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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This question just popped into my head as I was walking home tonight and I thought I would get you guys' and gals' opinion on the subject.

Do you believe that we have truly free will or do you subscribe to the notion that all events are somehow pre-programmed and could not have happened any other way (determinism).

I personally do believe we have free will. The idea that things could not have happened any other way may be comforting in some situations, but at the same time it is a completely unfalsifiable claim. There is no evidence that one can adduce to disprove that notion, at least as far as I am aware.

On the other hand, we see people doing unpredictable things all the time and we see seemingly random and out-of-the-blue events occur.

What do you think?
 

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Lurrrkin'
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Yeah sure. I have messed around with the idea that death results in our lives just restarting and happening the exact same way again and again ad infinitum. But, that's a rather depressing thought unless your life is just jizzin' awesome.

For example I was thinking of posting in this thread, decided against it, came back and typed this up. Said screw it, but copied the post anyway, came back a minute later and pasted back and posted it. I mean.. Could I have acted differently? Sure. Could've shut the laptop and done something better with my 5 minutes. Surely that's free will. Then again, we'll never really know.
 

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As you said, even if I believed that we have no free will, I couldn't prove that in any way I can think of. Randomness, and the limitations of our knowledge don't have much to do with it... anyway, it's still one of the big daddies of philosophy, so pretty much beyond by (mediocre) grasp on the subject.

I believe we have free will, have nothing to support that belief. I choose this, based on a (curiously not so full of holes) Free-will version of Pascal's Wager. I find it much better to live based on the assumption that I have free will and my choices matter.
 

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Of course we do
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I believe we have free will, have nothing to support that belief. I choose this, based on a (curiously not so full of holes) Free-will version of Pascal's Wager. I find it much better to live based on the assumption that I have free will and my choices matter.
I don't know, it's not even about mattering or not, it's about whether our choices are choices at all.

But my reason for believing in free will is probably similar to yours, just a gut feeling that us humans are not so predictable as determinism would have us believe.
 

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The term 'pre-programmed' sort of implies there is no element of chance involved, which I don't think is true.

There's no unlimited free will, as our actions are mostly a product of our environment, our genes and our unconscious mind.

Then again pure determinism ignores the fact that in life random events lead to unpredictable chains of events that change the objective reality for everyone and our actions and the consequences of those actions, etc., can all diverge in unexpected ways.

At least, that's the case as long as randomness exists and as long as our current understanding of neuroscience and genetics is true.

But, of course, the key aspects of any of these philosophical positions are unfalsifiable.
 

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I find it much better to live based on the assumption that I have free will and my choices matter.
Finding something better is not a very good argument, though.

If someone thinks he's a carrot and lies in the garden naked, it doesn't really make it true.

What is your counter-argument to genetics/environment and the theory that your mind, your personality ('you', essentially) is limited to a specific part of the brain, which has evolved very recently (on an evolutionary timescale)? Which, btw, explains the lack of self-awareness in most animals?

How about the fact that your brain makes decisions before you report having made that decision (this has been scientifically tested with various reaction tests, where the subject is asked to push a button only to find out that your brain has decided to push the button before 'you' yourself did).
 

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"Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will"

Jawaharlal Nehru
Too bad that your brain is the one who decides how you're going to play that card. :)

And that you sort of inherited 100% of it from your folks.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Then again pure determinism ignores the fact that in life random events lead to unpredictable chains of events that change the objective reality for everyone and our actions and the consequences of those actions, etc., can all diverge in unexpected ways.

At least, that's the case as long as randomness exists and as long as our current understanding of neuroscience and genetics is true.
I don't think random chance is a problem for the theory of determinism (I am aware that there are actually a number of theories and versions of determinism but I'm speaking more or less generally here).

A determinist would basically say that even if there are two possible outcomes of an event, our reactions subsequent to that event will be equally unfree in both cases and will be determined wholly by our biology and other conditioning prior to that event. So the fact that the outcomes of some events (the roll of a dice for example) are uncertain does not strike me as an argument against determinism per se.
 

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I do believe I make my own decisions, though I don't know if that's due to rational thought or primitive emotion.

We all construct a method of processing and dealing with the world as it attacks all our senses.
 

