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  1. #31
    Grunts Doing Crunches AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LegosInMyEgos View Post
    The whole basis of the scientific method is that you can observe phenomenon and then when you have enough data you can state with reasonable certainty that something causes something else.

    If Free Will exists, this Cause and Effect relationship does not exist in its pure form, and therefore the scientific method is invalid.
    I'm no philosophy major nor have I studied it in any formal capacity, but I think there is a marked difference between cause and effect in the general sense (ie - what goes up must come down) and the complexity of the human mind and it's processes.

    People respond to stimuli and sensory inputs according to a number of variables (social, genetic, etc), and although - in theory - these individual variables should follow the same cause-and-effect logic seen in the most basic of examples, there exists far too many simultaenous variables and interactions to measure cause and effect with great confidence in most human examples.

    Self-awareness and consciousness play a big factor: if an organism is self-aware and can therefore tailor its actions according to complex conditions, weigh different scenarios, etc, then the idea of "free will" seems far more likely. The issue to me lies within the simple fact that the mind is far more complex and less understood than simple scientific principals. Yes, you could say that certain individuals are more programmable than others, certain people respond more readily to classical conditioning, but as people are self-aware and have a consciousness (unlike plant life or inorganic substances) the matter of deciding how "black and white" vs "free" we are is difficult.

    It's kind of hard to say we truly have FREE will because our options are limited. We do, however, have the ability to select (freely) between any and all options available.
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  2. #32
    Not actually named untz. mynameisuntz's Avatar
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    Ian I still want your input on the question I asked in the previous thread! I can paste it here if you like.

    Originally Posted by LegosInMyEgos View Post
    Think of your mind as a machine which turns sensory data into a perspective of the universe.

    If the information you put into this machine determines the perspective of the universe 100%, then the mind is not free. Its 100% subject to the information you give it. On the other hand, its not 100% subject to the information you give it, then it concludes its perspective of the universe somewhat independent of the universe, and therefore the perspective of the universe is not valid.
    I understand this view, but I do not understand the previous point where the world (or "objective reality") cannot be cause/effect even if the mind is not.

    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    I'm no philosophy major nor have I studied it in any formal capacity, but I think there is a marked difference between cause and effect in the general sense (ie - what goes up must come down) and the complexity of the human mind and it's processes.

    People respond to stimuli and sensory inputs according to a number of variables (social, genetic, etc), and although - in theory - these individual variables should follow the same cause-and-effect logic seen in the most basic of examples, there exists far too many simultaenous variables and interactions to measure cause and effect with great confidence in most human examples.

    Self-awareness and consciousness play a big factor: if an organism is self-aware and can therefore tailor its actions according to complex conditions, weigh different scenarios, etc, then the idea of "free will" seems far more likely. The issue to me lies within the simple fact that the mind is far more complex and less understood than simple scientific principals. Yes, you could say that certain individuals are more programmable than others, certain people respond more readily to classical conditioning, but as people are self-aware and have a consciousness (unlike plant life or inorganic substances) the matter of deciding how "black and white" vs "free" we are is difficult.

    It's kind of hard to say we truly have FREE will because our options are limited. We do, however, have the ability to select (freely) between any and all options available.
    Ah, but do we? How do we decide which option to pursue? Even when it appears we have freedom to choose one or the other, we go a certain route: why? Are we ever free to decide? Or do all our decisions stem from unconscious desires/schemas, which may not be consciously realized until the decision is formally made?
    Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified picture of the world; he then tries to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, the philosopher, and the scientist do, each in his own fashion. Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.
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  3. #33
    ♚ Elected V.P. - R/P ♚ sawoobley's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mynameisuntz View Post
    Ah, but do we? How do we decide which option to pursue? Even when it appears we have freedom to choose one or the other, we go a certain route: why? Are we ever free to decide? Or do all our decisions stem from unconscious desires/schemas, which may not be consciously realized until the decision is formally made?
    Whether we have unconscious desires or schemas that influence how we make decisions has no bearing on whether we have free will. We can choose at anytime to go against those desires or thought patterns. We can also work to change those desires and thought patterns. Having the ability to make decisions doesn't mean we are able to free ourselves from all the things that influence us to make them. Haven't you ever made a decision about something and then caught yourself and just decided to do the opposite just for the sake of doing something different than what you normally would do?
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  4. #34
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    Originally Posted by sawoobley View Post
    Whether we have unconscious desires or schemas that influence how we make decisions has no bearing on whether we have free will. We can choose at anytime to go against those desires or thought patterns. We can also work to change those desires and thought patterns. Having the ability to make decisions doesn't mean we are able to free ourselves from all the things that influence us to make them. Haven't you ever made a decision about something and then caught yourself and just decided to do the opposite just for the sake of doing something different than what you normally would do?
    But what is the precursor to those decisions or thought patterns? Even our choice to go against desires/thought patterns may be determined or influenced by some want to prove someone/ourselves wrong. Our decision to do the opposite of a traditional desire for the sake of trying something different may not be free will at all; that may be an act which follows our hope to break tradition. And when presented with "X" scenario, that reaction of "Y" (breaking tradition) was "decided" for us.

