Do we have free will?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Nobeliefs, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Nobeliefs Registered Member

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    Most people think that consciousness implies control, but i dont find any good reason to think that way. There is no phenomena in the known universe that violates the action-reaction law (if im wrong, please let me know). If nothing in the universe violates that law, then we live in a deterministic universe in wich simple things evolve to form complex systems including our brains.

    Some people would say, "What about chaos?".. Well, chaotic systems are just very dificult to predict because of their complexity and sensibility to the variables, that includes the weather and our minds.

    So, everything (tons of evidence) indicates that we are just complex machines that generate a false sensation of free will..

    I think that everything will change when the first robotic machine became conscious. What do you think?

    What about the quantum universe?

    [video=youtube;Jint5kjoy6I]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jint5kjoy6I[/video]
     
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    All quantum level phenomena occur independently of Newtonian physics, or even causality itself in the ordinary sense. See Bell's Theorem. ( http://www.upscale.utoronto.ca/PVB/Harrison/BellsTheorem/BellsTheorem.html ).

    At the other end of the scale, dreams cause other dreams, dreams cause behaviors. These kinds of patterns do not follow an action/reaction law among themselves either.

    I don't know why you would regard the complexity level that is governed by Newtonian mechanics, at least to a decent approximation in human scaling, as somehow the only explanatory one, some kind of special level of complexity that trumps all the others.

    You seem to be underestimating the kinds of qualitative differences emergent at higher and higher levels of complexity.

    Substrate does not determine pattern - even the patterns directly appearing in it, let alone the patterns two or three levels of complexity "up".
     
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  5. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    If you're capable of asking the question, you're capable of formulating more than one answer. If you don't know ahead of time what your answer will be, you have functional free thought (something that feels, looks and smells like independent ideas), which makes it possible for you to imagine functional free will (something that sounds, tastes and behaves as if you decided what to do next). Whether this is real or illusory makes no difference to the way you function. With any luck, you will never wake from the illusion of autonomy to a state of mechanical compulsion.
     
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  7. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    This is a topic that's as old as humankind. And, unfortunately, it pops up here every few months or so. <heavy sigh>

    It's been my experience that people who pose it fall into one of two groups (generally, speaking - there are possible exceptions but the two groups cover the vast majority):

    1. Those who are naive far beyond belief;
    2. Those who don't want to accept responsibility for their own actions. (I couldn't help but do it, it was predestined/fate/what ever you want to call it.)

    And I always pose the same question to both groups: "Do you actually believe it was determined millions of years ago that you would wear *that* exact, specific shirt today?"
     
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    24,295
    If you doubt that you have any freedom of will, you can test the situation: addict yourself to, say, cigarettes. Then compare your addicted state with your memory of your former state. A state of mechanical compulsion would hardly be affected by swapping one cog for another, right?

    If you can have less of something, it seems reasonable to assume you had some in the first place, is the argument. You don't have to call it "free will" if you don't want to, but apparently (by direct observation) it is - or was - not a product of mechanical compulsion on the level of nicotine molecular interactions.

    The basic approach is substrate/pattern: cause and effect only applies on a given level. Your dreams "cause" other dreams, affect waking behaviors, etc.
     
  9. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    5,160
    Free will is not something we are born with, but rather free will is a skill you develop. To me, free will is the ability to make choices without any subjective or emotional cost. If there is an apple and orange on the table and you were asked to choose, free will could pick either and be equally satisfied; it is free choice because there is no subjective cost for either choice. If you prefer apples and you pick the orange this is an example of will, but this is not free will, because you will feel loss/gain; there is a price.

    I might be able to will myself to jump off a bridge into the river. But my instincts will also be triggered for survival. This is not free will since I need to overcome resistent; cost. Free will would be like the expert diver who can do this dive and be calm or skip practice today and be calm; free.

    Humans have natural instincts, social and personal bias, collective propensities, etc., all of which add emotional cost to our choices. It takes self awareness, of personal and collective bias, as well as practice, to overcome the hidden costs which limit our free will. Most people don't put in the time so they assume free will is not possible. That is only true for them, since they don't practice.

    If I like apples better than oranges, and I am aware of this, then developing free will might require that I eat oranges more and more, until I like them too. Now I have free will for apples or oranges. Free will is why moderation in all things is taught; develops free will by challenging compulsion and narrow bias. Compulsion and the bias of narrow choices are implicit of lack of free will. Ego-centrc typically means unique and therefore less free will, while selfless means one is more open and has more free will.
     
  10. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    2,862
    We all have free will to a certain degree it is just that many do not have many options to choose from where they live to make changes in their lives. As an example those living in a tribal village can really only follow along with what the rest of their tribe is doing and not deviate much from the norm for to do so would get them cast out of the tribe or harmed somehow.
     
  11. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I have free-will. I am smarter than you times a billion. And thus I can pre-determine what you will do.
     
  12. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    That's mostly just nonsense - you're confusing free will with equality of desire. They are *far* different things.
     
  13. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Brilliant post.
     
  14. Nobeliefs Registered Member

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    Ok, it is clear that relativity and quantum theory are both incomplete and in disagree.. what i know about the bells theorem is that it proves that there are no hidden variables, therefore twin particles have instantaneous communication wich violates relativity... But you have to consider that quantum level is poorly understood and it is relatively unexplored, so i dont think that its a good idea to draw conclusions from it YET... Scientists dont understand how sub atomic particles behave, and i think that causality at this level is not disproved yet... Uncertainty and unpredictability do not mean that theres no causality...
     
