Free will

  • #26
well what I think it comes down to, is if anyone can know with 100% accuracy your actions before you make them, then we have no free will. and an omnicient anything would know with 100% accuracy, be it miss cleo, or God. but just as long as someone knows, we are just following the plan as to what he or she already knows.
 
  • #27
nickdanger
theriddler876 said:
well what I think it comes down to, is if anyone can know with 100% accuracy your actions before you make them, then we have no free will. and an omnicient anything would know with 100% accuracy, be it miss cleo, or God. but just as long as someone knows, we are just following the plan as to what he or she already knows.

I think the general problem in arguing that free will negates determinism in the world is that our conception of free will needs to be modified. Let's assume that the world is deterministic, forgetting about quantum mechanical arguments of uncertainty for the time being.

We can consider that beyond instincts we are born with, we go through our lives 'writing' to our memories the outcomes of our actions and whether those actions obtained a good or bad result. We find we like ice cream and we write that to our memory. We may not like our work necessarily but we write it in as necessity. We continue this way making continuous rankings. We would never go get ice cream instead of going to work. But we might find we can stop for ice cream assessing whether we will be late for work and if so, is it worth it. This goes on, so-on-and-so-forth ranking and comparing past outcomes and future possibilities.

Now there are two things I would suggest we establish:
1. We need to admit that we make these comparisons and decisions within a 'physical' mind that is subject to 'physically' delivering our decisions. That is we don't think that the entire process is based on processing the decision through a physical system, subject to classical laws and then somehow just before the decision (let's say up to the point the last electron is delivered into position) that there is a metaphysical and non-classical 'delivery' of the decision. To say otherwise is to suggest we would make a decision completely without reason; the outcomes would have nothing to do with what we are thinking. So we 'freely' made the decision, but it was subject to a lot of written data about what we think is good for us and what we think is bad. Were we forced to the decision? Yes, I think it must be completely deterministic, but this is precisely the way we like it, we are happy to have it forced into a direction that satisfies our sensibilities.
2. All our decisions are deterministic - Would you ever make a decision by letting your logic operate so that the outcome is not from a set of physical steps as described. That is comparing what is written in you memory? Actually, I would say no. We are incapable of delivering an answer that is not from 'physical' logic that is determined stepwise. That many outcomes were posssible before delivering the decision does not refute the determinism. Only one outcome was delivered, therefore it went down a determined path, regardless of perturbations along the way (they are actually part of the determinism). No matter how much we microscopically divide and look more closely at the physical processes, we never get to a point that something metaphysical occurs in the decision making. Anything that was part of the process, must have played out in the physical plane of reality, regardless of where it came from.

So is free will eliminated. No, it is just the way we like it. We are simply restricted from getting up in the morning and deciding we want to live on alpha-centauri today along with many other eliminated possibilities.

Free will is just as we like it, just not everyway we would have it: Don't we expect that all physical things will work deterministically and our mind is part of those 'physical things'?
- the earth in its specific orbit about the sun gives us stable environment
- Our gas stove predictably burns propane to heat our food...we don't wake up and find laws governing controlled flammability of the propane have disappeared
- Our bodies including our heart and all vital organs work predictably and deterministically. We would not have it any other way.

Why then would we expect the determinism to be repealed with the processes working in our minds as we make decisions? To suggest it is not this way is to suggest there is a step that is metaphysical in our decision processes when in fact our free will is delivering an answer just the way we like it, physically deterministic. There is no other process that can play out in the physical plane.

This was the long way of saying, if God knows all your actions and they are predetermined, but you do not know them, you still have free will just the way you like it. You are happy that you are prevented from living your day on alpha-centauri, yet concerning all the other possible directions in your normal life that you have chosen, it's difficult to see that you are equally happy with the decisions you were prevented from making; it's why you made the decision that you did. Again, you have free will just as you like it, just not everyway you would have it.
 
  • #28
hmnn

well what if you just trick youself into thinking that's the way you like it. to put it simply, if you are stranded in forest and you come to a fork, you can turn left or you can turn right. and both of the paths look Identical, how would "what we like" or "how we like it" come into play here?... now say I am all knowing, and I know you will go right. are you just following what I already know? I being the playwrite and you a scriptless actor under the illusion of free will?
 
