Do you believe that humans have free will?  I don't.  I have yet to hear compelling arguments for the existence of free will~ prove me wrong A/N.

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Have to jump in here as Free Will is one of the most common philosophical sticking points I come upon when discussing things with Theists.

Personally, I come down on the side of determinism. The real argument, however, is how we should act upon realizing that we live in a determinist world. For me, that was the final nail in God's Coffin. I could not reconcile the various theories about free will versus an omniscient deity. Ultimately, Free Will is only an issue if the future can be known. That means there are only a few cases that it even matters. One is if you believe you have a chance at an afterlife.

In a determinist world, "God" already knows the outcome of your life, and nothing you do can change that. You can still live how you want, although that has been predetermined. The real problem with that is, God is putting those who he already knows will fail up against an impossible task - to CHANGE the will of God and what has been determined. So, what is the purpose of it all? To simply act out a play where all the lines have been written, merely for some deity's enjoyment? Pretty much. Makes the idea of "God" and "Salvation" and all of that seem a bit ludicrous.

The other situation where Free Will matters is in trying to predict people's behavior. Can you predict when someone will deviate from social norms? For example, can you predict who will become a murderer, and who simply enjoys building guns but would never hurt anyone? In theory, given enough data you COULD. Their backgrounds, memories, physiology, etc, will eventually lead them to certain choices. But we don't have enough data, and without Omniscience, we never will have enough to predict any more than general tendencies.

So, without an Omniscient God, and without perfect and complete data about everything, does it MATTER if things are predetermined? Not really - and that's where I fall now. I believe in Determinism, but I live as if I have a choice in everything.
I appreciate your sentient and I agree with you. I would say that while determinism is valid, nothing is predetermined. That implies a consciousness, which by definition is finite and cannot know the future, knows the future. Things are not determined before they are. And you do not have complete control with choice. You cannot start your car with happiness and you cannot make a decision with anyone's brain than your own.

It surprises me that I haven't heard the idea that in a world of newtonian physics, that is determined by cause and effect, there is no room for an extra cause.  There really isn't any room for god, because inserting him/her into the cause and effect equation would put "it" in the middle~ either negating a cause, or negating an effect.  That would cause a ripple through the system, creating events that didn't follow typical causality.  The only place for an extra cause would be near the beginning, in that hypothetical "time before time" space~ otherwise we would have systemic ripples throughout the causal system.  I guess one could argue that god being the cause wouldn't be an issue, but if the argument is predicated on the world being naturalistic, the only place for god would really be by attaching "it" to other causes, not as a direct variable.

 

If that makes any sense.

Yeah, you almost lost me there but I got back on track. This isn't any kind of a worry for me. If a religionist wants to introduce "an extra cause", it would be pretty evident what they were up to. Its just like this "intelligent design" crap. Obviously an intelligent designer would have to be powerful enough to create the whole universe, who do they think they're kidding? An extra cause, as you put it, either means something that is just some part of natural reality that we haven't discovered yet, almost certainly because its effect is so small that it is basically insignificant and irrelevant, or it needs to have some truly magical capablities which would need some truly magical instigator with vast powers and... OMG, you just found God! Pfff

I'm not sure how all the terms are being defined but i'll give it a go:

 

I am of course not a dualist! So, within my world view, everything that makes a human being what ,or more to the point, who they are is defined bodilly in naturalistic terms. I assume that we're considering free will to be a property of a sentient being,regardless of whether it's organic (such as a human being) or "synthetic" (such as in a massivly complex computer).

 

A computer, for instance, is a machine which deals in logic and data. However, a computer must have input in order "make decisions"-keep in mind that I'm using "make decision" colloquially. The computer cannot have free will under conventional concepts of it.

If I view a human being as being analagous to a computer, I can view the brain as being a pragmatically congruent machine. The input we experience comes from the five senses and is processed by whatever "software" we have(whether it be innate or learned or a little of both).

It may be that we are just incredibly complex machines which react to stimulae from the senses which might imply that we don't have free will.

