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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: Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:49 am 
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Interesting poll!

I was leaning toward determinism with some free will, but it seems too similar to fate to me. Yes, previous behavior is the best way to predict future behavior, and there are things that happen outside of individual control, we are more likely to do certain things based on our genes or surroundings etc, but in the end. ( I'll throw my own quote in by Frank Herbert.)

"We are free, because we are morally responsible for everything that we do." - The bottom line is there is no one else to hold accountable for what you do but YOU. If that isn't free will I don't know what is.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:59 am 
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Richard wrote:
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.


Looks like you have answered your own poll already :D

If this is your definition of 'determinism' then yes, there is no free will, and using that definition of determinism also makes determinism a scientific, irrefutable fact. So you have answered the poll for everyone! :D

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:16 am 
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Fallen_Horse wrote:
If this is your definition of 'determinism' then yes, there is no free will, and using that definition of determinism also makes determinism a scientific, irrefutable fact. So you have answered the poll for everyone! :D


I don't think my definition of determinism is unusual, that's what it means. At least "hard determinism", which leaves no room for free will. But I have also found that a logical scientific explanation is not enough to convince most people. To me it does seem irrefutable - until there is evidence of something new. But with our current understanding of physics and matter, I can't see how it could be refuted scientifically. But science doesn't appeal to everyone, as Mina says, some people go through an experience which changes their mind on an emotional level, some would say spiritual. So I think that my definition is very far from convincing anyone who would read it!

Others believe that even if everything we are made of is predictable, it doesn't mean that we are, or that "we" are not in control of ourselves. I can't see how that could be, but that's what I generally hear from otherwise rational people

So I'd say just because I have a particular answer to the poll doesn't mean I'm not interested in hearing other's opinions! And I'd like to see the results of the poll, even if I don't learn anything new in terms of theories

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:21 am 
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misteradam wrote:
Interesting poll!

I was leaning toward determinism with some free will, but it seems too similar to fate to me. Yes, previous behavior is the best way to predict future behavior, and there are things that happen outside of individual control, we are more likely to do certain things based on our genes or surroundings etc, but in the end. ( I'll throw my own quote in by Frank Herbert.)

"We are free, because we are morally responsible for everything that we do." - The bottom line is there is no one else to hold accountable for what you do but YOU. If that isn't free will I don't know what is.


The outcome of fate and determinism is the same, in that there would be no free will. But the difference is how or why things happen. Determinism is a scientific theory based on... well pretty much everything! At a basic level looking at atoms, to studying behaviour, and how physics governs everything. Fate on the other hand is not a theory, rather it's a spiritual or superstitious notion that something else (some kind of god, or something people just refer to as "fate") controls everything and that there is actually a plan that everything is part of. They're not compatible ideas.

They're kind of mirrored actually. Determinism states "that happened because of what just happened" and fate says "this will happen in order for that to happen".

Regarding that quote, it assumes that we are responsible for everything we do. I don't assume that in the first instance, and I don't see evidence of it. Assuming that we are responsible already assumes determinism to be false. But if I don't assume anything and look at the facts from the ground up, I don't find room for free will, and therefore "responsibility".

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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:52 pm 
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Thank you for clarifying the two.

Someone can say they aren't responsible for what they do all they want, but will still be held accountable for their decisions. It doesn't matter whether or not someone was fated or determined to pull the trigger, they did it, they had a choice, and made one. I don't see the practical difference between the two beliefs in our current world.

I'm not certain reality can be completely predicted by our current understanding of science, especially my own. If you have a link to an article that talks about it more, though, I'd love to read it.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you believe regarding free will?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:34 am 
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misteradam wrote:
Thank you for clarifying the two.

Someone can say they aren't responsible for what they do all they want, but will still be held accountable for their decisions. It doesn't matter whether or not someone was fated or determined to pull the trigger, they did it, they had a choice, and made one. I don't see the practical difference between the two beliefs in our current world.

I'm not certain reality can be completely predicted by our current understanding of science, especially my own. If you have a link to an article that talks about it more, though, I'd love to read it.


Determinism and fate mean that there is no choice in what we do, therefore "we" are not responsible. If there is only ever 1 thing that can happen, then there was nothing else that could happen, there would be no responsibility. My belief doesn't begin with "there is no responsibility" - my belief begins with "what is happening, why do things happen the way they do?" and all the way down the, physics is responsible. It's after realising / accepting that that I realised that there can't be responsibility if that's true.

Determinism isn't about humans being able to predict what they or anyone else is going to do. It just means that there is only one thing that could happen in any given scenario, that our brains function on a (very complicated) input and output. So when I say "predictable", I certainly don't mean that I could predict to any degree what will happen because the amount of information necessary to make a prediction is way beyond what a human can even fit in their head let alone process :lol:

For instance, if you take a dumptruck and fill it with ping pong balls and empty it over a cliff - you could not predict the path of all of those ping pong balls because it's too much data (sheer number of balss, wind, density of the ground, imperfections in every ball, anything else which might intervene...). But, you also know that there could only be one outcome, because everything is being determined by the laws of physics. If you were able to reproduce that experiment exactly, with every little detail the same, you would expect the same results. Also important to note, even if you don't understand every little detail, you do know the rules, and you can watch the event and say "Yes, that's what I expected, they all went down and bounced around". That's pretty much all a human can appreciate, but we would be surprised if the balls suddenly took off or caught fire for no apparent reason.

Determinism says that we are just as theoretically predictable, even if it's beyond our comprehension, our "choices" are made in the same way that those ping pong balls fall - initially you would say "well, those balls could go anywhere, I don't know" - but thinking about it, you know that there's only one thing that could happen with each ball, even if you personally don't know what that is.

Without appearing to be "name dropping", there is an article by Stephen Hawking in which he says he doesn't see how there could be free will:

http://amiquote.tumblr.com/post/2318471 ... -have-free

Most articles on the subject seem to be needlessly complex, and bring in all kinds of philosophy and are a chore to read...

This is quite a concise and easy to understand video (even if the guy seems to be a serial killer of some kind)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEZKIV8TzuM

He sums up pretty much everything there, but to be frank I've already said everything he says in this thread.

When I was first introduced to determinism (though didn't know it was called that at the time) I rejected it and was actually offended. Determinism means that along with everything else, there's no such thing as creativity or originality. Personality is just how you are, there's nothing to be praised for, no such thing as achievement... and so on. It seemed quite hurtful because I was always very proud of what I did, and so to think that I didn't "deserve" praise for it seemed outrageous. Beyond this, it almost makes one feel like they don't "exist" - if you don't have free will, then you can't choose anything, you are just reacting. I would get in arguments with my bro (who told me about it) saying things to him like "My brain controls my actions, but I'm in control of my brain!". I now realise that's a nonsense statement, for what am "I", if not just a body and a brain? Not being spiritual at all, I can't see room for anything else, so if the brain is a physical object, it is defined by physics like everything else.

Once I stopped looking at it on a personal level, and realised that I am made of the same things as everything else in the universe, it humbled me and put everything in perspective. Those building blocks cannot be said to have free will, and I'd say that anything made up of them has no free will by definition. So what makes "me" special? I am just another bunch of atoms in a ridiculously huge universe. Why would we be able to have an effect over the laws of physics which govern every single other thing in the universe (as far as we know). It became apparent to me that it was more than a little self-centred to reject the theory on the grounds that I was. I was able to look at things without that personal bias, and accept the scientific and logical evidence, despite the feeling of free will that I experience.

TL:DR - If physics control everything in a predictable way, and your brain is not predictable, then it must be doing something which breaks the laws of physics, which there is no evidence of.

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