Why free will is impossible

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by litewave, May 20, 2011.

  1. Regular0ldguy This is so much fun! Registered Senior Member

    I think is is consistent with the point I was making about "freedom" in thought and action being a continuum rather than a black and white/on and off light switch of a distinction.

    I guess if free only meant making the most informed decision possible. But usually it just means getting to do what you want to do. It doesn't seem to be necessary to know everything in the universe to pick out a shirt that makes you happy.

    As I recall the choice was "We are going to kill both of your children, unless you pick one to live." Making that choice, isn't exactly the paradigm of freedom. In fact, it is the paradigm of duress. Saying that if you are allowed any choice at all, no matter how limited or how much you wish to avoid the choice, that you are making a free choice is a pretty misleading use of our language. And yes, if she an an AK-47 under her shawl, and the skill to kill absolutely every MF in the room before they could harm her children, she might have had more alternatives, and a freer choice. But it still wouldn't be a situation she would choose while planning a vacation.
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  3. Regular0ldguy This is so much fun! Registered Senior Member

    I still don't get the import of decisions being relatively short lived processes.

    You have just made me see the basis for one of our miscommunications. You assume that the future must be fixed, based on some sense that it already exists as a reality. I would have to say that the future doesn't exist yet. It isn't real until it becomes the present. Come to think of it, the past doesn't exist either. It used to, when it was the present, but it's gone now.

    So assuming that something that doesn't even exist yet has to take a particular shape is refutable simply by confounding the prediction. Do the thought experiment again. Have God tell you how he thinks things are going to go for you and then tell my why you can't tell him to piss off.

    Predicting that something will happen, based on what currently exists, doesn't insure that the future you predict will ever exist, and not because of gaps in causation and the conservation of matter and energy, but because, the knowledge of process, which allows predictions to be made, also gives beings with will and priorities the power to 1) take it's knowledge of the past, 2) take action based on that knowledge and 3) alter present events so that they make the prediction inaccurate.

    BTW: this is exactly why I started horsing around here, i.e. so that I might learn something. Very good.

    I think I have addressed this now.

    Only if you think causation must necessarily result in predestination. Which I do not buy.

    And who doesn't really think they don't have that power? Do you train your pets or children? Or do you fill their rooms with weed and stripper poles?

    That only works if you assume the future exists in some fixed configuration already.

    I think Quantum Mechanics is confusing because it involves a ton of math, technical knowledge, jargon, and a suspension of belief in the continuity of time and space. Also because we, who know dick about it, talk about it all the time because we think it is an example of scientifically acceptable miracles.
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  5. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member

    um..i argue you can tell God to piss off..but you can't blame him for your choice..
    IE god says 'watch out for that' (IMO, God tends to whisper,sometimes you gotta listen pretty hard..)
    we tend to be 'i know what i'm doing'
    then BLAM!.. 'God why did you do that?'

    those that forget the past tend to repeat it..
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  7. Regular0ldguy This is so much fun! Registered Senior Member

    Not constructive. Oh, and I wasn't talking about your god. I was talking about the one which I know doesn't exist.

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  8. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member

    which part?
    sorry, have probs with the who your/my/his god thing..the edit is close enough to count right?

    see even atheist know there is only one God..

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  9. Regular0ldguy This is so much fun! Registered Senior Member

    Each part.

    And needs to be funnier.
  10. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member


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  11. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Where do you think I assume the future is fixed? I commented on your idea of there being a God who knows why events occur, right up until they do occur.
    You seem to be stuck in a loop.
    So what?
    Ok. Let's make the "something" a future event, which God knows will occur. God doesn't have to worry about the past or the future because God knows everything.
    So God sees "now" as just another event, and of course knows why it's "now" rather than any other time (e.g. in a "past" or in a "future").

    God doesn't have to predict anything. God knows why. (yep, that's a pun! hahaha etc)
    BTW, your condition 3) does NOT follow from 1) and/or 2). How do you "alter present events", and how much time do you need?

    I said something about how preventing an event from occuring does not mean you "change the future". It doesn't because the event isn't in the future. You say this:
    It only works if you CAN change the future; you can't change the future, so it DOES NOT work. "Preventing" an event from occuring doesn't change anything, except for the logic we use to label "future" events.,
    How do you manage to get everything anyone else says bass-ackwards all the goddam time?

