# Do we have free will?

Baldee, one of the major problems in a topic like this is that people want you to disprove something. The trouble is that no one can prove a negative. For example, can you prove that unicorns do not exist? It's exactly the same when asked to disprove free will violates causation. It's just that simple - and the argument will therefore never end.

Of course it is possible to prove a negative.
For example, you can prove that there are no pink socks in your sock drawer. You do this simply by going through your sock drawer and checking whether there are any pink socks in it.

Free will debates go on for a number of reasons; one of them being that people have quite different ideas on what free will is and then can't find a common language.

It's exactly the same when asked to disprove free will violates causation. It's just that simple - and the argument will therefore never end.
One doesn't need to disprove that genuine free will violates causation - the logic shows that it must. As such, either one accepts that causation can not be broken (or only allows for random uncaused events) or one concludes that free will is not genuine but is merely perceived to be.
For free will to be genuine the initial cause of an action must be consciousness itself. If it is not the initial cause then it is merely part of the eternal chain of cause and effect. And at no point in that chain is there room for influence other than the natural obeyance of the laws of the universe.
Imagine a frictionless, infinitely large snooker table - balls bouncing around with each interaction behaving in a probabilistically determined manner.
Now imagine that, through that natural interaction, patterns emerge that we had not thought possible from just the nature of the balls. This is what we would call an emergent property, but at no time are the patterns behaving anything other than in strict accordance with the laws of the universe - everything that happens is the result of its causes.
At sufficient level of complexity it may appear that a particular pattern is the cause of an action, but it is actually just the result of the underlying activity, and the pattern being the "initial cause" is just a matter of perception.

There is also no room for "ability to do otherwise" in mere indeterminacy, no more than a dice can decide what face to land on. Indeterminacy, despite rumours to the contrary, does not equate to an "ability" - It merely means that multiple outcomes are possible and the result is not known beforehand. But there is no "ability". The effect will be what it will be through random selection of the possible outcomes.
If one sees in this an "ability" then they are equivocating.
Determinism is the concept that a given cause always leads to the same singular effect. Indeterminism is the concept that a given cause can lead to one of a number of different effects. But there is no choice, no ability to select which one. It merely means that if the universe was rewound and run again that a different outcome may happen.

Baldeee, if you want to any further explanation, as I'm aware many of these threads have deteriorated and any actual discussion hidden in the mire (hence my reduced involvement), then send me a PM.

Do we have free will? Yes! But I should admit I had no choice but to say that ....

yes.

Syne.
You countered his claim but missed out the word "initial".
The evidence is clear.
If you disagree with the claim he made then should you not counter it instead of just changing the claim?
And what is a sockpuppet?
Why do you think I sound like one?

You think free will does not violate causation.
Should you not then show the error in his argument that him led to that conclusion?
Or is it the done thing round here to just change his claim?
I wish I could change questions in my exams to ones I could answer.

You claim free will is the "ability to do otherwise".
He claims that this definition implies that cause and effect is violated.
You claim that you never claimed it implies it.
But you have not addressed his claim except to say that you never claimed it, which is no counter at all.
I am just trying to understand both arguments.

You claim that no one has argued that free will must violate causation but Sarkus has.
You even replied to him (and ignored the word "initial").
And now you claim differently.
Is this the standard tactic here?

Your little, pedantic tirade about "initial" is largely irrelevant, as the initial cause of a strictly bottom-up determinism is, at best, the origin of our universe, which we can really only speculate on (as information of that period is completely lost to us). In contrast, free will is self-evident and immediate. But what "evidence is clear"?

Sarkus has yet to make any substantial argument that free will necessarily violates causation, as his latest post illustrates, where he just does some vague arm-waving about some undisclosed "logic". There is no straw man here, only a lack of argument to justify his bare assertion. Unsubstantiated proclamations do not warrant a refute.

And you sound like a sockpuppet because you seem to have an agenda which your short time on this forum does not seem to justify.

