The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Losing
41 Points
The Contender
Kleptin
Con (against)
Winning
42 Points

Choose one of them Kleptin!

Do you like this debate?NoYes+4
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/29/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,144 times Debate No: 9075
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (22)
Votes (19)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

If my memory serves me correct, I've only debated Kleptin once before. For some strange reason, after reading several of his debates on evolution I felt an urge to challenge him to a debate. Who knows, maybe it's just a habit of mine to want to debate people, or perhaps it's a divine altruistic behavior I'm exhibiting to give him a break from the intellectual...challenge... of debating creationists over and over :P.

I will present three debate topics and allow my opponent to have the opportunity to choose one of them to debate. The procedure is simple: in this round I list the 3 topics and my position on them, then in my opponent's first round he chooses the topic he wants to debate. From rounds 2-4 we have ourselves a classic three round debate!

So here are the topics:

=====================================================
PRO - Free will does not exist.
PRO - Modern foundationalism is a valid theory of justification.
PRO - Equity feminism should replace gender feminism amongst the feminism movement.
=====================================================

A little clarification on each topic:

*I realize free will is hard to define, but I imagine it to be a way rational agents control exercise over their actions.

*Modern foundationalism is the theory of justification (in epistemology theory of justification is about how we can justify our beliefs and propositions) that relies on self-evident "basic beliefs".

*Equity feminism argues that women should have full legal and civil rights equal to men, but that attempts to abolish gender roles and such is ovverreaching and uncalled for.

I'm PRO on all topics to coincide with the position I actually am for this debate - this is to make everything as clear and free of misunderstandings as possible.

I hope we have a great debate.
Kleptin

Con

The topic will be

"Free will does not exist"

And I shall be arguing the CON position as contender.

Let's have a fun one, Skeptic. Please begin.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

I'm glad to see that Kleptin has accepted this debate challenge, I hope it goes well.

Since I am arguing free will does not exist, I will first attempt to define it (no small feat) and then show why it doesn't exist. Once I give the basic framework for why free will doesn't exist, it's my opponent's burden to either discredit this framework (libertarianism) or demonstrate how free will could still function under such a framework (compatibilism).

====================
Definition of free will
====================

I'll admit, defining free will is not an easy task without controversy. It's somewhat hard to phrase the definition without some presuppositions, throwing any attempts at defining it into disarray. However, most people would fine that even if we don't get a perfectly clear, uncontroversial definition, a somewhat intuitive notion of free will remains - allowing for meaningful discussion.

I'll give a definition from the American Heritage Dictionary[1], and I find it adequate for our purposes. If my opponent wishes to offer another definition, or challenge parts of my definition, then he is free to do so.

Free will is defined to be "the power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will." This particular definition doesn't include one important phrase (though it doesn't exclude it either - I just want to bring attention to it). It should be noted that for free will to exist, the power of making free choices aren't constrained by external physical forces as well - namely the laws of physics.

====================
Argument against the existence of free will
====================

I will have one main argument, and it'll be quite simple:

P1. We have no control over the events of the past that determined our present state and no control over the laws of nature.
P2. Since we can have no control over these matters, we also can have no control over the consequences of them.
C. Since our present choices and acts are the necessary consequences of the past and the laws of nature, then we have no control over them and, hence, no free will.

This is a more popular argument against free will, except it hinges on the validity of determinism. I removed this because from a scientific point of view determinism is not the truth - indeterminism is a consequence due to stochastic theories, namely quantum mechanics. However, even if indeterminism is true I argue there is nothing special about this; randomness will not grant us free will.

This is all I have for now. I await my opponent's argument.

---References---
1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
Kleptin

Con

I thank my opponent for his argument and will now submit my own.

My response will be organized as such:

1. Definition of Free Will
2. Analysis of my opponent's argument
3. Submission of my own proof

THE DEFINITION OF FREE WILL

My opponent has set forth a definition from the American Heritage Dictionary. I do not accept this definition and request instead that we use the definition submitted in R1 by my opponent himself.

