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Are we free?

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Something that has popped up in discussions at times, but never has been thoroughly discussed here (in recent times) is determinism. Do you believe humans have a free will or are they completely determined? What consequences does your view have?

 

Personally, I believe humans (and everything else really) are completely determined. I've come to this conclusion through the following steps:

 

1.Everything that happens to us either happens because of our actions, the actions of others, and chance (Usually a mix of all three)

 

2.Chance obviously cannot be affected, so the only thing to be affected would be our actions.

 

3.Whenever I make a decision, I will decide based on my personality.

 

Example: I have the free choice to go to work one day or just to stay home. I will reach a decision and it will be dependant on who I am (so e.g. if I've been raised to have a good work ethic, I would go). I cannot make a decision that would go against my personality.

 

Of course, you might say now that I could willingly go against it, e.g. staying home despite having a good work ethic to prove I can decide - but this would prove nothing, it merely shows that e.g. I don't like the concept of being determined and stay home to try to have a proof against it.

 

So really I will always act based on my personality

 

4. My personality again depends on others, on how I've been raised, what's happened to me in my childhood, etc.

 

This again is something I can't control - As such, there's no free will.

 

 

Of course, the human mind is incredibly complex, so the roots of my personality will never be able to be deciphered. But the basic concept works the same, regardless of that.

 

 

 

What do you think?

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In terms of psychology...

Free-will is a Humanistic idea, that we are independant of our Biology, Cognitions and Cultural Influences, all of which guide behaviour. While I am not too savvy on Humanistic Psychology, I have some knowledge in the latter three.

 

Biologically speaking our behaviour's are products of the endocrine and our anatomy. Thus behaviour will not be a cause of free will as we already assume that behaviour is a product of our genetic make-up. However, a counter arguement to this is that there are no genes to explain certain behaviours (I think it was Janis and Janis). However, it is fairly safe to assume that free will doesn't exist here, because you know, we don't have much control over our bodies bar movement.

 

Our cognitions and schemas prevent us from deverting from them so in terms of free will, you would have free will within your schemas.

 

And there are plethora of theories relevant to socio-cultural psychology as to why free-will is fairly non-existant: Conformity, Group Polarization, Group think e.t.c

 

I personally agree with the OP. When faced with a decision that aparently has "free-will", for example choosing what I will eat for lunch, there is actually no free will based on various reasons. My allergies (biology), What I like eating (cognitions) and what my culture (social-being) deems acceptable to eat are all factors of which determine what I would actually eat for lunch. (It's a bad example but it ties all the points nicely together)

 

Seeing as there are restraints on such decisions such as eating lunch, it can be applied to other scenarios. I'm not big on these whole "philosophical" debates but I felt I should offer, my very limited, psychological understanding on this anyway.


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I can't put my finger on what we do base our decisions on, but the remark that 'we make our decisions based on our personality' seems a little inaccurate to me - or at least, something feels missing.

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I can't put my finger on what we do base our decisions on, but the remark that 'we make our decisions based on our personality' seems a little inaccurate to me - or at least, something feels missing.

 

It seems perfectly accurate to me.

If you are a complete tosser, and you are selfish, then you will do actions that don't take others into consideration and are spiteful. If you are kind and considerate, you could do actions that put others in front of yourself.

 

 

 

Have you never done one of those tests, or seen them where you answer questions and it tells you what type of personality you have, and it briefly touches on actions that you do or don't do?

http://www.personalitypage.com/high-level.html


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Of course I have, it's just that it seems that we're more complex than that - I just can't quite put my finger on it. I'll update you on this when I find something on it, it's just not a typical subject to come up.

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We are entirely free, so much so that we "accidentally" oppress each other. This creates tension between the definitions of the words resulting in a chaotic equilibrium of both concepts. We are both free from everything, and trapped within ourselves.


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Theoretically speaking, I believe in some sort of free will. While the universe may be deterministic up to a point, the future is always unpredictable with absolute certainty.

 

If the future could be predicted, we'd run into paradoxes. For example, say there was a computer that could model the universe completely and accurately. Say in one day it says I'll leave my house at 2 in the afternoon to check the mail. If I know this, I won't check the mail, and hence its prediction is wrong... Consequently, I made a choice and have free will, despite the deterministic mechanics of the universe.

