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Posts: 1614/1637
(26-Jul-2012 at 03:40)
Let's Talk Free Will

People really don't believe in free will anymore do they?

In a universe of cause and effect there is no room for choice.

Determinism is the rule and the sensation of choice is illusionary.

Discuss.
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Posts: 3418/3642
(26-Jul-2012 at 05:52)


Re: Let's Talk Free Will

The hell are you on? Nearly everyone seems to believe in free will.

If all else fails, call someone a troll.
that can be fixed... / Æ
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(Posted as Black Aurora)
Posts: 451/469
(26-Jul-2012 at 22:51)


I really don't see how cause and effect would rule out free will.
#3  
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Posts: 3841/3863
(27-Jul-2012 at 00:23)


Free will exists, the prediction of the consequences of any decision making is our own, and therefore part of our free choice. Yes social norms, laws and other such constructs act to influence our decision making, but regardless the decision to conform or not is still our own.

People, like snowflakes, are all slightly different, but we all follow the same patterns -Stewie
Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.

Some people are like Slinkies- absolutely useless, but always fun to push down stairs!
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Posts: 1615/1637
(27-Jul-2012 at 09:22)
If cause and effects exists then future effects are already predetermined. The cause of events is as absolute as the effects and vice versa ad infinitum.

Or is someone going to say that randomness truely exists in nature?

At what point is randomness even a plausible theory of the world?

Just because you think that you have a choice doesn't mean that you ever were going to choose anything different. A natural world with unbreakable laws totally rules out free will.
#5  
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Posts: 2854/2860
(29-Jul-2012 at 11:14)


Re: Let's Talk Free Will

Originally Posted by Gotterdammerung: View Post
If cause and effects exists then future effects are already predetermined. The cause of events is as absolute as the effects and vice versa ad infinitum.

Or is someone going to say that randomness truely exists in nature?

At what point is randomness even a plausible theory of the world?

Just because you think that you have a choice doesn't mean that you ever were going to choose anything different. A natural world with unbreakable laws totally rules out free will.
You should know that the world is random and anything resembling causality is only an approximation of what nature really is.

Mars II - American Scientist
PhD - Physical Chemistry
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(29-Jul-2012 at 14:10)
quantum mechanics

Even if there is randomness it doesn't imply free will exists. It would just imply that some of the things you are forced to think / do / be are determined by random forces outside your control rather than wholly deterministic forces outside your control.

The only evidence (so far that I've seen) that human choice can influence anything is quantum mechanics.

Simply put an event which is determined by quantum effects (such as the rate of radioactive decay) is influenced by our observation of that effect.

i.e. the way we look at something that is influenced by quantum mechanics effects the outcome. This is demonstrated by the thought experiment or paradox of Schrödinger's cat (which is dead or not dead until you observe how it reacted to a quantum effect).

There is an experiment to demonstrate that our observation of physical reality can alter it:
Light that travels through two narrow slits, close together makes an interference pattern (you may have done this type of experiment at school, it is quite simple). But light also behaves as a set of photons - little packets of light not waves at all. You're starting to see the 'dead / not dead' theme here.

The trick here is to fire photons of light at the slits one at a time - each photon passes through one or other slit and the net effect is an interference pattern as if each photon had half passed through each slit (which it didn't because it is behaving like a wave form which could) unless you detect which slit the photon passed through (which you can) at which point you get a kind of spotty pattern as if light were made up of a bunch of photons rather than being a wave form.

This makes no sense unless the act of observing influenced the behavior and the fact that that makes very little sense doesn't stop it from being the way it is. Quantum mechanics doesn't make a lot of sense, it's just the way it is.

It is a stretch from that to say that as everything is dependent on everything else then everything is dependent on how we (choose to) view it - more realistically what we can say is that maybe we have free will in some very esoteric fields. More likely our decisions were all set in motion before the Big Bang, like the balls on a billiard table who's movements are set in motion on the break.

If you have no free will it doesn't matter that you have no free will because from your perspective the world is as it appears to be. Believing (even correctly) that everything you do is utterly pointless and doomed to either failure or success as determined by the universe is close to dwelling on it which is well on the way to insanity. Congratulations, at least you don't believe in elephant headed gods or care which way their trunk points).