"A way rational agents [exercise control] over their actions"

As my opponent has stated, an overcomplicated definition will only lead to confusion and since we both have an innate understanding of what is meant by "free will" and since we are both looking to steer clear of a debate over semantics, we can abandon the American Heritage definition in favor of the more simplistic definition that my opponent has provided in R1.

I would also like to clarify that in speaking of physical law and free will, we will be covering general statements and not exceptional ones. By this, I mean that a situation such as death, mental impairment, anecephaly, being forced to make a decision under duress, etc. are not suitable pieces of evidence against free will.

ANALYSIS OF MY OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT

I will be breaking the premises down further in order to analyze them in detail

1. Events of the past determine our present state
2. The Laws of Nature determine our present state
3. We have no control over the events of the past.
4. We have no control over the laws of nature.
5. Since we have no control over either the events of the past or the laws of nature, we have no control over the consequences of them.
6. Our present choices and acts are the necessary consequences of the past and the laws of nature
7. Therefore, we have no control over our present choices and acts.

Logical Fallacies:
Non Sequitur:
http://en.wikipedia.org...(logic)

Points 3 and 4 lead to the conclusion in point 5. The conclusion of point 5 is that we have no control over the consequences of the events of the past or the laws of nature. However, not having control over the past does not necessarily mean that we have no control over the consequences. I myself cannot change the fact that a ball was thrown in the past, but I can intercede its trajectory and prevent it from reaching its intended target. Thus, the conclusion does not follow.

If my opponent meant to state as point #3: We "had" no control over the events of the past, then this logical fallacy does not apply. However, it would then fall under another logical fallacy.

Begging the question:
http://en.wikipedia.org...

The conclusion of point 5 assumes that since we have no control over the laws of nature, and since we had no control over the factors of the past, then we have no control over the consequences, choices, or actions we make. However, the definition of free will is the "ability for a rational agent to exercise control over his actions". My opponent, in saying that we had no control over the factors of our past, would be assuming that free will did not exist in order to *give* people the power of choice.

Thus, if my opponent's argument is read simply the way it is, then my opponent's argument fails due to it not following. If my opponent's argument is read the way I believe he meant for it to be read, then my opponent's argument fails because of circular reasoning. Either way, my opponent's argument as it stands is an invalid one and thus, has not met the resolution.

SUBMISSION OF MY OWN PROOF

Since my opponent has submitted a popular argument against free will, I shall submit a popular argument for free will.

As my opponent has stated, there are many issues with debating free will. Many involve semantic disputes, concepts can get very vague and very confusing. Thus, I have decided to opt for a practical proof instead of a logical one, since we are dealing with a resolution about the existence of something.

In an effort to prove free will, I have done the following:

1. Turned on the television
2. Turned my cell phone off
3. Turned my cell phone on again
4. Lifted my bottle of water from my right side to my left.
5. Scratched my ear, which did not itch.
6. Arbitrarily raised my left foot 5 inches above the ground, then set it back down again.

These six actions were the result of my choice, and are demonstrations of my exercising free will. I did indeed think of performing such actions, then performed them, without being forced to and without being told to, all because I decided to. Thus, all six of these actions fulfill the definition of free will in that I am exercising control over my actions.

I invite my opponent to show that this experiment does not show the existence of free will.

Thank you to the audience and to my opponent. I look forward to his response.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank my opponent for his clear and organized response.

====================
Definition of free will
====================

My opponent states that we should refer to the first definition I gave of free will, but I don't seem to see a rationale for doing such. The American Heritage definition seems to be much more precise, pointing out that free will must be the power of making free choices that are UNCONSTRAINED by external circumstances - usually referring to physical forces.

If we simply refer to free will as a "way rational agents exercise control over their actions", then it's not known if this "way" is determined or not. We need to make the distinction that the means of exercising control over your actions mustn't be determined - else how is free will possible?

So I would argue that we should keep the American Heritage definition. But really, seeing as how our arguments are going, it might seem a little trivial to argue about the definition when we both have a seemingly intuitively equivalent understanding of free will.

