Author Topic: Free Will  (Read 20434 times)

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Offline stickman

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Free Will
« Reply #30 on: March 25, 2007, 05:03:30 PM »
Quote from: "ryan welle"
Anything that is natural follows a chain of causation.


So particle decay is supernatural?

Hey everybody!  Ryan just proved the existance of God!
 :wink:

EDIT:  Sorry, Ryan that was unneccesarily harsh.  Your assumption is perfectly reasonable.  However, quantum mechanics shows us that the universe unreasonable in any number of ways.  Science tossed out the "deterministic universe" concept in the 1920's.  I shared your asumption until I took 1st year university physics.
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Offline Luna

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« Reply #31 on: March 25, 2007, 05:07:59 PM »
To me your arguments seem on the side of supernaturalism. I think we are getting lost because we have different defintions of what free-will is.
Praise Jesus.

Offline ryan welle

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« Reply #32 on: March 25, 2007, 05:51:16 PM »
Stick man is right that there are aspects of quantum mechanics that are perhaps non-deterministic.  However all of the wacky stuff that happens in quantum mechanics has no effect on the brain, or the function of neurons.  Dose any one remember episode #73 with Allan Wallace?  You may not be saying this but if you think that quantum mechanics alows for classical free will you are as crazy as the people in the "what the bleep do we know" movie.
o, our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give us we can get elcewhere.   Sigmund Freud

Offline skidoo

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« Reply #33 on: March 25, 2007, 06:50:36 PM »
Quote from: "Luna"
To me your arguments seem on the side of supernaturalism. I think we are getting lost because we have different defintions of what free-will is.

Yeah, maybe. lol

Offline Luna

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« Reply #34 on: March 25, 2007, 09:56:17 PM »
lol so then what is it!
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Offline ryan welle

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« Reply #35 on: March 25, 2007, 10:02:19 PM »
Quote from: Luna
lol so then what is it

Do you think that you're conciousness is a product of billions on neurons in you brain?  Because that is my idea of determinism.
o, our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give us we can get elcewhere.   Sigmund Freud

Offline stickman

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« Reply #36 on: March 25, 2007, 10:07:33 PM »
Quote from: "ryan welle"
Stick man is right that there are aspects of quantum mechanics that are perhaps non-deterministic.  However all of the wacky stuff that happens in quantum mechanics has no effect on the brain, or the function of neurons.  


  My point is that non-deterministic behaviour does not imply supernatural agents at work.  Conciousness may or may not turn out to be non-deterministic, which seems to be the essence of your argument.  I repeat, we have absolutely no idea how conciousness works, so any conclusions you reach about free will are necessarily nothing but speculation.
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Offline Orthodox Infidel

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« Reply #37 on: March 25, 2007, 10:11:09 PM »
Quote from: "Luna"
lol so then what is it!


I think philosophers have been arguing about that for the past two millennia or so. If you find an good answer, let me know. It would help me immensely in determining if the concept of God is logically inconsistent.

Offline skidoo

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« Reply #38 on: March 25, 2007, 10:22:50 PM »
Quote from: "stickman"
My point is that non-deterministic behaviour does not imply supernatural agents at work.

Agreed. "Random" just means we haven't figured it out entirely. But the evidence suggests that just as differential calculus and chaos theory revolutionized our ability to predict the previously unpredictable.... You know where I'm going with that. And that's not faith, that's sound belief. That is, there's no reason to believe anything is ultimately non-deterministic. Which is (I think) what you're saying.

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Conciousness may or may not turn out to be non-deterministic, which seems to be the essence of your argument.  I repeat, we have absolutely no idea how conciousness works, so any conclusions you reach about free will are necessarily nothing but speculation.

But even if consciousness is "randomized" by some as-yet-unimaginable supra-chaotic function (such as that which might describe radioactive decay), that doesn't speak whatsoever to the question of free will.

Free will == supernatural agent. Supernatural agent == bullshit.

But the practical concept of free will is very useful, blah, blah, blah....

Offline ryan welle

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« Reply #39 on: March 26, 2007, 01:59:02 AM »
You can't say that we have absolutely no idea how how conciousness works.  Virtualy the entire dicipline of psychology is dedicated to coming up with theories for explaining  human mental function.  So if you say that we have no idea how conciousness works, you are saying that there have been no accomplishments in the field of psychology.  Believe me there are several theories for how consiousness works, and I can assure you that there are no scientific theories that leave room for free will. [/quote]
o, our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give us we can get elcewhere.   Sigmund Freud

Offline stickman

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« Reply #40 on: March 26, 2007, 02:45:56 AM »
Quote from: "ryan welle"
You can't say that we have absolutely no idea how how conciousness works.  Virtualy the entire dicipline of psychology is dedicated to coming up with theories for explaining  human mental function.  So if you say that we have no idea how conciousness works, you are saying that there have been no accomplishments in the field of psychology.  Believe me there are several theories for how consiousness works, and I can assure you that there are no scientific theories that leave room for free will.


