• You are currently viewing our forum as a guest, which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community, you will have access to additional post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), view blogs, respond to polls, upload content, and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free, so please join our community today! Just click here to register. You should turn your Ad Blocker off for this site or certain features may not work properly. If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us by clicking here.

Free Will vs. Determinism.

Free Will or Determinism?


  • Total voters
    41

Passacaglia

New member
Joined
Dec 7, 2014
Messages
645
I hope for free-will, but I interact with others based on the greater possibility of determinism driving their choices and behavior. Sometimes I'll even encourage myself or others with the theory of free-will because perhaps it introduces an element into the deterministic system that makes it easier to make a choice outside of previous determined possibilities. It means introducing the idea of a choice going against nature and environment into a system where aligning choices with genetics and environment will only get you a bad result.
Oh, I absolutely think that this is part of the reason that the concept of free will has survived all these centuries! The very act of treating people as if they have free will can create a deterministic cause, which may then push them toward one effect or another.

For example, take a parent telling a teen "I won't allow you to smoke. If you choose to smoke and I catch you, I'll ground you for a week." The teen now has a cause (reason) to avoid smoking that she didn't have before. Whether this cause will be enough to counteract possible opposing causes -- peer pressure, the impulse to rebel, sheer teenage supidity, etc. -- is of course another matter. :dry:
 

Julius_Van_Der_Beak

Guardian of Ga'Hoole
Joined
Jul 24, 2008
Messages
16,505
MBTI Type
INTP
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
sp/so
No option for compatibilists?

What is that?


I hope for free-will, but I interact with others based on the greater possibility of determinism driving their choices and behavior. Sometimes I'll even encourage myself or others with the theory of free-will because perhaps it introduces an element into the deterministic system that makes it easier to make a choice outside of previous determined possibilities. It means introducing the idea of a choice going against nature and environment into a system where aligning choices with genetics and environment will only get you a bad result.

I wonder if the emphasis I place on cause and effect is possibly contributing to a sense of stagnancy. While determinism is logical and seems to explain things quite well, and is (IMO) likely to be correct, I wonder if an emphasis on choice, on free will, doesn't leave more room for action. If everything is seen only in terms of cause and effect, perhaps it is difficult to break habits. Could it be that the concept of free will has the effect of innovation and change? Perhaps it is possible that, even if it doesn't actually exist, the illusion is useful.

An over-emphasis on determinism might have the side effect of assuming that present conditions reflect all possible future conditions. Because something is a fact now, it becomes easy and tempting to conclude that something will always be a fact in the future. The thing is, though, that all of us lack complete information, and miss pieces of the puzzle. Maybe what free will does is allows us to act without having those pieces we can probably never obtain, anyway.
 

Siúil a Rúin

To the waters of the wild
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
13,268
MBTI Type
ISFP
Enneagram
496
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
Should you go for Chinese or pizza? Throw a coin and let it decide. Who made that choice? Was that freewill? Are you the coin or are you a person controlled by one? Are you the unpredictable winds blowing around coin and shaping it's fall? It's the same problem with quantum mechanics, the same with a soul. Freewill is fundamentally about the displacement of the self, like a more personal version of god of the gaps. But all these thoughts experiments, and the way we've rationalized free will throughout the years, kind of tell you something. We try to make sense of freewill by empowering something to govern us in a way we can't predict or know how it works.

The essential experience we are trying to rationalize with freewill is not knowing why we do something. It's what we experience before the coin falls to the ground and we've seen which way is up, the experience between the time a new question or situation comes up and the moment when we've made a choice and know the answer. We are self aware, but not enough to never be surprised. Later you will add this to the list of things you've done, later it will fit in the patterns you know yourself by or maybe even teach you new patterns, but right now you are making a choice and you aren't sure what it is yet. And that experience is real. Maybe every particle in your brain had no where to go but the place it ended up in, but it didn't get there until it did. You really are processing an experience between multiple perceived possibilities, you are taking a cognitive action of making a choice.

Your will isn't free, but it's your own, and it's choices are real.

I voted Jar jar binks. Because George Lucas had a choice. You didn't have to do it George! You didn't have to do it! :cry:
This post put me in mind of conversations I had with elderly Alzeheimer patients. The interesting thing about speaking with an individual with little or no short-term memory is that you get to experience a "time-loop".

