• jamesfive
    4
    My first question is do you believe that the illusion of free will was a necessary evil for the advancement and survival of the human race? I'm not saying it still is or that society would crumble if everyone became aware of the fact that their biology controls everything, but do you think it was necessary up until now or fairly recently in the history of the human race? I'm not religious by any means, but it might be an adequate response to the question of "if there is a God (or some kind of intelligent designer), why does he allow evil people to exists/evil things to happen." Maybe there was a plan all a long? I only bring this up because I've recently been reading about how incredibly complex the design of some living things are and how unlikely life was to even begin. Even without the God part it's still a question that I'm curious about.

    My second question for now is if the fact that our biology controls everything becomes so obvious through advances in science that everyone accepts it as being true, I wonder how does that affect what we would do for fun/entertainment in the future? Do we get the same kind of enjoyment from playing/watching sports or games knowing that everything is predetermined? Do we still enjoy tv shows/movies where there's a good guy and a bad guy knowing that there's really no such thing as "good" and "bad." Do we still enjoy comedy even though most of the time someone is the dope or the fall guy in humorous tv shows/movies?

    I can envision a future utopia where everyone views the rest of the world as being in this together instead of me vs you or us vs them, and celebrating everyone's uniqueness and differences and wanting to help people with problems instead of judge or shame, but I'm wondering what do we do for fun/entertainment in this future world or maybe that doesn't change?
  • christian2017
    274
    wow. I don't know what to say to this. I don't know how i feel about determinism. It can be a good thing to consider or it can be a bad thing to consider. How to know when to blame our nature and when to be active in solving our problems is on a person by person basis. People who feel they have control of their destinies might be pretermined to feel that way so who can blame them. Great post.
  • Grre
    61
    I'm an indeterminist-the opposite of determinism (which holds as you pointed out) that something (or someone ie. God) has a pre-determined plan that all events, including our individual lives follow. In many ways this is comforting, and to answer the OP question, I believe people would still enjoy entertainment, even knowing that it has a pre-determined end. I don't really understand your question beyond that, because in a way, everyone already knows that life is pre-determined in some way, such as we might not know who will win the game, but we know one of the two teams will.

    Indeterminism argues that we don't have free will (like determinism) but holds that instead of things being pre-determined by some great plan, much of life is left up to probability and chance. Something most philosophers as William James noted, disparage, but I personally embrace and find fulfilling and freeing.
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    My first question is do you believe that the illusion of free will was a necessary evil for the advancement and survival of the human race?jamesfive

    My first question to you is, did you write this of your own free will, or were you compelled to say it? If the former, your thesis fails; if the latter, responding is pointless.
  • jamesfive
    4
    I will try to clarify. Most people don't believe in determinism or that biology explains and predicts everything we will do, it might take some of the magic out of sports or competition knowing that what ends up happening was always going to happen and the competitors couldn't have done anything different and that them being as good as they are is all luck ( for example, even if one athlete works harder than the other to increase their skills there are circumstances that lead to that being the case which are out of that athletes control eg. genes,upbringing etc)

    As far as movies and tv shows are concerned, if we accept that biology explains everything we do and that the ideas of hate or judgement are illogical because if we had the exact same biology as someone else we would have done the exact same thing as that person, would that make movies or tv shows with "good" guys and "bad" guys less interesting?
  • jamesfive
    4
    I was compelled to say it because of my biology, I was always going to say that and was always going to say this.
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    In which case, what’s the point of responding? Because no matter what I say, you’re not amenable to reason; you’re only ever going to respond according to your conditioning. So I think a ‘philosophy forum’ is a singularly inappropriate medium to express this idea (if an idea is what it is).
  • Isaac
    714
    In which case, what’s the point of responding? Because no matter what I say, you’re not amenable to reason; you’re only ever going to respond according to your conditioning.Wayfarer

    How does having free will make one any more amenable to reason? With free wiil, you have two initial choices when presented with an argument in reason...

    1. Accept the most reasonable argument.
    2. Reject the most reasonable argument.

    If you choose 2 then you are not amenable to reason. If you reject 2 as a method, then you have only one choice, which is the definition of determinism.
  • luckswallowsall
    16
    "My first question is do you believe that the illusion of free will was a necessary evil for the advancement and survival of the human race?".

    No, because belief in free will is a religious idea that is used to justify ideas such as heaven and hell.

