. However, a physicalist may argue no. And from that point, you may get into the philosophy of mind. My question on that philosophy board is the following: Isn't a scientist already a dualist when it comes to the concept of testability and falsification (or something like that)?

Edited by Genecks
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  • 2 weeks later...

We think we have free will, and that is enough for now. The only way to really prove that we have free will would be to examine every variable affecting us, no matter how tiny or remote in space or time, and create a simulation based on that and see if we match the simulation. If we do, then we are just reacting to our environment in complicated but mathematically precise ways that can be accurately predicted into the far future. If we deviate from the simulation, then we are exhibiting free will. Or the simulation is insufficiently comprehensive. free will would be hard to prove to everyone's satisfaction. I believe I have free will, therefore I will continue acting as if I do.

As for your other question....The machine was not wrong because It predicted your choice up to the minute of its prediction. It did not carry on its prediction into the future to see how its conclusion would affect your choice. Had you not looked at its prediction, you may have chosen the red ball. You only chose blue after seeing it's conclusion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had people argue to me that free will is not being able to have everything you wish magically appear in front of you. I don't think that is what free will really is though. We are given rules by society "don't steal, don't murder, don't rape and no molestation". Yet despite this people still choose to steal, to murder, to rape. I think that is free will. The ability to go against the rules. We have a choice not to obey the rules of society. We also have the will to kill ourselves though nature would tell us to live and reproduce. Though if we go under the theory that there several different worlds with a copy of a person that differs by one decision like (My parents never had me, I never married my wife, I was a vegetarian,) than I guess not since you are already predestined to make that decision based on what the other yous chose not to do.

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i think it is important to note that even if the universe has one outcome, it must still rely on the decisions you make.

i have experienced incorrect choices as well as ones that were good.

i realize the fallacy that comes with predetermination.

i understand that color drops put into a clear viscous substance show that an isolated system can be reversed (i hope that was clear).

however, we are not inanimate objects.

i conclude that if we view life as predetermined, then we isolate ourselves from choice.

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  • 1 month later...

I would propose that the freewill-determinism dichotomy is a category-error, that this is why neither idea works, and that this would be why so many philosophers opt for compatabilism. It is also worth noting that for the perennial philosophy the terms of the debate are entirely different and this dilemma is avoided. This was the view of freewill endorsed by Schrodinger. He's worth reading.

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I'm seeing a lot of 'I think," but what about some "I know"? I think this article http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/ gives a good overview of the different sides of issue and how they are combined. We have this http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/computational-mind/ but also have

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_superposition

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle

and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

 

Obviously, we can identify patterns, but just as obviously, they are not 100% predictable, and the future doesn't even exist. So the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Edited by SamBridge
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Perhaps the question whether we have complete "free-will", can be answered thus - we all have to "go to the bathroom", as the admirably courteous Americans politely put it.

 

The process is disgusting. Would we actually choose to do such a thing, if we had free-will?

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Perhaps the question whether we have complete "free-will", can be answered thus - we all have to "go to the bathroom", as the admirably courteous Americans politely put it.

 

The process is disgusting. Would we actually choose to do such a thing, if we had free-will?

What you're describing is entirely different. You're describing an automatic process that no one would agree they had control over. They don't have control over whether or not the feeling arises, but they have control over when/where they go go to the bathroom. In fact they can get sick from choosing to not do it. If someone can choose light themselves on fire and sit still while burning to ashes even though they can't control the process of combustion, I think someone can control when/where they go to the bathroom.

Edited by SamBridge
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Suppose someone decided of their own free-will, not to go to the bathroom. Their bladder and bowels would eventually reach bursting point, explode, and cause death. Has anyone in history ever committed suicide in that way?

 

I guess not. Doesn't that prove there are limits on free-will.

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Suppose someone decided of their own free-will, not to go to the bathroom. Their bladder and bowels would eventually reach bursting point, explode, and cause death.

Doesn't matter, they chose not to move their body to the physical location where a bathroom is, and free-will only has domain over what people can agree they have control over. If someone can't control it at all, then it has no part in considering free-will.

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You seem to have conceded that we can't control our bladder and bowels. These are physical organs inside the human body. Another such physical organ is the brain.

The brain can make us do things outside our free-will, like getting senile dementia.

 

I suppose no-one would choose, of their own free-will, to get demented. But if our brain gets old, causing brain-cells to die off, do we have any choice in what happens?

