Wait, can free will exist?

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Wait, can free will exist?

Postby webgrunt » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:44 pm UTC

Please forgive me is this topic has been thoroughly hashed out by others here, this is somewhat new to me.

Though I feel like I have free will, from what I know of physics, the brain is like any other chemical or electrochemical process completely controlled by the laws of physics. To me, that leaves no mechanism through which free will can exist, save the supernatural, but I don't find enough reliable evidence for the supernatural to take it seriously. The conclusion I see, unless I'm mistaken, is that humans don't have free will and in fact the very concept of it is nonsense.

Am I wrong?

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Dopefish » Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:51 am UTC

As long as you're not too attached to the notion of causality, you could probably go with some sort of interpretation of quantum mechanics in which your free will acts as a hidden variable of sorts, since chemistry/physics and such that one might otherwise think of as deterministic arises out of the probabilistic nature of quantum.

Although to be fair people tend to like causality, so that may not be the best way to go about it.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:13 am UTC

Nah. There's definitely an answer that I'm sure we can logically come to.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Xanthir » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:16 am UTC

Define "free will".

I'm not being facetious. There is no way to have a conversation about "free will" without defining just what is meant by the term. Otherwise the conversation will just be a lot of hand-waving over "No, I didn't mean that" and "No, I didn't meant that either".

The answer, by the way, is "no". Every event is either deterministic or random. The former means there's no free will, as the event is totally determined by past history. The latter means there's no free will, as there's no "will" underlying the event, just a random choice. To get around this you have to define "free will" as an illusion brought about by incomplete knowledge about sufficiently-complex systems. That is, we assume a system has "free will" when it displays certain types of behavior (specifically, behavior that looks like it's alive and acting due to roughly-human goals), and we can't easily explain exactly why the system displays that behavior.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Twistar » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:28 am UTC

webgrunt wrote:the brain is like any other chemical or electrochemical process completely controlled by the laws of physics.


So the philosophical term for this idea is determinism. Determinism is the philosophical stance that if the state of the universe is entirely known at any instant that the entire future can be predicted by careful application of the laws that govern the universe. Classical mechanics (i.e. non-quantum) is a deterministic model of the universe. As far as I understand it quantum mechanics is generally NOT regarded to be a deterministic model. If I understand correctly the wave function evolves deterministically, but whether something is observed to be in one state or another is probabilistic.
So this is one crossroads of this debate. "Is the universe deterministic?" I would say that you are safe assuming that the universe is NOT deterministic because of how quantum physics is interpreted, however the physicists may be wrong and it is still reasonable to investigate the implications of a deterministic universe.

So now we're at another cross-roads. ASSUMING the universe is not deterministic, how does it work? Is every event in the universe entirely random or is there something that controls the events and what does that even mean? I don't know much about alternatives to determinism. I think this has to do with the fact that my mind thinks of the universe as deterministic. If I drop a rock it will fall, this is the type of thinking my mind is used to.

The next MAJOR crossroads of this discussion that usually makes it diverge into garbled non-sense is the definition of free-will. I am going to go ahead and say here that my definition of free-will is NOT compatible with determinism (which makes me a incompatibilist) so if you want to argue that determinism and free-will can coexist you will need to convince me to alter my definition of free will. If all of my actions could have been predicted then I don't have free will, that's simply not what I mean when I say free will. So when I say free will I am talking about something that can't be predicted given the total state of the universe. I am also probably talking about something that an agent has control over. This means that if the universe is entirely random I also don't think there is free will. And I'm going to be honest and say that I don't really know what those last two sentences mean.

Consciousness also gets thrown into this discussion a lot. The main thing I have to say about consciousness is that there is no scientific explanation for it whatsoever. This is probably because physics only addresses matter and energy, and consciousness seems to be different than these things. Otherwise consciousness is just as ill-defined as free-will and this usually de-rails these discussions.

