Free Will

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Free Will

Postby random_nerd » Sun May 20, 2018 8:04 pm

So I touched in this momentarily in the Nature vs Nurture thread, but I'm feeling particularly pensive right now and want to get the rest of the forum's perspective on this.

Do you think free will exists, and if so, why?

Spoiler: show
For me, I lean pretty hard towards us not really having free will.

My biggest piece of evidence for this is this study (https://www.nature.com/news/2008/080411/full/news.2008.751.html), but the tl;dr version is we make our choices up to 10 seconds before we are even consciously aware we have, and anyone looking at our brain activity can predict what our choice will be before we even know what it is.
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Re: Free Will

Postby NathanLoiselle » Sun May 20, 2018 8:59 pm

No. My cat controls my life.
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Re: Free Will

Postby jbobsully11 » Sun May 20, 2018 9:11 pm

random_nerd wrote:So I touched in this momentarily in the Nature vs Nurture thread, but I'm feeling particularly pensive right now and want to get the rest of the forum's perspective on this.

Do you think free will exists, and if so, why?

Spoiler: show
For me, I lean pretty hard towards us not really having free will.

My biggest piece of evidence for this is this study (https://www.nature.com/news/2008/080411/full/news.2008.751.html), but the tl;dr version is we make our choices up to 10 seconds before we are even consciously aware we have, and anyone looking at our brain activity can predict what our choice will be before we even know what it is.

I’m inclined to agree with you, nerd. Have you ever read a book called Consciousness and the Brain? If not (and if you’re really interested in neuroscience-y stuff as a layperson), I highly recommend it. I found it fascinating, though certainly the densest book I’ve ever read.
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Re: Free Will

Postby KleinerKiller » Sun May 20, 2018 9:23 pm

For all that I'm a hard science guy with great disdain for the stupid parts ingrained in our brains, and for all that neuroscience might beg to differ, my worldview centers on us truly having free will. I sincerely believe that buried beneath social constructs and psychological patterns is the root of genuine rationality and the capacity for choice, unique to everyone -- it's only a matter of whether the individual chooses to exercise it. As awful as we can be as a species, I hold that idea to be one of the most beautiful things about existence.
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Re: Free Will

Postby random_nerd » Sun May 20, 2018 10:23 pm

Well Kleiner, to really answer this we have to get at the root of what a choice even is if we want to say we have the ability to make one.

I personally see no possible way that a choice made isn't somehow just a process of physical law. Take social constructs out of the equation and we are still bound by our brains and how they work. If you want to label what comes out of the black box a free choice, well I disagree, but that's because at this point I just find the concept of a 'free choice' nonsensical in the face of how reality seems to operate.

That is not to say persuasion is futile or impossible, because somebody persuading you to do something is just as much part of physical law directing your actions as anything else is, and the persuader had no free choice to do otherwise anyway.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Aquila89 » Sun May 20, 2018 10:27 pm

Well, I've written about this before, but years ago... I don't think I'm really free. Even when it comes to spending free time, there are many things I could do but I won't because I don't want to - like instead of writing here, I could go out and get drunk, but I don't want to. But I don't determine what I want to do and what I don't want to do. I didn't determine my preferences. I never made any conscious decision to like certain things, like posting on Internet forums, and dislike other things, like going out and getting drunk. My preferences were either born with me or given to me by my environment, but I didn't choose them freely.
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Re: Free Will

Postby cmsellers » Mon May 21, 2018 2:53 am

I absolutely do not believe in free will. I'm not even a compatibilist, which seems to be the most popular position for the scientifically literate. While I believe that we should employ moral responsibility as a convenient fiction, I believe that it's just that, a fiction. Moreover, while I believe that we can hold people accountable for their actions, I only believe that it's acceptable to hold people accountable to the degree necessary to deter or directly prevent undesirable behavior.

Basically, my views on free will assume that The Frog and the Scorpion is how things are. Any given individual is predictable if you know them well enough, people in aggregate are even more so, and when we make decisions, either individually or collectively we should take that into account, rather than futilely demanding that people take more personal responsibility. (I'm a terrible libertarian, I know.)

