• TheMadFool
    3.8k
    A simple observation - we sometimes have to resist our urges and the difficulty is proportional to the strength of the urge. This simply goes to show that most of the times we give in to our basic instincts.

    Yes, we can resist our inclinations and go against them but it's an uphill battle. Moreover this is strong evidence that we didn't choose our preferences at all.

    So, we have no free will and if we do it is subdued by our unchosen inclinations. In essence we're not free.

    Close the courtrooms and stop awarding Nobel Prizes. We're all machines programmed to do things that we have no control over.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    A person is coerced by others into doing something or is coerced by circumstances to ‘choose’. We call the latter “free will”. So I agree that there is no such thing as a “free” will.
  • PoeticUniverse
    604
    We're all machinesTheMadFool

    Hello, fellow robot. We're free of fame and blame and shame. That there are so many differing kinds of robots out there obscures the fact that the will is fixed to what it must do in the instant of its use. At least there is consistency. If I were the opposite, as an arbitrary air-head, I'd be long dead now.
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    A person is coerced by others into doing something or is coerced by circumstances to ‘choose’. We call the latter “free will”. So I agree that there is no such thing as a “free” will.Noah Te Stroete

    I don't want to expand the scope of coercion here. According to what I see there are two types of forces that affect our decisions. One is internal and usually unseen until the off chance that we feel a need to resist it and the other is external which is what I think you mean by "coercion".

    What is important is both types of forces are beyond our control. Don't you think?
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    Hello, fellow robot. We're free of fame and blame and shame. That there are so many differing kinds of robots out there obscures the fact that the will is fixed to what it must do in the instant of its use. At least there is consistency. If I were the opposite, as an arbitrary air-head, I'd be long dead now.PoeticUniverse

    Why do you think the alternative to robot is air-head? Self-awareness draws the line between man and machine but it's not necessary that self-awareness comes with free will. We can be non-robots and still reason well.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    Yes, we can resist our inclinations and go against them but it's an uphill battle. Moreover this is strong evidence that we didn't choose our preferences at all.TheMadFool

    If we can resist our inclinations, even only some times, isn't that a demonstration of us having at least some free will?

    I don't know for sure what I chose or didn't choose, which brings up an issue relevant to the free will discussion: can we determine with certainty whether a given act (choice, decision, action, etc.) was the result of "free will" or "determination"? If we can't distinguish between the two, how can we even begin to discuss the question?
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    So, we have no free will and if we do it is subdued by our unchosen inclinations. In essence we're not free.TheMadFool

    Freedom of the will is never absolute, but it is not less real for it. Most attempts to deny free will strike me as rooted in what Eric Fromm described as 'fear of freedom' . The realisation that we are self-determining carries a big risk - what if I don't succeed, or make the wrong choices? Wouldn't it just be easier to say that I don't have any choice?
  • Mww
    994
    we have no free will and if we do it is subdued by our unchosen inclinations. In essence we're not free.TheMadFool

    Even if we are not free with respect to a certain obligatory action, it is only because the will is free to determine what that obligation ought to be.

    The will can be subdued by inclination, but it just as easily thwarts them. If a will can be free and not free, then free cannot be a necessary condition for it. So.....I agree: we do not have free will. What we do have, is a will that acts on its own behalf.

    How the will goes about doing that, is a philosophy in itself.
  • Pantagruel
    150
    Yes, we can resist our inclinations and go against them but it's an uphill battle. Moreover this is strong evidence that we didn't choose our preferences at all.TheMadFool
    Then what is doing the resisting? What is resisting what?
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    Whatever we wish to define ‘freewill’ as I think we can all agree my ‘will’ has more to say on the matter than a rock.