As I sat in the cafeteria at meal-time at an assisted living facility, an elderly woman with minimal short-term memory sat down, looked out the window and said, "There sure is a lot of wind today. I hope that wind dies down soon." Then in about ten seconds, she says it again, and again. Then one time she says, "That's Lillian sitting over there. I haven't spoken to her for a while." Then in another ten seconds, "There sure is a lot of wind…"

It provides a unique opportunity into seeing the process of mundane decision within a human being. Given that specific set of conditions, 9 times out of 10 that specific woman will say the exact same phrase (word for word even). Then statistically she is also capable of a different response. I suspect this could represent a great deal of how human decision works. Given a certain set of conditions, an individual will typically respond in some particular way, although there are also outlier responses. When we view alert people in linear time, we don't have the opportunity to see if they would replay those same events with the same decisions, but I suspect it would be something like what I saw in the Alzeheimer patient.
 

sprinkles

Mojibake
Joined
Jul 5, 2012
Messages
2,959
MBTI Type
INFJ
This post put me in mind of conversations I had with elderly Alzeheimer patients. The interesting thing about speaking with an individual with little or no short-term memory is that you get to experience a "time-loop".

As I sat in the cafeteria at meal-time at an assisted living facility, an elderly woman with minimal short-term memory sat down, looked out the window and said, "There sure is a lot of wind today. I hope that wind dies down soon." Then in about ten seconds, she says it again, and again. Then one time she says, "That's Lillian sitting over there. I haven't spoken to her for a while." Then in another ten seconds, "There sure is a lot of wind…"

It provides a unique opportunity into seeing the process of mundane decision within a human being. Given that specific set of conditions, 9 times out of 10 that specific woman will say the exact same phrase (word for word even). Then statistically she is also capable of a different response. I suspect this could represent a great deal of how human decision works. Given a certain set of conditions, an individual will typically respond in some particular way, although there are also outlier responses. When we view alert people in linear time, we don't have the opportunity to see if they would replay those same events with the same decisions, but I suspect it would be something like what I saw in the Alzeheimer patient.

I've had a similar hypothesis.

What I wonder is, how does knowledge of such a phenomenon effect the outcome in a meta sense? Is it like the Monty Hall problem, where by knowing what Monty knows, you can change your odds of winning a car from 1/3 to 2/3 by switching doors, because you know that Monty will always open a door with a goat behind it?

Monty Hall problem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Or in other words, by having a meta sense of how you react to situations, can you make a choice to change how you react, or change the situations in your favor? Or is meta knowledge also predetermined? What about meta-meta knowledge? Meta meta meta? etc. etc.

If you know what you're going to do, can you do it differently?
 

draon9

Active member
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Messages
1,152
MBTI Type
Enfj
Enneagram
6w7
Instinctual Variant
so
This is what I think. I believe that everybody has free will, we can give it up or we can use it in the way we want. The reason why people feel like they have no free will is because we never have use it to the best of what of it or having the courage to take a chance and also a lack of fate. You can make your own fate, but it will never be easy. It is your inner thoughts that choose your fate, not the words that you say and all that stuff.
 

Mane

Permabanned
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
828
So I noticed that if you read the thread title and poll question without the OP....
...It kind of looks like an election more then a survey about beliefs:

  • "With Freewill there's no telling what you'll choose, vote Determinism!"
  • "Surprise yourself! Vote Freewill! Liberty from a great sense of identity!"
 

Evee

Permabanned
Joined
Jul 3, 2014
Messages
2,285
MBTI Type
INFP
Enneagram
5w4
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
"I am a slave of my freedom; I am bound to be free."

-Sartre
 

Sunflower_Moon

New member
Joined
Jun 14, 2015
Messages
115
MBTI Type
INFJ
Enneagram
2w1
Instinctual Variant
sp
I find the existence of free will implausible. My reasons are as follows:

Mind-body dualism, that is, the belief that mind is something separate from the body, seems implausible in the light of this. The man had a brain injury, and his entire personality changed.

Given this, what mechanism could one expect to find in nature that would explain free will? I suppose at this point people like to invoke quantum mechanics, but I don't understand quantum mechanics and I don't know if the people doing that do, either.

Free-will is every bit as unfalsifiable as a belief in God. Nobody can prove free will doesn't exist through empirical means that can be replicated, so it should go out the window, if God goes out the window because of such a standard.

