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Free Will
Posted: 26 August 2008 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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I don’t believe in free will or that it is required to be moral. I am more or less a determinist. Opinions vary and it is a hot topic, here’s a current article on the subject.


http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=free-will-vs-programmed-brain&sc=WR_20080826

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Posted: 26 August 2008 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Hot topic? LOL It’s about a 5,000 year old topic and mostly considered an incoherent argument today.

Read Daniel Dennett. Anything by him.

We have free will in a deterministic universe. However our free will is a product of evolution by genetic mutation and natural selection producing a qualitative brain. Thats my opinion anyway.

It’s a dead end debate that virtually ends up going nowhere but into cosmic gobbly gook and as I mentioned….incoherence.

We either make choices of free will because of biology or free will is an illusion of our minds. How you gonna prove or disprove either one?

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Posted: 27 August 2008 08:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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McCreason - 26 August 2008 09:52 PM

Hot topic? LOL It’s about a 5,000 year old topic and mostly considered an incoherent argument today.

5,000 years and still going strong with many of the great minds of history weighing in on one side or the other.

Read Daniel Dennett. Anything by him.

Already done.

We have free will in a deterministic universe. However our free will is a product of evolution by genetic mutation and natural selection producing a qualitative brain. Thats my opinion anyway.

That’s Dennett’s “kind that counts” which is not free will at all.

It’s a dead end debate that virtually ends up going nowhere but into cosmic gobbly gook and as I mentioned….incoherence.

Why should that be? If free will exists and it isn’t magic, then it should be within our means to answer.

We either make choices of free will because of biology or free will is an illusion of our minds. How you gonna prove or disprove either one?

biology? How does biology, which is bound by cause and effect, lead to free will decisions without any cause?

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Posted: 27 August 2008 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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If you do not understand ‘cause’ and ‘biology’ then I doubt you have read Dennett or at least you have misunderstood him.

To help you out I have posted a link of Michael Shermers review of Dennetts 2003 book entitled ‘Freedom Evolves’ This should give you some pointers and info. Shermer disagrees with Dennetts compatabilist view by the way.

http://www.michaelshermer.com/2003/04/demon-of-determinism/

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‘Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity’

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Posted: 27 August 2008 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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McCreason - 27 August 2008 02:06 PM

If you do not understand ‘cause’ and ‘biology’ then I doubt you have read Dennett or at least you have misunderstood him.

I don’t think so, I just disagree with him.

To help you out I have posted a link of Michael Shermers review of Dennetts 2003 book entitled ‘Freedom Evolves’ This should give you some pointers and info. Shermer disagrees with Dennetts compatabilist view by the way.

http://www.michaelshermer.com/2003/04/demon-of-determinism/

Good article, thanks! But my view is the same as Shermers, and I don’t see where you’ve helped yourself on the issue. Dennett has made up his own definition of free will to make the idea fit into a deterministic universe, I’m unmoved by it. The argument here is, is there free will, the human mind is special, therefore free will exists. That’s really little more then “begging the question”.

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Posted: 27 August 2008 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Of course the human mind is special. Who could possibly think not? We are the only animal with consciousness and written language. Thats pretty special. Not in the supernatural sense but in the biological sense.

Our free will or illusion of is an axaptation of our qualitative brain. Billions of neurons with trillions of synapses. Just my neurological opinion of course. grin

Whether you are a determinist or a free willer or a compatabilist or neo-compatabilist…......
do you not see the arguments going round and round? I suppose thats what philosophy is about but…

Read the work of Owen Flanagan for another great philosophers take on free will. Specifically his book-‘The Problem of the Soul’ He comes out somehwere between Shermer and Dennett FWIW.

The 5,000 year old debate never ends and great minds will not all agree.

About 20 years ago it was said that the age of ‘mind science’ (Neuroscience) would solve this problem. It has not as of yet.
Maybe someday.

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‘Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity’

‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

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Posted: 27 August 2008 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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McCreason - 27 August 2008 03:58 PM

The 5,000 year old debate never ends and great minds will not all agree.

Ah, it’s Pledge Week again for the Free Will debate. Vote “Yea”, or vote “Nay”, we don’t care, as long as you take a position. If we can get at least a billion subscribers signed up one way or t’other, we can end the pledge drive and go back to the regularly-scheduled programming that is ordinarily available for your enjoyment. If you write a 500-word essay in support of your position, you will receive as your premium a free gift from PBS, the Philosophy Broadcasting System,  a big lapel button that reads “FUCKWIT” in large, friendly letters. For a 1000-word essay, you will receive a zircon-encrusted “fuckwit” lapel button.

[ Edited: 27 August 2008 12:42 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 27 August 2008 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Cheers for SC! Exhibiting all that free will there in that very innovative and clever post.

By the way-why did you capitalize ‘Free Will’? Are you a creationist in disguise? grin

I do not even capitalize god, let alone free will. Maybe it is Deterministic in me not to. Being a fuckwit that I am.

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‘Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity’

‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

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Posted: 27 August 2008 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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LOL Good job Jefe!