    Besides, a fixed future "already", doesn't make much sense. The future doesn't exist "yet".
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011
  12. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    27 pages . Wow some one wants to choose freely real bad .
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    This ties in with another aspect of human action: being satisfied with the choices one has made.
    If one is not satisfied with a choice one has made, it can seem like one hasn't made it in free will.
    Additionally, studies show that people are less satisfied with their choices when they have numerous options to choose from, and are more satisfied with their choices when they have fewer options to choose from.

    You are still framing the decision-making situation as framed by the Nazis.

    To me, the actual question in Sophie's choice would be something like "What moral or cognitive standard is Sophie trying to satisfy or live up to?" or "What did Sophie hope that her decision should bring her?"

    Also note that different cultures have different approaches to life-and-death matters.

    A scenario that psychologists use to assess a person's moral reasoning goes like this:
    You are traveling by sea. There is an accident. The only survivors are you, your child, your mother and your sibling. You are in a small rescue vessel and you can save only one person. Whom do you choose and why?
    (There are some variations to this scenario too.)
    Westerners will usually say they would save the child. But people from far East cultures would save the mother - the reasoning being that the mother is the only irreplaceable person in that scenario (siblings can be substituted by friends, one can have or adopt new children, but there is only one mother).

    And yet apart from rather trivial matters, most of our daily choices are like that - under durress.

    And yet she was there, and yet we are here, every day facing things we wouldn't choose while planning a vacation.
    To conceive of free will as something suitable only for situations where we are not under durress is to set ourselves up for failure.
  14. Telemachus Rex Protesting Mod Stupidity Registered Senior Member

    Philosophically, "free will" is the theoretical capacity we have to choose among alternatives conceptually...not the ability to make choices free from any duress. In fact, many would separate the freedom of the will from the freedom to act entirely. I can be compelled by circumstance to act against my will, but I will be quite conscious that I would prefer not to perform the acts required of me.

    That said, even if someone has a gun to my head and demands I give him my wallet, I am free to choose to keep my wallet (assuming I truly have free will in the first place). It's no different than jumping on a live grenade, save that jumping on a grenade is stereotypically part of a noble sacrifice of my life for others, whereas risking getting shot to save my wallet seems petty. Whatever choice I actually make, my will would remain completely free.

    I have to go to work, so I'll go to sleep now. I don't have any free will in deciding to work, as some people here use the term, because I need the job to avoid homelessness and starvation. Classic duress scenario.
  15. Regular0ldguy This is so much fun! Registered Senior Member

    I interpreted what you said correctly. You have merely reversed yourself repeatedly, probably in an attempt to avoid the consequences.

    Saying god "knows" everything and meaning that he can "know" the future (rather than merely predict it based on a set of assumptions(correct ones) about the configuration of things now) is question begging to the max. You can know how things work, and you can know the what is happening, but you can't know what will happen, you can only predict, based on what you do know.

    But your real problem is that saying the future isn't fixed is entirely inconsistent with saying you can know the future. If a bunch of different things can happen (because it isn't fixed or predetermined) then you can't have "knowledge" of which one is coming.

    And since now you are saying the future ISN'T fixed (with which I agree) exactly what is it that keeps current action of another "all knowing" being (god's twin) from changing it and proving that God1 didn't know what was going to happen?
  16. Regular0ldguy This is so much fun! Registered Senior Member

    I'm not the guy doing that. I though you were. I'm the guy who said that all our choices fall of at least one continuum, probably more. Greater or fewer alternatives, greater or lesser information, higher or lower priority/concern/import, more or less interference from others, more or less interference from our own psychological demons, etc.

    Absolute freedom is a Platonic form of sorts, probably never happens. But while just buzzing around and running errands, we know pretty well when we are either free or constrained by something, and by how much (at least we can ballpark it).
  17. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    Free will is the will of man, determinism is the will of God. If determinism is true.. then either life has no meaning and we should all me participating in group sex and doing all sorts of trippy drugs.. who cares if you OD or catch a disease your life means nothing.. OR their is a divine plan, and thats what determinism is. Im going with option B. If you have ever felt love before, true love, then you can feel the higher workings of this world.