====================
Argument AGAINST the existence of free will
====================

My opponent has conveniently broken down my argument into a syllogism, meaning the audience should refer back to it if the situations requires it. Copying it here again would be a waste of space. His only counterargument is to say that my logic is flawed, that there is a non sequitur. I certainly did not mean to say we "had" control over the events of the past, making his second counterargument null (since he admitted that the logical fallacy of begging the question would only apply if my argument was slightly different, which it is not).

So let's concentrate on his accusation that "points 3 and 4 [do not] lead to the conclusion in point 5."

At first, it would seem to be true that Kleptin is correct. There is nothing particular in points 3 and 4 that demonstrate that having no control of the events of the past means we can't control the consequences of them. If this was the only points in my syllogism, then Kleptin is correct in calling a non sequitur. However, he has committed a quite embarrassing mistake - failing to closely read the rest of my syllogism.

My opponent has said had no response to any of my other points, so it should be assumed that they are correct. So first, take notice of point 1 and 2: events of the past and the laws of nature determine our state. Since my opponent hasn't touched these two points, it's assumed he agrees with me here. Now look at point 6: our present choices and acts are the necessary consequences of the past and the laws of nature. Similarly, my opponent hasn't touched this point, meaning it's assumed he agrees with me.

So just tie them together and you'll see what I mean. If my opponent agrees that the events of the past determine our present state, and that our present states are a necessary consequence of the past, then the events of the past determine the consequences of them, meaning point 5 is true! In other words, if you reverse the order of point 5 and 6 (which would make it more clear), then the formula is quite obvious.

Let me make another syllogism again that will better explain my argument. I will make "laws of nature" become synonymous with the "events of the past" for the purpose of clarity.

1. Events of the past determine our present state
2. Our present choices and actions are the necessary consequences of the past
3. We have no control over the events of the past.
4. Since we have no control over either the events of the past, we have no control over the consequences of them.
:.Therefore, we have no control over our present choices and acts.

There are two ways to defeat an argument. You either invalidate one of the premises -- which my opponent has not done -- or you attempt to demonstrate a logical flaw in the argument -- which my opponent has attempted to do. Obviously, the reason why there wasn't a logical flaw was because my opponent has failed to read the rest of my argument. I did not make a non sequitur because my premises clearly flow from one to another.

====================
Argument FOR the existence of free will
====================

My opponent does indeed submit a popular argument for free will, and of course the rebuttal will be quite simple and easy. What my opponent has done is what many people who believe in free will fall prey to as well - confusing agency with free will.

In philosophy, namely the philosophy of action, agency[1] "the capacity of an agent to act in a world." What my opponent has given examples of is exactly this - demonstrations of agency but NOT free will. Agency basically means the capacity we humans have to make choices, irrespective of whether or not they are free. Of course, I am contending we do not have free choices.

Free will means that our choices aren't product of casual chains, that's it's somehow exempt from the laws of physics. My opponent states that these actions were a result of his choice - his will. But I ask of him, isn't his will determined as well? Is not the way a person chooses between actions determined as well? Because if his will is determined, then there is no elbow room for free will. Not only are his behaviors/actions determined, but his will that picks between his behaviors/actions is determined as well! The means of choice is determined since it is also a mental event; it is not exempt from the laws of physics.

You don't have to be physically coerced by a large man or held at gunpoint to have your free will compromised, it's the laws of physics that already are constraining your actions.

====================
Argument AGAINST the existence of free will
====================

What we have here is two things:

-My opponent has failed to indulge the entirety of my syllogism. By reading it all of it and tying the pieces together, it becomes evident that there is no logical flaw in my argument. The only thing he can do is to attack one of my premises.
-My opponent's proof is a common misunderstanding those who share his belief with free will have, the confusion between agency and free will. Agency is the capacity to make choices, as his examples show, but this doesn't mean these choices are free. As of now, my opponent has to somehow account for how free will can exist if even the means of choosing among actions is itself determined. Not only are the choices determined, but the act of choosing is as well. Why? Simple, because it's a mental event and thus not exempt from the laws of physics.