Moreover, personal experience and analysis, while not perhaps verifiable, suggests that people always make their choices based on past inputs, whether they are aware of it or not. There is no randomness to it. There is a certain level of predictability, although I should qualify this by saying that much of the time, when we interact with each other, we are interacting on the basis of incomplete information. Because the information is incomplete, the choices appear more nebulous and somewhat "random."

I agree in some aspects, but I disagree in another. I agree that free will may not exist in all instances, and though some of us may be vastly different, we generally work within our cultural and/or religious (if applicable) context to help guide our decisions. I believe that personal experience definitely plays a role as well, however, some theories in psychology seem to imply free will may be possible. For example, behaviorism. In a nutshell, the belief is that everything is learned, and therefore, can also be unlearned, and what sticks depends on the type of reinforcement, etc. received. This can imply that if we choose to change we can, but it may simultaneously support determinism too. If we learn and unlearn everything according to reinforcement and conditioning. . .we're learning from past experience to repeat something or not to. If something is unpleasant or goes unrewarded, we most likely won't repeat it, showing that our experience is shaping us mostly, not randomness. Learning from experience, in my opinion, supports determinism.

Cognitive-behavior theory consists of a person changing their thoughts, which will eventually cause a change in their behavior. Again, this seems experience-based. The person, for example, realizes they're not happy and may have low-self esteem (very basic, rough example), and it is found that they are doing a lot of negative self-talk (i.e., I'm ugly, I'm a loser, I'm stupid, I'll never be good enough). They're unhappy with this and want to change, and they're taught to replace the negative self-talk with positive self-talk, eventually resulting with an increase in self-esteem, etc. If you keep getting the same results that you aren't happy with, but you want different results, then you must try something different. We learn through pain and experiences...this is even where Freud had a point, that our past experiences shape who we are in the present. This is a major reason why everyone is different from one other, because all of our experiences and interpretation and the way we perceived them is different.

You're actually right, there really isn't free will. I originally felt that both were possible, but while writing this and thinking of the theories and examples, everything does seem to be the result of something that may have been beyond our control that maintains some level of control over our decision making from that point on. Even if we come from an abusive family and home and grow up not to be like them, that wasn't a choice made of free will entirely. It's based on the painful experiences we went through, escaped, and didn't want to repeat the pattern and inflict that pain on others. Then there are others who unfortunately repeat the pattern. Either way, something is always influencing each of our decisions and why we do it.
 

Zangetshumody

New member
Joined
Nov 19, 2009
Messages
457
MBTI Type
INTJ
I find the existence of free will implausible. My reasons are as follows:

Mind-body dualism, that is, the belief that mind is something separate from the body, seems implausible in the light of this. The man had a brain injury, and his entire personality changed.

Given this, what mechanism could one expect to find in nature that would explain free will? I suppose at this point people like to invoke quantum mechanics, but I don't understand quantum mechanics and I don't know if the people doing that do, either.

Free-will is every bit as unfalsifiable as a belief in God. Nobody can prove free will doesn't exist through empirical means that can be replicated, so it should go out the window, if God goes out the window because of such a standard.

Moreover, personal experience and analysis, while not perhaps verifiable, suggests that people always make their choices based on past inputs, whether they are aware of it or not. There is no randomness to it. There is a certain level of predictability, although I should qualify this by saying that much of the time, when we interact with each other, we are interacting on the basis of incomplete information. Because the information is incomplete, the choices appear more nebulous and somewhat "random."

Falsification is its own God; its just a false one.

axioms are not falsifiable by experiment.

the process of falsification is premised on the truth of determinism, so it follows that God and free will shall not be vindicated by those tests.

Your presumption also seems to be that falsification is the greatest instrument the mind might conceive to answer these questions. Faith in a technical procedure (like the enterprise of Science) that's given dominion over the world is no different from any other form of false religion. Can you judge the gap between testing and discerning for the truth? A test can only offer an answer, but answers to the question of life and free-will itself: must take on the form of yet another question, asked under your own direction. True[ly rational] questions when asked properly, yield a further question (so the seeds of a fruit bearing tree are [yet a further question found] in your own question).
 
Last edited:

andresimon

Permabanned
Joined
Apr 11, 2015
Messages
249
MBTI Type
ENFP
I find the existence of free will implausible. My reasons are as follows:

Mind-body dualism, that is, the belief that mind is something separate from the body, seems implausible in the light of this. The man had a brain injury, and his entire personality changed.

