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Free Will & Determinism

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Dchristian
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Free Will & Determinism

Post by Dchristian » July 4th, 2016, 1:41 am

Hey, guys!

I just registered for this site and I hope I can get a decent conversation going here! I wanted to just ask for anyone's opinions on free will and determinism. You can say anything you'd like whether you're a libertarian, compatibilist, or hard determinist. I will also post what I think about free will and determinism and you guys can feel free to ask me questions, challenge my opinion, etc.!

Personally, I believe that both free will and determinism are true, but not as compatible truths but rather separate truths. I remember a philosopher and friend of mine, Luke, showed me a great video about this from Big Think and the lecturer was Frank Wilczek--a physicist. Here's a title for the video on Youtube.

"To Understand the Brain We Need to Consider Multiple Realities, with Frank Wilczek"

So in regards to free will and determinism, I think that they are both separate truths. I think when it comes to biology like our genes, determinism makes the most sense. But when it comes to ethics like whether people who are mentally healthy are obeying the law or not, I think free will makes the most sense.

It's not so much that these two ideas are compatible but as I said before rather separate. You can't really say that someone was "determined to" and "freely chose to" break the law. And you can't say that someone was "determined to be" six feet tall and "chose to be" six feet tall. In the case of someone's height, that's determinism. But in the case of a mentally healthy person breaking the law, I think that's free will.

Please watch the Big Think video I posted as a link above because Dr. Wilczek explains things very well and he uses a great analogy to explain his reasoning.

Have a good night, everybody!

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Citizensearth
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by Citizensearth » July 8th, 2016, 1:48 am

Hi there. I'm new around here too.

My general take is that compatibilism is broadly correct. I think one difficulty that people run into when thinking about the problem is that they imagine a libertarian free will in a determinist universe, and so find the two are incompatible. So, they start from the idea as free will being an abstract entity making acausal choices and thus determining their own fate, which they feel certain of. When they start to think about a determinist universe, they imagine causality with its chain reaction of events, and then imagine the abstract entity as external to that chain and unable to influence events. From this arises the "fate being prewritten regardless of my choices" or "how can I really choose" perception of determinism, with a the powerless consciousness observing events over which it has no control, which is indeed an unpleasant message. IMO the more correct way to approach this is to say that choices exist and they are simply part of the causal chain. They might not be metaphysical, they might simply be determined, but that does not lessen their significance or power. When you make a choice, that does influence your "fate", regardless of what may have causally come before, and so we can legitimately feel that choice matters and that we're in control when we think about a causal universe.

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Dchristian
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by Dchristian » July 12th, 2016, 3:47 pm

Hey, Citizensearth! Thank you so much for joining in on my topic!

I think you're making a good point. The way I interpret your reply is that our decisions may not be free in the libertarian sense, but like you said that doesn't mean that the events we make (our decisions) lose their power or significance. I guess the way I think of what you're saying is that the concept of libertarian free will is an illusion, but it's a more practical illusion and treating this illusion of libertarian free will as being real makes a difference. I would say I’m not completely closed to compatibilism because the concept of moral accountability and determinism is so complex.

In the video I mentioned with the physicist, Frank Wilczek, he talked about particle motion and particle location. He said that, “if you want to know where a particle is you have to process its most basic reality, it’s wave function in one way. If you want to know how fast it’s moving, its velocity or momentum, you have to process the wave function in a different way. And you can do either one of those and get good answers for where it’s going to be or how it’s going to move. But you can’t do both at once because the kind of processing that’s involved is incompatible.”

With what Dr. Wilczek said, I think that his analysis of particle motion vs. particle location could be a good analogy of free will vs. determinism. I’m not a physicist so I may be getting things wrong, but I think you could say that using determinism can get you good results for what a person might do in the future, or you can probably accurately calculate what a person might do in the future with free will.

So maybe when a physicist tries to figure out a particle’s location using wave function in one way that could represent us trying to figure out how a person’s brain works using determinism. But when a physicist uses wave function in a different way to figure out a particle’s velocity maybe that could represent us using free will to explain how a person chose something that seemed completely opposite to what their brain in its determined settings would do.

I don’t know if this really makes much sense, but I hope it helps to explain my way of thinking! I guess in conclusion I’d be more of a libertarian when it comes to ethics and more of a hard determinist when it comes to things like human biology. If you ever want to me to try and explain myself better feel free in asking me to do so. Have a good one!

