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What type of free will / lack of is most likely?
Free Will 52%  52%  [ 12 ]
Fate 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Fate with some Free Will 9%  9%  [ 2 ]
Determinism 9%  9%  [ 2 ]
Determinism with some Free Will 17%  17%  [ 4 ]
Other 13%  13%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 23
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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:25 pm 
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I'm a fan of free will myself.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:58 pm 
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I'm not big on "fate" and the belief where everything has been pre-determined and that our choices have minimal to no impact on final outcome. Far too often, it ends up being the lazy person's excuse for apathy and why they don't try harder, after convincing themselves that it won't affect the outcome either way.

Not to mention, overt belief in fate is contradictory to far too many other ideas. For easy example, why preach that a vegan diet for potentially improving one's health and prolonging their existence if one honestly believes that either

A) With death being inevitable, it makes no point to alter the course prior to it, or

B) By the logic of complete fate, everyone who is meant to be vegan will become so via grand design pushing them toward it, so it would not matter if you encouraged someone to change their habits, it would happen regardless because of the grand design that is steering us all

By the definition of fate, if we cannot change the inevitable outcome and all has been pre-determined, then by doing what we consider "good" is only for the sake of stroking one's own ego in futility rather than making any viable change in the world for the better. Again, using this mindset, if we can't end animal suffering, why bother campaigning or protesting at all then? If the outcome will be unaffected overall and working to make a difference on a case-by-case basis isn't making change that can carry over, then by that logic it's 100% pointless to start in the first place. It's a defeatist way of viewing the world that allows most to simply give up sooner than later, and promotes a solipsistic self-driven view that disassociates one's choices from the impact is will have on others around them. Essentially, if you think that whatever you do won't make a difference overall and you remove all else from the picture, the only logical conclusion is to fend for one's interests only without consideration of others. Basically, it's the perfect path to becoming a self-serving a-hole for those who are looking for validation to think in such terms.

A fate-based view just is too devoid of logic for me side with. Again, using examples, our planet may have a set timer that has been put in motion where in 1000 years it may simply implode regardless of what we do. BUT, that does not mean that the correct thing to do is simply say "Screw it, it's probably gonna blow up someday anyway, why bother caring what we do to it?" - that's the conclusion to be drawn from believing in fate, as belief in fate is more or less a way to absolve one of personal responsibility and accountability in the name of lack of control. Rather, much of what we do for the greater good is done with a degree of faith in that our decisions and actions will impact other people/situations positively, and through enough change, things that are on a less-than-ideal path can be turned toward a better direction.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:42 pm 
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Whether or not a belief in fate / determinism is healthy to society, in terms of apathy and ethical behaviour is another question to whether it's true or not!

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:08 pm 
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As usual, I think I got too far off point on a tangent!

I do understand they're separate things, I was more for making the point that a fate-based viewpoint is very contradictory to a logical existence unless you truly are in belief of a higher power that has the upper hand and have everything set in motion to where it cannot be changed. As well as that it conversely can provide justification for apathy, inaction, or doing whatever feels good without consideration for others, as it intertwines well with a "screw it, whatever is going to happen is going to happen anyway" mindset. By convincing yourself that you're powerless to have control over your actions or your destiny (as well as that your actions can impact a great number of things in the world over time), it allows for more scapegoating for things which you may have directly affected the outcome on (but, it will ALWAYS be due to other forces beyond your control in a fateist mindset) and does very little to encourage an existence beyond simply making the days go by if you truly believe that things will happen as they will regardless. At least, that's all I can envision from a fate-based view, it always seemed more bleak to me than anything else, and a way of seeing the world that absolves the viewer of feeling any need to do more than look out for their own interests.

