free will

Stosis
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free will

Ok, before I started coming here and reading posts I never really thought about this issue. Since then I've read a few posts about it and it all makes sense to me that there is no such thing a free will. That's all fine and good and I'm sure most people here would agree with me but here's my problem: I've only ever read the issue on these boards in the Atheist vs Theist section. Now most of the people posting there are driven by religion and don't make much sense in reality so I would like to know if there is any credible reason for free will to exist in any form. I don't care whether or not you think it exists or if you just link me to another site, I just need closure


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http://www.rationalresponders

http://www.rationalresponders.com/free_will_why_we_don039t_have_it_and_why_that039s_good_thing

There are philosophers, compatabilists, who hold that determinism and free will are reconcilable, but I don't know they're arguments.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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It all depends on how you

It all depends on how you define 'free' and 'will'.

Most philosophy types discuss free will in the sense that if a situation were repeated exactly as it had occurred before, you *could* have done differently. This goes against determinism. This kind of free will probably doesn't exist.

However, most people in everyday language are really only concerned with one thing: Can we hold people responsible for their actions/choices? Was it really *me* that made my choices, or was I forced to do so by some external agent (e.g. coercion). This kind of free will is compatible with determinism.

Recently I have decided to try to come up with a better phrase than free will to describe the second instance. How about 'conscious choice'? I made a choice, I'm aware I made a choice, and I agree with my choice. 'Conscious choice' is absolutely compatible with determinism, and perhaps would reduce confusion in conversations. It does not imply an acausal freedom that cannot be justified.

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 I'm not sure if this will

 I'm not sure if this will answer your question or not, but I hold to the belief that "free will" is a nonsensical term, literally devoid of real meaning.  It is the same as "God" or "supernatural" in that sense.  Humans are autonomous, but that's nothing particularly special.  Pretty much all animals are autonomous.  The thing is, we are aware of our autonomy, and it seems really special to us because of that.  I suspect that a lot of theists have succumbed to a rather bizarre flip-around logic.  They can imagine not being autonomous, and that scares them, so they think "free will" is some kind of gift.

Maybe that's why some people think there ought to be free will?  I dunno.  In any case, it's not that we don't have free will.  It's that free will can't be defined coherently.  We might as well say we don't have any invisible colors.  What the hell is an invisible color?  See what I'm getting at?  Of course we don't have any invisible colors because those two words don't make any sense together.  We can't even say what an invisible color would be.

 

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Agreed Hamby.Theists use the

Agreed Hamby.

Theists use the term "Free Will" so that their invisible, vengeful god won't seem like such a douche bag when he banishes you to an eternity in a fiery Hell. In the discussions I have had with religious folks, It all centers around the lie that "Belief is a Choice"...I have heard countelss times (especially from Fundamentalist Christians) that we can "choose" to believe what *THEY* want us to believe...

Which of course, is absolute nonsense...

Belief is what the acumen of our life's experience tells us is *THE TRUTH* ...when people make claims to the contrary born from fear of the intellective unknown...the proper term for that is *DENIAL*...it is not that I have chosen not to believe in god...I Can't believe in god...nothing in my better judgemnt allows me the fiantest possibility that there could be an invisible all seeing all knowing omnipotent scumbag who lives in the sky...

I often use this example regarding choice, and "free will":

Could anyone who reads this...theist or not...make a concious decision to believe in the tooth fairy?...Could anyone rationally discern that should they place a bi-cuspid under their pillow this very evening before they enter blissful slumber ...that a twisted bitch in a tu-tu and butterfly wings is going to "come-a- floatin- on- in" through thier window and replace it with loose change? Could anyone who is mentally balanced make the decision to believe that?...does that involve free will?

Now what if I were to explain  that I have a 4000 year old book telling us that the Tooth Fairy is indeed real, and if you don't believe that you are destined to spend an eternity in a dentists chair in Newark (worse than Hell)?  With rusty tools...and a dental assistant with bad breath and a hairy mole?... Would that make people believe?...or might that frighten them enough to make claims hedging their bets in this lifetime against what might be waiting for them after they die...

