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Free Choice

  1. Sep 30, 2006 #1


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    If people are "biomachines" and every action that we make is determined by physical law (quauntum mechanics is still physical law) then how can we have free choice?
    If we don't have free choice then what's the value of any scientific theory or philosophical argument - the person that said it was "forced" to say what they said, so it should have no more credability than someone saying that the world was flat with a gun to there head.
    And if we do have free choice then doesn't it mean that there's somekind of metaphysical or spiritual thing that makes it work?
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  3. Sep 30, 2006 #2


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    At the very least, the answer would depend on what the phrase "free choice" means. Can you give a definition?
  4. Sep 30, 2006 #3


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    i havn''t learned philosophy but i'd define it as being able to theoreticlly get from one state (for example hungry) to a few different states (eating or not eating). if in situation A you did B and then you got into A again and chose C then you have free will, but if the only thing that you could do was B then you don't.
    Or, having free will is the ability to chose between different actions without any external influance.
    i'm sure that my definitions are somehow flawed but i hope you understand what i mean, maybe my definition is the source of my confusion? if it is than could you explain why?
  5. Oct 3, 2006 #4


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    anyone? (weird rule)
  6. Oct 3, 2006 #5
    It sounds like you're saying that because there are physical laws to retrict and enable things in the universe and that we have to 'obey' these laws automatically that we don't have the ability to choose for ourselfs.
  7. Oct 3, 2006 #6
    (In my opinion)

    My definition of free choice:

    The ability for any living thing to perform an action in the world based on the brains response to external stimuli or internal thought processing.

    Take an apple(I know I overuse it), you are hungry, and there is an apple on the table, but you would rather want a cheeseburger, however that involves walking, so you have to make a choice between going to the 7-11 or eating the apple.

    Basically right then and there, the brain considers literally hundreds if not thousands of different things, and emotionally and intellectually you get responses.
    But what it all comes down to is the act of actually say, eating the apple.

    And this is where 1/0 comes in.

    At the most fundamental level of existence, something occurs to make you choose between the apple and the cheeseburger, and it is this, which controls all of action and choice.
    And what would that be you say?

    Well in my opinion it is the action itself.
    Say you are on a diet, and you know the apple is good for your diet, and the burger isn't, you have somewhat already made a choice, but within you there is a strong emotional temptation for an apple.
    So what happens is that one might say you go into an infinite loop.

    Most people never make a choice, they simply do it, and thus the choice has been made.
    There might be very VERY strong emotional feeling towards one choice or the other, but only the action can stop the infinite loop of uncertainty.

    This fits because that's why some people make choices that they don't want to make.. They might have a very strong emotional feeling to do the right thing, but ends up doing the wrong thing, and thus go against everything that is logical, and that might be because they got a single impulse that drew them the other direction, and then they did it.
  8. Oct 4, 2006 #7
    To not make a choice is a choice, a decision. If it is controlled, compelled by fundamental states it is not free but determined, thus it is not a choice but a response or reaction, an inevitable consequence of the present and previous states.

    To be a choice, it must be free, uncontrolled, a conscious, thoughtful decision of an mind that is not compelled one way or the other. It may be influenced toward one preference or the other but not compelled nor controlled.
  9. Oct 4, 2006 #8
    Why are you so hesitant to accept that maybe we are indeed controlled?

    At the very least we have at least our illusion of free will..
    Whether you like it or not a human will never be able to escape the physical restraints of his options when making a choice.
    You cannot make a choice beyond what you can't comprehend, and guess what? We can only comprehend the physical.
    When making a choice you are still limited by your body, specifically your brain functions and your body, to perform actions and think out responses.

    IMO your definition of free will is not possible, for the reasons I stated in the other thread which I won't reiterate here, and also that we are limited to what our brain has stored in its memories and what your body is physically capable of doing.
    That is ALL you are capable of doing.
  10. Oct 25, 2006 #9


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    this might be a good definition of "free choice", or "free will":

    free will is not about choice but about making the most of the environment in which you live
  11. Oct 31, 2006 #10
    This is a topic which I have the same problem with daniel_i_l but a problem is "if we really think or not???"

    to me thinking is itself a natural reaction to environmental stimulies.

    Like say for example when you wanted to eat the apple you had a sense of beign hungry (if not hungry your emotion which made you like apple *if overused :)* ) so you eated the apple.

