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Free will

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Curiouspaul
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Free will

Post by Curiouspaul » August 26th, 2016, 10:43 pm

Isn't it about time as a society that we come up with a definite definition for free will and decide whether it is real or not.

For a long time I have suffered depression and one of the things that really gets me down is regrets, but since I discovered free will my be an illusion I have not dwelled on regrets so much because if free will is an illusion the nmy life was always going to end up where it is now, so there is nothing I could have done to prevent the things that I regret.

So the discussion of free will could be quite important to people suffering from depression.

Also, we send criminals to prison for life or execute them on the belief they chose their crime. But if free will is an illusion then seeking revenge by executing people or sending them to prison for life is just as bad as when people burnt women alive believing them to be witches, because it was a punishment based on a belief, not a fact.

Humanity needs an answer.

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MRushton
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Re: Free will

Post by MRushton » September 14th, 2016, 4:55 am

Curiouspaul wrote:Also, we send criminals to prison for life or execute them on the belief they chose their crime. But if free will is an illusion then seeking revenge by executing people or sending them to prison for life is just as bad as when people burnt women alive believing them to be witches, because it was a punishment based on a belief, not a fact.
If we don't have free will, and if free will is a requirement for moral responsibility, then we are no more morally responsible for punishing a criminal than the criminal is for his crime; it is simply the case that he has been determined to break the law and then we have been determined to imprison him.
Isn't it about time as a society that we come up with a definite definition for free will and decide whether it is real or not.
That's not really how it works. I might define free will in a way that's consistent with compatibilism and then show that we have this kind of free will and another might define free will in a way that's inconsistent with compatibilism and then show that we don't have this kind of free will. Have either of us solved the problem of free will?

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Apex_Predator
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Re: Free will

Post by Apex_Predator » September 17th, 2016, 10:19 am

You need to take responsibility for your actions. What's wrong with this definition?

Full Definition of free will
1
: voluntary choice or decision <I do this of my own free will>
2
: freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention

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MRushton
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Re: Free will

Post by MRushton » September 18th, 2016, 4:58 am

The first part of the definition is circular. You're defining free will as doing something of your own free will.

How does the second part differ from spontaneity? Is that all it means to have free will; for one's choices to be spontaneous occurrences? Some might say that spontaneous choices are no more voluntary than determined choices.

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Re: Free will

Post by Supine » September 19th, 2016, 1:59 am

MRushton wrote:The first part of the definition is circular. You're defining free will as doing something of your own free will.
That's not the words (presumably dictionary definition) Apex posted. He said the definition (i.e., meaning and common usage) of free will is voluntary choice or decision. As in to voluntarily enter a contractual obligation. To voluntarily abandon the girlfriend you impregnated. To voluntarily urinate in your bosses bottle of water. To voluntarily and intentionally run over a cat in the road with your car. To voluntarily psychologically and emotionally abuse fat people for your own pleasure.

As for the OP, I can see why having regrets will cause you much psychological distress. Most people have some regrets. For those that have none they probably lived a perfect and very blessed life, or are too stupid, or are too wicked to have any regrets.

Having regrets can build empathy and potentially improve your character. Some people might be more prone to feelings of regret than others and therefore more prone to emotional distress.

While you might be cognizant that there are people that have done better than you--in whatever forms--you might mitigate some of the depression or sadness by being cognizant there are people that have done worse than you.

It might not be free will itself that causes you depression and distress but rather the harsh judgements of those in society that subscribe to free will. They have succumbed to pride and self righteousness.

You can have harsh judgements about others even if you believe they were biologically determined to be less intelligent than members of your race or born to be crafty deceivers as Jews.

Free will allows for improvements in the person and that provides hope rather than hopelessness. It also allows for justified merit.

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Re: Free will

Post by Burning ghost » September 19th, 2016, 2:48 am

Free exists for ethics.

We are responsible for our actions. Those who wish to believe otherwise do so because they are cowards.

If I act like I have no choice when I do I effectively choose to not live. If I act like I have free will when I do not, it makes no impact on the outcome.

