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Old 06-10-2014, 12:17 PM   #76
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...l#.U5b2XfldUkw

Is this the study you keep referring to?

If it is, then why was the brain scanner wrong 40% of the time? I mean think about it, even with access to the subject's brain, the scientists were unable to predict a simple 1 out of 2 action 40% of the time. Super weak stuff.

Not to mention even the man who conducted the study claims it does not point against free will:
Quote:
Haynes thinks such decisions are still a matter of choice. "My conscious will is consistent with my unconscious will - it's the same process," he says
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Old 06-10-2014, 03:39 PM   #77
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelKrep View Post
http://www.newscientist.com/article/...l#.U5b2XfldUkw

Is this the study you keep referring to?

If it is, then why was the brain scanner wrong 40% of the time? I mean think about it, even with access to the subject's brain, the scientists were unable to predict a simple 1 out of 2 action 40% of the time. Super weak stuff.
Yup, that study. They are not reading enough neuronal data that is relevant to the decision making process, hence why the results are not better.

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Originally Posted by MichaelKrep View Post
Not to mention even the man who conducted the study claims it does not point against free will:
Quote:
Haynes thinks such decisions are still a matter of choice. "My conscious will is consistent with my unconscious will - it's the same process," he says
The bolded part, that is, the direct quote from the scientist, is absolutely correct and is obvious to any determinist. I never claimed there is no will, I'm claiming that it is not free.
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:12 PM   #78
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by redshift36188 View Post
The bolded part, that is, the direct quote from the scientist, is absolutely correct and is obvious to any determinist. I never claimed there is no will, I'm claiming that it is not free.
So how can it be called will if it is unfree? From Dictionary.com:

Quote:
Will (noun): 1. the faculty of conscious and especially of deliberate action; the power of control the mind has over its own actions
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:40 PM   #79
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

I think I'm too late for this discussion. Too bad. It's a topic that interests me very much.

I do not think we have free will. "A man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills", as Schoppenhauer famously said.
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Originally Posted by philosophicalarf View Post
Armstrong says in-competition testing will never catch anyone, only out-of-competition testing and the blood passport can.

Tennis has no blood passport system, and does basically no out of competition testing.

The methods and drugs used by Armstrong in 1999 would work in tennis right now, with zero chance of being caught (not slightly surprising to anyone familiar with the topic, btw).
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:45 PM   #80
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Lopez View Post
An interesting question related to this is that do you consider animals to have free will? None have but some do or some don't?
No animals have free will, be they ants, rats, chimpanzees or humans.

I see most people here are inclined to believe in free will. I do hope they do not believe in classical libertarian free will (though I suspect they do). The free will discussion is indeed still alive, but the classical notion of libertarian free will is not one that is respected in the academic field. We know too much about the brain to take that notion seriously. The only notion of free will that one can adhere to without being laughed at is compatibilism, which I view as a desperate attempt at clinging on to a washed-down idea of free will that has been rendered meaningless.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philosophicalarf View Post
Armstrong says in-competition testing will never catch anyone, only out-of-competition testing and the blood passport can.

Tennis has no blood passport system, and does basically no out of competition testing.

The methods and drugs used by Armstrong in 1999 would work in tennis right now, with zero chance of being caught (not slightly surprising to anyone familiar with the topic, btw).
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:07 PM   #81
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by latso View Post
scientific speculation.

this could be speculation only, nothing else.

obvious choices perhaps could be predicted if someone has the zillion books of one's life experiences, feelings and genetical predispositions, yet on close calls, it is always a battle between two stronger sets of knowledge, excluding each other, so at times it's an absolute coin toss and it's absolutely unpredictable.

And stating the inverse can only be speculation, as it is absolutely impossible to prove as a first and not having n inverse theory doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

At least imo
The fact that it's unpredictable doesn't mean it's not determined.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by philosophicalarf View Post
Armstrong says in-competition testing will never catch anyone, only out-of-competition testing and the blood passport can.

Tennis has no blood passport system, and does basically no out of competition testing.

The methods and drugs used by Armstrong in 1999 would work in tennis right now, with zero chance of being caught (not slightly surprising to anyone familiar with the topic, btw).

