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  1. #21
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    The problem is: How do you KNOW that we are entirely dependent on everything around us in regards to making decisions?

    It seems to me much like God: How on earth can one possibly prove that free will DOESN'T exist at all? Perhaps there is still a minute portion of our consciousness, that one "last private inch" of ourselves, that operates independently. We have no way to explore the truth of that, or articulate it. It might not exist.

    But there's no way to prove it doesn't.

    And if there is any smidgen of free will in a decision, then there is (to some degree) "free will."

    I don't know, that is what comes to mind at the moment.
    First off, we have to get our burdens of proof sorted out and decide who is making the claim. If you claim free will exists, you bear the burden of providing evidence for it. A person should just assume free will exists just as a person shouldn't assume God exists without proof.

    With that said, I'm still working on a disproof, even though I don't bear the burden of disproving anything. I would start from the physical laws of the universe, which can be used to determine the future with almost complete precision. That almost is due to quantum uncertainty. So the question is whether human observation can affect the outcome of those quantum events. The answer would seem to be yes, since observation can cause waveforms to collapse, etc, etc. But what caused the person to make the observation? Again, we turn to the physical laws of the universe and say that the decision was predicated on past physical states. Could THOSE physical states have been influenced by human observation? Sure, but we just keep running into the same problem ad infinitum until we get to the point where there is no human observation, and then you're fucked.

    The only way out of it is to have something independent of this chain of causation, but if there is no separate self, there's nothing to break from of the causal chain and act as independent observer.

  2. #22

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    I believe in free will version 1.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  3. #23
    filling some space UnitOfPopulation's Avatar
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    Compatibilism for the win.

    Extrapolation is often hard and the results erroneous - seeing that we're able to find more of the mechanisms embedded in our physical world and the nature, doesn't mean we'll find deterministic mechanisms for everything, nor that everything would run under such mechanisms.

    Edit: you put your assumptions to the extrapolation - you extrapolate, you get your assumptions fed back to you.

    If you assume the limit will approach 1 at infinity and you extrapolate, you'll get the function approach 1 at infinity.

    Extrapolation is only good to get something that you don't know from something that you do know.
    Last edited by UnitOfPopulation; 03-06-2008 at 08:46 AM.
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  4. #24
    Member Eye-In-TiPi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dissonance View Post
    Free Will:
    1. The ability or discretion to choose; free choice: chose to remain behind of my own free will.
    2. The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will.

    Determinism:
    The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs.

    Compatibilism:
    the above two definitions do not contradict eachother, and are both true.

    which stance do you take?
    I gave this some more thought and it seems to me that the concept of time weighs heavily in which stance makes the most sense. If time is completely ignored, then determinism probably wins. On the other hand, if time is factored in, I favor free will. The past cannot be changed, so free will does not apply at all to the past. The same is true of the future. We're not there yet, so we can't do anything in the future. We are heading there, though, so free will will become applicable to future points in time. When we get there it won't be the future anymore. It will briefly be the present and quickly become the past, and therefore unchangeable. The future doesn't exist yet but it is expected to arrive into the present. The future will be exactly what it will be, no matter what we do to change it, so determinism holds for the future, if only loosely. My conclusion is that free will, determinism, and compatibilism could all be valid stances to take depending on how time is factored in. Free will only exists in the present, so it really only exists for a neglible part of the time, but it always exists for what we call 'now.' I'm probably still missing something, but that's my take on it, for 'now.'

  5. #25
    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dissonance View Post
    why bother trying????

    you could really say that about anything...
    You can say that for much of philosophy. Most philosophical discussions to me are merely discussions. You don't get results out of them. Interesting ideas to pass time with perhaps, but that's about it. I don't dwell in philosophy for the arguments... more about how people come up with their ideas. I look at the process, not the outcome for a philosophical debate (if I even bother paying attention that is).

    In some ways, my stance for free will vs determinism stems from a practical approach. Belief of free will helps keep me going... whether that's an illusionary belief or not doesn't matter.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by dissonance View Post
    Free Will:
    1. The ability or discretion to choose; free choice: chose to remain behind of my own free will.
    2. The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will.

    Determinism:
    The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs.

