It occurred to me that an interesting test of free will would test the "will". I propose this test.

Believe, for an entire day, in God.

I have these questions after you have completed the test:
Can you do it?
How is this test flawed?
What, if anything, does it prove?
How would you modify the test?
What other questions should we be asking about this test?

Tags: free will, belief, psychology

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I believe that the fact that we don't believe in God proves that free will exists.

I tried to believe in him for a minute but it is difficult. It came better pretending that I was my former Christian self.

The fact that you can buy a plane ticket and choose not to go proves that free will exists. Why would this energy be wasted on buying the plane ticket if you were not going to use it to begin with. Of course one would have to actually do it to prove it could be done. AND there would have to be no life altering experience during the process of buying the ticket to show that this is the reason the ticket had to be bought.
I do not consider myself a determinist. I do see a lot of influence between our DNA + experience. I think we somehow add up to more than the sum of our parts because of our mental abilities. This little bit extra may come from the general area of our psyche where prayer and belief reside.

I am hugely interested in this mental facility of belief that you refer to. It has been a focus of my 'attention' for some time now.
How about go jump from a tall building? Or kill your kids? You can. You have a free will. You don't want to do this? You can't? Then you don't have a free will?
As Daniel Dennet says, if there was such a thing as free will, we'd be scared of driving, because anyone would be free to hit your car with his or her. We don't do what we are free to, we do what's rational.
I couldn't force myself to believe in God even for few minutes. To my husband, on the other hand, this would come naturally. In order to respect himself, he forces himself to think sensibly all the time. That's how how different the minds of just two atheists are wired. I can quote here a famous atheist to explain how my husband struggles with his genetic predisposition for religiosity: "...he cuts his banana into exactly seven slices each morning.‘Six slices, or eight, and something bad might happen. "I know it would be total coincidence if I didn't slice it into seven pieces, and my family were killed in a fire," he says. "I understand that there could be no correlation, but, you know, the guilt would be too much for me to bear, so it's easier for me to cut the stupid banana." That was Woody Allen.
So, let's put it this way - we have a free will to fight our mean genes. Just gotta do it rationally.
Nah, you want, sure, but you can't, that's the thing. You jump- you get smashed. So you don't jump - that's you choice. You are not free to end your life like that, your instinct and rationality wouldn't let you. Unless you imply that your rationality is a part of free will.
I can only agree with Stephen Pinker on that - the idea of free will is too complex and might just lead us to dead end. It's made up of too many variables
You are not free to end your life like that

However, people do it all the time.

I was thinking that suicide may be an argument for free will because it flys in the face of any evolved behavior selection. Today I saw a commercial for a medicine that had the side effect of making you want to commit suicide. So much for free will in that argument. A person still has the choice of quitting the medicine, but still, chemically induced self destruction is scary.

I really, really want there to be lots and lots of free will. It seems there are many things that trump free will. Or at least make us behave in ways we do not wish.
I agree, Mike, people get into situations that, in combination with certain brain conditions can make them do thing like this. Maybe "jumping for the tall building" was a bad argument. In fact, suicide is evolutionary adaptive, I think. There are circumstances when risking your life can help propagating your genes (let's call it probabilistic suicide), for example - taking a risky job to earn lots of money(mercenary) and gain status; and there are circumstances when people you share you genes with not only don't depend on you, but will likely benefit from you terminating your life (in case of limited resources).
yes, so much for the free will. I'm saying, it's too perplex
I was thinking that suicide may be an argument for free will

Hello, Mike.

IMHO, suicide is one of the best argument AGAINST free will. We do not just "will" ourselves to end our lives for no reason or cause at all. There are underlying conditions and factors that leads one to arrive at this decision to take the exit. Suicide is an act that is caused. One's decision-making process may in fact be hampered due to such underlying causes. Thus to invoke free will at this point is off the table - it never was there in the first place. The counter-argument that life is worth living - that one has the "free will" to choose this available option does not add up for people with terminal illnesses, untreated mental diseases, etc. which happens to be the major causes of suicides.
http://www.suicide.org/suicide-causes.html

How about shootings in school campuses? That's a good testing ground for and against free will. Nobody just wakes up in one day and say hey I am gonna kill people today and I have the free will to do it. Of course you do and so does everyone else. But, cause comes first, the act (or illusion of will) follows. The subject in this case has had psychological issues enveloping and building up inside himself prior to the act. Same argument goes to the poor fellow who crashed his plane at an IRS office.

Of course this debate has been going on throughout antiquity but I think understanding how the brain works is essential. Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm and Treo talks about Brain Science and the need for a brain theory in this TED talk.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6CVj5IQkzk&feature=PlayList&...
First of all, Roy, ALL choices -- even free will choices -- are causally determined. All choices are determined by the causal factors that influence their decisions. Suicide is no different in this regard. My model of free will depends on the temporal advantage over causality that we derive from prescient imagination. Suicide puts a sudden end to all that. However, to commit suicide, one must plan the method for killing oneself. Therefore, I'd say that it takes several causal factors (depression and stress) PLUS prescient imagination to push somebody to actual suicide. Suicide is preceded by a perfect storm of negativity but the act itself must be planned and executed, so it is also a matter of free will.

P.S.
Suicide can also be a rational act . . . if you're terminally ill and in great suffering, for instance.
Hi, Free Thinker.

A perfect storm of negativity. Severe despair. In such a condition, is one really in control of his actions and decisions? I think not.
I agree, Roy. Circumstances have overwhelmed the victim.

Circumstances are causal factors. So is the victim's plan for suicide. If the victim attempts to follow through, it's because the confluence of causal factors (including his plans) led to the choice/act of suicide. His death, like everything else, was causally determined.

It's hard to explain how free will is causally determined. Perhaps it would be better to ask if external factors (causality) desired or plotted his suicide. Put this way, it's clear that causality is devoid of intent. Intent can only come from the subject himself. He devised a plan to kill himself. That plan joined all the other tragic causal factors leading to the decision to end his own life. That decision is realized by the act of suicide. The internal struggle between his survival instinct and his emotions were settled by killing himself. Until he followed through, he couldn't have been certain he would. Free will is the act . . . not the process.

Free will is NOT a conscious process. It is a causal process, exactly like everything else. Free will is a consequence . . . a product . . . an effect . . . that can only emerge from prescient imagination because we are slaves to causality without the advantage of foresight. We must get ahead of causality in order to prepare for it.

Neurological processes are causal processes and, consequently, must occur in the present. The only kind of neurological feature than can produce free will is one that escapes the present. Prescient imagination IS that feature. ANY time we make a plan, we use our prescient imagination. Suicide necessarily requires a plan. The same feature that produces free will is used to commit suicide.

To me, that means suicide is a product of free will AND of circumstances -- BOTH of which are causally determined.

What you are doing is redefining free will into a concept which no longer resembles the real meaning of free will. Do you not understand that you are not even talking about free will anymore?

 

As for prescient imagination, its clear that you lack understanding of neurobiology, psychology, and computer programming. And you don't know what prescient means either. Prescient refers to an actual understanding of WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE. not a possibility which may occur if you do this and this and this, based on previous experience... That is called a simulation. Computers do that all day long. Honestly, do you even think about what you are thinking about at all?

How about go jump from a tall building?

there are few consequences to believing, for a day, that the moon is made of green cheese.

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