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Old 06-11-2014, 06:58 AM   #82
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Har-Tru View Post
The fact that it's unpredictable doesn't mean it's not determined.
It also doesn't mean it is. The video that you posted makes a whole lot of assumptions and again, no proofs. For example, he argues that put into the same situation, everybody would've acted exactly the same way, and that it's only our luck you weren't in that situation. Yet no proof for that. It's almost amusing that he could easily pass as priest if you just replace the argued determinism with god's will
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:59 AM   #83
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Time Violation View Post
It also doesn't mean it is. The video that you posted makes a whole lot of assumptions and again, no proofs. For example, he argues that put into the same situation, everybody would've acted exactly the same way, and that it's only our luck you weren't in that situation. Yet no proof for that. It's almost amusing that he could easily pass as priest if you just replace the argued determinism with god's will
You seem to have a very odd concept of what constitutes proof. As others have explained, and as Harris explains in his talk, we have conclusive evidence that our brain takes decisions seconds before we think we consciously take them. We can manipulate the brains of people to make them make a particular choice. When asked later if they were free to make the choice, all of them would say they were.

Again, the idea of free will as it is commonly believed and as you seem to defend it has been so thoroughly debunked that it is literally embarrassing to defend it in an intelligent discussion in any of the relevant academic fields. We know for a fact that thoughts merely arise in consciousness, and that we are not the ultimate author of our thoughts and actions. After all, how could we? You can't choose a thought before you think it. As Harris says, that would require that you think it before you think it. You can choose to pick the vanilla ice-cream instead of the chocolate one, but you can't account for why you picked vanilla instead of chocolate. Why did you? Why do you like vanilla more than chocolate?

I began realising there was something wrong with my notion of free will when I started studying idiolects during my linguistic studies. Idiolects are the particular manner of speech a particular person has. In experiments, it became clear that whether a person was articulate or not, whether they chose to use this expression rather than the other, whether they were able to learn sillibant consonants, etc. was something that escaped conscious choice and even awareness. I began wondering whether this lack of conscious choice applied to other domains of discourse as well. Why did I study languages? Why is my slice so weak? Why did I walk to work today, instead of taking the bicycle as I usually do? I realised I could not ultimately account for my decisions. No matter how free they appear (and they do, even now), it became obvious that any decision I took was determined by previous events, genetics, brain chemistry, etc.
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Originally Posted by philosophicalarf View Post
Armstrong says in-competition testing will never catch anyone, only out-of-competition testing and the blood passport can.

Tennis has no blood passport system, and does basically no out of competition testing.

The methods and drugs used by Armstrong in 1999 would work in tennis right now, with zero chance of being caught (not slightly surprising to anyone familiar with the topic, btw).
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Old 06-11-2014, 10:36 AM   #84
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Har-Tru View Post
I think I'm too late for this discussion. Too bad. It's a topic that interests me very much.

I do not think we have free will. "A man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills", as Schoppenhauer famously said.
I was quite certain you would at this point, poke your nose in this thread.

Once a lurker, always a lurker. So much for free will. The lurking instinct was always there, which meant as long as it is in your nature, you were bound to poke your nose here, be that now or be that a hundred eons from now.

Poke.
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Old 06-11-2014, 10:41 AM   #85
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Har-Tru View Post
You seem to have a very odd concept of what constitutes proof. As others have explained, and as Harris explains in his talk, we have conclusive evidence that our brain takes decisions seconds before we think we consciously take them.
I should say the same for you. You cling to a study that has results only marginally better than 50% i.e. only slightly better than pure guesswork. Moreover, even that study is only noting that there is activity in brain prior to moving a finger, it doesn't even say whether that activity was the decision itself or just some sort of brain standining by; again you and the guy in the video don't seem to have any problem going from that results to being sure whether a person will kill another person 6 months or 2 yrs later. Holy jumping to conclusions Batman. What's laughable is that you have a persuasion of a religious fanatic with a very weak and inconclusive proof at best.

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Originally Posted by Har-Tru View Post
We can manipulate the brains of people to make them make a particular choice. When asked later if they were free to make the choice, all of them would say they were.
So, you can stick an electrode into someone's brain and make him a serial killer? Or make him move to China next year? Sure.
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Old 06-11-2014, 12:05 PM   #86
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

Oh boy, this feels like Christmas morning.