What's interesting to me as well is that, many of the religious people I've spoken with don't feel that fate is a strong force in their lives while they are alive. Moreso, they tend to repeat a similar mantra - they are given free will, but that their choices on earth will steer them toward their ultimate destination in the afterlife, and that their actions are by their own design and certainly do have impact on the course of their lives and those of others and all actions should have consideration. While they may believe that a higher power has an ultimate plan that involved a beginning and that will involve an end to all things eventually, they seem quite convinced that what happens during their physical manifestation is that we create our own personal heaven or hell on earth as a result of our thoughts and actions, not that things such as properity, abundant health, misery, disease, destitution or other conditions have all been pre-determined by another sentient force before they came into being.

As far as to what I personally believe, I guess I don't know for sure. The older I get, the less I realize I know, and the more confusing it gets to ponder my existence and whether or not things have been pre-determined or if what I do really does change the course of the future. I guess that now I simply do what I can to be a decent human being to cover my bases under all possible circumstances :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:14 pm 
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Richard wrote:
Determinism with some Free Will:
Everything that happens is influenced by previous events, but you do have control over decisions you make.


This, but my app doesn't show me the option to vote =(

VeganEssentials wrote:
[...] Basically, it's the perfect path to becoming a self-serving a-hole [...]


And I completely agree with what VeganEssentials wrote, esp this line ;)

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:26 pm 
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Well I think that regardless of whether there is free will, fate or determinism, any action you take does have consequences. It's just that if you believe in free will, then you think you could have done something else. If you believe in fate, you believe that you are destined to do whatever it is that you choose to do. But still, that action still leads to something else, you are a part of a bigger picture. If you believe in determinism, you believe that any choice you make is determined by the laws of physics. But, again, your actions will lead to further actions and reactions, it's just one big chain of reactions. So I don't believe that fate or determinism breeds inaction or apathy - perhaps by those who don't understand what it means. If you think about it, if you believe in fate, and you are thinking "I want to be a doctor" - if you then think "Ah well, it's either fated or it's not, so I won't go to college" - well, you certainly will not be a doctor. You at least have to try and hope that it is fated that you will succeed, same with determinism.

You have to remember, people have large egos, and so if they believe in "fate", they think it will revolve around them.

I'm mainly interested in seeing the results of the poll and the reasons why people believe what they do, rather than what they don't like about a belief. I mean, if a scientist is testing something, they don't say "Well, I don't want it to do this..." they say "What evidence is there of it or against it?" If they find a substance which is poisonous, then saying "I don't like it" doesn't make it any less true that it is poisonous! So regardless of whether fate or determinism would lead to a pessimistic or apathetic society, I'm interested in the credibility of such ideas - and credibility of free will.

I can't get my head around a combination of fate and freewill, or determinism and free will. Either we have some kind of lifeforce or spirit in us which allows us to make a choice, or we don't. If we only have 1 option, or a path is chosen for us, we don't have free will. If we have alternatives that we genuinely can take, then it smashes fate and determinism, I don't see a middle ground.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:46 pm 
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Richard wrote:
I can't get my head around a combination of fate and freewill, or determinism and free will. Either we have some kind of lifeforce or spirit in us which allows us to make a choice, or we don't. If we only have 1 option, or a path is chosen for us, we don't have free will. If we have alternatives that we genuinely can take, then it smashes fate and determinism, I don't see a middle ground.

I think it really comes down to how you define 'fate'. Everyone has choices to make in day-to-day living, and the choice they make is a product of their life experiences. However, once they have made that choice, it has become fate, since they did in fact make that choice and it cannot be undone. But I don't think that is the definition of fate you are thinking of. :D

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:04 pm 
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Richard wrote:
[...]
I'm mainly interested in seeing the results of the poll and the reasons why people believe what they do [...]

Either we have some kind of lifeforce or spirit in us which allows us to make a choice, or we don't [...]


Ok. I believe the decisions made in the past lay the foundations of the present, but that we are free to do what ever we like, then reap the rewards or suffer the consequences, to put it simply. To me, the future does not exist, except in goals, desires, dreams and the likes. My favorite quote goes something like this, "do not regret the past; life is in you today and you make your tomorrow."