Yes, he (and you) can make any number of claims about what you think "ability to do otherwise" may imply, but until you can show how the definition necessitates your inference, there is really nothing there to "counter". The positive claim (bearing the burden) is that "free will violates causation".

As I said before, Sarkus claims that free will violates causation merely because he feels that unwarranted assumption makes his case, otherwise he would simply quit arguing a point no one has made (i.e. a straw man argument).

One doesn't need to disprove that genuine free will violates causation - the logic shows that it must. As such, either one accepts that causation can not be broken (or only allows for random uncaused events) or one concludes that free will is not genuine but is merely perceived to be.

What specific logic? Why have you been so reticent to detail this logic? This whole argument is nothing more that you attacking a straw man that you have never successfully justified as necessitated by the definition of free will. But hey, you seem to be duping some people at least.

For free will to be genuine the initial cause of an action must be consciousness itself. If it is not the initial cause then it is merely part of the eternal chain of cause and effect. And at no point in that chain is there room for influence other than the natural obeyance of the laws of the universe.

Indeterminacy both follows natural law as well as allows for more than one possible result from a given cause. So where is this mythical logic?

Imagine a frictionless, infinitely large snooker table - balls bouncing around with each interaction behaving in a probabilistically determined manner.
Now imagine that, through that natural interaction, patterns emerge that we had not thought possible from just the nature of the balls. This is what we would call an emergent property, but at no time are the patterns behaving anything other than in strict accordance with the laws of the universe - everything that happens is the result of its causes.
At sufficient level of complexity it may appear that a particular pattern is the cause of an action, but it is actually just the result of the underlying activity, and the pattern being the "initial cause" is just a matter of perception.

This argument betrays your denial of the indeterminate, as well as your unsubstantiated claims about emergence. Indeterminism precludes a strictly billiard ball interaction, which is exactly why emergent phenomena can exhibit behavior unaccounted for in the simpler underlying system.

There is also no room for "ability to do otherwise" in mere indeterminacy, no more than a dice can decide what face to land on. Indeterminacy, despite rumours to the contrary, does not equate to an "ability" - It merely means that multiple outcomes are possible and the result is not known beforehand. But there is no "ability". The effect will be what it will be through random selection of the possible outcomes.
If one sees in this an "ability" then they are equivocating.

Another straw man, as only you have claimed that a single indeterminate quantum event should account for a choice (a single synapse firing in the brain accounting for a decision, which is just ridiculous, as even the simplest local cognitive processes involve an untold number of synapses). And I have told you repeatedly that indeterminacy does not equal choice or "ability", it merely allows for it.

Determinism is the concept that a given cause always leads to the same singular effect. Indeterminism is the concept that a given cause can lead to one of a number of different effects. But there is no choice, no ability to select which one. It merely means that if the universe was rewound and run again that a different outcome may happen.

Like I said, "allows for more than one possible outcome".

Baldeee, if you want to any further explanation, as I'm aware many of these threads have deteriorated and any actual discussion hidden in the mire (hence my reduced involvement), then send me a PM.