So I don't know if this thread will get closed and diverted to another one of the free-will/consciousness threads or not but if not then I hope we can start it more or less on the same page.

edit: double ninja
So Xanthir, one relevant question, is the determinism/randomness really a dilemma or is there a third option that we hadn't even counted upon? I can't think of anything so I'm inclined to say no, but I also didn't think there was any possible alternative to determinism until I learned about quantum mechanics and it still blows my mind.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby scarecrovv » Tue Jun 14, 2011 2:18 am UTC

My take: it seems to me that all events (including the state of my brain) are governed by physical laws, and that the things I feel, desire, think, and do are determined by some non-magic mechanism. I believe that this is so because it seems reasonable, given the evidence I have seen, and I have seen no convincing evidence or argument for any opposing position. Given that this is so, I can't even think of a definition of free will that makes logical sense, except for the following (which I'm sure many people will consider to be incomplete, simplistic, etc): I have free will if I am able to act upon the universe in furtherance of my goals. Clearly I am able to, and I therefore have free will. The fact that my goals may be determined by processes external to myself doesn't make me any less happy when I achieve my goals. That's good enough for me.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Coffee » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:03 am UTC

If there's no free will, then I am not responsible for anything I do, since it's all pre-determined and I have no say in the matter.
Since I'm not responsible for it, if I do something illegal, I shouldn't go to jail, since that would be punishing me for actions for which I am not responsible.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:39 am UTC

Rather than rehash the same freshman philosophy questions and logic paths, why doesn't someone just link any of the four billion threads on free will and be done with it? Someone with better board-fu than I, that is.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Xanthir » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:49 am UTC

Twistar wrote:So Xanthir, one relevant question, is the determinism/randomness really a dilemma or is there a third option that we hadn't even counted upon? I can't think of anything so I'm inclined to say no, but I also didn't think there was any possible alternative to determinism until I learned about quantum mechanics and it still blows my mind.

No, an event is either determined or not(/random). The fact that there isn't a third way is precisely why "free will" is an incoherent concept if you try to posit it as a real thing, and not an illusion caused by imperfect predictive ability.

Coffee wrote:If there's no free will, then I am not responsible for anything I do, since it's all pre-determined and I have no say in the matter.
Since I'm not responsible for it, if I do something illegal, I shouldn't go to jail, since that would be punishing me for actions for which I am not responsible.

First, this is an argument from consequences, which is a fallacy. You can't disprove something by arguing that if it were true, bad things would happen.

Second, it doesn't follow. You're assuming both that you don't have free will (your actions are predetermined) and that you do (you assume it's unjust because you're "not responsible", implying that you have a notion of "responsibility", which is another word for free will). Your argument has a trivial answer - the punishment we mete out now may be part of the series of events that later determine that you don't commit another crime.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby krogoth » Tue Jun 14, 2011 4:12 am UTC

You have a choice, the answer is just predetermined.(i think that was in the matrix somewhere) I would say the argument of free will or not is rather academic, and only when we need to be able to charge something non-human with human laws might it matter.

I had a longer post, but thought this would be enough.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby ikrase » Tue Jun 14, 2011 4:51 am UTC

My philosophical answer to this is not good. It's a razor. (like Occam's).
We appear to have free will. We have decided to talk about having free will. If we do not have free will, then deciding to talk about free will is meaningless.

My physical answer to this is that probabilistic things don't have to be really probabilistic. Suppose you have a die. When thrown thousands of times, this die appears to fall just as it should, with the observed frequencies matching the predicted ones. And yet, this die can arbitrarily determine which way to fall when you are playing a critical dice game. But it won't mess up its probability for any little thing. You can never prove that it actually is playing tricks. And yet it totally is. This of course goes against Occam's Razor. Which, of course, has been repeatedly broken really bad.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Eseell » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:07 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Rather than rehash the same freshman philosophy questions and logic paths, why doesn't someone just link any of the four billion threads on free will and be done with it? Someone with better board-fu than I, that is.