    So someone decides they are going to eat fish tonight even though they typically dislike it, just to do something new. Was this consciously and freely willed? Or did it follow some innate and unconscious desire for a new experience of some kind?

    Even when we do things that break some sort of pattern, how can you say we are consciously choosing it as opposed to simply following some unconscious desire?
    Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified picture of the world; he then tries to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, the philosopher, and the scientist do, each in his own fashion. Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.
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  5. #35
    Registered User imccarthy's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sawoobley View Post
    Those are good points and do account for most of differences. If your assertions are correct then we are like extremely complex computers that spit out responses based or our genetic programming and the input we receive. I'd say there is a little more to it than that. While there are a lot of similarities between people I don't think all human behavior and thoughts can be explained by the things you listed above. Then again there is no way to prove it one way or another and we'd be going down the path to the 86 page thread.
    This is called the Argument from Personal Incredulity, lol. It's a logical fallacy.

    It's obvious that we, as humans, think very highly of ourselves, and don't WANT to believe that we're no more objectively significant or... shall we say... empowered... than, for example, cows, or trees. However, our desires say nothing of the truth or falsity of such a view, and as a strict, boring materialist I really don't see any basis for its being correct.
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  6. #36
    Grunts Doing Crunches AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by imccarthy View Post
    This is called the Argument from Personal Incredulity, lol. It's a logical fallacy.

    It's obvious that we, as humans, think very highly of ourselves, and don't WANT to believe that we're no more objectively significant or... shall we say... empowered... than, for example, cows, or trees. However, our desires say nothing of the truth or falsity of such a view, and as a strict, boring materialist I really don't see any basis for its being correct.
    Similar to what I said before: completely agree that people are governed in their decision making by entirely tangible factors and that we are not - for lack of a better expression - any more beautiful a snowflake than any other being on the planet.

    However, I think some distinction can be made between thinking and/or living things and inanimate objects, etc, which lack similar or even near-levels of complexity to humans, other mammals, plant life, etc. Again, piece-by-piece the human condition is likely just a combination of chemical processes and electrical impulses (among countless other things), influenced by a myriad of physical and mental factors which when combined with our own life experiences shape our choices and views.

    I peronally consider both arguments to be valid at this point because (as far as I know), science has yet to prove that the human mind is nothing more than cleverly organized organic materials which possess no more unique properties than, say, the plastic keyword I am typing on.

    It may be just as naive to say humans are no more than the sum of their parts than it is to say we are, simply because their is no proof on either end.
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  7. #37
    No Bull**** Bodybuilding greekmanman's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mynameisuntz View Post
    But what is the precursor to those decisions or thought patterns? Even our choice to go against desires/thought patterns may be determined or influenced by some want to prove someone/ourselves wrong. Our decision to do the opposite of a traditional desire for the sake of trying something different may not be free will at all; that may be an act which follows our hope to break tradition. And when presented with "X" scenario, that reaction of "Y" (breaking tradition) was "decided" for us.

    So someone decides they are going to eat fish tonight even though they typically dislike it, just to do something new. Was this consciously and freely willed? Or did it follow some innate and unconscious desire for a new experience of some kind?

    Even when we do things that break some sort of pattern, how can you say we are consciously choosing it as opposed to simply following some unconscious desire?
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  8. #38
    Grunts Doing Crunches AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mynameisuntz View Post

    Ah, but do we? How do we decide which option to pursue? Even when it appears we have freedom to choose one or the other, we go a certain route: why? Are we ever free to decide? Or do all our decisions stem from unconscious desires/schemas, which may not be consciously realized until the decision is formally made?
    In a sense I would say it's irrelevant how we decide. Everything in the universe (not just people) exists in the presence of the same number of cells, molecules, etc, and everything else regardless of how a person or thing acquires knowledge and experience. I am a person living in the universe, I am surrounded by the same matter than you are, as is every other person. My limitation is based on my form as a human being, not on the absence of a mental block which removes free will.

    We have to ability, in theory, to experience any and all things that exist -- although we obviously can't actually DO this. Just because our experiences are limited by our physical and technological shortcomings does not mean that - again, in THEORY - we dont have free will. Given the right set of tools we could experience anything we wanted freely, but obviously we are not there yet.
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  9. #39
    Grunts Doing Crunches AdamWW's Avatar
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    ^^

    Responding to myself above, here's a terrible example which may or may not illustrate my point.