Indeterminacy both follows natural law as well as allows for more than one possible result from a given cause. So where is this mythical logic?
Indeterminacy does follow natural laws and allows for more than one possible result - as I stated - but you seem to equivocate this into "ability to do otherwise".
Indeterminacy does not provide any ability to select or choose. Indeterminacy is random. By such equivocation you give dice free will.
This argument betrays your denial of the indeterminate, as well as your unsubstantiated claims about emergence. Indeterminism precludes a strictly billiard ball interaction, which is exactly why emergent phenomena can exhibit behavior unaccounted for in the simpler underlying system.
I do not deny the indeterminate. A system that is probabilistically determined is inherently indeterminate. Perhaps you missed that?
Another straw man, as only you have claimed that a single indeterminate quantum event should account for a choice (a single synapse firing in the brain accounting for a decision, which is just ridiculous, as even the simplest local cognitive processes involve an untold number of synapses).
I have never claimed just that. Stop lying. You have lied about this before and you are doing so again. I have explained previously that it applies to the entire system of cause and effect - whether the causes are singular or whether the cause is the influence of every particle in the universe - the same applies.
So stop with the repeated lying.
And I have told you repeatedly that indeterminacy does not equal choice or "ability", it merely allows for it.
And no where have you offered anything to show how. You merely hold up indeterminacy as being the holy grail for your position. Yet you can not comprehend that the indeterministic system is just as bound by cause and effect, that each individual interaction and the entire complex network of interactions do not have any "ability" to do otherwise than what it does.
You equivocate "ability" with there being multiple possible outcomes. Have you nothing else to argue on?
Like I said, "allows for more than one possible outcome".
"Allows for..." is not the same as an "ability to do otherwise".
Such equivocation gives balls in pachinko machines free will.
Feel free to actually provide any, then.
My reduced involvement is purely to your petty desire to score points, your belligerence, your constant lying, and the fact that you fail to comprehend your own argument.

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One problem with conversations on free will is if it would be evidenced or proven that we have free will, this would leave us with the impression that we don't have it.
We already experience this when someone proposes evidence or proof of free will: we find that such evidence or proof negates our free will.

We seem to have an intuitive sense that free will, if it is indeed to be free will, has to be something that "simply exists," because if it is possible to analyze or derive its existence, it doesn't seem free anymore.

Syne said:
Indeterminacy both follows natural law as well as allows for more than one possible result from a given cause. So where is this mythical logic?
Indeterminacy does follow natural laws and allows for more than one possible result - as I stated - but you seem to equivocate this into "ability to do otherwise".
Indeterminacy does not provide any ability to select or choose. Indeterminacy is random. By such equivocation you give dice free will.

Wow, way to completely avoid my first questions ("What specific logic? Why have you been so reticent to detail this logic?") as well as the one you actually bothered to quote. How many times do I have to tell you? Indeterminacy does not equal free will, choice, or the ability to do otherwise. It only allows for it, as you just agreed (underlined above).

And after your excuse to beg off about being adversarial you are hypocritically and erroneously using my "equivocation" criticism, but only as a straw man.

I do not deny the indeterminate. A system that is probabilistically determined is inherently indeterminate. Perhaps you missed that?

Mecca Chiesa notes that the probabilistic or selectionistic determinism of B.F. Skinner comprised a wholly separate conception of determinism that was not mechanistic at all. Mechanistic determinism assumes that every event has an unbroken chain of prior occurrences, but a selectionistic or probabilistic model does not. -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism#History

Then you must see how your billiard ball example is completely erroneous. I suspect you just do not understand the implications of probabilistic determinism. "[A broken] chain of prior occurrences" allows for spontaneous cause. But do not continue your straw man that this "allows for" is equivalent to free will. This simply shows that the laws of physics do not preclude free will outright, as you keep proclaiming without divulging any supporting "logic".

I have never claimed just that. Stop lying. You have lied about this before and you are doing so again. I have explained previously that it applies to the entire system of cause and effect - whether the causes are singular or whether the cause is the influence of every particle in the universe - the same applies.
So stop with the repeated lying.

No lie, as that is the only reasonable way you can equate quantum indeterminacy with free will (your straw man), unless you can ever manage to detail your "logic" otherwise. And you wonder why I get adversarial with you, when you accuse me of lying about your position which you seem resolute to make no less vague. Get over yourself.

Syne said:
And I have told you repeatedly that indeterminacy does not equal choice or "ability", it merely allows for it.
And no where have you offered anything to show how. You merely hold up indeterminacy as being the holy grail for your position. Yet you can not comprehend that the indeterministic system is just as bound by cause and effect, that each individual interaction and the entire complex network of interactions do not have any "ability" to do otherwise than what it does.
You equivocate "ability" with there being multiple possible outcomes. Have you nothing else to argue on?