 

in a function f:

f(x)=2x+1

In this function, we have input (the x) and output (f(x)).

the output of the function can only be of one value due to the input.

 

Perhaps we have an analagous function, of much more complexity with much more in the way of independent variables, which provides the output.

Maybe it'd look something like:

Eyes(cat,bowl empty)=feed cat

or something of the sort.

 

I guess it's just stuff for me to think about.

 

Right. Humans are just “incredibly complex machines”, as MP points out. And really this strikes at the whole issue I have been dealing with in promoting the idea of “spirit” which nobody yet has shown any appreciation for. Spirit as I use the term just means “motivation”. Emotions are just incredibly complex reactions which push us one way or the other. They are things that motivate us, just as a rock can be motivated by another rock hitting it. And they are caused in exactly the same way. It’s like an incredibly complex (3x, I know) game of billiards. So emotions are easily broken down into terms we can use to make our point. The trick then is to build them back up to capture the essence of any given emotion to show that perhaps even a sufficiently complex computer could “experience” the same thing. Actually the subjective quality of any experience is just that sort of a thing which we need to capture. Certain qualities in stimulae have the effect of motivating us in ways which we find pleasurable. The harmony of a melody for example may synchronize mental processes and this is a rewarding experience. In any case, there is no logical or natural impossibility with there being a sufficiently complex machine which could learn from its environment and “experience” self-pleasure/reward from certain stimulae and self-pain/punishment from others. This is just a matter of giving a machine a nervous system, something that could respond to the outside world in ways which increase its ability to survive in it.

I’ve had this argument before, and it boils down to this. If you give machines a long enough time to evolve (and there are already plenty of experiments being done with “evolving machines”) and give them the tools (like DNA) to mutate and grow more and more complex, you will eventually get a being with a nervous system. The stupidest response I ever heard is called the Chinese Room Argument. Some stuffy philosopher apparently came up with it to show that machines could never be able to have experiences. When I got this response from philosophers who have apparently been spoon-fed “sophisticated” ideas, I was seriously disappointed. However, Daniel Dennett pooh-poohed the argument as merely an intuition pump, which greatly vindicated my reaction to the argument, which was more or less, “how does this show anything at all?” Anyway, just a heads up in case some religionist tries to throw the Chinese Room at you.
What is this "Chinese room" argument you speak of?
I'm sure I wouldn't do it justice, but it basically says that suppose you have a guy in a room, and he has a set of instructions that tells him how to interpret chinese symbols into english. He is being fed symbols and asked to translate them. Now, he may have a perfect set of instructions so that he never makes a mistake in translation, but would we say that this guy actually understands Chinese? No we wouldn't. So this shows that a computer that is programmed to behave in any way just like us would nevertheless be incapable of actual subjective experience. He would be like the chinese room guy, simply reading the instructions but never "getting it". Or something like that. So supposedly a machine can never have a sense of self. But of course if you go at it the way I did, which is to evolve a nervous system and the consequent emotions, a sense of self can naturally emerge in an artificial life form/machine following the same processes which caused it to arise in us.
right, but it also strikes me that does he understand chinese as a whole? no.  Does he understand a small fraction of it? yes.  When someone learns a second language, its attaching the new phrases and words to thoughts and concepts already learned~ which is exactly what a computer would do.  When people think this is a valid argument, they don't have the understanding that the human mind is a collection of processors, and is a computer in essence.  in a sense, everyone is the man in the room~ that is our conscious state.  the person feeding us the translation is the subconscious~ do we understand the world through our senses? not really, but can we translate it into something that makes more sense to us?  yeah, all the time.
yeah that's not bad :-) hey stop wasting your time on here and go read my paper!
ugh! (lol) whats the link again?
I see this question largely anyway being one of mere semantic hair splitting. As it is true that we both, can make whatever choices we want and that these choices are predetermined even if they are not predictable past a point. Imo as both of these assertiond are true, then the question of whether free will exists or not is mute mostly.

And here is my fav video on this subject;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtube_gdata_player&v=aKL...

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