 

There's also other reasons I believe in free will, but those are religious, so I won't disclose them. There's a time and place for that, I guess...


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Related to questions of free will versus determinism, there is epiphenominalism.

 

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epiphenomenalism/

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism



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17440178.jpg

 

Pretty much my take on it, though I'm reading a book now called Fast and Slow Thinking which may change my position.


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Theoretically speaking, I believe in some sort of free will. While the universe may be deterministic up to a point, the future is always unpredictable with absolute certainty.

 

If the future could be predicted, we'd run into paradoxes. For example, say there was a computer that could model the universe completely and accurately. Say in one day it says I'll leave my house at 2 in the afternoon to check the mail. If I know this, I won't check the mail, and hence its prediction is wrong... Consequently, I made a choice and have free will, despite the deterministic mechanics of the universe.

 

There's also other reasons I believe in free will, but those are religious, so I won't disclose them. There's a time and place for that, I guess...

 

Well, for me "determined" includes chance. Obviously there's a lot of chance involved in our lives so the future is definitely unpredictable.

 

 

We are entirely free, so much so that we "accidentally" oppress each other. This creates tension between the definitions of the words resulting in a chaotic equilibrium of both concepts. We are both free from everything, and trapped within ourselves.

 

Interesting, I have not yet heard that stance, but I can't say I understand it. Could you elaborate what you mean?

 

 

Related to questions of free will versus determinism, there is epiphenominalism.

 

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epiphenomenalism/

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphenomenalism

 

I'll read that tomorrow - not quite awake enough for today :P

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Humans have free will. And to support my position, I refuse to argue it any further.


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Humans have free will. And to support my position, I refuse to argue it any further.

Lol touche.

 

We're free within certain constraints.


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We're free within certain constraints.

This. If we had true freedom there would be total anarchy.

 

Humans have free will. And to support my position, I refuse to argue it any further.

:lol: =D>


 

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We are entirely free, so much so that we "accidentally" oppress each other. This creates tension between the definitions of the words resulting in a chaotic equilibrium of both concepts. We are both free from everything, and trapped within ourselves.

 

Interesting, I have not yet heard that stance, but I can't say I understand it. Could you elaborate what you mean?

 

 

structure verses will power. We as human create the atmosphere around those things that dictate our lives on multiple levels. We create currency, medicine, hierarchy, structure. It is our will to do so. But in turn, these things inhibit the will of others, which then results in their free will to wish to escape it and establish its own structure. The inhibition limits the freedom of free thought, but it is never truly detained anymoer than it can be restrained by the pre-existing structure.

 

And then theres the definition of the word "free" that we have to call into question, and base our definition of whether or not we are that concept. I say yes and no personally.


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My current interpretation, which I think was determined to be something I made up one day cobbled together from a few souces plus my own brand of logic...

 

As a rough sketch, I believe that everything that has ever happened, and will ever happen, has already been mapped out by the cosmos and exists in a static state beyond our perception or comprehension. I do believe in free will, in so far as that our choices are our own, and they affect the universe in turn, but that the choices have already been made, and that the life experiance is understanding why we make the choices we make .

 

Even if I get the whole super static state universe wrong, I also subscribe to one of the hidden variable theories (the one by David Bohm), which is an alternative to Quantum Mechanics (and therfore an alternative to chaos theory among other things). That one in particular because it provides the same answers and QM. Under hidden varriable theory, it would be possible to model the universe and make predictions given the right data and an absolute understanding of the universe, which would also include the ability to perfectly model human behaviour and development to the point where you could model the lives of people who aren't even born yet.

 

I think it all appeals to my need to ultimately be able to understand everything, even if that dream will never be realized. I would just like it to be possible. Perhaps within my lifetime, I will see QM and its alternatives such as hidden varriable and M theory be developed, and perhaps I will even live to see one of them proven right (or maybe something totally different, as is so often the case in the history of science). I'm going to be every so slightly bummed out if it turns out chaos theory is right though :lol: (which would mean a perfect universe model would be impossible, though you could probably still do very well on a more local scale with a small time span).

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I prefer the multi-verse theories where the universe is in a state of flux. I can't quite remember the names...

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We're free within certain constraints.

This. If we had true freedom there would be total anarchy.

 

Humans have free will. And to support my position, I refuse to argue it any further.

:lol: =D>

 

That about sums it up for me as well.