What, like this one? Or this other one? Both of which have exactly the same premise as this thread and are in SB, contain the words "free" and "will" in the thead title, and have thoroughly flogged deceased equines?
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:08 am UTC

Eseell wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:Rather than rehash the same freshman philosophy questions and logic paths, why doesn't someone just link any of the four billion threads on free will and be done with it? Someone with better board-fu than I, that is.

What, like this one? Or this other one? Both of which have exactly the same premise and are in SB and have thoroughly flogged deceased equines?

Impressive demonstration young warrior!
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:59 am UTC

Oh, but in SB, you are allowed to pretend things besides the natural world exist. Over here, not so much. Ergo, no free will. Sorry comrades.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby King Author » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:01 am UTC

Coffee wrote:If there's no free will, then I am not responsible for anything I do, since it's all pre-determined and I have no say in the matter.
Since I'm not responsible for it, if I do something illegal, I shouldn't go to jail, since that would be punishing me for actions for which I am not responsible.

But you can't blame the police for arresting you and judge for sentencing you to jail, because they couldn't help it either :p

doogly wrote:Oh, but in SB, you are allowed to pretend things besides the natural world exist. Over here, not so much. Ergo, no free will. Sorry comrades.

I knew you were gonna say that :p

To be serious and on-topic, though, why would the fact that our brains operate according to the laws of physics prevent free will? Like whats-his-name, I'm not being facetious -- I'm literally asking; why? It's assumed that free will can't arise from natural, physical phenomenon, only from supernatural "magic" phenomenon (which patently don't exist). But who ever proved that?

I think the question "do we have free will" is backwards. Before asking someone to demonstrate that free will can exist in a materialistic, physical, law-abiding universe, you have to demonstrate that it can't, or at least give a damn good reason why it shouldn't.

Although, with conversations like this, I always find it helpful to distinguish between everyday reality and scientific reality. In the colloquial, everyday sense, free will clearly exists -- I can do whatever I want. ng0203tuspoia5t98wqhgfhi8gt3r9q97590ht. George W. Bush is the smartest man alive. 99 sticks of butter and a whole chicken! So can you. Try it. The only question is whether the underlying physical mechanism of my behaviors, which doesn't have any meaningful implications for everyday life, is "truly" free.

Then again, with the way quantum physics is going, the whole universe is probably an illusion anyway, so it doesn't really matter :p
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:05 am UTC

I say it can't exist because of my definition of free will (which is a good one that everyone should adopt):
"The ability of some agent to affect the local state of a system despite Cauchy having said that everything ought to have been determined by initial data at earlier times."
Free will says that there are things in nature more powerful than differential equations. I say this is balderdash.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby sikyon » Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:34 am UTC

I think, therefore I am. I do not know that my experiences are actually real, that my memories are real or that anyone else exists with certainty. Infact, given that my body changes from moment to moment at an atomic and molecular level, I am never the same person as I was a moment ago. Yet I observe no discontinuity in my existence. Does free will ultimately matter? If I am governed by chemical reactions at an atomic level, do I ever make a conscious choice as a composite being even if the universe is not deterministic? I observe that I do. Therefore, it does not matter to me if I am infact governed by some higher law. Free will is a pointless concept when I consider that my own consciousness is the whole of my personal universe.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby King Author » Tue Jun 14, 2011 4:19 pm UTC

doogly wrote:I say it can't exist because of my definition of free will (which is a good one that everyone should adopt):
"The ability of some agent to affect the local state of a system despite Cauchy having said that everything ought to have been determined by initial data at earlier times."
Free will says that there are things in nature more powerful than differential equations. I say this is balderdash.

*belly laugh*
"If you agree with my tautologic definition, you have to agree with my conclusion."

I think you misunderstand -- if you say "x is true" and I say "prove it," then if you want to prove it, you have to prove it to me, you can't tell me that I have to adopt your preconceptions. That'd be preposterous. "Well, if you'll just admit that I'm right about X, then you'll agree I'm right about Y."

