Poll: Do you believe in free will?
Poll Options
View poll results: Do you believe in free will?
Yes
26 46%
No
9 16%
Some definitions of free will, not all
12 21%
Compatibilism (free will and determinism)
10 18%
Voters: 57.
#1
In my english class, I chose to write about whether or not free will exists. So because I'm not able to think of every counterargument possible, I thought I'd see what a large selection of people think, which is why I come to the Pit.

Lets define free will:

1 : voluntary choice or decision <I do this of my own free will>
2 : freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention

Another idea I'd like to bring up is determinism:

1 a : a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws
b : a belief in predestination

I personally believe in the first definition of determinism, not the second. I think that the first definition contradicts the second definition of free will, however it's sort of debatable whether or not it contradicts the first one.

TL; DR?

Pit, do you believe in free will? And why?
Last edited by The Madcap at Oct 5, 2009,
#3
our brain works by predictable chemical reactions. everything was predestined from the beginning of time.
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#4
I do believe in free will.
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#5
Quote by RedDeath9
I too believe in the first definition of determinism.

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I don't know, but I'm leaning towards determinism. I think.
#6
No. I think it's pretty commonly acknowledged that our actions and behaviors are multiply determined, that is, there are multiple causes underlying them. A better answer is that it's free to an extent, but there are other factors out of our control which influence what we do and think.

edit: so yeah the first determinism definition.
Last edited by Arthur Curry at Oct 5, 2009,
#8
I go for free will, heavily influenced by everything in the first determinism definition.

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#13
Very marginal free will. Sociological environment and personal finances control behavior to an extraordinary extent.
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#14
I think the first definition of determinism is close, but misses the mark slightly. I think that past events will influence future actions, not determine them.

I dunno, it's kind of wishy-washy. But in general, yes, I believe in free will. (I chose to post in this thread.)

Edit - I clicked compatibilism by the way.
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#15
If there is a timeline out there, we'd eventually find out how to manipulate it and come back.
So I don't believe there is any kind of supernatural effect happening.

I guess decisions we make can't really be a culmination of past experiences because then you'd always have to have some kind of experience beforehand, even the first time you do something. When I was in the womb, I sucked on my thumb until it had blisters. Can't really say there was a first experience that caused me to do that.

I think we have free will that is influenced by what we learn as we live.
#16
I believe everyone has free will, but nobody chooses to use it.
I also believe we've been comforted into a lifestyle that we see on a television or in public and usually base ourselves around that, not making any effort to change the future or make progress.
#17
only no vote so far came from me. I'll explain. I don't believe, starting with absolutely nothing, that anyone can "make it" without either luck or outside help. The tiniest scholarship that pushes you over into being able to afford college, the lucky sales deal or stock market pick, the promotion that opens up because someone is fired or quits...there are no truly self-made men.

EDIT okay, two other no votes now
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#18
Quote by SteveHouse
I go for free will, heavily influenced by everything in the first determinism definition.


I agree with this statement 100%.

I think that ultimately, we do have free will, but our available options are shaped by events out of our control. We have the free will to decide what option we choose after the choices have been laid out for us.

For example, I would prefer to live in another state than the one I do now. As my family lives here in Tennessee, and I am still a minor, dependent on them (although I have no doubt that I could survive on my own by now), it is predetermined that I have to continue living in Tennessee until I graduate high school and move out. If I had true, 100% free will, I could leave now, but my options are limited by predetermined factors.
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#19
There are way more people here saying compatibilism than what voted for it

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#20
We have free will but because of our previous experiences and our knowledge of consequences, we do not always act the way we want to. But we make a conscious decision to not act that way, thus exercising free will.
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#21
I think it's a pile of bollocks and I can't understand why anyone would believe in it. Especially with what we now know about human psychology, things that would once have seemed inexplicable, random decisions now clearly have a root in genetics and past experience.

I don't think a human brain can conceive of completely new ideas. All creativity is actually just making irrational connections between arbitrarily related concepts. Like how blind people can't imagine colours, all faces or objects we see in dreams are from our memories, and we can't come up with a creative idea without "inspiration", I don't think any ideas, including decisions, can come from nowhere.

As far as I can tell, a belief in free will contradicts the scientific idea that a brain is just a pile of atoms and energy reacting with itself and the outside world, implying some kind of supernatural alternative like a soul. I believe that the supernatural, something somehow "beyond nature", is an utterly absurd idea, and even if ghosts turned out to exist they would be a result of some kind of bizarre scientific phenomenon - so I think the same thing about a soul. Meaning even if they do exist, they would be made out of atoms or something similar, and any action would still have to have a cause.
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Last edited by whalepudding at Oct 5, 2009,
#22
Quote by SteveHouse
There are way more people here saying compatibilism than what voted for it
I voted compatibilism.
#24
Quote by millerdrr
only no vote so far came from me. I'll explain. I don't believe, starting with absolutely nothing, that anyone can "make it" without either luck or outside help. The tiniest scholarship that pushes you over into being able to afford college, the lucky sales deal or stock market pick, the promotion that opens up because someone is fired or quits...there are no truly self-made men.

EDIT okay, two other no votes now


How does the ability to learn mean you don't have free will?
#26
Quote by Zombee
How does the ability to learn mean you don't have free will?