  Psychology studies the way our minds behave, but not the mechanics of how  the interaction of billions of neurons produces the phenomenon of conciousness.  To use an analogy, if the brain were a car, psychologists would study how the car performed under various conditions, and when the controls are stimulated in various ways.  Useful stuff, but they don't go under the hood and learn how all the different components of the engine work together to turn gasoline into movement.  That, in this analogy, is the job of neurologists, and they've only just developed the first crude tools to be able to image an engine as it runs.  
 
  If you know of any theories that quantitatively seek to explain how the phenomenon of conciousness arises out of the electrical and biochemical activities of the brain, I'd love to hear about them.  I'm positive that neuroscience is nowhere near being able to address this question, but I'd love to be proved wrong.
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Offline ryan welle

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« Reply #41 on: March 26, 2007, 03:35:02 AM »
That analogy would work if you were just talking about social psychology, or maybe sociology. But psychology is a very large field, I don't know how your school is but all of the neurologist at my university have offices in the psychology department.  Neurology is just one dicipline under the larger field of psychology.  

On another point you said it perfectly well, "conciousness arises out of the chemical and electrical activity in the brain". That is the theory. At this point there is no reason to believe otherwise. Perhaps our views are not that far apart, but you are just wanting information that we just don't have yet, and I am drawing conclusions from the information that we do have.
o, our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give us we can get elcewhere.   Sigmund Freud

Offline stickman

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« Reply #42 on: March 26, 2007, 04:01:52 AM »
Quote from: "ryan welle"


On another point you said it perfectly well, "conciousness arises out of the chemical and electrical activity in the brain". That is the theory. At this point there is no reason to believe otherwise. Perhaps our views are not that far apart, but you are just wanting information that we just don't have yet, and I am drawing conclusions from the information that we do have.


I'm trying to point out that the information we have is not sufficient to justify the conclusion you have reached.

I repeat:  If you know of any theories that quantitatively seek to explain how the phenomenon of conciousness arises out of the electrical and biochemical activities of the brain, I'd love to hear about them.  Until we have a good working model to explain how conciousness arises, any discussion of the existence of free will is philosophy, not science, so no proof either way is possible.  

Before you can do science, you need data.  We simply don't have enough data about the nature of conciousness to be able to reach meaningful conclusions about the existence of free will.  If this were not the case, the argument would have been settled long ago.
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Offline skidoo

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« Reply #43 on: March 26, 2007, 08:53:33 AM »
Quote from: "stickman"
I repeat:  If you know of any theories that quantitatively seek to explain how the phenomenon of conciousness arises out of the electrical and biochemical activities of the brain, I'd love to hear about them.  Until we have a good working model to explain how conciousness arises, any discussion of the existence of free will is philosophy, not science, so no proof either way is possible.

Straw man alert. The operative word there is proof. No one is saying there is definitive proof of anything.

The fact remains: free will == supernatural agent; supernatural agent == bullshit.

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Before you can do science, you need data.  We simply don't have enough data about the nature of conciousness to be able to reach meaningful conclusions about the existence of free will.

Ah bullshit. The operative phrase there is "meaningful conclusions." Surely you see that you could stick just about anything on the end of that sentence ? E.g. "We simply don't have enough data about the nature of conciousness to be able to reach meaningful conclusions about the existence of rainbow-pooting ponies."

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If this were not the case, the argument would have been settled long ago.

Like the god question?

Stickman, you're tearing down a straw man. Just as there is no evidence or logical basis for god, there is neither evidence nor logical basis for free will.

Offline Sam

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Free Will
« Reply #44 on: March 26, 2007, 10:31:10 AM »
Whether or not you are free to do what you want to do really isn't the question here, but whether you could have chosen differently in that exact same situation. I suspect what Luna means by "free will" is simply the ability to make voluntary choices. I don't have a problem with that. But even vouluntary choices are entirely caused by the activities of the physical brain, and what happens in the brain is itself caused by what happended before that, which is caused by what happend before that etc... What most people seem to mean by "free will", however, is that you could have chosen differently even if all prior causes had been exactly the same. This is where the supernatual agent comes in.

Involving quantum indeterminacy is irrelevant to the question of free will: even if we admit the possibility that randomness on the quantum level could influence the outcome of a choice, it does not follow that your will itself was the prime origin of that outcome. It only adds an element of randomness to the process which is therefore not controlled by will.

I often find that people tend to confuse determinism with fatalism. In a fatalistic world view people may actually very well have free will, but our "free" choices cannot change the predetermined outcome (i.e. "destiny" or "fate"). In fatalism outcomes are predetermined independently of prior causes. In a deterministic world view our choices really do matter, but the choices themselves are entirely caused.

I don't think this is merely a philosophical or semantical problem without any practical consequences. If we abolished the notion of free will altogether, we would probably focus more on fighting the known causes of crime, unemployment, drug-use etc. and far less on giving people what they "deserve".
Inventing excuses to believe is not the same as having good reasons to believe.