Though, to take your definition at face value...
1) When was Cauchy proven correct in his assumption?
2) How do you go from "things are determined by their previous data" to "free will says that's wrong?" Why do you say that something can't affect its system unless it violates the notion of "previous states?"
3) Do you realize that there is true randomness? Atomic decay, for instance, doesn't rely on its previous states; it just happens randomly. Truly randomly. We can prove mathematically that it's actually random. Thus, Cauchy is wrong and your definition falls apart.

(P.S. Saying "I think my idea is really good and that everybody else should believe it" doesn't score you any points. Just sayin'.)

@sikyon: Actually, it's a popular myth that the cells in your body are completely replaced regularly. It's a much slower process than most people think -- you still have molecules in you that your body first produced about ten years ago. So if you're in your twenties, all the molecules you were born with are gone, but the molecules from your awkward teen years are still there.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:01 pm UTC

I will entertain any alternative coherent proposal for "free will."
Atomic decay does not do any bad things to the unitary evolution of states.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:16 pm UTC

King Author wrote:I think you misunderstand -- if you say "x is true" and I say "prove it," then if you want to prove it, you have to prove it to me, you can't tell me that I have to adopt your preconceptions.
Then please explain *your* preconceptions. If you can't precisely define what you mean by free will, we can't prove anything to you about it.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Moose Hole » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

We can determine future actions, up to a point where there is a choice, and we don't understand that choice.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:32 pm UTC

So free will is defined in terms of our ignorance of the underlying mechanics, whatever they may or may not be?
Then the existence of free will is a trivially true fact.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby webgrunt » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:08 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:Define "free will".

I'm not being facetious. There is no way to have a conversation about "free will" without defining just what is meant by the term. Otherwise the conversation will just be a lot of hand-waving over "No, I didn't mean that" and "No, I didn't meant that either".



Ah, yes. If free will doesn't exist, then I don't think it can be defined in any way that makes sense. So your request to define it points me towards the conclusion that it doesn't exist.

Thanks to you and everyone else who posted here for your willingness to re-hash this tired issue for me, I greatly appreciate it and feel I do have a better understanding now.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby lati0s » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:24 pm UTC

Even if the universe is deterministic I think free will can exist. I think that many people see determinism as the opposite of free will because they too easily make the connection between something being determined and something being determined by outside influences. Suppose that we lived in a deterministic universe (some interpretations of QM are deterministic others are not) then each universal state would determine the next state with perfect accuracy, this would seem to imply that our actions are determined by outside influences, namely the state of the universe and the laws of physics this makes free will seem implausible. But these are not just outside influences, they are internal influences too. I am a part of the universe so if my actions are determined by the universe they are in part determined by me. It is this aspect, the effect on ones actions caused by one's internal state, that I call free will.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:56 pm UTC

This stops being a reasonable thing to call free will if all of your internal states are the deterministic result of conditions set in 1900 (to go back a cosmically modest time still quite significant to damage the notion of a self with meaningful agency)
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby lati0s » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:27 am UTC

It may be true that your internal states are the result of deterministic processes but I don't see this as defeating the concept of free will, to me free will me that who you are affects what you choose, this is true in a deterministic universe even if who you are and consequently what you choose is the result of deterministic processes.

I realize that my definition may not fit exactly with what people think of as free will but I find it far more useful than the patently impossible, inconsistent with randomness and inconsistent with determinism definition.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Twistar » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:35 am UTC

lati0s wrote:I realize that my definition may not fit exactly with what people think of as free will but I find it far more useful than the patently impossible, inconsistent with randomness and inconsistent with determinism definition.

This. I would rather stick with what I think of as free will and say it doesn't exist than alter my definition just so that it can exist.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby thoughtfully » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:29 am UTC

lati0s wrote:It may be true that your internal states are the result of deterministic processes but I don't see this as defeating the concept of free will, to me free will me that who you are affects what you choose, this is true in a deterministic universe even if who you are and consequently what you choose is the result of deterministic processes.