Given this, what mechanism could one expect to find in nature that would explain free will? I suppose at this point people like to invoke quantum mechanics, but I don't understand quantum mechanics and I don't know if the people doing that do, either.

Free-will is every bit as unfalsifiable as a belief in God. Nobody can prove free will doesn't exist through empirical means that can be replicated, so it should go out the window, if God goes out the window because of such a standard.

Moreover, personal experience and analysis, while not perhaps verifiable, suggests that people always make their choices based on past inputs, whether they are aware of it or not. There is no randomness to it. There is a certain level of predictability, although I should qualify this by saying that much of the time, when we interact with each other, we are interacting on the basis of incomplete information. Because the information is incomplete, the choices appear more nebulous and somewhat "random."

Here we go again. Guys what is this obsession with the limits of knowledge and truth? When right under our noses so many blatantly obvious things are being mishandled. My guess is that free-will does exist. Seems like its part of the equation. Since you guys want to go all matrix here is my two cents. In order to TRY and disprove "free-will" you have to go to a probabilistic extreme approaching infinity, where you have infinite variables all in a causal chain leading up to the very moment where you decided to pick your nose, even then who is to say choice itself isn't part of the equation? Like one last roll of the dice where you can choose one path over another. In that case the free-will is a choice between "X" amount of choices. Their are so many questions like this, "immovable object, unstoppable force" paradoxes. My guess is our lives are not deterministic. And that is confirmed in my everyday experiences and my observations of the world. For me its a probabilistic and empirical conclusion.
 
Last edited:

SearchingforPeace

breaking out of my cocoon
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
5,461
MBTI Type
ENFJ
Enneagram
9w8
Instinctual Variant
sx/so
Free will can exist, but we must actually make the effort to use it.

Biology can only determine so much. Childhood as well. Typology helps us understand the general idea of a person, not the specific determined path.

There are no predestined paths, but there are likely paths.

Creativity and spirituality can help use break free of the deterministic pull.

It is so easy to follow impulse and do the deterministic thing. But we think and feel, choosing different paths based upon choice.
 

Obsidius

Chumped.
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
318
MBTI Type
INTP
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
so/sx
"Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills." - Schopenhauer
 

Obsidius

Chumped.
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
318
MBTI Type
INTP
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
so/sx
Free will can exist, but we must actually make the effort to use it.

Biology can only determine so much. Childhood as well. Typology helps us understand the general idea of a person, not the specific determined path.

There are no predestined paths, but there are likely paths.

Creativity and spirituality can help use break free of the deterministic pull.

It is so easy to follow impulse and do the deterministic thing. But we think and feel, choosing different paths based upon choice.

What you're describing is soft-determinism. Absolute determinism says that our very minds are by-products of our brains, our bodies, the matter we consist of; therefore the way we are is determined by something out of our control, because everything that lead up to and facilitates the nature of our existence is out of our control. The choices we make are because our brain dictates so, the nature of our existence is as it is because of the matter and energy that we comprise of.
 
Last edited:

TopCatLSD

New member
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
66
People that say free-will doesn't exist are simply anxiety riddled losers that don't want to admit that their failure is entirely their fault.

^I already have enough useless nihilists in my life, I don't need a bunch of zombies hounding me about not having control over myself and my life.
 

á´…eparted

passages
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
8,264
People that say free-will doesn't exist are simply anxiety riddled losers that don't want to admit that their failure is entirely their fault.

^I already have enough useless nihilists in my life, I don't need a bunch of zombies hounding me about not having control over myself and my life.

Yeesh. I'm all for being blunt, but this is just downright nasty. Further this is a subjective topic. It's pretty hard and unfair to condemn one side or the other.
 

TopCatLSD

New member
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
66
Yeesh. I'm all for being blunt, but this is just downright nasty. Further this is a subjective topic. It's pretty hard and unfair to condemn one side or the other.

Nah, its easy and completely fair. There's nothing subjective about being a loser, you either are or you aren't. It's as simple as that.
 

Evee

Permabanned
Joined
Jul 3, 2014
Messages
2,285
MBTI Type
INFP
Enneagram
5w4
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
To be aware of possibilities is to provide the ground for both freedom and truth.

Meaning that awareness of possibilities makes freedom possible.
 

evilrubberduckie

New member
Joined
Jul 16, 2015
Messages
836
MBTI Type
ENTP
Enneagram
7w8
Instinctual Variant
sx/so
Free Will. See the world burn

Determinism. See the world perish.

 
Top