See above about broken chains of occurrence.
Confusion of causality and determinism is particularly acute in quantum mechanics, this theory being acausal in the sense that it is unable in many cases to identify the causes of actually observed effects or to predict the effects of identical causes... -wiki​

Every reference of quantum indeterminacy states the allowance for more than one possible outcome. More than one possible outcome means that the causal chain is not deterministically maintained.

"Allows for..." is not the same as an "ability to do otherwise".
Such equivocation gives balls in pachinko machines free will.

You just quoted me as saying: "And I have told you repeatedly that indeterminacy does not equal choice or "ability", it merely allows for it." Is you memory really that short? I have not claimed that allowing for it necessitates it, so this is yet another of your straw men you waste so much time attacking. You know, in lieu of answering direct questions, which would forward an actual discussion.

My reduced involvement is purely to your petty desire to score points, your belligerence, your constant lying, and the fact that you fail to comprehend your own argument.

Hypocritical projection, as you are the one evading questions, attacking copious straw men, making unfounded accusations, and misrepresenting simple science. You are only setting up your next attempt to beg off.

Free will. What I will do, free of a manipulative master mind, or a mind controlling agent. Are you asking, how do I know that there isn't a evil cyborg like being downloading me with what I will do versus my own faith, and knowledge proclaiming will?

I agree with practical, but not logical necessity. Logic should apply across all levels, and be consistently applied.
That view of logic was blown up long ago - by Zeno, Russell, G. Spencer –Brown, Godel, many many others.
If one only wants to consider certain levels, that is fine. As I have agreed many times, free will exists as perceived if we are only concerned with and considering the levels of consciousness and all that operate out of consciousness.
It exists, regardless of how it is perceived, at its appropriate level –a level at which dreams are causative agents, and quantum phenomena are in general not. The workings of that level are as fundamental and explanatory as any other – people who set out to imagine chains of cause and effect determining things from the quantum level on up (and not the other way around), for example, cause themselves and others to think and talk in particular ways – they cause certain patterns of neural firing, in this manner. Top down “causation”.
If one's definition starts from the assumption that consciousness is the initial cause,
I’m not convinced temporary, heuristic, and dubious concepts such as “the initial cause” make any sense at this level of analysis.
I have no issue in principle if that is your intention - to limit your enquiry to certain levels.
My intention was to point out that choosing a level at which ad hoc (and do not forget - illusory) models such as cause and effect actually explain what is going on is no simple matter. You cannot - in theory or in practice – explain mental patterns as caused by molecular interactions, for example. That’s a substrate. Substrates do not cause patterns.
One doesn't need to disprove that genuine free will violates causation - the logic shows that it must.
Only if one mandates, tautologically, that “genuine” free will by definition violates cause and effect – the free will we all perceive (the capability that drug addicts have less of) is obviously a pattern on a substrate, and is constrained thereby, and violates nothing – nothing supernatural required. That is the only consistency one needs to maintain agreement with physical law, useful illusions of “causation”, etc.

Your little, pedantic tirade about "initial" is largely irrelevant, as the initial cause of a strictly bottom-up determinism is, at best, the origin of our universe, which we can really only speculate on (as information of that period is completely lost to us). In contrast, free will is self-evident and immediate. But what "evidence is clear"?
You need to chill and dispense with the rudeness.
All your responses filled with ire.
Not healthy.
Whether or not the initial cause is taken to be the Big Bang or not seems to be irrelevant, as there are still causes which would make consciousness not the initial cause, as his argument would have free will needing.
Free will is self evidently perceived.
The evidence is that we perceive free will.
The evidence does not point to anything else.
It does not point to what free will is or is not.
Sarkus has yet to make any substantial argument that free will necessarily violates causation, as his latest post illustrates, where he just does some vague arm-waving about some undisclosed "logic". There is no straw man here, only a lack of argument to justify his bare assertion. Unsubstantiated proclamations do not warrant a refute.
I disagree, and he has not duped me.
He explained.
I understand, partly, but it makes some sense - everything has a prior cause and is the direct result of that cause.
Some effects may be indeterministic but they are no less caused and no more allow free will.
How is there any ability to choose within indeterminism?
All you have said so far is that the ability lies within an indeterministic system (or words to that effect) but zero explanation.
At least Sarkus tries to explain.
And he not as rude.
And you sound like a sockpuppet because you seem to have an agenda which your short time on this forum does not seem to justify.
Disagreement with you = sockpuppet?
I fish.
You bite.
Simples.
Yes, he (and you) can make any number of claims about what you think "ability to do otherwise" may imply, but until you can show how the definition necessitates your inference, there is really nothing there to "counter". The positive claim (bearing the burden) is that "free will violates causation".