I don't believe we have a life force in us. It implies we are the body and have a spirit. I believe we are the spirit with a body, or we *are* that life force. We decide for ourselves if we take action and how. But that's another topic.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:32 am 
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The Universe is chaotic and unpredictable. The choices one, few or many make have direct correlation and consequences in this society and on this planet, aside from that anything can happen in the cosmic scheme of things leaving us utterly helpless.

So I guess my answer is two fold, yes and no. We have limited control over our personal conscious decisions, the powers that be in this society and on this planet have that same control but much more clout, then the Universe kind of just does whatever, whenever, however...abiding by the laws of physics and such, we are at it's mercy thus negating free-will.

I cannot stop a super volcano from erupting and blowing half of North America to smithereens and sending America into a nuclear Winter. But I can refrain from killing the cricket under my water heater who won't stop playing violin with his damn legs...

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:23 am 
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Fallen_Horse wrote:
Richard wrote:
I can't get my head around a combination of fate and freewill, or determinism and free will. Either we have some kind of lifeforce or spirit in us which allows us to make a choice, or we don't. If we only have 1 option, or a path is chosen for us, we don't have free will. If we have alternatives that we genuinely can take, then it smashes fate and determinism, I don't see a middle ground.

I think it really comes down to how you define 'fate'. Everyone has choices to make in day-to-day living, and the choice they make is a product of their life experiences. However, once they have made that choice, it has become fate, since they did in fact make that choice and it cannot be undone. But I don't think that is the definition of fate you are thinking of. :D


:lol: Yeah I wouldn't call that "fate". If you're genuinely choosing something to happen, and you can choose from 2 or more options, how can it be fated to happen? If what you happen to choose is what you always would have chosen no matter what, then that's no choice at all, even if it appears open, so it can't be called free will. I'll put it in a direct example to clarify what I'm asking in the poll:

Scenario:
There are two flavours of drink in your fridge, and you go to pick one.

Free will states that you can actually choose flavour A or B

Fate states that because of the nature of fate (whether it is a force of nature or a grand plan made by a god) it is already decided that you would choose A, and nothing you do could lead you to drink B

Determinism states that because of the series of events that lead to the present, your decision will be whatever it is, but whichever it is, you couldn't have chosen the other

So given those definitions, I don't see how there is any compatibility. I think those in this thread who are talking about a compatibility are really saying they believe in free will.

Alternatively, perhaps people are saying that inanimate objects are governed by physics, but things that are "alive" have free will. Kind of murky territory, do bacteria have free will? At what point does something become alive and make genuine choices that affect the universe? What is special about things that are alive in the first place? Given the lack of evidence of a spirit or lifeforce, we are actually just a collection of atoms, which are entirely governed by the laws of physics.

The way I personally see things (as I now realise I haven't actually said what I believe) is that there is 100% grindingly predictable determinism. That doesn't mean that a human is equipped to predict anything because the universe is so vast, and the number of things reacting and clashing with each other is completely outside our comprehension. We are made out of cells, which individually cannot be said to have free will. But that's all we are (and as you dissect a cell, you discover even smaller elements also governed by physics, which are reacting without free will).

In order to prove that there is free will, in fact you have to prove that in the brain there is activity that does not rely on the laws of physics - there has to be activity that ignores the laws of physics, or controls the laws of physics within the brain. That's not the case though. The laws of physics govern everything that the brain is made of, and therefore the brain itself depends on its parts, and your ability to choose is an illusion. The brain is a physical object after all. I would find free will more convincing if when we open the skull we just find an empty space. Then there would be no evidence of what controls us - and it would be more mysterious. Yet we plainly can see what controls us - the brain.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:49 am 
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Yikes. I think that's a horrible way to look at it (I'm not criticising you, just stating my opinion on the viewpoint), and very psych'ish - I always felt they had the worst outlook on life & mankind. The majority of them never look happy either lol, which to me is reason enough to dig elsewhere for my life questions. No proof of a spiritual being? Hogwash. That's what happens when someone uses faulty/inferior methods to find something not of the physical universe, which funny enough is him/herself.

