INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy.

How can we possibly have free will?

Any topic related to science can be discussed here.
Message
Author
Compassionist
Posts: 3288
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

How can we possibly have free will?

#1 Postby Compassionist » March 26th, 2018, 9:00 pm

How can we possibly have free will? Without omnipotence, it is impossible to have free will. We, biological organisms, are all prisoners of causality. We are all doomed to be conceived without our consent, doomed to do the inevitable, doomed to suffer and doomed to die. If I were truly free, I would have already gone back in time and prevented all suffering and injustice by making everyone equally omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent and omniculpable. Please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhO2lVQRT8Y and https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg ... p-in-brain Thank you.

VINDICATOR
Posts: 436
Joined: December 22nd, 2016, 11:07 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#2 Postby VINDICATOR » March 27th, 2018, 12:53 pm

Hi, Compassionist,
Actually, according to all philosophies including Atheism, there can be no free will.
First consider Theism. All Gods are omniscient and know everything including the future. that means he knows in advance everything we will do. THis in effect means that we are all just actors performing to a prewritten play script. Since the play script was written by God, how can we have "free will"?
Next consider Atheism. The universe runs by "cause and effect". Everything that happens in the universe has a cause. The universe is like a great machine, everything that happens is mechanically coupled to the past. Therefore if you know the past parameters, you can calculate the future. So, how can we have "free will"?

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6410
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#3 Postby animist » March 27th, 2018, 1:24 pm

I believe in free will in some sense and to some degree. However, I am not going to get involved in this topic again, having spent a lot of words on TH on older threads

Compassionist
Posts: 3288
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#4 Postby Compassionist » March 27th, 2018, 5:35 pm

VINDICATOR wrote:Hi, Compassionist,
Actually, according to all philosophies including Atheism, there can be no free will.
First consider Theism. All Gods are omniscient and know everything including the future. that means he knows in advance everything we will do. THis in effect means that we are all just actors performing to a prewritten play script. Since the play script was written by God, how can we have "free will"?
Next consider Atheism. The universe runs by "cause and effect". Everything that happens in the universe has a cause. The universe is like a great machine, everything that happens is mechanically coupled to the past. Therefore if you know the past parameters, you can calculate the future. So, how can we have "free will"?

I agree.

Compassionist
Posts: 3288
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#5 Postby Compassionist » March 27th, 2018, 5:40 pm

animist wrote:I believe in free will in some sense and to some degree. However, I am not going to get involved in this topic again, having spent a lot of words on TH on older threads

We experience making choices but the choices are not made freely. We are products of genes, environments, nutrients and experiences. These lead to our limited awareness, limited values and limited abilities with which we make our inevitable choices.

Jerome P
Posts: 6
Joined: March 22nd, 2018, 6:57 pm

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#6 Postby Jerome P » March 27th, 2018, 5:46 pm

Do we enter this world without a choice? In antiquity, Pythagoras advised that the neighbor you could be hurting could have been kin in a past life. If this were true, that would suggest that people can choose the people they end up surrounding themselves with.

Compassionist
Posts: 3288
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#7 Postby Compassionist » March 27th, 2018, 6:49 pm

Jerome P wrote:Do we enter this world without a choice? In antiquity, Pythagoras advised that the neighbor you could be hurting could have been kin in a past life. If this were true, that would suggest that people can choose the people they end up surrounding themselves with.

I am not convinced that we have immortal souls and that reincarnation is true. Some people believe that the universe is just and all beings exist according to their karmic bank balance but that is not based on evidence, that is based on wishful thinking.

VINDICATOR
Posts: 436
Joined: December 22nd, 2016, 11:07 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#8 Postby VINDICATOR » March 28th, 2018, 6:02 am

Dear Jerome,
Reincarnation is one of the silliest inventions of the bronze age. I once saw a propaganda pamphlet on reincarnation warning you not to eat pork, because the pig you are eating might be the reincarnation of your grandfather!