To hedge your bets act like you have free will and are responisible. The problem is then about how far to extend your sense of responsibility and where to direct it.
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Re: Free will

Post by Kenhinds » September 19th, 2016, 2:57 am

Free will in a way will always make an outcome to our actions.

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MRushton
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Re: Free will

Post by MRushton » September 19th, 2016, 7:46 am

Supine wrote:
MRushton wrote:The first part of the definition is circular. You're defining free will as doing something of your own free will.
That's not the words (presumably dictionary definition) Apex posted. He said the definition (i.e., meaning and common usage) of free will is voluntary choice or decision.
It was the part in angle brackets that threw me. He seemed to have used "I do this of my own free will" to explain what it means to make a voluntary choice, in which case it is circular, given that he's defining free will as making voluntary choices.

Of course, if we simply leave it at "voluntary choice" then we avoid circularity, but then must explain what it means for a choice to be voluntary. If we define it as being undetermined then we're defining it as spontaneous, but as I suggested before, some might say that spontaneous choices are no more voluntary than determined choices.

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Re: Free will

Post by Seeker91 » September 19th, 2016, 7:50 pm

I’ve discovered that “Free Will” can be defined in such a way as to make it impossible. A lecture I recently watched basically stated that we do not have free will. Then proceeded to state (and I am definitely paraphrasing) that because our brains are wired in a defined way, and the structure of our brain is basically fixed, that any “choice” we make is constrained by those factors. Therefore, for any give set of brain wiring, brain structure, and set of experiences, we can only come up with one answer. No choice, hence, no free will. It’s fairly well thought out, and seems to be, at least on the surface, reasonable. However, there are some major assumptions that have not been proven. The most glaring is the assumption that because the brain has a basically fixed structure, that it is completely deterministic.

Of course many others say the reason we can have free will is because there is this entity (the mind, soul, etc.) that sits outside of the physical brain, and that is what is capable of making choices.

In my opinion the folks that don’t believe in free will just defined free will in such a way as to make it impossible. And the folks that believe in free will came up with the concept of “The Mind”, or “The Soul” or something else to justify having free will, but I agree with MRushton, this doesn’t really answer the question. And I haven’t yet heard of anything that even comes close to being a definitive argument for either.

I take a more relaxed view of free will. Since I believe there is no outside force (a puppeteer if you will) that makes decisions for me, then I have free will. Are my choices based on the capabilities of my brain and my experiences? Of course they are, and so what? Given the complexity of the systems that are at work, and the basically chaotic nature of those systems, if it isn’t free will then it is a darn good approximation. And maybe that’s good enough.

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Re: Free will

Post by AceOfBlades » September 20th, 2016, 1:24 am

Do you determine your actions on your own? Or do you allow yourself to believe that someone or something else controls your actions? You will only ever be as free as you allow yourself to believe you are.

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Re: Free will

Post by Supine » September 20th, 2016, 12:43 pm

Seeker91 wrote:I’ve discovered that “Free Will” can be defined in such a way as to make it impossible. A lecture I recently watched basically stated that we do not have free will. Then proceeded to state (and I am definitely paraphrasing) that because our brains are wired in a defined way, and the structure of our brain is basically fixed, that any “choice” we make is constrained by those factors. Therefore, for any give set of brain wiring, brain structure, and set of experiences, we can only come up with one answer. No choice, hence, no free will. It’s fairly well thought out, and seems to be, at least on the surface, reasonable. However, there are some major assumptions that have not been proven. The most glaring is the assumption that because the brain has a basically fixed structure, that it is completely deterministic.
The limited physical size of the brain is the usual reason given as to why free will can not exist. But generally those making that point don't reason from that that only one choice is possible, but rather than a finite number of choices are possible, even if many, but they reason that if infinite number of choices are not possible no free will can exist.

However, they usually make further points, chief among them being personal experiences among individuals will set what neurological pathways a thought travels down (deterministic).