What I meant by that was you do not have the ability to move forward without some sort of outside controlling factor. Extreme example: born poor, no money, no education, pathetic job, starving, homelessness all lead to a life a crime. You may not want to be a criminal, but before you just lay there and die, you shoplift from a grocery store.
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#27
Since I do not believe in God, I believe in free will.
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#28
Quote by millerdrr
What I meant by that was you do not have the ability to move forward without some sort of outside controlling factor. Extreme example: born poor, no money, no education, pathetic job, starving, homelessness all lead to a life a crime. You may not want to be a criminal, but before you just lay there and die, you shoplift from a grocery store.


That would be the person's decision. They could grow their own food. They could go to a homeless shelter and get some food. Hell, they could even beg for food. There are programs strictly for cases like these, too.

There are a lot of decisions, you weigh the options then you choose one. You can't make food magically appear.

The person wasn't made by outside forces to do that specific thing, they made the decision for their self.
#29
Quote by Zombee
That would be the person's decision. They could grow their own food. They could go to a homeless shelter and get some food. Hell, they could even beg for food. There are programs strictly for cases like these, too.

There are a lot of decisions, you weigh the options then you choose one. You can't make food magically appear.

The person wasn't made by outside forces to do that specific thing, they made the decision for their self.

Yes, they made the decision, but a decision can't magically appear either. Why would they make that decision? Maybe past experience or upbringing gave them the impression that going to a homeless shelter or begging would be pathetic, maybe they saw some unattended food and instinctually took it for themselves, maybe they lacked the knowledge to grow their own food and found the effort required discouraging.

Free will is essentially the belief that there can be an effect without a cause. Your definition of free will agrees that the ideas for options must come from somewhere, but somehow you think the decision of which option to take is free. For it to be so, it would have to be completely random. But it isn't, there is always a psychological reason why one option would seem more inviting than the others. And as such, a brain is just like a very irrational computer, it processes and stores information, and when given a problem to solve it can only do so by drawing on the information it's picked up previously and using its own laws of how to operate (in this case, instincts).
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Last edited by whalepudding at Oct 6, 2009,
#30
Quote by Zombee
That would be the person's decision. They could grow their own food. They could go to a homeless shelter and get some food. Hell, they could even beg for food. There are programs strictly for cases like these, too.

There are a lot of decisions, you weigh the options then you choose one. You can't make food magically appear.

The person wasn't made by outside forces to do that specific thing, they made the decision for their self.


No land. Remember, he's poor.

Homeless shelters and begging are still dependent upon the actions of others.

The outside forces that made him steal, is the very fact that he can't make food magically appear. Given that, he really had no choice of his own, other than simply dying.
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#31
Quote by whalepudding
Yes, they made the decision, but a decision can't magically appear either. Why would they make that decision? Maybe past experience or upbringing gave them the impression that going to a homeless shelter or begging would be pathetic, maybe they saw some unattended food and instinctually took it for themselves, maybe they lacked the knowledge to grow their own food.


There's nothing stopping them from learning how to make/grow food. A lack of shelter and money just means that it's gonna be harder for them.
#33
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#34
I suppose one could theoretically be totally self sufficient in a different time period, but not in today's United States. Even one who lives in the middle of the wilderness growing his own food or hunting, completely self sufficient, doesn't use any utilities, still has to earn enough money to pay his property tax. And that is something that depends on job market, education, sales, general economic conditions, etc...
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#36
Quote by millerdrr
No land. Remember, he's poor.

Homeless shelters and begging are still dependent upon the actions of others.

The outside forces that made him steal, is the very fact that he can't make food magically appear. Given that, he really had no choice of his own, other than simply dying.


So he is willing to steal from store, but not willing to grow on land that isn't his? They're both against the law.

And the poster above you brought up embarrassment. When it is either embarrassment or starvation, I think the answer is simple.
#37
Quote by StringAssassin
There's nothing stopping them from learning how to make/grow food. A lack of shelter and money just means that it's gonna be harder for them.

I agree that sometimes people are given a legitimate choice to make, I'm not trying to say otherwise. I'm saying the results of weighing up the options don't come from nowhere, if one option seems more appealing it is so because of past experience, instinct, a concious train of thought or some subconcious connection, and while those causes are all hard to observe, we know they exist and it's stupid to pretend otherwise just because they're hard to predict. Read my edit, that's more or less what I'm trying to say.
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Last edited by whalepudding at Oct 6, 2009,
#38
Quote by Zombee
So he is willing to steal from store, but not willing to grow on land that isn't his? They're both against the law.

And the poster above you brought up embarrassment. When it is either embarrassment or starvation, I think the answer is simple.


Yes, both are against the law, but we are talking about freedom of choice not to break the law. Either way, he lost.

On point two, shame is indeed a foolish reason to avoid help. My original point was, 1) that help is dependent on another person/group choosing to provide it, and 2) that help may not be there in every case, or even in ANY case, in the future. His choices are still either becoming a criminal or starving, when it comes to acting completely alone.

Actually, even theft shows there is no free will. Before you can steal food, someone else must have food for you to steal.

And remember, no matter what path is taken, luck is still a factor. Even the most brilliantly successful sometimes have a bad occurence that is attributed solely to circumstance. Natural disaster, for instance. The difference between what defines someone as rich or poor seems to be based on how many hits they can take before falling, or rising to the top.

Go to a casino, or something more risky like a stock brokerage firm. Win on the first few times, and a surplus of working capital has been established, so even if the next few times you lose, you still aren't busted. Lose the first time out, and you are done.
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Last edited by millerdrr at Oct 6, 2009,