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Free Will

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Polymath257, Nov 27, 2021.

  1. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    Free Will is one of those concepts that seems stranger and stranger the more I think about it.

    Would I not *expect* my decisions to be based on my desires, my experiences, my biases, my psychology, what is available, etc? And, if the causal nexus of all of those leading to my 'choice' happens within my body, even within my brain, is that not then *my* choice? And would that not be the case even in a deterministic setting?

    So what does the adjective 'free' mean in this context?

    Does it mean that even if *I* am exactly the same and *everything* else is exactly the same, I would potentially make a different decision?

    And, in that case, is the definition of 'free will' such that it requires the decision be an 'uncaused cause'?
     
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  2. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    "Free will" is a necessary assumption, similar to causality.

    One can muse upon it all one wants, but, at the end of the day, we all believe in free will.
     
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  3. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    I'm not even sure I know what 'free will' means. Does it mean that my decision must be an uncaused cause? if not, what *does* it mean?

    Causality is another one that I have misgivings about. What does it mean to say that one thing causes another? Does it make sense outside of the pre-existence of physical laws?
     
  4. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    I'm interested in and pay attention to studies of how decisions are made in the brain the the implications for a free will debate: Neuroscience of free will - Wikipedia notes how controversial this whole area is currently

    [​IMG]
    On several different levels, from neurotransmitters through neuron firing rates to overall activity, the brain seems to “ramp up” before movements. This image depicts the readiness potential (RP), a ramping-up activity measured using EEG. The onset of the RP begins before the onset of a conscious intention or urge to act. Some have argued that this indicates the brain unconsciously commits to a decision before consciousness awareness. Others have argued that this activity is due to random fluctuations in brain activity, which drive arbitrary, purposeless movements.[1]
     
  5. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Well-Known Member
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    Free will is the capacity of agents to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded.

    You're over thinkng it.
     
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  6. Dan From Smithville

    Dan From Smithville Veteran Member
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    Can we be free in a relative state?
     
  7. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    Go out of your home with no idea where you want to end up. Turn left or right at your choice.
     
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  8. Dan From Smithville

    Dan From Smithville Veteran Member
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    I am wondering if we have conditional free will. Given the conditions, are we still able to choose as we like among different available choices.
     
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  9. Lain

    Lain Well-Known Member

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    Free will fits within a deterministic world to me, and the adjective means something like "unimpeded" to me. What is possibly willed is limited by our nature and the world. The two definitions of free will that I know of are this: the ability to choose according to your strongest desire. Each act would be one of free will then, either eating pancakes over waffles (a truly right and moral choice considering their superiority), sitting in a particular chair, etc. But it fits within a deterministic world to me because out desires are obviously caused by a long chain of events, but this definition accounts for the sensation of choosing them.

    The other is "freedom is the power of a being to flourish as what it naturally is, becoming more fully what it is." So for example the freedom a salmon would be to complete it's reproductive and life cycle, the freedom of an oak tree would be unimpeded growth into that, and for me the freedom of a human being would be eternal union with God. Under this definition though not everyone is free and not all have the same degree of free will. Like an oak tree getting cut down when it's young, it can be impeded. So only some would have it. This definition also to me obviously can fit into a deterministic world.

    That's just my opinion of course. I need to read more on the subject, which is why I give two definitions and am not just settled on one.
     
  10. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    I am not sure that free will is something you can track microscopically. I think that it requires abstract concepts such as "self."

    So then, free will would be the idea that oneself can choose anything.

    That isn't necessarily going to help you, because choice is another abstract concept that assumes free will.

    I think in conversations on this forum, of which you took part, people have suggested "the ability to have done otherwise."

    This of course will only muddy the waters more, because it makes the term free will unfalsifiable.

    Perhaps, this is why the concept is fun to ponder. Because, at "free will's" core is an unshakable, yet unfalsifiable, belief, which we all must hold.
     
  11. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    And still others would argue that the brain ramps up to make a decision, but that decision is not wholly predictable, ergo not deterministic.
     
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  12. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    Well, I can't remember the actual philosopher, who did this, but the result of his analysis was the Free Will is ex nihilo. It comes from nothing and is uncaused. So yes, that is one view of Free Will and to me it makes sense. So I don't believe in Free Will.
     
  13. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    Nothing. It is a referent that does not refer to anything in particular, except perhaps a vague sense of positivity.
     
  14. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    Which would lead us to the conclusion that the only being with Free Will is God.
    I, too, have trouble pinning down where I heard this first. Was it Berkeley, perhaps?
     
  15. The Hammer

    The Hammer Wyrd Walker
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    What do you believe?
     
  16. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    I don't remember. I have read to many different view from within philosophy for me to remember where they all came from. I mostly pay attention to the actual claim.
     
  17. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    Lack of predictability does not strictly infer lack of determinism, only our lack of knowledge concerning determining factors involved. In addition, lack of determinism does not prove the existence of a "free will", because the latter infers the existence of a "will" as causal determinant. This means we'd have to demonstrate that the cause of unpredictable effects is a "will", and not some other factor.

    I would argue that therefore, even truly random or unknowable factors don't necessary infer a "free will" at work.
     
  18. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    It is very simple.
    Free will is
    1) the desire of achieving a goal or result
    2) the awareness that that goal can be achieved through an action
    3) the decision of achieving that goal through that action.

    It is free because nobody has the right to prevent us from doing sonething, unless this something violates another's freedom.
     
  19. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    Following an earlier argument we had, you argued that shooting people who attacked an armed young man was not an act of free will on his part, but that he was forced to do it due to circumstances.

    Yet, killing an attacker would fulfill all three of your criteria. How do you reconcile these two positions?
     
  20. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    Yeah, I don't believe in any positive metaphysics or ontology. I am a limited cognitive, moral and cultural relativism, who believes in the everyday world, human rights, democracy and I am a Scandinavian social democrat.
    In the technical I believe in that human are in the everyday world and that is what matters and what matters, is subjective and without in the strong sense only evidence, rationality, logic, truth, proof, objectivity and all the rest of that jazz.
     
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