I realize that my definition may not fit exactly with what people think of as free will but I find it far more useful than the patently impossible, inconsistent with randomness and inconsistent with determinism definition.

This seems to me to rely on another useful fiction that is impossible to define rigorously: identity.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby GeorgeH » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:51 am UTC

When you control a character in a video game, can that character have free will?

If you say no, “free will” doesn’t exist as a concept at all, regardless of definition. If you say yes, then we have "free will", regardless of definition. Saying “yes” or “no” has the same significance as answering the question “Do you want fries with that?”

There’s probably a reason I never did well in philosophy classes.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Plasma Man » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:34 pm UTC

Can anyone come up with an idea for experimentally verifying free will? I've been thinking about this off and on for a while, and haven't been able to come up with one. As far as I can tell, to prove that an entity has free will, you must observe them making a decision, then rewind time and see if they can make a different decision.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Twistar » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:57 pm UTC

Plasma Man wrote:Can anyone come up with an idea for experimentally verifying free will? I've been thinking about this off and on for a while, and haven't been able to come up with one. As far as I can tell, to prove that an entity has free will, you must observe them making a decision, then rewind time and see if they can make a different decision.

The problem with this is that it might be the case that I pick heads when someone flips a coin and then we rewind time and I pick tails the next time, but this would be possible in a random universe, and has already been discussed a random universe ALSO implies the non-existence of free will.
thoughtfully wrote:
lati0s wrote:It may be true that your internal states are the result of deterministic processes but I don't see this as defeating the concept of free will, to me free will me that who you are affects what you choose, this is true in a deterministic universe even if who you are and consequently what you choose is the result of deterministic processes.

I realize that my definition may not fit exactly with what people think of as free will but I find it far more useful than the patently impossible, inconsistent with randomness and inconsistent with determinism definition.

This seems to me to rely on another useful fiction that is impossible to define rigorously: identity.

I think part of the problem here is that we (as we usually do on this forum) are attacking free will from a materialist perspective and as far as I can tell the existence of free will is going to rely on the existence of an immaterial self, which could naturally never be detected by science since it is immaterial.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Dopefish » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:46 pm UTC

I'm not totally convinced that a random universe implies no free will, if you allow for the possibility that your free will is a mechanism by which some of the probabilities can be influenced (not necessarily to the point of certainty and not necessarily in a conscious manner).

If the mind can be treated as separate from the brain (albeit strongly correlated), then certain (free) thought processes could lead to certain regions of the brain being more likely to be activated, and due to various feedback processes give rise to our actions.

I believe that various studies can stimulate different parts of the brain and cause various physiological responses, but I don't think they necessarily give rise to specific thoughts. You can get a pretty good idea of what sort of thoughts you might expect as a result of a particular stimulation, but the exact wording/shape/<suitable descriptor for thoughts> would be down to the individual, and not determined solely by the configuration of their neurons or other physical processes.

My attempt to define free will would be: That which makes it impossible for an external entity to determine the exact probabilities of my future states, even if given all information about my present and past states and access to limitless computational power.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby userxp » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:31 pm UTC

I'm sorry I don't have time to read the whole thread, but I'll copy and paste a reply I wrote in another free will thread.

This post had objectionable content.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby WarDaft » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:45 pm UTC

I have a very rigorous definition of free will, and thanks to that, my version exists whether the universe is deterministic, random, or other, merely by being a sufficiently intelligent unconstrained system.

An intelligent being has "free will" if there is no constraint on actions it may consider performing save for information storage size and processing time, nor on the selection of methods by which the being may evaluate which is it's preferred action, again save for information storage size and processing time. The being is free if its selected choice is not prohibited by its legal status.