On a slight tangent: I'm well aware that most real scorpions won't sting you for giving them a ride across the river, which still doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions in handling them.
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Re: Free Will

Postby DanteHoratio » Mon May 21, 2018 4:18 am

Yes, I believe in free will.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Krashlia » Mon May 21, 2018 5:58 am

All I have are reasons why you wouldn't desire a reality where free will doesn't exist. And they're the typical reasons; moral culpability and justice being completely meaningless in a Deterministic world. Yada yada.

But, I lack argument for whether one should or should not believe, or whether it is the case, that we live in a world of free will.

Okay, so we live in a physical world of Cause and Effect, and as physical beings with physical components in a physical world we are also influenced by the same chains of cause and effect. Therefore, all our actions and will to action must all be part of the same cause and effect chains. Even if there was a bit of randomness in the universe, it wouldn't grant us free will, but remain a case where our will and actions are controlled beyond us. still subject to chains of cause and effect and the end result... determined, without any serious or independent input on our part.

there are some weird ideas of what "Free" in free will means, but lets just assume that "free" means something like "self-determined" or "our being independent of outer influence"... which we're not. I think its fair to say that our free will isn't exactly totally free.
Okay, so I guess the most that can be argued for, in light of the fact that we can't totally self-determine (have this feeling that what I meant by free will is still murky. Like, I'm pretty sure that I just confused "free will" with "free action", and there might be a difference between those things), is that it could mean "We have *some* control" or "We could self-determine *some* things"...

I'm pretty sure there's a more practical reason for why you can't take the deterministic position too seriously. What if I finish this post? I didn't have to finish this post, and nothing that I know is compelling me to finish this post. Unless you say that whatever I learned from my pathway to a philosophy degree is causing it, as another factor of chain and effect. And, if I finish this post, it seems like I lose the ability to say that, "I could've just stopped." after all, I did it anyways, so it could be said to be determined, and I actually couldn't have stopped... But, I'm kind of lazy. While I can't say "I didn't want to finish this post", because I did so I must have been interested for some reason, I wanted to do things other than finish this post, like watch tv. So, on one hand, I must be compelled to do this activity, but on the other hand... couldn't the universe have made my feelings more aligned with my actions? I mean, if some force is going to compel me to do something, why couldn't it make me totally in favor of whatever act I'm doing, instead of giving me internal reasons to do something else?

Also, as a Professor of one of my "Problems in Philosophy" class pointed out, why is it that no matter what you do its all Determined? Like, even the act of making a choice to do something else could just be written off as determined by Cause and Effect. So it would be irrelevant if I finished this post or not. Either outcome had been determined beforehand. It sounds like a logical paradox or trap. This post could just as easily not existed. I could've just not pressed submit. You didn't have to see it.

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Re: Free Will

Postby iMURDAu » Mon May 21, 2018 12:34 pm

Limiting people to a choice of left and right in order to study their extent of free will seems like a joke.
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Re: Free Will

Postby cmsellers » Mon May 21, 2018 6:44 pm

I keep reading this as "Free WiFi," so I want to say that I don't believe in that either. All "free" wifi these days is either complementary for customers or requires you to watch ads.
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Re: Free Will

Postby DoglovingJim » Tue May 22, 2018 1:35 pm

Right now, thinking about it. I would say that everything from the beginning to the very end is all preordained, but that it does not mean that our choices are any less our own.
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Re: Free Will

Postby cmsellers » Tue May 22, 2018 7:59 pm

DoglovingJim wrote:Right now, thinking about it. I would say that everything from the beginning to the very end is all preordained, but that it does not mean that our choices are any less our own.

So you're a compatibilist?
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Re: Free Will

Postby DoglovingJim » Thu May 24, 2018 7:27 am

cmsellers wrote:
DoglovingJim wrote:Right now, thinking about it. I would say that everything from the beginning to the very end is all preordained, but that it does not mean that our choices are any less our own.

So you're a compatibilist?

Ohhh, learned a new thing today so thanks for that. But anyway at the moment, here and now I would say that label is fitting and makes sense to me.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Bromo » Mon May 28, 2018 4:24 am

I don't think our will is entirely free, but I believe humans are still capable of making their own choices. It's just that our choices are limited due to many factors out of our control, such as genetic and environmental factors.
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