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Free-Will DNE

Simply Put Free Will Does Not Exist. This Group is for anyone who believes free will is an even greater mass delusion than God. Those who uphold Naturalism in its purest form. And anyone else who has questions about this topic.

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Latest Activity: Apr 12, 2013

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Sam Harris: The Illusion of Free Will

Started by Jedi Wanderer. Last reply by Steph S. Mar 19, 2012. 1 Reply

Experimental Philosophy

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Jedi Wanderer Dec 22, 2011. 5 Replies

Is free will really a supernatural concept?

Started by Howard S. Dunn. Last reply by Tonya Wynn Apr 6, 2011. 8 Replies

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Comment by Prytanis on September 5, 2008 at 11:57pm
I've really wanted to find a group of people to discuss this subject with, and to test some ideas that I've had about it recently. I didn't think I'd actually find a compatibilist (Jim Ashby) with which to debate! Frankly, I'm overjoyed, as it means that there is a rare breed here with whom I can debate. Very exciting.

To state my position explicitly: I am a determinist and an incompatibilist. I have only recently changed my mind on this subject. 6 months ago I had what I would now term a "libertarian" view of free will. I too was recently a compatibilist.

I am going to find this challenging to put into a text forum. I was planning my first foray into this in a series of videos on YouTube in about a month, once I had some time to properly formulate my ideas for presentation, but I'll take a quick and very brief stab at it now.

1) We have no evidence for anything but matter.
2) The mind can not exist without the brain, therefore the mind is material.
3) The mind is not epiphenomenonal. That would imply that the mind or mental state can exist without a causal relationship to the matter of the brain.
4) It is therefore likely that the brain-mind distinction is a false dichotomy. One does not exist without the other.
5) The brain is an extremely complicated material object. Daniel Dennett would use the term VASTLY complex. Even if we were able to somehow violate Plank's constant and get a perfectly accurate picture down to the subatomic level of the exact position and velocity of all matter in the brain, and even if we had a perfect knowledge of the laws of physics, then all of the computers in the world couldn't calculate the next probable state of the brain with any kind of accuracy in any less time than the current age of the universe. VAST! But: The vastness of it's complexity in no way means that it can somehow violate the laws of physics by moving from one state to another without physical cause. This means that determinism is theoretically falsifiable, though practically impossible to do so with absolute certainty. What other disciplines do we hold to that standard, though? Mathematics. That's it.
6) The brain as a vastly complicated object is formed by the traditional factors of nature and nurture.

Here's where I think I get interesting...

7) Nurture IS Nature. Or, more accurately, nurture is a subset of nature. Memetics demonstrates this. Ideas are physical states. This is a continuation of my earlier observation that the brain-mind or brain-mental state distinction is a false dichotomy. So too is the nature-nurture distinction. Social interactions, ideas that occur to you that you never share that nevertheless effect you, dreams, pop commercials, and your mother singing to you while you were in her womb are all physical phenomenon. If I speak to you, a series of chemical reactions in my brain forces my lungs to contract and to push air over my vocal cords which sends soundwaves through the air to your cochlea which reverberates in a way that sends signals to your brain which your existing, vastly complex network of neurons and synapses and chemicals not only interprets, but is altered by! By my typing this post, I have had a physical interaction with you! And your neurology has changed as a result...
8) How your neurology changes given the catalyst of experience, and it's subsequent outputs, are determined by it's preceding physical structure and by the physical structure of the experience. Experimentation, albeit at a basic level, has begun on this, and the results have not been positive for compatibilists. In other words, there is evidence for determinism.

There is much more to this, of course, I have only just begun to explain myself, and I'm getting a bit sleepy. I'll try to sum up...

Implications:
There are massive repercussions for personal identity. Who I am is no longer physically distinct from my environment. I am physically connected to...everyone everything. As Sagan says: "we are all star stuff". But it goes further than waxing poetic. I can no longer define myself by the limitations of my body. I must define myself as something larger, and expand my definition of personal identity to include...everyone and everything.
Expanding the definition of the self in this way has very serious ramifications, not just for the concepts of responsibility and justice--as ethical analyses of life without free will are usually limited to--but also for principles of how I relate to other living beings in the universe, what person actually is. Although we can't prove it, we can make a good statement of probability that there is no evidence for free will. To be very terse, and hopefully profound, we can be relatively certain that...
All is One
Comment by Fabio on September 5, 2008 at 5:29pm
One thing is for sure. This group's getting hot :D
Comment by Fabio on September 5, 2008 at 5:27pm
Whoah, careful there, you're treading on unsteady ground. As far as my humble opinion goes, an "ethereal mind" has never even been proven to exist in the first place. If we consider hard evidence, thoughts are likely to be an epiphenomenon of matter and, as everything that happens in the physical world we live in, they are physical. The fact that they don't have a clear-cut shape we can identify and their being extremely elusive does not diminish their physicality and, above all, their power to act upon the physical world beyond our own bodily confines. Might be uncomfortable to think of them as physical entities, but there is hardly any reason to dismiss thoughts as things that only exist in our heads. They are born in our brains, they live in our brains and often die in our brains. Yet they often leave our brains, colonise others, reproduce and mutate just like purely biological living organisms. Yes, you get it, I kinda find memetics interesting.
Comment by Zerosmelt on September 5, 2008 at 12:48pm
If you are willing to deny that thoughts are actions then yes. But i suggest you ask yourself why you are denying that thoughts are actions. Do you have any reason to other than a desire?
I could have used the word event instead of action.
Thoughts are actions, they occur. "Thought" is a verb, it is an action no matter what way you slice the cake. When you think you are doing an action; so yes they are actions, they are events. To deny that they are actions is unsubstantiated. They cause other actions to occur but they are also actions themselves
Comment by Zerosmelt on September 5, 2008 at 11:06am
Thanks for your thoughts Jim I actually agree with many things you say. However you should realize that I named this group "Free Will Does Not Exist" and not "Determinists" for a reason. As you stated Hard Determinism at the nano scale has been soundly refuted by quantum physics. (even though everything still obeys deterministic probability waves) Yet that doesn't mean free will exists. You don't have to be a determinist to deny free will.

The simple argument against free will goes as follows:

1. All thoughts are actions.
2. Every action either has a cause or it doesn't.
3. If an action is caused it doesn't occur according to free will.
4. If an action has no cause it occurs by chance.
5. Therefore Free Will DNE.

The concept of free will really has no meaning. A distinction should be made between free will and freedom. Free will imply contra causal action, freedom does not. I believe everything happens either by chance or deterministic causation. Lightening is a great example of this as it is largely governed by quantum mechanics.
Comment by Fabio on September 5, 2008 at 8:05am
Interesting topic. To all those who complain that "blaming" genetics for our actions is akin to exculpating a criminal because he was allegedly acting under the influence of his genes I usually respond that we *are* our genes and that distancing ourselves from them is a delusion. Of course, this conviction still conflicts, at times, with my quite humanistic upbringing and ongoing education, but I nevertheless try to hold true to it.
Comment by TJMorgan on September 5, 2008 at 7:46am
"free will is an even greater mass delusion than God" - took the words right out of my mouth.
Comment by Zerosmelt on September 4, 2008 at 9:26pm
I'm not necessarily a determinist, but a belief in the lack of free will is central to my way of seeing the world. I probably wouldn't be an atheist if I hadn't established this as a foundation.
 

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