Jerome P
Posts: 6
Joined: March 22nd, 2018, 6:57 pm

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#9 Postby Jerome P » March 28th, 2018, 8:21 am

Compassionist wrote:
Jerome P wrote:Do we enter this world without a choice? In antiquity, Pythagoras advised that the neighbor you could be hurting could have been kin in a past life. If this were true, that would suggest that people can choose the people they end up surrounding themselves with.

I am not convinced that we have immortal souls and that reincarnation is true. Some people believe that the universe is just and all beings exist according to their karmic bank balance but that is not based on evidence, that is based on wishful thinking.
Well, the Bavarian Illuminati sprang from the belief that all educators and great men began as infants and that this was proof that the development of our consciousness was the ultimate "plan of creation".

VINDICATOR wrote:Dear Jerome,
Reincarnation is one of the silliest inventions of the bronze age.

I once saw a propaganda pamphlet on reincarnation warning you not to eat pork, because the pig you are eating might be the reincarnation of your grandfather!
Sillier than resurrection?

That seems more like a gross distortion which is still being perpetuated by the Hindus. A rational reincarnation would have each being (animals and humans) reincarnate within it's own kind. Humans reincarnating as animals would be a hindrance.

The Elysium and Hades concepts of the Greeks described in works such as Virgil's Aeneid symbolically state that we make our own happiness or suffering but also implied that this extends over multiple lives.

VINDICATOR
Posts: 436
Joined: December 22nd, 2016, 11:07 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#10 Postby VINDICATOR » March 29th, 2018, 6:11 am

Dear Jerome,
The Buddhism that Buddha founded did not have reincarnation. As Buddhism evolved for 26 Centuries, it has spawned dozens of cults/denominations/etc. just like Christianity where you have at least 2000 denominations today, and many new inventions such as "immaculate conception", "trans-substantiation", etc. The Mormons even claim that Jesus went to America in 1830 to found their church! So please don't blame reincarnation on Buddha!

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6410
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#11 Postby animist » March 29th, 2018, 10:36 am

VINDICATOR wrote:Dear Jerome,
The Buddhism that Buddha founded did not have reincarnation. As Buddhism evolved for 26 Centuries, it has spawned dozens of cults/denominations/etc. just like Christianity where you have at least 2000 denominations today, and many new inventions such as "immaculate conception", "trans-substantiation", etc. The Mormons even claim that Jesus went to America in 1830 to found their church! So please don't blame reincarnation on Buddha!
how quickly this thread has mutated from free will to reincarnation. FW is a difficult topic to discuss as we all have different meanings which we attach to it

VINDICATOR
Posts: 436
Joined: December 22nd, 2016, 11:07 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#12 Postby VINDICATOR » March 29th, 2018, 11:36 am

Dear animist,
When I said that "there is no free will" I was being sarcastic, because "Free will" is something like Bertrand Russel's teapot that can't be proved or disproved! Almost all philisophical questions are in this catagory!

Jerome P
Posts: 6
Joined: March 22nd, 2018, 6:57 pm

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#13 Postby Jerome P » March 29th, 2018, 12:41 pm

VINDICATOR wrote:Dear Jerome,
The Buddhism that Buddha founded did not have reincarnation. As Buddhism evolved for 26 Centuries, it has spawned dozens of cults/denominations/etc. just like Christianity where you have at least 2000 denominations today, and many new inventions such as "immaculate conception", "trans-substantiation", etc. The Mormons even claim that Jesus went to America in 1830 to found their church! So please don't blame reincarnation on Buddha!
I thought it was obvious that I was talking about Hinduism. When did I ever mention Buddhism? Sectarian division is the surest sign that a religion has become falsified, strayed from the teachings of the founder.

Mormons and their propagandists try to represent Jesus as being a widely recognized miracle worker among the indigenous peoples but this claim can easily be refuted by qualified peoples i.e. Peter H. Buck.