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A determinist would basically say that even if there are two possible outcomes of an event, our reactions subsequent to that event will be equally unfree in both cases and will be determined wholly by our biology and other conditioning prior to that event. So the fact that the outcomes of some events (the roll of a dice for example) are uncertain does not strike me as an argument against determinism per se.
Sheldon played with that concept on the Big Bang Theory. Every decision he made was determined by the roll of a dice. But he chose to live like that of his own free will.
 

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Lurrrkin'
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Thing is, one persons free will exists alongside everyone else's free will in the World, and we constantly clash and affect one another's life course, sometimes insignificantly, sometimes significantly. Each of us have affected millions of lives over the course of our own lives usually without knowing it and even without knowing most of these lives even exist.

I mean, the smallest decision can have a huge impact on another's life and change what would have been their will in the future, which in turn affects those connected to them and their decisions and so on in a massive snowball effect. It's a bit like bumper cars constantly whacking into each other, diverting one another from their original "intended" directions. We consciously decide to act upon our will as we drive forward with our lives and (mostly) affect others' life path (however small) and thereby in turn bring about different possibilities and decisions for them to make. This ends up creating a near infinite amount of possibilities and variances in play in every life. So it's hard to call it free will, even without going into how our will cannot really be free when most of our actions, opinions and decisions are influenced by our surroundings and experiences.

This makes the concept of determinism too difficult to fathom as we are right now. It's possible someday in the course of human evolution we may be able to understand or at least put this element of life into words, but the best we can do right now is come to the realisation that we have gaping holes in our understanding.

So now, if someone responded to my post with the fried chicken munching tl;dr guy, it would severely impact on the direction of my life and the set of decisions that will be available to me in the future. Same for the guy that responded, same for anyone else in this thread and same for anyone else who comes into some form of contact with us.
 

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Fuckin' right I believe in free will
 

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Free will is an illusion. You are a slave to the system maintained by the architects of control regardless. I don't believe things are predetermined. That's silly. But I do believe there is no blue or red pill. They are both nasty and lead to the same place
 

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Thing is, one persons free will exists alongside everyone else's free will in the World, and we constantly clash and affect one another's life course, sometimes insignificantly, sometimes significantly. Each of us have affected millions of lives over the course of our own lives usually without knowing it and even without knowing most of these lives even exist.

I mean, the smallest decision can have a huge impact on another's life and change what would have been their will in the future, which in turn affects those connected to them and their decisions and so on in a massive snowball effect. It's a bit like bumper cars constantly whacking into each other, diverting one another from their original "intended" directions. We consciously decide to act upon our will as we drive forward with our lives and (mostly) affect others' life path (however small) and thereby in turn bring about different possibilities and decisions for them to make. This ends up creating a near infinite amount of possibilities and variances in play in every life. So it's hard to call it free will, even without going into how our will cannot really be free when most of our actions, opinions and decisions are influenced by our surroundings and experiences.

This makes the concept of determinism too difficult to fathom as we are right now. It's possible someday in the course of human evolution we may be able to understand or at least put this element of life into words, but the best we can do right now is come to the realisation that we have gaping holes in our understanding.

So now, if someone responded to my post with the fried chicken munching tl;dr guy, it would severely impact on the direction of my life and the set of decisions that will be available to me in the future. Same for the guy that responded, same for anyone else in this thread and same for anyone else who comes into some form of contact with us.
You are making it sound way too complicated, it almost begs for the chicken munching guy, but I'll leave that for somebody else. :p You don't live in a vacuum, so it's normal to have various degree of impact from your surroundings, but that's only secondary, it's still you at the driving wheel and nobody else.
 

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I don't think random chance is a problem for the theory of determinism (I am aware that there are actually a number of theories and versions of determinism but I'm speaking more or less generally here).

A determinist would basically say that even if there are two possible outcomes of an event, our reactions subsequent to that event will be equally unfree in both cases and will be determined wholly by our biology and other conditioning prior to that event. So the fact that the outcomes of some events (the roll of a dice for example) are uncertain does not strike me as an argument against determinism per se.
Randomness implies that there aren't 2 possible outcomes, but an unknown number of uncalculable outcomes.

Uncertainty is not the same as randomness.
 
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