  15. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    This is an argument from ignorance and incredulity. Just because you do not understand these things does not imply that no one else does.
     
  16. Götz Registered Member

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    To which part are you referring?
    Could you explain it?
     
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    It's the skepticism of an ordinary person who is not eager to accept that one must first have a degree or two in rocket science before one can be sure whether one has free will or not.

    Since the existence of free will is a topic that touches every human very personally, it is understandable that proof or evidence of free will should be something available to every human, and not to a select few who happen to have a bunch of fancy degrees.
     
  18. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    5,160
    Free will requires self awareness since it is a developed skill. We live in a dependency based liberal culture that expects things to be done for you by some outside means. This bias is being applied to free will. But free will is not a liberal concept, but is about self reliance, self awareness and practice. It is a developed skill since we are not born with free will. The baby has deterministic instinct to sleep, cry, eat and crap.

    If we had a six sided dice (choices), each side is equally likely because the weight of each side is the same. If we added weight to one of the sides, the result is not longer random, but becomes pre-determined by the weight (load). Deterministic is weighed on one or mores sides, while free will is the process by which we remove the weights that load the deterministic dice, allowing free choice.

    If you were given an apple and orange and you prefer the apple, the dice was loaded; deterministic. You can pick the orange, but you will not be as satisfied. There is the cost to this willful choice, so it is not free. You would need to push the loaded dice, that falls on apple, with your finger, so it now shows orange. This takes the expenditure of energy. That is willpower but not free will.

    Free will is a unique case of willpower; energy equals zero. I can will myself to do unnatural behavior. This allows me to go against the determinism of evolution and natural selection, which in turn, are connected to the determinism of biology, chemistry and physics. This is not free will since the inertia of natural instincts, biology, chemistry and physics, will set a potential with this unnatural choice; there is a cost and energy needs to be expended to resist the inertia. Free will would have no cost or potential. This particular example, may not be subject to free will no matter how much effort one puts into the attempt to reprogram the brain firmware. Free will is not all inclusive but has the goal of minimal natural determinism.
     
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    If you weight dice, they are still as random as they were (they are still deterministic in the Newtonian sense, actually, but unpredictable by you) - only the probability distribution changes.

    The insight that free will is something one acquires, can have more or less of, is valuable - but much of the acquisition is analogous to loading the dice, not removing the load. Confusing the issue with handwaving about social pressures on personal decisions, etc, adds nothing.
     
  20. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. Write what you WILL do down. I WILL smoke pot. Right now.

    Am I living in a tyrant universe? No.
     
  21. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Sure.


    Quantum theory is the most accurate and well-tested theory we have ever developed, so it is naive to say that it is "poorly understood" and it is ignorant to say that "scientists don't understand how sub atomic particles behave". And causality is not equivalent to determinism, as a single cause can have more than one possible outcome.

    Who said anything about a degree? The subjective evidence for free will is the most immediate experience any individual can have. And it is actually those who attempt to disprove free will who try to dazzle people with incoherent phrases such as "randomly determined" or "probabilistically determined".
     
  22. rodereve Registered Member

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    Yes, I would say we do have free will. But this is something we're taking for granted, not everyone agrees with it. On the contrary, I think that the majority of the world subscribes to some kind of theistic belief, and possibly that God has some eternal plan for you. Now within that plan, you can argue that you are either pre-determined to some end already (he already knows whether you go to hell or heaven), so you can't choose otherwise (ie. no free will). Or that God gave you free will, but he already knows your choice (not forcing the choice, just knowledge of it). I'd just like to add that.

    And "feeling" that you have free will isn't really an argument. Whatever you feel inside your head has very deterministic properties. I'll quote d'Holbach

     
  23. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    I agree that we have free will. People have the ability - and many use it - to totally change the course and direction of their lives.

    I'll give you a personal example (or two) that clearly shows that people like d'Holbach are not only idiots but also complete fools!

    I married my first wife while I was in the Army and she was in college working on a education degree. Our "jobs" were located 200 miles apart so we only saw each other on the weekends at her parent's home.. We got along fine like that. When my tour of duty was over, she was graduated and started teaching, we bought a home and lived together every day. After a couple of years of that I discovered that I didn't really like her at all - so I left. THAT was a major life-changer.

    I remarried (got a good one this time)

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    and we raised three kids. After having worked in the corporate world for 26 years - and at a job I liked - I decided to take early retirement and become a farmer/rancher. Both were things I had dabbled in years earlier on a part-time basis, but this time it was full-time. It wasn't one of "get back to nature things", it was done with the intent of uncomplicating my life. ( I had grown tired of traveling hundreds of miles to some boring meeting, dealing with artificial goals and unrealistic deadlines and writing reports a large as a book that few ever read, etc.)

    Now THAT was another *tremendous* life-changer that also blows d'Holbach's idiotic pronouncement out of the water! I was under no real pressure to make the change. I could have stayed with my job a little longer and gotten a much better retirement (I was only 50 years old when I left). I simply took stock of things and decided I wanted to take a different path - and I did.

    So all the free will deniers can just take their nonsense and stuff it - many, MANY other people have done much the same as I did.
     

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