As I said before, Sarkus claims that free will violates causation merely because he feels that unwarranted assumption makes his case, otherwise he would simply quit arguing a point no one has made (i.e. a straw man argument).
Ido not fully understand his position to agree or not with it.
Seems obvious to me that you are hiding in indeterminism.
From within there you fail to make any case of your own and rely on the "self evidence" of perception which has been pointed out to you can be fooled.

How does your logic prevent a rolling dice from displaying free will?

You need to chill and dispense with the rudeness.
All your responses filled with ire.
Not healthy.

Projection, as there was no ire or rudeness in what I wrote. Perhaps you need to check your own reaction to innocuous words.

Whether or not the initial cause is taken to be the Big Bang or not seems to be irrelevant, as there are still causes which would make consciousness not the initial cause, as his argument would have free will needing.

So let me get this straight. As soon as I point out the implied "initial cause" you have been harping on, you then claim it irrelevant? You also seem to miss what you are saying yourself: "...consciousness not the initial cause, as his argument would have free will needing." It is his argument, so why are you not asking him?

I disagree, and he has not duped me.
He explained.
I understand, partly, but it makes some sense - everything has a prior cause and is the direct result of that cause.

Again, if you are uncertain, why are you not asking him to further explain his argument? Seems he has duped you if you are so eager to defend what you admit only partial understanding.

Some effects may be indeterministic but they are no less caused and no more allow free will.
How is there any ability to choose within indeterminism?
All you have said so far is that the ability lies within an indeterministic system (or words to that effect) but zero explanation.
At least Sarkus tries to explain.
And he not as rude.

Indeterminism allows for, but does not necessitate nor equate to, free will. I have told Sarkus this repeatedly, and if you bothered to catch up with the discussion, you would know this and would not be attacking straw men. And if your perception of rudeness is the primary thing swaying your opinion then it seems no amount of reasoning from me is likely to have any impact.

Ido not fully understand his position to agree or not with it.
Seems obvious to me that you are hiding in indeterminism.
From within there you fail to make any case of your own and rely on the "self evidence" of perception which has been pointed out to you can be fooled.

How does your logic prevent a rolling dice from displaying free will?

Indeterminism is the concept that events (certain events, or events of certain types) are not caused, or not caused deterministically (cf. causality) by prior events. -wiki

Indeterminists do not have to deny that causes exist. Instead, they can maintain that the only causes that exist are of a type that do not constrain the future to a single course; for instance, they can maintain that only necessary and not sufficient causes exist. The necessary/sufficient distinction works as follows;

If x is a necessary cause of y; then the presence of y necessarily implies that x preceded it. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur.

If x is a sufficient cause of y, then the presence of x necessarily implies the presence of y. However, another cause z may alternatively cause y. Thus the presence of y does not imply the presence of x.
-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indeterminism#Necessary_but_insufficient_causation

Rolling dice, like indeterminism, trivially allows for more than one possible outcome, but this does not auto-magically imply free will. "Allows for" is not equivalent to "displays".

I will have a snack, and then go for a walk. Am I free to have made this decision, or am I under a form of mind control? In a logical, enjoyable world we all get to write our will.

