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ask21771

is free will real

32 posts in this topic

Do we truly have it and do we still exist if it can be atken

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Do we truly have it and do we still exist if it can be atken

The Pelagian Heresy was about free will. That was in the early fifth century. The church has been arguing about it for 1600 years without resolution. If the issue hasn't affected our well-being in that amount of time, it probably never will. There are more-productive issues that need to be discussed.

Doug

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Do we truly have it and do we still exist if it can be atken

If you don't know the answer to that question, you have no free will and never will. Free will is the ablity to think and act outside social and ideological programming. All living moving species have certain amount of free wilthin their populations, they are the very small number who act outside the crowd/ group syndrome, driving innovation and change.

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Kinda doubtful that we have true free will, but we've got the most awesome free will simulator running in our brains so doesn't matter much.

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A man chooses, A slave obeys.-Andrew Ryan

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You always have free will because there is always a choice. Sometimes the choice you end up choosing will be going against what you would prefer choosing but for one reason or another you made the choice. You can always choose to die rather than conform if it means that much to yourself.

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There are certain things in nature that when combined have very new properties unlike its constitutes. Emergent properties that transcend the original parts and cannot be explained by them. This is well known. Free will is one of these emergent properties. The self does exist. Reductionism by its nature misses the bigger picture.

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Posted (edited)

Google "Sam Harris free will" for a neurological perspective.

People sure love to think that they have free will.

Edited by davros of skaro

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I don't think free will is all that free, it's limited and dictated by prior experiences, knowledge, and preferences.

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Free will is one of these emergent properties.

Possibly, there's not just much evidence for it and I don't know how exactly we would go about testing it unless we learn to time travel and see if someone can make a different choice at a decision point in their lives. We just don't know if our choices are any more free than what happens to a ball on earth when you drop it.

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Free will is interesting to ponder. We may not be enslaved to other people in the strict sense of the word but ...

We are slaves to our feelings about others. If we are intimidated by others, we bend to their will. If we hate, we also actually bend to their will because we are caught up in how they make us feel rather than doing what we would ourselves choose to be doing at that time if that hate was not leading us around by the nose.

We are often slaves to our fear, anger, greed, insecurity too amongst a great long list.

You could say that we "freely" chose who we became - but did we? When we were children and bullied, was it a choice to be fearful of how others will treat us in all our future dealings? Did we develop the techniques we use to protect ourselves from the bad treatment of others because we exercised our free will or because we were coerced by our emotions to build defensive mechanisms that become a part of our personality for most likely the remainder of our lives.

Or alternatively, was it a choice to retaliate and become the bigger bully so that we don't have to feel belittled anymore? Were we "free" to choose? Did our emotions choose for us?

Either way in just that example, something becomes a part of us that we would never have chosen for ourselves if we felt truly free to choose.

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Possibly, there's not just much evidence for it and I don't know how exactly we would go about testing it unless we learn to time travel and see if someone can make a different choice at a decision point in their lives. We just don't know if our choices are any more free than what happens to a ball on earth when you drop it.

Without free will we would be unable to make extreme altruistic sacrifices.

Lets say I have a choice. A group of my friends are to be shot to death, or they can be released but I must suffer months of excruciating torture then death.

It's a tough choice to make. I can hear my biology screaming at me, but I hope I would choose to let my friends live on and endure the consequences.

We can make choices the are counter to our nature. This to me is strong evidence of free will. If it were not there we woukd be slaves to our biology.

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Lets say I have a choice. A group of my friends are to be shot to death, or they can be released but I must suffer months of excruciating torture then death.

It's a tough choice to make. I can hear my biology screaming at me, but I hope I would choose to let my friends live on and endure the consequences.

We can make choices the are counter to our nature. This to me is strong evidence of free will. If it were not there we woukd be slaves to our biology.

Good example and interesting point. You are assuming that biology would always guide a person towards one specific answer, the selfish reduction of your own pain in this example. This ignores that other animals exhibit altruism and things that appear from external observers to be similar to empathic behavior. I'm no biologist, but it's my understanding that some social insects will do things at the expense of the individual for the benefit of the society/hive/nest, but we rarely talk about them having 'free will' or that this altruism is strong evidence that they have free will. We could say in your example, if we want to break it down to some kind of simple measurement, that you may choose to sacrifice yourself anyway because you have evaluated that allowing all your friends to die is actually less painful overall for you (factoring in guilt, grief, etc) then submitting to the torture and saving them; you may simply compute that because of that you couldn't live on anyway if you didn't sacrifice for them (some animals seem to also understand to some extent the concept of 'fairness', mostly monkeys I believe), so you submit to the torture based on a process that we don't know isn't largely deterministic.