    And yes, man does have a will.
  18. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    If there is no God, and someone proves that to me.. im moblizing to take over the world on the platform of Love and Rock N Roll WHOS WITH ME!!!
  19. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    Me Rock and roll will never die
  20. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

    Fixed will is ever changing to a new and improved fixed will via more competency, which in turn comes from more experiences and learning.
  21. Telemachus Rex Protesting Mod Stupidity Registered Senior Member

    What? You seem to be saying that if man has no free will, life has no meaning and we should be having group sex and doing drugs...BUT:

    (A) Who says life has no meaning? A computer has no free will and yet its operation seems to have "meaning." It delivers outputs to its various programs in a manner that at least has clear purpose.

    How one proves life has a real "meaning" is a debate in itself. Life may be meaningless even if there is free will.

    (B) If there is no free will, then we have no choice about how to live. If there is no free will then you literally CANNOT make the choice to chuck your whole life away on sex and drugs. You might fall into such a path on your own, but even then it won't have been a choice, just an unavoidable outcome of a series of prior causes that led you there.
  22. wellwisher Banned Banned

    The basis for human free will, is the human brain has two centers of consciousness. This can be seem with instincts. The body might get hungry; primary center. Free will makes use of the secondary center; ego, to chose whether we wish to eat now or put it off until later. If we put it off, the center connected to the hunger instincts may then make our stomach grumble. We become aware of this and will use the secondaru to chose do we now eat or again put it off. But eventually, if we keep putting it off, the unconscious center will create something stronger than urge; a prime directive to eat or die. We will lose our free will at that point, and need to eat like an animal. But as long as we keep the unconscious potential low enough we have free will; eat or not.

    Another place for free will is connected to what Freud called the superego. This is connected to cultural learning instead of innate brain firmware. The superego can become analogous to the unconscious center and instincts but with an external nagging. The superego may say you need to wear purple to be part of the social team. You can use free cloice, but eventually an imperative can appear from outside; induced shame and fear, that forces you to put aside your free will and conform.

    Free will is possible, intermittently, but it requires striking a balance between the needs of the conscious mind, the unconscious mind and the cultural superego. Free will is possible more often when all the potentials are kept low. As one or more of the potentials increase, free will becomes weaker as other factors make your choices.

    A good analogy for free will is a personal computer (ego) that is a terminal attached to a mainframe (unconscious center). The terminal is also part of a network group (superego). Willpower is when you can use the resources of the personal computer to its full extent. This is not always possible. The network might be running a large social program that needs resources from your PC. Your will power gets bogged down and weaker. Or, the mainframe is outputting data to your PC and is using PC resources that can bogs it down.

    Will power is a temporary state of mind, with situations in life where it is not possible. To maximize will power, you need to premptively lower unconscious and superego potentials; good citizen and natural living in touch with instincts. From that position of low potential even short term extreme choices (will to learn anything), can be averaged without creating too much internal potential.

    The discussions of will power, will often bring the concepts of determinism and god into the equation. Instincts are an example of determinism. We need to eat; not optional all the time. Relative to the superego there are also behavior needed to advance the group. That can be "determined" with logic and science. Religion, in my experience, is a little of both; unconscious and superego. There is more to the unconscious center than instinctive determinism. There are also other firmware that progress to an end determining which behavior minimizes the potential that allows free will to works the longest time.
  23. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    I think there is a lot of misconception in this thread. For instance, the concept of all-knowing or omniscience--what does it mean?

    RegularOldguy gets straight on to the wrong end of it:
    If you know everything, there is no predict, or even any need to have an idea of prediction--everything "happens", and you know all about it, nothing is random.

    This is something ROg seems to be unable to see into.
    Why is ROg having problems with the idea of omniscience?
    An omniscient being knows why everything is happening "now", everywhere.
    That means: in the universe.
    An omniscient being would have _universal knowledge_ of the cause of every event--would such a being "choose" to remember all of it, though? Or "just enough" that it has knowledge of the cause of every event for a "short time", i.e. "just before" it happens? Would omniscience mean knowledge of the entire history of the universe?
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011

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