Where's the free-will then?

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  • 5 months later...

We think we have free will, and that is enough for now. The only way to really prove that we have free will would be to examine every variable affecting us, no matter how tiny or remote in space or time, and create a simulation based on that and see if we match the simulation. If we do, then we are just reacting to our environment in complicated but mathematically precise ways that can be accurately predicted into the far future. If we deviate from the simulation, then we are exhibiting free will. Or the simulation is insufficiently comprehensive. free will would be hard to prove to everyone's satisfaction. I believe I have free will, therefore I will continue acting as if I do.

As for your other question....The machine was not wrong because It predicted your choice up to the minute of its prediction. It did not carry on its prediction into the future to see how its conclusion would affect your choice. Had you not looked at its prediction, you may have chosen the red ball. You only chose blue after seeing it's conclusion.

"Free Will” is an illusion by definition. Here’s how: If we go all the way back to the first event; the first moment; the first first, we start with the initiial fall of the first domino of beginning called the “Big Bang." This domino contains all the information it will take to make a universe, much the way a DNA double helix strand contains all the information to make a life form. However, to make the physics of this first event become coherent and with resolution, many events after had to take place . Like falling dominoes, each event was based and dependent on the event before it. If you can accept this premise thus far, then I can connect this to the illusion of free will.

 

If each event is dependent and based on the previous event then all is logically predetermined from the first event. Therefore there is no free will because you had the free will to do what you were going to do in the first place. That is all based and predetermined from the first event. I will not divulge my credentials. However I challenge anyone to try to word F their way out of this axiom.

 

Preon~

"Free Will” is an illusion by definition. Here’s how: If we go all the way back to the first event; the first moment; the first first, we start with the initiial fall of the first domino of beginning called the “Big Bang." This domino contains all the information it will take to make a universe, much the way a DNA double helix strand contains all the information to make a life form. However, to make the physics of this first event become coherent and with resolution, many events after had to take place . Like falling dominoes, each event was based and dependent on the event before it. If you can accept this premise thus far, then I can connect this to the illusion of free will.

 

If each event is dependent and based on the previous event then all is logically predetermined from the first event. Therefore there is no free will because you had the free will to do what you were going to do in the first place. That is all based and predetermined from the first event. I will not divulge my credentials. However I challenge anyone to try to word F their way out of my axiom.

 

Preon~

 

"Free Will” is an illusion by definition. Here’s how: If we go all the way back to the first event; the first moment; the first first, we start with the initiial fall of the first domino of beginning called the “Big Bang." This domino contains all the information it will take to make a universe, much the way a DNA double helix strand contains all the information to make a life form. However, to make the physics of this first event become coherent and with resolution, many events after had to take place . Like falling dominoes, each event was based and dependent on the event before it. If you can accept this premise thus far, then I can connect this to the illusion of free will.

 

If each event is dependent and based on the previous event then all is logically predetermined from the first event. Therefore there is no free will because you had the free will to do what you were going to do in the first place. That is all based and predetermined from the first event. I will not divulge my credentials. However I challenge anyone to try to word F their way out of this axiom.

 

Preon~

 

Edited by Preon
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  • 3 weeks later...

"Free Will” is an illusion by definition.

 

By which definition?

 

Here I have a few for you:

  • Free will means that decisions cause my actions
  • Free will means that I can act according my wishes and beliefs
  • Free will means 'I could have done otherwise' in the normal counterfactual way: 'If it would have rained, the streets would have been wet'.
  • Free will means that you do not act according the wishes and beliefs of somebody else

Please show me why any of the above is in contradiction with determinism, or with the idea that in principle our actions can be predicted. Please also telle me why above do not describe (aspects of) free will.

 

Be aware: in none of the above descriptions I said that your wishes, beliefs and decisions are not determined.

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

there is a red ball and a blue ball on the table and a machine on the table. the machine can take the information of the gazillions of atoms around it to predict their movements. this includes your brain. the machine says you will pick the red ball. after seeing this you choose the blue ball. The machine is not wrong. How does this work?