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people have the sense that they make choices....

what people do is react to stimulus in their environment

based on bundles of emotional and thought chains conditioned by family and culture.

choice is an illusion in all but the most exceptional humans

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Posted (edited)

I think it's a mix between choice and habit. Once it's a habit it's a hardwired action. Although habits can be changed there always there.

Edited by XenoFish

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Posted (edited)

Good example and interesting point. You are assuming that biology would always guide a person towards one specific answer, the selfish reduction of your own pain in this example. This ignores that other animals exhibit altruism and things that appear from external observers to be similar to empathic behavior. I'm no biologist, but it's my understanding that some social insects will do things at the expense of the individual for the benefit of the society/hive/nest, but we rarely talk about them having 'free will' or that this altruism is strong evidence that they have free will. We could say in your example, if we want to break it down to some kind of simple measurement, that you may choose to sacrifice yourself anyway because you have evaluated that allowing all your friends to die is actually less painful overall for you (factoring in guilt, grief, etc) then submitting to the torture and saving them; you may simply compute that because of that you couldn't live on anyway if you didn't sacrifice for them (some animals seem to also understand to some extent the concept of 'fairness', mostly monkeys I believe), so you submit to the torture based on a process that we don't know isn't largely deterministic.

Ants, bees, etc are considered super organisms. There really is no choices happening, they are controlled by faramones to sacrifice themselves in certain circumstances.

You are doing utility calculations. These are economic choices. A cost benefit analysis of the situation. So now we come to the crux of the scenario. There are some that would choose to let their friends die, and some would choose their torture. this then turns into what the person values most. Again preference and choice. Where do values come from? Where do preferences? Would twins that grow up together make the same choices? We begin on a complex Odessy of questions that form a complex matrix of variables. This is where emergent properties begin to show themselves. Yes, there is a highly complex set of variables behind the entity making the choice, but not a single variable is the beginning of a cascading deterministic domino choice. The entity now has a mind and can make the choice. Granted life is utilitarian, as you suggested. We indeed lean toward utility, but I can choose to not do that. I don't have to. I don't really need a reason, I have the ability to simply choose without reason. I know my wife changes her mind all the time.

I asked the same question to see how powerful biology is and put my son in my place. I am ashamed to admit, I would let my friends die. Then I wondered how many I would let die before allowing my son to die a torturous death. I don't really like the answer. But certainly biological values, oxitossin, and utility calculations play important places in our decision making, but I believe it is our cognitive skills that give us the ability to make these choices or not. This is free will. I can decide what's best for me.

It was not anymore predetermined than a car wreck. In chemistry, completely in active materials can be combined into substances capable of things far beyond its constitutes. Free will is like this. And epi phenomenon that does allow actual choice to exist.

Edited by White Crane Feather

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Ants, bees, etc are considered super organisms. There really is no choices happening, they are controlled by faramones to sacrifice themselves in certain circumstances.

You are doing utility calculations. These are economic choices. A cost benefit analysis of the situation. So now we come to the crux of the scenario. There are some that would choose to let their friends die, and some would choose their torture. this then turns into what the person values most. Again preference and choice. Where do values come from? Where do preferences? Would twins that grow up together make the same choices? We begin on a complex Odessy of questions that form a complex matrix of variables. This is where emergent properties begin to show themselves.

Sure, agreed, all complex questions, but it doesn't necessarily free us from determinism. If we say that insects are deterministically controlled by pheromones, why can't we then just say that the 'decisions' our brain makes is controlled by a complex combination of chemistry, electricity, and the meat of the brain itself playing out according to regular, natural laws?

Yes, there is a highly complex set of variables behind the entity making the choice, but not a single variable is the beginning of a cascading deterministic domino choice.

Sure, but the weather also doesn't have a single variable that controls it, but I believe the current theory is that it, and most everything, is deterministic.