I've been a member of these forums for over 10 years, and every single time I stop by there is at least one thread about rather we have free will or not! LOL!
Sometimes I wonder if we will ever find a definitive answer for this question...

Here's another question we should ask-> is it possible for us to know with any reasonable amount of certainty rather we have free will or not? :m:

Perhaps we should consider that we have free will (illusory or not) because we need it.
In the same sense we need eyes and ears and the other senses to survive in a "dangerous" world. We need to have the freedom to ignore most of the information we receive from the external world too, otherwise it would be overwhelming.

I know this point has been raised before in threads about free will; I expect it will be ignored in the next free will thread that comes along.

Perhaps we should consider that we have free will (illusory or not) because we need it.

I personally think it is useful to assume that we have it, given that to assume that we don't have it would absolve us from responsibility for our actions.

In the same sense we need eyes and ears and the other senses to survive in a "dangerous" world. We need to have the freedom to ignore most of the information we receive from the external world too, otherwise it would be overwhelming.

I'm autistic and I can "see" the whole universe in the back of my head. You bet it is overwhelming!

Projection, as there was no ire or rudeness in what I wrote. Perhaps you need to check your own reaction to innocuous words.
Calling someone's response a "pedantic little tirade" is rude.
And looking over your past posts they are rife with rudeness.
You may consider the words innocuous but when others (and more than just me) don't it is perhaps for you to do something about it?
So let me get this straight. As soon as I point out the implied "initial cause" you have been harping on, you then claim it irrelevant? You also seem to miss what you are saying yourself: "...consciousness not the initial cause, as his argument would have free will needing." It is his argument, so why are you not asking him?
Yes, whatever the cause is is irrelevant once it is established that it is not consciousness.
If it is argued not to be X, I don't need to show that it is Y.
It is enough to show that it is not X.

We have discussed it just not on the forums.
I can not make him post here.

When you argue against someone's position it remains on you to argue against what they say, not what you want them to say or what you think is pertinent, but what they actually say.
You failed on that score, ignoring the issue of the cause needing to be "initial".
Consider me just policing your argument in this matter - and finding it wanting.
Again, if you are uncertain, why are you not asking him to further explain his argument? Seems he has duped you if you are so eager to defend what you admit only partial understanding.
We have discussed since.
Some things remain unclear.
But I am trying to establish from you what your arguments are against his position.
But you don't seem to have any other than a reliance on what you consider to be its "self evident" nature and indeterminism.
Indeterminism allows for, but does not necessitate nor equate to, free will. I have told Sarkus this repeatedly, and if you bothered to catch up with the discussion, you would know this and would not be attacking straw men. And if your perception of rudeness is the primary thing swaying your opinion then it seems no amount of reasoning from me is likely to have any impact.
You keep claiming indeterminism allows for it but you have never explained how.
Merely repeating it does not explain how.
Indeterminism, even as you quote, allows for one out of many outcomes.
You equate this possible alternative outcomes to an "ability" to do otherwise.
No.
There is just randomness.
There is no ability to do anything other than the random outcome.
Your free will exists in a rolling dice.
You hide within indeterminism as though it is an explanation.
You say it allows for free will but it does not allow any ability to do anything other than the random outcome.
This is not free will.

Rolling dice, like indeterminism, trivially allows for more than one possible outcome, but this does not auto-magically imply free will. "Allows for" is not equivalent to "displays".
Then have the decency to explain the difference.
You hide.
You can not see that indeterminism is randomness of outcome, no ability to do otherwise as that outcome is not known before it happens.

I may not fully understand Sarkus' position but I can see the flaw in yours.
Your style of response is also not favourable.
Why can you not be polite and respectful?

Isn't free-will based on whether the sub-conscious controls your behavior or whether consciousness controls your behavior

In essence your free-will is based on the ability to control sub-conscious actions

10 points for the first one to smash their keyboard out of frustration.