    "My second question for now is if the fact that our biology controls everything becomes so obvious through advances in science that everyone accepts it as being true, I wonder how does that affect what we would do for fun/entertainment in the future? Do we get the same kind of enjoyment from playing/watching sports or games knowing that everything is predetermined? Do we still enjoy tv shows/movies where there's a good guy and a bad guy knowing that there's really no such thing as "good" and "bad." Do we still enjoy comedy even though most of the time someone is the dope or the fall guy in humorous tv shows/movies?"

    No, because life is actually more fun after we lose our false belief in free will.
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    How does having free will make one any more amenable to reason?Isaac

    Because if your beliefs are determined by biology, then you are not amenable to persuasion. If I persuade you that you are indeed acting on the basis of free will, then you’ve been influenced by something other than biology. On the other hand, if your beliefs are predetermined, then nothing I can say will have any consequence. That is why it is an essentially meaningless argument, and a deeply irrational attitude. (And I think the real motivation for it is actually to avoid a sense of responsibility for ourselves.)
  • Terrapin Station
    9.2k
    how incredibly complex the design of some living things are and how unlikely life was to even begin.jamesfive

    The notion of assigning a likelihood to life beginning is absurd. We have no frequency data (except that it happened on one iteration) to base this on.
  • Kippo
    115

    Biology is the wrong level to consider determinsm - surely it is a physics question. Biological structures definitely contribute to our opinions in known ways, but aren't we talking about full-on 100% everything being fully determined .. i.e. "determinism" ... this is a physics issue... cosmology meets particle physics etc etc.
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    Biology is the wrong level to consider determinism - surely it is a physics questionKippo

    That's even more mistaken. At least biology recognises that living creatures are ontologically distinct from billiard balls. And sure, if you drop a human and a billiard ball from a height, they will fall at the same rate. That's about the extent to which physics can be regarded as a determinant of human behaviour.
  • Richard B
    16
    There is no need to argue here, I think. If biology determines us, than it follows that biology determines that I think “I have free will” or “I am determine by biology”. Argument does not determine which to choose, biology does. I guess it is time to close this forum, so sad I was beginning to enjoy myself.
  • Grre
    61


    I think your misusing 'biology' by making it to explain all human actions-human actions are the result of more than just literal biology, in fact, science has shown that genetics has very little outcome re: a person's life-unless you include genetics influenced by environmental invitro-ie. pre natal care, which does actually, determine a great deal about someone's health and future lifespan. But in no way does that necessary determine behaviour.
  • Isaac
    714
    Because if your beliefs are determined by biology, then you are not amenable to persuasion.Wayfarer

    Who said anything about beliefs being determined by biology?
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    The OP :roll:
  • Isaac
    714
    The OPWayfarer

    As I read it, the OP was referring to our biology defining how we respond. So if our biology determines that we will seek the most rational argument, how does that make it pointless you presenting one? And if our biology does not determine that, then we are free to agree with any argument, rational or not. How does that make it any more worthwhile presenting one?
  • Kippo
    115
    We absolutely agree that biology is a bigger determinant of behaviour than physics in as much as biological structures have direct relevance at the level of OUR knowledge, whereas at the level of physics it is pretty much impossible for US to determine what the effects of a single particle's behaviour are.

    But I thought this topic was about full on, absolute determinsm right down to all the details of all the particles in the universe at any time in the future. Because you can't have full on human behavioural determinsm without full on universal physical determinism.
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    I thought this topic was about full on, absolute determinsm right down to all the details of all the particles in the universe at any time in the futureKippo

    That’s LaPlace’s daemon, right? Well, the problem there is Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle torpedoes it. Reality is in some fundamental sense indeterminate. This is what caused Einstein to grumble about ‘God playing dice’.

    So if our biology determines that we will seek the most rational argument, how does that make it pointless you presenting one?Isaac

    Because it reduces reason to a function of biology, which destroys it. The ‘sovereignty of reason’ means that if you seek to explain reason in any other terms - biological or whatever - then you’re undermining it. Reason comprises the relationship of ideas, and ideas are not physical, although they can be represented physically. This is something that is often lost sight of in our scientistic age.
  • Isaac
    714
    The ‘sovereignty of reason’ means that if you seek to explain reason in any other terms - biological or whatever - then you’re undermining it. Reason comprises the relationship of ideas, and ideas are not physicalWayfarer

    So, if you were to 'reason' that four is more than two, you're saying a computer couldn’t successfully agree or disagree with that notion on the basis of its programming?

    You're simply making presumptions in saying that ideas are not physical (only represented as such), if you're going to make presumptions at this level, then what purpose has rational debate here either?
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    So, if you were to 'reason' that four is more than two, you're saying a computer couldn’t successfully agree or disagree with that notion on the basis of its programming?Isaac

    What’s that got to do with it? A computer is a device built by humans, to compute. It does so very well. Furthermore a computer doesn’t ‘agree’ except for in a metaphorical sense, any more than would an abacus. We see that the result on the computer agrees with logic.