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Citizensearth
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by Citizensearth » July 13th, 2016, 11:33 am

Thanks for the reply. I don't know if it fits neatly into my own world-view on this topic (which you do indeed sum up correctly as far as I can see) as it is compatiblist, but I think your analogy is really interesting and innovative (in my admittedly relatively basic reading on the topic), and it seems libertarian and determininist in ways I quite like. Knowing all the causes of a decision does at least give a feeling almost like free will is absent, and it's often the case that a list of causal factors doesn't seem to fully describe a person's will in the same way that an empathetic understand seems to.

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LuckyR
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by LuckyR » July 16th, 2016, 12:27 am

Here is my personal take on this debate: that there is such a thing as causality and determinism, yet not pre-determinism. This lack of pre-determism (in the face of a determinism of sorts, an incomplete determinism if you will) leads to the practical existance of free will. The reason for the disconnect between causality and pre-determinism is that the level of intricacy and detail that makes up causality is orders of magnitude more involved than the Human mind (and their electronic tools) can or likely will ever be able to understand, thus pre-determinism disappears in a puff of impossibility.
"As usual... it depends."

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Misty
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by Misty » July 17th, 2016, 7:11 am

Pre-determinism is ALL the possibilities offered to the Will, therefore the Will is not free but is controlled by possibility.
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.

I am Lion, hear me ROAR! Meow.

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LuckyR
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by LuckyR » July 17th, 2016, 1:38 pm

Misty wrote:Pre-determinism is ALL the possibilities offered to the Will, therefore the Will is not free but is controlled by possibility.
I do not use that definition of "free", that is free to make any and all choices. Though I suppose that if I make the conscious choice to fly off of a building (impossible), the fact I will fail does not mean I didn't exercise my Free Will to try.
"As usual... it depends."

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Misty
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by Misty » July 17th, 2016, 3:22 pm

LuckyR wrote:
Misty wrote:Pre-determinism is ALL the possibilities offered to the Will, therefore the Will is not free but is controlled by possibility.
I do not use that definition of "free", that is free to make any and all choices. Though I suppose that if I make the conscious choice to fly off of a building (impossible), the fact I will fail does not mean I didn't exercise my Free Will to try.
In your scenario you did not use 'free will', but your 'will' under the influence of a learned possibility.
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.

I am Lion, hear me ROAR! Meow.

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AceOfBlades
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by AceOfBlades » September 20th, 2016, 3:02 pm

I've said it before, but oh well... I'm content in believing that we are as free as we allow ourselves to believe we are. We are to ourselves what we believe ourselves to be.

Am I taking a serious issue not seriously enough? Am I being too direct? Too certain where certainty should not belong? Maybe I'm not so clever, too easily satisfied by philosophies told to children to allow themselves to be content with who they are. But it is what i believe, and that is enough for me.

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Damir Ibrisimovic
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by Damir Ibrisimovic » September 21st, 2018, 10:11 pm

Dchristian wrote:
July 4th, 2016, 1:41 am
Personally, I believe that both free will and determinism are true...
So in regards to free will and determinism, I think that they are both separate truths.
----
Since Libet's findings started to trickle out ---
there was a lot of nonsense about our Free Will... :)
What???!!! My Free Will is useless???!!! I'll give it up... :)
Here, my friend, take it and tell me what to do... :)

Now, how could I give up something I do/did not have??? :roll:
-----

I have started this joke on 22 May 2011. The joke offers several scenarios to prove undeniably the existence of Free Will. The scenarios are so simple that experiments can be conducted in a cafe... :)

Enjoy the day, 8)

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Papus79
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Re: Free Will & Determinism

Post by Papus79 » October 2nd, 2018, 9:37 pm

I can't tell if I'm a sucker here or not but I think I'm slowly getting persuaded by enough people that incompatibilism is the better way to phrase it than hard determinism, mainly that I don't think most who believe in zero free will would want to hing anything on whether there can be random or chaotic activity in the universe, chaos technically doesn't seem like it would be fee either, nor deliver freedom, thus its a bit of an accidental trap if one's asked whether they believe that everything we have now perfectly follows a Newtonian string of events.

I think the trouble for me, what absolutely kills it, is the concept that we exist in time and go in one direction. At any given moment we have the exact set of information, the exact set of options, the exact neurochemical state, the exact level of composure or surprise, and there doesn't seem to be any suggestion that we could do any different than, if rewound and played back in five minute intervals, make video-recording quality (really more precise) replicas of exactly what we did. For me this also transcends layers, complexity, whether or not conscious is only the brain, whether there are or aren't angels, demons, dogs, goddesses, the four elemental kingdoms, or whatever else you can think of to throw at it.

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