Last edited by aach, 29-Jul-2012 at 14:13.
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(29-Jul-2012 at 14:25)
Ugh I fell into the non quantum mechanical thinking there (I'm not a quantum mechanic expert):

Schrodinger's cat is dead *and* alive until you observe it. It is a paradox.
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(30-Jul-2012 at 04:16)


Originally Posted by aach: View Post
Ugh I fell into the non quantum mechanical thinking there (I'm not a quantum mechanic expert):

Schrodinger's cat is dead *and* alive until you observe it. It is a paradox.
I'm not sure I agree with your interpretations of QM but experimental observation indicates that the world is more based on randomness with the ability to predict probabilities, not outcomes. For this thread the philosophical question of free will doesn't depend on the causal nature of the world.

A better way to phrase the question is: If your actions are predetermined or a result of probability, can your actions ever actually be attributed to you?

Mars II - American Scientist
PhD - Physical Chemistry
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Posts: 6999/7006
(30-Jul-2012 at 14:02)


Originally Posted by Gotterdammerung:
If cause and effects exists then future effects are already predetermined. The cause of events is as absolute as the effects and vice versa ad infinitum.
First, causes exist only in hindsight. If there is no effect, there cannot be a cause, so the effect has to occur before it can be attributed a cause - in hindsight. The apple has to fall (first action, the effect) before you can say gravity caused it to happen (second action, attributing a cause in hindsight). This makes it logically impossible for a cause to *predetermine* an effect.

Secondly, you are are trying to attribute the characteristics of a physical universe to a psychic event, which is itself logical nonsense. Nothing 'causes' choice.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
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(31-Jul-2012 at 21:59)
It starts to get difficult to use time terms if you have a fully deterministic universe (or branching sets of randomly determined universes).

The apple falls from the tree, you pick it up and ferment it and get drunk. To think that your hang over is caused by the cider or by the apple falling from the tree is linear thinking, in a deterministic universe it is just as valid to say that the hangover caused the apple to fall from the tree and that only sounds like nonsense because we believe that time flows in a direction.

We invented time as a way to explain the universe ("tide comes in, tide goes out, you can't explain that") but time is an illusion and to quote Douglass Adams: "lunch time doubly so". Worse still you don't really exist, certainly not in the way you think you do, your consciousness is also an illusion.

Of course both time and consciousness are very handy illusions to believe in if you want to fit in with the rest of the world so you may be well advised to just roll with it. I don't think you can draw any conclusions from the illusion of consciousness or the apparent passage of time, that is just the way that our particular bundle of chemicals is programmed to respond, there isn't anything we can do about it.
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Posts: 7001/7006
(01-Aug-2012 at 15:02)


Originally Posted by aach:
We invented time as a way to explain the universe ("tide comes in, tide goes out, you can't explain that") but time is an illusion
Time is an integral part of the universe (AKA space-time) as it couldn't exist without it. Without time to exist in, there would be no existence.

Time has been around since... the beginning of time, which was long before any humans (a situation that requires time to exist...) where around to imagine it.


Originally Posted by aach:
that only sounds like nonsense because we believe that time flows in a direction.
Time does flow in a direction. From past to present. You could argue that time could flow in any direction, or that the direction is a matter of perception because past and future are human concepts, or go all Bergson and argue that the rate of flow is determined by the subject rather than clocks, but whatever conclusions you come to the fact is that ageing happens independently of humans.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
#12  
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Posts: 1624/1637
(04-Aug-2012 at 08:02)
Re: Let's Talk Free Will

Originally Posted by Mars II: View Post
the world is random and anything resembling causality is only an approximation of what nature really is.
Originally Posted by Mars II: View Post
experimental observation indicates that the world is more based on randomness with the ability to predict probabilities, not outcomes.
Such gems.

In conclusion:

1. Probability is fallible.
2. Randomness is infallible.
3. Therefore anything is possible.

Thanks, Mars.

It's liberating to be wrong.
#13  
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