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Originally Posted by Har-Tru View Post
You seem to have a very odd concept of what constitutes proof. As others have explained, and as Harris explains in his talk, we have conclusive evidence that our brain takes decisions seconds before we think we consciously take them.
Conclusive evidence? I have already addressed that experiment above, but two points need to be made: they only guessed 60% of the time, and the choice was a simple A or B choice. If they had wires in my brain all the time, could they even get close to predicting what I was going to do next in everyday life? Absolutely not.

What you are trying to tell me is that if my brain (for whatever reason, maybe I saw Fast and Furious last night) decided that I should buy a Lamborghini, I am from that point onwards merely an automaton who will march on to the dealership and blow all of his money on it? We cannot consciously override our brain's impulses? Come on.

The next bit is important: Determinists think that because there is always a reason for action (it could be a highly speculative or random reason but I am willing to accept there is always some reason for action), it follows that all action is unfree. This is a remarkably big jump to make and is based on pure speculation. I put to you that humans are free to choose between reasons. Yes, within some limits (physical, moral, etc.) but in a very real and important sense we are free to choose which reasons to follow and which not to follow at any given time. If we had the opportunity to go back, there is no scientific reason to believe we could not have chosen differently.

Quote:
We can manipulate the brains of people to make them make a particular choice. When asked later if they were free to make the choice, all of them would say they were.
Was that a different study than the 60% thing or did you just assert that as a fact?

Quote:
You can't choose a thought before you think it. As Harris says, that would require that you think it before you think it.
You keep conflating the concept of "thought" with the concept of "decision". I can recognise a thought and then discard it or choose not to act upon it.

Quote:
You can choose to pick the vanilla ice-cream instead of the chocolate one, but you can't account for why you picked vanilla instead of chocolate. Why did you? Why do you like vanilla more than chocolate?
I never said we do not have preferences for certain things over others. I enjoy sports more than shopping and I enjoy football more than badminton. This gets determinism nowhere, because it needs to show that my actions are always wholly constrained by my social, cultural, biological etc. conditions.

Quote:
I began realising there was something wrong with my notion of free will when I started studying idiolects during my linguistic studies. Idiolects are the particular manner of speech a particular person has. In experiments, it became clear that whether a person was articulate or not, whether they chose to use this expression rather than the other, whether they were able to learn sillibant consonants, etc. was something that escaped conscious choice and even awareness.
So the fact that I can't will myself to be 6'5'' tall is proof of determinism? Jeez, talk about having an "odd concept" of proof...

You keep making these strawmen of what you think we are saying free will is and engaging them rather than the actual claim we are making which is: we do not think that human action is wholly determined by outside factors. Engage with that please and not with the indisputable fact that some people have speech defects or physical limitations.

Quote:
Why is my slice so weak?
Because you did not train it enough. I really hope you are joking at this point.

Quote:
Why did I walk to work today, instead of taking the bicycle as I usually do?
If you had made a conscious decision, i.e. if you had put your conscious mind to it at the time, you were perfectly free to do either. You could have also taken a bus or a cab. You are free, man, enjoy it.
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:12 PM   #87
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by MichaelKrep View Post
Conclusive evidence? I have already addressed that experiment above, but two points need to be made: they only guessed 60% of the time, and the choice was a simple A or B choice.
60% was deemed to be statistically significant in that experiment. It would have been buried and forgotten in the depths of scientific journals otherwise.

Quote:
If they had wires in my brain all the time, could they even get close to predicting what I was going to do next in everyday life? Absolutely not.
The inability to predict is irrelevant when talking about the truth of determinism. Determinism holds that choices are determined, not that they are predictable.

Quote:
What you are trying to tell me is that if my brain (for whatever reason, maybe I saw Fast and Furious last night) decided that I should buy a Lamborghini, I am from that point onwards merely an automaton who will march on to the dealership and blow all of his money on it? We cannot consciously override our brain's impulses? Come on.
"Come on". The illusion of free will is very strong. It's more than hard to shake it off.

We cannot consciously override our brain's impulses, because our brain's impulses are our consciousness. The "choice" to resist the temptation to buy a Lamborghini is as much a brain impulse as the temptation to buy it was.