---References---
1. http://en.wikipedia.org...(philosophy)
Kleptin

Con

I thank my opponent for his response and will now submit my next round.

There was a considerable amount of misunderstanding in the last post and as soon as he clarified some things, I managed to find out where things go awry.

My response will take on the following format:

1. Clarification of my argument
2. The problem with my opponent's response
3. Why my opponent's argument is still logically flawed
4. Response to my opponent's counter-argument on agency vs free will

CLARIFICATION OF MY ARGUMENT

The statement in question was my opponent's statement "We have no control over the events of the past". My argument was that there were two ways this can be read:

1. We cannot time-travel and change the past
2. In the past, we did not have power over our environments and actions

In the first situation, I argue that the argument is a non sequitor because the fact that we cannot time travel and change the past does not mean that we do not have the ability to make free choices in changing things in our present and the future.

In the second situation, I argue that the argument begs the question because it assumes that we did not have free will in the past and that this concludes that we have no free will in the present or the future.

My opponent insists that he meant "We have no ability to change what happened a minute ago or 5 minutes ago, or a year ago", and that his new syllogism shows that the argument is logically valid.

PROBLEMS WITH MY OPPONENT'S RESPONSE

After very careful scrutiny, I have discovered that my opponent's response last round was a curious form of the Equivocation fallacy.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

An equivocation fallacy is when a proof hinges on something, either a word, phrase, or in this case, an entire premise, that can be interpreted several ways. In the following two proofs, the words "light" and "code" can be interpreted in several ways. In argument 1, it is direct definition. In argument 2, it is a more vague equivocation.

1. A feather is light
What is light cannot be dark
A feather cannot be dark

2. DNA is a code
All codes are the result of intelligence
DNA must be the result of intelligence

The equivocation in my opponent's response is as follows. See his new syllogism:

1. Events of the past determine our present state
2. Our present choices and actions are the necessary consequences of the past
3. We have no control over the events of the past.
4. Since we have no control over either the events of the past, we have no control over the consequences of them.
:.Therefore, we have no control over our present choices and acts.

WHY MY OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT IS STILL FLAWED

The equivocation fallacy actually has the effect of involving BOTH possible interpretations that I pointed out. It's just that my opponent decides to pick and choose the interpretations into leading to a conclusion. To illustrate this, I will show that my opponent's argument still begs the question as per the second interpretation even though he denied that.

1. Events of the past determine our present state:

What if the events include acts of free will and free decision? Yes, our present state would be the result of the consequences of the past, but there is nothing about this statement that precludes free will.

2. Our present choices and actions are the necessary consequences of the past

Yes, this is true. But our present choices and actions need not be determined purely by the past. If free will existed, then this statement could still be true as we would have the ability to react freely to the events of the past. Especially if we note that the events of the past were formed by the free decisions of ourselves and of others.

3. We have no control over the events of the past.

My opponent insists that by this, he means that we cannot go back in time to change the past. However, we need not do this in order to exercise free will. If we do not assume that free will ceases to exist, then none of the previous points follow through to a logical conclusion.

4. Since we have no control over either the events of the past, we have no control over the consequences of them.
:.Therefore, we have no control over our present choices and acts.

The events of the past could be the result of free will, and our responses could also be the result of free will. Thus, this begs the question. It assumes that there was no free will in the past and thus, there is no free will in the future.

To further clarify:

My opponent assumes a determined past, in order to prove a determined present. In every part of his argument, he weeds out the possibility of free will interfering with events, past or present, in order to come to a conclusion that free will cannot exist. This is evident by the fact that if I reintroduce the possibility of free will, my opponent's argument falls apart.

Yes, events of the past determine our present state, but what if those events were the result of free decisions made in the past? Events of the past used to be events of the present to someone. They were making free choices. Choices are limited by the decisions of others, but not limited to one outcome alone. My opponent has not proven this.

RESPONSE TO MY OPPONENT'S COUNTERARGUMENT ON AGENCY VS FREE WILL

My opponent's counterargument was a pretty solid one, and I admit that I did not know the difference between agency and free will. However, it must be pointed out that even though my opponent mentioned the difference between them, he still failed to prove that my example was a demonstration of agency and not of free will.