If god would like to prove his existance to me by appearing in my room this evening in the form of a Brazilian Stripper, I would be open to changing my mind...but until that happens...I do not have a choice, nor do I have the free will to believe in something that makes no sense...

 


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Free will means to exercise

Free will means to exercise your will freely, making your own decision without benefit of an invisible deity jigging your brain cells for you. It's balderdash. Utter crapology - like the parent concept which necessitated its coining.

 

If you are atheistic you do not exercise free will. You cannot exercise free will. It doesn't make sense.

 

You do however behave constantly in a manner contingent on the last decision your brain arrived at, whether it was formed consciously or sub-consciously, a product of conditioning in a compliant or reactionary sense, with or without useful deliberation, with or without deliberation at all, or whether it was informed or completely intuitive. In making your decision you exercised neuron activity and bridged synapses in at least one but more likely several areas in your brain which themselves had their activity at that moment influenced by the general physical state of the areas in question, a constantly fluid state easily adjusted in quite drastic ways by externally and internally sourced chemicals all the time. You exercised your brain, but your resultant "decision" was in the process therefore a result of a sequence of such "decisions", few or none of which were registered even sub-consciously but all of which could themselves have been your "decision" had the process stopped there, as it indeed most likely had in the past with sufficient regularity to encourage a repeat of that pattern.

 

Some of these past patterns are available to you as "memory" but the majority need not be, the resultant apparent randomness and spontanaeity of the outcome allowing you to believe you have behaved with total freedom of choice subject to the data you acknowledge as input but in reality has left you with little choice in the outcome. You do this however several hundred times a second, so the perception of randomness is encouraged by the fact that you only consciously register an outcome of the process very rarely in comparison to the number of times the process occurs.

 

You do all this, over and over, from birth to death. It is not "free" as it is limited physically by brain function, but it is still capable of huge variations in output, and at least some of that output can be consciously directed to occur, so you can be forgiven for sometimes using the shorthand expression "free will", however inferior it is to the actual description of how you decide how to behave.

 

Bertrand Russell once explained to an audience of students  that oxymorons often reveal much that is problematic with those who employ them, but rarely with language itself ."But what then if both sides of the oxymoronic phrase are equally non-descriptive of the event they try to describe?", a student asked. To which he answered "Then we just drop the "oxy'".

 

Of course you've got to remember too that the guys who cobbled together the notion of "free will" were working on a hunch that it all happened in the heart, so that might explain why they were a bit stunted in their terminology.

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Stosis wrote:Ok, before I

Stosis wrote:

Ok, before I started coming here and reading posts I never really thought about this issue. Since then I've read a few posts about it and it all makes sense to me that there is no such thing a free will. That's all fine and good and I'm sure most people here would agree with me but here's my problem: I've only ever read the issue on these boards in the Atheist vs Theist section. Now most of the people posting there are driven by religion and don't make much sense in reality so I would like to know if there is any credible reason for free will to exist in any form. I don't care whether or not you think it exists or if you just link me to another site, I just need closure

Calvinism should give you plenty of "closure".

Don't get it, eh... "Free Will" doesn't mean shit to "Calvinites".

Still don't get it...read about it. BTW. Bring on the "Calvinist Atheists" you said you read posts from. I'd love to bash them!


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If you're looking for

If you're looking for in-depth discussions on the neuroscience of consciousness, I suggest:

 

Lawrence Tancredi's "The Neuroscience of Free Will"

Bechara, Burns, and Kelly's "Decision Making and Free Will: A Neuroscience Perspective"

Susan Pockett's "The Concept of Free Will: Philosophy, Neuroscience and The Law"

 

Or, for lighter reading:

 

Chris Frith's "On Nailing Free Will"

Economist's "Free To Choose?"

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Hambydammit wrote: I'm not

Hambydammit wrote:

 I'm not sure if this will answer your question or not, but I hold to the belief that "free will" is a nonsensical term, literally devoid of real meaning. [...]  It's that free will can't be defined coherently.  

I'd just like to second that. With any amount of reading into the debate, it becomes perfectly clear that "free will" was a term made up by some very confused men. It can no longer be taken seriously by people with brains in their skulls.

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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

 I'm not sure if this will answer your question or not, but I hold to the belief that "free will" is a nonsensical term, literally devoid of real meaning. [...]  It's that free will can't be defined coherently.  

