1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Free Will - Does it exist?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by lovett, Mar 11, 2008.

?

Does free will exist?

  1. Yes

    60.0%
  2. No

    14.0%
  3. Shut up

    26.0%
  1. lovett

    lovett Chieftain

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2007
    Messages:
    2,570
    I'd like to hear the opinion of the distinguished CFC community on this weighty issue (;))

    Namley, whether free will exists, given either a deterministic or indeterministic world. Or, for that matter, any other world one cares to imagine.

    To those lazy b******* who can't be bothered to click links:

    :)

    ---

    Determinism posits a universe in which all events are determined. The present and future are created solely by a chain of past events (operating in a system of fixed physical laws). Thus, once the initial moments of the universe occur, the rest of history inevitably follows.

    This can be illustrated with classsical physics: As all physical entitities operate within a set of fixed laws the effect of an initial event is allready pre-set. I.e, if one throws a ball at another ball the velocity, momentum and so on of both balls after X seconds is inevitable. If one throws a billion balls at a billion other balls the same inevitability is in evidence, but is much harder to compute. The assumption is that this can be extended to every particle in the universe.

    Evidently, if all future events are determined, it is hard to see where free will is possible.

    ---

    Indeterminism is the supposition that certain events happen at least partly at random. This would mean that future events are not determined from the initial conditions of the universe.

    Quantum physics can be said to support this: Take radioactive decay.
    If we have a lump of uranium containing several billion atoms we know that one of those atoms is going to 'decay' very soon. However every single one of those atoms is physically identical to every other one. Thus there is no factor which decided which atom actually decays. It happens at random. Indeterministically.

    What I find particularily interesting about this is that it posits that something (atomic decay) can come from nothing (the lack of a distinguishing factor).
    However, I see no more shrift for free will in this system.

    I.e, To exist, free will must, for a start, exist.
    By definition, for the affect to be completely random it must not be affected by anything that exists. Something cannot affect nothing. Therefore, it is difficult to see how any self-directed free willl is possible here.

    ---

    So, does free will exist?

    And if not, what are the (particularily moral) ramifications of this?
     
  2. GenMarshall

    GenMarshall Ghost Agent

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2002
    Messages:
    42,714
    Location:
    Versailles City, Vekta, United Terran Systems
    Harry Moses :faint:, this is a silly question. Of course there is free will!
     
  3. ybbor

    ybbor Will not change his avata

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2003
    Messages:
    5,773
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    I think there was someone on this board who once said (Stratego? Narz?) "the illusion of free will is so complete, it may as well be real." Sure, you can make all kinds of arguments about physical matter blah blah blah but in the end, if free will doesn't exist it doesn't really matter, since it would produce the same outcomes as if free will did exist.
     
  4. BasketCase

    BasketCase Username sez it all

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2004
    Messages:
    13,024
    Location:
    Closer than you'd like
    What is free will, exactly?

    Your definition of indeterminism included the word "random" in it. Can of worms time. Randomness is not freedom. If you decide to do something because a random atom suddenly experienced quantum decay and fired a neuron in your brain somewhere, that's not you acting of your own accord. You're still acting as a result of an outside event.

    Generally, when the word "freedom" is spoken, you take it to mean the future is determined by you. You get to actually make a decision. Which is basically just a different form of determinism--it's just that you're the "outside force" influencing the world, instead of the other way around.

    But how do you actually go about "making a decision"? It can't be random. What we want, when we desire freedom, is to look at everything around us, think about those things, and then choose what we're going to do. We don't want that choice to be entirely due to outside influences--but we don't want that choice to be completely random either. Random impulses cause us to shoot up schoolyards and strangle our girlfriends and stuff.


    If there is such a thing as true freedom to make our own choices, it must be neither deterministic nor indeterministic, but something on a whole different level we don't yet understand.

    Either that or it's probably all deterministic but we can't tell because we don't know what the rules are. :)
     
  5. Elrohir

    Elrohir RELATIONAL VALORIZATION

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Messages:
    12,507
    Either I chose to click "Yes" in the poll because I chose to believe free will exists, or I clicked yes in the poll because it's been determined that I should behave and act like I have free will even though I don't.