My argument is that as I performed those actions, I indeed felt that they were free. In fact, there was no a single part of me that could conceive of why those actions might have been determined. As far as my senses could go, those actions were the result of free choices, and I acted on them.

My opponent's rebuttal is the same type of argument as the Matrix films portray: All we know is existence. What if, in fact, we were just hooked up to a machine? At the end, my opponent does nothing but ask "what if?" With all my senses and all my knowledge, I claim that I exist. No part of me shows that existence is an illusion. Similarly, with all my senses and all my knowledge, I claim that I act freely. No part of me shows that free will is an illusion.

If I experience free will with my senses, and my opponent has no hard proof to show that free will is an illusion and only offers the fact that it MAY be agency, how is this a suitable counterargument? Occam's razor states that all other things being equal, the simpler explanation is the best. There are no outstanding proofs against free will, and senses all point to free will. However, there is always the POSSIBILITY of free will being an illusion. Since all things are equal between these two possibilities, I opt for the simpler one: That my senses are correct, not that I have to question everything that I observe and feel.

I look forward to my opponent's response. Thank you to the audience and to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 3
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response and for this debate.

It seems that my opponent agrees with my definition of free will (since he hasn't stated anything about it in his round) - thus, we are going to continue the debate with the definition I offered in the previous rounds.

It also seems that my opponent was confused as to what it means to have no control over the events the past. As he stated, we have resolved this issue to mean that we, in our present state, can't change what happened in the past. With this clarification, it seems my opponent is claiming that there is a logical fallacy in my syllogism - let's entertain that thought:

====================
The consequence argument (my syllogism)
====================

My opponent claims that my syllogism is commiting the equivocation fallacy, so let's examine his reasons for saying so along each line of my syllogism:

1. Events of the past determine our present state:

"What if the events include acts of free will and free decision? Yes, our present state would be the result of the consequences of the past, but there is nothing about this statement that precludes free will."

----> Read this quote closely. My opponent admits that the present state is a result of the consequences of the past - immediately affirming my first premise. It doesn't even matter if one were to pressupose as of now that free will exists, it still holds that what happens in the past will lead us to the present. In fact, this premise isn't even controversial; is it not obvious that the past leads to the present?

2. Our present choices and actions are the necessary consequences of the past

Again, this point alone is not meant to demonstrate that free will does not exist - in fact, for it to succeed it doesn't even need to exclude free will. In other words, it can very well be so that some of the events in the past were free choices. However, even then it's plainly obvious that our present state is a necessary consequence of the events of the past. If Jane Doe decides to sit on a chair with her own free choice, the necessary consequence is that she is sitting on a chair! The past events is her deciding to sit on a chair (and presumably walking towards it, leaning towards it, bending her knees, etc.) while the present state is her sitting on the chair. As you can see, even if we were to preclude free will it doesn't invalidate this point.

3. We have no control over the events of the past.

And yet again, my opponent confuses the point of this premise. It's not to disprove the existence of free will by itself because, as stated before, it doesn't need to preclude that free will doesn't exist.

4. Since we have no control over either the events of the past, we have no control over the consequences of them.
:.Therefore, we have no control over our present choices and acts.

Read above.

You see, my opponent commits the same error over and over - he believes that each of my premises need to exclude free will to work. As I have demonstrated, this doesn't need to be so. Jane can choose with her own free will to sit on a chair, but this still means that the necessary consequence is that she will be sitting on her chair. It's not a matter of free choice, but of time and consequences (which is why this argument is called the consequence argument). Only by combining all my premises together will you get the final conclusion that we have no free will.

====================
Agency vs. Free will
====================

My opponent offers an argument that is amusing, but ultimately baseless.

His basic reason is that when he performed those actions, they felt free. You say you experience free will with your senses, but how in the world is that experience like? What does it sound like? What does it taste like? What does it look like? What does it smell like? What does it feel like? You seem to say that you have an experience of free will, but it doesn't seem to apear that you can give an account for what it's like.