I'd just like to second that. With any amount of reading into the debate, it becomes perfectly clear that "free will" was a term made up by some very confused men. It can no longer be taken seriously by people with brains in their skulls.

It seems to me the idea is strongly pushed, if not invented, by Christians trying to reconcile the concept of God punishing his creations for actions they are inevitably guaranteed to do because of the way they have been 'designed'.

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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

 I'm not sure if this will answer your question or not, but I hold to the belief that "free will" is a nonsensical term, literally devoid of real meaning. [...]  It's that free will can't be defined coherently.  

I'd just like to second that. With any amount of reading into the debate, it becomes perfectly clear that "free will" was a term made up by some very confused men. It can no longer be taken seriously by people with brains in their skulls.

Agreed. It is currently to vague and conflicted to be meaningful. I don't know that I would go so far as to say it's undefinable. I'll have to think on the matter and see if I can actually come up with a comprehensive definition. I'm leaning toward no at the moment.

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Stosis wrote:Ok, before I

Stosis wrote:

Ok, before I started coming here and reading posts I never really thought about this issue. Since then I've read a few posts about it and it all makes sense to me that there is no such thing a free will. That's all fine and good and I'm sure most people here would agree with me but here's my problem: I've only ever read the issue on these boards in the Atheist vs Theist section. Now most of the people posting there are driven by religion and don't make much sense in reality so I would like to know if there is any credible reason for free will to exist in any form. I don't care whether or not you think it exists or if you just link me to another site, I just need closure

The entire free will v predestination thing is a very old bit of mental masturbation which is really not worth wasting time on.

First one has to realize that simply because a question can be posed it is necessarilly a legitimate question.

In this matter we have two conjectures as to the nature of our reality. There is no possible test to determine which is correct. There is no way to rerun the past.

Therefore all talk of it is what I have come to call mental masturbation. Thinking on such universal concepts feels good but can never be productive.

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BobSpence1 wrote:It seems to

BobSpence1 wrote:

It seems to me the idea is strongly pushed, if not invented, by Christians trying to reconcile the concept of God punishing his creations for actions they are inevitably guaranteed to do because of the way they have been 'designed'.

I think in its current incarnation, you're absolutely right. Especially considering the earliest developments of compatibilism started around the 11th and 12th centuries! As early as then, and in the context of a theistic philosophy, it still didn't work as a concept.

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 I'm pretty sure that the

 I'm pretty sure that the most coherent definition of what people think they mean when they talk about free will is... let's see... second order awareness.  That is, I am aware that I'm aware of my potential actions.

Let me explain.  To an observer, I am no different in action from a common spider.  If a spider and I are both walking, and we come to a barrier, both of us will either:

1) stand still

2) turn back

3) turn left

4) turn right

5) climb over.

The fact is, neither of us has a choice about making a choice.  Unless we die on the spot, we must perform an action.  Again, to an observer, we are no different.  Both of us are bound by the laws of time and physics.

The difference between a spider and me is that a spider, by all indications, acts without thinking about thinking about its action.  It thinks about its action in some way.  That is, its brain processes data and its body responds dynamically to changes in the brain resulting from the "output" of the processing.  That's what brains do.  However, the spider is not aware that this is what its brain does.

I, on the other hand, know that my brain controls my actions, and I know that I can stop and contemplate my actions.  That is, I can think about thinking about my actions.  This is second order awareness.  It is also what I believe most people mean when they say they have free will.

 

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Hambydammit wrote:...Humans

Hambydammit wrote:
...Humans are autonomous, but that's nothing particularly special.  Pretty much all animals are autonomous...

Which is to say Humans are no more autonomous than all animals, and as such are not "free of" prime motivators... such as survival, which also includes
sleep (in our case).

Never heard of anyone go on a "sleep strike", or be motivated to never sleep.

Personally, when speaking of free will, I don't take the narrow-minded definition of it by which I gave the arguments above.

I prefer to juxtapose free will with predestination, as prescribed by Calvinists.

However, you've the free will to define free will however you please... which the thread-poster should have done so we'd have a clue a to what was being referred to.