    If not please produce a sentient rock for me to debate with.
  • NOS4A2
    604


    I think you are relying on the homunculus fallacy, that we are like some little being inside the body being pushed around by this or that instinct. But in fact, we are also our instincts.
  • Michael McMahon
    32
    Free will perhaps exists on a spectrum as we stress over some decisions more than others. So doing something trivial like choosing between different options on a dinner menu may be more of a subconsciously automated choice based on your taste buds. But then a more significant decision such as what subject to study in college requires more deliberation and stress to freely weigh up the pros and cons. Sometimes we are forced to randomly choose the least worst option. On other occasions when we are rushed we might take risks to avoid analysis paralysis. So how free a decision is may vary.
  • christian2017
    444


    Perhaps the judge has no free will not to be a doosh bag so she thinks she should remain a judge. Perhaps we should try to convince the judge to be less of a doosh bag. Subtlety and Nuance are the name of the game. We can control whether we kill 10 million people but can we control whether we keep the air conditioning budget to a certain level or try not to bully that person we don't like.
  • PoeticUniverse
    604
    Close the courtroomsTheMadFool

    We want the judge to protect society by taking the offender out of circulation.
  • removedmembershiprc
    113
    Yes, we can resist our inclinations and go against them but it's an uphill battle. Moreover this is strong evidence that we didn't choose our preferences at all.TheMadFool

    I would agree with this, although I would add an additional element. I would argue that the human is compelled by biological/survival needs which overrides any sort of "volition" we may have. For example, I cannot choose to sleep for 5 days in a row, or when I wake up, I am compelled by my body to eat food.

    Like Robert Sapolsky says, what we label as "free will" is just undiscovered biology.

    I have heard some people argue that the biological mechanisms may cause the lifting of your hand, but the reason you lifted your hand was because you chose to. So libertarians would try to make a distinction between reasons and causes. I do not find that compelling.

    I agree with your general thrust, that behavior seems to be caused, and is therefore, not "free."
  • Drazjan
    36
    So there is no point for me to write this post, other than to convince myself that I have "free-will?" All human decisions are predetermined? That is fatalism. It is written . . . Life then, is just a game of sticks that fall in a complex heap. This would be true, only if we choose to believe it.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Sorry I haven't read the whole thread yet but I would like to present my evidence for free will which is...Pain.

    What would be the point of human or any organism experiencing pain if they could not freely act on it?

    The only explanation of pain that seems to make some sense is that it acts as a warning signal to avoid bodily harm.

    Evidence that pain does prevent bodily harm is found in cases of people with congenital pain defect who suffer from severe injury because they are unaware of which actions are damaging their body such as sitting in a bad position or touching something hot. These people do not instinctively react to pain stimuli. The lack of conscious access to negative stimuli means they cannot volitionally move out of danger.

    I have other reasons to accept free will as well though..
  • PoeticUniverse
    604
    PainAndrew4Handel

    Any qualia would be the brain's way of broadcasting a product so that other brain areas could attend to the result.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Any qualia would be the brain's way of broadcasting a product so that other brain areas could attend to the result.PoeticUniverse

    I do not see the point of any qualia if you cannot act on it.

    Humans have a vast array of conscious data that they act on including the information that scientists use to propose theories and musicians use to create tunes.

    If humans did not need free will there would be no need for consciousness.
  • PoeticUniverse
    604
    I do not see the point of any qualia if you cannot act on it.Andrew4Handel

    The brain would go on to attend to it and to act on it. I don't know why the brain does it this way, if so.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k


    If you think that we are our brain then it is we who are attending qualia. The no freewill position makes consciousness an epiphenomenon helplessly experiencing bodily experiences.

    If the brain is just a bunch of mechanical matter spontaneously reacting efficiently to stimuli I see no reason for consciousness.

    It is a conscious self entity that experiences quailia. The brain is something explored by biology but not something we experience directly. Neurons were not discovered through introspection.
  • PoeticUniverse
    604
    quailiaAndrew4Handel

    Hi Andrew,

    Qualia cannot be useless, or they wouldn't have evolved. Since the brain expresses results in its own symbol language of qualia, then it has to be in this same language that the product has to go into further usage, such as to memory and as input for further brain analysis (as we the brain) by other brain areas. Perhaps it is a good shortcut due to its holistic form; who knows. Perhaps it's a way for the brain to perceive and experience itself; who knows. Perhaps the brain is a bunch of smaller brains, more of which get alerted by qualia; who knows.

    Although qualia are ever but showing what's past and done with, there's no good reason for qualia to just dead-end and not get used, for a heck of a lot goes into the production of qualia, as in their unity and their continuity and more.