The entity now has a mind and can make the choice. Granted life is utilitarian, as you suggested. We indeed lean toward utility, but I can choose to not do that. I don't have to. I don't really need a reason, I have the ability to simply choose without reason. I know my wife changes her mind all the time.

You think you can choose not to do that, but whether you can or not is what is in dispute. One incredibly simplistic model we could propose is that you always do what is ultimately going to give you the most pleasure ('pleasure' is not just restricted here to pleasurable sensations). Your making a choice without reason is simply the choice that was selected by your brain's programming as the alternative that appears to be the most pleasurable/least painful.

I asked the same question to see how powerful biology is and put my son in my place. I am ashamed to admit, I would let my friends die. Then I wondered how many I would let die before allowing my son to die a torturous death. I don't really like the answer. But certainly biological values, oxitossin, and utility calculations play important places in our decision making, but I believe it is our cognitive skills that give us the ability to make these choices or not. This is free will. I can decide what's best for me.

But we don't know if the evaluation of what's best for us isn't essentially a complex computer program residing in our brains, assessing various variables as much as it can and assigning a 'best for you' score among competing 'choices', and thus the instruction to action that our brain outputs is as inevitable as the behavior of gravity. You may be right, it could be that somehow our brains do allow us to free ourselves from this determinism, but I'm not sure what possible model or explanation we have for how that occurred. If we start with the lower lifeforms, we would probably both say that the 'choices' that an amoeba makes are a result of deterministic natural laws, so it's not making choices although it would appear to an ignorant outside observer that they actually are. Which then raises the question then at what point in the evolution of species and the nervous system does the possibility for decisions free from determinism emerge, and why would we think so.

In chemistry, completely in active materials can be combined into substances capable of things far beyond its constitutes. Free will is like this. And epi phenomenon that does allow actual choice to exist.

What other epiphenomenon skirts determinism? In chemistry, if I combine the inactive materials in exactly the same way, should we expect potentially different results? (this may be a bad example as we may be brushing against the indeterminism inherent in the quantum world, but I'm unaware of a coherent quantum model of free will at this time, and it would be debatable as to whether quantum indeterminancy gives us anymore control over anything) Won't the epiphenomenon be exactly the same as long as we perfectly duplicate everything in their combination? If so, if we could roll back time to a decision point, why should we think free will is an epiphenomenon that is free from that, and allow the possibility that you actually could make a different choice at some juncture in your life than you actually did?

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And epi phenomenon that does allow actual choice to exist.

What is 'choice'?

Is it the result of following a line of reasoning through to a logical (or even illogical) conclusion? If so, is it really 'choice' or is it simply the result of a chain of singular events that have no alternate - in which case it is determinism, not 'choice'.

The only possibility that exists for us to ascertain whether choice, and free-will, exists is to examine whether there exists a situation where an action is completely unconnected to events leading up to it. Then we might assume that action was the result of 'choice' and is not simply a deterministic result of prior events.

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There has got to be a a way to set up psychological variables to test for this.

Obviously our cognitive abilities allow us to rise above endorphin seeking. A rat cannot overcome heroine addiction, but a human ( though very difficult) can. This may be a deterministic factor to have the will to do what's best for oneself, but its obviously a will that transcends normal biochemistry. It's a choice. And it's one not every one can make. It's their strength of will among other factors that generates success. Their ability to make choices regardless of their chemistry. I'm sure a utilitarian argument can be made, but still not everyone can make that choice. There is an element of rising above ones chemistry.

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Do we truly have it and do we still exist if it can be atken

I am unable to prove free-will but I think I can make a case for its existence and its presence in our lives:

1. Some of our laws are based on if the person had intent or had no intent in doing what is considered wrong by society.

2. Much of the therapy that offenders receive in order to be rehabilitated is based on behavior modification through understanding how small, successive bad choices eventually lead a person to a choice, that when made, is an infraction of the law.

3. The show hypnotist uses a volunteer and shock factor to demonstrate how an altered state can cause the volunteer to be uninhibited. Then he does something that makes a fool out of him and that he would never do normally.

4. There is a system of philosophy still popular in areas of the world near India. The philosophy is based on everything being created and left to run as intended without a creator's further intervention. [if you believe that Jesus was transfigured during the transfiguration, then you more or less have to believe a creator has intervened. And the burning bush. And the exposure of seeing god Moses experienced on Mt. Sinai. ...]