I am curious as to why you chose to subscribe to that viewpoint though.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:42 am 
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You know, at first I selected free will, but after reading Richard's last post it got me thinking to how one can be a statistician/social scientist (which I am) and not believe in some form of determinism, when all I do most days is crunch numbers to look at the probability of X happening.

I'm a pretty die-hard atheist, so I certainly don't believe in a life force or a spirit or anything like that, but I do believe that certain choices we made in the past do influence the likelihood of what will happen to us in the present and future. Is that determinism? I don't know, I'm just thinking (typing?) out loud. :)

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:38 pm 
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Mina wrote:
Yikes. I think that's a horrible way to look at it (I'm not criticising you, just stating my opinion on the viewpoint), and very psych'ish - I always felt they had the worst outlook on life & mankind. The majority of them never look happy either lol, which to me is reason enough to dig elsewhere for my life questions. No proof of a spiritual being? Hogwash. That's what happens when someone uses faulty/inferior methods to find something not of the physical universe, which funny enough is him/herself.

I am curious as to why you chose to subscribe to that viewpoint though.


It seems most likely given what I know. I had the notion explained to me years ago. I haven't heard any convincing evidence against determinism, and haven't heard any convincing evidence for anything else - except the feeling of free will that we experience.

But our feelings and perceptions are not to be trusted, there are all kinds of "illusions" that can seem real until we understand them. For instance if you are down the street from a car, and you hold your hand up, the car is smaller than your hand according to your eyes - and as you walk closer to it the car increases in size in your vision. But you know that's not actually happening, that's just how perspective is interpreted by our eyes. Likewise, there are optical illusions that make things seem like they are spinning, even if it's a static pattern, we can be fooled. If you face a wall, and a sound comes from behind you, it rebounds off a wall and seems like it is in front of you, or surrounding you - but with understanding, you know that's just how sound behaves.

I believe that feeling as though we are choosing things falls into the area of illision, and is part of evolution. Most likely if everyone in society didn't believe they had a will, things would fall apart. In fact I've read articles on neuroscience where the scientists have actually said that they are concerned about the perceived benefits of sharing evidence of determinism, if it is true as it could do more harm than good potentially if it is believed.

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 Post subject: Re: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:21 pm 
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lobsteriffic wrote:
I do believe that certain choices we made in the past do influence the likelihood of what will happen to us in the present and future.


I agree with this, although I would say "can influence" rather than "do".

Richard wrote:
I haven't heard any convincing evidence against determinism, and haven't heard any convincing evidence for anything else - except the feeling of free will that we experience.

Ok, fair enough. I would probably think the same way if my life hadn't taken a dramatic turn for the best when it was "destined" to fail very early on. One could argue that clearly it wasn't, but I strongly disagree. Problem is, even if I explained the dramatic turn of events & how it convinced me that free will is the case, I could never properly convey what experiencing it is like. It could be due to my lack of vocabulary for this subject, or perhaps that I don't have a masters degree with several books out is enough to convince others that my viewpoint holds little weight.


Richard wrote:
But our feelings and perceptions are not to be trusted, there are all kinds of "illusions" that can seem real until we understand them.

I strongly disagree that our feelings and perceptions are not to be trusted. You have some great examples of how one can be wrong, but one can also be right, very often too.

This reminds me of a great quote: "What is true for you is what you have observed yourself. And when you lose that you have lost everything." Certainly one can come to the wrong conclusions about what they have perceived or felt but with time & practice, like a muscle, ones ability to correctly perceive/feel and then decipher/act can improve. Also, perception isn't strictly physical but I've tried explaining that to people who don't believe in spirituality to no avail. Again, either my vocabulary is lacking, or I am not held in high enough esteem in their eyes to remotely affect their conclusions.