Under this definition (most) humans have free will, and computers (so far) do not. Animals are debatable. I see no reason to require that a being "believe" itself "conscious" to describe its decision making process as free willed. I have no intention of trying to define *those* terms however.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby doogly » Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:25 pm UTC

userxp wrote:I'm sorry I don't have time to read the whole thread, but I'll copy and paste a reply I wrote in another free will thread.

It's a one page thread so far. If you can't be bothered to read it, that's fine, but in that case I think the conversation is doing fine without you.
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Scyrus » Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:19 pm UTC

Dopefish wrote:I'm not totally convinced that a random universe implies no free will, if you allow for the possibility that your free will is a mechanism by which some of the probabilities can be influenced (not necessarily to the point of certainty and not necessarily in a conscious manner).

If the mind can be treated as separate from the brain (albeit strongly correlated), then certain (free) thought processes could lead to certain regions of the brain being more likely to be activated, and due to various feedback processes give rise to our actions.

I believe that various studies can stimulate different parts of the brain and cause various physiological responses, but I don't think they necessarily give rise to specific thoughts. You can get a pretty good idea of what sort of thoughts you might expect as a result of a particular stimulation, but the exact wording/shape/<suitable descriptor for thoughts> would be down to the individual, and not determined solely by the configuration of their neurons or other physical processes.


I mostly agree with this.

Bear with me until the very end before any reply:

I theorize that, although the way the universe plays out is due to probability, conscious beings with free will that live within may be able to slightly alter these probabilities at a sub-atomic level in the control center of an individual, in our case the brain, and give rise to thoughts and actions that are independent of this universe's laws (as proposed by Dopefish). This consciousness or free will may be external to the universe, like an astral body that exists in a more fundamental plane of existence. This, however, implies the existence of a reality outside our universe, which we cannot yet provide physical evidence for.

I'd say there is insufficient data to arrive at a conclusion about free will. To my understanding, for the determinism argument to be valid, it has to be proven that the universe is indeed deterministic, which may not be if there are external forces, because people are basing this on their understandings of causality. It must be first proven that our universe is unique or independent of anything that may or may not exist outside for anyone to state that the laws of physics as we perceive them are right and absolute.

Then again, the universe starting out of nothing violates most (perhaps every, I do not know them) law of physics by which it lives by today.There is no thing as free energy, I am usually told, so the energy released at the time of the Big Bang must have come from somewhere, though this is just a hint at exotic realities, not proof.

As I have stated before, we have insufficient data to claim anything about the existence of free will and take it as an absolute truth. You may state it as a theory, as I have tried to, because they can be proven untrue in the future, like all of science, but you cannot deny the possibility of the existence of free will any more than the ancients could deny heliocentrism.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby Angua » Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:25 pm UTC

Dopefish wrote:I believe that various studies can stimulate different parts of the brain and cause various physiological responses, but I don't think they necessarily give rise to specific thoughts. You can get a pretty good idea of what sort of thoughts you might expect as a result of a particular stimulation, but the exact wording/shape/<suitable descriptor for thoughts> would be down to the individual, and not determined solely by the configuration of their neurons or other physical processes.
You can get some pretty specific stuff with brain stimulation, eg if you stimulate some areas, then the person gets the urge to move the corresponding body part, without knowing why.

Also, we start getting activity about half a millisecond before we even realise that we've made the decision to move, so can we have free will that we aren't conscious of?
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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby webgrunt » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:21 pm UTC

Angua wrote:... we start getting activity about half a millisecond before we even realise that we've made the decision to move...


I just found out about this recently, and it makes me wonder WTF this thing I think of as "me" is and if it's even remotely like the concept I have of it.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby FrancovS » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:31 pm UTC

Scyrus wrote: This consciousness or free will may be external to the universe, like an astral body that exists in a more fundamental plane of existence.


The catch is that this more fundamental plane of existence is also either deterministic or random. If it's not random, then you could predict how your soul would interfere with our world given its yin/yang ratio.

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Re: Wait, can free will exist?

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:34 pm UTC

And if it is random, that doesn't seem especially like free will either.
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