    If what you write is determined by endocrines or hormones or genes, then how could what anyone says change it? When persuade you of something, I make you see a reason why something is the case. Where in biology or physics is an analogy for that?
  • Isaac
    714
    If what you write is determined by endocrines or hormones or genes, then how could what anyone says change it?Wayfarer

    As I said, I don't read the OP as saying anything other than our biology determines how we respond. It would be insane to argue that our biology literally determines everything we do, like I'm going to walk across this river and whether there is a bridge there or not makes no difference to that. Its just pointless straw-manning to knock down that kind of caricature.

    The way I'm going to respond to to what you say may be determined by my biology though, just as what you say may be by yours.

    If I apply heat to a plastic spoon it's shape changes. Are you suggesting that spoons think? If not, then the alternative would seem to be that it would make no difference whether I applied heat to it or not, it was going to change shape anyway. Obviously that's nonsense, so why would it be any less nonsense to say that your words affect what I'm going to say next?

    We didn't have to invoke free-will for the heat to affect the shape of the spoon, why do we need to invoke it for your words to affect what I write in response?
  • Kippo
    115
    Reality is in some fundamental sense indeterminate.Wayfarer

    I don't think that's proven scientifically, not even by HUC, which, I believe, limits only our grasp of reality and not reality itself.

    In any case, one needn't have any emotional difficulty with accepting the possibilty of full blown determinism because our experience of free will in a determined universe is indistinguishable from our experience of "true" free will.
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    It would be insane to argue that our biology literally determines everything we do.Isaac

    biology controls everythingjamesfive

    Do we still enjoy tv shows/movies where there's a good guy and a bad guy knowing that there's really no such thing as "good" and "bad"?jamesfive


    If I apply heat to a plastic spoon it's shape changes. Are you suggesting that spoons think?Isaac

    No, it changes as a consequence of physical force, not as a consequence of persuasion.

    We didn't have to invoke free-will for the heat to affect the shape of the spoon, why do we need to invoke it for your words to affect what I write in response?Isaac

    Because you're a rational being, able to be persuaded. Objects cannot be so persuaded, obviously.

    In any case, one needn't have any emotional difficulty with accepting the possibility of full blown determinism because our experience of free will in a determined universe is indistinguishable from our experience of "true" free will.Kippo

    In which case, what difference does it make, and how could you find out? Either way, it is, as I said, a pretty meaningless argument.
  • Isaac
    714
    No, it changes as aWayfarer
    Because you're a rational being, able to be persuaded. Objects cannot be so persuaded, obviously.Wayfarer

    So your answer to the question "why do we need to invoke free-will here? " is "because its obvious"?
  • SteveKlinko
    372
    The obvious way out of your dilemma is to include Quantum Mechanical considerations into the operation of your Brain. The Determinism vanishes in a sea of alternate possibilities and outcomes.
  • Kippo
    115
    Reason comprises the relationship of ideas, and ideas are not physical,Wayfarer
    But as you have indicated, every idea has a physical counterpart. So there is no idea that exists independently of physical reality.

    In which case, what difference does {full blown determinsm] make, and how could you find out? Either way, it is, as I said, a pretty meaningless argument.Wayfarer

    There is a difference -full blown determinism rules out, or at the very least profoundly downgrades, the concept of "spirituality" as being something non physical. It takes "true magic" out of the experience of free will, and all we are left with is apparent magic. Which is still pretty good though!
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    So your answer to the question "why do we need to invoke free-will here? " is "because its obvious"?Isaac

    I made an argument, which you so far have given no indication of having understood.

    But as you have indicated, every idea has a physical counterpart. So there is no idea that exists independently of physical reality.Kippo

    That doesn’t follow at all. There are many ideas which could never be realised physically. What I said was that ideas can be represented physically. But think about this. The same idea can be represented in a huge variety of different ways - different languages, different media, and so on - yet still convey exactly the same information. So I say that information can be represented physically, but that essentially it's something other than physical.

    Which is still pretty good though!Kippo

    Why? Because it saves you having to wrestle with the conundrum of being?
  • Isaac
    714
    I made an argument, which you so far have given no indication of having understood.Wayfarer

    Yes, seems to be a regular confusion around here where "made an argument" is taken as a synonym for "said some things about". An argument is a set of reasoned steps from a premise to a conclusion, not just some statements about a subject. So no, you heve not "made an argument", nor do I believe you had any interest in doing so.
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