A computer can also do this. Program the computer to choose red if the machine chooses blue. If the machine chooses red then the computer chooses blue. This has nothing to do with free will. To have free will you must:

1. Be the cause of your actions.

2. Be the cause of yourself.

3. Know what you are doing when you create yourself.

If you are not the cause of your actions then why should you be blamed? If you are not the cause of yourself then how are you responsible for what you do? If I didn't build a car should I be responsible when it's brakes fail? If you didn't build yourself then either a. You act the way you were built to act or b. You don't act the way you were built to act. If b is correct then you still are not at fault for your actions because that can only be the case if 2 is true. Otherwise you act for no reason, random reasons, reasons other then you. 2 being true still would not be sufficient for free will to be true. You would have to know what you are doing when you create yourself. If you know nothing when you create yourself then you know nothing of the consequences of creating yourself one way or the other. You know nothing of the consequences of creating or not creating yourself.

 

Eise, your comment is in direct contradiction with determinism. Determinism says you were caused by your parents who were caused by monkeys who were caused by evolution which was caused by etc...going back infinity. You claim you are the cause of your actions in spite of the fact you are not the cause of your actions. This is a contradiction. Are you saying the chain of causality ends with you? See the above part of this post for an answer to this question.

Edited by david345
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By which definition?

 

Here I have a few for you:

  • Free will means that decisions cause my actions

Please show me why any of the above is in contradiction with determinism, or with the idea that in principle our actions can be predicted. Please also telle me why above do not describe (aspects of) free will.

 

Be aware: in none of the above descriptions I said that your wishes, beliefs and decisions are not determined.

 

If a decision is determined - in what sense is it a free decision? If the decision is not free then how can it form a definition of free will?

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Say you have a pool table with balls in various locations on it. You have all pertinent information about the system, and you set one of the balls in motion. It is fairly simple to create a computer program that calculates all future interactions of the balls, and can predict their future positions and momentums. This is completely deterministic.

 

Now consider an infinitely large and fast computer which could be fed all information about every particle in you body and surrounding environment. Using laws of physics, it would also be able to predict all future positions, momentums charges, etc, of all those particles in your body. Including the particles that make up your mind and thinking processes. It would be able to predict all your decisions. If an external 'observer' can predict your decisions, they are pre-determined by definition, and you don't have free will. This is if the system was deterministic.

 

You and I have had this discussion before Eise, and I'm afraid I still haven't changed my mind.

Quantum mechanics, or more specifically the HUP, makes it impossible to know the initial state of all particles comprising a system ( like your mind ), so it is impossible to predict or pre-determine a decision. If it cannot be predicted, then there is no constraint on your will.

In effect, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is the source of our unpredictable free will.

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Say you have a pool table with balls in various locations on it. You have all pertinent information about the system, and you set one of the balls in motion. It is fairly simple to create a computer program that calculates all future interactions of the balls, and can predict their future positions and momentums. This is completely deterministic.

 

Now consider an infinitely large and fast computer which could be fed all information about every particle in you body and surrounding environment. Using laws of physics, it would also be able to predict all future positions, momentums charges, etc, of all those particles in your body. Including the particles that make up your mind and thinking processes. It would be able to predict all your decisions. If an external 'observer' can predict your decisions, they are pre-determined by definition, and you don't have free will. This is if the system was deterministic.

 

You and I have had this discussion before Eise, and I'm afraid I still haven't changed my mind.

Quantum mechanics, or more specifically the HUP, makes it impossible to know the initial state of all particles comprising a system ( like your mind ), so it is impossible to predict or pre-determine a decision. If it cannot be predicted, then there is no constraint on your will.

In effect, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is the source of our unpredictable free will.

You are saying the decision to kill is random. The decision is not determined by you. It is clear you are redefining free will in an attempt to save it. I could say Santa Claus=Dog. Dogs exist therefore Santa Claus exists.
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You are saying the decision to kill is random. The decision is not determined by you. It is clear you are redefining free will in an attempt to save it. I could say Santa Claus=Dog. Dogs exist therefore Santa Claus exists.

 

I think it is more likely that MigL is defining (or more clarifying) determinism. The sensitivity to initial variables of many iterative systems - especially when combined with the levels of uncertainty that cannot be circumvented - means that ideas of determinism on a low-level, the clockwork universe, are simply not acceptable.

 

The argument was made that there is no free will due to a strict adherence upon dependant and predictable progress from initial conditions - MigL has refuted this by showing that the required level of certainty is not possible; there is no need for a redefinition of free will (or even an agreed definition) if the alternative advanced is fatally flawed from the outset

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