Richard wrote:
I believe that feeling as though we are choosing things falls into the area of illision
Now this makes me very sad, and I'm honestly sorry you feel this way. Perhaps because when I believed this, I was around my lowest in life & would never wish that upon anyone.

Richard wrote:
In fact I've read articles on neuroscience where the scientists have actually said that they are concerned about the perceived benefits of sharing evidence of determinism, if it is true as it could do more harm than good potentially if it is believed.


Which reminds me of another quote lol. "We live in a machine world. The whole yap of television and newspapers is directed toward reducing effort. The primary goal of the civilization in which we live, it seems, is to reduce all personal effort to zero." The way I see it, switch around "television & newspapers" for the conclusion those fellas want to share. I'd like to know how they came to it. I doubt *I* wouldn't find fault in it, or something significant to disagree with.

Oh yea, and the best saying of all: "one will find what they are looking for," i.e.: we can all find examples to prove that it's all fate, free will, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:51 pm 
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Our perceptions can tell us the truth some of the time. But my point is that the only thing that makes us (or at least, me) think that free will could exist, is our perception of it. Since our perceptions are not to be relied upon on their own, since we know that just because something appears a certain way on face value it isn't proven to be true, you need to look outside that at other evidence to confirm it, and from everything I know on the subject so far, there is no other evidence. Everything science has to say points to determinism that I've come across, most arguments against determinism are in the form of why it's unpleasant to think about and what it would do to society, rather than whether it is factual or not. I am eagerly in search of something which supports free will in a scientific sense, or something which disproves determinism. I'd love it to be the case that determinism is not true, but right now I don't really see how that could be.

I'm quite open to somebody proving fate or free will with evidence or a theory, so far I haven't seen one. Determinism stands up to scrutiny for me at this point in time, I could have my mind changed with a more compelling theory. Physics defines everything and everything behaves in a predictable way ultimately, there needs to be evidence of something else happening to change my mind, otherwise it's really just conjecture about something unknowable. To me it doesn't matter if someone's been to university or written a book, it's possible to understand this particular theory on a practical level I think. I've got no qualifications in science outside highschool. But it's just a simple matter of accepting that physics governs all. But I agree that it is a bummer to think about.

EDIT: A couple of examples of attempted scientific determinism disproving:

1) Subatomic particles appear to move randomly, and no amount of analysis has provided scientists with an explanation of what determines their movements. Some say that this proves that this is the key to free will. This however, is irrelevant for two reasons. Firstly, this random behaviour occurs in all atoms, not just ones in the brain, or even in living beings. Therefore, to say that this grants the brain "free will" is to say that everything else that exists has free will which is crazy. The other thing is that even if you say that this random element could influence things on a larger scale (atoms, cells...) it would still be random. So either everything is random (incorrect), or it lacks influence to sway the predictable cause and effect of physics (correct). So in any case, this theory does not impact determinism.

2) If you were to build a machine which had 100% knowledge of every atom in the universe, if determinism is true, it could predict the future. So you can get a test subject to make a choice of A or B at a set time, but have the machine predict beforehand. But, as a twist, you show the prediction to the test subject and instruct them to do the opposite. Therefore the machine is proved wrong, since to get them to pick A, it has to predict B... but if it predicts B it is wrong! Take that computer/determinism! Not so fast. First of all, you could run the same experiment, but instead of a human test subject, you could have a 2nd computer, programmed to do the reverse of what it is predicted. This way it still beats the first computer's prediction, yet you would not say that the test subject computer has free will. So that busts that one. But there is another reason why it doesn't work - even if the predicting computer has to give a "false" prediction to get you to pick A instead of B, you're still acting out a predictable motion. So all this does is prove that such a machine would have paradoxes and would not work, rather than prove anybody has free will.

And those two are the only scientific reasons I have come across, and the 2nd one is completely theoretical anyway

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