    Compatibilism:
    the above two definitions do not contradict eachother, and are both true.

    which stance do you take?
    I take compatibilism. I've come up with an example of what our lives are like. Do you remember those books where it gave you a choice (if you want to kill the guy, go to pg 44). I think that is what our lives are like. A web of events that we choose to go to. The only problem is that we don't know what event we are choosing when we make our choices.

  7. #27
    Senior Member millerm277's Avatar
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    I think I go for compatibilism.

    You have the ability to make your own choices, but the range of choices you have is limited and influenced by what has happened before.
    I-95%, S-84%, T-89%, P-84%

  8. #28
    Senior Member nemo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    First off, we have to get our burdens of proof sorted out and decide who is making the claim. If you claim free will exists, you bear the burden of providing evidence for it. A person should just assume free will exists just as a person shouldn't assume God exists without proof.

    With that said, I'm still working on a disproof, even though I don't bear the burden of disproving anything. I would start from the physical laws of the universe, which can be used to determine the future with almost complete precision. That almost is due to quantum uncertainty. So the question is whether human observation can affect the outcome of those quantum events. The answer would seem to be yes, since observation can cause waveforms to collapse, etc, etc. But what caused the person to make the observation? Again, we turn to the physical laws of the universe and say that the decision was predicated on past physical states. Could THOSE physical states have been influenced by human observation? Sure, but we just keep running into the same problem ad infinitum until we get to the point where there is no human observation, and then you're fucked.

    The only way out of it is to have something independent of this chain of causation, but if there is no separate self, there's nothing to break from of the causal chain and act as independent observer.
    You do realize that the wave function you mentioned with regards to quantum mechanics is really just a state vector that gives probability distributions, right?

    So even if you had perfect information about a system, it is still inherently probabilistic. It's in no way deterministic.

    If you want to posit that the universe is deterministic, that's fine; but you're going to have to come up with a quantum field theory that accounts for the "hidden variables" that would make QM deterministic.

    So I think the question of who has the burden of proof is much more complicated than that.

    Also, people talk about collapsing the wave function like its some sort of mystical atomic-consciousness interaction, but it's really not that much different than drawing cards from a (very weird, and loaded) deck and looking at them. Physicists just come up with some lunatic interpretations of mathematics, but alas...

    My view of this topic is more akin to nightning's: it seems inherently unanswerable, so I don't see the point in pursuing it. I'm more skeptical that the relationship between "cause" and "effect" is totally well-understood, too; sometimes the distinction seems human-created, and I wonder how meaningful it really is outside of our minds.
    You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. - Jack London

  9. #29
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    Fate can be seen as the inevitability of a course of events predetermined by God or other agency beyond human control. Fatalism is the acceptance of all events as inevitable. If one sees oneself as "fate's messenger" one'd be unburdened by any sense of responsibility for one's actions. Ironically, it is the rejection of the concept of free will that makes one so free to be authentic. If in your world all events are determined by factors beyond your control, concepts such as 'good' and 'evil' or 'guilt' and 'innocence' are nothing but artificial constructs. Nietzsche writes:

    The fable of intelligible freedom: Now one finally discovers that this human nature, too, cannot be accountable, in as much as it is a necessary consequence and assembled from the elements and influences of things past and present: That is to say that man can be made accountable for nothing, not for his nature, nor for his motives, nor for his actions, nor for the effects he produces. One has thereby attained to the knowledge that the history of the moral sensations is the history of an error, the error of accountability which rests on the error of freedom of the will ... The proposition is as clear as daylight, and yet here everyone prefers to retreat back into the shadows and untruth: from fear of the consequences.

    -Nietzsche, "Human, All Too Human"

  10. #30
    Wannabe genius Splittet's Avatar
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    I believe in determinism, and the fact that the universe is not necessarily perfectly deterministic, doesn't mean humans make choices, because it is not we who control the probabilistic quantum world. That being said, compatibilism can make sense with certain definitions of free will, and I find the way Hume arguments interesting. Still though, compatibilism some times feels like rationalizing. Humans have an uncanny ability of seeing themselves as special, and will stop at nothing to achieve it.
    "Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius." - Wolfgang Amadé Mozart

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