    You can calculate the number of possible combinations between a set of numbers very easily: for instance, using the numbers 123, you can only rearrange them 6 different ways:

    123
    132
    213
    231
    312
    321

    So, if I told someone they had the free will to choose between any combination of 123, they would be limited by the number of potential choices (or variables/variations) but NOT in their ability to choose.

    Whether a person is proned based on experience or influence to choose one over the other or not, the simple fact is that they CAN - for any number of reasons - choose whatever they want... rationally or irrationally.

    The same goes for decisions in life: we have, as beings who exist in the same finite (er, it might be) universe, a limited number of variables to choose from, but we are limited BY THAT NUMBER and not an inability to freely choose between them.
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  10. #40
    Registered User imccarthy's Avatar
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    ^ Sounds vaguely like compatibilism: we cannot dictate our desires, but we can dictate what we do with them.
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  11. #41
    Grunts Doing Crunches AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by imccarthy View Post
    ^ Sounds vaguely like compatibilism: we cannot dictate our desires, but we can dictate what we do with them.
    Maybe. I know nothing about philosophy in a formal sense so i'll have to read about it... i'm just going off of my general stance on decision making.

    Which denomination (it's probably not called this) of philosophy do you most closely associate with out of curiousity?
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    ♚ Elected V.P. - R/P ♚ sawoobley's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mynameisuntz View Post
    But what is the precursor to those decisions or thought patterns? Even our choice to go against desires/thought patterns may be determined or influenced by some want to prove someone/ourselves wrong. Our decision to do the opposite of a traditional desire for the sake of trying something different may not be free will at all; that may be an act which follows our hope to break tradition. And when presented with "X" scenario, that reaction of "Y" (breaking tradition) was "decided" for us.

    So someone decides they are going to eat fish tonight even though they typically dislike it, just to do something new. Was this consciously and freely willed? Or did it follow some innate and unconscious desire for a new experience of some kind?

    Even when we do things that break some sort of pattern, how can you say we are consciously choosing it as opposed to simply following some unconscious desire?
    I know of no way to distinguish between what you are saying and free will. If this philosophical question cannot be answered adequately then maybe we should ask ourselves which idea is better for people to accept in the absence of an answer? If people believe they have free will and can determine their own fate to a certain extent then they might do more to pursue their hopes, dreams and desires (in theory anyways) even if they are currently not living in favorable conditions.

    Originally Posted by imccarthy View Post
    This is called the Argument from Personal Incredulity, lol. It's a logical fallacy.

    It's obvious that we, as humans, think very highly of ourselves, and don't WANT to believe that we're no more objectively significant or... shall we say... empowered... than, for example, cows, or trees. However, our desires say nothing of the truth or falsity of such a view, and as a strict, boring materialist I really don't see any basis for its being correct.
    I don't believe I did present a logical fallacy.

    Originally Posted by argument from personal incredulity
    Arguments from incredulity take the form:

    -P is too incredible (or: I cannot imagine how P could possibly be true); therefore P must be false.

    -I cannot imagine how P could possibly be false; therefore P must be true.

    These arguments are similar to arguments from ignorance in that they too ignore and do not properly eliminate the possibility that something can be both incredible and still be true, or appear to be obvious and yet still be false. Another way of putting it would be: I cannot explain or understand this, therefore it cannot be true.
    I did not express an argument or prove a point in my comments. I presented my line of reasoning and then stated that I had no proof to support my statement and there was insufficient proof to disprove it. Therefore, the argument cannot go anywhere because we lack the information and knowledge to even argue it. Plus the argument would likely enter the metaphysical/spiritual realm which makes it pointless to even argue.
    Last edited by sawoobley; 11-24-2012 at 08:28 PM.
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    Maybe. I know nothing about philosophy in a formal sense so i'll have to read about it... i'm just going off of my general stance on decision making.

    Which denomination (it's probably not called this) of philosophy do you most closely associate with out of curiousity?
    I'm a determinist. I maintain that free will does not exist.

    Originally Posted by sawoobley View Post
    I know of no way to distinguish between what you are saying and free will. If this philosophical question cannot be answered adequately then maybe we should ask ourselves which idea is better for people to accept in the absence of an answer? If people believe they have free will and can determine their own fate to a certain extent then they might do more to pursue their hopes, dreams and desires (in theory anyways) even if they are currently not living in favorable conditions.

    I don't believe I did present a logical fallacy.