Quote:
The next bit is important: Determinists think that because there is always a reason for action (it could be a highly speculative or random reason but I am willing to accept there is always some reason for action), it follows that all action is unfree. This is a remarkably big jump to make and is based on pure speculation. I put to you that humans are free to choose between reasons.
The choice between reasons has itself a reason.

Quote:
Yes, within some limits (physical, moral, etc.) but in a very real and important sense we are free to choose which reasons to follow and which not to follow at any given time.
You concede that there are limits to the freedom of will, but then go on to say that "in a very real and important sense", we are free to choose. I'd be interested to know why you think those limits on the freedom of will are not universal.

Quote:
If we had the opportunity to go back, there is no scientific reason to believe we could not have chosen differently.
"If we had the opportunity to go back, there is no scientific reason to believe we could have chosen differently."

Ifs and buts are free for everyone to use.

Quote:
Was that a different study than the 60% thing or did you just assert that as a fact?
Different study: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/324/5928/811

Quote:
You keep conflating the concept of "thought" with the concept of "decision". I can recognise a thought and then discard it
Another thought.

Quote:
or choose not to act upon it.
Another thought.

Quote:
I never said we do not have preferences for certain things over others.
I never said you did.

Quote:
I enjoy sports more than shopping and I enjoy football more than badminton. This gets determinism nowhere, because it needs to show that my actions are always wholly constrained by my social, cultural, biological etc. conditions.
I'd be curious to know why you think determinism has to carry the whole burden of proof in this discussion. There is a growing body of scientific evidence for determinism (another study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC488179/), yet you dismiss it while not providing any piece of evidence for your position.

Quote:
So the fact that I can't will myself to be 6'5'' tall is proof of determinism? Jeez, talk about having an "odd concept" of proof...
This is a strawman argument. Determinism doesn't dispute the fact that one can or cannot do what one wills, but that one cannot will what one wills.

Quote:
You keep making these strawmen of what you think we are saying free will is and engaging them rather than the actual claim we are making which is: we do not think that human action is wholly determined by outside factors. Engage with that please and not with the indisputable fact that some people have speech defects or physical limitations.
I addressed that contention from the get go. Your last sentence misses the point once again. Idiolects are not speech defects nor are they physical limitations. In your last message, you said "The next bit is important". Why did you use the word "bit" instead of, say, "part"? You chose to use that word, but you cannot ultimately account for why you chose it over others.

Thoughts simply arise. How could it be otherwise?

Quote:
Because you did not train it enough. I really hope you are joking at this point.
I did train it, as much as my mate. But his slice is much better than mine. Why?

Quote:
If you had made a conscious decision, i.e. if you had put your conscious mind to it at the time, you were perfectly free to do either. You could have also taken a bus or a cab.
This betrays, once again, your fundamental misunderstanding of what determinism is. Determinism doesn't contend that we make choices (like riding to work, or taking the bus) but that we are ultimately free to make those choices.

Quote:
You are free, man, enjoy it.
I'm perfectly fine with our deterministic world. You seem to think that wouldn't be a nice world to live in, and I worry that might be clouding your judgement on this issue.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philosophicalarf View Post
Armstrong says in-competition testing will never catch anyone, only out-of-competition testing and the blood passport can.

Tennis has no blood passport system, and does basically no out of competition testing.

The methods and drugs used by Armstrong in 1999 would work in tennis right now, with zero chance of being caught (not slightly surprising to anyone familiar with the topic, btw).
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:15 PM   #88
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Time Violation View Post
I should say the same for you. You cling to a study that has results only marginally better than 50% i.e. only slightly better than pure guesswork. Moreover, even that study is only noting that there is activity in brain prior to moving a finger, it doesn't even say whether that activity was the decision itself or just some sort of brain standining by
Read the study again, please.

Quote:
again you and the guy in the video don't seem to have any problem going from that results to being sure whether a person will kill another person 6 months or 2 yrs later.
That is far from being what I and Sam Harris say.

Quote:
Holy jumping to conclusions Batman. What's laughable is that you have a persuasion of a religious fanatic with a very weak and inconclusive proof at best.
Something tells me you used the word "persuasion" wrong there.

In any case, accusations like this bring nothing to the table.

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So, you can stick an electrode into someone's brain and make him a serial killer? Or make him move to China next year? Sure.
These strawmen are so gigantic they'd scare off a fucking dinosaur.
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Originally Posted by philosophicalarf View Post
Armstrong says in-competition testing will never catch anyone, only out-of-competition testing and the blood passport can.