Irrespective of what such an experience is like (or remotely like), the fact remains that just because you felt that your actions were free, whatever that means, does not mean they really are free. This argument is really a mere assertion; you can't show that your actions are any different from agency - which are choices that are still abiding under physical laws. I have shown with my syllogism that free will is an empty idea, it is not feasible. So the way I explained your seemingly free actions was to introduce the concept of agency, which exlpains it perfectly. So really, I'm not asking what if agency is the explanation. I'm saying IT IS in place of free will.

Why is free will an illusion, you ask? Simply because we as more intelligent beings have much more complex psychological and sociological paradigms. Because of our rationality, it becomes a much harder job to understand the underpinnings of human behavior. This should be evident when you have animal biologists who can accurately tell you many predictions of certain animal behaviors, when psychologists can only roughly speculate how humans behave under certain conditions. When a cat looks at food, it only thinks of a few things (are there predators around, is the food edible, etc.). When a human looks at food, it thinks of MUCH more things due to it's rationality and higher intelligence (what kind of food is that, can I finish it, do my friends want some, should I go on a diet, is that fattening, etc.). The illusion of free will occured because of the emergence of human rationality - this is the explanation.

====================
Conclusion
====================

Finally, bringing up the issue of the brain in a vat-like though experiments is a red herring. As of now, there really isn't a solid refutation of the brain in a vat (causual theory of reference is a maybe), but all it shows is that empirical knowledge is fallible. We can still function by saying certain scientific claims are not 100% true, but very LIKELY to be true. Is free will the same? No - with it both being philosophically and scientifically ludicrous, there is very elbow room for it.

It's been great debating you Kleptin - hope there more of this in the future.
Kleptin

Con

I thank my opponent for what has been a great, albeit confusing debate. I will now post my final rebuttal.

My opponent's last response was a two parter. He first commented on how my alleged misinterpretation of his argument renders my counterpoints null. He then counters my example for free will using his clarified syllogism. I shall attack his argument and link it together with his counterpoint, showing both that his argument is logically flawed and that my argument holds under his accusations at once.

First, let us retrace the exchanges we have had regarding my opponent's argument.

At first, my opponent's argument has the following format:

P1. We have no control over the events of the past that determined our present state and no control over the laws of nature.
P2. Since we can have no control over these matters, we also can have no control over the consequences of them.
C. Since our present choices and acts are the necessary consequences of the past and the laws of nature, then we have no control over them and, hence, no free will.

It is plain to see that my opponent's argument only makes sense because it begs the question. Free will is the ability to have an active role in controlling our fate. If free will exists, then our choices should determine events in the future and since time goes on, those future events will become events of the past. Our lives will be a series of choices, limited by nature and by the choices we and other free willed agents make, but not limited to just one determined result.

My opponent's argument hinges on the premise that we can in no way control the events of the past. However, what basis does he have for saying this? The answer is equivocation. A feather is light. What is light is not dark. Therefore, a feather is no dark. Double meanings can lead to flawed arguments. What does this argument mean by "light"? Similarly, what does my opponent mean by "control the events of the past?"

This led to the first confusion. My opponent is claiming that he meant "we cannot time travel and change the past", which we all know to be true. But then, he points at the premise again in order to say "If we can't control, then we can't control the present or the future!" Of course, this is a completely different meaning. His argument of course, follows, but only due to this equivocation fallacy.

How do I know this is the case? If he truly meant "we cannot time travel to alter the past" he would be able to use that exact phrase and still come up with a solid syllogism. It is impossible to do so.

He then changes his argument into this format:

1. Events of the past determine our present state
2. Our present choices and actions are the necessary consequences of the past
3. We have no control over the events of the past.
4. Since we have no control over either the events of the past, we have no control over the consequences of them.
:.Therefore, we have no control over our present choices and acts.

Notice how the wording is exactly the same? The vagueness, and thus, the double meaning carries over, thereby carrying over the fallacy. This syllogism is flawed in exactly the same way. I tried to make this clear by showing that there is assumed lack of free will in each part of the syllogism. However, my opponent then decides to change his argument a third time.