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Of course I have, it's just that it seems that we're more complex than that - I just can't quite put my finger on it. I'll update you on this when I find something on it, it's just not a typical subject to come up.

 

It doesn't require a study. Look at the world around you.

 

Say you are in a full bus/train, and there are seats for elderly, which are occupied. An elderly person walks onto the bus/train. If no one chooses to get up, it shows that their personality is selfish, they don't care about others. They made the decision to remain seated in the reserved seats for elderly, fully aware that they were for them and they should really offer their set to them.

It's that simple.


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Humans have free will. And to support my position, I refuse to argue it any further.

 

That's basically the example I covered above. Of course, if you just look at the event of you making this post it appears that you have free will. You had the possibility to argue argainst it further or not to, in order to prove your point. You made a decision, so it's free will, right?

 

I don't think so. See, you made a decision. But why did you reach this particular decision? Because you are the person that you are, which in this exact situation would act as you did. Why are you this particular person? Because of all the experiences in the past, on which you had no influence(besides your own decision, but for every past decision you can again argument the same way).

 

It's not easy to explain what I mean, so I hope you understood that :blink:

 

 

Basically, where is your free will supposed to come from? Every decision you make depends on your personality. Your personality is something you cannot control, except (seemingly) through your own decision, which however again are dependant on your personality.

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My stance:

 

Q: Does it matter if I don't have free will?

 

A: No, it doesn't.

 

 

Also a quick note on the concept of randomness. If I toss a coin, the result is unpredictable, but not random. If I toss heads, it's because of the way I tossed the coin, not because the coin somehow decided to land that way. So although it may seem like there is a lot of randomness in the world, it's not really random, only unpredictable.

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*warning rant, may be repeat*

I honestly have to say that I believe there is destiny, but there are many paths of destiny. You come to a crossroad, I.E. friend invites you to a party where there is going to be drugs and all that stuff, you aren't into them. There are (atleast) two paths, you can choose to go to the party and possibly become addicted (similar, something in that area), or you can not go, do something productive, and end up possibly better off. Basically you have a destiny, but there are many paths and choices you make affect it. I also think that many things go into a lot of things... (what did I mean there?)

 

Basically I think destiny is there and real, but there are many paths for it. Having said that I also believe that people have a general destination in life, you are born for a purpose and one way or another that purpose is going to be with you for your life. I.E. (but to a lesser extent) look at what that guy is always telling Rambo in the first 3 movies.

 

Edit: This also means that someone who sits back and takes life as it is because destiny can't be changed are wrong. You still need to strive and work for your true destiny, making good choices along the way.

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If you want random, the easiest and best example would seem to be radioactive decay, which as it stands right now, can not be predicted so that you know when an atom will split. We can predict with great accuracy the half life of decay, but not the event itself. Since computers are entirely incapable of generating a truly random sequence (since they are generated by an equation), it is not uncommon for applications that require true random (or as close as possible) to use an input from a system like radioactive decay, or some other truly random event to tweak the random number generator and make it wholly unpredictable.

 

That would be the understanding under quantum mechanics and M theory.

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It doesn't require a study. Look at the world around you.

 

Say you are in a full bus/train, and there are seats for elderly, which are occupied. An elderly person walks onto the bus/train. If no one chooses to get up, it shows that their personality is selfish, they don't care about others. They made the decision to remain seated in the reserved seats for elderly, fully aware that they were for them and they should really offer their set to them.

It's that simple.

 

Not at all - people don't notice, people's personalities make them afraid to do something noticeable, people reason that the person doesn't really need a seat...far more complex than just saying selfish or otherwise.


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If you want random, the easiest and best example would seem to be radioactive decay, which as it stands right now, can not be predicted so that you know when an atom will split. We can predict with great accuracy the half life of decay, but not the event itself. Since computers are entirely incapable of generating a truly random sequence (since they are generated by an equation), it is not uncommon for applications that require true random (or as close as possible) to use an input from a system like radioactive decay, or some other truly random event to tweak the random number generator and make it wholly unpredictable.

 

That would be the understanding under quantum mechanics and M theory.

Even radioactive decay may not be truly random (I had this discussion here once quite some time ago). Just because we don't have the means of predicting when an atom will split or realization of the cause or pattern of the event doesn't mean it isn't present.


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