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6410
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#14 Postby animist » April 1st, 2018, 11:45 am

VINDICATOR wrote:Dear animist,
When I said that "there is no free will" I was being sarcastic, because "Free will" is something like Bertrand Russel's teapot that can't be proved or disproved! Almost all philisophical questions are in this catagory!
glad you mentioned the famous teapot. Russell's point was that it could not be disproved, just as the existence of God could not be disproved. He wanted to show how ridiculous the latter belief was. The onus is always on the believers in some entity to show that it exists, not on those who dispute its existence to show that it is does not exist. Having said all that, I do not think that it applies to free will, which is not some sort of surrogate for an immortal soul but seems to underpin our pretty-well-universal belief in moral responsibility

Compassionist
Posts: 3288
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#15 Postby Compassionist » April 1st, 2018, 6:38 pm

animist wrote:
VINDICATOR wrote:Dear animist,
When I said that "there is no free will" I was being sarcastic, because "Free will" is something like Bertrand Russel's teapot that can't be proved or disproved! Almost all philisophical questions are in this catagory!
glad you mentioned the famous teapot. Russell's point was that it could not be disproved, just as the existence of God could not be disproved. He wanted to show how ridiculous the latter belief was. The onus is always on the believers in some entity to show that it exists, not on those who dispute its existence to show that it is does not exist. Having said all that, I do not think that it applies to free will, which is not some sort of surrogate for an immortal soul but seems to underpin our pretty-well-universal belief in moral responsibility

What if all choices are inevitable and we are just prisoners of causality? Determinism makes sense. What is the mechanism by which conscious choices occur? As far as I know, conscious choices occur according to the dynamics of our limited awareness, values and abilities all of which were pre-determined by genes, environments, nutrients and experiences. How can our will possibly be free? What mechanism would allow for such a free will? I am not saying that humans don't have any choices. I am saying that humans have limited choices. Our choices are limited by our limited awareness, values and abilities. There are an infinite number of things that I want to do but can't do e.g. go back in time and prevent all suffering, make all beings equally omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent and omniculpable, teleport, resurrect the dead, cure all illnesses, fix the global environment, make poverty history, etc.

tempogain
Posts: 11
Joined: March 26th, 2018, 5:51 pm

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#16 Postby tempogain » April 2nd, 2018, 11:14 am

Compassionist wrote: There are an infinite number of things that I want to do but can't do e.g. go back in time and prevent all suffering, make all beings equally omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent and omniculpable, teleport, resurrect the dead, cure all illnesses, fix the global environment, make poverty history, etc.


Why would this broader outlook on free will matter Compassionist? As animist has alluded to, isn't the importance of free will its relation to human moral agency? What difference does it make if we can't perform every possible act that we can conceive of?

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6410
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#17 Postby animist » April 2nd, 2018, 11:32 am

Compassionist wrote:
animist wrote:
VINDICATOR wrote:Dear animist,
When I said that "there is no free will" I was being sarcastic, because "Free will" is something like Bertrand Russel's teapot that can't be proved or disproved! Almost all philisophical questions are in this catagory!
glad you mentioned the famous teapot. Russell's point was that it could not be disproved, just as the existence of God could not be disproved. He wanted to show how ridiculous the latter belief was. The onus is always on the believers in some entity to show that it exists, not on those who dispute its existence to show that it is does not exist. Having said all that, I do not think that it applies to free will, which is not some sort of surrogate for an immortal soul but seems to underpin our pretty-well-universal belief in moral responsibility

What if all choices are inevitable and we are just prisoners of causality? Determinism makes sense. What is the mechanism by which conscious choices occur? As far as I know, conscious choices occur according to the dynamics of our limited awareness, values and abilities all of which were pre-determined by genes, environments, nutrients and experiences. How can our will possibly be free? What mechanism would allow for such a free will? I am not saying that humans don't have any choices. I am saying that humans have limited choices. Our choices are limited by our limited awareness, values and abilities. There are an infinite number of things that I want to do but can't do e.g. go back in time and prevent all suffering, make all beings equally omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent and omniculpable, teleport, resurrect the dead, cure all illnesses, fix the global environment, make poverty history, etc.
I think that you have a mistaken idea about free will. You constantly liken it to omnipotence, then show that we are not omnipotent and argue from that there is no free will. When you say that we have choices then you are conceding that we do have genuine freedom within constraints. I think that one can be a determinist in some way without jettisoning free will in the sense I mean. The other strong argument for this free will is that it is difficult to see how our concepts of moral responsibility, or any sort of responsibility, can make any sense without it

Compassionist
Posts: 3288
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#18 Postby Compassionist » April 2nd, 2018, 6:00 pm

tempogain wrote:
Compassionist wrote: There are an infinite number of things that I want to do but can't do e.g. go back in time and prevent all suffering, make all beings equally omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent and omniculpable, teleport, resurrect the dead, cure all illnesses, fix the global environment, make poverty history, etc.