They will argue that determinism is not the same as fatalism because humans can develop through mental exercise new neurological pathways for a thought to travel down.

(I've not heard or read it explained how any or each neurological pathway in and of itself produces a specific thought or feeling. As in one neurological pathway dedicated specifically to the programed thought "I like peanut butter" and another dedicated to the specific thought "I dislike peanut butter." But the question naturally arises, if children have to be taught language, how can a neurological pathway prior to the birth of a child be programed to the specific linguistic thought "I like peanut butter"?)

I do acknowledge that free will is contingent on a healthy brain. Impairment or compromise to the brain reduces or eliminates the ability to will freely. A side bar to that might be the question: why physical and mental health are not more important to us throughout all nations of the earth?

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Re: Free will

Post by Misty » September 21st, 2016, 7:33 pm

Humans have 'will.' It is not free, meaning without influence/persuasion. Human 'will' is made up of all the knowledge one absorbs coupled with how one perceives how they have been treated by all who came into contact with them, meaning ones emotional/mental health. Human 'will' = knowledge + emotional/mental health + influence/persuasion. If 'human will' was 'free' it would be free from influence/persuasion.
Things are not always as they appear; it's a matter of perception.

The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.

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Re: Free will

Post by Syamsu » September 21st, 2016, 8:45 pm

Curiouspaul wrote:Isn't it about time as a society that we come up with a definite definition for free will and decide whether it is real or not.

For a long time I have suffered depression and one of the things that really gets me down is regrets, but since I discovered free will my be an illusion I have not dwelled on regrets so much because if free will is an illusion the nmy life was always going to end up where it is now, so there is nothing I could have done to prevent the things that I regret.

So the discussion of free will could be quite important to people suffering from depression.

Also, we send criminals to prison for life or execute them on the belief they chose their crime. But if free will is an illusion then seeking revenge by executing people or sending them to prison for life is just as bad as when people burnt women alive believing them to be witches, because it was a punishment based on a belief, not a fact.

Humanity needs an answer.
Well that is demonstrating the irresponsibility of the desperate.

The clue to a working concept of free will is subjectivity. Subjectivity means to choose about what the agency of a decision is, which procedure results in an opinion on what that agency is.

You choose to write the words that you do. Then I choose about who this "you" is that is choosing to write these words. I choose "irresponsible" and "despairing". So my opinion is that the spirit in which you choose to write the words that you do is irresponsible despair. I could have chosen a different opinion, which would have been just as valid. To say the painting is ugly or beautiful, both opinions are just as valid.

The concept of free will can only function if the agency of a decision, is regarded as a subjective issue. If agency is regarded as a factual issue, then the concept becomes rigid, and does not allow for freedom in choosing anymore. Then the choice can only turn out in accordance with the fact of what the agency consists of, and cannot turn out any other way.

This is all better explained in the context of creationism. Creationist philosophy is the only philosophy which validates both subjectivity and objectivity each in their own right. Choosing is the mechanism of creation, so free will is central to creationism.

http://creationistischreveil.nl/creationism

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Burning ghost
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Re: Free will

Post by Burning ghost » September 22nd, 2016, 12:45 am

"Freedom is slavery, slavery is freedom."

-George Orwell
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Re: Free will

Post by Seeker91 » September 23rd, 2016, 10:14 pm

Syamsu wrote:The concept of free will can only function if the agency of a decision, is regarded as a subjective issue. If agency is regarded as a factual issue, then the concept becomes rigid, and does not allow for freedom in choosing anymore. Then the choice can only turn out in accordance with the fact of what the agency consists of, and cannot turn out any other way.
I'm not sure exactly what you are getting at here, so excuse me if I missed your point. However, I believe whether or not the issue is subjective or factual you can still execute free will. Even if some issue is factual you can still choose something different. The fact that the consequence will happen anyway in no way diminishes your free will. Free will simply refers to what choices you will "try" to make, in your mind. The fact that you may be wrong, or unsuccessful, is irrelevant.

If this is not the point, then maybe a specific example would help to clarify.

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