5. The multi-universe derivation from quantum mechanics more than implies a lack of free will. Since that kind of thinking involves the fact that any universe one can imagine, has to exist. And since:

I can think of a universe that has people who have free will it exists!

I just contradicted the implications that the multiverse theory infers!

If the multiverse is fact, then so too is free will!!!

That is about the best I can do on the topic.

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I have to assume free will just as I have to assume others exist besides myself or that reality is unitary or that right and wrong have objective existence outside human thought, but I can't "prove" any of them and in fact can produce pretty good arguments that they are all illusions.

Why do I have to assume them? Because otherwise existence becomes pointless and meaningless and we may as well all just dig a hole and bury ourselves. If, for example, we don't have free will, meaning not that we aren't influence by things but that in the end at least we have the possibility of making choices outside those influences, then everything we do is determined by forces outside ourselves and further discussion is beside the point, since how we will come down on any subject is already decided.

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5. The multi-universe derivation from quantum mechanics more than implies a lack of free will. Since that kind of thinking involves the fact that any universe one can imagine, has to exist. And since:

I can think of a universe that has people who have free will it exists!

I just contradicted the implications that the multiverse theory infers!

If the multiverse is fact, then so too is free will!!!

That is about the best I can do on the topic.

MWI asserts decoherence leads to the world branching, that is probability not imagination.

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The problem with free will is it requires a third alternative to our usual understanding of why things happen, in particular why we make the choices we make. The first alternative is that it is somehow determined -- our personality or genes or particular brain chemicals (mood) of the moment make for our choices. The second alternative is something random, such as quantum randomness or more likely some sort of randomizer in our heads that makes choices when we otherwise can't.

However, if it is determined, it is not free, and if it is random it is not will. I can't imagine any third possibility -- we might call it "whim," but that doesn't sound quite right.

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MWI asserts decoherence leads to the world branching, that is probability not imagination.

I don't follow your statement--obviously a fault of my own. That means I also can't relate the connection to my quoted statement. Perhaps there are logical stepping stones that aren't intuitive (to me). Would yo mind explaining further?

... I can't imagine any third possibility -- we might call it "whim," but that doesn't sound quite right.

How about we call it Free Will?

I think it is true that things that are that basic, in a discipline like Plane Geometry, we would call a postulate. [What we can't prove nor explain, we simply state, accept, build on, and give what is built thereafter a contrasting/differential name, e.g. non-Euclidian.]

post-145966-0-96759100-1402759621_thumb.

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Why do I have to assume them? Because otherwise existence becomes pointless and meaningless and we may as well all just dig a hole and bury ourselves. If, for example, we don't have free will, meaning not that we aren't influence by things but that in the end at least we have the possibility of making choices outside those influences, then everything we do is determined by forces outside ourselves and further discussion is beside the point, since how we will come down on any subject is already decided.

I see what you mean but there are some other ways to look at it. Everything we do isn't just determined by forces outside ourselves, it is determined by forces within ourselves as well. Whether free will exists or not, you think, you experience, you feel, and as noted before from each of our own subjective perception, we're living in pretty much a perfect illusion that we actually do have free will which is pretty cool. I understand what you're getting at with 'meaningless' but that's just perspective, there are people here who will tell you without their God and an afterlife, this life is ultimately meaningless, free will or not. All this time we thought we were driving and steering the car instead at some deep subconscious level we were actually just riding a roller-coaster; oh well, roller-coasters can be fun too.

It may require a little redefinition of who 'you' or 'I' really are, if I don't have free will, let me see then what that means. I'm trying to decide between having steak or lobster, or at least that's how I'd explain it, what's really going on is that the unknown deterministic process by which my brain makes decisions is running and I don't have a decision yet. I order steak, so how then am I supposed to think about this logically at this point? "I" really didn't choose steak, an inevitable program in my brain did? How and should I be separating 'me' from my brain processing? Do "I" just become an experiencer if I can't make choices, like this is a matrix-like virtual reality interactive movie from 'my' real perspective?

I think I keep wanting to say that if I don't have free will then it's almost like "I" don't really even exist, but I do seem to exist anyway; I'm just not what I happen to think I am, but at some level I've always kind of assumed that anyway. I don't think anything changes if we ultimately don't have free will, except possibly how much we blame people who do bad things; believing that we don't have free will I think can better enable forgiveness actually.

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