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Thread: Free will?

  1. #21
    ooooo had to hurt Wiegieboard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob T View Post
    Do you think free will exists?

    Do you believe you have full control over your actions or are they determined by nothing more than the physical structure and forces of the universe?

    I think we must have free will though, just basing it on my own experience of being a human... surely I am making my own choices? Tough to call either way for absolute certain though.
    This is a fantastic question!
    Strangely enough, I've been thinking about this over the past couple of weeks and the more I think about it, the more I believe that free will possibly doesn't exist. Everything that's happening kinda has to happen the way that it happens, so through thinking about these sorts of things, I'm coming to a belief that decision making might also be a process that can be described and predicted if your knowledge of understanding of the way things work is good enough.

    Once again. great post!
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  2. #22
    Does it for us **flex** piratebrido's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob T View Post
    Free will is just the ability to make your own choices. I have no idea why absolute knowledge would be required, nor knowledge of all the options.

    It doesn't even need to be an important issue... say you decide to have chicken and chips for food tonight - did you choose that out of free will or was it always the case that you would have made that choice because of the laws of the universe (or some omnipotent being). Could you have chosen something different?
    I am looking at it from a completely materialistic viewpoint. I don't believe in gods, souls, spirits, duality of mind or any of that.

    Looking at the dinner situation, if you had the choice between chicken, vegetable soup or pasta you could say you exercised your free will and chose chicken. However if you also had the choice of steak, cheese and prawns would your decision be the same? What I am suggesting is that your free will is limited by your choices in that situation. In fact, by having these limited choices you are influenced into only picking from what’s available. The limiting factor could also be money or geography. If you asked yourself “what do I want for dinner tonight” you may want your mums home baked Macaroni and Cheese, but you can’t have this because you mum may live hundreds of miles away. In this situation you can’t exercise your free will. What If you wanted chicken and chips as you said, but all your local shops were out of chicken?

    I guess I have a hard time separating choice and wants when talking about free will – I think want is integral to free will. That’s why I say you would require absolute knowledge. If you don’t know all choices available how can you come to a decision about which one(s) you want.

    We are speaking in fairly mundane terms, but I think the same holds true to other situations.
    Last edited by piratebrido; 18-05-2010 at 02:32 PM.

  3. #23
    ooooo had to hurt Wiegieboard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by piratebrido View Post
    I am looking at it from a completely materialistic viewpoint. I don't believe in gods, souls, spirits, duality of mind or any of that.

    Looking at the dinner situation I would have a few questions. If you had the choice between chicken, vegetable soup or pasta you could say you exercised your free will and chose chicken. However if you also had the choice of steak, cheese and prawns would your decision be the same? What I am suggesting is that your free will is limited by your choices in that situation. In fact, by having these limited choices influences you in only picking from what’s available. The limiting factor could also be money or geography. If you asked yourself “what do I want for dinner tonight” you may want your mums home baked Macaroni and Cheese, but you can’t have this because you mum may live hundreds of miles away. In this situation you can’t exercise your free will. What If you wanted chicken and chips as you said, but all your local shops were out of chicken?

    I guess I have a hard time separating choice and wants when talking about free will – I think want if integral to free will. That’s why I say you would require absolute knowledge. If you don’t know all choices available how can you come to a decision about which one(s) you want.

    I personally believe that we have to look at WHY we want what we want for dinner as well. If we need something more, or if something is more valuable to us at a specific point, that might sway our decision. If we deliberately choose something we don't like, it's because of a decision that has been made for a reason also. Kind of a butterfly effect scenario of decision making. Decisions can be so easily influenced and predicted sometimes too.

    Nice post brido. Always enjoy reading your intput on things!
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  4. #24
    Senior Member Rob T's Avatar
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    People are really confusing this by bringing in influence and range of options a decision has. They are not important to the question of free will in the context of this thread and the original question.

    Yes, having different options may mean someone makes a different choice - but that could still be due to free will or pre-determined.