This time, he emphasizes his point about how the past leads to specific consequences. He cites the following example:

"If Jane Doe decides to sit on a chair with her own free choice, the necessary consequence is that she is sitting on a chair! The past events is her deciding to sit on a chair (and presumably walking towards it, leaning towards it, bending her knees, etc.) while the present state is her sitting on the chair. "

A very convincing argument, is it not? This is because just like all his other ones, this very example assumes determinism. How? My opponent is portraying this situation from a biased angle: That of the future!

Before Jane Doe decides to sit on the chair, there exists two universes of possibilities at least. One where she does sit in the chair, and one where she does not. My opponent's argument saying that a necessary consequence occurs would only make sense because he knows what the result is. The actual decision to sit in the chair is not the illustration of free will. He atempts to include the process of choice as past in order to avoid dealing with a situation in which choosing can be in the present. The fact that there is a moment in which she can make the choice is the evidence of free will, and at that moment, my opponent cannot conclude any sort of "necessary consequence" because at that moment, the decision is unpredictable. This is the frame in time where my opponent's argument fallas apart and thus, why he wants to avoid it.

My opponent's absurd equivocation rests with the premise "We cannot control the past". However, even in this very situation, it is plain to see that Jane Doe can control the future, which will eventually become her past. She can decide either to sit or not to sit. Sitting will eliminate her choice of offering the seat to another person, for example, but for every choice we make, we open up an infinite number of other choices. Thus, while my opponent can justify determinism while arguing from the future into the past, his argument is completely irrelevant when we change the viewpoint from the present into the future, and regretfully for him, this is the way that mankind experiences the world. We cannot use arguments and analogies that require us to be able to see the future in order for them to be coherent or useful.

Let us then take one last look at my opponent's argument:

1. Events of the past determine our present state
2. Our present choices and actions are the necessary consequences of the past
3. We have no control over the events of the past.
4. Since we have no control over either the events of the past, we have no control over the consequences of them.
:.Therefore, we have no control over our present choices and acts.

Even if we cannot change the past, our decisions in the present can control the consequences that take place in the future. My opponent attempts to gloss over this easily understandable truth by saying that the present is necessary consequence of the past. This is just fancy language for saying that everything we do in the present is a result of the past. And as I said above, my opponent conveniently decided to place the act of decision making into the past. Once we move it make into its place in the present, it is plain to see that our "present choices" are limited by the past, but not limited to one mandatory result. The necessary consequence is unpreidctable and the result of the variable known as free will.

My opponent's final comment on my proof- That performing six random actions of my own free will demonstrates the existence of free will is demonstration of agency and not free will, hinges on two arguments:

1. That I have no empirical scale by which to measure the sense of freedom.
2. That his syllogism makes his explanation of agency superior.

First, I have shown that his syllogism is logically flawed for the third and final time.

Second, I do have an empirical scale. We all know what restriction feels like, what helplessness feels like. To be able to act on the universe as you imagine so in your mind is freedom. Free will feels like moving through air instead of molasses. It is the lack of restriction between an action you want to perform and an action you actually do perform. I did not feel forced, nor did I feel restricted, and this is my empirical, observed, sensed interpretation of free will, making it more plausible than the more unnecessarily complicated view that free will is an illusion.

I thank my opponent and the audience for this debate, and urge a CON vote.
Debate Round No. 4
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sorrow 6 years ago
Sorrow
I am still slightly confused. Where does "potential" play a part in free will?
Indulge me, if you will, on my thought. Free will can exist in more than one dimension, or the mind and body, as I prefer. Let's say the mind assumes mental choice, and the body acts upon mental choice through physical action.

If humans can think of anything they like, can they still do anything they like? Would these questions be relevant to the topic of free will at all, or is it merely actuality vs. reality?
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
"However, this present is only one of the consequences of the past."