    If we look at this whole thing through a neurological point of view, our nervous system is actually translating the environmental stimuli to nerve impulses (fixed electrical frequencies) hence each particular stimula must have its very own frequency and the answer provided by the combination of frequencies created by environment is itself fixed... we don't really figure this out because the combination isn't always exactly the same.

    as a result brain is a natural calculater for reactions...
    how to explain this????
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2006
  12. Oct 31, 2006 #11
    There is nothing that is not influenced. Your started this topic because of the memory you had or some other reseason and the other reason came becacue of some other reason. You can influence your evnivroment and the enviroment can influence you. You have a part in playing in this on going back and forth influence (almost like a free will but not quite).
  13. Nov 6, 2006 #12
    "Free will" is merely a word and words are made by us and not some superior being so how can we understand it.

    All of us have different interpretations of "free will".

    Does free will differentiate us from animals?
  14. Nov 6, 2006 #13
    That is an argument against omnipotence, not against FW.

    If you are talking about Royce, all s/he says is
    that a free choice is one that may be influenced but must not be compelled. There is nothing in that definition about transcending the physical.
  15. Nov 6, 2006 #14
    If I point a gun at your head and order you to hand over
    your wallet, you, as a living thing, are responding to an
    external stimulus. But that no-one would say you are
    making a free choice. It seems your definition is flawed.
  16. Nov 12, 2006 #15
    i like that question :rofl: . really , why do we not want to accept that everything we do is influenced by something ?
    the brain is just like a cpu . a proccessing unit that estimates what do we need , when will we need it and how to take what we need .
    is there a difference between the human being and the machine ? i think there is slight difference. that difference is what make us people and what i'm talking about are the emotions and the feelings that we have . but if u take a look at those emotions and feelings from a different point of view , u'll see that those things are just like food and energy for us , except we don't feed our bodies , but we feed our soul with them. it may sound kind of strange but take a look at your daily life, what are the so called "ups and downs" . the "ups" are just high state of happines, because of some achievment, attainment etc. we need those ups so can be proud of ourselves for what we are, i mean that joy make all of us go, because we like to feel good, it's like happines is the gasoline of life. and the "downs" are there so that we can apreciate the "ups" :approve: .
    back on the topic , why do we need the so called fw . because we want to be sure that we are the one that create their destiny, not someone else, and be happy with that fact. u see , there is no way u can have free choice , and decide everything for our own selves . that is connected with the idea for the ultimate responsibility (ur). we can't have ur (see the topic "people=biorobots") . in my point of view free will is an illusion that is needed so we can live in a delusion . a delusion , which support our whole universe .
  17. Nov 13, 2006 #16
    good post delirium... I find the man as being a bio-robot exactly but lets try a way to deny it if we couldn't then just get sure about bio robots.

    What makes the rest think we have a free will?????
  18. Nov 19, 2006 #17
    hmmm , you know there are outside influence , that make you not think about the question "am i doing everything on my own will" . such influence is exactly the hapiness that i already talked about. joy and hapiness make you forget about troubles and create desire to live on , so you can experience more of those good "vibes". what i'm saying is that hapiness is the drug of life, it make us careless and non thinking about complex topics as "why am i living". but in the moment that we wake up from the abstinency of the this drug (the joy) , we look around and see one crazy world , that however look very chaotic , we can see that everything works in definete path and everyone of us does his deeds so the chain of events maintain . i see life as a perfect programming code like in pascal , full of procedures and functions . every desicion we make is like if something do this , else do this (actually i hate pascal programing).
    in my point of view , "the rest" think we have a free will because they haven't woke up from that drug dream i mentioned.
    i also find that tv, internet, mmorpges (i play wow a little:) ), help us stay in that dream and that's why those speheres r so prosperous , because it's the most needed drug of the human breed. i have many more things to say , but for the moment it's the stream of consciousness , that i could put into the post. sorry for the chaotic way of stating my mind
  19. Dec 27, 2006 #18
    Sorry for sending the reply soooo late... By the Merry Merry Christmas, (it might keep us in the joy :) )

    Yes But as you mentioned out in your last parragraph " ..... Help us stay in that dream...."

    so its just a dream... happiness is just making us forget what a dissciplined and pre programmed world we live in...

    I'd like to know your words for or against this kind of approach to the free will...
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