Tennis has no blood passport system, and does basically no out of competition testing.

The methods and drugs used by Armstrong in 1999 would work in tennis right now, with zero chance of being caught (not slightly surprising to anyone familiar with the topic, btw).
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:06 PM   #89
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Har-Tru View Post
Something tells me you used the word "persuasion" wrong there.

In any case, accusations like this bring nothing to the table.
A study that itself says "Little is known about the effects of such stimuli on other aspects of cortical function." and "Further studies are required to document the effects of transcranial stimulation on other aspects of motor planning and higher cortical functions" yet you take that as the last word on the issue, if that is not jumping to conclusions, I don't know what is; there are very limited and inconclusive evidence, yet you take it and run away with it.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:09 PM   #90
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Default Re: Do you believe in free will?

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Originally Posted by Har-Tru View Post
60% was deemed to be statistically significant in that experiment. It would have been buried and forgotten in the depths of scientific journals otherwise.
It keeps getting dug up by people with a stake in the debate. To me it seems like a very flimsy basis to make the bold claims you are making. But I will get to that in a second.

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The inability to predict is irrelevant when talking about the truth of determinism. Determinism holds that choices are determined, not that they are predictable.
So why are you talking about that study then if it's irrelevant to your point? As I said to someone else above, you are taking evidence of something similar to what you are trying to prove and pretending it proves your point.

Even if we do accept the experiment as relevant: So they could somewhat on a hit-and-miss basis predict the choices of people in an extremely simplistic situation where the choices were being made in a highly disinterested and automated manner (people did not ultimately care if they chose A or B because both options were equally without consequence). That choice had no consequence so people allowed their brain to take over.

I wonder if they were actually made to make choices of substance, whether the raw brain data would have been helpful at all to the scientists?

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"Come on". The illusion of free will is very strong. It's more than hard to shake it off.
You assert that it is an illusion.

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We cannot consciously override our brain's impulses, because our brain's impulses are our consciousness. The "choice" to resist the temptation to buy a Lamborghini is as much a brain impulse as the temptation to buy it was.
Once you put it this way it is a wholly unfalsifiable hypothesis. Much like saying "God did it". Whatever happens you will attribute it to a "brain impulse". Is there any evidence which can be adduced that would disprove determinism (I kind of insist on this point, since every one of your intellectual allies in this thread has dodged it spectacularly).

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You concede that there are limits to the freedom of will, but then go on to say that "in a very real and important sense", we are free to choose. I'd be interested to know why you think those limits on the freedom of will are not universal.
I'm not sure what this means, perhaps you are using the word "universal" in a particular way I cannot quite pin-point. I do think they are not universal because they are different to different people, but I fail to see how this is relevant to the discussion.

Will read and share my thoughts. But then again those will be wholly the product of my automated subconscious so why bother, right?

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Another thought.
"Thought" and "action" are two different concepts.

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Why did you use the word "bit" instead of, say, "part"? You chose to use that word, but you cannot ultimately account for why you chose it over others.
Seeing as the two words denote the exact same thing I did not think it fit to dwell on the choice between the two. You could say it was automatic. Had I paused to think I would have been free to choose either or a third option altogether.

Importantly, the purpose of communication is to convey your message in the most precise manner possible. Grammar and style have rules, which limit my range of options but that does not mean that the text I am currently typing is the product of my subconsciousness and I am merely a typist.

But I suppose you will say it was an order barked to me by my brain which I simply carried out. A wholly unfalsifiable claim, of course, but one you seem hell-bent on insisting upon. More power to you.

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I did train it, as much as my mate. But his slice is much better than mine. Why?


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This betrays, once again, your fundamental misunderstanding of what determinism is. Determinism doesn't contend that we make choices (like riding to work, or taking the bus) but that we are ultimately free to make those choices.
"Free"? You mean "unfree", surely?

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I'm perfectly fine with our deterministic world. You seem to think that wouldn't be a nice world to live in, and I worry that might be clouding your judgement on this issue.
I don't care much either way, I just happen to be more convinced at this point that we do have a free will, be it in a sense limited by our brain chemistry, cultural surroundings, etc.
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