Poll

Well, do we?

No, its an entirely deterministic
9 (33.3%)
mostly deterministic
5 (18.5%)
Our actions are mostly the response we can have to a given stimulus
9 (33.3%)
Mostly free
2 (7.4%)
Yes, we actually have complete control over our actions
2 (7.4%)

Total Members Voted: 27

Author Topic: Do we have free will  (Read 30566 times)

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Offline John Albert

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2018, 12:52:52 PM »
"Freedom" has two commonly-accepted usages, one positive and one negative. On the positive, it can mean freedom to do things, and on the negative it can mean freedom from some restriction.

In philosophy, "free will" is usually taken to mean the capacity to decide and act on our own choices without restriction or predestination. 

But does that include all kinds of restrictions, or only restrictions imposed from outside ourselves?

What about restrictions imposed by our own personal shortcomings? All options are not open to all individuals. With my physique, I couldn't play professional football even if I wanted to. Does that mean I don't have free will?

What about the choices of which we're unaware? Even if a certain opportunity is completely open to me; if I don't even know that it exists, am I truly be "free" to choose it?

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2018, 01:28:28 PM »
"Freedom" has two commonly-accepted usages, one positive and one negative. On the positive, it can mean freedom to do things, and on the negative it can mean freedom from some restriction.

In philosophy, "free will" is usually taken to mean the capacity to decide and act on our own choices without restriction or predestination. 

But does that include all kinds of restrictions, or only restrictions imposed from outside ourselves?

What about restrictions imposed by our own personal shortcomings? All options are not open to all individuals. With my physique, I couldn't play professional football even if I wanted to. Does that mean I don't have free will?

What about the choices of which we're unaware? Even if a certain opportunity is completely open to me; if I don't even know that it exists, am I truly be "free" to choose it?

I think it's obvious that there are limitations to free will imposed by our environment, our physiology, our education, the laws of physics, etc. Even the staunchest advocate of free will will acknowledge that free will does not mean the ability to do the impossible or perform beyond your capacity.

The question is not "Can we do anything we want?" but rather "Do we have some degree of agency, or are all our decisions made at a level we have no control over?"

As noted elsewhere, I believe that we do not know enough about the nature of consciousness to be able to answer this question.
Daniel
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2018, 01:45:44 PM »
As noted elsewhere, I believe that we do not know enough about the nature of consciousness to be able to answer this question.

A growing body of research over the past couple decades indicates that the part of our brains responsible for decision-making is separate from the part that creates consciousness, so we effectively make decisions several milliseconds before we consciously realize we've made them.

Can't do it right now, but I'll post some links when I get a few spare minutes.

Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2018, 02:30:44 PM »
Yah but what the hell is consciousness and is it effective? Just because we are not consciously aware of our thinking doesn't mean that we aren't in control of our thinking. I don't think that we are but I want to point that out.

I personally think that we are a more complex version of a sunflower. A sunflower is aware of where the sun is at and turns toward it but it has no free will to determine if it will or will not.
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Offline Eternally Learning

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2018, 02:36:07 PM »
When thinking about free will, this thought experiment always comes to mind:

If you make one choice, then time perfectly reverses to before the choice was made (this includes you and your thoughts and memories) could you choose differently? In terms of probabilistic effects working their way up to the macro level, I suppose it's possible that you could sometimes choose differently, but is a difference born of indifferent and random fluctuations anything like what we'd call free will? Doesn't seem like it to me, and I don't see how apart from that, anyone could reasonably argue that a different choice could be made.

Offline uolj

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2018, 02:52:50 PM »
When thinking about free will, this thought experiment always comes to mind:

If you make one choice, then time perfectly reverses to before the choice was made (this includes you and your thoughts and memories) could you choose differently? In terms of probabilistic effects working their way up to the macro level, I suppose it's possible that you could sometimes choose differently, but is a difference born of indifferent and random fluctuations anything like what we'd call free will? Doesn't seem like it to me, and I don't see how apart from that, anyone could reasonably argue that a different choice could be made.

Yeah, that's basically what I was trying to say. Rewind, can you make a different choice? Probably not on purpose, although maybe a different choice would be made due to other reasons.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2018, 03:49:52 PM »
As noted elsewhere, I believe that we do not know enough about the nature of consciousness to be able to answer this question.

A growing body of research over the past couple decades indicates that the part of our brains responsible for decision-making is separate from the part that creates consciousness, so we effectively make decisions several milliseconds before we consciously realize we've made them.