    Also, making a decision based on previous actions/outcomes could still be free will. Or all the previous actions could be pre-determined along with everything else.
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  5. #25
    Does it for us **flex** piratebrido's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiegieboard View Post
    I personally believe that we have to look at WHY we want what we want for dinner as well. If we need something more, or if something is more valuable to us at a specific point, that might sway our decision. If we deliberately choose something we don't like, it's because of a decision that has been made for a reason also. Kind of a butterfly effect scenario of decision making. Decisions can be so easily influenced and predicted sometimes too.
    That's why I think free will would require absolute knowledge, and what I mean when I talk about the unknown. To exercise free will you would need to know how you have been influenced. Look at advertising. Most people like to think it doesn't affect them, but the reality is that it does. McDonalds spends billions on advertising, and if you decide you want McDonalds is it really your free will being exercised (this is what I absolutely want) or is it the will of McDonalds (I want this person to eat at our restaurants). If you have been influenced by advertising then it cannot be your free choice. To have free will you would have to not only know this, but be above it and understand it so you can make your OWN choice, free from influence.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob T View Post
    Also, making a decision based on previous actions/outcomes could still be free will. Or all the previous actions could be pre-determined along with everything else.
    this is the bit that gets me as in my previous post. I don't get how opinions based upon others can be free will?

  7. #27
    Does it for us **flex** piratebrido's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob T View Post
    People are really confusing this by bringing in influence and range of options a decision has. They are not important to the question of free will in the context of this thread and the original question.

    Yes, having different options may mean someone makes a different choice - but that could still be due to free will or pre-determined.

    Also, making a decision based on previous actions/outcomes could still be free will. Or all the previous actions could be pre-determined along with everything else.
    Well if you are asking if our lives are written like a script and nothing beyond the script writer has any influence in it then no. I don't believe such a script writer exists.

  8. #28

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    free will all the way.

    imagine the brain as a computer, with several automated processes hardwired in.

    you have free will to do as you please, however some of those processes running in the background will compel you not to choose certain options.

    your instincts for survival will kick in if you consider doing something potentially dangerous.

    your pack mentality, will kick in if you consider doing something anti social that might get you ostracised from the group.

    you will eat when you are hungry, drink when you are thirsty, etc etc

    but in spite of these compulsions much is still down to choice.

    of course i have no evidence for this, but there is no evidence to the contrary either.

    I could make the claim that far from having had free will, no one has had any choice in anything yet as the universe has yet to come into exisitance, and that as a believer in the religious philosophy of next thursdayism, the belief that the universe will be created next thursday fully intact as it is with all of us having imprinted beliefs that we have actually been alive before that point.

    thus the truth is that you are not actually sat in front of a computer reading my post, but are in actual fact lying on a great celestial workbench being given the experience of reading my post and other such experiences in preperation for the creation of the universe which is coming in two days.

    trying to argue against a position which attacks the fundamental senses with which you could refute it, is futile at best.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by piratebrido View Post
    That's why I think free will would require absolute knowledge, and what I mean when I talk about the unknown. To exercise free will you would need to know how you have been influenced. Look at advertising. Most people like to think it doesn't affect them, but the reality is that it does. McDonalds spends billions on advertising, and if you decide you want McDonalds is it really your free will being exercised (this is what I absolutely want) or is it the will of McDonalds (I want this person to eat at our restaurants). If you have been influenced by advertising then it cannot be your free choice. To have free will you would have to not only know this, but be above it and understand it so you can make your OWN choice, free from influence.
    free choice and freewill are different things. Freewill is complete autonomy to make a decision in a given situation, an internal decision. Free choice is an external decision

  10. #30
    Senior Member Rob T's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonmobiledisco View Post
    If you look at the brain as a machine that takes the external, calculates with biological and ascertained knowledge from prior learned information. Then how can we have free will? Surely we are executing a pre-determined path of near-infinite actors in system.
    I think this is the strongest argument against free will, however quantum mechanics shows us that on a micro scale we cannot accurately predict even relatively simple events (and there may well be no way to predict them).

    Still, I don't see why a complex enough system couldn't develop an internal set of instructions (morals, logic etc...) which would be capable of allowing free will.


    Quote Originally Posted by simonmobiledisco View Post
    Our concept of consciousness give the impression that we are the driver, but could we be actually be the spectator? Obviously seeing, thinking and doing are different things, but what if these are just the different media of the experience?
    In that case, would we even be classed as a spectator? Without free will then surely even consciousness has to be questioned because even our thoughts are pre-determined.


    Quote Originally Posted by simonmobiledisco View Post
    This is highly dependent on the view of the human brain being an organic machine or processor. The only way you interpretate freewill into this view point is of another factor or force (e.g. spirituality?)
    I don't see why there has to be a jump to an outside force until you can adequately show that the brain is incapable of producing the ability to have free will. It's not like intelligence is a binary choice so I see no reason why free will can't be a product of higher levels of intelligence.
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