In what sense? I, of course, agree that there are other possible worlds in which outcomes can have been different (for instance, in a world where 9/11 didn't happen), but I suspect you mean something else.
Posted by ToastOfDestiny 7 years ago
ToastOfDestiny
I agree that the present is a consequence of the past - anything else is impossible. However, this present is only one of the consequences of the past.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Well if you take that stance on morality, then it seems you lean on a more pragmatic basis for it's existence or function - namely keeping human society intact. And for the most part, I agree with you. The evolution of morality is a somewhat of a necessity for human civilization to come about. Though, of course, this brings in problems of the nature of morality then - such as if it truly exists.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Right now, we all know that software is completely deterministic. There is no question of it having free will, it has absolutely none. So when a philosopher's software crashes and he loses a days' work does he say: "I know it was deterministic, so there is no blame to be assigned to the software." I suggest that in fact he continues to use non-philosophical language to describe this inevitability. In doing so, he is not holding the software morally responsible, he is properly identifying and commenting upon a defect to be corrected. Perhaps this leads to more reflection on the nature of morality. I think morality is the set of rules and metarules suited to the operation of the human species. That continues if we decide there is no free will.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
ToastOfDestiny:

Thanks for the RFD! However, I want to know why you still think my premises pressupose the nonexistence of free will - it clearly doesn't. Observe:

PAST- Jane decides with her free will to sit on a chairPRESENT - Jane is sitting on her chair

Now assuming nothing gets in her way of sitting on the chair (which would thus be counted as another past event), it's a necessary that her present state is a consequence of her past state, EVEN if we were to assume free will exists.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
It's not just how the judicial system will work - since I agree it shouldn't really change with or without the existence of free will - but just our common day exchanges with fellow people. If most of us accept that it doesn't exist, then it can even affect the most menial issues, such as "should I really blame anyone for anything". The obvious answer is no. So in actuality, you can't reasonably get mad at someone for their unruly behavior, since it's not their "fault".
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Skeptic, Murderer: "It was predetermined that I kill the child, because of the way my brain was programmed and the events fed into it."
Judge: "No problem, it is also predetermined that we attempt to reprogram your brain and take you out of society until that is accomplished."

Basically, the abstract concept that everything is predetermined doesn't reveal what the future will be, so we should do what appears to be logical, because it is predetermined that we do so.

Also, philosophers have established the Argument from Evil disproves the O3 God. The real world doesn't care. If philosophers agree that free will is an illusion, no one will care about that either.
Posted by ToastOfDestiny 7 years ago
ToastOfDestiny
This was an amazing debate (I may even create multiple accounts to hit +1 more than once). Every time I read a post, my opinion changed =). I was waiting for Kleptin to make the arguments he did in R4, which leads to this:

B/A:Con>Con.
C: Tied.
S/G: Tied. I didn't notice any errors.
CA: Con. When the frame of reference is the future, then obviously we have no control over the past. When Con argued against this frame of reference, and shows that each step assumes no free will, I voted for him.
S: Tied.

I also found a flaw in Pro's syllogism in #4. Just because we have no control over the past in the present doesn't mean we have not control over its consequences.

Again, stellar job, both of you!
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Thanks for the RFD you two :).

mongeese: Would you care to explain how my argument was logically invalid?

RoyLatham: I actually stated my belief in indeterminism, but also noted that it wouldn't really matter. Just because part of nature is random does not give any hope for the existence of free will - if my arm randomly smacked your face due to a quantum leap, I shouldn't be blamed should I?

And the existence of free will would perhaps be important when you think about moral responsibility. If no one has free will, they shouldn't be made responsible for what they have done - and as you can see, this obviously has an impact on ethical systems.
19 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: This only goes to Con as Pro had the BoP arguments were strong on both sides. Pro should have clarified why we had "no control" to strengthen the argument.
Vote Placed by jat93 6 years ago
jat93
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Vote Placed by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Sorrow 6 years ago
Sorrow
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by Awed 7 years ago
Awed
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:15 
Vote Placed by Mixer 7 years ago
Mixer
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Vote Placed by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Vote Placed by tmhustler 7 years ago
tmhustler
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:33 
Vote Placed by Logical-Master 7 years ago
Logical-Master
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
TheSkepticKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70