Can't do it right now, but I'll post some links when I get a few spare minutes.

I often think of something to say a few moments before I say it. An argument might be made that this is my brain working without "me" making a decision. But often as well, I then make the decision not to say it. Things pop into my head, perhaps without my agency, but then I might make a decision to reject them.

This could fall into the category of limited or constrained free will. Free will is not absolute. But we need to learn an awful lot more about how the brain works and the brain-mind relationship, and how the mind works, before we can know whether some degree of constrained free will exists.

At our present level of understanding, I think the assertion that our actions are entirely deterministic is as unsupportable as the assertion that we have free will. I'm not sure, but I think the assertion that we have no free will is equivalent to saying that the mind is an illusion. It well could be, but trying to argue from first principles leaves too much room for unknown factors.
Daniel
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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2018, 05:54:40 PM »
At our present level of understanding, I think the assertion that our actions are entirely deterministic is as unsupportable as the assertion that we have free will. I'm not sure, but I think the assertion that we have no free will is equivalent to saying that the mind is an illusion. It well could be, but trying to argue from first principles leaves too much room for unknown factors.
While I leaned towards our actions are entirely deterministic and the mind is an illusion, I agree that is not something that can be proven.  Its shear speculation on my part.

Offline Eternally Learning

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2018, 06:51:26 PM »
I think that having trouble with coming up with a real-world definition of free will that isn't just referencing randomness leads me to not view the concept with much regard. It very plainly seems to me to be yet another pre-scientific notion that has yet to die and has people searching for a way to justify its existence as a concept.

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2018, 08:23:24 PM »
The answers given in the poll do not accurately reflect my views on free will, except in a misleadingly simplistic way.

If only we were free to choose an option that best represented our own individuality.

For what it's worth, I answered the damn thing anyway just to see what the results looked like.
Like I said, none of the available options accurately reflect my views.
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2018, 09:38:45 PM »
I'm a compatibilist on this topic. We make decisions probabilistically (with competing brain probability evaluators), which presents itself in the brain conversing with itself as a "choice".

But our actions via probability tend to "tweak" future probabilities. We call this "learning." And our "probability evaluators" now have language, so we can impact the probability evaluators of other people as well. We call this "teaching."
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2018, 04:04:49 PM »
I don't believe in absolute determinism or absolute free will.

Online bachfiend

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2018, 12:14:22 AM »
Free will involves making decisions.  Decisions can be conscious and caused, conscious and uncaused, subconscious and caused or subconscious and uncaused (I can’t think of any other possibilities).

‘Caused’ means that the decisions were strongly or entirely determined by factors outside the immediate circumstances, such as the person’s genetics and upbringing and experiences (‘nature and nurture’).  If someone else knew everything about these factors in a particular person then his decision could be predicted with 100% accuracy (he couldn’t have done anything else), in which case how could he have free will?

‘Subconscious’ means the decisions aren’t made consciously, just rationalised later.

For free will to exist, decisions would have to be conscious and uncaused (such as making decisions by throwing a die to randomly decide.  Or some quantum process).  Which I don’t think supporters of free will would like.

But Libet’s showed that most decisions are subconscious first, then rationalised.  So most decisions are caused and subconscious.  There are some decisions in which there does seem to be some element of free will present, when the person is wrestling with two mutually exclusive options.  Should I press the ‘Post’ button or not, for example?  Should I run the risk of proving myself a fool, or not?
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Online The Latinist

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2018, 12:36:14 PM »
I can’t answer the poll due to the use of the word “deterministic,” because I cannot rule out the possibility that there is some degree of randomness in our actions. But I do not think the possibility of such randomness creates anything that can meaningfully be called free will, and outside of such possible random effects I think that our actions are, in fact, determined.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Redamare

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Re: Do we have free will
« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2018, 05:10:13 AM »
I call that "Determinism" for philosophical purposes. You can be agnostic towards physical Determinism and still see no real room for a free will, which is where I'm at.

To be honest, Compatibilism really gets on my nerves. On the one hand, you have all these moral implications for (philosophical) Determinism. So, even if you don't like those implications, you have to admit there's something there to discuss. Then, on the other hand, Compatiblists come along saying "Well, sure, Determinism is true and all, but let's not be so pedantic as to actually promote the idea..." as if those issues don't matter, and arguing against a punitive culture just makes you, like, a super annoying nerd.
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