    Yes, lots of 'who knows', but we do know that conscious is sequential to the brain's figurings of what ends up in it, up to 500 ms after the figurings begin subconsciously.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Qualia cannot be useless, or they wouldn't have evolved.PoeticUniverse

    I am not claiming they are useless. I am claiming the require freewill to be acted upon.

    You brought up the term qualia which is not something I ascribe to. I would just say conscious experiences and mental content.

    I think it is a confusion when people use the term brain and don't clarify the difference between this and things like consciousness, mental states and the self.

    I don't agree with the idea that we are our brain however if you claim we are our brain then we cannot get rid of freewill by saying the brain did this or that. Free will denial lead to dualism where there is an epiphenomenal helpless observer in the brain.
  • PoeticUniverse
    604
    mental contentAndrew4Handel

    Same as saying 'qualia', for the content is a product of a brain process with consciousness also being a step in the brain process, there being no need to call 'dualism' because the content is so unique.

    Consciousness is like a tourist along for the ride if all ended there.

    Fixed will is simply the will doing as it must. No one would want to be free of the will.
  • Eric Jenkins
    4
    I am not going to directly respond to anyone specifically, because I feel like this is not a direct response to any particular point argued above, but I would like to add a very strong point of evidence that supports the idea that we have free will.

    At the subatomic level (smaller than atoms) particles (and/or waves) have properties that are described by quantum mechanics. In the field of quantum mechanics, the direction and momentum of a particle and/or wave after interacting with another particle(s) and/or wave(s) is not deterministic and is predicted by probabilities that are determined by the interference of the two waves (and their wave function). At the quantum level, interactions between particles and their wave functions, and other particles and their wave functions, are probabilistic and are not deterministic. Because all matter and energy is composed of these particles and waves that are in certain situations, not deterministic, these effects carry up to the large scale, and mean that our universe, and everything in it, is non-deterministic. While some things have properties of determinism, ultimately in the long run, knowing everything about that object will not give you the ability to determine what it’s state will be at a later time.

    Because are brains are controlled by the complex interactions of neurons, which are individual cells that are microscopic, the fact that are cells are closer to the scale at which some things are probabilistic, they are more affected by these effects (and use them sometimes in certain cellular processes, an example is that some enzymes use quantum tunneling, which is probabilistic, to move electrons from one place to another in reactions to combine molecules, or break molecules. (This is the emerging field of quantum biology)) which, because of the nature of the brain, and that it is composed of complex networks of microscopic neurons that are affected by the indeterminism at this small scale, means that the decisions that the brain (and the emergence of the mind from the brain, but that is not the topic of this discussion) comes to are not deterministic, even if they are in response to previous outside stimuli, they are eventually determined by non determinate things, which means that we have free will (though I do believe that agency is a better term to use). (I apologize for any imperfect wording of thoughts and ideas in this post. I did my best to put it down in a logical and understandable manner.)
  • PoeticUniverse
    604
    determined by non determinate things, which means that we have free willEric Jenkins

    No wonder the free-via-random will sometimes makes big mistakes, for its consistency gets harmed and thrown off. Well, we can't have everything go right, even if it was built to work. 'Random' seems to stem from the bottommost ground of reality having no further inputs, such as the proposed quantum foam.

    I wouldn't jump off of a high bridge, but I think it would be best if I never stood on one, for my will might go haywire from a random fluke.
  • Eric Jenkins
    4
    I would like to clarify that not all indeterminism is relevant at larger scales, and not everything is indeterminate at the quantum scale, so the combination of indeterminism and determinism allows our brains to make decisions that have a basis in past experiences and decisions, but are not predetermined entirely by the past.
  • PoeticUniverse
    604
    not predetermined entirely by the pastEric Jenkins

    I'll have to seize on the good, creative random deviation results when my will gets disrupted.
  • removedmembershiprc
    113
    indeterminism gives you randomness at best, ie not free, and there is no evidence that what occurs at the level of the particle scales up to sufficiently complex systems
  • PoeticUniverse
    604
    randomness at bestrlclauer

    Usually worst?

    The will is just as ‘free’ as random is.
    Though we’re determined to survive each quiz,
    A spanner sometimes gets thrown in the works,
    Preventing the fixed will from being a wiz.
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