  • #29
what nick is saying is simply that past circumstances influence every decision we make, thus our decisions are predermined by our past, which has a certain element of truth to it, except that part of what makes us human is our ability to act irrationally. we can, and do make decisions that go completely against every logical faculty we posess. whether we made these irrational decsions based upon past experience is anyone's guess.

personally, i think free will is self evident. it makes for a great "what if" discussion, but in the end, choice is ours, unaffected by foreknowledge. as we understand physics, we KNOW with great certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow. why? because there is enough atomic fuel in the sun to last another 5 billion years, there are no geologic activities that will completely blow up the earth, and even if we blew ourselves up the sun would still appear over the horizon tomorrow morning. but knowing this, do we make the sun rise? or does it happen anyway? i'm not implying that the sun has a choice in whether or not it rises, i'm saying that our foreknowledge doesn't change the outcome. knowing makes no difference, so then if "God" knows, it makes no difference, we still choose and still live how we want, albeit with the influences of our past. even though i know the sun will rise, i don't write the script of the universe.
a good experiment on how our past influences our decisions would be on amnesiacs. i think it'd be interesting to see how their forgotten memories influence the choices they make subconsciously. but that's another story. :)
 
  • #30
293
0
Hi,

Free will is an illusion.

The only freedom you have is to fight to attain the freedom you should have. This existence in which we were born is just a state of total war to attain the freedom we should have had in the first place.

juju
 
  • #31
juju said:
Free will is an illusion.

The only freedom you have is to fight to attain the freedom you should have. This existence in which we were born is just a state of total war to attain the freedom we should have had in the first place.

um.... first there's a BIG difference between "Freedom" and "Free will". second, you state that free will is an illusion, yet offer no evidence to back it up. as this is a physics forum, most of us on here would be unwilling to accept any argument as valid without sufficient evidence.
also, considering this is a philosophy thread, our concern for the answer (do we have free will? yes or no?) is not nearly as important as the thought processes that lead us to our conclusions.
 
  • #32
293
0
Hi,

To clarify. Everything I said was a result of my life experience. That is the only proof I need.

Free will and freedom are essentially identical. If you have no free will you have no freedom. As far as I am concerned the only free will I have is to fight for the free will and freedom I should have.

Philosophy is for those who don't believe in hell!
Religion is for those who do believe in hell!
Spirituality is for those who have been there in hell!

I have been there.

juju
 
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  • #33
juju said:
Free will and freedom are essentially identical. If you have no free will you have no freedom. As far as I am concerned the only free will I have is to fight for the free will and freedom I should have.


juju

what are you talking about?? free will and freedom have nothing to do with each other, are you saying that say russians when the USSR was still together, or chinese or cuban people have no free will cause they have no freedom? what if a tyrant came into power and took everyone's freedom? by your reasoning we would not have the free will to rise up and rebel
 
  • #34
puf_the_majic_dragon said:
personally, i think free will is self evident. it makes for a great "what if" discussion, but in the end, choice is ours, unaffected by foreknowledge. as we understand physics, we KNOW with great certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow. why? because there is enough atomic fuel in the sun to last another 5 billion years, there are no geologic activities that will completely blow up the earth, and even if we blew ourselves up the sun would still appear over the horizon tomorrow morning. but knowing this, do we make the sun rise? or does it happen anyway? i'm not implying that the sun has a choice in whether or not it rises, i'm saying that our foreknowledge doesn't change the outcome. knowing makes no difference, so then if "God" knows, it makes no difference, we still choose and still live how we want, albeit with the influences of our past. even though i know the sun will rise, i don't write the script of the universe.
:)

that's diffrent as well, you have no way of being sure that the sun will rise, you infer from knowledge of stars and fuel that it will rise and keep burning, and from that you will know to say 99.99999999999999 percent acuracy but nothing that we know is certain, we only make infrences which have a percent error, like when I use a stapler I'm pretty sure it's going to work, but it could aways get stuck, and the things that we can get to the least ammount of possible error we deem as laws of the universe, like droping an object, you know it's going to fall you could even say it will always 100% will fall, on earth that is, so does it really have a choice of falling?
 

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