    Either way, I still clicked yes.
     
  6. Integral

    Integral Can't you hear it?

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    Messages:
    4,021
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I think it was Bozo? :hmm:

    --

    The question is ill-defined. We're going to get bogged down in what "freedom" means, or just how random "random" is, or other semantic quibbles.

    *munches on popcorn*
     
  7. Cu Chulainn

    Cu Chulainn The Unoriginal

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,377
    Does it change anything if it doesn't?
     
  8. Elrohir

    Elrohir RELATIONAL VALORIZATION

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Messages:
    12,507
    Yeah, it was definitely Bozo Erectus. Stop stealing his semi-wise quotations!
     
  9. QuoVadisNation

    QuoVadisNation keeping your angel alive

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Messages:
    2,315
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Even if you accept the deterministic arguments, the point is that the thing or the illusion known as free will still exists and people act as if free will exists. You don't go into a fast food chain and say, 'I wonder what my genotype is going to order today..', you just decide from an assortment of options. And that's all that really matters in the end.
     
  10. West 36

    West 36 Can count up to 4

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Messages:
    2,576
    Location:
    Something Completely Different
    My thoughts to. It's not as if it really changes things. Everything thats happened has been a result of either free will, determinism, or something in between, and it will continue to be that way. Was I meant to make this post or was it done on my free will? There are good arguments both ways so I can't really take a stand, as each side can be spun to make it look perfectly reasonable. I do think there is the general idea that free will exists, but I think it's not necessarily based on reason but that people like the idea of it. They think its cute, and must be real since it involves 'freedom' and freedom is always the way things work.

    I don't know. Let's see what Fifty says.
     
  11. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2001
    Messages:
    34,308
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Bozo, see my sig.
     
  12. Abaddon

    Abaddon Chieftain

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2002
    Messages:
    31,187
    Location:
    NES/FG/SF Activity:Arguing the toss
    It was Bozo.. Birdjaguar has it in his sig.


    #edit: lol, nice X-post :D
     
  13. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2001
    Messages:
    34,308
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    In any case the universe is as it is and the question is already decided. What we all believe/want it to be is of no consequence in the matter.
     
  14. Defiant47

    Defiant47 Peace Sentinel

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    5,602
    Location:
    Canada
    That's the best method of assessing this question I've seen so far.

    It depends entirely on what you believe to be free will. Is the fact that the future exists (and thus our actions will already be what they will be in the future) refute free will?
     
  15. BasketCase

    BasketCase Username sez it all

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2004
    Messages:
    13,024
    Location:
    Closer than you'd like
    Okay, so if we do have free will.....then the universe is as it is, meaning it's already been predetermined that we have free will, which means we never had a choice in whether to receive free will.....

    :wallbash:

    Now I've got a headache..... :D
     
  16. Tee Kay

    Tee Kay Howdy

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    Messages:
    21,807
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Melbourne
    It's all in your head. If you allow yourself to believe in free will, then free will exists.

    My screwy philosophical $0.02
     
  17. ArneHD

    ArneHD Just a little bit mad

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Messages:
    3,153
    Location:
    Tromsø, Norway
    There is no room in psychology for free will as far as I know, but determinism fails on the quantum level. You need a third option.

    And for the record: I voted no. I see particular reason for free will in the scientific sense.
     
  18. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    24,093
    Location:
    High above the ice
    No, the illusion of free will exists. I'm not talking determinism, I'm talking being influenced into a decision. After which you are sure you made it on your own.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOEKdaXIEHc
     
  19. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Temporary Pattern...reassembling...

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2006
    Messages:
    9,331
    Gender:
    Male
    I think Einstein once said "Maybe people can do what they want, but they can't want what their want."
    I should go to work, but there are many things I'd rather do. It would be so much easier if I really wanted to go to work.
    But then again my definition of freedom always included the ability to act voluntarily against your own will.
     
  20. AL_DA_GREAT

    AL_DA_GREAT amour absinthe révolution

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Messages:
    5,070
    Location:
    Stockholm Sweden
    It is all biology. Our thoughts are just a nueral network.
     

Share This Page