All it needs is George W. Bush’s pic underneath it!

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‘Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity’

‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Posted: 27 August 2008 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Can’t speak for SC but you have nailed me a few times.

Chai Latte eh?

I think mine got splattered with Ginseng and Guinness. Breakfast of champions.  tongue wink

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‘Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity’

‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

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Posted: 27 August 2008 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Oh here we go again, just have someone mention the words ‘free will’ and you can almost hear that collective boner springing up among the worlds philosophers.

The question is surely valid, as a scientific question. Yet on something where there is no conclusive evidence people are awefully sure of the reality, on both sides.

Does anyone actually have any evidence?

Not only is there no evidence that free will does not exist, there is also no reason for the default position that it does exist. Mainly because you can’t possibly imagine that its an argument for free will that you “feel” like you have free will.

Let me ask you this, what would it feel like to think you had free will?
Probably like having free will.

If self awareness comes so late in the processing of our brains that when you think you decided to take that sip of coffee, the nerve impulses had already been sent. Then you would still feel as if it was the other way around.

Personally, I have yet to see any scientific data on this, nothing conclusive atleast, but then again I am perfectly happy with that, until there is research, not to mention the understanding of the brain that is prerequisite for that research to be done. I couldn’t be less interested in this topic.

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Posted: 27 August 2008 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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McCreason - 27 August 2008 03:58 PM

Of course the human mind is special. Who could possibly think not? We are the only animal with consciousness and written language. Thats pretty special. Not in the supernatural sense but in the biological sense.

Special compared to what. Other animals, sure, in the universe, we could be the equivalent of galactic pond scum.

In any case your begging the question, special or not does not justify free will. You could just as well say I’m so pretty therefore there must be free will. 

Whether you are a determinist or a free willer or a compatabilist or neo-compatabilist…......
do you not see the arguments going round and round? I suppose thats what philosophy is about but…

No, I really don’t see why it goes round and round. We live in a casual material universe, pulling free will out of it is the same as pulling god out of it. There is no material proof or need for either, yet you are expected to disprove something that hasn’t been proved to exist or even necessary.

Read the work of Owen Flanagan for another great philosophers take on free will. Specifically his book-‘The Problem of the Soul’ He comes out somehwere between Shermer and Dennett FWIW.

I read it about a year ago, loved it much more then Dennett.

The 5,000 year old debate never ends and great minds will not all agree.

Well, pending some unforeseen new knowledge, it’s over for me. The same mental engine that keeps god alive keeps free will alive as well.

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Posted: 27 August 2008 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Salt Creek - 27 August 2008 04:39 PM
McCreason - 27 August 2008 03:58 PM

The 5,000 year old debate never ends and great minds will not all agree.

Ah, it’s Pledge Week again for the Free Will debate. Vote “Yea”, or vote “Nay”, we don’t care, as long as you take a position. If we can get at least a billion subscribers signed up one way or t’other, we can end the pledge drive and go back to the regularly-scheduled programming that is ordinarily available for your enjoyment. If you write a 500-word essay in support of your position, you will receive as your premium a free gift from PBS, the Philosophy Broadcasting System,  a big lapel button that reads “FUCKWIT” in large, friendly letters. For a 1000-word essay, you will receive a zircon-encrusted “fuckwit” lapel button.

So you’ve decided that it can’t be decided and anyone who doesn’t take your word for it is a “FUCKWIT”. How convenient and chickenshit that is.

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Why is there Something instead of Nothing: No reason or ever knowable reason.

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Posted: 27 August 2008 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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GAD - 27 August 2008 08:48 PM

So you’ve decided that it can’t be decided and anyone who doesn’t take your word for it is a “FUCKWIT”. How convenient and chickenshit that is.

Oh, GAD. You are cordially invited to kiss my Harry G. Frankfurt.

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Posted: 27 August 2008 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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No one can prove that free will exists until that person can voluntarily and permanently become something that he does not want to become. A heterosexual cannot voluntarily and permanently become a homosexual, nor vice-versa.  I cannot voluntarily and permanently become an atheist, nor can an atheist voluntarily and permanently become a Christian. Ultimately no one changes unless and until he/she is overcome by forces much stronger than the person, whether it is Paul on the road to Damascus, or otherwise. You can experiment with whatever you want, but ultimately you are what you are, unless and until a force stronger than you changes that fact.  Free will doesn’t exist.

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Posted: 28 August 2008 12:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 27 August 2008 09:45 PM

No one can prove that free will exists until that person can voluntarily and permanently become something that he does not want to become. A heterosexual cannot voluntarily and permanently become a homosexual, nor vice-versa.  I cannot voluntarily and permanently become an atheist, nor can an atheist voluntarily and permanently become a Christian. Ultimately no one changes unless and until he/she is overcome by forces much stronger than the person, whether it is Paul on the road to Damascus, or otherwise. You can experiment with whatever you want, but ultimately you are what you are, unless and until a force stronger than you changes that fact.  Free will doesn’t exist.

What? Wait. Christianity is contingent on free will!

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