    I did not express an argument or prove a point in my comments. I presented my line of reasoning and then stated that I had no proof to support my statement and there was insufficient proof to disprove it. Therefore, the argument cannot go anywhere because we lack the information and knowledge to even argue it. Plus the argument would likely enter the metaphysical/spiritual realm which makes it pointless to even argue.
    Let me simplify this:

    P1: Either our actions are determined by preceding events, or they are random.
    P2: If our actions are determined by preceding events then we do not have free will.
    P3: If our actions are random then we do not have free will.
    C: We do not have free will.
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    "You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
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    Originally Posted by imccarthy View Post
    I'm a determinist. I maintain that free will does not exist.



    Let me simplify this:

    P1: Either our actions are determined by preceding events, or they are random.
    P2: If our actions are determined by preceding events then we do not have free will.
    P3: If our actions are random then we do not have free will.
    C: We do not have free will.
    Are we throwing out the possibility in the above that things can be influences and not just determinants?

    Also, a person is capable of behaving unpredictably simply by being self-aware.

    If I know a particular action is in keeping with my personal bias, I can choose to deviate or not. The fact that I can choose one or the other, to me, seems an awful lot like free will. Which choice I make doesn't matter -- I have more than one choice, and I can choose one or the other, or both in some cases... if not at the same time.

    I can act irrationally if I choose to, or I can behave.

    On another note: do you believe sociopaths have free will?
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    Are we throwing out the possibility in the above that things can be influences and not just determinants?

    Thats a logical contradiction. influences are determinants

    Also, a person is capable of behaving unpredictably simply by being self-aware.

    The premise doesn't lead to the conclusion

    If I know a particular action is in keeping with my personal bias, I can choose to deviate or not. The fact that I can choose one or the other, to me, seems an awful lot like free will. Which choice I make doesn't matter -- I have more than one choice, and I can choose one or the other, or both in some cases... if not at the same time.

    the fact that you chose to behave in a manner doesn't mean it is. The fact that you chose doesn't mean it wasn't already decided that you would

    I can act irrationally if I choose to, or I can behave.

    so what?

    On another note: do you believe sociopaths have free will?

    sociopaths have nothing to do with this discussion, how are they relevant?
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    Originally Posted by mynameisuntz View Post
    I understand this view, but I do not understand the previous point where the world (or "objective reality") cannot be cause/effect even if the mind is not.
    I didn't say the universe cant be cause and effect if our mind is not.

    I said we can never objectively understand the universe with certainty if our mind is not subject to cause and effect.
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    Are we throwing out the possibility in the above that things can be influences and not just determinants?
    What, in your submission, is the distinction between the two?

    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    Also, a person is capable of behaving unpredictably simply by being self-aware.
    How so? And what does this have to do with free will?

    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    If I know a particular action is in keeping with my personal bias, I can choose to deviate or not. The fact that I can choose one or the other, to me, seems an awful lot like free will. Which choice I make doesn't matter -- I have more than one choice, and I can choose one or the other, or both in some cases... if not at the same time.
    Right. You're essentially describing a compatibilistic view. A determinist would point out that research on the brain has demonstrated that decisions are made BEFORE we are consciously aware of them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurosc...bet_experiment

    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    I can act irrationally if I choose to, or I can behave.
    See above.

    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    On another note: do you believe sociopaths have free will?
    No. Why do you ask?
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    Originally Posted by imccarthy View Post
    What, in your submission, is the distinction between the two?

    How so? And what does this have to do with free will?

    Right. You're essentially describing a compatibilistic view. A determinist would point out that research on the brain has demonstrated that decisions are made BEFORE we are consciously aware of them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurosc...bet_experiment

    See above.

    No. Why do you ask?
    I would define an influence in this context as something that contributes to an event/decision but is not the sole determining factor. For instance, having several relationships in the past of various natures, each of which influences subsequent events but none solely determining the outcome -- it is, rather, a collective effect which is then organized to action according to goals/objectives. In that example, I am again limited in my decision making by the amount and types of relationships I have had coupled with countless other influences, but the ultimate determinant seems to be the free will itself.

    Although the research does seem to identify that you make a choice to act before you are consciously aware in the context of the experiment, I am skeptical if you could really apply this on a larger scale. Of course there is a "lag" prior to a movement: signals, after all, must be sent to the appropriate places. However, what if we stretched this out over time and measured the effect of not one movement, but many movements, and then applied those same principles to larger decisions. In my opinion, there is a destinction to be made between basic movements and complex thoughts/decisions as you are weighing multiple factors and disecting them over and over. Essentially I am suggesting it would be possible to have free will in more complex situations.

    Apologies, I did not mean sociopath; I was actually referring to another mental condition which escapes me at the moment. I'll rephrase: would you say that certain mental conditions would allow a person to have free will? For instance, lacking in retention of or distorting determinants which lead to events/actions?
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