Why would this broader outlook on free will matter Compassionist? As animist has alluded to, isn't the importance of free will its relation to human moral agency? What difference does it make if we can't perform every possible act that we can conceive of?

Obviously, I am disappointed that I can't prevent all suffering, etc. If all human choices are inevitable according to deterministic interactions of variables we don't choose e.g. genes, environments, nutrients and experiences, are we truly culpable for our perceptions, thoughts, emotions, words, actions, omissions, beliefs, values, etc.?

Compassionist
Posts: 3288
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#19 Postby Compassionist » April 2nd, 2018, 6:03 pm

animist wrote:
Compassionist wrote:
animist wrote:glad you mentioned the famous teapot. Russell's point was that it could not be disproved, just as the existence of God could not be disproved. He wanted to show how ridiculous the latter belief was. The onus is always on the believers in some entity to show that it exists, not on those who dispute its existence to show that it is does not exist. Having said all that, I do not think that it applies to free will, which is not some sort of surrogate for an immortal soul but seems to underpin our pretty-well-universal belief in moral responsibility

What if all choices are inevitable and we are just prisoners of causality? Determinism makes sense. What is the mechanism by which conscious choices occur? As far as I know, conscious choices occur according to the dynamics of our limited awareness, values and abilities all of which were pre-determined by genes, environments, nutrients and experiences. How can our will possibly be free? What mechanism would allow for such a free will? I am not saying that humans don't have any choices. I am saying that humans have limited choices. Our choices are limited by our limited awareness, values and abilities. There are an infinite number of things that I want to do but can't do e.g. go back in time and prevent all suffering, make all beings equally omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent and omniculpable, teleport, resurrect the dead, cure all illnesses, fix the global environment, make poverty history, etc.
I think that you have a mistaken idea about free will. You constantly liken it to omnipotence, then show that we are not omnipotent and argue from that there is no free will. When you say that we have choices then you are conceding that we do have genuine freedom within constraints. I think that one can be a determinist in some way without jettisoning free will in the sense I mean. The other strong argument for this free will is that it is difficult to see how our concepts of moral responsibility, or any sort of responsibility, can make any sense without it

You are right - my definition of free will is being free to do anything and everything - no one else seems to use this definition. More commonly held definition of free will is the ability to make a choice. I agree that we do have the ability to make a choice but my hypothesis is that all our choices are inevitable and therefore, we are not truly culpable for our choices.

tempogain
Posts: 11
Joined: March 26th, 2018, 5:51 pm

Re: How can we possibly have free will?

#20 Postby tempogain » April 2nd, 2018, 7:18 pm

Compassionist wrote:Obviously, I am disappointed that I can't prevent all suffering, etc.


I never thought about it, but it would be pretty cool.

If all human choices are inevitable according to deterministic interactions of variables we don't choose e.g. genes, environments, nutrients and experiences, are we truly culpable for our perceptions, thoughts, emotions, words, actions, omissions, beliefs, values, etc.?


That's another question. Here's one way of looking at it. A, all human choices are not really inevitable. Within whatever deterministic framework we live in, there are countless opportunities for various probabilities to come into play. In a single human mind a massive amount of unpredictable chemical reactions occurs every instant and somehow leads to physical actions, like me deciding to get up to grab a cold beer, or heading outside to kill a passerby. Certainly it SEEMS things are that way. If I decide not to kill the passerby and to stay here and drink my beer, I can do that. Or the reverse. In this case I can be said to have moral agency. B, all human choices are inevitable. Well, in that case, there's not really much point to worrying about that or anything else is there? Whatever will happen will happen and that's it. Simple game theory would suggest that proceeding under the assumption that A is true is the best move.


Return to “Sciences and pseudo-science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests